A Small Act of Birthday Kindness

By Mary L. Hamilton Alt. headshot

Most of my adult life, I’ve lived a thousand miles away from my family of origin. I’ve missed family Christmases and Thanksgivings, not to mention birthdays, graduations and even a wedding or two. But physical distance doesn’t always equate to emotional distance. I count my brothers and sisters as my closest friends. I know I can count on them, whether I need a good belly laugh or a gut-wrenching cry.

A few years ago (I won’t tell you how many), I answered the door to find a floral delivery just for me. I accepted it with great excitement, though I wondered about the faint odor of paint as I carried them into the kitchen. It didn’t take long to figure out the source of the smell. I unwrapped the flowers—a dozen long-stemmed black roses in honor of my 50th birthday. The attached card held a greeting from my brothers and sisters.

rosesThe next day, another floral delivery arrived—a pretty little arrangement in a vase, along with another card from my siblings. Every day for five days, I received a gift of flowers. Five days of flowers with five birthday greetings from my five siblings, celebrating my five decades of life.

The flowers are long gone, but the memory is still fresh of the way my brothers and sisters made me feel loved and special even from a thousand miles away.

Along with her five siblings, Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a camp in Wisconsin much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series (ages 10 and up). Though her feet have been in Texas for most of the last forty years, a part of her heart still remains in the Midwest.

When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband have three grown children and a rescued Golden Retriever.

SNEmodifiedcoverSpeak No Evil, Book 2 in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp Series

Taylor Dixon knew having his younger sister at camp would be a pain, but he never expected the pain to go so deep.

At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving race cars when he’s older. But Dad won’t let him get his license unless he stays out of trouble, convinced Taylor’s heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother. Only his younger sister, Marissa, believes in his dreams, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble.

At Rustic Knoll Bible Camp, Taylor expects the usual softball, swimming and sermons. Then he discovers a classic Mustang in the camp’s machine shed, and the owner’s invitation to help restore it fuels his dream of driving race cars. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the ensuing war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens to destroy both the car and Taylor’s dreams for the future.

Will he end up fulfilling Dad’s prediction?

Or will the message of the old Mustang’s engine set him free from the prison he’s built himself? 

Trailer: http://tinyurl.com/on44xf4

Purchase links:

B&N (Nook)

Small Acts of Kindness: Hospice and Hospital Care

Thomas and HarperBy Jennifer Hallmark

We needed help. My stepdad was struggling and Hospice provided a way to care for him at home and even in the hospital. This service began around November 1st and stayed close until his passing on January 20th.

Hospice care is a type of care and philosophy of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs.

HCA Hospice Care Logo (2012)To me, Hospice is a big act of kindness. During this time, we were the recipient of many small acts of kindness also. I’ve given this some thought and want to share a list of items and services that would help if you know someone who is under hospice or hospital care, a caregiver or helping a caregiver…

For an individual under hospice care and their family

  • Visits and phone calls. When you’re confined to home, a visit or phone call is like a breath of fresh air. Even better is a long visit where you offer to stay with the patient while the caregiver shops, goes to the doctor, or just gets away for a few moments.
  • Meals. Caregivers tend to be exhausted from the constant care a hospice patient needs. Always check and see what the patient can or can’t eat and cook or buy accordingly.
  • Greeting cards and emails. My stepdad loved getting physical mail from people. Not so much “get well” cards but those cards that expressed “thinking about you” or encouragement. Homemade cards from the children or grandchildren or school or church class are enjoyed also.
  • Gifts. The best gifts were the ones where people asked what we needed and then provided them. Some I remember are an electronic Bible that read out loud, pajamas, puzzle books, certain food items or snacks, and magazines.IMG_20160217_094918629

When the patient is in the hospital.

  • All of the above. Visits where you can stay with the patient are especially helpful so the caregiver can go eat or to the store without feeling stressed. Before bringing food, check on the patient’s dietary needs.

One thing people asked us during this time was “How can we help?” Beside the above ways, I’ll list items you can purchase that are useful during this time.

