“Let me get that for you…” : SpReAd the Love Update

Long time no update!  Sorry for the silence.  The end of the academic year is fast approaching which means that Prof. Obscura is in overdrive answering last minute student questions and grading.  Everything else is pushed to the side.  Well, almost everything else.

Every so often, my mother enlists me to help her with an ecumenical church women’s group that she belongs to, and these events always seems to come at  fairly inopportune moments.   At the meeting last Friday, however, I met a remarkable person.  The speaker for the day was the director of local warming shelter for the homeless…a place that offers a warm place to sleep for 50-60 people who might not be accepted elsewhere.  He gave a very moving talk, and answered many interesting questions, but my remarkable person was yet to come.  The remarkable person I met was being honored by her peers with the group’s Valiant Woman Award…an award given to a woman who “who has given service to her local chapter, her church and her community…a woman who lives the Gospel message in her everyday life.”

The woman being honored slowly rose from her seat and limped to the front of the room, clearly surprised.  I watched the woman’s composure begin to slip and tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to the following words describing her:

M. has been a member of her local church since childhood, where she was confirmed.  M. has served her church faithfully through the years on a variety of committees including several terms as the congregational President and the church secretary as well as more than 20 years teaching seventh and eighth grade Sunday School classes and volunteering for the annual vacation bible school program.  She is currently an active member of the Dorcas and Phoebe Ministry groups, the Worship Design team, the secretary for the Music Committee and a Co-President of the Women’s Guild. 

M. has also worked tirelessly as a member of her local  and state Church Women United Unit.  She has served terms as the Co-President and Secretary.  She has also been very active recruiting members from her home church to join CWU, hosting CWU functions and leading multiple worship programs. 

In the context of her Christian journey with her local church and CWU, M. has been an active force for mission and evangelism work in the wider community of Wisconsin and beyond.  In addition to a wide variety of activities over the years, recently, she has worked as a volunteer at the local homeless shelter, collected supplies for the domestic abuse shelter and coordinated the Church World Service Blanket Sunday initiative to collect monies and blankets for the needy both here and abroad. 

Despite many health challenges that often make it difficult and painful for her to be physically active, M. always exhibits a level of commitment and dedication to Christian leadership that is inspiring to those around her.

These words were very familiar to me.  You see, I had written them several weeks earlier when the local chapter of CWU asked me to submit a biography for the woman they wanted to honor with a Valiant Woman Award.  They didn’t ask me because of my skill as a writer, but because I had the biographical information that they needed.  I had that information because M. is my mother.

My mother has always been a integral part of my life…first as the mother of the girl I was, and now also as my confidant and my friend.  But,  it wasn’t until I sat down to write that biography that I fully “met” this side of my mother.  I realize as I go back through it now, that I have probably listed only about half of the charitable, mission and other volunteer work that my mother engages on a regular basis.  It’s not something that she does for recognition, it is something that is an instinctive part of her.  Despite the fact that she has a myriad of health issues, she digs down into some deep reserve tank to continue pushing on to support the causes that she is committed to.

I’ve also realize that this remarkable person, my mom,  has left an indelible impression on my life.  She has set an example of spreading love and kindness that I can only hope to model and to impress upon my own children.   My mother SpReAds the Love every day of her life, and I only hope that I can reach the bar that she has set for me.

As it happens, a bar reaching opportunity arose the very next day.  I was grocery shopping  at one of those supermarkets that I am sure has a ground plan the size of a airplane hanger.  It’s monstrous, but they have really good produce, and a ton of specialty items I can’t find anywhere else in my area.    I was about a third of the way through the store…in the pickle, olive and salad dressing aisle… when I saw someone who was in need of a bit of assistance.

Pooh-reaching-for-hunny

In front of me was a toddler sitting in the seat of a shopping cart watching as his very petite and very pregnant mother contemplated climbing up onto the shelf in front of her to reach an item.  I could see that the top shelf had an empty spot, but what I couldn’t see was the one remaining bottle of Thousand Island dressing that was all the way at the back of the shelf.   Just as she was moving to step up and try to reach it I walked up and said, “Let me get that for you.”   I handed the bottle to her and smiled saying, “It’s no problem,” as she thanked me profusely.  It really was no problem to Spread the Love to someone who needed a hand.  I like to think that the young mom went on her way to SpReAd the Love along further and so on.

Thanks for giving me a head start Mom!

 

inter alia: “…be willingly good, extra good…” – Richard Armitage

I was searching around for this quote today – I knew it was from one of the letters Richard Armitage has written to fans over the years, but I couldn’t remember where they were located until a little birdie (Hi birdie!) reminded me that they are at archived at RichardArmitageOnline.com. This quote comes from the closing remarks of the message dated December 24, 2011, and it has always spoken to me about the generous nature that seems an integral part of Richard Armitage.  This time of year, it becomes particularly meaningful.

I’ve really wanted to be able to post more lately, but as any slave to the academic calendar will tell you, November is crunch time.  The semester is winding to a close, work to be graded is piling up, and students can taste the end on the tips of their tongues.  Professional duties are looming, but more importantly for me,  November is also the kick off to my mission work season.  For the past several years, I’ve coordinated a pizza sale with K-6th grade youth at my church.

Pizza number 176...

Pizza number 176…

We – when I say “we” I mean me, a handful of parents and about 15 kids ranging from 4-12 years old – get together to form a pizza assembly line.  This year we had a total of 200 pizzas to make.  We did it in a little under two hours and no one ended up with pizza sauce in their hair – a minor miracle considering events of past years.  The profits we make from the pizzas are donated wholly to support a local Adopt-a-Family program for the Christmas holiday.  We are assigned a family via a local agency and receive gift buying guidelines and a list of desired items provided by the family.  Sometimes the lists have been something of a challenge, but I was really struck by the list I received yesterday:
adopt a familyNothing extravagant, nothing exotic.  My own children are asking for WiiU’s and Ninendo 3DS’s for Christmas (the jury is still out on this BTW).  This parent is hoping to have diapers for an infant.  This puts cutting onions and wrangling cheese-throwing kids into perspective for me.  By spending a couple of days peddling pizzas, we can make a real difference in the life of this family.

Sometimes just a little respite from struggling can make an enormous impact.  I know, I’ve been there.  I could be there again.  Anyone could.  This is one of the reasons I continue to be enamored of Richard Armitage.  He’s not just a handsome face, or a talented actor.  He really seems to be the genuine article – a person with a kind and generous soul who seeks to give back to those in need – whether it’s through his JustGiving Charities or efforts to raise relief funds after a natural disaster

Relief efforts after Christchurch

Raising funds

Or exhorting his fans to be “…willingly good, extra good…”  I’m going to continue to work on this – doing good works doesn’t always mean huge monetary donations or grand gestures.  I really believe that sometimes we can make a difference through RAndom acts of kindness that have a potential to ripple forward.

There are opportunities all around us…don’t forget the upcoming Silent Auction at I Want to be a Pin Up, and watch this space after the new year for a chance to pool our efforts in this regard.