Joy Really is That Simple

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Guest Post: Kites

This story is shared to us via Paul (via Guidpost/Reader’s Digest), who’s email nudged me to get this project going again.

The Day We Flew the Kites

by Frances Fowler

“String!” shouted Brother, bursting into the kitchen. “We need lots more string.”

It was Saturday. As always, it was a busy one, for “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work” was taken seriously then. Outside, Father and Mr. Patrick next door were doing chores.

Inside the two houses, Mother and Mrs. Patrick were engaged in spring cleaning. Such a windy March day was ideal for “turning out” clothes closets. Already woolens flapped on backyard clotheslines.

Somehow the boys had slipped away to the back lot with their kites. Now, even at the risk of having Brother impounded to beat carpets, they had sent him for more string. Apparently there was no limit to the heights to which kites would soar today.

My mother looked out the window. They sky was piercingly blue: the breeze fresh and exciting. Up in all that blueness sailed puffy billows of clouds. It had been a long, hard winter, but today was Spring.

Mother looked at the sitting room, its furniture disordered for a Spartan sweeping. Again her eyes wavered toward the window. “Come on, girls! Let’s take string to the boys and watch them fly the kites a minute.” On the way we met Mrs. Patrick, laughing guiltily, escorted by her girls.

There never was such a day for flying kites! God doesn’t make two such days in a century. We played all our fresh twine into the boys’ kites and still they soared. We could hardly distinguish the tiny, orange-colored specks. Now and then we slowly reeled it on in, finally bringing it dipping and tugging to earth, for the sheer joy of sending it up again. What a thrill to run with them, to the right, to the left, and see our poor, earth-bound movements reflected minutes later in the majestic sky-dance of the kites! We wrote wishes on slips of paper and slipped them over the string. Slowly, irresistibly, they climbed up until they reached the kites. Surely all such wishes would be granted!

Even our fathers dropped hoe and hammer and joined us. Our mothers took their turn, laughing like school girls. Their hair blew out of their pompadours and curled loose about their cheeks; their gingham aprons whipped about their legs. Mingled with our fun was something akin to awe. The grown-ups were really playing with us! Once I looked at Mother and thought she looked actually pretty. And her over forty!

We never knew where the hours went on that hilltop day. There were no hours, just a golden breezy Now. I think we were all a little beyond ourselves. Parents forgot their duty and their dignity; children forgot their combativeness and small spites. “Perhaps it’s like this in the Kingdom of Heaven,” I thought confusedly.

It was growing dark before, drunk with sun and air, we all stumbled sleepily back to the houses. I suppose we had some sort of supper. I suppose there must have been a surface tidying-up, for the house on Sunday looked decorous enough.

The strange thing was, we didn’t mention that day afterward. I felt a little embarrassed, Surely none of the others had thrilled to it as deeply as I. I locked the memory up in that deepest part of me where we keep “the things that cannot be and yet are.”

The years went on, then one day I was scurrying about my own kitchen in a city apartment, trying to get some work out of the way while my three-year-old insistently cried her desire to “go park and see ducks.”

“I can’t go!,” I said. “I have this and this to do and when I’m through I’ll be too tired to walk that far.”

My mother, who was visiting us, looked up from the peas she was shelling. “It’s a wonderful day,” she offered; “really warm, yet there’s a fine, fresh breeze. It reminds me of that day we flew the kites.”

I stopped in my dash between stove and sink. The locked door flew open, and with it a gush of memories. I pulled off my apron. “Come on,” I told my little girl. “You’re right, it’s too good a day to miss.”

Another decade passed. We were in the aftermath of a great war. All evening we had been asking our returned soldier, the youngest Patrick boy, about his experiences as a prisoner of war. He had talked freely, but now for a long time he had been silent. What was he thinking of–what dark and dreadful things?

“Say!” A smile twitched his lips. “Do you remember… no, of course you wouldn’t. It probably didn’t make the impression on you it did on me.”

I hardly dared speak. “Remember what?”

“I used to think of that day a lot in PW camp, when things weren’t too good. Do you remember the day we flew the kites?”

Winter came, and the sad duty of a call of condolence on Mrs. Patrick, recently widowed. I dreaded the call. I couldn’t imagine how Mrs. Patrick would face life alone.

We talked a little of my family and her grandchildren and the changes in the town. Then she was silent, looking down at her lap. I cleared my throat. Now I must say something about her loss, and she would begin to cry.

