Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Loving Them


Hello and welcome to Tuesday!

I’ve been away for awhile – I hope you didn’t miss me too much.

Today’s service challenge is short and hopefully sweet:

When you encounter someone who disappoints you, think about the reason for your disappointment.

Are you tying your feelings to them to their behavior or because you don’t like them?

The two are not always the same thing.

Try loving the person for the person, and deal with the behavior separately. Love them for who they are, not for what they do or don't do.

See?

Short.

Hopefully simple.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and accept today’s challenge.

Service is the Action Form of Love.

I appreciate you!

James

Friday, December 5, 2008

Reconcile


Welcome to Friday – our favorite day of the week!

Have you been weighed down by the conflicting emotions of wanting to forgive but not wanting to let go?

I’d like to tell you about a challenging experience I had to get through recently.

In my job as a customer service representative, I was asked to take on some additional responsibilities. It wasn’t a promotion. There was no extra money, just a sort of added title to go with more work.

I relished the challenge.

This new role required me to help supervise my team of workers. I was asked to help manage them, direct them, listen to them and answer their questions.

One of the people I now supervise apparently didn’t understand or appreciate my new role. I’m not sure if she felt she was better qualified, or just didn’t like the fact that I was now in a position to help the team step up to the plate and work a little harder and smarter. Whatever the reason, there was bitterness. It was immediate and fierce.

I began receiving replies to my team emails that were sarcastic in tone. I even received a message asking if I could have special priveleges because of my new responsibilities.

Whenever I passed by her, I got a cold, withering look from her.

She met with my supervisors to complain about me.

It got bad enough that I was losing sleep over it.

A lot of sleep.

Then, just as I was about at the point of giving in to my fears that I was the cause of the animosity, I received an email from her.

She apologized.

She asked for my forgiveness.

She asked if we could be friends.

She told me she hadn’t realized what my responsibilities entailed, and thought I was unfairly giving her extra work when I had no right do delegate tasks.

What would you do?

Would you forgive?

Would you question her motives?

Here’s today’s challenge:

If you’ve been weighed down by a situation where you’re wanting to forgive, but you’re just having a hard time deciding whether or not you can or should let it go –

Forgive.

Forget.

Let go.

It’s certainly not easy, especially considering all the negative emotions and energy that came before now, but hanging on to all of that is no way to live. It’s draining, and it’s likely affecting you much more than it is the other person or people involved.

You don’t have to be their best friend.

You can still be cautious.

You can still be careful.

But forgive.

Today.

No matter how long ago the incident happened. No matter who was right or wrong.

Just forgive.

Move forward.

Move on.

Let it go.

Find reconciliation with the peace you so badly want, even if you can’t reconcile with them.

A friend used the phrase, “water under the bridge” the other day.

The interesting thing about water under the bridge is that you don’t have to run downstream to watch and see what happens.

You can just… let it go and find peace and joy that comes with forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and accepting today’s challenge. Thank you also for being willing to pass it on to others.

Remember, Service is the Action form of Love.

James

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Heart of Hearing


Welcome to Tuesday!

Yesterday’s challenge was about judging others.

Something I’ve found that helps me avoid judging someone in a negative way is to both listen and hear what they’re trying to tell me.

To do this effectively, I’ve found, I can’t just listen with my ears. I have to listen with my heart as well. Sometimes, I get my emotions involved – the good ones.

I try to look past whatever physical obstacles there may be, like the exterior of the person trying to make me understand. Sadly, I’m human and I sometimes let people’s rough or otherwise unusual exterior get in the way of hearing and understanding their needs.

I usually find I do better when I try to “hear between the lines”. This helps me more easily pick up the real meaning of what someone is trying to tell me.

We often speak – and hear – in contradictions. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it can lead to miscommunication and missed messages.

So, here’s your challenge for today.

When someone is trying to get you to really hear them, look past their physical exterior and try to listen with your heart. Don’t cut them off. Don’t anticipate what they’re going to say next (or what you want to say next, for that matter).

Really listen.

And then do all you can to respond with love, caring and positivity. Make them glad they came to you.

Thank you for reading and accepting today’s challenge. I appreciate the time you take to really hear my message with your heart.

Truly, Service is the Action form of Love.

James

Monday, December 1, 2008

Judging


Welcome to Monday!

For many of us, getting through the day without judging others without cause and complete information is near impossible.

I’m constantly surprised at how often I am willing to judge others by their words and actual deeds (results) when I want to be judged by my good intentions.

I suspect you may feel the same way.

So, here’s your challenge for today:

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

When you’re tempted to think the worst, ask yourself “how can I look at this person or situation in a less judgmental light?”

Try and see the situation from the other person’s point of view – then act accordingly.

That’s all there is to it.

Thank you for reading and accepting today’s challenge. Thank you also for being willing to pass it on, for stumbling it, digging it, retweeting it and forwarding it to others.

I appreciate you.

Remember, Service is the Action form of Love.

James

Friday, November 28, 2008

One Gift


The day after Thanksgiving marks something called “Black Friday”, where retailers hope their special sales will put them in the black, financially.

Today’s challenge is short and simple.

As you do your shopping this week, think of someone less fortunate and buy just one thing for them.

Maybe a pair of socks.

Could be a warm hat or gloves or scarf.

It’s possible they just need some extra food.

Can you spare a small percentage of your Christmas shopping budget for someone really in need?

If so, you could do something more than just spread Christmas cheer. You could help someone survive this winter.

Thank you for reading and accepting today’s challenge. I appreciate you!

Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lamb and Lion


I’ve been listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on my MP3 player. A phrase from the hymn, “The Spirit of God”, really jumped out at me:

How blessed the day when the Lamb and the lion shall lie down together without any ire (The Spirit of God, William W. Phelps, 1792–1872)

I was wondering what this could mean.

We know that one of Christ’s names is the Lamb of God. When He returns, who would be considered the Lion?

Satan is Christ’s enemy, but there will be no reconciliation between these brothers – that much is clear from the scriptures. So, when He returns, who could we say the lion is? Who will be reconciled with Him?

The answer seems to be: Us

You and me.

We are the lions. We are the predatory ones who are prone to lash out at the Lamb because… well… it’s our nature to do so.

While it’s true that there may not be actual “ire” between us and the Savior, our natural-man selves make us an enemy to God, as King Benjamin taught his people:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19 – emphasis mine)

In our natural state, we are the enemy to God – to Christ. We are the lions who need reconciliation so we can be in His presence.

Knowing that, I need to try and be more like Him – more like a Lamb than a lion. What can I do today to be better at that? How can I be more gentle and less prone to roar at others and lash out?

Just a few thoughts.

James

Thanks!


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving (no, not turkey day – that’s not what it’s about. It’s about being thankful for our blessings both from God and from others.)

Here’s your challenge for the rest of the week:

Be thankful, and express your thanks.

If someone does something for you, thank them.

If someone has already done something for you, thank them.

If someone would like to do something for you, thank them.

Easy, right?

This is Thanksgiving week in America, so the challenge should be easy for you to remember!

As always, thank you for reading and taking today’s challenge. Thank you also for forwarding, reposting, linking, stumbling, retweeting and other ways you pass it on and pay it forward. I appreciate you!

Remember, Service is the Action form of Love.

James

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One Deed



It’s finally Friday!

