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The {un}Cheerful Giver

The {un}Cheerful Giver

Mom, hurry up. We need to see if they have Hatchimals!

          I want the marshmallow cereal, Mommy. No - that one!

Mom - you said we only needed milk and cereal.  Come on. Come on! Come. On.

          Cookies! Can I please get these cookies. We’ve never had this kind before.

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My charming children, apples of my eye, find it difficult to resist the gimme-gimme-now’s when it comes to big box retail stores. Add to that the increased agitation that accompanies life in elementary school during the month of December, and a trip to the store feels more like Survivor, Suburban Retail Edition.

I’ve struggled this year to keep expectations in check at my house. The kids know why Christmas matters - that baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, is God’s only son and the very best gift the world has ever received. They know Christmas is a time to gather with loved ones and cherish those we hold dear. We talk about the reason for the season, but at 6 and 8, the lure of “stuff” is strong - and reinforced by pint-sized hallway banter about the latest toy craze and questions of who’s-getting-what under the tree this year.

Back to that scene at the store - and I do mean scene.

Thing 1 begged and pleaded her way from one end of the store to the other.
Thing 2 demanded a toy “right now” and proceeded to throw a fit when denied.
Someone hit someone else, who hit back.
Witty, original insults (like stupidhead) were tossed about.  

 

By the time we got to checkout, I was ready to ditch the cart (and maybe those two pesky kids following me around!) and escape to the relative freedom of the parking lot like some epic mommy jail break.

Instead, I handed the careworn cashier a pack of chocolate chip mini muffins and box of Star Wars marshmallow cereal with a wry smile, “We won’t be needing these, thank you.” In a moment of inspiration, I held back the World’s Largest Package of Generic Sandwich Cookies, asking to pay for them separately. “Please tape the receipt to the bag and leave these in the breakroom for your colleagues to share.” She was a bit perplexed. ‘Do you work here or something?’ “No, but it’s Christmas, and I’ll bet you and your friends could use a cookie on break. Thanks for keeping the store running during the busy holiday season.”

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart,
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
- 2 Corinthians 9:7

This minuscule act of generosity didn’t change a life, and a package of generic cookies aren’t exactly cause for celebration, but all the same - I felt I’d wrapped up an obstacle-course-style run to the store with a small win on the parenting front. On the way home, I explained to the kids how challenging it can be to work in retail at Christmas time, and we’d left the cookies behind as a thank you for the hard-working employees because Christmas is not about getting - it’s about giving.

In that moment, even though we weren’t feeding the hungry (well… sort of), clothing the destitute or changing lives in any real way, we were sharing a much-desired treat with the diligent souls on the frontlines of a major retailer.

{un}Cheerful as it was, I’d like to think the Lord still smiled at our little act of giving.  

by Liz Sagaser

 

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Gifted

Gifted

What does is mean to be "gifted?"

Beauty queens have it. Famous faces of Hollywood have it. Picasso had it, and so did Mozart and Thomas Edison. Someone in your church, your neighborhood or even in your own family probably has it in varying degrees.

The “it” factor.

We can’t always describe in words what this term means - but most of us know it when we see it: the intangible quality of a person, place or work of art that elevates it above the rest. Amid a pile of rubble, “it” is a gleaming gem, drawing the eye and igniting the imagination. It is a symphony in the midst of mere noise, a masterwork architected among the amateur.

The Christmas season is upon us, and this month we’re talking about what it means to truly be #gifted. We hope you’ll be part of the conversation, whether that means sharing a meaningful Christmas memory, passing along your favorite way to share your gifts with others or telling us about your own personal “it” factor - the unique giftedness God has blessed you with.

 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

- James 1:17

 

We invite you to join the movement by signing up for inbox blessings via email, following us on  Facebook (use the hashtag #gifted) or sharing our weekly blog posts with a friend.

Team Kerusso  

Thankful Beyond Tradition

Thankful Beyond Tradition

Thankful Beyond Tradition

This time of year, the season of thankfulness is resurrected, dusted off and hashtagged. We traditionally share our list of thanks at a table full of food, elbow-to-elbow with family.

It’s a fine tradition, and my single favorite time of year.

Yet…

My thankfulness sometimes seems hollow.

It rarely searches every corner of my existence. Never challenges me beyond “thankful for family and health.” Always focuses on what is right and good in my eyes.

My seasonal thankfulness is temporary and fleeting. As cyclical as the cornucopia décor.

Deep down, I yearn for something more. Something sticky, with depth. Something that will draw out what I have hidden away.

I long for gratitude.

An ongoing expression of worship where the soul-motion is stronger, the heart stir more forceful.  Untouched by my circumstances.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

– 1 Thes. 5:18

Gratitude involves the whole of me, the whole of the year. It is what salves and fills.

Gratitude comes when my thankfulness espouses my pain.

To receive the thing that heals, I must first admit to the thing that hurts.

It is in gratefulness I learn how to give thanks for my mistakes.

Not that I made them, but that they were a conduit for God’s refining grace.

They are proof of my humanity; my desperate need for a God who practices forgiveness. They fuel an adoration of the One who makes clean. They teach me far better than any blessing.

For my failures.

Because they confirm God is bigger than all my plans, faithful in the uneven journey. My rock that never changes. My forever safe place.

For my hurt.

Because it teaches me this earth is not where I belong. As a baby delights in her mother’s tender face, I someday soon will savor His — the one that has been turned to me since my mother’s womb.

For my hardship.

Because I know none other will sustain but Him.

For my fears.

Because God shows up. Every time. Because He is in control. All the time.

For this life.

Because in its unfiltered state, it drives me to seek the hurting and give of my plenty.

Such gratitude is a devoted praise for a benevolent God. Raw, pure, all.

