Friday, December 14, 2018
Growing up we were taught that if you needed help you could talk to your parents, pastors, teachers, coaches, police officers, doctors and firefighters. Today, the idea of trusting authority is a hard sell. Many kids don’t know who they can go to when they have questions or need help in any way.
A teacher named Julia Brown in Texas did a school survey asking the students to name an adult at their school they trusted and felt they could go to with anything. The results of the survey were staggering – 10% couldn’t name a single person they trusted. So over Summer break Ms. Brown created the ‘I Need’ box. She says, “It was my desire to make sure my students knew I was there for them no matter what they needed, large or small.”
This is a great example of being a community leader and investing in the future of our world. What would you put in the “I NEED!” box today? LifeSongs has something similar – it’s not a box though – it’s called PrayerWorks.
Thursday, December 13, 2018
It’s a dream come true! Imagine you get a notification from Walmart that all of the Christmas presents you put on layaway have been paid in full – would you please come pick them up. We’ve heard how celebrities have been popping up and paying the tab – but what if regular everyday people started doing this?
That’s exactly what happened at a Walmart in Derby, Vermont (it must be beautiful this time of year in Vermont. All that snow…). The Good Samaritan kept his identity a secret and cleared out the layaway for this town’s Walmart. Completely. He paid over $45,000 towards complete strangers’ Christmases.
Customers were in shock. Hopefully some of them will pass on the blessing in whatever way they can. What if we all started budgeting for Christmas a little earlier and each paid off one other person’s layaway next Christmas? What would that even look like?
If you need help setting up a budget, don’t miss the LifeSongs Ministry Podcast MoneyWise – every weekday at 10 am!
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Last month Megan Nierman got pulled over for speeding by Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Evan Love. Megan was not only speeding — she was driving with an expired license plate. She confessed to the officer about her plates — and about what she was going through. Megan is a single mom and her ex isn’t paying child support. It’s real life stuff, but Megan was sure the officer got plenty of sob stories from people who get pulled over.
Sgt. Love listened to Megan’s story, walked to his car and came back holding a ticket. The police officer told the mom that if she got her plates renewed within a week, he’d tear up her speeding ticket. It was Megan’s 2-year-old daughter that tugged on his heart. Officer Love thought with the holidays coming up, she can buy a lot of gifts instead of the cost of a speeding ticket. But the police officer went even further to help this family out – he made a couple of phone calls to some family members to see if they wanted to help too.
Officer Love tracked Megan down, tore up the ticket and gave her a Christmas card with a $300 Target gift card inside – to help her out during Christmas.
Megan tears up when she tells the story – saying there are a lot of good officers out there that don’t make the news like the bad apples do. But Officer Love wasn’t looking for publicity. It was just a “little something” to make a single mom’s holidays a little easier. These acts of kindness often run under the radar, but they happen all the time. And each of us can do them too!
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
For almost 30 years, John Chhan and his wife, Stella have run the Donut City shop in Seal Beach, California – a constant, reassuring part of their customers’ lives. But now the hard-working couple is facing a medical crisis, and their patrons are returning the sweetness. Stella suffered a brain aneurysm last month.
With a business to run and bills to pay, the doughnuts still have to roll. John Chhan thought he would have to spend most of his time working at Donut City – away from his wife. But when customers learned about the Chhans’ situation, they opened their hearts – and their mouths – wide. Every morning, beginning at 4:30, customers flock to the doughnut shop. They buy up all the glazed, all the frosted. They drink up the coffee as they hand over their cash and their love. By 7:30 the bins are empty and John can go spend his day with Stella.
Many customers say they are simply giving back the good cheer the Chhans have handed out over the decades.
“Every Sunday for 20 years, we’ve been purchasing doughnuts,” said Jenee Rogers, another long-time customer. “It’s one of the few things that’s still here. He makes them fresh and brings them right there in the mornings. It’s a real American dream for them.”
John and Stella have worked hard for their piece of the dream and specifically asked that no crowdfunding sites be set up on their behalf. So, the customers decided to do what they’ve always done, just a little earlier in the morning: head to Donut City, buy the doughnuts and spread the sweetness.
Monday, December 10, 2018
When you’re a kid, there are things you don’t forget, especially around Christmastime. One Illinois woman is spending her hours on the “case,” helping make happy holiday memories for children in need.
Not one to sit still after her retirement, Karen Persing was looking for a way to give back. So she decided to put her love of sewing to good use, helping children who might not otherwise get a special holiday gift. Persing, has been teaming up with like-minded volunteers to sew pillowcases in bright Christmas colors and designs, or with Disney characters or superheroes. The pillowcases – 312 to date – will be picked up by a van from Together We Cope, where pajamas will be placed in each pillowcase to be given to children in early December.
Can you imagine what kind of a mark on the memory of kids and their parents this leaves? When you’re a kid, there are things you don’t forget, especially Christmas type things. Mrs. Persing says “A pillowcase doesn’t seem like much, but many of them that were created are so kid-friendly … it’s going to be a happy time to go lay your head on it.”
Friday, December 7, 2018
This entire week America has paid tribute to former President George HW Bush. He passed away at the age of 94 last Friday, and much like President Carter before him – so much of his leadership legacy came after his tenure as President.
Displays of love and stories of his compassion have filled the news. How President Bush adopted a child through Compassion International and would write to the child about life in the White House. Everyone has seen pictures of the president’s service dog Sully laying peacefully by the presidential casket. Michael W. Smith sang “Friends are friends forever” at the funeral and his son, former President George W. Bush teared up speaking about missing his dad and knowing he was once again holding Barbara’s hand in Heaven.
Local jazz artist Shannon Powell played at the president’s inaugural ball back in 1989 and says that the Bush family was so kind – treating everyone in the band like they were family. Like they had been friends forever.
