Archive for December 2016
A few weeks ago, my daughter was going through her old coats and vests, seeing what was no longer needed. Although she is still in high school and doesn’t have a job, we still make her purchase her own gifts for friends and family, so she finds ways here and there to make some extra money for her holiday shopping.
She found two vests in like-new condition and asked if I would list them in our local Facebook yard sale group. She set the price at $7 each and it wasn’t long before someone replied, wanting to buy them.
The buyer replied in a short message with broken English; it was obvious that Spanish was her native language. After a few message back and forth, she revealed that she couldn’t drive to my house to pick up the vests because she lived on the other side of town, but asked if I would be willing to ship the vests to her instead?
I will admit, I hesitated. The last week of school was SO crazy busy. I barely had enough time to get from place to place myself much less figure out how to wrap up these bulky vests and ship them out. I was feeling overwhelmed trying to get everything accomplished and this one extra task seemed like that straw that would break the camel’s back.
She must have sensed my hesitation as she sent another message offering to send me a money order to pay for the vests and the shipping costs.
A money order.
I literally froze when I read her message. It was obvious this woman wanted these items, probably for a Christmas gift for a child or grandchild. I knew if she took the time to get a money order, then mail it to me and if I waited to get the money order then ship the vests to her, there was a really good chance they would not arrive in time for Christmas morning.
That’s when I heard the whisper on my heart: “Give her the vests for free.”
You already know how this story ends. 🙂
I responded back, asking for her address to mail the vests. When she requested my address for payment, I said there was no need – I was sending the vests for free.
Her appreciation for such kindness literally poured out in her Spanish/English messages. The vests were for her disabled daughter who was in a wheelchair. She had an infant daughter as well and three boys of various ages. She sent me nine photos – NINE PHOTOS! – of her precious family, and explained that even though her husband was deported, they chose to stay and live here in faith.
Sometimes you just have to listen to the whisper on your heart.
I decided to pick up a few more items and wrap them all as Christmas gifts. A checkers/chess game with some sour candy canes for the boys. Some toddler books and a teddy bear for the baby. A sparkly scarf and a $20 Target gift card for the mom. And, of course, the two puffy vests with an extra stuffed animal for the daughter in the wheelchair.
The box was big. Bulky. Heavy. But standing there in the long line at the post office made my heart fill with joy! Time slowed down. I smiled at everyone I saw. The postal worker wished me Merry Christmas and I returned the sentiment.
Merry Christmas, indeed!
I can see her in my mind, placing the gifts under her tree, or perhaps hiding them to be revealed Christmas morning.
Or maybe the curiousity and excitement was too much and everyone in the family ripped into the presents moments after they arrived.
No matter when or how the gifts are opened, this family will know they are loved. They are valued. They are not forgotten.
And that’s what Christmas is all about.
Recently, I’ve been drawn to doing my random acts of kindness anonymously. No fanfare, no blog posts, no photographic proof of what I’ve done or who I’ve helped. Just me doing my thing, without attrition or acknowledgment.
It’s been a time of solace: balancing the changing tides of people and passions with small little acts that bring me joy. Not quite blog-worthy some might argue.
In fact, there was a part of me even contemplating if my journey as a blogger had come to an end. After all, I started this project four years ago, with exactly 236 stories shared online – quite a few more than my original vision of 40 RAKs for 40 years.
Was the effort worth the impact? Did the countless hours of writing, editing, and revising make any difference at all? Were the stories becoming stale from repetition? Did anyone even read my blog anymore?
Oh, the pondering of my soul.
Then I received an email from WBUR, a public radio station out of Boston, that wanted to spotlight our story about Secret Sisters on their radio show. That’s when it hit me:
Our stories matter.
Your story. My story. The pain, the joy, the questioning, the wonder. Our stories help us connect in this digital age and for some, may be a lifeline for comfort or peace. Our stories engage. Enthrall. Inspire. They give people hope to keep pushing on no matter the circumstance.
So it’s in this mindset I’m carving out time today to write. To share. To show. Not for the pat-on-the-back. Not to gain notoriety. For no other reason than our stories matter and some stories must be told.
For the past two months, I’ve been working with Erika Lantz, an associate producer of WBUR, to share the story of Secret Sisters to a larger audience. She and her staff have worked tirelessly to learn more about sweet Nate Metheny, the lifetime of memories he created in only six years of life, and the impact Secret Sisters had in his family’s journey through the painstaking days, weeks, and months of overwhelming grief and sadness following his passing.
It was a tough story to write; even tougher to speak aloud.
On Tuesday, December 20, the radio show went live, merging snippets of conversations from Nate’s family and myself with Erika’s storytelling skills to produce a seven-minute recap of Secret Sisters. I was almost too nervous to listen to the show with so many worries swirling through my brain. “What if I rambled too much? What if I sounded like a fool? Would I be able to do any justice whatsoever to all the ways Secret Sisters worked together seamlessly to love on this family? This story is not about me!”
Then, I overcame my fear and clicked the play button. I listened to the broadcast with tears filling my eyes. I was reminded yet again:
Our stories matter.
If I don’t tell my story, who will?
Even though we are still a week away from New Year’s Resolutions, I’m making one right now. I’m going to keep telling my stories. I’m going to overcome the fear of public criticism and continue to share my journey as one of the many kindness advocates out there. Because, even though my stories may seem simple and trite, they matter.
I wish you blessings this holiday season as your hearts turn toward others in love. I also encourage you to reach out beyond you comfort zone and share your stories of kindness. It may seem inconsequential at the time, but your story has the power to change the hearts of many.
If you would like to hear the radio broadcast of Secret Sisters, click here. (To listen to the podcast, click the red play button on the website.)
May your heart be touched by our journey.