Category Archives: Helping Others

Sunshine Blogger Award!


Sunshine Award

The Sunshine Award!

I smiled with joy when, upon opening a comment, I discovered that the writer had given me the Sunshine Blogger Award! What a treat and an honor. So thank you, Jay Morris, for honoring me so. I think my readers will also like your blog, which is The Wayward Journey (link will open in a new window).

I must admit I’m embarrassed to be so late announcing this. Jay actually wrote to me at the beginning of January. However, it’s been a rough couple of months health-wise, so I am behind on many things! Now, I am feeling better, and the beautiful Gerbera daisy above heralds the beginning of spring.

The requirements for accepting this award are that I tell you seven things about myself and that I nominate ten other bloggers for the award, not to mention letting Jay know how much I appreciate his award to me.

Let’s start with the seven things about me that you may not know.

1. I’m a cat person. I like dogs and had them while I was growing up, but I adore cats. I love their independent spirits, their ability to take care of themselves when I leave for a few days, and the way they curl up in balls when they sit in my lap.

2. I’ve traveled to South Korea, Japan, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.  I lived in Korea for nearly two years and loved that wonderful country and its friendly, loving people who always had a smile for this expat. I took an eco-hike on St. Croix and learned many things about herbal medicines from the naturalist who led the hike.

3. I’ve been in every state in the Union except for Maine, Massachusetts and Alaska. I would love to visit Alaska one day. It’s been a dream for many years.

4. I have one daughter, who is 39. She is a woman of many talents. I adore her and her son, who is the light of my life. When he moved back to be with his dad during his teenage years, I missed him so much I could hardly stand it. But I am so grateful for the spending most of the first ten years of his life near him in person. We had wonderful times and still do have beautiful, warm talks and hugs when I see him!

5. My favorite color is yellow. My sofa is yellow, and the chair that goes with it has lots of yellow too. Yellow is such a sunshine color and always makes me feel great, whether it’s in my own living room or at the store buying flowers. I hope my daisies will come back this year.

6. I love gardening and I have had several wonderful combination veggie/flower gardens. Unfortunately, because of my health now, I can’t garden like I used to. However, I can do container gardening. In 2012 I had way too many containers with plants and flowers and veggies! It took me 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to water them each day. But they were beautiful.

7. It is still my dream to travel more. I would like to go to the holy healing places of Medjugore and Lourdes. Maybe God will send me a miracle healing if I go there. Of course, maybe He’ll send one even if I don’t! Next, I’d like to go to Israel. It doesn’t seem like a very safe place right now. I always pray for peace in that region. Finally, I’d like to go to Eastern Europe and see the Czech Republic and some other places. I hope one day I can achieve this dream. But if I don’t, I feel blessed and grateful for the traveling I’ve already done in my life. Many folks haven’t even been out of their home city or state.

Okay, now for the nominations.

1.  Monce Abraham is a writer who lives in India. His blog posts will really make you think. They’re not fluff at all!

2.  Lead, Learn and Live is David Kanigan’s inspirational blog.

3.  Piya Singh is an Indian Artist, currently living and working in Germany. I think you’ll like her creativity.

4.  Charlie and Tom are photographers whose work is lovely. Their blog is PhotoBotos.

5.  Shannon Elizabeth Moreno writes about her strong faith in Revelations in Writing.

6.  Marney McNall scribes her volunteer experiences in The Volunteer Fringe.

7.  Rebeca Bud has a different take on her blog: Taking the Kitchen

8.  Loolie and Poolie have a fun blog about their vacations: The Adventures of Loolie and Poolie.

9.  Dianne Gray is an award-winning Australian author. Her blog is Writing and Loving Life.

10.Speaking from the Heart is an out-of-the-box blog by a woman who is a holistic health practitioner.

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Filed under Family, Helping Others, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Home


Annie on my chair

Annie and Bootsie on my chair

Home. What we all long for. What some of us have. What some of us don’t have.

Home — what does it mean? Does it mean having a house, an apartment a condo? Does it mean having a large cardboard box for the homeless? Yes.

