Thursday, December 31, 2009

Join the Social Media Blitz to Find Susan Powell


Our friend, Susan Powell, a beautiful 28 year old Utah mother has been missing since December 7th, 2009. We’re asking you to help us find her.

Want to help? Here’s what you can do:

If you have a twitter account, follow @FindSusan (http://twitter.com/FindSusan) and then tweet about her with a link to this blog post, using the hashtag of #findsusan – please also ask your followers to retweet your message.

Go to the official YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/susanpowellcase Watch the videos, memorize Susan’s face and features. Look around – do you see her? If you do, note her location and condition and call 9-1-1 right now.

Here is the link to Susan’s missing posters: http://picasaweb.google.com/dancingfrostie/MissingPersonSusanPowellRewardPoster# Again, please memorize Susan’s face and look around right where you are. If you see her, please note her location and condition and call 9-1-1 immediately. There is a $10,000 reward for finding her. Please also consider printing out a few and posting them at your local supermarket and other places nearby.

Email findsusanpowell@gmail.com with “I want to help” in the subject line. If there’s a specific service you can provide for us, if and when the time comes that we can use that help, we’ll email you and let you know.

Email 5 of your email contacts with the contents of this message and “Find Susan Powell – Please forward to 5 people” in the subject line. We’re not asking you to spam your friends, family and co-workers. Just email 5 people and if you choose to add more than 5, that’s great.

Join us on the Friends and Family of Susan Powell Facebook Page here: http://bit.ly/findsusan

You can also pray for Susan and her friends and family.

Thank you for anything you can do. We appreciate you!

The Friends and Family of Susan Powell

Friday, July 31, 2009

Out of Service



Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Though I’ve tried to write and post on a daily basis, I’m afraid that’s not possible. I’m running out of small and simple service ideas.

If you have an idea or two I could write about, or if you’d like to submit a guest post, please either leave your comments, or email me at jameswhofheins@yahoo.com

In the meantime, I’m going to a once-a-week post. If the idea is original, it will be an original post by me. If not, it will be a “classic” post (another name for reposting something from my archives).

So, whaddya say? Got an idea for me? Please comment or email me.

James

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

video

Share your Candle


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Have you ever been sitting at home in the evening, reading a book or otherwise relaxing, when the power suddenly went out?

This is a pretty common experience. I would expect that you and most of the people you know have had just such a thing happen. And, once it does, the first thing you want to do is find all the candles in your home and light them so you can see what you’re doing.

Think of just how dark the night is without electricity. There’s no light to come in the windows because the street lamps are typically off.

It’s dark and that can sometimes be disorienting, if not downright scary.

Now think about that first candle. When you light it, the room brightens up a little bit, but not much. A single candle can’t usually put off the same light your bedside lamp or kitchen fluorescent lights can put off.

But what happens when you add additional candles? Well, obviously, the intensity and amount of light increases. Depending on where you put the candles around the room, the light can seem to grow exponentially, too.

But what if you had a candle but no way to light it?

Regardless of how many candles you had, with no way to light them, you would stay in the dark until the electricity came back on or the sun rose the next morning.

So many people today are sitting in the dark. They have candles but don’t have the means to light them.

They may be in the dark in a spiritual sense. They may be in the dark economically, educationally, or in some other way. They are lacking something you have – something vital that would make a difference in their lives. The problem is, you may not know about them because – well – because they’re in the dark it’s hard to see them.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Find someone who needs your light and help them light their candle.

Teach them how to light their own candle in the future, but for now, share your light with them.

Don’t let them sit in the dark where they may be scared, frustrated and lonely. Help them. Befriend them. Listen to them and love them.

Be their light.

Thank you for reading today’s challenge. Thank you also for being willing to share it with others. I appreciate you – and the light you are willing to share with others.

Thank you especially for always remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Uplift


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Lately it seems like the news we read and hear is pretty bad. I guess it’s always been that way, but the headlines are hitting home in ways many of us have never before experienced.

There are wars and rumors of wars. Economic hardships. We’re all trying to cut back while at the same time wondering how we are going to survive. Its driving us crazy. So many people find themselves slipping from discouragement into depression.

So, here’s your challenge today:

Find someone who needs uplifting. Talk to them. Help them talk about their fears. Help them get it out into the open. You don’t have to give concrete answers – you may not have answers yourself. But be there and be a shoulder to cry on – a friend to listen.

That’s all there is to it!

I know you can do it, and I appreciate you coming to read today’s post.

I also appreciate you passing it on to others. Together, we’re teaching the world that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Friday, July 17, 2009

Commitment and Integrity


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

How many times do we make a commitment to a friend or family member, and then when asked about it, we say “I forgot”?

For me, I’m afraid it happens too often.

So, here’s your challenge for today:

If you’ve committed to help someone or do something for them, follow through. Keep the commitment you've made to them. It's all part of integrity.

Pretty simple, no?

You can do it!

Thank you for taking time to read today’s challenge. Thank you also for being willing to spread the word and help others learn that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Listen and Learn


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

As you may have read in my last post, my wife and I just returned from a week’s vacation. You may also know from previous posts that my mama passed away six months ago today.

Mama had been homebound for many years, and my father stayed by her side until the end of her mortal life. He sacrificed a lot in doing so. He passed up opportunities to go places, visit people and just get out of the house because he didn’t want to leave her alone.

Because of his sacrifice and dedication, my wife and I decided we’d invite dad to go with us on our trip to California. It took him awhile to make up his mind that it was okay to get away from his troubles and relax, but he finally did make up his mind.

I learned a lot about dad on this trip. When it was my turn to drive, he’d sit in the front passenger seat and tell me all sorts of stories. I learned much about dad as a child, as a young man and as a sailor in World War II. It was an experience I’ll always cherish.

I wonder how things would have turned out under different circumstances. I wonder what I would have missed if I had chosen to plug in my MP3 player or crank up the radio rather than just sit and listen to dad talk.

I would have missed many nuggets of fatherly wisdom, and plain old fun stories.

So, here’s your challenge today:

Someone needs to talk. Today, your challenge is to listen.

Whether they have anything profound or groundbreaking to say doesn’t matter.

Listen.

Just listen.

Let them know you’re listening. Encourage them to talk more. Ask questions. Prod them for details. Really try to understand and appreciate what they’re telling you.

That’s it. That’s the challenge for today.

Thank you for listening – or rather, reading. Thank you for being willing to pass on my challenges and for inviting others to come and read.

And thank you especially for remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dear Military - Thank You


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

I’ve been absent for a few weeks, taking some time to be with family, taking a vacation and generally recharging my batteries.

This evening, my wife and I stayed home and watched one of a set of DVDs called “Vietnam Combat”. It’s a documentary with several segments about the men and women who, whether by choice or by draft, served our country in the Vietnam War.

The segment we watched tonight finished with some of the helicopter pilots telling what it was like to come home from war. Most of them talked about having similar experiences coming home. One veteran said that he was very proud of what he did in Vietnam but he couldn’t carry that pride home. All of the veterans interviewed echoed that same feeling.

As I watched, I realized that I could almost predict the words and phrases these men used when talking about coming home from the war. I could do this because I have an older brother who also served in Vietnam. He had the same experiences when he returned home, too. He was confronted with the same slurs, the same insults as these men were.

He was spat upon, called horrible names and subjected to indignities unfit for any veteran of any war, regardless of the justness of the cause. He could not wear his military uniform in public. He couldn’t talk about the war.

He couldn’t show his pride for having done what his country asked him to do.

