|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.20(d)|
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A Crazy Idea
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
ROMANS 12:2, NIV
I had no idea my New Year's Day would end with a stranger and her son living in my basement.
My husband, Tim, and I had awakened with a rare sense of freedom. Our two-and four-year-old daughters were, surprisingly, still asleep. With no work commitments to fulfill, we were looking forward to a lazy holiday at home.
Within an hour of waking up, however, Tim's expression clued me in to the fact that our plans had changed. Lips quirked, brow furrowed, thumbs clicking furiously on his phone, he paced the confines of our bedroom, stopping periodically to chew on his thumbnail while he waited for a response.
A mom and her young son needed a place to stay until a unit opened up in their new apartment building. They had been sleeping at our friend's house, but that was no longer a feasible situation, and they were looking for an alternative.
Tim looked at me, an unspoken question in his eyes: Could we be that option?
It wasn't a new situation for us; we had hosted a homeless mom and her two daughters for three months that previous summer. But since the request came on the heels of a whirlwind December, I hesitated. I'm used to girls, I thought. I don't know if I can handle a little boy. What if we say yes and wish we hadn't?
There was a very real chance I would live to regret my action. But sometimes it's the crazy ideas, the ones that open us up to uncertainty, that end up teaching us the most. Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will" (NIV). Sometimes we're led to take a step of faith that may look crazy to the world and trust that God will help us work our way through it.
— Today's Act of Kindness —
Start the new year by resolving to look for opportunities to extend kindness to others, even in small ways.
Up Close and Personal
Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
That New Year's Day, when my family was faced with the decision of temporarily hosting a homeless woman and her son, I felt torn. After all, two of my friends and our families had spent the month leading up to Christmas performing acts of kindness each day: cooking a meal for a pregnant mom on bed rest, leaving treats for our mail carrier, filling a gas tank for a military serviceperson. We had documented them on social media and invited others to join with us. One night, recalling the amazing things we'd experienced during our month of kindness, I had thrown out the challenge at dinner: What would happen if we committed to doing one kind act each day for a whole year?
Now, on the first day of our commitment, I was already being challenged to rethink what a year of kindness would mean for our family. A month of kindness required forethought but didn't demand too much else. It's one thing to spend an afternoon making baked ziti for someone, casually dropping it off while running errands. But to let someone see me in ratty pajamas before I've had a chance to brush my teeth? To let someone see me in the mess of my regular life — nagging my kids for sticking out their tongues, aiming dirty looks at my husband for checking sports scores instead of clearing dinner, failing to clean up crumbs lingering in cobwebbed corners — felt like a much greater challenge.
Yet in that moment, I was reminded of the Golden Rule: "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you." If I truly believe that an essential part of my faith is living this truth out daily, surely I'm also called to do more than live a comfortable, easy life. Allowing someone to see my imperfections is a small price to pay in the face of another's need.
That afternoon, as I nervously opened my door to two strangers, I knew saying yes to trusting God in this situation was the right thing to do.
— Today's Act of Kindness —
How can you stretch beyond your comfort zone to reach those in need? Think of one small step you can take today to go beyond yourself, then do it.
[God] will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
As I walked through one of many parking lots at Mayo Clinic, my eyes widened. License plates from practically every state were represented on the cars in the nearly full lot. While I told my three-year-old son that we were going on a big adventure, we were actually there for specialized testing. As we waited for the test results, my heart was in my throat and my eyes burned bright with unshed tears.
Walking through the rotunda while we waited, we were drawn to the sounds of an older gentleman playing a grand piano. Everyone is especially kind to children at Mayo, and this man was no exception. He smiled gently as my son wandered over to stand next to him, and the man leaned down to whisper that he had a special song just for my son coming up next. As the notes for "Jesus Loves Me" began to fill the air, he struck up a quiet conversation with me — asking me how often we come to Mayo and telling me that he volunteers to play every Wednesday at noon.
In this stranger, I recognized the love of my Savior. He faithfully comes to play, to smile, to whisper words of encouragement in this place where nearly every visitor walks the hallways in the midst of a medical crisis; good news and bad all mixed together.
