Sunday, November 27, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Wrap Up

Well, our 30 day challenge came and went and this family sure learned many lessons. The biggest one being, not a new lesson but a reminder that is often needed, that God's timing is perfect. Sometimes, I get frustrated that there are things on my "To Do" list that take (what seems like) forever to get done. But I have to remember that my plan is not always the same as God's plan.

Let me give you an example from our intentional acts of kindness challenge...

Before I had even seen a thing about the challenge on the I Can Teach My Child blog, I made a list in church one Sunday of people to which I would like to send the children's artwork. I had this list sitting on my messy counter for weeks, and kept thinking, "I've got to get that done!" It seemed like a simple task--write a little note on the artwork, pray with the children over the picture, address the envelope and stick in the mail. But for some reason, I couldn't manage to get it done.

I decided that it would be our first "intentional act of kindness", thinking that maybe it might brighten a day or give someone a little smile. I'm gonna be honest, I kinda felt like it was a really weak beginning to our 30 day challenge. My insecurities screamed that it seemed a little "not good enough". But wouldn't you know it, it was all part of God's plan.

One of the ladies on our list thanked us in church with tears in her eyes and revealed to us that she received our letter the day before she went to a doctor's appointment, where she found out she has cancer. And it was such a blessing to her to know that we had prayed for her and had taken the time to remember her. Another church member revealed to us that he received his letter the day before the anniversary of his wife's death. Our simple little letter and prayer also brought tears to his eyes.

What an amazing reminder to me.

When I sometimes think, "Why can't I get this done?"...God is answering, "It isn't the right time."

When I doubt that the gesture is big enough...God reminds me that sometimes just showing that we care and are lifting them up in prayer is exactly the right thing.

Something that I though was too small. Something that I intended to do for weeks.

God's timing. Perfect. Beautiful.

It's what turns our sometimes small, better late than never, acts of kindness into a special blessing for others.

Today I'm thanking God for His timing, for a boy healing after surgery, and for the many visitors, gifts, cards and prayers that have been a blessing and encouragement to him (and the rest of our family). We have been the recipients of many intentional acts of kindness this past week:)

And my journey of recording 1000 gifts continues...

#161 My 3 yr old "reading" to me

#162 My 4 yr old reading upside down...and reading the right words!

#163 My 6 yr old, ball-playing son finishing his 1st chapter book:)

#164 My oldest daughter "cracking up" at her dad as they tie in their race to see who gets home first

#165 A "can't stop laughing" moment with my husband--while the children sleep soundly in their beds

#166 Friends that dare to be real with each other

#167 The deliciousness purchased at a dessert auction fundraiser

#168 Employment for my husband--when in a time when so many are without work

#169 Sleep for a weary mother

#170 Healthy, growing, intelligent children who melt my heart with their hugs:)

Friday, November 25, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 25

I happened to be on the receiving end of the intentional act of kindness today. My sweet daughters surprised me by secretly making my bed this morning! What a gift it was, not only the bed making, but also the feeling that maybe, just maybe, this 30 day challenge is having a lasting effect on our family:) I'll know it's for real if the siblings spontaneously start making each others beds...I may consider that a kindness challenge miracle!

Anyhoo, we are loving a holiday weekend full of lots of quality family time this weekend. Just enjoying being together:)
Is it possible to cram celebrating a lifetime of things for which to give thanks into a short few days? Not. A. Chance.
So I continue counting...

#146. Being able to continue piano lessons with a teacher that we love

#147. Memories of Tom

#148. A dear friend doing devotions with the children at the picnic table

#149. Turning our sadness into a celebration of memories

#150. Pudding pops on the front porch

#151. A dragonfly playing chase with a big fuzzy bumblebee

#152. A good first hit and safe at base

#153. Chocolate smudges on faces

#154. Little green thumbs in training

#155. A college baseball game with the family (including fireworks!)

#156. Silas cheering at his big brother's baseball scrimmage

#157. Watching a 3 yr. old boogie:)

#158. Beautiful weather for a farm field trip

#159. Lots of hugs from my oldest son

#160 Meeting new people--especially moms of the children's school friends

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. -Psalm 100:3-5

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you all enjoy celebrating God's blessings, not just this weekend, but each and every day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A "small" kindness can do BIG things...

One. One act of kindness. Who knows how much good can stem from one "small" act of kindness? Only God, really.

This week of the challenge we were asked to highlight acts of kindness that someone else has done, instead of focusing on each of our own acts this week. Many other bloggers have shared some fantastic ideas...many of them inspired us! But I'd like to share with you something that profoundly impacted our family this year and it isn't a part of any blog or any 30 day challenge.

It all started with a birthday party. Dear friends of our family having a large gathering to celebrate a sweet girl turning 7 years old...and then a year later turning 8. Last year and this, instead of birthday presents, the family requested that each party guest bring canned goods to donate to the local Food Bank. And so it began...

