On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.


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Cyber Monday Ideas

Today is an important day for online retailers. It’s Cyber Monday. (Doesn’t that sound better than Black Friday?) Maybe you’re finishing your shopping before the kids arrive home from school, or perhaps you have plans to curl up with your laptop after dinner tonight. Or maybe, like me, you’re finishing your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your bathroom floor while your pathetic 9-year old hugs the porcelain.

So what do you give to someone who has everything he needs? For someone who doesn’t want anything but appreciates that you’re thinking of her? Or how about a gift that blesses the recipient and empowers the worker who created it? Here are 3 suggestions for today:

1. Shop with Samaritan’s Purse. This is the organization that flies Christmas shoe boxes around the world to underprivileged children. They also do a pretty amazing job of helping out in times of disaster. Did you know they have a Christmas catalog, too? You can give the gift of domestic animals, emergency relief supplies, clean water, and much more. We ordered chicks one year for each of our nieces. I think their mothers were pleased that we did not actually give the chicks to our nieces.

2. Drink coffee. Do good. If you–or someone you love is a coffee junkie–you know that Rwandan coffee is exceptional. Instead of purchasing beans from your not-so-friendly warehouse store, consider purchasing Land of a Thousand Hills coffee. Shipping is free today! I promise you that this is delicious coffee. There are plenty of bean options available, including Haitian varieties, as well as gift merchandise.

Christmas in a Cup Flavored Coffee Gift Set

3. Don’t forget the Philippines. Donations to disaster relief typically ebb when the disaster is no longer front-page news. Damage from Typhoon Haiyan is going to take many years to repair. Click on the button on the right side of my blog to donate through Compassion International. Compassion International has been working through churches in the Philippines since 1977 and has a vested interest in restoring island communities.

Whatever you choose, don’t forget that the true meaning of Christmas. It’s not about the gifts we give each other. It’s about the greatest gift we’ve be given: a helpless baby who came to earth to be our Savior.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m still in the bathroom. Round 2 seems to be over, and my relief should be home in the next few hours.

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A Season to Give Thanks

Another catastrophic disaster has claimed the front pages. Typhoon Haiyan devastated the island nation of the Philippines. As of today, the Filipino government has listed 2,275  fatalities but others have suggested that 10,000 might be a truer figure for Tacloban, the city that took a direct hit. More than 600,000 residents have been displaced from their home, and 2.5 million need food.

Those are hard numbers to swallow. Marine Corps KC-130s and Ospreys are already assisting evacuation efforts, and the USS George Washington group is on its way. So what can individuals do to help? Consider donating money to credible relief organizations who already have a presence in the country. Compassion uses donations to meet the immediate physical and spiritual needs of its enrolled children and their families. Samaritan’s Purse is already working with local churches and on Friday will send a 747 loaded with relief supplies. The American Red Cross is partnering with the Philippine Red Cross and has activated its family tracing services.

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A not-so-subtle reminder hangs next to our breakfast table.

You can also adopt the practice of thankfulness. Be thankful for the roof over your head, the clothing on your back, and the food on your table. Be thankful for heat as the air temperature drops. Be thankful for safe, clean drinking water. Thankfulness is a popular attribute to espouse in November, since Thanksgiving is just 3 weeks away. But true thanksgiving isn’t a trend; it’s a heart attitude. Facebook is full of thankful posts these days. Here’s a personal favorite of mine. If it steps on your toes, then ouch!

True thankfulness is not solely limited to the month of November. It’s a year-round character trait that requires daily practice. I recommend reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts in which a homeschooling farmer’s wife challenges readers to live grateful lives.

H and her Thankful Tree

H and her Thankful Tree

In our home, H and I are on our second week of a Thanksgiving unit study. Last week was devoted to Cranberry Thanksgiving, which is one of our most favorite titles from the Five in a Row curriculum we use. This week we’re branching out into other books but still continuing to study Thanksgiving. Yesterday we started a thankful tree. Here is H adding to her leaves this morning. If you have good eyesight, you’ll notice that she has listed her cousins, Aunt Martha, Uncle Brian, both sets of grandparents, all current and former hamsters, and our Compassion children. We’re still working on being thankful for sisters and parents.

Lots of leaves left. Maybe I'll earn a coveted spot?

Lots of leaves left. Maybe I’ll earn a coveted spot?