Small Acts of Kindness: Front Porch Friends

By Kathy Cheek

I had finished watering the pots of flowers on my front porch and just sat down in one of the chairs by the small bistro table. A soft breeze carried the scent of flowers across the way and I noticed my neighbor had walked outside and was going to her mailbox for the day’s mail. I called out to her and asked if she wanted to join me sitting on the porch.

Joann walked towards me and said in a half question half statement, “You actually sit on your front porch?”

“Yes, I do.”

She joined me on the porch where we chatted a little while and then she had to leave to check on her mother at the nearby nursing home. It was good to catch up with my neighbor, even if it isn’t as often as we’d like.

Many of our visits are brief encounters as one of us pulls in or out of our driveway or find the other one doing yardwork, or me on my way back from a walk with my hair a mess. I am often a mess when Joann pulls in or out as she catches me sweaty doing yard work or returning from a long walk around the neighborhood.

But this time, we indulged ourselves and sat on my front porch. We weren’t the Waltons in the hills of Virginia with their big inviting front porch where their large family and various neighbors often gathered. Instead, we are – American suburbia… or, Dallas, Texas suburbia to be exact.

Joann travels often with her job and we rarely have time to visit, which means the opportunity to relax on the front porch was a big deal. I could tell she needed this relaxing reprieve more than I did. Travel and tending to her mother who had been back and forth between the nursing home and the hospital had her overextended with no relief in sight. She admitted she had been running on empty the last few weeks with another emergency with her mom.

I couldn’t do anything to change Joann’s hectic work schedule or control any of her mother’s medical emergencies. But I could offer her something that would help. I could offer her a place to relax for just a little while and to leisurely chat with a friend. Yes, Joann is my neighbor. I also consider her my friend—a front porch friend.

Click to tweet: Small Acts of Kindness Sitting on the front porch with friends. #kindnessmatters #kindness


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.

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Small Acts of Kindness: The Words of a Friend

By Kathy Cheek

Through the kindness and support of a friend,
I was moved from discouragement to a place of renewed hope.

Anyone who writes knows there are more rejections, more closed doors, more difficult challenges than there are yeses and contracts.

Some of those rejections hurt more than others and sometimes it is hard to get back on the bicycle or horse, so to speak.

It is a lot more fun to share good news with friends and family than the times we are rejected, especially when everyone knows how much you wanted to hear yes. Not, we are declining…

So, recently when I was rejected by an agent and a publisher in the same week, I was feeling pretty down, until I received an email from a friend I would describe as soft spoken.

Well, she wasn’t soft spoken in this email. If you could be loud in an email, she was loud. She was loudly proclaiming her support of my writing and telling me not to give up in such a forceful encouraging way, I was moved from my place of discouragement to a place of renewed hope.

Her uplifting words made a difference and urged me on. She will never know how much her kindness and support meant to me in those days as I read her email over and over—finding the courage in her words to believe there is a plan and I need to keep working.

I want to live up to her challenge and not give up.

I also want to be the friend to others that she was to me, and I hope I can do that with kindness and support—as she did for me.


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: Good Samaritan

By Andrea Merrell

Sometimes we don’t realize how one tiny act of kindness can impact someone.

It was late one night during a writers’ conference as I headed back to my room—exhausted. I could hardly wait to slip into my PJs and eat that last piece of dark chocolate that was waiting for me.

Almost to my room, I noticed a young woman sitting on the floor a couple of doors down the hallway. The contents of her large bag were spread all around her. Thoughts raced through my mind as I approached her. Was she sick? Had she fallen? When I got closer, she looked up with a rueful smile.

“I can’t find my key,” she said, obviously as tired as I was.

My heart went out to her. “Are you sure it’s not in there?”

She shook her head. “No, I’ve been through everything. I might have left it in my room. Guess I’ll have to walk all the way down to the front desk to get another key.”

It was then I remembered the app on my phone that gave us access to the front desk. “Wait, let me text them and see if they can send someone up to let you in.”

The relief on her face almost made me cry. Sure enough, within a short time, someone from the office came to her rescue. She thanked me and called me a Good Samaritan.

“Well, I don’t know about that. Never been called a Good Samaritan before. I’m sure anyone who came by would have stopped to help,” I said.

