Small Acts of Kindness: A Child and an Egg Hunt

By Kathy C. Houser

This was hard for me to choose. Lately I’ve seen many acts of kindness. From a stranger to a neighbor to a child. What stood out the most is the child’s good heart.

I had the pleasure of going to an Easter egg hunt at St. Paul’s in Decatur where my granddaughter, Ellie,  attends Pre-K. We sat in the hall as they brought out the children in groups. It was raining that day so Ellie’s egg hunt was in the gym.

Being a proud Nana, I filmed it all. The excitement in her little eyes grew when she saw me sitting in the hall. I knew she would really enjoy this year, being four. When it was over, she discovered that she had found the most eggs. I stopped filming and told her how proud of her I was and hugged and kissed her.  But that was not the end. What happened next really warmed my heart.

As we were leaving the gym, a little girl with only a few eggs walked up. Ellie looked at me and smiled. She then turned to the little girl and gave her two eggs. This made my heart happy, not only because she is my granddaughter, but because she showed kindness and thoughtfulness in her heart.

I told Ellie how sweet and kind that was to give because she wanted to. Ellie has always shown kindness. When she goes somewhere with my mom and I, every time my mom gets out of the car, she says, “Grandma, let me take your hand and help you.” She noticed me do this and wanted to help also.

At the Easter egg hunt, this kindness blossomed out of her own little heart. The kindness of children just warms my heart.

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Worship Music Brightened My Day

It was over a decade ago, but I still remember it well. I’d been in the hospital for a few months, recovering from complications of a surgery. I was getting better, but the hospital isn’t a good place to spend your days—especially for so long. I was surrounded by white walls, sterile air, and machines that beeped constantly every day. The environment only worsened how bad I already felt.

I’d been in acute care  for several weeks after surgery and had finally been transferred to rehab, where I was re-learning how to sit up, stand, and walk in physical therapy. The occupational therapist taught me to dress, shower, and groom myself again. I went through PT and OT every day, twice a day. It was exhausting.

One afternoon I got a wonderful surprise that brightened my mood for the rest of the day. Matt Rexford, the worship pastor at my church, came to pay me a visit.   I lit up immediately when he came in. It wasn’t part of his responsibilities at church and I don’t know if he was even on the clock. We talked for a bit and then the surprise got even better. Not only had he come to visit, he’d brought his guitar.

We sang familiar, uplifting worship songs. It made me forget myself for a bit and focus on the Lord.  It attracted staff and visitors to a least peek in the room as well. Others slowed their stride as they walked by. Matt was encouraging them, as well as ministering to me.

Nearly 15 years later, the memory of Matt’s visit still blesses me. We may never know what impact our seemingly small actions have on somebody. Our words and actions may matter more than we think.

Small Acts of Kindness: Oh, My Purple Hairbrush

By Cammi Woodall

Have you seen the meme on Facebook or Pinterest of the little girl with a purple hairbrush? You haven’t? Go to Google and look for ‘tantrum girl with purple hairbrush,’ It’ is totally worth it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Isn’t she adorable? Haven’t we all felt that frustration and not been able to act on it? This clip comes from the 90’s movie Look Who’s Talking Now, the third installment in the John Travolta/talking baby series. The girl in the clip is named Julie and she is mad at her brother. You know how it is with siblings – you can’t wallop them or send them back to the hospital. So you grit your teeth, shake your purple hairbrush, and let off that steam.

The reason I chose this Small Act of Kindness is because of my sister Holly. Back before Christmas, she was having one of ‘those’ days. As a United Methodist pastor, she was trying to juggle her congregation’s needs, family, friends, daily stress, and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Feeling overwhelmed and attacked, she posted this meme on her Facebook page with a joking(?) threat of ‘Don’t make me get my purple hairbrush!’ Several people responded and ‘liked’ it with the laughing emoji. Holly had a good laugh, relieved some stress, and didn’t think too much else about it.

A few days later she returned to her office after being out of town at meetings. On her desk was a gift for her. Someone had gone to lots of trouble to make it look nice with a homemade gift bag and gold confetti strips. Inside was a sparkly purple hairbrush. There was no note and to this day she doesn’t know who gave it to her.