While most of us won’t go on to become President of the United States – we can learn from Mr. Bush’s legacy to treat everyone with kindness and leave the world a better place than when we started.
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Four hundred families are having a very merry Christmas this year – after the richest person in Louisiana stepped into Walmart and paid off their layaway items at the Tchoupitoulas St. location. Mrs. Benson dropped about $100k to pay off everyone’s Christmas presents before quietly exiting the building. It didn’t take long for folks to figure out who the Secret Santa was.
The press reached out to the Saints and they confirmed it was Santa Gayle – but that she did this on her own – with her own money.
So to Mrs. Benson, New Orleans says “thank you” and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Local Allstate Agencies are living up to their “You’re in Good Hands” Motto. Allstate Agency owners held an online food drive to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana and nine other Feeding America food banks. The effort resulted in a $10,000 grant. Allstate agency owners also volunteered to help pack food boxes for south Louisiana families in need of disaster relief.
A local Allstate agent, Saul Almendares, is also giving back to the community by sponsoring the LifeSongs 2018 Top 10 Countdown spectacular – which will air on New Years Eve, right here on LifeSongs!
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Rhami Zeini did the right thing, and he’s now $100 richer. Zeini, a 16-year-old high school junior from Santa Barbara, California, was headed home from school last week when he saw a black purse in the middle of the street. He picked it up and started digging around, trying to find an ID. Instead, he discovered the purse was filled with money — $10,000 to be exact.
Zeini notified his parents, and they brought it to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. The teenager said, “To me, I figured this is the right thing to do … because if the roles were reversed and I had lost something with a significant sum of money inside, I know I would want it back for sure.” Deputies were able to find the purse’s owner, and she was so grateful that she gave Rhami$100 as a reward.
Monday, December 3, 2018
Louisiana broke our own adoption record – again – this year. More than 900 foster children have now been adopted into permanent homes. That’s the 3rd year in a row we’ve broken this record. Not only did nearly 1000 kids get a new family – over 2300 were reunited safely with their families. The foster and adoption process is never rushed – which goes to show the incredible hard work being done to protect these kids and build lasting families in our state.
LifeSongs is honored to partner with Crossroads NOLA, who specialize in connecting Christian families to foster kids. They have several upcoming information meetings that are free and open to anyone.
Friday, November 30, 2018
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”
This bookstore in Southampton, England never dreamed it had this many brothers! October Books – a shop in Southampton, needed to move inventory to a location down the street. So they came up with a novel idea that became a sensation!
The idea was to form a human chain and pass the books down until they arrived at the door of the new location. The bookstore knew it would be expensive to hire movers, so they asked people who came in to the shop regularly if they’d join in and help pass the books from the old stockroom to the new store. The best estimate they could come up with was that maybe 100 people would show up…
But to the store owner’s surprise, more than 200 book passers reported for duty! The human chain stretched for 500 feet, and the whole neighborhood got involved, with local restaurants passing out cups of tea. Even Bystanders joined in when they learned what was going on. In about an hour, more than 2,000 books had a new home.
Thursday, November 29, 2018
In less than a week, a photo capturing a random act of kindness has inspired more than a million people around the world. In the picture, a man cradles a sleeping baby while the child’s mom sits next to them, filling out forms at the doctor’s office.
The moment was captured by Natasha Wilson of Florence, Alabama. Wilson was in the waiting room when she saw a mom (later identified as Jade West) walk in with her sleeping baby. When the receptionist handed West paperwork to do, the mom was trying to figure out how to hold her baby and do the paperwork at the same time
That’s when a man (later identified as Joe Hale) asked West from across the room if she would like him to hold the baby while she filled out the forms.
“She smiled and said that would be wonderful!,” Wilson wrote on the viral Facebook post. “Joe went over there and rocked and loved on that baby like he was his. Hale hummed to the baby, rocked him, and talked to him as if he was his own grandchild until he was called back to his room.
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
One pre-K class in Iowa has the most adorable way of starting the day thanks to a teacher who encourages her students to be kind… one hug at a time! Every morning, the class has a designated greeter of the week who welcomes students to start the day! Each student picks how they want to be greeted by pointing to a list of fun ways to say hello. They can choose from a fist bump, hug, high five, & hand shake.
(What would YOU pick?)
Pre-K teacher Cali, started this to encourage a friendly & positive environment in her class & also as a way to make all the students feel included and loved. It’s never too early or too late to learn kindness.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Kolbie Sanders of Tyler, Texas, was set to get married on Oct. 20th. But then, the wedding was called off and she wasn’t going to get the $3,500 venue rental fee back. Kolbie didn’t let that stop her from making someone else’s dream come true. She announced on Facebook she was giving the venue away for the day.
Messages came flooding in, and Halie and Matt were the couple chosen. They planned on getting married in 2019, but Halie was afraid her grandfather, who has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, might not make it another year. Halie & Matt immediately jumped into planning mode, and a photographer and other vendors donated their services.
Kolbie was able to give Matt and Halie the wedding of their dreams – turning sorrow into joy! A great reminder in this Christmas season that giving is always better than receiving.
Monday, November 26, 2018
Christmas is an entire season to celebrate the birthday of Jesus – our Savior. Weirdly we don’t get to his birthday cake until the feast of Epiphany – you know, King Cakes. Maybe that’s why we all get birthday cakes … hmmm. Today is National Cake Day – and what goes great with cake? A rousing rendition of Happy Birthday To You!
But what if the whole room was singing to you and you just couldn’t hear it? James Anthony is the custodian at Hickerson Elementary School. He just celebrated his 60th birthday. And also, James is deaf. The kids at Hickerson Elementary love Mr. Anthony, so kindergarten teachers Amy Hershman and Allyssa Hartsfield taught them how to sing Happy Birthday in sign language.
