Month: February 2015

The Lucky Day Challenge

Well, friends, it’s almost March already. So this week, it’s time for a new service challenge! And in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day …

Lucky Day

Everyone loves feeling like they’re having a lucky day. Wouldn’t it be fun to go around, doing random acts of kindness for others and CREATING luck for them? I think so!

This challenge is similar to our other Random Acts of Kindness Challenge (like the Service Ghost challenge and the Feel the Love challenge). You can print off a copy of our little handout. Then … just go spread some good luck!

Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

* Use the ideas from our quarter challenge and our dollar challenge – go hide a little bit of money somewhere intentional (taped on a vending machine, in the Laundromat, etc.) and leave one of these notes behind.

* Do something kind for someone in your house and leave a card behind. “It’s your lucky day – I did your chores for you! Pay it forward by making it someone else’s lucky day!”

* Leave a small present on a neighbor’s doorstep, and start a kindness movement in your neighborhood!

* Pay for the next person in line at a fast food restaurant or on a toll bridge, and ask the cashier to pass along a “Lucky Day” card to the person you’ve paid for.

* Go to a local thrift store. Hide a little bit of money in a coat (or purse, or inside a book). Be sure to attach a note – either one of our printables or an encouraging note of your own – so the recipient knows it’s meant to be taken, not just lost money that perhaps should be turned in. 🙂

If you’d like to print off copies of our image (shown above), just click here – Lucky Day printables. This will download as a Word document with 12 images per page. Then you can just print, cut, and serve. 🙂 If you have an trouble with the printable, please let me know!

So let’s get going and make it someone’s lucky day! What are you planning on doing this week to spread the luck?

Kindness Matters Monday – Drive-Thru Angel

For today’s Kindness Matters Monday post, we’re featuring an article from She Lives Free. This story touched my heart, and I hope it inspires you to go do some good today!

Kindness Matters Monday

 

Dear Drive-Thru Angel,

We had never met before. By the world’s standards, you had no reason to show us any more kindness than anyone else. But that’s just it – something tells me you are just that kind to everyone who is fortunate enough to visit your drive-thru window, having no idea the sheer joy they are about to encounter from surely the world’s friendliest, happiest Arby’s employee, (maybe even the world’s happiest person) :).

You had no clue how we would respond when you attributed your joy to “Him”. You could not have guessed we would respond in kind as you declared that there is every reason to be glad and grateful just because you got to wake up this morning. But you did it anyway, because you felt it so sincerely that the joy seemed to emanate from your every pore, straight from the heart. Well I want you to know, we caught that joy as it seeped out of you and we bottled it up so that we too, may share it with others who need it – inspired by your example. 

... To read the rest of this sweet tribute, you can visit She Lives Free’s post here

Sybil Brun blogs at She Lives Free. According to her profile, “Pretty much a people connector and purveyor of positivity! I’m crazy about color, cappucino, sunshine, warm weather and finding the beauty in each new day, (no matter what the weather)! PS – The beach is my happy place, where’s yours?” Fun, right? You can find her at her website, She Lives Free, or on Facebook. Thank you, Sybil, for today’s Kindness Matters Monday submission!

If you have a story you’d like to share, please e-mail me at [email protected] I’d love to hear it! If published, I’m happy to include a brief bio and a link to your website/blog.

The Color of Compassion – Aunt Dorothy’s Challenge

Normally our weekly service challenge happens every Thursday. But today, along with 1000 other bloggers, I am raising my voice and speaking for compassion. And this time, our service challenge begins with a story. This story is about a woman who exemplifies the word “compassion” more than anyone I’ve ever met.

It’s a story that makes me laugh, cry, and want to be a better person.

I hope, in a small way, it does the same for you.

The Color of Compassion

Once upon a time, there were two 10-year-old girls. They were names Anna and Dorothy. Anna was, at the time, an only child, and Dorothy was the only daughter in her family. They became fast friends … and soon, less like friends and more like sister.

