Friday, February 24, 2012

RAK Week and Beyond

Did you celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week last week? It’s a great time to try something kind that you’ve never done before and see how it feels.  In my other blog, I called it starting streams of kindness because I printed some kindness cards that ask people to pass on another kind act after receiving one.

I must admit my week of random acts went slowly.  I wanted to buy someone’s meal who was behind me at the Burger King one day, but there was no one there.  I noticed the surliness of a waitress but didn’t think to leave her a big tip and a kindness card until it was too late. 

In fact, it really wasn’t until this week that I began to give out my kindness cards.  The next waitress we had at a Mexican restaurant on Monday got a hefty tip and a card with a smile on it from me. Then I brought a security guard a coke and a chocolate chunk cookie for a snack one night. 

I did do one act of kindness during the week in question, but it was something I would have done no matter what week it was.  My mother began experiencing double vision in one of her eyes last week.  She lives about an hour away from me so I drove up to take her to the doctor and do some tests to determine what was going on.

As of now she is still seeing double in one eye and the doctors can’t seem to do much for her, despite doing a cat scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and some blood tests.  The most technological suggestion they had for her was to get an eye patch.  My husband said we should get her a pirate hat as well. 

I had another friend who fell from her attic last week, breaking a vertebra in her back.  She got out of the hospital this week and I brought her dinner on Wednesday, then picked up a prescription and some flowers for her on Thursday. 

Neither of these were random acts of kindness, but I am talking about them because one happened last week and one this week.  Was either of them less an act of kindness (though not random) because of when it was done? No, and kindness must continue no matter what week it is because every week there are people in need.

My mother and my friend know that they are loved by me and by extension, loved by God.  My mother, my friend and I share the love of Christ.   They know that part of the reason that I helped them, as well as the others, is that I want to be known by my love.

The bible says we will be known as Christians, or not, by how we treat other Christians. As I said in my blog two weeks ago, God charges us to love our neighbors as well.

I put three words on the back of the kindness cards that I gave out.  God bless you.  Kindnesses done by Christians are one of the important reasons that I became a Christian myself and I hope my random acts of kindness this week or kindnesses done any week can help others see God’s love for them.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Playing for a Cause

Happy February! Today I want to share an easy way to help others that you don’t even have to get out of your chair at home to do.  It’s called playing for a cause. That’s right.  You can play your favorite games on your computer while money is given to a charity of your choice.

One of the best sites for this is gamesthatgive.  It offers 28 games to play for a variety of charities.  While you play there are advertisers, usually only one at the top of the game, who pay the charity for you, up to ten cents per minute you play. If you’re on Facebook, you can log in and play there and invite other friends to play as well. 

I’ve also mentioned Freerice before. I love this game because it’s like Jeopardy for a good cause. You choose what you want to learn or review, be it geography, sciences, English, humanities, math or languages. You then answer questions on the topic and for every answer you get right, ten grains of rice go to someone who’s hungry.  It’s all done through the World Food Programme.

Iwon has also gotten in on the game (pun intended) by offering a monthly prize of $5,000 for the charitable organization that has the most coins at the end of the month.  There are national charities for which you can play or you can start your own team and there’s one winner from each group each month. 

You earn coins as you play for your team and recruit other people to play, too. You earn more by playing Casino games and can also earn by using the Iwon search engine. You do have to download a toolbar to play the games. An added benefit is that your coins can still be used to enter sweepstakes.

Another game site for charity is called charitii.  You choose a charity to play for and then answer a crossword puzzle type game.

All these games are free, but OneBigGame offers awesome well known video games for a price and donates a percentage to its charity partners Save the Children and the Starlight Children's Foundation.

So, now it’s time to start playing!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine’s Day Acts of Love

Next Tuesday we celebrate Valentine’s Day.  My husband will be coming home after being deployed for over six months.  I have already gotten him a card and present and he says he is making something for me.  We can’t wait to see each other after being so long apart.

