Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving - A call to action!

As I sit in our apartment in Eastern Europe with 4 of our kids, I am thankful.
I truly am thankful.
I am thankful for each and every one of my kids that is here in this home with me.
I am thankful for my husband that is here with me.
I am thankful for our business back home that God has blessed us with.
I'm thankful for our employees that are helping take care of business while we are here.
I'm thankful for our customers.
I'm thankful for our family back home.
I'm thankful for our home.
I'm thankful for our dogs.
I'm thankful for our cars, as old and beat up as they are, they are ours and they are paid for!
I'm thankful for Dave Ramsey's FPU classes.
I'm thankful for our church.
I'm thankful for Eli Project which led us to our kids in UA.
I'm thankful for our 2 other kids that are here waiting to come home with us.
I am thankful for the Malone family who followed God's plan for their lives that led to Eli Project.
I'm thankful for so many, many things.
I'm thankful for life.
I'm thankful for love.
I'm thankful for you.

As I sit in this apartment almost 6,000 miles away from my family back home, I am also sad.
Sad.
Not that I am not at home to eat my favorite meal of the year.
Not that I'm not able to over-indulge myself with all kinds of yummy goodness that I don't even need.
Not that I am missing out on any Black Friday "deals".
I'm sad for other reasons.
I'm tempted to say that I'm almost angry.
Maybe angry is a better word.
Maybe dissappointed.
Disgusted?
Maybe any of those will do.
You ask why?
I'll tell you why.
If you don't want to be offended, you might stop reading here.
I'm not writing this blog to please people.
I'm writing this blog to share my heart and hopefully the Father's heart as well.
And well, if that offends you, I'm sorry.
I suppose that's something you'll have the opportunity to discuss with him one day.

I think this day is horrible.
I think that Thanksgiving has been taken entirely out of context.
I think that the modern day American in their comfy house, in thier cozy clothes and loose pants, with bellies full and seconds on the way have forgotten what this holiday is all about.
Instead of being thankful, we tend to over indulge our selfish cravings for foods and plan our overnight or early bird trips to the stores for the "perfect gifts" that we just MUST have.
I have to wonder, did anyone actually sit down at their table yesterday and really think about what they  have to be thankful for?  Better yet, was anyone not at a big table full of food set out just for them and their loved ones, rather at a mission house, feeding and loving on the homeless of our cities?
Did anyone stop to pray for anyone other than themselves and thier food that they were anxiously awaiting to eat?
I'm not saying this just to bash you, I've had my moments of greed and selfishness too.
I've been guilty of counting down the days to Thanksgiving just so I could eat all that yummy food and just have a couple of days off. I've sat there with the pen in hand and gone through the ads circling every wish, want and must have. 
I too have been guilty of telling someone "I wish I could do more..." and then go out to stand in those lines and spend that money on a useless gift, when I could have donated that money to that cause and made an eternal impact instead.
I can even admit that most of the time when I said that I wish I could help in a situation, I had money readily available to me that was earmarked for something more important to me.
Granted, it wasn't much but still, it was mine.
I wanted to spend it on me or mine.
I hand more important things planned for that money.
What could be more important?
Oh, you know, Sunday lunch.
That late night run to Arby's to satisfy my craving.
How about a new pair of shoes, or even that fake ipod that just went on sale.
Yep, I'm guilty too.
I have to admit that I've sat in church when the request was given to donate to a certain cause and I sat there with knots in my stomach over donating "that much money" to that cause when I had such good plans for it.
Why do we get almost sick to our stomachs when God asks us to do something with funds that he has provided for us and yet, when we see that sales add, boy we are all over it like peanut butter on jelly!
Priorities.

What's different then?

I let God in.

I asked him to give me his heart.
I asked him to give me his eyes.

This is a tall order.
You see, when you let God in and you look at things through his eyes, you tend to see the other, not so pretty side of things like Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
You start to realize what you do have to be thankful for instead of complaining that someone else ate the last roll or took the last "My Little Pony" you HAD TO HAVE for your daughter off the shelf.
You start to see that you have more.
You have MORE than most people on this ENTIRE PLANET!
Yes, YOU have MORE!
You have food to eat, a place to sleep, and clothes to wear.
No, it may not be food you like,the turkey may have been dry, it may not be a comfy bed or even clothes that are name brand or even stylish, but you have them.