Not only did that family help many people receive food that they so desperately needed, but an act of kindness like that can be "catchy".

After a thoughtful discussion and just a tiny bit of encouragement, Hope decided to do the same thing for her birthday. She was overjoyed as we delivered her collected food to our local food pantry! And the kindness kept "catching"...

Hank decided he wanted to ask his guests to donate school supplies to compile MCC school kits. He was so excited to compile 14 complete kits. And the kindness kept on "catching"...

Mattie asked her birthday party guests to bring items to include in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. She has packed 13 shoeboxes that we will be taking to our local Drop Off location on Saturday.

What a wonderful example of how one "small" act of kindness can have a huge impact. Three little lives (plus how many more?) that were influenced by an example of kindness.

Throughout our 30 Days of Intentional Acts of Kindness challenge, I've enjoyed reading other blogs to see the acts of kindness other families have been doing. So many great ideas have been shared these past two weeks!
I've already mentioned Cindy at Crayon Wishes and Popscicle Dreams in a few previous posts...thanks again, Cindy!
And I LOVE what Jennifer has to say over at The Purposeful Mom about encouraging her kiddos to show kindness within their own family. Her children made sweet books sharing what they love about their sibling. I am planning on borrowing the idea this week because we could stand to cultivate a little kindness between siblings around the Shoe household! And special thanks again to Jenae over at I Can Teach My for starting this 30 day challenge. It has truly been a blessing to us and, hopefully, to others receiving our small attempts at kindness these past two weeks.

This challenge continues to remind me not to underestimate my children. Little ones can do BIG things, too:)

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. -1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 14 & 15

I'm a day late and a dollar short...isn't that how the old saying goes?

Anyway, yesterday the kiddos made a little something to let their teachers know that we are thankful for them. I had a fun little idea that popped into my head as we checked out at our local bulk foods market. They always have some yummy treat sitting there by the cash register and yesterday it just happened to be the mini buckeyes. They were packaged in a plastic cone shaped bag. I envisioned that we could turn them upside down and make them into turkeys.

Here's how they turned out...

Cute, huh?
One of the things that I love most about doing this kind of activity with my children is that they all create something unique. Just like their personalities, each turkey was a little different than the others.

Our act of kindness idea today came to us again courtesy of Cindy- over at Crayon Wishes and Popsicle Dreams. We will be treating someone to a free load of laundry at the laundrymat! I just happened to have one of my "freebie" samples of laundry detergent and some quarters available.

What fun! Thanks again so much, Cindy, for the idea!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 12

The Shoe Family really digs high school football! Due to our family attending a playoff football game last night, it was too late for an update.

Our act of kindness yesterday was something that we make an effort to do normally. We went to visit a family member that lives out of town. This is something that we try to do as much as possible, but we did something a little different yesterday. We printed out lots of photos of our latest "activities", such as volleyball, decorating our entries to a pumpkin decorating contest, school pictures, etc. We don't usually think to take along pictures with us when we visit and I think it was a better way of sharing our lives, instead of just telling about them.

And today, well, I'm gonna be real was a busy day. The kindest thing we did was move a few shopping carts that were hindering parking in the parking spaces with out scratching someone's vehicle. But, unfortunately, I have to say that I'm usually in such a rush that I don't usually mess with moving carts. Apparently this kindness thing is sinking in a little already:)

I'll be spending the day focusing on worship, family and rest tomorrow, so I hope to have another update about our kindness journey on Monday. Blessings until you return!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 10

I'd like to start out by saying that I'm not trying to post our acts of kindness everyday to say, "Hey, look at us. We are going out of out of our way to do kind things for others. Please think that our family rocks." Because let me be brutally honest and say, "We are SO not perfect and we have a lot of work to do on our hearts and, man, we really needed this 30 day challenge."

I think what I like about blogging (almost) every day of this challenge is the accountability factor. Unfortunately, I need accountability to follow through on things like this. It's really easy to start something with the kiddos and be really pumped up about it, only to fizzle out half way through. It's easy to tell myself that "things here are too crazy" and that "we don't really have enough time". But knowing that I said that I would fill you in on what we did each day is pushing me to make sure that we don't "put this on the back burner". So please, let me be clear... WE ARE NOT SOME PERFECT, DREAMY FAMILY that does everything right. We fall short EVERY day and that's why we need Jesus...we SO need Jesus. Praise the Lord for things like this that He brings into our lives to shape our hearts!

