I like celebrating my birthday. And since it is at the beginning of August, I typically choose to celebrate for the entire month. :) This year, since I turned 25, my friend convinced me that I needed to do something really special to celebrate my 25th birthday. Something that I will have with me forever. Something that I will always remember. Honestly, diamond earrings felt like a good option. But then I remembered a pin on pinterest that detailed a woman’s birthday project – she did 38 acts of kindness to celebrate her 38th birthday. So this month, to celebrate the big Two Five, I decided to do 25 Acts of Kindness in my community. Here is how I’ve spent my birthday month:
1. Left a McDonalds gift card for my mail carrier. This one actually ended up being one of my favorites! I bought a gift card early on in the month and let it sit on my counter for days – maybe even weeks. I finally wrote out a note to say thank you to my mail carrier – someone that I have never seen or met – and attached a McDonalds gift card to it. That afternoon when I checked my mail I had the sweetest note from him. “Thank you for the thought. FYI – Today's my birthday. 64. –Frank”. Seriously? The day that I finally put the gift card in my mailbox happens to be his birthday? It was an awesome moment. I’m glad that my birthday project could bless someone else’s birthday!
2. Took fresh flowers to a local assisted living center. I drive past this assisted living center almost every day. At Christmas I wonder if the residents have their own Christmas trees. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I wonder if the residents receive calls and visits. And this summer I began wondering if the residents had fresh flowers. So I made sure that they did. I delivered four potted mums. Yellow, of course, because yellow is the happiest color.
The lady at the front desk was surprised to see me.
You brought us flowers and you don’t even know anyone here?
Oh. Do you go to Lipscomb or something? You must be a Christian, right?
No, I don’t go to Lipscomb (but kudos to Lipscomb for their awesome reputation in the community). I went to Oklahoma Christian. And yes, I am a Christian.
The conversation continued with discussions of which churches we attend and the proper way to care for a mum (she did most of the talking on that one). The secretary that day only works on Sundays, so she had me write a letter to the manager to explain my delivery. She said “You have to write this down. He’s not going to believe that someone would actually deliver flowers for no reason.” Sometimes they do.
3. Fed a homeless person. On my way to pick up the mums from Lowes, I was running Random Acts of Kindness options through my head. How can I help? Where am I needed? And because my heart was actually seeking ways to help, I noticed someone that I never would have noticed before. There was a man under a tree in the corner of the parking lot trying to catch some relief from the heat in the shade. He had a cardboard sign with the word “Displaced”. It was just before dinner time, so I stopped in at the McDonalds just a few yards from where the man was sitting. As I headed towards the man, I realized that he had a dog napping under the tree with him. So then I ran into the Big Lots and picked up a small sack of dog food. Because I had my heart open to opportunity, I was able to provide dinner to a homeless man… and his dog.
4. Put children's books in the shopping buggies at Publix. I purchased educational board books to put in the racecar buggies at Publix to entertain children while parents shopped.
If you have ever been to Publix with children, you know how hard those racecar buggies are to find when you need one. I found two in the buggy bin, but ended up just handing a couple of the books out to children in the store.
Note: I never knew that the term “buggy” was Southern until I went to New York. The other nanny that worked with me called it a “trolley”. I guess “shopping cart” is the most widely accepted term???
5. Spent an afternoon with elderly woman. I cleared my afternoon schedule and spent my afternoon on a floral sofa listening to stories and looking through pictures and talking about recipes. I learned a lot. And loved a lot.
6. Paid for the car behind me in line at Starbucks. I paid for the car behind me, but didn’t have the forethought on this one to leave a note. The person in the car behind me was a young guy. I hope he didn’t think it was some sort of “move”.
7. Made a cheesecake for Dad on his birthday. He loves cheesecake, so I made him a chocolate covered peanut butter banana cheesecake. And I made it the real way. Not from a box.
8. Emailed some of my college professors just to tell them thank you. They invested so much into me. They deserve a thank you.
9. Took bread to the park so that the children could feed the ducks. I work very close to the Centennial Park in Nashville, so I eat lunch and exercise there frequently. Beside our Parthenon replica, we have a pond full of ducks. So on a Saturday afternoon I picked up three loaves of bread, stuck notes on them, set them on the rock wall beside the pond, and walked away. The park was very crowded that day. I didn’t stick around to see what happened, but I’m sure that there were lots of happy children… and ducks.
10. Baked cookies for the Brentwood Police Department. In Nashville we have rush hour six days a week, not five. We have a Sunday church rush. Traffic is crazy, cars are everywhere, and crossing traffic can be a little difficult. The Brentwood Police Department directs traffic outside of Otter Creek every Sunday morning, and I am always so grateful to them for that. I usually wave and say thank you, but I wanted to say thank you another way too. With snickerdoodles.
11. Spent an afternoon giving my undivided attention to a precious little girl. I abandoned my schedule and entered her world of imagination for hours. Worth it.
12. Made a monetary donation to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital – the hospital that stole my heart the moment I started volunteering there last year.
13. Invited several new Nashvillians to go to church with me. Moving to a new city can be intimidating, and it helps to get plugged in to a great group of young adults.
14. Sent a McDonald's gift card to my nephews. Just because I know they love the Play Place.
15. Signed up to lead a group of youth group girls. Growing up, I had so many influential mentors in my life. I want to be able to mentor others in the same way. I recently volunteered to be a small group leader for a group of girls at Otter Creek and I am super excited about all of the possibilities that this holds!
16. Volunteered to babysit a stay at home mom's kids for free. She deserved it.
17. Sent letters to some of my dearest friends just to thank them for their friendship. I have the best group of friends and it is my mission to make sure that they always know it.
18. Gave a friend a ride home. The best conversations happen in cars. Sometimes cancelling evening plans to give a friend a ride home can change you.
19. Had a girl's night with one of my favorite 7 year olds. Dinner at Rainforest Café. Build a Bear. A Carousel Ride. Sweet CeCe’s frozen yogurt. Perfect night out.
20. Smiled and said thank you to every single airport employee that I encountered on my trip to Dallas. I can't imagine having a job dealing with predominantly unhappy or rushed people. Smiles really do make a difference. It seemed like every other person said something like "Thank you for smiling. We rarely see that." or "It's nice to see people enjoying their journey." And sometimes smiling gets you an extra scoop of pulled pork on your sandwich and a free fountain drink at airport restaurants. :)
21. Made a prayer journal for a sweet friend. Journaling has always been influential in my spiritual life and it has served to bring her closer to Christ as well. I wanted her to have a personalized journal designed specifically for her.
I included a different leader thought on each page.
22. Baked cookies for the local fire station. I live close enough to a fire station that I hear the sirens regularly, but have fortunately never needed their services. I know that they do so much for our community, so I dropped off some homemade sprinkle cookies to say thank you.
23. Had a dollar ready at a stop light to purchase a Contributor - Nashville’s homeless news publication.
24. Treated a friend to dinner. And then talked for hours.
25. Took flowers to my cousin on her birthday. Everyone deserves something special on their birthday!
These 25 things are small, but they truly are things that I will have forever. It was a birthday that I will always remember. Look for ways to bless other people and help out in your community. When you look, you will see.
Oh, and don’t worry. I did something for myself too. I joined the Y. Woo hoo...