About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Giving, Helping, and other Misadventures

I've noticed something that both encourages me, and troubles me. I'm encouraged when I see people wanting to reach out, to do something to make a difference, to help another person in need. That's what we as the body of Christ are supposed to be doing and so few do it that I can't really fault anyone who is at least trying to be helpful. But it does trouble me when I see those good intentions fall short of their intended goal.

I've seen it each year when I take a group of people to an Indian reservation for a short-term mission trip. Each year there are "problem people" on board. They whine, they complain, they criticize me behind my back because things aren't going the way they think they should go. Or there are people who are infactuated with American Indian culture and want to go for that reason. Regardless of how often I tell them that "it's not about THEM", there are always some who just don't get it.

I've seen it too when I've collected things to be taken to the local homeless shelter. People will bring in the worst of what they have. It's as if they take the opportunity to clean out their pantry and bring in whatver they no longer want. One man even brought in peanut butter that was 2 years past the expiration date. In collecting items to take to the hurricane victims, people brought in old ratty clothes - used underwear even. To their credit, the storm victims accepted it graciously, but I cringed inside when we unloaded the truck. Those people had lost everything but they still had their diginity and giving them the things we would otherwise throw away just seemed .... well, wrong.

Currently in our church there is a lady who wants to do something for the children of Grand Isle who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Her intentions are good and I am glad to see that someone cares enough to try. But again, I think she is going about it in a less than helpful manner. She is collecting money from people at church to give $20 worth of WalMart gift cards to each of the kids for Christmas. Great idea. Not. First, there is not a WalMart near Grand Isle so it may be difficult for the kids to redeem the "gifts". Second, rather than help the local economy get back on it's feet, we are merely supporting our local WalMart. The money will stay right here in Ohio.

I've wondered about why our efforts to give and help often fail and while I'm not in a position to judge anyone's motive, I do wonder if wrong motives are a big reason for our failure. Too often it seems that our giving is not real giving because it's still about us and what we think should happen.

A lot of it I think is simple ignorance. People don't know how to give effectively. They mean well, but they make the common mistake of thinking that what they think is helpful, really is. They do things they can feel good about rather than thinking about how it will affect those they are trying to help. The result is, they leave feeling good about themselves for having done a good deed, while the person/people they are trying to help are left with something less than helpful. I know they mean well, but so did my aunt who constantly criticiszed me also "meant well" but her biting remarks did little to edify me.

Sorry this post is so garbled. I'm running on very little sleep and not really enough time to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it. Maybe I'll edit later. Or maybe not. ;)


Bruce said...

I don't think you need to edit your post at all...it was dead on.

We do the same thing with God, do we not? We give Him the left-overs or the throw-aways. If we don't bring to God our best, how can we expect to give to others our best, or at least decent. Worship is all about us, what WE can get out of it. When we deal with people, alot of times we go into it with what can I get out of it. And that might be nothing more than a pat on the back but at least WE are acknowledged.

Needed words Amber.


annie said...

I don' think your post is garbles at all. I agree with Bruce (and realize again how guilty I am of doing that with God).

I think you were particularly accurate with your next to the last paragraph. Part of the problem is ignorance, part of the problem is not taking the time to think carefully about what would be the most helpful thing to do or give.

annie said...

"I don' think your post is garbles at all."

Gosh, my typos make me sound like I have been imbibing in some (too much) bottled holiday cheer. I have not, I promise.

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

Yes, so very, very true Amber. Every word of it.

Every single word.

Karen on the Journey said...

What everyone else said!:)
A couple of Sundays back we were talking about how one of the Old Testament prophet heard from God for the people of Israel, and how God was pretty annoyed at people who brought sick lambs and crippled goats, basically the leftovers as sacrifices in the temple. God said to them, that He wouldn't honor those sacrifices. But the key verse was at begining of the passage when God was engaged in conversation with the people of Israel, and he tells them "I have loved you" and the people's response was an ungrateful "How have you loved us?"
So many times, I think that we as human beings give and help in order to "fix" a person or situation and not just as a way of saying thank you to God for his blessings. When I give more out of those motives(and my motives are never pure!)as a form of gratitude, I'm surprised at how freeing giving can be.

Lorna said...

Dead on

want to give a piece of advice - spit it out if needed - but re WalMart

1. Do your research. Find a local store there that a) sells stuff that kids would like to buy and could afford and b) make sure that they have a card scheme too.

2. kindly go to the woman who is working hard and simply give her the information. Explaining that you'll help her sort this out so that the kids really benefit from her generosity and hard work.

3a) If it's so the money has been collected already , simply help her write a check and get it in the post to the person who will co-ordinate this at the other end.

3b) If it's so that families have already gone to your local wal mart and bought these cards themselves perhaps ask people to buy them back for cash (they could use the card themselves I guess) and then go back to 3a)

We don't always get it right at first, but together we can glorify God. That's why we are part of a church :)- the body of Christ.

As for the rest - I agree with you. People learn from seeing the generosity of others, and sometimes discarded clothing and unused /unwanted kitchen utensils etc are just what is required.

But out of date stuff isn't acceptable and we need to learn to say that in love.

Above all we need to pray for the spirit of generosity again and again and again. May it rest on us and change us and make a difference wherever we go

Your post gives me hope! I'm glad you didn't pull it. You see people do care, they simply need a little more encouragement :)

Gary Means said...

Another excellent post from one of my favourite people on the planet. What an uncomfortable topic. And then Bruce had to go an make it even worse! :) You are both speaking the truth.

Apostle John said...

You may have thought of this post as garbled, but to me it hit me just where I needed it. Very healing. Very helpful

Bar Bar A said...

I agree with Bruce!!! (I usually do)

David Cho said...

Thanks Amber.

This post made me think of this this blog entry by a homeless woman on her thoughts on how weird it is to be homeless during the holiday season.

sonoftheprodigal said...

cheer up lady! you might be feeling frustrated but i'm sure you're doing pretty well.

sometimes we just have to keep reminding people that they are not truly giving anything until what they give hurts.