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Be Kind

Over the past week, I have been slammed with reading about kindness or hearing stories about how being kind can change lives. I thought I would share a few with you.

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I read a story about a bubbly, older woman visiting a book store. Talking to the clerk, she added chocolate to her stack for her husband waiting patiently in the car. Then a college student slammed down heavy tomes on the counter beside her. Looking at his face, she grabbed up the books and said, “Put these on my bill.” The young man loudly protested, but she was determined. She decided he needed chocolate candy, too. As he walked out the door with his sack, he turned back to her with an uncertain smile, “Bless you, ma’am.”

“Why did you do that, ma’am? Wasn’t that a little crazy? You didn’t know that boy from Adam’s house cat,” asked the woman, as she packed up the smiling customer’s buys.

“Oh, my son is incarcerated now. Drugs just took him over. Nothing we could do or say helped him. I tried to bring him up right, love him, and teach him the difference between right and wrong, but somehow he chose another path. Maybe, just maybe, if someone had been kind to him, it would have made a difference.”

Still smiling, she reached inside her purse and handed the clerk a piece of chocolate. “Be kind,” and she bounced out the door.

Then this morning, our teacher read the familiar story of the Good Samaritan, as part of our lesson. There was a little bit of enmity between the Samaritans and the Jews, and that is putting it mildly. Luke 10 describes a Jewish traveler who is attacked by thieves and left by the road for dead. First, a Jewish priest and then a Levite see the man and walk on by. Next a Samaritan journeyed on that same road, saw the naked and bruised man, stopped,  and put oil and wine on his wounds. But that wasn’t all; the Samaritan took the hurt man to an inn to be cared for and paid for his stay. Jesus tells us to do the same as the Samaritan and be kind.

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We have precious neighbors: Emily and her three children are the best. We hadn’t been home long today when Emily, her eight-year-old daughter Eliza, and cousin knocked on the door. They had seen our dogs Kita and Folly in the middle of one of the roads close to our house. There are plenty of neighborhood dogs around us, and all enjoy walking. With two days of rain, there had been no walks. Somehow the two escape artists opened the gate and found freedom. The girls wanted to help catch them and were following John when the two dogs came bounding up the sidewalk. Sweet Eliza told me we were always doing nice things for them, and today was their day to help us. Emily and I both smiled at that.

What a sweet heart this child has! She knows about being kind.

Do you remember a movie called “Pay It Forward?” A teacher gave an assignment to his class middle schoolers to design a project that would change the world. Seventh grade Trevor decides that good deeds for others would be a novel adventure. The title of the movie is the title of his project. And, yes, kindness changes lives even in a movie.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Seems like kindness should be our first choice…. will you join me?

 

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Donuts, Birthday Wishes, Starfish, and Turkeys

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We are all touched by the kindness of others.

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” -Mark Twain

My dad loved donuts, as well as all things chocolate and more specifically my mother.

When I was a teenager, I found out that he had a donuts ministry. At random times, he would visit Krispy Kreme to buy several boxes of donuts. Then he would deliver these boxes to his mechanic, his doctor’s and dentist’s offices, and the law offices of men that he worked with. Several times a year, this was his schedule before he went to work at the bank.

I found out about this when he had surgery and couldn’t drive. He asked me one day to help him with some errands. After we picked up the donuts, he shared his route with me. At each stop, Daddy delivered the boxes of donuts. It was quite obvious that he was welcomed by all.

When we headed home, I asked why he was taking donuts to these businesses. His response was simple; “I want to let them know I appreciate them.”

There is no telling how many years he treated his cohorts to a box of donuts, but I do know he gifted them after his retirement.

Then he started another thoughtful gesture with his friends at church. He was a member of a group called the Young At Heart. Obviously this was a group made up of retirees. They met each month for lunch and went on trips together. In their newsletter was listed individual birthdays. Daddy started calling those on the list to wish them happy birthday. Even when his macular degeneration took his eyesight, he would have mother dial the numbers for him and  then greet his friends.

It was amazing through the years to hear the genuine thanks from others for these two small things he did on a regular basis.

You probably remember this old story.

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

My brother had a turkey ministry. He bought turkeys and took them to families during the holidays. Whether they were members of his church or not, he seemed to find out about situations where a turkey would make a difference.

Then when he was going through his last bout with cancer, he took homemade chicken salad or pimento cheese to the those nurses and technicians that worked in the chemotherapy department. No, he didn’t make these Southern standbys; his sweet wife did that. But he never went to an appointment empty-handed. He was grateful they were trying to help him, and he appreciated it.

“There are things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” -Henry James

So shall we be more kind? Can you imagine the difference in our world if everyone chose to be kind?

Whether a box of donuts, a phone call, a turkey, or homemade pimento cheese, kindness takes on its own heart when shared with someone else.

 

Daddy’s Cane

 

Hand, Walking Stick, Arm, Elderly, Old Person, Cane


I have always been intrigued by canes.

My great grandfather was 6’3″, and his canes were taller than I was during my childhood. I would tightly hold his with both hands and clomp around his house and yard. Then I would lay it down beside me and measure myself with it. Trying to pick things up with the crook could exasperate me or elicit a squeal of joy.

We have several of my dad’s canes, and I have bought John some unique ones. There is a brass duck handle on one, and another has a carved wooden base and handle. I found a handmade cane that has carved on it the story of Creation; the man that creates these is a minister. He is fascinated by finding the stories in wood.

These past few weeks, my husband John has been using my other great grandfather’s cane; this grand died when I was two, and Daddy inherited those simple, black canes. When Daddy had surgery several times or an asthma attack, he would pull out his grandfather’s canes for support.

Two weeks ago, John headed out the front door using one of those black canes to run a quick errand. On the stoop next to the sidewalk of our house was a man. He was sitting down and bowed over. There were two grocery bags at his feet. Dressed in khaki pants, shirt, and sweater, he was taking deep breaths.

Walking over to the stranger, John asked if he could help. The man replied that he was just resting before he climbed the rest of the hill. They talked a few minutes; John helped him up, picked up the bags, and handed over the black cane.

“This cane will help you,” were John’s simple words.

Then he watched the man go on his way.

After hearing this story, when John came in to get the other black cane, I smiled. Those other Collins men would have given that same cane away to someone in need, and I have always admired and appreciated my husband’s kindness.

We are often faced with opportunities to be kind and helpful.

Aesop wrote many fables, and they often dealt with animals who were kind. This author said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Our society today is often focused on entitlements and “what’s in it for me.” There’s seldom any reward for unselfish actions.

There have been many stories and movies about the results of being unselfish and reaching out to care for someone else, even a stranger. Pay It Forward hit the theaters in 2000, and I remember being fascinated by the young boy who decided to change the world by reaching out to strangers. His choices, even to bringing a homeless man home to supper, started an avalanche of kindness. This young teen’s idea was rather than pay back a favor from someone; a better idea would be to pay it forward.

I think it would be a good idea to start a chain reaction of paying it forward. What about you?