celebrate kindness

Archive for November 2013

Well, once again I found myself at Starbucks performing another RAK.  (I’m sure you are convinced I have a coffee addiction by how many of my posts reference Starbucks, lol.)  I met up with a friend during our once-every-four-years coffee break (I am not kidding.  It really has been four years since we’ve seen each other!)  While standing in line, I remembered that Starbucks was having a buy one, get one free special. Yay!  What an easy way to bless someone else!

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While my friend was drinking regular coffee (not one of the frou-frou drinks shown on the advertised special), I decided to bless the gal standing in line behind us.  “Excuse me,” I began, “I’m getting one of those drinks up there.  It’s buy one, get one free.  Would you like my free one?”  She smiled back in surprise at my offer.  “Are you sure?  That’s really sweet of you!”  I returned the smile saying, “No big deal!  Just let them know what you want!”

I didn’t get a photo of her, and I didn’t have any RAK cards with me, so she may never see this post.  But it was fun to bless a stranger just the same!

The next time you have a buy one, get one free offer, think about blessing someone else with your freebie!

Be inspired and pay it forward!  🙂

This has been such a fun week.  I’ve done several little RAKs here and there, but haven’t had a speck of time to write about them!  Now that I’ve completed my #26 acts mission and my 40 for 40 RAKs, it’s really nice to just be able to DO a RAK without any planning or thinking ahead!

As many of you know, we like to visit the Krispy Kreme store when report cards come out because Krispy Kreme is AWESOME about giving one free doughnut for each A you receive on your report card.  Monday night after dinner we made a quick drive across town (oxymoron), and reaped the rewards.

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You have never seen such joy as watching a little person pick out their favorite doughnut to eat from the display case!

Since Krispy Kreme only gives out free glazed doughnuts for report cards, we always allow the kids to pick their favorite doughnut out as well.  Such joy!  This evening, as everyone was making their selections, we purchased a few extra doughnuts as well (Rich’s idea) – some for Rich’s running team and some for the teachers at my school.

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The next morning, Rich delivered his donuts to his pals and I delivered mine.  I left them in our teacher’s lounge with a little note attached to the box.

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photo 1A closer view of the note

It wasn’t much to give, and for those teachers who are dieting it may have made their day even worse, lol, but it was still a fun RAK to do on the first really cold day of Fall!

Be inspired!  More RAKs to come soon!

This morning as I sat listening to the sermon at Cool Spring Baptist Church, something Pastor Brad was saying struck a chord in my heart.  He was quoting Luke 6:37 – 38, talking about how God commands us to give and how when you do, it will be given back to you.  How nothing we own in this world truly belongs to us.  How we need to be kind to others, not stingy with our gifts, talents, and resources.

Wow.  It was if God himself was whispering in my ear, “See?  This is what it’s all about!”

Let me explain a little more.  For the past year, as many of you faithful readers know, I have been on this journey of blessing others with kindness.  I do it with no expectation of reward or acknowledgement, although I do feel compelled to share my experiences with others to inspire and share my joy.  Yesterday, those tables were COMPLETELY turned on me as my husband and I were recipients of the most amazing random act of kindness!

It all started when I told my husband I had to run out to take care of a few errands.  He had been doing yard work around the house and without a second thought had placed his cell phone on the top of my car’s trunk, unbeknownst to me.

(I bet you know where this is going, lol.)

Well, you’re exactly right.  I got in my car and drove to Target with nothing more on my mind than my shopping list.  As I entered the store, I received a phone call from an unknown number (which I usually ignore), but something prompted me to answer it.  On the other line was my husband asking a simple, yet weighty question:  “Is my phone still on the top of your car’s trunk?”

Oh. Dear. Heavens.  The walk back to the car was at a frantic pace, already knowing what I would discover.  No phone.  Ugh.

When was the last time you lost something of value in your life?  Now notice I didn’t say “something valuable” because we all have a different measure of value on different things.  To some, a cell phone is just that – a phone.  Nothing more, nothing less.  To my husband, however, that phone was much more.  (And, I might add, to many of us as well!)  Think for a moment about the impact a lost cell phone would have to your life.  Personal and professional contact information, not stored anywhere else.  Photos.  Apps.  Email.  Banking.  Books.  Yes, I know many of these items can be recovered (well, many except the photos – that’s just heart-wrenching), but think of the time, the inconvenience, the cost involved in replacing a lost cell phone.  And if you have a passcode lock on your phone, well… even if found, how would the person get into your phone to even let you know it was found?

