Who Needs Your Stuff? The Cycle of Sharing

Cycle of Sharing

We’re prepping for a yard sale.

It’s time to redistribute the junk. Sell some; buy some; give some away. Shift its home. Round and round it goes.

A few years ago I was given a gift in a ziplock bag: the starter for Amish Friendship Bread. I accepted with enthusiasm because it was from a friend.

But I had serious doubts. I’m not a bread baker. I’m a bread eater.

Ten days of instructions were included. On the tenth10th day, I reluctantly began baking, mentally preparing for a disaster. But to my surprise, an hour later, I pulled out two beautiful loaves of bread.

One loaf to eat; one to give away. The neighbor next door had just been released from the hospital, and with four young kids at home, a loaf of freshly-baked bread would be welcomed.

I wonder how often I internally moan at a gift. When someone gives us something, we have to find a place for it, a use for it.

But sometimes those very gifts are ones we use to bless others.

I ended up making the bread several times. Each time I ate some. But I also had plenty to give away to someone different.

It’s the cycle of sharing. God starts it; we keep it going.

In times when we feel stressed, worn down, with nothing to give, the Lord sends a giver our way. Perhaps we can use their gift right away. Or perhaps it’s something we put in our closet and pull out later to bless others.

Either way, keep the cycle going.

  • When we’re the needy ones, receive.
  • When we see others in need, give.

Learn to do both. With grace and thanksgiving. Not reluctantly. Not with shame nor pride.

My yard sale items this weekend may go quickly or not at all. Either way, I won’t keep them myself. They’ve served me well.

Now they need to bless someone else.

Father, help us receive with grace the gifts you give us through others. Help us return gifts with equal grace to others in need. You provide both ways, and we thank you for your provision.

* * *

What have you been given that you can share with others? Please share in the comments.

35 thoughts on “Who Needs Your Stuff? The Cycle of Sharing

  1. Joanne Viola

    Lisa, such a wonderful reminder to both receive and give. May we all keep the cycle going for our God truly is pleased when we bless others from the provision He has given to us. And the Amish Bread was such a fun thing for me to experience when it was given to me years ago 🙂 Amazing how it works!

  2. blankAlice V Walters

    Dear LIsa, I remember the days of Friendship Bread! It became a game with us to figure out who to give the “spare” loaves to. This week we have been working on our wills, praying the tokens of this life that we want to leave to our kids will be received with the same love with which they are bequeathed. Thanks for the reminder to keep the cycle of giving going.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      What a beautiful thing to be working on, Alice. I’m sure with your sweet heart of giving that your “tokens” will be received with grace. That’s serious work and such a wonderful way to bless others.

  3. blankPam Ecrement

    My mouth is watering at the thought of homemade bread fresh from the oven!! I am a baker, but not of bread even though I love it. A friend taught me years ago how to make homemade dinner rolls and I have made them several times, but don’t seem to ever get back to that very often.

    The cycle of sharing you describe is so much what I think the Lord intends for us to do. It’s not hard really, but it sometimes takes a bit more intentionality than we always take time for.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I would love one of your homemade rolls, Pam. I love bread too much. 🙂 My mother-in-law makes homemade rolls and they’re always a favorite. I have her recipe but have yet to try them. One of these days.

      Intentionality. Yes. That’s often the missing ingredient. Without intentionality, we lapse into paralysis. And the gifts get stuck.

  4. blankLaurie

    It does feel good to share, to unburden yourself, doesn’t it? I had a friend who did “100 in 100”. She gave away 100 of her things in 100 days.

    I love Amish friendship bread. I still have some of the starter that I kept going for years!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      A 100 in 100 challenge sounds like an awesome thing to do. I don’t know if I have 100 things that anyone would want. ha. But I imagine I’d have a lot more than I realize if I started seriously looking. Thanks for this, Laurie. (I’m impressed you still have some of the starter! Good for you.)

  5. blankLaura Risdall

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I love giving things away, both to bless others and to clear out the clutter. I have a low tolerance for clutter lately. If I’m not actively using it, I want it out of my house!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I love your philosophy, Laura. Use it or get rid of it. I have a low tolerance for clutter as well. I just don’t always act on it. 🙂 Trying to do better though!

  6. blankfloyd samons

    It’s pretty obvious life is good when we groan inwardly at getting a gift… I’m guilty of it too.

    When someone gives from a position of humility, the gift is wonderful, regardless of what it is.

