How to Really Give

Alternately titled : Crying in My Black Bean Soup


The last 4 (four) Saturdays, my kids have run rampant, watching too much TV, staying in pajamas all day, playing-fighting while Mom and Dad punched numbers, staring at computer screens.  (Grandparents were able to come to the rescue this past week!) But its been a hard month. It’s been tedious entering hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of $3, $10, $25 and $100+ donations into an accounting program for Mercy House and making it all balance.

Balance. We haven’t had it.

And can I just lay pretense aside and whisper hard words?  It’s the only time in this crazy, God-journey that I’ve wanted to walk away.

But instead, I’ve wiped away the tears of frustration and exhaustion and pressed in, thanking God for every dollar that has been given to Mercy House. Pushing the mom-guilt away, praying, while counting on God to give my kids grace to understand the road we are traveling.

Just before lunch last Saturday, we drug boxes into the living room from you. Childbirth kits, piles of umbilical cord clamps and stethoscopes. It’s a mountain of necessities that will save the lives of tiny African babies. My oldest asked a lot of questions as she fingered peri bottles and mesh underwear.

“What else do we need, Mom?” She asked as she pulled up the latest collection drive on the Internet. I don’t even remember my answer. Something I would regret.

Lunch time turned us to the table, black bean soup simmering, so we pushed boxes heavy laden with their live-saving resources into the garage. We broke away from the screens to eat together.

And that’s when my daughter pulled a folded bill from her pocket and laid it on the table.

I looked at her confused and she said, “I want to give this. I want to buy something needed for the maternity house. I can buy something with my money to help.” In an instant,  her questions made sense and I knew what this cost her. $10 dollars of her precious birthday money, counted and recounted, saving to furnish her doll house.

I started crying in my black bean soup.

My son, respect for his big sister in his eyes, “Mom, you know that $7 I have? I want to give it too. I want to help.”

Hot tears dripped.

The four year old taking in her siblings gifts and her Momma’s tears disappeared from the table

I blew my nose in my napkin. I marveled.

She returned and dumped her clenched fist of coins and lint in the center of the table.

“I want to help Mercy House too, Momma,” she said proudly.

My husband, holding back his own tears and laughter, said, “Thank you, honey. Where did you get that money?”

“From Momma’s purse.”

And we all laughed. Giggles and tears mixing.

I choked out “I love you” to the beautiful faces surrounding me. They get it. This isn’t my journey, it’s our journey. We are learning how to really give together.

It was a profound moment I will never forget it

I thought I knew something about giving. My kids know a lot more.

(And then they refused to try the black bean soup and had pb & j …. holy moment over, but sealed in my heart forever)

How to Really Give:

  • Don’t limit your giving or make it fit into your pre-conceived ideas  -give of yourself, your time, your money, your life. Give more than feels comfortable.
  • Involve your children-even let them lead you. There’s a reason God asks us to have child-like faith.
  • Trust God-giving is partner to trust. We often don’t give because we don’t trust. It’s hard to really give with open hands when we’ve clenched our fists over what we possess.
  • Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with giving! There’s something deeply spiritual and satisfying about letting it go and giving it away.

Opportunities to Give:

  • Today is the 3rd day of the month. For just $3, you can join more than a hundred others and give $3 on the third of every month to remember and pray for the 3 girls raped in Kenya every 45 minutes. Giving doesn’t always have to be big to make a difference. Would you consider joining the Power of 3?
  • February Collection Drive for Mercy House has begun!

And of course, there are countless other ways to give….sponsor a child through Compassion…giving locally to those in need. Look for opportunities and you will find them.

P.S. Tomorrow, I can’t wait to tell you about a family that has been instrumental in helping us with Mercy House. You may feel led to give to them. Can I encourage you to be open to God’s prodding? YOU will be blessed!

How to Really Love Yourself

[Note: We are learning how to really live together. This isn't an instruction guide. The posts in this series are my open journal. Please include your thoughts in the comments. Let's find out together how to really live!]

It’s probably not a surprise that when you talk about How to Really Live, God gives you ample opportunity.

Only I have been: surprised. I didn’t know I would receive a call right after writing this post from a (very) distant relative who needs to be really loved.

And I didn’t know that in the days leading up to writing about how to really love yourself, I wouldn’t: love myself.

Truly, I am more the student than the teacher. I am in the classroom of life, sitting in the back, squinting to find the answer.

How do I really love myself? How do I love the me that just yesterday crawled into her oldest child’s bed, thankful to find her awake, reading, and burrowed my face into her sleeve and cried, asking forgiveness for harsh words?

I know myself well. I present a picture to you, the world, even my family. I try to be the same person, but I know me. I know the thoughts I have, the jealousy, the anger, the selfishness that I stuff down.

(I don’t love that this is the only picture of me at my in-laws farm over the holidays)

In learning how to really love myself, I’m learning that God wants me to love myself. It’s not vanity or self-centeredness. I was created in His image. We were divinely created to glorify Him. He doesn’t stop loving us when our jeans stop fitting. He doesn’t withdraw his affection when we’re stingy with ours.

He loves you.

He wants you to love yourself.

How do you (we) really love ourselves?

Forgive Yourself

Accept Yourself

Nourish Yourself

__________________________

Forgive yourself-do it. Forgive. You. Give yourself permission to let it go. Hand it over to Him. You can’t expect others to forgive you if you can’t forgive yourself. And I’ve learned that this is on-going.

