Well, I turned 40 yesterday.
I knew it was coming, I’ve known it all year.
I think God’s been throwing me a big year-long party, making so many of my dreams come true, just celebrating who He made me to be… there was meeting Oliver in June, my university graduation in October, and my first published book just this week. It’s been quite a ride, let me tell you!
And now my 40th birthday.
I do love birthdays, but I’m not sure how I feel about being 40.
Silly, I know.
It’s like I’ve been having this mid-life crisis lately – looking back to what is gone, looking forward to what is to come.
Am I doing a good job with what I’ve been given? Am I happy? What needs to go and what needs to stay?
I deep-cleaned the house a couple of weeks ago – got rid of everything that I couldn’t justify or wasn’t useful or was just plain clutter.
Emptying out, making room, dusting things off and taking a good look at them, making sure they should still be here.
And not just in the materialistic things of life – the emotional and spiritual things as well.
Religion (as opposed to Christianity), consumerism, the many masks I wear – I’m looking all of it in the eye and telling it to stay or go.
I’m probably just beginning.
It’s a new phase of life.
The second half is wide open before me.
And I’m a little intimidated.
But growing more and more confident about what it should look like.
Then leaving the rest with God – for His plans and purposes.
Because, you see, they are so very different from my own sometimes.
And it’s not such a bad thing.
Often times I am blessed way more than I thought possible if I’ll just let go of me and grab hold of Him.
So that’s what I did for my 40th birthday!!!
I’d been thinking it over for a couple of years, after a friend asked me what I would want to do with this milestone. She had just celebrated her 30th and had been challenged by friends and family to do 30 specific things before her birthday – they made her a list and everything! And for the most part, she loved completing the list and opening herself up to new things.
I wanted something a little different. I wanted to do 40 acts of kindness in one day. Yep, that’s right – 40. In one day.
I think it’s been changing me since the idea started growing two years ago. Like I figured it shouldn’t be such a leap to think about doing that many kind things in one day. Shouldn’t I be leaning towards that anyways in my life?
As the big day approached, I thought there was no way I could this – life is too busy, I’m too tired, I don’t have enough money, blah blah.
But the idea wouldn’t go away – I think it had been there too long.
I woke up a few days ago with the beginning of a list in my mind… and the list just kept growing… and I began to see that it absolutely was possible, that I did have a lot to give out of what I had already, that it could definitely be done.
And my Joshua had most of the day to spend with me, which made it even more possible (he’s great at doing the extraverted stuff when required – have you noticed that about him?)
So here’s a glimpse at my list of 40 Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness that was completed yesterday…
1. Treats for Josiah’s class – Josiah helped make 24 cupcakes and I also made cookies (total of maybe $5 spent on all the treats for boy’s classes – cake mix and icing on sale, cookie ingredients on hand at home). I DID buy special cupcake papers and trays to deliver them to the school without them falling apart – this cost about $8 more).
2. Treats for Elijah’s class – cupcakes and cookies (costs mentioned above)
Just look at my handsome young men – the older handsome man is behind the camera.
I have a feeling that soon I will feel very small in my house!
3. Card & World Vision donation for Josiah’s teacher (we’ll put all our donations together and get one big thing from the WV Christmas catalogue)
4. Card & World Vision donation for Elijah’s teacher
5. Candy canes for everyone at the boy’s school (this was Elijah’s idea, bless his awesome 8-year-old heart! Cost about $50 total – Elijah gave $10, a wonderful friend gave $20 and we gave $20)
6. Love note for Josh
7. Love note for Josiah
8. Love note for Elijah
9. Hang curtains at our rental property – I snagged these from my mum’s house in the summer and I wasn’t using them
10. 2 bags of food & 1 bag of hygiene items donated to the downtown mission (I love coupons – this stuff was just sitting around my house from recent stock-ups!)
11. Value Village donation (4 bags from the recent deep clean mentioned earlier!)
12. 2 Christmas plants donated to the mission – these plants didn’t cost me anything
13. A few pantry items donated at the library – our donation meant our $2 fine was cleared – bonus for both sides!
14. Infant formula donated to the Pregnancy Care centre – somehow I was put on a mailing list for new moms and received two cans of formula in the mail – so this donation didn’t cost me anything either.