In this season, and every other, I will be grateful because He is great.

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Author Sara Brunsvold blogs beautifully about family life and faith at Find the Lovely. She has a knack for calling out life’s meaningful moments, and a talent for sharing them with a community of readers thirsty for a little more lovely in their own lives.  

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Grateful for Adversity

Grateful for Adversity

Grateful for Adversity

I once sprained both of my ankles. On the same weekend. The right ankle went on a Friday evening; my right leg had behaved mischievously for several weeks, refusing to play along at my attempts to walk normally, collapsing underneath me several times a day with no warning. The left ankle joined the fun mid-morning on Saturday. Trying to walk on a bum ankle attached to a misbehaving leg resulted in a fall and left side sprain.

Fast forward a few years. I woke up one day with a funny feeling on the left side of my face. I could see a bit of a “fish hook” look in the mirror, as if the left side of my mouth was being pulled upward. I wasn’t in pain, but I was certainly disconcerted.

At my doctor’s office - a busy practice which had begun to rely more and more on physician’s assistants attending patient visits, I met with Emily, a P.A. new to the practice. She took one look at my face and ran from the room, returning moments later with my primary care doctor. Both practitioners kept their distance as my doctor informed me I was possibly having a stroke, needed an MRI as soon as possible, and their office would be unable to assist me further.

It was a moment straight out of The Twilight Zone,

and not something I would soon forget.

I was 27 years old and rather than a jolt of fear, I felt as though I’d been given a heady dose of laughing gas. I called my husband in a state of perplexity, giggling nervously as I shared what had transpired in the doctor’s office. As the medical professionals I’d trusted to care for me turned me away, they warned me not to drive; operating a motor vehicle was ‘inadvisable and potentially dangerous’ given the precarious state of my condition. So I called my employer and waited in the parking lot for my husband to leave his own busy workday to pick me up, shaking my head at the thought I could be completely free from pain and a ticking medical time bomb at once.   

An initial MRI and neurological consultation led to further testing: a spinal tap; bloodwork; extensive questions about the state of my cognitive and physical function. I recalled those pesky sprained ankles - a total of three over the course of a year. And my non-working leg - dragging myself across my college campus in embarrassment with a heavy load of textbooks in my arms, hoping no one would notice my hobbling. Double vision for several months; the symptom disappeared within an hour or two of waking and I applied makeup with one eye closed to make sense of the picture I saw. I hadn’t taken a hot shower in some time; but the resultant twitching and swelling in my left eye never hurt, and the issue didn’t seem worthy of a doctor’s visit.

Within the confines of an MRI machine for the second time in several months, a message in the form of song came through the headphones I’d been given: East to West by Casting Crowns. “Jesus won’t you tell me just how far the east is from the west? One scarred hand to the other.” A song about sin and forgiveness, but for me the words were a poignant reminder:

There was nowhere I could go - even inside a clanging,

claustrophobic MRI machine - that Jesus wasn’t right there with me.  

On November 13, 2007 the answer to years of health-related riddles was pronounced by a Denver-based neurologist: Multiple Sclerosis. A chronic, progressive affliction with a foothold in my future.

A year later I met for coffee with a friend and colleague, my 6 week old daughter, our first child, asleep in a carrier at my feet. We’d been hoping for a baby for two years when I was diagnosed. Despite the neurologist’s advice to begin treatment immediately, we chose not to let MS derail our dream of having a family.

“You seem to be dealing with all of this so well,” my friend observed. “How are you doing?” My breath caught at this question no one had been bold enough to ask, and I took a moment to answer the question for myself before I replied.

“If I choose to mourn the loss of my health now, when I am still in relatively good health, where will I have to go if things get really tough? I’ve always considered myself a faithful person, and now that I know - really know - that I can’t rely on people, circumstances or even my own body…

MS is a constant reminder to turn to Jesus,

the only one on whom I can truly rely.

November 13th marked nine years since the day the bottom might have dropped out - but for faith. On that day, as on every day, I am so grateful for a God who is faithful, and whose presence never falters. I am grateful for the opportunity to choose faith again and again. Blessed with the gift of faith, I am grateful for the adversity that reminds me to turn to Jesus again and again.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace

as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope

by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

On Gratitude ... and an Invitation

On Gratitude ... and an Invitation

Gratitude

grat·i·tude

ɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/

noun

  1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
  2. Synonyms: gratefulness, thankfulness, thanks, appreciation, indebtedness

 

            The mission of Kerusso is simple: 

Proclaiming the Good News to the world through products

about Jesus.

We carry out our mission through the creative design, production and distribution of products including jewelry, accessories, home goods, books and our unique brand of T-Shirt Evangelism. We believe by changing your shirt, you can change the world! We’re grateful to work with retail shops and the world’s best customers who believe in and support our work.

This month, we’re launching a brand new blog series dedicated, with gratitude, to you: the women, men, and children - spiritual mentors, followers and seekers, who embrace and support our mission to share God’s love through fun and encouraging apparel.

We invite you to join us in building a thriving online community - a gathering place for soul-refreshment and more. We’ll be sharing good news and practical tips, stories about the makers behind our brand, and true tales of faith, hope and love in action. We hope you'll share your stories with us, and allow us in turn to share them with our community. 

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Each week this month we’re starting conversations about gratitude: how to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in yourself and your family, stories of gratitude big and small, and the impact of simple gratitude in our lives. If you have a story to share on the gift of gratitude, tell us about it so we can share the goodness with others.

 

We hope you’ll join the movement ...

  • by signing up for inbox blessings via email {good stuff delivered to your inbox twice a month - subscribe from our home page}
  • following along on Facebook and
  • reading the blog

 

With warmest gratitude,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Kerusso