God Inspires Kindness in Impossible Situations

 By Lynn U. Watson

With a grateful smile, she tossed imaginary bouquets to Jesus. The scenario: I asked her permission to share this story. She reminded me that I wasn’t supposed to know that it was her.  I reminded her right back how I anonymously thanked her on that Sunday a few years back.

Recalling the sweet moment, she lifted her hands and offered Jesus ALL the glory. Another friend snapped this photo; and no, neither of us recall a memo to wear lime green.

It all began when he delivered the news with an I-told-you-so attitude, and it smacked like the blow of a high-powered sledge hammer. I completed training from one of the most highly acclaimed reflexology schools in the country at the time. Our state denied my application for board certification. Crucial for me to supplement our family income, I  invested a year of life in this. One more time the voices in my head hollered loud and clear – you’re not good enough – you’ll never be able to do that. Were those voices right?

Redeeming the situation meant attending another school in my state, and paying their full tuition. That $1800 (AGAIN!) loomed more like $18,000,000. After draining a measly savings left from a small inheritance I still needed several hundred dollars to make this happen.

Craft sales and dollars scraped from every pot available secured my way the first time. Overwhelmed by the thought of a redo and unable to wiggle one more penny from our tight family budget, the chains of hopelessness and helplessness strangled me. A few friends aware of my plight contributed generously, but the fund remained impossibly short. How awesome God loves impossible situations!

Meant to be anonymous, the envelope arrived with only the church’s return address. It contained a gift card that filled the gap for the rest. With immediate realization of who sent it, I thanked God for her generous spirit. I didn’t know her well at the time, but she’s one of those people who makes you feel comfortable bearing your heart and burdens right from the start, confident she’ll never tell another soul.

Nearly ten years gone by now, I’m so thankful for the friendship we share. Getting to know the heart of this beautiful lady revealed how she stands in the gap for so many. Continuously making herself aware of the needs around her and madly in love with Jesus, acts of kindness flow freely from Miss Bonnie’s life. To her it simply represented a monetary gift she gladly offered in Jesus Name, but He orchestrated the act of kindness that allowed me to break free from those chains and began to bring restoration to my weary soul.

Of special note,  my devotional, The Essence of Courage, features fictional characters whose life stories are based on the lives of real women. A little piece of Miss Bonnie’s story became a part of who Cinnamah-Brosia’s “Gram” is in the book.


Pulled reluctantly into women’s ministry nearly four decades ago, Lynn Watson now treasures the opportunities that were provided to lead, encourage and mentor women through relationships and Bible studies. She wrote a few of the studies, too.

Drawing from those experiences, along with years serving others professionally in the complementary healthcare field and her love for essential oils, Lynn delights in bringing her readers freshly inspired insights drawn from and focused on the many fruits, plants, oils, and spices mentioned in God’s Word. Married since 1973, Lynn and Steve call Bartlett, Tennessee home. Their home is filled with handmade treasures and lots of love for family, especially their five beautiful (of course) grandchildren.

Website/Blog http://LynnUWatson.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lynnuwatson writer

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-U-Watson/e/B01N4NH1OA/


The Essence of Courage: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Solomon’s Locked Garden and in Your Heart (Cinnamah-Brosia’s Inspirational Collection for Women) (Volume 1)

Fresh & Unique! Explores spices & essential oils in the Bible. Ties those in King Solomon’s Locked Garden to the fruit of the Spirit. Visits women in the Bible & fictionalized contemporary characters who encourage you to cultivate the fruit in your heart. Icing on the cake: fun facts and activities to bring the spices & essential oils into your life.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692840532/

The Kindness Blog: When Gratitude and Appreciation Become a Morning Mantra

Just wanted to share a wonderful reason to be grateful. (Permission given by The Kindness Blog)
By Carmelene Melanie Siani

The alarm goes off and my husband is up, out of bed, into the living room to do his sit ups and push ups, out the door for his 2 mile walk and back home again to unload the dishwasher.

Just after he puts the coffee on he comes into the bedroom, kisses me and asks me what I want for breakfast. We’re going on 3-plus years now and this is how it has been.

Gratitude.

I think about the days when I had to get up and get the kids dressed and fix their lunches and put a load of laundry in and start dinner and drive to work and work 8 hours and then stop at the grocery store on my way home — you know (or remember) the drill — and now I’m in this kind of fairlyland, dream-world life.

Thankful.

I look out the sliding glass door as my husband heads back out to the kitchen. A dove flies into the glass door with a thud. Startled, she lands on her feet, shakes her head a few times and takes off, sailing over the fence as if nothing had happened.