Their families began spending time together – although they were very different from each other, a mutual respect, admiration, and love developed between them. And the girls giggled and plotted and schemed and dreamed … wouldn’t it be great if they got to be actual sisters someday?

Enter David.

Dorothy’s older brother was 5 years older than the giggly girls. Anna was smitten. David was … not. He was kind to his little sister’s best friend, but she was … well … his little sister’s best friend. But the girls dreamed on, and their wonderful friendship developed.

Fast forward several years. David enlisted in the Army and left home. When he returned, he found that his little sister’s best friend had changed. She was a young woman. She had matured. She was beautiful.

At David and Anna’s wedding, there came a slightly awkward moment. Everyone was seated in the chapel. The groom stood at the front of the room. The guests were waiting. The bride and bridesmaid were … not coming down the aisle.

Where were they?

They were hugging each other, squealing, bouncing up and down in the hall in their puffy dresses and yelling, “We DID it! We DID it! We GOT HIM!”

If I didn’t know how much Anna loved Dave, I might be a little sorry for him.

But I know how much Anna loved Dave – and still loves him. I know how much Dave loved Anna – and still loves her. Because Dave and Anna are my grandparents. And Dorothy was, in every sense of the word, my great aunt.

Best photo bomb
From left to right: Me, Uncle Chuck, Aunt Dorothy, Grandma, and Grandpa.

Now I want to tell you a bit more about Dorothy that will explain the love I had for her. From her childhood, she possessed a unique gift – she was always, always looking for someone to love and to serve. She loved to perform, and her animated personality made her one of the most popular girls at school. But when it came time to go on field trips and everyone would pile on the school bus, she didn’t head to the back to have fun with the other popular kids. She would look around and find an empty seat beside a shy, quiet student who was sitting alone. She would sit there and laugh and joke and create memories. She would transform that bus experience for the lonely child.

I imagine, to the lonely students she joined, she was their angel.

That pretty well sums up Aunt Dorothy.

Her entire life, she dealt with serious health challenges and pain. She always, always hurt. There was always something wrong. But from the smile that was always radiating on her face, you’d never know. I often wondered how she did it. After dealing with a fair amount of pain of my own these past few years, several times I called her – hesitant to bother her – and always found a listening ear, sympathy, and that even more precious gift of empathy. She mourned with me when I had to make the decision to have a hysterectomy. She cried with me when I wept into the phone, telling her how I just didn’t feel like I could live with the pain one more day. And never – not once – did she make any kind of comment to remind me that her pain was worse, her life was harder, her trials were heavier. She loved me and wanted me to be happy, and she did everything in her power to support me.

And that is how she lived for EVERYone.

But how did she do it?

My dad helped put into words what I couldn’t express adequately. Aunt Dorothy KNEW that she was (and is) a child of God. She KNEW that you are too. And so when she met you, it was like a joyous reunion with a long-lost sibling. She couldn’t wait to hold your hand and look into your eyes and hear about your life. She wanted to know you. She wasn’t just kind – she genuinely loved everyone she met. And with that love filling up her heart, she couldn’t help but pour it out to every person that she met.

This past week, Aunt Dorothy returned Home to her Father in Heaven. For those of us still here, there was shock and heartbreak. Her children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, childhood friends, adult friends, people who barely knew her … we booked flights and jumped in cars. We flocked to California to mourn and to celebrate her life.

As I saw her sweet, frail little body, lying so still and peaceful, I spoke with her daughters and they told me how much they loved her beautiful hands. I asked if she liked having her fingernails painted (which they weren’t at the time), and the girls told me no, she was allergic to fingernail polish.

That little fact, for some reason, moved me deeply. This kind woman who had spent her life doing so much for others – including giving birth to four children, when she had been told it was almost impossible to even have one – had spent nearly every moment on this Earth struggling with the limitations of her body. She couldn’t paint her nails. She couldn’t wear much jewelry. She couldn’t be around fresh flowers. She couldn’t walk without pain, or sit without pain, or dance without pain. Her whole life, her body held her back.

