Monday, November 30, 2009


This word has been on my mind a lot lately. What does it mean to consume? To be a consumer? Engrossing, taking up all of one's mind or attention, buyer of goods/services...we all know the Webster's definitions. So what do I consume? What takes up my mind/attention? What do I buy? What do I eat/drink? Those are pretty hard questions to ask yourself. Really...take a sec and think about it. I'm warning you, this post is raw. I'm laying it all out there about myself and I hope you don't get offended if this steps on your own toes. I'm not judging, comparing, or trying to be holier than thou. I'm processing this within myself right now and I've got absolutely no room to judge.

After taking an honest look at myself, I'm pretty disgusted with what I've realized about my role as a consumer. For example, new clothes are my favorite thing to buy...but how do I feel about those clothes after I've washed them once? Not at all the same. And then I need to go consume some more clothes to get the same feeling again. It's bled into my child's wardrobe as well. Dressing him in trendy, expensive clothes gave me great joy for a long time. Now it makes me sad to think of how wasteful that was. How many children could I have clothed with the money I spent on clothes he wore less than 10 times?

And what about food? I consume a rich diet by most of the world's standards. I mean, I don't survive on rice three meals a day. Diet Mountain Dew and coffee make up most of what I drink. I spend more on a Starbucks venti skinny caramel latte and a muffin for breakfast than what 80% of the world's humanity lives on a day.

My attention? A consumer wasteland of worries about stupid things. Like what my neighbors think of the fact that my garland and house lights are different colors of white. Did you even know there were different colors of white? Me neither.

Do I ever worry about clean water? Being raped by militant groups? Having a family of my own? Being cold, sick, hungry??? Never. Ever.

But for OVER HALF of human beings on this earth...they worry about at least one of those things DAILY.

So what do we do? Do we just move on with life and hope it gets better? Here's what I've come to believe. I don't need to be overwhelmed by the stats...instead, I just need to move to change them!

We've started moving in this direction in a lot of ways in our house. We still have a LONG way to go. But I want to share with you something we are doing this year with Christmas giving. We have decided, on both sides of the family, to STOP the gift card shuffle. You all know what I'm talking about...nobody knows what to get anybody else because everybody has everything that anybody could ever want or need. So we all buy each other gift cards for stupid things like Starbucks, movie theaters, restaurants, and shopping malls. These are stupid gifts because if we really needed anything from any of these places we would just go there and spend our own money. Think about it...8 billion dollars worth of gift cards go unused every year. That could buy a whole lotta clean water and healthy food. Adoptions cost an average of 25K, so one of you mathematicians out there can tell me how many adoptions 8 billion dollars would fund. I bet it would knock a serious dent in the orphan crisis. And that's just from unused gift cards, people, unused gift cards.

So this year we are not buying presents. For real. No presents. For anyone. Santa will bring Clayton a few things because I'm not about taking the fun out of it for kids. But he's only getting three small gifts. Like I told him, "If it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for you." And you know what the funny thing is? This is the most excited I've been about Christmas in a long, long, long time. Like probably since I was a kid. I'm so happy to not have to worry about coming up with a list of places from which I shop so my relatives can buy me a gift card. I'm even happier to not have to trek around and buy gift cards to places from which my relatives shop. But I'm most happy because our money is going to help someone build a house, help someone adopt a child, and help someone have food, water, and spiritual nurturing.

Think about it. Is it really that important that your sister get that ugly sweater that she didn't want in the first place? Do you really think your dad's life is enriched by the box of golf balls you've given him for the seventh year straight? Are you happier because you got that fruit of the month membership from Aunt Jane? Didn't think so.

If you do spend money on gifts, why not at least give gifts that help others? Below I've listed some sites to get you started.

Go.Seek.Love (proceeds from these super cool shirts go to our friends', the Dixon's, adoption fund)

Dadz Designz (nap mats, color bags, and chalkboard mats; proceeds go to another family adopting a child from Reece's Rainbow)

Just Love Coffee (helps with our adoption fund)

Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree (Christmas Ornament with every donation of $35...I'm fundraising for Victoria R6 {there is more than one Victoria}...please donate to her fund!)

Mazza Mosaic (all December proceeds go to Reece's Rainbow)

Beads For Life (I love the Katogo necklace! Jewelry is made by Ugandan women and proceeds go to help end poverty in Africa)

And then there's this cause which is just amazing:


  1. Tears... as usual. I'm crying. You are SOOOO right, Tes. Thanks for sharing this. You are an awesome example to us all. Love you.

  2. Such good thoughts! We have faced the idea of Christmas downsizing since Jason went back to school (basically cutting our income in half), and we just haven't had the money to give in the way we once did. So we've embraced handmade gifts, small but thoughtful gifts, and quality time. :)
    This is such a good reminder, though, because even though we feel like we're broke, we're really unbelievably blessed to have things like a warm house, transportation, and plenty of food and water.
    Thanks again for this post, and enjoy your Christmas!

  3. I’m holding a $1 challenge over at, on the countdown to Christmas. Kiril is a little boy with significant special needs who has been waiting on Reece’s Rainbow for a long time, and has been bedridden in an institution for over 6 months now. My goal is to get as many people as possible to donate just ONE dollar to Kiril’s RR grant, and then pass this message on to just ONE other person of their choice.

    Apart from people I know well, I’m contacting 50 people pretty much at random - so if you’re in the middle of an adoption etc, I obviously don’t expect you to donate. But *please* pass along this message, whether you can give yourself or not.

    Thank you and Merry Christmas!