Or does it mean where we grew up, the house at the end (or the beginning) of the street. The house where we lived and laughed, cooked and cleaned, played Parcheesi, slept and sat at the dinner table…does this represent home to you?

For me, it did…for a long time. Now that house is sold, my parents are no longer living, and the four remaining children are all grown up with homes of their own. Very different homes. But homes they are, not just houses.

And what about the folks who have only a tent or huge appliance box as shelter? Do we ever think about them, want to help them? Or do we just walk by them when we see them holding out their hands.

Most of us have never seen these people’s living (if you can call it that) arrangements. No, those places are in a part of town (or under the bridge) that we don’t frequent.

I’ve seen these forlorn places. I’ve talked to the people who live there when I was getting information about the homeless situation in Atlanta. Unfortunately, the article was never published, as the small magazine it was to appear in went out of business.

I love my home today, and it has provided me with a very comfortable place to live and to heal — from my COPD, from lost loves and from the move of my beloved grandson to another city far away.  And though I never lived on the street, I almost did — several times. How sad I was then. And how blessed I am today.

I believe in counting my blessings each and every single day of my life. I don’t think about what I don’t have anymore. I only thank God for what I do have. That works for me. Do you do that, too?

Lots of people have a home, but they want a bigger one, a newer one, one with more land or one with less land. People grumble about mowing the lawn, repairing the roof, and washing the dishes or doing the laundry. People complain about a lot of things, but I think the world would be a much better and happier place if people sought ways to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters, spent less money on stuff and took some time off each week instead of working so many hours that they die of heart attacks at a fairly young age.

That’s it for me tonight. How about you? I would really love to hear your comments and thoughts on these things. I hope you’ll click the comment box. Have a blessed day.

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Filed under Helping Others, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Bloom Where You’re Planted


“Whoever would have thought I’d be planted here?”
Photo by Ellie Kuykendall

In a million years, I never thought I would be living in South Carolina. This is NOT where I wanted to spend my “golden years.” But you know, God had other plans for me. And this is where I am.

So, I was thinking the other day that I need to remember the simple phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” I remembered it while I was putting plants into the above unlikely containers. We’re used to seeing plants in pots of all descriptions: clay and plastic, bright and dull colors, large and small, patterned and plain, and hanging baskets. However, we’re not used to seeing plants in tea tins or ceramic pitchers that were designed for liquids.

And that’s like me in South Carolina. At times I feel like a flower in a pair of kid’s rain boots. Most of the time these days, though, I believe I’m exactly where I belong. Why? Because of the many blessings I’ve been given since I moved here almost four years ago.

I thought I’d be traveling the world, preferably with a husband. Neither of those retirement dreams has materialized. Maybe they still will, and maybe they won’t. How I accept the circumstances in my life is more important than the conditions in which I find myself.

Will I complain about what I don’t have, or will I be grateful for what I do have? Will I seek out new opportunities to help others, or will I isolate and feel sorry for myself? Do I do a check each day to see whether I’ve offended someone and then make amends if I need to do so? Can I look for the gifts I bring to others instead of wondering why I’m not more like so and so?

Each day is a new opportunity for me to grow, listen, change, be still, and add something to someone’s life. If I keep these things in the forefront of my mind, I’ll remember that I have done some traveling to different countries in the world. This is much more than many other people have experienced.

If I remember that I am a child of God, the negativity slips away.

And more than anything, if I continue to have faith, then I realize that God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself.

I hope you have a blessed day!

One more thing…I would love to hear about your blessings, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Filed under Behavior, Feelings, Helping Others, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Kind Strangers I Have Met: #1 Ulsan, South Korea


Korean children, photo by
Ellie Kuykendall

From an early age Korean children are taught to follow directions and respect their elders. However, there are always those who would rather play than wait patiently. I smiled as I walked by these kids that bright spring day in 2008. I was on my way to my new job; it was only my second day, but already I knew I would love it.  Not only was I teaching ESL, but I was also editing students’ papers, so it was a nice mix of my talents.

Two minutes after walking by the children, I was on the ground because I tripped on an uneven pavement. I knew that one ankle was sprained, but when I tried to get up, I couldn’t support weight on either leg. “Now what?” I asked myself.

