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.

Book Review: Hope by Fay Lamb

By Jennifer Hallmark

Today, I’d like to take a few moments and tell you about Fay Lamb’s newest book, Hope in the Ties That Bind series.

Wow. I really am amazed how much better each book in this series has been to me. The book, Charisse, started the journey and her second book, Libby, will always have a special place in my heart. This latest release, Hope, is even stronger.

I had a difficult time reading it at times because the main character, Hope, is dealing with a serious disease. My BFF Rose had Leukemia and the writing was so well-done that at times, it brought back memories. But grieving is not a bad thing, at times, and I felt a sense of release when I finished the book.

I’m not going to say a lot more because I don’t want to give away the story, but you’ll get to see Charisse and Libby again in this third book of the Ties that Bind. And there is yet one more book to go. Hurry up and write, Fay! 🙂

Make sure you read every book in the Ties That Bind series, especially Hope. You’ll be glad you did…


Hope

Hope Astor is literally a starving artist, living off the good graces of her friends as she seeks help for the fatigue that has plagued her for over a month. Dr. Daniel Duvall is a noted oncological surgeon whose life hasn’t been the same since losing his sister in a car accident the year before.

When Hope receives her diagnosis, she understands that her carefree artist’s lifestyle has left her without any options to save her life, but her friends try to convince her otherwise. They persuade Hope to seek treatment from the best doctor she knows. Trouble is, Hope is the reason Daniel’s sister is dead, and she doesn’t think saving her life is on his list of priorities.


Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories that remind the reader that God is always in the details. Three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, are available: Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken. Hope is the third book in The Ties that Bind Series, which also includes Charisse and Libby. Fay’s adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay will be: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series, and Delilah, Book 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor.


2017: The Year to be Thankful

thanks-1804597_960_720By Jennifer Hallmark

2017 is just beginning and it’s time for a fresh start and with me, a new focus. In December, I always pray about a focal point for the next year. A thought or scripture to wrap my mind around so when life gets hard, I can remember and not lose heart. This year, my focus is to be thankful.

Just pure simple gratitude.

And being thankful can tie right in with Small Acts of Kindness. When I am thankful and content with who I am and what I have, I can be a blessing to others. One way to show my gratitude is to be intentional when it comes to the people I met each day, whether in person or online.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by gratefulness over an act of kindness by a friend, family member, or organization? Have your children or spouse done something so sweet you just have to share? I have openings on this blog page, Small Acts of Kindness, scattered throughout the rest of this year which usually post every Monday.

Just drop me a line if you’re interested and we’ll share your thoughts with others. You might inspire someone to follow your lead.

So this year, why don’t you join me in esteeming others more highly than myself and see what we can do to change the world around us?

One Small Act of Kindness at a time…

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Twenty Small Acts of Kindness During the Christmas Season

By Jennifer Hallmark

nativity-447767_960_720Christmas. What comes to mind when you think of this most festive time of the year? For me, it’s Jesus, Santa, decorations, trees, gifts, and children. Also words like hurry, busy, rushed, over scheduled, and underpaid. How can we make the holiday season better for people we know and those we don’t? Here are twenty simple acts of kindness:

  1.  Smile and greet people you encounter. There are many lonely people out and about during the holidays. Even those working behind the counter of the supermarket, bank, or restaurant could use a smile and a kind word. It only takes a moment.
  2. Take your family to a Christmas play or musical.
  3. If you’re waiting in a line, offer your spot to someone with fewer items or who has children or the elderly.
  4. Be a courteous driver.
  5. Buy a gift for a child you don’t know through a local or national charity.
  6. Donate items to a food bank.
  7. Take the time to send Christmas cards by the USPS.
  8. Invite someone new to the events you participate in, like dinners or shopping.
  9. Visit a person who is home-bound.
  10. Send a gift card to someone anonymously.
  11. Bake cookies with a child.
  12. Offer to baby-sit so someone can shop.
  13. Sponsor a child from a needy country.
  14. Put holiday sticky notes in a family members lunchbox.
  15. Just listen.
  16. Volunteer.
  17. While shopping, pick up items that have fallen or been left on the floor.
  18. Place your shopping cart in the designated place.
  19. Forgive.
  20. Be kind to yourself.

You can be an agent of change during one of the loneliest and most stressful times of the year through a simple act of kindness. Start today. You’ll be glad you did.

