Small Acts of Kindness: Our Stay in the NICU

By Jennifer Hallmark

Our newest grandchild, Rozlyn Claire, arrived early. Almost four weeks early. I received the call one morning that I had an hour to get to the hospital if I wanted to see my son’s first baby arrive in the world. He and his wife had been at the hospital all night while they tried to stop her labor. But to no avail.

At eleven in the morning, Rozlyn made her big entrance. She looked perfect in every way, weighing in at 8 lbs. 10 oz. We thought everything was okay. But we soon learned her oxygen and breathing weren’t good and within a few hours, she boarded a pediatric ambulance and began the seventy mile ride to Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. Once there, she was placed in the NICU.  As north Alabama’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the state-of-the-art facility is designed to care for critically ill babies, premature newborns, and infants requiring close observation.

From the moment, Rozlyn arrived she received top-level care. In her section, one nurse is provided for each child. Each baby is monitored and charted. Parents were allowed to call at any time to check on their child which proved invaluable since my daughter-in-law was still in the hospital. The majority of the nurses were kind, caring, and considerate of the stressed parents, grandparents, friends, and family who came to visit.

During Rozlyn’s twenty-five day hospital stay, we were encouraged by the hospital staff, other parents and grandparents, and our friends and family from back home. So many prayed for Rozlyn and our family. People called, facebooked, and texted to check on how we were all doing. Some sent money and food which came in handy with the long treks back and forth to Huntsville.

I appreciated each and every small act of kindness my family received during this time. Whenever we would start to get down, someone was there to encourage us to not give up.  It really is true.

Rozlyn leaving the hospital

Kindness matters.

Spring Busy-ness

Here’s some news from my friend Betty and some updates on our other blog ☺

Betty Thomason Owens

Near the end of March, things get really busy around here. I’m busy judging various writing contests and acting like I know something. I’m an officer of a couple of organizations, one of which requires several hours of work per month.

My house is in dire need of a good Spring cleaning, and my yard…don’t even get me started. I need to schedule my schedule. So my blog posts have been a little skimpy lately. I doubt anyone really noticed, because everyone is so very busy. After all, it’s Spring.

So, since I really need to be cleaning and reading and writing, etc., this post will end with a couple of announcements and a meme. Well, maybe not a meme, because I forgot to make one. Anyway, I hope you’ll bear with me through all this busy-ness, because in a short few weeks, I have another book coming out. I’m…

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Small Acts of Kindness: Starter Trouble

On a late Tuesday afternoon, while on vacation, heading to Pennsylvania, our van starter began malfunctioning. I stopped at a small town in Wisconsin and purchased a starter, but failed to find anyone to fix it.

We traveled down the road and stopped at a motel for the night. In the morning, I slid under the van and tapped the starter as my wife turned the ignition. It worked. We continued our travel.

Upon arriving in Pennsylvania, we went to Washington DC via tour bus. It was a great day. Upon return, I again climbed under the van and repeatedly hit the starter as my wife turned the ignition. It turned over.

I had a strong sense to attend a Wednesday night church service. We found a small church. On vacation we only attend church on Sundays, but not this evening.

After service, I slid under the van and banged the starter. This time it wouldn’t start. After several attempts, I gave up and went back into the church. I asked if anyone knew of a mechanic. A man stepped forward. He worked on vehicles. I told him my dilemma, to which he said, “No problem.”

I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I get the starter fixed in the afternoon? My only defense is youth. I didn’t sense the need to. Enough said.

The mechanic opened his house to my family. And get this; his kids were nearly the same age as my kids. We had a great time with our new friends in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. Outside a storm raged but inside the house—peace.

When we woke up in the morning, he had the starter installed. He refused to take anything for fixing it and we were very grateful. We said our goodbyes and continued our vacation.

What we saw ten miles down the road sent chills through us. I switched channels on the radio station until I found the local news. A tornado had ripped through the area the night before. The time the tornado hit—the same time we would have been traveling through the small Pennsylvania town.

It looked like a war zone. Downed trees, destroyed buildings, and debris spread out over several blocks.

Had we not had problems with our starter we’d gone straight into the tornado. An act of kindness by a stranger protected my family. My sense of not fixing our starter but instead visiting our nation’s capital kept us from harm. Attending church on a Wednesday evening became part of the key in our protection.

God orchestrated our safety in the midst of the most famous civil war battlefield. That protection depended upon the obedience of his people.

I wish I had the contact information of the mechanic, but I forgot to get it. Maybe God whispered in his ear that his act of kindness saved a family from almost certain destruction, maybe death.

