Busy day today. I'm headed back toward the west side of the state to support my Mom and Dad in court again, then back in time to catch my daughter's swim meet, and then finish the evening off with a band rehearsal. And maybe work in a post for Friday just before I drop off to sleep.
Meanwhile, for you I have this thought: It's not too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts. If you want to give a really unique one this year - and you've got a couple hundred bucks to blow on it - take a look at this idea.
When a tornado touched down in a small town near to ours, many families were left devastated. Some of the local newspapers carried many human interest stories for days afterward, often featuring one of the families who had been hit the hardest.
On the front of one issue, one particular photograph touched my attention. A young woman, about my age, stood in front of a demolished mobile home, anguish on her face. A young boy of seven or eight stood next to her, eyes downcast. Clutching her skirt on the other side was a tiny girl, eyes wide with fear and confusion.
The article that went with that picture included a list of some things they needed, along with clothing sizes of each family member. With growing interest, I noted that their sizes were very close to those of my family. I thought this might make a good opportunity to teach my twin boys and my three-year old girl something about helping those less fortunate.
I taped that picture to our refrigerator and then explained that young family's plight to Brad and Brett and my daughter, Meghan. "We have so much," I explained, "and these poor people now have nothing. We'll share some of what we have with them."
I scavenged up three large boxes and laid them on the living room floor. Meghan watched solemnly as the boys and I filled up one of the boxes with canned goods, soap, toiletries, and a few other nonperishable items. Then I began to go through my old clothes and encouraged the boys to go through their old toys, asking them to donate the ones they didn't play with or want anymore.
When we came back to the living room and began putting our things in the second and third boxes, I told Meghan, "I'll help you find something for the little girl when we're done." As we packed, Meghan quietly slipped out of the room. In a moment, she returned with Lucy, her worn, faded, frazzled, much-loved rag doll hugged tightly to her chest.
She paused in front of one of the boxes, pressed her round little face into Lucy's flat, painted-on face, gave her a final kiss, and gently laid her on top of the other toys.
"Oh, honey" I said, "you don't have to give up Lucy. You love her so much!" Meghan just nodded seriously, eyes glistening with held-back tears. "I know, Mommy. Lucy makes me happy. Maybe she'll make that other little girl happy, too."
Swallowing hard, I stared at Meghan for a long moment, wondering how I could teach the boys the lesson she had just taught me. I didn't have to wonder long. Brad rose and went to his room. He came back carrying one of his favorite action figures. He hesitated briefly, clutching the toy hard, then looked over at Meghan and placed it in the box, next to Lucy.
A slow smile spread across Brett's face, then he jumped up, and with eyes twinkling, went to grab some of his favorite Matchbox cars to donate. I pulled all three of them into my arms. And then I took the old tan jacket with the frayed cuffs out of the box, and replaced it with the new Hunter Green jacket I had found on sale and purchased for myself just last week.
I realized that anyone can give their cast-offs away. True generosity is giving that which you cherish most.
[A Mountain Wings original via Ed Peacher's Laughter for a Saturday; edited by Mark Raymond]
WISDOM for YOUR WEEK: "But just as you excel in everything -- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us -- see that you also excel in this grace of giving." (2 Corinthians 8:7)
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