That purple hairbrush has become an official mascot/stress reliever for their office. Anytime she or the church secretary feel like each other may be getting angry or stressed, they joke ‘Hang on, let me get that hairbrush!’ That is their cue to step back, take a deep breath, and find a constructive way to deal with the situation.

In Holly’s words – “Every time I use it – for brushing my hair AND threatening, it makes me happy to remember that a good friend went to the trouble, not just to buy a gift and wrap it for me, but to find a purple hairbrush just because I liked it in a Facebook post. It was a great gift that still makes me very happy!”

Each of us face trials and tribulations each day and how we handle the stress of those situations is what defines us. It is easy to give in, to be rushed, terse, even hurtful or hateful. So the next time you feel yourself welling up with a harmful emotion, take a deep breath and shake your purple hairbrush!

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindness. Each of us face trials and tribulations each day and how we handle the stress of those situations is what defines us. #amwriting #kindnessmatters


Daughter, sister, friend, huge nerd, procrastinator… All are words Cammi Woodall uses to describe her self. A new one she is using is writer. That is scary! Cammi is a writer. Her hands shake when she says it or writes those words.

After keeping her stories hidden away for decades, she’s decided 2018 is her year to jump out of her comfort zone and get her writing to the public.

Despite darker reading habits, a comic thread weaves its way through her fictional stories. Even in emotional pieces, her characters use humor to cope with everyday tragedies. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying!

Cammi has contributed articles to inspiredprompts.com and has become a contributor for 2018. She looks forward to the day she can list the titles of her completed novels!

You can reach Cammi at https://www.facebook.com/cammiwoodall or follow her at https://pinterest.com/cammiwoodall.

Small Acts of Kindness: Wedding Roses

By Sarah Van Diest

It was my wedding, well, it was my second wedding. I never dreamt I would have been divorced, much less get married a second time, but here I was, and ever so thankful to be here after such a long and difficult road.

I was nervous. And though I had an idea about how I wanted things to go, I didn’t have a solid handle on how to pull it off. I called in some friends to help make it happen. One did my hair. One did the food. One did the flowers. It was simple and it was perfect.

The wedding we planned was very small. Only family and a few friends were invited. Our pastor’s house served as our wedding venue. We had cheesecake and punch, the music was one guy with a guitar, and the kids played out in the backyard. It was cozy and sweet. I wouldn’t change a thing.

After our small ceremony, my wonderful groom took me off for our honeymoon and to the start of our new lives together. We left our five boys with various family member and went away for a week of learning to be us.

The boys were really the only thing I thought about back home.

But one of my sweet friends thought of something else. After the wedding, she grabbed my bouquet of red roses and dried them, preserving them beautifully for me. When we returned home from our honeymoon, she came over to deliver the bouquet. It was such a sweet surprise!

I had no idea how much that gesture would mean to me, but when she handed them to me, I cried. I’m still not exactly sure what the tears meant, but I think it was all things combined together: a second marriage, a blended family, a new start, and the knowledge of dear friends to support and cheer us on.

I still have those roses, 13 years later. I keep them as a reminder of that day and of my thoughtful friends and all they did to help make that day so special. They remind me that tiny gestures of kindness can be enormously impactful. They encourage me to be thoughtful of others. And they tell me that the kindness doesn’t have to be huge to be meaningful.

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindness. Kindness doesn’t have to be huge to be meaningful. #kindnessmatters #amreading


Sarah Van Diest is a writer and editor. She’s the mother of two boys, stepmother to three more, and wife to David. Sarah wrote this book as letters to a dear friend whose life was turning upside down. She’s done this for years for numerous friends and will continue to, Lord willing. It’s her gift to them. It’s hope written down.


God in the Dark

When you are in the dark places of your life, Sarah Van Diest offers a companion for the path you are walking. You will find a voice of comfort and truth to call you back to the light, to help you see that you are never alone, never too far gone, and never unloved. This collection of 31 devotions doesn’t minimize the reality of your struggles, but rather points you to where God is—walking right alongside you. Receive this hope in the pain, God in the Dark.

