This is Black Friday. While many of you have been shopping since early morning, I am doing something completely different this year. I am sitting in the comfort of my home, barely out of my pajamas, enjoying a relaxing cup of tea and writing my thoughts.

Because I am co-facilitating the Financial Peace University course with Rev. Pattie, I decided to truly set and stay on a budget this holiday season.  To help me do that, I have asked my friends, our board members and staff not to give me gifts this year because I often feel pressured internally to buy and have often over-spent and I invariably feel guilty if I have not had an equal exchange of energy. (I am quite aware, that this is co-dependence at its finest, and a more spiritually mature person would simply receive with grace without batting an eye.) I asked each one to help me stay on my budget by not giving me a gift!

However, I know myself and that is always the beginning of spiritual growth — to honestly tell yourself the truth. 

While I was asking the board members not to give me anything, a brilliant idea came to mind. In lieu of giving gifts to friends, family, board and staff, I would set a certain amount and give it to a couple of worthy causes such as South County Outreach and Heifer International, which is a non-profit dedicated to ending hunger and poverty through sustainable means. South County Outreach is asking for items of clothing like socks and underwear.

I love both of these organizations. Heifer International because it is based on helping people learn how to be more self-sufficient by learning how to look after the chickens, goats or water buffalo that they have received so they can live more independently. South County outreach because I will be making  a difference right here in Orange County.

The Board of Trustees thought this was a great idea so they are joining me in this project. I will collect money for Heifer International until the end of December then however much we have collected, I will share it with Heifer International for them to use it where it is needed the most.

For South County outreach, I will collect until December 14, then go and purchase the clothing that is most needed.

I feel greatly inspired. I will stick to my budget. I will feel great about the money I am spending because it will be going to great causes. I have not moved from my computer! Easiest holiday gift-buying ever!

I am going to open it up to members of our congregation who would love to help too. It is a way to honor myself AND make a difference in the world. Be the one who makes a difference!