Accept yourself-stop trying to change what isn’t supposed to change. I’m all for self-transformation…becoming more like Him. But often we try to transform ourselves into someone else. This isn’t God’s plan. Accept who He made you to be. He gave you that nose, the tall frame, the funky thumb (okay, that’s mine). Change what needs to be changed (mostly inward) and accept the rest. Once we accept Him, we are transformed into a new creation.

Nurture yourself- you need community. You need friends and family. You need God’s Word, time with Him. You need worship and sustenance. Don’t starve yourself. You need to feed  yourself well-physically and spiritually.

How do you really love yourself?

How to Really Love Others

[Note: We are learning how to really live together. This isn't an instruction guide. The posts in this series are my open journal.  Please include your thoughts in the comments. Let's find out together how to really live!]


When I was in the seventh grade, I learned an unforgettable lesson on how to not love others. I was a Christian and made the fact known. Most days, I really tried to honor God in my junior high world. I even prayed for my unsaved classmates.

I ran hurdles (try not to laugh, because, lo, it was funny) for my school. My biggest competitor was a teammate. She was faster, better and I didn’t like it. At the District meet, I walked up to a group from my school and I started talking ugly about her. I gossiped and criticized and completely left Jesus in the bleachers. One of the girls caught my attention and pointed to the girl sitting at my feet: the very one I was talking badly about.

I was dumbfounded. Convicted. Embarrassed. And pretty much spent the rest of the school year, rebuilding my reputation as a Christian.

I’ve learned well how not to love others. I’m still in school on learning how to love others well.

I will tell you this: We cannot really love God, if we do not really love people (even, especially the ones that are hard to love).

It’s one of the hard sayings in the Bible: “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” -I John 4:20-21

So. How can we really love people?

Put Others in Front of Ourselves

Practice Really Loving God


Put Others First
-Let’s face it: our natural tendency is to take care of ourselves. We are good at it-experts! We know what we like, when we like it and we want it our way. This crazy, commandment, the second greatest of all by God is basically impossible. Loving other people, as much as or more than we love ourselves?

Practice Really Loving God-That takes us right back to the first commandment. When we really, truly love God, He gives us the supernatural capacity to really love others-more than we love ourselves.

[Of all the people in the world, moms are the closest to really getting this. We love our kids more than we love ourselves. We give them the first bite, lay in bed for weeks on end to keep their unborn lives safe, endure years of painful infertility, give them a kidney...the list is endless. Moms love their kids unselfishly. But we still struggle with loving others, putting them in front of ourselves.]

I’m learning and asking God to expand my love for others.

How do you really love others?

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Further Resources:

Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself part 1

Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself part 2–these are powerful sermons by John Piper.

List of 100 tangible ways to love others

How to Really Love God

[Note: We are learning how to really live together. This isn't an instruction guide. The posts in this series are my open journal.  Please include your thoughts in the comments. Let's find out together how to really live!]

I have one son.

He is my husband’s father’s namesake.

He is the only Welch that will carry on our family name. So much is wrapped up in this one little boy.

I would die for him.

Because I love him.

I think of another Son. An only, too.

And His father who looked upon Him and loved Him, had dreams and plans. But the story is different.

This Father sent His only Son to die for me. He gave it all, for all.

Because He loves us.

Most days, at best, I give a little back to Him.

I throw a pathetic prayer His way, while I’m rushing to get to the next thing.

I hurry through stale Bible reading because, it too, is on the list. A duty that loses it’s meaning when it becomes dutiful.

And yet, I hunger because conquering the “to do list” never satisfies. To really know Him, to really love God.

How do I? In a world that calls just that desire, radical.

I have to start at the start.

The greatest command: “Love the Lord, Your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”-Matt. 22:37-38

I love love. I was one of those teenage girls who recorded love songs and slept with headphones on…dreaming of  love. I wore my heart on my sleeve, drew puffy hearts on paper and yet never had a boyfriend my whole time in high school! I was an expert on love, but lived without being in it or even understanding that love equals sacrifice.

How does the Bible define love: God is love. In a supreme act of love, He sent His only Son to die for us, so that we might live. -I John 4:10

How do we love God who is love?

Because in loving The God Who Is Love, we bring glory to Him.

How to really love God:

    -Recognize Him in everything

    -Receive His love for you

    -Reserve time with Him

  • Recognize that God created all and is in all. He is in the falling rain. He is in the warm sun. He is in the valley and on the mountaintop. Acknowledge Him in the low and high places, journey with Him.
  • Receive His deep and abiding love for you. (YOU). It’s not earned or rewarded. It’s freely given. And when we accept His simple, profound love, we want to return it to Him.
  • Reserve time-don’t just carve out a space, don’t add Him to your life like a seasoning, make Him the main course. Build your life, dreams, home around Him. Make Jesus the central focus. Don’t spend dutiful time with Him, turn your heart towards Him out of relationship.

How do you really love God? Please share your thoughts, so we can learn how to really live together.

Next week, How to Really Love Others

How to Really Live

I’ve been thinking about living.

I mean really living: Loving well. Laughing hard. Leaving this earth without regrets.

How do we really live?

Because this. is. it. There isn’t a redo, a rewind, a recapture. You only get today…

In 2011, I want to learn

How to Really Love God

How to Really Love Others

How to Really Love Myself

How to Really Give

How to Really Laugh

How to Really Love My Husband

How to Really Fight for Your Marriage

How to Really Love My Kids

How to Really Pray for Your Kids

How to Really Make a Home

How to Really Love Your Life

How to Really Admit When You’re Wrong

How to Really Forgive

How to Really Follow Dreams

How to Really Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

How to Really…..


Let’s do it. Every week, we’ll explore and learn together in a how to really live series.

What do you want to learn?