Every once in a while I have the privilege to share words that belong to beautiful hearts who love to share Jesus with others in ways that make me love Him more, subsequently loving them and others out of that connection. I believe with all my heart we need to promote those who demonstrate these traits of grace that show love for others. I also think that if we learn a big lesson, change our lives because someone poured into ours, or learned through someone else’s journey then we need to share it. So, there will be days when I bring them here, gracefully introducing them to you. Please take time to visit my friends and consider reading their words for yourselves.
I recently finished a fantastic book about giving with a generous heart. Amy Sullivan wrote words my heart needed to hear, truths I needed to be reminded of. She wrote words we all need to think about, well.. no.. these words..they are more than something we need to think about. We NEED to do them.
Other than the fact that she starts out with an acknowledgment that Jesus is the sole reason for her heart-passion to give, (she hooked me there) Amy also shares this gem about her heart for this book; she wrote from experience.
“If I walk into your house and find it (this book) in perfect condition on the top shelf, I know it will not have accomplished what I set out for it to do: be a resource on growing giving hearts.” –Amy Sullivan
… and this…
” Guilt keeps no space here. No. This book is a guilt free zone.” – Amy Sullivan.
Whew! I am in … and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
Amy writes about a common problem we all have.. yes, we all have it friends. It is called, ‘love of self’. She talks about it in different words throughout the book,but it is the same concept. In her introduction, she takes us to John 13:34-35, with a reminder that God means what He says when He tells us to give.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Have you thought of how and who you serve?
Serving is not something completely foreign to my family. We do it, periodically. We do it when we can. However, reading Amy’s words convicted me to move beyond fitting it into my schedule when I could; rather to plan my schedule around acts of service, instead. What surprised me as I read, though, was that sometimes I made the choice to serve where I was comfortable rather than where I was needed.
Seek Ways to Serve, lending love graciously.
She tells us to find our gifts and to seek ways that we can give with joy and eager hearts. Yet, for me, the revelation that I made the choice to serve in places which blessed me first startled me a little. Though the acts of service required time and effort, they didn’t require deep sacrifice, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.(note: I am not suggesting that you pick something you don’t enjoy.. neither did Amy… the light-bulb moment for me was that the focus shifted off of me and my choosing to serve onto where God purposed me to spend myself.)
The more I read and prayed about how I could take the ideas and the suggestions that Amy’s giving heart penned for us to read, the more I realized that love needed to be lent generously and to mean something… a deep something. This would require me to actually give a little more sacrificially regardless of where it was and how it was extended.
I am not quite sure what that will look like right now, but I do know that it will mean a little less complacency in my serving and a lot more willingness to obey that still small voice that leads us to lend love with abundance.
The standard has already been set because the banner that flies over us is LOVE.
God set the standard when he lent love in the form of a babe in a manger who was sent to live life pure and sacrifice Holy blood for every wounded, sin-stained, anemic heart.
Writing about this now, during the season of giving, it is a great reminder for the reason of trading gifts. The purpose of the gift tradition is to share bits of our hearts, sow seeds of truth, and reap eternity full.
Every opportunity to lend love to others shows the fullness of generosity in action. This is a reality we all need to catch, solid in our soul, so that we shed layers of selfishness and don garments of grace.
Be prepared to embrace a new paradigm of giving.
When I started reading Amy’s book, I was completely unprepared for the realization of this entitlement mentality. This is a term I know well and would have never considered its effects the way she enlightened me to see them.
It was not because I found ways to ‘give’ my kids things they didn’t need, but instead became aware of a dangerous complacency in the attitude towards serving that I didn’t realize was there. Far too easily we choose the comfortable and quick rather than sacrifice the precious to see love poured into another heart for the sake of the message of love. This narcissism that finds itself weaved into our daily living had become embraced by our goals more than I appreciated, yet in words of grace and humor, Amy shows us how to tackle the demon-of-self and turn it into selflessness.
LOVE is a command and it requires our full attention.
That is exactly what Jesus talks about in those red-letter words we read. He said the most important law was summed up in an Old Testament truth… “Love God with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and your everything and then LOVE others as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:39
Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and strength. We know this because we have heard it said over and over,right?
Go with me to verse 7 of that same chapter, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Verses 8 and 9 tell us where we are to put them, (these truths we are teaching our kids) in summary: everywhere we look. Simply because when we walk it, breathe it, speak it….then we will live it.
Full hearts pour out fullness into others.
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, right? Well.. a heart full of love, the love that comes from knowing the deep abiding heart of the Father, it is a generous heart. A heart that mirrors the Father, who offers oceans of grace to those who dive deep within the pools of love he has poured out for us, absolutely loves to spend itself the way He does.
And friends, this generosity in action, it is all a part of the walking the road to grace-filled living.
Learning to let go of the things that trip us up and tie us down. It frees us to be givers and we imitate His character to others when we do that. Don’t hold on to what you can give away, because dear hearts, we can’t out-give God. If you have a need for it, He will bring it to you in abundant measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.
I am reminded of a quote from Jim Elliot as I think about all the ways that Amy’s words remind me of the necessity of raising givers. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” We can not keep what has been entrusted to us to give to someone else. Whatever it is he has put on your heart to give, give it today with a willing and generous heart. You won’t regret it.
When More is not Enough: How to stop giving your kids what they want and give them what they need.
This book, it is a gem and a treasure and you should find it and read it. Mark it up, like she said. Amy has a way of making it feel like she is sitting right across the table from you, talking real and living life together. She is transparent and she is full of energy in her desire to share the lessons they learned. She reveals the good and the bad in their travels, and has a wealth of knowledge to point each of us in the right direction when it comes to serving others.
The book has sections on ways you can serve in your own home, your community, and on a global scale. It has great suggestions for dialoging with your kiddos around the dinner table and tips on what is appropriate for each age level.
Something else that really blessed me, I know it will bless you, because Amy’s a giver and she’s a generous heart that is teaching a must-need-to-know truth….all the proceeds from the sale of the book go to a a charity that helps women in need in North Carolina called, Transformation Village.
So, from my heart to yours, I would encourage you to get her book and get ready to live generously. You will be inspired!
This book is a gift to you and a gift to others, an isn’t that a lot like God.. to give in a way that will bring multiplicative blessing to others?
You can read more of Amy’s inspiration on her website, here.