Archives For random acts of kindness

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I knew the carnival had come to town even before I saw the rides.  Friends on Facebook announced it by posting comments about the influx of ex-cons and drug addicts with no teeth and filthy clothing.  I didn’t think too much about the comments and even laughed at a few.

When I took my kids to the carnival on opening night, I struck up a conversation with a woman carnie who wasn’t busy at the time.  She shared how she was a mom of three kids, one of which she delivered just four months earlier.

When asking if her kids were with her, she about burst into tears as she explained they were at home and she wouldn’t get to see them until carnival season ended 4 months later.  She didn’t feel the road was a good and stable place to raise kids so she left them with her parents during the busy carnival season.

While looking for a job, she had been rejected by corporations, gas stations, retail stores, restaurants, and on and on.  She was getting desperate as she worried how she would care for her children.  She then met some carnies who showed her love and acceptance and offered her a job.

She now found she was rejected by society as a whole because of the job she held.

As she opened her heart, shame filled my own.  The pain on her face was evident.  And I had added to her misery by participating (even silently) in the social media fodder and buying into the stereotype.

The fun we sometimes have at others expense is often greater than the concern for their heart.  Those “funny” comments hurt real people with genuine feelings.

Everyone has a story.  Everyone has needs.  Everyone needs love.

This woman was working hard to give her kids the best life possible on the limited means she had.  I felt for her as I watched her love on the other carnies’ kids who were traveling with the group, while missing her own so much.

I could relate to her because I had been rejected in different areas of my own life.

I’m sure you’ve also felt the sting of rejection.  When made to feel unwanted, unworthy, or unacceptable for one reason or another, it’s miserable.

So let’s no longer take part as others “tear down.”  Let’s counter that by “building up.”

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There are 2 simple ways to “build others up.”

First, we need to see everyone as God’s masterpiece.

People of all ages, races, social classes, well-educated, non-educated, agreeable, disagreeable, from all walks of life, each are made in God’s image.  Each has value and worth.

Second, we need to do something.

In Australia, there is a rocky cliff called, The Gap, that is a notorious suicide spot.  For nearly 50 years, Don Ritchie, who lived across the street, scanned the cliff each day.  If he saw anyone standing alone and too close to the edge, he hurried to their side.  He would give them a warm smile and ask if they would like to come in for a cup of tea.  He never counseled, advised, or pried.  He just offered a smile and an invitation.

Don is officially credited with saving 160 people but unofficially the number is closer to 600.  Many of the survivors said it was Don’s smile that made them want to live.

Don says, “Never be afraid to speak to those you feel are in need.  Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear, and a kind word.  It’s pretty simple.”

What if we are the catalyst that helps someone feel accepted, loved, or cared for all because we were willing to engage them in conversation, offer a listening ear, or give a simple smile?

At the very least we will bring a boost to their day.  But we may just save a life in the process.

Who will you see, accept, value, and love today?

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

 

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87823077Rain and cold made it a miserable weekend for a garage sale.  But I pressed on anyway with our “Pay what you want” garage sale to raise money for mine and my daughter’s mission trip to Ecuador.  I was a bit worried nobody would show up to shop.  And I was also concerned with how people might respond to paying whatever they desired.  It was entirely possible to empty the garage and only have $10 to show for all my effort.

Throughout the two days of the sale, there was a steady stream of people.  Some paid much less than what some items were worth but most paid more than I would have asked.

Throughout the two days, as I huddled near a space heater, I sat amazed at the generosity.

One family came in and the mom explained to her children they could choose their own price and the money would be going toward a mission trip to Ecuador where little kids would be helped.  Her four children, ranging in ages 4-9, brought their own money to spend.  Choosing small toys, without any prompting from their mom, each gave generously because they wanted to “help the kids in Ecuador.”

One woman came in, looked around, read the sign about the trip, and began talking with me.  She shared she and her husband would soon become missionaries to Papua, New Guinea.  We had a nice visit and at the end of our conversation, she handed me $20.  She bought nothing but simply wanted to support our mission trip.

The sale was surprising on another level also.  Throughout the two days, items I thought would be popular were still on the tables and racks.  Due to friends donating merchandise to the garage sale, there were many cute girls and boys clothes, baby clothes, and shoes for boys and girls, none of which were selling.  It was baffling.

139970264I had so much left when it was time to wind down the garage sale at 1:00 on Saturday, I chose to make all remaining items free.  It was a bit selfish on my part because it would save us from having to cart all of it somewhere to donate.  However, I prayed people would come in that had a need and would be blessed by whatever they took.

An older couple came in and were completely shocked to hear everything was free.  The husband and I visited as the woman filled bags with toys and clothes for their grandchildren.

In talking with this gentleman, I discovered he lost his parents at a young age so he and his brothers grew up in an orphanage.  As we talked, another couple came in.  When I explained everything was free, the woman became extremely excited.  She was like a kid in a candy store, filling bags as fast as possible.

As the woman worked, she shared she was from the Philippines.  She married an American and moved to the States but her family still lived overseas.  She went on to tell how the flooding in the Philippines had taken everything from her family and their entire community.  Many kids run around in their underwear because they have no clothes.  To help, this couple looks for clothes and sends as many packages to the Philippines as possible.  The woman works at a second-hand store because they allow her to take the items that don’t sell so she may send them overseas.

