I am yet again, in the midst of a political debate on my FB wall. I LOVE social media. I tend to be the type of person that will say something just to make people think; I exaggerate to the extent that there are always those who call into question my faith. And while I'll admit to sometimes going overboard or going about things in the wrong way, it's truly in the interest of intellectual discourse. I find the best way to get people to tap into their passions is to push them with something they have no choice but to think about and form an opinion of their own on.
There are a lot of issues to address in this current debate (so look for further posts here), but it will take me a while to sort it all out and respond, because I do believe in responding with intelligence and thought (aside from the exaggerated statements I use to get the conversation started).
The particular issue I'd like to address here is some personal attacks against my family regarding whether we are capable of essentially putting our money where our mouth is. We've been accused of "spouting political rhetoric" about the "idealism of socialistic economy" while not actually doing anything practical to assist in solving the problems. See above note about tapping into passions, because any accusation of this magnitude will do this for me.
I'm gonna say this, anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that what I have is yours. You have a genuine need, I'm gonna supply to the best of my ability. I'll bend over backwards to make sure my friends have what they need and my hubby and I work VERY hard to make sure we're instilling this value into our children. My door is always open and I may not cook gourmet meals, but as long as there is food in my house, I'll feed you if you're hungry. I will sacrifice my comfort and luxury to help you pay your bills if that's what you need. How many of my friends have found random checks in the mail just when they need it the most?
My family frequently donates both our money and our time to local (and some national) charities/ministries. Most times we don't really discuss this or broadcast that we're doing so. We're not trying to brag, or prove how "wonderful" or "spiritual" we are. We do it for the sheer joy of helping and giving, and because we strive to follow Christ's example.
However, we have been challenged by several people recently, who would like to know what we're doing (aside from attempting to encourage the world around us to get involved), so here is a list of just SOME of charities and/or ministries that we've directly supported in one way or another recently:
- BIRD Ministries
- Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services
- Christ's Home for Children
- Bethany Christian Services
- Water Street Ministries
- World Wildlife Federation
- Oh, yeah... and I give regularly to the offering and am actively involved in the ministries of my church, which spends a lot of time and money on social outreach (Like Warwick Community Chest, Warwick School District's Release Time Program, and Gatehouse Ministries)
Unfortunately, in the past year or so, we have had less extra time and money to donate due to various circumstances that have limited us. We're not rich, so we work hard and we do what we can. What we have belongs to God, plain and simple.
I shop at discount stores and use generic brands as much as possible to stretch what we have, so we can have more to give. We buy clothes at re-use-it shops when we can, at places where proceeds benefit various social causes (like prison ministries, community outreach, etc.) and clean out closets and donate back as we can. We've even re-evaluated our holiday gift giving practices to reflect the values we want to teach our children in this area.
Perhaps the biggest sacrifice of our time and money is the hugest reward for us as well. And here is where the passion for this topic becomes so intense that I have to answer this challenge. Our daughter, who is now almost 2-years-old, is adopted. She is part of our family, and I don't like to "use her" as an example of our "social awareness" because God brought her into our family and she's as much a part of it as our son who was born into it. However, we have taken a severe hit to our financial stability as a result of a desire to adopt her, sacrificing things like vacation trips and a "nicer home" in order to pay the adoption costs.
We chose to work with Bethany Christian Services for our adoption specifically because of their stance on providing for the needs of the birth-families of the children they place in care. This means, when we agreed to care for our daughter, we also agreed to care (however indirectly it becomes as time goes on) for her birth-mother as well, because part of our fees for the adoption cover her costs for medical care and counseling through her difficult decision to place her child in an adoptive home.
We believe that adoption is a socially responsible way of expanding one's family, as well as an intimately practical way of helping with society's overpopulation problems (which lead to increased poverty and crime as well as a decrease in parental involvement in the lives of children). Sure it's only one child, but if we could afford more, emotionally and practically, you know we'd be first in line.
So, my apologies for "spouting" about all this. I'm not patting myself on the back for what I do. Honestly, I'm well aware that there's so much more to be done, and I wish I was able to contribute more to that. But I do what I can, and encourage others to do what they can.
So... my (incredibly non-judgmental) challenge to you: What are you doing to make this world a better place?