Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: Every year around the holidays, there seems to be an all out drive to help those who are less fortunate. Every year, I think, “Why wait until holiday time to help those organizations that are helping others?” I have several friends who work for non-profits and they all tell me that donations during the year are low except during a crisis, and that they depend on holidays to make up their total budget.

I believe if those of us who can would give a little throughout the year, (which I do) there wouldn’t be this problem. I just believe most people don’t understand the need for consistent year around donations.

Is there a way that we can help folks understand?
– One Helping Hand

Dear One Helping Hand,
I honor your concern for the needy, but in these economic times people are themselves struggling financially, and giving away money is not first in their thinking. Perhaps it’s that we get caught up in life’s hardships and forget those having it more difficult than we. But take heart – while it’s true that holidays stimulate unusually more, giving is not totally absent the rest of the year. In fact, it seems that with every online transaction or visit to the supermarket there is asked the question, “Would you like to donate?” Millions are collected this way. Churches and social clubs gather offerings every week, not only to cover costs but to fund aid organizations, food banks and the poor among their own memberships.

I’m afraid there’ll always be poor people (Matthew 26:11) but maybe just raising your concern will encourage more consistent giving. I do find it interesting that Christmas especially drives offerings, and I believe it’s because of the message of the one for whom it’s named. Since giving is voluntary and nobody really has to give anything, Christmas reminds us that God himself is a giver who especially gave us Christ our Savior; and Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Mat 25:40 NIV).

So, let’s take the attitude of the repentant Scrooge who said, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year,” then give accordingly.

Rev. Bryan Griem
Montrose Community Church

Dear One Helping Hand,
Around the holidays donating in a variety of ways picks up in every direction –  “’Tis the season” as they say. The holidays are meant to remind us of our connection to each other and to greatly influence our own gratitude, and attitude towards sharing our bounty. I believe that most of humanity wishes to lend that helping hand with whatever they have to share. When we truly endeavor to lift others selflessly and without expectations, we lift ourselves.      Choosing to live life embodying generosity year round, one becomes a living example for others to see. You may be familiar with the story on social change, “The Hundredth Monkey.” Character growth is at work within all of us, it is part and parcel of the life experience, and we are known by the “fruits” we bear. People often imitate what they admire in others.

In this very fast, digital, immediate world in which we live, quantum physics reminds us: what is taken into focus causes an increase. There is good and generosity going on all around, all the time. We can attend to that in our thoughts, and join with it in our deeds. I think the best way to invite people to maintain a generous nature is to just be the very thing you wish to see in others.

Take heart, personal evolution is a forward motion; we’re all works in progress. Believe in your fellow man.

Kim Winders, RscP (Religious Science Practitioner)  Center for Spiritual Living, La Crescenta

QUESTION: Fortunately, my wife of three years and I have finally saved enough money to buy our own home. We both work, and in about two or three years plan to start our family, and want to raise our children in a home rather than an apartment. So far, we’ve looked at 14 homes in this area and we just can’t agree on one we both like. We each have lists of what we want in our home and actually the lists aren’t that different; however, I think we’ve both given in to nit-picking about the smallest things that in the long run could be changed. Many times, we’ve agreed to disagree and for the most part get along great, except in this situation, and we’re back to square one.

Please help us with this sticky wicket.
– Potential Homeowner

Dear Potential Homeowners:
Finding the right home to start your family can be challenging, especially when faced with a situation that calls for you both to be willing to look past your “wish lists” mentality. You and your wife must be willing to leave your lists at the door and move into your new space consciously, without the “my way or the highway” mentality that might be keeping you from the home of your dreams. I am suggesting that you and your wife sit down with your lists and read them to each other. Listen to each other. Discover why it is so important to your wife to have these things in the new home, and really listen to what is being said beneath the words. What do the words represent?

Is there a way to merge your lists together into the “Master House List?” When you are both working from the same list, and understanding the other person’s reasoning behind the desire, you both begin attracting the perfect home into your lives. You begin being part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.

Energy flows where your attention goes. If your focus has been on what you both lack, then more lack shows up. By changing the way we view the situation, the situation is changed forever. Release your attachments to things being a certain way and begin to embrace your new home as everything you want it to be – and more! Right Now!

Rev. Steven Van Meter
Center for Spiritual Living-La Crescenta

Dear Potential Homeowner,
It sounds to me like you are experiencing some first-time-buyer jitters. Buying a house is a huge and scary endeavor, especially in our area. It’s no wonder that you can get all the way to the threshold and then be afraid to step over it. Your fear manifests itself in these little nit-picky arguments that keep you from having to make the leap. Usually your realtor is ready and waiting to talk you through these moments (how else would they ever make any money?!). But if not, my first-time home buyer book advised us to watch more HGTV so that we could a) share the excitement of other home buyers, and b) remember how possible it is to make any home reflect your personality. This actually worked for us. Along the way, we also revisited the amount we thought we could spend without completely stressing out our marriage.

The upside of this is that as a married couple, you seem to be similar in how you think about your money – you have saved up what I assume is an appropriate amount; you have shared and agreed on your dreams for a family and a neighborhood; and you are both very cautious about big financial risks.

Congratulations! When you do make the leap, you’ll do it together.


Pastor Paige Eaves
Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church