Living Generously: The Simple Gift of Open Hands

I vaguely heard a crackly voice repeat my order through the intercom and assumed it was correct. It was simple enough. One small chocolate Frosty. And I think the faceless voice instructed me to drive around to the second window, although I couldn’t be sure.

I must have correctly deciphered the speaker-ese, because when the second window opened and a cute girl with spiky hair and a tiny nose ring greeted me with a smile, she announced my total: $2.06.

I handed her a five-dollar bill and waited for change. Instead, she handed me a Frosty and my money back.

“Keep it,” she said. “Merry Christmas.”

Before I could say a word, she’d adjusted her headset and began punching in the next customer’s order. I blinked my eyes to clear the tears and pulled away.

In the grocery store later that day, I smiled at a woman standing beside me in the bakery aisle. Apparently, we were both deciding between walnuts and pecans. 

“I’m so sorry,” she said as she maneuvered her cart out of the way. When she grabbed her bag of pecans (me too), she stepped past me. The back of her shirt said “Live Generously.1

My family and I have been the recipient of more than a few lavish gifts. Someone gave us a piano when my six-year-old wanted to learn to play. Someone else paid for every class my husband needed to complete his degree. When our house was impacted by a thousand-year flood in 2015, a dear friend gifted us with thousands of dollars to make the repairs needed to sell it.

Each gift crumbled me to the ground in worship and thanksgiving. Our Father God saw our need and sent someone to meet it.

He’s still sending “someones” to meet our needs. This year He sent an oncological surgeon to heal my mom of breast cancer. And then He sent a cardiologist to zap her heart back into rhythm. He sent two dedicated believers to serve alongside my pastor husband and me when we wondered if our church would survive. He sent a publishing company to help me share the message God has placed on my heart with as many people as possible.

And He sends spiky-haired teenagers with tiny nose rings to hand me my favorite treat.

Good gifts don’t have to be extravagant.

Live generously.

During the month of December, I invite you to join me in the Generous Living Challenge. Each day, from now until Christmas, let’s look for an opportunity to give something away.

If you have the means, give generously to your favorite charity or ministry. If you’ve been blessed by the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, consider making a year-end donation.

But don’t focus on lavish. Look for small ways, every day, to give generously.

Ideas for Generous Living

  • Give a smile and a greeting to the grumpiest person in the room, office, or elevator.
  • Ask the cashier at the grocery store what his favorite candy is and buy it for him.
  • Drop dollar bills and change into the Salvation Army kettle.
  • Send an I’m praying for you text or message to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. And then pray.
  • Select five items of clothing from your closet and donate them to a charity thrift store or women’s shelter.
  • Perform a task for your coworker that you know he or she hates doing. 
  • Write a note to your boss or tell him or her in person how grateful you are for your job.
  • Leave a water bottle, a snack, and a note in the mailbox for your mail carrier.
  • Put a basket of snack food and bottled water on the porch with a sign that says something like, “UPS, FedEx, USPS—thank you for your service. Please enjoy a snack.”
  • Go through your kitchen cupboards and pull out dishes, bowls, utensils you don’t use and donate them.
  • Buy someone a Frosty. You never know what it might mean to them.

Make a Commitment

Whether you’re dreading the holidays and struggling to find the Christmas spirit or you’re full of excitement and bubbling over, commit each day to living generously. 

This is the Christmas spirit. 

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, because he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

1 I later learned that the slogan “Live Generously” has been made popular (and put on all those t-shirts!) by the philanthropic work of Thrivent, a Christian financial services organization. Learn more at

Join the Discussion