Small Acts of Kindness: Give Thanks in All Circumstances

 

By Lindsey P. Brackett

I passed a church sign today. Give thanks in all circumstances. I use that verse in my debut novel, and when my main character, who’s had her share of tragedy, reads it, she wonders if it’s possible, really, to always give thanks.

Two years ago, our Thanksgiving was marked by similar questions. Two years ago this time was when we first began to suspect something was wrong with our youngest daughter. When we first took her to a doctor and were told we weren’t crazy. When we first realized this might be the beginning of the end.

Or the end of the beginning.

During those first six weeks of tests and blood draws and hospital stays and tears cried until my throat was raw and my knees burned from the carpet at the alter, I could not give thanks. I could not find a way to see gratitude because I was blinded by fear.

And then one day, I did.

I stood in the cold hallway of a children’s hospital and watched a man, a father of a child much smaller than mine, ask the nurse for toothpaste. They had left with almost nothing and found themselves confined to the neurology floor of a place where people spoke in whispers and used words parents are not always equipped to understand.

He caught my eye, this man who shared my fear, and he smiled. I had dirty hair and red-rimmed eyes and hands that shook around my coffee; I had no smile for anyone.

But he had one for me.

I began to make a list, Ann Voskamp style. A daily list of random acts of gratitude, of ways I still felt loved even when they sent us home and the neurologist called two days later and had us come back.

Someone brought us dinner. Gift cards came in the mail. My editor gave grace on a deadline, and so many other mamas stepped in for our three other children. The day we went across the state line to the Birmingham specialist, my husband’s truck broke down. The receptionist at the mechanic shop drove us to our appointment—and she picked us up.

Give thanks in all circumstances. It’s the only way to live thanksgiving, really. We gather around these feast-filled tables one day out of every year, but in reality, we should give the same thanks over the bowl of soup or peanut butter sandwich that graces our plates the rest of the time.

If we can give thanks in the bounty, we must also give it in the meager. If we can give thanks for the new home, better car, bigger paycheck—then we must also give it for the diagnosis and the doctors and the anxiety. Eventually, grace always overcomes. Just watch and you’ll see.

Somewhere in those darkest moments, those worst of times, there will be goodness, there will be kindness, there will be faithfulness. Give thanks in all circumstances—perhaps, especially, in ones that bring us fear.

Click to tweet: Finding thankfulness in all circumstances. #SmallActsofKindness #KindnessMatters


Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. A blogger since 2010, she has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Thriving Family, Country Extra, HomeLife, Northeast Georgia Living, Splickety Magazine, Spark Magazine, and Southern Writers Magazine.

In both 2015 and 2017, she placed in the top ten for Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction. Previously, Lindsey served as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group, and currently she is a general editor with Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books. In addition, she writes a popular column for several North Georgia newspapers.

Still Waters, influenced by her family ties to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is her debut novel. A story about the power of family and forgiveness, it’s been called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing.” A Georgia native, Lindsey makes her home—full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee—at the foothills of Appalachia with her patient husband and their four rowdy children.

Connect with her at www.lindseypbrackett.com, where she Just Writes Life, on Facebook as Lindsey P. Brackett, on Instagram @lindseypbrackett, or on Twitter @lindsbrac.


Still Waters

Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan—avoid her own past despite being waitlisted for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests—and her dispassionate mother insists—she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach.

Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts her with loss. Here her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness—especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the Island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt over his father’s death.

When the family reunion brings to light Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her—and Edisto—from more desolation. Now she must choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace.

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Small Acts of Kindness: Our Stay in the NICU

By Jennifer Hallmark

Our newest grandchild, Rozlyn Claire, arrived early. Almost four weeks early. I received the call one morning that I had an hour to get to the hospital if I wanted to see my son’s first baby arrive in the world. He and his wife had been at the hospital all night while they tried to stop her labor. But to no avail.

At eleven in the morning, Rozlyn made her big entrance. She looked perfect in every way, weighing in at 8 lbs. 10 oz. We thought everything was okay. But we soon learned her oxygen and breathing weren’t good and within a few hours, she boarded a pediatric ambulance and began the seventy mile ride to Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. Once there, she was placed in the NICU.  As north Alabama’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the state-of-the-art facility is designed to care for critically ill babies, premature newborns, and infants requiring close observation.

From the moment, Rozlyn arrived she received top-level care. In her section, one nurse is provided for each child. Each baby is monitored and charted. Parents were allowed to call at any time to check on their child which proved invaluable since my daughter-in-law was still in the hospital. The majority of the nurses were kind, caring, and considerate of the stressed parents, grandparents, friends, and family who came to visit.

During Rozlyn’s twenty-five day hospital stay, we were encouraged by the hospital staff, other parents and grandparents, and our friends and family from back home. So many prayed for Rozlyn and our family. People called, facebooked, and texted to check on how we were all doing. Some sent money and food which came in handy with the long treks back and forth to Huntsville.

I appreciated each and every small act of kindness my family received during this time. Whenever we would start to get down, someone was there to encourage us to not give up.  It really is true.

Rozlyn leaving the hospital

Kindness matters.

Small Acts of Kindness—Extravagant Gifts

By Betty Thomason Owens

betty-hospital

In the hospital, after the crisis

Since I began my walk with the Lord, I’ve believed in the power of prayer. That’s because I’d seen the results time and time again. I know one way or another, God does answer.

