“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17
Yesterday on Facebook I shared that between four 2nd hand stores and Amazon I am officially done with my Christmas shopping. I did not expect to finish yesterday, you know how 2nd hand stores are right? Sometimes they have good buys, sometimes they don’t. But yesterday I cleaned up, I mean cleaned up, at the last Salvation Army I visited. The back of my mini-van was loaded down with like-new toys for my kids and nephew.
Here’s the thing I didn’t share on Facebook though, and I probably should have: my husband and I have been praying about how much money to spend on Christmas gifts, a lot. We’ve been ironing out financial priorities lately and we wanted this Christmas to be more in line with our future goals, which include ways of figuring out how to give more.
At Allume I heard the author of More or Less Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity (#ad), Jeff Shinabarger, speak. It changed the way I look at our personal wealth. We may not be rich by American standards but we are beyond wealthy. You can listen to the keynote here and I highly recommend it. After listening to his speech at the conference I went upstairs and sobbed, I mean sobbed, to my husband on the phone about how I desperately wanted to give more but had no idea where to start. Then when I came downstairs to the conference area again Jeff just happened to be standing there and I started sobbing again, as I tried to simply say “Hey I enjoyed your speech.”
So what does all of this have to do with my Christmas shopping?
This Christmas we’re desperately trying not to buy anything tied to child labor or slavery and we chose to donate to some charities this Christmas instead of spending as much money on our kids (and extended family too, but mostly kids) as we have in the past. That meant yesterday I was at a 2nd hand store selling some collectible Barbie Dolls and books we haven’t read in awhile.
The clerk offered me $42 of store credit for everything. That was less than I had hoped for my Barbies, but it wasn’t bad. The thing of it was though the Barbies could have been a gift for my kids, but……. the store also had the perfect gift for my Dad, who is incredibly hard to shop for. I figured I’d have better luck finding fun toys for my kids at a different 2nd hand store, whereas I better snag the perfect gift for me dad when I had the chance, so I took the offer and kissed my Barbies (i.e. my backup gifts) goodbye.
After I finished my purchases there I got in my car and prayed. I asked God to let me find the perfect gifts for my kids 2nd hand so we didn’t have to spend much more money buying new.
The next 2nd hand store I went to had nothing, the 2nd hand store after that didn’t have anything worth giving either. Then I went to another Salvation Army and hit the jackpot.
I was able to get 2 like new Toy Story race tracks, one for my son and one for my nephew. I got two like new adorable 18 inch dolls and matching beds for my girls. I also snagged 5 like new stuffed animals, and finally I was able to get 4 grab bags stuffed with little dolls, action figures, toy cars, and ponies. All of this for just $30.
That’s Crazy! Scratch that, it was an answer to prayer and a blessing from the Lord. $30 for literally ( I did the math) over $200 worth of toys, all in excellent condition.
This is just one story but I could tell you story after story of how God has blessed my husband and I when we step out on faith and give. A few years ago we weren’t giving much at all beyond our tithes because we were on such a tight budget and were afraid to spend any money on “non-essentials”. Then we stepped out on faith and started giving money every week to missions. It was the same year we started giving to missions that my husband got a significant promotion, we were finally able to buy a house, and God blessed us with a baby! It was like God was saying, “see you can trust me, just give and I’ll take care of it.”
God blessed my family yesterday more than I expected or imagined. $200 worth of toys for $30. (Blows my mind) I’m so excited to tell my children that the gifts they open under the tree this year, are from God. Because the blessing was simply too extraordinary to be from anywhere else.