Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ARK from a 10 year's old perspective!

This year my daughter Kailee has been wanting to start her own blog. I've been a little hesitant to allow her to begin this process because I am not sure how she will do and to be honest I don't think her desire to keep it out will continue.

Then I thought about it again and considered the reasons why I might want to reconsider. She has always struggled with writing in school and hates it when she is tasked with writing anything. However, if through blogging she can begin to start off small, gain some encouragement through people she meets in the blogging world and mom stays on top of what is going on at all times, who knows where this might lead for her. The next big author or perhaps a love a helping people which is evident in everything she does every day.

Her biggest excitement always comes in the form of telling me how she completed her ARK or Act of Random Kindness for the day. Today was no different. Despite the fact that her older sister rarely does anything nice for her, it doesn't change Kailee's attitude to help her sister out. She holds no grudges towards her.

Today she came in and told me she completed her ARK today by making up her sisters bed for her. She didn't announce it to her, she simply walked into her room while she was in the bathroom and made her bed. Just for no reason at all than to make her day just a little bit better.

Some nights she will turn down my covers for me, prop up all my pillows, place the remote to the TV on the bed and leave me a cup of ice water for me to take my medicine with.

She does all of this with no expectation of being thanked or even waiting for someone to do something nice for her. She does it the way Jesus would, with unconditional love for that person. I think we can all learn a lesson from her. She is priceless to us! Be out on the look out for her upcoming blog in 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finding the Courage to Encourage

I am sharing this beautiful article that I received a few months ago and hope it truly encourages you!

Finding the Courage To Encourage

Posted: 04 Sep 2009 09:51 AM PDT

Today I'm happy to share some tips on how to be an encourager from my sweet friend, Luann Prater. Luann is an amazing woman of God. She teaches deep truths from His Word, prays like she's going into battle and loves with abandon. She has the gift of encouragement, and I treasure that about her.

Those around us need to be encouraged. Luann's given us some great tips today on how to be most effective. If you like her tips, please visit Luann's blog and let her know. That would encourage her today. There's a link at the end of her bio.

1. Pray, Pray, Pray -
Before you can pour out blessings onto others, you need to be encouraged by the author of encouragement, Jesus Christ.
Philippians 2:1-2, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

2. Consult the Truth Then Tell the Truth
Throughout the teachings of Jesus he began his statements with "I tell you the truth." We must allow God's truth to penetrate our hearts and minds before we can offer encouragement to others.
2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

3. Listen
It is often said, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." Listening is a lost art. There is something so endearing about a friend who will simply lend an ear to a hurting heart.
James 1:19, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

4. Care and Coach
Gently provide healing words. Feel-Felt-Found approach. Get into their world with this statement in the back of your mind, "I know how you feel; I felt that way; here is what I've found." People who are hurting need to know that someone else has walked this path and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Colossians 2:2-3, “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”.

5. Don't Judge
The quickest way to lose someone's confidence is to judge them, even with a look or reaction. Be careful to take gentle care of those God has entrusted into your life.
Matthew 7:2, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

6. Love Deeply
Be ready for more than a pat on the shoulder and a fleeting, "How ya doin'?" Ask God during your prayer time to open your heart wide and allow Him to give you the capacity to love with His arms.
John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

7. Don't Expect to Have All The Answers
I love the song by Stacie Orrico, Don't Look at Me - because it says, I'll do my best to point you in the right direction, but don't look at me, look at Him. If we constantly point others to the source of our strength, then the responsibility for their needs rolls onto His shoulders. Lead them to the source of Light.
Ephesians 1:18, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”

8. Be Consistent, It's a Marathon Not a Sprint
Obstacles will arise, bumps will trip us, life will scream from the sidelines, regardless we run. God has prepared us for this life-long race. We become witnesses to the runner who is stumbling when we offer encouragement to keep on going.
Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

9. Character is 3D
The tapestry of life is not two-dimensional. It has dips and valleys, hills and mountains. There are shadows and highlights but together, they produce a masterpiece that only God could construct. You are His divine treasure.
Romans 5:2-5, “through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

10. Live it
Your life speaks louder than words. St. Francis of Assisi summed it up when he said, "Proclaim the Gospel of Christ to everyone; use words if you must."
John 3:21, “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

God Does Big Things With Small Deeds

God Does Big Things with Small Deeds
by Max Lucado

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin" (Zech. 4:10 NLT).

