A Month of Giving

April 26th, 2011

This Sunday, I am embarking on an adventure and I want you to come along!  Beginning May 1st, I am going to be participating in the 29 Gifts Challenge.  The premise of the challenge is very simple: you commit to giving a gift a day for twenty-nine days, and to document your experience in some way.

The 29 Gifts Challenge has its origins in a book written by Cami Walker (29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life).  Cami was diagnosed with multiple-sclerosis at a really young age, mere months after she got married.  The news was devastating and she didn’t take it well. Cami slipped into a depressive spiral that she couldn’t seem to break free from.  Until…a friend of hers gave her a “prescription” to give twenty-nine gifts in twenty-nine days.

Cami did, and the experience changed her life.  By focusing on what she had to offer the world, rather than focusing only on the unfairness of life and the challenges she faced, her entire attitude changed and with it, her life.  She wrote a book about her experience and the book has sparked an international wave of participation in the challenge.  There’s a whole website devoted to it.

As soon as I heard of the book and the challenge, it piqued my interest.  Three chapters in, and I was convinced: this was something I wanted to do.  Like many people, I like to think of myself as a charitable individual who “gives back” but the truth is, thinking it is easier than living it.  I think a lot of us struggle with this.  In the midst of our busy lives of work and family and church and babies and dishes and laundry and fighting traffic on the daily commute, it’s easy to forget to look for ways to bless others.

That’s what the challenge is all about: being a blessing to the people around you. The “gifts” in the challenge do not have to be money.  Cami’s gifts included a phone call to a friend, a birthday card for her mother, and doing the dishes one night for her husband.  The point is to be mindful of what we have to offer – and also to be mindful of the impact of generosity on both the receiver and the giver.  It’s powerful stuff.

I’ve invited my church family to take the challenge with me and I have three takers so far.  Yay!  I’ll be blogging my experiences here (though probably not every day, since I’m trying to cut back on Internet time).  I hope you’ll join me!  Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments of this blog.

I look forward to launching our Month of Giving on May 1st!

7 responses to “A Month of Giving”

  1. Isa says:

    Oops. I totally dropped the ball on this one! Still want to do it with the girls, too? I'll get something set up today so we can, if you're still in…

  2. Kate says:

    I'm in! Let's do it!!

  3. Burt says:

    Hello, Kate,
    I'm in!
    Yesterday I tried to kick it off by offering to buy a random Starbucks for the person in line behind me. I think I so bewildered him that he stammered…ah, thanks, but, ah, I have a gift card. Someone had beaten me to the giving!
    I'll keep trying.
    Rose

  4. Romo says:

    Hello, Kate,
    I'm in!
    Yesterday I tried to kick it off by offering to buy a random Starbucks for the person in line behind me. I think I so bewildered him that he stammered…ah, thanks, but, ah, I have a gift card. Someone had beaten me to the giving!
    I'll keep trying.
    Rose

  5. Kate says:

    Ha ha. Rose I'm so glad you're on board. Nothing like trying to give a gift and being thwarted! Great idea, though. I'll have to try that one. I have heard of people paying for the person behind them at fast food drive-up windows. That way, they can't protest. They just pull forward to learn that their meal is covered!

  6. Burt says:

    It gets funnier, Kate. So I'm back at Starbucks a week later and a woman gets in line behind me. Okay, I'll try again.First I chatted with her about the pastries; then I paid for my latte, she ordered her coffee and I said, I'd like to treat you today. She said, Oh, no thanks, that's so kind, but not necessary. I said I was feeling the urge to do a random act of kindness & she said just offering was enough.
    That was a gift back to me from her, but I'm still thwarted in my coffee-gift-giving!

    PS. I have managed to randomly treat at SB's in the past, so this is really, really funny to me!
    Rose

  7. Romo says:

    It gets funnier, Kate. So I'm back at Starbucks a week later and a woman gets in line behind me. Okay, I'll try again.First I chatted with her about the pastries; then I paid for my latte, she ordered her coffee and I said, I'd like to treat you today. She said, Oh, no thanks, that's so kind, but not necessary. I said I was feeling the urge to do a random act of kindness & she said just offering was enough.
    That was a gift back to me from her, but I'm still thwarted in my coffee-gift-giving!

    PS. I have managed to randomly treat at SB's in the past, so this is really, really funny to me!
    Rose

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