Category: Heroes

September 11th Challenge: Remember Our Firemen

One of the advantages of this website being around for a year is that now I can begin posting “annual” challenges! And today, I am so pleased that it’s time for this challenge again. It’s one of my favorites. It makes me smile every time I do it.

And it makes me cry every time, too.

September 11th challenge

 

A year ago, I shared this story with you.

“But Mom – why did they crash those planes if they knew they were going to die?” my six-year-old asked.

How could I possibly answer?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum with my family. I tried to turn it into an interesting and educational experience for my young children by explaining exhibits and allowing them to interact wherever they could. As we neared a large September 11th exhibit, I stopped them, knelt down, and began to prepare them for what they were about to see. Every September 11th, I talk to them a bit about what the day means to me, but it had been 11 months since we’d had that conversation, and at ages 3 and 6, I knew they’d completely forgotten.

“A lot of years ago, when I was still in high school, there was a very sad day in our country. Some very bad men got onto airplanes and made them crash into tall buildings. There were a lot of workers there, and a lot of people died.” Already the tears were beginning to come, but I tried to explain as matter-of-factly as I could.

“But Mom – why did they crash those planes if they knew they were going to die?” my six-year-old asked.

How could I possibly answer?

“Well, sweetie,” I began slowly, “Do you know how in our family, we don’t use the word ‘hate’?”

Two little heads nodded.

“It’s because hate is such a sad, sad word. It’s the very opposite of love. When we love someone, we do everything we can to take care of them and to make their lives better and happier. When we hate someone, we do whatever they can do to hurt them and to make their lives worse and sadder. And these men had so much hate in their hearts, they chose to kill other people, even though it meant they would die.

“But guys, that’s not what I want you to remember about that day. I want you to remember that there were some very, very brave people that day. I want you to remember them.” I took a deep breath and began telling them stories.

For the rest of the story, and to read the details of our Thank a Fireman challenge, please click here.

Mere days later, I was in New York City. We arrived the evening of September 11th. We saw the roses left everywhere. We saw the heartbroken people. We wandered through the memorial museum. We talked to survivors. We listened to final phone calls.

We looked a woman in the eyes as we heard the heartbreaking words from her husband: “He was my wife’s brother.” I hugged her, this woman I had just met, and we cried.

We remembered.

Remembering

We remembered people who we had never met. We remembered innocent victims. We remembered unthinkable bravery and courage and self-sacrifice. We learned their stories. And I wrote some of them down to share with you. Please, please, if you have a moment …

Remember with me.

So this week, we will visit our everyday heroes. We will bring treats and a card. We will smile, we will hug them, and we will thank them.

Because we know that these are the men and women who would rush UP a burning staircase to help me climb down.

Or even more importantly, to help my children climb down.

Saluting our flag

On September 11th, we remember the heroes.

And we remember our firemen.

Ladder 3

 

Will you remember with me?

Kindness Matters Monday: We Remember

In a few days, the United States remembers one of the most tragic days in our history. This is a day that is very pensive for me, as I’m sure it is for you. And so today, our Kindness Matters Monday story is a little different than most.

Kindness Matters Monday

Today, we remember heroes who ran up burning staircases.

photo 5

We remember everyday citizens who charged their own airplane into a field, knowing they were saving countless lives by doing so.photo 2We remember the volunteer firefighter who, as a teenager, once held up traffic because a mother goose had been run over by a car and he had to get her babies to safety. Even as a young man, he had the instinct to rescue and to save. On 9/11, after the first tower was struck, he was one of the firemen called to help rescue.

When traffic was so congested that his truck couldn’t get any closer, he headed on foot to the first tower.

This week, I choose to remember the heroes.

Will you remember with me?

It’s Our 1st Anniversary! Time To Celebrate!

A year ago, a sweet friend asked me if I’d ever thought about starting a website.

My answer was … Well, I didn’t have time to answer. Because before I could tell her the reasons why I didn’t think I could do that, she started telling me why she thought I should give it a try. So I spent a few days thinking about it, pondering website names, wondering if I had anything to share that anyone might want to read.

