Month: June 2015

Kindness Matters Monday: What Kind of Heart Do You Have?

For today’s Kindness Matters Monday post … I want to know what “kindness” matters to YOU?

At Church yesterday, we were talking about how people “have a heart” for different things. Some might have a heart for animals, some might have a heart for the elderly, some might have a heart for the environment …

So today, I’d like to know, what do you “have a heart” for? What causes are you passionate about?

Kindness Matters Monday

P.S. If you have any idea for service challenges – or if you’re interested in guest posting – I’d love to hear those ideas from you, as well!

The Thank a Police Officer Challenge

Recently my family was in the parking lot of a gas station, renting a Redbox movie. My soon looked over and joyfully shouted, “LOOK! A POLICEMAN!” (Well, it was actually, “WOOK! A POWICEMAN!” Kid talk … it completely charms me.) My son has had great experiences with police officers in the past, and he was thrilled to see one of his heroes at work.

The policeman, sitting in his car, noticed us and smiled. I brought my kids over to meet him. He got out of his car, greeted us, and took a few moments to get to know my children. As we went to leave, he looked at me and said, “Thank you. I really appreciate when parents take the time to introduce their kids to me. I want kids to know that I’m a good guy, and that if they need me, I’ll be there to help them.”

These words touched me. As parents, we teach our kids to call 911 in case of an emergency. But do they know who actually responds to those calls? Do they know who the policemen (and policewomen) are in our areas? And have we taken the time to get to know them — and to say “Thank You?”

This week, that is our service challenge. We are going to find our local police officers, and we are going to say thank you.

Thank a Police Officer

I’ll admit, other than chatting with them in parking lots and in stores, I haven’t made the effort to look for our local policemen to thank them for their efforts. So this week’s challenge is not just for you and your family, but for mine as well! And I’d love to hear your ideas and your feedback!

To start this challenge … first, if you don’t already know it, find where your local police station is. Just do an internet search for “Police Station” and your city name. I live in a city that is large enough that we have the headquarters, and then several smaller offices. (I had no idea!) Locate the office that is closest to you – these will likely be the men and women who will race to help you in an emergency.

When you’ve located that station, it’s time to say thank you! Here are a few ideas I have for you:

* Make a thank-you card. This is cheap, simple, and a great activity for kids. Being a police officer can be a thankless job – let them know how much you truly appreciate their work and their sacrifice.

* Drop off a treat. Because seriously … who doesn’t love being surprised with a fun snack?? I’d advise against bringing homemade food unless you personally know your police officers – they need to be very careful about accepting food from strangers. But pre-packaged snacks will likely be greatly appreciated!

* Bring water bottles. I don’t know about you, but where we are, it’s HOT outside! A case of water bottles will always come in handy.

* Pay for a meal. If you see a police officer grabbing fast food, consider picking up the tab. Or you can drop off gift cards to local restaurants. Even a $5 gift card is enough for a quick snack or a treat for a busy officer.

* Just say thank you. Seriously. That’s what this challenge is all about. If your house was bring broken into … if you were in a store that was being robbed at gunpoint … if you found yourself a victim of a violent crime … a police officer would risk personal safety to rescue you. It’s easy for us to take this for granted, but I don’t want to take it for granted. I want to remember them. I want to appreciate them. And I want to teach my children to do the same.

What ideas do you have for us for this week’s service challenge? How have you helped support your local police officers? What will you be doing for our challenge this week?

Kindness Matters Monday: Let’s Get More News Stories Like This One …

Kindness Matters Monday

Because nothing says “Kindness Matters Monday” like this …

Enjoy!

The Note Challenge

Once again, it’s Service Thursday and time for a new challenge! Last week’s challenge was a bit of a … well, challenge … for me. And, as I shared on Facebook, it was not exactly a rousing success. But hey, it’s the thought that counts, “gushy” or not! So a this week’s challenge is going to be short and sweet: write a note for someone you love.

