Hippies Letting Go in December

Standard

MM910001158Welcome to 2013!

I’d like to start off the year by telling you the story of our December:

Somewhere near the end of November, Handsome Hippie Hubby came home from work acting squirrelly.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said.

“Did you have a bad night?”

“No. It was fine.”

“You’re sure everything is OK?”

“Yes.  Everything is fine.”

Hmmm….

Finally, he worked himself up to it. “There’s something I need to talk to you about.”

Oh boy.  I never know what’s going to follow those words.

I never could have guessed.

“I think we should give away 50% of our income in December.”

Huh.

We had a day or two until rent was due and we weren’t going to make it.  Electricity, water and the car payment were all falling behind.  50%, eh?

We already gave 10% to the church. That was something we’d agreed on years ago.  But FIFTY?!

“Uhm.  Why?”

“I feel strongly that I’m being led to do this.  I think about money all the time.  I obsess over it.  I worry about it.  I lose sleep over it.  I need to let it go and feel good about it.  I can feel good about doing good things for people. I think it will help me.”

I knew this was one of those times I needed to be quiet and let him lead our household.  Giving so much seemed counter-intuitive in every way and in all honesty I was a little scared.  But who am I to question the still small voice, whispering in my husband’s ear?

So we embarked on 31 days of extreme (for us) giving.

We gave to the local food pantry and bought toys for Toys for Tots.  We gave to a young single mother we’d once seen give to someone else.  We gave to co workers and neighbors and the Salvation army.  Sweet Hippie Daughter helped us decide where we should give.  It’s sort of a lot of work to give so much!

We kept everything anonymous as much as possible.  It was important to both of us that people not feel “weird” about getting a gift from us and we weren’t doing it for the recognition.  We were just stepping out in faith.

It got really scary when we got shut off notices and demanding phone calls.

We kept reminding ourselves and each other that “today we have everything we need.  Tomorrow will work out.”

We kept giving.  We gave to United Way and we bought gas for strangers and we paid tuition for music students.

After a while it started to be more exciting than scary.

An odd thing happened.  HHH started earning more.  Not every night, but as Christmas approached and his restaurant got busier he would end up making so much, many nights, that “our half” would be as much as he would normally have made anyway.

We got $1,000 for food! That’s a lot of food!

We received a letter that our water bill and half of our electric bill had been paid!

We were able to make a payment on the van (only 4 more to go!).

Rent was late, but it did get paid.

Then the Free Stuff Train rolled into our world…

We got a new sofa and recliner  for free!  The young couple down the road had just purchased it a few months ago and they had split up and no one wanted it.   Would we like it?  Yes, please!

A friend said, “We upgraded our old-style flat screen to an LED.  Want it?  You can have the stand too.”  Yes, please!  (Our old TV was one step past the days of 2 knobs on the front and you had to use a special adapter to hook up the DVD player.  It was an OLD TV)

On Freecycle someone offered a ridiculously nice telescope, something that Sweet Hippie Daughter had been asking for.  Thanks to Freecycle we also found a Stitch doll she had asked for.  We found skis at a consignment shop for $7, and a snowboard for $12.  Santa’s work was done and he’d spent less than $20!  We’d saved so much, HHH couldn’t help but bring home a new bike for our slightly spoiled girl on Christmas Eve.  It was certainly her most “prosperous” Christmas morning ever!

There have been moments when we’ve wondered, “are we really doing the right thing?  Is this irresponsible? Was this really a prompting by God or just a random thought we followed?”

With one day left to go, we got the best possible answer to quiet any remaining doubt.  HHH said that he felt we should give to a family we know. They were having car trouble.  We had $215 to give so we handed it to them.  They were stunned. They had just gotten the estimate for the repairs.  It would be $200.

HHH and I just wept.  God had answered our question.  Yes, we were doing the right thing.  We were following His voice.

A former pastor of mine used to frequently remind us that, “your life may be the only gospel that some people ever hear.”  This is  a comment that has stuck with me in a very life changing way.

How can I tell the Good News of God’s love for us and of our redemption without using words?

Giving of our financial resources is certainly one way and we have been truly blessed beyond measure by having the opportunity to give radically this past month.  I’m not saying that everyone should do what we did, but I am suggesting that if you are clinging to something in the material world and you find a way to let go of it, God may bless you with something even better.  Have faith.  Your Father (or Mother, if you prefer) has promised to provide for you.

As the old saying goes, though, “money isn’t everything.”  What can I do to “be the Gospel?”  What else can I do to grow my faith and have a better relationship with my Creator?  What else can I do to bring glory to God?

Well…..

I’ve been thinking about ways I could refine and focus my blog this year, so when WordPress challenged bloggers to start a 52 week project in January these ideas all ran toward each other like the people in the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Commercials.