I used to think, yeah but I EARNED this stuff!
I worked HARD and I DESERVE this.

Really?

I DESERVE it?

Let me tell you what I deserve.

DEATH.
I deserve death.
You deserve death.

But God.

But God loved us so much that he didn't want us to die.
He sent his son.
His ONLY son to DIE for US.

For me.
For YOU.

I'm sorry, what were you saying?

You have worked hard and you deserve to have nice stuff and to think of yourself first?
God created this earth and gave his son for us.
Doesn't he deserve anything?
Doesn't he deserve our thanks?

Ok, so you can agree with me there, right?

So, now everyone hurry, shoot up a flare prayer of thanks right quick to cover you just in case he comes while you are reading this blog.
Wouldn't want to be guilty of not being thankful after all.


What about obedience?

Does he deserve our obedience?
Sure, you say.
Ok, what does he want us to do then?
How are we supposed to obey?

Go to church?
Ok.
Read the Bible?
Ok.
Pray?
Ok.
All of those are acts though.
We do them to check them off an invisible list (sometimes actually written out for some of us)
to say that " CHECK! Did that, on to the next thing!"
But what are we really DOING?

What about his commands?
Don't steal?
Ok, I'll pay for my super cool, super cheap deal when I check out in my black friday line that is 3 hours long.
Don't covet?
Ohhhh, now that one is hard, I REALLY wanted that item that Mrs. Fastpants got ahead of me and got the last one of.  Ok, ok, I'll not covet it..
Don't Murder?
Well, duh!  I CAN'T do that, who'd be there to make the egg nog and take pictures as everyone opens gifts at Christmas.
Oh, and not to mention jail time.
And, that would so ruin my new sweater I bought.

What about his OTHER commands?
What other commands you say?
What about the book of James?
It is full of many commands, including one that is very near and dear to our family..
James 1:27.
It should be near and dear to every Christian as it is a declaration of what God expects from us as Christians.
We are to care for the orphan and the widow.
One might say, Oh, I care.
I see them on the tv commercials with their bellies pudging out and flies in thier faces and my heart hurts so I shoot up a flare prayer as I lean back in my lazy boy and click the remote to change the channel to a more comfortable advertisement for my entertainment pleasure.

Pleasure.

Unfortunately, that is what most of society runs on.

What is in it for ME?
What does that make ME feel like?
What does it make ME look like?
What will people say about ME?

What about them!?

What about the homeless woman on the street corner who is so depressed at how far she has fallen and sees no way out?
What about the man that wreaks of sweat and filth from his binges of alcohol and is so lost that he just lives for that next fix.
What about the child who is afraid, cold and alone under the overpass that is crying out for help as her mother lies dead next to her from the overdose that she thought woud "fix it all".
What about the children in Africa living IN the dumps?
What about those boys that have to dig in the trash, that is also known as their bed to find scrap metal to go and sell so that they can have money, not for them to buy themselves anything but for them to pool it together and pay for ONE of them to go to school to get an education to better himself and help make a change for kids like them in the future?
What about the women who are seeking shelter from their abusive husbands and they see no way out so they go back, back to the abuse. 

Yes, those stories are REAL!
Yes, they happen EVERYDAY!
If that doesn't break your heart, I don't know what does!

As I sit here with my fancy laptop (basic as it is - others don't have any access to things like this) and I look at my table full of junk food, I too am guilty.
Guilty of self indulgence and greed.
Guilty of selfish thoughts and behaviors.
Guilty of sin.

I am writing this because, I am convicted.
I am convicted that I am too selfish.
I don't always think about the needs of others.
I tend to even think, well, they got themselves in that situation, they can get out.
But is that what God says of them?
Is that what God said of me?

NO!

He reached down out of Heaven and rescued me from my pit.
From my selfish mistakes that almost cost me my life and my children's lives.
He lifted me up.
He gave me grace.
He gave me love.
He gave me family.
He gave me life.
He gave me hope.

