Small Acts of Kindness: Mr. Priest’s Surprises

By David Parks

Early in January 1954, Mr. Guy Priest came to our house with a box of surprises.

Usually, I saw Mr. Priest when I was skidding my bike around on Teft Road or Baker Street.

“Hello, Mr. Priest!”

“Hello!”

Instead of waving, he smiled and nodded. That’s because his hands were busy with two 5-gallon pails stuffed with gladiolas in full bloom. Mr. Priest cut these beauties from the garden behind his house on Baker Street, and he was delivering them to customers.

No flowers, but a box

This January day, however, Mr. Priest carried no flowers. Instead he brought a box of surprises. I needed surprises, because the doctor had sent me to bed for many days to allow some bones to mend.

Mr. Priest’s box was cardboard, like the box my new shoes came in from the store in Jackson. But a wrap of heavy white paper hid the J.C. Penny logo, and it was larger than my shoe box. Maybe it once held a pair of boots.

Each day a new surprise

On all four sides, from under the lid, numbered tags dangled on strings. Mr. Priest told me to pull tag #1. I pulled, and out came a tiny plastic car. He said tomorrow I should pull tag #2 and the next day #3. The number of tags equaled the number of days I had to stay in bed.

So each day I tugged at a new tag, and out came a new surprise — a toy compass, a magnifying glass, a pen, a 3×5 notepad, a plastic comb, a pocket mirror, a little tractor, etc.

Just a regular guy

His name really is Guy, and he was just a regular kind of guy, so my real surprise was Mr. Priest, himself.

I never guessed he could pick me out from the batch of kids playing tag on bikes. Yet here he was, standing beside my bed.

I never dreamed Mr. Priest might have once been a child himself. Yet his tags spoke the language of a 12-year-old. They glittered more brightly than the golden bells and pomegranates at the hem of Aaron’s robe.

I would not have picked Mr. Priest as our “Most Creative Neighbor.” We lived among merchants, missionaries, and college professors. Some told my parents how concerned they were for their injured child. Yet it took the imagination of a glad gardener to point a 12-year-old’s thoughts away from another long day in bed ─ toward today’s surprise.

That’s how I remember Mr. Priest, a regular guy with a box of surprises. Read the original post here.

Click to tweet: Kindness matters. Mr. Priest and his box full of surprises. #smallactsofkindness #kindness


Dave Parks began writing in 1957 as editor of the ReDit, his high school paper.

He edited books.

He edited professional papers, with permission to reference two.

He’s a member of  Word Weavers and the American Christian Fiction Writers

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Roses For No Reason

Half a Dozen Red Roses

Photo courtesy of pixabay

By Ellen Andersen

It was an ordinary day at work. I’d been in and out of patients’ rooms, developing discharge plans for them when they left the hospital and returned home. In the middle of the day, someone came to the office and asked for me. When I answered, he came in with a bouquet of half a dozen red roses.

 

Shocked, I wondered what they were for. The card attached said they were from my boyfriend, Doug. It wasn’t Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t my birthday. It wasn’t an anniversary. Why in the world would he send me roses? I had no idea, and the card didn’t provide any clue either. It just said, Hi Ellen. Hope you’re having a good day. Love, Doug.

Doug was romantic, but he didn’t have a lot of money. I couldn’t figure out why he would just decide to send me roses. We’d been dating for about six months or so, but this was a lot.

“Wow! Is it your birthday?”

“No, I have no idea why he sent them.”

“Really? Is it your anniversary?”

“No. I really don’t know why he gave them to me.”

My husband’s never sent me roses”, my supervisor said. “You must be really special to him”

“I guess so…” I said, still puzzled.

The next time we saw each other, Doug asked me if I’d gotten them.

“Yes, I did. What made you do that?”

“I was just thinking about you and wanted to let you know”, he said.

“Wow. Thanks “I said. “That was really nice. It made me feel special. Everybody at work asked me why you’d sent them and I couldn’t tell them. It was funny because they didn’t believe me.” He just smiled.

It’s been nearly 20 years and I still have no idea why Doug sent flowers that day. But I think I’ll always remember it. It brightened my day and told me how much I meant to him.

