Tag Archives: Love your neighbor

Musings on newspapers, news, and neighbors

From the Rochester Union and Advertiser, 12 June 1860

One of the things that I love about doing research is that old newspapers offer not only unique stories and old advertisements, but a look into how publications viewed their job as purveyors of the news.

This clipping, from the Rochester Union and Advertiser, 12 June 1860, caught my eye. I’d posted it on my Facebook page last year, but came across it again today and have been musing on it all morning.

It appears that a rival newspaper had printed a story about two young people planning to elope, who in the end gave up their plan and returned home without incident. The Rochester Union and Advertiser noted that while they had the story several days earlier (before the Democrat *), the Rochester Union and Advertiser chose not to run it, in order to avoid embarrassment to the parties involved – who appear to be young. Their reason? Continue reading

High school student turns the tables on bully with Positive Post It Day

In my continuing search for ways that people really love their neighbors, I stumbled on this story about a high school student in Alberta, Canada who is the catalyst for “Positive Post It Day.”

When a fellow student posted a hateful comment on Caitlin Prater-Haacke’s Facebook page, telling her to die, Caitlin turned the tables on the bully. She created post it notes with positive messages and posted them – on every student’s locker in the entire school.

The administration didn’t see the love, though, and reprimanded Caitlin for what they considered littering the school.

Fortunately, the city of Airdrie saw the beauty in what Caitlin did and passed a resolution for Positive Post It Day.  As Mayor Peter Brown says, “Positive begets positive.”

Consider taking time today to write a positive note to a friend, family member, or colleague.

 

50 thoughts on turning 50: #19 Go out of your way to say, “Job well done”

well done 2

I recently went to WalMart to have photos printed and to purchase two small, inexpensive frames. As I meandered through the store, I took a detour through the women’s department, noticed the capris were on sale, and loaded up my cart with several styles and sizes to see if I could find something that fit

I don’t know about other women, but I just can’t buy clothing based on the size on the tag. A size 8 can fall off me while a 10 cuts off circulation to my legs. Something that fits perfectly in blue fits entirely different in a different color of the exact same size, in the same style, and from the same manufacturer.

All of that is to say that when I got to the dressing room, I had a cart full of pants. I was going to be there for a while.

While I tried on and discarded item after item, I could hear the girl who was manning the fitting room and switchboard as she answered the phone and directed calls to other departments. She took a call from a customer who was apparently looking for a filter for their aquarium. I got the sense they didn’t know what size they needed but had other information. .

Almost the entire time I was in the fitting room, I could the employee talking to the customer, making calls to other departments and possibly calling other stores to see if they had the filter the customer wanted, and doing her best to figure out what the customer needed and if the store had it. She was also fielding and directing other incoming calls and letting other customers into the fitting rooms. What struck me was that I never heard her get frustrated or flustered; she was calm and pleasant and helpful.

When I was finally done, she’d gone to lunch. I headed over to the photo department, where I used the photo kiosk to order prints. When I checked with the photo counter to confirm that they’d be one hour, the young man working there told me he’d have them for me in about 10 minutes.

I found my photo frames and went back to the photo counter, where the young man another employee – a young girl – were talking. They were relaxed and chatty, but not in that “I don’t want to be here” kind of way employees  sometimes can are. I finally asked them if they liked working there. Both said yes, and the girl told me that her  job is to help customers, and she enjoyed that.

At the checkout, I had yet another great employee. Usually the cashiers at WalMart are talking to each other and ignoring the customer, or are so surly you just want to get out before someone bites your head off. Not my cashier. She was super friendly, made eye contact, and asked me if I’d found everything.

I can’t remember the names of those four employees now, but at the time I’d jotted them down on the palm of my hand. Continue reading

Be Nice: you make it a wonderful life

During the Christmas season, one of my favorite things to do is watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”. For me, it’s just not Christmas without George Bailey and Clarence the Angel.

If you’ve never seen the movie, it tells the story of a despondent man who contemplates suicide, believing the world would have been better off without him. His guardian angel-in-training, Clarence, comes to earth to give him the opportunity to see what the world would have been like had he never been born.

George is skeptical as he and Clarence have a series of odd interactions with family and friends who seem not to recognize George or remember anything about his involvement in their lives. George’s entire world seems turned upside down, but soon he finally believes that Clarence is really an angel and that he, in fact, is seeing a world without George Bailey.

In the movie’s pivotal moment, George and Clarence are standing at the tombstone of George’s younger brother, Harry Bailey. As a child, Harry Bailey fell through the ice while he and friend were sledding; George saved his life. Harry Bailey grew up, got married, and went on to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor after saving the lives of men on a transport ship in the war.

And yet as George brushes away the snow on the headstone, he see that the death date shows that Harry died as a child. George is in disbelief, insisting that it’s a mistake. Clarence explains:

Clarence: Your brother Harry broke through the ice and drowned at the age of nine.

George Bailey: That’s a lie! Harry Bailey went to war! He got the Congressional Medal of Honor! He saved the lives of every man on that transport!

Clarence: Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry

Clarence sums up the point of the movie when he says, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

It’s interesting to think sometime about how many people you interact with every day. I took some time to think about who I’d interacted with yesterday. Turns out, more people than I’d realized:

  • The cashier and cart guys at the grocery store;
  • a woman I kept running into at the store who was perpetually blocking the aisles and apologizing for it;
  • a stock clerk;
  • the staff at the pet store;
  • the girl who waited on my at Tim Hortons, along with the rest of the staff who waved from behind the counter;
  • my husband before he went to work;
  • my daughter on the phone;
  • and scads of people online.