The surprise birthday singing brought tears to Mr. Anthony’s eyes as he was overwhelmed by the sweet display of love. James Anthony has worked for the school district for 20 years – teaching generations of kids good manners, sign language and always offering a smile.
Friday, November 23, 2018 – Black Friday – MERRY CHRISTMAS!
For a long time in New Orleans, we all knew exactly which house was Al Copeland’s – and we flocked there to see the extreme decorations celebrating Christmas. In the town of McCook, Nebraska, everyone knows which house belongs to Raleigh and Kathy Haas. It’s the one decked out from top to bottom in lights at Christmastime.
These lights that the family turns on the night after Thanksgiving have deep meaning. The whole theme is waiting for the Light of the world – according to Kathy Haas
The tradition began more than 30 years ago when Raleigh’s mom gave the family some extra boxes of Christmas lights – every year it expanded and expanded and expanded.
In August of this year, Raleigh, a longtime volunteer firefighter and active volunteer in the community, passed away at 62 due to a heart attack. When he died, it seemed that the Christmas lights might go away, too.
Until his brothers at the McCook Fire Department stepped up, quite literally — they climbed ladders and scaffolding and put up all those lights on the Haas house last weekend. As far as the fire chief is concerned, the firefighters are ready to pull this duty every year from now on.
Thanks to the generous efforts of the fire department, the community can fondly remember Raleigh and continue with this special Christmas tradition, their work a fitting tribute to the spirit of service Raleigh embodied all his life.
Thursday, November 22, 2018 – Thanksgiving Day!
The recurring theme that makes Thanksgiving so special is that it makes people reflect on the importance of family. That’s something Jason Compton, a father of two living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will never forget to appreciate – especially around this time of year.
Just a few weeks before Thanksgiving in 2016, his mom was diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer. The doctors said she probably had about two months left – and the family wasn’t even sure she’d even survive until the new year.
“Knowing that this could be the last Thanksgiving I’d get to spend with her made me really appreciate it even more,” he says. Not only did his mom make it to Christmas, she lived another year and a half. “I got two more Thanksgivings, two more Christmases, and all the other holidays and life events in between,” he says.
The experience gave Compton a new appreciation for so many of the moments we often take for granted – and gave him a thoughtful new reminder of the joys to be found in the holiday season.
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
“When we gather around the table at Thanksgiving, and each of us offers our thoughts as to what we are thankful for, I try not to take so long that we’re opening Christmas presents by the time I conclude, but that is because there is much to be thankful for. For one, I should not be here – twice over.” – Joel Amos
Joel Amos has a new appreciation for life after he was given just a 15 percent chance of survival following a serious heart condition, necessitating emergency surgery. He was just 46 years old when he started feeling extreme chest pains while away for work in New Orleans. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors gave him the grim news.
Fortunately, Amos beat the odds and had a successful surgery. One year later, he beat the odds again when doctors discovered an aneurysm in his aorta, thanks to his insistence on a CT scan during his checkup. He underwent a second successful emergency heart procedure, and rather than focusing on the stress and pain these health issues brought into his life, instead, he emerged from these medical scares with a bold new appreciation for life.
“Needless to say, each Thanksgiving – and every day, for that matter – I thank the heavens above that I am still here. I am thankful that I can still be a father to my 5-year-old little girl, be a husband, son, brother, cousin and friend to many,” he says. “I also give thanks that I can share my story with people in hopes of saving their lives as well. Thanksgiving is a chance to bask in that glow, and another opportunity to reiterate to anyone sitting around my table on that day that life is short and we are here to love and be loved.”
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
After a long battle with infertility, including surgery and multiple procedures, Stacie Hollowoa and her husband, Luke, will at last be celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time as a family of three.
661 days after starting their journey, the couple received the best news ever: Stacie was expecting. On August 4th of this year the family welcomed their miracle baby girl, Elsie Audrey.
New mom Stacie says, “This Thanksgiving, we finally have our family of three we so desperately desired for so long. We are so thankful our dreams finally came true!” The new parents look forward to starting new traditions with their daughter, including time-honored favorites like going to the pumpkin patch and taking family pictures each fall.
Monday, November 19, 2018
In New Orleans, we understand that in an emergency, an open kitchen is a first responder. That’s what happened in Agoura Hills, CA at the Tavern 101 Grill. Owner and operator Marco Gonzalez shifted from restaurateur to first responder short order cook once the evacuation orders were given.
Gonzalez and a few employees cooked whatever they could get their hands on. Customers have come in to pitch a hand in feeding the firefighters and guardsmen fighting the Woolsey Fires. Love and money came pouring in from the community – even from those who had to evacuate. An online fundraiser came up with $45,000 to keep feeding responders at Tavern 101 Grill.
Now the evacuation has been lifted – and firefighters have the wildfire 20% contained. But the good will and good food will always be available for first responders if Marco Gonzalez is around.
Friday, November 16, 2018
One North Dakota woman decided to do something about the hunger problem in her area. Donna Stumphf had kids in mind, mainly, and parents who can’t afford to buy fresh vegetables.
She had set an initial goal to grow 1,000 pounds of produce – saying “I thought, I have to give myself a goal – You know, go big or go home.”
Stumphf grew the vegetables on a plot of land donated by All Seasons Garden Center in Grand Forks. In the past, All Seasons has donated plots in their community garden to worthy causes, but never an area as big or to one person.
Stumphf did have some help. Her 16-year-old grandson and local members of the Lions Club and some University students pitched in, too. By harvest time, Stumphf ended up with 3100 pounds of vegetables! She was able to deliver the homegrown vegetables to the Salvation Army and the Northlands Rescue Mission over the course of several weeks.
