Small Acts of Kindness: Wedding Roses

By Sarah Van Diest

It was my wedding, well, it was my second wedding. I never dreamt I would have been divorced, much less get married a second time, but here I was, and ever so thankful to be here after such a long and difficult road.

I was nervous. And though I had an idea about how I wanted things to go, I didn’t have a solid handle on how to pull it off. I called in some friends to help make it happen. One did my hair. One did the food. One did the flowers. It was simple and it was perfect.

The wedding we planned was very small. Only family and a few friends were invited. Our pastor’s house served as our wedding venue. We had cheesecake and punch, the music was one guy with a guitar, and the kids played out in the backyard. It was cozy and sweet. I wouldn’t change a thing.

After our small ceremony, my wonderful groom took me off for our honeymoon and to the start of our new lives together. We left our five boys with various family member and went away for a week of learning to be us.

The boys were really the only thing I thought about back home.

But one of my sweet friends thought of something else. After the wedding, she grabbed my bouquet of red roses and dried them, preserving them beautifully for me. When we returned home from our honeymoon, she came over to deliver the bouquet. It was such a sweet surprise!

I had no idea how much that gesture would mean to me, but when she handed them to me, I cried. I’m still not exactly sure what the tears meant, but I think it was all things combined together: a second marriage, a blended family, a new start, and the knowledge of dear friends to support and cheer us on.

I still have those roses, 13 years later. I keep them as a reminder of that day and of my thoughtful friends and all they did to help make that day so special. They remind me that tiny gestures of kindness can be enormously impactful. They encourage me to be thoughtful of others. And they tell me that the kindness doesn’t have to be huge to be meaningful.

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindness. Kindness doesn’t have to be huge to be meaningful. #kindnessmatters #amreading


Sarah Van Diest is a writer and editor. She’s the mother of two boys, stepmother to three more, and wife to David. Sarah wrote this book as letters to a dear friend whose life was turning upside down. She’s done this for years for numerous friends and will continue to, Lord willing. It’s her gift to them. It’s hope written down.


God in the Dark

When you are in the dark places of your life, Sarah Van Diest offers a companion for the path you are walking. You will find a voice of comfort and truth to call you back to the light, to help you see that you are never alone, never too far gone, and never unloved. This collection of 31 devotions doesn’t minimize the reality of your struggles, but rather points you to where God is—walking right alongside you. Receive this hope in the pain, God in the Dark.

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Small Acts of Kindness – A Child’s Prayer

By Betty Thomason Owens

My Dad died eleven years ago. It was unexpected. I was going to the hospital that morning to bring him home. Instead, I received a call that his procedure had not gone well, please come at once. By the time my mom and I arrived, he was gone.

The shock of the painful loss, and the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day, left me with a painful migraine. As my family gathered in the kitchen of my house to discuss Dad’s final arrangements, I lay in bed, too sick to move.

The door opened, letting in a sliver of light. My six-year-old granddaughter, Sophie, whispered to me. “Grandma, can I pray for you?”

Fresh tears filled my eyes. “Yes, of course you can.”

She stood beside me, laid her small hand on my forehead, and prayed. I don’t remember her exact words, but she prayed for my comfort, because I was “so sad,” then for my healing from the painful headache. “I love you, Grandma,” she said, as she left the room.

Now, I figured I had a problem. If I didn’t get up, she might think her prayer didn’t work. Or maybe God hadn’t heard. My head still hurt, and nausea still churned my stomach, but I got up slowly, went in and washed my face, then crept out to the kitchen.

Sophie and her sisters hugged me. Her daddy (my son), brought me ginger ale and crackers. Gradually, the pain subsided and I realized, it had gone. I was reminded of Peter’s mother-in-law in the Bible, the woman for whom Jesus had prayed (Matthew 8: 14-15). When I made the effort to rise and join my family, healing manifested.

Sophie never doubted. And though it seemed a small thing, her prayer of faith released me, and gave me the strength I needed to rise and join the living.

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindness. A child’s prayer makes the difference. #kindness #prayer


Betty Thomason Owens loves being outdoors. Her favorite season is spring, when she can work in the yard or take long walks, while thinking through a troublesome scene in one of her stories.

She is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. An active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of the Louisville Area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of Inspired Prompt, a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.

Her works include the Legacy series and Kinsman Redeemer series, published by Write Integrity Press, and Jael of Rogan two-book fantasy series in a second edition, published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

You can learn more about her at BettyThomasonOwens.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Small Acts of Kindness: The Right Encouragement to Soldier On

By Stephanie L. Robertson

The blue and navy bars mocked me from my computer screen.  Like a staggered row of dingy tenements, those statistics told me one thing:

Your posts are irrelevant.   Give up. 

I admit, I have shed tears of frustration over those metrics.  Since 2013, I’ve poured hours of work to create what industry professionals call a “writer’s platform.”  It’s supposed to assure folks in the publishing world that I’m marketable.  They can take a chance on my novel because people like to read my work.

The proof is in those little rectangles that indicate the number of visitors to my website.