The Note Challenge

Here are a few ideas to get you started:
* I love this post from Pennies of Time – wrote notes on a mirror for your kids (or your spouse) to find.
* Stick an encouraging note in a lunchbox, backpack, or briefcase.
* Write a note and mail it. As silly as it sounds, you could even mail a letter to someone who lives in your house! (Or even just hide a note in the mailbox and then send your kids outside to check the mail.) Because if your kids are anything like mine, they LOVE getting mail!
* Pop a note into a pocket, on a windshield, on the fridge … anywhere! Before a business trip, my husband once left notes taped around the house for me to find throughout the week. For example, taped on the milk was “You’re a great mom!” Taped on the vacuum was “Thank you for taking care of our home!” Those notes absolutely made my week. In return, I wrote a tiny note, folded it up, and tucked it into his tube of deodorant. When he got ready the next morning, he opened his deodorant and a love note fell out. I like to think that he walked into his meetings that day with his head held high, knowing that he was loved and appreciated.
* Leave a note for a stranger to find. Stick a “You’re a great parent” note on a pack of diapers in the grocery store. Put a “You look great today” note on a mirror in a public restroom. You can even combine this with another challenge, like the Dollar Challenge or the Quarter Challenge.

There are a few ideas to get you started. Who are you going to write a note to this week?

Kindness Matters Monday – Lava Mae

Kindness Matters Monday

I grew up in Northern California, and our closest major city was San Francisco. Although I had fun when we’d visit, I can remember dreading visits to “The City” for one reason: I knew that I would see many homeless people. I knew it would make me sad. And I knew that there wasn’t much I could do about it.

To be honest, as an adult, it’s easy to feel the same way. Homelessness breaks my heart, but it’s a problem that’s so big, it’s easy to think that little can be done to help.

But that would be wrong.

A few months ago, I learned about a group called Lava Mae. Their idea is brilliant: They take old buses and transform them into traveling bathrooms and showers. And they restore humanity, one shower at a time.

“With hygiene comes dignity; and with dignity, opportunity.” Such inspiring and powerful words.

You can check out there site here. You can also follow them on Facebook here. I love seeing their updates in my newsfeed – it lifts my heart to see the work that they’re doing. It’s amazing to see the joy a simple shower can bring.

It’s just one more reminder that kindness matters.

The Serve Like Grandma Challenge

A few months ago I wrote about two best friends who became sisters, and who then stayed best friends forever. It’s one of my favorite stories of all time, and if you haven’t read it, I’d be honored if you’d check it out here.

But the last few days, I’ve had a strong desire to share the other half of the story. I told you about precious Dorothy, and we had a service challenge in honor of her. I rocked my light blue fingernails for weeks, and it was an honor to look down at my hands, smile, and remember to treat everyone I met like a long-lost brother or sister.

And now … it’s time to continue our story with the second half of the dynamic duo.

Dorothy and Anna

When we left off our story, it was beautiful Ann’s wedding day. She and Dorothy were in the hallway outside the chapel. 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!”

That’s where her story ended last time. But in reality, it was just beginning.

Ann and Dave were blessed with six beautiful children. They began a legacy of faith and of love. They served at Church, they served their neighbors, they served at home. They lived near Dorothy (and her sweetheart, Chuck) and they raised their babies together. Quietly, in her own sweet way, Ann blessed her children with the love that every child deserves.

And then, many years later, came the most important day of Ann’s life.

I – her favorite grandchild – was born.

(I know you think I’m either kidding, or a little full of myself. But here’s the truth: deep in my heart, I’m confident that I’m my Grandma Crockett’s favorite.)

(And her 14 other grandkids are equally confident that THEY are her favorite.)

Cousins

She makes each one of us feel that way.

What a priceless, precious gift.

I live far away from my grandparents now, but when I’m back in town and talking with my Grandma, one look into her loving eyes has me convinced that she’s never happier than when I’m there. As I have gone through the greatest challenges of my life, she has cried with me. As I have gone through my happiest seasons, she has rejoiced with me. She has celebrated my graduations and my wedding and the births of my babies. She has worried about me. She has prayed endlessly for me. And with every step forward I take in my life – with every accomplishment – I am absolutely confident that she couldn’t be prouder of me. My heartbreak is hers; my joy is hers.

