Friday, January 25, 2013

Is Niceness Contageous? (by Faith)

The flu. A bad cough. Chicken pox. All of these things are contagious. But, what about niceness? Is it contagious too? I think it is. And here are just a few examples.
Someone from out of the country ordered bracelets and noticed we didn’t charge them enough shipping. She emailed to let us know, but my mom told her she would pay the extra postage. A few days later, we got this email: “We just received the bracelets today and they are lovely.  My daughter is already wearing hers and very much enjoying the fact that it is for a worthy cause. I have been very touched by your kind gesture and wanted to thank you for it. I knew the thing that would please you the most is a donation made to Make Change so that’s what I did. “ So we paid a measly $1.05 extra postage and to thank us, this kind stranger donated $75.00. Now THAT’S infectious niceness!
This same lady also shared other ways she makes change for others. She writes, “I make change by being there for my friends when they need me, calling my grand father and sending him blown out pictures because his sight isn’t good. I make change by meditating for Earth every week with a group of people from different places, over the Internet and I make change by being who I am, a therapist, a wife, a mother.”
            Another family writes: “Our family is relocating soon and I thought these bracelets would be a perfect reminder for my kids and myself and husband that WE can make the change- we can reach out to others, and not just let change happen to us.”
One last story is about how a family helps the homeless. They wrote “ We are thrilled to be supporting such a wonderful mission to help make a change in others life. One of the things my husband and I do, along with our five children, is every year on Christmas Eve, we make hundreds of sack lunches and take them to the homeless people in downtown Denver. We recently learned that what we were doing is illegal. Go figure! However, we have decided that since we have never gotten caught or had anyone confront us about it, we would continue to pass out the lunches until someone tells us not to.”
Both good and bad things can be contagious. Just like when my parents are in a good mood, our house is happy. When they are in a bad mood, you better watch out!  When I was little, we used to sing this song in church:

“I want to be kind to everyone
for that is right you see.
So I say to myself, remember this –
Kindness begins with me.”

Being a part of seeing people make change for others has had a big impact on how I see things now. Just like the song says, it begins with me, but there is no limit to where it ends. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yeah, but... (by Tara)

Shots. Who likes them?  We sat in a doctor's office last week for over an hour getting a consultation and resulting shots for our trip. At the end of the appointment I was handed an intimidating personalized bound book describing the different medications we received, the ones we need to ingest, and how to stay safe. I thanked the nurse and asked her if she ever had a desire to travel to India. With an emphatic nod of her head she said, "Yeah, but I wouldn't be caught dead going to that country. I know too much."

The very same evening I had an appointment at our church. As I was waiting for my turn, another man there made small talk with me. I mentioned that I was getting ready to go to India and he about jumped out of his chair! This past year he had spent a great deal of time in India. And guess where? Chennai. He couldn't pull his phone out of his pocket fast enough to scroll through the hundreds of pictures he took, trying in vain to capture the grandeur and essence of the city. His enthusiasm was contagious. He told me we were in for the experience of a lifetime - that words and pictures cannot convey what we were about to take in. No mention of disease. No mention of risks. Just pure joy at the incredible opportunity we have before us.

I know it's dirty. I know it smells. I know it's dangerous. And I know that this experience is not unlike so many we have all had in our lives. Living carries with it risks that we constantly have to ask ourselves if we are willing to take. If opportunities present themselves and we habitually say, "yeah, but..." are we really living? Maybe it depends on what comes after those words.

Yeah, I got some funny looks at Lowe's in July, but I got to shop with Spiderman.

Yeah, I know other mom's would do it if I didn't raise my hand, but then I would miss the chance to attend preschool cowboy day with my son and girls camp with my daughter.

Yeah, it took me 3 days to scrub that marker mustache off my face, and I had to make a second dinner that day, but it meant a lot to my son that we made a recipe from his new library book.

Yeah, it's a lot of work to grow a garden in Texas, but we can toast with grape juice made from our vines and eat 38 pound watermelons 2 days flat.

Yeah, it's a sacrifice to be without my husband during the fall football season, but his joy is my joy.