By this time, Josh is getting hungry and we need to rework the plan a little to get over to Costco for a $1.50 hot dog & pop lunch (I know, we’re such big spenders, eh? We often joke about treating each other to lunch – just over $3 for both of us! Can’t get a much better deal than that, even if it isn’t the healthiest thing in the world…)
15. Returned a few carts in the Costco parking lot
16. Bought a hot dog & pop lunch for the next person in line to order that meal deal
17. Dropped some change in the Salvation Army kettle outside Costco
18. Toys R Us had this special Christmas tree in the front door – on it were ornaments with the names of children and their ages. These are children who will not be getting much for Christmas, so the local radio station organized a toy drive for them. I chose a boy aged 10 (in honour of our Caleb who would be 10 this year) and Josh picked a lego set for him for Christmas. This item on my list cost much more than the others, but this is a new thing we are doing in our family – our boys get 3 gifts for Christmas, and so we’ll be thinking of ways to do the same sort of thing in memory of Caleb. This Toys R Us gift was one of those gifts.
19. Returned one of Josiah’s Christmas presents. How does this fit on my list? Josiah asked us to take back one of his presents so he could use the money as a donation for people in Africa, who just lost Nelson Mandela. Uh ya, I have awesome boys.
20. Donated change for someone to have a free load of laundry at a local laundromat – the lady who runs it is so generous and loving, and she called later to thank us personally
HALF WAY THROUGH THE LIST!!!
21. Donated all our Canadian Tire money in one of those bins inside the Canadian Tire store
22. Walked around Target and left coupons on about 20 items – really good coupons too!
23. Josh placed a free drink coupon on the shelf in a local Mac’s store
24. Held the doors open for others to go ahead of me for much of the day
25. Used a Tim’s gift card to buy a snack for a friend (Josh was given a $10 gift card from one of his judo students, and he graciously gave it to the cause today)
26. Used the Tim’s gift card to buy a hot chocolate for a friend
27. Used the Tim’s gift card to buy lunch for a person in line behind us
Time to pick up the boys from school and start our Christmas vacation!!
28. Surprised Elijah with a “dinner out at the restaurant of your choice” coupon, which we used while Josiah was at a friend’s Christmas party – this cost about $12.
After dinner we took Elijah skating for the first time this year – he did great!
Finished the rest of my list online later that night…
29. Entered the special code from a Mars bar wrapper – gives $5 to Habitat for Humanity – and the bar only cost me 69 cents!
30. Went to The Hunger Site online, and clicked on all the links to donate.
31. Bought a special Christmas ornament online in honour of Caleb – $10 was donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation.
32. Donated some of my Shoppers Optimum points to the Jennifer Ashleigh Children’s Charity (this charity was started in memory of a baby girl who died at 6 months of age – her mom wrote out her story and shared it in my book that I just published this week!) – this donation didn’t cost me anything, and the points I’ve accumulated from recent purchases at Shoppers Drug Mart – a really good rewards program!
33. Earlier in the morning I had offered a coupon of $7 off my book to Canadians who I won’t be handing a copy to anytime soon – this was to cover the cost of shipping until the book is listed on amazon.ca – hopefully in January or February?
And the last few items are all the same…
34. Ordered a free copy of my book for one of my contributors.
35. Ordered a free copy of my book for one of my contributors.
36. Ordered a free copy of my book for one of my contributors.
37. Ordered a free copy of my book for one of my contributors.
38. Ordered a free copy of my book for one of my contributors.
39. Ordered a free copy of my book for one of my contributors.
40. Ordered a free copy of my book for one of my contributors.
And that’s all folks! 40 acts of kindness in one day! All from what I had to give already, plus a few extra dollars – but nothing over the top!
There are so many ideas out there, I bet if you sat down and started jotting a few down, you’d have a good list going in no time.
I found out late last night that my Mum had emailed 20 people and invited them to do 2 acts of kindness each, and tell me about them somehow – and that would total 40 more to add to my 40!
So I got some wonderful emails and texts telling me about how people were blessing others in their own ways – it was such a blessing – thanks Mum!!!! And thank you to everyone who played along – you guys are simply amazing!!!
And thank you to my Joshua, who goes along with my ideas, and helps me live them out when I don’t quite feel like I can do them alone.
Now… on to the next decade of life… I wonder what it will bring?!