Watching the end of the documentary brought back a lot of memories of long talks with my older brother. Those talks have been few and far between, and understandably so. How could I, who was just a toddler when he went off to war, possibly relate to what it must feel like to have to face death every single day? How could I possibly comprehend what it was like to know that in order to come home alive, you must be willing to kill someone else? How could I possibly understand war when all I’ve ever known in my life is peace?

To those things, I can’t relate.

But, there are things I do understand.

There are things I can relate to.

I can relate to love for my country.

I can understand heeding the call of my country when called upon to serve.

I can comprehend the idea that a soldier serving his country did not start the war he was sent to fight.

The Vietnam War is something now taught in American History class. There are, however, other wars that are current events.

We have men and women now serving our country in Iraq, Afghanistan. They are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and children. We know them as neighbors, coworkers and acquaintances. We hear about their deaths now on the back pages of the newspapers because there have been so many killed. We rarely hear about those with traumatic physical, psychological or mental injuries. And, unless we’re related to one of them, the only time some of us stop to think about them is when we hear about yet another deployment from our community.

They’ve answered the call of duty, every one of them a volunteer. Unlike previous wars, not one of the men or women currently serving in a United States military uniform has been drafted. They serve and protect for many reasons, but they know they’re fighting in an unpopular war. They know many of the American people have lost faith in the reason we’re at war.

And yet they serve.

With honor.

With distinction.

With pride.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering if I’m ever going to get around to today’s service challenge.

Here it is:

Today, if you see someone in a military uniform, thank them for serving.

Regardless of your opinion of the wars we’re fighting, please remember, they didn’t start it. Remember that in addition to fighting in Iraq, in Afghanistan or wherever else they may be deployed, they serve to protect you and your freedom to disagree with governmental policy.

Remember that they fight so that you and I can sit in our local Starbucks, sipping our morning beverage and leisurely read blog posts by authors who think they have the world’s problems all figured out.

Remember that they are human – a fellow brother or sister who misses the comforts of home when they’re deployed. Remember they have feelings and family and…

Well, just remember that when it comes right down to it, the person you see in that uniform would lay down their life to protect you, your family and your freedom.

Don’t you think that merits a quick “thank you”?

I do.

Thank you for reading today’s blog post.

Thank you for being willing to share it with others.

And most especially, thank you for remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Important Message


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Yesterday, my wife and I were driving around. We like to take Sunday drives. We find it quite relaxing to just be with each other and talk.

But yesterday, we saw something new in our neighborhood.

On a little street, behind the Home Depot and Kentucky Fried Chicken, there was an old ragged homeless man, sit-sleeping on an old Coleman cooler. I didn’t notice him or the sign he had propped up, but my wife did.

She made a u-turn in the Home Depot parking lot and asked me for some money. She pulled up to him so that he was on my side, and as we got close, he woke up and stumbled to the car. It was apparent to me that he was dead tired. It was warm out, and as it had been raining, it was also humid. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it must have been there with only a young tree to shield him from the elements.

I rolled down my window and handed him a little something. He smiled big, and said “God bless you.”

I said, “And happy Father’s Day to you, sir”.

His eyes opened a little wider and his smile faded. “It’s Father’s Day? I didn’t know that.”

We assured him that it was and he shuffled back to his makeshift seat on the sidewalk. We drove away and my wife and I talked about how sad it was that the poor gentleman didn’t even know what day it was.

And then, as we drove toward the KFC, my wife surprised me. She made a bee-line for the drive through. She bought him a small lunch and as I looked at her, she appeared to be crying. She told me that it’s been a long time since seeing such a sight had affected her in such a way.

She said she had the strongest impression that she needed to tell the man something. I learned long ago to not deny my wife when she has such impressions, so I stayed quiet as we drove back to find him.

He was asleep again, and this time she approached so that he was on her side of the car. I’m not sure if he recognized us or not, but he again stood and came to the window. I handed the meal to my wife and she passed it out to him.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

He smiled again, showing where two front teeth were missing. “Gary.”

My wife was a little choked up. “Gary, we brought you some lunch and something to drink. I hope you like it.”

Gary seemed very humbled and most appreciative of her gesture. He took the food and was about to turn back when my wife again spoke.

“Gary, I have something to tell you. It’s something I feel very strongly impressed to say.”

Gary stopped and came back to the car. He was listening.

“Gary, God hasn’t forgotten you. He knows you and He’s aware of you, even though it might seem like you’re alone. You’re not.”

That was the message. We again wished him a happy Father’s Day, and we drove away.

With that, I’ll get to today’s challenge:

Someone needs to hear something you have to say today.

It could be a coworker.

It could be a friend.

It could be a family member.

Or, like in my wife’s case, it could be a stranger.

Deliver the message. Today.

That’s all there is to it.

Thank you for reading and accepting today’s challenge.

Thank you also for being willing to spread my message to others. Thank you for retweeting, forwarding and linking back to this post. Someone needs it, and you help them hear it.

And, as always, thank you for remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Friday, June 19, 2009

Slow it Down


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Something I realized this week as I was in a hurry to get inside the store. There was an elderly couple outside struggling to move their empty cart to the empty cart corral in the lot. I was in so much of a hurry, it didn’t hit me until I was well inside that had I slowed down a little bit, I would have realized their need while there was still time to do something about it.

I failed.

So, here’s today’s challenge, for both of us:

Slow down.

Take time to notice your surroundings.

Take time to proactively look for someone in the least bit of trouble.

And then help them.

That’s all there is to it. I’m going to try it!

Thank you for reading and accepting today’s service challenge – I appreciate that you take time out of your busy day to read my words.

Thank you also for being willing to share my words with others.

Together, we can show that truly, Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It Isn't Easy Being Green


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

I’ve been so caught up in work and in watching the incredibly sad drama in Iran lately, I completely forgot to write a blog post.

This issue has really moved me. I find myself staying up way past normal bedtime to check my twitter updates. I realize that I, an American citizen thousands of miles away, can’t do a whole lot to help. But, I feel the need to do what I can.

There was one twitter update that really choked me up. It was posted in the afternoon, USA time and read:

“My death is irrelevant. What is important is that you do not forget my words. We want freedom. I will die for that.”

Though I feel I can’t do much, I also feel that I have been caught up in a history-making event. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, the news media – it all brings it so close. This isn’t the American Revolution. That’s in the history books. As one clever tweeter put it today, this revolution won’t be televised, it will be downloaded.

I’ve downloaded it into my heart – a heart that aches for the people of Iran who want freedom, who are willing to die for freedom.

This week, my heart is green.

I hope you’re caught up in what’s happening to a people who desperately want the basic freedoms that you want.

I hope your heart is green.

And that brings me to today’s challenge:

Today, do something to support our friends in Iran. Turn your Twitter or other social media site avatar green. Retweet a message from someone fighting for freedom. Watch the news. Get involved.

Pray for them.

That’s all there is to today’s challenge.

Thank you for reading today’s blog post. I appreciate you.

Service is The Action Form of Love

James

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Good News Is...


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

The more I read the news or watch it on the Internet or on television, there’s one thing that keeps coming to my mind.

Where’s the good news?

In the past week alone, we’ve heard about probable election fraud in Iran and subsequent oppression of thousands of people, murders, rapes, fires set by arsonists, kidnappings and so much more.

Where is the good news?

It’s a sad but true fact that most news carriers would go broke if they only reported good news items. Consider the following lead in to your favorite news show:

“Absolutely nothing bad happened today in Capital City, today – film at eleven.”

Right.

Wouldn’t happen.

Why?

Because there’s just too much bad news to report.

