Living With Open Hands – Part 2

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[Be sure to read Living with Open Hands – Part 1.]

As an early Christmas gift, Russ got me some Christmas Tree dinner plates, then on Christmas morning, he gave me two mugs which we drank our coffee from every day until New Year’s Eve. Our table was festive every single night of the Christmas season and this gave me joy – lots of it.  After Christmas I watched the sales, and they were amazing, but I knew that more dishes were a luxury I didn’t need, and I could wait to slowly collect them. However, I couldn’t resist a quick peek on Craigslist where I found an ad for three serving bowls and some mugs. I messaged the woman, we agreed on an amazing price, and set up a time for my older boys to pick them up on a trip to the Spokane airport.

We exchanged some texts and she wrote this, “I want to tell you something that is going to probably sound awkward to you. But anyway, I’m 40 and my grandmother bought me all of these dishes about 18 years ago and I just don’t use them anymore. She’s not with us any more but she was very proper her whole life and some of the things she tried to teach us girls when we were young caused some serious eye rolling from us! Anyway there are also four generations of men in my family who graduated from U of  I. So she was a big supporter of  the university and Moscow in general. So what I’m trying to say is that if I was going to sell my dishes, she’s pretty happy you found me.”

I texted back to tell her that not only do we live in Moscow, but Russ is a professor at UI, three of my children have graduated from the university, and Samuel will graduate this spring. I told her that in the chaos of having 11 children, the one refinement I’ve maintained is a pretty dinner table. We were both touched by our exchange.

The boys picked the dishes up the next day, and I was delighted to see them. Then I noticed my money tucked in the box. I had a moment of panic, until Samuel explained that the woman told him she wanted to give the dishes to me. I got teary; she doesn’t know me, but she had a heart to bless me; I felt the flow of generosity and kindness coming from her.

Sunshine and I talked about how we had recently given some things away and how amazing it is to then have something given to us. It’s a circle of generosity that feels sweet and is life-giving.

My friend, Liz, has been teaching me about the joy of letting go and releasing things in order to bless others and ourselves. I’ve watched her declutter her home and free herself from many things. I suppose it’s a bit funny that my story involves acquiring Christmas dishes, a completely unnecessary luxury, but the dishes give joy. I want to live by this quote,

Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. 

For me, these dishes are beautiful. At the end of a long, painful year, this gift was a sweet blessing. I pray that 2014 will be a year of living with open hands, loving people, being generous toward others, and releasing the things that are no long useful or beautiful in my own life.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

13 Comments

  1. Karen NumberTwo Hannaford
    January 3, 2014

    Very inspiring!

    Reply
  2. Luann Yarrow Doman
    January 3, 2014

    Wow. Just wow. My word for 2014 is MINIMIZE, and last night I pinned that exact quote onto my Pinterest board! I so want to live like that. The only problem I encounter is "de-owning" things that have been given to me as gifts, especially if the person is an active part of my life. I am so *not* a gift person, that I actually find myself feeling a little resentful after Christmas when I have to find a spot for all the gifts I really didn't want in the first place. (I know–I sound horrible!) I am appreciative of the thought and time that went into the buying of the gifts, but some people in my life are just so excessive with gift giving. I know they can't really afford what they buy, and if they really want to go into debt, I'd much rather they put the money into something useful–like to a charity, or to our adoption fund–but these suggestions don't seem to fly with them. Any ideas on how to handle these very first-world dilemmas? 🙂

    Reply
    1. mikeandkatie1
      January 3, 2014

      I'm there with you! I've tried the direct approach, "We don't need any more stuff, so if you are going to buy it we will happily find some one else who needs it." We still got stuff. Now we just don't celebrate Christmas with them. My husband goes up there with our grown children and brings home the gifts for the little ones. I open them and pick one or two things for the kids to re-open and donate the rest. Frustrating and yet I feel guilty for being ungrateful.

      Reply
    2. Anita
      January 5, 2014

      I wonder if you might look at this from a different perspective? Just a suggestion, but perhaps they get great joy out of giving a gift to you. Perhaps the whole gift giving is about their joy and not your disappointment? You are obviously loved and this might be the only way they know how to show you that.

      Best wishes,
      Anita

      Reply
  3. Rebecca
    January 3, 2014

    I loved reading your story. What a gift!

    Reply
  4. Karen A.
    January 3, 2014

    Beautiful story.

    Reply
  5. Shari
    January 3, 2014

    Two words have been set in my heart for 2014: Dream and Generosity. So far, there have been numerous people, books, preachers, blogs, etc that have been talking about generosity. It seems like a theme the Lord is putting on a lot of hearts. I'm still trying to figure out what I am to do with 'dream', but I'm sure the Lord will show me. Thanks for your post.

    Reply
  6. Coffee mom
    January 3, 2014

    Love this

    Reply
  7. Kirsten Miller
    January 3, 2014

    I love how the Lord reminds us of his love for us in very personal and unexpected ways. This lady's kindness puts a special shine on your lovely Christmas table!

    Reply
  8. Emily
    January 3, 2014

    I love this. And you live beautifully with open hands and I am one of the many who has been so blessed by it.

    Reply
  9. Elizabeth
    January 3, 2014

    So sweet. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  10. Alex
    January 5, 2014

    Thank you so much for sharing! Over the past two years, we have been humbled time and again by the generosity of others. Just before Christmas, my husband went to pick four dining room chairs up (Craigslist). They were $15 each. When he came home, they were much nicer than I had expected. He said, "There's more." Turns out, the family wanted to give us a piano! Just the night before we had been talking about one of our sons and whether or not he should have piano lessons. Turns out, the piano was very special to this woman. Her parents had taken her to a fancy piano shop when she was 10 years old to pick it out. They let her stay home from school the day it was delivered. She didn't play it anymore and it was very important to her to know where the piano was going. Icing on the cake: One of my attachment challenged children loves it and I have been giving him "piano lessons." He grins ear-to-ear as he sits next to me playing Hot Cross Buns. We are praying we will be faithful with all we are given (and generous as well)!

    Reply
  11. Anita
    January 5, 2014

    My issue is that my husband loves to collect/buy things…CD's, movies, etc. I've worked on decluttering and believe that we have everything we could ever need. I'd rather get rid of the "things" that take up our space but my husband, who is English, likes the feeling of filled up spaces. I "blame" it on his European upbringing…things are small and he's used to the feeling of tight spaces. Anyone have ideas on how to get my husband to declutter when he doesn't follow my example or direct requests?

    Reply

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