Please forgive me if I sound cynical, but “build it and they will come” apparently doesn’t apply in the blogosphere.

Trust me, I have targeted, focused, spent hard-earned freelance writer funds, promoted, boosted, SEO-ed, and spent more money to promote my site.

And yet, sometimes it seems as though I’m wasting time and resources trying to build up enthusiasm for my site.

So I did what any self-respecting writer would do:  I begged and pleaded for site visitors in the post I wrote on March 1, 2018:  Pouring Out My Heart [http://www.sweetgumlife.com/2018/03/01/pouring-out-my-heart/]

In return, I received some small acts of kindness.

One of my brick-and-mortar friends (someone I know outside of the virtual world) offered up hope.  Essentially, she commented: Don’t give up!

An author friend sent me an entire paragraph.  Essentially, she commented: Don’t give up!

A close relative sent me a one-liner.  Essentially, she commented: Don’t give up!

And my dear father-in-law sent me a few short words.  Essentially, he commented: Don’t give up!

Sometimes, an act of kindness is simply a smile from a stranger.

At other times, it comes in a few comments, which reflect our Father’s love.

And gives us just the right encouragement to soldier on.

Click to tweet: Encouragement can help someone who’s about to give up. #kindnessmatters #smallactsofkindness


Stephanie L. Robertson is a writer and editor who maintains a southern lifestyle blog at www.SweetgumLife.com.

A busy Christian wife and mom, Stephanie and her husband of 19 years live in the Huntsville area with their teenage daughter.

Stephanie has a self-published short suspense story on Amazon and is working on adding a novel.  When not immersed in mom/wife life, she enjoys photography, Pinterest projects, coffee with family and friends, and immersing herself in a good suspense novel.

Favorite Friday Fiction: Frankenstein

Today’s classic, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley is a really well-written book and an interesting read. I would recommend reading the book because shows like “The Munsters” and others have changed the essence of this true classic novel…

Click to tweet: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a true classic novel, the premier monster story of English literature. #amreading #FridayReads


Frankenstein: The premier monster story of English literature—a tale of science pursued to horrifying extremes

An origin story nearly as famous as the book itself: One dreary summer on the shores of Lake Geneva, amid discussions of galvanism and the occult and fireside readings from a collection of German ghost stories, Lord Byron proposed a game. Each of his guests—eighteen-year-old Mary Godwin and her future husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, among them—would try their hand at writing a tale of the supernatural.

Unable at first to think of a plot, Mary was visited one sleepless night by the terrible vision of a corpse, a “hideous phantasm of a man,” lurching to life with the application of some unknown, powerful force. The man responsible, a “pale student of unhallowed arts,” fled in horror from his creation, leaving it to return to the dead matter from which it had been born. But the monster did not die. It followed the man to his bedside, where it stood watching him with “yellow, watery, but speculative eyes”—eyes of one who thought, and felt.

The novel that Mary Shelley would go on to publish, the legend of Victor Frankenstein and his unholy creation, and their obsessive, murderous pursuit of each other from Switzerland to the North Pole, has been the stuff of nightmares for nearly two centuries. A masterpiece of Romantic literature, it is also one of the most enduring horror stories ever written.

Small Acts of Kindness: Lunch with a Friend

By Kathy Cheek

My friend and I hadn’t met for lunch in a long time since she had moved across town and was going to a new church. After we were seated and were sipping our iced tea, I asked “How are you doing?” and her “fine” didn’t sound fine at all.

When her voice started to tremble and tears welled up in her eyes I knew something was wrong and when she began to spell out a difficult situation in their family she also shared that she hadn’t told anyone because she was afraid of what others would think.

She admitted that holding it in and not talking to anyone seemed to just make the stress harder to bear. She finally realized she needed to be open and we talked about the fact that when we don’t share our burdens we end up adding burden to burden.

What do I mean by adding burden to burden?  The best way I know to describe it is when we have difficulty sharing our burden with others because we think it is too much for them to handle, we are adding a new burden to our already existing burden. This happens when we are reluctant to open up with people and talk about what we are going through, not wanting to impose our problems on others. When we keep it in and think it is too much to put on others, we are adding burden to burden.

God made His family to have that desire to come alongside hurting people and help them through the hard times. This is part of His plan to carry us through those difficult times and out of the valley. God goes with us and brings others along to walk the journey with us.  Pain is not a journey meant to be walked alone. We don’t have to walk alone when we let friends and family help us in our time of need.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindness. Lunch with a friend. #smallactsofkindness #kindnessmatters


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.

Kathy is thrilled to announce her book First Breath of Morning – A 90 Day Devotional is contracted to be published and will be out this fall! You will find info and a description of the book on her Book News page at Devotions from the Heart

 

Small Acts of Kindness: Mr. Priest’s Surprises

By David Parks

Early in January 1954, Mr. Guy Priest came to our house with a box of surprises.

Usually, I saw Mr. Priest when I was skidding my bike around on Teft Road or Baker Street.

“Hello, Mr. Priest!”

“Hello!”

