Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: November 2013 (page 1 of 4)

In the spirit of sharing

It seems the topic of giving during the holidays spurs thoughtful discussion. Over on the Facebook today several friends shared their perspective, which had some shared veins and some room outside what I wrote. It was like the world’s funkiest Venn Diagram. 

I’m so lucky to have geniuses for friends. 
So, do you know what I’m going to do for you? I’m going to share them! They’re not broken or dirty and I’m not even finished with them. The best kind of gift. Several have agreed to guest post this month on the topic of giving. 
**Arm punch.** I KNOW. How lucky are we?!
In related news, allow me a few clarifications from my post….
I love used stuff. I’ve bought exactly one new article of clothing for my girls thanks to generous hand-me-downs. Praise Jesus for the Clothes Fairy named Erica. And I love thrifting, second-handing and re-purposing. Most of my nieces and nephew’s gifts have been from Goodwill or homemade. I love that it’s cheaper and that it’s considerate of our environment and resources. 
But, as my friend KLM helped me put into words, it’s one thing to made the decision to live simply and opt out of the commercialism of the season; it’s quite another to be living a life of poverty which requires you to depend on everyone else’s leftovers. So while I – we – opt for a frugal lifestyle, it’s not the same as living poor. I think our giving should make that a consideration in some form. Perhaps a few of our guest posters will further these thoughts! 
Also in the spirit of sharing – thank YOU for sharing thoughts. I love a good, meaningful conversation. Cheers!
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Paved with good intentions

One Thanksgiving day when I was in high school, my mom’s family didn’t gather because grandma & grandpa were in Florida. My dad’s side kept to a “Sunday After” date, which left us extended-family-less on the celebrated 4th Thursday. I’m not sure who brought it up, but it was decided we would spend the day serving Thanksgiving dinner to the less fortunate in downtown Columbus. 

We had zero experience interacting with, let alone serving, the urban poor, but my mother called around and found a shift that we could assist a church soup kitchen for a few hours. We arrived to the overly crowded building, stuffed to the brim 50/50 with homeless and volunteers. We shuffled from here to there. I think my dad helped set up a few tables. I handed out some butter. We generally felt useless and questioned our good intentions. Then we went out to eat. 
Looking back, I still want to honor our pure hearts and motives. We did the best with what we knew. But now I can see that we were more a part of the problem than the solution. 
This season brings out the best in people, despite what Hallmark and common sermon series might tell you. People put on their A game. They might fight you over the last turkey or stampede to a new gaming system, but by-and-large the collective hearts of our society swells in our final calendar month. And then the donations pour into Goodwill centers and Salvation Army sites. 
But can we call a spade a spade? We’re not giving out of the goodness of our hearts. We’re making room for more. I toss myself into this collective accusation. We narrow down what stays in circulation, we clean house, not because we believe that someone needs this scuffed up plastic toy barn this Christmas but because we know something bigger and better is being built at Santa’s workshop. 
I read today about the top 7 ways our good intentions cause headaches for others and I found myself both nodding and cursing my own tendencies. I want to do good. I want to help. I believe “someone could use this” but let’s be honest: no one, no matter how poor, needs my broken, stained, battered crap. 
I’ve wondered many times before – aloud, even, to KLM – what it would be like to give more than my leftovers. What if I went shopping and gave away from that pile, not the worn last-season*, small tear in the elbow pile. Isn’t that where I might find what true generosity looks like?   
What if we went to the store and purchased for these “angel tree” families as if they were our own, instead of going to Dollar General and buying the cheapest of everything so we can buy more for the amount of money we’ve allotted? (Now I’m really stomping on my own toes). Would we do that for our mothers-in-law? Our favorite cousin? 
I want to be giving. I want to be kind. I want to think of others. But when it comes down to it, it seems I’m really looking for a way to rid myself of the guilt for the large pile of presents that await on the 25th.  
 
*Let’s be honest. “Last season” is a tad trendy for me. I need to stop giving from the wore-it-in-high-school pile. 
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Our fear of growing wings

When I don’t get dinner on the table until late, the kids devour whatever is presented. So I shouldn’t be surprised when H Boy eats 2.5 large pieces of chicken. He had just asked for another half a piece and I remarked, “you’re going to turn into a chicken!” He looked at me funny, so I ran with it. 

“Oh, look! Your nose is turning into a beak!” He ran to the bathroom to check. 
When he came back out I could tell he was concerned, so I let the gig drop. “I’m just teasing, honey, you’re not turning into a chicken.” But it was lost on him. 
“I’m not going to eat any more chicken. My belly’s full,” he said. 
And my heart kind of broke a little. 
Not necessarily because we were teasing, (I asked later and he said it didn’t make him feel sad or scared.) but because tonight was an induction into something I have dreaded to experience with my little ones. 
He walked into the cold, lonely world of covering his inadequacies with falsities. 
He covered his nose with his hands but he declared that it was his belly that was speaking. He used his words as protection, even when they weren’t true. 
Maybe there’s a little guilt at the fact his own mother brought this on, but mostly I’m sad for the world that awaits him. I’m the first to admit the joys are bigger and stronger and brighter than the sorrows – I believe that with everything that is in me. But man, the world is far from perfect and the battle to navigate it with dignity and grace can be a painful one. 
Little man, you are enough. I’ll sing it ’til I’m blue in the face. You’re enough and you’re loved and you’re beautiful. Even with a beak and wings and chicken legs, you’re worthy of love. This world will try to convince you otherwise and that’s when Satan will whisper in your ear, “You’re all alone. No one else has ever felt this way. Everyone else is normal.” And it’s simply. not. true. 
We all cover our nose and talk about our bellies when all we want is someone to love us when all the imperfections show. 
I promise, I will. I always will. 
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