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Saints punter Thomas Morstead and his foundation, What You Give Will Grow, are teaming up with, Vikings cornerback, Marcus Sherels to raise funds to support Best Christmas Ever© families in the Greater New Orleans area and Minnesota. Best Christmas Ever© is a non-profit organization that works with community partners to lift up families who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own by giving them a Best Christmas Ever.
What You Give Will Grow’ was started in 2012 by Morstead and his wife, Lauren. The foundation supports causes, organizations, small businesses, artists and musicians in the Gulf South Region. Morestead’s partnership with the Vikings’ Marcus Sherels was born out of the Saints embarrassing playoff loss last year. So some good came out of that sad day!
Every year, the number of families on the receiving end of the Best Christmas Ever© has doubled. In 2017, over 700 nominations received and 100 families received the Best Christmas Ever©. One hundred additional families hand-delivered $250 Target gift cards and 100 families were made eligible to receive a $1,000 grant for completing the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Course. More information about Best Christmas Ever© can be found at www.bcemovement.org.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Beautify the city? Check. Provide jobs for the homeless? CHECK. San José is launching an an initiative that will simultaneously do both.
The California city is hiring local homeless people to pick up litter around the city for $15 an hour. The city hopes to provide them with a steady paycheck that will eventually transition them into full-time work.
The workers will primarily clean up 40 different areas around town that have been identified as litter hotspots and dumping grounds. The program is currently being financed through a grant from the city, and if the initiative proves to be successful, then city workers are eager to see it continue into the future.
Though there is no way to predict how successful the program will be in San José, the city of Denver made national headlines back in January for publishing the results of a similar work model. After one year of paying the workers, over 100 of them were able to land regular jobs.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Tackling homelessness is often a complex issue – but one man has come up with a stunningly simple solution for providing jobs and homes to people in need. Chris Fenlay is the mastermind behind a nonprofit called Shelters to Shutters.
The program has a simple premise: many real-estate companies offer discounted (and sometimes free) rent to property managers and staffers who live on their properties and housing complexes. So as a means of providing income and housing to the homeless, Shelters to Shutters is playing middle man, connecting people living in poverty with opportunities in property management. Fenlay’s non-profit conducts hiring fairs to recruit both employers and employees to join the cause.
Anthony Puryear is one of the success stories to come out of Shelters to Shutters. Puryear is an Army veteran who, after leaving the military, worked in the hospitality industry for years. Unfortunately, when the cost of living became too high, he found himself without a place to live. A local veteran help-group connected Puryear with Shelters to Shutters. He was hired as an assistant service technician and given secured housing. Since then, he’s been promoted to a service tech position where he is in charge of fixing up old apartment units.
Puryear is just one of over 100 success stories – but Shelters to Shutters is not stopping there! The non-profit is currently work in 15 cities across the country and have plans to expand. One of their new initiatives, which is set to launch in San Francisco, will debut by hiring 20 new people off of the streets.
Veteran Anthony Puryear said, “I want as many people as possible to get a chance to benefit from Shelters to Shutters’ services in the way that I have.”
And by the looks of it, he will get to see this happen.
Monday, November 12, 2018
At the 2018 Invictus Games, an athletic tournament for injured and disabled military service players in Sydney, Australia – one match in particular struck a chord with the players and spectators alike.
UK tennis player Paul Guest was engaged in a match alongside his Dutch teammate Edwin Vermetten, when a helicopter flew over the stadium. Paul Guest, who served with the British Armed Forces, uses a wheelchair due to neck and spinal injuries sustained while on duty in 1987. Guest also suffers from PTSD – so when he heard the chopper buzzing overhead, he suddenly became overcome with anxiety.
His teammate, Edwin Vermetten, noticed that Guest was visibly upset and immediately abandoned play so he could rush over to the UK veteran and console him during his time of need. Vermetten embraced Guest and whispered words of encouragement until he could recover from the breakdown.
The Dutch player later revealed that he was able to bring Guest back to his senses by singing “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen. Vermetten says, “I took [Paul] by the face and said ‘Look at me. We are a team so let it go!”
After the emotional exchange, Guest then went on to deliver the tie-breaking point that brought victory to the UK-Dutch team.
Friday, November 9, 2018
A group of middle school students are trying to change how people view the homeless. Seventh and eighth graders from Summit Intermediate School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA are part of an Odyssey of the Mind team. Odyssey of the Mind teaches kids how to solve problems and work together, and as a group, they chose to focus on homelessness.
Alana Okonkwo, age 13, says “I think that more people should look toward the homeless community as people rather than things that are just on the streets, and they shouldn’t be a source of fear.”
The students made posters with statistics about homeless youth, created the hashtag #homelessnotless and for two weeks held a toiletries drive. Then the proactive teenagers put together care kits, including backpacks filled with supplies, sleeping bags and inspirational messages on cards. They distributed the care packs to local homeless individuals and shelters.
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Talking Bananas are the latest craze at Kingston Elementary School! Stacey Truman is the cafeteria manager for the school. She’s been serving breakfast and lunch there for nine years and wanted to motivate students a little differently. So Stacey began writing inspirational messages on each banana.
“I do it for my kids at home, so why not bring it here and do it for them – because they are like my kids,” says Stacey.
Some bananas read, “You are wise,” “Keep trying” or “Never give up.” Stacey just tries to think about what she would have needed to hear at that age to be encouraged.
The creative cafeteria manager has received national attention for her practice of writing inspirational messages on students’ banana peels. And now she and the school are partnering with the Dole Food Company to make sure every one of Kingston’s students receives a “talking banana” at Friday’s school lunch.
Dole is provides over 500 bananas each week to allow Truman and her team to write individual messages on each one. Plus, each student gets a healthy kid’s cookbook, donated by Dole.
The banana peels might get thrown away at the end of lunch, but the message still resonates with students long after school gets out. Small words having a BIG Impact!