Your mind is probably wandering, planning out your weekend, so I’ll keep today’s challenge short and sweet. Small and simple service is a great way to end the week.

Find a way to do one good deed today. Try to keep it anonymous.

Remember, it’s about serving others, not self-promotion. Let your reward be the warm feeling you get from doing something nice for someone else.

In some situations, the person you’re serving will know that you’re helping. Helping someone carry their groceries, for example, is difficult to do without the recipient seeing you. Otherwise, they might think you’re stealing their food.


I think you know that.

Just help someone.

It could be a stranger.

It could be a co-worker.

It could even be someone in your own family or circle of friends.

Be creative.

Have fun with it.

But do it.

See?

Short and sweet!

Thank you for reading and accepting today’s challenge. I’d love to hear your comments!

Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Smokeout


It’s Service Thursday!

Today also happens to be the Great American Smokeout Day. This makes today’s challenge both easy and… well… challenging.

If you know a smoker, be kind to them today.

I know it’s not always easy. Sometimes we get annoyed with each other anyway, but some of us take special offense with those addicted to tobacco.

But today, your challenge is to be kind to them. You may not agree with them, with what they do with either their money or their spent cigarette butts. You may not agree with where they choose to light up and blow their smoke.

Be kind to them, anyway.

Almost every smoker I know (and there are many) wishes they didn’t smoke. They try and try to quit, but because it’s such a forceful addiction, they can’t seem to manage to go very long between tries.

Every ex-smoker I know is glad they quit, though many still feel the pull of the addiction, even years later.

Realize that it’s not easy to deal with all the stress in the workplace, family or anything else. Some use smoking to help them get through. Whether or not that’s a choice you would make, the smoker who annoys you with their habit is still a living, breathing, worthwhile child of God.

Be kind to them today.

If you are a smoker trying to quit today, here’s your challenge:

Be kind to yourself.

Try your best, but be easy on you, too.

If you slip and have a smoke or a drag, forgive yourself and move on.

Believe in yourself.

I believe in you!

As always, thank you for reading today’s challenge! Please feel free to forward this to anyone who smokes, is trying to quit smoking, has smoked or knows someone who fits into one of the above categories.

Yes, I know. That’s everyone.

Most of all, remember – Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lambs Don't Roar


Welcome to Wednesday!

I’ve been thinking of something Jesus called His followers in the scriptures. He called them sheep, and sometimes lambs. In fact, He Himself is called the Lamb of God. That tells me that being called a sheep or a lamb is nothing to feel insulted about. On the contrary, if Christ can be called the Lamb of God, I am honored to be one of His lambs.

We live in an increasingly hostile world. Many times, good people are attacked for their beliefs, opinions and lifestyles. Those of us who face this hostility are, naturally inclined to fight back.

Something I’d like to point out:

Lambs Don’t Roar.

They don’t fight back.

They are not predatory by nature.

So, here’s today’s challenge –

Be a lamb.

When faced with opposition, criticism, insults or other boorish behavior, don’t roar.

Don’t fight back.

Listen to what they have to say, and fight your natural inclination to attack back.

It doesn’t matter what they’re attacking. It could be your faith. It could be your integrity. It could be everything you are and have become.

Whatever it is, listen, disregard what’s not true, smile and say, “thank you”.

Then walk away, back to the safety of your fold.

I realize this is one of the tougher challenges I’ve given, but I know you can do it. It won’t be easy, and it may not even make you feel good for now.

But try it and see what happens.

I’d be interested in hearing your experiences with this challenge. You’re welcome to post as a comment.

Thank you for taking today’s challenge.

I appreciate you!

As always, please feel free to pass this challenge on to others.

And, remember – Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Running Late


It’s Tueday. I’m running late with today’s post. I apologize to those of you who are used to a post first thing in the morning.

This is a great way to introduce today’s challenge.

We all have issues with being tardy to a meeting, a lunch or even something more informal.

We also know there are those who are perpetually late in meeting with us.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Today, let it go.

Remember that as you want to be treated (with kindness and forgiveness), you should be able to forgive those who are late. I’ve found that in most cases, people aren’t late to be rude or inconsiderate.
They often have a very good reason for running behind.

I remember hearing a story about a young woman who was waiting for her steady to pick her up for a date.

She sat home, all dressed and ready for a wonderful time out, but he didn’t show.

No phone call.

No date.

Nothing.

She stewed and steamed, wondering why she was even dating this guy. How could he be so indifferent to her and to her feelings?

She went to bed angry, resolving to chew him out the next time he called on her, and to never see him again.

A day or so later, she heard from his family.

On his way to pick her up, he had been in a terrible car accident. This was back before cellphones, and there was no way for him or the authorities to call her. Even if they could have, the man’s condition was such that he wouldn’t have been able to ask anyone to call and apologize.

Can you imagine her feelings once she found out the true reason for his being late?

How would you feel?

So, today, let’s forgive those who stand us up, who run in late, who seem to have forgotten about us.

Let’s consider the fact that life happens to us all, and though we would like to be judged by our intentions and not our actions, others deserve the same from us.

Thank you for reading today’s challenge. I appreciate you.

And, I’m sorry for running late.

Remember, Service is the Action form of Love.

James

Monday, November 17, 2008

Step Back


Welcome to Monday!

If you’re like me, Monday can be the most difficult day to gear up for. For many of us, it’s the first day of what seems to be an incredibly long week. Coming back from two days of relaxation, worship and family time can be hard.

For those of us who work in the world, we often have to work with others who are also experiencing the Monday blues. Tempers can get short. Frustrations can mount. Words can be thrown out that we later wish we’d never said.

On days like today, despite our best intentions, it’s easy to find reasons to catch someone doing something wrong.

It may be a coworker.

It may be our boss.

It may be our child, our spouse or a sibling.

Whoever it is, they often have the misfortune of feeling the brunt of our criticism.

Is it fair?

Are we being fair?

When we’ve had a bad morning, is it fair for us to unleash on others who had nothing to do with creating our bad mood?

Are we lashing out at those closest to us because we got cut off in traffic?

Are we berating our friends and loved ones because we got a short night’s sleep?

Are we unjustly and unconsciously letting others take the full impact of our sour mood when they’ve done nothing wrong?

If you’re like me, it’s happened. Sometimes we feel powerless to stop the downward spiral of treating others badly because we don’t feel so chipper ourselves. More than once, I’ve noticed that the poison from my downer of a day spreads quickly and with deadly efficiency.

None of us are perfect.

So, here’s today’s challenge – a challenge I’m taking right along with you:

When you encounter someone today and feel like unloading on them, literally take a step back. Put one foot behind the other. Physically move back one step.

Then, count to five in your head.

And, here’s the tricky part –

Find something praiseworthy about them, and tell them.

It doesn’t have to be something profound, but it should be absolutely sincere.

Smile when you say it.

Show them you’re happier when you see them. Don’t let them doubt that you genuinely care about them, their success and their welfare.

Praise them.

Then, as you go throughout the day, catch them doing something right.

And, when you do, bring it to their attention immediately. Let them know that you know what they did and how it makes you feel.

Whatever criticism you may have for them today, put off until next week.

Whatever negative feelings you had about them yesterday or last week, put those feelings where they belong.

In the past.

