Kindness

Lately, I have been the recipient of three acts of kindness that were unexpected and in two cases, were so unbelievable, they literally brought me to tears.  I was reminded in all three cases how kindness can change the world.  We never know what is going on in the lives of others and what a big impact a kind word or deed could have for them and for their family.  I have made a list of small acts of kindness that I can do and will be doing in the weeks to come after being inspired by these three lovely people.  I encourage you to get in on the kindness movement.

A few weeks ago, my daughter Gracelyn and I were leaving an appointment at her Pulmonary Doctor’s office and she asked me if we could please go to her favourite restaurant to celebrate the good news that her lung function was beginning to improve.  I hesitated.  She had spent the entire week before in the Children’s Hospital and it had taken a financial toll on us.  As the parents of seven children, there never seems to be extra money, but that week, we had spent more in child care for the other kids, parking costs, food, and my husband had to miss some time at work, so I was feeling the pinch more than usual.  I looked at her face though and thought about how close we had come to losing her just a week earlier and said yes.  We went to the Mongolie Grill downtown.  Gracelyn loves the green onion cakes, the wonton soup, and getting to watch them cook up our food on the large circular grill.  She also loves the fortune cookie that comes at the end!  When we were there, Grace told our waitress that we were there to celebrate that her lungs were starting to get better and she didn’t have to go back to the hospital that week.  At the end of the meal, the waitress came over and brought us our fortune cookies and to let us know that she was going to be paying for our meal because of what we were celebrating!!!

The waitress (previously a stranger) had no idea that we had six other kids at home or that five of our kids are adopted or that our income has taken a huge hit this year with the economy.  She had no idea that I had been torn about going there in the first place because of the cost.  She had no idea that Grace has had health issues for years and has been very sick for the past five months.  Maybe she felt led to pay for our meal because of a prompting from God.  Maybe she has someone in her family who struggles with health issues.  Maybe she was impressed by Gracelyn’s infectious smile and positive spirit.  Whatever the reason, I am sure she has no idea the effect that her act of kindness had on our whole family!  What a gift!

About two weeks ago, five of the kids and I were in the grocery store.  To be honest, they were not being all that well behaved, to the point where it was embarrassing!  I understood that they were tired.  We had been in town, running around for more than five hours and they were restless, but they were being loud and bickering and running and not listening to me and I was anxious to get the list done and get out of there.  Then, a woman came up and tapped me on the shoulder and said my name.  I recognized her but couldn’t place her at first.  It turns our that she is my husband’s high school best friend’s mom.  We chatted for a few minutes (all the while, my kids running around and generally misbehaving!) and she seemed pleased to meet our newest additions.  Elijah invited her to his birthday party!

Anyway, later, the kids and I were at the till and she came up behind us and she had bought our family a huge tub of ice cream!  Ice cream is quite a treat around here!  It was such an unexpected surprise and the kids were so excited about it.  It really turned our moods and the day around too.  Plus, Mark loves ice cream, so it was nice to have a treat for him after supper that day too!

The third act of kindness was so touching and also came at a time when I was really needing a reminder about the good in people and about the positives of sharing pieces of our story publicly.  I had privately been wondering if perhaps I shouldn’t be sharing so much about our adoptions, Gracelyn’s health, and my own feelings on my blogs as I was experiencing some negative fall-out and then right in the midst of that, I received an e-mail from an online friend.  She and I met in the blogging world, each sharing the same faith and the common experience of adopting older children from Africa.  She sent me an e-mail to ask if she could send a gift for Gracelyn, as we had just gotten word from Grace’s doctor that she would have to spend at least the next three weeks in the house and would have to wear a mask in the house too.  My online friend C. thought that getting something in the mail would cheer Grace up and give her something to do.  I was so touched by the idea.  Later, C. sent me another e-mail saying that her kids had decided to spend their own money to buy Gracelyn a gift.  I was so impressed by the generosity of her kids to do this for a little girl they had never even met!  When C. sent me the tracking number for the parcel, Grace and I looked it up and she was able to anticipate the day she would get something in the mail!

Every day that week, Gracelyn sent her brothers to the mail to check if it had come and on the day that it was supposed to arrive, there was a tag with HER OWN NAME on it saying that her parcel was ready to be picked up at the post office, which Mark did on his way home.  Gracelyn was climbing the walls with anticipation!  I was expecting a small package and what arrived was:  (sorry for the poor photo quality!)

Can you see the size of the package?!?!  Both of C’s kids had made sparkly homemade cards for Grace with sweet messages and wrapped the gifts that they bought her with their own money.  C. had thrown in a gift and a card for me full of encouragement.  C. had included a game for all my kids to play together (how did she know that we lost all the pieces to our Monopoly years ago and finally threw it out?!) and many crafts and activities to keep Gracelyn occupied during her housebound stint.  How do you say “thank you” to someone for making your daughter feel like she’s the lucky one instead of the one always missing out?!

So three people, three very different acts of kindness, three days altered, but many more than three people affected!  I am humbled and thankful and touched.  I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end and am determined to pay it forward.

What ideas do you have for acts of kindness?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Wonderful! Looks like Christmas came early for your family!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Dan Visser on October 13, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Wow, I am so touched. I can see how God uses our simple regular daily interactions to bless those he loves and wants to encourage. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  3. Such special blessings! It is a joy to see how God still uses us and others to encourage and build one another up!

    Blessings!
    Deborah

    Reply

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