Anniversary Flat

Casual Elegance

A recent evening topped the list of amazing anniversaries.  My husband, Ken, and I recently celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary in Lake Arrowhead where we stayed at a friend’s condo for the week.

Ken took me to a restaurant called, “Casual Elegance” in the city of Blue Jay for dinner and let me tell you that it was one of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had.

Before you think I am giving a restaurant review rather than a blog about generosity, let me put you at ease and say, it’s definitely about generosity, but the food and atmosphere were out of this world and if you’re in the area, don’t miss the opportunity for an amazing culinary experience. Being a bit of a gourmet cook myself, I give it a BIG thumbs up.

Now…back to the story: we had a great meal and we were served by an adorable and polite young waiter named Noa

The owner Kathleen and me!!!

h (he was twenty-

seven years old, but didn’t look a day over sixteen).   At the end of the meal we were greeted by the owner, Kathleen, who came over and asked how our meal was.

Noah-Waiter

We left a good tip and headed out the door only to find that our luxury 2001 Nissan Quest Minivan had a flat tire.  After walking right back into the restaurant to use their

phone, (no cell coverage in that area) Noah offered to help us rather than wait several hours for AAA to arrive.  He could take care of it in five minutes…or so he said.

Forty five minutes, and a lot of laughs later, we were on our way back to the condo in Arrowhead having made new friends with Kathleen and Noah.

Yet another random act of generosity that just amazes me and reiterates that we don’t have to be rich to bless the socks off of somebody. You just have to be willing to make yourself available to serve.

If you happen to be in the Lake Arrowhead area and want a great and elegant place to eat, skip over to Casual Elegance in Blue Jay.  If you are worried about getting a flat, don’t worry. They’ve got you covered.

How can you go out of your way today to help a stranger?

Noah saves the day!

In case you’re wondering how to find the restaurant:

Casual Elegance

26848 Highway 189

Blue Jay, Ca. 92317

(909)337-8932

Tell them Ali from With This Ring sent you!

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Automatic Generosity: How a 14-Year-Old Girl Used $20

My best friend, Kimmi, lives in Northern California. The other day we were talking on the phone and she mentioned that the child she sponsors, Rahema, just turned 14 years old.  She and her husband sent Rahema a letter and twenty dollars for her birthday so she could buy something special for herself.   Just a few weeks later, Kimmi got a letter back from Rahema.  It began with these words:

I greet you with feelings of joy.  Praise the Lord Jesus!

This child living in extreme poverty is exclaiming joy, praising the Lord Jesus.

I already love her.  Kimmi has told me many things about Rahema in the last three years, but somehow reading her letter made her real to me.

Rahema goes on to thank Kimmi and her husband for the generous birthday gift and then proudly announces what she bought with the twenty dollars.  If she were a typical American teenager, you might expect her to buy a new dress, or some toys, maybe even some candy or a video game. But for Rahema, those were not of any interest.

Instead, with the money she received for her birthday, Rahema bought a female goat for her family.   Then she spent the remaining money on a pair of shoes for her mother who walks long distances selling goods in local villages to support her family, like many of the women do.

That twenty dollars we don’t even hesitate to spend for a movie and popcorn is the same twenty dollars Rahema used to bring her family a little further out of poverty’s hand.

Twenty dollars is a little more than half of what Rahema’s family earns in a month.

Can you imagine giving away that much money, approximately two weeks salary, without even thinking twice about it? What is it that makes a person care about those they love more than they care about themselves?

A person who exhibits love like that has to be the result of God’s love so deeply resonating in them that their gratitude and generosity is more prevalent than their own personal needs or wants.  Love like that must be instinctual, automatic, not manufactured. It must come from a deeper knowledge of the Savior and His character, and a deeper knowledge of His love.

I want to exhibit love like that; generosity that doesn’t even consider oneself, but immediately looks to the needs of others.

I have a lot to learn from Rahema.  We all do.  Rahema values people, not things.  She values life, not riches. While the amount of money she has is limited, she is very, very rich.

So, how can we love more generously and expect nothing for ourselves?

We practice it!  We put action to our faith by living it out though our deeds, even when it is hard to do so. When God calls, we answer Him with authentic praise that is evident in everything we say and do.

I believe the reason Rahema is full of joy and praising God is because she has traded riches for contentment, and selfishness for service.

In Hebrews 13:16 it says: And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Little or big, we can all do something generous every day, and pretty soon our response will be as automatic as Rahema’s, even when it comes to the big things.

There is something generous you can do today that will be a significant blessing to someone else – once you know what it is, do it!  Then, begin to plan how you can be generous tomorrow and then the next day.

Who knows?  Maybe generosity will become contagious!

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

Executive Director

With This Ring

Let Them Eat Cake: Radical Giving from Limited Resources

I am in Trafford Pennsylvania right now with my husband and six year old son. We are staying with some good friends of ours, the Cables, visiting their house church.

A couple of days ago, a group of us were sitting around the table talking about our love for chocolate cake and a young couple from the church casually said, “You haven’t had chocolate cake until you’ve had the chocolate cake from Max and Erma’s.” Before long they said they had to get home because their kids were getting cranky.