Can you imagine if we all accepted this challenge and succeeded, how much better our world would be?

Remember, I’m taking the challenge too. It’s a small and simple challenge, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one.

We can do it, you and I.

Thank you so much for reading and taking today’s challenge. If you feel so inclined, please pass it on.

I appreciate you!

Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Little Sisters


Welcome to the weekend!

This weekend, I joined Facebook. I never thought I would. In fact, I had avoided it, and other large social networks like the plague. But you know what?

I’m glad I did.

I’ve been thinking about a group of people from my recent past who have really made an impact on my life. These were young women I’d met over the course of a couple of years, 2003-2004, at Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.

Each of these young ladies, from nearly every part of the earth, volunteered their time, their talents and lives to spend 18 months to travel to Utah to do something very special.

They were missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

At the time I met them, I was at a point in my life where I sorely needed direction. I had spent years battling addictions of all kinds and was just sort of wandering and surviving life.

I lived with my parents, and though I was helping take care of my aged mother, I was doing nothing else to benefit humanity.

I was a taker.

One morning, I found myself wandering downtown Salt Lake City. I was headed to my favorite coffee shop, and for some reason, ended up on Temple Square.

A couple of young women, Sister Ross and Sister Johnson, asked if I would like to take a tour. Having grown up in the area, I was well familiar with the history of the LDS Church and had been to Temple Square many times before.

They kindly persisted and I accepted their invitation.

That tour marked the beginning of a wonderful journey for me.

These young women, relying on their own experiences, but much more on the Spirit of God, taught me many things that have literally changed me, changed my heart and changed my life.

I learned about Jesus Christ – that He was so much more than a wise man or teacher. I learned that He is His Father’s most beloved Son. I learned of His miracles, His compassion, mercy and grace.

I learned that by accepting Him and following Him, I could overcome all the problems and addictions and frustrations that I was immersed in.

From these beautiful missionaries – who I now affectionately refer to as my little sisters, I learned that my life has a purpose. I learned that I am literally a child of God.

I learned that my Father in Heaven is not a God of retribution and meanness. I learned that He is a hands-on parent. I learned that He could and would guide and direct my life with kindness, gentleness and fairness.

My heart softened.

My mind opened.

My life changed.

Some of these young women may feel that they really didn’t do anything to help me. They may feel that they didn’t have much of an impact on changing my life.

I suspect that those who feel this way may not remember that some of us are asked to plant the seed, while others will be asked to nurture the seedling and yet others will be asked to harvest.

Each stage was critical to me. Each one was a part of this new and wonderful change inside of me that has brought me true and lasting peace and happiness.

I am a better man for having met them.

So, what does all this have to do with Service – the Action Form of Love?

Here’s today’s challenge:

For most of us, there is someone who has affected our life for the better.

They have taught us something profound.

They have rescued us.

They have loved us despite our being unlovable.

This weekend, find a way to reach out to them and thank them.

Tell them something specific they did to help you.

You can either do this anonymously, by sending a note in the mail and leaving off your name and return address, or you can call or email them or visit them.

But do it.

They deserve to know how much what they’ve done means to you.

Thank you for taking the time to read today’s challenge. Thank you for taking the challenge, too.

I appreciate you.

Please pass it on, and remember…

Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Friday, November 14, 2008

Trashy


It’s Friday – a great day for service.

Have you noticed how much trash there is around you? As you drive, walk or take the train or bus, do you notice the stuff people leave behind?

Once, while waiting for a bus, I happened to look through the fence into the cemetery that was behind me. Among the beautifully decorated graves and strewn about on the nicely clipped grass, I saw a lot of things that clearly didn’t belong.

Aluminum cans.

Newspapers blowing in the wind.

There was even a long, broken piece of lumber.

The strange thing is that, despite the smallness of the graveyard, there were plenty of half-empty trash barrels around.

Knowing that I had only fifteen minutes before my bus came, I decided to do something. I cleaned the place up.

As I was picking up the trash, I noticed passers-by were giving me strange looks. Funny how something like that can really make me more determined to keep going.

I’m not telling you this to get any kind of accolades. The reward, for me, was in doing the deed. I’m telling you this in preparation for today’s Service Challenge:

This weekend, how about taking a trashbag along with you. You can even stuff a grocery bag or three in your purse, pocket, briefcase or backpack. Then, as you go about your day, if you see some trash, pick it up, put it in your bag, and dispose of it.

Simple, yes?

Do you remember my post “Family Service Challenge”? Here’s a short quote from that post:

***

When the family was cleaning up garbage at a beach in Eureka, California, the locals were rather surprised.A short quote from the book:“Hi… What are you guys doing?”“Oh, we’re picking up garbage here on the beach.”“Oh.” They would pause a second and then say, “How come?”“We just thought it would be nice to do, and it looked like it needed it.”“Uh huh. Where are you from?”“We’re from Idaho.”“Idaho?!” they would respond with a startled tone. “You’re from Idaho and you’re here cleaning up our beach? Why?”“We just wanted to help out.” (From “The Message – © 2001 American Family Institute)

***

To read the entire post, click here: http://serviceafol.blogspot.com/2008/09/family-service-challenge.html

So, what do you say? How about cleaning up just a little bit near where you live, work or play?

Can you imagine if each person just picked up one small bagful of trash, what a more beautiful world we’d be able to enjoy?

Remember, service does not have to be such a big challenge that none of us want to do it. It can be small and simple and easily accomplished.

Ask a friend or family member to help you. Share the workload. Have fun with it. You may get strange looks from others, but you also may be surprised at their willing to do the same thing because of your example.

Set the example.

As always, thank you so much for reading and accepting today’s challenge. I appreciate your willingness to do something nice and worthwhile. You may be the only one who knows of your efforts to clean up. That’s okay, too. You’re not serving for the accolades of others.

You’re doing it because you want to bring a little bit of Heaven to your world.

And I appreciate that about you.

Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One Book


It’s Service Thursday again.

Today’s challenge is small and simple.

Find a book in your library that has helped you in some way, and give it away.

Most of us have read some book that has affected us in a positive way. Now is a perfect opportunity to share that positivity with someone else.

You can share with a friend.

You can share with a co-worker.

You can share with a stranger.

You can donate the book to a shelter or small library.

It can be a self-help book.

It can be a religious book.

It can be a book that helps learn basic skills.

If you peruse your book collection, I’m sure you’ll find the one that’s just right.

Remember, you’re giving the book away. You’re not loaning it.

Tell the person you’re giving it to that it helped you. Be specific, if possible, but don’t give the story away or go into so much detail that they want to break away from the conversation before you have a chance to hand the book to them.

Can you find just the right book?I think you can.

Do it today, and have fun with it!

As always, thank you for reading and taking today’s challenge. Thank you for being willing to share with others and serve others in small and simple ways.

I’m confident that with your willing help, we can bring a little bit of Heaven to our lives, our relationships and our world.

Remember – Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pro Bono


Many of us work to put food on the table. Some of us work for big corporations, others put in our best efforts at small businesses, and still others consult or work for themselves.

We are a varied people with many wonderful talents, skills and abilities.

How can we share these with others in the context of serving others?

Have you ever heard the term pro bono?

You’ve likely heard it used by people in the legal profession.

