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There is a Time and a Season…

In Families, father, Grandparents, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Sanctity of Life, The Family, Values on February 6, 2014 at 8:00 am

mom with kids playing hockeyRachel Allison

In wars past, I visualize men and more recently women in battle armor, fighting to defend our country and the freedoms of those they love and hold dear.   There are many different kinds of battles and many different kinds of wars; all of which bring visions of destruction, the wounded and the dying.

I could thankfully say that I have never been in battle, except that I am seeing destruction, the wounded and the dying all around me.  I seriously feel that I’m in the middle of a war that’s being waged against values, morality, decency and honor. Men, women and children are the target and our homes are too often ground zero.

If the defenders of the home are physically, mentally or emotionally AWOL exactly at the time when our families are being targeted, is there any doubt that there will be casualties/fatalities? Worldly pursuits, personal ambitions, entertainment, hobbies and 100 other interests are distractions that too often prohibit our defense of family.

I often think of the gentleman from India, who, speaking to an American said, “We, in our country, sacrifice the material items of this world for our children.  You, in America, sacrifice your children for material items.”  It was a generalized statement, but if any truth is found in the statement, it speaks sadly of misplaced priorities.

We live in an “I want it now” society.  But my experience with patience and self-denial has taught me that the anticipation and the planning of future accomplishments or acquisitions have made the realization of the end goal so much the sweeter.

There is a time and a season for all things. And when we recognize our season and embrace it, we are rewarded with “everything beautiful…” most importantly a beautifully strong, emotionally healthy family.

When the caring, nurturing, training and defending of children are put on hold for any objective that takes us away from family, the wounds of neglect will inflict injury.  Parents will spend years undoing the damage, and the “undoing” is drawn out and painful. Children bring a season that stretches us to our limits…but what a beautiful season to influence, inspire, defend and love precious little people who have only us to depend upon.

OUR CHILDREN TAKE THEIR FLIGHT INTO THE FUTURE WITH OUR THRUST AND WITH OUR AIM.  AND EVEN AS WE ANXIOUSLY WATCH THAT ARROW IN FLIGHT AND KNOW ALL THE EVILS THAT CAN DEFLECT ITS COURSE AFTER IT HAS LEFT OUR HAND, NEVERTHELESS WE TAKE COURAGE IN REMEMBERING THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT MORTAL FACTOR IN DETERMINING THAT ARROW’S DESTINATION WILL BE THE STABILITY, STRENGTH AND UNWAVERING CERTAINTY OF THE HOLDER OF THE BOW.”       

Jeffrey R. HOLLAND

 

Growing through Misunderstandings

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, Marriage, Parenting, The Family, Values on February 4, 2014 at 8:14 am

UFI_Image_2014_02_05

Sarah Alldredge

Our little family had quite the experience last night while gathered around the dinner table. My husband and I were in the throes of a marital spat, and our daughter’s expression of frustration with us created the perfect segue from dinnertime to a family emotion-processing event. I felt defensive, my husband was visibly sad, and the children’s shoulders drooped as they hunkered in under the emotional cloud cover that was descending upon the kitchen.

It was incredible to be so human together! In such moments I still tend to naively wish that life would stay rosy, that feelings never got hurt, and that things would just go my way. Thank goodness I will not have my wish, because in moments like these I see myself and my family grow, both in individual self-discipline and in our emotional connection to each other.

The reality is that difficult work is necessary to get over ourselves so we can sustain our most meaningful relationships. As we sat together, uncomfortable as we were, people began to communicate. It was work indeed. In my “can’t we all just get along” state of mind, the kind of communicating we did would not be considered pretty, but I am learning that it is in fact, beautiful. There were passionate voices, tears, attempts to leave the room, and sadness. But these were all real emotions, just like happiness, peace, laughter and togetherness. They were also the raw materials we could use to make selflessness, kindness, patience, and love win the moment, as long as we were willing to face them rather than flee. Honestly, if everything was always easy, how would we ever know how to use such wonderful principles well?

