Inspired by the author's fortieth birthday celebration where she committed to forty days of intentional kindness, this book shares the ripple effect that changed an entire community. In less than a year, more than 20,000 separate acts of kindness took place as others embraced the endeavour. A Case for Kindness equips you to have that same impact on the lives of your own neighbors, family, and friends. In this book, you will find forty kindness practices that easily fit the margins of your day-to-day interactions. It is a forty-day journey that will have a lasting impact on the lives of others, while enriching your own life in the process.
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A Case for Kindness
40 Ways to Love and Inspire Others
By Lisa Barrickman
Worthy Publishing GroupCopyright © 2017 Lisa Barrickman
All rights reserved.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO MOVED by another person's actions that you started to see the world in a new light? Brighter. Brimming with goodness. So much goodness that you just wanted to keep it going. And going.
Many years ago, a person whose name I don't recall and whose face I wouldn't recognize left a lasting impact on my life with the simple gift of kindness. Kindness ... the decision to reach out to another human being with love, just because it's a good way to live.
It happened when I sat down on an airplane — I didn't know that the gentleman seated next to me would turn out to be an angel in disguise. And he didn't know that the adorable infant in my arms could wake the dead with his colicky cry ... nor did he know that I suffer from severe motion sickness. If everything had gone as planned, he would have gotten through the entire flight without having to learn either of those interesting tidbits. But that is not how it played out. Not even close.
A quick one-hour flight became a nightmare when winter weather quite literally took us all by storm. With endless delays and ferocious turbulence, one hour turned into five, a sleeping baby turned into a screeching siren, and I turned green. In the midst of it all, the stranger beside me leaned over and calmly said, "Is there anything I can do to help you?" And help he did. Even after I desperately handed him my disgruntled travel buddy so I could vomit, he continued to selflessly offer his help. And he stayed beside me all the way to the finish line, complete with a gateless exit from the aircraft right into the roaring blizzard!
Safe and sound, with a jubilant sigh of relief, I expressed my overabundance of gratitude. I knew I would never see this person again, and I also knew I would never forget his comforting kindness. He had given me so many valuable gifts that day, without any monetary cost — acceptance, time, patience, a glass of water, an extra hand. His example was a powerful reminder that we all have the ability, in everyday life and in exceptional moments, to be the hands and feet of God on earth.
The warm memories of that chilling day have never faded, because my eyes were forever opened to the power of kindness. The ripple created by a compassionate stranger continues a decade later, inspiring my celebration of kindness and now flowing into yours. When we set kindness into motion, it takes on a life of its own. It extends far beyond our sight, beyond our comprehension.
During Forty Days of Kindness at church, one friend eagerly embraced the kindness project, while her husband, Lloyd, wasnot interested. At all. His exact words were an emphatic, "I'm not doing it."
About a week into the forty days, he came home from a grocery run and shared that he had gathered up the carts in the parking lot and put them where they belong. Astonishingly, he proceeded to say that this was his act of kindness for the day. He admitted that kindness had been on his mind since everyone else seemed so into it, and he thought he would give it a try. (Ripple!) To this day, he still gathers up the carts whenever there is a need.
While at the store one day, Lloyd surprised even himself with a gesture that involved spending more time in line. He only had a few items to purchase, while the woman behind him had a cart filled to the top with groceries. Her fussy toddler had clearly had enough of the afternoon errand, so Lloyd invited the frazzled mom to go in front of him. Her gratitude and relieved smile further encouraged him in his kindness efforts, and he continued sending ripples of goodness out into the world.
As we dive into the splendor of kindness, we are creating endless possibilities with each gesture of love we release. Amelia Earhart describes it this way, "A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions and the roots spring up and make new trees."
We are all standing on the shore with shimmering pebbles in our hands. Let's cast them into the water and marvel at the ripples!
