Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: generosity (page 1 of 4)

Put your Prime to work for the good of humanity

Dear friends,

I have an idea. (I have a lot of those.) But this might be the best one yet. Actually, it’s much too good of an idea to be original to me, but I can’t say that anyone told me about it.  This involves online shopping and being a better neighbor. Also, it’s an excuse to upgrade to Amazon Prime.

So, our local shelters need things regularly – toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, tampons, socks, diapers – and we, the People of Good Intentions often know this and even remember it at the store from time to time, but lack the wherewithal to actually get it where it needs to go. Right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who has lugged around a few cans of beans in the trunk for two months before shamefully adding it to her own pantry.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Call your your nearby resource center, food pantry or woman’s shelter to find out what their top needs are and if UPS can deliver to their site. (It’s always a good idea to ask if you can help.)
  2. Log into Amazon Subscribe ‘n Save.
  3. Choose 1 or 50 items you’d like to regularly offer your friends and neighbors who lack necessary resources. Check the center’s website for a list of current or ongoing needs. Note:  Prime members get an additional percent off and I know how you love to get a good deal.
  4. Decide how often you want them to ship. You can buy in bulk and send just 2-3 times a year or keep it consistent and send monthly.
  5. Create a new monthly subscription for these items and ship them direct. If you’re local, consider Open Door Resource Center at 212 W. Wyandot Ave. Upper Sandusky, OH 43351.

Follow up with your site to make sure your helpfulness is actually meeting a need or if you need to change your contribution in any way. (Maybe they don’t need 83 toothbrushes a month but they’re constantly out of socks. You won’t know unless you ask.)

This idea is totally transferable to Amazon Prime Pantry, where you can order items and ship for a flat fee. (Or, if you choose the no-rush shipping on your other purchases, you get to stockpile free Pantry shipping!) You lucky ducks living in cities with one-hour Prime delivery can even add the benefit of perishables, making meals more nutritious for those who need it most. Locals, consider talking to City Mission about their ongoing needs.

You can take this a step further and if you know a family who needs some help, you can ask what they need most and ship it to them. Diapers, formula, detergent – think of the things you gripe about most to your spouse when it comes to price and then buy those things.

And there you go. You’ve now become thoughtful without having to think. Or, as I prefer to think of it, continuously thoughtful but never forgetting.

(As a side note, when I get the email telling me that my shipment is about to sail, I like to say a little prayer for the recipients, just as I would if I had put it in my grocery cart.)

Visit me elsewhere:

On Being Helpful

It’s my fault, really. I bought the children’s probiotics in the shapes of “fun animals.” Thus we need to pick through them every morning for matching giraffes. Every single child must do this. Rue the day that one of them doesn’t get to rifle through for their own vitamins.

Like today. Rue.

The oldest was trying to be helpful, dispersing the “fishies” (because the first time I purchased children’s probiotics, they were in the shape of fish. Now we’re eating jungle animals, but we still seem to have “fishies.”) but Miss M wanted to get her own. She refused the fishies in front of her. No! Never! I shall not! She insisted. 

During the pursuant intervention, I realized a few things about both the situation and the children.

  1. I set a precedent with a one-person-dispersing standard and the oldest was simply trying to follow the rules. He is a rule follower, like his mother, and in his mind, anyone bucking that system needs called out.  Resolved: Asinine rules for the sake of one person’s (read: MY) convenience clearly aren’t helpful.
  2. The oldest wanted to be helpful. That was his true heart. Allow me to do this for you, sweet sister. It is helpful for everyone if I just take control of this. 
  3. The sister didn’t want his help. This help, in fact, was a tad insulting. She was perfectly capable of getting her own damn vitamins, even the two-year-old can do that, thank you very much.

While his heart was pure, eldest child inadvertently sent a message to his junior: you cannot do this. You need my help. I am the capable, wise, giver-of-the-things. His helpfulness overruled her humanness. The helping became the priority, not the person whom he wanted to serve. In that moment, his actions, done in the name of help, actually hurt her sense of self and well-being.

I recently read The Active Life by Parker Palmer. Though not the premise of the book, he mentioned in passing how the best way we can help a person is to simply ask. Ask how we can help, if we can help. You preserve a certain sense of dignity  and worth of a person when you ask permission to serve.

So, this became the morning’s lesson: the oldest is to simply ask. May I get you your fishies this morning? Would that be helpful? This gives her the chance to respond and receive gracefully, or politely decline. To her, we began to instill that receiving help is not an indicator of your own worth or abilities, but sometimes someone’s good and pure heart. Some famous writer, (I’d like to attribute it to Brennan Manning, but he’s not alive to defend himself in case others disagree, so please add salt) wrote that if we cannot receive from our fellow man, how will we ever have the humility to receive from God? In our culture, it’s not common to see a graceful reception of unsolicited help. We hardly solicit it, even when it’s most needed.

All this thought on asking took me to God, as is my habit. God so rarely forces his help upon us. I believe he sees us each as capable human beings, letting us daily get our own fishies. Perhaps he would love to help us, if we were quiet enough to hear him ask, Can I do this for you?

Jesus said more than once, “you do not have because you do not ask.” I think this falls into the category of gracefully receiving help. Our willingness to let others do on our behalf. We’re such a bootstrappy culture, fixated on our own drive and self-preservation that often the idea of allowing others to intervene on our behalf provokes anxiety or even shame. We feel perceived as not good enough or capable.  The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter.

Whether we can or cannot, help is usually coming from a good heart. Yet that good heart must not force its goodness on others.

May we be willing to receive the gracious love of others as they try to be helpful. May we not perceive it as an indicator of our own worth or ability. And may we help lovingly, graciously, and honorably – by first asking instead of insisting.

Visit me elsewhere:

Love, Starbucks & the Incarnation

When I followed the ambulance down to Columbus, it carrying one of my life’s treasures, I didn’t cry. I called a friend, made lists and recited mantras (strong body, soft heart). But you know what brought me to tears? An inbox full of Starbucks gift cards.

Please, don’t think me too materialistic. I love coffee, but that’s not the point.

This past week we’ve been surrounded, carried and lifted. Family gathered our children, friends fed them, parents ferried them to where they needed to be next. My sister filled my freezer with healthyish survival food. My mom is doing laundry and vacuuming up our dogs’ attempts to not be forgotten. And people have flooded me with notes telling me they are praying.

These things. They are so very helpful. They make us feel better and they make life even a teensy bit easier. But it’s not just the actual thing – the help, the card, the word – which lifts up our hearts. It’s the intention. I see through the thing and see people who earnestly want to enter into this place with us. They want to “be there” in any way possible. Some will sit by our sides, others fill our cups, but it’s really the same to me. They say, “I see you. I love you. I’m with you.”

Which is the spirit of the season. I love the time leading up to Christmas because I’m in love with incarnation. For several years I’ve been weepy every Sunday of Advent. Behind it all is this God who said to all of humanity, “I see you, I love you, I’m with you.”

This week we’ve been waist-deep in our people’s versions of incarnation. Friends, you have not simply been nice or thoughtful or helpful. You have embodied the spirit of God-with-Us.

Do I mean that Jesus coming to earth is like when people give me a SBX giftcard? No. I’m saying that those gift cards and meals and words from afar – those are our attempts to live out that sense of Incarnation set within us. I mean to say, when you love others, you are like God. You are shining God’s image.  When you love like that, you evoke the presence of God in our lives.

Thank you.

Visit me elsewhere:
Older posts

© 2017 Michele Minehart

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