Month: January 2015

The Random Acts of Kindness Challenge

Last week’s service challenge was a little bit heavier, but I am so grateful for the support that was shown! If you’d like to learn more about Operation Underground Rescue, please see last week’s post here.

This week, I was thinking about Black Friday.

I’m sure you’re familiar with that infamous day. The day after Thanksgiving, the news is full of stories of people pushing and shoving and fighting and hurting one another so they can get a good deal on their Christmas gifts. In fact, several years ago, I walked into Walmart on Black Friday … just in time to see someone getting tasered by a police office.

Over what???

I’m not anti-Black Friday by any means. I still do a bit of shopping that day. And I am all about a good deal when I get one. But when saving money becomes more important than being kind … well, that’s when things get sad.

This past November, I was introduced to a fun page on Facebook called RAK Friday. Their goal was to take Black Friday – a day known for impatient people and short tempers – and turn it into a day full of Random Acts of Kindness (“RAKs”).

I LOVE IT.

Although it is wonderful to serve our families and our friends and our neighbors, there is a power that comes from serving a stranger. You’re doing something good, knowing that you will never be repaid. You’re reaching out of your comfort zone a bit, and you might never know what a difference you’re making.

But you are going to make a difference.

RAKs

We’ve started a new feature here at Let’s Do Some Good Today: Kindness Matters Monday. Because … well, the name says it all. Kindness really does matter. But sometimes, it’s easy to forget. Sometimes don’t realize the lasting impact that out kindness can have. I hope these stories show you that it DOES matter. It CAN make a difference.

This week, I want you to go out of your way and do something for a stranger that you wouldn’t normally do. I want you to be consciously kinder than you would normally be. I don’t want you to just read this article and think, “Well, I’m a kind person already.” I know you are, and I am so grateful to have connected with all of you. But I don’t just want you to be kind – I want you to take action. I want you to go out and intentionally do something to make a stranger’s day better.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

* Go around town with quarters or dollars and spread some sunshine

* Flower bomb someone

* Leave coupons in the grocery store for someone else to find

* Donate a few dollars to a charitable cause, such as Operation Underground Railroad

* Buy a gift card and give it away (or leave it for someone to find – make sure to attach a note so they know it’s for them to take)

* Print off some Feel the Love printables to share, encouraging others to pay forward the kindness they receive

For more inspiration, you can check out some of my favorite websites, Pennies of Time and The Birthday Project. Or you can read through our previous weekly service challenges to find some more ideas.

So what are you planning on doing this week to make someone’s life a little bit better? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

 

 

Kindness Matters Monday – Flower Bombing

Today’s Kindness Matters Monday post is from my friend Jen. She’s kind, she’s funny, and I wish she’d been one of my high school teachers!

Kindness Matters Monday

I teach high school–and I must say–I teach in an awesome school district and I LOVE my job. However–we all know that no matter how great teens can be–they can ALL have their moments! Anyway, last year–I had been having a particularly bad couple of weeks. I had a lot going on in my life with a house build that was “going wrong”– an elderly mother (who lives with me) that had taken ill–my brother (and best friend) was going through a really bad time –and at 6000 miles away–there was nothing I could do–and to boot, I had just come back to work after major surgery. Because of my surgery–I was unable to start the new semester–with an “all new” group of kids. I hadn’t set the ground rules and my expectations on day one–so when I returned–six weeks into the semester–I had quite the challenge ahead of me–getting the kids to “live up to my expectations”. Anyway, after a couple of weeks of just everything seeming to go wrong–I was hanging on by a thread–which was really hard for me–as I am typically a very strong person! On my way to school this particular morning–I just seemed to come “undone”–I had had it–just felt like I couldn’t do it anymore! When I got to school–I walked down the hallway to my classroom–just wanting to turn around and run the other way–back to my car–head home and bury my face in the fur of my puppies and cry! I was a wreck–something I was NOT used to! As I can around the corner, hanging on my door nob was a small bouquet of supermarket flowers–nothing fancy. It was the note that accompanied them that made all of the difference! It said…”You have been “flower bombed!” I hope these flowers brighten your day…you were missed around here and I for one– am GLAD YOU’RE BACK! Thanks for being awesome!” I had no idea who they were from–a student or a staff member–I just know that at that moment–it was–without a doubt the most important thing that had happened to me in a long time! That small act of kindness–unbeknownst to the giver–changed my entire outlook and in turn–the rest of my school year! I learned a valuable lesson too–one that I try to pass on every chance I get–a few kind words–written or spoken–can make all the difference–also–it’s really fun to flower bomb!!!

I hope this story encourages you to be a little kinder and a little more thoughtful. You truly never know what a difference you might be making! If you have a story you’d like to submit as a Kindness Matters Monday post, please e-mail me at LetsDoSomeGoodToday.com. If you have a blog or a website you’d like me to link to, please include that as well. Thank you for sharing positivity with us!

