January 16, 2012

Karla's Korner: Paying It Forward

I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!

Paying it Forward….

Have you ever been in a restaurant and noticed someone eating by themselves? Have you ever felt inclined to offer them a seat at your table? When my husband travelled on a regular basis for work he would often times pick up his meals and take them back to his hotel room to eat. Not being a fan of eating alone in public, it was much easier for him to eat alone in his room. Often times he would call me while he ate and we would chat. I can honestly say that I have never eaten alone in public other than zipping through a drive through and eating in my car.

Today, my family decided to go to our favorite little Chinese restaurant after church to hit the buffet. I had been craving egg rolls. No, there’s no specific reason for the craving other than I heard someone say they were making egg rolls and I immediately wanted one. So, we made the trek into town to satisfy the craving. While preparing to chow down on the mounds of rice, noodles and chicken wings, I noticed an elderly gentleman take a seat across the aisle from us. He carefully placed his hat on the empty seat at his table and proceeded to the buffet. The hat, told a story. This gentleman was a military veteran and he was alone. The embroidery on the front of his hat indicated that he served in the Navy aboard the USS Hampton. We made eye contact and he casually mentioned the cold weather and proceeded to quietly eat his lunch.

I sat for a moment thinking about this man and wondering what his life held for him. Why was he alone? Did he have a family? Was he a widower? Should we invite him to eat with us and if we did would he think we were strange? Sharing my curiosities with my husband I shared with him the idea of paying it forward. My friend Amee, aka. Madame Deals, has been promoting the idea of giving of oneself and doing for others in the new year. Mentioning it to my husband we began to talk about how doing little things for others mounts up to big things. Sharing of ourselves does not always mean we have to sacrifice great things to make a great difference. Easing the load for someone often means more than we can imagine. For example, what if you gave up stopping at the local coffee shop every morning for one week and made your coffee at home and then took the money you saved and bought a bag of groceries for someone in need? You have not really given up anything, only adjusted your lifestyle a little and then blessed someone in need a lot.

As we sat at our table enjoying family conversation, my heart remained with this elderly man who has served our country and quietly goes about his daily life; more than likely alone at his dinner table. Sensing the heaviness on my heart, my husband went to the waitress and quietly asked her to bring us his check as well. He paid the bills and as we walked away he patted the gentleman on his shoulder and simply thanked him for his service. There was no need for us to tell him that we had paid his bill; recognition of this act of kindness was not necessary. As we left I looked back one more time and knew that this would be one of those moments in our lives that we simply did something for someone else just because we could and not knowing his reaction when he was told that his bill had been paid simply did not matter.

Often time’s people support a specific charity or cause to be recognized. And while the recognition is nice I think that the quiet acts of kindness can at times be the most meaningful. And while I have shared this story I can assure you that I did not share it to receive the proverbial pat on the back. I share this as an example of just how little it takes to bless someone. The simple cost of a buffet meal allowed us to thank this man for his service to our country and hopefully he will find a way to take what he saved on his meal and bless someone else. My hope is that if and when he shares his story with others they too will be inspired to pay it forward to someone else.

I encourage you to pay it forward to someone this week. Check out www.madamedeals.com for her Pay it Forward Friday column for ideas and to share your experiences. There’s a song we learned at camp many years ago that starts with the words: “it only takes a spark to get a fire going….” This song refers to God’s love and sharing it with others, and while I am a firm believer in that concept, I can also refer to those words as setting a spark of being generous to others (which I believe is what God’s love is all about). For those of you who remember the old shampoo commercial on television where the actress tells two friends about this wonderful shampoo and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, etc.? That is exactly how paying it forward should work. You do something nice and in turn hopefully that person will do something nice for someone and so on and so on and so on.

Share your blessings with a pure heart not wanting anything in return. Life is good, share that goodness and you too will be blessed beyond measure.


Karla Robey

To see all Karla’s Korner articles click here.

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