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
John 7:38 NIVCHAPTER 2
CELEBRATION OF APPRECIATION
THE DIRECTOR OF THE CHURCH worship team, Daniel, approached the Forty Days of Kindness signup table with tears teetering from the pools in his eyes. He was certain God had led him to church that morning to hear the presentation on the upcoming kindness initiative.
Daniel had recently gotten the news that his favorite middle school teacher was in poor health and in a nursing home. On the way to church that morning, he was thinking about the profound impact this dedicated mentor had made on his life. With a gleaming saxophone in his hand, Daniel credited his exceptional teacher for bringing out his love of music and leading him to a career as a college music professor. A reminder about simple acts of kindness was just the push he needed to reach out to his teacher with a gesture of sincere gratitude.
Daniel thought about his own students, and realized that his teacher had indirectly marked their lives too. He was eager to get to work on a thank-you note; his words were sure to be a genuine gift, bringing joy to the reader and peace to the writer.
If you have ever received a letter like this, you know it is a piece of mail that will escape the trashcan and be tucked in a safe place. It's a cherished treasure, a tangible reminder that our work and our lives have made a difference, and a word of encouragement for a tough day.
Maybe you're thinking of someone who has made a difference in your life. Why not grab a notecard and let them know? The mere sight of "real mail" and a handwritten note is enough to make someone's day.
As you get into a groove of spreading kindness, you will quickly discover unlimited opportunities to express appreciation. One of my most memorable acts of kindness involved creatively thanking someone who selflessly serves the community.
My kids and I were picking up the dry cleaning. As the parade of clothes spun past on the conveyer, I couldn't help but notice some work uniforms. I asked if there was an order for someone in public service that we could treat, and the pleasant woman behind the counter started to beam. She told me that a fantastic police officer named Pete would be in the next day. He always went above and beyond the call of duty. And he always picked up his uniform on the same day. We added his payment to our order and left a kindness card for him to receive instead of his bill. The woman working was so moved by the act of kindness that she asked if she could have a couple of the cards. Ripple.
There are countless people in our midst who serve to keep our day-to-day lives running smoothly. A simple gesture to thank them can go a long way. A note and some cookies left in the mailbox for the mailman (Girl Scout Thanks-a-Lots are great for this). A hot chocolate delivery to road workers on a cold day or lemonade on a hot day. Flowers brought to the front office at church or our children's school. Coffee for the bus driver. A handshake and warm words of thanks to a military officer. A note of appreciation taped to the trashcan for the trash collector to find. Lunch delivery for a favorite hair stylist. An evening snack dropped off at the local fire station. And with each action, a silent prayer for the person we are reaching out to.
If you really want to get creative, here are a few fun ways to say "you're sweet" with sweets. Just attach a notecard to the treat and brighten someone's day:
Milky Way: Thanks! You are out of this world.
Extra gum: Thanks for going the Extra mile.
Fortune Cookies: It's my good fortune to know you.
Snickers: Thanks for the laughs and the Snickers.
Hershey's Hugs and Kisses: Hugs and Kisses for a job well done.
Nutella: I can Nutella how much I appreciate you.
M&Ms: Many Many Thanks!
Andes Mints: Thanks for your commit-mint.
Thanks for your encourage-mint.
Swedish Fish: You are o-Fish-ally the greatest.
LifeSavers: Thanks for being such a Lifesaver.
Take 5: Thanks for your hard work. Take 5!
Whether we are thanking someone for changing our lives, making us smile, or serving us throughout a typical day, being appreciated is appreciated! Through every word of thanks, every act of gratitude, every whispered prayer, we're encouraging others and showing them that their lives are meaningful. We're letting them know they haven't gone unnoticed. We're changing the way we view the people in motion all around us and inspiring them to do the same. We're making the world smaller. Brighter. We're creating a change in the atmosphere ... a celebration of appreciation.
Every time I think of you, I thank my God. And whenever I mention you in my prayers, it makes me happy.