That being said, the little guys and I went out running errands today. We took a shopping cart from the sidewalk into Target and tried to be especially nice to everyone, in each store we visited today. I have realized that often times when we run errands, I am so focused on getting what we are shopping for and getting out--without any major melt-downs or merchandise breakages, that I'm not overly friendly. I wouldn't necessarily say I'm rude or mean, but I guessing they don't see me smiling a lot on the store surveillance videos. I could possibly be viewed as a crabby mommy. Definitely not the kind of person that I want to be! So it was my mission today to SLOW DOWN, relax, and enjoy shopping with my boys. What a concept:)

My husband also decided to contribute to our 30 day challenge but his act will remain unwritten.
So there you have it, Day 10.
Only 20 or, well, should I say a lifetime to go.
I pray that this isn't something that leaves our minds after this month comes to an end.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 9

One of the things that I have learned over the years is that "Momma needs to think ahead and be prepared as much as possible":)

That being said, I had enough sense in this frazzled brain of mine to realize that sometime during our 30 days, we would have a day (or two or ten:) in which we would have trouble squeezing a "kindness event" into our crazy, chaotic life. Today would have been one of those days. So in preparation for this, last week I had the little guys help me make some muffins to put in the freezer-- so we would have some pre-made, homemade "kindness" on hand.

This morning we hosted our dear friends for a mini play date while their momma went to a prenatal appointment. So we didn't plan on going out to do any "intentional acts" today. We simply took our pre-made, homemade chocolate chip zucchini muffins to share tonight at the children's choir practice. Practicing for the Christmas program can make kiddos hungry and the snack was enjoyed by many in attendance. Yet again a seemingly small act, but something that was a small blessing to share with others.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 8

So we've been trying to keep our journey of kindness relatively inexpensive and at first I struggled to come up with ideas that would cost us little to no money. Thanks to fellow blogger, Cindy , over at Crayon Wishes and Popsicle Dreams, who left a comment to suggest this free act of kindness activity.

This afternoon, a group of friends joined us to pick up trash at a local park. The weather was beautiful and the kiddos really enjoyed working together with friends to clean up any litter we could find.
It was slow going at first. I am so proud of our community--it took us awhile to locate any garbage. But once we walked for a bit, and looked hard enough, we ended up having a successful afternoon of clean-up. Our best find was this broken camping chair.

We walked much of the park and ended our act of kindness with a short time at the playground.

The children seem to be really thinking about other things we can do for what's left of our 30 day challenge. I think they are learning that often times one of the biggest ways that we can be a blessing is to give the gift of our time. Whether it be taking a moment to send a note/picture to someone or spending an afternoon walking around cleaning up at the park, these seemingly small acts can make a big difference in the lives of others. And just like the pieces of litter we collected today, I hope that bits and pieces of our selfish nature are being discarded with each act that is completed. I pray that our hearts and minds are being forever changed by this "quest" of kindness.

Monday, November 7, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 7

Yesterday and today were not really new intentional acts of kindness. Yesterday, the children drew pictures/wrote notes to send to a family member who is away at college. And today, we opened our home to a young friend of ours who needed a place to hang out after school while her parents were gone for the evening. These things are not anything particularly special, but we hope that our small effort was a blessing.

After just one week of our Intentional Acts of Kindness, I've learned much. God is making it clear to me, in many different ways, that I often am so focused and wrapped up in the minor details of our crazy, chaotic life, that I am not looking for ways to show kindness to others. I'm letting my aggravation about an untidy house or unfinished "to do" list keep me from being purposeful about helping and sharing. I'm not allowing myself to be perceptive about how we can bless others or how we can best lend a helping hand, because I'm always caught up--in trying to catch up. Having a servant's heart shouldn't be something for which we have to make time. I pray that as we continue the rest of our 30 days that being more intentional about acts of kindness will become ingrained in us and become second nature to our hearts.

I am so grateful that we decided to participate in this 30 day challenge. What a gift is has been in just these seven short days!

And my list of 1000 gifts continues...

141. My most consistent form of exercise--picking dirty socks up off the floor:)

142. Bright yellow (and red) tulips beautifully blooming in the front flower bed

143. An overabundance of coats, jackets, hats, gloves, scarves, and shoes that never seem to find their way to "where they belong"

144. Whole wheat oatmeal banana chocolate chip pancakes covered in sugary syrup

145. Flavored coffee creamer that makes it possible for me to actually enjoy a cup of coffee

Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 5

Our act of kindness #5 was super fun!!!

We went to our local Mom and Pop grocery store and (after getting the okay from the office) did a mini scavenger hunt of sorts to find items that matched up with some coupons we had clipped.

Once we found each item, we taped the coupon to the product for someone to find and use:) We were blessed to see a coupon or two being "found"!

