Here to change the world

Mom had just had eye surgery, but with Jeff's help, she was able to enjoy a lovely day at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in March 2012

Mom had just had eye surgery, but with Jeff’s help, she was able to enjoy
a lovely day at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in March 2012

“We are here to change the world with small acts of thoughtfulness done daily rather than with one great dramatic leap in results.”Rabbi Harold Kushner

Everyone loves to see results.  There’s nothing more satisfying than completing a major project or putting the final touches on something we’ve labored over for weeks.  But in reality, our most important jobs will never be done.  Living daily with faith, reverence and humility will always be a challenge, and treating others as we want to be treated will often require patience and stamina.

We aren’t likely to get much honor or applause for the details involved in being thoughtful to others.  We all want to change the world for the better, but we aren’t likely to see dramatic improvement when we make the time to care, up close and personally, about one individual at a time.

The good news is that small acts of kindness create synergy that comes back to us, making joyful occasions even happier, and easing the tension in frustrating situations.  Thoughtfulness becomes its own reward as we travel through life surrounded with our own portable atmosphere of good will.

We may never see the effect of our actions on the world at large, but that’s not where we live anyway; we’re needed elsewhere.  Fortunately, our power to make a difference is located right where we happen to be today; in our families, our neighborhoods, our communities.  Whose paths will cross yours today?  Whose world can you change?

30 Comments

  1. Ann

    Julia, Your blog has become a meaningful addition to my morning routine. Thank you for the time, energy and wisdom that must go into this blog. I just read your comments on the UR devotional site and am thrilled at the results of Jeff’s surgery. Right now you probably need a good meal and some sleep (sometimes caregivers forget to care for themselves!). You and your family will be in my prayers and thoughts.

    • Hi Ann, I’m so glad you like the blog. It has provided me with a “job” that takes my mind to happy places when the worries of all our current medical woes overtake me. We are feeling so thankful today. YES I do need some sleep and a good meal! All the sofas were taken last night so I had to push chairs together, but when you’re feeling tired AND relieved it’s easier to sleep. I’m getting tired of chips and cookies though – had a nice breakfast this morning with some fresh fruit. Thanks so much for being here, and for your prayers which are pulling us through!

  2. It’s sad these days people expect publicity for even the smallest thing they do. Facebook satisfies this urge to a certain extent. However some little acts of kindness that will never be known to others but just between the two persons concerned.
    Your dear ones both look cheerful in the picture.

    • Yes, Jeff and my mother have a lot in common and they always enjoy being with each other. Two very no-nonsense types who don’t need a lot of talking and prefer to be out doing things. Re: the publicity, I think our culture has gotten so celebrity-oriented and now we have all these “reality TV” shows and social networking that just feed that craze. But it’s still true that many (maybe most) of the most noble deeds and actions are never known to the public. The quote I wrote about here has always been one of my favorites and I think it’s so accurate.

  3. Mike Bertoglio

    This reminds of quote by Dalai Lama? that,” the future of the world depends on daily civility, manners and small acts of kindness.” Its the little things that matter, though underappreciated. It was wonderful to live in Hawaii for a time where older folks are treated with a degree of respect- most of the time- and the drivers drive with a degree of civility-most of the time. I think I heard a horn there once during the year I lived there. However lots of horns blaring in Seattle- including mine. I probably romanticize my Hawaii experience, though I vow to return one day.
    Read your post on UR. Continued prayer for you- Jeff and family.

    • Hi Mike, thanks so much for your prayers; they are being answered! Hawaii is a much more civil place where driving is concerned. You probably remember the common bumper sticker that said “Live Aloha” and most Hawaiians and kamaaina (locals) take that to heart when they get behind the wheel. When we first moved there, in orientation materials we were told that horn honking is NOT OK except in emergencies. In fact, even if you get somewhat impatient in public, you will get the “stink eye” (irritated glances) as happened to me on occasion! 🙂 Your memories are correct that ohana (family) is a very strong concept there, which includes respect for older people, and the ohana is a larger group than just one’s blood relatives. My son’s bus drivers had the children call them “Uncle Frank” and “Auntie Uku.” We see these warm traits still very present even in people from Hawaii who have lived on the mainland for years. They seem to stay closely connected to each other and to all their loved ones.

      • Carolyn

        I hope that all is well with the family and that Jeff is feeling good today. We had a good visit with Jennifer and family. the trip was a tiring one for me, but I will recover. No picnic this time. Julia, I hope that you had a great Mother’s Day. I was happy to spend mine with Jennifer. Today we went to Josh’s kindergarden program. He is 61/2 , David’s youngest. Time just keeps flying by. Today is a cool wet day and I think it is coffee time. You all take care and keep me up to date on Jeff. Hugs and Love to all.

