She has been gifted with creativity, passion and intelligence, but the best part about her? A beautiful, intentional, and generous heart.
I love to read the words that pour from her mind, and witness the journey that God is taking her on. I couldn't be a bigger fan of all of the lovely that is Tidbit, the friendship that she shares with Shauna, or the fun to be had at Cake and Cotton. However, above all, when she shared this simple and meaningful idea with me, I could not contain my tears.
With that, I would like to introduce you to Leslie.
I challenge you to make this Thanksgiving about something more than food and football. Our family is planning to adopt this tradition this year. I truly believe it will change all of our hearts in unexpected ways.
Socks are in my Cornucopia
My family gets into Thanksgiving, especially the food part. Every year, we have an excessive amount of food. A turkey AND a ham. Three kinds of potato preparations (mashed, cheesy potato bake, and marshmallow yams). Several other vegetables, salads and breads. And for only about twenty people, our spread always includes five or six desserts. My dessert plate, to be enjoyed after my tummy is already well-filled, typically carries three different slices of something sweet. After the chattering of mothes negotiating the minimum number of required green beans for excusal subsides, and all the emptied plates clank into a stack next to the sink, the men usually sink into a semi-comatose state in front of a football game. Turkey, wine and the monotonous voice of the announcer are a sleep-inducing trifecta on Thanksgiving day. The women stand around the kitchen island, exclaiming how much food is left over, then plotting and exchanging strategies for Christmas shopping.
This is what we've done every year, as long as I can remember. Until last year.
Last year, the squeeze of harder economic times began to seep into the world around us. We began to see signs of the impact in our communities. While driving through shopping centers, it was no longer rare to see a man begging, with a sign pleading for help. And no longer unheard of to see his wife and three children sitting on the sidewalk next to him.
I always have this train of thought: Do I hand him money? But then what will he spend it on? Do I drive through that McDonald's and buy him some lunch instead? Are they even homeless, because their clothes don't look shabby. Maybe it's just a scam. Maybe I better roll up my windows and hit the lock button on the doors.
I hate that line of thinking. But I love the idea our church adopted to help us help others. The idea was to make up kits in plastic zipper bags to keep in your car and hand out when you came across a needy person in the community. The bags contain all sorts of necessities. And every one of those necessities is something I take for granted. Take socks. One pair of socks is on the list of suggested items. Imagine not ever changing your socks. Do you know how many pairs of socks I have? Workout socks, tall socks for boots, cozy socks for the cold, slipper socks, colored socks...all crammed tightly into the drawer I have just for socks. My cornucopia, my metaphorical bounty of blessings, is stuffed with socks. And, for that matter, shampoo, soap, Tylenol, utensils, food, and everything else on the list.
So last year at Thanksgiving, my family took on the challenge to spend the day packing these bags. We had 20 people, so we decided to pack 40 bags, two for each adult's car. Each person brought something to contribute, according to his or her ability. One person was able to bring 2 boxes of plastic zipper bags, and one person purchased 40 knit beanies. But everyone gave something.
We made piles of the items "buffet style" around a large table, and then walked through the line, adding each item to our bags. Some of us quietly prayed for the recipients. Some of us helped our children fill bags, explaining how we are called to share our blessings with those in need. Some of us wished we had more bags to fill. But all of us walked away from Thanksgiving feeling more thankful. Instead of just indulging ourselves, we stood mindful of the scarcity of others and leaned into generosity. And counted our blessings with a holy awe.
If you too would like to initiate such an event on Thanksgiving Day or any other day, here is the list of items and some things to note for making Blessed to Bless Bags.
Notes: - A 1 gallon zipper bag can hold a lot more than I expected. We bought bigger ones, but the 1 gallons worked fine. - Your bags could have any number of items in them. Don't feel discouraged if you cannot provide every item on the list. They are all just suggestions. - I sent out an email to all the guests, asking them to sign up for one or two items on the list, and to reply to all recipients so that the items were not duplicated. You could also send out an Evite and utilize the function where guests can select something to bring off a provided list. - Also, I did not host Thanksgiving. I just asked the hosts if I could initiate this activity, and they happily obliged. Sometimes you just have to be the one who gets the ball rolling.
Suggested Items: 1 gallon Ziploc bag 1 Juice box Throat lozenges Trial size Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen hand sanitizer hand or face lotion packaged hand wipes lip balm soap/shampoo Small selection of ready-to-eat protein rich food such as: Cheese and crackers Power bar Tuna in a bag (no cans requiring an opener) Vienna sausages Beef jerky One sweet item such as canned fruit or pudding Plastic utensils and napkin Washcloth Small bible or bible tract Bus Schedule Prepaid phone card Gloves/ knit beanie (someone found them for $4/ea at Walmart) Resource list for the homeless Pair of men's socks
You will bless Someone. And this Someone may have no one to eat with, drink with, or be grateful for this holiday season. Someone thinks no one sees him, but I know God sees him.
Let's be God's hands, opening our own, remembering all our blessings are from Him to begin with.
And wearing our socks with gratitude.
Visit Leslie's blog. You will leave stretched and encouraged. Think about getting your family together to make your own sets of Blessed to Bless bags. Blog about it and challenge others to participate too. Something seemingly so small, could make such a big difference in the lives of the hurting all around us.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. -Luke 12:48