So, here’s your challenge for today:

Pay close attention to your surroundings. Listen for something positive that happened. It could have happened in your workplace, in your neighborhood or even in your state or country.

Then, when you have the positive tidbit, pass it on.

That’s right – be a carrier of positive news today.

Maybe it’s true that bad news spreads faster than good news. Maybe it’s not. Let’s find out by using today’s challenge as an experiment. See if the good news you passed on comes back to you.

Thank you for taking today’s challenge. Thank you for being willing to pass on the good news as well as my words. I appreciate you.

And, thank you always for remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Importance of Touch


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

I’ve blogged a lot recently about my dearly departed mama. I’m sorry if I’m boring you, but there have been some great lessons of love and service I’ve been able to glean from her life – and from her death.

I ask your forgiveness for yet another post about her.

My siblings and I were recently talking about mama and what we miss most about her. There seemed to be one overarching theme for us all. We miss her touch. We miss her kisses, her hugs and just laying our heads in her lap while she stroked the hair out of our eyes. While we know she is with us in spirit – and that’s such a comforting knowledge – it’s the tangible things we miss. The things we can’t currently have with her.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Touch someone.

If you have a mom or dad, a brother or sister, children or a child, take time today to embrace them. Hold their hand. Stroke the hair out of their eyes. Words may not be necessary, although you certainly may tell them you love them. But at least touch them in a way that they’ll remember when they can’t feel you anymore.

That’s all there is to it.

Thank you for reading today’s post. I appreciate you. Thank you also for being willing to share my words, whether by retweeting, forwarding or linking to my blog.

And, as always, thank you for remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love

James

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Family Bonds



Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

There doesn’t seem to be much that is positive about a loved one passing away. It’s really difficult to find the silver lining around that particular cloud.

Mama, the gentlewoman who carried, bore, raised and loved me for 45 years passed away just under 5 months ago.

During the week the family crowded into (and more or less took over) the ICU waiting room, I don’t think any of us were seeing anything but the dark clouds. As I look back on that time, however, I can finally see a glimmer of something positive. I had a full week with all my brothers and sisters and father – and a full week to reassure mama that I loved her and I knew she loved me, too.

Somehow, the death of a loved one can bring families and friends together like no other occasion. It’s strange how easily hatchets can be buried, arguments forgotten, debts forgiven. The bonding (or re-bonding as the case may be) is one that is powerful and seems so strong that it will never again break.

So it is with our family.

We had a trial run at survivorship when mama’s middle child, Mark passed away in December, 2005. As another brother reminded us, we were in uncharted territory. Other than grandparents, this was the first death to strike so close to our homes and hearts. We were taken unawares and uprepared.

There were parallels in the final days of Mark and mama. Both spent time in the ICU, though at different hospitals. Both had the whole family at the hospital for their final farewells.

Both brought the rest of us a resolve to stay connected through phone calls, email and personal visits. Both slipped peacefully away as easily and simply as stepping out of their bodies and walking through the veil.

Both knew they were loved.

After Mark passed, we siblings determined to maintain our new focus on the family. We were determined to not let life and work creep back in again and interfere with what meant most to us. We resolved to stay in touch, no matter what.

I can’t say we failed, but I think we can all admit we didn’t stay as connected as we would have liked.

In the early days of 2006, we called each other once a week, if not once a day. We constantly sent text messages of love and support, asking how the others were feeling and handling things. We’ve always loved each other, but it seemed we were much more willing to show our love in more concrete ways.

But, as it has a way of doing, life did indeed creep back in. The messages of support became more rare, and we relied on family get-together’s like Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to bring us together.

And then, mama got sick.

I had become immersed in my job and career and was at work one afternoon when I noticed my phone was vibrating a lot more than usual. I finally took a break and saw that my siblings had been trying to reach me for a few hours. I contacted one of them and learned that mama had gone into the hospital, thinking she’d had a heart attack.

By the next night, she was in the ICU, but her heart was fine. She had managed to aspirate something and was failing swallow tests. Her condition from then on would bounce from good to bad to worse to teetering on the edge between going home and going Home.

I admit, I was selfish.

When I learned mama was in the hospital with the heart attack symptoms, I told my siblings I would come up “if they needed me to”. Mama had been in the hospital countless times in her later years, and I guess I presumed this was another case where they’d treat her and send her home.

I was truly humbled the next morning when I arrived at the ICU and saw my family holding vigil in the waiting room.

Less than a week later, mama indicated to us that she was ready to go. We had brought in a miniature white board and marker, set it on her lap, and let her hands tell us what she couldn’t tell us with the respirator on. The messages she wrote in her beautiful shaky handwriting told us that her story was nearing an end.

She wrote things like:

“I’ve been miserable for so long.”

“Make sure he (dad) isn’t sad.”

“I’m tired.”

“I’m dead.”

The day before she died, we siblings were all downstairs in the hospital cafeteria, eating lunch. A niece of mine came down with a message from mama. “Finish your lunch, then come up, have a family prayer, then shut the door and let me die.”

We accommodated mama’s wishes. When we got that message, we couldn’t finish our lunch anyway.

Surrounding her bed, we watched in agony as mama struggled to breathe even with the help of a BiPap machine. Her eyes were open, glistening and aware as we sang “I Am a Child of God.” We then said our final goodbyes, and left the room.

The next day, life support was removed, and she was gone far quicker than any of us expected her to go. We know she lives on, even today, because of our faith, but also because of what we’ve seen and sensed in the intervening months.

So, why am I rambling about the loss of my mama? Well, I’m not, really.

This is about the loss of family connection. The feeling of a loss of bonds that were forged in the face of losing Mark and mama.

I foolishly presumed mama would come out of the hospital, just as she always had, sitting in the passenger seat of dad’s old station wagon. I foolishly thought she would be around forever.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Don’t be foolish.

Pick up the phone and call your mom, your dad, a favorite aunt or uncle. Call a sibling your child your grandparent, a friend.

Call just to see how they’re doing.

Call just to tell them the words we all long to hear.

Call just to say “I love you.”

Thank you for reading today’s challenge. Thank you for being willing to accept and perform small and simple acts of service for others. You are making a difference in the lives of others.

Thank you for remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Monday, June 8, 2009

Leave a Good Impression


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Today’s challenge is so simple (though maybe not easy) it won’t take you very long at all to read it.

Here’s your challenge:

Make someone feel better about having met you today. Leave an impression. A good one.

It could be a stranger, a family member, a coworker, even. Just make them feel better for having interacted with you. Leave them feeling better about themselves.

That’s it!

Can you do it?

Of course you can!

Thanks for taking today’s challenge! Thanks for being willing to share it with others. And thank you for being mindful that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bridge the Distance


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Most of us have experienced the nausa that comes with knowing we’ve burned a bridge with someone in our family or circle of friends and acquantances. We think of them often, but we can’t seem to get up the courage to do anything about it.

We let the distance between us grow and grow until it seems we’re so far apart, reconciliation seems impossible.

I once heard it said that refusing to forgive someone and holding onto a grudge is like administering poison by degrees – to ourself.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Today, do something to bridge the distance between you. Be willing to make the first move, regardless of what or who initiated the estrangement.

If you can, forgive and forget.

If you cannot do that, at least try your best to forgive.

Try bridging the distance between you, even if it means swallowing some pride, eating some crow and admitting you were wrong.

You can do it.

You need to do it.

You want to do it.

And they are waiting for you to do it.

Thank you for reading today’s post. Thank you for being willing to share my message and challenge with others.

