celebrate kindness

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When you tell someone you spent the morning running amok, you are sure to receive some odd looks. After all, who announces their seemingly uncontrollable behavior with such joy? This is when I wish little speech bubbles would appear above our heads when we talk, so people can see that I’m referencing #AMOK, the Annual Melee of Kindness. This annual event, sponsored by RandomActs, is a global flash mob of sorts; people all across the world complete random acts of kindness for two designated days and share their stories with others. (Go ahead. Search the hashtag #AMOK on Twitter and see all the awesome ways people are being kind!)

This morning, in less time it takes for me to vacuum my house, I completed 6 RAKs for #AMOK. It was so much fun! Here are the things I did:

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1.  I went to Starbucks to purchase a few gift cards. While in the drive through waiting to reach the cashier, a small feather floated across my windshield (very Forrest Gump-like.) I watched it, mesmerized, as it skimmed the slight breeze, flitting right, then left, then right again, to finally rest inside my side door window.

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Now you may not believe in signs from above, and that’s fine, but for me, this was like a smile from heaven to start my RAKs #AMOK! When I finally made it to the cashier to purchase my gift cards, I bought the drink of the person in the car behind me and passed along this note:

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2. My next stop was to purchase three lottery tickets from a local convenience store. Then I went to Kroger to see who deserved a chance of hitting it big.

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The first car I saw was parked diagonally from me. You could tell from the door that the person had been in an accident and had their car fixed with spare parts. I thought they might deserve a chance at some better luck, so I placed my note with one lottery ticket under their windshield wiper.

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The next car that caught my eye had a personalized plate focused on children. That made me smile, so I left them a lottery ticket, too.

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My third lottery ticket went to a van parked in the special parking place reserved for adults with small children. I remember the times I’ve had to go grocery shopping with little ones in tow and it is never a relaxing task. I thought maybe a lottery ticket on their dash might brighten their day, too.

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3.  With a pocketful of quarters, I made my way into Kroger. I stocked the bottom row of candy and toy dispensers to surprise any children who may be shopping with their parents that day.

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Did you know that some of the bottom row dispensers cost MORE than the ones right beside them? ME NEITHER! How frustrating for a child OR parent to have to understand that logic! I went ahead and added a few more quarters so no one would be disappointed.

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4.  I left money on a Redbox machine to pay for someone’s movie for the day. I even hid it behind the screen so there would be an element of surprise! (I love surprises!)

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5.  Who can resist Girl Scout cookies? Often, when I’m entering or exiting a store, I’m consumed by an overwhelming sense of guilt because these sweet girls are trying to raise money for their troop, but we’ve already bought cookies from our niece. (Heaven knows we do NOT need any more cookies in this house!) Today, however, I went right up to the table, money in hand, and asked if I could by a box to donate to someone else. Thankfully, they were prepared for my request with a box already designated for donations to the Hanover Safe Place. I let the Girl Scout choose her favorite box (Samoas!) to donate on behalf of #AMOK.

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(Yes, her mom gave verbal permission for me to post these photos!)

6.  My final random act of kindness was done as I was heading back to my car. I saw one of the Kroger workers gathering all the shopping carts to return to the store. I recognized him instantly (I shop at Kroger a lot), and approached him with a smile. “Hi,” I began, as he turned his head in my direction. “I know you never ask for tips and this is just part of your job, but I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all you do. You remind me a lot of Mr. Leon who used to work here; I’m sure he would be proud of all you do to help others.” With that, I placed $5.00 in his hand as the smile spread across his face. “Thank you ma’am,” he replied, as I quickly turned and walked to my car.

My morning RAKs were quick little sprinklings of kindness here and there; nothing outrageous or grand, but small reminders to others that there is still good in this world. Imagine how wonderful this world would be if EVERYONE ran #AMOK with kindness!

Today was SUCH a fun day to be out and about performing random acts of kindness for strangers!  It was also a beautiful day (no more cold snow!) which helped to brighten our mood as well.

Our first stop was a local girl scout cookie stand.  My friend, Dawn,  posted on Facebook that her daughter’s troop would be selling cookies today outside a local store.   She was so surprised to see us show up to support her daughter!  We bought several boxes of girl scout cookies to use for RAKs, which delighted the girls eager to make a sale.

