H2O – Help 2 Others

I tend to keep my writing neutral and focused on one love and not religion, so not to separate us into categories of believers and non-believers.  I believe that we are all more alike than we are different and that our belief systems should not separate our oneness. We may choose different paths for living moral lives and we are all coexisting and expressing love in different ways, which is a beautiful process.

We are members of an active, loving, community building church. Our motto is rooted in Christ, reaching out in love.  Our faith is actionable and I want to share a story about how our church family is helping the homeless.

We have a mid-week program for 2nd through 6th graders, who come to church every week for 2+ hours and share fellowship, bible study, a meal, prayer, and an activity, all run by volunteers, even the cooking dinner part.  It’s amazing to be part of and to witness.

Last week, our activity was filling brown, paper lunch bags with items that we can give to the homeless in our community. We had stations where the kids were writing cards, preparing muffins to be baked, decorating the outside of the bags, and then one to fill the bags.

One of the love notes looked like this:

 Inside the bags, the kids placed a rain poncho, a can of vienna sausages, instant oatmeal packets, squeezable applesauce packets, a fruit bar, and a love note.

They filled over 160 bags. As they left for the evening, each kid was told they could take 3+ bags home with them and they were told to keep them in their cars and to hand them out with their parents to those in our community who were in need.

Charlie was very excited for this event and couldn’t wait to be able to find his first person to help.  While he was coming home from his soccer game this weekend, a homeless person was pandering for money at the intersection. Charlie told his dad that he had to stop and give the man one of his H20 – Help To Others bags. Jeff was confused at first, because he didn’t realize that Charlie had been prepared to serve others right there and then. Charlie was insistent that Jeff open his window and give it to the man standing nearby before the light changed and he missed his opportunity.

Jeff told the man that he had a care package for him and asked if he would like to have it. The man agreed and was very thankful for the gift and connection.  Charlie watched and felt content. The two of them talked about their experience the rest of the way home and Jeff praised Charlie for his persistence and active interest in following through and helping the man, standing in the cold.

Sometimes sharing my faith makes me uncomfortable because I don’t want to leave anyone out or have anyone with different beliefs than mine to feel disinterested because it’s a discussion about something they don’t believe in. The root is still the same and that is the connection I hope you find, whether you’re Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, or other. We are all rooted in love. One love.

I shared this story because I wanted you to see faith in action. I want you to see the good that churches provide a place for people to gather and to create good deeds and to make our communities a little bit better. We are teaching our children compassion, to be giving, and to help others. I’m sure you are too, perhaps in similar ways and different ways too.  This is just one of the many ways that connect us to love and to serve each other.

Do you have a story to share about helping others, big or small?

nAMaste, BeLoveRs

Helping Others 

My day was filled with helping others and my heart is full. I think it’s true what they say about how when you help others you actually create happiness for yourself. It’s counterintuitive but it works and I’m hoping I can teach this life skill to my kids.

This week we are volunteering at our church’s Vacation Bible School. Charlie is working with me and Juliana is helping with our special needs ministry team. Christian was helping in the office, providing administrative help as needed.  I loved seeing them in action and hearing their stories. I didn’t hear a single complaint, not even the one that required them to get up early. I think they enjoyed serving as much as I did and found a bit of happiness. Who knew?  I think they are  learning a life secret through practice.

Life is a practice. Today practice was good!

Do you find happiness by helping others? Do you encourage your kids to give of their time? Just curious.


We said goodbye to Akie today, with tears in my eyes. Juliana called me a sap. I just loved having her with me and sharing this experience together and I miss her already.

It was such a joy to have her stay with our family. We all loved sharing stories and laughter and bonding together. She was absolutely delightful and we all enjoyed her company in different ways.

Our family bonded through this shared experience too. I admired how Juliana was a little mother to Akie, making sure she was happy and entertained and understood. She was patient and kind and loving and unselfish and I loved watching her be the best hostess, even giving up her room for her.

Charlie made welcome signs and presented her with a handmade goodbye card that he translated into Japanese and English, all on his own. He played kendamas and war with her and loved having her with us.

Christian always stopped by her room when he came home, greeting her and asking about her day. He joined us when he could and was warm and welcoming when he was busy.

Jeff had fun translating words into English, Dutch, German and Japanese, seeing the patterns and making connections. He was there to greet her when she arrived, took her to see San Francisco, the Redwoods and Santa Cruz, and was there to say goodbye at the end too.

We all had a special connection with her and for this I am grateful. I loved how she enjoyed small bowls of soup, rice with sprinkled toppings, and long bath rituals. She was polite, kind, friendly, curious, warm and genuinely happy. When she left, I asked if I could hug her and she reached out to give me a hug with a smile. I loved her!

Our family shared an awesome experience and shared our life with a stranger who became like a daughter and sister.

I highly recommend hosting a foreign exchange student. There are so many benefits to both the hosts and the student and it makes the world a little smaller, after all.

Life is good.

Volunteering and Creating Community

How do you help others, besides those in your family?

This was the topic of discussion tonight.  We were all sharing how we volunteer and what we like to do.  It was interesting to hear everyone’s different stories, because how they chose to volunteer told us a lot about the person and their interests. Listening to the stories made me curious and helped me to know more about my friends. It also helped us to find connections between interests, that we may not have know about each other.

One friend likes to quilt and she volunteers for Quilt For Kids, making quilts for sick kids in hospitals. She used to love making quilts for her family, but after awhile, you don’t need any more quilts. She found a way to continue her hobby and to share her generosity and talents with strangers. She brought a sample of her quilts and told us that they donated 800 quilts last year. I shared a connection with her as Charlie was a recipient of a handmade quilt when he was sick in the hospital when he was born. The beautiful, colorful quilt was in his bed when we came to see him. I thought it was a mistake, that it belonged to someone else, until the nurses told me the story of the volunteers who make them for sick kids, so that their hospital stay might be a little bit brighter and more cheerful. We still have this quilt, and I used to think of the women who made it as a gift of love. It made his hospital stay feel less sterile and I was so thankful.  Cool connection, huh?

Another friend shared how she volunteered with the Humane Society to help families become foster kitten parents. She loved cats and wanted to help them. 

One woman shared how her mom forced her to volunteer when she was in the 8th grade, and that she didn’t want to do it at all. But by volunteering, she found her vocation and passion. She chose this field as her profession, even getting a scholarship to her chosen college, aided through her volunteer connections. 

What I learned from listening to all the stories, is that by volunteering we are helping others, but we are also able to help ourselves.  We create communities of interests with other like minded friends while giving of our time. We share conversation and create friendships by working side by side towards a common goal. We find connections through service and we create communities, whether it be around our passion for animals, kids, movies, antiques, singing, helping in schools, coaching, helping with sporting events, health services, mentoring youth, or whatever brings you joy.

Do what you love. Love what you do.  It’s good for all of us!

Life is good.