My husband courageously led the way, using sincere interest in our daughter’s feelings as the principle to combat selfishness. This action allowed her, and the other children, to express themselves truthfully. I chose to smile at him across the table, lending him my support despite the unpleasant feelings I had. As we talked through our painful emotions with the intent to understand one another and find resolution, tears soon turned to smiles, voices leveled, and hearts softened.

We witnessed the power of communication mending our emotions and re-uniting our feelings for one another. I feel we overcame and will be all the more prepared for the next round of misunderstanding.

Today’s post is contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com.

Stand Strong for the Traditional Family

In Child Development, Constitution, Courts, Democracy, Families, father, Government, Homosexuality, Marriage, motherhood, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, The Family, UFI, Values on January 22, 2014 at 10:12 am

family 4Linda Ash

It took years for our American Forefathers to recognize that the King of England wasn’t the all knowing, all caring solution to their health and well being…quite the contrary.  He was too far removed from what they stood for and what their values had become as an independent, hard-working, God-worshipping, freedom-loving people. Hence the Revolutionary War.

Am I suggesting another Revolution?  No.  But I am advocating for all independent, hard working, God-worshipping, freedom-loving people to recognize that our government is not all knowing or all caring.  Nor does it provide a solution to the woes of our society…again, quite the contrary.

Time-honored values have proven that society needs to be strong, healthy and productive to survive and thrive. Those same time-honored values prove that the traditional family is the determining factor for such survival.

Just because a rogue branch of our government has taken upon itself to change the laws that ‘we the people’ voted for, doesn’t mean we should sit on our hands and do nothing.  We have been given the gift of freedom and the ability to perceive right from wrong.  Now what are we going to do with it? United Families’ President, Laura Bunker, communicated her stance to the Deseret News.

“Judge Shelby’s ruling may have changed the law, but it does not change our view of marriage. Children still need a mother and a father, and marriage between a man and a woman is still the foundation of society.”

I, as an independent, hard-working, God-worshipping, freedom-loving American woman stand strong for the traditional family!

Character Taking Shape Around a Kitchen Table

In Child Development, Families, father, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on January 7, 2014 at 1:23 pm

mealTiffany Dowell

In our fast-paced, ambitious world, many of us are working hard, striving to become better people and to give life to our worthy goals and aspirations.  The simplest things can shape us into what we will become and cultivate the kind of heart where the best of aspirations can grow. For Tiffany Dowell that beginning happened around an old kitchen table in a simple New Mexico trailer home, where her family consistently communicated with one another those valuable principles that would shape her life.

“. . . As I look back on my childhood, I realize there was no place that shaped the person I have become more than that old kitchen table…We all ate together, the television was turned off, phone calls were not taken. . . .

“. . . During those meals, we talked. I mean really talked. Beyond the mere recitation of what we learned in school that day. We talked about politics and wars. My parents were open with us about the difficulties that often faced our family farm. My brother and I gave our opinions on the issues facing the nation, and our family.

“At that old kitchen table, we learned to listen, to analyze, to form opinions, and to express them. We learned to converse with adults about serious issues. We were taught lessons about life and death, about friendship, about budgeting, and about love.”

Today’s post is contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com. For more of Tiffany Dowell’s writing, see Seeing the Everyday Issue No 22.

Why I’m Not a Feminist

In Families, father, Feminism, Gender, Marriage, motherhood on January 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Family eating togetherLisa Hymas

Imagine for a moment about the life I, among many others, cherished while growing up. Dinner that my mother worked so hard on is set on the table, and a warm, cinnamon aroma filling the house.  My parents give each other a kiss after my father returned home after a hard day’s work, while we kids washed our hands. As we ate, we talked and laughed with another about the days we had.  It was comfortable, warm, and such a wonderful feeling knowing that we were safe with our loving family. This occurred day after day.  I loved growing up with my family all around me, and having the love and support I constantly received from each sibling and parent.