How grateful I am on behalf of the little bird. And then, as I lay there in my soft, warm bed, I think of all the living beings in the world who have hard knocks every single morning of their lives and of people who don’t have sweethearts to kiss them awake let alone to ask them what they want for breakfast. Refugees. Prisoners. Slum-dwellers. Orphans. Maybe even the guy down the street.

I am awash with gratitude for the plenty and abundance in my life, for the more-than-enough-to-go-around and for the simple peace of mind and the time in which to enjoy it.

After breakfast I will take a hot shower under clean water that washes over me from a spray nozzle, I will use shampoo designed especially for “color damaged” hair. When I dry off I will put lotion on my skin and clean clothes on my body.

Appreciation and wonder.

How did this happen? Why me?

The lesson however, is not to ask “Why me?”

The lesson instead is to practice opening my heart wide enough to allow all the wonder and gratitude in without diminishing it with guilt or with comparisons or with self-doubt or questions like “Why me?”

Guilt and self-doubt push gratitude away. They are ways of saying “No thank you.”

“Just be grateful,” I tell myself.

That is your calling now, at this time of your life. That is what brings balance to a world in which there is so much suffering.

“Balance the suffering with gratitude. That is your practice.”

It is a simple and yet so difficult thing to be grateful. It requires stretching and allowing and receiving and acceptance and it requires that you be … happy.

“Thank you.”

I remind myself again.

“Just say ‘thank you.’

It’s my morning mantra.


This article originally appeared in Elephant Journal.com.


Author Bio: Carmelene Melanie Siani

Carmelene Melanie Siani

Carmelene writes stories from every day life and how life itself offers lessons to help us grow, expand, and put our feet on higher ground.

https://www.facebook.co/StoryBelly/

Small Acts of Love

By Sherrie Giddens

I must admit, there are days, or even weeks, when I wonder if I am doing as much as I was created to do. I have read about people who dig wells in areas where water is not readily available. There are others who build tiny homes for those who have no homes. Some people gather up the leftover from families like mine, and feed the hungry. Then, there are those who clothe the naked and cold. There are foster parents who open their homes to children who have no home. There are also people who travel to the ends of the earth to share the Gospel.

I could go on and on. When I ask myself what I have done, I have no answers that would even stand up to this kind of love for humanity. I have said, from the time I can remember, I want to make a difference. My whole life, I have just wanted to make a difference. Ask me how and I would never be able to give you a concise answer.

Why? I have never been able to nail down a plan of any kind. I have no idea how or where to even begin. All I know is that this life was given to me as a gift and a blessing, and I know that when it is over, I want to have left behind gifts and blessings that have an impact on others.

To spend my life in a way that only serves me and mine, is not the way I want to live. But, I know that God puts us into the body in a way that is best for Him. If we were all eyes, there would be no feet. If we were all feet, there would be no ears.

There are a few causes that are near and dear to my heart. There is the Arthritis Foundation, and its programs for children with arthritis, along with the services it provides to others. There are the homeless who stand on corners, asking for help. Yes, I know they might use the money in a way that I would not like, but that isn’t my concern. If they say they are hungry, if they say they are in need, I am going to give them enough to get something to eat. The money is God’s anyway, He just lends it to me.  If they choose to spend it in other ways, that is there choice. There are the young and single moms who carried their babies to term and now are struggling to make it all work. If I could just make life easier for those who struggle, if I could make a difference, a real difference.

I do my best, and then I hope that my best is good enough. It isn’t digging a well, building a home, being a missionary, or changing the lives of those living in small villages on the other side of the world. It doesn’t even change the life of one person. But, it can make a difference in that one day, at that one moment, of that one person. I hope and pray that is enough. When I compare the love that Jesus showed to those around Him when he walked this earth, I hope and pray that I can show even a fraction of the love that He had. Sometimes, I am blown away by the many struggles around us and how little power we have to make the changes that we would like to see. But, when you break it down to simple acts of love, things look a little brighter.

Simple acts of love, they are like taking a piece of your heart and using it to patch a hole in the heart of someone else.


Sherrie Giddens is your family friendly author, offering titles in various genres. While many of her children’s books are not Christian in theme, they do offer a moral compass, or educational experience.

Her adult titles delve into fiction and nonfiction themes that span the charming side of Christian Romance to the domestic side of life.

She brings her life experiences to the written word in a way that celebrates an individual’s many facets. We are all people of various interests and as an author, she shares those varied interests with her readers.

