A Recipe for Joy

When I was very first introduced to a faith that went beyond the Sunday morning pew, I attended the big church in the old neighborhood with the big houses.  We had a cafeteria, library and gym.  Everything was old.  And the Sunday school rooms?  Went on forever. Naturally, there was a “Youth Center”.  With a kitchen, a fireplace and wood (not plywood) paneling, not to mention a piano and deep pile carpeting, it was clearly a place that reflected that church’s commitment to the young people.

That church changed my life.

I digress.

In that youth center, was a series of smaller rooms off the main room (more Sunday school rooms, of course).  In one of the rooms, there hung a little framed slogan.  Honestly, looking back, it had to have been hung there to fill space, to adorn an empty wall.  I wasn’t the kind of thing a kid would pick.  Unless that kid had been me.

Because here I am thirty-three years later.

It said:




Fast Forward.

Throughout my life, this little reminder would pop up.

And now raising teens, I see it everyday.  Life is a disastrously disappointing affair when it’s lived:




Because the rest of the universe is just never freaking on the program.

Especially at the holidays. (Case in point: The theoretical young person who wants an iPhone, but can’t make a list of her friends she’d like to buy or make gifts for.  Is it the age?  Did they get it from me? Argh.)

I think I’m not alone.

This year, for the first time, major organizations are getting together to celebrate a new kind of day. It’s a way to start the holiday season off right, by thinking of those less fortunate than ourselves on the front end.  Before we’re broke, overbooked and bored with the same old round of “appearances” we must make. Before the greed. Before the guilt. Before the going back for one last thing.

There will be giving.

#Giving Tuesday.

Hundreds of organizations are leading the way to sharing with our community.  From Gap to the Girl Scouts.

Founded by organizations that have led the way in giving and those who I give the quiet nod for their involvement, #Giving Tuesday is a day to remember to share my abundance. #Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to give back to the community through local service projects that benefit your favorite charitable organizations. I came up with several ideas for projects and getting the kids involved, almost instantly.  For others, the #Giving Tuesday site can recommend ideas.  Not just generally, but for many people there will be agencies right in their home town.  You can search by charity type or by state. It’s not too late to get involved.  What matters is not the complexity of your project, but the deliberate giving. Not because “I was getting rid of this stuff anyway”, but because I am being purposeful in sharing.

We are hoping for a better holiday season this year.  Even so, a couple of weeks ago, I found I could prepare a box for Operation Christmas Child with resources I had in my home.  I felt a little ashamed.  I had all those resources last year.

But I was focused on the Y.  Deeply turned inward on myself and my unmet wants.  Unable to see how lavishly I was blessed.

No wonder the kids get like they do.  They’re only doing what they see modeled.

This year, I hope to get things going the right direction:

Jesus… commanded us to take care of others.

Others… are all over my neighborhood.

You… meaning me.  I really have all I need and a number of the things I just want.

I got in my attic on Friday.  I know there is a lot of stuff up there that could be doing someone, somewhere, some good.

What about you?  What’s in your attic? Pantry? What’s in your heart?

I have a really good feeling about this…


I love it when you sass me. Please leave a comment.

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