“We are not putting up a SINGLE decoration until this house is clean and we’ve cleaned OUT this JUNK!!!! Don’t expect much from Santa if he sees all this stuff you already have and don’t even play with!!! THE SHELF ELF IS WATCHING YOU!!!”
I was on a rampage. Baskets lined the hallway- each with a label: “Give to Anna” (younger cousin, recipient of all ‘outgrown: girl’); “Give to Zach” (friend, recipient of ‘outgrown:boy’); “For Gift Bags” (explanation to follow); “For CARITAS Furniture Bank” (any household item); “Take to Farm” (purgatory for things we’re not quite ready to get rid of but should), “Give Away” (generic); “Trash.”
Each child got to put one dried bean into the jar (see earlier post) for every item put in a basket.
It took a while, especially having to pause to think about which basket was best for each item. Is this shirt already too small for Anna? Can the Furniture Bank use this? Is this item really trash? But by the end of the day, the baskets were full, and the house was clean.
Except for the baskets full of stuff lining the hall.
That’s when I got an idea. An awful idea. I got a wonderful, awful idea.
I could just dump all this stuff at Goodwill and be done with it.
Who’s with me?
So many of us this time of year have lives that reflect Psalm 65:11: “You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.” And this is BEFORE Santa comes!
But not everyone. This is a terrible, lonely, dangerous time of year for many. Yet we are told that God hasn’t forgotten these people. Psalm 37:11 states “The meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace”, a promise later reinforced by Christ in his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5): “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Through God’s grace, which works through us: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (I Peter 4:10)
We are all being called to be instruments of God’s grace by using WHATEVER gift we have received. Each and every gift.
We’re not being asked to dump them in a pile and let another volunteer sort them out.
I’m happy to say that I did not give into my impulse to dump my abundance and run this weekend, and am currently in the process of delivering everything to their rightful owners…because that’s exactly what I’m doing. These items should not be ours any more, because we can’t appreciate them, for a variety of reasons.
The gifts to Anna will be packaged in a way to make them exciting for her. The bike is cleaned, and now has training wheels. Clothes are folded and wrapped.
All household items are compiled in sets and will be delivered to the Furniture Bank, where 17 different relief agencies will direct victims of poverty, fire, war, and abuse to shop for free as they attempt to escape homelessness and start a new life in a new (empty) home.
All small toiletries, jewelry, makeup samples, and gently used accessories will be sorted into gift bags to deliver to shelters for homeless or abused adult women (adults are often overlooked during the holidays).
This all takes effort, time, and intent, but it is a key to God’s grace and can lead to more healing and abundance than we ever dreamed possible:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
This week, let’s take a moment to:
1) Identify which “baskets” (literal or figurative) we can create to ensure our excess intentionally goes to the places they are most needed.
2) Take the extra step to ensure the WAY our gifts are presented will lead to their greatest use and appreciation.
3) Set up a system that’s easy enough for us to keep up throughout the year. Maybe it’s a spot in our garage or basement. Maybe it’s a basket and rewards chart in each child’s room.
4) COMMUNICATE with one another regarding our needs and excess. If we don’t know where something should go, ASK. If we know of a need, TELL. If we only have part of the puzzle, SHARE.