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Weddings can be VERY expensive. Everything from the dress, the venue, pictures, cake – the list goes on and on and on. The more things you add to the list, the more expensive it all gets. Like invitations. They aren’t cheap. Now, imagine sending your wedding invitation to the wrong house! That’s what Cassandra did.
Cassandra didn’t realize she put the wrong address on an invitation she sent to her family members in Oregon, until she received a sweet note and gift from a total stranger. The person who accidentally received the invite sent Cassandra and her fiancé, a $20 bill along with her well wishes, writing: “I wish I knew you — this [wedding] is going to be a blast. Congratulations — go have dinner on me. I’ve been married for 40 years — it gets better with age.”
Cassandra and her fiance took their friend in the military (about to deploy overseas) out to dinner using the unexpected wedding gift. Cassandra wrote a note back to the stranger and said “I am thankful for people like you still being in the world.”
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Carson Wentz is a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles – but he’s getting attention in the Philly area not just for his fame in the NFL, but for a new project: Thy Kingdom Crumb. While a lot of focus has been on the uncertainty surrounding Carson Wentz’s knee injury, there’s no questioning his heart. His charity softball game raised $850,000 and now Wentz has a new endeavor, a food truck that feeds the less fortunate.
Carson is known to be an outspoken Christian. The NFL quarterback recently partnered with a local church to launch a food truck that gives food away for FREE. You can find the food truck parked at all Eagles games, but the food truck’s focus will be on going to areas in need around the community. The vision of the food truck is “to provide free food but also to provide the love of Christ.”
Wentz continues to prove that his worth extends far beyond the football field. Sure, he won the city a Super Bowl – but should he continue along this trajectory of tremendous athlete and philanthropist, he could someday be the single-most beloved athlete Philadelphia has ever seen.
This is cool project, that’s focused on making a difference! A delicious difference!
Monday, November 5, 2018
After watching a movie about James Lawrence – the Iron Cowboy — a man who completed 50 triathlons in 50 days — Niall McDermott thought, “I could do that.” The 10-year-old from San Francisco tweaked the challenge a little, telling his parents he’d like to run 50 5K races in 50 days.
After getting the okay from his pediatrician, McDermott ran his first 5K, with his parents letting him know he could stop whenever he wished. He kept at it, and recently ran his 50th 5K alongside a friend. Niall told reporters that while he was running, “I was thinking, ‘I’m gonna finish this and I can do it, and when I finish it, I won’t have to do it anymore.'”
Niall’s grandfather has lung cancer, so his running became a fundraiser, receiving $4,000 in pledges, which will be donated to the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.
The Bible verse in 1st Timothy 4:12 comes to mind “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for other believers in your speech, behavior, love and faithfulness. Way to represent Niall ! Thanks for setting the example!
Friday, November 2, 2018
Ever try to go out for a nice, quiet family dinner with a toddler? Then you know that sometimes a “nice, quiet family dinner” is the last thing that actually happens. One waitress’s act of kindness is a perfect example of how the smallest good deeds can have the biggest impact on people.
Courtney Ruth Pedigo was getting ready to enjoy a meal with her father, stepmother and her 18-month old daughter, Harlynn, when the toddler started to get fussy. She was intent on escaping from her mother’s lap and causing a ruckus. Mom Courtney admitted to feeling pretty overwhelmed, saying, “She did everything but sit in her high chair and eat her dinner like I picture in my dreams.”
So, she approached her server and asked if she could get her food in a to-go box so she could eat it in her car with Harlynn. To Mom’s surprise, the woman firmly said NO. Instead, she returned to their table minutes later with a bowl of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce and spoon-fed the treat to the toddler so Courtney could enjoy a hot meal with her family.
Nianni Rudder is a woman who, in addition to being a waitress, was also going to school full-time to become an anesthesiologist and was recovering from the recent death of her mother.
Courntey was so moved by Nianni’s compassion and determined personality, she posted on Facebook a message of thanks for her kindness, saying, “you are so so strong! I know your mom is looking down from Heaven with the BIGGEST smile [because she is] so incredibly proud of the woman you are. I aspire to be the go-getter you are…someone with a strong heart and mind! Thank you for your amazing service and for being so kind to us all!”
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Blanche Reed Pratt is a great-great grandmother who goes by several names – mom, granny – but there’s one name that everyone in her community recognizes: Her family says she’s known as Mama Reed at her church and basically the entire Ninth Ward.
Mama Reed didn’t just raise her 12 children, she helped raise entire communities. In 1970, Mama Reed opened up a nursery at her home. The nursery remained open for about 30 years and she took care of hundreds of children. The walls of her home are covered with their photos. Everyone brings in their own frame and finds an open spot. Everything about Mama Reed is inviting and her laugh is infectious.
Blanche Reed Pratt has 12 children, 34 grandchildren 48 great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren. Her generosity doesn’t end with childcare, Mamma Reed takes care of everyone. This 90-year-old still cooks: red beans, greens, cornbread – this has been Her regular Monday meal since she started the nursery.
“I just thank the Lord he gave me strength to be able to do it,” Mama Reed said. “It’s always good to do good things for people who you can do it for.”
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Five-year-old Blake Mompher was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair to get around. He also likes costumes, but finding costumes to work with his wheelchair can be a challenge.
“He loves school buses… he always loves when they drive by,” Blake’s mom said. His two older sisters take a school bus every day, so Blake is used to seeing them. And next year he’ll ride one when he goes to kindergarten. So THIS year, Blake’s grandfather stepped in to create (by hand!) an entire school bus costume for Blake that incorporates his wheelchair. The costume was a HIT!
His mom said he always has a positive attitude, despite being through so much at such a young age. In fact, Blake is facing one of the biggest surgeries of his life next month. But instead of dreading the surgery, the 5-year-old is looking forward to something else: riding around in his school bus costume and collecting candy.
(Just think of how much candy you could fit in a school bus!)