When she looked up, Mrs. Patrick was smiling. “I was just sitting here thinking,” she said. “Henry had such fun that day. Frances, do you remember the day we flew the kites?”

by Frances Fowler
Copyright 1949 by the Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.

I’m Back

It’s been more than a year. I needed some more time to learn. I needed some more time to grow. I’ve been blessed to see so many beautiful things. It is time to begin this project again. Spread the word.

ForGive

While it may not be so in all languages, in English, forgive has the word “give” in it. So I ask myself, what does forgiveness “give” people?

I heard a story once, as told by the late Chief Blue of the Catawba Indian nation:

One day my eleven-year-old son went squirrel hunting with six other Indians. He saw a squirrel run up a tree and climbed up to scare it out on a limb. After he had done this he called to the others to hold their fire until he could get down. One of the Indians in the hunting party had always been jealous of me and my position as chief. He and his son both shot deliberately at my boy. He was filled with buckshot from his knees to his head. The Indians carried my boy towards home and found a spot where they lay him while they ran for the doctor.

A friend came and found me and said, “Sam, run home at once; your boy has been shot.” I ran all the way home and found my boy near death. The doctor was there and said my boy would not live. He was right; the boy died in a few minutes.

The man and son who had done the shooting were in my front yard visiting with members of the crowd that had gathered. They did not appear to be upset at their deed. My heart filled with revenge and hatred. Something seemed to whisper to me, “If you don’t take down your gun and kill that man who murdered your son, Sam Blue, you are a coward.”

Now I have been a Mormon ever since I have been a young lad and I knew it would not be right to take revenge. I decided to pray to the Lord about it. I walked to my secret place out in the timber where I always have gone to pray alone when I have a special problem, and there I prayed to the Lord to take revenge out of my heart. I soon felt better and started back to the house. But again I heard something inside whisper, again I turned back and prayed until I felt better. On my way back to the house I again heard the voice say, “Sam Blue, you are a coward.” I turned again and went back to pray and this time I told the Lord he must help me or I would be a killer. I asked him to take revenge out of my heart and keep it out. I felt good when I got up from praying. I went back to the house a third time and when I reached the house I went out and shook hands with the Indian who had killed my boy. There was no hatred or desire for revenge in my heart.

I’ve always been intrigued by this story. The chief’s persistence at obtaining ability to forgive has been a lesson for me countless times. I see three instances of giving in this example. First, Chief Blue gave himself the opportunity to have the strength to forgive his son’s murderers by praying. Second, after struggling within himself and calling to a higher power, Chief Blue was given the gift to be able to forgive those who wronged him from God. Third, he gave the man who killed his son forgiveness.

Even unrepentant, the guilty were forgiven. By giving the gift of forgiveness, the chief gave himself the gift of love and peace. He was healed by One who has the capacity to give us the power to overcome such burdens.

The reason I love this story is that it shows that a human man, with God’s help, can forgive those who wronged him – even unrepentant as they were.

There may be people on our lives who have hurt us, intentionally or unintentionally. Some may have repented and feel bad. Some may not care at all. But we have access to the One who can heal all wounds. We read of His miracles to cure those physically afflicted, and they are amazing and wondrous. But the real miracle is the emotional and spiritual healing that the Son of God as the capacity and willingness to do.

We just need to ask. Then give by forgiving.

Update: My father gave me even more insight on the word forgive. We looked at it as two words Fore Give. We wondered if the true meaning of forgiving was to give it to the individual who wronged us, even before they have any remorse.

Gave

I’ll borrow a line from Kung-Fu Panda. “There are no accidents.”

I normally don’t quote scripture here as this blog isn’t a deep doctrinal study of the Master but a practical look at Christian applications. But I have to share this.

Within 3 days, a specific passage of scripture was brought to my attention in instances independent of each other.

For I was an  hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. – Matthew 25: 35-40

What it all comes to is how we treat ourselves & each other. That’s it. That’s why we have all the commandments. For some reason we as people have to have thousands of pages of scripture to teach us that, but we still don’t get it. We make it too complicated or we let sin disrupt it.

Giving. Receiving with Gratitude. Passing it on. That is what practical Christianity is. And when we make mistakes, we have someone who can Heal us.

Honk

I am a bachelor for the week as my family has taken a trip while I try to keep the cash flow coming. So I did the bachelor thing and went out to the store to get a pack of hotdogs.

