Thursday, August 05, 2010

Open Arms

I've been eager to get back to continuing this series - and I was surprised to check my photo archive and learn that I started this project in January! Wow - where has the time gone?!

Continuing where we left off last time, we are on Proverbs 31:20,

"She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy."

Isn't that a beautiful picture? I picture a kind woman opening her door with open arms, a welcome smile and an extension of help to someone in need. It is beautiful. God is showing us this as an example of how we are to be.

What does that look like in my daily life? What does it mean to offer open arms and extend myself?

First, I think it means being aware. Noticing when opportunity presents itself. Listening to conversations and hearing the small mention of need that is not open or even meant to escape.

I also think it means being available. Noticing the need is one thing, but are we willing to be used by God to meet the need if we are able?

Who qualifies as needy? All of us at some time or another have needs. We bring meals, we care for children, we run errands or share extra toothpaste. We extend our hands and the blessings God has placed in our lives are for our own families and then to share with those He brings into our paths.

Imagine how the recipient may have prayed over the needed help or provision. God can choose to allow you to be the answer to their prayer. Staying connected to Him and His heart for others will help us to be aware, available and willing to extend open arms.

There's just one more aspect that comes to mind. If we are going to extend the open arms and the help - we must be prepared. Preparation is a theme that has come up again and again throughout Proverbs 31. Overall, this woman is prepared for what is coming her way.

The thought of being prepared begs a question - how do we prepare to extend these open arms?

We know where our excess lies. It doesn't always mean money. Each of us might have a different kind of excess we could share: time, talent, treasure, toothpaste! When we are aware of what we have to share, God often allows us opportunities to share those things with others. I've mentioned before how my surplus from drug store shopping has provided for so many needs around us and I love seeing that! We'll come back to this idea in a minute when we get to our craft!

In addition to knowing where our excesses are, I think we can make tangible preparations for opportunities. We can save a little extra money so we have some to share, we can bake an extra loaf of bread and put it in the freezer so it is ready when needed, etc...

Above all, God prepares us. It's amazing to think about - but He can provide just the right extra for us knowing that we will have an opportunity to serve that to someone else in the future. Having a heart fixed on Him and seeking His purposes and desires helps to cultivate a soft heart of looking to the needs of others. We can ask God for opportunities and for open eyes to see them and a willing heart to respond!

Let's extend open arms!

On to the crafting - this time, I've made two projects. Both are very easy and quick to complete and will help us be prepared and ready to share with others!

First, an open arms coin jar. You know all those extra coins that you have floating at the bottom of your purse (or is that just me!?) - here is your chance to put those to meaningful use.

Supplies Needed:
* One empty container with lid: jar, coffee can, anything you can think of will work
* Paper
* Glue
* Scissors
* Ribbon
* Small Tag

Begin with a clean empty container, I used a plastic coffee container:

Choose some pretty scrapbook paper and cut a width to tape around
the middle of the container and then cut a circle to put on top. I used two colors of paper around the middle - one wider piece as the base and then a band over that of a second piece.

Tie a ribbon around and add a cute tag - start collecting coins and you're done!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Next, how about having an Open Arms box under your bathroom sink or in a nearby closet to collect the extras you get from all the freebies available?

Supplies Needed:
* Basket
* Canning jar lid and ring
* Paper
* Fabric
* Hot Glue
* Pencil
* Black Marker
* Scissors

Start with your basket - I simply tied a piece of fabric around the outside and knotted it in the front.

Next, cut a two inch strip of fabric - about one yard long. Fold the fabric back and forth accordion style. Stitch through all the folds. Join the two ends together to make a circular shape and stitch ends together. Gather a center and secure with a few stitches to keep it in shape.

Now, use the canning jar lid (flat part) to trace a circle on your piece of paper or cardstock. Cut the circle out and write Open Arms on it. Place it inside the canning jar ring. Now, place the flat lid inside the ring so that the paper is sandwiched in between the lid and the ring. Glue in place with hot glue.

Run a bead of hot glue around the underside of the ring and glue to fabric. Then, glue fabric onto knot in front of basket.

Fill your basket with freebies and be prepared to share!


Ginger said...

I have lots of CVS freebies, like you, but I haven't had a chance to give any away. My gift is time, I think. I have in my later years developed a knack for dealing with old people. In the Veterans' Home in my hometown are a 96 year-old father and his 70ish son. Dad and i have visited the son since December when he went in, and I always take him cookies. Mine are not good like yours, so I buy them, but he LOVES it. Last week we visited both as the father recently joined him. When I was younger, old people made me uncomfortable. I think it was seeing my parents age that changed things. Also, I have more empathy for people who have cancer since I had it. I made a casserole for a *young* mother in our church who has breast cancer. It is an awareness, as you said

Anonymous said...

Love your Open Arms basket esp....sure looks a lot nicer than the cardboard box I have for sharing! :-)

~eunice b
rsmile2u @dejazzd .com

Bevy @ Treasured Up and Pondered said...

Again. I love your simple, practicality.

Again. I appreciate your inspiration.

Thank you!

Michelle said...

Cute ideas! A question for you: How do you go about sharing free bathroom items and the like? Do you drop them off at a food pantry, or do you mean that you share them with friends? I ask because we stock up on things like deodorant, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc when it's on sale. Sometimes we may have 20 bottles of laundry detergent in the cabinet, or 8 tubes of toothpaste. I could easily spare a bottle/tube or two, but I don't know who I'd give them to.

Flannel Jammies Farm said...

What beautiful and practical ideas! I love that you are putting Scripture into practice in a creative way, carrying the Open Arms theme throughout. Thank you for sharing!

Mom said...

Cute crafts for a good cause! These turned out great and will also serve as a reminder to have "open arms." Thanks for sharing -- love you, Mom

~katie~ said...

Wonderful! Yes, I agree that being prepared is key in so many things! This is a very simple way to show our children about how to be intentional about giving. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

love the study in Proverbs and great ideas for giving to others. Christy S.

Wendi said...

Love the open arms basket. I have just been putting my extras in an old paper box in the garage. Your idea is much more attractive!

Intentional Living Homestead said...

Wonderful ideas...and we all have different gifts and talents to be used for God...each of us has a calling...our is adoption. God has given us open arms for adoption....and for financially helping others with their adoptions. And it's amazing the blessings that poured upon each of us when we hear and listen and follow...GREAT post!

Hattie said...

You are such a blessing to many. Thank you for encouraging us to be a blessing to others.

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

Oh I love this MOnica...Did you get this idea from a book? I think I'll try something with the coin jar. I have a canning jar that I use for old I'll see how I can dress it up a little..Oh, I love this idea...the crafts and the purpose behind it :) :) :) Thank you so much :) :) Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for the motivation! I made "open arm" jars with mason jars. They turned out really cute! I love your blog! Thanks so much for this cute idea! Kristin

Monica Wilkinson said...

Hi Michelle!

A food pantry would be a great way of sharing things. A couple of other ideas are:

* Operation Christmas Child. We always include a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush in each box we put together.

* Opportunities at church: we had a children's choir come through one time that was low on toothpaste! Yeah! I took them a bag full!!

* Friends who come over: I've been known to ask many friends who come over if they need anything and just let them go through what I have. It has often been a blessing to others as they have mentioned just what they needed was in there.

* Family: since we don't live near my family, I don't have much chance to share with them. But when we are headed their way I always ask if there is anything they need and then shop my stash to bring them some freebies!

* Church family: one time I had so much extra that it was getting to be a burden to me and I put it all up on the church e-mail list to see who could use it. It was a blessing!

Hope those ideas help - anyone else have any ideas?