Be inspired to help others as you hear stories from some Focus on the Family listeners who reflect on a time in their lives when someone went out of the way to provide a miracle in their moment of need.
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John Fuller: This is "Focus on the Family" with Focus president and author, Jim Daly; I'm John Fuller and Jim, the other day we did something that we don't normally do. We stepped away. We got out of here. The pressure was too intense. We had to get away, get a little snack and as we did, you did something kind of fun.
Jim Daly: It was kind of fun. Let's let the little clip speak for itself.
Woman: [Off mic]
Jim: We've got the fruit cup and the shake, but we want to pay for the people behind us.
Man: You'd like to?
Man: Behind you ...
Jim: He'll appreciate that. Thank you.
Man: My pleasure. (Laughing) I love it. He's got a big smile on his face.
End of Clip
John: Oh, good. (Laughing)
Jim: I mean, that guy had a huge smile on his face.
John: Yeah, you looked in the mirror and saw what the next customer was thinkin'.
Jim: It's so much fun to do something like that and I know you can't do it perhaps as often as you'd like to. I know that's true for me. I mean, I'd love to be doin' that all the time. I don't think Jean would like that. (Laughter) A budget buster.
John: Yeah, your food budget just went out the door.
Jim: But it certainly is fun to do it from time to time, especially for servicemen or people that are standing in line waiting for coffee. And that was just fun to do that at Chik-fil-A, just to pay for somebody in the drive through.
Today we want to talk about it, whether, you know, you're the giver or the receiver, what are some ways people have showed you kindness? And we did a call-in, John; explain it.
John: Well, we had folks call in for a couple of days and share their stories, just a couple of minutes each, about ways that they've received some kindness, some generosity from someone else and what that did for 'em. And our hope with this program, Jim, is that you'll be inspired to go ahead and just take a moment. Look around and ask yourself, well, how can I do that kind of thing for somebody else?
Jim: I think it's a great spirit to foster in this culture when we do good and kind things for each other regardless if you know them or not, even perfect strangers.
John: Well, let's go ahead and get into the calls. Here's Liz from Virginia.
Liz: Hi - My name is Liz and single mom of three for about 10 years and while I was a single mom, I had a day where I just knew I was at the end of everything. I didn't have enough food in house to feed my children and I had a job, but I didn't even have enough gas to get to work and come home that day.
And I stood over my kitchen sink and just prayed, "Lord God, please, I need help." And He asked me if I trusted Him. And I said "Yes, I do, Lord." He said "No. Do youtrust me?" And I said "Yes, Father, I trust You." And He said, "No, do you really trust me?" And I said Yes Lord. He said "My children have never been forsaken or seen begging for bread. Pray for your miracle before you leave this house today and I will provide."
And when I got to work, one of my co-workers who was not supposed to be there that day came up to me and said "Liz, the Lord just really put you on my heart. Can you come with me to my car? And this was a co-worker that had just started working there. She's only been there a week and her name is Cassie Greer.
And I went out with her to her car and she gave me $325 and told me that the Lord had told her to give that to me. I just want to encourage anyone and let them know that God will always provide for you.
Kerryetta: I received a very special gift uh January 20th of 2013. I had been praying to the Lord because I a need and didn't share that need with anyone except for the Lord. At the same time, I had a dream and I asked the Lord to show me what that dream meant.
In the dream I could see a man extending his hand to me. And I knew that the man was Hispanic. The following day on the way to church, I had a vision where I saw the man give me a check or I saw a check in a certain amount of money.
I go to a church where there are probably about 4,000 people in my service alone. As I was leaving the church, a lady who is Hispanic came up to me and said that her husband said that God said to give me this check.
The check was not for amount that the Lord has shown me; it was for 10 times that amount. I'm having an extremely tough time right now and every time I think of that, it just gives me a boost, just to know that the Lord did that for me, that He was concerned with my smallest need.
