Dinner Out Every Week

I’d finally gotten out of the hospital after four months. I’d come home but was very limited in what I could do.  Walking with a walker and quite slowly at that, it was discouraging, even as I improved each week.  I was cooped up in the house, other than doctors’ appointments and physical and occupational therapy, since I couldn’t drive.

One of my friends recognized my plight and asked if she could take me out for dinner one night. “Sure!”  I said.  I’d get out of the house and spend time with a friend.   Toots MotisherWhat a great opportunity.  But then I had second thoughts.  How would I get around with the walker?  I was very slow with it. How could I get into her truck?  What if I didn’t have enough energy?

I talked to Toots about all of it and she assured me it’d be okay. That we would just go at my pace, and that she wasn’t in a hurry. As for the truck, she reminded me she could help me in. She said she could even lift me if I needed it and she didn’t mind at all. I had to admit that she was certainly strong enough.

So I agreed and we went out. Sure enough, Toots helped me in and out of the truck and we had a good time talking and just spending time together.  Then, to make it even better and more memorable she and I went out every week.  Toots doesn’t live near me, but was dedicated to ministering to me, even though I didn’t know I needed it.

It’s been over a decade now and I still remember how much it meant to me. Even the simple things can make a difference.. What have you done that’s made a difference in someone’s life? Or, perhaps someone’s made a difference in yours.   Share it here.

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Small Acts of Kindness: Love Your Neighbor

By Kathy Cheek

Jesus said to him,“ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’   ~ Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV

I learned a valuable lesson about being sensitive to the needs of lonely people while watching my husband one evening when a stranger walked into our yard. I was watering flowers on our front porch and Randy was doing yard work when an elderly woman he didn’t know or recognize from our neighborhood, approached him and asked if we had seen her missing cat. After my husband informed her we hadn’t seen the cat she described, the woman eagerly continued to speak with him, and kept talking for a very long time.

She told him she had been widowed eight years ago, and spoke of the life she shared with her husband that spanned half a century. She smiled and told of courting days, raising their family, and moving away from everyone she knew back east to follow his dream to live in the west. She told stories of their early years together and how they had weathered many storms together, but the storm she was weathering now was missing him.

She was lonely and God provided a listening ear. My husband stood there and patiently listened, although the mosquitoes were out and the sky was darkening and he wasn’t finished with his work. But he listened, and he could tell by her changed countenance that she walked back to her house with a lighter step and lighter heart.

Loving our neighbor as Jesus teaches should keep us attentive to the heavy hearts around us that are burdened by a depth of loneliness that we can help ease. Sometimes, all we have to do is provide a listening ear. All we have to do is care.


Kathy Cheek writes faith-filled devotions and is published in LifeWay’s Journey magazine and Mature Living, and also contributes to several devotional sites, including Thoughts About God, Christian Devotions, and CBN.com.

Her favorite subject to write about is the rich relationship God desires to have with us and the deep trust it takes to live it out. She and her husband of 33 years live in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas and they have two daughters and one son-in-law who also reside in the Dallas area. You can read more of her devotions at www.kathycheek.com.

Small Acts of Kindness: The Loving Heart of a Prayer Warrior

by Bonita Y. McCoy

phoneI wait for her to answer. I am upset, unsettled, and unsure.

I am reaching out, so I run to the person I think can help.

I hear her voice, “Hello?” And I begin.

Every family needs one, and my family has been blessed to have her, my Aunt Jeanne, the prayer warrior.

She is the one who diligently listens to those who seek her out, and then with patience and kindness, she points them to the Lord through his word and her prayers.

But she doesn’t just listen once; no, she walks the journey with you.

The year I graduated from college was a very lonely year. I watched as friends were pairing off, getting married. I longed for companionship but didn’t want just anyone. I wanted the right one, God’s best for me.

Over the course of that year, I visited Aunt Jean about once every two weeks. We would sit in her living room, her in the recliner rocker and me sprawled out on the carpeted floor. We would talk about life, and she would listen to my heart as it spilled out.

bible-bOnce I was done, she would bring out the Word of the Lord, and we would apply His truths to my situation.

