Monday, June 25, 2012

Good Works ~ Just Because!

Small acts of kindness go a long way. Your good works could change someone's day.
~ Stacy J. Coles

When was the last time you did something nice for someone you know, just because? When was the last time you helped someone you didn't know, just because?

We don't need a reason to serve those around us. Opportunities to do good works are everywhere. Does it take time? Sure. Does it take effort? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

We might not be thanked or recognized for doing good things, but we shouldn't serve expecting to be rewarded. Knowing we've carried someone's burden, made things easier, or just brightened someone's day will bring us enough satisfaction to want to do it again. Yep! It's addictive. When we see that we've made a difference in someone's life, even for just a moment, we will want to do it again and again.

Many of us take advantage of holiday seasons to do service activities with religious groups or family members. But, it's not just during the holidays that neighbors and strangers might need a pick-me-up.

One day, many years ago, I came home from dropping off all three of my kids at school and suddenly realized how quiet my house was. I found myself cleaning ferociously, hoping to keep the lonely tears away. The doorbell rang and I was surprised to see my neighbor standing on my porch holding fresh-cut flowers from her garden. The stems were simply tied together with a ribbon. She said she was gardening and thought of me. I thanked her, put the flowers in a vase with water, and placed them on the table. I found myself smiling every time I walked by. It didn't make me miss my kids less, but it made me feel good to know someone was thinking about me ~ just because.

Fresh-cut flowers, a plate of cookies, a friendly note ... these are simple acts of kindness that can bring happiness to those we know, and might not know. We may never realize the impact we can have on someone's day, but acts that we consider simple or insignificant could mean the world to the recipient of that kindness.

Look for an opportunity to do something nice or help someone in need and relish the moment, knowing you might have been exactly what they needed. It just might put a smile on your face, too.
Good Works

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Tribute to Fathers


To the dads who have loved us from the start, whose discipline and rules came from the heart;

To the dads who work hard before going to bed, so there's money for food and a roof overhead;

To the dads starting out with their young ones in tow, who want to protect them wherever they go;

To the dads who don't have to speak when they're mad, 'cause the look on their face lets you know you've been bad;

To the dads who may have lost all hope, when their sick baby dies and it's too hard to cope;

To the dads who fight and serve so well, so our freedoms and rights will forever prevail;

To the dads we love with all our heart, for their example of hard work and doing our part;

To the dads who protect us when life goes array, and help us see things in a whole new way;

To the dads who act tough when your date comes to call, but is really a softy underneath it all;

To the dads who love us when we marry their son, and call us "daughter" from that day on;

To the dads who don't show their love with hugs, but you feel their support and know of their love;

To the dads who are older and have stories to tell, and the lessons we learn if we listen real well;

To those wonderful men in our lives we now say, "Thanks for everything! Happy Father's Day."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bloom Where You're Planted

When life gives you lemons and you don't like lemonade, add your own flair then love what you've made.
~ Stacy Coles

For years I tested my green thumb only to find that it's not very green. I've tried planting tomatoes, peppers, carrots and beans. Vegetables haven't succeeded in my garden, but weeds seem to have become my specialty. I blame the soil.

After spending more money than I care to admit on tomato starters and nutrient-filled soil, and spending countless hours weeding and watering, our family discovered a community garden where vegetables seem to grow happily. So, for a small fee, (and no weeding or watering on my part) we loaded a box full of all the veggies we wanted to pick. I was able to make and can salsa to my heart's content.

We are now looking to convert our little garden into a water fall with a pond. Fish are debatable ~ I'm not sure I'll be able to keep those alive, either.

I wanted my garden to succeed. I wanted to reap the benefits of harvesting ripe, delicious vegetables after a summer of nurturing those delicate plants. Nature had other plans. I found myself disappointed year after year when there wasn't much to show for all my hard work. This was my lemon, and I'm not one for lemonade. When we found the community garden, I was overjoyed at how many veggies we were able to get and how much salsa it made. This became our added flair. We didn't quit or give up. We simply found a different approach that made everyone happy.
There will be times we find ourselves in a position or location that we wouldn't have chosen. It might be something big like a job that takes us into an unknown territory, or an illness that puts future plans on hold. It might be something smaller like a church calling that makes us question our abilities, or finding we aren't great at gardening.

Making the most of whatever situation or circumstance we find ourselves in is the key to happiness. If we choose to wallow in self-pity because things don't turn out as we expect, we're going to be miserable. If we accept life's challenges and make the most of what we've been given, we'll thrive no matter where we are and no matter what we're doing. Life is what we make of it. So find a way to make it great.

It's easy to let the sour situations in life get us down. But, when things don't turn out as planned, adjust the plan. Do your best regardless of your situation. Face your ups and downs with a positive attitude and turn life's lemons into something you will be proud of ... like salsa!
Life's Lemons

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Teacher's Influence

Another school year has ended and summer vacations begin! I would like to give a shout-out to all the teachers who give their time, talents, and patience to their students throughout each school year.

I think it's great when my kids come home on the last day of school with tears in their eyes and mopey faces. What a great tribute to their teachers when kids are this sad that the year has ended because they are going to miss those teachers they grew to love and respect over the last eight months. And ~ once I make sure the sad faces are not because they are dreading the summer days at home with me ~ I want to say, "Thank you, teachers!"
  • Thank you for loving these students while they were in your care throughout the day.
  • Thank you for the time you put into planning the daily lessons in a way students would be sure to get the most out of them.
  • Thank you for realizing that all students do not learn the same way.
  • Thank you for the projects that required (or "suggested") parental guidance. This helped me get things right that I did wrong when I was the student (of course ... I was on the sidelines "suggesting" the right way to my child).
Teachers are such a big part of students' lives, and not just during the school year. The influence of a teacher reaches far beyond the walls of a classroom. It's important for teachers to remember this before they set foot in the classroom. Their words can be hurtful or can build confidence in their students for years to come.

The best teachers are those who make each student feel like he/she is the favorite, but does not play favorites. When students know their teacher loves them, they are excited about going to school and anxious to learn. When teachers make learning fun, students soak in the information like a sponge and yearn for more. When the teacher enforces respect in the classroom, students feel safe and know they have a support group.

So, "Thanks!" to all those teachers who have been a positive influence to my children throughout their years of school so far. And "Thanks!" to the wonderful teachers I had in the past whose encouraging and motivating words have influenced me throughout my life.
A Teacher's Influence