Pro bono is a Latin term that literally means for (the) good, rightly, morally, but it’s come to mean donating services and doing something for free that you would otherwise charge for.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Are you in a position to share your expertise pro bono today? If you consult or are otherwise self employed, can you find someone who can benefit from your services but can’t afford your rates?

If you work for someone else, this may not be an option, but you can still find ways to serve.

Do you have a special skill or talent that can help another?

Are you good at writing press releases? How about contacting a local charity or non-profit organization and offer to write one or two releases without charging them?

Are you proficient at writing resumes? In today’s sour economy, it’s likely you can find someone who has lost their job and needs your help. Can you help them for free?

Do you have construction skills that could help someone with needed home repairs? How about mechanical expertise to help someone with their vehicle?


Can you donate even 10% of your time, your talents and everything with which you've been blessed?

I think you get the idea. Be creative. As always, try to have fun with it and try to not make the recipient of your service feel like a service project. None of us like to feel like a "cause".

So, share your talent today.

Remember, this isn’t about self-promotion – it’s all about sharing what you can do for others.

Can you help them?

I bet you can.

Thank you for being willing to share today. It’s you who makes what I do so worthwhile and fulfilling. I appreciate you!

Please feel free to share, forward, digg, stumble and retweet today’s challenge.

Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans


Who do you know that served in the Armed Forces? Most of us know one, if not more, veterans.

We work with them, we worship with them, we may even visit them if they’re in our family.

In my family, there are three veterans I’d like to tell you about.

The first is my father, Stan.

He’s one who was part of what Tom Brokaw called The Greatest Generation in his 1998 book of the same title.

Dad is one of those who volunteered to join the United States Navy when he was really too young to enlist. But, seeing the dangers from the Nazis and the damage that our then-enemies, the Japanese did to Pearl Harbor, he felt both compelled and impelled to do his part.

I’m really grateful that dad never saw action. He sure saw the results of the horrors of war, but he always seemed to be on a ship far from any battles. I know he would have fought heroically had he been “in it”, but he wasn’t.

He returned home to his hometown of Ely, Nevada, and later moved with his parents and siblings to Salt Lake City, Utah. He met a young lady who captured his heart while parking cars across the street from the fairgrounds, settled down and with mom, raised eight children.

The second veteran I’d like to introduce you to is my oldest brother, Danny.

He grew up at a time of post-war peace, but later had to endure greater turmoil in America. When the Vietnam War was just coming to the forefront of the American news, Danny joined. Like dad, he volunteered.

He signed up to be a paratrooper, and decided it would be a good idea to go to a local Utah jump ground to see what it was all about. He and his friends watched in terror as a woman plunged to her death because her chute didn’t function properly. Yet, somehow, he steeled himself and still went on to do his duty.

Some of the stories Danny has told me over the years make me realize that war is anything but a two-hour movie on the silver screen. No matter if it’s M*A*S*H or Saving Private Ryan, there is no way the actual repugnance, dread or emotional scarring war can force upon a warrior.

When he returned home, things were much different for him than for other veterans, past and future.

There were no parades.

There was no fanfare.

There was spitting.

There was cursing.

There were horrible names hurled at them as if those who used them had actually been there to experienced the appalling conditions of war, themselves.

Vietnam Vets even had to deal with infamous celebrities like Jane Fonda speaking in traitorous terms about them and their service to their country.

The third Veteran I’d like to tell you about is my cousin, Steve.

He also served in Vietnam, as a US Marine.

Danny, who was in the Army, doesn’t like to think about it much, but once when Steve was home on leave, they along with Steve’s twin brother went up into the canyons to get away from it all and relax.

During that trip, Steve got Danny alone and they shared horror stories. Steve wanted to go AWOL and head to Canada. He wanted no more part of a war that was so unpopular with his fellow Americans. He just didn’t feel right. And, he wondered, what would happen to his family if he was killed and his twin brother survived? How could you put a family through that?

Although I firmly believe it was Steve’s ultimate decision to return to his unit on time and get shipped back to the unfriendly Vietnam jungles, Danny is convinced it’s his fault he returned.

I was very young at the time, 4 or 5, if memory serves. Steve’s was the first funeral I remember attending.

There was a glass lid on his coffin, and Danny stood guard in his dress uniform. He proudly did his duty then, too. I cannot begin to imagine the conflicting thoughts and emotions that must have churned inside of him.

After the funeral, Danny returned back to Vietnam, too. He later returned to acrimony and outright hate. It’s taken him these many years to find normalcy in life again. Back then, mental health issues were considered a weakness and many vets, including Danny, were left to fight their demons largely on their own. Taking advantage of mental health services was just not something you didn’t take advantage of.

Because of the experiences of my father, brother and cousin, I have mixed feelings about war itself. I realize now, more than ever, that war is complicated. There are ideals and forces at work that I don’t completely understand.

There is one thing, however, that is crystal clear to me:

Veterans deserve our utmost respect, admiration and devotion.

When a Sailor, Soldier, Airman Marine, National Guardsman or Coast Guardsman puts themselves in harms way so that people like me don’t have to, we owe them.

They did what they were told. They did it because, whether or not the conflict was right, they had a duty to do, and they did it.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Find a veteran and say, “Thank you for serving your country and for protecting me.”

Of all the veterans I know, not one of them would want or accept more than that.

A simple thank you will let them know you care.

To the veterans of all wars, conflicts and police actions for the past two-hundred plus years – including the war on terror our country fights now, please allow me to end this with a personal note.

Thank you.

Thank you for serving your country.

Thank you for being willing to put your life, limbs, emotions, mental health and all else in harms way so that I don’t have to.

I appreciate you.

Carry on.
And, remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Monday, November 10, 2008

Admiration


Is there someone you admire but haven’t told?

Has someone done something nice for you, your family or someone else, but you just haven’t thanked them?

Today’s a good day for that.
Today’s challenge:

Think of someone you admire for whatever reason, and let them know.

Send them a note in the mail

Call them on the phone.

Email them.

Let them know.

That’s it!

Easy!

Thanks so much for being willing to do something nice and serve someone else.

Thanks, also, for being willing to pass it on.
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Friday, November 7, 2008

Unplug


Have you ever noticed how isolated we can make ourselves? Some of us seem to take Timothy Leary seriously when he said, “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.”

But at what cost?

It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking that we’re successfully multi-tasking when really, all we’re doing is ignoring those around us. We sit in our cubicles or in our home offices with our iPods turned up, watching You Tube while making frequent Alt+Tab switches over to our favorite social media sites.

While we’re enjoying our isolation, our podcasts, our funny or educational videos, thinking we’re the paragon of efficiency, those around us who need our attention can suffer.

Have you ever considered how frustrating it is for a child, a spouse or co-worker to compete with all of the electronic distractions that fill our day?

Most of us have experienced trying to have a telephone or face-to-face conversation with someone glued to their favorite television show or movie. Despite our best attempts to engage them in conversation, we hear little more than an occasional “ummm hmmm”.

Sometimes, you and I can be even less aware of those around us. We don’t even notice them trying to talk to us.

Are we putting our loved ones and others who need us to be actively engaged in their lives through that kind of frustration?

Is there an alternative?