Begin. Just begin! What seems small to you might be huge to someone else. Just ask Bohn Fawkes. During World War II, he piloted a B-17. On one mission he sustained flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. Even though his gas tanks were hit, the plane did not explode, and Fawkes was able to land the plane.

On the morning following the raid, Fawkes asked his crew chief for the German shell. He wanted to keep a souvenir of his incredible good fortune. The crew chief explained that not just one but eleven shells had been found in the gas tanks, none of which had exploded.

Technicians opened the missiles and found them void of explosive charge. They were clean and harmless and with one exception, empty. The exception contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it a message had been scrawled in the Czech language. Translated, the note read: "This is all we can do for you now."

A courageous assembly-line worker was disarming bombs and scribbled the note. He couldn't end the war, but he could save one plane. He couldn't do everything, but he could do something. So he did it.

God does big things with small deeds.

Against a towering giant, a brook pebble seems futile. But God used it to topple Goliath. Compared to the tithes of the wealthy, a widow's coins seem puny. But Jesus used them to inspire us. And in contrast with sophisticated priests and powerful Roman rulers, a cross-suspended carpenter seemed nothing but a waste of life. Few Jewish leaders mourned his death. Only a handful of friends buried his body. The people turned their attention back to the temple. Why not?

What power does a buried rabbi have? We know the answer. Mustard-seed and leaven-lump power. Power to tear away death rags and push away death rocks. Power to change history. In the hands of God, small seeds grow into sheltering trees. Tiny leaven expands into nourishing loaves.

Small deeds can change the world. Sow the mustard seed. Bury the leaven lump. Make the call. Write the check. Organize the committee.

A Love Worth GivingMoses had a staff.
David had a sling.
Samson had a jawbone.
Rahab had a string.
Mary had some ointment.
Aaron had a rod.
Dorcas had a needle.
All were used by God.
What do you have?

God inhabits the tiny seed, empowers the tiny deed. He cures the common life by giving no common life, by offering no common gifts. Don't discount the smallness of your deeds.

From Cure for the Common Life
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2006) Max Lucado

Today's Tip: Call a friend who is sick or down and offer to encourage them. You'll never notice the difference you will make in their lives.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do You Have Team Spirit?

I am passing along this beautiful video that Divine Ms. D at Love Is A Verb passed along and thought I would share with all of you. What a great inspiration this would be to all our sports players.

Today's Tip: Baked some homemade cookies and drop them off at your local police or fire station and let them know how much they mean to you and your community!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It Just Keeps Going and Going...

It played like a scene from a holiday movie -- a mystery couple, who didn't leave their names or numbers, walked into a restaurant, finished their meal and then set-off a chain reaction of generosity that lasted for hours. That's just what employees at the Aramingo Diner in Port Richmond said a man and a woman did during their breakfast shift last Saturday morning. "It was magical. I had tears in my eyes because it never happened before. I've been here for 10 years and I've never seen anything like that," said Lynn Willard, a waitress.
Today's Tip: Pick up the tab for someone today or while you are out dining this week. Trust me, it will make all the difference in the world to someone you will never know.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Making the World a Better Place

Here is another heartwarming story I received in my email about wonderful ways we can all make a difference in our world and truly make it a better place.

"I often take my dog for a walk on the beaches near our home as she enjoys running around madly chasing the wind, the waves, and attempting to catch the sea gulls. She's never fast enough, but she so enjoys the time! Every time we go, we pick up trash. Often there's so much that we make a pile near the access trails we use, continuing on our walks, and then pick up the big pile as we head for the house. We carry some trash bags with us to contain it, so if there's a good amount from a recent storm, we can carry it all. Many times recently we have made our trash piles, but they are not there when we head back. There are other "beach angels" out there working to clean up our beaches and oceans, too. It's wonderful to know that others care enough to help by picking up what we've gathered and that we're not alone in trying to make our world a better place."

Today's Tip: Offer to clean up a part of the roadway, park or even something much larger and make the world a little bit more cleaner than the way you found it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Lady's Hug

I got this story in my email this morning and wanted to share it with all of you. Please enjoy!

by Teri Goggin-Roberts

The traffic in town crawled. Shoppers walked faster than the bumper-to-bumper cars could move.

"Just a few more blocks," I muttered. There was so much to do and the heavy traffic was wasting precious time.