And thank you especially for remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love

James

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ease A Burden


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

We all have burdens.

Some of us have burdens of work, others of raising and keeping a family fed. Many of us have both.

Today’s challenge is short, sweet and simple:

Help someone with their burden.

Some burdens can’t be easily lifted off the shoulders of the bearer. Some are deeply emotional and psychological. Others are physical burdens like too much work, too little time. Most of us are facing economical burdens because of the economy, fear of losing our jobs or just the stress of watching others lose theirs.

What can you do to help?

Remember, the idea here is to find small and simple ways to serve others. Find one or two little things you can do to help someone who is overburdened.

Maybe you can just let them vent and listen without interrupting.

Maybe you can offer to run an errand for them.

Maybe you can watch their children so they can have a night to themselves.

Small and simple.

That’s what it’s all about.

Thank you for taking today’s challenge – I appreciate you!

Thank you also for being willing to pass this on to others. You, my friend, make a difference.

You “get it”.

You know that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Employment Alertness


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Many of us are enduring some pretty rough financial seas. Earlier this week, I told you about Dan and Barbara, a couple who relocated to Utah for Dan’s job only to be laid off shortly after arriving. Now they’re packing back up to move again, this time at their own expense. $2500 or more down the drain.

In one way or another, we’re all experiencing some fallout from the current economic crisis.

So, what can we do to help?

How can we help in small and simple ways?

Today’s challenge is this:

Be alert.

Know of a job opening at your company or nearby? How about posting it on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media site you belong to?

Do you know someone who could fill that job? Why not cut to the chase and email it directly to him or her?

See?

Small and simple. Just like always.

Be alert for openings; pass them on to others who might be in the market for that job.

Thank you for reading and accepting today’s challenge. I really appreciate the fact that you understand the concept that by small and simple things, great things can happen (a paraphrase of one of my favorite scriptures).

Thank you also for being willing to pass this challenge to others. I know you pass it on by forwarding, by retweeting, by posting on message boards and by Stumbling. I’m truly humbled by your willingness to help others – because that’s what it’s all about.

Thank you especially for remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love

James

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Learning by Example


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses.

Some days, our weaknesses seem to outdo our strengths. On other days, the reverse is true.

One of my strengths is to be able to treat others with respect in many situations. Now, please don’t think I’m bragging here. It’s a learned strength. One learned from years of watching my mother and father deal with people in varied circumstances.

I learned how to be kind by watching and emulating their example.

For years before I really “got it”, though, one of my greatest weaknesses was that I could not seem to treat anyone with any measure of respect or kindness. For much of my adult life, I was a nasty, judgmental and downright rude person.

People would come to visit, and if I bothered to answer the door, I’d leave them sitting in the living room and go back to my bedroom until the awkwardness of the situation would be too much and they would finally leave.

I have many more stories like that, but I’d really prefer not to dwell on them (and I’d especially prefer you not remembering me like that!)

The point is, a weakness was turned into a strength by the patient teaching of my honorable parents. They acted, I learned.

We all have things we need to work on. We all have patient teachers around us who are willing to share what they know; who they are.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Think of someone in your circle of influence who has a strength you admire.

It could be a coworker.

It could be a family member.

It could be someone you attend school with or who rides in your carpool.

When you’ve thought of them, determine that beginning today, you will try to learn from their example.

Watch them as they do what it is you’d like to learn how to do.

Listen to them as they talk the talk and walk the walk.

It’s okay to take notes, and it’s certainly okay to approach them and tell them what you’re doing. Ask for their help. Ask them to teach you just one thing about how they do what they do.

Then, as you continue to watch them day by day, try doing the same things. You don’t have to be a carbon copy of the person. You can mold and fit and adjust so that it feels natural to you.

But do it.

Starting today.

Find someone who has a strength you want, and then begin to acquire that strength yourself.

Thank you so much for reading today’s challenge.

Thank you for being willing to learn something about serving others as well as yourself.

Thank you for sharing this post with others. Thank you for posting it on message boards, for forwarding it in emails, for retweeting and for Stumbling it.

I truly appreciate you for understanding that…

Service is The Action Form of Love

James

Monday, June 1, 2009

Caring Coupons


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Most of us know someone who has been negatively affected by the recent downturn in the economy.

My neighbors, Dan and Barbara accepted his company’s offer to relocate him to Utah – several hundred miles away from where they call home. Once they got here, signed a yearlong lease and unpacked, his company laid him off. Now he’s stuck.

There are other stories. You know them. Your friends and family or even you may be living one of them.

What can we do to help?

The aim of this blog has always been to focus on small and simple acts of service. I don’t have the money to help Dan and Barbara move back to Alabama. But there are little things you and I can do to help folks survive and make their days go by just a little more smoothly.

As a child, my parents were always teaching us about serving others. One of the best examples I experienced was around Christmastime as a young boy. I am one of 8 siblings, so sometimes Christmas could get pretty pricey unless you got really creative.

At a Family Home Evening, our parents suggested we all make coupon books to give to one another. The booklets, designed by us, were meant to give little acts of service to each other rather than material gifts. The idea was to make Christmas last longer than a few cold December days.

One coupon in a book for my older brother might say that I would wash his car on any Saturday he chose. Another would tell mama that I would wash the dinner dishes without arguing whenever she wanted to redeem the coupon.

You get the idea.

Would this work to help someone you know who has fallen on hard times?

Yes.

So, here’s your challenge for today:

Decide on someone you know who is having a rough time. Design a simple coupon book specifically for things you know they need. Once you’ve made the book, take it to them with a freshly baked loaf of bread or maybe some cookies. Tell them how the book works. Let them know that they can call on you to help them.

Could you give them a coupon book to use when they really need help? Maybe it would help them reach out and ask for help when they would otherwise try to “get by” in silent pride.

Maybe you could offer to wash their car.

Maybe you could offer to mow their lawn?

How about a coupon to drive their kids somewhere? Or to drop off and pick up their dry cleaning? What about a coupon for a picnic lunch on a weekend they choose?

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Small and simple is the way to go.

You can be creative. You know your friends and family and neighbors and what their needs are.

Can you do this?

I believe you can.

I’m grateful for your generosity in wanting to help others. You, my friend, make a difference.

If you’ve read this far, I’m offering you a coupon, too. Here’s how it works. Simply go to the comments section of my blog and enter a comment. Tell me your first name and city and state or country, and tell me about your favorite service deed or act, whether you were the server or the served.

Make sure I have a way to contact you. I’d like to get in touch with you and ask you some questions. Then, with your permission, I’d like to blog about your experience.

Thanks for reading and taking today’s challenge! Thanks for being willing to help others. You matter by making others matter, too.

Truly, Service is the Action form of Love

James

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Introducing Hospice of Peel


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

This week, I’m blogging about Hospice of Peel in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

In researching Hospice of Peel, I’ve learned a lot of new things. I’ve only really had one encounter with a hospice organization, and that was when my mother passed away. (You can read about my experience in yesterday’s blog post found here: http://serviceafol.blogspot.com/2009/05/mama-and-hospice-experience.html)

The most amazing thing I learned is that they provide their services for free. They do this because charging a fee would prevent many people from being able to take advantage of the care they offer.

Something else I learned is that they offer opportunities to volunteer. What a cool way to get involved and help out such a needed organization!

Here are some of the ways you can help:

- Do you have a talent for or experience in office work? If you can commit 4 hours a week (during regular office hours), Hospice of Peel is looking for volunteers to help their staff with data entry, filing, photocopying and other duties around the office. If you know Microsoft programs like Word, Excel or Access, they say that would be very beneficial.