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 18, 2018
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Dwyane “DJ” Pitts is an 8 year old superhero. When he was younger, DJ was so weak, so sick his family wondered if he’d survive. At age 3 he was in a coma for eight days at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. During his many months in the hospital, a nurse made him a cape out of a pillowcase. It encouraged his spirit to be strong, even when his body wasn’t. DJ quickly became known as the little superhero. His mom said a celebrity even noticed,“One day, Ludacris was [at the hospital] for an event and said ‘Hey, there is the Cape boy!’”
Cape Boy took off from there. Five years later, DJ still wears a cape and is back at Children’s to say thank you. He’s learned there is also strength in spreading kindness, helping others and being grateful. DJ brought a card and flowers to someone who helped save his life, Miss Colleen. She is the nurse who became family over the months she cared for him. They hadn’t seen each other in years, but the hug they shared showed a bond that has not faded. “You are doing amazing,” Nurse Colleen smiled. “I’m so happy you remember me after five years.”
A pillowcase cape and the strength of a little boy who wore it inspired Cape Day. It is a community campaign that has helped thousands of children like DJ in the years since. You can order a cape to wear or sponsor a cape for a pediatric patient. This year is the 5th anniversary of Cape Day – complete with the “Be Someone’s Superhero” Kindness Campaign. You are encouraged to do a good deed in the community in honor of Children’s Hospital patients.
Monday, October 29, 2018
We love coffee. And when it’s free, it’s even better! One teen’s sweet offer to a stressed-out mother at Starbucks has made a surprising impact on both women’s lives. 19-year-old Mackenzie Mauller of Uniontown, bought coffee for the lady behind her at Starbucks. She didn’t think twice about it. But then, later in the day, she found a note in her mailbox.
The handwritten note was from Nicole Clawson who just so happened to live in MacKenzie’s neighborhood. Nicole wrote “Thank you for the coffee. I rarely go to Starbucks and treat myself but the last couple of months have been a bit of a struggle.” Nicole also shared how her family was experiencing lots of transitions. Her father, who had provided daily care for her children, had recently passed away. Just that morning her babysitter had called in sick, forcing Clawson to take the day off work. Nicole was soon leaving her job to become a stay-at-home mother, a role she was not “emotionally and financially” prepared to assume.
Nicole told Mackenzie how she felt it necessary for the teenager to know that what she did was much more than just buy a coffee – it was an act of kindness that turned her whole day around. saying the generosity “..put tears in my eyes and a smile on my face and I feel so grateful.” MacKenzie exemplified selflessness for Nicole Clawson’s children who now want to pay it forward – which, Nicole says, “makes me proud as a mom.”
Friday, October 26, 2018
A compassionate police officer is setting a new standard for how law enforcement can protect and serve. Officer Jesse Whitten and his wife have adopted the newborn daughter of a homeless woman struggling with drug addiction.
Whitten, who works for the Santa Rosa Police Department in California, would often stop in to check on the woman throughout the year. The two formed a kind of friendship. Officer Whitten, the proud father of three girls already, opened his heart and his home to this newborn baby – And now it’s official! After a moving adoption hearing, the little girl is now officially part of the Whitten family.
Thursday, October 25, 2018
Many patients at Children’s Hospital are facing their share of challenges, but they’re getting a break thanks to a volunteer arts and crafts program called Amy’s Art Cart. Like three-year-old Brody. He spent the afternoon racing cars, playing with stickers and then more car racing. For an afternoon, Brody and his family could forget he’s a patient at Children’s Hospital.
These moments are made possible thanks to Amy’s Art Cart. Every week Claire Thriffiley makes her way through the hallways bringing a little bit of color to a sterile place. Thriffiley knows first hand the impact art can have on the lives of patients. Her story is written in the name “Amy’s Art Cart.”
She named it Amy’s Art Cart after her cousin who was a visual artist, very talented and who lost her life at a young age to multiple sclerosis. Thriffiley says, “What we found with Amy was that continuing to create, to paint really gave her motivation.”
Now, Thriffiley brings that same creative outlet to others. “It’s amazing how something small, like a coloring book, can bring so much joy to a child’s life.”
The Manale family, who got to spend an afternoon playing with toys and crafts from the cart agreed: “It was good to see the smile on Brody’s face.”
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Everyone loves a rainbow; the beautiful colors and different hues always make you smile. And that is what one Taiwanese man thought when he made a desperate attempt to save his village. Armed with only a paintbrush, 93-year old Huang Yung-Fu turned his town into a vibrant rainbow and in the process saved it from demolition.
Yung-Fu watched helplessly as developers came into his city and paid his neighbors to leave. You see his home is actually a village from a long forgotten era: a military dependents’ village. Picking up a paintbrush to pass the time, he transformed his house into a whole painting of bright colors. But he didn’t stop there. Yung-Fu moved on to the next house. And the next one. Suddenly the whole village was changed into an awe-inspiring rainbow!
Art students found out about what Yung-Fu had created and quickly alerted authorities, who quickly stopped the demolition. Now tourists come from all around to see the rainbow family village. The entire town serves as a message that one man (and a paintbrush) can really make a difference.
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Kevin Boyer is the family and student support coordinator at an elementary school in Ohio. Last year, he wrote a personalized letter to every student in the school, and he’s doing it again this year.
Every day, he pens six notes, so that by the last day of school, he will have written a letter to all 600 students. Boyer makes it a point to learn the name of every kid in the school and finds out their interests and hobbies so when it’s time to write their letters, they are one-of-a-kind.
Boyer says he takes a lot of cues from his own parents, especially his mother who was a school guidance counselor. His parents, he said, helped carve out his own career path.