Now, understand, I’m not saying that the gadgetry that makes our lives easier, more organized and fun are evil. Far from it. I believe technology is a wonderfully amazing thing. I’m amazed I can sit on a train in Utah home and listen to a lecture from a college professor in New York. We’ve never met each other and likely never will. But because of the invention of computers, the Internet and my MP3 player, I can benefit from this stranger’s expertise.

Technology is not an enemy. Like fire, it can be used for both good and evil. With fire, we can either warm ourselves, or burn down a neighborhood. It’s our choice.

So, here’s my challenge:

This weekend, unplug. Go off the grid. Make yourself wholly available to those who have been clamoring for your attention.

While it’s easy to see you’re there physically, make yourself emotionally, mentally, spiritually and completely available.

Who knows? You might just discover that you like spending some old-fashioned low tech time together.

Thanks for reading and taking the challenge today. I appreciate you!

You can email me, but I’m going to try and take my own advice, and just spend time with my family.

Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Warmups



Today’s challenge is easy.

Brrr! It’s a cold wintry day, today.

Warm someone’s heart. Brighten their day. Make their today a little better because you were there for them.

Either figuratively or literally, do something that will warm them and make them feel special.

You could do this for your child, a sibling, a parent, a coworker or even a stranger.

What warms someone?

A sincere smile.

A please and thank you when asking for something.

Offering to let them get it off their chest. Really listening to them, and caring about what they say.
A generous tip at dinner.

An honest compliment.

A cup of cocoa or coffee.

A pair of gloves.

A plate of warm brownies.

Use your imagination.

Have fun with it!

But do it.

Today.

As always, thank you so much for reading and taking today’s challenge. Please feel free to pass it on any way you can.

I appreciate you!
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Morning After


Happy Wednesday!

It’s the day after an historic election.

We knew yesterday that history would be made. There would be either be the first African American president, or we would have the first female vice president.

Either way, every child born from today on will know that the glass ceiling for high-politics has been stubbornly removed.

Today is going to be difficult for many who voted for the other person, or the other way on a measure or ballot proposition that lost.

I remember feeling so let down in a recent election. My vote, though it counted, was wiped out by many others who felt and voted differently than I did.

When the results were announced, I was sitting in the break room at work, a minority in the way I voted. I heard not only the gleeful cheers, but also the hateful jeers of the “winners”. People I had known and respected for a long time let their joy turn into an ugly attitude that was surprising to me. I was saddened to be subjected to “I told you so”, “we’re better than you”, “face it, you lost”.

They used ugly words:

Losers.

Stupid.

Freaks.

Idiots.

I just wanted to get up and go home, but I couldn’t. I still had a shift to finish.

I suspect that many today will be subject to similar unkindness.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

If your party, candidate, ballot measure or proposition was successful in yesterday’s election –

Be kind. Be respectful. Try to remember that this awesome land of ours is great, in part, because of the vast range of opinions. If you don’t share the opinion of someone else, keep in mind that does not make them wrong. Every one of us is entitled to our own feelings and opinions.

And,

If your party, candidate, ballot measure or proposition was voted against and lost in yesterday’s election –

Be kind. Be respectful. Try to remember that this fantastic land of ours is great, in part, because of the vast range of opinions. If you don’t share the opinion of someone else, keep in mind that does not make them wrong. Every one of us is entitled to our own feelings and opinions.

Whether your vote won or lost, it’s time to work together to heal hearts and soothe feelings. Pouring salt in another’s wound while grandstanding says much more about an individual than it says about anything else. That’s an image that will stick in the memories of others.

Humility, whether winner or loser, is extremely difficult, but I think it’s necessary.

Let’s all try to be humble today, mend fences, heal hearts and wounds, and reach out to others in kindness.

Can we do it? (This challenge is one for me, just as much as it is for you)

I think we can.
It surely won’t be easy, but the more we try, the easier it will become.

Thank you for being willing to be kind today. Thank you for reading my challenge and posting it, retweeting it, stumbling it, digging it and otherwise passing it on.

You are what makes this country and this world great.

I appreciate you!
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Change


What are your plans today?

If you’re in the United States, you may be going to vote. But, what else is on your plate?

Are you going to the market to pick up groceries that won’t wait until the weekend?

Are you going out for lunch or dinner?

Are you planning to stop by your favorite coffee shop?

When you do, here’s your challenge:

Save your spare change from the day.

Instead of placing it in the pocket of your purse or trousers, how about donating it?

You could give it to someone on the street (without prejudging what they will do with the money. Once you’ve given it away, it’s up to them to make that choice.)

Or, you could donate it to a local charity.

You could even set aside your change from the rest of the week. Keep it in a cup in your kitchen or in your desk drawer. Then, the next time you pass that charity jar at the diner or someone on the street, you can have it all ready to give away.

If you’re like me, you like saving all your change and not spend it until your change jar is full.

But today – just for today – could you think about giving it away?

That’s your challenge.

Have fun with it!

As always, thanks for reading today’s challenge – and for forwarding, reposting, retweeting, stumbling and digging for me. I truly appreciate it!

Have a wonderful Election Day!
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James H.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Succor


It’s Monday.

Over the weekend, the Fire Rescue crews were called to a neighbor’s home. An elderly gentleman went pale, fell down, and couldn’t get up. The lady of the house had to call 9-1-1 because she couldn’t lift him from the floor.

Within two minutes, we heard the sirens approaching.

Another minute, they were there, rushing into the residence and up the stairs to rescue the poor fellow.

That got me thinking.

How many times do we pass by someone in need, rather than try and help them? Or, how many times do we know someone needs our help, but we're slow in responding?

I realize most of us aren’t paid to zip around in rescue apparatus with sirens blaring, but that’s really beside the point.

When we can help, we should help. And, quickly.

Answering the infamous Cain’s question – we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keepers.

This event also reminded me of our Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the many reasons He was sent here was to suffer our frustrations, our pains. He felt our loneliness, our anger, our hurt.

As the scriptures say, He was acquainted with our grief (see Isaiah 53:3)

A later prophet taught his people:

“He will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:12)

The word “succor” means to rush to and help.

I can easily imagine the Savior rushing to help someone in need. The scriptures are full of accounts where He healed, encouraged, lifted, saved and helped others.

So, here’s your challenge today:

Be a little more aware of those around you. Be especially aware of someone who needs an encouraging word or some other help that you can give them.

Then, run to them and help them.

That’s all there is to it.

I really appreciate your willingness to help and serve your fellow man, woman and child. I know it’s not easy to find the desire, time or wherewithal to help another.

But you do it anyway.

And I appreciate you for it.
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Warm Hands, Warm Hearts


Welcome to the weekend!

On one of my previous posts – Just One Pair I got a really good comment from my friend, Kim Woodbridge.

The post about Just One Pair was to challenge you to buy a pair of shoes for someone you knew needed them. Thank you for taking that challenge.

The comment Kim posted helped me realize that it’s not just shoes people need to keep warm, but gloves and hats, too.

Here’s part of her comment:

"Yesterday it was pouring and the first bitter cold day in Philadelphia. There was a homeless man outside of work who looked so cold and so wet. When thinking about what I could possibly do, I thought about this article that I had read a couple of days before. I've decided to buy extra hats and mittens, keep them in my backpack, and distribute them as needed. There isn't much I can really do for these people, but no one deserves to suffer like that."

She’s right. And with Thanksgiving fast approaching, we have much to be thankful for. Yet, there are many who are left out in the cold.

