I wish you could meet my friend Vanessa! She’s the perfect example of the gospel bound in tennis shoes. When she began attending our Bible study, she was a single mom to three teenagers and, believe me, she’d had her share of “makings and breakings.” Maybe that’s why she had that special something, a contagious happiness, sparkly eyes, and a quick laugh—especially about jokes on herself.

Many of us have the idea that we will be more generous once we get “set up” and stable economically. We wait until we have extra, but when does that happen? Sometimes, I like to dream about what noble causes I would support if I won the lottery. “Dream” is all it will ever be—because I never even buy lottery tickets!

So I watch and learn from Vanessa. She isn’t waiting for “someday”—she has a friendly type of generosity that presses a folded bill into someone’s hand with a little cheery pat. She has an open heart for the needs of others and tries to see where she can be a blessing—whether it’s money, food, time, a helping hand, or encouragement. She often appears with a special gift or treat that’s her way of saying, “I value you. I notice the things you like. Here, enjoy.”

A few years ago, Vanessa began dreaming of moving to a place where her children would have more opportunities to study and get established. I remember her first tiny apartment furnished with donated furniture, and although she was working toward her personal family’s goals, she was still generously helping others at every opportunity. At that moment, this “dream” of hers seemed fantastically out of reach, yet one by one, each of her children has been able to study and get a good start in their adult lives.

When I was wondering about Vanessa and hunting for a logical explanation of how someone could reach their own personal and financial goals and at the same time always be so ready to lend a supportive hand to others, I came upon a biblical formula: “If you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give—large or small—will be used to measure what is given back to you.”1

  1. Luke 6:38 TLB