Monday, October 22, 2018
Country singer Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, have teamed with Belmont University to open The Store, a modern version of a food pantry that is set up like a free grocery store. The country crooners say, “All of us are one unforeseen disaster away from rock bottom. It’s nice to think about a place where when that happens to someone, they can use it to get back on their feet.”
The Store will partner with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and other organizations to provide both fresh and nonperishable groceries to individuals and families in need for one year. Customers will be referred by nonprofit and government agencies. The nonprofit has an initial goal to serve 3,000 people per year.
You can help our local food pantries by partnering with Second Harvest right here in SELA!
Friday, October 19, 2018
Big generosity come in small slices!
Just months after Mike and Jennifer Stevens opened up their Fargo, North Dakota Little Caesar’s restaurant in 2015, they saw a homeless man sitting outside of a gas station for several hours at a time. They gave him a slice of pizza. He was so thankful the family ended up doing it again for a different person. And again for a different person. And then again for another person. Their kindness did not stop at individual slices, however – one year later, the family realized that there were people going through the dumpster of the restaurant.
So Mike put up a sign in the window reading: “To the person going through our trash for their next meal, you’re a human being and worth more than a meal from a dumpster. Please come in during operating hours for a couple of slices of hot pizza and a cup of water at no charge. No questions asked.”
Instead of giving away a couple slices, the family started giving away entire pizzas to anyone who asked. They have even partnered with a couple of homeless shelters. Collectively, the family has given away over 142,000 slices of pizza, worth about $70,000.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
There are so many reasons why you love Chip & Joanna Gaines – and not just because Fixer Upper was such an awesome show – or for giving us a reason to visit Waco, TX. It’s because they do amazing things like this!
Chip and Joanna have invited a church to hold service at their Magnolia Market at the Silos. The church normally holis normally held under a Texas bridge – a ministry to Waco that has been going on for years! Chip & Joanna offered to host them every Sunday (for a year at no charge) because the church won’t have anywhere to hold their services due to road construction that will begin in March.
Chip reached out to the church’s pastor (Jimmy Dorrell) after learning about how the construction project would affect the congregation. The Church Under the Bridge draws between 200 to 300 worshippers who include the homeless and others who may feel out of place in a normal church setting. The Church plans to eventually return to its home under the bridge – once the expansion of I-35 is complete.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Do you have a child or know someone that has a life threatening illness or allergies ? Many times, it can affect a child’s quality of life and they feel left out because they can’t enjoy things that other kids can.
Braylon Henson is a first grader that has ectodermal dysplasia – he was born without sweat glands. Because of this, he can’t go outside when it’s over 74 degrees. (So he basically CAN’T live in Louisiana!) He gets easily overheated. Naturally, Braylon has FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)!
Ronald Saladin is the school resource officer and he noticed that Braylon was in his classroom while the other kids were at recess. So the cop started inviting Braylon to walk along with him as he does his daily officer duties. Braylon & Officer Ronnie now get to spend two hours a day patrolling the hallways. Of course, Braylon now wants to become a police officer when he grows up!
A simple act of kindness can make the biggest impact! You are NEVER too old or too young to be a difference maker.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Do you roll out of bed in the morning and immediately step on Legos? Instead of getting mad from them being left on the floor, you can put those Legos to good use like one lego enthusiast…
A Maryland Zoo employee found a wild Eastern box turtle in a park, and discovered that he had multiple fractures on the bottom part of his shell. The zookeepers needed to figure out a way to keep the turtle elevated so his shell didn’t hit the ground while healing. Garrett Fraess, drew many sketches of wheelchairs for the turtle to help find the perfect fit for him! Thanks to a friend who is a Lego enthusiast, the turtle now has a wheelchair until he heals completely!
It’s a good reminder to make lemonade from lemons! Bad things happen, but there are people around you who can help you in times of need and encourage you!
Monday, October 15, 2018
Have you ever gone out of your way to put a smile on your child’s face?
Even those in the public eye will do whatever they can to make their child laugh and smile even though it may embarrass them a little…
Reese Witherspoon takes all of her acting roles seriously, so it’s no surprise she went out of her way to participate in “Mystery Reader” day at her 6-year-old son’s school.
She didn’t show up wearing a ball gown or heels, she showed up wearing a pig costume! And her hubby dressed as an elephant! (in honor of the book they were reading: “Elephant and Piggie”.)
This is a reminder to make fun memories with your kids regardless of how silly they may be! Because these will be memories that last a lifetime! It’s also a great reminder to not take this life so seriously! Smile! Laugh! Enjoy every moment God has given you!
Friday, October 12, 2018
Anyone who works downtown or has tried to go enjoy a nice evening out on the weekend knows the struggle of finding parking. But what if you had your own reserved spot? Christie Dietz’s 4-year-old son has parked his bicycle at the same lamppost every day for the last year. On Monday, Christie discovered the spot is now reserved just for him. A kind stranger had taken the time to create a parking sign sticker that features the child’s green bicycle.
My son has parked his bike by this lamppost just about every day for the last year. This morning, this sticker had appeared. Absolutely made our day. People can be so brilliant. Thank you, whoever did it 😊 pic.twitter.com/rYC8jCTD5L
— Christie Dietz (@asausagehastwo) September 24, 2018
She tweeted a photo and said this “Absolutely made our day. People can be so brilliant. Thank you, whoever did it.” Her tweet has over 261,000 likes. And the reaction on Twitter suggests the smiles have come with an equal number of happy tears. She wrote a thank-you note and left it at her son’s newly-reserved parking space. “It makes me so very happy that this one person’s lovely deed has made so many people smile.”
Thursday, October 11, 2018
How well do you know your neighbors? Could you call on them to borrow a cup of sugar? What if you needed more than that?
Kathy Felt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1978. She’s 66 now, and can’t get out of her wheelchair under her own power to get into bed at night. But Kathy, who has lived in her neighborhood for almost four decades, is a beloved figure in the community she calls home. So for the past 10 years, a rotating cast of volunteers have showed up nightly like clockwork, lifting her into bed and tucking her in.
