Being the dish

Giving back, paying it forward, passing it on. . .  these are concepts I live by—partly because other people have done these kind of good deeds for me and to me.

With two of my favorite do-gooders at my baby shower, 2012

With two of my favorite do-gooders at my baby shower, 2012

A friend and mentor of mine once gave me her family’s tax refund to help pay for a mission trip overseas. Their donation funded more than half of the expensive adventure. Countless times, good friends and coworkers have bought me lunch when I couldn’t have otherwise afforded to join them. When I was in third grade, my Sunday School teacher funded gymnastics lessons, a gift that led to the development of my favorite pastime and some of my greatest childhood memories and lessons learned. My gym coach lowered his rates for my parents, allowing me to compete in the sport. When I was going through a divorce and needed temporary housing, two of my friends allowed me a peaceful, quiet break from the chaos, along with plenty of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Texas soup.

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With my mentor, October 2013

I’ve been given other gifts that have nothing to do with finances, too. Many of my mom friends have prayed for Maggie and for me, encouraged me, and mailed us packages of beautiful tiny clothing, toys, books. My boss generously mentored me through the entire fall semester, answering emails, fielding questions, and sharing handouts with not even a hint of annoyance. My mentor in recovery has listened to me, mentored me, and guided me as I took her advice (or didn’t) over the past six and a half years. In college, one of my professors offered to host a few eager students at his house weekly for a Bible study on the topic of love; it changed my perceptions permanently. Many of my friends have trekked into the woods to visit me since having Maggie, making it possible for us to continue to connect in spite of my temperamental little traveler.

This fall, a friend of mine handed me four Wal-Mart gift cards worth $50 each. She explained that a friend of hers, who preferred to remain anonymous, had given her the cards to give to someone else who could pass them on to people in need. Instantly, I thought of two friends—one was caring for three foster children with no financial reimbursement, and the other was in the midst of multiple surgeries, mounting medical bills, broken appliances, and a car on its last leg.

I was so grateful for the chance to pass on the good will of someone I had never met. I was especially grateful for the timing. I’d felt compelled to help these two people, but since it was a lean time of the year for us financially, I didn’t have the means. This anonymous do-gooder did for me what I could not do for myself.

039This is the nature of God. He is always doing for me what I cannot do for myself. Giving to me when I don’t even know what I need and allowing me to extend the same blessing to others, even when my hands and wallet are empty.

Empty hands aren’t such a bad thing. I open them up, and God fills them. I give the blessings away, and I open them up again.

My God has an endless supply of goodness—I’m thankful that He lets me be the dish He uses to dose it out to His other children.

Paying it forward

*Thank you, Henry Petty, for serving as today’s guest contributor!*

One day, Bethany posted something on here from her friend, which led met to her post about a friend in need of trinkets and charms – it was a crafty web site, definitely man-card revocable content.  Anyways, I responded by getting a neat angel trinket from a small Christian supplies store up the street from where I worked and mailing it to the address as requested.

Fast forward a couple of months later . . .

This package arrives on my doorstep much to my surprise and shock:

Because Bethany’s friend has a crafty website, she sent me a bunch of crafting books as a thank you.  I really wasn’t expecting this at all.  It didn’t take much pondering on what to do with the books, as I have a good friend, Jennifer, whom I work with that makes hand crafted jewelry.  I left it on her desk, which completely took her off-guard.

She asked me if they were on loan, and I said absolutely not–they’re yours.  I’m just paying it forward.  To MY surprise, she came back shortly afterwards and showed me a beaded handkerchief holder she made inspired by the books.  Then, she gave me a necklace and earring set to give to my girlfriend.

My girlfriend was graduating soon, and I needed a really good present to give to her.  It very well could have been the best gift I’ve ever given. 

I had never intended to receive anything back from the little trinket I sent Bethany’s friend in need, and almost feel bad because the rewards I received were almost far greater than what I have given.  I take consolation ib knowing Jennifer will take those books and expand her knowledge, thus creating some awesome jewelry for others to use.  And my girlfriend graduated with her Master’s degree in style.

Isn’t it funny how things work out?

*For more from Henry, check out his blog.*

Keep em separated

Having gone through several events which are less than honorable, or difficult to talk about, or painful for others to come to terms with–divorce, bankruptcy, drug and alcohol addiction of those I love, to name a few–I’ve learned that those who truly love me share in sorrows and in joys, regardless of how well their opinions and beliefs mesh with my own. It’s easy to separate who truly loves me unconditionally from who is a fair-weather friend if I simply pay attention to their reactions to the big events–both good and bad–in my own life.

James and I dated for about a year and a half before we discovered last month that we were going to be parents together in November. This was not a planned event, and even though we were elated about the little life inside of me, we were also overwhelmed with the notion of our own plans and timelines being blown to bits with one piece of news. We adjusted and are going to be fine. What’s interesting, though, is that it has not been as easy an adjustment for others in our lives. Many people who should be closest to us will barely discuss it and seem ashamed of the reality which we accepted weeks ago.

Rather than dwell on the people who have not been supportive or have been completely silent for various reasons, we choose to spend our time and energy on friendships with people who are actively  supportive, who share our joy, and who want the best for us. The result is a long list of people, gifts, cards, and hugs to be grateful for. By limiting contact with people who foster negativity and can’t seem to let go of their own pretenses, I’ve found that my life is more peaceful, full of forgiveness and love, and overflowing with gratitude.

I can’t wait to share this kind of life with our child.

 

A big day

Today will be a very big day for me.

In a little while, I’m going to share one of the most painful, personal moments of my life with anyone who’s interested in hearing about it via my personal blog. I have the oddest feeling this morning–it feels like fear mixed with courage.

Despite the actual experience and pain involved in the aftermath, and in spite of my fear of the unknown consequences of opening myself up to the world, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share. I’m grateful for a friend who shared his story with me last week and prompted me to share my own. I’m grateful for the intricate, winding, uphill road that led me to today, fingers positioned on my keyboard, calm and ready to say what needs to be said.

I’m grateful God is the ultimate orchestrator of all of this, and I’m grateful that I’ve stepped down from my throne enough to recognize Him for Who He Is.

I feel like God’s whispering to me, “Now watch what I’m going to do with this. I told you, I’m making everything new.”

I’m watching.