- Would you rather be more of an occasional volunteer? You can still help. Hospice of Peel has a variety of events throughout the year. Can you help? Check out their Special Events page here: http://www.hospiceofpeel.com/2/funddev.php

My blog readers come from all over, so I realize many of you aren’t able to physically help Hospice of Peel by showing up at the door and volunteering. However, whether you live in Mississauga or not, there’s still something you can do.

Every organization needs financial help, and Hospice of Peel is no exception. The current financial crisis has hit every industry, every charity. Although they do get some financial help from the United Way of Peel and The Ministry of Health (which together cover approximately 50% of costs) the hospice still needs help to cover the remaining costs.

So, here’s your challenge today:

Find a way to help Hospice of Peel help their community. To do so, you can accept one or all of the following challenges:

Donate. Can you donate even $5.00? If so, please follow this link: http://www.hospiceofpeel.com/2/donations.php

Volunteer: Do you live in Mississagua? Can you spare 4 hours a week? Can you help out with special events? If so, please call Susan Endicott at (905) 712-8119 Ext. 224. She’s available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. To contact her outside of those hours, or if you’d like more information, please email her at sendicott@hospiceofpeel.com

Share this blog post. Perhaps one of the greatest things about blogs, social media, email and all things Internet is the ability to share information far and wide in a very short amount of time. By linking to this post, forwarding the link in an email, retweeting it or posting it on your Facebook or other page, you can help me help Mickey help Hospice of Peel continue the great work they’re already doing. You – yes, you – can make a difference. If you can’t donate or volunteer, I encourage you to share this post.

Thank you for always remembering that…

Service is The Action Form of Love

James

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mama and the Hospice Experience


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

This week, I’m blogging about something many of us may never encounter. Frankly, until fairly recently, I didn’t think I’d get close enough to this program to really get to understand it.

I thought I would be lucky or blessed if our paths never crossed.

This week, I’m blogging about hospice.

You see, until about nine months ago, I thought hospice was only for people with a terminal illness. I presumed their function was to ease the sufferer’s pain and gently guide them from the transition from mortality to eternity.

Sometime around summer of 2008, my parents told me that mama’s doctor had set her up on in-home hospice. My initial reaction was one of alarm.

Why did mom need hospice, I asked? She wasn’t exactly healthy, but she didn’t have a terminal illness, either. True, she had been nearly homebound for several years, but that was because of her fibromyalgia and post-polio syndrome and age. She didn’t have cancer, had never had a stroke or a heart attack. I was flabbergasted that Dr. Jack would assign a hospice team to her.

Rachel, the hospice nurse, was a very kind, compassionate young lady. She was always gentle with mama and very understanding of all the questions my dad tossed at her. The one thing all of us wanted to know was why?

Why hospice? Why now?

To their credit, the doctor and Rachel patiently explained to us that hospice is not just a program for those expected to die right away. It’s also to help ensure people like mama are in a safe, secure and healthy environment.

Hospice doesn’t just help people die; it also to help people live.

Besides Rachel coming over and helping dad manage mama’s daily medications, there were others who came and helped her in other ways. One sweet young lady came three times a week to help mama get in and out of the shower. Others cooked and planned meals and helped with her physical therapy exercises.

According to the medical professionals who cared for mom, there are two phases to hospice care. The care mama received last year was the first phase – the phase that helped both my parents have a better quality of life.

The other phase, the part where hospice helps patient and family prepare for, accept and endure the death of their loved one came later for us.

Sometime just before Thanksgiving, 2008, dad called me on the phone. While we chatted he mentioned that, due to the family members enduring various financial difficulties, he was thinking of cancelling the family Christmas party. I told him I would go along with whatever the rest of the family decided. Later, he told me that mama had gotten quite upset with him.

He said that she heard him talking to me and my other siblings about not having the party and she burst into tears. When he asked what the matter was, she told him we had to have the Christmas party because this would likely be her last with us.

Now, I don’t know about you, and I’ll not try and make you believe as I do. But, I believe mama knew. She knew her time was at hand to shuffle off her mortal coil and join her other family members on the other side of the veil.

Two months later, in January of this year, I had forgotten all about that conversation. I kept feeling my cellphone vibrate in its holster. Ordinarily, I don’t answer my cell at work but the vibrating was so persistent I finally took a break to see who was trying to reach me.

It was my family.

Three siblings had been trying to call and text message me all day. When I finally called them back, I learned that mama was in the hospital, and they suspected a heart attack. They had run some tests that night and would have the results in the morning.

I was told that she should be okay, she looked and felt better, but they were keeping her overnight, just in case.

By the next day, things had taken a dramatic turn. Although it was confirmed that mama hadn’t suffered a heart attack, she somehow aspirated and began having a very difficult time breathing.

She had gotten worse, and had been moved to the Intensive Care Unit.

That morning, I called out from work and my wife dropped me off at the hospital front door. I went up to the ICU waiting room and found my siblings and dad sitting in the chairs against the wall. As I walked in, I remember thinking how strange it was to see dad and the kids all in one place, but without mama at his side.

Dad warned me that if I was going to go in and see her to be prepared. She didn’t look much like herself. She had tubes and wires and a respirator.

There wasn’t much more he could have done to warn me, and still it wasn’t enough.

When I went back through the ICU doors, I first went into the wrong room. There was a woman laying in a coma, and I thought, dad was right. That didn’t look like mom at all. A kind nurse came and directed me to the right room, but the sight wasn’t really any better. On the bed was my mama, but she sure didn’t look like her. The lady in the next room actually resembled her more.

Throughout the days my family and I spent there, most of us had the feeling that mama wouldn’t be going home with dad from this hospital trip. Some of us talked about it, but others pushed it back into the recesses of our minds, not wanting to acknowledge it.

From the first morning I was there until the fateful afternoon a week later, mama had been through some ups and downs. Sometimes we took hope that there was something the medical staff could fix, and other times, we thought she would die before the end of the day.

Throughout it all, dad stayed and hoped against hope he would be driving his wife of 61 years back home to recuperate. Though her prognosis indicated it would have taken six or more months just to get her back to the point she was before going to the hospital, dad was willing to make the sacrifice to stay by her side and care for her, even ignoring his own needs in the process.

For most of the day, he would stand at her bedside, crouched over; holding her limp hand while she slept, and while she was awake.

I think of anyone who didn’t want to believe it was the end, it was dad.

A couple of days before she died, my wife and I talked about what mom wanted. Did she want to keep fighting a losing battle, or did she want to just let go and go Home? That day, I went in and had a talk with her.

“Mama,” I said, “do you want to keep fighting?”

She looked at me with such love, I’m choking on tears now just writing about it. She managed a weak smile, and held up a shaky finger and said, “Maybe one more day.”

The next day, she went to sleep, and the nursing staff and chaplain helped dad to know it was time to let her go. I can only imagine how hard that was for him.

We made the decision to pull mama’s life support, and, as family spokesman, it was my responsibility to deliver that directive to mom’s doctor. Though I don’t feel the same way now, at that very moment, when I had to pick up the phone and let the ICU staff know, I felt like an executioner.

It was probably the worst day in my life, and I imagine, the toughest day dad and my siblings had ever experienced. We were sore and fatigued, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. Though we had a full week for a wonderful family reunion, we all agree that it would have been much better under different circumstances.

And then, when our emotions just couldn’t get any rawer, Rachel showed up. While dad had told us he wanted to be with mama when she slipped away, he let Rachel take his place at her bedside.

