Archive for December 2015
One of my favorite things about Christmas Break is baking and cooking. Oh, the delightful smells that fill my kitchen this time of year! I’ve already made several batches of Christmas Crack and the cookie dough has been rolled with holiday shaped cookies ready to frost.
While I would never label myself a “baker” by any stretch of the imagination, there is a certain awe and wonder in the art of baking. Using simple materials such as flour, butter, water, and eggs, one can chemically engineer an edible masterpiece.
Another one of my favorite activities this time of year is to give. I enjoy giving gifts. Giving time. Giving surprises. Giving love. Even reading stories of other people selflessly giving brings joy to my spirit! This morning I spent a little bit of time perusing the Kiva website, searching for a stranger to bless.
For those unfamiliar with Kiva, it’s a non-profit, micro-finance lending site that helps impoverished individuals around the world open the door to opportunity that could change their lives and help pull them out of poverty. For as little as $25, you can join others in a unique crowd-funding platform where you bless a stranger, then they pay you back a little each month so you can reinvest in someone else when the loan is repaid.
As I was scrolling down the site, a young woman by the name of Joan caught my eye:
Joan is a baker! Like me, she was probably spending her day mixing and blending; but unlike me, she was using her baking skills to survive.
That realization took my breath away.
I am so infinitely blessed. I have all my basic needs meet daily, and then some. This woman is simply trying to get by. I can tell by the photo above that she doesn’t own a kitchen like mine, with its shiny flat-topped stove and microwave. She doesn’t have Pampered Chef spoons with warranties or even a cute apron to wear so the flour doesn’t smear her name-brand clothes.
She is seeking money to buy basic ingredients so she can bake, then sell the baked goods to provide for her family. I’m just baking because it’s fun and relaxing to make something to eat or give away.
So this morning, I chose Joan. I blessed her by donating to her fund and I wait with anticipation to see which other lenders will choose to bless her as well.
Other reasons why I chose Joan:
- She shares the same name as my best friend’s mom, Joan Guidry.
- She lives in the same country as my friend, Jen Dimaguila.
- She has three children like me.
- She wants to give her children a better life.
Did I create world peace? Solve the global poverty issue? No, of course not. I am only one person, doing my little bit to make the world a brighter place. However, for this gal, Joan, my monetary donation to her request may just be the catalyst for prosperity, peace, and joy.
And to think… it all started with me doing a little bit of baking on a rainy, December morning.
Be blessed as you show kindness to others this holiday season!
The house is dark and quiet, the rain is gently tapping on my living room window, and my keyboard is lit by the glowing white lights of my Christmas tree.
That’s right – Christmas tree.
The last time I published a post on this blog it was Black Friday (AKA “RAK” Friday for me); now the presents are wrapped and I am yet again counting days with anticipation to Friday.
It’s been a challenging year for me to write. I have delved into new projects, new initiatives, new learning experiences, each of which have developed me as a learner in profound ways. I’ve sat on the sidelines of joy, grief, frustration, and helplessness as I’ve watched my mother and mother-in-law make their way down the paved road of life approaching the finish line. Their worn, muddy, running shoes will become angel wings when I least expect it.
I’ve been busy with my children who are all in very different stages of life. Lost teeth. Braces. College applications. It seems we are entering the growing pains of transition and I’m not quite sure I’m ready. But then again are we ever ready for the unknown?
I find when my writing takes a hiatus, it’s a season of watching. Waiting. Listening. I still perform my random acts of kindness as I always do, I simply don’t blog the stories, just joting notes on my phone as I go about my day. It seems in these moments I’m more aware of other writers who are making their own impact on the world – one RAK at a time.
Earlier in the year, I blogged about writers who generously donated their books and it reminded me of additional writers who are doing the same. I am inspired by their kindness and wanted to take a moment to share how their RAKs impacted me!
The Seventh Wish
This fall, Kate Messner offered to send her soon-to-be published book, The Seventh Wish, to a select group of students who might be interested in reading her book, then writing a “Kid Blurb” book review to post online. WOW! I threw my name in the hat (for my oldest son and for other students at the school where I work) and hoped for the best. We had never received a book directly from a publisher before, so I wasn’t sure if we even had a shot at being selected.
I was ecstatic when the book arrived a few weeks later! JOY! My son immediately started reading, excited to be one of the first to read her words. My joy turned to jubilation when I learned that Kate Messner would be visiting my youngest son’s school in December. What were the chances?
There’s more to share about Kate Messner’s kindness (there’s too much to write in this space!), but here are a few photos from the day we met her and received her autograph. What an amazing moment for us both, and a beautiful act of kindness to share!
Lisa Goes to England
A few years ago, one of my friends from high school expressed his desire to write a children’s book. We chatted a bit about characters and story lines, imagining the day we would both step out of our comfort zone and follow our dreams. I’m happy to share that Patrick beat me to the punch with his first book, Lisa Goes to England, published this summer.
In November, as Patrick was traveling by train from New Jersey to Virginia, a mother and her daughter shared a seat so that he could have a place to sit. The pair had a collection of children’s books they were reading and Patrick felt that familiar nudge to do something good. He reached into his bag, grabbed a copy of his book (which he was taking to a book signing), and presented it to the little girl and her mom.
Ironically, the mom shared that they were traveling to England in two weeks and immediately started reading Patrick’s book to her daughter, pointing out some of the landmarks they would visit on their trip. What an amazing coincidence! A perfectly planned RAK!
This week Patrick stopped by to present me with my very own signed copy of his book. What a joy to receive such unexpected kindness and visit with a long-time friend!
Speak the Word Only
Last week another friend I’ve known since elementary school shared a random act of kindness that touched my heart for many reasons. Holly had lost her mom in the spring, but decided to make copies of a book her mom wrote to pass along to anyone who might like to have it:
What a sweet, loving gesture to share a treasured book with a stranger! A beautiful RAK indeed!
All of these wonderful acts of kindness remind me of the joy in not just the art of writing, but the connectedness we feel when we know someone else is reading our words. Like right now! You are taking time out of your busy day to read MY words; your kindness encourages me to learn more, write more, BE more.
May your holiday season be filled with joy and may your hearts be filled with love for those around you. As always, thanks for reading and sharing!