25 Days of Kindness Completed! {2016 Edition}

December 27, 2016

Once again, we've pulled together the months kind acts as a reminder of all that was accomplished. Thank you so much for joining us this year!

Day 1: Today, the kids and I donated items to our local humane society in honor and memory of our dog Reggie and got to pet some really sweet animals as well!

Day 2: An encouraging note (and caffeine) to a small business owner who is a hard working rock star.

Day 3: I may or may not have teared up a little when chatting with my girls about our military and their families and the sacrifices they make for our safety and well-being.

Day 4: Today was a bittersweet day, friends. We had the honor and privilege of helping dedicate Katie's Wing, a beautifully redone area at Place of Hope homeless shelter that will help give homeless women and kids a place to live. It's named in honor of our dear sister and friend Katrina, who died 11 years ago after a 5-year battle with breast cancer. The funds raised by our family's foundation and the generosity of so many others in the community led to this day.

Day 5: Sharing our lives and traditions with others. We love including visiting teachers from China in our daily lives and sharing "American" experiences. And while we do it all year long, it is especially fun to share our family's Christmas traditions, including cutting down a Christmas tree.

Day 6: Eleanor and I took a few moments at the store to put all the shopping carts back in the corral!

Day 7: We love books in our house. Did you know that you can donate books to your local library? Our library system has a wishlist, and the girls and I spent some time today perusing the list of books to see what was needed.

Day 8: On our way to a Christmas event today, we stopped at Caribou and bought the drink of the person behind us in line. Although we may have gotten a little giggle over the frou-frou drink bought by the lumberjack-looking fella in the big diesel truck.

Day 9: Sometimes, kindness is simply being a Girl Who Tries. Life interferes, your beautiful plan goes awry, and it feels an awful lot like failure. Chin up, dear friends. Trying and failing is still miles ahead of those who have good intentions but never get around to trying.

Day 10: About 40 adults and a dozen kids participated in a "Naughty or Nice" workout this morning and stayed to see Santa (Ashlyn was not a fan but Mama was, especially after Santa told my girls to not fight with each other in order to be on the nice list.) The neatest part? The folks who attended took time to pray together over the 50+ toys donated to the Hanover Food Shelf program for local kids in need.

Day 11: Today our missional community met at our house and we talked about how Jesus coming to earth was good news for everyone and one way we share that good news is by taking care of other people's tangible needs. We then made gift bags with winter supplies to hand out to the homeless in our community.

Day 12: We put together care packages for police officers consisting of thank you notes and lunch on us at Panera. We know a few spots where they park and do paperwork, so we'll be scoping out those "hangouts" over the next few days.

Day 13: We've never intentionally done a kind act for people who are currently serving time behind
bars, and even though it hasn't been on purpose, this year I wanted to change that. Today the girls and I sat down and picked out books from the Amazon wishlist of Books Through Bars, an organization that sends approximately 2,100 books to about 700 people incarcerated in Pennsylvania and surrounding states -- EVERY MONTH.

Day 14: My husband wanted to send flowers to someone undergoing a tough surgery. I don't have a pic of the flowers we sent, so I made Aaron pose for a selfie. Who can you encourage today?

Day 15: The kids made thank you notes and brought treats to the staff at their elementary school today!

Day 16: Technically this was last night, but once again we got to help with one of our favorite Christmas traditions -- Kids Hope Shop. Hundreds of at-risk kids from the area shop for their families for free from a selection of donated gifts, eat a meal, and get their presents wrapped with the help of tons of volunteers. It is AMAZING!

Day 17: We stopped by the mall on a super busy day for Jonny's haircut and tipped the stylist the same amount as the haircut. Who can you unexpectedly bless today?

Day 18: Part of advent acts is allowing our older kids to pick a kind act to do for someone else. Donnie has always had a heart for the homeless and this year he decided he'd like to help homeless veterans. It was his responsibility to research and find an organization to give to and today we went shopping for supplies that he could send to a program he found in our state that supports homeless vets with housing, treatment, food and supplies.

Day 19: Today we assembled goodie bags filled with chocolates, wrote cards to attach to them, and then "candy bombed" the windshields of strangers at local emergency room and senior center parking lots. I'll be honest in saying that these kind acts aren't without small bumps in the road -- the girls told us they were bored about five minutes into the activity, and seemed more concerned with getting a piece of candy of their own than in giving it to others. (Since it was chocolate, I can relate.) Sometimes kindness is sheer fun. And sometimes, it feels a lot more like work. But at the end of the day, what matters is that we serve a God whose mercies are new every morning and who gives us a chance to try again and again and again. I'm so thankful that he is a God of forever tries. (Ps. Once they ate a piece of chocolate, their moods improved considerably.

Day 20: My kids' beloved music teacher is always taking care of others. My kiddos found her the
perfect Christmas present (a musical nutcracker because she loves music and she loves nutcrackers) back in September and asked to buy it for her. Tonight, they get to deliver it. I love watching my children discover the joy in finding the perfect present for someone else.

Day 21: While running errands this morning we picked up dinner for our neighbor who just had surgery earlier this week and left it on their doorstep. It may not be homemade or from scratch, but they very much appreciated the break from cooking :) We don't have to live up to someone else's ideal of giving, just share what you have and give what you can

Day 22: We do this every year, and it's still a favorite in our house: a gift for our mail carrier. When we put it together, Elise and Noelle kept adding more and more treats -- because priorities. What's especially neat is that we always, always get a thank you card in return, so my children are equally thrilled to get the kindness of a thank-you in response to their own kind act.

Day 23: Today's act is showing love, especially when we'd rather be righteously angry. On this eve of Christmas Eve, as I whispered words of truth over a little heart I was reminded, yet again, that actions speaker louder than words, and that words whispered in love are heard far better than those shouted
in anger. Who do you need to love better this Christmas, regardless of whether or not they deserve it?

Day 24: Abe decided that his kind act would be to give food to those who don't have enough. He came to the grocery store with me and picked out items, along with one special treat, and then we dropped them at our local food shelf.

Day 25: Collecting journals for the women staying on Katie's Wing at Place of Hope! There is still time to join us, we will be collecting through January 6th!

Thank you once again for joining us!

The Girls of TRE, 

Julie, Kendra and Kristin

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