But unfortunately, the times are changing, and a lot of homes do not have that. Families are being broken up by this new wave of feminism, some call it radical feminism.  This is less about the equal rights, opportunities, or the equality of women and men in the workplace, and more about the women wanting to do everything for themselves, not needing a man, or a husband, and some significant  social engineering.  In the process, it is destroying what many individuals – particularly children – long for.

Radical feminists believe that marriage is a patriarchal institution that harms women and children, marriage is comparable to slavery, and raising children is not in their intentions, or is even beneath them. They don’t need a family of their own to be happy. Marriages are being destroyed, children of single-parent families are left motherless or fatherless, women are foregoing the experience of having and raising children and homosexual women are perceived as normal.  All of these issues are detrimental to the family: a husband, wife, and children. The feminists do not see the importance of marriage and families to society, nor do they see the benefits it can bring to men, women, and their children.

According to a post done by the NBC Today, couples are choosing to forgo having children, and are only needing companionship and love, and focusing on the joys of life that a couple can do without children.   Many women who have adopted a feminist mindset are choosing to not have the joys and experiences that can come from having children because they want to pursue their own personal endeavors, or hobbies and interests.  This attitude is detrimental to the family and more and more people are being influenced and taught to act the same way.

Though the gender-specific roles have definitely been changing gradually over time, we need to cherish the roles we are given, and for the work we do, whether man or woman. We need to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage, and raising children, and the values of the family. This wave of feminism is spreading because of academic institutions, what women and girls see in TV and movies, and the effects of social media.  These things make sex outside of marriage, living together, being a couple without children, and same-sex relationships seem to be acceptable and preferable.   For the women who buy into radical feminism, they view men as dominators, oppressors, or attackers, and they certainly are not seeing the importance of the most influential and important family structure – the intact natural family.

I believe that marriage between men and women is sacred, and their unique qualities and skills are complementary and necessary to raise a stable, happy and productive family. Since the beginning of radical feminism, women have been undermining what I believe to be God-given roles.  Many have given up marriage, because of the commitment, faithfulness and obedience to their husbands makes them feel like a minority or even a “slave.”  Problems can also come from those who turn in the direction of the gay and lesbian community, which is a strong choice among radical feminists.  They consider sexual activity outside of marriage to be completely fine, and that being able to easily access birth control and abortion to be a human right.

Research has been done time and time again showing that single parent households or divorced couples lead to a higher percentage of poverty due to the lower income.  As many researchers have found, marriage has a variety of benefits, such as better health and longevity, more positive outlook on life, children doing better in school, etc.  There is more and more evidence that women are becoming very dissatisfied with having to both work, raise children alone, and struggle to be financially stable. In an article entitled Family Values as Practiced by Feminist Parents, it talks about how the roles are shifting and the times are changing from heterosexual married couples to the “new normal” families. This could be any family whether they are gay, single, raising children, or women out in the workforce, while the men stay home with the children.

I can’t imagine what my life were to be like if my family were among these statistics regarding divorce, alternative families, abortion, purposeful childlessness, or the changing sexual views in our society. This would be very hard to cope with if I had a mother, or even a father, who was willing to give up the “traditional family” life, or even their own family for the pursuit of their own happiness, or their desire of focusing just on a career or travel.  I recognize that shifts in the economy and in personal circumstances may have forced some to live a life that they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves or for their children, but even in those circumstances it is possible to acknowledge the need for society to set the goal and the ideal of traditional family units.  It is a goal, that for the sake of our children, we must strive for.  Radical feminism has failed us all.

Lisa Hymas is a student at BYU-Idaho pursuing  a degree in Marriage and Family Studies.  She is originally from Blackfoot, Idaho, and has been married for almost two years.  Lisa loves studying the family and learning how to advocate in an effort to solve problems in the world today.

Selfless Giving

In Child Development, Families, father, Parenting, The Family, Values on December 24, 2013 at 10:48 am

Christmas PresentCasey Reeve shares how his father helped to instill in him the true meaning of Christmas.

