Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness

I am always impressed of those people who just seem to have a “sense” of the needs of other people. I don’t mean to be self-absorbed, but sometimes, my thoughts get so consumed by the things I need to do that I am unconsciously oblivious to the people around me and their needs. Over the years, I’ve taken steps to try to be more aware — offering to take meals to families when one of them is ill or has surgery, babysitting for friends who need a date night, or mowing a neighbor’s lawn while she is out of town. But those are obvious things. I think it takes a real gift to think of creative and unique ways to genuinely bless other people. So I brainstormed some ways to bless others — sometimes anonymously.

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ~Mark Twain

Coupons

It’s almost like giving away money! It takes time to clip coupons and I end up disposing of many coupons for products we just don’t use. We are well beyond the diaper years, but I have many friends who still have babies and toddlers and diapers are expensive! Instead of tossing them, I share them with friends and family. And sometimes, I tape coupons to the corresponding products in stores. I got that idea from being blessed by another anonymous coupon-taper. With social media, it’s easy now to post the coupons you have and ask who might be interested.

Hand-Written Notes

This is a practice of days gone by, but one we should bring back. I have a box of hand-written cards and notes from friends and loved ones (including my much-loved grandparents). Some of them were sent to me while I was at church camp, others, just because. When I was growing up, long-distance phone calls were reserved for weekends when the rates were lower, so hand-written letters and notes were more common.

I have made a commitment to sending hand made notes — thank you notes, get well notes, congratulatory notes, encouragement notes, and “just because” notes. Facebook posts don’t fit as easily in a hope chest.

Every year, our community has an historic home tour — 10 to 12 historic homes are opened to ticket-buyers by the homeowners. It’s like Christmas to me. A few years ago, I started sending “Thank You” cards to the residents of the homes on the tour. I thanked them for their hospitality and told them what I especially loved about their home.

Then, I started sending notes to people when I noticed significant improvements being made to a home — especially restorations of historic properties. I express how thrilled I am to see the home being restored, how beautiful it looks, and how wonderful it is to see people taking such pride in their property. Can you just imagine being in the midst of a huge home improvement project, enjoying all the headaches that come with, to get a note of encouragement like that?

Pick up the Tab

This one is pretty common (recently made famous by the Starbucks drive-thru “pay it backward” thing), but it’s a great one! Pick up someone’s tab at a restaurant. You could have a “standing rule” that any time you see someone in a military or police uniform, you pick up the tab, or it could be more random and spirit led.

For example, my family often meets at a location central to all of our homes for a meal. One such day, we met at a little family diner in New Castle, Indiana. Next to our party of 10, there was an elderly man sitting alone. He seemed to enjoy watching my 18-month-old nieces toddle about and my sister struck up a conversation with him.

He told her, “Yeah, I have 8 kids myself and 2 ex-wives. Now, I have a chihuahua and a parrot. When I get home, the parrot asks, ‘Where ya been?’ and I tell the parrot, if I wanted someone to ask me that, I’d still have a wife!”

My mom picked up his tab without him even knowing it. He made our day and we wanted to make his.

Or maybe you can easily pick out a young couple in a restaurant and remember what it was like to be young, married, and broke. Pick up their tab! Chances are, some day, they will remember it and do the same for someone else.

Tip BIG!

I make it a habit to tip a minimum of 20%, even if the service is so-so, and I only go up from there. I believe if I can’t afford to tip well, then I can’t afford to eat out and I stay home.

But once in a while, either because I can tell my waiter or waitress is having a rough day or just because something about him or her strikes me, I will tip above and beyond what is customary. 100% or more? Imagine how someone might be blessed by that!

Be a Quarter Fairy

When I was in grade school, we had “school skates” once a month at the local roller rink. That was during the 80’s, when arcade games were big! One time, I was at the skate but didn’t have any money to play arcade games. Somehow, I noticed that someone had left a quarter by the slot for Mrs. Pac-Man. Maybe it was an accident, I don’t know, but at the time, I took it as a generous benefactor offering me a free play and play I did!

I never forgot that, and after that, I started saving my quarters. I would take them to the skate and I would play some, but then, I would go around and leave a quarter on a few machines. I felt so sneaky — like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

As an adult, I play a similar game, but with a grown-up twist. I shop Aldi almost weekly for groceries. If you are also an Aldi shopper, then you are familiar with the shopping card corral. At Aldi, to get a shopping cart, you have to release it from the corral by inserting a quarter. When you return your cart, your quarter is returned. But I have taken to just leaving my quarter for the next shopper. More than once, I’ve found myself “quarter-less,”  so I would just like to bless another person.

I also take extra shopping bags with me when I go to Aldi. Another way they keep their prices down is by not giving away shopping bags. You bring your own or buy them. So, I always take extra in case another shopper runs short or forgets.

