It has been a long time since a movie has impacted me like The Blind Side has done. It was not so much the impeccable acting from Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw, but the entire story of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy and their choice to adopt Michael Oher. The choices made by this family have been an inspiration to many around the world.
When the opportunity came to me to read In A Heartbeat: Sharing The Power Of Cheerful Giving by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy I could not pass up the chance. This book has been a huge impact on me, even more than the movie.
The first thing that I noticed about In A Heartbeat, was the ease that I had in reading it. It is written in a conversational, down-to-earth manner that really helps you connect with the Tuohy family on a very different level than the movie, The Blind Side depicts. This is a great thing. Although I LOVED the movie version of this family's life, the book has truly been a wonderful way to see how this family ticks.
The main chapters are written by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, with interludes written by their children, Collins, Sean Jr., and Michael. There are other contributions from Tim McGraw and Sandra Bullock, reflecting on how this family's act of giving has impacted them.
There are so many inspiring points in this book, but here is one point that really got to me. On page 112, Leigh Anne and Sean talked about giving, without worrying about how that giving is being used.
"Giving worked on the giver's heart and made it expand; that is the most important thing. What the recipient did with the gift...was up to him...if that gift went down a hole, then that was on the head and heart of the person on the receiving end of the gift. God would judge his heart, and that was His responsibility, not ours....As Sean put it, 'my responsibility is to be happy with the act of giving, without expecting result'"
I was very impressed with how open the Tuohy's were about how they raised their children. Though the family is wealthy and enjoys their "stuff", they did not deprive themselves, yet they were able to teach their children principles about wealth.
Particularly, I loved their idea of teaching Collins and Sean Jr. to give something for every privilege they got. For example, the family has a "get one, give one" policy. When they got something, they gave something up. Leigh Anne had the kids go through their closets every few months, and whatever had not been worn in the past year, was given to programs such as Dress for Success or other such programs.
We, as a family, already use a "get one, give one" policy with my oldest daughter. At her birthday and Christmas last year, for every gift she received, she picked out a toy or piece of clothing, that we donated to our local women's shelter. Even though we do not have a lot of extra money to give, I want to instill the principle that giving comes in many forms.
Another great example involved the children's summer camp experiences. At one point, Collins wanted to attend a rather expensive summer camp. She was able to as long as she got involved with a "giving back" activity. As a result, Collins spent a week in Guatemala for a week, helping to build a cobblestone road, and helped to deliver sandwiches to those who lived at the Guatemala City Dump. The Tuohy's goal in the practice of "get one, give one" was to not only teach them to be more observant and sensitive to people's needs (the Popcorn Theory - helping those who just "pop out" in front of you) , but also to see where their giving gets put to use.
The book is humorous, light-hearted, indicative of their faith in God, and full of wonderful family memories and is a very easy and quick read. Through reading this book, I hope you will be inspired to give what you can, where you are at, with all your heart. It does not need to be monetary, but can involve time, energy, and simply giving up "the stuff" you do not necessarily need or want anymore. If each of us gives with our heart, in a cheerful manner, we can make a difference.
I highly recommend this book and give it huge thumbs up.