100 Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness

100 Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness
For the last few years we've slowly gotten more intentional about the holidays. That's included a simple Advent calendar, simple decor, doing 3 simple gifts each (something to read, something to wear, and something fun/to play with), and shutting down to be with those we love. This year I wanted to keep intentional Christmas going after Thanksgiving, as it should be. Then we got Target's toy catalog in the mail and saw the cutest Advent calendar at Trader Joe's, and I realized intentions needed to be set now before ads and product placement took us over.

My sister-in-law and I decided we'd like to do an Acts of Kindness advent calendar with our kids to focus on giving and serving this season. I'll likely use these >> envelopes I made a couple years ago, and put a simple act of kindness or two in each one. The kids want to start the countdown now. We're resisting the urge, and instead focusing on thankfulness now. But this is a good time for us to start brainstorming acts of kindness we could do.

Also, November 13 is World Kindness Day, so a good time to even try a few ideas out!

I wanted to keep these ideas easy and free (or at least cheap). Some of them might cost a little more in time or money, some are more for kids, some are more for adults, and some take some planning ahead. You'll find some of your typical "random acts of kindness," and others are more intentional acts to build community and reach out to others in a deeply meaningful way. Hopefully there's an idea, or a few, you can use!

1. Do/help with a chore that's usually someone else's responsibility.
2. Read to someone.
3. Open/hold the door for others throughout the day.
4. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
5. Send a card in the mail.
6. Bake something and share it with the neighbor.
7. Invite someone over and share a drink or snack or meal.
8. Create winter care kits for homeless to keep handy in the car.
9. Get a couple $10 coupons for a food place to keep on hand for people in need.
10. Find a homeless person and give them warm socks, a food gift card, or a care kit.
11. Take a meal to someone going through a difficult time.
12. Babysit for free so the parents can get a break or go on a date.
13. Rake someone else's yard--or shovel or mow or weed.
14. Pay for the person behind you in the fast food drive thru.
15. Write encouraging words to people on Instagram or Facebook.
16. Leave a card, picture, or small gift in a public place (park bench, bathroom counter, etc.).
17. Try to compliment or praise whoever you talk to throughout the day.
18. Take someone flowers or a plant, or leave them on their porch.
19. Collect food or other needs for a local shelter.
20. Write thank you notes to people who have made an impact in your life.
21. Take donuts or another treat to share with coworkers or classmates.
22. Sit with someone who is alone and start a conversation.
23. Experience something with someone you care about--visit a museum, or go to the zoo.
24. Invite someone to coffee and pay for their drink. Or deliver it to them.
25. Write a note and put it where someone doesn't expect--lunch box, desk drawer, etc.
26. Call and talk to someone who you know would enjoy a phone call.
27. Buy a gift for a child in need.
28. Give books you've read to people you think might enjoy them.
29. Try to only say positive things all day.
30. Smile and say hello to everyone you pass.
31. Talk with a friend, ask questions, and listen intently.
32. Be kind to yourself. Take a break, destress, think positive thoughts.
33. Volunteer your talents or services to help someone--take photos, write, design, organize, whatever, just do it for free.
34. Remember someone who has shared a dream or goal with you, and follow up and encourage them in it.
35. Smile and wave from the car as you pass people.
36. Be kind to the earth by buying less, reusing more, and recycling.
37. Promote a friend's blog or small business to people you think might be interested or on your Facebook.
38. Send an email to a writer you enjoy and share your appreciation.
39. Thank a nurse, teacher, police officer, mail man, or other service person with a card, a handshake, or a treat.
40. Pick up trash in your community, or a neglected place nearby.
41. Help someone else be kind. Offer to deliver their gift or baked goods, or contribute to their act of kindness somehow.
42. Hand out balloons or flowers or treats to people on the street.
43. Rub a family members back or neck or feet.
44. Put a kind phrase or encouraging message on your car, your desk, front door, or somewhere else people will see it throughout the day.
45. Spend a day "in real life." Try to stay off your phone and off your computer whenever possible and be attentive to life happening all around.
46. Carry quarters or dollar bills and leave them in tip or donation jars you usually avoid.
