Saturday, January 3, 2009


Today our guest blogger is Ms. Heather from The Extraordinary Ordinary, a Christian, a mom, and a terrific writer. If you haven't already subscribed to her blog, we can certainly recommend it!

And her topic fits right in with our recent posts on compassion and values. How do YOU model the value of giving to your children? So often we hear how those panhandlers have a BMW parked around the corner, or how they will waste everything we give them on a drink. And many times this is true. But is that really our concern? Or is it how WE act, and the compassion WE show, rather than what they do with our gift?

Miles asked, "Why are you giving that man your money, mom?" I paused for a second, thinking of what to say. I wasn't sure how to explain poverty to the three year old watching from my backseat. I didn't know how to say that I was giving this man money because a turn in his life had resigned him to asking me for it.

There are times when I have to be extra careful, choosing the right words to say. I have to figure out how to describe a person's situation without taking a bite out of their already waning dignity. After all, this person is standing at a stop light; dirty clothes, unshaven face and a backpack. That's it. Little dignity. Little pride. Just eyes darting away from my attempts at contact. A sheepish, "thank you, Miss," after being handed the little spare change I could find after scrounging around, waiting for a green light.

What does a three year old make of that?

"Why are you giving that man your money, mom?"

I hope Miles sees love in this simple gesture. I hope he sees compassion. I hope he carries it with him and has faith in other people. When those around him are wary of what someone might "deserve," I hope he's the voice of love, standing up for his neighbors. I hope he doesn't see pity or duty. I hope he sees grace.

Because the truth is that we all deserve the benefit of the doubt.

I hope he ignores the pressures, voices telling him that these people have brought hardship on themselves. I hope he's more naive than jaded. More sympathetic than pessimistic. More full of mercy than suspicion. I hope he believes that when he gives something, he's helping with a person's next meal or a place to stay. I hope he doesn't worry that he may have made a mistake, only giving a man his next fix.

"Why are you giving that man your money, mom?"

"Because he might be hungry and short on money. It takes money to buy things. So now he might be able to buy something to eat or a place to stay for the night. Did you know people get money from working jobs, like daddy? But sometimes it's hard for people to have a job. They feel sick and it's hard to work when you're sick. So they don't get paid money. Then they don't have any way to pay for food and other things. I hope if I needed help, someone would help me. I liked helping that man, because he looked like he might need some help."

He was silent, thinking that over. And then it was as if it made perfect sense to him, "Okay, mommy." Words painted with a touch of understanding, acceptance, and maybe even a little peace of mind.

And she rings through my mind and heart again, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." -Mother Theresa.

Proverbs 21:25 says, "if your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. If he's thirsty, give him drink.

"My enemy? I figure that blows the whole hand-out debate right out of the water. If we are called to serve and give to an enemy, why wouldn't we serve a stranger, no matter what the assumption? I really hope my boys ask that question one day. And I hope they have the confidence to give to others even when the world will not.


♥ Somebody Loved ♥ said...

This is one thing that my children do of which I am very proud. They have watched their father and I give money to the homeless and total strangers for years.

As they have grown to adulthood I have smiled when I have seen my kids give to those less fortunate.
It warms my heart.


Z's Mom said...

Amen. My parents have taught me the same thing by their actions. Good lesson to know!

Kazzy said...

We have a scripture that says, "Are we not all beggars?" I love the idea that we each borrow breath and owe all we have to our Creator.

Very sweet post. Very good mom. Very good example.

Kim said...

I love this post Heather. I am often torn between not wanting to further the situation and help the homeless and just wanting to give them the shirt off my back.
Great reminder to us all. We all need to act a lot more Christlike.

Tooj said...

Yet another reason I am coming to see that you were the "right" one to talk to. :) I've had this conversation with myself a million times, and the people I have encountered in my lifetime feel the need to always share THEIR take on how they got to the corner....and how they'd never brings me near tears every time I heard the jaded, cynical, judgmental takes. Yes, it's possible the money won't be used how you hope...but there's always the hope and belief it WILL. Thanks for pointing us here today for your guest spot.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Merciful instead of suspicious... naive rather than jaded... filled with compassion, not suspicion.


Betty said...

Your such a good mommy. Your grace was sincere and that IS what your son observed. Awesome life lessons and a picture of Mommy being like Jesus that he will always remember.

avtcoach said...

Very well written! Thank You!

dani said...

i think your boys will turn out just fine, heather:) you are certainly teaching them well.
if i have money and see a beggar, i normally will stop and give him what i can in the moment. i often wonder if it's Jesus in disguise...
much love,

Damselfly said...

It *is* hard to sometimes to explain hard things to little ones. But your example goes a long way to an explanation.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Fabulously done Heather! :)

REAL ME said...

I have been thinking about his a lot.

Debbie said...

I love Heather and here is a bonus Heather for me! Another excellent and a great opportunity to teach your children.

Pamela said...

Proverbs 21:25 says, "if your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. If he's thirsty, give him drink."

but not money.
not me.

Heather of the EO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tabitha Blue said...

Just beautiful!! Thanks for sharing that wonderful and touching post! I believe it's so important what we teach our children... about what a blessing life is and what a blessing we can be to others, about caring, about generosity and giving, about how we treat other people. They learn from us, whether we 'meant' to teach it or not. Thanks for this reminder!


Prasti said...

excellent point and a wonderful reminder to us all. sometimes it's hard to get beyond your own personal assumptions when it comes to helping someone. mercy and compassion has no limits.