Not the way we wanted to spend our Saturday, that’s for sure.

As I scoured the parking lot and retraced my car’s route, I despondently drove home, sharing in my husband’s panic and loss, when my phone rang again with the unknown number.  (My husband was borrowing another phone to call me).  The excitement in his voice superseded any words he actually spoke.  “You are never going to believe this – I found my phone!”

Praise be to God!!

The next 5 minutes of jubilation was spent with him describing how he simply called his phone number and someone answered the phone (apparently you can answer a phone call without having to enter through the passcode lock – thank heavens!).  The kind stranger, named Robert, was driving the same path as me and happened to see something shiny reflecting against the  pavement, smack in the middle of a busy intersection.  Robert took it upon himself to pull over to the side of the road and actually retrieve the object from the road when traffic subsided.

What he found was an untouched, unmarked, undamaged smart phone.

Can I just stop right here and let that resonate with you for a moment?  Untouched.  Unmarked.  Undamaged.  In the middle of a busy intersection.  Of MOVING VEHICLES.  ON ASPHALT.  Wait – say that again?  Untouched?  Unmarked?  Undamaged?

Ladies and gentlemen, you have just witnessed a modern day miracle.  God is so good!  If you are the owner of a smartphone, you know how easily it can get a scratch (or even worse, a cracked screen!)  Yet here was a phone that survived a 35 mph turn, from the back of a car down to the pavement, in between tires of many other cars traveling down the same path.  Untouched.  Unmarked. Undamaged.  Immaculate.

All I can say is… WOW!

Arriving home, I told my husband he HAD to reward this kind stranger!  I raced upstairs and grabbed a restaurant gift card I just happened to have (I was going to give it as a Christmas gift to a family member) and asked my daughter to make a Thank you card. Then I grabbed my very last Sandy Hook RAK card, #26, and said a prayer of thanks.

photo 1Front of card

photo 2Inside of card

photo 3Back of card

photo 4Gift card with Chase Kowalski’s RAK card (#26 of #26acts)

photo 5The recovered phone

Luke 6:38 says: “Give, and it will be given to you.”  No truer words were spoken in this moment.  This RAK is dedicated to Chase Kowalski, age 7, who like my husband enjoyed running (among other sports ambitions.) According to his memorial website, Chase completed his first triathlon at age six and ran in many community races.  I can’t think of a more perfect child to receive this RAK as you must be quick and speedy to run a race and retrieve a phone from oncoming traffic.

Today I leave you with a quote that was in my Facebook feed this morning.  Without a debate about the accuracy (because we all know not to believe everything we read on the Internet), this quote fills my heart with joy and inspires me to do more with what I have.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.  If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.  If you are honest, people may cheat you.  Be honest anyway.  If you find happiness, people may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.  The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.  Do good anyway.  Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.  Give your best anyway.  For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”  –Mother Teresa

I have some of the best coworkers a person could ask for. There are nine of us on a small, select team and we work together with such efficiency you would swear there were 30 of us!

This morning as we arrived for our weekly team meeting, one of my coworkers walked through the door waving a small, brown, rectangular item that looked like a piece of decorated cardboard. “I was trying to figure out who to give this to, and I decided that this should be for YOU!”, she declared, handing the brown item to the coworker beside me. “What? What is this for?” I peeked across the table and saw it was a Starbucks gift card! How sweet!

My coworker then proceeded to hand it to me saying, “Here, you take it. You can use it for your Random Acts of Kindness project.” No, no, no! I pushed the card back to her. “Oh no! I am not going to take that! It’s YOUR gift! Enjoy it!” We all started laughing at this point, and I begged them to allow me to take their picture for a blog post.

“No! I don’t want my picture taken! I’m a mess!” was the immediate response, but I convinced them to smile for the camera just the same.

Then I went into my iPhone apps and blurred out their faces so no one would ever know who they were.

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The blurred photo alone sent us in another fit of giggles as we laughed at the absurdity of it all.

What a fun way to start my workday – having a front row seat to a random act of kindness. I can’t think of a better way to be inspired!

(Did I mention how much I love my team? They are the BEST!). 🙂

My best friend and I have birthdays only 10 days apart.  We have often joked over the course of our 20+ year friendship that our birthday season begins in September and ends in August the following year… because some years it takes us that long to carve out time to get together and celebrate!  (Seriously!)  This year as we were ticking off the busy weekends on our calendars, we realized there was one night where both of us had no plans.  NO PLANS?!  Really?!  How could this be?  Without stressing over logistics (Who would watch the children?), we quickly made the decision to meet halfway between her house and mine and spend the evening together.