47. Tell someone you don't know they're doing a good job--a parent, store clerk, doctor, etc.
48. Remember someone you've said "we should hang out" to, then make it happen.
49. Spend most of the day listening.
50. Pass your magazine on or leave it in public for someone else to read.
51. List items you're getting rid of for free on Craigslist.
52. Attend an event a friend is planning.
53. Donate old eyeglasses.
54. Volunteer during activity time in a local nursing home--play games, sing songs, or deliver kids' artwork.
55. Make a list of what you love about someone and share it with them.
56. Find natural ways to reach out and touch others--hug, shake hands, pat on the back, high five.
57. Ask someone to share what they're thankful for, current blessings, or answers to prayer.
58. Clean up after yourself. At the restaurant, at work or school, in your room.
59. Share a positive post or photo or video online.
60. Clean out your closet and pass good quality stuff on to friends or donate, and tie up rags or unwearable items and label "recycle" and drop off at Goodwill.
61. Clean out the kids toys. Choose some to pass on to others.
62. Visit/tour a local shelter and find ways your family or small group can help by donating items or volunteering time.
63. Send holiday cards that focus on others--showing interest in their lives and appreciation for their presence in yours.
64. Share jokes throughout the day.
65. Go geocaching and leave a fun surprise for the next person.
66. Leave heads up pennies on sidewalks.
67. Record a message and text or email it to a faraway friend or family member.
68. Help raise money for a cause you care about, or at least raise awareness.
69. Work together on a meal and cleaning up after it.
70. Invite someone into the conversation or to sit at your table.
71. Sponsor a child in another part of the world--learn about their needs and culture.
72. Learn about homelessness and foster care, etc. in your hometown and choose one way to donate or volunteer--through a shelter or backpack program or supporting a foster family.
73. Offer to help a friend organize or simplify--a second opinion and a cheerleader can go a long way.
74. Ask someone else what they want for Christmas.
75. Ask others their favorite holiday memories or favorite seasonal pleasantries.
76. Ask someone to tell you their story--how they moved to town, a life-changing moment, a miracle they've experienced.
77. Ask for help--don't wait for others to volunteer and definitely don't brush them off. Most tasks are better done together.
78. Host a shower, party, or small group in your home.
79. Walk through the neighborhood and say hi or leave treats on people's doors.
80. Ask your pastor or kids' teacher or other community leader how they need help or support.
81. Teach someone something--lead a class at the community center, tutor someone, or offer to help someone starting a hobby or activity you already know well.
82. Send a reverse Christmas wish list. Write all the things you hope or wish for someone else, and send it to them.
83. Take a project on with someone--help with a DIY or home project.
84. Dance with your kids or spouse or roommate.
85. Exercise with someone.
86. Play a game with someone.
87. Make something and give it away--a painting, a quilt, a scarf.
88. Share a fun, funny, or complimenting memory with an old friend.
89. Plan date night or a family fun day.
90. Have a girls' night and invite someone new.
91. Fill out a suggestion card and give compliments.
92. Return something borrowed with something extra (a movie with popcorn, a book with a bookmark, a shirt with a scarf).
93. Get some rest and drink water--basic self-care makes us all a little kinder ;)
94. Encourage someone going through something you've already been through.
95. Think before you speak or comment online.
96. Tell someone you missed them when they don't show up at a usual place.
97. Take a crazy selfie and text it to a friend.
98. Tell someone how you see you Jesus in them or working in their life.
99. Quickly look up from the computer, tv, or phone when someone is talking to you.
100. Consider when someone's kindness meant something to you, then pay it forward.


also see:

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

memorial stones for our three arrows
We've had three positive pregnancy tests in the last 8 years, and I cried over every one. Maybe every woman does. Our hormones are confused, and pregnancy is some pretty major news to receive from a pee-soaked stick.

I've already shared a little on the circumstances surrounding our first pregnancy. That Clear Blue "Pregnant" announcement sent me into a confused laugh-cry in the stall of the girls' dorm bathroom.

Two years later, after our wedding, college graduations, and a salary, we decided maybe it was time to start trying for that second baby. So that news shouldn't have been too much of a shock. Except that the pee proved positive on the same day we got news of a job loss. Hello, tears. It was supposed to be different this time.

