Everyone needs encouragement. Some need less, but everyone has the need. How many times do we think fondly of people but fail to tell them? How often do YOU receive encouragement from others? I know there are several of us out there who have a special place for letters from loved ones. (Yes, good ol' fashioned paper and pen with an envelope and stamp--remember those?) We go there and pull out those notes and enter a haven.
I've long believed that when someone is having a difficult time with discouragement, disappointment, etc., it's a good idea for them to reach out to someone. It serves as a two-way gift. I know. . . it isn't always the easiest thing to do when life is hard. But I have yet to know of a time when it hasn't helped.
I've sent notes and later received comments from the recipients about how it made their day or how timely it was. That happened more times than I can count.
I tend towards 'just because' actions, but I think there is something to be said also for being a little more deliberate with the actions. Here are some thoughts.
- Write a note of admiration to someone. Choose one word describing what you admire or appreciate about them, elaborate a bit and send the note.
- Once a month. Take the idea a little farther and choose a different person each month to encourage in this way.
- In person. Take things farther still and meet them for a meal or time in a park and read the note to them, or simply share your thoughts with them and hand them the note.
- Collaborate with others. As a birthday gift you can request that several close friends of theirs please send notes expressing what the recipient means to them. I've done this and found it to have a greater impact than I would have imagined. We compiled several letters from special people into a book. The recipient was so moved they couldn't finish reading them. Well, at least not publically. They slowly made their way through pages of letters and I'll tell you what, if they ever questioned the impact they had on lives to that point; that took care of it.
It's a gift that will last for a life time and express thoughts that might not otherwise be known. Definitely a two-way blessing! Lets see if you can watch this video without choking up.
Do you have a little more time on your hands? If so, here are some other ideas:
- Widows. Find a widow to help with yard work, shopping, meals, car repairs, house repairs, or just a friendly visit.
- Single moms. Help a single mom with any number of things such as child care, transportation for the children, tutoring the kids, mentoring the kids.
- Inclusive family plans. If your family is planning a fun day at a park or day trip, invite a single mother's children to give the mother a break. Or invite the mother along as well for a nice get away.
- Sharing knowledge. We all have skills or knowledge that others need help with. Even if you feel as though it isn't much. . . offer it and let them determine the value. They will likely be beside themselves with gratitude.
- Volunteer with Habitat For Humanity or the Red Cross.
- Donate blood. If you're a first time donor:
- "maintain a healthy iron level"
- ". . . drink an extra 16 oz before and after your donation."
- "Have a healthy meal before your donation--avoid foods high in fat just prior to donation."
- "Remember to bring your ID!" (". . . your drivers license or two other forms of I.D.")
- "One pint of blood can save up to 3 lives."
- Give on larger scale. If you recognize a wide-spread need for information that you have, start a free WordPress blog and reach out to anyone with the need. As you learn something the hard way, document what you learn and use that in your blogging to make life easier for the next person.
If you think about it, wouldn't you greatly appreciate it if someone did any one of these things on your behalf? I'm guessing that most of us experienced overwhelming generosity of others. I certainly have, as have most of the people who I know. Anything on this list will already put you in a place where many tend not to go. . . ahead of mediocrity.