If only everyone could have this kind of love. What a place this world would be!

Grandma Annie

As I began working on this week’s challenge, I reached out to some of my cousins. I asked them how they could summarize Grandma’s love. And the answer: “I think Grandma serves in her kitchen!” And it’s so very true. If you asked her is she were an accomplished chef, she would laugh and shake her head. And I don’t know what exactly makes an accomplished chef. But … well … perhaps a lifetime of …

Baking thousands of cakes to celebrate births and birthdays. Preparing tray upon tray of enchiladas at Christmastime. Lovingly filling huge Rubbermaid containers full of cookies for her grandkids to sneak into. Stocking her home with her grandchildren’s favorite nacho cheese, chilling mugs for root beer, buying jars of pickles for her salt-loving granddaughters. Spending countless hours kneading dough for her legendary rolls (which are devoured in seconds). Rolling out pie crust with little helping hands nearby, and saving the scraps to make a special cinnamon sugar cookie just for you. Making sure that her babies (and grandbabies, and great-grandbabies) were fed and nourished and happy. Making sure that every person who leaves her kitchen is full of food, and full of love.

If she isn’t a master chef, I don’t know who is.

Serve Like Grandma

So this week’s service challenge: Be like my grandma, and serve from your kitchen. Cook, bake, sautee, frost, blend … whatever your heart desires. It doesn’t really matter what you cook.

Just cook with love.

Bake cookies for your neighbor, bring dinner to a new mom, drop off a pie to someone who needs encouragement. Make your daughter’s favorite dinner, grill your wife’s favorite steak, bake your son’s favorite bread, whip up your husband’s favorite brownies.

Serve from your kitchen this week.

Make someone feel like they’re your favorite.

Make someone feel loved.

Just like grandma does.

Grandma and Grandpa

How are you going to participate in this week’s service challenge? Who gets to feel like they’re your favorite this week?

Kindness Matters Monday: One Last Walk

When I stumbled across this picture on Facebook, I knew that I needed to share it with you for today’s Kindness Matters Monday post.

A hospice patient (a former forest ranger) who just wanted one last walk through the woods.

And the firemen who were his heroes.

And now, mine.

Take a look.

Oh, friends. Kindness matters.

Kindness Matters Monday

The Serve a Shelter Challenge

For several years, I have had a silly idea bouncing around in the back of my head. See, I don’t have all that many talents. I’m not a great piano player or dancer. I don’t draw, I don’t paint, I don’t sculpt. My coordination is … well, infamous. You don’t even want to know what happened the first time I went roller skating.

(Okay. I’ll tell you. I got a concussion.)

(You just can’t make this stuff up.)

But y’all, I do have one gift. I know how to coupon.

No worries – I’m not one of those crazy coupon ladies on TV that buys 147 bottles of mustard at 3 cents each, just because I can. But I do love saving money on products that my family uses and loves, and I’ve learned how to buy many name brand items for much less than their generic counterparts. And I find that really exciting.

(I know. I need to get out more.)

So for years, I’ve had this idea: I wanted to go volunteer at the local women’s shelter. And I wanted to teach them “how to coupon”.

A few months ago, I lucked out and met one of the women who runs this shelter. And imagine my delight when I found out that they had been actually looking around for someone to come teach the ladies how to coupon!!

Friends … it was magical. Honestly. Sitting in a room with women who have been lived unimaginable lives … talking to them, answering their questions, encouraging them, showing them that they CAN afford nice things if they learn a few little skills … sending them on their way with toothpaste and shampoo and nail polish and baby lotion … seeing their gratitude for even these simple items … it snapped my life into perspective. It showed me that the problems I deal with really aren’t so bad. And as I returned home, I felt so, so blessed.

So this week, we’re going to do a challenge we’ve done before. We’re going to do the shelter challenge again.

Simple Ways to Serve Your Local Shelter

For those of you newer to Let’s Do Some Good Today (or for those who would like a refresher), you can check out the original challenge here.