Philippians 1:3–4 CEVCHAPTER 3
EYES WIDE OPEN
"MOM," MY SON JACK WHISPERED as he urgently tapped me and pointed at the ground. The child sitting in front of us at the soccer stadium was gaping at a perfectly sprinkled ice-cream cone through tear-filled eyes. Poor kid hadn't even enjoyed one lick when his treat bit the dust!
The distraught boy's father was alone at the game with three young kids, so it would have been a tall order for him to leave his seat to rectify the ice cream casualty. Before I could say a word, Jack asked if he could run out to the concession stand and get another cone.
With his Philadelphia Union Soccer scarf around his neck and a radiant sprinkled cone in his hand, he jogged up the concrete steps back to our seats. I watched my "little boy" make the day of another little boy, and I honestly don't know which kid had the bigger smile when the ice cream exchanged hands.
This was many months after my forty-day kindness project concluded, and I was still in awe of the lasting impact it had on my family. It was no longer about planning something or wondering what our act of kindness would be each day. It now simply meant that our eyes were open to what was happening around us, and our hearts were open to making the situation better, whatever that entailed.
During this time of transformation, my husband came home from a business trip to New York with an incredible story. I remember him walking in the house and simply saying, "Something happened today."
Where he typically would have been looking at his phone or reading on the subway, he, too, had been changed by our commitment to kindness. His new state of mind had him looking around, eyes wide open. As the train came to a stop, he noticed that an elderly gentleman had stood up too soon. The fitful jerking of the subway jostled him, and it was clear that the man was losing his balance and heading toward the floor. Fast.
My husband sprinted to the front of the train and caught the man in his arms. It was a little awkward at first for him to be holding a stranger on a Manhattan subway, but both men were filled with gratitude. One for what he had avoided, the other for what he had gained.
As we all became more in touch with our surroundings — spending more time looking up at the world around us — we were astounded by the endless needs we could meet for othersthroughout the course of a day. Some big. Some small. All meaningful. All doable.
We can help the person struggling to get the baby stroller through the door. Pop a few quarters into a parking meter when the time is expired. Give a tissue, a pen, an umbrella. Ask someone who looks lost if they need directions. Offer our spot in line to the person in a big rush. Go out of our way to bring an animal to safety. Alert the management that a car in the parking lot has its lights on. By being attentive, we'll know exactly what to do.
An exciting bonus of responding to the needs around us is the effect of these acts of kindness on those who witness them. I like to think that these people get "splashed" by kindness. They aren't pouring out the kindness, and they aren't directly drenched by it. But they are there. And they get splashed! Chances are, someone saw that cute guy in the suit racing down the subway aisle to catch a falling stranger. They may have even gone home that night and shared the story. Maybe they were more willing to step in to help someone else because of the splashing.
Usually when we see an act of kindness, it has a way of staying with us. Many years ago, on an ugly rainy day, I noticed a car parked near me with a black garbage bag covering one of the windows. There was a note attached to the bag that said: "Sorry for messing with your car, but it was pouring and your window was down. I thought this might help." It was signed, "Concerned stranger." Unforgettable.
Just seeing love around us is uplifting. Restorative. It gives us that warm, goose-bumpy feeling, reminding us that pure goodness is still alive and well.
So when we are out reacting to the world with kindness, we can be encouraged that our love has a three-way impact. It pleases the pourer, delights the drenched, and stirs up the splashed. With open eyes, we can see kindness reaching far and wide.
Staying alert leads to the great privilege of helping another person at the perfect time. Here we all are. Together. The more we reach out in unity, the more unified we will be.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
John 13:34CHAPTER 4
"I DIDN'T GIVE IT ANY THOUGHT. I just knew. I knew I needed to walk over to her." Compelled to approach the crying twenty-something woman at the airport ticket counter, my mother-in-law described her conviction as the work of the Holy Spirit. No contemplation necessary. Only action.
The distraught traveler needed to get to Chicago in a hurry, and an unexpected issue with her credit card couldn't be rectified for twenty-four hours. Her parents were already in the air, also heading to the Windy City, so they were unaware of this complication and unable to help. Bottom line, this girl needed a ticket. And fast.
