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This is long, but it is important. Please read it anyway, I think you will like it and you will feel encouraged.

God blesses me every day. To me, every day that I can wake up and enjoy my husband, my dog, the cool fall air (now that summer is FINALLY coming to an end!) and all the beautiful, wonderful things He places in my path that bring me joy, is a day to rejoice. I think that too often we just take for granted that we will have tomorrow and we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Really, we aren’t guaranteed another moment. It is only by God’s grace that we are here.

So, I am pretty simple. I have never been materialistic. I accept what I have and am grateful for it. God has been very good to me. I don’t have a fancy car or big house, but I don’t need all that. I have a nice little apartment with a loving husband (who is also my best friend) and a terrific dog. I live about five minutes from my church. We have food on the table, a roof over our head, tons of love; what more could I possibly want?

Anyway, sometimes God goes out of His way to do special things for me.

This past Monday was one of those times.

On Sunday, September 12, 2010, our pastor said that there would be an offering the following Sunday (September 19, 2010). He called it a “sacrificial” offering.

Now, I understand the whole thing about tithing pretty well, but I wasn’t sure just what an offering was. I mean, I understand the definitions of the words, but in church it could mean something different.

My husband explained it to me. He said that while your tithe is mandated by God, an offering is by choice. With an offering, there is no set percentage (like tithing – you have to give 10% of the money that you get – ALL of the money that you get), you give what you want.

I thought about it during the week and prayed about it. I wanted to give something, but I wasn’t sure how much to give or what was right. I wanted to be right, to do right.

Every morning I get a Bible verse in my email. It comes from KLOVE, a Christian radio station that is in the state where I used to live (it is in other states too, but not in the state where I live now – but I can still go on their website and listen to their shows and songs). They have what they call “An Encouraging Word” which is a Bible verse in your email every morning (www.klove.com/ministry/encouraging-word/). They also have a place for you to send your prayer requests and the staff gets together several times a day to pray for people.

Anyway, on Friday, September 17, 2010, my encouraging word was this verse:

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full-pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Luke 6:38

I thought it was very appropriate for what I had been thinking about and praying about (even though I think the verse was more about what you do to honor God, not necessarily giving money).

Anyway, that Saturday, my husband and I went into DC to a museum. We had lunch and then went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to get a new coffee pot (one that grinds the coffee beans and brews the coffee all in one).

The next morning, Sunday, the day of the offering, I went to the ATM and got out my tithe and offering. I won’t tell you how much I gave because that is between God and me.

I will tell you that I added up how much we spent on our day at the museum, our lunch and our new coffee pot. But really, that was money I wouldn’t really miss. So, I added a little more, added enough money that I felt the space that was left by the missing money.

I believe that you really aren’t helping someone if you don’t put yourself out a little. Well, you still help, but it is good if you can feel the space that is left by the missing time, money or whatever.

Anyway, I put in that extra money and gave my offering. Then, I left and did not think about it again (except that I hoped it helped our church). I went to the farmer’s market with my husband and we had a nice, relaxing Sunday at home.

Monday morning, though, I opened my work email (I work for a federal agency) and there was an email to me from my director (she was our acting director during a transition period recently). I opened it and the email said:

In recognition of and appreciation for your contributions and achievements to and on behalf of the Records Management Division during FY 2010, you will be receiving a performance award of $1,000.  Thank you for your above and beyond service to this organization and the Agency.

I was really shocked and just stared at it for a minute. Then I checked the email address to make sure it was for me (I wasn’t thinking that it was in my mailbox so it would have to have my email address). Then I checked the name to make sure that it was for me and, yes, it had “To: Stephanie Mayberry.”

Then I checked with my director to make sure she meant to send it to me – and she did! I just kept saying “Thank you, God! Thank you, God!”

So I called CW (my husband) and told him. He was happy too. He said, “God is good!”

I said, “Yes, He is.”

Later that evening, when he got home, CW told me that he believed that God honored my offering with this reward. He said I gave with no expectation of getting anything in return, I just gave what was on my heart and God blessed me with this.

I never, ever expected it and would have been just as happy to give if I never received anything in return.

But now we can buy a bed – no more futon mattress on the floor!

I am sorry this is so long, but I had a lot to say. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you were encouraged by it.