But that isn’t all there is to prayer.

I found that out in a dramatic way this summer when my husband went through renal failure—a catastrophic illness. We rushed him to the hospital. According to the doctor, he was hours from death. The medical team went to work to save his life. I made calls and sent out texts, requesting prayer from everyone I knew.

Almost immediately, I had a sense of peace.

We were not afraid, once we made it through the initial shock of the diagnosis. We felt this amazing peace as if we were being carried. Borne by unseen arms.

We sat through four hours of dialysis, wondering what the outcome would be, wondering whether this was only the beginning of an ongoing situation. Would there be permanent damage? Peace reigned in our hearts. We were not afraid. The dialysis was successful—he wouldn’t need another. They located the root cause: large stones blocking both kidneys. As soon as he was stable, and the infection cleared, the doctors would deal with the stones.

I find it difficult to express the gratitude I feel for all those who took a moment out of their day to whisper a prayer. Some didn’t whisper—I know them—they shouted. That’s great. I love that. The prayers are heard, though you shout or whisper or only think. The important part is that you prayed.

Prayer for another’s need is an extreme act of kindness. It may seem a small thing to you. But it’s the shot heard around the world. It’s the mouse that roared.

So when you see that request on Facebook, how should you respond? Pass on by?  Comment with a sad face emoticon? Type the word, “Praying!” That’s often what I do, and I mean it, I really am praying. It may not be a complicated prayer, but it’s a heartfelt one. It only takes seconds, unless I feel I need to spend more time.

No matter how these calls come in, whether phonetexted or spoken—whether they’re coming from a family member, friend, acquaintance, or complete stranger—answer them. These small, very personal acts of kindness are laying a foundation, sowing seeds of faith, building relationships, and setting up a structure that you can draw on when you’re the one in need. Have you ever thought about that? I hadn’t, until I found myself in this situation.

During the times when we were too shocked to utter our own, I felt the strength of those prayers behind us, before us, and bearing us up. We weren’t alone. We had an army standing with us. We didn’t need to see them, we knew they were there. We felt their presence through prayer.

Small acts of kindness? No, extravagant gifts.



Betty Thomason OwensBetty 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 and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers.

On a personal note, Betty Thomason Owens was born in the Pacific Northwest,  grew up in Southern California and West Tennessee. The daughter of a self-proclaimed nomad, she attended eleven different schools by high school graduation in Kentucky. She and her husband, an EIT (electronics instrumentation technician), have three sons, a couple of beautiful daughters-in-law, five granddaughters and two grandsons (at last count).

An office manager/bookkeeper for 15 years, she is semi-retired and pursuing her other loves––gardening, cooking, spending time with the grands, and of course, writing.

You can find Betty’s books available here: amazon.com/author/btowens

You can connect with her on her webpage, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Small Acts of Kindness: Hospice and Hospital Care

Thomas and HarperBy Jennifer Hallmark

We needed help. My stepdad was struggling and Hospice provided a way to care for him at home and even in the hospital. This service began around November 1st and stayed close until his passing on January 20th.

Hospice care is a type of care and philosophy of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs.

HCA Hospice Care Logo (2012)To me, Hospice is a big act of kindness. During this time, we were the recipient of many small acts of kindness also. I’ve given this some thought and want to share a list of items and services that would help if you know someone who is under hospice or hospital care, a caregiver or helping a caregiver…

For an individual under hospice care and their family

  • Visits and phone calls. When you’re confined to home, a visit or phone call is like a breath of fresh air. Even better is a long visit where you offer to stay with the patient while the caregiver shops, goes to the doctor, or just gets away for a few moments.
  • Meals. Caregivers tend to be exhausted from the constant care a hospice patient needs. Always check and see what the patient can or can’t eat and cook or buy accordingly.
  • Greeting cards and emails. My stepdad loved getting physical mail from people. Not so much “get well” cards but those cards that expressed “thinking about you” or encouragement. Homemade cards from the children or grandchildren or school or church class are enjoyed also.
  • Gifts. The best gifts were the ones where people asked what we needed and then provided them. Some I remember are an electronic Bible that read out loud, pajamas, puzzle books, certain food items or snacks, and magazines.IMG_20160217_094918629

When the patient is in the hospital.

  • All of the above. Visits where you can stay with the patient are especially helpful so the caregiver can go eat or to the store without feeling stressed. Before bringing food, check on the patient’s dietary needs.

One thing people asked us during this time was “How can we help?” Beside the above ways, I’ll list items you can purchase that are useful during this time.

  • Restaurant gift cards.IMG_20160217_094952009
  • Gas gift cards. (so much back and forth driving)
  • Walmart gift cards.
  • Fruit or healthy snacks. (to keep at hospital)
  • Magazines, puzzle books, or books.
  • Small blankets or throws.
  • Mints, gum, or hard candy.
  • Phone charger (we had to go out and buy one)
  • Change for the drink and snack machines.

So when someone is under hospice care or in the hospital, you can make a difference. A show of concern can brighten the day of someone going through stress-filled times. Prayer was always welcomed and we loved it when people took time to ask, “What do you specifically need? I’ll bring it.”

Your small act of kindness can shine big in someone’s life today. Be the difference…