Small Acts of Kindness

Robin just fell asleep.  Most nights one of us sits by her bed until she falls asleep.  She gets more sleep that way.  So we take the 10 or 15 extra minutes and sit with her.  Tonight she reached out and patted me on the head.  A small moment of kindness.  She wasn’t falling asleep quickly, so I reached out and put my hand on her forehead and told her I loved her. Her act of loving kindness helped me do the same for her.

Today was a sick day for Maren and me.  I stayed in bed late with a sore throat and head cold.  She woke up with the same and threw up a few times.  Erik was very kind to both of us.  He just took an extra few minutes away from work to make sure we were cared for. Over the course of the day he made both of these smoothies for me.IMG_1093I have been wanting to try both of them, got the special ingredients needed — flax seeds, ginger root, rice milk, frozen raspberries, spinach, parsley, etc. — and he took the time to actually make them for me and deliver them to me.  A special kindness on a day when I didn’t feel great.

When all the kids came home, they each seemed to need extra love and attention.  I think Brandon may be getting the cold we have.  He needed to use his calculator and was all spread out on the couch doing homework and asked if I would get it for him out of his backpack.  I really wasn’t feeling well, but I knew he wasn’t either.  So I got up and found it for him. Nicole needed a listening ear.  Erik was home to give it to her.  After trying to give her many solutions for her dilemmas, I started to try and listen more and just receive what she had to say.  She was kind to me and kept me company while I made dinner.  Camille always gives great hugs just when I need them.

Even though I didn’t have much to give, I somehow knew I needed some homemade chicken noodle soup.  That was my offering to the fragile crew we all were today.

IMG_1091Maren started to have some more energy and helped me get the table set.

IMG_1090The seven of us made it to the dinner table.  And the chicken soup and warm bread was just what the doctor ordered.  I usually make dinner with a crew of kids.  Then Erik cleans up.  I was listening to a podcast here about how kindness inspires kindness – 40 random acts of kindness someone did on her 40th birthday.  I was so tired, and my head was aching.  Erik was getting Robin ready for bed, and the dishes weren’t done.  I knew how tired Erik was after caring for all of us today and going to work on top of it all.  Maren was feeling a bit better, and so we went and put all the soup dishes away and wiped up the counters and scrubbed the pots and pans while listening to that inspiring podcast.

IMG_1092It is always more energizing to do the work together, and easy to help the one who has shown such love and service to you earlier in the day.

Kindness does inspire kindness.  Love begets love.  Service inspires service.  All those kindnesses help us connect and unite.  It was a sick day, but one filled with love and service and kindness all around.

Family Bike Ride

Sometimes we get it together enough on a Saturday to all go bike to a park and enjoy some time together.  Well, we got everyone out of bed somehow and biked to a park nearby.  Beautiful sunshine, but quite chilly out there.  IMG_1059

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IMG_1065Brandon, Camille, Maren, and Robin enjoyed swinging and jumping and laughing while Erik and I threw footballs, volleyballs, and frisbees to them.

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We went on a run around the park in honor of our friend’s 4.3 mile fun run that we didn’t make it to this morning.  We tried out an Indian run, with the person in the back of the line running up to the front, and then the next person running to the front, and on and on.  One lap was enough.  Probably a good third of a mile.  Some of us wanted to look up at the trees and contemplate, others walk alone and think.

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Erik played frisbee with the kids.  Robin climbed on the spider web.

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Joy in the sunshine and trees.  Probably the most meaningful part for me was coming back to the house and having a great heart to heart with Nicole.  I am glad we have stayed close through all the teenage years, and we can talk about the real things she is thinking about and dealing with as she finishes up high school this year.  Love these kids.  Good to get out in the sunshine on a cold morning.

 

 

 

To finish or not to finish….

I have this incredible drive to finish projects.  It surfaced today as we were undecorating from Christmas and also attempting to clean the house.

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When I finish a task, I feel complete.  When it is partway completed, it is a frustration to me. This works well when something needs to be done, but it can also cause contention and bring out the nagging side of me.  So, is it worth it to finish things?

I don’t have the answer.  In many ways, Erik and I complement each other well.  He gets projects started and enjoys the process.  I can jump in and get the job done.  He doesn’t seem to be bothered if things are right in the middle and left there.  If there is a chance of getting a job done, I am driven to do it.  Therefore, Erik starts and gets things going, and I finish.

But if there is tension to get the job done, and no one else cares, is it worth the stress?  Or is the end product and ability to accomplish and finish things an important drive to have?Can I enjoy the process more along the way, and not only find satisfaction when something is done?  I have wrestled with this question throughout our married life.  There isn’t an easy answer since my mind seems to rest so well with every cereal box finished, recycled and out the door.  And when the kitchen is clean, I can mentally rest from that room of the house.  Once the bed is made, my day can start.

But still I wonder, is it better to finish or enjoy the process more?

Listening

Listening is an art form.  When two people hear and listen and understand, there is no better connection.  But it is hard to accomplish.  It takes discipline.  It takes suspending selfish needs and refraining from interjection of  personal footnotes.  I find that I am a much better listener to adults.  I have always considered myself more of an adult person than a kid person.  So I find it easier to listen to the complex stories of my adult friends and family than to the younger concerns of children.

But a little while ago, I learned about the concept of being truly present.  This means completely tuned in and present in mind and body with the person, usually one of my children, with whom I am spending time.  This requires putting aside pressing to-do lists and tasks to be completed and simply turning my attention and thoughts to the person I am talking with.  This is a marvelous concept.  Being present with my kids as they tell me about the details of their thoughts and life is one of the goals I have.  Being present with Erik as he tells me about work or soccer coaching or helping others in our church is what I want to be.

When I feel listened to and understood, it helps me feel whole and valued.  I get this in a few places.  One is in prayer as I pour out my heart and wait for the desired answers or confirmations.  And I often get this from Erik as he listens so well to all the musings and wrestlings of my heart.  It draws us closer.  It adds to the feeling of love I receive from him. It helps me feel worthwhile.

Being present with all people — in the store, in the neighborhood, in my home, in heaven. A goal and aim for my life.