Why I Decided to Get a Tattoo-Part 2

By Jennifer Hallmark

**If you missed it, you’ll find part 1 here...

Hello, world! It’s Sunday, January 21. I’ve just left the church, and I’m driving home. After the service, standing in the parking lot, I showed my daughter my tattoo. I can’t help but smile because I’ve just totally shocked her. I didn’t think it was possible.

She asked if it hurt. In fact, even today, that’s the question I’m asked the most.

Yes, it hurt. A lot.

But really not as bad as I imagined. I’m a writer, and I have a big imagination.  I went in with a large cup of iced coffee and my friend, so I was ready. The artists were very professional and the parlor was super clean, which was the main thing I’d been researching for the last six months.

The lady and I discussed again what I wanted (we’d already been chatting on FB messenger), I paid her, and she went to get the template for the word “fearless.” I’d picked a specific font, one where the letters were in cursive, but the “r” wasn’t joined to the “l.” That way, it could read fearless or fear less.

In life, I’ve always been cautious, conservative, and reserved. Nothing wrong with that except when I let it affect my walk with God and my witness. Or it comes between me and my family and friends. So this year, I want to fear less and faith more.

I love the little story that says, “Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. No one was there.” That’s how I want to live. I’m not there yet. Every day, I ask God to help me recognize fear and shut the door by my faith in Him.

Anyway, the whole process from when I entered the shop lasted about an hour and a half. I’d already purchased the soap and ointment and things for aftercare. It’s healed well.

Am I ready for another one?

No. I broke through that wall and it is enough. It’s taken me a few months to get up the courage to share it with y’all. I shake my head as I think how crazy I am to get so worked up over a tattoo. But one of my fears throughout my life has been fear of rejection. So, it makes sense.

Why have I shared this over the last two weeks? I guess it’s mostly for me. I have my first novel coming out in June of 2019 with Firefly Southern fiction, and I’m already struggling a little with what people will think of my book. Will they cringe? Laugh? Love it? Or reject it?

I give these fears to God. I like to say I don’t write for God; I write with Him. We laugh and cry together as I pen words that reduce me to a transparent, vulnerable state I’d rather not be in, at times. But it’s a healing place.

And it’s me.

Hello, world!

Click to tweet: Why I decided to get a tattoo. My daughter asked if it hurt. In fact, even today, that’s the question I’m asked the most. #tattoo #faith

Me signing my contract

Flowers and a Birthday Cake

It was July of 1985 and I was an exchange student in France that month.  I would turn 16 while I was there. I stayed with the Martinellos in a small village called Gap.  Doesn’t sound French, does it? But that truly was its name. It’s near Lyon, in the southeastern part of the country. Map of France--for blog post

The Martinellos owned a flower shop in town and they were there all day, every day.  Their mornings started about 7:00am and they didn’t return home till after 6:00pm.  Natasha (their daughter) and I had a good time wandering the streets, shopping and talking to other shop owners.  She knew many of them since her parents owned the flower shop. Many times I wandered around alone enjoying the sights and sounds, noting how it all compared to what I experienced at home.

We traveled to many different villages each week, setting up a booth to sell the flowers in the street. It was completely different from everything I’d ever seen, having grown up in the desert.

I did grow homesick after a few weeks there.  I missed my family and friends.  There were a couple times that I’d think about them, wishing I were back there. Especially as my birthday drew near.

On my birthday, I discovered Mom had snuck a present in my suitcase.  I opened it and smiled. It was costume jewelry—a colorful bracelet and necklace. I was still sad, though.

That evening, after the shop had closed, Mrs. Martinello served diBirthday Cake with Candlesnner and then came out with a surprise.  She’d bought me a birthday cake!! “Bon anniversaire Ellen”, they cried. Really? They remembered?  I smiled from ear to ear.

I was their guest for another week or so before returning home.  It was my first time overseas and I enjoyed it a lot.  Spending time with a family and being involved in their daily lives was eye-opening and holds fond memories for me. Celebrating my birthday was one of them.