Instead of going home though, they decided to stop at Max and Erma’s and get several pieces of cake for us.  They came back, cake in hand, and let me tell you, this was the richest cake I have ever eaten. It was so rich it was hard to tell where the layers of cake started and where the chocolate filling ended.  Needless to say, it was delicious.

It was such a simple thing for them to do but I was touched by the sentiment behind their act of generosity.

It turns out that this sweet young couple has four young kids that they home school and dad is currently unemployed.  I don’t know if they even considered the cost – all I know is they wanted to bless us with something they knew we would enjoy.  And even when tried to give them money, they refused it.

It reminded me of what the Apostle Paul said about the Macedonians in 2 Corinthians 8. He reminded us that, Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.”

They did not give out of their wealth, they gave out of their limited resources, but that makes it even more beautiful.

That is the kind of giver I want to be.  I want to act first and think later.  Give more than I have, and trust that God will take care of my needs.  If all we have is offered to God to bless those around us, I know that we will be blessed in the process.

While I’m sure God was speaking to them that day, I don’t think He was saying, “Let them eat cake,” but I do believe He was saying, “It is more blessed to give than receive” Acts 20:35.

We certainly didn’t need the cake, and they could have done many other things with their money, but it wasn’t about the cake.  It was about listening to God, not only with the radical act of giving something huge, but also with the daily, little things.

And when God calls we get to answer with a big fat “Yes.”

What about you?  Is there something, big or small, that you can do to bless someone today?  If it is your lack of resources holding you back, go for it.  Take a risk.  Be radical.

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

With This Ring


A Bible and a Gold band


Last week I got an email from a woman I’ve never met.  By this week’s end, you will be able to read her full story on our champions page.

I’d like to share some excerpts from her letter:

“My ‘ring decision’ story probably began about a year and a half ago when, at the ripe old age of 60, I felt compelled to read through the Bible, front to back, non-stop. God used that to make scripture come alive in a way I had never known before. I couldn’t put it down. Some days I would spend 4 to 6 hours reading and reading. I fell in love with Abraham, Moses, David, young John, and single-minded Paul. It all seemed fresh and new.”

“The two things that stood out were (1) that God would not tolerate idolatry and (2) how importantly He took helping the poor. I remember reading Ps. 119:37: ‘Turn your eyes away from worthless things…’ And as I read that, I lifted my eyes and looked at all the little worthless objects I had displayed all over the room – things I loved, but things that now made me ashamed.”

“How could I have spent so much money on this thing or that, when there were children starving in the world?”

“Jesus began to tender our hearts.  One day my Charisma Magazine arrived and in it was an article about With This Ring. I looked down at my beautiful wedding ring and said, ‘Oh no, Lord! Not that! Not me!’ But He grabbed my heart and made the sight of my ring unpleasant as it sat on my finger. It suddenly became an idol to me. He told me He didn’t need my ring, but He did need my obedience. In the end, I got a plain gold band, unadorned, and I can’t tell you the joy it brings me to know that it’s being there means children somewhere will not die from drinking unclean water. “

“Thank you for your organization and the wonderful work you are doing for the people in Africa as well as for the ‘donors’ who are able to experience God more intimately through your cause.”

Twyla said is that God did not need her ring, He needed her obedience.

We are all called to be obedient… to listen to the spirit of God…and to act when He speaks!  Really – it is that simple!  It may not be easy, but it is simple. Those are two very different things.

When God spoke to Esther to go before the King on behalf of her people, she risked her life to do it.  But she did it.  She may have been scared, but she still honored God with her obedience.  God used her obedience to save the entire Jewish people.

He speaks…we act…and God uses our actions for his good will.  Just like Twyla, we can either listen, finding relevance in truly serving a Living God, or we can ignore his voice and live a barren life with no real joy or purpose.

I want to be that kind of Christian – like Twyla or Esther. I want to grow and be changed.  I want my life to be marked by something more than how much stuff I have.  I want God to be pleased with me.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)

How are you living a life that is pleasing to God?  Not to boast but to encourage others, please share your story with us.

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

With This Ring

A Promise, a Car Battery and a Bowl of Cherries

The battery and the bowl of cherries!

A few days ago my husband Ken was praying in his morning time with God.  He was pondering the fact that we have three cars and that two of them were given to us free and clear, and he suddenly said out loud to God, “Lord forgive me.” He knew God was telling him to give his car away, and he felt like it was supposed to go to my nephew.  Right now my nephew has a broken down car that he can’t afford to repair and he is getting rides back and forth from college.

We were planning to sell two of our cars and use the money to buy Ken a used truck.  We always seem to need one and we’re running out of people to borrow from.

Ken came home and told me what God was saying to him and immediately I felt a confirmation that this was the right thing to do.

We decided to call my nephew right away.  When he answered the phone and we told him that we wanted to give him the car, he was speechless.

It was so exciting to be a part of God’s provision for someone else.  He said thank you and that he’d get a ride to our house the next day to pick it up.

