Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pay It Forward

Yesterday one of my co-workers shared about her lunch experience. She and her husband had gone to a local sushi restaurant for lunch. They ordered their food. At some point in the meal, they were told that their meal had been paid for by someone they didn't know...a very pleasant surprise, to say the least. As she was telling her story, we all marveled at the kindness of a stranger.

My first thought was, "Wow, those things really do happen to people!" Yet, when I really think about it, they have happened to us, just in different ways. There was the year that I was rather pregnant with Hunter. I had just come home (newly moved into our first home) from my first baby shower, all excited about our new baby goodies. I could tell by the look on Mark's face that something was wrong. He had just found out that his position at his company had been eliminated without any warning. We didn't panic, or at least he didn't. I am sure I did. That is my personality. He just started looking for a new job right away. Still, I couldn't help but wonder what we were going to do. One night, there was a knock on our door. We answered it, but nobody was there. However, there was an envelope. It contained 100 dollars. We still to this day have NO idea where that money came from, but it was such a sweet gift and much appreciated at a difficult time. (Mark found a job a few days later)

Or there was the day a couple years ago that our t.v. just decided it was done. I am sure it had nothing to do with the fact that it was VERY old and probably used way too much. :) One night I was home alone with the kiddos when I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door to find a t.v. on our front porch. Again, a very generous gesture. (We won the Panasonic Living in HD contest shortly afterwards and got a brand new t.v.)

We also had a couple of donations during our adoption of Maria, both unexpected and both much appreciated. We tried to not ask for money, feeling like it was our decision to adopt. Yet, it was a very expensive process, and any bit of help did not go unnoticed.

All were "pay it forward" moments, someone kindly giving of themselves or their resources to show love and kindness toward us.

We have participated in "pay it forward" moments too. While receiving the gift is very special indeed, giving the gift is an even more precious memory. Giving feels good, especially when done from the heart.

That being said, our "pay it forward" moments (that we initiate) are fairly limited right now. We have just had some extra expenses this past month, expenses that weren't anticipated and unfortunately were not welcome. I would love to give, love to do more right now for some needs I see, but we are going to have to be wise too. (I don't want to sound like we are destitute or stir up some pity...just one of those "leaner" months in the roller coaster ride of finances/life :)

So fast forward a bit. We decided to go out to eat last night at one of my favorite places, Catfish Hole. We haven't eaten there in some time, and I will admit, I wasn't sure we really should go since we have been cutting back a little on spending. But in the end, we decided it was an expense we would budget for. So we went. (I will admit, I had been thinking about it all week after finding out that it suffered a minor fire earlier in the week.)

We ordered our food and talked with the kids, enjoying the hush puppies. Mmm, mmm, those hush puppies.

One of the servers passed by our table and smiled at us. She put our ticket down on our table and said something to the effect that we must be special. I glanced at the ticket. "Be blessed, Cloud family." The server then told us that someone had paid for our meal already.

Even as I type it, I cry.

Totally unexpected.

No, we don't know who it was. The server motioned to the other side of the room and said they had already left. The thing is I usually do a quick scan to see if we know anyone. (It is a pretty popular place, and between the two of us, we usually know fact, we ran into one of our neighbors at one point) I hadn't seen anyone. Yet it was someone who knew us since our name was on the ticket.

(I do hope that whoever was so kind knew that I always get crab legs there :)

One little gesture. One very touched heart. Actually, six touched hearts.

Thanks to someone out there who shared with us last night by paying it forward. We will pay it forward ourselves.

PS Speaking of Paying It Forward, as I typed this post, I thought about Ms. Carol, whom I mentioned the other day. She did pass away earlier this week, and many hearts are missing her. Yet, even before she died, she "paid it forward" by donating her organs and tissues. It is estimated that 7-9 lives were saved with her organs, and up to 100 people will receive her tissue donations. You can read a little more about her by clicking on her name above. What a special example of "paying it forward", both in life and in death. We miss you, Ms. Carol.


  1. What neat pay it forward stories! I always enjoy hearing them--and I soo miss Catfish Hole--I was sad we couldn't eat there when we came to NWA last weekend. I also never think of organ donating as paying it forward but your post made me all the more glad I am one:)

  2. A few months ago we had the same thing happen to us - but it was the principal that I worked with at the time. Such a surprise (and it did make me see him in a different light, so it probably worked well for him, too :)).

  3. I think that you know that I know how that feels...especially lately! :) Your post brought tears to my eyes.

    You pay it forward all the time, Reba, many different ways!

    Love you!

  4. I absolutely agree with you that while receiving help when needed is very appreciated, giving help when needed is even more special.

    As you know, we had to suck up and ask for help during Naomi's adoption. Since that time, we've been able to pay it forward in helping others with their adoption expenses. To see those children come home to their forever families and know that we played a very small part in helping that happen is so very special.

  5. Thanks for sharing, and reminding us that is truly is far better to give than to receive!! I absolutely love what was written on the ticket! You surely are blessed, Cloud family!! :)

  6. Hi! We just wanted to take a moment to let you know about the upcoming Arkansas Women Bloggers get-together that will be held at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock on December 11th. Join us for food, fun and GIVEAWAYS and a chance to meet your fellow women blogger! Please RSVP on our website if you plan to attend. You can find a button on the left side of


Sweet Words of Wisdom