  • Restaurant gift cards.IMG_20160217_094952009
  • Gas gift cards. (so much back and forth driving)
  • Walmart gift cards.
  • Fruit or healthy snacks. (to keep at hospital)
  • Magazines, puzzle books, or books.
  • Small blankets or throws.
  • Mints, gum, or hard candy.
  • Phone charger (we had to go out and buy one)
  • Change for the drink and snack machines.

So when someone is under hospice care or in the hospital, you can make a difference. A show of concern can brighten the day of someone going through stress-filled times. Prayer was always welcomed and we loved it when people took time to ask, “What do you specifically need? I’ll bring it.”

Your small act of kindness can shine big in someone’s life today. Be the difference…

Flower Sack Dresses from the Flour Mills (The Kindness Blog)

One of my favorite blogs, The Kindness Blog, ran this historical small act of kindness that eventually affected millions of people. Enjoy!

In times gone by, amidst widespread poverty, the flour mills realized that some women were using sacks to make clothes for their children. In response, the flour mills started using flowered fabric.

With the introduction of this new cloth into the home, thrifty women everywhere began to reuse the cloth for a variety of home uses—dish towels, diapers, and more. The bags began to become very popular for clothing items.

flour sack material

One example of flour sack fabric

As the recycling trend looked like it was going to stay, the manufacturers began to print their cloth bags—or feed sacks—in an ever wider variety of patterns and colors.

Over time, the popularity of the feed sack as clothing fabric increased beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, fueled by both ingenuity and scarcity.

By the time WWII dominated the lives of Americans, and cloth for fabric was in short supply due to its use in the construction of uniforms. It was estimated that over three and a half million women and children were wearing garments created from feed sacks.

feed sack clothes

Clothes made from flour sacks

Images like these help to remind us that large swaths of the country were once so poor that making clothes for children, out of flour sacks, was simply a part of life in those times. The manufacturers even gave instructions for how to remove the ink. People back then certainly knew how to try to use and reuse everything they had and not to be wasteful.

Sacks continued to grab the attention of women during the depression and World War II. In the 1950’s, though, cheaper paper sacks became available, and thus the gradual decline for these bright, beautiful, and functional fabrics began.

The start of the 1960’s saw sack manufacturers trying to tempt customers back with cartoon-printed fabrics, from Buck Rogers to Cinderella. There was even a television advertising campaign intended to prick the conscience of the American housewife, but it failed to generate a significant upsurge in sales. Today it is only the Amish who still use cotton sacks for their dry goods.

The world has changed in so many way since back then, yet having a mindset for making the best use of what you have available to you is a trait that, rightly, does and should carry on.

Stuck in the Snow

By Ellen Andersen

It’s been cold here in South Carolina and has been snowing off and on for the past couple weeks. Down here in the South, that’s not something we’re used to.  I’m from Southern California and it’s rare there too, so I hunker down even when there’s only a few inches on the ground.

It had been a couple days since the snowfall, but freezing temperatures at night made the roads ice over anywayChevy Cavalier in the snow 2016 so I decided to go to a later church service that morning. At 11:15, I headed out to my car but couldn’t open the door.  It was still frozen out so the door was stuck.  I tried three times with no luck.  Fortunately, my neighbor, Mark, came outside at that point and said, “How are you doin’ this morning?”

I gave him a half-smile and said, “Ok (not really I thought) but I can’t get this door open.” (and I don’t think I’m gonna get to church)

He came over, pulled up on the handle, and gave it a little muscle. “Here. Took a little bit to make it come open.” I thanked him and he wished me a good day.

What was no big deal to him meant a lot to me. I couldn’t have done it without him. It let me get to church so I could connect with the Lord and other people there too.


What do you find makes a difference to you, even though someone else may not realize it?


A Stranger’s Prayer

BCheadshot2013By Jennifer Slattery

Sometimes prayers grip my heart and won’t let go. This was one of those times, but I never expected God’s answer to come the way it did.

We’d recently moved to Nebraska from Missouri, and I wasn’t happy about it. We’d left a loving church, a great community, and a close-knit neighborhood. Plus we were moving right before our daughter’s sophomore year in high school, a fact that devastated her.