And tomorrow marks one year from the day I first clicked the “Publish” button and opened my heart to you.

I am so, so glad I began this journey.

The Quarter Challenge

And I am unspeakably grateful for those of you who have joined me along the way.

So today, instead of our normal Service Thursday post, we’re going to celebrate. And since fun party favors are pretty much my love language (no joke – ask my friends), I have a little giveaway for you.

Several years ago, I discovered a website written by Kristen Welch, a “regular mom” from Texas who had the opportunity to go to Kenya with Compassion International to see the work they do and to blog about it. Hours later, my husband came into our office to find me sobbing over my computer. I read her words, and I just couldn’t shake them. She opened my eyes. She broke my heart. And suddenly, I wanted to do more.

Through her influence, my family decided to sponsor two boys through Compassion International. If you haven’t read this post from my husband, I’d love for you to take a moment to read his story. He had the opportunity to travel to Colombia to meet our boys, and his words make me cry every time I read them.

Meeting the boys

I have followed Kristen’s journey as she began a remarkable new ministry. She realized that there were countless young Kenyan girls who were pregnant and living in absolutely desperate situations. These girls all had a different story, but they shared a common thread – heartcrushing poverty, despair, and hopelessness. She realized that these girls had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Their fate seemed determined. They would give birth, and assuming they survived, they would raise their children in the same desperate poverty.

That’s not okay with me.

That’s not okay with you, I know.

And it was not okay with her.

So she began one of my very favorite programs – The Mercy House. They do so many amazing things (you can check out their website here to learn more). But basically, they take in pregnant teenagers for several years. They give them not just shelter, but a home. They LOVE these girls. They teach them how to take care of themselves and how to care for their babies. They teach them to cook nourishing food. They give them an education. They provide desperately needed therapy. They give these girls a safe place to grow stronger. They teach them life skills and prepare them for higher education, for employment … for success. And by the time the girls leave, they are transformed.

One girl in particular, Violet, had a heartbreaking story. I sobbed as I learned about her and the heartbreaking “childhood” she had experienced. I cried when The Mercy House had to raise $10,000 to pay for reconstructive surgery on her feet, which had been severely burned by her “employers” – and I wept as the money poured in within 24 hours by people all over who stood together for mercy. And then last year, as they announced their new sponsorship program, I joyfully selected the young Kenyan mother that I wanted to sponsor through college.

Sweet Violet.

This is one of the most stunningly beautiful programs I’ve ever seen.

It’s faith in action.

It’s redemption.

It’s hope.

Months ago, I had the opportunity to give away Kristen’s fabulous new book. This was truly one of the most life-changing books I’ve ever read. From the very beginning, I was hooked. Kristen has encouraged me to figure out what my “yes” is.

Rhinestone Jesus - Just Do Something

One of the biggest “yes”-es of my life was starting this website.

So it is only fitting that today, as I prepare to celebrate one year of writing and serving with all of you, I share a bit of The Mercy House with you.

The girls who live in The Mercy House, as I mentioned, are taught life skills. They’re also given the opportunity to learn to earn money. For girls who were formerly on the streets, the opportunity for honest employment is priceless. So they make necklaces and bracelets and other beautiful crafts, and they sell them at The Mercy Shop. The girls get to keep a portion of the proceeds so that when they graduate from the program several years later, they have a bank account.

That bank account doesn’t just mean money.

It means security. It means confidence. It means hope.

So this weekend, I am giving away a $20 gift certificate to The Mercy Shop to one of you. This is not sponsored or affiliated with The Mercy House in any way. I just love, with my whole heart, the work that they do. And I want to share it with you.

