Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When Thanksgiving becomes Thanks-living... the Giving Away of Thanks

Sometimes the best way to receive a gift is to give it away.
Because the only things we really have — are the things we hand over.

~ Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience.
I read the above words... at the start of Ann's blog post... the one where she writes about her family giving away the proceeds from her book, One Thousand Gifts... to build an education and recreation centre in the middle of a Guatemalan dump... via Compassion International... for Pastor Saul and the faith community that he shepherds... so that they can release more children from poverty in Jesus' name!

Tears of joy stream down my face! 
This is what it's all about... 
The giving away, the thanks-living!

It is getting close to 11:40am now... my boy will be home soon for lunch. I quickly read the rest of the blog post... dry my tears... get lunch ready. I smile, happy. My heart is full... of thanks!

I hear the door knob turn... my boy's home. He tells me that the mailman is here and that he's going to go across the street... to the mailbox, to collect our mail.

I hear my boy return from the mailbox... I can hear the excitement in his footsteps... then in his voice... "A letter, Mom! From one of our Compassion children."

We tear open the envelope... it's a letter from Florianlyn! No... wait, it's from her mother, Analyn.

Hubby and I, with Florianlyn and her mom.
Masbate, Philippines (Summer 2011)
It's been over five months since our family visited Florianlyn and her family in the remote island of Masbate, in the Philippines. Her mother, Analyn... together with her tutor, Conchita... accompanied her to meet us where we were staying.
We spent the morning by the beach... it was the stories Analyn told us that gripped me the most. This shy, demure, young woman... a mother, just like me... told us a stirring tale that forced us to see poverty for what it really is!
... Of leaving her family for months at a time... to work as a maid in the big city... for an equivalent of $2 a day!
... Of having to close down her convenience store because of staggering loan interests... amounting to 60% per year.
... Of not being able to purchase roofing materials... that's why they have a tarp over parts of their home.
That afternoon, we drove to their home... the one with a dirt floor, the one with a tarp roof, the one not bigger than an average North American bedroom, the one with no running water or toilet or kitchen, the one where a family of five live in... this one:
Inside Florianlyn's home.
This is a young mother's reality. Yet Analyn gives... volunteering at Patnubay Child Development Centre {the Compassion project via which we sponsor Florianlyn} in her spare time... preparing food for the 203 Compassion children who call this Compassion project home.
♪♫ "Jesus, what can I give? What can I bring? To so faithful a Friend... to so loving a King?" ♫♪ My thoughts raced... as the Matt Redman song played over and over in my head.
We fly home to Toronto soon after... travelling over 8,500 miles... yet the lyrics of the song never left... "What can I give? What can I bring? As a praise of Your Name for the things You have done?"
A few weeks later, our family arranged for Compassion Canada to deliver a gift to Florianlyn's family... to help Analyn start up her convenience store again and to help them finish building their home.
That was four months ago... and today, a letter... the same day I read Ann's blog post about giving thanks away! 

I smile happy, once again. I didn't know that my heart could swell with so much thanksgiving. My boy and I read Analyn's letter... 
Bago po lahat labis po kaming nagpapasalamat sa ating Diyos na buhay. Papaano po ba kami makakapagsimula ng pagsasalamat sa inyong tulong na bigay ninyo sa amin. Tanging maigaganti lamang namin sa inyo ay ang walang sawang pananalangin para sa inyo.
{First of all, we are extremely grateful to our Living God. How can we even begin to thank you for the help that you have given to us. The only thing we can do is to never stop praying for you.}
Tears of joy stream down my face, once again! 
This is what it's all about... 
The giving away, the thanks-living!

Groceries {to stock the convenience store}, cement, steel bar, wood, sand, corrugated metal roofing sheets, labour costs and tools... just some of the things she said they were able to buy and pay for with our gift!

Analyn can now re-open her convenience store and they can now finish building their home. Oh. The. Joy... filling my heart! It's just indescribable!
Oh my words could not tell, not even in part...
Of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart.

~ Matt Redman
Thanksgiving for God’s love always seeks to become thanks-living – a living and giving of His love.
~ Ann Voskamp
Christian hands never clasp and He doesn’t give gifts for gain because a gift can never stop being a gift — a gift is always meant to be given….
~ One Thousand Gifts
Unwrapping more of His love in this world.
Act justly.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with God!


  1. Oh my my... tears here. Wow... amazing. God is so faithful! Thank you for sharing.

    So very true... the giving away... it does something to us huh?

    Much much love,

  2. This is beautiful! I just finished reading Ann's post and then came here.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for sharing :-)

  4. Now, I'm crying too! Thank you so much for sharing this post! It is such a blessing to know that there are families out there such as yours that are so giving!

    Blessings and hugs!