Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 Days of Kindness

Tomorrow is the big day.  The 30 Days of Kindness will begin on October 1st.  It's going to work a little something like this: I'll begin the day's blog post with the challenge and the challenge requirements, and later in the day, I'll be posting photos, videos, or stories of what I did during this challenge.  I'll also be sharing tomorrow's challenge so you can have more time to plan.  The next day, I'll do the same thing.

If you would like to participate in the 30 Days of Kindness, then please comment below!  If you're a fellow blogger, feel free to post about these challenges on your blog.  Send the link to me and I'll share your blog with my readers.  If you're a YouTuber, send me the links to your videos.  If you're a photographer, I'll share your pictures.  If you love to write, I'll post your stories.

This challenge was originally designed for Christians, so some of the challenges will be faith-based.  However, if you're not a Christian and you would still like to participate in this challenge, feel free to replace those days with a secular alternative.  For example, if the day's challenge is to leave ten encouraging Bible verses in various locations, leave out ten encouraging quotes.  If the challenge is to give away a Bible, give away one of your favorite books instead.  I would love for anyone to participate in this challenge.  Our world needs more kindness.

Share the link to this article on your Facebook or MySpace page.  Feel free to participate with your friends.

Here is the planned schedule:
October 1: Smile at a stranger
October 2: Say hi to a stranger
October 3: Compliment a stranger
October 4: Give a stranger a hug
October 5: Leave a dollar for someone to find
October 6: Leave an encouraging note on a mirror
October 7: Donate five dollars to a charity or to someone who needs the money
October 8: Leave an encouraging note somewhere
October 9: Donate clothes to a needy person
October 10: Hug ten people
October 11: Make a snack for your friends
October 12: Leave an encouraging note for a friend
October 13: Compliment ten people
October 14: Personally encourage a friend
October 15: Take someone out for coffee/ice cream
October 16: Offer to do an odd job for the elderly
October 17: Give food to a homeless person (if you can't find one, leave food for someone who needs it)
October 18: Offer to help out around the house
October 19: Pay for someone's lunch
October 20: Volunteer your time
October 21: Leave an anonymous letter of encouragement on the windshield of a stranger's car
October 22: Leave a Bible somewhere (or give one away)
October 23: Give away a pair of shoes
October 24: Write a letter to someone you admire and give it to them
October 25: Leave ten encouraging notes/quotes/Bible verses
October 26: Write an encouraging note to a service worker
October 27: Pray for someone you know
October 28: Pray for someone you don't know
October 29: Leave five dollar bills in different places (or give them away)
October 30: Buy someone a thoughtful gift
October 31: Your idea

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Plans or God's Plans?

While I do want to leave my future open for God to mold and control, I do have plans that I would love to see
fulfilled if He wants them to be fulfilled.

1.) I want to graduate high school this year (obviously) with all A's.
2.) I want to go to an amazing university that is the perfect fit for me and what I want to study.
3.) I want to publish my novel, Before You.
4.) I want to travel to Kenya, Africa again and reunite with old friends.
5.) I want to make new friends in new places, everywhere I go.
6.) I want to keep my old friends from where I live after I go to college.
7.) I want to discover what career God wants me to pursue that both makes me happy and glorifies Him.
8.) I want to have hope and joy, no matter what happens to me or to those I love.
9.) I want to leave a legacy in my high school... a good kind of legacy for Jesus.
10.) I want to share God's Word with as many people as I possibly can.
11.) I want to continue to grow in my relationship with Jesus and learn to be a shining light for Him through every action that I make and word that I speak.

What are your dreams for the next year?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bornali Deka

I have a memory of attending a church service with my family when I was approximately six years old.  A man from World Vision came and talked about the children living in poverty around the world and how to sponsor children.  This was one of the first times I distinctly remember feeling stricken with empathy for the children who live in third world countries.
As we left the sanctuary that day and I was sent to Sunday School, I pleaded and pleaded with my mother to allow our family to sponsor a child.  At first, she told me no -at least not for a while, until our family discussed the idea- but I didn't want to leave the church until she sponsored a child.

We decided to sponsor a little girl from India named Bornali Deka.  She was my age.  We've sponsored her ever since.

This month, Bornali will be turning eighteen and the sponsorship will end.  It's very sad for me, because this is the little girl who I have written letters to, received pictures of, and watched grow up over the last twelve years.

We now sponsor three other children: Lavin, David, and Sanya, all from Kenya, Africa, and all children I have met before.

I enjoy looking back on distinctive memories like the one of me begging my mom to sponsor a child, because I can see that even then, God had a plan for me to work with underprivileged and needy children.  He has always known my heart, even when I have not.

