The one gift every person needs. The one gift every person can give.

Dec 09

We lived next door to a poor family. They had five children and when they all lined up in a row they were perfectly symmetrical in their height progression until Jake had a growth spurt in the sixth grade and ruined it all.

And there was a poor family on the other side of us too. In fact, they were all around us. I guess that meant we were poor, but I never felt that way.

We were never takers and I don’t really judge those who are. But it wasn’t my Mom’s style. She was a giver. She gave her possessions. She gave money. She gave blessings.

It always seemed like the stray dogs of humanity found their way to our door. We had some interesting characters in our life. Like the guy who had rigged up a basket to his bike and convinced businesses to strap a placard to his back and another in the basket. He would drive up and down the main highway all day on this three-wheeled bicycle earning a few dollars from the signs he carried.

Mom would load up his basket with groceries, “a few extra things” she found at the store. My brother and I had to dash out of the car with a bag each and plop them in his basket while he was wasn’t looking. He always caught us and shook his finger at my mom,  “I can’t….” his protests lost to exhaust of our car driving away, my mother smiling.

We gave away refrigerators, canned tomatoes, fresh peaches, used vacuum cleaners from the thrift stores, and gasoline. There was always someone in need and it seems like Mom was there to meet it.

The funny thing is Dad was the one earning the money. He worked hard, roofing houses, exposed to the elements. I’m not sure she ever consulted with him. And I don’t know how all of those communications worked out. Maybe he saw it as ministry, his heart tender but his words few.

I admit I felt those jealous pains when I couldn’t go to an event or play a sport or an instrument because there wasn’t the money. It didn’t seem quite fair in my little mind at times that I was the one who had to suffer while others benefited. But what I lost in childhood experiences, I gained in lifetime lessons. It is more blessed to give than to receive

I remember Mom taking the hands of the hurting – those who lost a job, or a spouse, or had a child run away from God – and her looking into their eyes saying, “For this, we have Jesus.”

Karen Fendick of Flickers of a Faithful Firefly recently said “We use words to let others know they are known.” I saw this play out a thousand times.

Photo courtesy of Tammy Hendricksmeyer

Photo courtesy of Tammy Hendricksmeyer

We don’t always have money. We don’t always have a spare refrigerator. We don’t always have first and last month’s rent in our  bank account. But we all have words and we all have life and we all have a moment to make difference.The one gift every person needs. The one gift every person can give is their words of blessing.

In the end, we didn’t spend much time dividing an estate. There was an old Jeep that I took. My sister has the blue canning jars and some photo albums. My brother never bothered to inquire.

They died empty. They had a loose grip on the things of this world. And we were richer for it.


Thanks to Tammy Hendricksmeyer who took the great photo and for her boys who were natural models. 



  1. Isn’t it amazing David, how we think we have to have more when real satisfaction is found in giving away? I know I won’t die with much in my name, but I do hope I have left a much greater treasure behind in what I have given.

    • And Bill, wouldnt you agree that the Internet allows us to bless many others? Is see you faithfully doing so with so many. Your blessing to others is a blessing to me!

  2. If we can keep that loose grip in the forefront, we’d be richer, yes indeed. {ps. thanks for letting me play with my camera}.

  3. “we all have words and we all have life and we all the moment to make difference.” Yes, power in words and blessings over “thing.” So well-said, David. And Tammy~ love the photo!

  4. Such a great reminder as we go into the Holiday season. To give is better than to receive…
    “The one gift every person needs. The one gift every person can give is their words of blessing.”

    Thanks for blessing me with these words!

    • What other ways can we bless. Words. Time. Sympathy. Encouragement. We might be on to something here that teh retailers would just hate!

  5. This is rich, David. I don’t consider myself a good gift-giver because I can’t figure out what everybody needs, but I do know that everybody needs encouragement. And like you said, we all have those words to give away. May we not be stingy with them! Thanks for using yours here today to encourage us.

    • Ha,,, yes. I hesitate just like you in teh gift-giving department. I’ve been working on a list of blessings to give this Christmas. It’s a whole different kind of list, but much less stressful

  6. You know it’s such a simple and clearly stated notion – that to give, rather than receive, is what it’s all about. It just seems to remain so countercultural that I’m forever surprised by how true it proves to be, over and over again. It’s good to be reminded, I often need to be.

  7. Dear David
    This sounds like a description of my late father and like my two sons! My father had this saying that wooden coffins did not have pockets and I was always amazed about all the “poor” or “disadvantaged” person’s life would cross his and how they left just far better off than before. He never saw people that way, but he saw Jesus who was hungry, thirsty, ill or in prison!! I am so proud of him and cannot wait to see him again one day when we are all united with God for eternity, thank for sharing this special, extremely “rich” lady who still lives deep in your heart. What a legacy!
    Blessings XX

  8. hisfirefly /

    Thank you David! You are one who uses words to let others know that you see and know and appreciate them. I have been on the receiving end of that blessing.

  9. Praise God for parents like that! My own parents exemplified those qualities, as did (do) my husbands parents.
    We pray we can pass that on to our own son.
    We can’t let possessions own us. They are given to us by God to bless others. It’s nice to have reminders like this- sometimes it can be hard to be a ‘cheerful giver’.

  10. David = this is just wonderful! Lovely tribute to you mom (and your dad) and a great, gentle challenge to all of us. So well done. Thank you.

  11. Awesome post and reminder, David. Sounds a bit like my childhood. My mom has always said, “You can’t out give God.” The best gifts we ever got were the ones the value couldn’t be measured by a number… they are worth far more than a number can measure… just the way our Father designed them.

  12. Terrific stories, David. I’m heading out to the story and might pick up “a few extra things.” Thank you.

  13. I love how you phrased it, “They had a loose grip on the world”. I think that is something to strive for.

  14. Anonymous /

    My Dad taught me and my siblings the value of giving even when we too grew up dirt poor in Puerto Rico. We were taught by his example to give without expectation or gains of any kind. We were called ‘Happy-Poor’ <3

  15. We can always give our words. We can always leave a legacy.

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