Mapes was one-of-a-kind store that sold hardware, sewing notions, corny greeting cards and household goods. It'd been a fixture in town for decades. The kids loved the toy aisle, which was
stocked with board games, puzzles and "must-have" items like silly
putty, jump ropes and slinkys.

This visit to Mapes had special significance because Christmas was just weeks away. Frankie, Sarah and Caitlin took the opportunity to verbally add things to their Christmas list as they went along. A school yard sage had informed them that Santa had super-duper ears
and that writing letters to the North Pole was old-fashioned.

After shopping we walked back to the car. A station wagon was double parked next to the car in front of me. Pulling out would be tricky. The space was tight, the traffic was thick and now, I had to maneuver around the double-parked car. The kids had gained energy from the toy aisle and the back seat chatter was escalating.

As I pulled out I heard a loud crunch. The car was suddenly silent. In the rear view mirror, three sets of eyes were wide with fear.

"It's okay," I said calmly. "I'm just going to take a look."

I got out and winced when I saw the cracked taillight and scratched paint on the other car.

"Just a few more inches and I would've been clear," I mumbled. Unbelievably, my Jeep was unscathed.

A woman climbed out of the station wagon. She was in her mid-sixties, with a brown hat that matched her knee-length coat. She surveyed the damage. Before she could say anything I blurted out an apology.

"I'm so sorry! I thought the car was clear! The kids..." The woman smiled. I stopped mid sentence. The smile was unexpected and so I waited, unsure what would happen next.

The woman's grin broadened as she touched her cracked taillight.

"Merry Christmas honey."

My confused look made the woman laugh. "I said, Merry Christmas honey. Don't worry about this here car. I'm fine and so are you. Go on and take care of those children. My husband will take care of this."

I suddenly noticed a gray haired man standing on the passenger side, nodding and smiling. Overcome with relief, I hugged the woman. The woman hugged back and whispered, "Merry Christmas sugar."

I got back in the car and watched the station wagon pull away. After hearing what happened, the kids chattered about how great "the Lady" was. The rest of the day took on a glow of grace because she gave us the gift of kindness. I was sure, although I'd never know her name, I would never forget her radiant smile.

Days passed and Christmas drew nearer.

One afternoon, Frankie seemed troubled when he came home from school.

"What's up?" I asked as Frankie slumped on the couch.

"Nothin'." Which, in boy-speak meant something. Frankie's feet kicked in an up and down rhythm that kept his body busy while his 9 year-old mind worked on an unnamed problem.

"Care to share?" I sat next to Frankie, carefully avoiding the scissor-chop movements of his snow boots.

"Nope." Frankie's feet stopped. "Maybe later." And then he was off to play.

At bedtime, Frankie didn't want to sing any songs, which he loved to do in the weeks before Christmas. Something was definitely up. I rubbed Frankie's head and asked, "Wanna talk about what's bothering you now?"

Frankie shrugged, but seconds later a question bubbled up. It was one of THE questions parents face. In the category of questions like, "Why do people die?" and "Where do babies come from?"

"Mommy, do you believe in Santa Claus?"

I silently prayed for the right words. Seconds later I saw the Lady's brilliant smile and felt her kindness wash over me. An idea came.

"What do you think?"

Frankie shrugged. "Some kids at school said Santa wasn't real. They said parents put the gifts under the tree."

"Are you asking me if there is a Santa, or if parents put the gifts under the tree?"

Frankie hesitated. "I guess I'm asking both."

I wrapped my arms around Frankie and gave him a big hug. "I am so proud of you!"

"For what?" Frankie looked puzzled as he sat up against his headboard.

"You're old enough now!"

I moved closer and continued. "You see Frankie, while there isn't a man in a red suit, there is something called the Christmas Spirit. But when children are very little, it's hard for them to
understand the Christmas Spirit so we say that someone named Santa is responsible for Christmas. Parent's know when a child asks whether Santa is real that they're old enough to understand the Christmas Spirit."

Frankie looked surprised. "What's the Christmas Spirit?"

"The Christmas Spirit is love -- pure and simple. Every year, right around December, there's a special feeling in the air. People are kinder, they give to those who have little and spend time with friends and family. Have you noticed a change recently?"

Frankie thought for a moment. "Everything seems prettier.

People seem happier."

"That's the Christmas Spirit at work. Do you remember the Lady at Mapes a few weeks ago?"

Frankie nodded and grinned. "Oh yeah! She was so nice!"

