IOU’s

A long time ago, when I was about Ryma’s age, I remember asking my dad for a new bike. My dream bike was all picked out in my mind already; it was pink with tassels and a little bell to ring. When I asked Daddy for the bike, I was sure to say just how much this bike would mean to me. “Please, Daddy,” I said. “I really want a pretty pink bike to ride. I’m sure it’ll make me the happiest girl in the world!”

Dad laughed and then replied, “Okay, honey, but how are we going to do this? Bikes cost money and I want to you understand that the things we want come at a price. I’ll help you save your money, and when you have enough, you can use it to get a new bike, if you want.”

Save the money! I wondered if he had any idea how long it would take me to save that kind of money. He must have seen my face fall, though, because he responded, “Don’t worry, honey. God says that all things are possible through Him who gives us strength. I have another idea. In addition to saving, why don’t you color me a pretty picture and make some IOU’s.”

“What’s an IOU?” I asked.

IOU

“It’s an ‘I owe you.’ You could write ‘I owe you five hugs,’ for example. That’s definitely worth something to me. Or you could write ‘I owe you an A in math on my next grade card.’ That would be worth quite a bit, too.”

I went straight to work creating IOU’s. I was surprised to realize all the things I could do that would please my daddy. I made IOU’s to clean my room without complaining, help my mom with dinner, and give lots of hugs and kisses. Soon, all of my sisters were doing the same. Holidays and birthdays were frequently celebrated with new, creative IOU’s. I did eventually save enough for my bike, but the tradition of giving IOU’s has become something of a legacy in my family. Even later in life, my husband Stan carried the tradition of IOU’s here at The LightHouse. The kids gave IOU’s for hugs, kisses, extra chores, learning about the Lord, and other things they knew would make Uncle Stan and me happy. The IOU’s were another way for the children to learn about how to love and think of others. I still treasure those IOU’s close to my heart.

More recently, Ryma has learned the value of an IOU. In the past week, the residents at  The LightHouse have been hard at work taking down and carefully putting away our many Christmas decorations. Ryma was particularly sad to see the tree taken down, as it was put up just before her first surgery in October to make her smile. She is especially fond of a lighthouse ornament. The LightHouse has been a place of hope for Ryma and her family as she recuperates from her surgeries.

Ryma

Ryma held the ornament close to her and asked Ms. Rebecca, The LightHouse manager, if there were any way she could keep it. Ms. Rebecca suggested she write me an IOU in exchange for the ornament. Ryma went straight to work coloring a picture for me. She also included an IOU for five kisses and ten hugs. When she finished, she brought the IOU to me and in the sweetest voice, she asked, “IOU?” I laughed as my heart warmed, and agreed that she could have the ornament for five kisses, ten hugs, and a trip up the stairs. Ryma astonished everyone when she agreed. A very determined and special child, she successfully crawled up the stairs to the second floor, a feat that would have been impossible without the miraculous intervention of God. Her successful rehabilitation is worth more to me than any cash value. It is proof that my daddy was right: “All things are possible through Him who gives us strength.” Looking back now, I can see that the IOU’s of my past have taught me about the value of actively loving others and it is a tradition I am happy to keep alive here at The LightHouse.