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindess: Roses For No Reason by Ellen Andersen. #kindnessmatters #ValentinesDay

Small Acts of Kindness: A Shout Out to My Writing Friends

By Jennifer Hallmark

“Friends are needed both for joy and for sorrow.” 
~ Yiddish Proverb

I’m a writer and I love writing. But it’s not always easy. Sometimes I struggle with disappointment, fear, tiredness, and apathy.  My friendship with other writers has kept me from changing my vocation.

I know that if I start down the “give up” road, I can call or Facebook message one of “these” friends and they’ll talk me off the ledge of quitting. They’ll share a story about a time they wanted to give up or remind me of the way I’ve grown over the years. We laugh and send emojis and before you know it, I’m ready to sit at the computer once again and start a story or blog post.

Some of my friends are authors, others are unpublished for the moment. I know editors, publishers, and agents. They get tired just like I do and I hope I can often encourage them in return.

Because we all need a little encouragement now and then. Thank you to all my writing friends. There are too many to name but you know who you are.

“If you want a friend, be a friend. “
~ English Proverb

Click to tweet: I’m a writer and I love writing. But it’s not always easy. My friendship with other writers has kept me from changing my vocation.  #amwriting #friendship

Small Acts of Kindness: Do Something Daily

I found this great prayer about kindness…

“Forgive me, most gracious Lord and Father, if this day I have done or said anything to increase the pain of the world. Pardon the unkind word, the impatient gesture, the hard and selfish deed, the failure to show sympathy and kindly help where I had the opportunity, but missed it; and enable me so to live that I may daily do something to lessen the tide of human sorrow, and add to the sum of human happiness.” F.B. Meyer [England, 1847-1929]

Today I Choose

By Jennifer Hallmark

“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV

Today I choose to be kind to myself.

Today I choose to be positive and think of the good in my life, not concentrating on the bad that calls so loudly…

Today I choose to enjoy all of my life, not just the parts that I call good…

Today I will write, love, laugh and be…my concentration will not be on doing…

Today I will be thankful for all the people in my life…people placed by a God who loves and cares for me…

Today I remember the people who have gone on to be with the Lord who influenced my life and I am grateful…

Today I will slow down and take time to enjoy the beauty of nature that God freely bestows on us daily, regardless of season…

Today I will tell people that I love them because I don’t know what tomorrow holds…

Today I will look for people to encourage, for there are people all around me who need to be uplifted…

Today I will not worry about what people think but meditate on what God thinks of me…

Today I will let the minor problems and inconveniences go and give the major ones to God…

Today I will remember the price that Jesus paid so that I could have abundant, eternal life, the price of His own life…

Today I will stop, listen and learn whatever God is trying to teach me through whatever means He is using…

Today I will ask God to help me display the fruit of His Spirit toward all the people I meet…

Today I choose to love myself as God loves me and not belittle myself any more…

Today I choose to live…

Click to tweet: Choice: Today I will tell people that I love them because I don’t know what tomorrow hold. #kindnessmatters #smallactsofkindness

Digital Coupons: Click and Save

By Jennifer Hallmark

First published on the Inspired Prompt Blog

Extreme couponing. I tried it. Bought the special notebook, fixed all the tabs inside, and purchased a newspaper. According to the instructor (yes, I even went to a class), the money would soon be rolling in.

Except that was the only newspaper I ever bought. By the time I clipped all the coupons and filled my notebook, I was confused. And you don’t even want to know about the shopping trip with me stumbling all through Publix.

It didn’t work.

Now I’m not saying it won’t work, because people have proven it does. It just didn’t work for me. So I put my notebook in a drawer and whispered a prayer. “God, if I’m going to save money, there has to be an easier way.”

Cue the angelic choir.

Did you know your smart phone can carry digital coupons?  I’m no expert at this but I can tell you how it works with the stores that I clip them from. You can add what you want and when the coupon expires, it disappears. Most stores probably work in similar ways. Just get out your smart phone and let’s start collecting coupons and saving money.

The area I live in is very rural so I do most of my shopping in the small town of Moulton, fifteen miles away. The stores I use for couponing are Dollar General, CVS, and Gateway Foodland. I also use Publix digital coupons, but it’s about 35 miles away. Let’s start with the one I use most.

Dollar General-go to their website and sign up. Then you can go to digital coupons. You can look through the available coupons and add what you want to your phone. When I get an email with their new ad, I go to the coupon section and add more. At the moment, I have 292 coupons. Any time I’m shopping I can look through my coupons and add them to my list. If I’m in a hurry, I still enter my phone number in the payment terminal before I check out so it will look over my coupons for me. I’ve saved $99.43 so far using these coupons.