This is how folks care for each other in Sandy, Utah. The nightly ritual enables her to avoid nursing homes and sleep in her own bed. But the volunteers find it equally uplifting. Some 60 men are on a schedule to visit Felt two at a time. And what’s more? Even more neighbors want to help. They have so many people wanting to help Kathy that there is actually a waiting list. When asked how she feels about this outpouring of help, Felt says, “It just makes me feel very humble. I’m just so grateful for the friendship that I have with them. You just can’t put a price on that.” Her army of volunteers and their families are genuinely grateful for her, too.
“So many people have been inspired by her story and her courage in the face of such devastating health challenges,” one volunteer says. “We’re all here together, and we should help each other on the journey.”
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Our ministers do so much for so many, they may seem like superheroes. But that doesn’t make them immune from troubling times. One minister, Jerome Jones of Springfield Baptist Church in Georgia, was recently struggling through a crisis of faith. But while working his day job with a power company, he found a note that was attached to three balloons. The note read: “God, help me go to college… please help me get everything I need to leave Wednesday. – Mykehia Curry” She was about to start her freshman year at Albany State University. No one in her family had ever gone to college, which is why she sent up that prayer – scared and worried. Jones had $125 to his name when he found the note. And he spent it all on Mykehia. He bought her supplies, but most importantly, gave her a ton of much needed inspiration. “It encourages me to keep going knowing that prayers are answered,” Mykehia said. Likewise, Jerome also has renewed faith – a good reminder that sometimes the best way to see your prayers answered is to be used by God as an answer to someone else’s. This is also a great reminder to pray for our pastors!
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Any of us who went through Katrina are familiar with a sense of loss, but have also come to know that disasters tend to bring out the best in a lot of people. Shelli Trench, who lives in North Carolina, has come to know that, too. She went to Walmart to purchase specific items that had been requested by a local shelter. When she went in, she spoke with a manager about her quest, thinking at best she might score a discount to help her money go further. Instead, he called over another employee and had him fill a shopping cart – on him. The over 250 items of clothing totaled over $1200. And he wasn’t done. The next day, he donated case after case of fresh fruit, bread, pastries, drinks, energy bars and more.
Monday, October 8, 2018
In southeast Louisiana, we’re no strangers to delicious food and tons of amazing dining options to choose from. And the chefs at those restaurants strive for recognition within the world of fine dining, which comes in the form of Michelin stars. That may be the ultimate goal for many restaurants, but the owners of onevenue in the UK are giving it up for the sake of their family. The rural restaurant, which serves classic French cuisine near the town of Montgomery, Wales, has held a Michelin star for seven years, thanks to the efforts of partners Stéphane Borie, Sarah Francis, and Sarah’s sister Kathryn Francis. Raising five kids between them, they say they want family to come first. It’s a decision the team calls “bold, scary, exciting, and maybe bonkers,” but it’s an important one for them and their loved ones. “It will be lovely to have more evenings at home and to be a little less nocturnal!” (Good reminder to keep our priorities in check – hope you can enjoy a little time with your loved ones today, too.)
Friday, October 5, 2018
It’s pizza Friday, right? Passengers from American Airlines Flight 2354 from Los Angeles to Dallas-Fort Worth were bracing for a long night. Their plane had been diverted to the regional airport in Wichita Falls, Texas due to severe thunderstorms that impacted the northern part of the state. That left 159 frustrated passengers facing the prospect of being stuck on a plane until morning.
Trying to ease their inconvenience, the plane’s captain, Jeff Raines, called the local Papa John’s and ordered 40 fresh pizzas for delivery at Wichita Falls Municipal Airport. Captain Raines actually ran back and forth between the delivery car and the stranded passengers to personally deliver the pizzas.
Thursday, October 4, 2018
Even the whales in Canada are nice, with a band of belugas adopting a lost narwhal far from home. Narwhals live in the Arctic, but in July a team of researchers from the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) filmed a narwhal playing with about 10 belugas in the St. Lawrence River, hundreds of miles from its normal habitat.
The team believes the narwhal is a juvenile male and has been seen with the pod four other times. Martin Nweeia, a researcher from Harvard University who has spent two decades studying narwhals, says this shows the “compassion and the openness of other species to welcome another member that may not look or act the same. And maybe that’s a good lesson for everyone.”
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Middle school can be tough. Your body is changing. Kids can be cruel. But not always. In fact, one middle school in Harriman, TN decided they would counteract bullying with encouraging notes … all over the walls, lockers and hallways. Led by Eighth grader Nicole True, the teens covered the walls, hallways and lockers with sticky notes of encouragement for everyone. The plan is to continue to post fresh encouragement all over school grounds all school year long.
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Marian Avila, a 21-year-old Spanish model with Down syndrome, fulfilled her dream to walk at New York Fashion Week thanks to an Atlanta designer she met through the magic of social media. And she did it with flair – in the ballroom of a Midtown hotel in evening looks of red and gold, her parents and siblings in the audience and other models who have challenges by her side.
Marian walked the runway with models young and old, including one in a wheelchair, Tae McKenzie of Charlotte, North Carolina, and a young girl who also has Down syndrome. White’s 43 looks were shown like a rainbow with glimmering beaded embellishments on some in red, pink, gold, white, black and rose.
Monday, October 1, 2018
Over 900 people joined the family of LifeSongs over the past two weeks – getting this listener supported ministry to 100% fully funded for the next 6 months! God bless each and every one of you who gave – and you know what – if you didn’t give – God bless you too. Because you still have that opportunity to join us in the good work of showing Jesus to our community each day! It’s not too late to give at lifesongs.com! It’s truly an honor and a blessing to say to you this morning GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME!