Tag Archives: generosity

Araina

“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”
– Albert Camus
Meet little Araina.

araina

Araina is the daughter of our friends James and Angel and today is her third birthday!  In honor of this sweet little lady’s birthday, I’d like to ask a favor of you.

Please click here to read Araina’s story.

As you can see, precious little Araina needs our help. Let’s wish her a happy birthday by contributing to her future, shall we?

Please click on the link in the story (or just click here) to donate to her treatments. And after you do that, here’s how I’d like to thank you:

lessonsaboundFor every tax-deductible donation of $10 or more, I’d like to send you an autographed copy of my new book, Lessons Abound. This offer lasts until the end of this extra special birthday week, so you have until midnight on Sunday, February 1 to donate!  (And by the way, every dollar of donation goes straight to the family. Sara’s Garden retains no fees or percentage.)

Pretty simple, huh?  $10 tax-deductible donation…you get a book…and Araina starts on her way towards a bright and beautiful future.

After you’ve made a donation, send me your info at caudillmelissa78@yahoo.com and I’ll get a book headed your way. Or, you can find me on Facebook and send a message there as well.

Let’s do something beautiful today, shall we?

Happy Birthday, Araina.

***

“Obviously, you would give your life for your children, or give them the last biscuit on the plate. But to me, the trick in life is to take that sense of generosity between kin, make it apply to the extended family and to your neighbor, your village and beyond.”
– Tom Stoppard

Greed

“Greed is not a financial issue. It’s a heart issue.”
– Andy Stanley

Christmastime is here, ya’ll! The time of love and friendship and family and happiness and….greed. Wait, did she just say greed?

Why, yes. Yes, she did.

Greed.

[Now, bear with me here, folks.. This isn’t going to be a Debbie Downer post. I promise. There’s a method to my madness. Sometimes.]

As much as I’d love to think that life is all sunshine and rainbows, sometimes…well, sometimes it’s just not. And there’s something about Christmastime that brings out that horrid green-eyed monster of greed. (Yes, I know “green-eyed monster” is supposed to refer to jealousy, but I couldn’t think of a better analogy so I stole that one. I mean, green = money, right? I think it works better here anyway. So there.)

Think about it: it’s all about spending, spending, spending this time of year. And while, yes, you may be spending money on others, look at what it takes to do it. Black Friday – the notorious day of doom. Trampled customers, fist fights over a food processor or a $99 TV or whatever, miserable store employees getting yelled at by miserable customers. And on, and on, and on.

And aside from the shopping, you see greed in family life as well. Divorced families arguing over where the kids are during which times. Different sides competing over the prime Christmastime slots with the young’uns. Oh yeah, the monster definitely comes out in divorced families with kids during the holidays. Heck, I’ve even recently seen a very financially well-off ex-wife decide that Christmas is a good time to decide to spring a custody/child support suit on the not-so-well-off, devoted father of her children. That’ll teach him, right? Revenge. Greed.

Evil.

I’m telling you, people, it’s enough to make your skin crawl.

I was standing in a gas station the other day during my lunch break from work contemplating which fountain soda I wanted to pollute my body with this time, and which size cup of pollution I was going to spring for, when the concept of greed presented itself to me in full force. After choosing the biggest cup I could find, I put just a bit of ice in the cup (hey, can’t take up room in the cup with ice…sheesh…) and proceeded to fill the cup up to the tippy top rim so I could acquire the absolute biggest bang for my buck. Then, after a cat-and-mouse game of finally finding the right lid for said cup, I sat the cup down on the counter and went to snap the lid down. And…..guess what happened?  The cup was too full (of my greed) and the lid caused the syrupy, toxic liquid to spill out over the top. All over my hands, my shirt, the counter, the floor…you name it, Coke was on it.

Dang it.

(And you can bet that lazy, green-eyed monster didn’t stick around to help me clean that crap up either.)

Because of my wanting just absolutely as much as I could get, my greed spilled over onto me and caused a huge mess that I was left to clean up alone. And something tells me that concept is not only going to apply to fountain drinks…you catch my drift?

So, there I was back at work after my lunch break, covered in sticky Coke remnants,  when I logged onto Facebook to see if anyone else was having as crappy a day as I was.  (Misery loves company, ya know.)  And that’s when I saw the post that stopped me right in my tracks. It was a “group post,” meaning that I didn’t know the person from Adam but it showed up in my newsfeed since I was part of the group, and it said simply this: “I am afraid I can’t buy my four kids anything at Christmas.”

Wow.