It meant so much to me and I thank them for being obedient to God.
Paula: I was married for 20 years. I was going through a divorce. I'm a member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and I'm a part of the usher ministry. At the time that I was going through a divorce, there were so many instances that people stepped in and gave me acts of kindness.
The first act of kindness I got was from Alonzo and Candace Ramirez, who let me stay in their motor home until I located a home and closed on it. The second act of kindness I got was several of the men from my usher ministry moved me for absolutely free. The third act of kindness I got was when I moved into my new place, it had a very large yard. One members of the usher ministry is Jesse, gave me--and I did say gave me--a riding lawn mower.
There were people who called me regularly just to make sure I was able to walk through this alone. And what I thought was gonna be a horrible situation, turned out to be the Word of God coming to life on how we loved each other the way God loves us.
Derise: I was a single mom of three. I was going back to school, studying to be a teacher. I was making breakfast in the morning and I remember feeling so sad, because I made pancakes and there wasn't any syrup for my children's pancakes and I felt really, really sad that morning.
And later in the day, I remember praying and just, ya know, kind of lamenting to God my situation. And later in afternoon, we found a bag of groceries on the porch and we brought the groceries in and the kids were so excited. And we were pulling things out and in the very bottom of the sack was a bottle of syrup. And it still makes me cry and it's been over 20 years ago, but I always remember that story of God's faithfulness and He knows our hearts.
Lori: My husband was deployed for 18 months and my two sons were with me who were 5- and 7 –years-old. And it was after a basketball game on the Army base and so, they were wearing their uniforms that said the Army base's name.
And we had gone out to lunch and we were waiting to be seated. I told my boys how proud their daddy would be when he got home, to see how much they had learned and how they had grown. And I assumed that this comment was overheard, because when time came to pay the bill, the server told us that it--I still get emotional about it--it had been taken care of by another patron.
So when your request came in for these stories, you specifically said, "someone who stepped in and met a need" and of course, the need wasn't the price of lunch at all. The need that had been met was that we were remembered. Care was shown for our family. I don't know what motivated the person. Maybe it was my husband's service or maybe it was that we were there without him and sort of holding down the fort. And I'm assuming that they realized we were away from family, since we're military.
So, for them, it was the price of lunch. For me, it was a priceless and extravagant gift, that someone acted on their concern for our family and I'll always be grateful for it.
John: Quite a way for Lori from Virginia, describing that it was for them the price of lunch, for but her and her children, an extravagant gift. And you're listening to a special edition of "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly. Jim, we never know what a kind act right here, right now will do to lighten the burden of someone else.
Jim: That's so true, John and it can make a terrific impact on somebody obviously, because those who were sharing these stories haven't just remembered them for, you know days or weeks, but for years and that says something right there.
I'm noticing that some of the callers didn't even know who to thank because the giver was that anonymous and that's always a test of our humility perhaps. And that's a good thing. Matthew 6, 3 through 4 says, "When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." It's a beautiful illustration about keeping quiet.
Jim: You know, there's other times where it's just too hard to avoid, because it's obvious and you just gotta hopefully say, "Hey, no problem" or whatever you can say at the moment. What's important is you're giving from your heart as you see a need.
Jim: And around this time of year with Thanksgiving and Christmas right here, what a great time of year to provide a delight, a moment to delight somebody.
John: Uh-hm, yeah, that's the goal of our program today, is just to remind you to look around and as Jim said, to find a need that you can meet. And if you'd like a tool that you could maybe refer to, to kinda propel you forward in that, we have a book by Brad Formsma called I Like Giving. It's available at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-A-FAMILY.
Jim: John, it is fun to give to others. I don't know who … who enjoys it more, the giver or the recipient, when something is done that's kind. You know, I gotta give Jean great credit, 'cause she's good at this. She really looks to bless people.
John: She's got that tender heart--
Jim: She does--
John: --doesn't she?
