Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

Compassionate Giving

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV)

The boys and I are mulching, loading our wheelbarrow with heaps of wood chips colored a deep, dark brown. We’ve just rounded the corner, in front of the house, when the old, wooden handle of the wheelbarrow breaks.

“Oh,” Gabe says. “That’s sad. We’ve had this a long, long time.”

He’s right. The wheelbarrow has been around longer than he has. It was sold to then three-year-old Samuel by Grandpa Eliasen, nine years ago.

My husband Lonny, Grandpa, and Samuel had been setting posts for our fence. We’d just moved in, so Grandpa had brought his yard tools.

“Sure do like that wheelbarrow,” Samuel had said.

“Thanks,” Grandpa said. “It’s been in the family a long time.”

“It’s bigger than mine,” Samuel said. He looked at his green, plastic Little Tykes cart.

“Yep,” said Grandpa.

Samuel sat on the grass, wrapping his arms over his knees. “Maybe I could buy that wheelbarrow,” he said. “We could use it. For work. Around here.”

I stood back and watched as Grandpa smiled. At the time, he still lived in Lonny’s boyhood home. There was plenty of yard and always work to do. I knew, too, that the wheelbarrow had passed through more than one generation of Eliasen hands.

“Í could pay you for it,” Samuel said. He looked his grandfather square in the eye. “I can give you twenty-five cents.”

A garden blooming in a wheelbarrow.Grandpa took his hat off. Looked at his grandson while I waited and watched. Grandpa made his living as an accountant. He dealt in deals that made good sense.

“You’ve got it,” Grandpa said. “Sold. For twenty-five cents.”

Samuel was off in a shot. I trailed him in the house and up the stairs. He removed the rubber stopper from his bank–the one that looked like a battered, ceramic baseball. We sorted through an assortment of change until we found a quarter.

“This one?” he’d asked.

I nodded.

And the money changed hands. The wheelbarrow became ours.

Today, I push the now one-handled wheelbarrow along over our stretch of front yard, I remember Grandpa’s gesture. I’m blessed to think of his compassionate giving. He still had a need for the wheelbarrow. I’m pretty sure that he went out to purchase himself a new one the next day. But he saw the desire of someone else’s heart, and he gave from his own.

I want to be a compassionate giver. Whether time, material things, affection, encouragement, whatever the resource, I want to give to others without reserve.

The boys and I use shovels to remove the last load of mulch, then we push the wheelbarrow to the garden for retirement. Tomorrow I’ll fix the handle, and I’ll fill it with dirt and flowers. Near the rusty lip I’ll plant a free-falling vine.

It will make a nice, vintage garden piece–holding bright summer color and cool shades of green.

But the wheelbarrow holds a memory, too.

A gentle reminder of giving.

Lord, open my eyes today.  Show me ways to give. Amen.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.

Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications.  She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward.  But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.