She went on to explain that she had thought she was going to be able to cover it, but with Christmas just around the corner, it was looking like she wasn’t going to be able to pull it together. Four kids, a single mom, and no money.

My greedy Coke spill quickly because a distant memory as my thoughts immediately went to this woman and Christmastime. What was she going to do? I empathized with her situation. I too know that feeling…I’ve been there many times myself. But somehow, with the help of family and friends, Christmas always managed to be a success for my own kids in the end.  We have been very lucky.  Very blessed.  But I know too well that “momma” feeling of worry and stress over your kids at Christmas. And what if this woman didn’t have family to pitch in to help like I always did? What if she really truly was alone and had no way of providing a Christmas for those four eager, expecting kids?

I just had to do something. I just HAD to.

That’s when the emails started. Emails between myself and this mother (finding out clothes sizes, Christmas list wishes, etc) and emails reaching out to people in the community for help. I posted on Facebook, made some phone calls to local organizations, got some help from the women’s group at the church I attend, and….within hours (HOURS, people)…I had an army of people ready to help this mom.

Wow.

Now, this was only four days ago, mind you. Four short days ago. And as of this moment, Richard and I are going to have to take his truck to be able to fit everything to deliver to this woman tomorrow. For a few days out of this Christmas season, greed was completely forgotten. All around the county (and even surrounding counties thanks to some of my non-local friends), people dropped what they were doing and went out and Christmas shopped for children they had never met in their lives and, frankly, that they probably never would.

In a communication yesterday with this mom, she made this statement, “I just can’t believe this is real.” And you know what? I have to say I agree. That hardhearted, pessimistic woman who stood at that drink fountain cleaning up Coke and thinking about all the greed surrounding her this time of year (including her own) was no more. Now, here she is…not believing that this is actually real. Not believing that a plea for help from one slightly jaded, disgruntled, Coke-covered grinch has managed to turn itself into a crusade. A mission. A swelling of love and generosity that will be soon be turning into a beautiful, happy Christmas in one little mountain home in North Carolina, filled with four smiling faces and one very, very grateful and relieved mom.

Wow.  (Have I said, “Wow” yet?)

So, am I changed by this? Oh, you can bet I am. Like you wouldn’t believe. Does greed still exist in this world? Well, of course it does. But from now on, I am going to do my very best to practice a different kind of greed in my own life. From now on I am going to be greedy for things that aren’t things. I am going to start being greedy for human kindness. Greedy for compassion. Greedy for love. I’m going to soak up as much of it as I can.  And then do you know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to come back here and I’m going to tell you about it.  And I want you to do the same. Let’s start sharing the good stories, shall we?

Get out there and be greedy, my friends.

Merry Christmas.

greed

***

 

 

Grandma

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward

Ok, I’m going to take a break from talking about running for a second.  (Don’t get comfortable with that or anything.  I just started my 21-week training plan for my first full marathon in April, so you can bet your sweet dimpled booty that I’ll be talking that thing to DEATH soon enough…)  But, for now, I have something else I want to tell you about.

My grandma.

Now, in some of my previous blogs, I have told you about my sweet MawMaw, my mother’s mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.  But the one I want to tell you about now is my father’s mother.  I have something to show you about her that I think you might like.  (I know I do.)

Well.  Here she is.

grandmablog1That’s my little grandma in a picture that was taken in July of this year on her 83rd birthday.  Now, don’t forget that number: 83.  Because that’s the part that is going to be important to the story I’m going to tell you.  But first, let me tell me you a little bit about this woman.

If anyone were to ever ask me to describe my grandma using only one word, the first word that would come to mind is: “feisty.”  Whew, let me tell ya.  There is NO stopping her.  She will tell you what she thinks and that’s just all there is to it.  For instance, a conversation I had with her yesterday:

Her: Your hair doesn’t look good straight.  It doesn’t suit you.
Me: You’re the only one who says that, Grandma.  Everyone else says it looks better straight.
Her: People lie.
Me:  Grandma….
Her:  They were just trying to be nice to you.  I’m not.

See?

(Incidentally, you’ll notice my hair is curly in the picture above, as it usually is when I go visit her because I know her thoughts on the subject.  Yesterday, however, I was feeling unusually brave.  Bad idea.)

