Posts Tagged 'generosity'

The Legacy of a Smile and a Generous Heart

My grandfather on my dad’s side of the family passed away several years ago.  He was an amazing carpenter, who could turn wood into works of art the way other artists work with clay, paint, or any other medium.

I love to work with wood myself, but I have only a small fraction of his knowledge, skill, and craftsmanship ability.  I also have several of his tools in my basement, including the bandsaw pictured here.

This year, as in years past, I invited Cub Scouts to bring their blocks of pine wood over, draw an image on the top and side, and I would cut it out for them, then leave the finish sanding, additional carving, and painting up to them.  After an afternoon of helping out these boys, and receiving many warm thank-yous from them and their parents, I took another look at the bandsaw, and for a split second felt a little bad about it.  It is an amazing machine, hand built by my great-uncle especially for my grandfather, his big brother.  I felt a little bit small in the shadows of these two great craftsmen: one who could make anything out of metal, and the other who could make anything out of wood … and here I am making a block of wood to roughly approximate the appearance of various kinds of race cars.

The sensation didn’t last long, because I realized that I was creating something using this tool, after all.  It wasn’t a wooden masterpiece, it was smiles on all those little boys’ faces.  The two things I remember most about my grandfather are his smile and his laugh.  … and knowing his generous heart, I can see him smiling ear-to-ear because of several happy cub scouts benefitting from one of his tools, and a small fraction of skill that got passed down to me.

Sometimes it’s not the things that we do or make that are significant; instead, it is the love that we pass on through what we do.  That is the legacy that my grandfather, among others, have left for me to pass on to others.  It is a legacy with a deep faith tradition from our Creator who taught us to share love with everyone we meet.

Welcome to a new year.  Share your inheritance of Christ’s love with everyone you meet.

Sacrificial Donut

On Matthew’s first day of kindergarten, we had a treat: donuts for breakfast.  Matthew and Mommy bought them the day before and Matthew had specifically selected the donut he wanted: a chocolate cake donut with chocolate icing.  Yummy, indeed!

When big brother Andy came downstairs, he looked in the donut box, then looked at Matthew’s donut, sat down on the kitchen floor, and began to cry.  The only donut he wanted was the one on Matthew’s plate.  No other donut in the assorted box would do.  I spent some time trying to offer alternatives for breakfast with Andy, but he could not be consoled.  I looked up and noticed Matthew staring intently at his still un-touched donut and pulled a chair up beside him.

“Aren’t you going to eat your donut?”  His head shook to indicate no.

“Isn’t this the donut you want?”  He nodded yes.

“Do you want to give your donut to your brother?”  He nodded yes, but whispered he didn’t want to tell Andy, he wanted me to.  It looked like his eyes were starting to well up with tears.

When I shared the news with Andy, the crying immediately stopped, and a smile came across his face.  With a hint of disbelief he asked, “Really?”  Matthew started to smile and he nodded yes to his brother.

Have you ever been a little hesitant to give something up for someone else, only to find an intense joy when you do it?  Generosity is a miracle, for the giver and the receiver.

Whose birthday?

My inbox is currently flooded with advertisements for Black Friday sales.  There is a little bit of irony, that a term used from the retailer’s perspective to express the dread of working on the busiest shopping day of the year, has become a sales slogan.

I would like to offer an alternative slogan: It’s not your birthday.

It is a statement I first heard from Rev. Michael Slaughter.  He used this as a challenge to his congregation.  It is not a challenge to avoid spending, but instead, to focus on buying birthday presents for Jesus, instead of ourselves.

If it is hard to buy a gift for the person who has everything, how do you shop for the Creator who made everything?  The prophet Micah pondered this same question, with the familiar answer “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Jesus commanded those who follow him to show this mercy through giving and caring for those less fortunate.

Will you consider giving a birthday present to Jesus this year?  Will you consider giving some (or all?) of what you budgeted to spend on gifts for your family and friends to a worthy cause, or directly to people in need?


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