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Books for the Service of Others

I would never have thought that something as simple as books could be a vehicle to serve others. At the same time, we have always been told that God can use anything for His service.

Books have been a part of my life since I was in the womb.

My parents are both avid readers and we never had a shortage of books in our house growing up. Many of those books are still on my parents’ shelves just waiting to be enjoyed all over again by grandkids. That love of books has stayed with me through adulthood and has manifested into four bookshelves just overflowing with books in my small apartment.

Another thing I have always grown up with is an entrepreneurial spirit. My dad started a business part time when I was little and then it became full time when my youngest sister was born. He became a stay at home dad, keeping his home-based business going. Being the oldest, I would join him when he had booths at trade shows on weekends. These experiences have always shown me having a business can give you the freedom to take care of your family and it has been something I have always wanted for myself.

As I have grown and left home, those interests and loves have continued for me. In college, like all students, I had to buy expensive textbooks, but I soon figured out selling them myself at the end of the semester would gain me money return than taking them back to the bookstore.

That soon turned into looking for other books that I could buy and sell.

Over the years, it finally turned into a true business that I do on the side and with each year, it has grown even more.

From time to time though, as I have enjoyed success in my business, I’ve had that sinking feeling of guilt. There are so many others who are struggling and suffering, why should I be so blessed in what I’m doing? Should I be keeping any of what I’m earning? When those things sneak into my mind, I try to remind myself that I can be successful in my dealings without needing to feel guilty for those successes, as long as I keep them all in perspective.

It helps to remember that God gives us all blessings, whether it be time, talent or treasure, which we are called to use in the service of His people. T

he Parable of the Talents is a good reading to keep me grounded (Matt. 25:14-30) during those times of guilt. He gives to each of us according to our abilities, but he expects us to use those talents to multiple those blessings to others.

In the beginning of my business, I used my books to bless others through donating to a few organizations serving those who are close to my heart, the homeless and children. As I have continued, I have looked for other ways to serve and have found unique ways to serve others that is not just taking a few boxes of books here or there. Now I offer a free pick up service to those in the community. Sometimes it’s just a family decluttering, but more often they are people overwhelmed and in true need of help.

After a loved one passes, it’s always overwhelming to figure out what to do next, especially when that passing includes lots of possessions. One of the most fulfilling instances of memory is a time that I had to convince a woman that I would help her remove any and all books. As our conversation went on, I could hear an audible lifting of the stress she was having related to cleaning out her parents’ home after their passing. These are the times I really do feel that my business fills a purpose and I am being a good steward of those blessings God has bestowed on me.

I never imagined that the business would have blessed so many people. As I continue, I will always be seeking to find ways to use my business as a tool to serve and bless others.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’” Matthew 25:21

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Diane Mashburn

Diane lives in Arkansas and enjoys being out in God’s creation, whether it be gardening, running or just casually taking in the outdoors. She also loves serving others by leading the Catholic Young Professionals Service Organization.

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