One verse that we kept returning to was Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”

Then she would take all my anxiety, fears, and questions and gather them up, and we would go before the Lord in prayer.

I have been married now for twenty-seven years. I can attest to the fact that when the desire comes it is a tree of life.

And Aunt Jeanne is still praying, still leading us to God’s truth, still answering our calls.

She rejoices with us when we have succeeded, and she cries with us when we mourn. But she never, ever stops praying.

Her loving heart of a prayer warrior has been a bedrock in our family.

There is no scale to measure the extent of her reach because of her kindness shown through her diligence in prayer.


bonitaHello! I’m Bonita Y. McCoy. I hail from the Great State of Alabama where I live on a five-acre farm with three horses, two dogs, two cats, and one husband who I’ve had for over twenty-five years. I am a mother to three mostly grown sons and one beautiful daughter-in-law who joined us from Japan. I love God, and I love to write. My blog is an expression of both these passions. Drop by and visit. www.beautifulpiecesofgrace.blogspot.com 

Thanksgiving Traditions

grandma-just-before-surgery-dec-2015By Ellen Andersen

Next week is Thanksgiving, a time when we look back over the past year and celebrate  what we’re grateful for. One thing I’m most thankful for is my family. We’ve always gotten together at Grandma’s house.    The family’s changed over the years with the grandkids getting married and having kids.  Now some of the great grandkids are married too.

Still, traditions continue. Everyone brings something for a potluck of everyone’s favorite foods. Turkey (of course), stuffing, cranberry sauce–both canned and homemade (there an on-going debate in my family as to which is the “real” kind). cranberries Then there’s mashed potatoes, an appetizer that always illustrates Aunt Mina’s creativity, rolls, cornbread, fruit salad, hot veggies, deviled eggs, and several pies.  Festivities typically start around noon that day, with people arriving from all over California, where most of my family lives. We travel from South Carolina to be there. It’s a long way, but always worth it, as we only get to see the whole family once a year.

food-spread-for-thxgiving

After a large meal, meal everyone goes for a walk even though it’s getting dark. The cool air helps wake us up,  countering the effects of the tryptophan in the turkey. At least that’s the theory. It works to some extent.

 Charades is a family tradition each year for us. We form two teams (guys vs. girls) and each dessert-at-thanksgivingteam comes up with movies, books, songs, and TV shows for someone on the other team to act out without saying anything or making any noises.  Everyone has up to three minutes for their team to come up with the right answer.  There’s always lots of laughter, teasing, and good-natured competitiveness.  In recent years, we’ve had additional games such as Fish Bowl and a Factoid Game.  Whatever the details, it’s guaranteed to be fun.

So, how about you? What does Thanksgiving mean to you?  How do you celebrate the holiday?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Small Acts of Kindness: The Blessing of a Loving Church Family

kindness (1)By Wendi Turner

What is a small act of kindness? Maybe it’s a smile or a hug. I guess it’s different for everyone. I have had the pleasure of being a grateful recipient of many acts of kindness throughout my life and each one is very special to me in its own way. It was so hard trying to choose just one to write about. I’ll share today the act of kindness when I was going through a very difficult time physically.

I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer, undergone a mastectomy, and was now going through about six months of chemotherapy. The first three months were the hardest. I had to take the drug many of you unfortunately know of as ‘The Red Devil.’

And boy was it tough!

But I was so blessed to have a wonderful support group. My husband, Ken, was absolutely amazing. He took such good care of me. My two sons were also awesome as they filled in whenever their dad was at work. Not one of them complained. I also had help from my family and Ken’s family and our friends. Everyone was so great.

I had the greatest support of all for me, Kenchristmas-food-587581_960_720, and my boys from my church family. They fed my family for the first three months. You may think, well, what’s so great about that? Let me tell you…the entire three months consisted of home-cooked meals, many from scratch. And not once did we have the same meal twice! Now that’s pretty amazing!