His visit has occupied my and our son’s minds for weeks now. We’re planning all kinds of fun activities and things to show our love for him.  Despite my preoccupation with my husband’s return, there’s something else on my mind about next week.  February 13-19 is also Random Acts of Kindness Week.

It’s the season of the heart. We are to show love to our dear ones and to others.  I think the best description of how this is supposed to work was done by Jesus.  Way back in the third book of the bible when Moses was giving out laws, one of them was to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Thousands of years later when Jesus was walking around doing his ministry, he was asked who that covered, who is your neighbor? He was asked this by an expert in the Hebrew law.

As he often did, he told a story, of the good Samaritan, a man who found another who’d been stolen from, hurt and left on the side of the road. The Samaritan had never seen this man before in his life, but he bandaged his wounds, took him to an inn and cared for him and paid for the innkeeper to watch over him when he had to go.

Jesus told the expert to “go and do likewise.”  I can see no better example of a random act of kindness than this, to care for a stranger who has been hurt.  It’s kind of like what firefighters and emergency medical technicians do for a living.  I respect them greatly because I don’t think I could take the stress of doing this on a daily basis. 

But I can help people in other ways.  Random Acts of Kindness Week is a time to remember that we should be doing that, helping others in whatever ways they need.

I hope I won’t be running into anyone in such dire need of help as the man in Jesus’s story.  I only know basic first aid, but would I be willing to do it and/or take him to the hospital? How often do we stop our schedules to randomly help others?  I’ll be honest, not often! 

So, let’s try to think differently next week, try to see when others need our help, even if they’re strangers in line at Burger King, sick kids at a children’s hospital nearby or elderly people in a nursing home.  We may not see these people in our daily lives but next week we need to take time to see them AND help them.  Maybe then we’ll notice them more often, not just one week a year. For more ideas on how to help others, visit my website  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Heart to Heart Talk

Scarlet, ruby, vermillion, rose, cherry, crimson, maroon and claret. These are just a few of the types of red people will be seeing on Valentine’s Day cards, chocolates and even underwear in the next couple of weeks. Because February is the month for love due to Valentine’s Day, it’s also the American Heart Association’s month of the heart and a host of other heart-related celebrations.

Today is National Wear Red Day. Since red is my favorite color, I’m all for it. It also happens to be an awareness tool to let people know that heart disease—the #1 killer of women—is largely preventable.  If you decide to wear red today, let people know why.

Next week from February 7th to 14th is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness week. The Congenital Heart Information Network wants people to know that congenital heart disease is considered to be the most common birth defect, and is a leading cause of birth-defect related deaths worldwide.

With any cause, you can always donate money for programming but sometimes the best way to promote awareness is to do something, something different than you normally do so people will ask you why you are doing it.

If that means wearing a red feather boa or sexy red dress on National Wear Red Day, then go for it.  You could also start a wear red day for every Friday in the month or a casual red day and collect donations for those that dress casual and then donate them to the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA makes it easy to go red by providing plenty of clothing, jewelry and other items at its Shop Go Red Store.

The AHA also provides easy ways to advocate for legislation helping heart research in its You’re the Cure outreach advocacy program.  It has information on state and federal issues for the advocate and how to get involved.

Another way to combat heart disease is to exercise.  We already know that works better when you do it with a friend or in a group so why not start a lunchtime walking group at your work, or a weekend group in your neighborhood?  Find resources to do it here and here.  I wore a red shirt when I went for a workout with my friend Jude this morning.

She had an interesting idea. What if employers made how much they pay in health insurance for employees dependent on their health?  Would you start exercising if it meant you could pay $100 or more dollars less for your health insurance?  My sister’s company gives employees money for doing 10,000 steps or more a day.  Find out how your company can become a Fit Friendly company.

What else can you do? Contact your local chapter of the American Heart Association and get some brochures to give out on a casual red Friday.  Set up in the lobby of your building at lunch time and catch people as they go out to lunch or in the morning or evening as they arrive and go home.

Your heart is the seat of love AND life.  Take care of it, not just this month, but in the years to come.