As I inscribed a note to Sam on our Year-end-family newsletter reflecting about his gift to our family 53 years ago in 1966 when our children were 10, 9, 7 and 4, I was inspired to write Season of
Some background: Jim was one year from finishing seminary training and I was secretary to the Dean of Students. My office was a stopping off place for many seminary students who just needed to chat. A 25 year old single male who pastored a small church and I were developing a good friendship. He asked my advice on several issues. We laughed a lot. Jim became acquainted with Lynn in my office. They both liked to fish as well as preach, and minister to others. He was the same age of my youngest brother who attended a seminary in another state. He was a writer and I was just beginning. I didn't know about MBTI and temperament/type then, but discovered later that he and I really clicked because we share ENFJ.
I invited him to dinner one evening. While we began to eat, he just sat there. “Aren’t you going to eat?" I asked. “No, I think I'll just watch it happen.” he quipped. Seeing so many little kids around a table was new for him. He couldn’t imagine having the responsibility of going to seminary and all those mouths to feed and care for.
When Lynn appeared at my desk early one morning a few days later, it was obvious he had something big on his mind, so I shut my typewriter off and gave him my full attention. He seemed a bit nervous. “Ruth, I don’t want to hurt your feelings but don’t get anything for your kids this Christmas, because my friend and I want to bring your kids Christmas on Christmas Eve.” "That will be fine, Lynn". What he didn’t know was that we had only $40 for Christmas-$10 per child so there was nothing much not to buy.
When I shared with Jim and our children what Lynn wanted to do, at no urging on our part, our oldest two began going through their toys to find what they could give to some other child.
Christmas Eve that year fell on a Saturday night. Not a convenient night for a pastor to make a 2 hr round trip. Lynn and one of his deacons, Sam, a pharmacist, who had never met us, arrived laden down with gifts for all of us. That experience of generosity and kindness instilled in our children early-on the joy of giving. We reminisce that Christmas Eve experience to this day. Our family friendship with Lynn is current. By the way, you can read his foreword in my book How To Get Along With Everyone.
Fast forward to Dec. 3, 2019. Ten year old, Kay, now 63 and a mother to four and grandmother to 5 is immersed in music and teaching children and youth in our church. Her three oldest grandchildren are by a step daughter, Jenny, whose marvelous giving story follows.
“At age 9, I gained Kay as a mother after losing my mother Susan (32) very unexpectedly from the same disease that I have, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). We grew together over the years, she, learning how to love a child she hadn’t given birth to and me, opening my heart to someone who at first felt like a stranger. And now 40 years later, we see God’s merciful hand at work. In Kay’s words, “I may not have given birth to Jenny, but I can give her my kidney.” I am humbled and in awe of this gift. God knew all along how this story would play out. Thank you to all of you who are walking this journey with us. We are so grateful for your prayers and encouragement. I would like to think that one day my two mothers will meet in heaven. And Susan will embrace Kay and say, ‘Thank you for giving our daughter the gift of life!’ ”
Hearing Jenny’s story brings tears to the hearers. Giving a kidney is a big gift. And for a step mother to be enough of a match is unlikely. Jenny was desperate for a kidney but a younger one was not available. As soon as Jenny received Kay’s kidney it began to function. A very good indication.
We have many other stories of being recipients of others’ generosity and kindness. Reflect on those who have given to you all your life. Experience the joy of giving. We may not be able to give sacrificial gifts like a kidney, but each of us can be alert to sharing kindness in some way all year long: listen to a rest home resident; take care of a child to relieve a parent; volunteer at a soup kitchen/hospital; offer a ride to someone who doesn’t have personal transportation; share financially to provide food/clothing to others not as well off as you; go to the grocery store for someone recovering from surgery. The list is endless.
Receiving is a wonderful experience which bounces back warmly on the giver. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap….Luke 6:38. God’s gift to us came in the most fragile package—a baby. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift “ (II Cor. 9:15). He gave His life. We are so blessed