Thirty seconds later a man came out of nowhere. There were other people walking around, but I hadn’t seen him. He lifted my right foot up and massaged it. One of the things I love about South Korea is that people try natural remedies first. The massage hurt me, so I let him know. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a chair. He lifted me up and helped me sit down. Then he walked out onto the street to hail a cab.

If you’ve ever paid outrageous prices for taxis in the United States, you’d adore the fact that cabs are really cheap in some other parts of the world. The cost of the cab from where I was to my school was about $1.50 for the trip of about 2 miles. I arrived at the school, having called both the director of the school and my minister. My minister was going to pick me up at the school and take me to the doctor.

My director looked at me skeptically, as if I were lying about not being able to walk. I told him I would be fine. He allowed me to go to the doctor with my minister. After we left, we drove down the street where I had hurt myself. We looked for the man who helped me, but we couldn’t find him.

Maybe he wasn’t a man after all. Maybe he was one of my guardian angels. You have them too, you know. They’re everywhere and nowhere.

And the next time you meet a stranger, don’t think of him or her as a stranger. Think, “S/he is just a friend I hadn’t met yet.” That’s what I do. Have a blessed day.

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Filed under Friendship, Helping Others, People Who Have Impressed Me, Travel

When the **** Hits the Fan…


don’t run. It won’t do any good at all.

Instead, sit still for a moment and face it and all the consequences, situations, pain and anguish it causes. Running doesn’t do any good. Drinking away your pain only lasts as long as the effect of the alcohol lasts. Indulging in shopping or over-eating just because are just other ways of running.

STOP.  This is an acronym for Stay There Only Peacefully.

Why? Because if you can do this, you will not only grow from the experience, but the pain will pass more quickly.

Pick a flower, go for a walk, admire God’s handiwork in the clouds, help someone out, eat something healthy for more and better energy, read something spiritual, volunteer at the humane society or the homeless shelter, or buy a card and send it to someone.

These things I listed above will take you out of yourself. Getting out of yourself when you’re in crisis is the only thing that will work quickly to start the healing.

Almost everyone I’ve ever known (and some I’ve not known but have heard about) wants to run from painful or bad situations. Hence, they stay in pain longer, take their anger out on others or do something harmful to themselves or their finances (such as shopping when you don’t really need to or eating unhealthy food).

I usually give myself a certain amount of time to feel sorry for myself. That helps. But there have been some situations where I continued to let a negative situation get me down for years. I hope I never do that again.

I’d like to be a beacon of love and peace to all I meet. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than having people say that about me when I die. Of course, I won’t know if they do, but that would be the greatest tribute I can think of.

Happiness doesn’t have to be an elusive butterfly. For me it lies in having a right relationship with my God. When that is at the top of my list, all the pain, sorrow and anger melts away.

Have a blessed day and thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under Behavior, Feelings, Helping Others, Spirituality, Useless Emotion

The Garbage Man and the White Pillow Case


bicycles and garbage can

Two bicycles near a garbage can. Photo taken by Penywise: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/penywise

This morning I was out watering my plants when the garbage truck came. I love being outside in the morning when all is bright and new. It just gives me a new lease on life.

The man who picks up my garbage and I have a history. When I first moved in and had gotten almost completely unpacked, I was still very ill. Dishes would sit in the sink for days, I had no energy to cook anything that didn’t come out of the freezer or a can, and I spent more hours in bed than I did doing anything else — including my housecleaning and taking out the garbage.

So one morning the doorbell rang. I wasn’t out of bed yet, but I jumped out of bed and threw on my mother’s beautiful Christian Dior robe, which is ivory with gold trim. I went to the front door and there stood the garbage man. I opened the door and said, “Hello.”

“I was just wondering if you had any garbage today. There wasn’t anything in the can,” said the medium tall, stocky man.

I told him I’d been sick and just forgotten to take it out. He said, “I’ll wait while you go get it,” he said. I brought the bag to him, and then he continued. “Listen, I’m sorry you’ve been so sick. I’ll check every week, and if there’s no garbage, I’ll come to the door to get it from you.” His mouth broke into a wide, white smile.

