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!

Day 9: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

When we come into contact with stress, [for some of us,] our natural response is to push through. We don’t want to be in need or fail to meet others’ expectations, especially our own. We beat ourselves up for not trusting God.

But, God offers us a different response. 

Rest. Kindness. Comfort.

These words are from Bonnie Gray’s Day 9 blog post (part of her 21 Days of Rest blog tour). You can find so many more words of encouragement and heart-to-heart conversations from Bonnie in her book: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.findingspiritualwhitespace_book-194x300

In today’s post, she shares Three Unexpected Ways to Make God Known: 1) By presence, not project; 2) by nurturing your heart rather than ignoring it; 3) by your ambition to rest.

I think this post can be helpful for anyone, but particularly for those in ministry who tend to care for others more so than for themselves. Bonnie starts her post on FaithBarista.com, but continues it on another website: Catalyst: A Community of Change Makers. (Catalyst is an annual conference for leaders in the Christian ministry. After reading today’s post, you might want to check out their website for other helpful ministry resources.)

Most of us would prefer not to be known for our “brokenness,” but sometimes we find ourselves going through difficult circumstances in our lives that simply wear us down to the point of exhaustion. As much as we may be tempted to push these feelings aside and keep going, there are times when we need to recognize that God may be using these moments to wake us up … to open our eyes to some changes we may need to make.

Restoration

Kyle Idleman, author of AHA: The God Moment That Changes Everything says, “… the number-one contributor to spiritual growth is not sermons, books, or small groups; … [it] is difficult circumstances. … it sometimes takes a painful experience to make us change our ways. … Sometimes it takes cancer to awaken us to things of eternal value. Sometimes it takes unemployment to awaken us to a deeper prayer life. Sometimes it takes a broken heart for us to finally let Jesus in.”

Sometimes, when we are dealing with stress or troubling times, we might retreat into ourselves, feeling that we don’t have anything to offer others. But these are the perfect times to be real, to share our feelings and our needs with those we trust. By doing this, we are able to offer them something special—the same thing that “God offers us: space to be real and rest.”

Friendship

“If you’re in need of a startling realization in your life, begin with solitude and silence. You may find that God has been trying to get your attention for a while but you haven’t been able to hear Him. Not because He hasn’t been loud enough, but because you haven’t been quiet enough.” (Kyle Idleman)

Rest—we all need it. Our souls crave it. We need spiritual whitespace.

Don’t let doing become more important than being. Don’t allow challenging times or desperate feelings to define you. These are but temporary things. Add joyful moments, comforting rest, and kindred spirits into your journey, and you will discover the courage and strength you need to get through the days ahead … one day at a time.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace