The package intrigued me as I watched the UPS man bring it to my front door. It was different because it didn’t have the Amazon “smile”. Usually our packages come from Amazon; this is a result of living in the country and developing an overwhelming preference for online shopping over the time and expense of driving to the store. I won’t even get started on my opinion of “shopping”.
Back to the package; it came to our house and filled our home with sunshine… literally. Sunshine from strangers! It was addressed to Jackie and Natalie and was from a youth group in Oregon! A class of 12-13 year old girls had prepared this box full of all-things-yellow-and-fun. There was also a pillowcase for each of the four children. The pillowcases were marked with the name of each child, but there were no names on the card nor anywhere in the box to let us know who had sent it. My detective work told me that I do have some very dear friends who live in the vicinity, but none of them are 12 or 13, nor are their children.
A group of teenage girls had taken the time to send a care package to two teenage girls in a neighboring state. They must have heard that these girls were having some trials and boxed up some sunshine to share. How marvelous that they had surplus sunshine to spare!! How marvelous that they are being taught at a young age to look out for the happiness of others! They did not include their names, they did it not expecting any sort of recognition; but here is a grateful mother blogging about it.
Jackie had fun opening the package and taking out each thoughtful and cheerful item. We set it up for a photo and then left it so the other kids would enjoy it as they came home from school. It was a fun afternoon. Natalie saw it and within a few minutes had written, addressed, and stamped a thank you card. My heart was warmed as I thought of how my girls would remember this and it would help them to pay it forward… looking forward over the years for other ways to spread some sunshine.
I ran across this quote – it is by Amelia Earhart:
No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.
I could not begin to list the many thoughtful acts of kindness that have come our way. It has been both humbling and rewarding. We like to say that it is better to give than to receive. I am learning that it is also very good to receive. When Greg was in the hospital it was hard to receive so much help, but we really needed it. At that time I liked to remind myself that we would again be in a position to give, as though I needed to even the score. This time around I have changed my outlook, though I do not know that I can put it into words. I will try. I know that it feels really good to serve others. Knowing this helps me to receive service, knowing it is blessing the lives of my friends. There is, however, even more to it than that. I believe that individuals on either end of the service have a sort of bond created between them. When I gratefully accept the service of others, (especially when I don’t worry about reciprocating right away), we touch each other’s lives. Everyone is blessed, everyone is closer and both lives are more full.
I was just about to wrap up these thoughts and I was interrupted… now I feel that I want to mention two other acts of service that have been unique. One because it was also given by someone who doesn’t know us, and one because it was for the mom.
First – the mom’s gift. Diane is a lady at church that I don’t know well, but everything that I do know is very positive. She is someone that I admire. What a surprise when she came to visit Jackie (right after surgery) and presented me with a gift certificate for a massage! I had not thought of how beneficial that could be – but she did. I decided I should use it right away since she had meant for it to help me with my stress. Immediately those little pains I had been having all over my body were gone and my sleep improved immensely. How very perceptive she had been! She brought not only comfort, but also friendship and “sunshine”. I can learn so much from her example.
Another kindness from a stranger came just a couple of weeks ago. My sister has a friend who has a photography business. I had wondered (to my sister) if her friend (Mallory) would possibly take a few of my photos of Jackie and photoshop them for us. Last year Jackie had decided that she wanted to know more about photography and wanted to practice by doing her own senior pictures. I could snap the photos and we could use the money we saved on a photographer to buy some new software – but we would have to learn how to use it. Mallory contacted me via email. I explained what we had planned and how our plans to learn editing techniques had been thwarted by cancer. Right away Mallory wrote and told me that her father and brother had both gone through cancer – people had been so kind to their family and she wanted to pay it forward. Would we please consider letting her do a complimentary photo shoot for Jackie?
Yes, we would!
We could have hired Mallory and our photos would have been just as good. The experience, however, was enhanced for everyone because of the service involved. My mother’s heart was touched that someone would reach out and brighten my daughter’s life. Mallory must have felt that she was not only helping Jackie, but also giving back by paying it forward. Jackie was not only thrilled, she surely felt more relaxed and enjoyed herself more knowing that this photo shoot was something that Mallory wanted to do, not just something she was paid to do. By accepting her offer, we not only established a bond with Mallory, we also opened up our hearts to those in our own future — We will be even more likely to remember to offer service when we see the opportunity.
In Matthew 22:37-29 we can see that giving and receiving help us (and others) to obey the first two commandments! It is obviously a big deal!!
Our lives are blessed at many levels when we receive service. Our lives are blessed at many levels when we give service. Sharing our means, giving our time, thinking of things we like and doing it for someone else… even someone we don’t know — this isn’t so hard. I takes little effort and brings great rewards…. hmmm… I think that I will go to bed now and think about something I can do everyday next week. Even a smile makes a difference. Better yet – time for a family meeting… we have been given much and we need to give.