Ten Dollar Blessing

December 2, 2008 | 13 comments

At week’s start, I finally tackled three piles of mail that had remained untouched during our Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

There, hidden between newspapers, bills and a glossy Lillian Vernon catalog, lay our own version of the Ten Dollar Blessing.

Some background: A few days ago, Billy Coffey of What I Learned Today wrote a beautiful post about a man who plopped a ten-dollar bill on the table of two customers at a diner. It’s a wonderful story. Go read it. A few days after Billy’s post, Tina Howard, who writes over at spaghettipie, said she was deeply touched by Billy’s post. So she issued a challenge, calling on others to give ten bucks away, beginning Dec. 1.

Tina wrote:

“Pray for an opportunity, and when it arises, give a ten dollar bill to someone who needs it. … While it doesn’t feel like much, in God’s hands that ten dollars has the potential to change someone’s day. Or his or her week. Or life.”

Tina extended the challenge to her readers, and then invited them to share their experience on their own blogs.

I considered taking the challenge, but wondered how I’d blog about it later. I’ve blogged before about good deeds, and before hitting “PUBLISH POST,” I have often felt a motive-checking twinge stirring within: “Is this boasting?” I ask God, “Should I write about things I do for others, God? Lord, would you prefer I kept this one between the two of us? Or will someone be encouraged to do likewise if I tell how you’ve been working in my heart to serve?”

Some things end up on the blog; others don’t.

But this one — this Ten Dollar Blessing — I simply must share. For it’s only right to share when one has been on the receiving end of the blessing.

Our Ten Dollar Blessing arrived between neglected bills and catalogs. It was a letter addressed to “Miss Lydia Lee.”

Lydia,” I called downstairs, “you’ve got to come up and see this, honey!”

She bounded up the stairs and ripped into the envelope with the eagerness of a 7-year-old who rarely gets mail. Lydia read aloud:

Thank you so much for your shoebox full of gifts for Operation Christmas Child! Your shoebox looked great. … Thanks for blessing a needy child and for being part of the Life 96.5 Shoebox Challenge! — Luanne, Suzanne and the Life 96.5 Staff

The letter came from the Christian radio station. Among the thousands who made shoeboxes, I don’t know why Lydia received recognition — though there’s a brief story posted about it on the station’s website here — and I’m not yet sure how the radio folks tracked Lydia down.

But what amazed me most was this: On Dec. 1, the day when the Ten Dollar Challenge began, my little girl received a thank-you note along with a gift card to Walmart.

The amount of the gift card: Ten dollars.

Yeah, I know. Too cool.

Lydia beamed. So did Mom. (Anna, our four-year-old, sobbed uncontrollably questioning the fairness of the whole deal.)

Now, I don’t think this is exactly what Tina intended with her Ten Dollar Challenge, but these words of hers made perfect sense on a Dec. 1 night in northwest Iowa: “In God’s hands that ten dollars has the potential to change someone’s day.”

I asked Lydia if she would consider “paying it forward,” giving the ten dollars to someone who really needed it. I even encouraged her to give some to poor Anna, tear-stained over the injustice of the whole thing. Lydia and I talked again about how it is greater to give than to receive, as we had discussed back when we first packed the shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child (See Shoebox.)

Lydia gave this all brief thought. But being seven and all, she said she had been eyeing a certain Littlest Pet Shop toy at Walmart. And, well …

Point well taken.

Yes, it is better to give than to receive. But when you’re seven, it’s pretty cool to receive with a grateful heart.

But I’m still hoping she’ll slide a couple bucks Anna’s way …

The girls with their Operation Christmas Child
boxes back in November.

Related post: Robert Hruzek’s What I Learned From … The Generosity of Others.

by | December 2, 2008 | 13 comments


  1. Rick D.

    Sweet story – and I agree with you that when you are on the receiving end of the blessing, its probably fine to talk it up. On the giving end? Left, did you just do something? No, right – why do you ask? 🙂

  2. Billy Coffey

    So very, very cool. And you can’t stand in the way of a little girl and her Pet Shop Pets. Trust me, I know.

  3. Ruth Hull Chatlien

    This is a great story. Thanks for sharing it. And thanks for stopping by my blog the other day.

  4. gabi dickinson

    Oh what a wonderful story! I’m so glad you decided to share it with us 🙂

  5. lynnrush

    WOW. What a great story. So cool. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Minister Mamie L. Pack


    You always have such wonderful words of encouragement about being a servat to others. I love reading your blog. The ideas are great and really simple to do for those who want to do. This is a great idea.

    with blessings,

    Minister Mamie

  7. spaghettipie

    It’s a perfect fit! I love the story and am so glad you posted it. Be sure to add it to Robert’s What I Learned From . . . The Generosity of Others. Thanks, Jennifer!

  8. Carey

    AWESOME! I love the way God works. Here you were thinking…what can I do with this challenge? And God says, hey, I got this one. =) Not that you still can’t pay it forward yourself! But how cool is that?!?!

  9. Robert Hruzek

    Jennifer, this is a wonderful story, and perfect for our “What I Learned From…” project as well! Thanks to spaghettipie for letting you know, and thanks to you for sharing it.


  10. Karla Meachem

    I absolutely love the plastic containers you used for the gifts and how you had your children decorate them!

    What an awesome idea! Thanx for sharing the beautiful story and the sweet picture of your children!

    Merry CHRISTmas!

  11. Carol

    Awesome story….the odd thing is…I did a favor for someone today, not expecting to be paid, even telling her I did not want to be paid. She did not take no for an answer, and there, under a pile on my desk….a ten dollar bill. How cool is that?
    Love, Carol

  12. Alexandra Mikaela - Awareness Warrior

    The Ten Dollar Blessing reminds me of something that happened to me the other day. I was at a basketball game, and I wheeled myself up to the drinking fountain, and struggled to get a drink. Once I got back to my seat in the handicap section, a woman came over to me. She said that she saw me struggling and thought that I might like a bottled water, and handed me the bottled water she had just bought, and in an instant she was gone, before I could say a proper “thank-you”. Now mind you, these are hard times we’re in, and those bottles of water are practically liquid gold at the stadium (around $4 a normal sized bottle of water!). I was so pleasantly surprised! There still are good people in this world, and you never know who sees you struggling at the drinking fountain!

  13. pelf

    That part where Lydia receives a 10 dollar gift card at Walmart is simply magical!


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