Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Joy of Giving

My mother, who died ten years ago, had a giving heart and is one of the most joyful persons I’ve known. Although she lived on $480 a month at the time she died, she was continually giving of her resources, time and talents. And she was so happy doing it.

Self-sufficient, she gave ten percent of her income to her church, paid all of her bills, and then thought of loving ways to give to others. When she was 84, she took food to an elderly widow who had buried both of her single children. Mother walked to the grocery store, bought the food, carried it across icy sidewalks and streets in a small, two-wheeled cart, and then placed in on her neighbors shelves. And she did this for months.

When a young mother, Marilyn, who lived down the street from my mother, became severely depressed after several long-term miscarriages and after losing a baby at birth, mother took her neighbor in, cooked for her, and cared for her until we were able to persuade Marilyn to get the in-house mental health treatment she needed.

Now totally well, this woman is the mother of eight beautiful children and a member of her city council. She became one of my mom’s dearest friends. My mom was in her eighties, had serious health problems, including congestive heart failure and a seriously injured back when she helped Marilyn, but when I saw Mom caring for Marilyn with such gentleness and love, I knew God was working through Mom to serve one of his precious children.

I just returned home after running some errands with my older daughter. She has five children and a busy life, but she stopped at a bank to deposit some money into her friend’s checking account. Her friend’s husband is unable to work and she has six children, including a disabled son, so my daughter wanted to help anonymously. What joy!

When my husband was a leader in our church congregation, he played Santa every year. He dressed up in a Santa suit and took food and supplies to families to needed help at Christmas. Oh, that was so fun! Some of the people asked over and over, “Now, who are you really?”

Our family likes to find a family or two with great need and help them out at Christmas. I find it's more gratifying to give something to the poor than to receive a gift at Christmas. Giving to me is the essence of the holiday. (I’ve begged my children to use the money they would spent on their dad and I to help the poor during the holidays; some are more obedient than others.)
One year my younger daughter asked our family--her three siblings and my husband and I--to help three pre-screened immigrant families for Christmas. Oh, that was so fun! One of the families had no money for a Christmas tree (or furniture), and to watch those little children when we put up the tree and placed the wrapped presents under it—oh, there just aren’t words to describe the joy!

I love helping out struggling souls in third-world countries through Kiva. For a $25 microloan, you can transform a life, and when the loan is repaid, then you can reloan it to another person you choose. It is so easy to do and so much fun!!

There are so many people needing a helping hand right now. Sometimes a phone call, a visit, a casserole, or an invitation to lunch can brighten their entire month. No matter how poor or rich we may be, it truly is more blessed—and joyful—to give than to receive. And, no matter how much we share, we always seem to receive so much more than we give.

© Carol Brown

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