Monday, February 22, 2010

Stop, Look, Listen, Respond

"To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world."
Anonymous quote

Once while entering a local juice bar with my son...a homeless man said he was hungry and asked me for one of the items on the menu. Happily I ordered what he requested...and together my son and I delivered the smoothie. As I reached out to shake his hand, I asked him what his name was. He looked at me and said, "Robert." My son asked him several questions and thoughtfully he answered them. As we turned to go he said, "Thank you for asking me my one ever does that."

"I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything but I can do something. I won't let what I can't do stop me from doing what I can."
quote by Edward Everett Hale

I have to force myself to Stop, Look, Listen, and Respond. I see laundry, dirty dishes, unmade beds, groceries to buy, errands to run. Things that are undone and need to be made right again every day. Bigger more complicated life issues like injustice, hunger, and poverty feels beyond my reach. My joy in helping Robert was that he had a specific request, a simple need I could act on immediately. It wouldn't change his lot in life but maybe the act of kindness would fill his belly and give him an ounce of hope that the world still contained some compassion. As it so often changed me probably far more than it helped him.

I don't have to look very hard to see people in my path that long for a loving touch, a kind word, a helping hand. What I've learned is that responding to the need is always far more fulfilling than continuing on with my scheduled list. A year from now I won't remember the soccer practice that was missed, but forever I'll have the memory of listening to the mom that was feeling so overwhelmed with life, and asking her if I could pray. Hopefully, the few times I do get it right, my kids will learn from my actions to value people more than the other distractions of life.

"Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."
Bob Pierce

Here are a few ideas of things you can do today to make a difference.
*Look for people in your path today that need encouragement.
*Talk to your kids about seeing the needs of others.
*Take a few minutes to think about what breaks your heart and Google search to learn more.
*For $6 you can purchase a bed net online to protect families against malaria. 1 million people die of this disease each year. Learn more
*Visit a nursing home.
*Instead of looking away...say hello to the homeless.
*If you love hospitality, offer to cook a meal for someone in need.
*Set up a lemonade stand with the kids and donate the money to a worthy organization.
*Think about how you are gifted and use them.

*The church I attend, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, is doing a series called "The Ripple Effect". Opening our eyes to the pain of the world and responding to those needs. Our pastor is John Ortberg who is a nationally known author and speaker. If interested, click here...The Ripple see the first talk in the series. It might just start something stirring in your heart.


Tami G said...

I LOVE that first quote - I have used it in a blog also. LOVE IT! and I love even more the story that you told. WHAT a small but GRAND gesture... so touching and inspiring to me!
Things that would be so simple for us to do seem to be so hard to actually follow through with.

thanks for posting this today!

Tami G

Eva Gallant said...

The smallest gesture can mean so much. Thank you for this post.

Purple Flowers said...

Most times when I eat in NYC, I save half my dinner and have it wrapped up. When outside and walking, when (not if) we see a homeless man or woman, I always offer up the food. I want to see someone have a full belly.

LMJ said...

thank you for this post! I loved all the quotes!

When I was little, we were homeless for about 3 weeks. I WILL never ever forget the people who helped us, and made our days a lot brighter. I always believed that those people are going straight to heaven.

Terra said...

You are modeling such great giving for your son and I love that concept of your pastor, of the ripple effect.
Actually that gift of a smoothie might have helped that homeless man more than you will ever know, because of the ripple effect.
One thing that bothers me (breaks my heart) is thinking about homebound seniors so I signed up to be a book buddy to a homebound lady, which is a program your public library might have. Once a week I take her about 10 library books, and visit with her. We enjoy chatting and she loves the books.

Ashley Stone said...

great quotes! I agree, if we all do a little, it adds up to a lot!

Daffy said...

Kindness is infectious! Truly does add sunshine to my day to do something for someone else.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

One of the more simple things I do that really seems to affect people is speaking to the elderly. I've always loved older people-even in my 20's I found them interesting. What I find now is that I ask the opinion of an elderly woman in a store, I ask an elderly man if he needs help finding something. I think they become the invisible generation...they really love to just visit with someone. So simple really and it will be us soon enough.

Matty said...

I love the quote by Hale, and I copied and saved it for use in the future.

Although it was just a smoothie, it was the gesture that counted. And asking his name personalized it in a way that clearly touched him.

I think that more people could use some Zolove. What a difference it would make in the world.

xinex said...

