Tuesday, November 30, 2010


At the beginning of November, we handed out $5 to everyone in our congregation with the challenge of 1) praying about it for three days - what would God have me do with this money in order to make a difference in somebody else's life? 2) do something with it. Make a difference. 3) come back and tell the congregation my "Living a Better Story" experience.
It's November 29th. I still have my $5.

About a week ago, I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream. I KNEW what I was supposed to use it for! I felt like God had told me exactly what to do and how to do it. I lay there, awake and excited, figuring out the details of how to execute my plan... I got up, went to the bathroom, got a drink of water, settled back into bed - all the while thinking of my new God-given strategy to use the $5 in some generous and wonderful way. I fell back to a restful sleep...

The next morning... I couldn't remember my dream.

I thought and thought... Nothing.

And no new ideas.

I went to work and told my pastor about it. Her thought? "That's why God told Moses to write the commandments down!" Ha ha ha. Very funny.

I've had a lot of fun listening to other people's stories... and I have a new place I'm planning to start volunteering at that I learned of from someone else's "Living A Better Story" experience... But that $5 is still in my purse, waiting for the perfect moment.

Here's a prayer I read today - I'm saying it in hopes that God will hear my plea for an idea on how to serve Him best!

"O Lord, what an amazing opportunity you have set out before me - a chance to make a difference for you in a desperately hurting world. Help me to see the needs you want me to see, to react in a way that honors you, and to bless others by serving them gladly with practical expressions of your love. Help me be Jesus' hands and feet, and through your Spirit give me the strength and wisdom I need to fulfill your plan for me in my own generation. In Jesus' name I pray, amen."
--Max Lucado, "Out Live Your Life"

Megan A.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Scrapbooking with $5

"The students I work with are unique individuals. They are special. There are 4 girls that are extra special to me. They are all hard workers, they don't slack off and they are kind people. Oh and they are all seniors. All of these girls come from backgrounds that are not "traditional."  By that I mean they all have been diagnosed with a special education label...LD, EBD, TBI etc etc... Most come from one parent households and one of those is single dad...

Awhile ago I read a blog about scrapbooking the 25 days in December before Christmas. A friend and fellow blogger, Jill Kane, has been doing this for a few years. I took a great interest in this and went out and bought some stuff to do something similar.

The night of the day I bought the supplies I was having a hard time sleeping. During my praying time I again asked for guidance for "Living A Better Story." Again nothing came to mind... I was getting a bit frustrated... So I fell asleep and about 2 am...I awoke from a dream and said "that's it!" The dream was about scrap-booking with my senior girls...I know this is an important and exciting time in their lives..all have worked hard and deserve to have some concrete memories.

So.. the part I am still working on is organizing and then presenting the ideas to the girls. It will either be a super easy sell or they will think I am nuts! But either way I am really excited about this...

I am needing to get supplies and develop their pictures on an ongoing basis. The $5 will be a good start...but I am hoping to get some donations of scrapbook supplies, cameras, etc...if you have any of the fore mentioned and would like to help me out..I would so appreciate it!"

Beth J.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Multiplying our Riches

"Dear Megan,

I'm writing to connect on 'Living a Better Story.'  I felt God telling (leading) me to use the $5 towards something to benefit those with certain health conditions (partly because of my recent health scare). 

Also, I was so touched by our young Maggi W. - giving up her hair for 'Locks of Love' - it touched me so (all the more with my long thick hair).

To get to the point -
In spring of 2009, I gave many of my hats to a friend from our former church, going through chemo - for breast cancer.  Mary shared later that Regions Hospital has hats available for the taking for those that need them.

I connected with Regions Cancer Care Center and I was told of a group - Chrysalisides - 30 people that provide cloth hats (sew, deliver, etc) to 20 different sites: 4 within Regions, United Hospital, Children's Hospital, and a site in Hastings.  They do hats for women, children, and men; cancer patients, neurological and epilepsy patients, people with hair loss, and brain trauma and surgery patients.

I just love hats and felt the blessing of being cleared of any cancer possibility and that it could be used in the broader community. 

The woman in charge of Chrysalisides will be writing me with the receipt to let me know how many hats I provided - when they buy their materials. 

I added to the $5 - even so, usually 1 yard of material can make up to 6 hats - so it goes pretty far!

It was a wonderful experience. 

We already donate to many charitable organizations.  I felt this was something personal and because of prayerful thought, felt led to do so.  I hope many others are blessed and felt it was a good experience.  Thank you for bringing the idea to us - and again, what a wonderful way of doing something to multiply our richness in a wonderful God!"

Diane H.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

God's Money, God's Work

A couple weeks ago at church we were all given an envelope which contained $5. We were told it was "God's money." Our assignment was to pray about it, think about how to multiply or add to it, and to use it in some way that would help do some good in whatever way we felt directed.

After pondering for a while, I was drawn to a program I heard about. It's called Hats for the Homeless and is a program in Minneapolis. They collect knitted and crocheted hats and distribute the hats to homeless people in the Twin Cities area. I decided I had just enough time to make a couple of hats in time for their 2010 due date.

At about that same time a former co-worker asked me if I could make a couple of pillows for her. I envisioned a quick, easy task sewing a few seams for a couple square pillows: zip zip zip... done! Sure, I told her. I asked if she would pay me $5 per pillow, and she agreed. I decided I would add that $10 sewing fee to the $5 God's money I already had, and would buy some yarn to make hats for homeless people.

It gets COLD in Minnesota, and I felt it was a worthwhile undertaking, to help keep someone's ears and head warm in our frigid winters. Appropriate for God's money, I felt.

After a couple of days I opened the bag containing the pillow-making materials, and I gasped. One pillow form was round (I'd never made a round pillow before), and both pillows had ropey-braid stuff to add (another thing I'd never done). I was instantly nervous and worried about how these pillows were going to turn out.

I was kicking myself for taking on the project. But.... I had planned ahead and already purchased the yarn and started knitting hats. So I knew I had to attempt these pillows no matter what.

This is a picture of the finished pillows. They're not perfect, but they turned out better than I anticipated. I won't tell you how many h.o.u.r.s. I spent on these pillows. Way more than $5 worth on each, but that was what I quoted, and I was the one who failed to ask any questions. So it goes.

I figure the pillows were part of my service to humanity, along with the hats that I'm in the process of making.

No one said that doing God's work or spending God's money was supposed to be easy. These pillows were not easy. And truthfully, neither are the hats (although they are much more enjoyable to me than fussing with these pillows). I think it's appropriate that I'm getting a brain and hand and patience work-out while working on God's projects. It gives me time to think more carefully about who will use these items and what thoughts I am pouring into them.

May these items keep ears and heads warm, heads and bodies rested, and bring a modicum of warmth and peace to the recipients.

Carol E. at Giraffe Dreams

Monday, November 22, 2010

Family Giving

I was a guest at your Sunday church service when the idea of "Living A Better Story" experience was presented.  Because I was not a member of the church, it was with hesitation I accepted the blue envelope.  I considered quietly laying the envelope down on the pew as I left the sanctuary.  I am happy I didn't.  After reading the words that accompanied the $5.00, it was clear to me that it did not matter that I was not a member.  God was asking me to slow down, take a moment, and take a look. 

What I saw were many homeless people waiting to get out of a chilly evening and into a warm building called the "Listening House".  Listening House is a day and evening shelter that serves a diverse population of single men and women.  It's original mission stated "Don't preach, don't fix, just listen."  And since it's founding in 1983, Listening House has be dubbed "the living room for the homeless."  The volunteers there spend a lot of time just listening to the homeless making the people feel valued and accepted.  Listening House offers services from hygiene care, a sock exchange program to mailing address and telephone contacts for potential landlords and employers.  The staff of Listening House manages 36 voice mail boxes which provides a way to receive messages without having to disclose the status of being homeless. 

This is where your $5.00 took me.  I called and spoke with Julie.  I asked what my family and I could donate.  Their list was very modest...chapstick, cold medication, socks, and gloves.  With your $5.00 and our family contribution, we filled a Target cart and were able to deliver several bags for the men and women who find comfort at the Listening house.  We left with smiles on our faces remembering what Christmas is all about.  Thank You for reminding us.  Thank You for letting us be a part of "Living A Better Story" experience.  
Nancy J. and Family 

Friday, November 19, 2010


I recently received a newsletter from the St Paul Area Council of Churches...  with a great article about Generosity!  I thought I'd share some pieces of it with you:

"I have always been impressed and moved by the generosity of American Indians...

"When my friend Steve Charleston was elected Bishop of Alaska, Minnesota Episcopalians had a celebration at our diocesan convention.  In thanks, Steve gave a gift to everyone who was there.

"Across from the receptionist's desk at the St. Paul Area Council of Churches is a beautiful print by Sam English entitled, 'The Give Away.'  It depicts American Indians sharing what they have with an unseen other.

"I come from the Pacific Northwest where there is a strong potlatch tradition among the indigenous tribes.  They would use the potlatch celebration as a way to offer thanks for their bounty and to share what they had with other tribes.