I will never be able to express the gratitude I have for the kindness my family was shown. So when I think about a small act of kindness, I’m not sure I believe there is such a thing—I do believe that any act of kindness—no matter what it may be is huge! And very much appreciated…

Fathers’ Day

This coming Sunday is Fathers’ Day, and is a time to focus on, honor, and thank our dads for what they mean to us. My dad lives about 6 miles away and I’m privileged to see him each week for dinner. Dad at Amicalola Falls 2016 Great shot

When he gets home from work, he greets my mom, our dog, and me with a hug and a kiss and asks about our respective days. He listens, then shares how his went, often including the Bible study he’s attended that morning.

I appreciate that he shares things with me. I know not everyone is that fortunate. At the end of the evening, after we’ve had dinner and have played a game or two, Dad walks me out to my car to say good-bye.  Even if it’s not dark, he still escorts me out, helps me into my car, and tells me to drive home safely.  He does it because he cares.

There are times when Dad does “behind the scenes” work, particularly when it comes to planning a trip. For example, he, my mom, and I are going up the eastern seaboard to several places including Washington D.C. New York City, Pennsylvania, Maine, Niagara Falls, and Quebec.Niagara Falls Dad’s good at planning ahead, so he’s already made a lot of the reservations as to where we’ll stay along the way. He’s good at being in charge of things and taking care  of details, and it’s nice to depend on him for that. I’m looking forward to the trip.

What does Fathers’ Day mean to you? What memories or traditions do you have for Fathers’ Day?

Support Whenever We Need It.

Yesterday was Mothers’ Day, which I always enjoy. Every year it gives me a special reason to let my mom know how much she means to me. We’ve always been close and even to this day I consider her to be one of my most trustworthy friends.

 Mom at Amicolola Falls

 

I can share anything with her, knowing she truly cares and will listen and encourage me when I need it most. So today, Mom, I thank you publicly for your love and continuous support in everything.

I think most of us have someone (whether it’s our mom or someone else) we appreciate who’s been there for us in good and bad times. How do you show them how much they mean to you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Let’s keep the conversation going.

 

It Made Us Smile When We Couldn’t Otherwise

By Ellen Andersen

I’d been in the hospital for 4-5 weeks, after having had surgery. I couldn’t do anything for myself and had to have somebody at my bedside 24/7 due to the severity of my pain. I needed more attention than the staff could provide with everyone else’s needs there. So Mom and Dad came in shifts.  After a time, my extended family realized  they needed to help my folks, so Aunt Mina came out from California for a few weeks to give them some relief.

She sat at my side, talking when I needed conversation and just providing her presence when I needed to rest. She, Mom, and Dad worked with the doctors and therapists to help me learn to move my arms, hands, fingers legs and feet again, helping me perform the exercises they assigned.

Aunt Mina recognized our emotional needs as well. When a friend brought her grandchildren and they came in with homemade cards where they’d traced their hands and feet for me to make me smile. It sparked Aunt Mina’s creativity.

A week or so later I got an envelope in the mail. It was from my cousin Gwen, but it wasn’t a letter or card.  Instead it had two hands and two feet cut out witGwen's hands and feet cardh the words “feet to stand on. Hands to support you.  Love, Cousin Gwen”

 

 

Two days later, I got another letter—from friends Bill and Merle Jeanne. Bill's hands card

Like the one from Gwen, it had cut-outs of their hands and feet. It was accompanied by Scripture to encourage Merle Jeanne's hands card 2me in my recovery.

 

 

 

Pretty soon, I was getting lots of letters like this. One was a yellow 12” ruler with the words “Uncle Jim’s Foot” down the center. Uncle Jim's foot card  Another was a paper with tire tracks labeled Uncle Mike’s feet.  He’s a truck driver.

“What is this?” I asked my mom.

“I don’t know, but you sure are getting a lot of them.”

“Really? You don’t know?”

“No, I don’t” she answered.