This is a beautiful post. Thank you...Christine

Corrie Howe said...

There is a catchy song on the Christian radio stations which has a line "Just give me your eye for just one second, give me your eyes so I can see..."

When I find myself singing it, I have to stop myself and pray. "Oh, Lord. I don't want your eyes for even one second. I know I can't bear what you see." The pain, the poverty, the would break me to know the extent.

Dawn Hild said...

I loved the post.
It is truly amazing how a smile or simple conversation can touch someone's life.
Thanks for the follow -
I am returning the favor.
Dawn Hild

Cop Mama said...

Thank you for this good reminder. I actually did a post a couple weeks ago about a homeless person who had broke his leg and no one saw him until medics happened upon him. You have a big heart for doing what you did and it was a good lesson for your son.

Sonia said...

What a lovely and sensitive story about Robert and asking his name! Sometimes we hurry through life and forget to be kind and look at people we meet, people who are sometimes overlooked! Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post!

Miss Bloomers/Sonia

Holly said...

You are certainly giving us and me something, a lot of things, to think about. I know I have mentioned this before, but I get very frazzled and caught up in my own chaos (I have come to realize my world will not blow up if I do not post on the blog every day or eveyr other day!)...but that is something I have been working on trying to change. It is not a good example for my children but the items on your list are.

Dawn Hild said...

(Me again!)
I'm still working on trying to return the Friday Follow favors -
Thanks for following my second blog too...
dawn hild

ScoMan said...

A great post that again makes me consider my day to day actions and if I could be a better person.

I know I'm an awesome person.

But could I be better?

Willoughby said...

It never occured to me until I read your post, but I think you were right on target when you said " As it so often changed me probably far more than it helped him." I remember each and every time I've given food to a person in need, and how it effected me. The people that received the food, I'm sure, don't remember me, specifically, just that they got a meal. Helping others makes you feel like part of the bigger picture.

Herself said...

What a fabulous post! Along the same lines, I can't help mentioning what we're doing over at ddna to help those who've lost everything in natural disasters.

Faith Imagined said...

This story tugged at my heart strings! "Stop, Look, Listen, Respond", this phrase is awesome! The Ripple Effect series sounds amazing. I am definitely going to check out the link!

This is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

Jennifer Juniper said...

I love the whole feeling of this post. You've really given me something to think about.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Single minded focus on the to do list really puts us at risk for missing the most important things, doesn't it?

I love hands on, every day ministry...your sermon series sounds great! Thanks for passing the message along :)

Cameron said...

this is fabulous, you are a great role model to your kids, and to all of us!

dee dee said...

I just love this story, thank you so much for giving me something "meaty to chew on"!
Fantastic quotes... God bless...
Dee Dee

Helene said...

I absolutely LOVE this post!! What a wonderful thing you did for that man and just the fact that you asked him what his name was and treated him like a human being, rather than just another bum looking for a hand-out, shows that you are part of what your pastor calls The Ripple Effect.

And I love that you're teaching your son to keep his eyes open so he can make a difference in someone's life, as well.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

Beautiful and inspiring! I've (of course) had moments like this in my life and I also stop and count my blessings with how fortunate I am. I love helping people like this. Thank you for reminding me again today of the power to inspire and help! :)

Regina said...

Truly a wonderful post.
Such a beautiful feeling to be able reach out for others, respond to their needs and even get to know their names.

Thank you for sharing.

Going to the link now.

Have lovely day!


Martha in PA said...

Wonderful post. Those little things we do for others that at the time help them out really are the things that sometimes change us the most. Showing a little common courtesy and respect goes a very long way! You are AWESOME. I will take time to view the Ripple Effect!

Kristin said...

What a lovely post...and involving our kiddos in the giving process is SO important!

Traci said...

Thank you. I love coming to your blog -- some days I get the laugh I need so much and some days, like today, I get the words my heart needs to grow. You two are very special. I want to start a ripple effect myself and you gave me a place to start! God bless.

Tracie said...

Your son will always remember these acts of kindness that you do. He'll pass this spirit of giving on to his kids some day.

Zen Mama said...

Holly & Charisse, I love your blog but I esp. love this post. I am a big believer that one person CAN make a difference. Have you heard of Six Million Paths to Peace? I love the idea of the ripple effect. Got my coffee next to me and I'm looking forward to reading more! Hope you'll come see me at

Happy Friday Follow!