Operation Underground Railroad

Welcome to our weekly service Thursday! This week’s challenge is a little different than our usual service challenges. Rather than serving on our own communities, this week we’re going to look into our hearts. We’re going to think about things that hurt. And then together, we’re going to do something big…

Slavery.

There aren’t many words that pain me more deeply than this one.

From the time I was very young, the idea of slavery hurt my heart (as I’m sure it did yours). As a child, the idea of a complete lack of liberty was beyond what I could comprehend, but the more obvious horrors of slavery – the idea that someone could whip you, let their dogs attack you, even kill you – were almost more than my child heart could bear.

And as I grew older, other things horrified me even more. Stories of husbands and wives being ripped apart. Children taken from their homes and sold, never to be heard of again. People being raped (or bred) with no recourse. People denied freedom, and rights, and an education, and property, and paychecks, and a future.

As a teenager I would read historical fiction novels, and a tiny part of my heart wished that I could go back in time so I could help, and fight, and serve. I wanted to be a part of the Underground Railroad. I wanted to teach freed slaves to read. I wanted to help mothers to find their lost children.

But then I would think about the cruelties of slavery and I would change my mind. I realized that even if I could, I wasn’t brave enough to travel back in time – it would be too heartbreaking. I would put the book down, look around my peaceful home, and count my blessings. I was SO grateful to be living in this day and age, where there is no more slavery.

Guess what?

I WAS WRONG.

It’s so easy to forget, and frankly, I WANT to forget. Oh, I desperately want to forget that there are families that are being ripped apart. I want to forget that there are people whose liberties have been taken from them. And a part of me would love to go back to the time when I didn’t realize that all over the world, children are being taken and sold as sex slaves. Parents are crying themselves to sleep, wondering if they’ll see their children again. Children are waking up every morning to a living hell.

I just did what was perhaps the most painful internet search I’ve ever done. “How many children are sold into slavery”. Oh, how my heart broke even typing those words. And the answer, from Force for Compassion … “Are you aware that 3,287 people are sold or kidnapped and forced into slavery every day? Not many people are. That’s 136 an hour and that’s just the reported cases. Are you aware that most of these are children and most of them are sold repeatedly for sex? Again, it’s a little known fact but it’s real and it’s happening all around us — even here in the US.”

I don’t want to think about it.

I don’t want to think about it!

But guess what? Whether I think about it or not, IT IS HAPPENING.

Ignoring it might make us feel better. But IT IS STILL HAPPENING.

So I’ve made a choice. I’m not going to ignore it any more.

I’m going to fight.

And I want you to fight with me.

There is a group called Operation Underground Railroad. These brave men and women are fighting, and they’re doing what few have the courage to do. They’re going in and rescuing children who are caught up in sex trafficking rings. These rescuers are putting their lives on the line and they’re going to hell on earth. And they’re succeeding. They’re saving children.

And I’m going to help.

Will you help, too?

As I’m sure you can imagine, these rescue operations are incredibly expensive. It costs $20,000 on average. A mission can end up rescuing anywhere from 1-50 children.

$20,000, and only one child might be rescued. That seems like a lot of money.

Unless it was my child.

So what if it was my child? What if it was YOUR child?

$20,000 would mean absolutely nothing to you. You would empty your bank account and sell everything you owned. You would work until your fingers bled. You would beg and plead and grovel and do whatever you needed to do to rescue your child.

No, it’s not your child, and it’s not my child. My children are safe. As I write this, they’re at school, playing and learning. They’ll come home, get a snack, do homework. We’ll play a game, we’ll eat dinner, they’ll take a bath. I’ll cuddle and kiss them, I’ll read them a bedtime story, I’ll pray with them and, later, I’ll pray over their little sleeping bodies. Tomorrow morning they’ll put on their clean clothes, eat a filling breakfast, hop into my safe car, and we’ll go to school.

My children are not lost. My children have not been taken.

But these child sex slaves … they are somene’s children.

And … they are CHILDREN.

We are Abolitionists

Today, I am starting a fundraiser. I do so with hesitancy – I know that for many people, money is tight. I know that there are many opportunities to do good in the world, and for the most part, I want to encourage you to do small acts of service in your own communities. I don’t want you to feel like this is a website that is always asking for money or making you feel guilty.

But this is different.

These are children. And I’m ready to fight for them.

So here’s my goal … as a “Let’s Do Some Good Today” community, I’d like us to come up with $2000. This might seem like a lot of money to you, or it might seem like nothing. But whatever your financial situation is, I ask you to look in your heart and see if you have anything you can give. Because your $5 might not make a huge difference, and mine might not. But yours and mine together … that’s $10. And if you invite a friend, or if your employer matches your donation … that makes $15. And maybe your kids can earn a dollar, and maybe mine can. Perhaps you can do a bake sale or work some overtime or skip a fast food lunch. And suddenly … our dollars become a big deal.

