Originally published Tuesday, 21 October 2014.
The holiday season is a time of thanksgiving and gratitude. It is a time to reflect. We gather around fires and giggle with family. We host parties, give gifts, and drink hot cocoa. We visit friends and tell old stories. We roast chestnuts on the open fire. (Has anyone ever actually done that?) We thank God for our blessings and often look for ways to bless others.
1. Sometimes, that blessing comes in the form of financial giving. It is a vital part of giving back to others. It is important that we understand that God often works through us to bless others. Maybe you think you don’t have much to give. It’s ironic how God uses what we deem to be insignificant to change the lives of others around us. I am sure that the little boy whose mom prepared his lunch of five loaves and two fish in John 6 didn’t receive his lunch and exclaim, “Wow, Mom. What a blessing!” He likely grabbed it and went about his day. He had no way of knowing that later that day his little contribution would become a blessing that not only blessed thousands that very day but many for generations to come.
2. Be faithful in your tithe to your local church. Do it because your Heavenly Father has already given you everything. May I challenge you to take it even a step further?
3. Go above the tithe and bless a charity, organization, missionary, or family this holiday season. Do it even when it doesn’t seem like much. Your little bit put in the hands of the more-than-enough God will be stretched further than you could ever imagine.
Beyond financial blessings, some of the most valuable blessings come through those who bless others with their time. To me, there is nothing worse than walking into a women’s Bible study when you do not know anyone. Okay, maybe there are a few things that are worse, but that ranks pretty high on my list. Walking into a new environment, convinced everyone has been lifelong friends and you are the only outsider, is like some type of ancient Chinese torture in my book. Nothing can make this girl feel more awkward and self-conscious. You stand there, unsure if you are in the right building. They stare. And then…it happens.
4. Be that one woman in the group - that one kind, friendly, smiling woman - to arise warmly and welcome others into the bunch. It makes all the difference.
Just like the smiling woman who greets a first-time visitor at a ladies’ Bible study, your time means something to someone else. For years now, all I’ve wanted for my birthday or Mother’s day was simply to spend time with my family. Having two teenagers who would much rather spend time with friends than family right now, their time is so valuable to me. An undistracted conversation with them (sans cell phone) is worth more than gold to me. And guess what? Someone feels that way about your time, too.
Working with single mothers, many of whom are financially stretched, they often have a heart to serve and want to know how they can do more, serve more, and bless others who have blessed them.
5. My response is always “your time.” Give of your time. They are thousands in nursing homes desperate for a chatty visitor. There are neighbors who need a cup of coffee with a caring friend. There are grandmothers who would love an unexpected visit from grandchildren, widows how need a hug. Read a book to a child who may not otherwise get that time. Spend uninterrupted time with your own children. Your time is a blessing.
Blessings to others come in a variety of packages – your time, talent, and treasure. What can you do to bless others this season?
** Article first appeared on ibelieve.com.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single moms’ and womens’ issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who has a God-given passion to see women walking in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has been featured in countless media venues.