If not, I’ll give him the rest of the story on the other side.

Randy Tramp is a Freelance Writer, having written over 50 articles for newspapers and magazines and has released his debut novel, Night to Knight, published earlier in 2016.

Randy belongs to a local writing group, meeting monthly. He’s successfully completed Writing Essentials through Christian Writers Guild and Article Writing and How to Write a Novel through Believer’s Trust (a member) and was mentored by Dan Walsh.

In the Navy for 8 years, supervised inmates at a Federal Prison for 12 years and Children’s Pastor for 12 years, during which, on a mission’s trip, taught African’s about Children’s Ministry. His passions are to see families strengthened and relationships restored. A parent of 11 children (8 adopted) & 6 grandchildren, all ranging from 2 to 32.


Amazon Review of Night to Knight:

 It’s a military thriller with a heart. Commander Mark Steele has an exciting job in Special Forces. Though it’s dangerous, he knows his work is critically important. But that job separates him from his wife and child. When an injury brings him home, his wife is glad to have him back. But other issues cause struggles within the family, leading to distrust and hurt. Steele takes dangerous risks in his new work. The thriller plot thickens, as he seeks to save a life. But can he save his family?


Purchase:  E-Book   Book

Book Review: Hope by Fay Lamb

By Jennifer Hallmark

Today, I’d like to take a few moments and tell you about Fay Lamb’s newest book, Hope in the Ties That Bind series.

Wow. I really am amazed how much better each book in this series has been to me. The book, Charisse, started the journey and her second book, Libby, will always have a special place in my heart. This latest release, Hope, is even stronger.

I had a difficult time reading it at times because the main character, Hope, is dealing with a serious disease. My BFF Rose had Leukemia and the writing was so well-done that at times, it brought back memories. But grieving is not a bad thing, at times, and I felt a sense of release when I finished the book.

I’m not going to say a lot more because I don’t want to give away the story, but you’ll get to see Charisse and Libby again in this third book of the Ties that Bind. And there is yet one more book to go. Hurry up and write, Fay! 🙂

Make sure you read every book in the Ties That Bind series, especially Hope. You’ll be glad you did…


Hope Astor is literally a starving artist, living off the good graces of her friends as she seeks help for the fatigue that has plagued her for over a month. Dr. Daniel Duvall is a noted oncological surgeon whose life hasn’t been the same since losing his sister in a car accident the year before.

When Hope receives her diagnosis, she understands that her carefree artist’s lifestyle has left her without any options to save her life, but her friends try to convince her otherwise. They persuade Hope to seek treatment from the best doctor she knows. Trouble is, Hope is the reason Daniel’s sister is dead, and she doesn’t think saving her life is on his list of priorities.

Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories that remind the reader that God is always in the details. Three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, are available: Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken. Hope is the third book in The Ties that Bind Series, which also includes Charisse and Libby. Fay’s adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay will be: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series, and Delilah, Book 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor.

Cash in the Mail

By Ellen Andersen

As a social worker, I enjoyed working with other medical professionals, taking care of people during an illness in the hospital and afterward, in home health. One of my favorite settings, though, was hospice, where I could had the privilege of helping patients and their families adjust to and cope with a terminal illness. There are multiple aspects to it, from legal arrangements to making medical decisions for a person’s care, to the emotions that surround a person who’s sick and their family. I was the one to help them navigate all of it.

I’d just gotten my job a few months earlier, had adjusted to the commute, and had learned my way around the cities we served.

One day I went into work and my boss, Linda, greeted me, saying “Hi Ellen. I have some bad news. We’re closed now.”

“What do you mean we’re closed?” It didn’t make any sense. Medical services don’t “close”.

“The hospital’s decided to close the hospice. They’re going to contract out hospice services with VistaCare.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t know. It’s just a business decision they’ve made. They’ve been talking about what to do with the hospice side of the business for a while now and that’s what they’ve decided.” Shaking my head, I walked to my car, wondering what to do next.

I looked for work steadily for a few months but nothing panned out. One day, when I picked up the mail I found a letter addressed to eLan anDerson, printed money_envelope $20sloppily as a four-year-old would. Eyebrows raised, I opened it. There was no letter or note inside, just two 20 dollar bills. I looked at the envelope again and there was no return address. The postmark was from Los Angeles, about 25 miles from my house. Obviously, the person who sent it didn’t want me to know who they were since I didn’t know anyone in Los Angeles.

