A continuation in my series of generosity and giving. Share your stories! I want to hear them!

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“Oh my gosh, mom! Finally!!!” I looked down with sheer delight at my new fortune – a pair of stone washed overalls.

It was the late 80’s. Stone washed jeans had been all the rage for at least 5 years, yet I had not come into the possession of any due to the lack of money for clothes. But today was my lucky day.

Our family had become the beneficiaries of a well-off family at church. They had 2 kids a couple years older than me and my brother, and every few months they would show up at church with a bag of clothes for us. Since they were pretty well-off, they always gave us nice, fashionable clothes. Granted, they were a few years behind the fashion, but in the 80’s it was all so ugly anyway, so it didn’t really matter when it got worn.

A year or so before this amazing discovery I made in the bag, my brother had gotten a pair of stone washed jeans from this family, and I was extremely jealous that I had yet to receive such bounty. Since that day, I had looked longingly in “my” bag for the elusive stone washed jeans. I’d seen my benefactor wear them, so I knew she had them. I just had to wait until she didn’t want them anymore. Mind you, I was always thankful when any clothes showed up, but that one thing was so important to me.

And then it happened. I opened up the bag…and light shone from heaven and angels sang the Hallelujah Chorus as it was revealed that, indeed, there was a pair of something stone washed. I pulled them – no, they rose of their own accord out of the bag, and I discovered they were overalls. I didn’t care what they were, as long as they were stone washed, I was a happy camper.

I wore those things out! My mom had to continually patch the knees, I wore them so much. Finally, after a couple of years, I had to give them up. I had grown too tall. But those were a precious couple of years when I owned my own stone washed denim.

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Share the Wealth: Eugene

April 12, 2010

“Share the wealth”. That’s something we’ve been hearing a lot lately. So I have been inspired to share stories about how wealth has been shared with me. I’ve decided to start a new category on this blog called “share the wealth”. I will be sharing these stories and hope that you, too, will share stories in the comment section of how wealth has been shared with you. My goal is to continuously add to this category both mine and the good ones that get sent to me. So please, sit back and think about how someone has shared their wealth (doesn’t even have to be money) with you. I, and many others out there, would like to hear them. That said, here is the first of what will be many installments:

I grew up poor. Yeah, yeah. I know a lot of people claim that, but how many of them can say that they actually lived in one room house with no running water…in the 80’s? Yeah. That was one of the many places I lived growing up. We hauled water from town for a family of 4, 3 horses and 2 dogs. The bathroom was a camping toilet outside and my bath tub was an aluminum feed tub that was filled with water warmed up on the stove. I was Laura Ingalls Wilder (side note: Little House on the Prairie is still my favorite show).

Now that I have sufficiently proven the depth of our poverty, on with the story. My family moved to Arkansas when I was 3 to be hippies. The goal was to build a cabin in the woods and live off the land. The only problem? No money for said wood to build said cabin. So my parents had to resort to being “normal” and renting a house. Without much money to pay for rent, they found a place that was extremely cheap. But even that was killing the budget. As a construction worker, Northwest Arkansas didn’t have much to offer my dad. The uncle of our landlord realized how hard up we were and offered my parents the following proposition: He had a 70 year old cobble stone farm house on over a 100 acres of land outside of town. No one had lived there for years, and it had come into serious disrepair. He told my parents if they were to clean and fix it up, keep it looking nice and let him keep his cattle on the land, then we could live there for free. For FREE!!!! No rent. No nothing. The only bill was electricity because the house used well water and was heated by a wood stove.

My parents accepted the offer and we lived in that house for 6 years, rent free. He let us cultivate the land, raise chickens, turkeys and geese enabling my parents to not only provide food for us, but to free up resources so they could pay for health insurance, car insurance, food stuffs that we couldn’t grow or kill, shoes etc… We lived below the federal poverty line for several years of my life, but never once did we have to take government assistance because of the incredible generosity of this man. But even more than that, he showed me in a material way what generosity looked like, and I can’t help but want to emulate him now as an adult

I don’t know where he is today, but wherever you are, Eugene, thank you.