        • Carolyn, it’s so good to hear that you had a nice visit with your family. I can imagine that travel is a lot harder for you now. I know it has been for Jeff. He is doing better but still in the ICU – another night of sleeping on the waiting room chairs for me, but I’m just happy I can be here with him. We are hoping he will go to a regular room tomorrow. That coffee sounds good! Thanks for keeping in touch. Love to you and Terry. Also if you talk to Gary and Jane tell them we said Hi!

  4. Emily Laveder

    Aunt Julia, this blog is so relevant. Please know we have been praying constantly here and could not have been happier to hear yesterday how well things went. Our prayers will not cease! And today, I will look for someone to secretly bless. Love you and Uncle Jeff and just praising God for the progress that is being made. He is lucky to have you =) I am preparing for Megan’s shower tomorrow and will send you photos! Love you!

    • Thank you Emily, the prayers have been our survival. We feel very thankful. Today was quite uneven but he seems better now. Still in ICU. We’ll keep you posted.

  5. Jenelle

    This reminds me of the “giving is better than receiving” premise and how I needed to be reminded today! I know I don’t comment often, but I read your posts daily and I’m inspired by your real and optimistic outlook on life and all the possibilities it can hold if we tap into our potential and look beyond what we see. Blessings to you, Julia!

    • Thanks Jenelle, I am so happy you enjoy the blog. It has been good for me to focus on the abundance of life which is there for us, in one form or another, despite any other circumstances. Now and then we get a “wake-up call” that we take far too much for granted, and I think Jeff and I both are learning much from this experience though we would never have chosen it and would never wish it on anyone. I appreciate your visits here, and your comments!

  6. What a lovely photo. God bless you all.

    • Thank you Amy. Hope we can get together soon.

  7. Sheila

    Julia, although it is late my day wouldn’t be complete without letting you know that I have thought of Jeff and you so many times today and read your Upper Room comment this morning. I hope Jeff continues to improve. The photo certainly captures love and thoughtfulness together. We are camping and enjoyed a seafood dinner with friends outside this evening. My prayers are ongoing. You are close in my thoughts. Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, I’m so glad you stopped by and made MY day complete – I appreciate your visits here and I love hearing about what you are up to! Sounds like a fun weekend. Jeff is doing well and they just told us he will be able to leave ICU today, for which we are thankful. Your prayers are such a blessing, and they are being answered! I know you are with me in spirit and that means so much. I’ll keep you posted.

      • Sheila

        Thank you, sweet southern girl!!

        • Why y’all are most welcome, honey, bless your little hearts! 🙂

          • And I know you’ll believe me when I tell you I’m drinking tea as I write this!

  8. Love this blog Julia. I am using my faith to make changes in my work environment with implementing our at lunch bible study. I see how the Word has fortifed my co-workers to deal with the challenges that come with serving the public. The clients God has put us in stewardship of help them obtain much needed support. I find when my co-workers take the job from the perspective that we labor for man, we WORK for God; we can change our clients lives in the most humble compassionate way.

    • Gwen, I am so happy you like this blog. Your thoughtful observations have meant a great deal to the UR community and your faith is making a difference in all whose lives you touch. Because of our younger son’s disabilities, we come into contact with many professionals who work in positions similar to yours. It means so much when the work is done in love and faith; it is not “just a job” but a real opportunity to serve. Thanks for shining your light!

  9. That’s a really nice photo Julia. I’m a big believer in Karma and while nobody’s perfect, I do my best to be the kind of person I’d like to know and be friends with. There’s nothing to be gained by living with regrets, I just try to do my best.

    • Yes, what we do really does come back to us someday, somehow. I really believe that too. I think you are doing a pretty good job of being the kind of person who is great to be friends with! Your blog is such a friendly, happy place and don’t get me started on the wonderful surprises you make! 🙂

      • ❤ Julia, always so generous. Thank you. On a whole, I've been so very lucky for the people that have come into my life. As for the few mis-steps, well, if you never make mistakes you won't learn much ;D

        • Yes, trusting can lead to hurt sometimes, but on the whole, I think we risk more by shutting ourselves off from potential friends, than we do by the occasional misplaced trust. Experience is a good teacher.

  10. MaryAnn

    AAHH! What a lovely example of caring for others! I had just read a beautiful email from an
    adopted “daughter” that ties in well w/ this. She remembers the “little” things & acts of kindness she learned & can see over her life that she is passing them to others!
    Thank you teaching us people ARE the most important! She shared Gal. 6:10 (The Voice version) “to do good things & be a blessing to everyone”.

    • Thanks Mary Ann! When I wrote of the “portable atmosphere of good will” I was thinking of people such as you. I literally cannot remember a time, even from the very beginning of our acquaintance, when we did not feel valued, liked and loved by you!

      • MaryAnn

        I believe the reason is because of your love for Jesus shining through!
        Thank you for the encouragement!

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