I went to write in my journal this morning and thought I was turning 27. Um, missed a year...or 10! I am 37 today!
Anytime I turn an age with 7 in it feels extra special because 7 is my favorite number, both for it's meaning (completion, perfection, fullness) and because I was born on 7/7.
Before writing my annual blog, I always go back and read the previous year's to reflect on what I thought life was going to be and what it actually turned out to be.
It's so interesting that last year I was doing things to "get my life back," and yet in the midst of doing that, I found myself in the hardest year of my life.
I have learned sooo many things like:
Anything can happen to anybody at anytime - there is no such thing as exceptions
Hard is hard - it may be different for everyone, but you can't determine or be the judge of whether or not something is hard for someone based on your experience
Generosity is love in action
I want to focus the rest of this post on point number 3 because of all the lessons I've gained this past year, this third one on generosity is ringing the loudest in my heart these days.
Before Dex & I got married, I had a giving account. A designated bank account set aside to give away. When Dex and I got married, we decided to keep that as a part of our monthly budget but things got tight rather quickly for a couple different reasons (as they often can in the early days of marriage).
In short, the first thing to go was our giving account. Getting rid of it wasn't a deeply conscious decision. We were just looking at our "unnecessary" spending and we stopped spending in those areas.
We consciously decided to give our time during this low income season. So we babysat for free and planned low-charge events for kids ($5 per kid to cover food) to give our friends breaks. We made ourselves available physically and time-wise, on purpose.
Once we started having kids on our own and the pandemic hit during this time, we stopped giving of our time in the ways we once did.
Soon after this, with a 2 year old and 1 year old, we get hit with a personal tough season, during which, our close personal community, began giving to us and loving on us in ways we never expected or imagined.
It was after experiencing their generosity, I realized it'd been nearly 5 years since we had a giving account. I couldn't believe we'd gone that long without intentionally setting aside money for giving. Especially because our finances had improved since those early days of marriage. We have tithed to our local church faithfully, but our generosity towards others had been random, sporadic and inconsistent.
A couple months ago we started setting aside money for giving again and we started giving it away. When I tell you, it has been a night and day difference! I’m not going to give details, but I will tell you, it has been an absolute JOY to give on purpose again!
As we’ve started giving to others, we’ve watched our personal finances improve and grow in new ways. I didn’t make the connection until recently, but once we made the conscious decision to live open handedly, we began reaching personal financial goals we’d set years before.
Our motivation wasn’t personal gain, but there turned out to be personal benefits to it.
Yesterday I had a shoot for work and this topic of generosity came up. We swapped stories of the faithfulness of God we’d seen once we became more generous.
For added confirmation, I woke up this morning to my usual daily notification from the Bible App, sharing the verse of the day. Today’s verse?
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” Proverbs 11:24 NLT
The Father don't play when he's giving a word!
And so begins my personal year of intentional giving. I want to give wisdom, time, finances, knowledge, lessons learned, anything (within wisdom and reason) I can do to help someone else, I plan to just give it.
What a privilege and a gift to be positioned to do this.
And as grateful and as much in awe as I’ve been to receive the gifts our friends and family have given us this past year, I can’t help but be pointed to the ultimate love of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our village's acts of love have been GREAT, but knowing they are rooted in and a direct result of the DEEEEP love and generosity of our heavenly Father, has blown the roof off my understanding of His sacrifices and love toward us.
And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Matthew 10:7-8
Check out my previous birthday posts: