Monday, April 11, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

Last week, I read a blog post written by the mom of a son with cerebral palsy.

Her son drools quite a bit and as he is getting a little older now, she didn't want to continue putting him in bibs.  So she came up with a design just for her son, purchased some fabric and got a lady who sews to make them.  When she went to pick up the finished product (8 "bibs" in all), the lady didn't charge her.

So she posed this question on her blog:

Do you ever feel weird about the small kindnesses people do for your child?

The point she was trying to make was a simple, yet complex one:  Would this nice seamstress have charged someone else for these bibs, say someone with a typical infant?  What if she was sewing t-shirts for this same woman's daughter, who does not have special needs?  Would she have charged her then?

The answer is almost certainly, "Yes!"

This seamstress sews for a living - not for charity.

But here's my opinion.

You did know I was going to have an opinion, right?

There's this little thing called pride that can sometimes get in the way of some pretty amazing blessings. And I'm not just talking about the blessing I receive when someone chooses to gift us in some way.  I'm talking about the blessing the giver receives.

I don't know about you but I love to give.

I love to take meals to families with new babies or sick mamas.  I love to give anonymous donations so a kid can go to summer camp.  I love to fill those Christmas for an Orphan shoeboxes with all kinds of goodies.  I love to take unexpected treats to Lily's therapists.  I love to buy lots of cookies to show my support for the Girl Scouts.  Well, I love the cookies and would more than likely buy them for no good reason at all so maybe that's not a good example but I think you get my point.

It's fun to give.

But the most amazing thing about giving?

Even though I'm helping to meet a need, I end up feeling just as blessed as the person I'm helping.  It's one of the best "feel-good" feelings around.

I spent the first 15 years of my marriage running around, trying to identify needs and help meet them.

I snuck into a friend's home while she was in the hospital having her first baby and cleaned her house from top to bottom so it would be extra lovely when she got back.  We, along with one other family, provided an entire Christmas morning celebration (delivered by Santa, not us) for a family who would have had nothing otherwise.  We have counseled several families in the very beginning days of a diabetes diagnosis.

I could go on but here's the point I'm trying to make:  I wasn't receiving any help.

Not that it wasn't offered, mind you.  But I didn't need any help, thank you very much.

Then, almost five years ago now, something happened in our family and I did need help.

We had Lily Bird.

And let me tell you, she made quite the dramatic entrance into our home.

(Click Walls: The Rush Family if you haven't heard "The Story of the Bird")

Oh, I didn't want to admit it.

I didn't want people to think I couldn't hold everything together.

After all, this was my third child.  I'd been down this road before.

And I'm the preacher's wife, for heaven's sake.  Preachers' wives aren't supposed to need any help, right?

All of a sudden, I'm faced with a newborn who occasionally quits breathing, a fairly important skill.  An infant with a hole in her heart that will require open heart surgery.  A baby with severe reflux, both esophageal and kidney.

A child that, quite honestly, for the first few months of her life, I was terrified to be alone with.  I would have nightmares about calling 911 and administering infant CPR at the same time.

You know what my friends did?

Without waiting for me to say I was scared, they started showing up on Sunday mornings, the only day I was all alone at home with Lily.  Ryan and the big girls would leave for church and within five minutes, my doorbell would ring and there would be Cynthia or Sharon or Julie or Gretchen or Amy or Kelly....  They would stay with me until Ryan called to say he was on his way home.  Then they would just sweetly head home to their own families.

I sat many, many, many countless hours in this big blue rocker in our living room, just holding Lily.  I wouldn't hardly ever put her down, much less leave her in a crib, because I had to keep an eye on her to make she was breathing.

Plus, I was homeschooling the big girls.  Cooking supper became next to impossible.

So people started showing up with food.  Every. Single. Night.  I literally did not cook for five entire months.

And I couldn't even invite people in when they delivered food because it was crucial that Lily not get sick.  She didn't have any defenses to fight off even the simplest of colds.  It was grab the food through the front door, say thanks, and wave good-bye.

When we moved to an apartment in Houston for a month for Lily's heart surgery, we had an entire suburban filled with food, paper products, soap, laundry detergent....  essentially all the things you would purchase if you were setting up a new home or going camping for an extended period of time.  There was only room for one person in that vehicle - the driver.  All donated to us by one Sunday School class.

We had members of our congregation googling restaurants within walking distance of Texas Children's Hospital and sending us gift cards.

One sweet family even sent a Valentines care package for my big girls, filled with all the things needed to make those little crafts kids like to do around that holiday.

We got balloons, flowers, and cards on a regular basis.

People showed up and mowed our grass.  Without even knocking on the door.

