A flock of geese landed on the surface of the pond, spraying water and splashing until they settled and headed straight for us. At the water’s edge, the geese strode onto the muddy bank, confident and swaggering. They nudged the quacking ducks out of their way and demanded their share of snacks.
My daughter and I tore bread and tossed chunks onto the mud at the birds’ feet. We spent many summer mornings at this pond, feeding the ducks that paddled on the water, and laughing at the bravado of the geese.
My favorite summer memories are of the simple moments I shared with my daughter. We didn’t have much money, so activities had to be inexpensive or free. We found simple entertainments: rollerblading to the park, browsing books at the library. I learned to find joy watching geese land on a pond and appreciating time with someone important to me. The simplest memories make summer special.
I stood in the checkout line of the dollar store, preparing to pay for my small haul of toothpaste and tissues. As the woman in front of me gathered up her bags, she suddenly turned and stuck a $10 bill in my hand. “Pay it forward sometime,” she said, and then she was gone before I could stammer, “Um, thank you.”
Paying it forward means giving to others what someone has given to you. I can’t always pay back the people who have helped me or shown me kindness over the years, but I can pay it forward by helping or showing kindness to someone else. Our gifts don’t have to be financial contributions to shoppers in the checkout line. There are many ways to show our care and concern, and this year, I plan to focus on paying it forward to people I encounter.
I can listen. We learn the most from simply listening to what others have to say. This year I will respect others by listening and paying attention to their words.
I can invest time. We make a difference by spending time in the lives of others. This year I will serve by interacting and spending more time with people I care about.
“When Jesus went out he saw a great multitude; and he was moved with compassion for them” (Matthew 14:14).
I can choose to care. We connect and build relationships by caring about the needs of others. This year I will choose to remember Jesus’ example and offer compassion to the people in my community.
I love fall – cozy-cool weather, comfort food, quilts and sweaters, flannel pajamas. Fall is a time of turning inward, spending those quiet evenings at home feeling content and thoughtful.
Fall is also the time to prepare for the winter months ahead.
When I was a single mom, life became more complicated in winter. Cars wouldn’t start. Snow drifted over driveways. Getting up in the morning to go to work or school felt more difficult and treacherous. But over the years, I learned there were a few things I could do to prepare for the approaching winter.
I got my car’s oil changed, rotated the tires, had the battery and fluids checked. I provided the best maintenance I could to ensure my car would start on that first cold morning.
I stocked the car with shovel, blankets, ice melt, a phone charger; just in case it didn’t start somewhere and I had to wait a while for a tow truck to arrive.
I put away toys from the yard and chairs from the patio before they became covered in the first unexpected snowfall of the season.
I stocked my kitchen with storable food: peanut butter and crackers, macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas and powdered milk; because after skidding home from work through a snow storm, I didn’t want to have to go back out to buy groceries for dinner. I tried to always keep extra food in my home for those nights I didn’t want to venture out into the cold.
Likewise, I stored up soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent, extra boxes of tissues, cough medicine, and children’s fever reducer; because in bitterly cold conditions, I didn’t want to have to drag a sick child to the pharmacy to buy cough medicine.
I tried to buy my daughter’s winter coats, snow pants and boots (in a size too large) on sale the previous spring. Then in the fall, all I had to do was pull winter clothes, hats, and gloves out of storage bins.
I squirreled away entertainment for cozy nights at home: books, magazines, movies, puzzles, coloring books. I reminded myself that winter is the time to enjoy and appreciate spending quiet evenings around the table together.
I love the quiet comforts of fall: early sunsets, time to read and talk, time to consider the present and contemplate the future. Fall is the season to prepare for months of winter rest before the happy new activity of spring.