Almost three years later, we went back and forth on the family planning discussion. Tight finances and stress over the two kids we already had made having another seem a little careless and irresponsible. I came around to calling it quits on our baby-havin' days and got our third positive that same month. Tears were familiar by this point as Psalm 127 became my new mantra that we were blessed to have our hands full of kids.

I share this because right there is where the seeds of our family were planted. Psalm 127:4 says that children of ones youth "are like arrows in the hands of a warrior." I've always pictured that to be a brave and heroic analogy. Until recently. I noticed the similarities in the rash, impulsive warrior-like way we've jumped into this whole parenthood thing. And the ways it plays out on a daily basis.

Last week I had just such a warrior-like "day" with the kids. Whenever I talk about these after they happen, I can't help but notice my own whinyness and petty complaints. Let's chalk it up to warrior-like parenting in my youth. Some days feel like a war-zone, and I'm not talking about the state of my house.

I can't fully describe the behavior now because it all sounds so trivial. It involved screaming fits and hearing "mommy, mommy, mommy!" literally at least 100 times with the best whine-cry one could muster. The kids all-out fighting in the back seat--hitting, pulling hair, biting, using toys as weapons. Hearing "I don't like you" and "I'm going to punch you" and literal screams our whole way into The Y for swimming lessons. Giving instructions 10 times and still doing it myself because obviously I was losing that day.

The list continues, but those aren't even the issue now. The kids have moved on and it's as if that day never happened for them.

However, that day, like many others, I was a struggling wounded warrior. Phrases like "worst day ever" and "I really don't know if I'll survive" and "I'm not cut out for this" and "I simply can't go on like this" and "I'm seriously about to break/explode" swirled in my head.

Of course, I attempted to counter them with positives and truth. "Trina, stop being over-dramatic. You are going to survive. Just get through the next few moments, you'll feel better." Then something else would happen and it would all start over. My back tensed up, I'd find myself holding my breath, and I prayed we'd all survive.

Later that day, we dropped the kids off at our friend's so we could go on a date. I could still hear "mommy" ringing in my ears. I told Daniel about how several times all I could think was how I wish I could go back to 20-year-old Trina and tell her to not become a mother, that she'd be terrible at it, and her kids would drive her 50 shades of insane, and yell mean things at her, and she should just pursue a career and travel.

It's funny when I look back on it now. But when I shared that confession with Daniel, I broke down because I wanted to take it all back. The tears over positive pregnancy tests, the years at home, the sacrificed sanity. And while I knew I didn't really want to take it all back, there's a piece of me in that moment that did and that broke my heart. For me and for them.

At one point earlier that day, Ian's timeout was over so I asked why he was there. He just screamed "mommy" fast and whiny saying he wanted to tell me something. I said no, we'd finish timeout then he could tell me. He threw another big fit about it, so I walked away. After a while of this, I zoned out and gave up. He was in the hall, still throwing a fit about wanting to tell me something. I gave in and said fine, forget about the timeout, just tell me. He calmed way down, and in a clear voice told me he saw a caterpillar when he was playing at school.

That was it. All he wanted to tell me. He saw a caterpillar and wanted to share that moment with me.

So many things thundered together in that moment. The little rainbow breaks God sends in even the worst days. The patience and calmer approach I need from Him to sustain me when the kids stress me out. The tag-teaming or coming-at-me-all-at-once with the whining and crying and fighting and mommying that makes winning these battles seem impossible.

This parenting in my youth is like an on-edge warrior armed with nothing but a quiver full of spastic arrows and the belief this is all somehow a heritage and reward from the Lord.

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

And so it is in the Kingdom Life. Because it's not about having it good here. It's about the hereafter and what better reward than for my lifework to be a commissioning to train up these little Kingdom Citizens.

That evening, with the mommy-ringing slowly quieting in my ears, I raised my ebenezer. A memorial stone for one day in the future when I'll inevitably forget all of this. I'll have distorted memories of motherhood in my 20s and roll my eyes at my own petty complaints. I'll lean over to other young warrior moms in stores and say naive things like, "Enjoy this! It goes so fast!"

