Gifts of Kindness

Today, I’d like to share a post from a friend whose attitude reminds me that despite all the crazy stuff going on around us every day, the world is still full of kind souls who care about others and about making a positive difference.

Melissa Lopes is a co-worker of my husband’s, and a sweet, thoughtful, adventurous person that I’m happy to know. The following comes from an email that Melissa sent out to her teammates and friends last year.

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Birthday Gifts

This year, I celebrated my birthday [early] this past day off by conducting a random act of kindness for each year of life.

The Greater Picture

Sometimes we forget how much of a difference we can make (to even complete strangers) by sharing a compliment, smiling, or even saying a simple thank you. My random acts of kindness really opened my eyes to something that should not only happen on special days, but every day. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, and that is why I am sharing with you what I would like for my birthday …

For my birthday I don’t want an email, text, or Facebook post wishing me a “happy birthday.”

INSTEAD, my birthday wish is for you to conduct one random act of kindness and share it with me.

Random Act of Kindness

It’s a challenge, so to speak.

It doesn’t have to cost money, just try something as simple as giving a compliment or sending a thank you note.

When was the last time you wrote a thank you letter? Or called a distant family member/friend?

If you run outta inspiration I’ll share with you my 22 acts. I had a list prepared, but was hoping things would find me during the day … (which they did) … enjoy!

  1. I was preparing by buying a few gift cards for friends. The cashier made a mistake in the transaction and confided in me by saying she had been up for 48 hours straight and had to work her second job that night. I handed her the $25 gift card to Starbucks. She cried, then I cried.
  2. I had gotten my roommate her favorite candy and paired it with a big pink bow.
  3. Donated old books.
  4. Left a bag of candy and thank you note for our neighbors for being so nice … and for never complaining about the weekend noise.
  5. Mailed a much needed hand-written thank you card, with a gift card to my best friend’s mom.Thank You
  1. Delivered doughnuts and a thank you note to the local police station.
  2. Delivered cookies and a thank you note to the local firehouse.
  3. Left candy and a thank you note for the mailman. I also apologized for being so horrible at letting the mail pile up in the mailbox.
  4. While I was out checking the mail, I heard a frantic woman over the bushes. I went to see what was going on and she was on the phone with the cops saying she was missing her two and a half year old son. (She apparently thought Hansel was in the other room with the husband … she turned around to realize the door was wide open.) I immediately ran down the street and called out to everyone I could see to look and guard the street since we live off a main road. I actually ended up finding Hansel a few minutes later WAY down the sidewalk before the cops arrived. The whole moment was so hectic and I was SO grateful he didn’t wander in the street or anything else.  ****No, I am not lying this actually happened*** and I nearly thought I was going to have a heart attack afterwards.
  5. Sent a hand-written letter to my grandparents.
  6. Left notes in windshield wipers of parked cars wishing everyone a great day.
  7. Purchased a gift card then turned around and gave it to the person in line behind me. (He was so shocked)
  8. Brought cake pops to a random [company] store. No, I did not make them but got them from a local bakery! (hope you liked them)
  9. Got all new dog toys and huge bones for my already spoiled-rotten dogs.

Romeo

  1. Left a new dog toy with a note in the yard of our other neighbors with a big dog.
  2. Helped push runaway shopping carts back to Wal-mart. (An employee was confused on what I was doing and wasn’t very happy … continued to help anyway!)
  3. Taped money to a vending machine.
  4. Donated to a few different charities. (Pan can of course!)
  5. Left hidden notes in some of my favorite books at the local book store.
  6. Paid for the person behind me at the Starbucks drive thru.
  7. Refrained from honking at the bicyclists who like to cut in front of cars and take up the ENTIRE driving lane in my neighborhood. (This counts … right?) 
  8. Hid some dollar bills around the local playground for kids to find.

**And since #21 doesn’t count ** I am also conducting a “birthday special” at work on my actual birthday. I’m bringing delicious treats in for the guests that come through the door. We are having a “party” at the store!

Melissa Lopes

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Thank you so much, Melissa, for allowing me share your words and story. What a wonderful idea to give the gift of thoughtfulness to others on our own birthdays or any day at all. It really doesn’t take a lot to share a bit of encouragement … a bit of ourselves … with others. You may never know the difference your random act of kindness makes in someone else’s life … but I am quite certain it always does!

Let God Grow Your Dream

GodGrow

From Holley Gerth:

Every dream starts small. It’s a seed that first sprouts in thoughts and conversations, quiet moments and glimpses of a vision, late-night prayers and early-morning hopes. It has to fight through the dirt and dark when believing is not yet seeing.

Then it finds its way to the daylight, throws itself toward the sky and audaciously dares to add more beauty than you ever saw coming. It becomes so strong and wild you can hardly imagine that it might not have been. All you can do is point and say with a bit of awe in your voice, “Look what God did.”

Only God knows … what unseen wonder a single seed, one little dream, can hold.

Roses in Bloom

Don’t be afraid to plant and pursue your dream!

Book Break: Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Girls

I asked my niece, Robin, to review the book Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Girls for me. This is what she had to say: My favorite thing about this book is the drawing prompts. I don’t actually draw very often, even though I enjoy it, so it was nice to have some new ideas for drawing. The jokes are terrible puns. When I say “terrible,” I don’t mean the jokes aren’t funny, I mean they make you groan. Overall, I like the book, but I think younger girls would like it more.

