Tuesday, June 14, 2011

the extravagant heart of a cheerful giver

i want to share a little story.

weeks ago i received an email from a sweet hearted lady who i'll call Jane.
Jane had read about emi's peru trip and wanted to send her "a little something".
i'm fairly certain this was the first conversation between us.
we talked about names, the significance of hers
& the significance of emi's middle name
and a few other things.

a few weeks later, emily received a large box
of many personal, thoughtful items.
she was blown away.
it was extravagant.
the next morning she walked into my room with an absolutely stunned expression.
while re-reading the very personal note sent from Jane
 something had fallen out of the envelope
that she had not seen the day before.
a check.
a generous contribution to her fund raising efforts.

honestly, it was an emotional moment for both us.
i facebook messaged our sweet friend Jane
& asked for her phone number.
emi called & with tears in her eyes, thanked her for a gift
she could never repay
a gift she did not feel worthy of
a gift from someone who seemed very humble about the gift itself.

well, sweet Jane emailed a few days later & told me she wanted to send the other girls 
"a little something".
she asked sweet questions.
favorite colors?
middle names?

every few days over the next few weeks
a large package would arrive for one of the girls.
it was as if Jane had spent much time with each of them
& knew exactly about them.
their heart
their likes
their hobbies
& of course, their middle name.
as their mom, i couldn't have picked out more perfect items for them myself.

i won't go through the response of each
but i will share about savannah's.

i was down stairs when i heard a shaky "mom......."
"mom, please come here...."
i walked in to savannah's room
where she sat, tears in her eyes
she told me she was overwhelmed.
overwhelmed at the extravagance & the thoughtfulness
by someone she'd never met.
she tried to verbalize her feelings.
she was more filled with humility 
than she was backflipping over the gifts.
each & every item, something that she loved.
she was speechless.
so was i.
but only for a moment (wink)

we were sitting right in front of a teachable moment.
a kairos moment if you will.
i began to share with my 18 year old about a time in my life when i had the same emotions.
gregg had just passed away.
i had my hands full with a nursing newborn, a toddler and a 3 year old.
i felt vulnerable, afraid, and alone.
i had friends who during that time
would bless me in extravagant personal ways.
whether in tangible gifts, warm cookies, or acts of service.
ways that i would never be able to repay.

i told her about two families in particular
the Lewis's and the Bufton's
and the love they lavishly poured out on savannah and her sissies.
how weeks after loosing a hubby and a father
my entire family was invited to spend Thanksgiving around their table.
how the girls would spend the night at one of their homes
& come back home in new jammies
with a new stuffed Nala and Simba.
the list goes on.

i explained to savannah that i honestly feel like there are times in our lives
when the Lord loves on us through the hands and feet 
& cookies baked by
& gifts sent by
some one else.
an extravagant reminder that He sees us
not only when we are vulnerable, afraid and alone
but also when we are excited and giddy
just prior to going on a mission trip
or heading off to college.

i encouraged her to tuck that feeling that she had
deep in her heart
& never forget how she felt at that moment.

in this day and age 
especially around the teenage years
it's not uncommon to see an attitude of entitlement.
two of the characteristics dan & i have tried to teach our girls
is that of having a heart of gratitude
and that of being a good steward with the blessings 
and gifts they have been given.
whether it be simple or extravagant.
we've encouraged them to journal.
hand write thank you notes.
we've had thanksgiving journals on our kitchen table.
we've played the tell me the high & lows of your day.
all in an effort train them to have a heart of gratitude.

i know for me personally
the times i was given something
something i could not have bought
something i surely didn't deserve
those were the very things
i took the most care of
the things i was grateful for.

the irony of the timing of the two previous posts was not missed by me.
one about a child who chose to give up half her summer
who bravely did something i don't know if i could do myself
followed by the story of a new car.
one giving
& one receiving.
while there are moments like this everyday
maybe not as grand as a car or a trip to south america
but kairos moments.
the ebb and flow of giving and receiving.

i want my girls to be a Jane to someone one day.
i want them to be a Lewis 
or a Bufton
and love on someone
who doesn't expect it
who maybe doesn't even feel as if they deserve it.
i want them to be keenly aware of being available
whether it's spiritually or financially
to someone else who is vulnerable , afraid & alone
or maybe someone who is in a happy blessed time in their life.
whether it be simple or extravagant
a plate of cookies
or a ginormous check
but to be always on the lookout for an opportunity
to give
 to love on 
to encourage
from a cheerful heart
just like they were loved on
once upon a time.

to my "Jane"
 i want to thank you.
thank you not only for the abundance in which you loved on my girls
but thank you for showing them
what the extravagant heart of cheerful giver looks like.

to the buftons and the lewis's
and those who i did not name today
thank you.
i have tucked your gifts or your words
and the memories of how you have loved me and mine
deep in my heart
& i am forever changed.


