I was born on a cold, February morning 28 years ago yesterday. Actually, I don't know if it was cold. I'm just assuming it was...being February and all. This day, my birthday, has always been very special to me (as I'm sure most of you are partial to your own birthdays). Growing up, my mom always made our birthdays (my brothers and I) as special as possible. You were literally king/queen for a day, every detail of the day was dictated by you. Occasionally, the power went to my head. Like the year my poor parents had to take me and every girl in my fourth grade class to Chuck E. Cheese. My parents are saints. I have had so many memorable birthdays I could tell you about. Like the one where my ninja of a cat swooped down and stole my best friend's hot dog without even touching the bun. Coolest cat...ever. But, I'd like to fast forward a few years to my 27th birthday, which is where this story really begins.
Last year for my birthday, I decided I wanted to perform a number of random acts of kindness equal to my age. I read about a woman who did that and thought it was such a fantastic idea. I am all about paying it forward, I have been shown too much mercy, grace, love, and kindness in my life to not do that. I worked by myself last year and I was only able to accomplish about 8 out of 27 things I wanted to do. So, this year I decided I wanted to do the same thing. It started out as just myself trying to do all 28 random acts myself again. Then, I remembered last year. So I had the thought of getting my small group at church involved. Then I dreamed bigger. I created an event on Facebook (Project 28...I'm clever, but not that clever) and invited my entire Facebook network to participate. I fully only expected maybe 4 people to RSVP, my hopes weren't too high. I prayed over it and gave it to God. And what do you think he did? Proved me wrong! Other friends started inviting their friends and He had nearly 50 people RSVP and take a step out to love on their communities and the people around them. God is so cool! Is it any wonder why I love Him so much?
As part of the project, I asked everyone to please share what they did and why they chose to do it. My intent is to share these stories with this man's family. Ryan Woods passed away in November of last year, and this is his story. Please take the time to watch it. I hope to be able to finish my race like him.
Now, I can't ask everyone else to share what they did and not tell them what I did to love people today. So here it is!
My day started out at church. I teach a kindergarten Sunday school class and my sweet middle school assistant gave me a coupon for a free drink in the cafe at church. When I went downstairs I gave it to the woman at the register, explained what I was doing, and told her to use it for the next person in line. That was the first of many stunned, disbelieving looks I received. Then, after an AMAZING lunch at Beijing Grill and Sushi Bar (if you ever find yourself in Southern Indiana near the town of Sellersburg...go there. You will not be disappointed. Amazing food AND the most amazing and hospitable staff I have ever seen in my life. The owner entertained my friend's small children so she could actually eat a meal. This woman got down on the floor and played with them. I am a customer for life), my friend and I found the nearest Girl Scout Troop selling cookies and between the two of us we purchased 14 boxes of cookies for strangers. Who could say no to free Girl Scout Cookies? The girls and their parents/troop leaders were beside themselves and didn't know what to think. I also got to witness someone paying it forward at this point too. After I bought cookies for a man, he handed over some cash for the next person's cookies. I parted ways with my friend and proceeded to the Meijer grocery store to purchase a few supplies for some other deeds I had planned. Here, I left pennies on the Penny Pony and filled the slots on all the gumball machines with quarters. From here, I met up with a couple of friends at Panera Bread to chat and have coffee drinks. When I left them, I headed to my local hospital. I dropped off a small bouquet at the nurses station in the maternity ward and asked them to give it to someone they thought would really appreciate them. At first, they thought I was creepy, then after explaining what I was doing they cried. One of the nurses actually told me she had heard about what I was doing on Facebook!!!! I then went to the pediatric unit and left a few coloring books and crayons for them to give to the kids in the unit. I made those nurses cry too. Which made me get all misty. Before leaving the hospital, I taped baggies of quarters to all the vending machines and a few newspaper boxes as well. I then went to my favorite local coffee shop to purchase some tea, here I left a message on a post-it note stuck the bathroom mirror. It said "There could never be a more beautiful you!" When I got back to my car, the song I stole that line from was playing! Coincidence...I don't think so! Then finally, on a trip to Wal-Mart to buy a grapefruit and fake mustaches (don't ask) I stopped by the $5 movie bin and happened to find one of my favorite kid's movies, Matilda. I taped $5 dollars to the back of it and stuck it back in the bin.
So, I would definitely say that this birthday was the best one I have had yet. Not only did I get to bless others, and get other people on board to do it as well, I too received so many blessings today. I can do nothing except praise God and give all the glory to Him. He can do immeasurably more than any of us could ever dream, and I know that all of the random acts of kindness performed today will be more far reaching than we will ever know in this life.
Be salty and bright!