If you are reading this right now and you feel impacted by this story or by the photograph of Bornali Deka, feel free to go to the World Vision or Christian Relief Fund websites and choose a child to sponsor.  You cannot truly grasp the impact that you will make on the lives of these children until you see the change for yourself.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oh, Compassion

I want to be remembered for my compassion.  I have always felt a sense of compassion for people: for the poor, for the hungry, for the unloved, for the forgotten.
I feel compassion for the kids who are unloved and neglected by their own parents.

I feel compassion for the people who go to bed hungry each night because they have no food.

I feel compassion for those who have never heard the Name of Jesus Christ.

I feel compassion for the children who die each year, forgotten and invisible: the aborted.

I feel compassion for the women who believe that they are not good enough to succeed.

I feel compassion for the weak.

I believe that God has naturally gifted each person's personality with something that helps them to relate to or help others.  Perhaps you feel a great sense of generosity.  Perhaps you are perceptive of emotions.  Perhaps you are very forgiving.  Perhaps you are a generally happy person, even when things are difficult.  Perhaps you have an underlying sense of hope in everything that you do.

I feel compassion for so many, but I want to be remembered for what I do about it in Christ's Name.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You changed my life.

I chose you for this letter because you are my best friend.  I don't know how I could exist without your friendship.  While I have other friends who are amazing- who I love so much and who have also changed my life in many ways- you're my best friend.  I love our long, deep conversations.  Our inside jokes still make me smile.  When you hurt, I hurt, and when you laugh, I laugh too.  I don't know what I would do without you.

I think the hard times we've been through have made us closer.  Even during distant times (the summer, for example), it amazes me that we're able to keep our friendship as strong as we have.  At times, I'm unsure if we could get any closer.  You're like my sister.

While it's our senior year, and neither of us is completely sure where we're going to go after this, I know we'll always be friends.  I can't envision my life without you in it.

I love you because you're my confidante.  Some things I've told you, I could never tell another soul.

I love you because you are my editor.  You're the one who makes me feel like a worthwhile writer when you tear up over my books.

I love you because you're my comic relief.  You always know exactly what to say in the most awkward of moments.

I love you because you're perceptive.  Some things you just seem to know.  You know when someone is unhappy or struggling and you know exactly what to say.  You know the underlying cause behind someone's actions.  You know what I'm feeling when I don't know what I'm feeling.

I love you because you're so motherly.  You take care of me sometimes like my mom does. :)  And yet we still balance each other out when I show you how to organize things. :D

I love you because you're passionate.  You are willing to stand up for what you believe.

I love you because you're beautiful, even when you don't know it.

I love you because you've changed my life.  You showed me what true friendship is.

Ali, I don't know what I would do without you.  You've made my life so joyful.  Jesus is so evident in your life and in your heart.  All I can say is thank you for changing my life for the better.  Thank you for being my friend.  Let's be friends forever.


Monday, September 6, 2010

That horrible feeling called shame.

It was ninth grade.  I stood in a group with some casual friends of mine.  We were at a high school basketball game, but none of us was actually watching.  We had formed a circle, laughing and chattering and sharing all sorts of stories.  Several kids from the opposing school had joined us, and they were all cursing and talking about raucous subjects.  To my surprise, the kids I was with joined in without batting an eye.  I tried my best to stay out of the crude conversations, but I didn't want to leave the group , so I continued to laugh and talk with everyone without cussing or talking inappropriately.
At one point, a boy pulled me to the side.  "I've been watching you," he said.  "You're different.  There's something about you.  You stand out from the crowd.  I can't tell if it's the way you act, the way you talk... or what.   What is it about you that's so different?"

I was shy and timid, proud of myself for merely joining in a conversation that included people I didn't know.  I knew the answer to the boy's question: I stood out from the others because I loved Jesus.  I was a Christian.  However, I was embarrassed.  I didn't want to sound preachy or annoying.  I didn't want to look silly.  I stammered around for a few seconds before finally muttering, "I don't think there's anything different about me."

"No, there is something different.  I can see it.  What is it?"

"Nothing.  It's nothing.  I guess I'm just a unique person," I mumbled and turned away from the boy and back to the crowd.

I dreamed about that situation for nights afterword.

I had a chance to share the Word of God with someone who didn't believe, and I lost that chance.  I failed the purpose God had for me in that moment.  To this day, I still feel incredibly guilty.  I hate the feeling of having failed God.  If I could go back right now, I would share my faith with that boy and chance a weird look or a mocking laugh.  I would embrace any ridicule I received.

If you're ever in a situation where you're given the chance to share your faith- but possibly face ridicule- share your faith.  Don't let yourself feel ashamed of your choice later on when you have a moment to look back on the day.  Jesus is worth any and all ridicule.  Never be ashamed of what you believe.

Romans 1:16
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.