Show Genuine Concern for Others

Every day, we lock eyes with other people — people who might be hurting, lonely, or just looking for a reason to keep going. We never know what burdens other people are carrying because most of us are pretty good at hiding our pain behind a brave face. We assume nobody really cares about our problems so we should keep them to ourselves.

But what if someone did care?

honestly had this conversation yesterday. I was walking out of a coffee shop to my car and as I passed a young man on the sidewalk, I said, “Hi. How are you today?”

He answered and I replied, “Great! Have a nice day.”

As I continued to my car, I realized, he had answered, “Awful.”

I hadn’t even really listened. I had readied my response before he even spoke. Convicted immediately, I went back and said, “I’m sorry. I am not sure I heard you right. Did you say, ‘awful?'”

From there, I learned he was having car trouble and his phone was dead. I asked him if he’d like to use my phone, which seemed to really brighten his day. I also realized that all too often, my conversations with other people routine and scripted.

Person 1: How are you?
Person 2: Fine, how are you?
Person 1: Fine, thank you. Have a nice day.

Never ad lib! Stick to the script! Dare to stray from the script and show genuine concern for others. Make actual conversation with other people and listen attentively. When you pay attention and listen, you may be surprised how opportunities to practice kindness will just present themselves to you.

How do YOU practice kindness?

When you give another person a reason to smile, it does incredible things for your own spirits. Give a blessing and you are blessed back.

I would love to hear from you in the comments how you have shown or plan to show kindness to others!

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When the Seas Rage Around Me

When the Seas Rage Around Me

I have my most profound thoughts and epiphanies in the early hours when I’m just waking up. Often, the answers to the prayers I desperately prayed the night before as, “now I lay me down to sleep,” are strikingly obvious as I wake.

I think it’s because that is the one time of day that my own mind isn’t running 100 mph in 200 different directions. My own thoughts are still masked in a fog of sleepiness and The Holy Spirit, who never grows weary, takes the opportunity to whisper to me what God wants to tell me. (more…)

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Ice, Ice Baby

Ice, Ice Baby

Something hilarious happened to me on the way to work today.

I stopped at the gas station on the way to work & bought a HUGE cup of ice. I’m talking the 44-oz, “Big Gulp” cup, but just ice. You see, every morning, I fill a gallon-sized jug with ice, then pour 4 cups of strong-brewed tea over it. Some of the ice melts, diluting the tea, giving me iced tea to drink all day, but also leaving enough ice to crunch all day.

My name is Stacy and I’m a compulsive ice cruncher.

I also carry back and forth with me to work every day an insulated cup in which to pour the ice and tea all day long. But today, I forgot my cup. It wouldn’t be lady-like to drink out of a gallon-sized jug, but by the time I realized I hat forgotten my cup, I was too close to the office to turn around. So, I pulled into the gas station for a cup of “chewy ice” to start my day.

Rabbit Turd Ice

Rabbit Turd Ice — A Delicacy

If you are a fellow cruncher, then you already know. If you are not, then you may never know the joy of chomping on frozen water. You may not appreciate the differences — even subtle ones — in ice cubes from chewy ice, to home ice makers, to the bags of ice you purchase at the grocery store. You may never understand the Pavlovian response I have to to a big cup of ice — my mouth waters like yours might in response to a big juicy steak. I can’t explain my DNA.

Personally, I like the chewy ice (or as I call it, rabbit turd ice) the best, but my habit is to purchase a 22-lb bag of ice at the grocery store, knowing it will fill my jug three or 4 times, depending on how much “snacking” I do at night. Yes, I can crunch through 22 pounds of ice in three days.

The medical term for craving things with no nutritional value is pica.

And yes — I’ve heard all the possible explanations for this habit, from sexual frustration to anemia to OCD. Having been turned down several times when attempting to donate blood, mine is probably anemia, exasperated by OCD. Maybe an iron supplement could help me give up the habit if I wanted to stop…which I don’t. It’s my favorite thing to do that doesn’t cost too much and has zero calories.

However, my habit drives my husband absolutely crazy. Yes, my long-suffering husband’s biggest pet peeve is mouth noises, the most annoying of which is ice crunching. I really try not to crunch in his presence, but it’s hard. You’ve heard of Newton’s third law of motion, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction?” Well, it also applies in our marriage. As much as I love to crunch ice, David wants to smack me when I do!

Anyway…back to this morning. As I placed my cup on the counter and said, “Just this cup of ice, please,” the clerk asked if I wanted a soft drink, too. But I explained to him that I am a compulsive ice cruncher & the ice is all I wanted.

The woman at the register next to me overheard and felt compelled to chime in.

“Oh, my daughter is an ice cruncher! You realize that is just terrible for your teeth right?”

She went on to explain to me (as if I didn’t know) that many people find that habit very annoying, too.

That’s when I noticed…

She was buying a carton of Marlboro.

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