You’ve been RAOKed!
I have gone back and forth on whether or not to post about my birthday. For my 29th birthday (the last one I plan on having #forever29), I celebrated by doing 29 Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK). The world could use an extra dose of kindness right now, and I wanted a day to intentionally celebrate unsuspecting people, so I took off work and did just that.
Serving others is part of who I am – whether it’s my day job in the service industry, praying for babies in the NICU, teaching Sunday School, baseball with Kermit, loving on my church family, or investing deeply in family and friends – I love discovering new opportunities while meeting existing commitments. I come alive when I’m lost in the needs of others.
There is a level of demeaning risk associated with sharing some of these experiences, but it’s worth it. Generally, people want to see goodness in the world, but unfortunately, news headlines aren’t overly optimistic. I can’t say I would have had these ideas had someone not shared them with me, so I share knowing my heart, sincerity, and motives, in hopes that you might reach out to someone unsuspecting in your own special way.
Sometimes the best plans are no plans, but simply showing up. Most people know I’m a typical Type A person – simple, efficient, effective – but I work off of a game plan. Straight out of the gate, I knew I had to be flexible. Unexpected encounters and conversations quickly humbled me and reminded me that God was in charge today. He is God. I am not.
Having seen a midnight movie the night before with friends, I needed my energy for the day ahead! I left cash with the barista at a local coffee shop, and asked him to use his judgement to pay for the drinks of unsuspecting patrons. A half hour later I was sitting nearby reading, and noticed two firefighters waiting on their orders, chatting and scanning the coffee house, trying to figure out who may have purchased their caffeine. I also left a friendly reminder before embarking on my next leg.
Thank You Letter to a Soldier
I remember doing something similar to honor our armed forces as a child in grade school, but the letter writing experience as an adult is so much different. No longer a naive young girl, I’m much more cognizant of what’s going on globally, the dangers our troops face, and the uncertainty where families must learn to rest. We are living in a different world.
While researching places to bring donations, I learned about WARM (Westerville Area Resource Ministry). This local organization equips participants through job counseling, food pantry, and financial resource allocation services. The food pantry set up really intrigues me. Instead of handing individuals a box of food, which they may or may not like, they “shop” through aisles of food with an assistant according to their preferences. For example, choosing between black beans and green beans may seem quite simple, but it’s actually quite empowering if you think about it.
Care Kit for a Homeless Woman
A friend brought this idea to my attention. Basically, take a purse that’s no longer used and pack it like you would a care package — hat, scarf, gloves, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, jewelry, etc. — and give it to a homeless woman. An undercover operation performed a few years ago discovered the average income of area panhandlers is $100-$300k/annually, so the challenge was finding the right woman to receive the care kit. I asked for recommendations all morning, and only by the grace of God did I stumble into the perfect situation.
While at WARM donating coats and food, I spoke with Laurie, a coordinator who had the perfect client in mind for the care kit! A single mother of two young boys from Ghana, and she absolutely loves the Lord! Hallelujah! I enclosed a handwritten note praying the items blessed her in such a way that she felt a hint of the love God has for her.
Take one! They’re free, and so is yours! Attempting to inspire smiles with easy little pull tabs and positive affirmations on the back. Everyone needs reminded sometimes, right? I also sent a series of funny selfies to my family to make them laugh throughout the day.
1. Looking for ideas? Make a list of what you’re most thankful for. How can you honor them?
2. Post-Its! This was the easiest way to rearrange, organize, identify supply needs, etc.
3. Prepare. Since I wanted these to hit on the same day, I did some legwork up front. Any items needing purchased or shipped in the mail were completed ahead of time so I could be more present in the day.
4. Map it. Pinpointing my route for the day helped organize logistics for the day.
5. Mix it up! Choose things that take varying lengths of time. For example, because I could do a few things early (i.e. mailing items to arrive on my birthday), I could also do a few things that took a more substantial length of time on the day of (i.e. holding babies and cleaning horse stalls).
Oh yeah, this crew totally surprised me with a night of laughter, burgers, and beer. Totally blessed by family and friends who reach out and keep growing me. They get better and better! The best is yet to come.