In 2013 I’ll be blogging about “52 Ways To Be A Better Christian.”

Each week I will do something (or refrain from doing something) in order to strengthen my faith.  Then I will share what I’ve done and, hopefully, start a discussion about how we who believe that Jesus’ message of faith and love and peace and redemption is truly the greatest Good News that has ever been given can help one another grow into the men and women God would have us be.

I invite you all to join me for this discussion and others at my new blog, “The Curious Theologian.”

Hope to see you there!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?  Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.  If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

Advertisements

21 responses »

  1. You are braver than I. I would have started paying my own bills pretty quickly instead of other people’s. And the only voices that talk that strongly to me just tell me to stay goofy & myself & that socks DO NOT have to match.

    But I think you proved something to your whole family with this experiment. Be sure to share with hippie daughter as well (Except, you know Freecycle=Santa Claus).

    • She was definitely part of the whole thing. She helped us pick out toys and buy food for the pantry and so forth. At first, it was very hard for her to choose something nice and give it away. She wanted to keep it all for herself, but she caught on and started having fun with it as well.

  2. Happy New Year to you! I’m excited about your new blog and have “followed”…and then went through and read all the posts – I’m looking forward to some challenging reading in 2013 and appreciate your courage in sharing.

  3. This post gave me chill bumps, tears, and all things happy. It has really inspired me to do more for others. I have a little rule for myself that every time I’m in a fast food drive-thru I always pay for the person’s order behind me. Just that little random act has brought me so much happiness and joy, so I cannot imagine the feelings that doing all those selfless, wonderful acts gave you and your family. Thank you for sharing such a meaningful post, I can’t wait to start giving back more in 2013. Happy New Year!

    • I’m so glad that it brought you some joy and inspiration! HHH and I discussed whether or not we should share it. We didn’t want to sound like, “Hey! Look what we did!” But we were hoping that it would encourage others to take some action as well. It is undeniable that you can’t give 100% selflessly, because you always get something in return! I love the idea of paying for the person behind me every time. It would be a blessing to them and it would encourage me to eat less fast food, knowing that my bill would be twice as much. hahahha

      • I totally know what you mean when it comes to telling people about things like this or not, haha! Rest assured it was VERY clear in your writing that you were doing it to inspire, encourage, and bring joy to others. In no way did it seem like you were tooting your family’s own horn 🙂 I never get tired of reading about peoples’ acts of kindness and ways in which they helped others. Just yesterday my best friend told me she was baking muffins for her garbage collectors and I’m going to do the same now. I think the more we share stuff like this the better it is! Unless you post it on facebook every time you do something nice hahaha, that could get a little out of hand.

        And as far as the fast food thing goes, yep you’re right! It’s funny now I get a little sad when the person behind me only got a drink or an ice cream, I’m like “daaang get more!” hahah! The looks on their faces when they see it’s been paid for though (regardless of how little they ordered) are priceless. Then you have to speed away quick 🙂 Thanks again for some huge new years inspiration to do good for others!

  4. Oh my! This was so beautiful it made me cry. And I seldom cry. How wonderful that you let your husband lead your household so you could gain so much happiness and blessings.

  5. I loved this lesson! Thank you for sharing it. I give throughout the year, oddly I often give to strangers even strangers I meet here in the blog world who have a need. I have been blessed so I am able. I don’t think about what may come only about how it helps, I think that is always the lesson for those who can do. You have just reinforced that lesson.

    • Yes! I think we all spend so much time thinking about the future that we often forget in THIS moment we have enough and someone else doesn’t. We all have something we can share… time, money, “stuff”…. something. And, though we don’t give in order to recieve, it seems to be a universal fact that If you give you DO recieve. (Did that make any sense at all? It did in my head. hahaha)

  6. What an amazing story. It’s funny how much you really have when you look at what other people need. I will be thinking about this story for a long time. Thank you or sharing it.

  7. Let me start by saying I have no business questioning what you feel is God’s will. I “get” giving beyond ones comfort level and trusting God and the blessings that come from giving. I “get” wanting to free yourself from the burden of constant worry over money and the other reasons for embarking on this project. I “get” wanting to go above and beyond with your faith. I “get tithing and that comes off the top of the budget. But I have some questions:

    What if you had started out with a very tight budget for the family which you met first and allowed you to pay each of your bills (even a portion) and then given all the leftover money for the month? All the unexpected tips, all the money saved from not eating out, etc. why would that not be enough? Wouldn’t that be the widows mite, so to speak?

    Wouldn’t it be a blessing or a gift or a form of leadership and compassion for you to pay your creditors, family, neighbors, landlord, church, etc. what they are owed first? They are people with families and employees, etc. They have made a sacrifice for you (giving you money beyond their own budgets, extending the time that they have gone without their money). Perhaps they could have benefitted from the blessing of your payment. Have you broken contracts with others to enjoy the feeling of giving to others?