On the way I saw a group of kids on a corner all doing fist pumps to get people to honk. I not only gave them one honk, I honked many times in various rhythms.  Some of the kids jumped with excitement, the girls waved, one kid gave me a thumbs up. There were smiles all around.

What would I have missed had I ignored them and just continued on? What did I give? What did I receive?

Assignment 4

Take a moment today to find some nice paper and hand write a letter to someone and thank them for something they did for you.

Giving can only take place when there is someone on the receiving end. The giving is more powerful when it is received with gratitude. I have noticed that if someone thanks me sincerely for something, I am motivated to be a better giver. By showing your gratitude for even small things, you show your love.

You may find that as you make this a habit, you become more aware of what people do for you. You’re appreciation for them will increase, you will want to give more yourself. This way both the giver and receiver both progress in love and service. It’s the perfect win/win.

Simple 2

While I was driving about, I saw a man who was crossing the street. When he reached the curb he saw there was an empty soda cup in the gutter.

In one swift movement he picked it up and went his way, no garbage can immediately in sight.

His act was simple, but it was not earth shattering.  I would like to think this display of giving, by taking care of his surroundings, is a hint of this gentleman’s attitude in general. I don’t know this man, and may never see him again, but I know somewhere he is giving something.

How is it that our simple acts direct our overall attitude?

Direction

Many times, we associate giving with things that bring an immediate reaction of joy and gratitude.

It is much harder to give those things that will bring lasting joy and satisfaction in the long run, but immediately aren’t welcome.

I am speaking of those things we give our children, such as discipline, work ethic, knowledge, etc. In short, direction.

I took piano lessons for many years growing up. My parents sacrificed quite a bit to pay my teachers. The teacher that would really shape my love of music and develop my technique was not cheap. I did like the piano. I liked playing, but as any young boy feels, I didn’t like to practice all the time.

Had it not been for my mother who hounded me day after day, got on my case when I didn’t practice, drove me to lessons each week, and insisted I play the proper amount of time – I would not be the pianist I am today.

My mother gave me a gift –  A gift I wouldn’t fully appreciate until my adulthood. She was the driving force to developing my talent, and now I have joy in playing and am in a position to give with that talent.

This type of giving is harder to do. This isn’t a one time afternoon of chalk drawing on the sidewalk or blowing bubbles in the wind. This type of giving takes a consistent effort day after day. It is not always welcomed and sometimes it is opposed. It takes patience and determination, but in the end is a very powerful gift.

Our children need both kinds of giving. The immediate fun and joy, the memory builders AND the consistent direction and teaching that will mold them into great men and women who have talents to share.

There are times where my children moan about reading scriptures or weeding the yard. They complain when put in “time out” as we are teaching them discipline. They whine about homework, chores and other assignments. We will probably not see gratitude for these gifts immediately.  But someday when they are useful members of society who love and serve others and the Lord, we’ll know the Giving we did was worth it.

Attention

I was reading in an entrepreneurial magazine last night about a woman competing with her husband’s BlackBerry. She explained about how this device went everywhere with them; Soccer games, Restaurants, Exercising, Vacation..etc.

I began thinking about things in my life that hinder my ability to give full attention to the tasks I am doing. As I went to sleep I thought about it deeply. I resolved to “clean house” of those things.

Today I began the process. On my computer I had several programs that would flash the latest updates on news, facebook status, twitter updates and such. I disengaged those programs. I will visit those sites when I feel that I can devote time to it, but I won’t let it interrupt my work, conversations or projects.

I also have resolved to close my email program from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm every night. This will allow me to give full attention to my children and my wife.

I have resolved that before I open my email program in the morning that I will plan the day, as I know it, before emails can distract me from the overall plan. Once I have my plan in place I will then see how the latest emails will affect that plan and adjust accordingly.

I am considering unplugging the the land line phone and turning off cell phones during dinner time for at least a half hour.

This is a new step for me as I have realized how intrusive some technologies are. Some have diluted my ability to give full attention.

What are some things that distract you? What prevents you from giving full attention to a person, a task or leaning moment? What things can you eliminate or schedule better?

How does this idea improve one’s ability to give?

Assignment 3

Once again, this assignment has to do with a movie.

Movie: Piglet’s BIG Movie

I found this movie delightful and an underlying message about the good someone can do, even if they are small or seem insignificant.

Things to look for:

How do small things make a big difference?

Even if your giving goes unnoticed, is it still effective?

How does time and perspective help people see events?