A Lesson in Giving: Makes 8. Keep 5. Give 3 away.

She died almost 5 years ago, my mother-in-law, Marguerite Brown. Yet, everywhere I look around this big old farm house and yard, I still see her. She was a gentle yet strong and generous woman. By example and in her own quiet way, she taught me how to cook and bake, how to garden, how to honor the farm and the farmers, and how to give.

My husband and I hosted the luncheon following her Service of Remembrance at our home. My recipe box is filled with her handwriting and I chose to make Marguerite's most loved foods to serve our family, friends and neighbors. She was known for full-fledged meals, cookies, cakes and pies…but especially for her breads.

And bread she did make and bake - cinnamon rolls, orange bows, donuts, butterhorn rolls and loaves and loaves of rye or wheat bread. It was several years into my "bread baking marriage" before I realized that most bread recipes make fewer than 8 loaves at a time. But not her recipe! At the bottom it reads: Makes 8 loaves. Keep 5. Give 3 away.

Marguerite amply provided the best for her family. Then she went beyond. The "give 3 away" was her way to "neighbor," leaving a surprise for the mailman, helping a new mom or elderly friend, bringing an aroma of "olden days" to someone's busy life.

As members of my Mastermind Group gathered at our farm for an annual gathering, I was reminded that perhaps this type of giving is a rural phenomenon. The group members all reside in large cities throughout the U.S. and were surprised to learn that we consider our "neighbors" anyone between our farm and town, 6 miles away. Helping each other in time of need, sharing garden flowers, fruits and vegetables, stopping farm trucks side-by-side on the gravel road for brief chats, and keeping up with their children and grandchildren were delightful concepts to them.  

I also witness this same "giving spirit" each time we connect at the multiple Women in Agriculture events held throughout our country and beyond. As a presenter, I'm on-site early…then I get to watch you arrive with your neighbors, moms, daughters and in-laws. You look around the room joining friends you may not have seen in a while. You warmly smile and greet new faces. You "give 3 away" when you catch up with concerns, learn together and share laughter. You "break bread" together over lunch.  

In the last chapters of Marguerite's life, I can tell you that she would rather have been the giver of care than the receiver. Yet in her quiet, uncomplaining and genuine way, she did give… a smile, a question about "you," a compliment. She was a continuous reminder of what is good in this world and not to take that goodness for granted. She will forever live in a wave to a neighbor, a whiff of warm bread, the goodness of friends, a memory of mind and heart.



Jolene Brown is a farmer, professional speaker, author and champion for the family owned business. She's from West Branch, Iowa, USA, and travels worldwide sharing leading-edge best practices that have the power to increase productivity, profitability and peace of mind. Her passion combined with her fun-filled spirit and valuable information brings humor, hope and helpful ideas to the people of agriculture. For more information and to check out her speaking availability, contact her at Jolene@JoleneBrown.com, www.JoleneBrown.com

Full Rights Consent.  Jolene Brown LLC, West Branch, Iowa, USA, maintains full rights to utilize the content and/or format of all materials submitted by her for the www.PinkTractor.com website in any future speaking, writing, audio, video or electronic format.

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