No one deserves to suffer in the cold.

No one.

We can all sit in our warm homes or bundle up in our warm coats, gloves and hats and forget about those stuck in the cold. We can rationalize that it’s not our problem, that they likely brought their circumstances upon themselves because of their addictions, lifestyle or even their own foolishness.

Let me take a moment and tell you about one of my heroes – King Benjamin – and share something he told his people at a great meeting long ago.

This king was loved by his people. He didn’t tax them excessively. He didn’t require them to support him. He worked right alongside his people and showed them by his kindness and charity that he loved them.

At the great conference, the last one of his life, he was about to confer his kingdom upon his son, Mosiah. Before that could be done, however, he felt to share some great truths with his people.

In part, he directed:

“…Ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

“Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

“But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

“For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

“And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

“And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

“And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

“I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.” (Mosiah 4:16-23)

Now, I realize that some of us (maybe even most of us) are really suffering from economic times. We may be scraping by, eking out just enough of a living to pay rent and put food on our table. Are those who don’t have enough to give required, then, to give what we don’t have?

King Benjamin addressed that, as well.

“And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

“And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received. (ibid vv 24-25)

Now, if you’ve read this far, you probably already have a good idea of what today’s challenge is.

I’d like to challenge you to do as Kim has done.

If you’re out shopping this weekend, how about picking up one or two pair of gloves? How about one or two warm hats? If you don’t have the extra money right now, can you set aside a dollar or two once a paycheck so that you can buy them?

Then, when you have them, can you keep them with you so that when you encounter someone suffering from the cold, you can hand them out?

It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You can just give them away and say, “I hope you can keep warm. Have a nice day.”

Can you help Kim keep someone warm?
If you can, God bless you.

If not, I know you would if you could. That is enough.

One or two pairs of gloves.

One or two warm hats.

That’s all this challenge requires.

Small and simple.

I appreciate you passing the word so that we can help as many people as we can.

Social media is incredible. Through passing it on, we can really make a difference in our world. Through your efforts to digg, stumble, retweet, link and forward, we're making a difference. You are making a difference!

And, as we continue, we can make just a little bit of Heaven in our corner of the earth.

To read the earlier post, Just One Pair, please click the following link:

http://serviceafol.blogspot.com/2008/10/just-one-pair.html



Stay warm!

Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!



James


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Doing the Math


If you're a new reader to this blog, you know it's all about service. I am a firm believer that if each one of us did something to serve even just one or two other people, once a week, the world would be truly transformed.


Let's do some math:


There are 19 readers who subscribe to this blog.


If each one of you - and you alone - served two people a week for one year, there would be 1,976 beneficiaries of your service.


If each one of you subscribers passed this blog along to a friend who would do the same, there would be 3,952 recipients of service.


Now, I don't have a firm grasp on the actual numbers of readers, here, but I'm asking one favor of you.


Pass it on.


Let's make some Heavenly math.


Reach out to someone today, tomorrow, Saturday - all next week. Let's try to pass it on to at least one person every week between now and the end of the year.


That means each of us can try to get just 10 people - new people - to read this blog.


I have no idea how far and wide this can go - but I'm excited to try.
Start small and simple.
Email a link to my blog (use the http://serviceafol.blogspot.com/ link) and ask them to visit.
Or, email a link to this week's Service Thursday challenge:
Or, find your favorite post and send a link to that.
I hope and pray we can make service a success - and with you helping, how can we fail?


Are you in?


Thanks for taking the weekend challenge!


Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!


James

Care Coupons




This week, Service Thursday (and Friday) is Coupon Day!




Not the kind of coupon you take to your favorite store or coffee shop. This coupon is designed to help others.

Here’s your challenge (it’s a two-part challenge):

Part One:

Today, I’d like you to make and print a very simple coupon. All it needs to say is:

“Sometimes it’s just nice to know that someone cares about you. I care. Have a nice day!”

Or something to that effect. Remember to keep it small and simple.

Then, if you like, you can leave a line for your signature. Or, you can type your name and even your email address if you like. Please try to remember that this is not about self-promotion. Don’t put your sales motto, slogan or logo. It’s all about someone else today – not you.

If you prefer not to sign it or let them know your name, you can sign it with something like, “An Anonymous Friend”.

If you do it just right, you should be able to put more than one on a printed page. Then, just print it out, cut them out, and you’re ready to go.

Part Two of the challenge is a little more difficult, but it's the fun part:

Once you have your coupons cut and ready, find at least three people to hand them to today and tomorrow.

You can hand one to someone you know who may be having a difficult day. Or, you can hand them to strangers who look like they can use a boost.

If you can't make the coupons, or need an idea, please feel free to email me and I will email a Word doc with the coupon I use.

One more thing:

Service should not always be a chore – try to make today’s small and simple service challenge fun!

Thank you for being willing to take today’s challenge. I so appreciate you! Thank you also for passing it on to others. Even if every one who reads this challenge just told two new people about it, think of the impact we could have in our world!



I'd love to hear about your experiences. Please come back and share what happened when you took this challenge.

Let’s do it!

Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Being Remembered


Welcome to Wednesday.

Let’s talk about death. Let’s talk about our own mortalilty.

Not a pleasant topic for some, but I hope to talk about it in a way that will make it a more positive experience.

Many of us have regrets that we didn’t tell a loved one how we felt about them before they passed.

I talked about that in a recent blog post: http://serviceafol.blogspot.com/2008/10/tell-them.html

So, now that we’ve talked about telling our loved ones how we feel about them – telling them we love and appreciate them before they leave us, let’s talk about our own life and death.

Think of someone you love who has passed on. Could be a family member, friend or co-worker.

What do you remember about them?

Were they friendly?

Did they make you feel welcomed into their homes and lives?

Did they make you smile?

Did they leave you wondering how they felt about you?

Did they have a mean streak that made it difficult for you to mourn their passing?

All valid questions.

My brother Mark passed a few years ago. In fact, we’re approaching the anniversary of his transition – from shuffling of his mortal coil to stepping through the veil to his new home in the Spirit World.

For years prior to that memorable day, we siblings hadn’t exactly been close.

I can’t say that we had been fighting or anything like that, but we certainly could have been closer.

Each of us (my mother bore eight children) had gone off into our own corner of adulthood. Most of us worked, few of us communicated with each other.

Oh, sure, there was the occasional family Christmas party where we were all in one place at one time, and there were various groups getting together for Thanksgiving dinner, but that was about it.

We rarely made it a point to gather and just be with one another.

When Mark slipped into a coma in the intensive care unit, we, his siblings finally got it together. One of our own was down and we dropped everything that didn’t matter and held vigil with him.

Of course, there were lots of tears and prayers, and lots of laughter, too. In fact, I remember promising Mark that I would do all I could to make his passing a celebration and not a time of desperation and depression.

So far, I’ve been true to that promise.

When the time came for him to pass, the kind medical staff in ICU brought him out of his coma so we could explain to him what was happening. His best friend Shirley had the very difficult task of telling her dear chum that he truly was at the end of his mortal journey.

Then, in groups and in pairs and later one-by-one, we all said our goodbyes.

We left the hospital, and we left my brother in care of another of his friends.

They removed his respirator and feeding tube.

On the morning of December 31st, 2005, I awoke with a strange, peaceful feeling. I remember waking up almost shouting: “Hello!”