Without hesitation, my mother-in-law took a leap of faith. She shared that she couldn't afford to give the ticket as a gift, but she would happily pay for it and share her contact information to be paid back later. Overwhelmed with gratitude, tears streaming, the young woman accepted this joyous delivery of goodness.
A marveling airport employee, splashed by this act of kindness, declared, "We just met an angel."
The following week, a letter arrived from the young woman and her father. Teeming with appreciation, it included a check for the ticket, and a request for a favorite charity they could support to keep the generosity going. The letter even showed further impact of the good deed, as the dad shared: "My wife and I have told this story to quite a few people over the past few days, and everyone is amazed and touched. This will become part of our family lore."
Through heartfelt words, he went on to reveal that his daughter was rushing to Chicago on that desperate day to attend her grandmother's funeral; without the compassion of a stranger, she would have missed it. And they would have missed her, making the day even more trying.
Sometimes we are called to step out in faith, to take a risk as we help someone, even when we don't understand the purpose. The best part about trusting and following God's lead is the unfolding story. When we have the privilege of seeing the full picture, seeing what He had in mind all along, it is nothing short of miraculous.
But what if we are never invited into the whole story? What if the details are never filled in, like a book sporadically missing chapters? Just as easily, the girl and her family could have chosen not to contact my mother-in-law. The reason for the tears could have remained a mystery, the money lost. What then?
Then, we look more closely at the phrase a leap of faith, and we put our focus on the word faith. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." When God nudges us, we can trust that we are needed, even if it involves risk. We may not be able to see why or what happened next, but God certainly does. Ultimately, we are called to do our part and leave the rest to Him.
The greatest impact from a good deed may be contrary to what is obvious. In my mother-in-law's compassionate airport interaction, the greatest impact made could have been the effect on an observer of the moment who desperately needed a message of hope in humanity. Even if the money had been lost, even if the extreme appreciation from the family was missing, there still would have been incredible gain. Many lives are touched by our actions, regardless of the visible outcome.
Kindness takes courage. It isn't easy to be vulnerable for the sake of others, or for the sake of our faith, but a "bring it on" attitude can change lives ... maybe even our own! When God takes us by the hand and leads us out of our safe house, He's got plans. Big, beautiful plans. And we get to be the angels.
Excerpted from A Case for Kindness by Lisa Barrickman. Copyright © 2017 Lisa Barrickman. Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 The Ripple Effect 7
2 Celebration of Appreciation 11
3 Eyes Wide Open 15
4 Courageous Kindness 19
5 Delightful Driver 23
6 Kids for Kindness 27
7 Rain or Shine 31
8 All in the Family 35
9 Spirit of Kindness 39
10 Love Thy Neighbor 45
11 Self-Serve 49
12 Extra Mile 53
13 All about Books 57
14 Let God Lead 61
15 People before Projects 65
16 Photo Op 69
17 Trash or Treasure 73
18 Freedom in Forgiveness 79
19 The Opposite of a Bad Guy 83
20 Faithful Friend 87
21 What's in a Name? 91
22 May I Have a Word? 95
23 Pay Day 101
24 Share a Prayer 105
25 Warm Welcome 109
26 Lean In and Listen 115
27 Together We Will Serve 121
28 Tradition Mission 127
29 Operation Imitation 133
30 Around the World 137
31 Life-Giving Bodies 143
32 Time and Talents 147
33 Praise for Our Potters 151
34 Blessed Earth 155
35 Say Yes 159
36 Upside-Down Kindness 163
37 The Heart of Homelessness 167
38 Get Well Soon 173
39 Sharpened for Success 177
40 Think Big 181
Conclusion: Ignite Kindness! 185
1 Creating a Kindness Initiative with the Five C's 193
2 Sample Selections for Getting Started 199
3 Fuel for Forty Days: Verses and Quotes 205
4 Charitable Organizations 211