Today I wanted to share the gift I decided to give my nephew for his 1st birthday. I wish I had thought to do this for my other nieces and nephew (sorry kiddos) but now that I’m much older, wiser, and tad wealthier, I decided to go out on a limb and do something different.
I was inspired by a gift my daughter had received when she was a baby and something I had also gotten as a child — Saving’s Bonds. Rebecca received a handful of them from a few different family members when she was born and when she wanted to travel to Lithuania while she was in college, those bonds helped pay for her very expensive airline ticket. Those savings bonds gave her an opportunity she might have otherwise missed.
So instead of buying toys and random gifts for the next 20 years, I’ve made a commitment to put that money into a savings account for him. Today I set up an account online and started it off with with his first gift. I found a savings account through Capital One that doesn’t require a minimum deposit or balance and has no fees attached. I’ll be able to keep adding to it as I please, without worrying about more money coming out than might be going in.
So the big challenge with a gift like this is to present it in a fun, meaningful and creative way. At first I thought I would find a toddler book and include an inscription, then I thought I’ll buy a toy this time and include a card with the details, then I came across a little box of cars that came in a variety of styles and found the perfect inspiration for the most creative way to present our gift.
I printed up matching tags that read like this: “River, Someday . . .”
My husbands a fireman so we like to get the babies firemen outfits and trucks in attempt to influence their future career.
attached to a cute pink car (my favorite)
tied to an adorable tow truck
and ended it with the final explanation: “So today, every birthday and every Christmas – and sometimes in between – we will put $XX into a special account just for you. No matter what your dreams, when you are all grown up, you’ll have a little something extra to help you reach them.”
I’m so happy with the way this turned out that I thought it would be great to share and help others get their creative juices flowing.
Watch for the very profound, simple little verse in the middle of 1 Corinthians 12:14-31.
I’ve repeated it in several translations so you’ll get the bigger picture.
14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
19But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. (Message)
19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! (NLT)
20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
When you take on more than what God has designed you to accomplish, you create a lopsided ugly monster that is apart from the body of Christ. You need to prayerfully consider, what part of the body, what gifts he has given to you, and become grounded in that knowledge. It is impossible for an ear to see, and a nose to walk, so take comfort in knowing that if others in the body of Christ are not contributing their part, God does not expect you to morph into the entire body, he didn’t design it that way, he doesn’t want you to do it all.
Good intentions are just that, good intentions. While the intent behind them may be good, they have the ability to do an amazing amount of damage to your character if you’re not careful with them.
Take a look at Luke 14:28-30
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.They would say, `There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
When we verbalize our good intentions to others but don’t follow through, we make a mockery of ourselves. We lose face, we lose favor, we lose trust.
It doesn’t matter if your good intention is taking someone to coffee, or launching a bold new campaign, before you verbalize it, you need to commit to it. Plan it out, calendar it in, gather support, protect it at all costs and stick with it til the end.
If you can’t commit to it, can’t follow through with it, then don’t communicate it.
“Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again?Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away.” – Luke 34-35
My husband and I decided to take some of the money we would have spent on our family this year and instead spend it on others. We’ve always contributed to gift projects like Angel Tree, and helped to support local families in need, but we wanted to do something that would get our kids involved in a more direct way.
After careful thought and prayer we decided to help the homeless by putting together a care packages full of useful items and then personally giving them to 5 people we find living on the street.
Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about the sorts of things that we would like to have if we were homeless. I’m so proud of my kids for coming up with a very creative list of items. This last Sunday we went shopping using the list we had created. We let our kids choose themselves what they wanted or didn’t want to include. The only rule was to stay under $25. We were amazed at what we were able to purchase for $25. For instance one of the care packages has:
Super cute Christmas Blanket
4 waterless toothbrushes
Package of Baby wipes
12 individually wrapped pastries or crackers
3 sets of plasticware
Can of vienna sausage
Can of Soup
2 Carabiner clips
Plastic Shower Curtain
and one mesh bag to hold it all
Tonight we took time to wrap and assemble each care package so it would be special, fun and unique to the person who receives it. Thursday, on Christmas Eve Day, we will hop in the car and begin our search for 5 homeless people to give our gifts to. I have to be honest, I’m a little nervous, so I’m asking for your prayer.