Part of me holds onto the hope that I will forget. That my reward would be the sweet gift of selective amnesia where I hold onto the precious moments and forget the war of it all.

Mostly, though, I don't want to forget. Because forgetting would mean neglecting the ways God has led. Downplaying His call for me, the reward He's given, and the battles we've won in Him. No, I don't want to ever forget until He erases it at His coming.

So "here I raise my ebenezer, hither by Thy help I've come." Ebenezer. Stone of Help. Like when Samuel marked the place where God thundered to help them win a battle. Samuel said, "This marks the place where God helped us." (1 Samuel 7:12)

Or when Joshua told the people to carry a stone from the river they just crossed on dry ground so they'd "have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, 'What are these stones to you?'" they'd tell about how God led by His power and say, "These stones are a permanent memorial." (Joshua 4:4-7)

As that day, and others like it (ah hem, today), runs through my head, I pause to raise my ebenezer. A memorial stone, or three, to remember all the ways God has led and continues to lead in our lives. Especially in this warrior-like arrow-filled place called motherhood.

A reminder, one day when the kids are gone and I'm not entwined in their every need, that I was once a warrior with my hands and life and breath overtaken with these three arrows. And by God's grace I'm accepting the heritage and reward of it all--embracing it even, and making it through each battle with Him.

I made a re-commitment that night to God and to this thing we started in our youth and continue for the rest of our lives. My resolve to not send messages back to 20-year-old Trina, but instead be the warrior God sees in me for them. Brave, courageous, maybe a little rash and reckless. But not reckless in the things that matter. Sending those arrows to meet their enemies at the gate. Living courageously with faith in God--loving Him and His people. And training our arrows to live the same.

I'm all in. For these kids. For living this life without regrets. For living with the passion and drive and focus of a God-called warrior. For God and for these arrows awarded as our heritage.


also read:
new? start here...
courageous at home
dear moms: i'm sorry
our wedding story, shame-free

Every Little Breath

Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are by Deidra Riggs
Today, I'm offering a little e-reading for you. Imagine you're sitting in a sweet little book store, the warm smell of coffee filling your senses, as Deidra's welcoming voice reads the following excerpt from her new book Every Little Thing:
When everyone seems to be upping the ante and raising the qualifications for what it means to impact the world in meaningful ways or to live a significant life, we write our story with our breath and we make space on the earth for God. 
Sometimes breathing is the only prayer we can pray, and God hears our sigh and once again breathes the breath of life into us. We exhale, and it seems like such a little thing. But some days it is everything. It is communion--intimate and more than breathing oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. It is sacred and it is holy: this agreeing with God that we need God, for all of everything, and his joyful entering into our lives and ourselves and our very souls to make us one with him. We are gulping and breathing and sighing and gasping, and we realize our deep, deep hunger inside. (pp. 102-103)
Maybe these words stand out because I need more breathing in my life. Not the short breaths that take over when stress wells up in my back and shoulders. The deep and real breaths that happen when I slow and am still enough to know God and be in His presence.

Making a difference in the world is an enticing thing with promise of mission and purpose and holy success.

Except that we often make our real purpose in God secondary. We imagine success something different than Jesus taught it to be, the opposite of smallness. We idolize stories of the Bible turning all of their lifelong stories into one giant of a godly superhero missing their own areas of smallness and surrender and that God really is the beginning, middle, and end.

I've read several "world-changer" type books that inspire me to take action, to embrace my calling in Christ and do something.

I appreciate what Deidra adds to the conversation. A starting place of sorts that's right here where I am or right there where you are. Like middle-aged Moses shepherding in the wilderness before receiving a direct calling by God or Joseph enduring prison before ever seeing his dreams come true or even Jesus living into adulthood before His own short and powerful 3-year ministry.

As Deidra put it, "We either want God or we want significance. ... Our significance actually arrives through the surrendering of significance."

May you realize that God is right there with you and has significance for you with each little breath you take. You can make a difference, and it starts now in this moment. If you need a companion and some inspiration in that journey, checkout Deidra Riggs' book Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are.

And see her book launch post on her blog: Jumping Tandem.


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