My Take on 26 Acts of Kindness

By now, I am sure you have heard about Ann Curry’s call on Twitter for everyone to do 20 acts of kindness to honor the children who died in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14.  That call has expanded to 26 acts of kindness, one act for each person who was killed in that horrible attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  It’s a good idea, and I know people who have benefited from those acts of kindness (a friend even posted on Facebook that someone at the Starbucks she frequents paid for drinks for himself and the next 26 people in line; my friend happened to be number 26.)  But I am going to admit something right now that is not likely to be nearly as popular as Ann Curry’s original statement.

I think that this whole 26 acts of kindness thing has gotten out of hand.

See?  Told you it would not be a very popular statement.

It’s not that I think being kind to others is a bad thing.  And I don’t think that it is wrong to intentionally look for ways to show kindness to strangers.  The problem I have with this 26 acts of kindness thing is the publicity it is getting.  Oh, not that the event itself is being talked about.  I think that having news anchors talk about it encourages others to at least think of what they can do to show kindness to those around them.  It’s when I see a video of a woman talking about the quilts she made and donated or a group of kids talking about the crafts they made to give away that I don’t like.  That makes it seem like it is not concern for those in need of help that motivates the kindness; rather it makes it sound like the act of kindness was done in order to “look good” in the eyes of others.

Now, I am not saying that personal publicity is the reason behind anyone’s act of kindness.  There is no way I can know what is in the hearts of those who are on the nightly news, talking about what kind act they performed that day.  But hearing them talk about it just sounds like it is more about the giver and less about the gift.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:3-4, NIV

Giving to others, showing kindness to others, should be done just because you want to help that other person.  Talking about it, at least in my opinion, takes away from the kindness.  It makes it more about YOU, and what YOU can get out of doing good.

If the news programs are going to talk about these 26 acts of kindness, I think they should talk to the ones who benefited from the kindness.  I know that is what was done here in my hometown.  We have a local toy store that offers layaway for Christmas. A “Secret Santa” came in and randomly paid off the layaway accounts of different people.  There was a woman who came in to cancel her layaway because her financial situation had changed and she was not going to be able to finish paying.  Only when the employee looked up her account, she found that her layaway had been completely paid for.  She didn’t know who had paid it, but the local media reported her surprise and happiness over the event.  That small act of kindness made her day and it made it possible for her children to enjoy opening gifts on Christmas morning.

That is where the focus should be—on the ones who benefit from the kindness.  Focusing on the ones being kind just makes us look like a selfish society.

And I don’t think that helping the needy should ever be viewed as a selfish act at all.

Introducing The Rylee Project

Early in 2005, I suffered a devastating miscarriage.  One thing that has always bothered me is the fear that no one else would remember that baby.  Life—especially pre-born life—is treated so casually in this world that some do not even consider a miscarriage to be a death. Grieving over a miscarried child seems to be frowned upon.  More than once, I was told to pull myself together and get over it.  Even well-meaning Christian friends told me to let it go.

But that pregnancy was more than a blob of cells to me.  That was a baby, MY baby.  My daughter, a precious little part of my family.  We named her Rylee Adelle.  I don’t why God chose to keep her in Heaven.  But I do know that her loss is felt every day.  Not a day goes by when I don’t think about her, at least one time.  I’ve moved on with my life and I have learned how to live with the void her death has left in my heart.  But get over it?  Let it go?  Those are two things I can’t do, two things I won’t do.  That would mean forgetting her.

I don’t want to forget.

For seven years, I have wanted to do something to honor my little girl.  Just what I wasn’t sure what to do.  I wanted her brief existence to count for something.  I wanted her to touch others in some way, to make a difference in the world.

After a lot of thought and prayer, I think I have finally found the perfect way to do that!

The idea started this summer, when I began writing a series of letters to my daughter.  There are things that I would have loved to tell her, things that I would have taught her that don’t seem so important to teach my sons (like how to dress modestly and how to deal with your changing friendships as you get older.)  OK, so maybe they are things the boys need to know, too.  But I wouldn’t tell my boys exactly the same things that I would have told Rylee, at least not in the same way.  I began writing these letters, and they quickly turned into something more than I really expected.  The letters I wrote to her have made their way into a book, called LETTERS TO RYLEE.  (Expected publication date is November 23, 2012.  Keep an eye out for the cover, which I will unveil soon!)

One thing kept coming to mind as I wrote those letters—friendship.  And I don’t mean just human friendships.  I kept thinking about how important a friendship with Jesus is.  I didn’t understand how important that friendship really is when I was a teen.  Looking back on some of the things I did and the choices I made, I can’t help but wonder how different my life would be if I had really developed that friendship back then, instead of waiting until my 30’s to get around to it.

That is when The Rylee Project really began to take shape in my mind.  Through The Rylee Project, I am hoping to impact the lives of young girls today in a very positive way.  I want girls, especially girls who will one day date and eventually marry (yikes!) my sons, to have the tools to really develop a close friendship with Jesus.  It’s not about a particular religion, or the “rules” and “regulations” of being a Christian.  It’s more than that.  The Rylee Project is about developing a friendship with Jesus and developing human friendships that honor Him.  It’s about focusing not on what feels good now, but on what will have the most positive impact on life in the future.

It’s kind of a big job.  In all honesty, I don’t know if I am really qualified to tackle it.  But I keep going back to a saying I’ve seen all over Facebook in recent weeks—God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.  As long as I follow His leading and keep Him in the center of what I am doing, I know this will work out.  I can’t focus on the grand dreams in my head, the things that would be amazing to see happen with The Rylee Project.  I can only focus on what God is asking me to do each day, and pray that I am a good example of the friendships He desires to see in this world.

Go ahead and take a look at the website for The Rylee Project.  The Rylee Project is also on Twitter and on Facebook (Hey, gotta go where the girls are!)  I look forward to hearing what you think about this project, especially those of you who have young girls.  Please visit and ask your daughters and their friends to visit.

And please, pray for this project.  If The Rylee Project can have a positive impact on just one young lady, than it has done all I have hoped for—honored God while honoring my Rylee Adelle.

Twitter Diet

I saw a Twitter post this morning that really irked me.  The post, from Today Show, reads like this (sorry, I don’t know how to post a link to the exact Tweet):

Video: @MichelleObama ”scolds” Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas on her eating habits. 

                Seriously?  “Scolding” her over what she eats?  It’s not like Gabby eats junk food all the time.  OK, so I am not with her at every meal (or at any meal for that matter) but just a look at her tells me that she is good about what she eats.  No one who subsists on a diet of pizza, fast food, and snacks could do what Gabby has done in gymnastics.  I have a feeling that a diet like that would cause a body to bounce in a completely different way than Gabby’s does!

I did view the video.  (If you want to see it for yourself, you can click the link in the Tweet or you can click this link to see it right on The Today Show site.)  On a Tonight Show appearance, Jay Leno asked Gabby how she celebrated her gold medals.  She said that once the competition was over, she splurged and had an egg McMuffin.  Mrs. Obama said something about hoping it was at least on a whole wheat muffin.  I see that this was all done in a joking manner and it was meant in fun.  But that doesn’t make it any easier for me to listen to.

Maybe it’s my struggles with food that have me so upset about this.  But I think that Mrs. Obama is way off on this one.  Oh, I understand her intentions.  In this country, we do have an obesity problem.  Fast food is convenient, but it causes many health problems.  Many people can improve their overall health by skipping Egg McMuffins, as well as any other breakfast (or lunch or dinner) item that can be purchased through a drive thru.

But is one little fast food sandwich really going to hurt someone like Gabby Douglas?  In my mind, the problem with food comes from saying, “No.  You absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, eat that food.  Not ever.”  That is only going to increase the craving for it.  (Now, I know that people with food addictions have certain things they absolutely must avoid in order to recover from their disease, but those are food the individual identifies, not foods that are identified for them by other people.)  If Gabby, or any other person—athlete or not—for that matter, eats a fast food breakfast every day, yeah, that’s a problem.  But one little sandwich is going to hurt.  Gabby Douglas is a smart girl.  She knows what it takes to keep her body in competitive shape.  “Splurging” after a gold medal winning performance isn’t going to hurt her.

In fact, it seems to be that her indulgence is much less dangerous than the partying and alcohol that other athletes indulge in after winning at the Olympics.  (Just take a look at what Hope Solo has said about celebrating after the 2008 women’s soccer team won gold.)  Honestly, which mode of celebration would you prefer to see your daughter take part in?

Gabby Douglas, Jay Leno, McMuffin, MichelleObama, Olympic Games, Leave a comment

Looking Forward

I can’t “blame” my writing career on Karen Kingsbury.  God is the one who gave me the talent I have and He is the one who put into my heart the burning desire to write books that glorify Him.   But Karen is the one who first made me think that sharing the stories God has given me could be much more than just a dream.

The number of times I was told that Christian books would never sell….  I don’t know that I can count high enough to give you a number.  But it happened often enough that I even believed it for a while.  It wasn’t until an on-line friend suggested I read something “anything, really” by Karen Kingsbury that I changed my mind.  Her books were good; her talent very real.  And she has sold more than a few books.  My goal with my writing isn’t to see title after title at the top of The New York Times Best Seller List (though I wouldn’t be totally upset to see that happen, either.)  But seeing what she has done makes me think that it is possible, with a lot of hard work, for me to actually contribute something, financially, to my family through my writing.

God may have put the desire in my heart, but Karen has set an example for me to follow.

I’ve read pretty much everyone of Karen’s books that my library carries, and I’ve even added quite a few of her titles to my personal books collection.  (My favorites?  One Tuesday Morning and Even Now.)  I follow her on both Facebook and Twitter, and find myself anxiously awaiting whatever story she comes up with next.

I was really anxious to read her Bailey Flanigan Series.  Reading through the books about the Baxter family, I got to see Bailey grow up.  I could hardly wait to see what would unfold for her as she navigated her way through her 20′s.  Over the weekend, I read the final two books in this four book series.  I have to say that I was a little disappointed.  The series did not end the way that I thought it would, and for the first time I found little “quirks” in Karen’s writing style that annoyed me.  When I reached the last page of the final book, I was actually happy to be done with it.  I honestly didn’t think I’d be interested in reading another of her books for quite a while.

And then I found this trailer.   Oh my goodness!!!!  I so cannot WAIT to read this one.  Of course, it’s about the Baxters, and I am so hooked on their lives!  Coming Home looks to be another great story.