Jim: --I think more so than me, but I give her credit for that and she's showing how to do that for Trent and Troy, which is wonderful. You know what? We try every year to go to nursing homes, just to put a smile on the faces of those that sometimes aren't visited throughout the entire year. That's one thing that grabbed me last year when we did it. There were two or three older folks, these are people convalescing in their 80s and they'll say, "I haven't had a visit in the last two or three years. I mean, it is a profound sadness and to be able to have them smile and share their heart about their experiences, it's quite rewarding for us.
This next set of calls hones in on those who received an act of kindness around the holidays. Here's Patricia from New Mexico.
End of Program Note:
Patricia: My husband had just been laid off and we asked church to pray for us as this was a difficult time financially. It was right around the holidays, right before Thanksgiving actually. And the day before Thanksgiving, we woke up and were startin' our day and opened the front door and there stood a box and in that box was a turkey, and some baked potatoes to be baked, and some vegetables for a Thanksgiving dinner. [We] never did know where that came from; it was an answer to prayer. And I've never forgotten that surprise, 'cause in the past when we were able financially to help people, we did same thing– just leave a loving gift for someone. So, in a way, we have answered prayers in the past and this Thanksgiving dinner was a huge answer to our prayer and a huge blessing for our family.
Sharinka: My son Bryan was about 1-years old at the time and I wanted to bake cookies and make treats for Christmas. I didn't have a whole lot of money. I had about $97 on my card, but the treats and food and everything else was exceeding to about $190-something dollars. So, as I began to put things back, I noticed someone tapped me on the shoulder that was in line with me. And she said, "I see that you're trying to get treats. And in the spirit of Christmas," she said, "I want to pay for your groceries." And I just began to weep because my heart's desire was to be a blessin' to others by baking cookies and treats and givin' 'em out for Christmas, but I didn't have enough money to do it all. But God met that need [and] sent someone in the store at that particular time when I got there, to be a blessing. And she paid about $90-something dollars for the remaining ingredients for the treats. So, I was so blessed and I'm still so very thankful for her doing that even though it was a few years ago, but I'm just so blessed by that.
Jay: We had helped people before in our church. We had come across some money and they were in need. A couple years later, I was without work and it was in the Christmas holiday period. We weren't sure how we were gonna be able to make it, because funds were really low, almost being extinct. I was out trying to find some work. When I came home, my wife had told me that this couple we had helped before brought in groceries like you would not believe. And they were trying to teach their children, that were I think at the time were 6 and 10, that it is better to give than to receive. And it's just amazing how our Lord and Savior works in so many fine, fine ways. God bless you folks at Focus on the Family and thank you so awful much.
Ronald: I had found out that I had cancer and I had two children and my wife and one baby on the way and Ihad to have immediate surgery–a tumor under my brain. And I had it in my chest, in my lymph nodes, starting on my bones. It was Hodgkin's Lymphoma. And then I started chemo radiation. And it just so happens when I had that surgery in like November, I couldn't work. And different churches– I never even know some of them-- just poured in groceries, things for the children, toys, diapers and some cash and just was unbelievable how much stuff we had that Christmas.
And so, that was pretty amazing. I never experienced anything like that-- the love and support and people at churches we didn't even know. Some even came over to our house and surprised us with some money and even some people from my job gave us money, so some pretty amazing experiences. God has shown me His love and support and how powerful the church can be and I think it was a great, great witness to other people too.
Brandy: I was at work and I had gotten a visit to my cubicle from a co-worker who I had recently come to know. And on one of the last conversations that I had with her, I just mentioned in passing, "Yeah, it's been really difficult for me to transition back working full-time because we have two young boys and it's hard to have two young boys in day care and be able to pay for that bill." So I mentioned that to her. It was really a short comment; it was nothing more than that.