He did all of those things for YOU too.
Question is..



 What are we
 doing with it?



Are we wasting it?

I know I am guilty of wasting my life.
I don't want to waste it any more.
I don't want to live just for me.
I don't want to live to satisfy my selfish wants.
I want to live in full abandon to God and his plan.
I want to reach out and touch those dirty hands and help take them to the fountain that can wash them clean and give them a new start and a new name.
I want to be the kind of person that cares about the orphan, the widow, the homeless, the lost, the forsaken.
I want to make a difference.
I don't want to live for Thanksgiving food.
Yes, I love it that much.
It is seriously my favorite holiday because of all the wonderful food and the fact that it isn't about gifts.
It is a time to reflect on our lives and be thankful and enjoy good food and good company.
Yet, it was meant to be much more.


I have come to despise Christmas and the Christmas season because of what it has turned into.
What we have allowed it to become as a society.

It is pitiful.

We save up, or just raise our limit on our credit cards, to go out in the freezing cold, camp out overnight, or wake up at O dark 30 to beat the next Joe blo to the sale to buy things that we don't even need and will regret buying in a couple of months when the bills come due or the items break.

We should be ashamed.

What if we did something different?

What if instead of our posh little get togethers where we cook food far beyond what any human can consume in one sitting, we got together, made the food and then took it to those at the shelter or on the street or in the dump?

What if we SERVED instead of being served?

What if we gave isntead of fought to buy?

What if we put our treasures into heavenly things, like giving help to the widow by paying her electric bill that is about to be cut off due to the high costs of electricity in the winter and her low income of SSI?
What if we volunteered at a clinic where women go everyday to abort their "unwanted" babies and we show them that people do care and there is a chance for their child.
What if we were to support the halfway houses or the food banks or the group homes?

What if we were to start to think like Jesus?
What if we were to ACT like we are followers of Jesus?
What if?

Let me tell you what if..

LIVES WOULD BE CHANGED!

CHILDREN would have FAMILIES!

PEOPLE would learn to CARE for eachother!

We would be what God has always wanted us to be...
THE BODY OF CHRIST!
We would make a difference!


We CAN make a difference.

What if we all spent just 1/10th of what we spent today on our Black Friday "Deals" on making a difference in even one of these areas?

What if?

Can I ask you another question?


Why not?


Instead of pushing through the lines and fighting for the last item on sale, what if we were pushing through the lines to make donations to families who are working to adopt the orphans we speak of? 

What if we were forming lines outside of the homeless shelters to take turns to serve?
What if we were waiting for hours outside of the county jails to spend time with prisoners to show them the love of Christ?

What if we were to spend just a few minutes a week sitting in a NICU with a sick baby while his momma takes a shower that she hasn't taken in days because she cannot bring herself to leave his side without someone there to comfort him?

What if?

What if we started acting like Christ?

What if we really became THANKful and really started GIVING?

After all, isn't this THANKS GIVING?


12 comments:

  1. Wow, wow, wow! My heart exactly, Alecia. Brad and I had already decided that Christmas was going to be different this year but this adds more fuel to my fire. Thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was such a good post - I hope everyone actually read it through to the end. Every year I pay for and prepare Thanksgiving AND Christmas dinner for a host of people - most of them very poor and unable to contribute. Last year we were helped by our class because, well, WE were the destitute ones. But I heartily agree with you. This year we traveled to Tulsa to be with my son's inlaws and still, I paid for and cooked most of the meal...we ate in shifts and no one gave thanks which was very hard for me to bear but Rich and I paused before we ate to give thanks for what we have. We lost so much this past year - our house - our cars - our girls...but God restores the heart and we praise HIM through the storms. I give with my last nickel and my husband always fears I will go without a coat because I give mine away...nearly every year. I understand what you are saying and that is why when we can, we provide whatever we can to those in need. I love your heart Alecia because it is so much like mine and you are just as blunt as I am. I am so blessed to have you as my friend!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have to say the problem here is the assumptions that were made. A lot of statements you made sounded a lot like accusations. Do we go buy our kids and our families gifts for Christmas YES did we go out for black Friday YES because the sales make us able to do more, last year we did sales and saved money and because we got those deals we were able to help provide needed gifts like clothing and provide their holiday meals for three additional families beside our own. Basically what I am trying to say is maybe it was just phrasing but the way you said things sounded like you were stating that nobody else is doing anything to make a difference and that nobody is thankful or realizes what they have but you can't possibly know every bodies heart or the things that they do or give because GOD called them to. We are all called by god but we are not all called to do the same missions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Not offended here, this was lovely and my sentiments exactly