Remember this~
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, 
not reluctantly or under compulsion, 
for God loves a cheerful giver.  

And God is able to bless you abundantly,
so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, 
you will abound in every good work.  As it is written:
   “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
   their righteousness endures forever.”

 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food 
will also supply and increase your store of seed and 
will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 
You will be enriched in every way
so that you can be generous on every occasion, 
and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 
2 Corinthians 9. 6-11


Heather said...

i think this is my favorite post ever.

thank you.
so refreshing to know that you are doing exactly what i want to do with my own.

entitlement is a real thing ...and it sickens me.

i love the time you take to teach your girls.


just ask beth said...

this couldn't have come at a better time..reiterating constantly that to my girls..give.. and give cheerfully! My late mother once told me if you give and expect something in return, you truly haven't given!! Love this post!

Coastal Health and Home said...

Dear Paige,

Love this post.

You are rich with wisdom.

Thank you and have a blessed day.


Coastal Blue Ocean

Kimberly said...

Well you've gone & done it! (Made me cry first thing this morning ;) Thank you for sharing this precious message. As a mom & (now a) Nana I too tried (& still try) to instill an attitude of gratitude & giving in my sons & grandgirlies. Your blog never fails to bless me but today it is especially true. Blessings to you & your sweet family my friend!

Jen Kershner said...

Just beautiful. Generosity breeds generosity. I truly believe that. Your family brings out the best in people Paige.

SoSoBella said...

oh how i love this.

Unknown said...

Beautiful story! What a blessing that God has given so many examples and opportunities to exemplify the power of giving in joy and love. I am sure your girls will generously pay it forward when they are able :) xoxo

mm said...

Marvelous, simply marvelous!!!

Deborah said...

Another beautiful post. Jane is truely a blessing. Thanks for sharing with us your "teachable moments" to your girls. Such a reminder to us all to not only be a cheerful giver but also a greatful receiver.

Alecia said...

I LOVE IT!!! What a sweet post. I love the generous heart of the Father pouring out through His children to His children! It is a beautiful picture of how He cares for each one of us...He cares about the little things that make us smile :-)
Thank you sweet Jane for a lovely example of loving and giving out of the Father's heart for His children!
Thank you Paige (& Dan) for being a sweet example of parents that take time for the teachable moments...who loves their children well, sets an example for so many on parenting and speaking Truth.
I love to see how the Lord moves in your lives...blessings sweet friend!

Between You and Me said...

nothing more beautiful than a grateful heart and a cheerful giver.

we want our children to have hearts that give and hearts that are full of thanksgiving....

my heart is full this morning as I think on all the extravagant love shown to us in days and months and years past.

Cathy said...

What a great post!

Kelli said...

This post is just full of God's Glory!!! I love how your children were able to experience God's love through one of His servants. "Jane" felt God's love by giving as well I'm sure. Those are verses are much needed today...I'm overwhelmed.

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Paige, What a beautiful sentiment, and one of the best gifts to your daughters wasn't tangible after all ... what a wonderful story! And what a kind reader you have in June.

tessie said...

Simple Thoughts? No, this was much more than that. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing in your perfect way.

Sibi said...

You are so blessed sweet friend to have a continuous outpouring of love and kindness and incredible gifts and true friendship!

You heart must be singing and full to overflowing at the demonstrations of His love for you and your precious family by so many others. What a gift.

You are blessed and highly favored......


Brenda said...

What a beautiful story! I've also been blessed to know that kind of extravagant love in hard times, and it's definitely an experience that changes you. It really gives you a new picture of what grace is about.

Kat said...

Paige, this is yet another lovely and well-written post. I love it. I love how thankful and speechless your girls were upon receiving their precious gifts and I know each and every one of them have both a giving and thankful heart. Just like their precious parents. xo kat

Jboo said...

Sweetest post ever! Thanks for sharing.


Bravehearted Beauty {formerly LLH Designs} said...

Paige! What an encouragement to know there are still Janes out there...pouring out the extravagant love that makes God's extravagant love that much more tangible. What a blessing! I love this story. Thanks for taking time to share it.

love and hugs,

P.S. Another kleenex post! You seriously need a category for these! ;)

Amy said...