But she had stopped by my cubicle on a different day and talked with me. We just had a casual conversation and she said she had something for me. She handed it to me and she told me she would talk to me later. It was an envelope. I did open it and she actually had given me $100 bill and she had a note inside the envelope that said that she and her husband give each other $100 bills every Christmas and they save it to give to a person in need for the next year.
And I just thought that was so thoughtful and I was so appreciative, I was crying. I was definitely impressed with God for what He sort of allowed her to do and to know that God actually cared enough to put it on somebody else's heart to help me out was really heartwarming to me
John: Well, there's an old saying that God always works on both ends of the equation and right there is a great story of someone who was ready. They were equipped and ready to do whatever the Lord said and he put it on her heart to reach out to a coworker who was struggling. That $100, Jim, I'm sure made a huge difference in that woman's faith journey and her practical life every day.
Jim: I'm sure it did, John and I'm thinking how often I've heard a testimony of somebody who was praying because they were at a point of need and someone knocked on the door, left groceries on the porch. I bet if we did more of that, you would hear more testimonies obviously, where we've felt a nudge from the Lord to do something for that family or for that person. And if we acted on that nudge, I bet we'd have even more stories like that, that would encourage all of us, that God is actually there and hears your point of pain and is responding through us. And you know, I just love that idea of setting aside a bit of money to give someone over the course of a year. That's a great way to consider sustaining someone through difficult.
When you look at it, John, I mean, what a wonderful change of heart there is when that generosity comes out of your desire, rather than your obligation. And so often we tend to want to give out of obligation rather than out of joy. And it's a good lesson for all of us.
John: Well, and of course, joy is such a central part of the Christmas story and as we approach Advent, I just wanted to tell our listeners about the advent activity calendar that you can download. Our ThrivingFamily magazine site has it and you can work through a variety of kids' activities and just help your children kind of be ready for those moments where they might answer somebody's heartfelt prayer. So, stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. We'll link over there and you can get that calendar.
Jim: John, let's hear the final segment of calls and how some trying situations are more bearable, you're able to weather them thanks to someone who gave in that moment. Here's Sharon from Connecticut.
End of Program Note
Sharon: I was living in Appomattox, Virginia. We had a farm at that time. I was married to an alcoholic and he had taken off and took all the money with him and left us absolutely desolate. We had nothing. There was no food in the house. We did have eggs from the chickens that we had, so it wasn't like we had, you know, no food. But there was no cereal for the kids; there was very, very little food, no toilet paper, nothing.
And I remember sitting at my kitchen floor and just weeping before the Lord, saying "Lord, I need Your help. I don't know what to do." And my oldest son sat down with me and said "Mommy, God's gonna take care of us!" And so anyway, it just encouraged me. It was just an encouraging word at that time that I so needed.
But anyway, the next day–the very next morning, I was walking outside to get the paper, whatever and there was a box of food out on my steps. It was a miraculous thing. I don't know to this day who did it, but there was cereal in there. There was toilet paper. There was laundry detergent--everything that we needed to get through to the end of the month when we would receive a check. And it encouraged my children. To this day, they are exceedingly very, very generous.
And so, if this was a person in Appomattox , Virginia about 25 years ago, I just thank you for what you did. If this is the Lord, then Lord, bless You and thank You so much for keeping our family in a safe place and providing everything that You did for us.
Beatrice: My husband had just recently got released from prison. He served 9 years. He gave his life to Christ. It was a really hard time, but it was a good thing because he turned his life and he got focused and is loving Christ now. But this couple from church, they invited us for dinner. They knew our situation. Joseph was looking for car, my husband. And they sat us down and they told us, "We just want to be a blessing to you guys and we want to give you our car as a blessing, because there's no public transportation here and it's kind of hard to look for a job when you don't have a car." So they sat us down and they completely blessed us. Their name is Kyle and Mary Jo, so they blessed us completely.
Joan: My husband's job sent us to the West Coast and all our family is on the East Coast. And three months after we came here, my husband decided he didn't want to be married and he left. So, I had no money. I had two children. I did not know my neighbors. I didn't have a church.
