I am so excited to have a “guest-blogger” for this GODwod post. My dear friend, Lauryn is celebrating a birthday this week and is asking for donations to a wonderful organization, Charity: Water, in lieu of gifts. She has challenged herself this year by going through a clothing fast, foregoing any new clothes and using that money to help others instead. I have loved hearing the creative, awesome, selfless ways that she has quietly helped others in need this past year.
Lauryn is very special to me. Not only is she my official training partner (meaning she is subjected to daily workouts with just me!), but she is very much responsible for leading me back to Christ. As she grew in her relationship with God, I could not help but notice this indescribable goodness that began emanating from her. I very much wanted some of that goodness for myself which led me back to church and accepting God into my heart. You never know what kind of example you might be setting, huh? Her husband, Cope, is also my partner in leading GODwod, our CrossFit small group we organize through the Church of the Highlands.
I hope you will enjoy her post and will consider making a $10.00 donation to Charity: Water in her honor. I promise it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that together, we can make a difference.
Every year in December, our church has a Legacy Offering for missions that reach local, national and international efforts. In November, the leaders of the church provide the congregation with information about where that year’s offerings will go, as well as inform us of the lives affected through the previous year’s generous giving. The church is careful about not making people feel coerced into giving so we are encouraged to go home to mull it over with God to decide how much to give. The actual offering occurs several weeks later. Fortunately, our church is known for “big giving,” going above the national average, and these donations are used to impact lives across the globe every day. It is truly inspiring to be a part of that.
In December 2013, Cope and I spent time praying and talking about the Legacy Offering. And by that, I mean we spent five minutes discussing it on the way to church the day of the offering! We truly didn’t come to a decision on how much to give until the offering bucket was almost to us. Cope wrote an amount on the check and showed it to me. I gave a little nod, and we put it in the bucket. There! We did it! It was a decent amount, and I felt it was a “respectable” offering.
But honestly… It didn’t hurt me at all. I didn’t feel the pull of sacrifice for others in any way throughout 2014. I still spent lots of money on clothes, jewelry, eating lunch with my girlfriends, $5 coffees, traveling to Disney World, going on a family ski trip, and re-decorating my bedroom (just to name a few things!).
As the time approached for last year’s Legacy Offering, I really felt God pulling on my heart. He was saying, “Make it hurt. Make a real sacrifice. Choose others over yourself. Do something that will truly make a difference.” God knew that to truly change my heart, I needed to change my intentions.
As silly as this may sound to you, I felt called to do a “clothing fast” in which I vowed not to purchase any clothing for an entire year. The money I would have normally spent on clothes would instead be used to help someone else.
Let me preface this by saying that I haven’t always had a lot of clothes. I grew up with three sisters and divorced parents. There wasn’t a lot of room in our budget for me to spend money on clothes. I spent most of my high school and college years borrowing clothes from my friends. But now that I’m a grown up, I can afford to buy clothes whenever I want. I have a wonderful husband who supplies me with all of my needs and then some. He may occasionally chastise me for over-spending, but I typically have free range with how I choose to spend our money. And I found that I was spending it like crazy… on clothing!
When I had an occasion or an event, you better believe that I wouldn’t even consider looking into my own closet for something to wear. I went straight to a boutique or online to find something (not that I needed the excuse of an event!). The daily shopping e-mail blasts delivered to my phone not only consumed my time but were also a constant temptation to do a little online browsing. The majority of the time, I could justify any purchase as something that I “needed.” Oh, and let’s not forget the TJ Maxx trap. I am quite the Maxxonista, and anything at TJ Maxx is an automatic sale for me. I can justify a Kate Spade bag at TJ Maxx any day of the week. I mean, really, that’s just good economics!
I am eight months into my fast, and it has been an incredible experience. I have had to find ways to overcome my sense of materialism and my sense of gaining self-worth through my appearance. God has taken control of this area of my life, and it’s been awesome how much will power I have had! Whenever I get a sense of entitlement or self-pity because I want a new pair of jeans or a new outfit for an event, God has shown me someone or something that would greatly benefit from my giving and my sacrifice.
In addition to the money that we gave towards the Legacy Offering, we have also sponsored a child in Africa through Help One Now (go to https://www.helponenow.org to find out more). We have supported mission trips around the world, and we have given anonymously to people when we see a need. I even gave $20 to someone in the parking lot at Target the other day! It has been an amazing experience, and I feel like even though I am making a tiny sacrifice, I am seeing the world through a different lens. It has shown me that there is so much truth to Matthew 6:21- “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I think we are so blessed- not only because God has provided us with all of our basic needs, but also because of that, He has more expectations of us. I have learned we can truly make a difference in the world with only a tiny bit of our expendable income.
Okay… I just went back and read this, and it sounds EXTREMELY self-righteous so it’s “confession time.” Here goes… I used store credit from Rue La La to buy 2 tops. I recently purchased a bra. I asked for a bathing suit for Mother’s Day (I got two!). I traded with a friend who sells CAbi for a couple of samples.
And now here’s my convicter- my birthday is coming up this month. I will admit over 2 months ago, I started thinking about my birthday presents. I was dog-earing the J. Crew and Anthropologie catalogs and leaving them in conspicuous places for Cope to find. I was making a mental list of things that I was going to ask for from my family. Oh, I couldn’t wait to get something new! I deserved something new! I’ve sacrificed so much! (You can vomit here.)
And then about a month ago, I was listening to my new favorite podcast by Rob Bell. He had a guest speaker from an organization called Charity: Water that builds wells for people in developing countries- for people that don’t have water, y’all! Not people that don’t have the newest and cutest Free People shirt!
Scott Harrison, the founder, shared the story of the organization’s roots and said they give 100% of donations directly to the water projects (not a typo- 100%!). I am compelled. I am drawn in. I am loving this organization! (You can listen to the podcast here: http://robbell.podbean.com/e/episode-29-water-for-everyone-the-scott-harrison-interview/)
Then, the kicker- Harrison said that one of the best ways to raise money for Charity: Water is to ask for donations in lieu of gifts for your birthday. Oooohhhh, what? Seriously, God? Have I not given up enough for you this year? You want my birthday too? That hurts!
Oh, how humbling. As I listened to the stories about the lives of those who do not have access to clean water, I had tears streaming down my face. I thought, “Thank you, God. Thank you that my concerns are so petty and silly, and thank you that you have opened my eyes to the needs of others.”
So, guess what? No new clothes for me!
This year, I am donating my birthday to Charity: Water. Because I am turning 37, I am asking my friends and family to donate $37 to this organization in lieu of gifts. Click here should you feel so inclined: https://my.charitywater.org/5db8f840-8211-41d0-809b-513a4ac2f3a8/39f18dbf-48ae-4172-bb6a-d7365ebd9bf7
Be sure to spend some time on the website to read the stories of how simply having access to clean water can impact the lives of so many in our world. You will be humbled and amazed and also blessed to be a part of it. And maybe you will decide to donate your birthday as well!
We all want to make a difference in this world. Here’s your chance!