But if you’d asked me who I saw yesterday, I probably would have told you “No one”.

The point of this post was to get people thinking about how many people we actually interact with every day – because every single one of those interactions changes both people in some way.

I’d love for you to join me for this little adventure in 2014, to think about what it means to love your neighbor, put out positive energy, do random acts of kindness, or just be nice.

Be Nice: Do I need a receipt to return my spiritual gifts?

 

sample spiritual gifts

This is a sample of questions on a spiritual gifts test.

Once upon a time, in a religious galaxy far, far away, I took a quiz to determine my spiritual gifts. It was part of a Sunday School class at a church I’d just joined, and I was looking for some guidance about what God wanted from me.

For those of you outside the world of Christianese, a spiritual gifts test (or assessment; there are no wrong answers on a spiritual gifts test) is designed to evaluate what talents and abilities God has gifted you with to benefit the church. You might be suited to teaching, for example, or evangelizing, or serving meals, or opening up your home to people for Bible studies. It’s all designed to help a Christian grow in their faith and better serve his faith community.

The quiz usually asks questions like “I feel that I have a message from God to deliver to others” or “It makes me happy to do things for people in need” or “I often think about how I can comfort and encourage others in my congregation”. You assign it a number from, let’s say 0 to 5, for each statement, depending on how well you think it applies to you. There are no wrong answers; at the end you add up the score and, theoretically speaking, you should have some insight into how God has gifted you to serve Him and the church. Your gifts could be exhortation, giving, shepherding, prophecy, teaching, leadership. Stuff like that.

On my test, I got zero points for hospitality and serving others. Zero. Nothing. As in, I had no gifts relating to being nice or giving to others.

I don’t remember what my other scores were – I think I had some points for administration, which, given my inability to organize my own sock drawer or get my dog to sit even if I was holding a steak, should have been a clue the quiz was faulty). But overall, I wasn’t feeling very gifted. (And while there are technically no wrong answers on a spiritual gifts test, try sitting in an evangelical Sunday School class and telling the leader you have zero interest in helping other people.)

That test – or the constant desire to figure out what my spiritual gifts are – may or may not have eventually had a bearing on my involvement in organized church as a whole. I’ve never felt like I fit in, I’ve never felt as if I was needed. Well, I was needed, in a way. The minute you join a church you often are inundated with requests to serve on committees and help with projects, and while the goal is to help you grow in your faith, the reality is that in many churches, like in many other organizations, 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people. Any warm body will do when it’s time to paint walls or rock babies in a nursery.

But what am I good at? Why am I here? What do I have to offer the world? What does God want from me?

Over the years, I began to understand a little better where my gifts are – both in relation to God and to my place in the whole wide world. I tell stories. I give voice to people who can’t share their own stories. I honestly talk about my failings so that other people can relate and perhaps find comfort. My writing mission statement is “Connect. Inspire. Change the world.” Big dreams for a little writer.

But as for being nice?

I’ve had my own ups and downs. The zero on that stupid quiz had to be a fluke; I’ve gone on to do a lot of serving, a lot of being nice, a lot of opening my house to strangers. And I liked it. In fact, I loved it. Then I got burned out and retreated, almost to hermit status.

So for a while, I wasn’t nice. Then I was. Now I’m not so much. Was the test wrong? Or did it ask the wrong questions? Or, and I think this is more likely, did I change as a person, going through various periods of my life when my priorities shifted and became more focused?

So here’s the first Be Nice Project discussion question: Is being nice – or generous or giving or helpful or kind – something innate, or is it something we learn? How nice do you think you are right now and how nice do you actually want to be – in other words, are you as nice as you feel you can be or should be, and if not, are you desiring to be nicer? And honest, there are no wrong answers.

When is help not help?

I’m taking a survey as I do some research for a possible book idea. The topic: when is help not help.

Part 1: In general, if someone offers to help you, but the help they give isn’t something you need, is it still help? For example, if you need A, B and C done, but they insist on doing X, Y and Z, even though you may not need them done, have they helped you? Or satisified themself?

Part 2: In Christian ministry, if someone has a physical need (ie: hunger) and we respond with a spiritual answer (ie: a Bible, a church service), have we helped?  Is there a point at which we need to first satisfy physical needs before presenting spiritual answers? And. from a Christian perspective, can you satisfy a physical need without at some point offering spiritual assistance? For example, if you’ve fed a starving person without at some point introducing them to Jesus, have you helped them?

No right answers, just curious for some feedback!

Make a nice day

I was reading Brad Stine’s latest post on the “God’s Comic” blog at Beliefnet, and had to share it.

In it Brad muses about one of those American traditions – the saying “Have a  nice day!” He rants better than I can so read his post.

But he makes this comment at the end of the post: “On the other hand, if we encouraged each other to make a nice day, we just might be onto something.”

That got me thinking. As we go around telling everyone to “Have a nice day!” what are we doing to help make that happen? Did you hold open a door for someone? Return a shopping cart so it won’t ram into a car and leave a dent? Smile? Leave a penny? Let someone cut in traffic, or at least not use your horn when they do? Go out of your way for a stranger?

I like what Brad wrote. Don’t have a nice day – MAKE a nice day!