Member of ACFW

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Sherrie-Giddens/e/B006MW3Y6M/


Wildflowers and Toadstools: When God Seems Silent

Have you ever felt as if God was not listening? Maybe you wondered if God was even hearing you. Sherrie Giddens recounts a personal experience from on top of a mountain, where she learns that not only does He listen, He also answers in ways we might not readily recognize.

This title includes photos of the Alaskan landscape.

Reading time is approximately 45 minutes.

As God’s Chosen Ones, Put on Compassionate Hearts and Kindness (and New Windshields)

By Janell Butler Wojtowicz

fall-church-hill-crossesSince being widowed eight years ago, my mother, who lives on a limited income, has experienced many loving acts of kindness from people in her small-town Iowa church. They are a close-knit family of believers so I shouldn’t be surprised by their compassion; nevertheless, our gratefulness is abundant.

My brother and I live two and three hours away from Mom, so sometimes it’s not possible for us to be there in a timely manner to see to her needs. The practical kindnesses from her church have included fixing a garage door, minor household repairs, and checking her car battery. They’ve reached out with birthday cupcakes, holiday cookies, and fresh-from-the-garden produce. A couple takes her to concerts at a community college. When Mom broke her ankle, two ladies volunteered to stay overnight to keep an eye on her.

But one act of love still brings tears to my eyes. Mom, 84, recently put her house on the market to move into senior housing. She decided to take furniture and household items to the auction house to downsize and provide income. On the designated Saturday, my brother and I arrived to help church members who donated the use of a trailer, provided plenty of man-power, and brought cake and coffee to feed the helpers.

What they did not know, however, was that just days before the front windshield on my mother’s car had cracked and needed to be replaced. My brother checked her car insurance and found there was no glass coverage. I called my husband to asked about the cost. But before we could come up with a plan, the trailer had backed up to the garage to load items and we had to get back to work. A half hour later, with the loading complete, the pastor approached us and very quietly said, “We’ll take care of her windshield.”

I just about cried. (I did when I called my husband that night.)

A few days later, the auto glass company came to Mom’s house and replaced the windshield. The bill went to the church. It was a small act of kindness, but to our family it was huge.

I’m sure their acts of kindness to Mom and others in need will continue. After all, their compassion runs deep in their hearts as expressions of God’s love.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” – Col. 3:12


janell-butler-wojtowicz-2A native of Iowa, Janell Butler Wojtowicz released her debut novel, “Embracing Hope,” in November 2016.  She has spent over 30 years as a professional writer in higher education and Christian nonprofit public relations, and local government public information. In addition to writing fiction, she owns A Portrait in Words Freelance Service. Janell lives in New Brighton, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb, with her husband, Frank.


Embracing Hope

embracing_hope_coverUniversity dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring. Falling in love again is the last thing on his mind. Even as grad student Allison Bennett deals with financial hardships and academic challenges, she recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Student senate president Chris Whitney carries around the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a just-below-the surface temper.
Links

Small Acts of Kindness: “Big Ups To this Dad And All The Dads Out There”

Once again, I share a wonderful post I found on the Kindness Blog. Enjoy!

man-on-airplane…on my flight back to Georgia I saw this man, who was a stranger to this woman, offer to help her because she was pregnant and alone on the flight and her son was upset and fussy.

He did not complain, he just told her that he was a DAD, and wanted to help her so she could rest.

This MAN walked the aisle most of the flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta comforting this woman’s son as if he was his own…

I was in tears…not because he was white and she was black…but because it showed me today that there are still GOOD people out there in a world full of turmoil.

Big UPS to this DAD and all the DADS out there…you are the real MVPS!”

#REALMENTAKEACTION

Be the Difference

fallcolors5 redoneBy Cynthia Herron

Last weekend, my husband and I gathered for a family visit. Around lunchtime, we opted for Chinese and our group of fifteen met at the mid-size restaurant a stone’s throw from my sister-in-law’s.

As we entered the restaurant, kind folks parted and held doors open as my husband’s ninety-six-year-old grandmother ambled along with her walker. (Grandma is legally blind and moves slowly as you might expect, but she still enjoys getting out when able.)

It was lunchtime and the place was packed.

We waited about fifteen minutes while the hostess readied the tables for us and then she ushered our tribe around the corner to a perfect spot in back. We seated Grandma at the end of a table so there would be plenty of room for her walker.

“Grandma, I’ll just hang your purse over the side of your chair here. Is that okay?”

Grandma Helen smiled and patted my hand. “Well, that would be just fine.”