    Why does a gift have to be monetary? Isn’t time and effort, caring and hospitality worthy of being a sacred offering? Could it be that those things would lead to blessings for your family? Offering to babysit for a young couple so they can go out. Shoveling the neighbors drive. Reading to an older person whose eyesight is bad….etc.

    Is it disrespectful to others or to God (or foolish) to give away the blessings He may have intended for you and your family to use wisely? What if the money you gave away was provided in the form of your jobs to get on your feet and do something REALLY amazing?

    I don’t have answers. I just have questions.

    Rock on.

    • I “get” your questions. 🙂 I really do. We struggled all month with those and more. Giving of time was part of it for us, which Brian writes about more than I did and I agree completely that that can be just as much, or even more, of a gift. I think, for us, it really came down to a powerful calling. Yes – I absolutely think that we need to pay our debts. It’s something that we’ve been working on for years and it’s a challenge that we will face for years to come, short of some sort of miraculous intervention. Part of the reason we didn’t have enough to pay our monthly bills is because our single greatest expense (more, even than rent, or food, or rent and food combined, for that matter) is the chunk that goes toward old debt. Such is the consequence of poor choices made in the past. But that calling… it led us to do something that seemed odd. And who knows?! Maybe the gifts we received wouldn’t have come if we hadn’t given. There is no way to say for sure. But I do know that, no matter how tight our budget, if we had given what was “left over” we wouldn’t have given at all. That is true, even of the 10% we give regularly. It HAS to be the 1st 10%. We knew it was crazy and illogical, but it was one of those times in life when we felt like doing what was counter-intuitive to our human way of thinking was the right thing. Now we are back to “regular” life, budgeting and paying bills as always. I certainly hope and pray that we didn’t hurt one person by giving to another! With 2 exceptions, I don’t think anyone we are paying is directly, personally, affected by when (or even if) we pay. Mostly, we are paying corporations and so forth.
      I know that answer is sort of jumbled… but it’s the best I have. We felt led, so we followed. The idea behind sharing about what we did is so that others may be inspired as well. I hope that is the case.
      The questions you ask are great and valid. Brian would like to know if he can use some of them in a future post about the reasons we did what we did. He promises it’s nothing bad, he just wants to address them, in case others are asking themselves the same things. 🙂

      • “…with 2 exceptions, …corporations, and so forth.” Woah. I am glad I am not one of those! You just dismissed them as unimportant, insignificant, not part of God’s greater plan. (If any are personal,community, or family relationships, yikes! And corporations serve/employ/insure families and pay taxes, etc. and some may have missions that you could help by paying them what they are owed…)

        I really do understand the intent of your project. Really. And a large part of me is cheer leading for you. It is a nice thing to do.

        I just think it could be very easy to be overcome by bills and responsibility and debt that it COULD be easy to do this project because it frees you and justifies you from your responsibilities. Instead of thinking about debt, you can think about giving. VERY COOL! That shifts the paradigm from you satisfying your debt to you satisfying your feelings. That sounds cold and insensitive and a misrepresentation of your intent. It is just another side of the coin.

        The thing about posting on blogs is that you invite both positive and challenging points of view. I am glad for the conversation and an open mind.

      • I think you know I didn’t mean that they were unimportant or insignificant, etc. If we thought that we would get cable and I’d have my hair done by a professional and we would actually go on a date from time to time. Instead, that money goes for paying those bills… month after month after month.
        But you are right – it DOES shift the paradigm from a constant mindset of lack… “How in the world are we going to get out of this hole? We will never have enough. We will always be in debt”…. which is exhausting to the mind, body and spirit, to a mindset of faith. “We are following God’s call. He will make sure that we have enough.”
        It is the difference between starving and choosing to be on a diet.
        Not that it’s all about OUR feelings, at the expense of others, but it is about following the call of God, to step out in faith, even when it seems illogical. There comes a point where you just leap… and trust that He will catch you, and that DOES bring good feelings.
        Our belief is that it also leads to abundance… when you send out a “vibration” that you are in abundance, then abundance comes to you.
        I know that a lot of people (including the majority of my own relatives) think that’s akin to voodoo, but… well… there it is.
        Anyway… I, too, am glad for the conversation and the open mind. And, you can rest assured that, now that our 31 days are over, we are “back to the grindstone” as it were. 🙂

  8. My final comments: I do know that you didn’t mean they were insignificant. Etc. I am just sad (and maybe concerned) that THEY may not know that and may feel differently.

    May you continue to feel good vibrations from the choices you have made based on your calling.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s