I thanked him profusely and thought how God takes care of sometimes the smallest things. But to be honest, I was blown away. Here’s this hard-working man who labors all day, smelling the filthy trash, trying to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer (impossible with no air conditioning in garbage trucks). He has a million stops to make and often works from dawn to dusk.

But he took the time to make an offer to one of his customers. Why? Just because he’s a nice guy.

This morning he got out of the truck and walked toward me. “Guess what!” I said. “I’m finally well again!.”

“That’s great news. I’m glad to hear it,” he said.

“Yep,” I said. “I thank God and my doctor.”

“Amen,” he said. Then, “Do you have a white pillowcase I could have? It’s so hot, and I want to put it over my hat. Oh, and some scissors.”

I told him I did and went into the house to get them. I brought them out and he carefully cut the pillowcase in two pieces, then draped it over his head. “Thank you so much,” he said. This will really help.”

The pillowcase was my mother’s. It had a couple of iron burns on it, but I knew it would do the trick. And somehow, just somehow, I kind of think Mom is smiling down on me for giving it away today.

What will you give away today?

Footnote: Thanks for reading my blog. I love writing it. You can subscribe and get it automatically, you know. And I do reply to every comment made.  You can click like or share on this and all my entries if you will. I’d appreciate that! Have a blessed day!

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Filed under Helping Others, People Who Have Impressed Me

Slipping Through the Cracks


plant in sidewalk
Isn’t this a wonderful photo? I found it on morguefile.com. It was taken by giulian.

Luke 10:33 (NIV) But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

It’s hard to tell how old he is. His long, wavy brown hair is clean, and his reddened face makes me wonder if he is/was an alcoholic or just has weathered skin from being in the sun. His warm brown eyes belittle the rest of his appearance, which includes almost always dressing in camouflage.

I met him at the convenience store. Every night, night after night, week after week, month after month, he stands outside because once there was a robbery and he wants to make sure the women who work late at night into the wee hours of the morning are safe. The company doesn’t pay him to do this. He does it because it is his way of serving others.

His little red moped scoots down the road to his sparsely furnished house without air conditioning. His voice is soft and his grammar is pretty bad. He’s lived in Spartanburg all his life.

Being a writer, I’m always asking people questions. This drives my daughter nuts! She says, “Mom, you shouldn’t ask her such personal questions.”

I always respond with the same answer. “Well, Mol, I’m a writer and that’s what writers do.” If I had a dollar for every time we’ve had that short conversation, I’d probably be buying a home in the Hamptons.

Anyway, I needed an extra pair of hands and a strong back for my move in December 2010. I asked the gal at the store if she would trust him to help. She said, “Absolutely. We’ve never had anything go missing as a result of him being here.”

So I asked him if he would like to make some money, and he said “Sure” in his slow Southern drawl.

He did show up to help and did a wonderful job.

A few days later I saw him at the soup kitchen where I volunteer.

Fast forward to night before last. I had a car full of groceries and garage sale items I hadn’t unloaded yet. I was exhausted from running around, and it was getting late. I didn’t want to make 10 trips to the car, so when I saw him outside the store I stopped to ask if he would like to help. He agreed and came over, unloaded the car, hooked up my new flat screen TV (small for my office; I guess I’m finally in the 21st century now!).

Then we had dinner. I’d bought some fried chicken and potato salad. He wolfed it down. We chatted. He told me he’d had a job at a car wash in town for 20 years, but then he found a better job and then lost that one. He hasn’t had a job since and now does whatever work he can find. His friend lets him live in the house rent free.

He told me he doesn’t have food stamps, disability or any type of government assistance. Amazing. Seems like everyone these days gets that stuff, and some of them actually look like they live better than I do, taking vacations and so forth.

It used to be that when I would meet someone like him I would immediately take the person under my wing, try to fix and change them, and mostly feel self-righteous — as if I was God’s special messenger doing my part one person at a time.

I don’t do that anymore. I learned my lesson the hard way after getting ripped off by two people I tried to help…sometimes I’m a very slow learner.