Tears. Tears. Tears in my eyes. For this is love. Oh, this is love.

Privet and Holly said...

Goodness, Paige,
you have blessed
me with my own
kairos moment, right
here, right now.
Thanks for the
reminder to keep
nudging my kids with
gratitude reminders.
We all need to be
xx Suzanne

Lemonade Makin' Mama said...

YOu are no end of precious. I want to live next door to you just so we can sip lemonade and you can spill all KINDS of mama wisdom all over me! Just love you and your sweet family to pieces.

Home: Inside and Out said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I, too, have been blessed many times through the years by my very own "Janes". I love that you told her to tuck away that feeling. How awesome will it feel for her to pass it on, knowing just how wonderful it can be!

Ashley @ Home: Inside and Out

julieann said...

This is a beautiful post... If all of us could be a Jane to someone the world would be a better place. I think people forget how much joy comes from giving... Especially when the recipient is greatful... I think Jane is feeling pretty darn good about now....Your blessed because you are a blessing..

Mandy said...

this was so sweet, thanks you for sharing! once back when my hubby and dated, we stopped in for a soft serve cone at a little market. when we got to the register, the lady informed us that the gentleman in front of us had paid for our cones...just a simple iccream cone and i was mush...12 years later and i have never forgotten!

emily said...

Once again, Paige, I am so encouraged by your words. I want those same things for my kids, and know that so much of that comes from the way they see me & Ryan giving and receiving. What a great reminder ...

Jodi said...

what a kind hearted person Jane is, you just don't find many people now days that are like that. I try hard to instill kindness and good heartedness into my daughter and hope that someday she will also be like Jane.

When I was little, I remember many times that my parents took in for the night or fed a friend of my brother's who just didn't have the best home life. That person now is a "grownup" and still mentions how our family took "care" of him.


Courtney Walsh said...

Oh, Paige, this is the most beautiful thing ever. Ever. I love this so much and you're inspiring me to instill that same gratitude in my kids, to be intentional about it. I love it so much.

I want to be Jane. I want to do that so personally for others. To be that thoughtful. What an amazing thing.

Side note...is Emi still in Peru? My sister is there leading a group of teenagers until tomorrow. (Incidentally, she's from Macon, so I'm curious if their paths have crossed!) :)

Courtney Walsh said...

Oh, Paige, this is the most beautiful thing ever. Ever. I love this so much and you're inspiring me to instill that same gratitude in my kids, to be intentional about it. I love it so much.

I want to be Jane. I want to do that so personally for others. To be that thoughtful. What an amazing thing.

Side note...is Emi still in Peru? My sister is there leading a group of teenagers until tomorrow. (Incidentally, she's from Macon, so I'm curious if their paths have crossed!) :)

Courtney Walsh said...

Oh, Paige, this is the most beautiful thing ever. Ever. I love this so much and you're inspiring me to instill that same gratitude in my kids, to be intentional about it. I love it so much.

I want to be Jane. I want to do that so personally for others. To be that thoughtful. What an amazing thing.

Side note...is Emi still in Peru? My sister is there leading a group of teenagers until tomorrow. (Incidentally, she's from Macon, so I'm curious if their paths have crossed!) :)

Katie said...

Paige, I just stumbled upon your blog through google reader and I'm so glad I did! My heart was stirred just reading this post. I like your writing style and your heart for the Lord. I look forward reading more! Thanks for sharing your heart! -Katie

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

You have written some very very beautiful and touching posts over the last few years, but I think that this one tops the charts.....

What and incredible lady "Jane" must be.....but I could not think of a more deserving family to be on the receiving end of such gifts from such a special person!

You always teach your girls invaluable life lessons.....and they obviously worked, because your little girls have turned into incredibly well rounded, kind, smart, beautiful women!! That is definitely something to be proud of especially in this day and age.

I just read your comment on my blog a few minutes ago and I feel the same way....completely out of touch. I have been busy, but I have also been living in my own world as of late. There are times where I wonder why I keep blogging.....and your post is a wonderful reminder of some of the good people and good things that can be a result of the connections we make. Thank you for that....



Mrs. Chapman's 2nd Grade Class said...

As always, I love this post! It is in my top favorites that you've written! There are many. :) I hope to parent Ellie this way as she continues to grow. I am just soaking it all up! Thanks for being such a great christian role model for all of us mothers with younger children.

3 Peanuts said...

Absolutely speechless. WOW!