We were all in the family waiting room when the life support was removed. We were spared having to watch her take her last breath and go Home.

Twenty or so minutes after the tubes, respirator and wires were removed, Rachel joined us in the waiting room. She was crying, and we knew.

She gently knelt down next to dad and told him mama was gone.

We all knew the news was coming. The day before she passed, my siblings and I were eating in the hospital cafeteria when my niece came down with a message from mom. She wanted us to finish our lunch, come back up to her room long enough to say a family prayer, and then she wanted us to close her door and let her go.

Still, knowing it was her time – knowing she was ready to go – it was a heartbreaking event. Not one of us wanted mama to leave, even though she’d spent the past several years in a damaged body with a slightly confused mind. On the other hand, we couldn’t bear the thought of her staying around just because we selfishly wanted our mom to be with us a little longer.

In retrospect, maybe mama knew something long before Thanksgiving. Maybe she told Dr. Jack something she didn’t share with us, and that’s why he ordered hospice. I really don’t have the answer, and it really doesn’t matter.

What does and did matter was that Rachel and the entire hospice team was there.

They were there to help mom and dad live, and they were there to help mom die. Most importantly, Rachel was there when we absolutely needed her the most.

All in all, mama’s death would have been so much harder to deal with if not for hospice.

So, your challenge today:

Find something you can do to help your local hospice team.

Can you donate money? They surely need and deserve every penny they can get.

Can you visit them and find out what they’re all about? Someday someone you love may need their services. I can tell you from our experience it was better to know what they were all about before the time came for mama to pass.

Do you know someone who works for a hospice? How about calling them and just telling them how brave you think they are for what they do?

I’ll leave it up to you and to your imagination to decide how you can serve.

Thank you for reading today’s post. Thank you for being willing to share it with others. Thank you for always remembering that…

Service is The Action Form of Love.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nice Guys & Gals Finish First


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

I’m starting a new feature on the Operation Kindness blog (see it here: http://bit.ly/GGJkA)

Every Friday, rather than a service challenge from me, I’m going to profile someone who is trying to make a difference in the world. Your challenge, then, would be to do what you can to emulate them – to try and follow their lead and example.

So, today’s challenge is even simpler than most – and here it is:

Who do you know that’s kind, gentle, treats others with respect and is trying to make a positive difference in the world? I’d like you to think of who would be the perfect candidate for a Operation Kindness profile post and email all the details you can.

Here’s what I’d like to know about them:

Who are they? I really only need their first name and city and state.

What are they doing? Are they involved in a fundraiser or a charity? In your mind, what makes them kind and gentle? What makes them a nice guy or nice gal? Tell me, and be as detailed as you can. Is there a link to what they’re doing? Please send that, too.

Why do you think they should be profiled?

Where are they making a difference? Is it in their community alone or is it statewide? Nationwide? Globally?

I’m anxious to hear from you! First profile will be Friday, May 22!

To nominate, please email jameswhofheins@yahoo.com

And thanks for reading today! You are a service rockstar!

Service is the Action Form of Love

James

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Make 'em Smile (Part 2)


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Yesterday’s post was likely a difficult challenge for many.

It can be found here: http://bit.ly/HZg51

The challenge yesterday was to smile in the face of bad news.

Did you take the challenge? How did you feel? At the end of the day, did you find your mood a little lighter than on other days?

In today’s challenge, I’d like to take that one step further. It’s another small and simple challenge, but again, it may carry with it a degree of unexpected difficulty. But, if I know you, you’ll carry it off with a great attitude and succeed.

So, without further ado, here’s today’s challenge:

Make someone else smile. Really focus on this today, more than you did yesterday.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about many of the negative issues facing us. I don’t think I need to go over them again. Go to any news site and you can see for yourself what our country and world are facing. If your entire intake is news, you’re not likely to smile, and it may be difficult to make others smile, too.

Some may think that making others smile is a complex process. It really isn’t. Think of what makes you smile.

Do you smile when someone talks about your children and their accomplishments?

Do you smile when someone gives you a sincere compliment?

Do you smile when others smile and tell you to have a good day?

What makes you smile?

When you take a quick inventory of the triggers that bring your mouth muscles into that gleaming grin, transfer it. Use it on someone else.

Now, I want to ask you to be careful. Remember, these challenges are intended to be taken seriously but in sincerity, as well. Don’t give a fake compliment. Don’t patronize someone for the sake of the challenge.

Be real.

Be you.

Think of what makes you smile and then try it on someone you meet who you know really would benefit from an honest-to-goodness smile.

I know you can do it. People who take my service challenges are generally happy. No, I haven’t taken a survey, and I can’t prove it statistically. But I know this. Serving others has a profound effect on both the server and the one being served. Very often, it’s the one who serves who gains the most. They are happier because they know they’ve made a difference in someone’s life.

Happier equals smiling.

That’s how I know this challenge shouldn’t be difficult for you. You serve, therefore you are happy. You’re happy, therefore you smile. You smile; therefore, others will smile with you. Misery may love company, but so does joy.

Okay, you’ve read the challenge. Now, as soon as you have a moment, get up and go make someone smile. It doesn’t have to be the first person you encounter. You’ll know who it is. They’ll need your smile.

And you’ll give it to them.

And they’ll be happier because you made them smile.

Thank you for reading today’s post. I appreciate you more than you know.

Thank you also for sharing my words with others. I hope you forwarding, retweeting or passing this along makes someone else smile.

Always remember, Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Make 'em Smile!


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Over the past year or so, we’ve had to endure bad (and sometimes worse) news.

We’ve seen the economy nosedive, taking jobs, homes and our retirement savings plans with it. Crime seems to always be above the fold, and the wars of the world sap our national energy and will.

We’ve also had a recent scare with a strain of flu never before seen. Regrettably, this has given some a feeling of superiority and they feel justified in spreading the fear of racism. Others have used the scare in unethical marketing practices. They seem to want to prosper on the fear they can create in others.

At times like this, it’s easy for any of us to feel down, if not downright depressed. Singly, there’s really not much we can do to reverse the negative trends we seem to have inherited. Collectively, however, there are things we can do to help each other through it.

One of the primary things we can do is to uplift one another. When someone is having a bad day, feeling the very natural doubts that come with overwhelmingly bad news, we can take on the responsibility to help them.

So, how can you help?

Your challenge today is likely one of the simplest I’ve ever posted.

Smile.

That’s it.

When you’re faced with a problem, smile.

When a coworker or fellow student or even your spouse brings you bad news…

Smile.

Smile when a frown or even tears are more appropriate. Smile when others want to bring you down with the latest headlines. Smile when your boss gives you more work. Smile when you get a bill in the mail.

Just…

Smile.

That’s all there is to it.

I’m well aware that though this is simple, it’s not exactly easy.

Our very natural, human reaction to bad news is to curse and shake our fists at the heavens.

But today – just for today, I’m asking you to smile. Even if you don’t feel like it.

How is this related to serving others?

Our attitudes and emotions can be very infectious. If you smile in the face of stress, tension and negativity, chances are, those around you will feel a little lighter. They may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I promise you, your smiling today will have an effect on somebody.

And even if you can help just one person you with your smile, isn’t it worth the effort?

Thank you for taking time to come and read my blog today. I realize time is a precious commodity. Knowing you take time out of your day to come here, well, that makes me smile.

Thank you also for taking the time to pass the word. I appreciate knowing that you forward, repost, tweet, digg and stumble my words. I love the fact that you’re willing to share.

And, I’m especially grateful you remember that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dreamkillers


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to thrive on raining on parades? No matter how good an idea someone has, they’re the ones who feel it’s their obligation to “bring a dose of reality” and count off all the reasons why something can’t be done.