Please pray that
God would direct us to the right 5 people
Our choices of items would be perfect for each person
We would clearly show the love of Jesus to each person we meet
As we find each person, we would not have to turn others away
We would be safe
That we will remember every day how blessed we are
Monday we got up and met everyone for Breakfast at Denny’s at 9am. Pastor Shankula shared a really good devotional that reminded us that we don’t need much in order to share Jesus with others. We don’t need money, we don’t need fancy technology, we don’t even need to be a great speaker.
He shared a few passages that reminded us as long as we are present, have our testimony, obey his prompting, and allow his spirit to work through us, we have enough.
When we got to the church in Watsonville it was great reunion to see the Peña family and Alma again. After lot’s of hugs and smiles we all got to work setting up for the day.
3:30pm rolled around and the only kids we had were the Pastor’s. So we decided to wait a little while and by 4:15, twenty-three kiddo’s had arrived.
Our first day’s lessons got off to a rough start. We hadn’t planned to have a translator but added one at the last minute and that takes some getting used to, so it threw the flow of the lesson off a bit. Still, two girls had accepted Christ before the end of the program that day. What an exclamation mark to the message Pastor Shankula had delivered in the morning.
On a personal note, the craft I had agonized over, went really well. We had the kids decorate pillow cases with fabric paint brushed onto large sea shaped stamps. The kids got super creative and they all turned out really cute.
My favorite part of this trip is watching the older boys come and participate. There are six of them between the ages of 14 and 22. They are wearing name tags, listening to the lessons, playing games and yes, working on the crafts. The oldest told one of our team, he doesn’t believe in God. So Luis and Ben chatted with him a while and explained the gospel and who God is. We could tell that he still left uncertain, but curious.
This week my family and I are off on a mission trip to Salinas, California to work with local churches who serve many of the migrant workers in the area. Our team will split into three groups and will help host a Vacation Bible School at three local churches serving Salinas, Watsonville, and Hollister.
We left our house this morning at 5:45am. Met the rest of the team at Shadow and got on the road at 7:30am. Robert drove a van full of women, and Hector. And I followed with our boys in the Toyota Tacoma. I think we stopped for potty breaks and stretching at least 5 times.
I have to say, I’m glad we’re finally here, in the hotel, where I can put my feet up and relax a little. All day Saturday, I kept thinking I must be crazy. I just finished Summer Blast and and have put in 60+ hours for the last 3 weeks and now, my first day off, I’m busy packing for a mission trip that leaves tomorrow? What was I thinking when I said yes? Not only did I need to pack myself, but I organized 3 face painting kits and finished getting the rest of the craft supplies ready and samples made.
Today’s drive was tough. I didn’t sleep much last night, and kept getting drowsy, but I pushed through and got here safe and sound.
Tomorrow, I get to leave the hustle and bustle of my everyday life behind and jump into the world of Pastor Fillipe and his congregation. They are loving, relaxed and grateful people. I’ll get work with a small group of 30-50 kids, teaching them crafts and sharing God’s word. It will do my soul good.
I feel like one of the choreographers on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
As the Designer of Children’s Outreach and Special Events I just finished the week spearheading our largest outreach event of year. This past week we hosted 1300 kids on campus and 450 volunteers for our annual Summer Blast (VBS) week of fun.
It was an amazing week, but like any event had it’s ups and downs, some brilliant moments and yes, many glitches.
I just finished sending an e-mail to all the parents and all the volunteers asking for their feedback. What they liked, disliked, their ideas and suggestions. It’s almost like getting voted on. Do you love it, or do you not.
Crazy thing is, I really want to know what they think. I want the specifics. I can only improve our event when I have an opportunity to see it through other’s peoples eyes and experiences.
