Being Generous in Every Way | Advent

We have a Christmas card delivery box at our church, a central station for Merry Christmas wishes and Happy New Year greetings.

Instead of us all buying stamps and mailing cards to one another, our church’s missions group sets out their own church post office hub.  We leave our cards for  each other in the boxes and give the money we would have spent on postage to a missions offering instead.

My kids love checking our “mailbox,” the slot that holds all of the cards in it for people in our church with last names beginning with J or K.  I usually only have to check the box once a season.  They stay on top of card delivery.

Years ago, someone spoke a few gentle words of truth to me about those cards and the boxes, about the giving and the receiving.

She brought  to my attention a name, one person in our little congregation who loved checking the box, but didn’t often find a card addressed to him.  He so eagerly checked that Christmas card box every single Sunday.  Always with hope.  Never showing disappointment or sorrow over the cards he didn’t receive.  He rarely walked away with a card, though.

It is because of my friend’s loving reminder to truly show love that I address his card first every year when I write the names on the envelopes.  I do not want to forget or neglect to give and love someone whom God so loves.

And this has been on my heart this year at Christmas.

Most  of us as moms seek out ways to teach our children that Christmas is more about  giving than getting.  I’m in the thick of it.  With four kids ages 6 to 15, I’m right in the middle of this training season, to keep Christmas about Jesus and His love.

For years, I’ve had my kids hunt through the gift catalogs from World Vision, Compassion International, and Samaritan’s Purse, choosing what they felt passionate about giving that year:  Soccer balls, malaria nets, goats, chickens and ducks, blankets,  Bibles,  school kits, and more.  They had  to  do extra chores through the fall months in order to raise the money they would give to their chosen cause.

We pack boxes with Operation Christmas Child.

We send our sponsored children a Christmas gift.

Two years ago, we started a reverse Advent box, adopting an idea I had seen online.  We start with an empty box and we pick a local charity to give to.  Every day in  December, we put an item in the box to donate to our chosen charity.  Last year, we collected hygiene items.  This year, we’re collecting wipes, onesies and other baby items for moms in need.

The ideas online are endless.  Random Acts of Kindness Calendars.  Volunteering at homeless shelters.  Ringing bells for the Salvation Army.  Toys for Tots.  Caroling at nursing  homes.   And many more.  We have so many ways to engage, so many opportunities to  focus our hearts and minds on giving during the Christmas season.

But this year, I feel the challenge more than ever to make it personal. 

I tell the Christmas story to preschoolers most years and as I do, I remember the simplicity and the beauty of the nativity.  I see how God chose an ordinary young woman and a poor carpenter.  How He announced the news to lowly shepherds.  How He drew in wise men from afar.

The poor.  The outcast.  The foreigner.

This is who God chose to use at Christmas.  This is who God invited to worship.  This is who God drew in to be His witnesses, to  see what He was doing.

Others missed it, sleeping silently, crammed into every possible accommodation in Bethlehem, totally unaware that “today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

So, our family keeps up the giving traditions.  We fill our reverse advent box for moms and babies we do not know.  We pack shoeboxes for kids we will not meet on this side of heaven.  We send gifts and pack gifts and gather and give for people in need who remain nameless to us.

But there are also people I personally know who could use a Christmas card with their name on it this year.

There are people I personally know who could use some homemade cookies because no one else will be baking for them this Christmas.

Kindness from a distance and giving from afar can be so much “easier” and more “comfortable”  than the vulnerable act of loving the neighbor we know.

May we find ways  to do both.

“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God”  (2 Corinthians 9:11 ESV).

Nobody wants to drink lukewarm water in this house: One Word 2015

My daughter tells me her water is “soggy.”

And my other girl chimes in: “I don’t want this old water.  I need fresh water.”

Then she bops her head up and down for emphasis: “Really.  It needs to be FRESH.”

I pick up the cups of water I poured just two hours before and dump them into my plants.  At least foliage appreciates lukewarm refreshment.

Or, perhaps I’m feeling particularly savvy that day, and I pop in an ice cube before handing these daughters the same cups of water.

Either way, my youngest girl guzzles it down and lets out a satisfied “ahhhh” in gratitude.

It’s fresh water she wants.  Cold.  Newly poured.

Even if the water she has isn’t stagnant or stench-ridden, hot or unhealthy, it sat just a little too long in that Tinkerbell cup and now she needs new.

Normally, as a mom I protest a little.  Two hours is not enough time to de-freshen water, I tell her.  It’s not ice-cold, but it isn’t ‘soggy,’ or undrinkable.

It still prevents dehydration.jeremiah 31

But my soul takes this in because surely she’s discovered what I’m longing for.

For “Fresh.”

My Christian walk isn’t stagnant or rancid, but still I long for ‘new’ and ‘more.’  I don’t to walk out of 2015 the same way that I walked in.

Each year, I choose this One Word and a Scripture to meditate on all year long to focus my heart, mind, and life.

The first year, I chose “Breathe” (Psalm 62:2 MSG).

Then last year, I spent 12 months meditating on “Presence” (Exodus 33:14 NIV).

These were spiritually life-changing for me, not just a random New Year’s task that seems so important on January 1st but loses all meaning by January 31st and not just a cute catchphrase that is temporarily inspiring but ultimately meaningless.

So I prayed over this year’s focus and searched Scripture until I read it:

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)


Already, I relax into the grace of this.

So often, New Year’s is a time of heaping burdens on our backs.

Resolutions.  Reading plans.  Prayer plans.  Devotional plans. Health plans.  Schedule plans. Clutter plans.  Relational plans.  Educational and job plans.

This is what we want to do, do, do this year.

Piled on top of that are the bricks we haul around of recrimination, regret and self-condemnation because of all the plans that failed last year and the year before that.

There are the projects we didn’t finish and the resolutions we let fall by the wayside.  There are the 15 pounds we were supposed to lose.  There is the study we started and never completed.

So, we carry “Failure” from one year onto the next and chain the new year before it’s even begun.

What if we started Fresh?

What if we let the past go and we eased into the new year with devotion and relationship with God instead of any agenda or program?

What if we take this in?

he leads me beside quiet waters,
   he refreshes my soul (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV).

He does the work.  He leads; we follow.  He offers us the cool water to drink and we guzzle it down and let it drench our parched soul.

The beauty in this promise is that as we pour out encouragement, blessing and generous helpings of grace to others, He will refresh us.

Proverbs 11:25 tells us that God looks after the generous.  He refreshes those who refresh others.

Not with leftovers or scraps or day-old water, either, but with the deeply satisfying draft of the Living Water only He can give.

I can try to fill up from the tap of the world or the tap of self-accomplishment or the tap of taking care of me, me, me.

But it will be ‘soggy’ and old, tepid and bitter.

It’s Jesus I need.  And not the Spiritual experiences I had ten years ago or five years ago or yesterday.

I need Jesus—Fresh—-now—-newly poured into my life day after solid day.

This year, I am praying that God will do this work:

Refresh me with His Word: (Psalm 19:7).

Refresh me with rest in His presence: (Psalm 23:2-3).

Refresh me through service: (Proverbs 11:25).

Refresh me through a pure heart (Acts 3:19).

Refresh me with His people (1 Corinthians 16:18).

It’s strength we need for the weary days and revival we need for the dead and broken within.  It’s a filling up so Christ is splashing over the tops of our lives so that we can pour out to others with generosity and grace.  It’s rest in His presence rather than perpetual motion, and it’s new, cold, Living Water we need from it’s only true Source.

Refresh us, Lord, we pray.



Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King