Bestowing Blessings Every Day
Compiled by Sherry Huang
Since 1993, when the Rev. Jayne Howard Feldman founded Be an Angel Day, people across the country have taken time to bless a loved one, friend, or stranger with acts of kindness. As Beliefnet reader "Angel Love" of Port Orange, FL. says, "Consider what you would like someone to do for you, and instead, do it for them."
At the heart of being someone's angel is to have an abundant amount of warmth, creative resourcefulness, and a determination to spread some heaven on earth. Here, Beliefnet members share how they bless others.
Invest in Someone
Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.
Donate to a charity or provide financial support (whether temporary or ongoing) to someone who needs a money miracle. When your heart nudges you to offer a check or cash, listen to it! Don't only give to get something in return.
I always donate money if I know there is a need:
- A co-worker whose husband was battling cancer
- The Red Cross to help Katrina survivors
- A friend who was unemployed for months
--Marsha Boyette, Russellville, AZ
Adopt a Soldier or Sailor
There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.
Remind soldiers and sailors of home by sending letters and care packages filled with fun, practical, and personal items like postcards of their hometown, their favorite gum, or recent family photos printed on playing cards. Send what they may not be able to find overseas.
Join the military-approved organization, Soldiers' Angels. If you are good with knitting and or your hands, there are blankets, mitts, and foot coverings to be sewn for injured soldiers.
--Laurie-Jean Gombar, Old Orchard Beach, ME
Lend an Earful of Love
The first duty of love is to listen.
Remember to be patient and just listen when a friend needs you. Don't be eager to offer advice or be quick with your opinions. Instead, remember that sometimes listening can speak more than talking.
When I hold my tongue and put aside criticism and judgment, my 12-year-old daughter easily pours out her thoughts and feelings to me. After I listen to her--really listen--she rewards me with a grateful look full of love at being understood. This then leaves the door open for me to empathize and make a gentle suggestion or two. It's so much nicer when we lighten each others' loads.
--Joan Wright-Lee, East Granby, CT
Save Our Pets
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
Homeless pets need love and help in finding food and shelter. Get involved with your local ASPCA or adopt a pet from an animal shelter or from a friend who can no longer take care of it. Sandra M. Williams of Swansboro, NC also suggests, "Feed your friends' animals while they are on vacation."
For the last four years, I have found homes for over 45 abandoned animals. After Katrina, I was also called to New Orleans and was privileged to provide safety for God's creatures--from dogs and cats to iguanas and chickens. After providing medical care and food, I love to see homeless animals become part of someone's loving family.
Lighten up a Hospital
The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.
Want to provide for someone ill and in need of more than medical care? Join a group that organizes visits for patients in hospitals, such as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, or visit someone you know who is ill. Instead of flowers and balloons, offer prayer sessions, a jigsaw puzzle, or favorite CDs.
Chemoangels.com is a wonderful organization that provides snail mail support and encouragement for people with cancer. One of the most rewarding and healing things I have ever done is to reach out to a complete stranger and send my love and encouragement.
--Lori Fecteau, Madison Heights, MI
Be a Kindred Spirit
We are not put on this earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.
Slowly break out of your comfort zone by offering coffee to a coworker or asking a neighbor to join your book club. A new best friend may be waiting in the cubicle next to you or in the next pew at your house of worship.
I became fast friends with a coworker, who was a loner, when I started to put little treats in her office mailbox: a package of cookies one day, a bookmark the next, a pretty pen after that, etc. Even though we no longer work at the same place or live in the same state, we are kindred spirits. I love her like a sister!
--Charlotte Waller, Boonville, IN
Sign Up for a Prison Pen Pal
Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.
Want to put your stationery and stamps to good use? Rediscover snail mail by writing to men and women in prisons. Proceed with caution and join a safe, established organization such as Prison Fellowship or Jewish Prisoner Services International that provides friendship and help to inmates.
I run a pen pals website for prisoners who don't have Internet access and who suffer from loneliness after losing contact with their families and friends over the years. My own husband has a life sentence, and I see first hand what he goes through. Pick a person who you wouldn't mind writing to-you wouldn't believe the difference a piece of mail can make.
--Nova Saulli, Hillsborough, NJ
Tuck Away an 'Anyday' Gift
Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us daily.
Gifts don't have to be big (or for a holiday) in order to elicit a brilliant smile. See a bookmark or a box of tea that reminds you of someone? Buy the item and give it to that person--just because.
One day, when I was completely overwhelmed with new job responsibilities, I came home to find a small package at my door. The corporate secretary at my job had sent me a dish shaped like a ladybug; the gift was precious because I collect ladybug items. For someone with incredible stress in her own life to think of me made me feel very special.
--Amanda Redding, Mount Pleasant, SC
Start a Blessing Chain
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
"Pay it forward" by being part of a domino effect of cascading kindnesses. As an old adage reminds us, "a little goes a long way." Offer someone a blessing and tell them to pass it on.
I was still reeling from shock after my partner's intensive surgery. Wiping away tears, I was about to pay for food at the cafeteria when the cashier smiled gently at me and said, "The lady ahead of you paid for your meal." When I caught up to "the lady," she also smiled gently at me and said, "I just want you to have a good day." I was immediately flooded with awe. A few days later, with newborn hope, I was inspired to pass on the gesture.
--Karen St. John, Indianapolis, IN
Surround Someone with Wings
Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
It might be awkward to hug a stranger. Still, any form of gentle touch, especially hugs, has the potential to promote a calmer, less anxious society. Of course, you wouldn't bear-hug the person next to you in a movie theater, but you could try giving him or her a "mental" hug by radiating positive energy in that direction.
When I'm in a restaurant, I like to pick someone out. Then, I imagine myself unfolding wings from my back and wrapping them around the person to give them a hug. It is always heartwarming to see the person turn around, looking for someone.
--Doreen Singer, Regina, Sk, Canada