But she kept loving and serving anyway.

Friends, this is compassion. To forget yourself, and to go about loving and serving everyone you meet like a long-lost brother or sister.

This is compassion.

This was – and is – my Aunt Dorothy.

So this week, as I raise my voice with 1000 others to speak for compassion, I wanted to share her story with you. And this week, as you go about meeting new people and serving in your homes and doing your jobs and reaching out in your community, I want you to keep one thought in mind: Forget yourself, and go about loving and serving everyone you meet like a long-lost brother or sister.

I don’t know exactly what this week’s service challenge will look like for you. It’s not quite as straightforward as “spread quarters around town” or “thank a fireman“. But this is what it will look like for me.

Serving new moms

I rarely paint my fingernails. But this week, in honor of my precious aunt who couldn’t, I painted my fingernails – light blue, her favorite color. Light blue is now, for me, the color of compassion. And as this color catches my eye all week, I will smile.

I will remember to forget myself and to choose kindness.

I will remember compassion.

I will remember Aunt Dorothy.

Kindness Matters Monday – It Is Enough

Sorry you haven’t heard from me recently! This week has been a difficult one for my family, and I spent this weekend at a funeral. But I’m back, and I’m excited to share my own Kindness Matters Monday story with you.

Kindness Matters Monday

I glanced at the time as I hurried through the parking lot and into a large department store. “Okay, it’s 9:15. I have to go to two … no, three … stores, and I need to be done by 10:55. So okay, I need to be in and out of here in 20 minutes. Well, less if I can …”

And then, in slow motion,  I felt myself slip. With my usual effortless grace and class … I flailed my arms in a desperate attempt to stay upright.

I failed.

As I peeled myself off the ground, ankle and knee throbbing, I envisioned what THAT must have looked like on the security camera. I picked myself up, brushed off my knees, gingerly patted my bruised pride, and began muttering in my mind. “Oh, great. THAT’S just what I need. One more thing to slow me down today. AWESOME.”

I (carefully) hurried through my shopping and found a checkout lane with only one person ahead of me. As he was checking out, I got my coupons out. And suddenly, I had a feeling. “Share your coupon with him.” I looked down and realized that my 20% coupon could be used repeatedly, by more than one person. I was about to offer it to him when the cheerful cashier asked, “Wow, you got some great deals! Enjoying the clearance racks today?”

He paused, then said, “No. Not really.”

I instantly changed my mind. If he was embarrassed to talk about shopping off of the clearance rack, I decided he might feel awkward about a stranger offering him a coupon. So I stood while the cashier rang up his large pile of clothing, chattering away (with him responding politely but very quietly). As she announced the total – well over $200 – the feeling came again. “Share your coupon with him.” I’ve learned to listen when thoughts come to me with that much clarity.

Awkwardly, I said, “Um … excuse me, I have a coupon and it can be used more than once.” I looked at the cashier. “Can he use this too?”

He looked surprised but appreciative. She scanned the coupon, and $45 came off the total. He turned and looked at me and simply said, “Thank you.” Then, after a thoughtful pause, came the words that knocked the breath out of me.

“Today is my father’s funeral.”

The large pile of clothes – suit, shoes, tie, socks. The serious look on his face. The fact that he was not, in fact, “enjoying the clearance racks today”.

In that moment, I looked into a stranger’s sad eyes, and my heart broke for him.

Friends. I don’t share this story with you because I did anything amazing that day. I actually did very little. I want to share this story to help you realize something. You may feel like you can do very little right now to make a difference in anyone’s life.

But your little bit? It’s enough.

My small gesture – sharing a coupon – touched this man’s heart. Throbbing knee forgotten, I spoke to him for a few minutes. He shared a bit of his story with me. I wished him luck, and he went on his way. But my tiny act of kindness … I think it made a difference. It touched him in a way that the cashier’s friendly chatter did not. It allowed him to take his guard down for a moment and to open his heart to a stranger.

