On a spring day in Pennsylvania, a poor boy was selling goods to pay his way through school. The year was 1863, and the boy was going door-to-door to meet his goal. While traveling through the countryside, he became hungry. He only had a dime left, so he decided to ask for food at the next house.
However, he lost his nerve to ask the young woman who answered the door for a meal. Instead, he asked for a drink of water. Thinking he looked hungry, the woman brought him a large glass of milk. After he slowly savored the nourishment, he asked her, “How much do I owe you?”
The young woman replied, “You don’t owe me anything. Our mother taught us never to accept payment for a kindness.”
The boy said, “Then, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
As the young man walked away, he not only felt physically stronger, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up.
How many of us make New Year’s resolutions but fail to follow through? We resolve to lose weight and get healthy. We promise ourselves we’ll pay off debt and save money. We plan to give up habits detrimental to our well-being. Most of the time, most of us don’t accomplish what we yearn to do.
Why do we begin a New Year full of hope and promise, only to fall back on old habits and ways of thinking? Is it because we’re trying to accomplish our goals without the help of the One who has our best interests at heart?
Instead of resolutions, what if we made commitments? What would that look like for each of us? What if we saw ourselves through the eyes of God’s Holy Word? Would that make a difference?
Make spiritual growth a commitment
What if our first commitment was to grow spiritually? Would that lead to healthier physical and fiscal habits? Would we drop pounds and fatten our bank accounts so we were physically and fiscally able to help others?
Good news: 13-year-old donates toys to hospital
For six years, a 13-year-old Columbus, Ohio, boy has been raising money to buy toys to give away at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This year, Caleb Silvia raised $5,000 to buy 500 toys for those who are hospitalized at Christmas.
Caleb, who founded Caleb Cares 4 Kids, which is an Ohio nonprofit LLC, knows what it’s like to experience hospital smells and lie in a hospital bed. For Caleb, his fundraising and helping others is personal.
When Caleb was 2-years-old, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Kawasaki Disease and spent time at Nationwide where he recalls the toy cart. Although he’s been free of the disease for years now, he recalls what it’s like to be in the hospital.
At 8 years of age, Caleb decided to donate some toys to the children in the hospital at Christmas. Now, his efforts have grown. Recently, Caleb and his family brought two vans overflowing with toys. They were met at the door by hospital employees who helped load up the carts and distribute the toys.
Says Caleb, “The ability to give back to a place close to my heart … it’s just something I feel passionate about.”
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that”—Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
Dressing for a doctor’s appointment, I felt led to slip on a seldom-worn bracelet, a gift from a dear friend. The sparkling jewelry was adorned with the symbol for breast cancer awareness. As I drove to my appointment, the charm dangled from my wrist, reminding me of how blessed I am. My cancer was caught early and my treatment was minimal.
Before entering the doors of the cancer center that hot July morning, I glanced again at the bracelet. A still, small voice said, “Give it away.”
Walking through the center, I searched the faces of those who were there for treatment. I was there for my yearly follow-up exam. Again, I was declared cancer-free.
The comfort of faith
Others were just beginning their journey. Some of their faces reflected fear while a peace surrounded those who, like me, had been declared cancer-free or understood the comfort of their faith. My heart ached for those who appeared lost. I prayed, “God, you want me to give this bracelet away. Show me who needs it the most.”
I searched the faces, praying for the right person to receive the bracelet. I’d almost given up hope, thinking I’d misunderstood God’s direction, when I recognized an older couple seated in the hallway outside one of the exam rooms. I feared one of them had been diagnosed with cancer.
After hugging both, I asked, “Are you okay?”
Grumbling, I cracked the shell of another hard-boiled egg. Just like the others, it spidered into a web of tiny cracks, meaning I’d be dislodging tiny pieces of the shell while risking the tearing of the white part of the egg.
While making a dozen deviled eggs doesn’t bother me, I’d been asked to make three dozen for our large family Thanksgiving gathering. Attending would be in-laws, cousins and a host of aunts, uncles and grandparents.
My history with deviled eggs
I knew my history with making deviled eggs. They might taste good, but their appearance wouldn’t win a culinary beauty contest. Since this was the first time for me to attempt this many eggs, I looked on the Internet two days before Thanksgiving for instructions to make the hard-boiled eggs easier to peel. I’d heard of different methods but couldn’t recall any.
Why all the Christmas stuff? We haven’t had Thanksgiving yet!”
You might expect these words from an adult who has become disenfranchised with the commercialism of Christmas. However, I overhead a boy, approximately 12-years-old, make this statement several weeks before Thanksgiving. I was attending a local charity event where some of the vendors had their booths stuffed with Christmas gifts and décor. While I tend to agree with the youngster, I understand the purpose of these events.
What I don’t like is seeing Christmas merchandise on display in businesses before the calendar reveals it is still September. I understand the “why.” However, I don’t have to like it.
What the polls say
A recent “Atlanta Journal-Constitution” story headline touted the following: “Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say they’d give up gift-giving this holiday season. Would you?”
According to the news article, a recent Harris Poll survey revealed that “69 percent of Americans said they would.”
The online U.S. poll, conducted over a three-day period, included responses from 2, 158 American adults, ages 18 and older, with 1,986 respondents saying they spend money on holiday-related items. However, 43 percent of those polled said “they feel pressured to buy gifts and spend more money than they can afford.”
The poll also revealed that with “the extra time and money saved by eliminating gift-giving, 60 percent of Americans said they’d spend more time with loved ones, 47 percent would save money or invest it, 37 percent would pay down debt and 25 percent said they would use the money on activities with friends and family.”