He’s coming over today to do some planting for me because I just can’t get down on my knees right now. It’ll probably take an hour, and I’ll pay him $10 so he can have some money to put gas in the moped.

This man has slipped through the cracks of our society. So many have. One of my passions is helping the homeless. My dream is to renovate some of the old schools, mills, etc. around here and turn them into sustainable housing. I still have time.

Some people say you shouldn’t give people on the street money. Instead, they say you should buy them a meal. Over the years, some people have said to me, “Most of them are just alcoholics or drug addicts, OR (with a smirk) they’re mental cases, and THAT’S why you shouldn’t give them money. You can never be sure, you know? You never know what they might do to you.”

Though these people are partially correct, I ALWAYS give someting. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’ve been homeless so many times (never on the street, but very close).

Anyway, what do you do when you pass someone on the street who asks for money or you meet someone who is slipping through the cracks? Does it make you feel as good as it does me when you help someone else?

And, would you like to help me make my dream come true? Let me know what you could bring to the table (skills, money, who do you know, etc.) by emailing me directly.

Have a blessed day.

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I Met an Extraordinary Young Man at a Yard Sale Today


Camelias
Smokey Camelias – I need to learn to take better close-ups, but I love this photo!

My daughter loves to go to garage sales on Saturday mornings. When we’re together, we do that sometimes too. Every time I think of garage sales, I think of her.

Last night I went to bed too early. I woke up wide awake at 3 a.m. I decided to make the best of it, so I did laundry, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned out a closet and figured I’d go back to bed around 5 or 6. No such luck.

A friend of mine was having a yard sale today, so I decided to go. He told me it was starting at 7. I showed up with coffee and a sausage biscuit for him, figuring he probably hadn’t had time to eat breakfast. It’s fun to do random acts of kindness, don’t you think? They’re not something I plan usually, but I always get such pleasure when I bring a smile to someone’s face because of some small act.

Anyway, after that sale, I decided to hit some more. I found two small tables for my large houseplants, a turkey roaster (small), a strawberry pot and a few other things.

I went to one sale where they were selling lemonade for $.25 a glass. I asked for a large cup and paid $.50. A homebaked cookie came with the drink. So delicious.

I’m trying to remember what exactly I bought at that sale and can’t. All I can see in my mind is this tall young man with brown curly hair and a beautiful blonde wife and three-year old daughter. He walked out to the car with me and we started talking.

His house was for sale, so I asked him where he was moving. “We’re moving to Louisville, Kentucky,” he said.

“For a job?” I inquired.

“Yes.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m in family medicine. I’m just finishing up my residency here.”

“Aren’t there any good jobs here for you?” I asked.

“Yes, but there’s a special clinic for low-income people in Louisville. That’s where I want to work.”

We talked a little more about how he’d be making a lot less money practicing medicine in a clinic setting rather than private or hospital practice.

“It’s okay with me, though. I really feel God is leading me there. I want to serve people.”

Here’s a new doctor who is going into medicine for the reasons that doctors did years ago. Instead of looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in income each year, he wants to use his talents to help those in need.

I have some friends who are struggling financially right now. Any of you who know me know I struggled for almost my whole life with money matters. It was difficult, gut-wrenching and frustrating beyond belief to not know where the next dollar was coming from in order to keep the electricity on.

But God protected me and kept me safe and always provided just exactly what I needed. I didn’t see that for the longest time. And lots of times, even when I did know I had everything I needed, I was resentful, jealous and green with envy (pun intended) of all the people who had much, much more than I did.

I’m glad I went to that sale today. It made me ever-mindful of how much God loves me and how blessed I am to have friends and family who care, a place to live, food to eat, a car to drive and two precious kitties to sleep next to me at night. And it made me think of all the people who go into various professions to help others. I’ll never forget this young man. I know he will bless and be blessed.

I hope you will be blessed today.

P.S. After the sales, I hit the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. And guess what I found?

A six-foot ladder for under $20! Why is that important? Because now I can hang the plant hooks myself, change the light bulbs and do a great job washing my windows.

Thanks for all the comments so far! If you like my blog, I hope you’ll send this link to your friends and family members.

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Filed under Helping Others, People Who Have Impressed Me