And Merry Christmas!

smile

 

 

Small Acts of Kindness/ACFW Conference 2016

patricia fay reeceBy Jennifer Hallmark

I love stories about small, often random acts of kindness. Even in the world we live in, people amaze me with their generosity, thoughtfulness, and compassion. Today I want to share about a person who touched my life in a very special way.

In 2014, I remember reading a post about a premiere Christian fiction writing conference, one sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). The article mentioned that in August of 2016, the conference would be coming to Nashville, a two-hour drive from my house. I prayed.

“God, I’d really like to go to that one. Do you think you can make it happen?”

One quick prayer and I went back to normal life and didn’t think of it again until around Christmas of 2015. At this time, my husband and I decided to attend my nieces wedding out of state in June of 2016. Our son was getting married in May and I knew that our budget wouldn’t afford all these events. I let it go and decided maybe I could attend a smaller conference in 2017.

But God…

Fast forward to August 17th, 2016, one week before the ACFW conference. I was sitting in the recliner, wrapped in a blanket. I’d just called the doctor to make an appointment because of a sinus/cold/yucky thing I’d been dealing with for several days. I looked down and noticed I had a Facebook message from one of my good writer friends, Betty Thomason Owens. She said she’d just received word of a friend, Patricia Fay Reece, who couldn’t go to the conference because of an injury. Patricia was trying to find someone to take her place.

I messaged Betty, telling her I couldn’t phoneafford to go at this time and I was hoping to win a scholarship to another conference in 2017. At this point, I went ahead and called her so I could quit messaging. I asked again about the offer.

“You don’t understand,” Betty said. “Pat wants to give this to someone.”

I’m sure I sat there in silence for several minutes, so many thoughts going through my mind. I remembered the prayer. Tears welled in my eyes and I swallowed hard.

“Really? Like free?”

“Yes.”

Within 24 hours, I was registered at the conference and the hotel, and even had a ride to the event with my friend, Ginger Solomon, who lives in a town near me. I had a long talk with Patricia who lives on the West coast. She kept telling me to give God the praise. She was following what she felt like He wanted her to do.

So I am. I’m praising Him while deciding what to wear, what writing materials I need to take, and trying to find out which of my writer friends will be in attendance so we can meet and chat. I give Him all the glory for the week ahead. I hope I can positively impact someone else’s life while I’m there. And Patricia, I know you said not to, but I’m sending a big hug your way and another thank you.

For providing a special act of kindness…

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patricia fay reecePatricia Fay Reece lives in Washington state, along the Columbia River. A native of Tennessee, she enjoys researching the past history of her ancestors and the times in which they lived. The historical novels she writes have been inspired by that history.

Twenty Ways We Can Show Kindness to a Hurting World

By Jennifer Hallmark

Our world can be a difficult place to live. kindness-1197351_960_720Terrorism, racism, weather-related catastrophes, and even everyday irritants can stretch us to the point of breaking. A small act of kindness might not seem like much in comparison to today’s headlines, but we can make our community a better place, one compassionate display at a time. Here are twenty ways to help us all get started in improving someone’s day…

  1. Pay for someone’s order at a cafe or the person behind you in the drive-thru line at a fast food restaurant. (Drive-Thru Difference)
  2. Send a card of encouragement by regular mail.
  3. Give at a back-to-school donation drive.
  4. Volunteer at an animal shelter or zoo.
  5. Pick up trash alongside the road in your neighborhood.
  6. Visit patients at a Veteran’s Hospital.
  7. Take a single mom/dad and her/his children to lunch.
  8. Donate to your local food bank during the annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
  9. Volunteer to read to children at your community library.
  10. Give blood at the local blood donation center.
  11. Take snacks to the staff at the Intensive Care Unit of your local hospital.
  12. Offer baby-sitting services for a young couple or single mom/dad.
  13. Leave a gift card anonymously for someone you work with.
  14. During your shopping time, make a positive comment to each cashier you encounter.
  15. Sponsor a car wash, donation only, and donate to a local charity of your choice.
  16. Leave magazines or snacks in a hospital waiting room/Oncology Center. (Always ask permission first.)
  17. Donate a box of toiletry items to a women’s shelter.
  18. Take note cards, write encouraging messages on them, tape a pen/pencil/candy to the card, and then place them in a basket. Set it in a prominent place at work with a sign saying, “Free. Please take one.”
  19. Go to a nursing home in your community, make a list of supplies needed, and fill the need.
  20. Put together a help kit to give to any homeless people you may encounter.

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