Like predators in the wild, they seem to be able to sniff out someone with a dream or a goal, and when their prey is most vulnerable, they go in for the kill. No earnest hope for success, big or small, escapes their notice or their death grip.

We all know predators like this.

They’re in the workplace. They’re in our schools. They may even be in our home.

What can we do about them?

That’s today’s challenge.

Today, find someone with a dream, an innovative idea or a goal. Help protect them from the dream killer.

Encourage them.

Cheer them on.

Tell them reasons why they can do something, even in the face of someone telling them why they cannot.

It doesn’t take much to help a dreamer, but your encouragement may have to be doled out in proportion to the discouragement they’re also receiving.

This is a simple challenge. It will be easy for you to do. How do I know?

Because you have dreams, too. You know what it feels like to be told it can’t be done. You understand the pressure, the heartache and the hopeless feeling of a broken dream.

So, go.

Tell them it can be done.

Tell them you believe in them.

And then, watch them do it.

Thank you for reading today’s challenge. Thank you for being willing to share it with others, especially the dreamers and believers you know.

And thank you for remembering that Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Monday, May 11, 2009

Help the Vulnerable


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Most of us are aware of the vulnerable among us. We know of those who have needs greater than our own, and we know that sometimes, those needs go unmet.

We work and live and play among the disabled, the poverty-stricken and the very old and very young. We see them in our neighborhoods, at the store, at school and at work. Some of them are in our social circles and some are not.

Regardless of our actual interaction with the less-advantaged, we know who they are and we often know their needs.

Can you help them?

That’s today’s challenge.

Find someone who is vulnerable. Talk to them. Assess their needs. Find out how they’re getting along. If they have a need that is going unfilled, see if you can fill it for them.

Don’t be pushy or make them feel like a service project. Be as private as you can. Be as respectful of their dignity as you would want someone to be of yours.

If you can fulfill the need by yourself, by all means, do it with their permission. If it’s something greater than you alone can do, ask their permission to involve someone else.

If permission is granted, do the best that you can. Do it with love and caring and understanding that many of us don’t like others helping us when we can do it ourselves.

Complete the task and see if there is anything else you may do for them.

And then, feel good about what you’ve done. Feel the joy and peace that comes with serving someone else.

Thank you for taking today’s challenge. I know some are easier than others, and this one just may fit into the difficult category for you.

Thank you also for being willing to pass it on. I appreciate you.

Remember always, Service is the Action Form of Love.

James

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mama's Day


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Mother’s Day – what does it mean to you?

Regardless of how we currently interact with our mothers, the fact remains that we all have one. Due to life’s disappointments, sometimes our relationships with our mothers degrade. It happens.

Even if that’s happened in your life, today’s challenge applies to you and to all of us.

Thank your mom today.

If you’re like me, and your mama has passed on, find another mother you cherish, love and respect and thank her.

Simple.

You can do it!

Thanks for taking time to read today’s post. I appreciate you!

Thanks also for being willing to share this with others.

Service is the Action Form of Love

James

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What's The Difference?


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

Today’s challenge is pretty simple in concept, but even for me, more difficult to successfully achieve. It may take more than a few tries to get it down, and we may not even get it right today.

In the past, I’ve blogged about including others, being kind and judging people on their intentions rather than on their actions alone. Today, I’m going to sort of combine these three.

As you go throughout your day, I’d like you to take a look around. Really take inventory of the kinds of people you find yourself with on a day to day basis. When I do this, I see all sorts of people. I see people of different religions, different nationalities, different sizes and… well… a lot of different differences. In other words, I see a lot of people who are not just like me.

I need to make a confession here.

It wasn’t many years ago that I was an extremely judgmental person. If I saw someone who was overweight or slow or anything else I then considered to be less than perfect, I mocked them. I didn’t do it to their face, but I sure did it behind their back or in my mind. I wasn’t a very nice person.

How I got from being that mean-spirited jerk to who I’m trying to be today (I’m not perfect – but I’m still trying to improve), is a long story. If you really want to know, hang on for another year or two and you can read the book.

Since then, I’ve become rather close to some of the people I would earlier have mocked. And you know what I’ve learned? Once I let my guard down and stopped seeing them as failures according to Madison Avenue standards, I found them to be more like me than I would have ever wanted to allow before.

People are people. God’s children are God’s children.

It doesn’t matter if a person is Democrat, Republican or somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter if they are straight, gay, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, short, tall, fat or lean or any one of a dozen other labels we can place on them.

People are people.

God’s children are God’s children.

Now I can look back and ask myself, “What right did you have to judge these people?”

And the answer I would now give:

“Absolutely none.”

What about you?

Is there something different about you that makes others uncomfortable or uneasy?

How about someone in your family? Is there something about them that makes other people mock and ridicule?

It’s easy to say we don’t care how others treat us, but what about your family? What if your mother or your sister or your father or brother had a quirk that made mocking easy?

See, suddenly its not about you – it’s about someone you love. And watching someone close to you have to endure the meanness of others, well, that’s just crossing the line, isn’t it?

So, bearing that in mind, here’s today’s challenge:

Get to know someone who has a difference you find difficult to accept.

You don’t have to talk about your differences (in fact, sometimes, that’s not the best thing to do when you’re trying to build a bridge). You can start by having a very short, casual conversation and see where it goes from there. You’re not being asked to embrace everything about them, but try your very hardest to accept them as a person – as a fellow son or daughter of God.

I’m guessing, from my own experience here, that if you will try this challenge, regardless of how the other person responds, you will come away from the experience a better person. You will want to try harder to be more open to more people.

You will feel more confident about yourself.

And, if you continue trying to reach out to others, you will also begin to feel your heart softening – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Thank you for taking the time to read and accept today’s challenge. I appreciate you, for your strengths, for your weaknesses; for your similarities and for your differences.

Please feel free to pass this on.

And, remember, Service is the Action Form of Love

James

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

5 Fast Ways to Give Back


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

We’ve all been given much.

Whether we’re wealthy or poor, enjoy good health or fight illness and disease, almost every one of us has something to be grateful for.

Whatever problems life may hand us, we can be reasonably sure that we’ve been given blessings, too.

So, how can we give back?

Here are 5 small and simple ways you and I can give back to our giving world today – its today’s service challenge:

1. Gather 5 books you no longer read and donate them to a woman’s shelter, a homeless shelter, hospital or even to your local library.
2. Pick up a piece of trash and drop it into a trash receptacle. Of course, you don’t have to stop at one piece. If you see more litter, pick it up and dispose of it.
3. Do you have a board game your family doesn’t use anymore? How about taking it to your children’s hospital and donating it to them?
4. If you see a member of the military, thank them for their service. Whether or not you agree with the wars going on in the world, these brave men and women are still willing to lay down their life and preserve yours.
5. If you happen to see a firefighter or police officer, today, remember that these first responders are also willing to put their lives in danger to save your life and property. Take the time to say “thank you.”

What do you think? Can you do something to give back to your community today? I think you can, and I’m sure you will. That’s the kind of person you are. You realize that, despite your challenges and hardships, you’ve been given much and you too must give.

Thank you for taking today’s challenge. Thanks also for being willing to pass it on. I appreciate you for digging, stumbling, forwarding and retweeting.

I appreciate you!

Together we’re making a difference as we remember…

Service is the Action Form of Love.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Four Simple Ways to Uplift


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

For the past several months, we’ve been inundated with bad news. The economy has gone sour, taking with it the housing market, small businesses, and in too many cases, even the security of our jobs.