The very next morning Ken drove the car to work as usual, but when he went to leave, it wouldn’t start. We had just told my nephew the night before that it was a great car and had never given us any trouble.

We called AAA out and they couldn’t even jumpstart the car.  The battery was totally corroded.  We had to replace the battery right then and there and it was not cheap.  It’s hard to shop for a good deal when you are at the mercy of a tow truck driver.

He was very professional though and said that we should take the car to the shop to check the starter.  That’s not good!  So, we took it to our local repair shop and they said it looked fine.  Crisis averted!

Meanwhile, Ken was eating cherries and bit into one that promptly broke off part of his tooth.  Come to find out, he now needs a root canal, a post and a crown to cover the freshly exposed nerve.  Go figure!

Within 12 hours of our decision to follow God and give radically, we were hit with almost $1,700 worth of new bills. The temptation here would be to go back on our commitment and sell the car to pay for these bills.   After all, why would God allow all of this to happen if we were really hearing from Him?

I believe that God was not only allowing all of this to happen, He was right in the midst of it all.  He doesn’t want us to give out of our wealth.  He wants us to give out of our poverty.

In 2 Samuel 24, it talks about David going to Araunah to buy the threshing floor to build an altar to the Lord so the plague on the people would stop. Araunah offers to give it to David at no cost and also offers him oxen, sledges and ox yokes.  David turned to Araunah and said, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”  (2 Sam. 24:24)

When we give, it should cost us something!  Then we can truly appreciate the depth of God’s love and be reminded of the cost He paid for us.

God didn’t need our car.  He could have blessed our nephew without us.  But instead He chose to teach us that our obedience matters more than our any of our stuff.

So, is God going to bless us in the midst of all of this?  He already did!

Is there something in your life that would cost you something that God is asking you to give? I challenge you to make that commitment and do it.  Once you do, I’d love to hear about it!

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

With This Ring

The Temptation of The Red Couch

I just had to share this blog written by a friend of mine:

My husband Steve and I have been married 20 years. The only real issue we’ve had over the years is finances.

Recently our pastor challenged our church to be better managers of God’s money. So we decided to stop buying things we don’t need and step up our giving.

Things were going along smoothly until “The temptation of the red couch!!!”

I love red. I have red in my kitchen, on my couch, in the bathroom. You get the idea.

A friend at work told me she knew someone who was downsizing and was selling an almost new red sectional couch.

We had a tax return coming so I thought, “Hmm how can I make this happen…?” But we’d already decided to stop buying things we didn’t need.

I talked to the guy, and although he paid $4,500 dollars for it a year ago, he was willing to sell it to us for $1,000 dollars. Yikes!

Still, it was a great deal, so I decided to ask my husband.

Our couches are ten year old hand me downs and have become our cat’s personal playground. You can only imagine!

He gave me the “I seriously can’t believe you are asking me this” look. No wife likes that look, but when I see it, I’ve learned to drop it. That’s wisdom from being happily married for 20 years!

I told my best friend about it. She said what I already knew. There was no way around it. It would be irresponsible to use our tax refund for couches! Darn!!!

So she prayed and asked God to put it on the man’s heart to give me the couches for free!

I decided to call him and decline his generous offer of $1,000.

Even if we did want it, we don’t have $1,000 lying around.

Then, you guessed it, the temptation got even worse. He emailed and said he was willing to take payments! Give me a stinkin’ break! I’m only human!

So, I had the nerve to ask my husband again. I guess that 20 year wisdom snuck out on me temporarily. He gave me the “You CANT be serious, Kim” look.

I wrote back and declined once and for all. It felt good to stick to my guns but I knew I might be 80 before I got the couches I really wanted.

The next day I got this email:
Hi Kim. We had no takers on the furniture, so we would like to offer you our RED COUCH and matching furniture at NO CHARGE!!! And by the way, I have a new dining room table and chairs. You can have them too.

Wow! I am humbled that God the Father wants the best for His children. If we trust Him and take Him at His word He will take care of our needs AND sometimes even our wants!

Kim Langstaff, Elk Grove California

Thanks for the story Kim! I love it when God shows Himself faithful when we least expect it!

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

With This Ring

The Red Couch

With This Ring

 

                                        With This Ring

 

They laugh the same, they cry the same, they hurt the same as me,

They want a future for their children and they want them to see

That there’s still hope in this great world and God will se them through

Maybe the answer to their prayer is me and you

 

With this ring,

Maybe I can feed a village

With this ring

Bring water to the thirsty

With this ring

Show the world that I don’t care about this pretty thing

And maybe I can change the world

With this ring

 

Sometimes we need get a chance to be a hero in this life

A chance to make things different and chance to make things right

One moment in a million to show the world we care

One sacrifice one vision one burden we can bear

  

With this ring,

Maybe I can feed a village

With this ring

Bring water to the thirsty

With this ring

Show the world that I don’t care about this pretty thing

And maybe I can change the world

With this ring

 

One hope, one fight, one prayer, one life

  

With this ring,

Maybe I can feed a village

With this ring

Bring water to the thirsty

With this ring

Show the world that I don’t care about this pretty thing

And maybe I can change the world

With this ring