Since it was a buffet, it was a serve yourself affair. Family members fixed Grandma’s plate, and after we’d made our selections and began visiting, our waitress brought waters and additional fountain drinks.

Just a few minutes into our meal, our waitress returned.

She leaned down beside Grandma and handed her a yellow ticket. “Someone asked me to give this to you. Have a wonderful day.”

Because Grandma’s vision is so limited, she couldn’t make out the words.”What does it say?”

My mother-in-law (whose vision is also poor) gave it a shot. The sentiment was brief. Touching. God-ordained.

“I saw you come in and felt like I should honor you in some way. I know this gift is small, but I hope it helps.”

Someone ministered to our elderly grandmother by paying for her meal.

An ordinary lunch became an unexpected blessing. A true pay-it-forward moment. Praise! Praise! Praise!

Be the difference, dear one.

Be the difference.


ch-7888-copyCynthia Herron writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the beautiful Ozark Mountains.

A hopeless romantic at heart, Cynthia enjoys penning stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. She has a degree in psychology and a background in social work. She is a member of ACFW, ACFW MozArks, and RWA.

Cynthia is a 2016 ACFW Genesis (Double) Finalist and a 2015 ACFW First Impressions Winner. Her short story Words from the Heart appears in The Story Anthology (Karen Kingsbury/Family Fiction) via Salem Publications, 2014.

Besides writing, Cynthia delights in serving the Lord and spending time with her family and friends. She has a fondness for gingerbread men, miniature teapots, and all things apple. Join her at: http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com/ for weekly encouragement.

Giving A Smile

By Robin E. Mason

You’ve all heard the saying, I’m sure, “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” Easiest thing in the world to do, right? Only, ‘cept, sometimes I’m the one without a smile. Hard to give what I don’t have… Then again, when I smile at someone through my whatever-is-going-on, funny thing happens – MY joy sneaks back in. Giving a smile actually turns into receiving a smile (joy.)image 1

Today was a cold rainy day in our area. Late this afternoon, there was a knock on my door. There stood my sweet friend, Susan, who is recovering – quite nicely, I might add – from a stroke. She brought her husband with her (right up in my messy house) to deliver a generous (two meals for me) portion of her homemade turkey vegetable soup. Don’t you know that made my day! She couldn’t have known it was one of those days I wanted a redo.image 2

More than the soup, though, was the friendship that brought her here. She has come to be one of my most cherished friends, for her thoughtfulness. The soup is just one example of her kindness toward me. There has been coffee (fresh ground, mind you) and cookies (homemade of course) and rides to get places I need to go. Long story, but I don’t have a car – but I do have friends, and I’ll take them over a car! (if I had to choose of course)

In the friends giving rides category, yesterday was one. In lieu of gas money (which I don’t have) I offered to cook supper (scrounge something) and bake brownies for my friend if she could give me a ride to a doctor’s appointment. As we left the doctor’s office, she asked if I had time to ride with her to run an errand she needed to do before 5:00. I looked at the clock, it was already after 4:00; I had no problem riding along. Then she asked if I had eaten at this Mexican restaurant she likes. I hadn’t so she asked if I’d like to go for dinner, her treat. Then we stopped at a bakery for yummies, also her treat. What a boost to my spirit – and my tummy – to be treated to exactly what I had offered to do for my friend.image 3

Sometimes, it’s the little things, things we might not notice. Our trash pick-up is on Mondays, and I hadn’t bothered to roll my trash can back by the house. My daughter, who lives across the street, was heading out for an errand this afternoon. I noticed as she stopped her truck and snugged her hood over her – it was raining pretty hard at the time – and rolled my trash can back by the house for me.  Little things.image 4

A note arrives in the mail, a message or post on Facebook that really touches my heart. Or, perhaps, it’s something I’ve shared that touches someone’s heart. A kind word in season, a hug – one of my sweet friends at church hugs me and doesn’t let go. I’ve read that hugs that last more than twenty seconds (I think) are therapeutic. She hugs perhaps a full minute, maybe more. I live alone, so hugs is huge to me. (I love my kitties but for all their kitty love and affection, it just ain’t the same!)image 5

We never know what random (act of kindness) that seems so insignificant might be received as the token that turned a “horrible awful bad day” around. We never know what long reaching effect our words may have.

A word spoken in due season, how good it is (Proverbs 15:23).

Turns out, small acts of kindness aren’t so small after all.

image 6“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

Robin E. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. She resides in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She is currently working on Clara Bess, the sequel to Tessa, which will be released in November of this year.