Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My giving girl

I actually wrote this post about a week ago, but then I sat on it. Afraid that it would come across as prideful or arrogant or just too much information, I saved it and waited until I felt comfortable with it. Hopefully you will read it as encouraging or challenging or a different way of looking at things rather than prideful or boastful. This is a message that's truly from my heart and, therefore, I'm a bit nervous about posting it for the world to see.

Pictured above is an envelope containing around a dollar of change and covered with a note from Brynn. Yesterday she came to me with a little bag of change and said, "I want to send this to Emma." "Emma who?" I asked. "Emma my friend in Boston." Oh, that Emma. Emma was Brynn's best friend until she moved to Boston when Brynn was about three years old.

Since I know that Emma doesn't need Brynn's one dollar in change, I suggested that maybe we should take the money to Compassion International so that they can give it to a child who doesn't have enough food or clothes or toys. A child who wants to go to school, a child who needs the influence of a local church. Brynn, being the most generous giver I know, thought that was a great idea. That's when she took her little bag of money and put it in an envelope with a note on it. Her first attempt at the note was legible and used all of the same words as the one pictured above, but nearly every word was misspelled. So, I had her re-write it, spelling all of the words correctly the second time through. I wanted anyone at Compassion who might see her note to be able to read it and be inspired by her generous nature.

Today we stopped in at Compassion on our way home from school. It was the first time we've been there and we didn't have a chance to take a tour (which I've heard is great) because Libbie was waiting in the car. To our surprise, when we arrived, we saw our chiropractor, Dr. Kurt, and his fiancée, Lindsay, in the lobby. Lindsay works at Compassion and they were both pleased to see Brynn there to drop off her change. We talked to the receptionist who promised Brynn that her money would get passed on to someone who needs it. Brynn seemed satisfied with the whole situation. She didn't make a big deal out of it and didn't act like it was much of a sacrifice.

I think Brynn's decision to give came at the perfect time. She's been getting an allowance of two dollars a week for about five weeks now, so her dollar is the perfect ten percent gift for what she's received since her allowance started. I'm so thrilled that Brynn is continuing to give so generously and willingly. As an example for our kids, Scott and I try to give away ten percent of our income every year. Of course, our kids have no idea that we give or what giving even means. We do it because God tells us to and we do it because we want to. We do it because we can and because if we don't, who will? We do it because we're passionate about kids having an opportunity to come to know Christ. We give because we want the poorest kids in other countries to have food and an education and an opportunity to know Christ. We give because we want amazing, beautiful, endangered animals to continue to live rather than being poached and because we want the poachers to have an alternative way to support themselves and their families. We give because we want our church to have the resources it needs to reach our city. We give so that kids will be exposed to God through the power and grandeur of nature and so that kids will have the opportunity to be as awed by nature as Scott and I are.

We give to our church and we give to several organizations about whose missions we are passionate. Yes, I realize that giving to all of these organizations instead of just to our church is a loose interpretation of the definition of tithing and I realize that we should probably be contributing more to our church than we are. At the same time, I'm not sure which of our passions we would give up in order to divert more of our giving to our church. Plus, we want to be sure that we take advantage of HP's matching gift program and they (predictably) don't give money to churches or other "religious" organizations. We give as much as we can through HP so that we can max out what they offer to match. Beyond what we give through HP, we've made most of our giving automated so that we don't have to remember to do it once the decision has been made. Our gifts are automatically drafted from our checking account every month.

When Scott and I were going over our taxes this weekend and I saw our total giving for the year, I was thrilled to see that we've finally come close to hitting the ten percent mark. Okay, it was actually only ten percent of our taxable income and somewhere closer to seven and a half percent of our gross income, but at least we're getting close. It's always a goal we have but, even as much as we feel blessed when we give, we are sometimes stingy. I looked at the amount of our total gifts and my first reaction was joy. Soon to follow, though, was, "We could have redone the girls bathroom for that. And maybe gotten a fence, too." Argh!

Here's what I love most about giving and what I want my kids to learn as they begin to give. I love that when we first commit to give to a new organization, I inevitably look at our checking account and wonder how we're going to make it work and where the money is going to come from. Aren't we all on tight budgets? Don't we all look at our spending and wish we had just a few hundred dollars more coming in every month? It's from that place that we usually make a commitment to give, but our passion for the work that the organization is doing outweighs our fear that maybe we won't have enough money to go out to dinner every weekend or buy a new television. What I love most about giving is the reminder that when we give, God is faithful and He blesses us. That's what I want my kids to know. We do not have the newest TV and we buy Brynn's clothes from Target or on ebay or on sale a year before she'll need them, but when we are obedient and give our money to organizations that are doing God's work, He sees it and He blesses us. I can tell you that it's true because I'm experiencing it every day of my life.


Anonymous said...

Would you please tell Brynn that some middleaged, (barely) overweight guy from New Jersey (named dave) is very proud of her.

For the record, I woulda left all the misspelled words.

(*please add Jesus + Compassion to your blog roll)

Hillary Dickman said...

I will tell her! She loves it when people (really, anyone will do -- overweight and from New Jersey or not) are proud of her!

Anonymous said...

Please tell Brynn that Grandma is very very proud of her. I will never forget her 5th birthday party when she so generously made all the gift boxes for kids in need. I miss her and Callie more than you know. Lots of hugs and kisses are passed out to Colorado!!! Please let the gas prices go down so I come visit!

Leah Harrison said...

Hello Hillary and Brynn,
I love the heart you have communicated through your story and everyday life.
I am an employee at Compassion International, in Colorado Springs. I lead the Ministry Tours, and would love to extend an invitation to come back to Compassion for a tour some time! We have regular tours Monday-Friday at 10am and 2pm. If Brynn would like to come, we have a children's tour which I would be happy to schedule in! Brynn seems to have a huge servants heart for others! It would be an honor to help bring a deeper view of helping others around the world. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!
Contact the Compassion for scheduling a children's tour! :)
God Blessing You!

Hillary Dickman said...

Thanks, Leah! Since my kids have Monday off of school, I'll call and see if I can schedule a children's tour for that day. I know Brynn would love it.