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As I was chatting with Dawn, the girls had several sales in a row after mine and ended up selling out of Samoas – the boxes of cookies I just bought!  Then Dawn leaned over and said, “You had perfect timing – not only did those cookies sell out, but we were supposed to be packed up and gone 30 minutes ago!  I just got permission to stay longer right when you walked up!”  Talk about blessings!

Dawn and I with one of the Samoas I bought.

Dawn and I with one of the boxes of Samoas I bought today.

Then it was time to put my purchases into action.  My daughter and I drove to a local mall to do a little bit of clothes shopping (great sales on bathing suits at JCPenney, by the way), but before we could even get started on our planned RAKs, I found myself in the midst of a God moment.

For those who are unbelievers, let me explain.  Sometimes I find myself in the right place at the right time to do exactly what I feel God is whispering on my heart.  These “God moments” are never about me – I’m simply a catalyst that God uses to speak to someone else in a crucial moment.

This particular God moment happened as I was pulling into the shopping mall parking lot.  I noticed the car parked in front of me, the driver’s side door open, boots leaning out of the car.  I could see the driver in the car’s rear view mirror and in that exact moment that I happened to see the mirror, I saw her profile.  A dark skinned gal, probably in her 20’s, tears streaming down her face, cell phone held to her ear.  It was a brief moment, mere seconds actually, but wow – it hit me so hard!  It’s so difficult to explain in words the pain I could sense in this woman’s tears.  I could almost feel her anguish, just as I sat in my own car.

Without hesitation, I knew EXACTLY what to do.  A few days ago, I had placed a ziploc bag in my car’s glove compartment with a little note and two chocolates candies:

Photo Mar 08, 3 56 49 PMI didn’t have a particular plan for this treat, other than to use it for a RAK sometime in the future.  (In all honesty, I totally forgot I had done this until this God moment refreshed my memory!)  I reached in, grabbed the baggie, then walked towards the car.   The car door was still open and now I could see that the driver was sobbing, her friend leaning over and comforting her.  I simply gave her the baggie and said “This is for you.  Be blessed.”  I then turned and walked away, not daring to look back.

I will never know what news this gal received to jar such emotion, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that God used me right in that moment to let her know she was not alone.

And that, my friends, is just really cool.  🙂

So back to the actual RAKs I was trying to complete.   Now, I don’t know if you are male or female, young or old, but I think I can make a fair statement that shopping for bathing suits is complete agony for many people (myself included).  It’s almost like a necessary evil, I believe.  Well, in this particular store there are fitting rooms right where the bathing suits are located and I went straight there to do my next RAK.

Knowing there would be gals in the fitting room trying on bathing suits (remember me mentioning misery?), I wanted to brighten someone’s day.  I placed post-it notes with uplifting messages on the mirrors to make people smile when they looked at their reflection.

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Surely someone would appreciate a reminder that they are beautiful!  My next RAK was planned for a different fitting room on the other side of the store.  I knew there was a fitting room near the older woman’s clothing area, and I wanted to bless someone who may have been on a fixed income.  My next RAK was simply to leave a box of new, unopened Samoa girl scout cookies for a stranger with the message “Finders, Keepers!”

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As I walked out of the fitting room, I saw two older ladies walk in and it gave me such a rush to think that maybe one of those ladies would discover my free cookies!

Later, as we were in the checkout line to make our shopping purchases, my daughter went back to the dressing room to see if the cookies were still there.  They were gone!  YAY!  Mission accomplished!

My daughter and I had SUCH fun doing these random acts of kindness today – I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime!

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May these small RAKs inspire you to do some RAKs of your own.  As you can see from the post-it notes, it doesn’t cost anything to brighten someone else’s day.  Just think outside of the box… or maybe just leave a box for someone else to enjoy!

Be blessed and thanks for sharing in my adventures!

