Sunday, December 26, 2010

52 Blessings – Charity

The kids that were home from college spoke in church today.  They each had the topic of how service had helped them come to Christ.  One of the speakers shared a verse about charity and it reminded me of the time I taught that same verse to Cali and Abe.  There were probably around ten and twelve years old.

Cali has always had incredible faith.  When her turtle, Senora, toddled away, Cali was certain if we prayed that Heavenly Father would guide us straight to her.  He did.  When she lost a valuable ring at the church she was certain Heavenly Father would help her find it.  He did.  When she carefully hid money that she had saved, but forgot where she stashed it, she prayed and soon found it tucked in a book on her bookshelf. 

Abe has always had a thirst for knowledge.  Every morning before I woke him up for breakfast I had to make certain the kitchen table was cleared from any mail, manuals, or books or he would get side-tracked and sit down and read rather than doing his chores or getting ready for school.  It didn’t even have to be good reading.  Once while he was on a long drive with Calvin he read the alternator manual because there was nothing else available.  Abe also remembers things.  He never mixed up Ephraim and Manasseh or Jacob and Esau.  He’s a great Trivial Pursuit partner.

However, the day that I taught Cali and Abe about charity was the Sunday they would not quit bickering.  It had been going on for awhile – the arguing and fighting – but on the drive home from church I had had it with them.  When we pulled into the garage I told them to meet me in my bedroom.  I grabbed my scriptures and went to teach them.  They were quietly sitting on the edge of bed when I entered.  I reminded Cali that she had a gift of faith and then recounted most of what I just told you.  Next I turned to Abe and explained he had a gift of knowledge and used the before mentioned examples.  And then with great fervency, yea perhaps even passion, I said, “But . . . (and then quoting from Moroni) 'if ye have not charity, ye are nothing'.  Do you get that?  Nothing!  Ye are nothing if ye have not charity.  It doesn’t matter if you have the gift of faith or of knowledge, without charity you are nothing!” 

They nodded somberly.

It was a less than stellar parenting moment.  I was employing “Do as I say and not as I do” for there was nothing charitable in the way I was teaching them.  I was simply plunging scripture down their throat.

I have never forgotten the lesson on charity that I learned that day.

Another speaker mentioned a service he had performed at Christmas time and what he had learned from it.  His story reminded me of the year that Abe and Ty tried to think of a gift to give to Bernice, their octogenarian friend.  Bernice was allergic to poinsettias, made very good candy of her own, didn’t need more perfume, and had a house full of trinkets.  They were at a loss as to what to give her for Christmas.  She had been a good friend to them, and for months while she was sick they had served her the sacrament once a month in her home.  The boys decided the gift they would give to Bernice would be to take her on a drive to see the Christmas lights.  Afterwards they would take her to get a hamburger.  They day came and the boys went to be with Bernice.

They were only gone 45 minutes and when they came in the house they were both very, very quiet.  I asked them how it had gone and they somberly said, “Good” and “Really good.”   After a few minutes they shared the details. 

When the boys picked Bernice up, she was dressed in her very best and had put on her make-up on and fixed her hair.  She’d been so ill that the effort was just that . . . effort.  Bernice’s daughter told them that Bernice had been looking forward to the outing all day and had been anxiously waiting for them. The boys said Bernice’s eyes were bright and her breathing even more labored than normal because she was so excited to go.  They helped her get into the car and then drove around to see the lights.  They had only been looking at lights for about twenty minutes when she started to tire.  They offered to take her to get a hamburger, but she declined and said she probably ought to go home.  They helped her get back in her house and then came home.

Both boys sat quietly on the couch as they told me the story.  Ty’s eyes filled with tears when he said, “She was just so excited to go with us.”  Bernice died less than a month later, but those boys will never forget that night when they took her to see the lights.  And neither will I.

I never tire of hearing about charity and having the pure love of Christ.  I know what it is for I've felt it – but the challenge to always live it like I know it will be a forever challenge.


Barb said...

Those are beautiful Christmas messages. Thank-you for sharing. I stayed home with a sick little girl today so I appreciate the spiritual food you've given me.

Puhlman said...

This almost brought tears to my eyes have a great family. I am so amazed at the love you have for each other. I am so blessed to know the amount of service that goes on inside that home of yours and there is only one way that those kids learned how to be charitable. It all goes back to you and Calvin.

We just read about charity tonight for scripture study. We talked to the kids about charity. Any time I talk of charity I am reminded of my father. I hope this is ok...but I want to share a special story with you. It is the story I shared with the kids tonight. I hadn't heard it.

There was an old poor gentleman that would come into his shop to get his lawn mower repaired. My dad knew he was financially strapped. SO whenever he came in my dad would only charge him $5.....NO MATTER what repairs were done on it. After awhile it pretty much died. My dad replaced that engine with one that looked similar and only charged him $5.

After I told the kids this story Don wanted to add something even more dad did things like this often BUT never wanted to be recognized for his charity. That is why he replaced that engine with one that looked as close to the original as possible. True charity is doing for others because you want to truly help and show love NOT because you want to be recognized for doing it.
SORRY for such a long post. My heart is so full today after having many lessons at church on gratitude. I feel bad that very few people at church got to know my father and who he really was.
Thanks for sharing this message.

Puhlman said...

OOPS..I leaned of this story after reading it in a journal my dad left behind. Another testament of writing in a journal. He didn't have a whole lot but thankful for he did write down.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Lisa, thank you so much for sharing that story. I wish I had known your dad. I'm so glad I know your mom and you and Ron.

I will always think of that story when I drive by your dad's shop. He fixed our mowers many, many times.

michelle said...

This is wonderful, Jane. I love that your boys did that for Bernice.

I too know what the pure love of Christ feels like, but I have the hardest time holding on to that feeling.

Jill said...

You got me teary Jane, you always have a way.

I love the story of your boys taking Bernice to see the lights, what a beautiful experience for them.

I know what it's like to be flooded with feelings of Charity and I know what it's like to have those feelings be hard to find. I much prefer to have them.

Lucy said...

Oh, Jane. I do love you. I really do. I love how you teach. I love how you write. I love how you share a truth.

I know I struggle with being truly charitable. Your boys gift to Bernice is an example to me.