And one day I saw a neighbor painting a picture in their yard and I got the courage to go talk to her and told her my situation and she sent me to a little church nearby in the woods. Well, I got to that church and a lady with a brand-new baby came up to me and made my acquaintance. And as we talked, she said, "My husband's a milkman and he needs customers." And I said, "Well, I can't afford a milkman." And I told her I had no money and we were using dry milk.
Well, she was very, very nice and friendly and everybody in the church was friendly, so I thought, well, I will go there all the time. So, the next morning a milk truck pulls up in my driveway. And her husband jumps out and I said, "Oh, there's a misunderstanding. I told your wife, I can't afford the milk." And he just says, "It's all taken care of." And he pushed me aside and walked in the house and he gave me one of everything he had on the truck. There was milk; there was cheese; there was eggs [sic]. I can't remember the other things.
And I was so nervous, wondering who's gonna pay for this. And he says, "Don't worry. It's all taken care of." Well, I found out four months later that they had four children and were very needy themselves. And it just amazed me that perfect strangers would reach out to me and do that for me. It really built my faith.
Peter: I've recently been laid up from work. I'm receiving no income. I let my landlady know that I wasn't gonna probably be able to make rent next month and I'd be moving out. And she said, "Don't worry about it. If you miss a couple of months, it's not a big deal." I never hear a landlord saying that.
Gayle: This was many years ago and my husband left and we had three teenage children and he also had incurred secret debt which further complicated the disaster that was quickly overtaking our lives. But where he was faithless, God was more faithful. And for years, the finances made no sense on paper, but often I would get a call from the church secretary and she would say, "You need to come by. I have an envelope for you." And there would be money from people that loved us and looked out for us. And God saw us through. There were grants and scholarships. All three children went to Christian colleges. But one thing in particular I remember that tendered me so was one time I found an envelope in my door and it had an amount of cash in it and the note on it said, "This is just for you, this is not for bills. This is to buy a treat for yourself." And it was such a time in the desert that it was just so warming and meaningful to have somebody reach out like that, to realize that I was really noticed and had a need. I just can't express though. God is faithful. God is so faithful.
John: Wow, even when life does not make sense, when it's just a struggle after struggle, God is faithful. There's no doubt of that and He uses us to come alongside others at a point of need. And what incredible calls we had on today's "Focus on the Family."
Jim: We did, John and it showed you know, just the benefit of having a giving heart. And I hope you were all inspired today.
In fact, here at Focus, we actually have a unique opportunity for you to bring a smile to the face of a child, which I think is doubly good and help families thrive at the same time. When you give a donation of any amount today, we're going to include in the Operation Christmas Child box, which these are boxes that go to needy children at Christmas time, we'll put a musical stuffed animal in the shoe box on your behalf. They're packing them right now. I mean, this weekend and next week, so if that's a way for you to express kindness to a child, join us. Again, a gift of any amount and we'll put that stuffed animal in the box on your behalf.
John: Which is a great idea and at the same time, of course, you're helping us provide trusted advice to parents in need to those who are going through relationship issues with their children. And so, please call and donate, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY: 800-232-6459 or you can give at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio .
Jim: And John, let me close with this thought right from Scripture, Matthew, chapter 25, verses 35 through 40. This is Jesus talking to His disciples about entering into heaven. He said, "For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed cloths and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit Me."
"Then the righteous will answer Him." And basically, this is where they asked, "Lord, when did we see You in these circumstances?" And He answers, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me." And John, that's a great reminder for us, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
John: It sure is and I hope you'll find some creative ways to give to others in the next month or two. Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and made possible by generous listeners like you. On behalf of Focus president, Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow. We'll have Vicky Courtney here to share about the five things you must talk about with your son before he leaves the home, as we once again provide trusted advice and encourage to help your family thrive.
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