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31 Days of Giving: The Healing Power of Giving (Day 6)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Guest post from Victoria of Snail Pace Transformations.

December 1st, 2003 forever altered my life.

I still remember coming home from a day of shopping with a friend to find my home sparkling clean and my children gone. I greeted my husband with a hug and when I saw his face I knew the children were gone not because he had a secret date planed but that something was wrong.

“Call your mom,” were the three words he was able to mutter while holding back tears.

I did and she soon said words no child — no matter what their age — wants to hear, “Honey, the cancer is back, and there is no treatment this time. I have 6 months at best”.

God was gracious, I got more than 6 months to say goodbye. My mom survived over 4 years from the day of her prognosis. She passed away just before her 61st birthday in April of 2007.

The Christmas season after her death was hard. Even though I knew she was passing a few years before it happened, I still couldn’t get over the harsh reality of being left motherless.

I was at a local Mothers of Preschoolers meeting one December morning when a leader announced to the group the location of the church’s giving tree. I went to the tree to look through the children’s names, thinking at least it would get my mind off of grieving for a moment, when I noticed the tags were not just for children but for single moms as well.

I immediately picked up a tag for a single mom. Something about the idea of getting to buy a gift for a mother even though I could no longer get a gift for my own warmed my heart.

I don’t remember all that was on her list, but I do remember one item, a devotional. As I was wrapping up the gift I felt urged to place a thank you note inside the devotional. You see, in giving to someone else, my pain was momentarily eased.

Two gifts were given that day not one.

If you are grieving a loved one this year, I urge you to reach out and give. Churches and organizations across the country offer giving trees like the one I was involved in that year. Many have a table set up at the local mall.

The gifts on these tags are generally not expensive. Many items could be brought down in price with sales and coupons.

Grab a tag of an individual that reminds you of the one you lost, and spend the money you use to spend on gifts for your loved one on these strangers instead.

It’s a great way to honor the memory of those we once cherished and I think you will also discover the healing power of giving… just as I did that Christmas.

Victoria writes at Snail Pace Transformations where she shares her tips on how to purchase items inexpensively, sell things you already own, and shares her love of simple recipes made with simple ingredients.

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  • Ashley says:

    My husband and I were expecting baby #3 next April. In September, I ended up losing the baby. I had talked about doing an angel tree gift each year in honor of the baby that we never got to hold, kiss, or snuggle. Reading this truly blessed me, and made me realize that it WILL help me to heal. Thank you.

  • lynn says:

    This is precious!

  • I remember the year I was able to participate in our church’s giving tree. We had struggled financially for several years, and that Christmas we were debt-free and excited to help someone! I loved doing it. I especially looked for things that were real needs (some clothing). It was really nice to know that I was able to help someone meet those needs.

    Our financial situation has since changed, and we are no longer able to give in that way, but I look forward to the day when we can do it again. I truly enjoyed it.

  • trixie says:

    This is so true! My husband died in August and it has been an absolute joy to give to others! Jesus said it is better to give than receive. I”ve known that’s true for many years but am only now realizing it is a way of life. What better way can we show His love to others and our thankfulness to Him than by loving others?

  • Melinda says:

    I feel like a spoil sport here but I find it harder every year to do Christmas. I am mother and fatherless and as of last year fatherinlawless. Giving has not seemed to help. We are faithful givers, but I wish they were here to cheer us on. I should be thankful we are expecting our 2nd grandchild in April. Pray for us and our families. We all seem to be feeling it more so this year.

    • Amy f;) says:

      praying. and its ok to give yourself time to feel those feelings you need to feel and process. everyone works through grief in different ways.
      Praying that the God of all comfort would comfort you and your family somehow.

  • Thank you for the gentle reminder of gracious generosity.

    3 months ago we received the gut-wrenching news that my husband has glioblastoma multiforme….a malignant brain tumor. He was just transferred to hospice and given far too short a time to spend with us. We are only in our 40’s.

    I found many things about myself during this time: I work best in crisis, have found strength deeper than any I had before and I am extremely goal-driven. If life is beyond my control I need to regain it somehow….cleaning, organizing, renovating, what-have-you.

    Occasionally, we need to pause and remember, even through the pain WE are suffering , there are others with far worse circumstances who are unable to endure what life has thrown at them…


    • Kimber says:

      I’m so sorry for the pain your family is experiencing right now. You’re right – there is always someone in a more difficult situation. But still, I’m sorry.

    • Ac says:

      I am so very sorry you and your family are dealing with this right now. I pray you will experience peace that transcends all understanding.

  • Martina says:

    we did this one year, but we soon realized that the gifts on the tags were not that cheap to come buy. Somewhere along the lines of Skater shoes, to Wii Games…

  • JC says:

    I was in line at Wal-mart yesterday behind an elderly gentleman. He was getting ready to pay for a pair of shoes when a woman walked up to him and asked if she could purchase them for him in honor of her husband that had passed away just a few weeks ago. What a wonderful way to heal and for her to honor her loved one…by blessing someone she doesn’t know with shoes. She did it quietly so as not to draw attention to her act of kindness but I am so thankful I was there to witness it.

  • Ashley says:

    We started a family tradition last year that instead of buying gifts for the adults in our family, we pool our money together and buy for a needy family with children. Strangers did this for my family when I was a little girl and my husband had the same experience as a child as well. Being on the receiving end of sacrificial love is something that stays with you for the rest of your life. It is a blessing for all involved and it is a legacy we look forward to passing on to our children. What better gift to give Christ for His birthday than to love one another and give to those less fortunate.

  • Nicole says:

    I lost my father last year on Father’s Day to an unexpected heart attack while he was on vacation. The holidays are still hard for me because I was a daddy’s girl. Last year a friend and I went to the local grocery store and purchased people’s groceries in his honor. We stood in the store and “stalked” people walking around to find someone who looked like they could use some help. We had one family that got mad at us for asking if we could help them. The store manager helped us with this. In the end we had some money left over and gave it to one of the elderly cashiers who had recently lost her husband. She was overjoyed with us.

  • Ac says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. What an amazing tribute to your mother that you honor her by helping and loving others.

  • Melodie says:

    That was beautiful Victoria. I work at BC’s only Single Parents Resource Center and there is something wonderful about being able to help out mothers and their children. It is a volunteer job that I look more forward to going to each week than my paid job. It’s 3 1/2 hours of “me” time because it fills my soul to be there. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Victoria – This was a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • This is such a beautiful story. You turned your grief into a blessing for someone else and found a little more peace for yourself in the process. What a great reminder for all of us! Thank you for sharing.

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