Robin is 15, so I kind of figured that the book might be a little young for her (as the Robinsuggested age range is 9-12), but I thought she would get a kick out of sharing some of the 200+ “groaners” with her family. And I hoped that she would enjoy the drawing and coloring part. Most of us don’t outgrow that interest, we simply don’t always find, make, or take the time to include art or creativity in our daily lives. This book gives your child partial drawings to complete and invites her to use her imagination and add her own embellishments to either fit with or take the image beyond the joke.

20150711_174823There is, of course, also a Pocket Doodles for Boys version. I really think either gender would enjoy either book. They are just full of a variety of good, clean, family-friendly jokes. The reasonable price makes it a great option for stocking stuffers, birthday gifts, and summertime boredom relievers. The convenient size of this paperback allows you to easily slip it into a purse, backpack, or seat back (on a road trip or for something to do on a long flight). Just don’t forget to take along some colored pencils or markers.

What a great break from the TV or computer. What a wonderful tool to encourage quiet time and creativity.

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For more details on the book, here is the copy from the back cover:

Q: What’s the worst thing to leave home without?
A: This book!

Stuck in the car on a long trip? Bored out of your mind in a waiting room? Have a few minutes before bedtime? Then you have enough time to let your imagination run wild!

Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Girls lets you

· tell jokes that will have people laughing out loud
· complete hilarious doodles
· entertain everyone around you!

More than one million copies of the Laugh-Out-Loud joke books have been sold. Grab your pens, pencils, crayons, or markers and see what all the fuss is about!20150711_205742

Rob Elliott is the author of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids, More Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids, Laugh-Out-Loud Animal Jokes for Kids, Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids, and Laugh-Out-Loud Doodles for Kids. He lives in West Michigan, where in his spare time he enjoys laughing out loud with his wife and five children. Learn more at http://www.laughoutloudjokesforkids.com.

Jonny Hawkins is a cartoonist whose work has appeared in over six hundred publications, including Reader’s Digest, Parade, the Saturday Evening Post, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, many page-a-day cartoon calendars, and Laugh-Out-Loud Doodles for Kids. He lives in Michigan with his wife, their three children, four cats, and a dog.

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20150711_205831Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my honest review.

Share Words of Encouragement

Words of Encouragement

Today, I am thinking of a few specific people who I believe could use a word of encouragement due to life changes, unexpected circumstances, challenging situations, and unhappy or negative mindsets. Maybe you know someone who could benefit from a positive, kind, or uplifting word as well. I’ve created a few memes with various thoughts that I wanted to share with you today. Feel free to share any of them with someone you know.

Build Something Beautiful Never Too Old Second Chance Stay Positive The Best Things Thinking of You You are stronger!

I hope these words and images speak to your heart or give you an opportunity to share your heart with someone you care about.

Have a blessed day!

Book Break: Buried Secrets

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I read this book months ago, in fact, prior to its official release on April 7th, but you know how it goes … so much to do, so little time … I didn’t end up posting about it as early as I would have liked. Also, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I wanted to add a little more of my own content to my blog before I added another book break in. Having said all that, let me tell you about Irene Hannon’s Buried Secrets, the first in her Men of Valor series.

 From the Back Cover

They both wanted quieter, safer lives.

But crime never sleeps . . .

and killers keep killing.

After years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant is ready for the kinder, gentler life of a small-town police chief. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes department resources. Enter ex-Navy SEAL Mac McGregor, the detective sent by the county to assist on the case. As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn’t want this dead person telling any tales—and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

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The book starts out right in the middle of an intense scene, a moment in the past. We are witnesses to a crime that someone is very determined to hide. This is a great way to kick the book off. Because of this beginning, the mystery in this case isn’t so much “who did it?” (at least not for the reader) but “who did they do it to?” and since there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of evidence, “will they get caught?” Or probably more accurately, since we know it’s bound to happen, “how and when will they get caught?”

There’s a good amount of suspense throughout the book, a light bit of spiritual content, and then, of course, there’s the romance. When Police Chief Lisa Grant and County Detective Mac McGregor meet at a construction site, where a skeleton has been unearthed, their first encounter is not so great. But, as they begin working together to solve the case, not only do they make a dynamic team, but the attraction between them grows. The chemistry is evident as we get a glimpse into each character’s mind throughout the story. But both are committed to their work, and determined to put the case first and consider a personal relationship later. However, that darn attraction seems to keep getting in the way.

Meanwhile, the “villain” in the story is a very well-developed character — smart, determined, creative, cold-hearted, and extremely career focused — she thinks that everything should always go according to her plans. And she certainly has a knack for planning … devious planning, which is evident throughout the riveting story line where she does whatever is “necessary” to keep the truth from coming to light.

If you like a book with a blend of romance and mystery, Buried Secrets will not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, from its cool, embossed cover to the creative story within.

This is the second Irene Hannon book I have read, and I highly recommend this author to those who like a clean, clever, Christian-based book.

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty-five romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women’s fiction novels, including the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series. Her books have garnered dozens of honors, including two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America. She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist.

“The queen of inspirational romantic suspense” (Library Journal)
is at the top of her game with this riveting new series.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Buried Secrets from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group,
in exchange for my honest review.