Every Christmas Eve, we would lie under the Christmas tree, listening intently to my father. He would get down next to us and gaze up at the lights on the tree, capped off by the bright star at the top.

That is when the magic happened. He would start telling us stories, Christmas stories. One of his favorites was O. Henry’s The gift of the Magi. The true meaning of Christmas couldn’t have been outlined any better. As he lay there with us, quietly recounting the love this struggling young couple had for one another, all five of us were silent. We could feel the spirit of Christmas as he continued telling us that each had sacrificed their favorite possession for the other, the young bride, her hair, and he, his priceless pocket watch, in order to buy the other’s gift. My father would recount that on Christmas morning, he saw that she had sold her hair to buy him a chain for his watch, and he had sold his watch to buy a beautiful comb for her hair. There they sat, each having a seemingly useless gift. I can still remember clearly him emphasizing, even if not verbally, that they had given the most precious gift that can be given, and that gift was love.

I have often reflected on those times under the Christmas tree and the lessons that were taught. There we were, five young children, quiet as could be, and each of us understood and felt what Christmas was all about. And that was love.

Today’s post is contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. For more information, go toseeingtheeveryday.com

Remembering Anna

In Abortion, Families, father, Grandparents, motherhood, Parenting, Sanctity of Life, The Family, Values on December 20, 2013 at 9:25 am

angel babyRachel Allison

I don’t know if UFI readers remember my writing about a group of women who, experiencing the heartache caused by their own abortions, have dedicated themselves to educating, influencing and hopefully inspiring others to choose life.  One of these good women shared this story with me, and at this most wonderful time of the year, I would like to share it with you.

 

Merry Christmas

This past year has been one of unanticipated blessings and opportunities. Rather than reflect it, I feel I should share with you a story shared with me by my hosts in Holland.  The story you are about to read will not soon be forgotten and reflects the faith of our Lord, when each of us face those times when we are struggling with our faith. Times we simply don’t understand.  The times we ask,  ‘Why?’  The Bible says, “ and a child shall show them” is so true in this case.  I hope you will be blessed and encouraged by this story.

History of the experience you are about to read

Rian and Leo had 3 beautiful girls.  When their youngest was 3 they announced that a fourth baby girl would soon join their family.  It was at twenty-nine weeks during an ultra sound that Rian and Leo discovered that the baby had no kidneys.  The doctors told them that their little girl would not live long outside the womb, and encouraged an abortion.  The news hit Rian and Leo with heart-wrenching reality. A long period of silence followed.  On the drive home,  at last Leo asked Rian,  “What do you want to do?”   Rian’s reply was full of determination. “I don’t want this……I DON’T!!! But I can’t discard our daughter.”  With crushing emotions, Leo heartily agreed. They knew it was the right decision but the pain was still very real.

In the 36th week, the pains began, but they came so rapidly they knew they would not make it to the hospital.  The mid-wife was asked to come to the house instead.  Both sets of grandparents, the three girls and Leo were present when Anna was born.  She was perfect visually in everyway.   Laying her on Rian’s belly, everyone took turns touching and speaking love to the small infant who was visibly growing weaker.  Finally Leo asked everyone to lay hands on Anna as he prayed.  Leo thanked God for even this small period they could have Anna and he asked God to hold her in HIS arms until they could all be reunited.   Almost simultaneously, the amen and the last breath came.  Anna was bathed and dressed in the special pink dress and matching blanket they had selected for her.  A few days later a service was held with family and close friends.

Eight years later, Eva, now eleven, came down for breakfast and announced that during the night she had experienced heaven and Anna.   Rian asked Eva to write her experience while it was fresh in her memory and before the details were forgotten. The following is Eva’s letter at age 11.

 

Anna in heaven

This is what I dreamt by myself:

I saw the gates of heaven opening. There I saw Jesus or God standing.