Why I Decided to Get a Tattoo-Part 1

By Jennifer Hallmark

Hello, world! It’s Saturday. January 20, 2018 at 10:15 a.m.

Guess where I’m going today? I’ve kept it a secret from most of the people I know. Before I tell you, I’d like to explain how I got here. Or try anyway.

I’m the oldest child in my family, a melancholy introvert and a creative perfectionist (in recovery). 🙂

When I was six-years-old, my dad became sick. Really sick. It started with numbness in his feet and legs and progressed until he was unable to walk. No one could diagnose what was wrong with him. Within a couple of years, he was unable to work, even in a wheelchair.

We lived in Florida at the time but moved back to Alabama to be close to the family. Within a year, my parents and I gave our hearts to Jesus.

Somehow, in the years to follow, I imagined that if I could only do everything right, maybe my dad could get back to how he once was.  Between the seventh and twelfth grade, I only made three B’s. Two in typing (yes, I’m that old) and one in physics. I did well in sports and was very involved in our youth group at church.

At the age of fourteen, I sincerely sought God for two weeks and saw prayers answered as He drew closer and became more real to me than ever before. By the age of sixteen, I was as sold out to God as possible and made a vow during a time of prayer. I told God I would never drink, smoke, do drugs, have sex outside of marriage, or go to R-rated movies. For a good Baptist teen, these were the five worst things I could think of.

A few years later, I married, moved, and joined a new church. Unfortunately, the church was steeped in legalism and by the time I reached my late twenties, I was well on my way to being a modern-day Pharisee. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I was judgmental, critical, and all the other things that make up a “religious” person. I’d lost sight of my first love.

Then, when I was twenty-eight, my dad died suddenly of an aneurysm. My world crashed. I didn’t know what to do. My works had not lengthened my dad’s life like I thought. So, it must be my fault he died. If only I could have done better. I despised myself.

A few years later, I changed churches again, and God slowly brought me back to my first love. Then He began to show me who I’d become.

For the last twenty years, He’s been peeling back layer after layer of law and works from me, where I had tried to earn His love instead of accepting the free gift. It’s not that wanting to do the right thing is bad; it’s the ulterior motive behind our actions. In my quest to be perfect, I listened to anyone and everyone who seemed to have the answer to what I needed to do rather than listening to God.

If a preacher on television said you need to pray for an hour, I added it to my list. If my church said don’t smoke, I didn’t. If a teacher said my kids needed to do something, I tried to do it. Occasionally, God broke through my bent to the law of works, and I was actually led by the Spirit, but so often I wasn’t. Instead, I was driven by people’s opinions and my fear of what others thought. I didn’t like who I was, but I couldn’t seem to change.

This resulted in my health steadily declining in my thirties. I experienced burnout over and over again as I continually struggled to change. But as much as I wanted to change, I still wanted validation from people for everything I did. I wanted to always ask permission before doing something. But the problem was, especially in gray areas, people differed.

As a teen, I had obeyed God out of my love for Him, looking to Him as a Father. At some point, I let my fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of people’s opinions, and fear of God’s disappointment take control. In my mind, God was no longer a Father. He had become my taskmaster.

It took years in the Word and stepping out time and again in faith to break the hold of Phariseeism to begin trusting God and His grace.

Today I’m taking another step. I’ve stressed over this decision to the point of a full-blown panic attack. But I’ve decided to look at it as an adventure instead. An exploit, which me, my friend, Joyce, and God are going on together.

I’m getting a tattoo on my foot that says “fearless.”

Some of you might think I’m crazy for stressing and worrying about it. Others probably think I’m crazy for getting a tattoo. My mom probably won’t understand.

I don’t know if I fully do.

But after six months of thinking about it, I’ve reached a place of relative peace. I asked Joyce to go with me and talked with my husband about my decision.

It’s so not me. But deep down, it is me. The creative writer part of me. So, I’m diving in, taking the plunge, stepping off the cliff and building my wings on the way down.

God’s with me and I’m okay.

Come back next Wednesday and I’ll let you know how it went.

Until then…

Click to tweet: Why I decided to get a tattoo. It’s so not me. But deep down, it is me. #tattoo #faith