"Generosity is a profound American Indian virtue across the United States and Canada: you share what you have with those who have not so much, knowing the day may come when you may have little.  Generosity spreads the wealth, helps to overcome poverty, builds trust, and creates friendship.

"I recently attended the First Peoples Fund Community Spirit Awards.  These awards honor American Indian artists for their art, but not as individuals.  Instead they are honored for how they have shared their gifts with the community and enriched the life of their community.  That's why they are called "community spirit" awards.  As I sat in the audience watching and listening to the work of these artists, I thought about the differences between a community-based society and an individualistic and materialistic society.

"...Are we really richer if a few have way more than enough and too many have nowhere near enough?  Are we really richer if every individual has to get his or her own, instead of sharing with one another?  Am I really more important than my community?  Did I really get to where I am today all on my own?

"...Though the secular culture tends to reinforce getting over giving, the material over the spiritual, and the individuals over the community, there remains a strong community spirit in Minnesota.  We need to continue to nurture that community spirit.  It is the better spirit of America...  It was the spirit that helped my ancestors survive in Eastern Oregon.  It is the spirit that will keep Minnesota strong.  It is the spirit that can bring us together across barriers that divide us.  We are our brother's and sister's keeper.  We need one another, if we really want to prosper as a community.

"Generosity goes beyond being liberal in sharing of material resources, there is also a spiritual generosity captured in this definition: 'freedom from pettiness in mind and character; noble-minded; magnanimous; unprejudiced.'  Generosity is about character.  It is a way of being together.  It is about people who believe, as Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, 'We are all better off when we are all better off.'  This is not about suppressing the individual.  Quite the contrary.  It is about nurturing every person to become as successful as possible and, at the same time, nurturing in every person a desire to share her or his gifts and prosperity with others."
--A Note form Grant, St. Paul Area Council of Churches

(When we were at Rosebud Reservation last summer, I had a delightful conversation with a Native American woman about celebrating her new great-grandson with a potlatch ceremony!  So cool to know that this little lady (who didn't have much) was ready to celebrate this new life by giving to others!  What a great tradition...)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hat Money

I received God’s Money in church ($5) and wondered where inspiration would lead me. Shortly after receiving God’s Money I heard about a group called Hats for the Homeless. It’s a group in Minnesota collecting hand-knit hats. The hats are distributed to homeless people, but not just randomly. The people get to look over all the hats and pick out the hat that they want! I like that personal touch.

A couple weeks later a co-worker asked me to do a little sewing project for her. She is going to pay me. I plan to put my sewing income with the $5 and buy some yarn. I’ll be able to make two or three hats and get them to the Hats for Homeless program before their due date. I’m glad I can help keep some ears warm in this cold state of Minnesota!

Carol E.

What a creative use for the $5!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

God's Money Story

I was watching the morning news while getting dressed for work and they had a story about “Be a Santa to a Senior.” Seniors are the forgotten population during the holidays...especially those in senior citizen housing. When asked what they would like for Christmas, they often say simple things like paper and pencils. “Hmmm....I could afford that with God’s money.” Santa delivers the gifts to the seniors and their faces light up exactly like little kids’ faces when he arrives. Then the reporter talked about how when the Santa came back for the 2nd year to visit “Mary” – he saw that the only thing on Mary’s bulletin board was the Christmas card they gave her last year and the only thing she had received all year long was the gift they brought her last year.

So, my daughter and I found the location of one of the gift trees and used my $5 to buy stamps for a senior. Also on her gift request were an assortment of birthday and get well cards. My daughter purchased those. And then we picked out another gift tag for a scarf and candy.

Hope that God’s money puts a smile on their faces this holiday.

Diane P.

Thanks, Diane!  What a simple and easy thing to do to make a big difference in a person's life!

Keep those stories coming!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Living a Better Story!!!

Here's our first story to roll in...  and I've been hearing rumors of more!  Send them in so we can share with one another!

Hi Megan.

 I received $5 of God's Money. For many years, I have sent $10 to the Union Gospel Mission at Easter,Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year I got the Thanksgiving envelope in the mail and "lost" it, either through distraction or apathy! I feel strongly about the homeless situation since I was in a very similar situation many years ago and understand that homelessness does not necessarily mean laziness. The fact that I "lost" the envelope bothered me but I did nothing about it. Then at church last week I received God's Money and it was a no-brainer. I received another envolope and sent a check for $10 so that 5 homeless people can have a good dinner. This giving business was catching so I plan to give the actual $5 of God's Money to my hairdresser who is raising a son on her own as an extra "tip". Thank you for suggesting this great idea. It has got me in the giving spirit again.

Elaine D.  (permanent visitor)

Thanks, Elaine!  What wonderful ideas and ways to spread a little holiday cheer!