Several months later, after I got home, we learned that Aunt Mina had looked through Mom’s e-mail address book on the sly and had sent out an e-mail to several of their friends suggesting they all trace their hands and/or feet and send it to me at the hospital to make my folks and me smile and laugh. It worked.

Twelve years later I still have those cards to remind me how much people cared and reached out to me when I most needed it.  It was a small act of kindness that  I still treasure over a decade later.  You never know how much you may impact someone in what you do or say.

Small Acts of Kindness in 2016

christmasBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

In a couple of days, 2015 will be a memory and we will move into the newness of 2016. It’s been quite a year for me, and probably for you too. I actually took time off from the Small Acts of Kindness portion from January until May. Since then, though, I’ve enjoyed spreading positive, uplifting things that people have done for each other.

This past year, I added more writing related posts and interviews. I wanted to share the triumphs of my fellow writers with you. In fact, I’m adding one of my writing friends to the blog regularly, Ellen Andersen. You’ll find her posts starting in January on the second Monday of each month. Ellen is a sweet lady with a lot to share and I know you’ll appreciate her take on acts of kindness.  I’ll  also still be sharing narratives in 2016 from The Kindness Blog, one of my favorite sources of inspiring stories.

With so much negative news and stories on television and social media, I love digging for positive alternatives. I know we’ll all benefit from the stories Ellen and I will share next year. For those of you who’ve been with me since the beginning, you’ll remember this blog was founded on this quote from Aesop.

“The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

I’d like you to take that nugget of truth into the New Year. No act of kindness is ever wasted. So let’s begin 2016 with intentional acts of kindness. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂

famous-inspirational-quote-no-act-of-kindness-no-matter-how-small-is-ever-wasted-21394562

Working With Family

betty owensBy Betty Thomason Owens

While working at an engineering  firm, I met two brothers who co-owned a construction company and later moved into design/build. They ran a successful business, and got along very well. Being the mother of sons, I could appreciate their close relationship. I once asked them if they always got along so well. They glanced at each other and chuckled.

“Seriously, we believe in presenting a strong front,” the elder brother told me. “If we have a disagreement, we handle it away from the office or jobsite.”

This is wisdom. Dealing with family on a daily basis and blending personal life with professional can be dicey at times, but it can be done.

I’ve worked in two family-owned businesses. Both had problems. One only occasionally–the other, more often.

The first family-owned business I worked for was owned by a husband and wife. He was “president” — she was “secretary/treasurer.” Though obvious to me their marriage was stable, there were occasional problems, which made it uncomfortable for the other office person (me). Since they were a small business, they treated me like family. Upside: really nice Christmas gifts and cool souvenirs from their vacations. Downside: getting caught in the middle of their periodic arguments.

One of the most memorable episodes happened when he commented on her makeup. A big no-no, especially in front of the office help (again, me). She stomped out, he shrugged and slinked away to his office. Embarrassed, I kept my eyes on my computer screen.

Later, I went to work for another family-owned business. The family was larger and blended, several times. The stepbrothers were not fond of each other and everyone knew it. Most of the time, they tolerated one another. But when the owner of the business (their father) died, emotions were high and one day, resulted in a fist-fight.

I packed up my stuff and was on my way out the door when the older brother came in and apologized for their behavior. The situation did finally get a little better when the younger brother stayed home. Actually, he was fired, which is not an easy thing to do when it’s family. The business eventually shut its doors. I was very close to the owner’s wife and stuck by her as long as she needed me, but I was not really sad to see it go. Neither was she.

I recently participated in a collaborative novella in which the heroine works for her father. She’s in the position temporarily to assist him as he recovers from a stroke. In the story, she hits a couple of snags working for family. Tough decisions. Can she gracefully refuse the position he places her in, which takes her out of her comfort zone into the unknown?

cover of unlikely merger

Unlikely Merger

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

 

Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the soon-to-be launched online magazine, Imaginate.

Her 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (Write Integrity Press). She also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Coming soon, a 1950’s historical novel inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth, book 1 of the Kinsman Redeemer Series (Write Integrity Press).

You can connect with Betty on her personal webpage, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and at Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!