I suspected it was someone from the singles class at my church. They all knew I’d lost my job and had been praying for me.  I shared my surprise and delight over the gift the following Sunday and mentioned that it had been anonymous. I said I wished I knew who it was so I could thank them. I looked from one person to another but no one gave themselves away. It’s been over 15 years now and I still don’t know who was so generous.

Whoever it was may not have thought of it as much of a sacrifice on their part, but it meant a lot to me. It’s not so much the amount of money they gave, but the fact that they thought of me and wanted to reach out in some way. Even though they couldn’t provide me with another job, they did what they could to show that they cared. That meant a lot. Even if we can’t solve a problem or fix a situation for someone, we can still give of ourselves.  

What have you witnessed where you’ve seen someone selflessly give of themselves?  Perhaps with their time, or talent. Or maybe you’ve been the one to make a difference for someone else and they let you know.  Share it here.


Small Acts of Kindness: Turning Things Around

Sometimes you need to be kind to yourself…

By Gail Kittleson

gailSpending the worst of the winter months in the Arizona mountains comes as a huge gift. We do this because of my sinus cavities. Yes, something good has come from those complicated caverns that have given me headaches for years. Miserable, repetitive winter headaches when I’m in Iowa…headaches that predict the rise and fall of barometric pressure, and trust me, that pressure fluctuates constantly in Iowa from December through March.

So through a series of circumstances over the past decade, we’ve been able to transplant from the frozen tundra to the Ponderosa forests of Gila County, just under the Mogollon Rim. The only downside is missing our grandchildren, but letter writing and phone calls help. So does the memory of nasty pain that stole full days of my life for years.

The benefit of feeling great and still being able to walk, even if it snows, adds so much to what psychologists call “quality of life.”  Another positive is meeting a variety of new folks in this diverse area. Yet another: incredible vistas to enjoy.

If all this weren’t enough, the wild animal friends traipsing our property provides daily inspiration. This bull elk captured our attention, and my husband captured him on video in our back yard.

This family of deer claims our yard as their “hood.” Several times a day, we see them passing through, and from time to time, they enjoy our carrot peelings and other veggie remnants.arizona-113684_960_720

What’s not to like? Honesty, I’ve always loved the mountains, always felt so much better stepping out of an airplane or vehicle in Denver or Glacier National Park. But I never dreamed I’d get to live in the mountains—just another of my pipe dreams.

Oops! Not so fast, Gail. You’ve encouraged other women to embrace their longings and seize the day. How about taking your own advice?

Our family experienced my husband’s two deployments to Iraq—one for fourteen months, one for a year. At the time, I had no idea his increased earnings there would pave the way for the fulfillment of this particular dream. Yep—we’ve always practiced frugality, but could never have afforded this luxury apart from Lance’s long, hot months in the Mideast.

Like my sinus difficulties, those deployments offered some pleasant side effects. So I’m going to end with a writing prompt for you writers that puts a character in dire danger. In the Arizona mountains. But dire can become delightful, right?

Prompt: Maggie Collier arched her back for a few seconds, then bent back down to her task. Cleaning out the iris beds would keep her busy for a week, if she kept at it for a couple of hours a day. She started to whistle, “It’s A Wonderful World,” but halted at a sound close behind her.

Turning slightly, she shivered. First a hoof, then a heavy animal scent enveloping her—a tangible, very large presence, defined by an enormous rack extending far above its head.

gailGail Kittleson taught college expository writing and English as a Second Language. Now she writes memoir and women’s fiction, and facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats. In northern Iowa, she and her husband enjoy grandchildren and gardening. In winter, the Arizona mountains provide new novel fodder.


With Each New Dawn

In war-torn London, American Kate Isaacs grieves her husband, awaits their child’s birth, and welcomes her best friend Addie. But after her miscarriage, another meeting with mysterious Monsieur le Blanc launches her into Britain’s Secret Operations Executive (SOE). In late 1943, Kate parachutes into Southern France to aid the Resistance.

Domingo, a grieving Basque mountain guide-turned-saboteur, meets her parachute drop, tends her injured ankle, and carries her to safety. Reunited a few months later, they discover the injured Monsieur le Blanc who, with his dying breath, reveals a secret that changes Kate’s life.

In the shadow of the Waffen SS, Domingo’s younger brother Gabirel is missing. While Domingo seeks Gabirel, Domingo’s parish priest, Père Gaspard, creates a new identity for Kate.

As Kate and Domingo subject their mutual attraction to the cause of freedom, can mere human will and moral courage change the war’s tide and forge a future for them?