It was enough.

And one short week later, I was standing in the airport, tears in my eyes. I was on the way to a funeral of my own, and my heart was aching. I had no appetite but knew I needed to eat, so I stopped by McDonalds. There I was greeted by a happy, friendly cashier. His upbeat smile – the kind look in his eyes – it wasn’t much. But to me – someone who was falling apart – it was enough.

It gave me the courage to lift my head, smile, and get on the airplane.

And these past few days, I have been surrounded by, engulfed in, and buoyed up by kindness. None of the acts of kindness have been huge. But the kind smile of the cashier, the man who put my carryon bag in the overhead bin, the hugs of my family, the encouragement of  my friends, the prayers of the people who love me the most …

It is enough.

Friends, as you go forward today … as you head to work and drive to soccer and wipe noses and make copies and do whatever it is you’ll be doing today … choose kindness. Choose a smile. Choose to say an encouraging word. Choose a genuine compliment. Decide that in your little corner of the world, you will choose kindness.

You might not be able to do much.

But please believe me.

It will be enough.

If you have your own Kindness Matters Monday story to share, I’d love to hear it! I’m happy to include a short bio and/or a link to your blog or website. Please e-mail me at [email protected] Thank you!

Kindness Matters Monday – A Small Act of Thoughtfulness Changed My Day

Thank you to Heidi from A Lively Hope for today’s Kindness Matters Monday post!
Kindness Matters Monday
We were in the middle of our homeschool morning routine one day last fall when the doorbell rang. I had been feeling worn down and tired for the past few busy days and my kids had been on a grumpy streak that morning to boot, so I took my time on the way to answer. The kids bolted to the door ahead of me, and quickly called out to let me know the visitor was here to see me.  
 
Standing on our front porch was a sweet-looking older lady whom I’d never met before. She smiled and greeted me by saying, “I walk by your home every day and I’ve noticed the huge improvements you’ve made to the yard since you moved in. I thought you might like some of these irises I just divided.” She handed me a plastic grocery sack packed full of irises, wished us well and was on her way.
 
As I closed the door I could feel a huge smile on my face. My sweet visitor taught me a profound lesson that day. Kindness doesn’t need to take long. She needed to divide those plants anyway. She walked past our house every day anyway. But the fact that she thought of me and all the work I’d been putting into our fixer-upper yard projects and then she went out of her way for a just few minutes on my behalf changed my attitude for the rest of the day.
 
Looking for ways to acknowledge others can be a part of daily life and can make a much bigger difference than we realize. It may take a bit of courage and cause us to stretch outside of our comfort zones, but that stretching will lead to more opportunities to help others and gain friendships that would otherwise have been unformed. Service doesn’t need to be a huge, grand project to touch someone’s life. Small acts of thoughtfulness can make a lasting impact on those around us.
Heidi has a bachelors degree in Horticulture from Utah State University.  She is married to an engineering genius and is a homeschooling Mama to three miracle children.  She spends as much time as possible reading, creating, journaling, and photographing life’s little moments, and spending time outdoors with her family.  She is an author of scripture study guides for children. She blogs at A Lively Hope (you can also find her on Facebook here).

I Refuse

This is one of my favorite songs right now. Enjoy, and have a great Sunday!

 

The Love Note Challenge

It’s service Thursday – Valentine’s edition. 🙂

Do you love Valentine’s Day? This challenge is for you!

Do you hate Valentine’s Day? This challenge is for you!

Are you indifferent about Valentine’s Day? This challenge is for you!

So here’s the thing about a holiday that’s all about love and romance: it can be really fun. Or it can be really hard.

But no matter how you feel about it … it gives you a great opportunity to spread kindness!

This week, we are going to write love notes. Not the sappy “You are my sun and my world and my universe” love notes (although, of course, those are great, and feel free to write one of those, too). We’re just going to use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to make sure someone knows that they are loved.

Ready for some ideas?