At first I didn’t see Him well, because of the bright light. He opened His arms wide, and I ran towards Him. Then He lifted me, and together we laughed. I saw a lot of children, playing.  I could sit on God’s lap. God said: I want to show you someone! Then I asked: Who? God didn’t just say’ Anna’, but He said: ‘your little sister!’ I was so glad!  He took me to a kind of meadow with grass and lots of flowers. It was so beautiful, I can’t explain! It seemed to be wild flowers, blue and yellow and red and orange flowers.

There were all animals that would normally kill each other, very beautiful was that too. And there I saw Anna.  Picking flowers.

Then Jesus walked away to leave us alone, but we weren’t alone at all, because there were lots of other children! Anna didn’t saw me at first but when I called her she stood up right away, and we ran to each other. I was so glad! We embraced each other, and fell on the ground together.

Then we started playing with each other, not just playing but. .. well, I can’t explain. Than Anna tapped me and ran away, and I ran after her.

When I caught her we went playing with the animals. But then Jesus came again.

Anna stood up immediately and ran towards Him. And me too.   Anna and I sat on Gods lap. It was terrific! And then we did a group hug. Jesus, Anna, and I.

So beautiful.  But then I woke up.  I wish it all happened real because I want to hug her and God also!   Eva

Eva told her mother that Anna looked like she was age  6 or 7.  Her hair was like the color of Joas (blond.)

(Dream Eva Provoost,eleven years, about her little sister who died as a baby, 1.5 hour after birth.)

Kay Painter 
Remembering Sara Ministries International
%The Crossing
16241 N. Franklin Blvd. 
Nampa, ID 83687-8211 
208 989-3107remembering_sara@msn.comhttp://www.rememberingsara.org

Christmas Gifts that Brought us Together

In Child Development, Families, father, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on December 17, 2013 at 11:55 am

Janalee Marriott shares how her parents encouraged a spirit of giving and intentionally thinking of others. Their family tradition gave each family member an opportunity to secretly focus on someone else for the month of December—to gain a greater sense of selflessness and love. The thoughtfulness, laughter, and appreciation experienced through their simple yet purposeful tradition led to increased genuine care that bonded them to one another, teaching them to look outward. We share her experience with you here.

christmas giftIs there anything quite like Christmas morning? The twinkling lights on the tree, the smell of pine as we walk up the stairs, familiar music playing, and the dancing fire in the fireplace. It’s a morning different from any other the entire year. But even with all its magic, my favorite part of Christmas isn’t Christmas morning. My favorite part is Christmas Eve, before Santa ever comes down the chimney.

We’ve had a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember called Secret Pals. The tradition begins the night of Thanksgiving when we put all of our names in a bowl. Then one by one we take turns drawing the name of that special person, our Secret Pal. Then on Christmas Eve we give our Secret Pal a gift. The rule is that the gift given must be handmade (not purchased), created from our imagination and personalized for that secret someone.

As children, we would often find materials to create the gift from Mom’s endless cupboard of fabric or in Dad’s skyscraper of a woodpile. We took many trips to the local craft stores, and on nearly every bedroom door hung signs that read, “Do not come in. I’m working on my Secret Pal gift!”

For one entire month my thoughts were focused on the person whose name I had drawn out of the bowl, and for that one month I felt completely drawn to that person. I always wanted to sit by him or her at the dinner table or kneel by him or her at prayer time, which would innocently expose my secret prematurely. As I got older, I learned to disguise my obvious bias for one member of my family until that brilliant night before Christmas. More than any Christmas wish list, all my thoughts rested on the gift I was about to give.

There was never a wrong or bad gift as long as it was made from the heart and created by the individual. Anything and everything was accepted. There were gingerbread houses, homemade pillowcases, handwritten poems, unrecognizable pieces of wood nailed together, basketball hoops, freshly painted piggy banks, and photos and t-shirts of memorable moments. There was never a dull moment on the night of the exchange. Unexpected emotions—from roars of laughter to streams of tears—led to pure exhaustion, a sure recipe for a good night’s sleep. The overall feeling was a closeness and love unique to anything I had ever felt.