It's our BLOG-IVERSARY

Here’s how you can enter our giveaway! You can earn up to three entries. Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

  1. Leave a comment here letting me know what your favorite Service Thursday challenge this year has been! It can be something you’ve participated in, something that has touched you, or something you’d like to do in the future. If you’re new to Let’s Do Some Good Today, you can browse through our weekly service challenge posts here.
  2. Visit The Mercy Shop’s website and let me know what your favorite item is.
  3. Share this giveaway on the social media platform of your choice, and come leave me a comment letting me know you did so. I’ll be putting a post on Facebook and you can just click “share” on that, or you can share in whatever way you prefer.

This giveaway will close on Saturday, August 29th at midnight (central time), and announced by Sunday, August 30th at 2:00 pm. The winner will receive a $20 Mercy Shop gift certificate, which will be delivered via e-mail.

Thank a Police Officer

Thank you for doing good with me this year.

And thank you for loving mercy.

Kindness Matters Monday: The Butterfly Effect

Kindness Matters Monday

For our weekly Kindness Matters Monday posts, sometimes I like to share inspiring videos. Sometimes I like to share stories of ordinary people doing amazing things. Sometimes I like to share examples of ways that small acts of kindness can change the world.

Today, I’m doing all three.

Kindness Matters Monday

I’d like to tell you about my new hero.

Chris Rosati has ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This terrifying condition is characterized by the death of neurons. The average time between a diagnoses and death is 3-4 years. And during those years, those suffering from ALS lose control of their muscles, limiting their ability to walk, eat, and eventually, breathe. I don’t know Chris; I can’t presume to understand what a diagnoses like this did for him, a husband and a father of two young girls. But I can see what he’s decided to do with his remaining time, and it leaves me breathless.

He’s decided to change the world.

I love this video.

I love the work that this man has chosen to dedicate the rest of his life to.

Because I believe in the butterfly effect. I believe that an act of kindness can truly change the world.

And I am so grateful for the reminder that no matter what our circumstances are, we can always, ALWAYS make our world a better place.

The 4th of July/Thank a Fireman Challenge

It’s Fourth of July weekend! Time for swimming and BBQ, fireworks and parades. So many opportunities for fun, and family, and friends.

And also, unfortunately … several opportunities for danger.

I hope this holiday is nothing but fun and relaxation for you. But … what if something happened to your grill and it started a fire? What if a neighbor set off illegal fireworks and one landed on your roof? Who do you think is working extra hard on July 4th?

Our firemen!

And we’re going to thank them.

Thank a Fireman

Last week, we focused on our police officers. This week, we’re thanking our firemen for their service and their bravery. Because if my house was on fire, they would without a doubt come busting through the door to save me, to save my husband, and to save my children. People they’ve never even met – they’d risk their lives to try to save mine.

So I think it’s about time we meet, don’t you?

Our family’s tradition is to bring treats every 4th of July (and September 11th) to the fire station, but since we just moved, this will be our first time visiting these firemen and I am so excited!

If you’d like to participate in this week’s challenge, here are a few ideas for you:

* Bring a card or a note to your fire station (my kids used this idea to make cards)
* Show up with food (either portable snacks or, if they have a kitchen, ingredients to make a simply but hearty meal). Many of these firemen are volunteers, and many put in long, late hours. When returning from an emergency, exhausted and hungry, how awesome to have all of the stuff on hand to make a filling dinner! That’s what we’re doing this week. (If you’re on a tight budget, here are a few ideas I shared on my cousin’s website for ways I’ve earned extra money to do service projects: Shopkick funds my firemen treats and my blessing bags, and Swagbucks and Ibotta fund my sponsorship of a young mom in Kenya!)
* Bake a treat. Unlike policemen, who tend to be a little more hesitant to eat homemade treats from strangers, firemen are usually more than happy to accept them. 🙂 If you’re unsure about bringing homemade items, give them a call first – they’d be happy to tell you. They might even be thrilled if you ask for requests!
* Bring a gift card to a local restaurant, or just have food delivered! Order a few pizzas, send Chinese food – whatever you have room for in your budget.
* Just show up. Sometimes that’s all you need to do. Just show up and say thank you.

Blog photos 009

Y’all, our firemen … they need to be our heroes.

