Almsgiving LentAs I hear Pope Francis exhort over and over how important it is as Catholics and Christians that we get out on the fringes of society and be with those who need help or a kind word or just human interaction, I see more and more how this is an area in which I am lacking. We are measured not just by what we do, but what we don’t do. Ignoring that person on the side of the road whose tire is blown may be just as much of a sin as actually speaking an unkind word.

But in  my mind I think how in the world am I going to add in time for such volunteer work? I’m already running a full-time (probably MORE than full time) business, serving as mom to two elementary-school age boys, trying to be a good wife to my husband and, of course, make time for mass (often daily), adoration, prayer, blog writing, a daily rosary… you get the idea :). How do I work in one more thing?

Well, I received a review copy of this wonderful book recently that provides a wonderful solution. In “I Like Giving,” author Brad Formsma suggests that instead of making giving a once a month, or one-off, task, change to a lifestyle of giving. And what I liked best of all about this book is that giving doesn’t need to be a big act of generosity that drains the funds of someone already struggling or takes up a day of your time, though it can, of course, if you choose. But rather, giving can be the smallest act of kindness that takes no more than a second but requires a spirit of generosity.

Catholic AlmsgivingOne of my favorite parts of the book is that it is filled with stories of giving from everyday individuals like you and I. These serve as a wonderful repository of ideas and inspiration for all manner of generosity — from buying a house for someone so they never have to worry about rent again to cleaning out someone’s car for them without ever mentioning it. I’ve already come up with several creative ideas to make someone’s day without them expecting it. What joy that gives me to see the joy in them!

Formsma also gives tips along the way about things like when someone rejects a gift, when someone squanders a gift, whether or not to give gifts anonymously, how to look for giving opportunities and more. He also shares stories and statistics on how giving has affected the lives of so many from increasing happiness to changing someone’s entire outlook on life.

Perhaps my favorite quote is from a story written by his then 8-year-old son, which I have shared with both of my boys. It tells the story of his decision to give the money he’d made shoveling 125 sidewalks of snow for a young girl to have cleft-palate surgery:

“It’s easier to live life trying not to see things. To think it’s all about you. But it’s not. There’s a whole world out there. You just have to open your eyes and see it. There are opportunities all the time, but you only get one life. Why not spend it making a difference in somebody else’s?”

I don’t think Pope Francis could have said it better himself :). Go to for stories of giving and to start changing your lifestyle this Lent.