“What do you think my house looks like?” My mentor had invited me to her home for the first time.
“Uniquely beautiful,” I responded. “Like you.”
“But what does it look like?”
“Probably classic antiques,” I guessed.
What I saw when I came through the front door still takes my breath away.
My friend‘s country abode was a Christmas wonderland. The sparkling ceiling high Christmas tree was catalog perfect skirted by a pile of brightly wrapped packages.
It was summer.
“Pick a gift,” she invited.
My children and I starred dumbly at her.
She urged us closer. Gathered around the holiday tree, she distributed presents tagged with our name. Then we selected another from the collection of unnamed beribboned gifts. Of course each item was just right.
“This is wonderful,” I said. “But I don’t understand.”
“Christmas,” she said, “is not just one time a year. Giving is not seasonal.”
For over a decade, it is always Christmas at her address. My children call her home the Christmas House. Every visitor who enters Saundra’s home chooses a gift from under the decorated tree.
It is Christmas in her heart, too.
She is famous for sowing what she calls seed money. Monetary gifts tucked into pockets and envelopes with encouragement for the recipient to pass on however God guides.
Years ago, as a single mom raising five children in a tiny Midwest town, Saundra barely kept food on the table. “In His Word, God gave keys for living,” she said. “One of those keys is give and it shall be given unto you. When I began, I didn’t have the money to give. The gas and electric bills needed paid. The year I started giving, my business grew from $3,000 yearly to provide for my family and pay off my home.”
When he personally paid for a teenager’s college, Walt Disney was instrumental in launching the career of writer/producer Ken Wales. Likewise, Ken mortgaged his house multiple times to bring the story of Christy to television.
Following his passion, Ken realized his dream when Christy became the most watched television show on the Easter Sunday when it debuted. Ken realized another dream when the story of William Wilberforce became a feature film titled Amazing Grace.
Generosity is the gift that keeps giving.
This side of heaven we will not know how far the impact of our gifts rippled. Ken Wales touched the hearts of viewers when he brought Catherine Marshall’s classic American tale to screen and DVD. And with the feature film, Amazing Grace, Ken reminded us that we stopped slavery once and we can eradicate this travesty in its new form as human trafficking today.
When my oldest graduated high school, she wanted to become a paramedic. An elderly friend in another state sent a check to pay for the necessary EMT training required as a prerequisite. Once certified, my daughter began work in emergency services and funded the rest of her training. After two decades of saving lives, she coordinates quick responses in three counties for those who call 9-1-1.
The generous giver who gifted the initial course has passed away, yet her generosity continues to impact life and the wellbeing of countless others.
Giving changes lives because the act is a blend of generosity and gratitude. Focused on abundance, the giver is not inhibited by scarcity mentality. Grateful for what is and what can be, the giver holds life and love with an open hand.
Saundra reminds me that Christmas is a year-round condition of heart and hearth. Do you have a Saundra in your life? Are you Saundra to someone in your circle?
PeggySue Wells is a bestselling author of 31 books translated into eight languages. When not writing, Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken but not passed pilot training. She is the author of The Patent, Chasing Sunrise, Homeless for the Holidays, The Slave Across the Street, The Girl Who Wore Freedom, and The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make. The solo mom of seven, she is the founder of SingleMomCircle.com.