Oh, and how about this for an example?  My grandma has been having some snake issues around her house.  Little does she know, I’m sure even the snakes have passed the word amongst themselves not to mess with her…but nevertheless, she holds tight to her steadfast fear of the slithery little boogers.  So, while we were all gathered at her house after church yesterday, my dad found a live snake in her yard.  He picked it up (he’s weird about stuff like that – not scared of them at all), and proceeded to somewhat terrorize us with it for a while.  (Well, everyone except my daughter Kelly, who managed to fall in love with the stupid thing.)  Well, Grandma hears tell of what’s going on and comes flying out of the house wielding her hoe that she keeps handy for just this very purpose.  Yes, you read that right.  All 110-pounds soaking wet of my granny came flying out of the house with her handy hoe held high over her head…ordering my dad to drop the snake immediately.  He protested (though not for long – he’s known her even longer than I have and knows better than to try to argue) and finally, defeated, dropped his little buddy on the ground to meet his fate.  Here’s a little math for ya.  Grandma + Hoe = Bye Bye Snake.  She hoed (is that a verb?) the little guy until his grandpa felt it.  (And then had to make amends to little Kelly who just lost her new ‘pet’ at the hands of Granny.  Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it amends, per se….”If you had to live here, you’d be taking a hoe to the nasty little thing too, young lady…”  That’s an apology, right?)

Whew.  And those were just examples from yesterday alone.  Catch my drift?

But let me tell you about something else about yesterday.  And about my grandma.  Remember how I told you to remember that number – 83?  Well, I’m going to tell you why.

grandmablog3Have you heard of Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse?  To put it simply, this organization encourages people to put together a shoebox filled with gifts for children.  They then send these shoeboxes to children in over 130 other countries who might not receive anything at Christmas time.  This is a Christian-based organization that provides not only the gifts, but also pamphlets about Christ.  Now, I am fully aware that there are people of many different beliefs that read my blog, but regardless of where you stand on that kind of thing, you have to admit this is a pretty cool thing to do, right?  Anything that benefits a kid is A-OK in my book.  And as for my grandma?  Well, it’s pretty ok in her book too.  In fact, it’s so ok, that she participates every single year.  And by participates, I mean, PARTICIPATES.  This little spitfire of a woman decided years ago that each Christmas she was going to prepare a box per year of her age.  So, this year?  You guessed it.  She prepared 83 boxes to ship off to Samaritan’s Purse.

Eighty-three.  Wow.  Just…wow.

grandmablog4She starts working on them at the beginning of the year and has them ready for pickup in mid-November.  My dad and I helped her bag them up this year to haul out to the front porch to await the church member who would be dropping by later in the week to load them up.  After much begging and coaxing from me, I finally convinced her to let me take a picture of her surrounded by her 10 full large black bags filled to the brim with toys for children that she will never even see open them.  I told her that I wanted to tell the story about her on my blog – to show people what she does every year and give her some credit for it.  She responded, “I don’t do it for credit.  Don’t show my picture to people, it might look like I’m bragging, and that’s not what I do this for.”

Well, Grandma, I know that.  (And, most importantly, those kids know that.)  But no one said that I couldn’t brag on you, now did they?

grandmablog2Inside that feisty, tough exterior lies a heart of gold.  I am so proud to say that this woman has shaped much of who I am and what I believe.  Now, granted, we don’t always see eye to eye on things (and that is probably the understatement of the year…), but it sure is nice to know that someone with this kind of generous, strong-willed heart had a lot to do with making me who I am today.  If I’m even half the woman she is, I’ll be very proud of the life I’ve lived.  As I hope she is.

And, just for the record, I did finally get her permission to write this.  (Well, sort of.  I mean, she didn’t come after me with the hoe when I insisted that I was going to do it anyway, so I guess that’s “permission,” right?)  Like I told her, it’s not bragging if: 1) someone else is doing it, and 2) it inspires others.  And that #2 one is the kicker.  Think about the warm feeling it gives you when you hear about other people doing something nice for each other.  It gives you a little boost – makes you believe in the kindness of our fellow man again and, possibly even inspires you to do the same.  If her intention was to help someone – then I think writing this blog about her will do just that…and then some.  Watching what she has done has helped me, I know that.  And maybe reading this might just help you, too.  Hey, you just never know.

So, how about it?  Does something come to mind that you can do to help someone?  Even if it’s just a small little thing that you think won’t even matter?   Well, guess what.  It will matter.  Go do it.  And if you want to keep it a secret, that’s fine.  Noble even.  But if it happens that someone wants to show you off, let them.  Only good will come of it.  I promise.  You may not have a loud-mouth granddaughter with a public blog, mind you.  I get that.  But I’m sure there’s someone out there that is going to be inspired by what you’ve done, and is going to want to show you off.  And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Let’s keep taking care of each other, ok?

***

“For it is in giving that we receive.”
Francis of Assisi