152987306This couple had come to our neighborhood garage sales hoping they could find some good deals on clothes.  I told them their timing was a God-thing.  I explained I had prayed all the items at our garage sale would be a blessing to those receiving them.  I also shared how most of the clothes and shoes had failed to sell and I could not understand it until that moment.  All those items were meant for this couple.

We filled the back of their truck with clothes and shoes that would soon be headed for the Philippines.  They thanked me profusely.  I waved them off telling them they had blessed me way more than I blessed them.  When I walked back in the garage, the man I had been visiting with before looked at me and said, “That was beautiful.  Growing up as an orphan, I can’t tell you how much that scene touched me.  I used to love it when the Lutheran truck would roll into the orphanage because I knew I would be getting some new-to-me clothes.”  He then opened his wallet and gave me what was left, $20.

Two women came in as the man and I talked.  Hearing us discuss the couple sending clothes to the Philippines and about our mission trip to Ecuador, one of the women walked over and handed me $20.

There are some truly wonderful people in this world.  So when world news discourages, criticism crushes, or daily life overwhelms, look past the bad.  You will always find people who are willing to display incredible generosity, astounding kindness, and impressive courage.  They not only encourage us but they make us feel as if everything is going to be okay.

And by the way, our garage sale was a success and brought us within $200 of our mission trip goal.

Does God shop at garage sales?  He may not shop but He certainly shows up.

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  1. Tell the manager when an employee offers good service.
  2. Pay for someone behind you in line.
  3. Allow another driver to merge in front of you.
  4. Share your snack with someone while waiting for an appointment.
  5. Offer a smile!
  6. Offer to take a picture for a couple or family so everyone can be in the picture.
  7. Leave a big tip.
  8. Give compliments generously.
  9. Hold the door for others.
  10. Say “please” and “thank you.”

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Christmas Love

December 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

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One of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions is packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  Operation Christmas Child is part of Samaritan’s Purse who sends gifts throughout the world to needy children.

We choose three shoeboxes, fill them with gifts, and take them to a distribution center during collection week.  Since we are able to choose the gender and age range of the child we believe would enjoy our gifts most, we allow our children to choose the same gender and age they are currently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our kids have a great time choosing items they not only would love to have but also the necessities that are sometimes taken for granted.  They learn the majority of children in this world have very little and begin to appreciate their own blessings a bit more.  And all of us are reminded of the importance of Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others.”

Following Operation Christmas Child on Facebook, we’ve had the privilege of reading many heartwarming stores about the children who receive shoeboxes.  The following is an example:

“At an OCC shoe box gift distribution in Ecuador, a volunteer noticed a boy who was six or seven years old. His shoes were torn and she could see his toes through the holes. His clothes were bedraggled and dirty. She wanted to make sure he got a special gift, and made plans to give him a large box, since she thought he was in so much need. Before she had a chance to find a special big box for him, the boy was handed a small box from another volunteer. When he opened it, there were two pairs of socks, a pack of crayons and a couple of toys. She went to him and asked if he would like to exchange his box for a larger one, although that is not the norm at a gift distribution. She thought, ‘He needs so much, but only got a couple of small things.’ But the boy refused to exchange his box, exclaiming: ‘I have socks, I have socks! These are my socks!’”

I want to be as wide-eyed and excited as this child is over something as simple as socks.  How can I possibly capture this excitement when I have more than I even need?  Giving is one way.  After all, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Acts 20:35).

Although collection week for Operation Christmas Child is finished for the year, many other great opportunities to give still exist.  I encourage you to find your favorite and give, give, give.  Get the family involved.  Call some friends.  Start a new tradition.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
  2. Buy a toy and participate in the Toys for Tots campaign.  Find a drop-off location here.
  3. Collect canned goods from your co-workers, church members, neighborhood, kid’s sports teams, etc. and take to a local shelter or food pantry.
  4. Visit someone in a nursing home that doesn’t normally receive visitors.  The nurses will be able to direct you to a lonely resident.
  5. Adopt a family and provide gifts or Christmas dinner.  Find struggling families by contacting local churches.
  6. Drop off gifts or treats throughout your neighborhood as a surprise.  Leave on the front porch, ring the doorbell, and run away.
  7. Give a gift card to a frazzled department store worker.
  8. Send flowers to a widow.
  9. Take treats to those who patiently wait in the ICU waiting room.
  10. Adopt a soldier.  Send a soldier a few gifts to enjoy while sacrificing time away from their families protecting our freedoms and defending the defenseless.

And remember to put Operation Christmas Child on your calendar for November of next year.  Starting a new tradition of giving will bring blessings and excitement that sometimes get lost in the ordinary everyday life.

©2012 Connie Davis Johnson

Today is the last day of four Friday challenges to develop an Attitude of Gratitude.  Seven challenges for seven days that can be done in any order.  Please feel free to bless all of us by sharing how you chose to meet the challenges and the results.

  1. Choose a day and consciously listen more than talk.
  2. Take baked goods to your meeting or to a friend.
  3. Hide love notes around the house for a loved one.
  4. Allow your child or spouse to overhear you brag about them.
  5. Go out of your way to say hi to an enemy and ask how they have been.
  6. Buy one or more $5 gift cards for a coffeehouse or fast food restaurant and give to frazzled store clerks or wait staff.
  7. Allow someone to go ahead of you in line at the store.

Check out the other challenges:

Developing an attitude of gratitude challenge 3

Developing an attitude of gratitude challenge 2

Developing an attitude of gratitude challenge 1

©2012 Connie Davis Johnson