Anita Mellott writes to encourage others on their journey of life. With a background in journalism and mass communications, she has worked for more than ten years as a writer/editor in the nonprofit world. She balances homeschooling and the call to write, and blogs at From the Mango Tree (

“Mama, Mama, can we help a kid in the Appalachians again this Christmas?” My tween bounced up and down in her chair at the dining table. “Remember? Last year my discipleship group collected gifts that were on a kid’s wish list. I saw a video today. They have nothing. I mean nothing.”

She wrung her hands. “Sometimes they don’t even eat, Mama, and you know what? They walk for miles together to get food, like a tomato. Can we help? Please, can…”

My husband shook his head and interrupted, “Sweetie, it’s not about what we can do. What are you going to do to help?” Her eyes grew wide, and then she looked away and cast her eyes down.
I glared at him. What was he doing? Why couldn’t he encourage her? A deafening silence prevailed.

Slowly my tween raised her head. “I know, Daddy.” She moved the chicken around on her plate with her fork. “I…I was thinking. I’ll give my Nintendo DS.”

I almost choked. “But you saved up for that. Why don’t you give her your IPod Shuffle?
She looked at me. “Mama, I don’t even like my Shuffle anymore. I mean that’s why I saved up for a Nano. I love my DS. That’s why I want to give it to her. And, it was on the wish list.” A tear slid down her cheek.

I bent my head and studied the food on my plate, my cheeks burning.

I heard Jim say, “That’s a good idea. But take some time to pray about it. You should be peaceful about your decision.”

As I raised my head, I caught his glance and saw the smile spreading across his face. I understood what he had been trying to do.

“I’m so proud of you, Princess,” I told my daughter as I tried to smile while holding back my tears.

Christmas is about giving, but it took my tween to remind me about the essence of true giving: Giving when it costs.

I thought of my half-finished manuscript, the log of article ideas, the book proposal my critique group was encouraging me to send out, and the times I begrudge the early mornings and late nights it takes to write. Writing is more than a calling—it’s a sacrifice.

“Lord, you’ve called me to write to encourage others. Help me to give even when I don’t feel like it; to share from my heart selflessly. To give as you give.”

“…I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” 2 Samuel 2: 24.

Anita Mellott
From the Mango Tree