Instead of waving, he smiled and nodded. That’s because his hands were busy with two 5-gallon pails stuffed with gladiolas in full bloom. Mr. Priest cut these beauties from the garden behind his house on Baker Street, and he was delivering them to customers.

No flowers, but a box

This January day, however, Mr. Priest carried no flowers. Instead he brought a box of surprises. I needed surprises, because the doctor had sent me to bed for many days to allow some bones to mend.

Mr. Priest’s box was cardboard, like the box my new shoes came in from the store in Jackson. But a wrap of heavy white paper hid the J.C. Penny logo, and it was larger than my shoe box. Maybe it once held a pair of boots.

Each day a new surprise

On all four sides, from under the lid, numbered tags dangled on strings. Mr. Priest told me to pull tag #1. I pulled, and out came a tiny plastic car. He said tomorrow I should pull tag #2 and the next day #3. The number of tags equaled the number of days I had to stay in bed.

So each day I tugged at a new tag, and out came a new surprise — a toy compass, a magnifying glass, a pen, a 3×5 notepad, a plastic comb, a pocket mirror, a little tractor, etc.

Just a regular guy

His name really is Guy, and he was just a regular kind of guy, so my real surprise was Mr. Priest, himself.

I never guessed he could pick me out from the batch of kids playing tag on bikes. Yet here he was, standing beside my bed.

I never dreamed Mr. Priest might have once been a child himself. Yet his tags spoke the language of a 12-year-old. They glittered more brightly than the golden bells and pomegranates at the hem of Aaron’s robe.

I would not have picked Mr. Priest as our “Most Creative Neighbor.” We lived among merchants, missionaries, and college professors. Some told my parents how concerned they were for their injured child. Yet it took the imagination of a glad gardener to point a 12-year-old’s thoughts away from another long day in bed ─ toward today’s surprise.

That’s how I remember Mr. Priest, a regular guy with a box of surprises. Read the original post here.

Click to tweet: Kindness matters. Mr. Priest and his box full of surprises. #smallactsofkindness #kindness


Dave Parks began writing in 1957 as editor of the ReDit, his high school paper.

He edited books.

He edited professional papers, with permission to reference two.

He’s a member of  Word Weavers and the American Christian Fiction Writers

Favorite Friday Fiction: Out of the Frying Pan by Michelle Griep and Kelly Klepfer

Today’s favorite is by a duo of writers: Michelle Griep and Kelly Klepfer. Out of the Frying Pan is a cozy mystery with a touch of romance. I like a bit of comedy in my mysteries, especially if it involves dry wit.  Out of the Frying Pan has all of the above. So if you like cozy mysteries, you’ll love this one…

Click to tweet: Favorite friday fiction. Out of the Frying Pan by Michelle Griep and Kelly Klepfer. #Fridayreads #FavoriteFridayFiction


Out of the Frying Pan

When the chef of Sunset Paradise Retirement Village ends up dead, life for sisters Fern and Zula Hopkins is whipped into a froth. Their zany attempts to track down the killer land them in hot water with Detective Jared Flynn. Should he be concerned about their safety or the criminal’s? 

But there are deadly ingredients none of them expect. Drugs. Extortion. International cartels. And worst of all…broken hearts—especially when the Hopkins sisters’ niece KC arrives on the scene. 

Before the snooping pair gain any headway with the case, it becomes crystal clear that the sisters share a mysterious secret that takes life from the frying pan and into the line of fire.

Favorite Friday Fiction: Still Waters by Lindsey P. Brackett

Still Waters by Lindsey P. Brackett is a good Southern fiction read set at Edisto Beach, South Carolina. I loved the way she combined the life of the South with the haunting beauty of the ocean. Her characters swept me into their lives and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. I highly recommend this book…

Click to tweet: Still Waters by Lindsey P. Brackett. A combination of Southern living and the haunting beauty of the beach. #FridayReads #amreading


Still Waters

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

Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts Cora Anne with loss. At Still Waters 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.

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

Small Acts of Kindness: A Shout Out to My Writing Friends

By Jennifer Hallmark

“Friends are needed both for joy and for sorrow.” 
~ Yiddish Proverb

I’m a writer and I love writing. But it’s not always easy. Sometimes I struggle with disappointment, fear, tiredness, and apathy.  My friendship with other writers has kept me from changing my vocation.

I know that if I start down the “give up” road, I can call or Facebook message one of “these” friends and they’ll talk me off the ledge of quitting. They’ll share a story about a time they wanted to give up or remind me of the way I’ve grown over the years. We laugh and send emojis and before you know it, I’m ready to sit at the computer once again and start a story or blog post.

Some of my friends are authors, others are unpublished for the moment. I know editors, publishers, and agents. They get tired just like I do and I hope I can often encourage them in return.

Because we all need a little encouragement now and then. Thank you to all my writing friends. There are too many to name but you know who you are.

“If you want a friend, be a friend. “
~ English Proverb

Click to tweet: I’m a writer and I love writing. But it’s not always easy. My friendship with other writers has kept me from changing my vocation.  #amwriting #friendship