The kiddos had a blast taping the coupons to the items and I think we may end up doing this one again before our 30 days is over. It was also great because the only thing it cost us was our time but could still be a blessing to someone else (we left some really good coupons--one was $3.00 off:)

And we also happened to find a vending machine outside of the grocery that only charged 50 cents for a can of soda. So we left 50 cents and a drive thru note that I downloaded from I Can Teach My We hope the next customer was blessed by a free drink on us:)

Friday, November 4, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 4

Today we sent a simple thank you note (and pictures from the children) to the music teacher at our elementary school. The children can often be heard singing songs that they learned in her class about respect and making a difference in the world. We thought it would be nice to let her know that we appreciate her song choices and the fact that she is clearly teaching the children about more than music. It was our small, but heartfelt, act of kindness for today.

I am grateful for the gift of teachers that care about the character of their students...and my list to 1000 continues:

#126 The smell (and accomplishment:) of cutting up a fresh pineapple

#127 A (mostly) smooth morning send-off to school

#128 Small hands and hearts creating special pictures for loved ones

#129 Buckets full of saved "hand-me-down" clothing

#130 Polly Pocket accessories strewn all over the floor

#131 Matchbox cars strewn all over the floor

#132 Visiting with dear friends at their beautiful greenhouse

#133 New plants with bright flowers to fill my container

#134 The absolute amazingness of how many different shades of green there are splashed throughout nature

#135 A new light in our bathroom, installed by my very handy hubby

#136 My favorite funny tv show

#137 Children cleaning as a Mother's Day surprise

#138 Cool breeze blowing through our open windows

#139 Comfy pajamas

#140 Being able to find humor in the chaos

1 Chronicles 16:34
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His love endures forever.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 3

Today, we visited our local science center! And while we were there we left 50 cents and a drive thru printable note (that we changed just bit to fit our act of kindness), for someone to find and use to pay for their locker. We considered leaving one on the vending machine but, and this is going to sound REALLY cheap, it cost $2.50 for a soda! We are trying to keep our 30 days relatively inexpensive, so the 50 cent locker won out:) We are hoping that even though it was only 50 cents, instead of $2.50, that it was still a blessing to someone that we surprised them with something unexpected.

Special thanks to Jenae at I Can Teach My for the printable drive thru note!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 2

Through rain, snow, sleet and hail...despite the popularity of email and social networks...our postal service keeps on working.

Today our Intentional Act of Kindness was to make a little thank you note for the mail carrier to find in our mailbox. The boys helped me decorate the note. I racked my brain trying to think of something small that we could leave with the note and realized that we have a load of Hershey bars left over from Father's Day. (We bought them to pass out to the dads at church and ended up with a full box to bring home, which rocks because WE LOVE HERSHEY's chocolate:) Anyway, realizing that we have the chocolate bars available was great because it is something that we already have on hand and we didn't have to go out and spend money on new treats for this activity.

So the boys helped me put our note of gratitude (and Hershey bar) in the mailbox (with our "kindness" letters that we didn't get mailed yesterday:).

Unfortunately, we did not get to see the mail pick up today...I think Silas was really wanting to see the surprise unfold. But the important part is that we did something small to bless someone today and that, my dear bloggy friends, is what it's all about:)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Avoiding "the Gimmies" in 2011: 30 Days of Thankfulness-Day 1

New year, new Thankfulness tree:)
If you are joining us for the first time, you may want to read my post on Avoiding "the Gimmies", which explains more about our motivation for the Thankfulness tree.

I'm trying to combine our month of thankfulness with a 30 Days of Intentional Acts of Kindness with your kids challenge from Jenae over at
I Can Teach My Child. I'm trying to come up with ideas that cost little to no money, and that has been a challenge as I've pondered what intentional acts of kindness we can do each day. Our acts may consist of lots of note writing/picture sending or phone calls to brighten up someone's day, but the point is to be MORE INTENTIONAL in showing kindness, so that is our goal:)
I'm going to TRY to post EVERY day...but if you've been reading this blog for more than two seconds, you know that our chaos and life of our family of seven, in general, can be an obstacle to blog posting, so my posts will most likely be short and simple.

Today our Intentional Act was something I've been meaning to do for awhile now. The children make loads of drawings and I always feel bad getting rid of them, but realize that we can't save them all. So I addressed some envelopes for some lovely folks who need a little sunshine to brighten their days and wrote a note on each drawing to let them know that we prayed for them today. Unfortunately, they did not make it to the mail today, so I've stumbled already on Day 1...surprise, surprise:) We'll be mailing our first "kindness" tomorrow!

Over the next 30 days, I'll also try to share with you just SOME of the things for which the Shoe Seven is thankful.

Here is what we added to our tree today:

Hope-"Jesus dying on the cross for our sins" (Amen, sister. Amen!)

Hank-"A mom who cooks."

Mattie-"Friends and family"

Silas-"Being nice"

Zeke-"Pancakes" (It's what we were having for breakfast this morning when we wrote on our leaves:)

Me-"My husband and five children" (And all of the above, of course:)

I would love to know if you are doing your own "Thankfulness tree" or 30 Days of Intentional Kindness with your kids, so leave a comment and join in the fun!