Now with my own children, I am trying to recreate that magic, that love, by carrying on the tradition of Secret Pals so that my children will find joy in giving and experiencing the process of becoming a lifelong “secret giver.”

Today’s post is contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com

Navy Seals and Moms

In Child Development, Education, Elder Care, Families, father, Grandparents, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on December 13, 2013 at 5:29 am

Navy Seal and MomMaddi Gillel

The Navy Seals are one of my favorite subjects to read about, hear about and talk about.  I admire this group of men more than words can express.  I’m reading a book now by Marcus Lutrell – “LONE SURVIVOR-THE EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF OPERATION REDWING AND THE LOST HEROES OF SEAL TEAM 10.”  Following are some excerpts from the book that will make my point.

I think dad always wanted us to be navy SEALs.  He was forever telling us about those elite warriors, the stuff they did and what they stood for.  In his opinion, they were all that is best in the American male – courage, patriotism, strength, determination, refusal to accept defeat, brains, expertise in all that they did.  All through our young lives he told us about those guys.

I understood the brutality of the training, the level of fitness required, and the need for super skills in the water.  I thought I would be able to handle that.  Dad had told us of the importance of marksmanship, and I knew I could do that.

Seals need to be at home in rough country, able to survive, live in the jungle if necessary.

The work is brutally hard, the fitness regimes are as harsh and uncompromising as any program in the free world.  The examinations are searching and difficult.  Nothing but the highest possible standard is acceptable in the SEAL teams.

And perhaps above all, your character is under a microscope at all times; instructors, teachers, senior chiefs, and officers are always watching for the character flaw, the weakness which may one day lead to the compromise of your teammates.  We can’t stand that. We can stand almost anything, except that.

In that first week, while we were trying to avoid freezing to death, they instilled in us three words which have been with me ever since.  Honor, Courage, Commitment, the motto of the US Navy, the core values that immediately became the ideals we all lived by.

 During hell week we were kept up 20 hours a day and running, doing pushups and situps, being told to get wet and dirty (run into the water and then roll in the sand), yelled at, and  traumatized in every way possible. By 0600, I had counted out more than 450 pushups. And there were more, I just couldn’t count anymore.  I’d also done more than 50 sit-ups.  We were ordered from one exercise to another.  Guys who were judged to be slacking were ordered to throw in a set of flutter kicks.

 I was just about dead on my feet.  I didn’t think I had the energy to chew a soft-boiled egg.  We walked into that chow hall wet, bedraggled, exhausted, out of breath, too hungry to eat, too battered to care.

Then instructor Burns called us to order and said, “Gentlemen, for the rest of your lives there will be setbacks.  But they won’t affect you like they will affect other people, because you have done something very few are ever called upon to achieve.  This week (hell week) will live with you for all your lives.  Not one of you will ever forget it.  And it means one thing above all else.  If you can take Hell Week and beat it, you can do any thing in the world.”

 

                                                MOMS

SEALS are trained mainly physically, mentally, morally and emotionally.  Moms are called upon to use all their wits spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.  There’s a large overlap between what is exacted of SEALS and what is exacted of moms.  Moms are called upon to multi-task, organize, cook, clean, sew, chauffeur, nurse, do laundry and through it all to love, nurture, reassure, comfort and teach values.  Moms have a hell week on a fairly regular basis: sickness with its attendant rescheduling of the routine, cleaning up after some sicknesses, which brings on extra fatigue.  Every holiday brings on new challenges, especially Thanksgiving/Christmas.  Every vacation brings on her duties as ‘cruise director.’  The first day of school demands all kinds of preparation.  There are aging parents and teenagers leaving the nest which takes extra “everything she’s got.”  Let’s not forget she has a husband who would like to spend some time with her, and she with him.  This further refines all her skills to be with him mentally  and  socially and not just sit there- on their date- in a complete stupor.