Gateway Foodland & PublixI do the same thing. Make an account, add coupons, then start saving. I have 190 coupons loaded at Foodland and close to that at Publix. And new coupons come each Wednesday to my email.

CVSThis one is a little different. I signed up for their extra care card since I purchase my prescriptions here. I add their deals from the app on my phone. I also get extra care bucks back (I have to spend at CVS) when I fill so many prescriptions and at different times get coupons for a percentage off certain items.

Ibotta-With this app, you first find offers on the app. Before you shop, add offers on products by completing simple tasks. Buy the products you selected at any participating store. Keep the receipt. Redeem your offers by taking a photo of your receipt. (You can scan the Wal-Mart barcode) They match the items you bought to the offers you selected and give you the cash. Your cash back will be deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours. I’m still undecided about this because it is time-consuming. But I cashed out for the first time and had it put on a $50 Walmart gift card. I enjoyed spending it. 🙂

I love couponing this way. Wednesday is usually the day I sit down, add all my coupons, and make my list. I can have everything added in thirty minutes or less and make my list for shopping.

Click to tweet: Did you know your smart phone can carry digital coupons? Find out more. #Savings #coupons

One more tip of a way I save money. I have the Wal-Mart app on my phone and I’m signed up for Savings Catcher. Again, I first created an account. I scan each receipt as I get them and they search for all the stores in the area for a lower price. Say, if Foodland has milk cheaper in their ads, Wal-Mart loads the difference on an e-shopping card. So far, I’ve saved over $50 from price compare.

Hooray! I can chunk the notebook, put my scissors away, and rid myself of the headache. Also, I could buy extra items to donate to a food bank or other charity and still save. I wonder what people will think up next?

It Doesn’t Take Much To Make a Difference

Toward the end of 2015, Jennifer asked if I’d be interested in writing for Small Acts of Kindness. I agreed and have enjoyed it ever since. It makes me step back and take notice of positive things I see or experience that I might otherwise overlook and take for granted. It also challenges me to move out of my comfort zone to reach out toward someone offering a kindness to them in some way.

I met up with someone a while ago to talk about something that had been on my mind. As we talked, they told me they’d been struggling lately and felt alone in it. Even though I knew no details, it was clear this person needed someone to come alongside them. God put it on my heart to pray for them daily and to send them a message of encouragement about once a week for several months.

It was simply a note to let them know they weren’t alone and that I was praying for them. IMG_1980 Sometimes I’d include a Bible verse, sometimes not. It was a simple gesture, but I’ve since learned that it made a difference and helped them through a tough time. Several months later, this person gave me a big hug. No words were said, but none were needed. We both knew it was because the encouragement meant so much. It didn’t take much, yet it meant a lot.
It may not seem significant to us, but even a small act of kindness can make a difference to someone else.

Saving Money is My Super Power

By Amanda Hardin

I save money.

What’s your super power?

Are you picturing me with a red cape with a dollar sign on it? That’s me. A stay-at-home mother of three and with only one income things can be a bit tight. I’ve had sixteen years however, to perfect my money-saving skills.

I learned early on that babies only need a few items so pick what makes life a little easier. How about giving an item multiple uses like a changing pad on a dresser? Clothing swaps with family and friends have caused me to buy very little new clothing for my young children.

When I do have to purchase an outfit or two, we hit yard sales and thrift stores. I also shop seasonal clearances and buy for the following year (presents are also great to buy at this time). When the kids grow out of things, they go to the back of the closet for trading or thrifting.

The cheapest way to feed babies is to breast feed, but if you can’t, formula companies send out coupons monthly. This is great because depending on the type of formula the baby needs, it can be a small fortune. For my little ones in school, we pack snacks and lunches which can cost fifteen dollars or more per child each week if purchased from the school. I also like to use money savings apps like Wal-Mart savings catcher or Ibotta. Both give back money as gift cards which I save for Christmas.

Smoothies, detox

And how about the refrigerator? I save many things like orange and lemon peels for homemade cleaners and freeze chicken and vegetable scraps for broth. Freezing overripe fruits are wonderful for smoothies or fruit water. The best tip is to just eat clean from the start. Encourage water and fresh fruit when the children are young and save yourself the cost of expensive juices, sodas, and snacks later. Both your body and wallet will thank you for it.