And with that, I knew he was gone.

Even now, I find it strange that I told him hello instead of goodbye.

At his funeral, during a sort of open mike time where we invited those not on the program to say a few words, one of Mark’s friends shared something incredible with us.

It’s something I’ll never forget. It was a wake up call to all of us as Mark’s siblings.

She told us that Mark had often talked about a rift between his brothers and sisters. He talked a lot about wanting to be able to bring us together. That was his wish, his hope and his dream.

He fretted often about us and wondered how he could finally rejoin us in some meaningful and lasting way.

In his illness and death, he did just that.

So, what do I remember about my brother in his passing?

He healed wounds.

He calmed troubled hearts.

He reunited us.

He brought his brothers and sisters back to a point where we now understand, more than ever before, what really matters in life.

We matter.

To each other.

We know now what it’s like to lose one of our own. We certainly sailed through uncharted territory and survived intact, though one of our own is now mortally absent (though we often feel his spirit with us, especially in trying times).

We know now that a quick call to say “hello!” is important, even if it means forgoing lunch or being late to a meeting.

We know how very important it is to say “I love you” at the end of every phone call. When we see each other in person, we rush to embrace each other, and we don’t leave without another hug.

We know.

Recently, I asked some friends (tweets from Twitter) what they want to be remembered for when their time comes to leave this frail mortal life.

I’m posting their responses at the end of today’s challenge – so let’s get to the challenge first:

Think about your own funeral. Think about your friends, family, acquaintances and co-workers filing by your family.

What will they say? How will they feel?

What will they tell your surviving family members they remember most about you?

Will they say you were friendly?

Will they say you made them feel welcomed into your home and life?

Did you make them smile?

Did you make them feel valued as a person, as an individual and as a fellow human being?

Will they say you loved life?

Will they say you took time for them, despite their challenging schedules and meetings and such? Will they say that when you were there, you were really there for them?

If your answer is yes, then I’d say you’ve passed today’s challenge.

But if your answer is no to any of the above questions, what can you do today – right now – to change their perception of you?

Can you be a little kinder today?

Can you be a little gentler?

Can you call someone just to see how they’re doing?

Can you write an email or a note to tell them how much they mean to you?

When you’re exasperated with someone you love, can you still smile and hug them and tell them they mean the world to you and you don’t know what you’d do without them?

Can you?

I think you can.

Live today as if you knew with absolute certainty that you would be stepping through the veil tomorrow.

Live today so that your actions and your words uplift and inspire others, especially those closest to you.

Live today so that those closest to you will never, ever wonder if you really loved them or if they were just words tumbling out of your mouth out of duty or obligation.

Live today.

Love today.

Don’t be afraid to tell them.

Thank you so much for reading today, and for taking today’s challenge.

I very much appreciate you.

I know you’ve stumbled my blog. I know you’ve retweeted my posts. I know that you’ve helped spread the word with dig and other tools.

I appreciate that so much. One by one, you and I can really help transform the world into a more loving place, into a Heaven on Earth.

As promised, here are the comments I got from my Twitter friends about what they most want to be remembered for when they pass on.

The question I asked was:

When you die, what do you want people to remember about you?

pattih05k i want to be remembered as a mother who loved to sing and act and loved sunrises & sunsets.

jantallent seriously, that I was half the mom my Mom is and 1/10th as perfect a Grandma as MINE was

triplej2676 i want to be remembered as kind, honest and funny. i'd like to be remembered as someone who made people laugh.

TamiDePalma When she was with you she was really WITH you. She lived unconditional love.

teejerx: as someone gentle and kind, a good brother and friend, and someone who was there to listen and help.

Deb_Andersen I want to be remembered as Caring and Giving of myself :) I try to think of others when considering my actions!

northpolemama that I was always true to my heart and i never let life pass me by

isequeira I want ppl to remember that I was fun to hang around and genuniely cared for them (& my kids to remember I spent a lot on life insurance)

PRsarahevans that I ran unabashadly free through this one life, without fear; believed in abundance; expected the unexpected; lived

How would you answer? Feel free to comment!

And what I want people to say about me when I go?

“He had kind eyes and a gentle manner. He served others.”
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Opening Doors


Welcome to Tuesday!


Today's challenge is surprisingly small and simple:


Open a door for someone - anyone, and find a reason to give them a sincere compliment.


Remember to make the compliment sincere. Nobody likes to be patronized.
Maybe they dressed nice today. Maybe they have a new hairdo. Maybe their smile makes your heart feel warm.


Don't expect to be thanked. If someone thanks you, smile and say, "You're welcome", but remember you're not doing it to get a thank you.


You're doing it because you want to do something nice. That's all.


See?


It's easy!


You can do it!


Thank you for taking the challenge today. I appreciate you!


Please try to stumble, Digg, fixx, retweet and otherwise pass it on.
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!


James

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tell Them


Welcome to Monday

Most of us don’t know when we’re going to be called Home by that God who gave us life. For either you or me, it could be today or twenty years from now.

We just don’t know.

Have you ever lost someone and regretted not being able to really tell them how you feel about them?

I’ve been there.
I suspect you have, too. It’s not a pleasant feeling.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Pick one person in your life (family, coworker, neighbor – whoever) and tell them how you feel about them.

Tell them why they make you feel good.

Tell them why they make you smile.

Tell them why you’d miss them if either of you were to be separated.

Tell them you appreciate/like/love them.

If you happen to get called Home soon, don’t make them wonder how you really feel about them.
Tell them.

Today.

I appreciate you.

Thank you so much for reading and taking today’s challenge.

Please pass it on.
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just One Pair




It’s cold here. For some of us the winter is a beautiful time of year. The snow in the mountains is breathtakingly lovely. For others, however, it's nothing but a painful nuisance.

Your challenge today is both simple and easy.

It’s going to get cold outside. For many of us who live in the northern climes, it’s no big deal to walk outside and keep our feet warm and dry.

For others, however, such a task is not so easy. They can’t afford a decent pair of shoes or boots. What they wear out in the snow might be okay for us once in awhile, but some folks have no choice.

Their shoes have worn out.

They have holes in them.

They leak and let in the ice and snow that winter brings.

Just going out to get the mail – normally a five minute event – can leave them with cold, achy feet for the rest of the day.

How would that feel to you? I bet you wouldn’t like it, even for just a day.

For some people, it’s a daily reminder of their poverty.

The economy has forced so many people to shift their priorities. Some people I know have had to decide between getting gas to go to work to make money for food and rent, or other necessities like medicine and other needful things. Their priorities don’t leave a lot of room for what we might call frivolous – new shoes.

What for you and me is a luxury is a basic necessity to others.

A necessity they’ll try doing without for one more winter.

This should not be.

This is an election year. I’d like to remind you of a campaign slogan from someone who wanted to be president long before you or I were born.

In his 1928 campaign, Herbert Hoover promised a chicken in every pot.

A great slogan – but I think we can update that.

How about in the waning months of 2008 and the dawning months of 2009 we say:

“A new pair of shoes on every person”

Can we do it?

I think we can.

Working together, I know we can.

While we shop for our own shoe collection, how about we do something small and simple? How about we buy just one pair of extra shoes? They don’t have to be expensive – but they should be practical and sturdy.