Do you know what those dollars can mean?

They can mean freedom.

They can mean that we are abolitionists.

Please join me.

If you’d like to learn more about the work of Operation Underground Railroad, you can visit their website here. And to join in the Let’s Do Some Good Today fundraiser, you can click here. You can donate as little as a dollar, or as much as you feel led to give. All donations are tax deductible. Thank you so much for joining with me. We are abolitionists!

Remembering His Dream – Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Just as Thursdays have a new meaning for me since I’ve begun this website, now Mondays do too. And I can’t think of a better day to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning at breakfast, my husband and I were talking to our children about this holiday and what it means. I spoke with hesitancy, my mind spinning. “They’re so little. What do I want them to know? Do I even want to introduce these thoughts into their brains? At this age, they are colorblind. They don’t care if their friends have white skin or brown skin. Racism, hate crimes, prejudice … it is all so far from their innocent minds. Why even bring it up?”

But this is what I realized: my children do not live in a bubble. Sooner or later, they are going to be exposed to the ugliness that is racism. And I would much rather them hear these things from me, in the safety of our home and the comfort of our kitchen table, than whispered on a playground or in a hallway at school, or even taught in a classroom. So I opened my mouth.

I taught my children, very simply, about slavery. I taught them about abolition. I taught them about parts of my nation’s past that makes me want to weep.

And then I taught them about a hero.

I taught them about Martin Luther King, Jr.

I taught them about his dream.

“And do you guys know what? I think if he were to look into your schools …” I paused, choked up. “I think if he looked into your classrooms, he would be so, so happy. He would love to see kids with different colors of skin, all playing together. He would be so happy to know that we understand that it doesn’t matter one tiny bit what color someone’s skin is. He would be happy that we think it’s silly that someone wouldn’t play with someone else just because of how they looked.”

My children – they’re living Doctor King’s dream.

Has his dream come true all over America? And all over the world? No, it hasn’t. But frankly, that’s not where I want to focus. Today, I celebrate the fact that my children, ages 6 and 4, are completely baffled by the idea that someone’s skin color makes them “better” or “worse” than someone else. That they think white skin is pretty and brown skin is pretty. That their pictures from school show them with their arms around other children who look nothing like them, color-wise … but who are, underneath that tiny layer of skin, exactly like them.

Martin Luther King Jr.

A few years ago, I was checking out at the grocery store on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I was chatting with my cashier, a friendly young black man, and asked him how his day was going. He looked at me with his eyes full of joy.

“It’s Martin Luther King Day. How can I be anything but happy?”

His words went straight to my heart. I hope I never forget them.

Today, let’s follow the example of this young man. Let’s look at the innocence of my children. Let’s try a little harder to live Doctor King’s dream. Let’s teach love. Let’s teach compassion.

And let’s live what we teach.

If it’s been a while since you’ve heard this speech in its entirety, I encourage you to listen to it today. It’s long, yes. But these are words that need to be remembered.

 

Kindness Matters Monday – Just Say “Thank You”

Our next Kindness Matters Monday post comes from Patricia, who is, in fact, one of the kindest people I know:

Years ago my brother-in-law stopped me in the hallway at church and complimented me about the way I looked that day.  He said, “You sure look pretty today”. I responded apologetically with something like. “No, my hair is a mess, I look fat in this dress…”  He stopped me mid-sentence and said, “I want you to stop that and from now on when someone compliments you I want you to just say ‘Thank You’.”  He then explained how awkward it is for the person who is giving the compliment to have a response like I was giving.  He was determined and didn’t walk away until I agreed to change my response, starting then. He repeated the compliment and waited for me to say ‘Thank You’.

Afterwards I thought about that a lot and decided I really did need to stop putting myself down. I became determined to accept his challenge, from then on. It was weird for the first little while but then it slowly turned into genuine heart felt ‘Thank You’s’ for any kind of compliment I received.

I still have moments of insecurity but that ‘Kind’ moment truly had a positive impact on how I feel about myself and the things I do.  I don’t know if he ever realized how much it would affect me. I’m sure grateful for it though. ~Thank you Jesse (my brother-n-law).

~Patricia H.

Thank you for sharing, Patricia! It is so wonderful to hear how his moment of encouragement has had a lasting impact on your life.

Kindness Matters Monday

If you have a story you’d like to submit as a Kindness Matters Monday post, please e-mail me at [email protected] If you have a blog or website you’d like me to link to, please be sure to include that as well. Thanks for sharing positivity with us!

