By Janell Butler Wojtowicz
Since 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
A 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.
University 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.
By Patti Shene
I 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!
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.
Patti 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
Christmas. 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:
- 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.
- Take your family to a Christmas play or musical.
- If you’re waiting in a line, offer your spot to someone with fewer items or who has children or the elderly.
- Be a courteous driver.
- Buy a gift for a child you don’t know through a local or national charity.
- Donate items to a food bank.
- Take the time to send Christmas cards by the USPS.
- Invite someone new to the events you participate in, like dinners or shopping.
- Visit a person who is home-bound.
- Send a gift card to someone anonymously.
- Bake cookies with a child.
- Offer to baby-sit so someone can shop.
- Sponsor a child from a needy country.
- Put holiday sticky notes in a family members lunchbox.
- Just listen.
- While shopping, pick up items that have fallen or been left on the floor.
- Place your shopping cart in the designated place.
- 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!
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.
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.
In a long line at the store, an elderly lady was having trouble paying for her twenty dollars worth of groceries. At first, I didn’t know what the hold up was, being further back in line.
As I started paying attention, I figured it out. Is it unreasonable of me that I was kind of angry (OK, maybe more then kind of! 😉) that not one person close by offered to pay it?! Was no one else raised to do the right thing?!
No worries. I pushed my way thru, paid it, and refused to give the poor lady, who is now in tears, my address for repayment. I returned to my spot in line and waited my turn. I don’t feel this was some huge act of kindness. Just remember common courtesy, everyone.
Jen Barbosa is a 37-year-old personal trainer with certifications in private training, cardio kickboxing, and nutrition consulting. I love helping people achieve their goals! Currently, I am based out of Moulton Athletic Club in Moulton , AL.
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.
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 afford 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?”
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…
Patricia 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.
Another great post I read on the Kindness blog. Check out more stories like it here...
On a recent afternoon in Rowlett, Texas Police Corporal Patrick Ray poured imaginary tea into a minuscule cup adorned with pink flowers for his 2-year-old hostess, Bexley. The occasion for the outdoor tea party was the one-year anniversary marking the day the Rowlett officer saved Bexley Norvell’s life.
On July 26, 2015, Ray responded to the Norvells’ home after getting a call about a child in distress. Bexley, then 22 months old, became unresponsive after swallowing a small coin, which became lodged in her throat. ‘When I looked at her, I just saw these big, blue eyes looking at me. It was almost like she was telling me, “I know you’re here to help me,”’ Ray told CBS DFW after the incident.
His body camera was rolling as he went to work trying to clear the little girl’s airways. A few minutes later, Bexley began breathing again and started crying. Looking back on that day a year ago, the Rowlett cop, who has two children of his own, said of the moment Bexley finally drew a breath: ‘It was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard in my entire life.’
Patrick Ray has been in the Norvells’ thoughts and prayers for the past year. ‘I won’t ever forget this man and I told his wife, “You know, I’m going to think of your husband every single day for the rest of my life,” and I hope she’s okay with that,’ Tammy Norvell, Bexley’s mother, said after the girl’s brush with death last summer.
Officer Ray was presented with the Rowlett Police Department’s Life-Saving Award from Police Chief Brodnax last year. The Norvells were on hand for the ceremony. Today, one year later, the family and Officer Ray and his family are closer than ever.
“I feel that I have no words, even after a year,” she said. “There’s no way to repay him.”
The Rowlett cop said he is looking forward to seeing Bexley grow up. “We’re buddies. I can watch her get married. I can watch her have a family. She could have lost her life that day, and I got super lucky,” Officer Ray said.
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, Ken, 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…