His sacrifice of time, his musical gift, and his kind words brought peace and reassurance to my heart that no matter the test results that awaited us, my son was loved by not just my husband and me but by our Savior.
While I cannot remember the Piano Man's real name, my memory of him is vivid, and I think of him often as a faithful example of someone who shone with the love of Christ in a place where desperation and hope, despair and joy, and mourning and rejoicing so often walk the hallways side by side.
— Today's Act of Kindness —
Pray about how you can use your gifts and talents to reveal the love of Christ. Find one small step you can take toward using your gifts to encourage and serve others.
Everyone Is Welcome Here
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, "Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners."
LUKE 7:34, NIV
When I sit scrolling through social media outlets, I see posts as varied as the people represented there. I try to look for the good, and I am encouraged by people who choose to speak about love and grace and mercy.
My eyes wander to our dining room wall, where we recently hung a print of a favorite quote of mine I came across last fall. It says, "Come on in, there is always room at the table for you." It's a welcome beacon over my dining room table, reminding me of what I, as a Christian, am called to do.
Love my neighbor.
I think about Jesus' life on earth, how he invited people into community who were very different from him. I remember that he was called a drunkard and a glutton — not because he was those things, but because he chose to hang around people who were. I'm reminded of the words my pastor so frequently offers us: "You can belong here before you believe."
I wonder how many of the conversations we see on our social media feeds would change if we would be willing to invite people into our lives. If we would gather around our tables and have conversations, face to face. If we started seeing what makes us alike, not just what makes us different.
I wonder what would happen if we chose to see the humanity in one another. If we embraced one another even when we don't embrace the same beliefs. Rather than speaking in generalizations or feeling that sharing our opinions is the same as sharing our faith, perhaps we need to do more. We need to be willing to put in the time and energy to love people right where they are. This is not an easy task, I know. We may even be questioned by others, but we can rest assured knowing that this is the work that Jesus calls us to do.
— Today's Act of Kindness —
When given the opportunity to speak ill of a person or people group, instead pray blessing on them.
Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
I've got a milestone birthday looming. Instead of bemoaning the addition of a few more laugh lines, I've been pondering the notion of legacy. While legacy doesn't feel relevant as I navigate the parenting trenches of elementary school, I realize that if we aren't thinking about legacy now, then we're doing something wrong.
It is my heart's desire to leave a legacy of faith — that I would be remembered for reflecting Jesus to my children, my coworkers, and my neighbors. Not that I lived perfectly, but that I loved God and loved others to the best of my ability in the little moments and in the big moments.
Intentional kindness is an integral part of my legacy of faith. Kindness, especially when it is not the expected response to a situation, is how I tangibly reveal Christ's love in action. It is built through the quiet pouring out of time and resources into the lives of those around me and by living a life that looks beyond my own interests to the interests of others.
Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that our earthly lives are a race and that we are cheered on by the faithful Christians who have gone before us. We don't get to wait to build our legacy; we are building it every minute of every day, whether we want to admit it or not.
Wherever you are in your faith race, be encouraged! Our call to a legacy of faith is a marathon not a sprint. It is something that is built over a lifetime, not overnight. Just don't put it off, thinking that you are too busy and that you'll get around to it later. Your legacy is built day by day, small step by small step.
— Today's Act of Kindness —
Prayerfully consider the legacy you are currently creating and take one small step toward the legacy you want to create.
Why Be Kind?
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
ROMANS 12:21, NIV
Tim and I tumbled through the door of the coffee shop together on a chilly winter morning. We were on the cusp of our proposed year of kindness, and I was determined to get off to a good start.
As we looked around the shop for someone to bless, we spotted him. Fully dressed in his state trooper uniform, he sat at a corner table with a mug cupped between work-worn hands, visiting quietly with a woman. "Let's get him a gift card," I suggested. Nodding, Tim strolled to the counter and purchased the gift card and our drinks, then headed toward the trooper.