    It’s easier to give… but it takes less humility to do so. That’s a life long struggle…

    I’ve been trying to cut back on bread so I only have it several times a year, and then only in emergency usually. But if you drop one off, I’ll accept it in humility and eat it with warm butter!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Ugh, I know…not wanting any more gifts can be a sign that we’re overstuffed as is. I’m more comfortable in a spare environment than an overflowing one. Nonetheless, I don’t want to be an ungracious receiver so I try to receive any gifts of bread with happiness (that’s pretty easy actually). You’re more disciplined than me to only have it a few times a year, Floyd. Every day would be an emergency for me. 🙂

  7. blankJean Wise

    love your heart and reminder. I remember Friendship bread. There is something so true about the ebb and flow of giving and receiving, light and dark, growth and rest, seasons of life. Missed commenting lately on your blog due to our traveling schedule this summer. Home tomorrow night and need a time of rest after the season of busyness.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Yes, seasons do shift back and forth throughout our lives. This year has been a busier one for travel for me too. Something to do with a little grandbaby has prompted SO many trips. 😉 Hope you’re enjoying a time of unpacking and deserved rest now, Jean!

  8. blankMichele Morin

    I had forgotten about Amish Friendship Bread! Back in its hey day, it became a metaphor for me about the blessing of receiving — and also the wisdom in saying “no” and setting boundaries. The little zip lock bags of starter became such a BIG thing in our church family that we could have started little colonies of bread-eaters from the over flow.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      ha. So that fad made it from corner to corner of the USA. 🙂 I appreciate your example of saying no and setting boundaries as a form of wisdom, Michele. We definitely need proper doses of that in so many areas of our lives.

  9. blankDebbie Wilson

    Lisa, I’ve been collecting bags of things I no longer use and releasing them. Some are easy to let go of. Others are made easy when I think they will be better served someplace else. Enjoyed your post.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      “releasing” them . . . sometimes a word has such a sweet tone to it, and “releasing” our stuff back into the world sounds sweet to me. Thanks for this, Debbie!

  10. blankBarbara Harper

    I tend to hang on to things either for sentimental reasons or because I *might* want them some day. But one thing that helps me let go is the thought that they might bless someone else instead of languishing in storage.

    Nice thought that a gift I am not sure where to put or what to do with might actually be for someone else. We’ve done that with produce gifted to us by neighbors from their garden. We can usually find someone who wants what we don’t eat.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      My neighbor texted me last week to see if I wanted any zucchini squash that had been given to him. We don’t eat it so I said no; he texted back that they don’t eat it either. Some of our gifts are harder to give away than others. ha. But I’m sure he found someone eventually who would treasure that gift. My parents were always good are giving away tons of stuff from their own garden abundance.

      I tend to hang on to things for sentimental reasons too, but I’m trying to do better at realizing that the thing isn’t the memory. I can let the thing go, and still keep the memory.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      It’s nice to have you back in the blogging world, Jennifer. And I’m super impressed that you would even consider making a new starter. I’ve never even considered that! ha.

  11. blankBev @ Walking Well With God

    Lisa,
    Oh the beloved Yard Sale. Every time I do one, I vow never to do it again lol. But, I do get a certain joy in seeing my used and loved things go on to new homes, to be repurposed, and used and loved again. I like to give…it seems to come naturally, but to receive, I’ve had to learn to receive graciously and to even ask if I need help. Funny how we’re wired. Great reminder on sharing my stuff and myself (and to receive equally as well).
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      After Day 1 of the yard sale yesterday, I said that (again) too: Never another yard sale. ha. This one wasn’t too hard for me though. It wasn’t at my house and I didn’t do much work gathering up stuff. My husband had gathered up some of his own things, and my married daughter came back and cleaned out her old room. So we had some ready piles. But still. 🙂

  12. blankTea With Jennifer

    We call it Friendship bread here in Australia 😀 & it was a sweet fruit loaf. I wonder if it would work with Gluten free products. Mmmm…

    Great post Lisa, I haven’t had a yard sale for 16 years!
    Jennifer

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I’m guessing it would work as a gluten-free version as well! If you try it, let me know. My daughter’s m-i-l has to avoid gluten.
      I’m glad the yard sale is now over. ha. It was fun hanging out with my in-laws but other than that, I’m not a yard-sale person. 🙂

  13. blankDeb Wolf

    I love this Lisa! And I also love that you included a reminder to be willing to receive as well as give. I think we stress doing for others so much we can forget that we bless them by allowing them to do for us. Great reminders. Hope your sale was a blessing!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Deb. We forget that for every giver, there needs to be a receiver. We have such fun being the givers, but we need to be the receiver sometimes too so that others can feel the joy of giving.

  14. blankChristin

    Ah, I LOVE Friendship bread! What a great picture of how we can share the blessings that God has given us with others! I am in the process of getting rid of things in our home that I know would serve others much better (like old baby clothes and such)–hope your yard sale goes well! Thanks for linking with #BVN!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I wish I had a slice of friendship bread right now. 🙂 It’s been too long. God bless you as you bless others with your stuff, Christin. We were able to get rid of a lot of stuff at the yard sale. And what didn’t sell, we are donating to charity. So it’s a win-win to get it out of our house and into the hands of someone else who can use it.

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