I’m sure some of the feedback will bring much joy, and some much frustration, but each piece is important and I’m ready for honesty.
Bring it all on, I’m ready to hit the ground running for next year.
A small seedling bounced and skipped along a long, dusty dirt road until it came to rest beside a fertile anthill. The ants pushed and pulled the rich soil until the little seed was covered in darkness.
The cold, winter skies brought forth rain that soaked the dry ground, surrounding the little seed in thirst quenching water.
At last, like a long lost friend, along came the warm Sun and enticed the little seed to come out of her protective shell.
As the little shoot sprouted and pushed her way into the fresh air, she realized how small she was compared to the big world around her. She looked to the right and noticed the dirt road had no beginning. She looked to the left and saw it had no end.
Towering over her stood a sea of wheat grass that swayed back and forth in the breeze. Occasionally she was able to spot a glimpse of the beautiful wildflowers that hid among the wheat grasses. From high above, the Sun’s loving rays shone down on the expansive field she called home.
The darkness came and the wheat grass danced and played in the moonlight. The wildflowers curled their petals into a protective silence and the little sprout shook and shivered with fear and worry.
However, her anxiety vanished as she discovered that even though she could not always see the Sun, she could always trust in his timely, faithful and promised return.
The pesky weeds took root in the fields and unmercifully pestered the seedling. They were quick and obnoxious and would try to choke out the little bud . . .
but the Sun’s bright rays encouraged her to be strong and to keep reaching toward him. Every day she would track the Sun’s movement from the east to the west, and she kept her leaves turned to the sky, until at last, the his hot rays would wilt and burn out the pesky weeds.
When the seasonal thunderstorms would pass overhead the wheat grass bent and buckled under the weight of the raindrops. The wildflowers stood tall and proud allowing the warm water to cleanse their petals and leaves.
The young bud didn’t enjoy the violent weather, but she noticed after each storm, she grew taller and stronger than before.
One summer morning the not so little bud began to bloom as the Sun rose quietly and slowly overhead. Petal after petal sprang to life until her sun kissed face was surrounded by a beautiful golden halo.
Now fully grown, the beautifully radiant Sunflower sat atop her sturdy and slender stalk for the entire world to admire. There she stood, taller than any others, brighter than any others and bolder than any others–a brilliant reflection of the Sun who had so tenderly brought her to life.
It was a particularly lazy day when the Sunflower gazed at the Sun with wonder; what more is there to do, what else is there to experience?
Moments later, the sun quietly slipped behind the gloomy clouds of a mighty tornado allowing its wrath to devour the land. The extreme winds whipped the tall wheat grass into shreds and blew the dust and pebbles from the long dirt road into the nearby ditches.
The wildflowers thrashed about in the storm leaving their petals torn and tattered. Thru the fury the courageous sunflower blew to and fro. Her roots dug deeper into the soil as she became more and more determined to withstand the fury.
To and fro, she bent farther and farther than she ever had before. She was scared and frightened and anxiously anticipated the Sun’s return. To and fro the wind continued to blow. Then, just as swiftly it had arrived the tornado disappeared into the horizon.
The warm and loving Sun peered from behind the dark, cold clouds gazing upon the battered field. There lay the beautiful, bold sunflower. Her roots still firmly grasping the ground, and her face still turned toward the sun, her sturdy, slender stalk snapped in half.
As the sunflower began to fade into the dusty earth, the wheat grass bowed in reverence over her beautiful flowered face; the raindrops fell like tears from the wildflowers leaves and the Sun rejoiced in the sky.
Her purpose was fulfilled, and the multitude of seeds she left behind could now be tenderly nurtured into the beautiful, bold and brilliant Sunflowers she would want them to be.
Copyright Katie Williams 2008 – All rights reserved. When
sharing this story with others, please be sure to include the dedication to
Katie Roth under the title. Please contact me for permission to use in print or
other public forums including posting on the Internet.