She shook her head again and looked a little sad. “Actually, they wouldn’t. Two people already passed by without saying a word. You were the third and the one to stop.”

To say that I was blown away would be putting it mildly. It was hard to imagine anyone passing this woman by without offering to help. Once she was inside her room and all was well, I slipped into my own room, thankful that I had not been the third one to look the other way.

We all need help from time to time, whether it’s from a friend or a stranger. God never meant for us to walk this journey of life alone. In fact, the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NKJV) that two are better than one. The Message puts it this way: It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps. But if there’s no one to help, tough!

Be that Good Samaritan when you see someone in need. It can be the smallest, simplest acts of kindness that mean the most.


 

Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues.

Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript and Praying for the Prodigal. Her newest book, Marriage: Make It or Break It, is now available on Amazon. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.


Marriage: Make It or Break It

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell—after forty-plus years of marriage—believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of a lifetime of trial and error, keen observation, and years of studying God’s Word. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis.

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong—and a lot of things that will destroy it—buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.

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.
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The Kindness Of A Stranger

By Patti Shene

img_20170127_094046-1I set out to do my grocery shopping at the Safeway, located twenty miles away, with the coupon book I had received in the mail tucked away in my purse. The federal government paid their employees twice a month, so every payday, this chore had become routine.

It’s hard to say why I would make the poor choice that I did, but for some unknown reason, when I left my vehicle to go inside, I had only the coupon book and my checkbook in hand. I was soon to regret that I didn’t have those items tucked safely in my purse.

After a good forty-five minutes of shopping, occasionally matching my purchases to the coupons in the book, I pulled into line at the cash register behind three other shoppers. It wasn’t until I started looking over the items in my basket to tear out the appropriate coupons that I realized I had no coupons.

Worse than that, no checkbook. Had I left it in the car? No. I knew I had cradled both items in my palm only a few minutes ago. I must have laid them down somewhere, but where? Probably next to an item I contemplated purchasing, but which one? Thoroughly rattled, I couldn’t even recall which aisle I had shopped in last.

The first act of kindness I encountered that day occurred at the Customer Service counter. When I asked if the checkbook had been turned in, the clerk told me it had not, but he immediately offered words of comfort. He told me to go on home and assured me the store staff would do everything they could to locate the missing checkbook. He also informed me there was no need to return my groceries to the shelves, as I had planned to do, since I had no way to pay for them. He cashed out my items, had me sign the receipt, and told me I could settle the bill the next day. I found that quite amazing since I was not very well known in that store!

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Still shaken, I made the drive home fraught with anxiety, mentally condemning myself. How could I have been so careless? So stupid? What would my husband say? Would my checkbook fall into the hands of someone who was smart enough to exploit my carelessness and write a bunch of checks against my account?

The second act of kindness I witnessed occurred about thirty seconds after I pulled into my driveway. I exited my vehicle to see a car pull up behind me. A lady emerged from the passenger side, and to my shocked surprise, presented me with my checkbook!

“We found it sitting on a shelf at Safeway,” she explained. “We could imagine what you were going through, and when we saw your address inside, we thought we would just bring it to you.”

I’ll always be grateful to the store personnel who were so understanding and trusting, and to that family. They could have simply called, but they took the time out of their busy day to make a forty mile round trip to extend a kindness.

It always brightens our day to receive an act of kindness from a friend or family member. Kindness shown by a stranger radiates unexpected sunshine and restores our faith in our fellow man.


headshot-final-1Patti Shene enjoys reading and writing, but most of all, she feels called to encourage others. She promotes the work of published and unpublished writers on her two blogs Patti’s Porch and The Over 50 Writer, found on her website (www.pattishene.com).

She hosts a weekly radio show, Step Into the Light, on Blog Talk Radio, where she interviews guests who share their stories of ways they inspire others to make the journey from a dark time in their lives back to light.

“Friend”  Patti on her personal Facebook page at http://ow.ly/jKVE308q9dK

“Like” her Step Into the Light page at  http://ow.ly/pBVH308q8x4 and “follow” her on Twitter at http://ow.ly/9JY9308q8Iv

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!

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