The biggest food-related tip to save money is to eat at home instead of out. Ninety-eight percent of the time we cook at home. I meal plan so I have a game plan for those busy nights I’m tempted to hit the drive-thru. Sales and coupons play a big part in meal planning and I even hit a couple of stores a week. My super busy schedule makes planning my day and meals a must. I created a planner tailored perfectly for me at half of what it would have cost me to buy one.

Back to health, I forgo the expensive gym membership and hit the park and run for the cost of a decent pair of sneakers.  There are a lot of free apps out there to keep you knowledgeable and motivated. Some of my favorites are C25K,   Zombie’s Run!,and Google Fit.

The best thing we’ve done for our wallet has had a huge impact on our spirit. We celebrate Christmas on less money and instead focus on giving to others through food and toy drives, and serving at church or soup kitchens. This can be difficult when your kid comes home telling you what the other kids received for Christmas, but it is truly worth it.

For entertainment, we enjoy Redbox or just a simple game night (they get board games for Christmas). When we do go out, we opt for free local events and local and state parks like our local wildlife refuge. Fall is also a great time to hang out by a bonfire and drink cocoa. The library is a great source of entertainment from because you can rent movies, books, audio books, buy seriously discounted book, participate in the summer reading programs, book clubs, and a slew of other things.

For the home, I love to hang clothes out on the line in the fresh summer air. There is something quite therapeutic about being in the sun with a fresh breeze blowing that doesn’t make it seem like a chore, plus it can save a ton on electricity. And before we call an expert, we go to YouTube to make sure we can’t do repairs ourselves.

Click to tweet: The biggest life-changing money-saving decision we made was to live a debt-free life. #Savings #2018

We created a zero-based budget and live on only what we make. Learning to save money has benefited my family in more ways than we could count. We find creative ways to spend time together and it has given us a healthier life style.

So, what about it? Is saving money going to be your super power in 2018?


With reading being a passion since childhood, Amanda Hardin knew creating stories was what she was meant to do.  That comes hard being a stay-at-home mom of three. In other words, she is a housekeeper, chef, event planner, teacher, chauffeur, domestic engineer and household COO and CFO.  A job she has made easier by creating her own budgeting forms and daily planner.

She is a member of the Lawrence County Writer’s Guild.  She loves hiking, firearms, and running.  She has completed the Stoney Lonesome 5k Mud Run twice and is preparing to do the 2018 Warrior Dash.  In her spare time, she likes to read. Two of her favorite authors are James Rollins and Dean Koontz. She enjoys sharing some of her favorite childhood books with her children.

Small Acts of Kindness 2018

By Jennifer Hallmark

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”-Aesop

The Small Acts of Kindness blog is built upon this quote, one that resonates within my soul.  I began blogging about kindness on May 18th, 2015.  Mondays seemed to be the day when people could use a shot of good news. So, with the help of others willing to share their stories, I embarked on a journey to share kindness, one small act at a time. Ellen Andersen liked the idea and soon joined me as a contributor and friend.

I took a parable from the teachings of Jesus to illustrate what kindness means to me.

Jesus says in the Bible, Luke 10:30-37:

 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him,and departed, leaving him half-dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise.”

I want to do likewise, showing mercy and grace in the world around me. It hasn’t been easy much of the time. It’s not hard to make a phone card or send an encouraging card to a friend or family member. But when it comes to people that don’t treat me well or a stranger, I don’t often do like I want.

My melancholy and introverted personality mixed with a tendency to be timid and fearful make stepping out to make a difference difficult . But I still want to. So I often do it afraid.

A few days ago, I’d taken my mother to the eye doctor. We sat across from an elderly man with an Air Force cap on. It took me about twenty minutes to work up the courage to say ‘hello’ and then ask if he served in the Armed Services. His countenance immediately brightened, he smiled, and shared with me a little about the years he served (right after World War II). I thanked him for his service to our country. His smile grew bigger.

After that, we went back to watching a show on HGTV that played overhead. But when he left, he smiled again and wished me a Merry Christmas. I truly believed that small encounter helped him better enjoy the day. And, except for the uncomfortable moments where I wrestled to bring myself to say something, it really wasn’t that hard.

Click to tweet: Being kind is something we all can do. #kindnessmatters #payitforward

In 2018, I plan to share more kindness, even if I have to do it afraid. I hope you’ll join me!