There used to be a time when a dedicated worker could work at the same company for decades and live in the same home for years.

There was a time when the mom and pop store on the corner was a neighborhood fixture that would always be there like a comforting friend and landmark.

This was a time of stability and assurance that all was well with the world.

Sadly, times have changed. There are events happening today that can really make us lose hope.

Is there anything we can do to make a difference in this world filled with bad news and ever-constant negativity?

Are there small and simple things you and I can do to help spread positivity and love?

I believe there are.

Here are 4 positive messages you can pass along to others in your path today. Your words may be different than mine, but the message can be the same:

1. You matter to me.
2. I believe in you.
3. You are a beautiful person,
4. Forgive yourself, and move on.

There will always be naysayers who find great pleasure in tearing others down. If they could get paid for being unkind, they would be rolling in the money. You know this, and I know this. They will always be with us, trying to undo the good we manage to accomplish. We may never be able to completely escape the negativity of the world, because it’s just so persuasive.

But we can make a difference, and it requires surprisingly little effort.

So, here’s today’s challenge:

Look at the four statements above. Think of someone in your life who needs to hear it, and then, tell them. It’s that simple.

It can be someone you work with, or someone you go to school with.

It can be the person who serves your breakfast or coffee in the morning.

It can be a fellow passenger on the train or bus or plane.

It can be someone in your family or even a family friend.

All you need to do is look around you at the people you see every day. You know someone who needs picking up.

Make a difference in their lives. Assure them all is not lost, despite the bleak outcome they may see in their world.

Can you do this?

Of course you can.

I know this because you come here to find ways to serve others in small and simple ways. I appreciate you for that. You matter. You’re the one who goes out every day and makes a positive difference in the world.

You are the one who serves and is willing to pass on my service challenges.

And you’re the one who remembers that…

Service is the Action Form of Love

James Hofheins

Friday, May 1, 2009

H1N1 - 3 Ways to help


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

It’s Friday.

Many of us are worn out - not just from working, but also from the spreading news of the current H1N1 Flu scare (I’ve stopped calling it that “other” flu name because eating pork is not dangerous, according to the CDC).
So, since we all need a break, I’ve decided to make this a very small and simple challenge:

In light of the H1N1 Flu scare, here are three simple things you can do to serve others:

1. Don’t panic. Like a lit match in the dry weeds, panic spreads pretty quickly. Don’t post or spread rumors or theories. Stick with the facts.
2. Be realistic. I’ve heard a lot of people blaming everything from the government of the United States to illegal aliens for the current situation. It’s important to note that it would be wholly counterproductive for the US Government to do such a thing, and nearly every case of the flu I’ve heard of outside of Mexico was spread by non Mexicans who went there and brought it back.
3. Be kind. You’re going to encounter innuendo, rumors and divisiveness. Don’t ague. Walk away. Let it go (as hard as that is).

That’s it! Three simple ways to deal with the situation while helping others.

Thank you so much for being willing to read my blog post today. Go make a difference, and pass this on if you find it helpful.

And remember, Service is the Action Form of Love

James

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Alyssa Milano, meet Laura


Welcome to Service – The Action Form of Love

I’d like to share a success story. Admittedly, it’s an old story, but sometimes a story needs to “age” in order to appreciate its full value.

18 years ago, a baby was born to a Utah couple. Even before birth, there were indications that things were not going well. There were complications. The baby had somehow developed a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

When little Laura was born, the staff at the hospital advised her parents to take her home and love her as much as they could, because her life-expectancy was days or weeks, rather than years.

Laura’s parents did take her home, but they took her home to live, not to die.

They moved to California to be near Loma Linda University Hospital, who was then pioneering infant heart transplants. Maybe you’ve heard about this – it was in the news in the late 1980’s.

They got Laura on a waiting list, and within weeks, they were told to rush to the hospital – a donor heart had been secured. In short order, Laura had someone else’s gently used heart beating inside her tiny chest.

Day after day, mom and dad and the hospital staff monitored little Laura, watching for signs that her immune system was rejecting its new resident heart. Day after day, they prayed, worried and wondered if the next news story about a baby dying after transplant would feature Laura as the casualty.

Laura’s grandmother recorded several instances in her journal of scares the family had. Nobody really knew whether these oft occurring incidents meant the end, or even the beginning of the end.

Laura is now a healthy high-school graduate, looking forward to college, marriage and life. So, this is a success story for her, to be sure, but it’s also a success story of a system put in place to help people, babies and adults, like Laura.

This is also a success story of organ donation.

Without a family’s willingness, even at a very painful time of their own child’s death, to allow doctors to harvest organs, Laura would certainly have died before she emerged from toddlerhood.

Are you an organ donor?

I am.

Your neighbor is.

Your coworker is.

Even celebrities realize the importance of organ donation.

Alyssa Milano revealed that she is an organ donor as well as a bone-marrow donor. Though she hasn’t been asked to donate her bone marrow, and, obviously no other organs, the point is, she’s willing.

This is the young lady who involves her fans on twitter (and perhaps other social media) and is very open about her willingness to help out. In fact, just today, she was instrumental in trying to help find a home for a pet that faced imminent euthanasia. Turns out she’s a kind soul who is a great model for serving others. Kudos to her and the fans who help her serve.

So, here’s your challenge today. I’m not going to ask you to run out and sign up to be an organ donor. But, I am going to ask you to seriously consider it. Talk it over with your family. Discuss the ramifications. Make sure they understand your wishes. Ask more than one family member or close friend to speak up for you when it’s your time to put off this mortal coil. Put your wishes in writing. Don’t make your family second-guess their decision when the time comes. The decision has to be made quickly, and there may not be time for discussion.

There it is. One more small and simple way to serve others – that has a huge payoff to the recipient of your selflessness.

Thank you for reading and accepting today’s challenge. I know this is a really tough decision for some to make. Think it over, and then make your decision.

(In the interest of full disclosure, Alyssa Milano does not sponsor nor endorse my blog - and Laura is related to me)

Please feel free to share this with anyone you like. You may email it, forward it, post it, tweet it, stumble and digg it. Together we’re getting out the word that…

Service is The Action Form of Love

James

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Easy as 1-2-3


Welcome to Service is The Action Form of Love Blog

If you’ve read my past postings (see below and to your right for the links), you know that the kind of service I advocate is small and simple. A small and simple act of service (or random act of kindness, if you will) can make a big impact in someone’s day and life.
So, today, I want to just highlight three things you can do to serve today.

Ready?

Here’s your challenge (see if you can do all three, but don’t feel bad if you can’t):

1. Offer to let someone vent to you. Don’t try to solve it, just listen with empathy.

2. Call someone in your family or circle of friends and say “I love you”.

3. Send an email or written note that just says “Thank you”.


That’s all there is to it!

I know you can do it. How do I know? Because I know you care.

Thanks for reading today’s post. Thanks for being willing to accept the challenge and to pass it on. Thanks for being you!

And, thanks for remembering that Service is The Action Form of Love.

James

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reminder - Service Saturday Approaches


Welcome back to Service – The Action Form of Love

Just a reminder that our next Service Saturday is coming up on May 9th.

Remember also that service should be done without self-promotion (leave your business cards in your wallet, purse or car), and that you can find small and simple but meaningful ways to serve.

Open doors.

Smile.

Mow someone’s lawn.

Pick up trash at the beach.

Help a neighbor with groceries.

You get the idea.

Thanks so much for reading! Feel free to pass it on, and remember…

Service is the Action Form of Love

James