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By definition the word give means to freely transfer the possession of something to someone; to bestow (love, affection, or other emotional support); communicate or impart (a message) to (someone); freely devote, set aside, or sacrifice for a purpose; It's a verb, which means an action is required to complete it.

Growing up in homes and now living in a house that has neighbors close by, I have learned a balance of giving and receiving. Many times my neighbor and I will call each other and ask for a cup of milk, an egg or whatever it is we ran out of and couldn't go to the store. We have taken care of each pets so vacations can be had. We Share concerns over the fence and give each other advice or support. By giving freely to each other we add value to each others lives.

As a mother, I have learned what giving selflessly really is and how fulfilling and sometimes exhausting that can be. Moms sometimes give up personal dreams in order for a child to achieve their dream. Moms give love, advice, correction, nourishment, encouragement and so many other things that they couldn't all be listed here. The heart of a mother is constantly being stirred into action to care for and love her child.

My husband and I have been married for almost 27 years now. Early on in our marriage someone told Miller that marriage isn't 50/50 that it's 60/40. He was told to put in 60% or more effort into the marriage expecting 40% back and a balance would happen as a result. I don't know if I can agree with those numbers completely. What I can agree upon is that our longevity is a direct result of learning how to GIVE to each other. I'm not talking about giving gifts although, those are nice and do happen from time to time. The kind of giving that I am referring to brings joy, peace, hope, and love.

I spend my days working for a community outreach raising money and planning events that help connect people who are struggling to resources that provide a tangible need. In simpler terms, we give people things that they wouldn't be able to have without the help from someone else.

Every week we hold our food pantry that provides food to hungry families. The food being passed out was donated to a charity that then delivers it to agencies to give to hungry families. Volunteers give their commitment of time and labor to help put this food in the hands of our guests. We are not paid for any of the food or services provided. Our partnership with Forgotten Harvest helps us by facilitating the pantry and in return giving our volunteers an opportunity to help other people. Our volunteers benefit by this act of giving, first by having a purpose each week and second by making friends and sharing in each other's joys and sorrows.

Each year our outreach plans an event that requires over 500 volunteers to give up an entire day to serve 10,000 people. These volunteers will attend meetings to plan and train leading up to the day. Often times they will bring resources to help during the day. Their hard work and generosity not only blesses thousands of people who need help, but it blesses me and the other volunteers they work with.

When we take the time to give freely to our family, friends, neighbors, community, we are making an impact that causes a ripple effect. We are touching lives, imparting wisdom and sharing love with each other. We add value to the lives around us when we give.

Almost two years ago my daughter talked me into downloading Snapchat on my phone. Snapchat is a social media app that allows the user to send 10 second videos, photos and messages to people all over the world. It's really a community but it only works if the user chooses to engage with other users. Snapchat opens a window into the lives of it's users. People are able to learn from other people with similar interests and professions. People share ideas, humor, and many times ideas and activities where they are giving to other people.

Yesterday, I received a card from one of my Snapchat friends, Ruby. She and I have been following each other for over a year now. I've watched her share DIY craft ideas and have even tried a few myself. We have shared ideas and recipes. We have had real conversations and offered advice and encouragement to each other. Ruby writes blog about her family growing up with mixed heritages and occasionally travels to speak at or attend a conference as a result of her writing. She is the reason I finally took the leap and began writing my blog and building my branding.

Let me go back to the card that Ruby sent me. This wasn't your average run of the mill card. This was a handmade card with so many details to it I had to share it on Snapchat. But the letter inside is why I am writing this blog tonight. Her kind words touched my heart and renewed a fire inside of me to make an impact in the people around me. I have spent the last year watching in awe of the way she gives passionately to others through community baby showers. Her heart is big and her joyful spirit shines light to those around her. Yet as I have watched, learned and admired Ruby's heart, and many other people who are working tirelessly to give, she was watching me as well.

Ruby shared with me that her word for year is GIVE. We both hope for an opportunity to partner together on a project in an effort to give more. After reading her letter several times now, I have given much thought and prayer to her word or theme of the year. I have decided to also adopt the theme for my year and I would like to challenge others to adopt this theme. Imagine the impact we can have on the world around us if we all choose to GIVE.

My prayer for you is to let your heart be stirred into action. May your heart be broken for the things that break the heart of God. Shine your light in the world. Love freely, forgive easily and GIVE generously. #GIVE

Proverbs 19:17 ESV

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Galatians 6:2 ESV

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Ephesians 4:32 ESV

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

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