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WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
• A beautiful pay-it-forward story
• Tips: how to be more thankful
• Tips: how to be more giving
• Toward a healthy balance

A BEAUTIFUL PAY-IT-FORWARD STORY:
This comes from my step-daughter Kim McGrath and occurred during the week of Thanksgiving. She teaches a class of twenty 6-7 year olds in a public school. In her own words……
“I had the most wonderful lesson this week. Told my students Monday that if they read 10 stories by Tuesday lunchtime, they’d earn a coupon for a Braum’s single-dip ice-cream cone. They all did lots of reading and earned their coupon.

Several of the kids in Kim’s class (click to enlarge then back-arrow to return).

Several of the kids in Kim’s class (click to enlarge then back-arrow to return).

However, their excitement turned to boo’s when I told them they now had to “Pay-it-forward.” They had to give their coupon to some other student at school they didn’t know. They were not happy. So I talked about blessings, giving to others (how that makes us feel), and how it makes others feel. I told the kids to think about how they feel when they give their coupon away and wish the receiver a Happy Thanksgiving. And how it made someone else feel to receive such a nice surprise.

All afternoon the kids were seeking opportunities to give their coupons away. To see the exchange and the responses was heart-warming! My students never mentioned their coupons again. At the end of the day, the kids all returned to their school room and discovered on each desk two new coupons: a Braum’s ice-cream sundae coupon and Taco Bell coupon for a taco and a medium drink. The kids were so surprised and excited, they were jumping up and down! Pay it forward!”

Thanks and Giving are opposites. Thanks are for things we receive. Giving is what we initiate. Finding a balance can be difficult……especially since some of us are more givers and others are more takers.

TIPS: HOW TO BE MORE THANKFUL:
Be like Andrew. A huge man who looked like a defensive tackle for the NFL reached out to shake my hand, just to wish me Happy Thanksgiving. Huge hands and strong handshake. He was a clerk in the Apple Store in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. He looked into my eyes and added we should all be thankful because we have so much. My brother Neil in Australia said, Being born in Australia or America is like winning the lottery, we are so lucky.

Develop an attitude of gratitude that lasts all day long. Click on this link to find out the benefits (then back-arrow to return). There is also a chapter in Spontaneous Happiness, by Dr Andrew Weil, that lists the benefits.
Thank God often. Thank him that you can walk, and you can see. And for your families, your job, your home. For your health. If you ask him for help, thank him when help comes. If it’s a big help, thank him twice: thank you, thank you God. Click on this link to read about a thank-you walk in the park (then back-arrow to return).

Thank you God that we can walk and we can see. The Gray Nomad hiking to Hamilton Mesa in New Mexico (click to enlarge then back-arrow to return).

Thank you God that we can walk and we can see. The Gray Nomad hiking to Hamilton Mesa in New Mexico (click to enlarge then back-arrow to return).

TIPS: HOW TO BE MORE GIVING:
Be like Sumi. She was relatively new to Patient Records in Jane Phillips Hospital in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Couldn’t have been more than 21 years old. When I asked her where the Imaging Department was, she offered to take me there, a long way out of her way. She didn’t have to, but she did. It’s called going the extra mile.

Give when you feel down. Psychologists have nailed this one……giving is a good thing (but a hard thing) to do when we are feeling down. They know it makes us feel better.
Follow this ancient formula. And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry, and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness….and the Lord shall guide you continually….and make strong your bones. (From Isaiah, one of the great prophets, Chapter 58). While I love the middle promise, the two other promises make it seem like a big payoff!

Downsize Christmas gifting. Click to enlarge or to source, then back-arrow to return.

Downsize Christmas gifting. Click to enlarge or to source, then back-arrow to return.

TOWARD A HEALTHY BALANCE:
Downsize gifting at Christmas. I have heard this from several parents. The number of children’s toys and other gifts by parents, aunts and uncles, and g-parents is sometimes excessive. For the child, it dilutes the value of any one gift, and all gifts. To illustrate the excess, one husband ended up piling a previous year’s gifts into a truck and hauling the contents to Goodwill…….and no-one at home missed the older gifts.

Gift a goat instead: A couple I know have dramatically downsized their Christmas giving, and redirected the money by donating a live goat to a family in a third-world country. It’s easy to do……just click on picture below. And it reduces the stress!….. of having to choose so many gifts and the worry whether the gift will be wanted, or if the new clothes will fit.

To the child in the picture, this goat feels the same as a dog or cat pet in America, but also supplies much-needed milk on a daily basis. Click on this picture to see how to give a goat for Christmas.

To the child in the picture, this goat feels the same as a dog or cat pet in America, but also supplies much-needed milk on a daily basis. Click on this picture to see how to give a goat for Christmas.

Moderate compassion by reality. My emotional response may be to give a neighbor $500 because her house has been flooded, but my spouse may remind me that our budget won’t allow giving that much…….our high-school senior needs $500 to go to a student retreat at spring break. Let’s ground our giving in reality! And if we have been overseas and seen first-hand the under-belly of an under-developed country (or seen it on TV), we should be glad to send an equivalent amount to a reliable NGO that is feeding starving children, or drilling water wells, or building orphanages for teenage girls who have been trapped in the sex-traffic trade. This too is reality!

TAKEAWAY: The quickest way to touch the finger of God is to give something, or find another way to help someone in need.

Comments? Your comments are always encouraging. Please add them to the Comment box at the bottom of the blog.

The Gray Nomad
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary. [St. Francis of Assisi].

Leave a Reply

4 Responses to Thanks and Giving….What is a good balance?

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  2. What a beautiful blog, Ian. Recently, I was feeling fear about a situation in my life and having difficulty in focusing on anything positive. Then I heard from someone I know (not very well), whose situation is far more challenging than mine. It was then easy for me to identify all of the things in my life that I have to be grateful for and to focus on them. I spent many hours on Thanksgiving in gratitude. Also, I took the opportunity to help this person tangibly as well as help them to hope. I was following your example. What a great example you are, and what a great blessing!

    • Karen, I think its wonderful that you noticed a situation of need, and that you helped in a tangible way. I admire you for that, especially since you were feeling down. There is a Bible verse “Cast your bread upon the waters, and it will return to you after many days”. You have given something away (your bread), and I think you can expect to receive something in return — hopefully soon.

  3. Barbara Leachman |

    We plan to give money to a charity in all our families’ names, rather than buying gifts for family members.

    • I am impressed by this Barbara. What a thoughtful need-based action…… to redirect from commercial Christmas culture to Christian charity. To redirect some family gift money to a charity where the needs presumably are great.

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