"She had the Christmas Spirit. She forgave me even though she didn't know me. She wished me a Merry Christmas and I can still feel that wish today. That's how I know she shared the Christmas Spirit with me. It's as real as if she'd given me a present with a pretty bow. The Christmas Spirit is a gift we all receive every year. And those who are most blessed, carry it with them all year."

"I felt her Christmas Spirit too!" Frankie beamed.

"Parents want their children to remember the gift of Christmas every year, so they put presents under the tree and say a man named Santa is responsible until each child asks the question you asked me tonight. Then they get to share the wonderful secret of the Christmas Spirit."

"A secret?" Frankie's voice was hushed with awe.

"Yes, now that you asked about Santa, I know that you're old enough to understand the Christmas Spirit. But until other children ask their parents, you shouldn't tell them there's no Santa because they may not be old enough to understand yet."

"Oh, like Sarah is too young." Frankie nodded and winked. "I won't tell her I promise."

"When people ask if I believe in Santa, I say yes. I absolutely believe that there is a Christmas Spirit that visits each house at Christmas. Does it matter whether that Spirit is wearing a red suit? Or what we call it?"

Frankie shook his head. "Nope!"

"So congratulations! You are officially old enough to start learning about the Christmas Spirit."

Frankie crinkled his nose. "Start learning?"

"Yep. It takes the rest of your life to figure out how to keep the Christmas Spirit in your heart all year long."

"Like the Lady at Mapes."

I hugged Frankie and felt the warmth and brilliance of the Lady's hug once more. "Yes Bud, just like her."

Today's Tip: Pick up a poinsettia and leave it for a neighbor! What a nice way to spread some Christmas spirit!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Man Who Hated Christmas

For the Man Who Hated Christmas

--posted by Ben Lawder on Dec 20, 2008

[ Note: This story below was written by Nancy Gavin and originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman's Day magazine. ]

It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas--oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it--overspending... the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma---the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears.

It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids - all kids - and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition--one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.

Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down the envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.

Today's Tip: Start your own white envelope tradition!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wrong Number Miracle

Good News of the Day:

The day before Thanksgiving, Lucy Crutchfield left a message on her daughter's answering machine. The despair was evident in her voice. Crutchfield owed a mortgage payment on her home, but her daughter wasn't even able to afford food for the coming week. Crutchfield left her a message saying that she would send money for the groceries -- even though that meant she wouldn't have enough to pay her monthly mortgage bill. But as it turned out, she had dialed a wrong number, leaving her heartbreaking message on a stranger's machine...

Tip of the Day: Reach out to someone in need and offer to help today. It may be just a voice or a cup of coffee that is needed to make someone feel like they are not alone in the world.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Challenge has been Thrown Down! Will You Answer the Call?

You all have known for a few months that I have been using this blog as an outlet of sorts to share with one another the kind things we do for one another, or for random strangers that do more than make their day better, it brightens yours as well.

Well Billy Coffey at What I Learned Today,is one of my most favorite places to sip sweet tea on his porch, while listening to him tell another wonderful story of his that always makes you smile a whole lot sweeter than that last bit of tea you've just finished, has offered a great way to join in the fun.

It's called the $ 10.00 challenge. You can click and read more about it here or by clicking on the button like the one at the top of my blog found on the left.

So I am sharing one that I did fairly recently with my daughter, before I got sick, so I hope you'll enjoy it and agree it meets with Billy's criteria! Enjoy, while I go get some more sweet tea!

I had an opportunity at Starbucks after picking up my daughter Caitlyn from school last Thursday to ARK someone. While waiting at the drive through I had $10.00 on me that day and looking in my rear view mirror noticed that the vehicle behind me had only one person in it. Since our order only came to $6.00 I waited til we got to the window to ask how much the order of the next customer was, she told me $2.00 so I told her I wanted to pay for him. The look on Caitlyn's face was worth that blessing and she started to cry. She said it was so nice to be able to do something nice for someone and if we could stay and see what the drivers reaction would be. I explained we had to go, but that God would bless this small act and it would not go unnoticed. While pulling away, she looked back to see the man attempt to pay but the cashier just handed his coffee while he proceeded to pull away.

Only God knows what that small act did for someone but I know if that same thing happened to me, I would feel so great the whole day no matter what happened that morning.

So if your interested in joining in on all the fun, click on Billy's link here and share your good news $ 10.00 challenge with all of us.