Thursday, March 17, 2011

Giving more than is Expected

I was inspired this morning by Jamie's Perfect Ten. She recently attended a lenten luncheon and her message through Linda Thieman's talk truly touched me.  Giving more than is expected.

Wow!  I would liken that to my children and how they strive for the minimum around the house.  They carry their laundry basket up to their room as asked, then leave it sit, not putting it away, until they need to dump it on the floor to carry the next huge load down.  They empty their backpacks after school and then leave remnants of their lunch boxes all over the kitchen and papers and projects in the family room.  Or, even the older girls.  They were home from Spring Break last week. I asked them to please have their rooms when they left, as they were when they came home. They did. But, who needs to go in now and clean their bathroom from top to bottom?

I do have good kids, and helpers actually too, but why do we only do what we have to? The minimum. How can we teach to do more, give more, expect less.  That doing more will, in the end, get you more.

A simple story.

"Brad" his mom called out, "I just found out that Mrs. Sommers, our neighbor, is going to the hospital for a few days. She needs someone to feed her two cats. Do you think you could help her out?"

"Sure Mom, no problem," shrugged the boy as he headed out the door. "I can stop by on my way home from school, I guess."
Later that day, Brad made his way to the elderly widow's house, and let himself in with the key that she had left under the welcome mat. The door opened with a loud squeak, alerting the two Calico cats who purred with gratitude as their visitor graciously filled up their bowls with generous portions of food and water.

"Okay - good deed for the day accomplished," Brad thought with a sense of satisfaction.

Just then he noticed a strange dripping sound coming from the kitchen. Curious, Brad went to investigate and discovered the culprit - a leaking faucet, that by the looks of the water stain on the sink, had been dripping for quite some time.

For a brief moment, the thought flashed through Brad's mind: "I could fix that..." But he quickly dismissed the idea. After all, he was just there to feed the cats. And besides, he knew that all of his friends would be out playing ball and he was anxious to join them.

He turned to leave. As he stepped out the door Brad nearly tripped on the tall, overgrown grass. "Wow, this really needs trimming. In fact, this whole place is falling apart. It was never like this when Mr. Sommers was alive. But that's none of my business."

Brad started on his way, half jogging, toward the park. But he had hardly gone a half a dozen steps when he stopped in his tracks. "Maybe I really should go back and take care of some of those problems," he thought to himself. "But, then again", he countered, "I did feed the cats like she asked. What do I need to get so involved for?"

Brad took a few more steps, and stopped again. He imagined the poor, old widow all alone, and how big these "little" problems must seem to her now that her husband was no longer around to take care of them.

"I'm gonna do it!" he resolutely decided. Without delay, the boy ran home, grabbed a few tools. After an hour and a half of spraying, wrench-twisting, and weed-trimming, Mrs. Sommer's house was starting to look like new. The door stopped squeaking, the faucet stopped dripping, and the grass looked neat and trim again. Even the cats seemed somehow more content.

A few days later after Brad had forgotten about the whole thing, his mom called him out from his bedroom. She had a big smile on her face and seemed to be glowing with pride. "I just got off the phone with Mrs. Sommers. She told me that an 'angel' had visited her house while she was away. She was crying with joy as she told me about how overwhelmed she had been by all the creaks and leaks since Mr. Sommers passed away, and that your surprise good deed made her feel like a new person!" Brad blushed. He was glad that he had been able to open his heart and make the extra effort to do even more than he had been asked.

What prompted Brad to do more? What do I need to do to instill in my children that   desire or prompting to "do more"? I guess this carries beyond the kids.  Do I, "do more"? Am I guilty of doing the minimum too?  Is that why my kids don't go above and beyond, because I don't go above and beyond? Wow! Jamie, you struck a chord with me on this one!

My kids do well at Lent.  Jonathan gave up all junk food.  He considers almost  everything junk food.  I have nothing to pack in his lunch box anymore. Chips, pretzels, animal crackers, granola bars and cheese crackers are all junk food. Natalie gave up Facebook. Well, she cut down on her useage of Facebook.  I am being facetious, but what if they still ate junk food and still went on Facebook and instead, every day did something for me, or their grandparents, or a teacher or a random person that wasn't expected.  Like calling Grandma and asking if she needs helps with twigs in her yard.  Or, "Mom, can I start to clean the leaves out of the front flower beds for you?"  I mean really went out of their way to go "the extra mile"! Wow, 40 days of "more" sure might beat 40 days of "less" in this case!

Ok, great lesson for the kids.  I will have them read my blog tonight.

Better yet, I need to reread my blog. Every day this lent (and beyond.)  Easy to say the kids need to work on this.  Harder to admit that I do.

Thank you Jamie and Linda....


jamie said...

thanks for the spin Julie. Lovin' the 40 days of more!!!

Jannis said...

Thank you Julie and also Jamie(read your blog right before Julie's) I agree with both of you and I find myself THINKING about doing the random act of kindness than really DOING the act of kindness. 40 days left to get busy DOING!