Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas $ stories...sorry, no video.....

On this post, I explained a change in Christmas that our family made this year and why we decided to do it. 

Basically at Thanksgiving, we sat our kids down (19, 17, 15) and told them we had decided to take the money we would spend on their gift for Christmas and give it to them that weekend. They each then had till Christmas to give it away. Any way they want. It could be all to one place or they could spread it out. They could give it to a charity or to a person they know is having a hard time.  The options were limitless and were their own. It was up to them, alone, to give their gift to someone else. Then on Christmas morning, instead of opening the gift, we told how we spent the money and what came of it.

This was an amazing time for our family! In so many different ways. I was hoping to show you the video. However, my kids did not want me to share it and for good reasons. First, it was very personal and emotional and they wanted to keep that time private between us. Second, my middle son gave his money anonymously and does not want the people to find out. So, I will just be giving you a summary.

First, let me say how proud of am of my children. Not only did they embrace this idea, but they all listened to the Holy Spirit and gave where led. They all looked outside themselves and how they could truly help and bless someone else. It was amazing!

Jared went first. He found out about an organization, Kiva International, that provides loans to people in developing countries. The loans are used to start a business that would support their families. The cool thing about this program is that it is expected that the loan would be paid back in the future. When it gets paid back, Jared can then loan his money to someone else!! So, the money keeps on helping!! I loved this. He took his money and finished off a loan for a man in Peru that wants to start a pineapple business.

I can’t give you a lot of information about Jason’s. He started by saying he had all these ideas about great projects he could support. But he realized that he was looking at things that would make him feel/look good. So, he started praying that God would show him where the money was needed. He ended up accidentally hearing about a family where the husband lost his job right before the holidays and he used his money to provide a Christmas for this family. He did this anonymously, so that is why I can’t give you much more info.

Alyssa was next. There is a prison for men just outside Abilene. Abilene is where she is in college. Many of these men are forgotten by their families. Alyssa’s church sponsored a program that put together bags of supplies/goodies for these men. They include name brand shampoo, toothpaste, oreo cookies and all sorts of great stuff. It was a big list. They also asked people in their church to volunteer to write letters to the men to be included with the bag. Alyssa decided to sponsor 12 men and provide the bags and also write individual letters to each of them!  I so wish I could have somehow seen those letters being read!

During my quiet time one morning the week after Thanksgiving, God laid on my heart where my money needed to go. There is a blind man here in LR that sales brooms. Steve and I met him on one of our breakfast dates. He came into the restaurant we were in to sell his brooms. Most people in the area know him. He has been selling brooms for over 20 years here. He and his wife are both blind and he raised 5 children selling these brooms. Now that his kids are grown, he continues to do it to raise money for the blind. He is 77. If you didn’t know him, you would think he was a homeless man coming in. The reactions to him are mixed, but he still comes every day with a smile. I usually see him on Fridays when Steve and I have our date. But for 3 Fridays, I did not get to go. I was questioning God whether this was where my money was supposed to go because I didn’t know how else to find him.  But He told my heart to hold on. I had one more Friday before Christmas.  The kids were out of school and we don't usually go to breakfast then, but I told Steve we needed to go.  While driving, I was praying we would see him, because he doesn't always show up.  

We had no more sat down and up he walked!!!! I met him outside and told him that God had led me to give him this money. When I told him how much it was, he looked at me with eyes clouded by blindness and said “God bless you. You have made my Christmas! My name is Melvin Pickens.  What is your name?” So I told him and he says “Mrs. Bowyer, God bless you! You really have made my Christmas” I have no idea how Melvin will use the money or if he needed a specific amount, but I know he was supposed to have it!

Steve gave his money to an organization, International justice mission, that helps rescue teens from slavery, sexual or otherwise. This is a group of lawyers that work with private investigators and learn the laws of other countries to try and rescue these kids legally and then get them counseling. His money went to pay for a private investigator for 2 days!

I was so amazed to see how God worked so differently through each of us. I had never heard of any of these other organizations and yet God led each one of us to where we could help.

So there you have it. I do not know if we will do this again next year, but I have a little feeling that we might. 

We all felt so blessed through this experience and I really think my kids learned an amazing lesson….....

.................the true joy that comes from sacrifice and giving! 

And learned it very well!



Mocha with Linda said...

That is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. And it is absolutely right that the video should remain a cherished and private treasure within your family.

Sara@ Butterville said...

I don't care about the video! I'd be a blubbering mess...worse then I am now, but at least I can still type through my tears!
This is so incredible. All of you, the choices and promptings. You have a wonderful family! I'm waiting on the handbook Sara, seriously!
Thank you for sharing this with us! Blessings will come to all of you.

Uncommon Blonde said...

That's really amazing. I love how everyone found something unique and interesting. Reading this def brought tears to my eyes!

Rachel @ Unexpected Blessings said...

Thanks for sharing. It is wonderful to hear how God worked.

Anonymous said...

Oh Sara I have goosebumps running down my arms and tears in my eyes. I wish I could sweep up your whole family in a huge hug! I can't wait for my daughter to be old enough to pick and choose who to give to. Look at all the different people who were blessed by 5 people. And you have opened our eyes to some great organizations who could use our help. THANK YOU for doing this!!!

Heather of the EO said...

I am so moved by this. I love that you did this and that your kids responded in the way they did.

P.S. I LOVE International Justice Mission!

Christine said...

Thanks for summarizing it all so sweetly while honoring your family's privacy. I'm so touched by it all.
God bless each of you!

Tanya said...

Wow...that is very very cool. What a wonderful thing each of you did. I'd love to do something similar next year...on a small scale, as our kids are so young still.

Mom To Six said...


First, I applaud you and Steve. What an amazing job you have done raising those kids!!!

Each and every story had me in tears, but I have to say that I was incredibly moved by Jason's humbleness. God truly lives in your children's hearts and there's no doubt that your rearing of them has led Him there.

You are a true inspiration.



Patrice said...

Thank you for sharing! I have goose bumps and this is an amazing thing you did, all of you!

Beverlydru said...

I see a major joy in this, in addition to the giving, was listening for God and hearing Him.
An invaluable lesson... how blessed your children are to have your leadership, love and example.
I'm blessed too. Thanks for sharing.

Jamie @ Purposeful Pursuit said...

So touching! Thanks for sharing your is truly inspiring! You have an amazing family.

Connie said...

What a great way to celebrate Christmas. I love it...thanks for sharing! I came over from Linda's at 2nd Cup of Coffee to check out your 365 days of pictures. Looks like fun! Connie

Mama2hre said...

Wow! I have goose bumps just readind about it! How wonderful! Thanks for sharing! :)