‘Tis the season for holiday parties!  One of my favorite parties to attend is the one hosted by a friend who makes her event half party/half benefit. She asks all guests to bake cookies and package them in small bags which are then delivered to cancer patients in our local community.  She does this random act of kindness in memory of her dad, who passed away several years ago from cancer.  What a thoughtful gesture to pay it forward!

My daughter and I woke up early Saturday morning and started baking with a purpose.  Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to bake with several kids in the house, but it can be a bit chaotic, especially if they are not baking with you!  What would normally take about 20-30 minutes ended up being several hours as we made several batches of cookies in the midst of me getting sidetracked to make breakfast, complete 100 piece puzzles, clean up spills, pick up toys, and all the other tasks a mom is called to do on a daily basis.  But it was all worth it!  Because in the end, we knew our small contribution would make someone else smile in return.

White Chocolate Macademia Nut

White Chocolate Macademia Nut



All packaged up and ready to deliver!

All packaged up and ready to deliver!

As you go about your holiday season, remember those whose holidays may need an extra boost of love or attention.  Share the joy with one another!  Be blessed my friends! 🙂

Saturday morning yard sales.  Have you ever had a yard sale before?  Surely if you’ve never had one yourself, you’ve driven past one or maybe even stopped at one if something unique caught your eye.  Or maybe you are an avid yard saler, planning out your destinations with newspaper or Craigslist ads.  I think I fall somewhere in the middle.  At one point of my life, I was an avid yard saler (even stopped at a yard sale on my wedding day with my maid of honor as we were heading to get our hair done!)  Now, with 3 kids and a husband who has marathon training runs on Saturday mornings, I rarely get caught up in the yard sale hype anymore.

Until now.

Some gals I know sent me a message that they were hosting an “Adoption Yard and Bake Sale”.  Of course the title alone intrigued me.  At first I thought it was an animal adoption event (I do NOT need any more pets in my home!!)  Then, after reading more, I realized it was a benefit yard sale to help a wonderful family we know raise money to adopt another child.  The message was merely letting people know the details of the event, but I couldn’t resist the now-quite-familiar tug at my heart.  I knew I had to perform another act of kindness!

So I spent the week sorting things in my house (“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, right?) and I realized three things:  1) I have too much junk in my house.  2)  I have too much junk in my house.  3) I have too much junk in my house.  Bean bags we haven’t used in years.  A lamp that was never big enough to light anything.  Movies.  Toys.  Blankets.  The more items I priced the more items I found.  It was like a treasure hunt in my own house!

Then as I was walking through my dining room, I saw them.  My most adored Charming Tales collectible figurines.  Cute little mice, intricately detailed with such precision you could see the individual hairs poke through on the mice’s ears.  I started this collection twelve years ago with the passing of my grandmother, who had her own mice collectibles.  These mice reminded me of her, kept her memory alive.  But did I really NEED them?

That question stopped me in my tracks.  Did I really NEED them?  Well, of course I did!  They were my collectibles!  I have them because of Grandma!  But wait… did I REALLY need them?  In an instant I knew the answer.  No, I did not NEED them.  I did not need a figurine collection to remind me of my grandmother’s legacy of laughter and love.  Those memories had long been sealed in my heart with every sunrise, rain storm, and flickering light I saw around me.  These cute little mice, which were once so near and dear to my heart, had been transformed by time into painted objects that required a little too much dusting for my busy life.  No.  I did not need them.  And despite the sentimental attachment I had placed on every figurine, they each received a pricing sticker and were added to the donation pile.

By the end of the week I had accumulated a small stack of items to donate to the yard sale.  I priced everything so there would be no additional work for someone else to do.

I even made cookies with my daughter to donate to the bake sale – 3 cookies for $0.50.  We ended up making 16 bags worth of cookies!

I dropped off my items to the yard sale and was amazed by the quantity of STUFF other people had also donated as acts of kindness.  My cookies and collectibles were nothing compared to the other items donated (A treadmill!  Tools!  An entire bathroom ensemble!), and yet I knew in my heart that it was important for me to be a part of this event.  It was truly inspirational to see all the ways this family would be blessed by everyone simply clearing out unwanted items from their home.

So the next time you drive by a yard sale, consider stopping by.  You never know who might be blessed from your purchase!  🙂

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