While you’re shopping, think of someone you know who needs a decent pair of shoes.

Buy just one pair of shoes for them. Keep the receipt in case you get a size that doesn’t fit them. Then, offer to make the exchange for them so they don’t have to. You can even buy a gift card to a shoe store if you don’t want to buy the shoes right then.

If you can’t think of anyone who needs shoes, I know you can find out who can put them to good use.

Here’s a tip: if you don’t know who needs shoes, call 2-1-1. In most areas, the kind people at the other end of this information line can direct you to a church, synagogue, temple or charity who will gladly accept your donation.

So, how about it?

A pair of shoes on every person.

Are you in?

Thank you so much for being willing to tackle this daily challenge. Thank you also for being willing to post this elsewhere (please link back). Thanks for digging, stumbling, retweeting and otherwise passing it on.

I appreciate you.
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Give on Service Thursday


It’s Service Thursday again.

Yesterday, your challenge was to think about and identify someone in your neighborhood who is enduring some sort of hardship.

(If you missed yesterday’s post, please follow this link): http://serviceafol.blogspot.com/2008/10/your-neighborhood.html

Today, I’d like to follow up on that.

What did you find?

Did you find someone in need?

If you did, have you considered how you can help them?

Do they need you to go to the store for them?

Do they need food?

Do they need resources above what you can help with? (If this is true, try calling 2-1-1 and you should be able to find resources to help them).

For today’s challenge, can you gather a box of food for them? We all need food, even if we’re struggling with other hardships.

Or, you can make it a care package with a mix of food and non-food items.

It doesn’t have to be a big box. It can be a regular sized grocery box, or even a shoebox if that’s all you can manage to collect for them.

The idea here is not to give so much food that it puts you in a hardship, too. The idea is to share what you have – even if it’s just a gallon of milk and a box of crackers.

You also don’t have to do this alone. Call a friend or relative to help you.

And, when you deliver it, you can do so anonymously, if you like.

Or, you can greet them at the door and offer to help put the food away for them.

You can even offer to cook! (But again, remember to allow them their dignity. Feel the situation out so you’re not making them feel like a service project. You want them to feel better for knowing who you are, not worse).

Here are some foodstuffs that work well for situations like these:

Peanut butter
Canned tunafish
Crackers
Milk
Canned milk
Fresh fruit
Canned fruit and vegetables
Tortillas
Bread
Margarine
Lunchmeat
Baby food
Cookies
Fruit juice

Non food needs (These things you can take over in a laundry basket):

Diapers
Toothpaste
Soap
Paper towels
Towels
Laundry detergent
Dish detergent
Paper plates
Plastic utensils
A 3x5 card with your name and phone number
If they have children, you can throw in a coloring book and crayons


Use your imagination for other ideas. Have fun with it!

But do it.
Today.
Someone may be hungry and waiting for you.

Thank you for reading and taking today’s challenge.

As always, please pass it on. Stumble this. Digg this. Retweet and repost this and link back to it.

I appreciate you!
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Your Neighborhood


Welcome to Wednesday!

With apologies to Sesame Street, I’d like you to think about the people in your neighborhood.

I’d like you to focus on those who may be experiencing some sort of hardship.

It could be a single mom or dad who are feeling overwhelmed by trying to be both parents at once.

Or, it could be an elderly couple who can’t get out to pick up their prescriptions or go to the grocery store. Maybe they can’t drive anymore.

It might be someone who is a victim of the current economy, who has maybe been laid off and is really struggling with putting food on the table.

At any rate, I’m confident we all know someone who is facing a difficult time. They often don’t know where to turn or are sometimes too proud to ask for help.

Have you identified someone?

Okay, now for your challenge:

Make the first move.

Gather your family or a few friends and go make a friendly visit.

You don’t have to be blunt and tell them you’re there to turn them into a service project – that may only make matters worse. We rarely are willing to be someone else’s service project.

But, you can go to them. Ask how they’re doing. Be genuine and show them you’re willing to be a friend.

Before you leave, ask them if there’s anything they need and offer your time and talents to help them. And if they mention something, offer to help and then follow through. If you need help beyond what you can provide, you can often call 2-1-1 and find resources.

Remember to allow them their dignity.

But do it.

Do it today.

I believe in you.

Thank you so much for being willing to read today’s challenge. Thank you also for being willing to serve someone else today. I appreciate you!

Please pass it on.
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Military Families


Welcome to Tuesday.

Today, I want to do something to honor our military and their families.

No matter the political persuasion you happen to subscribe to, our men and women in uniform put their lives and safety on the line every day.

They don’t make the policy.

They go where they’re sent and do what they’re ordered to do.

And, often, the families are caught short.

When a member of our military is deployed, their spouses and children get left behind to deal with the financial and other life pressures that are tough enough when the military member is home full-time.

Can you imagine the pride swallowing that takes place when the family of a deployed Sailor, Airman, Soldier, Marine or Coast Guardsman has to decide whether or not to ask for help?

Is there something you and I can do today to make life a little easier for these families?

Here’s today’s challenge:

Think of someone in your family or social circle who is in the military. What are their needs? Remember, some of their needs may be more than financial. They may be emotional. Theymay be spiritual. Remember that they deal with loneliness, uncertainty and the very real fear that their loved one may not make it home.

The Holidays are fast approaching. Is there something you can plan out now to include the family of a deployed man or woman in uniform?

Can you plan to include them for your Thanksgiving dinner?

Can you plan to include them in your Christmas, Hanukah or other celebration?

Can you help them make ends meet by donating food, clothing or other items to them – even if anonymously done?
Can you invite them to ride with you to worship services?

Can you even send a thank you note, or thank them in person for sending their loved one into harm’s way?

I think you can.

Remember, you don’t have to agree with the reason these brave people are deployed. They follow orders. That’s their job. Still, you can do something today – and throughout the Holidays to ease the burden of those left behind.

Let’s do it.

Let’s take care of those who have sent their husbands, wives, children and parents off to far away places.

Lets take care of those who are sworn to take care of us.

Let’s do it.

Thank you for taking today’s challenge.

By doing some small and simple act of service, we really can make an impact in our world.

Please pass it on.
And, while you're at it, here's a great way to help out - an easy link to click! http://emailourmilitary.blogspot.com/2008/10/grab-your-troops-support-holiday.html
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James

Monday, October 20, 2008

Help the Children


It’s Monday, October 20, 2008

Let's talk about helping children today.

Children are the future leaders of our world and contributors to our society.

In the news, lately, we’ve read of so many horrific things happening to children. I don’t need to harrow up your memory by being specific. You know the news stories I’m talking about.

So, today’s challenge is simple.

Watch out for children. Help them.

The old saying that it takes a village to raise a child is, in my humble opinion, absolutely true.

Are we doing our part as villagers to keep our children safe, fed, clothed and educated?

What can you do today to make a positive and healthy impact in the world of a child?

Can you teach a child something new and valuable?

Can you help a child stay safe?

Can you feed a hungry child?

Can you clothe a child who may not have clean or new clothes?

Can you donate $5.00 to a children’s charity or to a local school?

Can you help a single mom or dad with their children today?

I think you can.

I know you can.

And I so appreciate being a part of your village. You’re the best!

As always, please pass it on.
Remember, Service is the Action Form of Love!

James