This week, I’d like you to do something for a local shelter. You can take this challenge in a lot of different directions, but first of all, you need to choose a shelter. What speaks to your heart? Within 20 miles of my home, we have women’s shelters, animal shelters, a shelter for homeless teens, shelters for homeless families, shelters for homeless men … and those are just the ones I know of! If you don’t know where to start, try asking around, or even do an online search for “shelter” and your zipcode.

Once you’ve picked a shelter, time to serve!

1. Wish list. If this is your first time participating in this challenge, you can just do what we did for our last challenge: print off their wish list. Many shelters have this right on their website. If they don’t, you can call and ask what their greatest needs are. They’ll be thrilled to tell you! I think that many of us like the idea of helping those in need, but we don’t know where to start. Well, this is your start! When you find out what is needed, it will be easy to keep your eyes open. When I see socks and underwear on clearance, I grab them – I know every shelter needs them. When I see a fantastic deal on pet food, I pick some up to donate to the animal shelter. When I find an awesome sale on make-up, I grab a little extra to donate to the women’s shelter, just for fun. By knowing what the needs are in my community, it is much easier for me to serve.

If you’ve already done that, here are a few more ideas for you to consider:

2. Shop. Set a budget for yourself and go buy a few items that your local shelter urgently needs. Shop smart! I’m all about shopping frugally so you can maximize your ‘giving budget’. (I don’t usually talk much about that over here since this isn’t a money saving blog, but I have guest posted on my cousin’s awesome website. If you’d like to read the articles I’ve written on saving money, and on earning a little extra cash, you can check this post out.) One more tip: I always, always check my “junk mail” for coupons. I will occasionally get coupons from local stores that say things like “$10 off any purchase of $10 or more”. That’s the perfect way to pick up a small item for a shelter!

3. Volunteer. Do you think you can commit to helping your local shelter once a week, or even once a month? See what help they need! If you can’t sign up for a long-term commitment, ask and see if there’s a one-day project that they need help with. Do they need a room painted? Show up with a group of friends and get it done! Do you have some random but useful skill (like, I don’t know, couponing)? Call them up and ask if they’d be willing to let you come teach a class!

4. Gather. If your friends knew what your local shelters needed, they might be willing to help.  Raise your voice on social media and advocate!  One of my local hospitals is always in need of items for new babies, so I hosted a baby shower for charity. My cousin’s local hospital was specifically in need of baby blankets, so she hosted a baby blanket drive and picked them up all around town. Once you find out what the needs are, let others know, too.

That’s our challenge for this week, friends! Personally, my goal is to bring a few donations to the local animal shelter. I might do a few other things from this awesome list of ideas, too. What about you? What shelter do you want to support, and how are you planning on doing it?

Kindness Matters Monday: Two Simple Smiles

Kindness Matters Monday

This Saturday, I had errands to run. And I did not have many hours to run them. I was in go mode. In one store, out the other … I was on a mission.

Finally, I was at the last store, prepared to make my final purchase. I grabbed a shopping cart, turned around … and saw a sweet old lady smiling kindly at me. I was taken aback, but I instantly smiled back. I couldn’t help it – it was almost a reflex. How could I help but respond to that much light and love, even coming from a total stranger?

I pulled my shopping cart behind her and noticed a man walking toward us. He looked up and caught … not my eye, but hers. I could tell he noticed her, because I saw the look coming across his face that had been on my own just seconds before. Mild surprise, and then an ear-to-ear grin. He was as charmed by this sweet woman as I was.

This small moment – these few smiles – they touched me. I paused, then I walked up to that woman and gently placed my hand on her arm. “Excuse me, ma’am. But … do you know what an awesome thing you just did? You were walking around with such a beautiful smile that I couldn’t help but smile back. And I saw another man pass in front of you … you made him smile, too. You just go around spreading sunshine, don’t you? I just wanted to let you know that you made an impact on me today. Thank you.”

Surprised, she thanked me. We chatted for a moment and went our separate ways. I will likely never see this woman again.

But I hope I never forget what she taught me with two simple smiles.