Being October, we were delighted to discover that Busch Gardens amusement park was still open on Friday nights for their Howl-o-Scream festivities.  Although we weren’t all that interested in getting spooked by creepy people, we were very excited to finally, for the first time ever, ride a roller coaster together!  We entered the park, purchased a glow-in-the-dark beverage, and made our way to Busch Garden’s newest roller coaster, the Verbolten, talking non-stop the entire way.

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The lines were relatively short, so we were strapped into the coaster in no time.  Here are some more pics of our adventure!

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The Verbolten sign

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Strapped in, getting ready to start the ride

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Finishing the final hill

What a fun night!  We rode more roller coasters, laughing and screaming the entire time.  (You would have thought we were teenagers the way we were carrying on!  Ha!)  When the park made their closing announcements at 10pm, we reluctantly made our way back to the parking lot, not quite ready for our evening of birthday celebrations to end.   Suddenly hungry, we decided to continue our evening of catching up with some breakfast dinner at a local iHOP.

As we entered the restaurant, we were surprised to see the place was packed with teenagers!  Oh my! Luckily, we still had gifts to exchange and lots of conversation to share so the delay in being served wasn’t a huge issue for us.

As we sat down and scanned the menu, my attention was swayed to to HUGE cup of salted caramel hot chocolate shown on the bottom of the front page.  The cup was massive and I could almost taste the delicate mixture of salt, caramel, and chocolate melting on my tongue.  Unfortunately, it had a price to match its girth, so I was torn about whether or not to order the drink.  As I was debating the pros and cons with Lisa, the waitress arrived to take our orders.  After introducing herself as Jeannie, pointing to the plastic name badge on her shirt, she pointed to my menu.  “Oh honey,” she drawled with a southern flair, “That drink right there is worth every single sip.  It is the best drink we have to serve!”  Well, who could resist a recommendation like that?

I ordered the specialty hot chocolate and Lisa ordered a regular coffee.  We chatted back and forth as we continued to interact with our waitress who checked on us often.  “Whose birthday is it?” Jeannie asked, pointing at our brightly colored gift bags.  We told her we were celebrating both our special days and she clapped her hands together, beaming with excitement.  “I just love birthdays!  Open your gift!  What did you get?”  We had to laugh at her enthusiasm – it was as if she was celebrating her own birthday right in the mix of ours.

A little while later she arrived with the colossal cup of steaming hot chocolate and we made a production of taking photos to document all the fun:

photo 1Me (looking a bit windblown from all the roller coasters) with our iHOP waitress and THE CUP

photo 2Pure heaven!

photo 3Oh So Good!

photo 4Even Lisa got in on the photo fun!

Two hours later (I am not kidding!), Lisa and I were still enjoying our time together with Jeannie checking on us and sharing in our conversation.  That’s when it hit me.  Here is this lady, working the night shift as a waitress at an iHOP on a Friday night, with mostly teenagers as customers (who by now had left the restaurant leaving behind minimal tips, I’m sure.)  What was her story? Why was she working here?  Did the night shift pay more than the day shift?  I didn’t want to pry, but I felt like I needed to bless this gal who made the end of our birthday celebration so memorable and joyful.  Reaching into my purse, I discovered some mad money birthday cash I had received as a gift and knew I would receive greater happiness by paying it forward instead of using it for myself.

I quickly jotted a note on the back of the receipt and left it with a ten dollar tip on the table.  Surely that would brighten the darkness of her night shift!

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We quickly left our tip, paid our bill, and said our final goodbyes before the long drive home.  It was a wonderful way to end our evening of friendship and fun!

This random act of kindness is dedicated to Josephine Gay, age 7, a darling little girl who was found in the arms of her behavioral therapist, Rachel D’Avino, following the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Joesephine had a nervous system disorder and could not speak, but she had learned how to share her thoughts with those around her through signs and smiles.  She was the joy of her parents, despite the challenges of her condition.   It was humbling to realize what a gift I had been given during my time with Lisa – an entire evening filled with so many words, so many stories, all taken for granted.  Humbling, indeed.

Keep pressing forward, my friends.  Be kind to others.  Stop and listen to their stories.  Join in the fun and allow yourself to be blessed in the process!


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