Watching her sit on one of the many boxes cluttering our living room, her shoulders slumped, her eyes red and puffy, my heart broke. “Lord, please, let us stay,” I begged. “At least until she graduates.”

Less than six months later, God flipped my prayers by reminding me, sometimes there’s more at stake than a change of address.

Not long after moving, I connected with a woman who had arrived in the Omaha area the year before. Having two teenage daughters herself, she understood my worries and pain. As a result, we became quick friends. Each morning, we’d walk around a small, man-made lake, praying for our children, for others, sometimes for one another. But one day, our prayers became more serious, more urgent.

fall-church-hill-crosses“Do you know Kathy?” she asked. “She works at the church.”

I admitted I didn’t.

“Her son has gone into kidney failure and needs a transplant. He’s only seventeen.”

This hit my mama’s heart hard as images of my own child surfaced. I worried when she came down with the flu. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to fear losing her all together. And what must life be like for this poor child, spending three hours a week, four hours at a time, hooked to a dialysis machine? It seemed there was nothing my friend or I could do but pray.

Which in truth was the most effective thing we could do, for the Bible says, “The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

So we prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and then, when I came home, I prayed some more and invited my family to join me. They were equally devastated, my daughter especially. One night, as I lay in bed, I heard sobbing coming from her room below. Pulse igniting, I jumped up and hurried downstairs to find her hugging her pillow, tears streaming her face.

“What if that boy dies?” she asked me.

I had no answer.

But a few nights later, my husband did. He told us over dinner. “I’m going to see if I’m a match.”

I stared at him, dueling emotions warring within. My heart leapt at the possibility that this teen might soon get his kidney, but I worried for my husband. What if the surgery went horribly wrong? Numerous what-if scenarios flooded my mind, but the one that rose to the forefront—God’s in this. I knew this with utter certainty.

The more my husband and I thought about it and prayed about it, the more we realized God’s hand had been leading him in this direction for over a year. Prior to this, we’d never given donation more than a passing thought, but one day, a friend who worked as an organ procurement coordinator suggested I write a novel on donation. The idea didn’t appeal to me, so I promptly told her no. But a week later, I awoke with a story about a single mother who worked in the organ donation field and needed to see God’s attentive caring hand. I’d been walking with God long enough to realize, when stories unfold like that, they come from Him. So, I called my friend. I told her I’d write the story on one condition—that she’d help me, a lot, because I had zero medical knowledge and knew such an endeavor would require immense research and understanding.

She agreed, and over the next six months, we met regularly as she taught me the ins and outs of organ donation. Often my husband joined us. He’d eat his lunch, listening, asking questions on occasion, merely curious.

Or so we thought. But a year later when he began talking about being a donor, he and I realized God had been planting the seeds of donation long before we’d begun praying for the teenager in desperate need of a kidney.

phoneThis realization overwhelmed me with praise.

The events that followed seemed to drag slowly and rush by. There were phone calls, then more phone calls, and all sorts of tests my husband had to undergo as a potential donor, and we saw God’s hand at every step.

Then, the night of the surgery arrived. My husband was a wreck. He was so anxious, his calves broke out in a rash. Face tight, he paced our living room, sat, then paced some more. Finally, unable to sit still, he left for softball practice. Two hours early.  Sitting in a near empty parking lot, he texted a friend.

“I’m a little nervous. Pray for me?”

His friend did, and afterward, my husband got out and sat on the back of his car. Waiting. Stressing. Praying. Less than ten minutes later, a stranger pulled into the parking lot and walked directly to my husband.

“I was driving by and felt the need to come pray for someone,” he said. “Can I pray for you?”

The air expelled from my husband’s chest. “That’d be awesome.”

The two men bowed their heads, right there, and the moment they did, my husband felt instant peace. “It was like God had sent an angel directly to me,” my husband told me later.

Listening, my heart swelled with praise, and I knew everything was going to be all right, because the surgery rested in our Father’s hands. It’s been just over a year since that beautiful, miraculous day, and both my husband and the recipient are doing well. Better than well, because through their prayers, they caught a glimpse of God’s ever-faithful heart and tender care.

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte


Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?

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