No One is Useless …

The Feel the Love Challenge

Happy Service Thursday! I’m so excited to introduce our newest service challenge. For those of you who have been around for a few months, you might remember our service ghost. I LOVED that challenge, and it was so wonderful to get to hear back from a few people who were recipients of the service ghost in different areas. So in honor of Valentine’s day …

Feel The Love

This week is the “Feel The Love Challenge”. Do something nice for someone. Leave behind a note challenging them to pay it forward. That’s it! (And I’ve even made the note for you!)

Here are a few ideas for you:
* Print off our note (or make your own) and start it going around your house! When you do something extra nice for a family member, leave behind a “Feel The Love?” note. Then it’s their turn to serve someone else!
* Get some ideas from the Quarter Challenge and the Dollar Challenge – leave coins (or dollar bills) around town with a note attached to it. Quarters are great to leave in candy machines, taped on vending machines, at Laundromats, and at car washes. Dollar bills are fantastic to hide at a dollar store, by the treats at the cash register, or … well, anywhere that a kid might find it!
*The next time you’re grabbing fast food or crossing a bridge/driving on a toll road, pay for the car behind you. Leave a note with the cashier and ask them to pass it along.
* Start a movement in your neighborhood! Print off a few of these tags and leave a treat or small gift on your neighbor’s doorstep. You could also do this at work or at school (for a friend or for a total stranger).
* If your budget is very tight right now, you can still participate! Think of something you can do that’s free – shoveling someone’s snowy walkway, leaving an encouraging note on a mirror in a public place, leaving coupons behind for someone else to find, sending someone an anonymous card, or whatever you can think of!
* Just do a google search for Random Acts of Kindness. There are SO many fantastic ideas out there. You can even find ideas on Pinterest – I have several on my Let’s Serve board, and there are many, many more ideas out there. Find something that resonates with you and start a movement in your community!

If you’d like to print some notes, you can do so here (Feel The Love – full page) or here (Feel The Love – 9 per page). If every one of us did just a few acts of kindness for a stranger this week, just think of all the sunshine we could spread! And if they decided to pay it forward … Well, that would just be amazing.

So let’s get out there and spread kindness!

I Want To Buy a Post-It …

Here’s your feel-good video of the day!

Rhinestone Jesus – Giveaway Winner!

A big thank you to all who participated in our book giveaway! And thanks to random.org, our winner has been chosen. The winning comment is #7:  “Well, you really sold that book! I want to read it now! LOVE inspiring books.” I’m so thrilled that you WILL get to read it now! 🙂

Giveaway winner

 

 

Celeste, please e-mail me at [email protected] with your mailing address, and your book will be on its way soon!

 

Again, thank you all for entering! If you’d like a copy of the book, you can check your local library, or you can find it here on Amazon. If you’re willing to pay a little more, you can even go to the Mercy House store and get an autographed copy. Even if you don’t ever read it, I hope you can take away this lesson from the book: Big or small, your yes – it matters.

Rhinestone Jesus - Just Do Something

Disclosure: I was not paid for this review or giveaway, and all opinions are my own. Tyndale House Publishers have graciously provided a copy of this book to give away. This post contains a referral link to Amazon. Thank you so much for supporting this site!

Kindness Matters Monday – A Simple Text

Every Thursday is “Service Thursday” here at Let’s Do Some Good Today. And today, we are starting a brand new feature: Kindness Matters Monday! Each Monday, I’ll share a new story with you. It might be mine, it might be a reader’s, it might be something from the news. Each story will have the same objective: to remind us that kindness can make a difference. Because sometimes, it’s HARD to be kind. Sometimes it means stretching out of our comfort zones. Sometimes it means making a personal sacrifice. But I’m hoping that reading these stories will remind us to be bolder and braver and kinder than we were yesterday. Because your kindness – your yes – it can matter. You can make a difference.

Our first story is one that was submitted by a dear friend …

“A few years ago I had decided to call off a friendship. It was a weird time for me. I felt like I had done the right thing, but there was still an empty spot in my life. I wasn’t depressed but I did feel like I was in the Twilight Zone. One day I received a text from someone I knew from my church. Someone that I did not communicate with often. It said something like “You were on my mind for some reason. Is everything okay?” I immediately felt relieved. I normally would’ve said that I was fine followed by a “thank you” but this time I said that I was not fine and that I would love to talk.  Our lives were too busy to meet up at that moment (we later became kindred spirits) but her text that day was so special. I was on her mind and she followed through. That text told me that my Heavenly Father was thinking about me! And He was working through His earthly angels to let me know I was not forgotten.

“Something as simple as a text, helped me to get through my slump.”

-Michell Dyson

A text. Just one text.

Time to grab your phone, y’all.

Kindness Matters Monday

 

Is there a time when someone’s kindness has made a difference in your life? If you’d like to share it with us, we’d love to hear! Please e-mail your story to [email protected] If you have a blog or website that you’d like me to link to, feel free to include it. And if you’d like to remain anonymous, that’s perfectly fine – just let me know!