    ReplyDelete
  5. In this tough economic time, I also believe God does not want You to be the judge of others. Many people are in these Black Friday lines so they can give their children Santa gifts.

    Your blog post was very contradictory of the bible. We shall not judge.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well said! Thank you for your honesty Alecia! I didn't go Black Friday shopping because I didn't have money this year & was so worried about only having $150 to spend on Christmas this year! What I would get my teenage son & teenage nephew that has come to live with us during a difficult time when I can't find a job.
    Thank you! I needed this reminder of how very blessed I am and how I can use this for a teachable moment with MY BOYS!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have read and followed your blog from the beginning. Generally, I find your posts inspirational and your obedience humbling. Today ,however, that is not the case. This post is in my opinion, everything that is also wrong with the Americans you set out to bash and judge in this post. It is not your job as a faithful servant to be the judge and jury. It is not your job to dictate the way that people live their lives. Not everyone is called to live the life you lead. And saying things like "I'm not writing this to please you; You can discuss it with Him someday" do not disguise the underlying contempt and sarcasm littered throughout this post. You have generalized so much in this post and assumed the worst of people. The homeless shelters operated, because someone did volunteer to help. They had food because of someone's generous donation. Children who have nothing are warm in the winter, not always, because sOmeone did donate a coat. The shelters and orphanages are open because regardless of your opinion, PEOPLE HELPED. And the greed and selfishness you speak of. Well. I do save all year long to get the gifts for Christmas and many of them on Black Friday. I also buy gifts every year and dOnate food/money to those less fortunate. And I don't feel guilty for it. The money I spend helps keep stores operating and gives the employees of those stores a paycheck and the ability to provide for their family or donate as they are led. Remember also that this is how YOUR shop is operated. People come in, myself included, and spend $2.50 on a single cupcake when they could just as easily go to wal-mart and buy a dozen cookies for the same price. Seems like indulgence to me. Perhaps we should stop. I come to your shop because I followed your story and felt like as little as it seemed, maybe I was contributing to the orphan. To your family. Right now there is no part of me that feels led to continue that. I feel like I have been judged with your opinion and total lack of knowledge or insight into the hearts and live of others, by your assumption. This Christian woman who I've met only a few times and have been inspired by, has managed to, in a fit of " anger or disgust" , undo the respect I had for her.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It is so good to be offended sometimes. Jesus offended many people in His day. People who thought they were doing what God had asked them to do. Just like we do, but when we truly know Jesus and His love for others. We can't help but be convicted for the orphans and the widows. Thanks for stepping out on faith

    ReplyDelete
  9. Do you think that you are judging people with this blog? Do you know everyone's situations? Do you know everyone's heart? Many statements you made sound like accusations and at times you made statements that sounded like judgements of others faith and relationship with god. I agree and understand frustrations with our society however many of the things you said were very generalized and unfair unless you know everybodies situation, their relationship with god, what they give of themselves, and their hearts. I wonder if you will approve this post or if it's too difficult to have someone disagree with some of the things you said.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You spoke only truth. Many believers feel as you do, but we're afraid of stepping on toes so we don't speak up. Thank you for your bravery & honesty! Also, our family donated a small gift through Eli Project. Did your family receive it? I only ask because the amt of your need hasn't changed on the side bar. Blessings to you and yours, The Morrows

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow! That was intense Alecia. Thier is really spelled T H E I R. I don't know that I agree with your sentiment about life. Keep this post, print it out, when you reach 40 reread it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Shaking my head at the judgement and justification of the people above. Proving your point.

    ReplyDelete