And this 4th of July … and September 11th … and always …

We need to remember the firemen.photo 5

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?

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 – Miep Gies

This afternoon, as I was wondering what to share for our Kindness Matters Monday post, I stumbled across this picture on Facebook and it caught my eye. Although I have read Anne Frank’s story several times, I hadn’t ever looked up the story of Miep, the incredible secretary who risked her life in a heroic attempt to save others. She sacrificed much to provide for the needs – and even the wants – of the inhabitants of The Secret Annex. And after the capture of the refugees, she snuck back into the ransacked annex (at enormous risk to herself) and retrieved Anne’s precious notebook. She kept Anne’s diary safe and returned it to Mr. Frank when he was released from Auschwitz. Because of her, we have the story of Anne Frank,

Although the Holocaust is full of stories of horror and terror, it is also full of heroes. Let’s remember the heroes.

Check out this post from “A Mighty Girl” to learn more about this remarkable woman, or read this Wikipedia article or this lovely tribute. And remember.

“The Hiding Place” Book Review

Today is Kindness Matters Monday! And today, I’m doing another book review. I want to share with you the true story of one of the kindest, most inspirational families I have had the privilege to read about.

(I’m going to warn you about this book. IT IS SAD. It’s a true story of the Holocaust. If you’re looking for a sweet, pleasant story, this is not a book for you to read right now. But if you’re looking for a story of exceptional courage, bravery, and compassion, it’s time to read The Hiding Place.)

Father's Secret

In the very first chapter of the book, as Corrie ten Boon is describing a family party, come these chilling words:

“It was a day for memories. A day for calling up the past. How could we have guessed as we sat there – two middle-aged spinsters and an old man – that in place of memories we were about to be given adventures such as we had never dreamed of? Adventure and anguish, horror and heaven were just around the corner, and we did not know. Oh Father! Betsie! If I had known would I have gone ahead? Could I have done the things I did?

“But how could I know? How could I imagine this white-haired man, called Opa – Grandfather – by all the children of Haarlem, how could I imagine this man thrown by strangers into a grave without a name?

“And Betsie, with her high lace collar and gift for making beauty all around her, how could I picture this dearest person on earth to me standing naked before a roomful of men? In that room on that day, such thoughts were not even thinkable.”

(Um, Kimber … It’s Kindness Matters Monday. What the heck??)

I know. This book seems like the very farthest thing from a Kindness Matters post.

But it’s not.

And this is why.

“Suddenly the chief interrogator’s eye fell on Father. ‘That old man! he cried. ‘Did he have to be arrested?  You, old man!’

“Willem led Father up to the desk. The Gestapo chief leaned forward. ‘I’d like to send you home, old fellow,’ he said. ‘I’ll take your word that you won’t cause any more trouble.’

“I could not see Father’s face, only the erect carriage of his shoulders and the halo of white hair above them. But I heard his answer.

“‘If I go home today,’ he said evenly and clearly, ‘tomorrow I will open my door again to any man in need who knocks.'”

For that answer, he was sent to a concentration camp.

Ten days later, he was dead.

This man – a Christian – was arrested for harboring Jews. And he gave his life before he gave up his humanity.

Could the same be said of me?

Of you?

This strength – this courage – haunts me, and it inspires me. This was just one ordinary old man. But his quiet fortitude reaches out to me, decades later, and it makes me stronger. His story, his name – they deserve to be remembered.

Casper ten Boom, I remember you.

This man’s story is just one example of the faith and courage you will find in this book. I’d love for you to read it, and to let me know what you think. What character resonates with you? Casper, with his gentle mightiness? Betsie, with her ability to make anywhere – even a concentration camp – a little bit more beautiful? Or Corrie herself, with her extraordinary story of faith, hope, and ultimately, forgiveness?

Come discover The Hiding Place.

And remember.

In this house

This post is not sponsored, but does contain an Amazon affiliate link. Thank you for your support of this website, and thank you for reading! If you have any thoughts on this story, I’d love to hear them.

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.