Friends drove my big girls all over kingdom come - to dance class, youth group events, and sleepovers.

A sweet lady in our church took my girls over to her house several times and helped them make beautiful  homemade Christmas gifts for every member of our family, even the extended family.  And it didn't cost me a penny.

To be honest, I was a little uneasy at first.

I don't like to think of myself as "needy".  And I felt very needy.  And all these people doing all these things for me magnified my neediness.

Trying to express my feelings to a friend, she told me something I will never forget.  She said:

"Lana.  Think back to all the times you have done something nice for someone.  Didn't it make you feel so good?  Weren't you just as blessed, if not more, than the person you helped?  Why would you rob someone of that feeling by not letting them help you?"


When you put it that way....

See, I already knew how good it felt to give.  I just wasn't thinking that someone else might like to experience that feeling, too.  I needed to be willing to accept someone's kind offer of assistance.  My selfish pride was not a good reason to crush someone's joy.

So I quit feeling bad when someone asked if they could help.  I quit worrying that when someone came over to sit with me and Lily, they unloaded the dishwasher or folded some laundry. I quit saying, "I'm so sorry that I don't have coffee ready" or "I'm so sorry that I'm such a burden" and just started to say, "Thank you so much."

And while it was tempting to continue to let people bring meals, mow our grass, and just generally take full advantage of people's kindness.... I did let them know when we felt like we were back on our feet again and able to take on so many of the responsibilities that had been taken care of for us.

It was simply an amazing season of blessing in our lives.

Now, while we don't often need help like we did in the beginning, Lily is a special needs child.

Circumstances arise when we need unusual help, like re-purposing a dining room to become a playroom, or building a bed, or swinging a sledgehammer to install a fence.  We have to ask for assistance with things like this and oftentimes, people will not charge us.  Or they only charge for materials.

I look at it this way.

These people are gifted in areas that Ryan and I are not.  And they have a desire to bless us by using their skills.  If I'm too proud to allow this, I'm robbing them of that joyful feeling of doing something nice for someone.

Occasionally, people choose to gift us with something.  An unexpected check in the mail, an iPad just for Lily's own personal use, a restaurant gift card...  Again, my prideful tendency is to protest and tell them it's just too much.  Again, I would be robbing them of a blessing.

See, these are the very same things I do for other people.

I try to use my skills to help others.  I like to send unexpected surprises to people who could use them.  I enjoy writing a check or sending someone out to eat.  And I want someone to simply and graciously let me do those things for them.

So why am I uneasy when someone wants to do those very same things for me?

Nothing but pride.

But I'm learning.  I'm learning to swallow my pride.  To let people help.  To allow others to bless me so they can also be blessed.

That's the way the body of Christ works.

And I'm so thankful to be a part of it.


  1. Love love love this one! God is so good to us! He shows us His loving kindness through His people! I love it!

  2. I am ever amazed at your transparency and vulnerablity in this blog Lana! I remember someone telling me "Teresa, you are robbing them of a blessing if you don't allow people to give and minister to you." Wow! I never thought of that. I too felt weird when people would want to "give" to me, so understand completely how you felt. I love to give and minister to others as the Lord leads and would never want to "rob" them of receiving a blessing from God...not to mention the impact of how it might affect their lives (which you, Lana, have so excellently written here). Giving is fun and I feel privileged that God allows me to do it as he provides. Receiving has gotten easier through the years, but every now and then the "pride" thing pokes up its head and I just have to poke it back down. I too am so thankful to be a part of how the body of Christ works. It gets more exciting every day.

  3. I agree, when I first became a Christian I would come to church early and make coffee for my Sunday School Class.what a blessing to serve God in that way,years later the teacher wrote a poem about my coffee

  4. I have been collecting heart shape rocks for about 10 years. My family and I moved here from western Washington almost 3 years ago. Just after we moved here, we went for a walk in a park and I kept my eyes open for heart shaped rocks. I was discouraged because of all the jagged limestone as I could not find any heart shaped rocks.

    And I even expressed my discouragement to God. As we were heading back, along side the road, there is a low wall of rocks. I just walked up to the wall, picked up one rock and turned it over. It had a heart shaped hole in the rock. God knew where it was and where to lead me.

    About a year ago, I felt very strongly to give this rock to your husband, Pastor Ryan. At that time, I did not know about Lily's health issues. Now, I know why I was inspired to find this rock and then, inspired to give it to Pastor Ryan. He told me this rock made his day.

    Jesus loves us and He is our Rock.

  5. Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. I just love hearing back from you. Each of you has blessed me with your sweet words!

    And D - I'd love to hear the coffee poem sometime!

  6. I'll look for it.


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