Yeah, running is mostly a lot of sweat and dread, but the experience of running a half marathon with my amazing little sister was worth it all.

 Yeah, my back door wouldn't make the pages of Architectural Digest, but it reminds those who live here and visit here who we are, who we represent, and how much we are loved.

Yeah, it's a lot of work to have 20 preschoolers over for a swimming party, but this little man sure felt special when he turned 5.

Yeah, I'm not a dog person, but I have a daughter who is.

Yeah, and I'm not a chicken person either, but in a strange way they give us an opportunity to more fully live our family motto. (more on that another time)

Yeah, I felt silly holding a funeral for a lark that got caught in our mousetrap, but a proper goodbye was a must.

Yeah, I was so exhausted I wanted to write the English paper myself, but I loved my daughter enough to let her struggle and cry her way through it. (yes those are teardrops)

Yeah, my grandfather can't see me anymore and he won't remember my visit, but he knew in that moment he was loved.

Yeah, starting traditions requires sacrifice, but it's those things that bind our families together forever.

Yeah, I was in a hurry, but that day nature taught me patience.

Yeah, I don't know a mother alive who can't wait for the "but" that comes with perseverence.

Yeah, cleaning up after a mud fight isn't much fun, but the part kids remember is.

And yeah, it's cliche but true... if we take time to dance in the rain, we too can fall down laughing until our sides hurt and we will know those things that look like obstacles become our joy. If only we have the courage to embrace them. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Make Change Mania (by Faith)

Is it possible to jinx yourself? Two days ago I was talking to my mom about our fundraiser, thinking it might be a bit of a fail. We had only raised a few thousand dollars so far. I went on about how David Archuleta raised $26,000 for these same kids in India, forgetting about the whole 'he's famous and I'm not' thing. My mom said what all mom's do, "we tried our best and that's all that matters."

Later that day our story was featured on an awesome blog. Within a few hours, we had orders pouring in. Every time a new order was placed, our email would make a "bing" sound. We sat next to the computer and it chimed so often, it was like our own little song. Overwhelmed but happy, we both broke out into laughter!

The next day (yesterday) we worked non-stop filling orders. Our house looked like Santa's was Make Change Mania!!

This morning, arms filled with packages, we headed to the post office. The guy behind the counter smiled as he called us up, but as he looked at our load, panic swept over his face. One by one, he patiently weighed and stamped package after package until his co-worker (obviously a woman who didn't feel much like making change for us today) raised her voice at him and told him he couldn't stamp all the packages and he would have to find a way to get us out of that line. He gave us a weak smile and helped us with stamps we could do ourselves. Whew! We caused quite a commotion.

Before this week began, we had raised enough money to really help these kids in India, even though I had a hard time seeing it when I compared it with the outcome of a famous singer's fundraiser. But I think God has even bigger plans and I am lucky to have him work through me.

Sorting our load
Let's see who is lucky enough to get me in their line
one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand....
Just look at the change we made today with hundreds of our new friends. These are the orders sent today (we might be a little off on the exact placement of cities...weren't sure where some of them were.) Bracelets are on their way everyone! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rickshaws and Reminders (by Tara)

I watched a documentary tonight with Faith while we filled bracelet orders. It was called "Happy" and it was a study in what really makes people happy. Coincidentally enough, the film started with a man in India. What would be the first thought in your mind when you saw this?

This man pulls a rickshaw to earn money for his family. He talked about how hard it is when he has to pull angry and drunk customers, but he can't say anything to them because they will not ride his rickshaw the next day and he needs the money.

I was sad for this little hardworking humble man but it was Faith who spoke up. She said, "OK, mom, the first thing we're going to do when we get to India is make change for a guy like this. We will ask for a ride in his rickshaw and then we will say, "Get your behind on that seat. Today WE are pulling YOU!" And then she laughed and said, "Is that legal?!"

Here is the rest of this man's story: 

So I go from feeling sorry for this guy to wanting to be just like him. Riches have very little to do with money, if we really understand the secret to life. Easier to say those words than to put them into practice, but it's people like this that stamp an indelible reminder on my heart. I hope he has helped you be happy too.