Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Christmas presents...

...several of you have said you are waiting to hear where all our Christmas presents/money went to. 

If you are new to my blog, our family started a new tradition 4 years ago.  In realizing the kids had more than they needed, we decided to give them the money we would spend on their large gift at Thanksgiving.  Then, they had until Christmas to give that money away however God led them.  On Christmas morning, instead of opening a present, we each tell about where we gave our money and the story behind it.  It has become my favorite part of Christmas!!

I have been so amazed over the years at the different directions God has taken each of us.  We have never given to the same place or person.  You can go HERE to read about previous years if you would like to.

Here is where God led each of us this year.....

Alyssa gave her money to ASHA foundation.  They give out grants and scholarships for graduate students and people doing research across the field of speech pathology.  She is currently in graduate school for speech language pathology and has now seen first had how important new research is for her field.  She has also been exposed to some of the exciting ideas that are being researched and wanted to be part of it.  It is so awesome to see her not only thriving in graduate school but loving it so much.  

Jason has a good friend at college that he met his freshman year.  This friend has a hard time fitting in socially and doesn't make friends easily.  God put this boy in Jason's path and Jason reached out and became good friends with him.  Recently, his friend has had a tragedy occur in his family.  One that has completely turned this boy's world upside down.  Jason knew he would probably not be receiving any presents this year for Christmas and so he took his money and spent it on his friend.  Seeing Jason talk about the joy he received from blessing his friend was priceless. And I think the encouragement and love that his friend felt from him was probably priceless too!!

Two years ago, Jared used his money to bless a classroom of children in a poor area of Arkansas with books and apples.  He had heard about the class from his English teacher as her daughter was the teacher of this class.  As Jared prayed about where his money should go this year, God kept bringing to mind his English teacher.  So he went back to her and asked if he could help out with the class again this year.  What he didn't know was that her daughter had been telling her mom how much these kids needed in the classroom but she couldn't afford to buy it all.  Jared's money allowed her to buy all that she needed plus more.  But what I love about God is that when you choose to be obedient and bless someone He leads you to....not only are you blessed too, but He tends to extend that blessing out to others as well.  This teacher and class were certainly blessed by this gift, but Jared's teacher was also encouraged and blessed in the process.

Steve gave his money to One Verse.   OneVerse is a program of The Seed Company that enables you to support local Bible translators as they make God’s message available in the language of their people.    One Verse has found that $26 provides the resources required for national translators to translate one verse of Scripture into their own language.  Steve purchased 1 verse of scripture in honor of each of the rest of us to be translated in the language for Papua, New Guinea.  My verse is Acts 18:16.  How cool is that?!!  This would be an awesome ministry for your children if you are looking for one or a sunday school class.  

This year, I felt led to study God's word through Precepts by Kay Arthur.  If you haven't done one of her studies it is an inductive study, meaning you study it word by word or precept upon precept.  It has been very intense as we are studying Isaiah, but God knew what He was doing when He led me to it.  It has impacted my life in a huge way and as I struggled with some things in my life, God has given me clarity through this study.  So when our leader told our group that we had the opportunity to share in buying Precept studies and bibles for a missionary in China, I knew exactly where my money should go.  It brings me great joy to know that something that is impacting me in such a big way will now also be used to impact women on the other side of the world.  We raised so much money, they were able to buy 18 bibles, several precept studies and also have money left over to be able to rent a room in Beijing to hold the classes....wow!!!

Once again God led each of us in completely different ways.

And once again we were ALL honored and blessed to be part of it.

Thanks to all of you who have asked about this.  It just shows me another way God uses our obedience to touch others......He is so good.

14 comments:

April's adventure said...

Such a blessing, thanks for sharing!

Maple Lane said...

What a wonderful tradition. Thank you for sharing. God bless you all in the new year.

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Love the One Verse idea!

As always you spirit of giving is an example that we all should follow!

Blessings
R

STILLMAGNOLIA said...

I look so forward to reading your story each year and seeing where all your gifts went. It so blesses my heart. This year instead of getting big gifts for each other my daughter and I chose to give each other a child for Christmas from Stella's House in Moldova. This is where they went on their missionary trip. Our gifts actually ended up providing Christmas for 12 girls with some left to spare. Kat and Brian will be returning there for the month of June this summer....and hopefully will be returning there permanently in 2013.

LuAnn said...

Your family has been such a blessing to all.

Mocha with Linda said...

I have thought about this several times this year and wondered what your family was doing! I always love hearing about it.

Sara@iSass said...

Oh Sara It brought tears to my eyes hearing about the boys choices. I look forward to this post since you started doing it. (This post and the Santa game!)
I think I'm going to look into Steve's choice OneVerse, it sounds like something "fun" we can do as a family. Letting the kids choice the verses for our family. I have never done a precept study, I may have to find another group to study one with. (I tend to like to 'go deep' with studies and I'm usually the only one. People are "too busy" to want to read a lot when it comes to studies.)

Elizabeth (Lizzie) said...

I always look forward to reading how God used each person in your family to bless others. I think it's an awesome tradition and I have shared the idea with several of my friends.
Thanks for sharing!

Cathy said...

Thank you for sharing Sara. I love hearing how you guys give your gifts.

Happy New Year.

Tiffany said...

I love a giving spirit and you and your family demonstrate that well:) Thank you for sharing!

Angie said...

As I read through your family member's choices, I kept thinking, "Oh, that's my favorite" each time! :)

I LOVE hearing about where the Lord leads you. Every year I think to myself that I need to remember this idea so I am going to write it down in my goals for 2012 and we'll see if the Martens' can start a new tradition.

Happy New Year!

Jamie @ Six Bricks High said...

Love, love, love reading this! Your generosity is a blessing to so many!

rita said...

Love how God leads each one's giving.

I have so enjoyed Kay Arthur's study this year.

McCrakensx4 said...

Sara, You and your family are such blessings. It really warmed my heart reading each person's calling, although I must say that Jared's touched me the most with me teaching kindergarten and all. The past 4 years I worked at a Title 1 school where the kids didn't have a lot of money so I ended up buying most of their school supplies. I am sure all who were involved were tremendously blessed. Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas tradition and blessing those who read it!
~Stacey