Finding a seat at another table, heart thumping, I glanced over to see my usually unflappable husband's smile falter a bit. Eventually, he made his way to me. Excited to hear how the conversation went, I was instantly deflated when Tim told me the trooper seemed dismissive of the gift, accepting it only after my husband insisted. The rejection stung.
His casual dismissal could have thrown us off track as we began our year of kindness. In that moment, it would have been easy to think, Well, if that's the way it's going to be ... forget it. I don't need the humiliation of a stranger's rejection.
Though I've never turned down a gift card, I know I've rejected other acts of kindness. I've deflected compliments and turned down offers of help. In our moment of rejection, as uncomfortable as it felt, we were forced to ask ourselves the question: Why be kind?
As I thought about the question later, I was reminded of this truth: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Our willingness to be kind shouldn't be predicated on how someone else will respond; rather, it should stem simply from knowing that God desires for us to be kind. God sees our hearts, and our kindness is pleasing to him.
— Today's Act of Kindness —
Think of a time when you didn't thank someone for a kindness he or she extended to you. If you can, reach out and thank this person now.
Monthly Habit #1: Encourage
Encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:11
Sometimes in the busyness of life, creating an ongoing habit can be challenging. To battle this, our family decided that each month, along with doing small daily kind acts, we would focus on four kindness habits. We posted these four habits on our kitchen chalkboard, and we talked about them during our dinner times. Our first monthly habit was to offer encouragement to someone.
One evening when I asked for suggestions of who might need to be encouraged, my older son told us about another student in his class who had a debilitating illness. The boy was not a close friend of my son, but he had noticed that this boy had missed a number of days from school recently because of his illness. My son asked if we could offer him some cheer.
We agreed this would be a great idea, and the kids discussed what might encourage the boy. They decided that sending him movie tickets and a card would be the best thing to do, so my older son took out a card and the kids wrote words of encouragement and comfort to a young man they hardly knew.
The next morning my son took the note and gift card to school, explained to the secretaries what we were doing, and asked if they would mind sending it on to the boy and his family. They readily agreed and thanked my son for his thoughtfulness. When he came home he told us about his experience and how he felt good for offering encouragement to someone in need of a little support.
Encouraging one another and building one another up can be such a simple thing, but it requires us to intentionally recognize the needs around us. Just like my son did, we can stop each month to send a little note, to make a phone call, or even just to text someone to let them know that someone cares and has considered their needs.
— Today's Act of Kindness —
Write an encouraging note to someone who may need a pick-me-up.
Monthly Habit #2: Thank
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.
The second monthly habit for keeping kindness at the forefront of my family's thoughts each month is to thank someone. We always try to come up with people who don't receive many thank-yous for what they do. For example, my children have thanked custodians at their school for keeping the bathrooms clean, our neighbors for helping us with our driveway in the winter, and our pastor for his messages that he works so hard on each week.
Each time we write a thank-you card, we try to think about all the ways we are grateful for these people and list the ways we've been blessed by their hard work. My children take responsibility for writing the cards themselves, and they hand them out when appropriate. It has become a fun challenge for us to look around for others who deserve thanks but rarely receive it. This in turn has fostered gratitude in our family for all the ways the work of others has blessed us.
Excerpted from "The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional"
Copyright © 2017 Julie Fisk, Kendra Roehl, Kristin Demery.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I LOVE devotionals, especially when you can start them any day of the year. This one allows you to dig in whenever you desire, and is so inspiring! With a pay-it-forward type of feel, each devotion stimulates and motivates you to do an act of kindness each day. Sometimes, your actions can be big, but even the smallest action can make a powerful impact. If you enjoy inspiring books that easily prompt you to better yourself and the lives of others, I think you'll enjoy this book.
Would you like to feel like your family has a road map on how to live a life of generosity? Julie, Kendra and Kristin have compiled a beautifully written devotional together, showing us easy ways to be intentional about simply being kind. You will be touched by heart warming stories and inspirational experiences they have had. This book is easy to read and gives you one page a day to enjoy throughout the year. Each page has a bible verse, a short reflection and a suggestion for an act of kindness for that day. Enjoy this with your whole family! Jodi (Friendship Barista)