I have known women who have gone through all this and they are SEAL WOMEN !!!!  They are refined, intelligent, kind, fun, talented and surrounded by family and friends who adore and honor them.

I think we can safely say that SEALS AND MOMS have the motto – HONOR, COURAGE, COMMITMENT.

Kindness: Never let it die.

In Child Development, Families, father, Government, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on December 11, 2013 at 10:41 am

cantaloupKristi Kane

One of my favorite poems is this:

I have wept in the night

for the shortness of sight

that to somebody’s need I was blind.

But I never have yet felt a twinge of regret

for being a little too kind. ~anon.

There are so many issues in today’s society that have not only divided us, but have also made us less civil to one another. One does not have to go far to see or hear the hostilities in our civilization. Many hostilities happen at sporting events between the fans of rival teams and team players. Many happen in the political arena. But the worst hostilities happen in our own homes in the way we speak to and treat each other. It’s unfortunate. It makes our homes less like a sanctuary and more like a prison. The one virtue that can help us is kindness.

I admit with shame that there have been times when I have been so filled with anger and frustration with my children that I have screamed at them. One time when my husband was out of town and I was feeling the heat of being the Mom and the Dad, I snapped at my older son. Not only did I speak to him at the top of my voice, but I used some nasty curse words as well. My son was in tears. For five minutes I felt absolute jubilation thinking I had given him the scolding he deserved. (After all, he was being stubborn and defiant, and deserved Mom’s wrath.) But that jubilation soon turned to shame. I realized I could have and should have used a much better and kinder approach with him. My delivery had been a disaster, and it left both of us feeling miserable. I apologized to my son, and felt slightly better, but mostly I just wished I had never behaved so shamefully.

Now moving outside the home. I have seen and heard kindnesses and hostilities, but I am going to focus on the kindnesses. When my husband and I were young married students, living in married housing at the university we were attending, our landlord would come over about twice a week and fix things around the apartments where we lived. He was an older man, in his late seventies or early eighties. My husband and I were the only ones with children in our apartment complex. He would knock at my door and hand my one year old daughter the toy out of his Happy Meal. It was a small but significant gesture in my eyes. We would also call him and his wife on occasion and tell them we couldn’t make rent for another three or four days. They would always say, “Oh, that’s all right,” and allow us the extra days we needed to pay the rent. One time, our landlord noticed that one of my neighbors was trying to grow cantaloupe. The soil was poor and her project was failing, but our dear landlord, trying to give her encouragement, placed a large ripe cantaloupe in the middle of her dying vines. My husband and I moved away, and three months later heard from one of our neighbors that this dear landlord had passed away. I lay in bed that night and cried. He had been so good to my husband and me and to our children, and that evening I fell asleep thinking of his many kindnesses.

There seem to be two things that people do not forget: one is when people are unkind to them, the other is when people have been kind to them. One day, my oldest daughter and I were in a car accident. I’d like to say it was a minor accident, but it was not. Thankfully no one was injured or killed. But as I sat on the curb holding my head in my hands and sobbing, I felt worse that passersby were walking around me and pretending that nothing had happened. Finally, one woman sat down next to me and asked me if I was all right. The flood of thankfulness I felt toward her was overwhelming. I asked her if she would just sit next to me and talk to me. I told her that people ignoring me was making me feel worse. She sat next to me and offered me words of comfort until my husband arrived on the scene. I don’t know who that woman was, but I am thankful to her to this day for taking the time to stop and comfort me. She didn’t have to, but she did.

I will close with one of my other favorite poems,

If you sit down at set of sun

And count the acts that you have done,

And, counting, find

One self-denying deed, one word

That eased the heart of him who heard,

One glance most kind

That felt like sunshine where it went–

Then you may count that day well spent. 

But if, through all the livelong day,

You’ve cheered no heart, by yea or nay–

If, through it all

You’ve nothing done that you can trace

That brought the sunshine to one face–

No act most small

That helped some soul and nothing cost–

Then count that day as worse than lost.” –George Eliot

 

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