Love note challenge

* Leave a note for someone who lives in your house. You can write in a mirror, leave a note taped somewhere, write a note on a napkin of a lunch bag, hide a note somewhere that will eventually be discovered … just a little way to let your spouse, parent, or child know that they are loved.

* Hide a note for a stranger to find. You can leave a “You are loved!” note on a bathroom mirror in a public restroom. You can tape a motivational note up somewhere in your workplace for others to find. “Thanks for being here today – you matter!” Cheesy, yes. But … it’s Valentine’s Day. You have an excuse to be cheesy. And you never know who might really need a little bit of love.

* Mail a Valentine’s card. Do you have a loved one who will be lonely on Valentine’s day? A grandparent? A widowed friend? A single relative? Someone going through a divorce? Someone in a nursing home? Valentine’s Day can be a rocky one for many people. Who do you know that could really use a kind card? (Pretty much anyone! Who doesn’t love finding actual mail – not just bills – in their mailbox?)

* Write notes with sidewalk chalk. Leave a message on your driveway welcoming home a family member from work or school. Sneak to a friend’s house and write a message (you can do it anonymously if you want). Write notes on a sidewalk for passerbys to read. Something as small as a simple chalk picture can easily be enough to brighten someone’s day. This is a great one to get kids involved with!

* Give someone a heart attack. (A nice one, of course!) Cut out paper hearts and plaster a door with them! This would be fun on a bedroom door as well as a front door. Leave behind a kind note.

And remember, you can always use our printable, especially if you want to be anonymous, or if you want to encourage someone to pay it forward. 🙂

Happy Valentine's Day!

That’s our simple little challenge! Who are you going to write a note to this week?

Kindness Matters Monday: “You Will Stay With Us”

Today’s Kindness Matters Monday post is written by my cousin Blake. He and his wife have recently begun a brave new blogging adventure at Couples Against Pornography. As a wife and as a mother, I am so grateful for the work that they are doing. You can check out their website here (or connect with them on Facebook).

Kindness Matters Monday

“You will stay with us.”  These five little words perfectly sum up how my friend Janet lives her life.  Always looking for an opportunity to help others, she later told me helping is how she expresses her faith. Janet is quick with a kind word or an offer of help.  Her kindness to me—an offer to stay with her family while I looked for housing—came on the very first day I met her.

I had just completed a cross-country move to a city where I had never been before and where I knew no one.  With my wife and two kids a week behind me, and with two cats living with me in the car, I needed to find housing, and I needed to find it fast.  Our new hometown had a booming population with a severe housing shortage, which meant decent places to live were expensive and gone in a heartbeat.  I had little time and little money to make it all work.

I began training for my new job the morning after I arrived in town.  At the end of the day I snagged some lunch leftovers and had a picnic outside by myself.  I was not quite sure where to go or what to do.  Having two cats with me had made finding a cheap place to stay quite difficult, and we simply didn’t have money for an extended stay in a hotel.

After eating, I set off to find a trashcan.  And I ran straight into Janet and her friends.  We ran through the normal getting-to-know-you conversation and I mentioned that I was looking for a cat-friendly hotel where I could stay while searching for housing.  Janet didn’t hesitate: “You will stay with us,” she said.  She wouldn’t take any answer but yes.  She took me home right then to meet her husband and teenage son.

I stayed with Janet’s family for a whole week.  They treated me like one of their own.  We had meals together, sat on the porch and talked together, and even worked on their farm together (I wasn’t about to sit around and not reciprocate their generosity).  Janet did not hesitate to show immediate kindness to a stranger.  Her kindness truly did matter to me, in a huge way.  She saw a need and filled it, and in so doing not only saved me a lot of money, but also taught me the importance of doing what we can for others.  In the end, I think her giving me a place to sleep was less impactful than the attitude with which she did it: with a warm hug a big smile on her face.  Something we can all emulate.

-Blake, author at couplesagainstpornography.org

I Choose Kindness