Kindness, the Daily Grace by Pat Cirrincione

It was the summer of 1954, and my family had just moved into the top floor of my paternal grandparents' two flat. I decided to take a break from all the unpacking going on inside and went outside to sit on the front porch steps. I must have looked the way I felt inside—sad and a bit lost in the new neighborhood— because a girl, who looked my age, came over from where she had been sitting and introduced herself to me. Her name was Marlene. The first thing Marlene did was introduce me to her grandmother, who drank beer for breakfast every morning and told us tales of “auld Ireland” when she was just a wee child before coming to America. I thought she was delightful.

Through my new friend, I discovered that my new neighborhood consisted of people from the Appalachians, Irish immigrants who had come from Canada, a few Italian families as well as Jewish and African-American families. We were a mixed and diverse group of people that made growing up fun and interesting.

We children either went to St. Mel Grade School on Washington Boulevard, or Tilton Grade School on West End. However, the one constant I remember the most was that everyone was kind to one another. Differences were respected. No one made fun of anyone, which was nice for me, because today, I would be considered the class nerd, a name that wasn’t even heard of back then.

Back then, and even today, my nose was always in a book. I was fairly quiet and basically a homebody. I had curly hair, wore glasses and was very tiny. The combination of all these things typically meant that I always got picked last for anything. Funny thing, though, I never felt bad because not one child I attended school with ever made fun of me. I was invited to every birthday party the other girls were invited to, and was never left out of things going on with the other children. I truly believe that because most of our neighborhood consisted of families who had just been through World War II, they were glad to just be alive. Nothing was taken for granted. Every person had value. Friendships were special and lasted a lifetime.

When did all this change? I don’t know, but when I think about it, I think it was a gradual process of people becoming more self-absorbed, mean-spirited and unkind to anyone who might get in the way of their goals, their ambitions and progress in life. When did we forget that kindness brings comfort, and builds up God’s people? When did our love change from self-giving to self-serving? If our highest purpose was to worship God, then how could we not be kind and love our neighbors? But I am getting ahead of myself.

I realize now how fortunate I was growing up in a neighborhood where kindness comforted and built up God’s people. Where no act of kindness was wasted, but treasured by the one receiving it from a friend or neighbor.

I read this post about kindness on Facebook (of all places):

Always be kind.
If you see someone falling
behind, walk beside them.
If someone is being ignored,
find a way to include them.
If someone has been
knocked down, lift them up.
Always remind people
of their worth.
Be who you needed
when you were going
through hard times.
Just one small act of
kindness could mean the
world to someone.

All around you, people are hungering for even a touch of kindness. As Rosaria Butterfield says in her book The Gospel Comes with a House Key, “it begins with recognizing people as your kin…and it can be a violent form of neglect for another’s soul.”

Kindness is a daily grace shown to another. I realize now how blessed my family and I were that summer of 1954 to have been placed in our new neighborhood by a kind and loving Father. A neighborhood where the standard was self-giving love, given freely with no strings attached. I’m not saying that living in a community is always pleasant, but in the kind of neighborhood I grew up in, it could definitely be life changing.

I leave you with this thought from Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV) After all, how else would you meet a friend’s grandmother who drinks beer for breakfast? 

The Light--Worship Music from Madagascar

College Church mid-term missionaries Caleb and Whitney Wiley live in Madagascar, where they help believers record and produce worship music. Enjoy this worship song, Lay Mazava, with English subtitles.

credits Song by Tiazara Ladiciano Recorded and Produced by Caleb and Whitney Wiley.

Here are the lyrics>

The Light

Jesus (John 8:12)

Jesus Christ told everyone

I am the light of the world

Whoever follows me,

Won’t go into darkness

(But) will have the light of life


Jesus Christ is the light

He is the light

Whoever follows him,

Won’t go into darkness

(But) will have the light of life

 Disciples (Matthew 5:14-16)

You all are the light of this world

You need to be light to people’s eyes

So they see the good things you do

And give glory to your Father in heaven .

Fireplace of God's Love by Jennifer Frakes

My dad was trained as a mechanical engineer and made his living as a home builder and remodeler. His education and experience translated into his ability to build a masterpiece of tightly crumpled paper, soaked in lighter fluid under small thirsty kindling sticks, beneath alternating large dry logs strategically stacked. Seemingly dead matter would arise with awesome power, and in the precise place designed for fire.  I remember being captivated by the anticipation of immanent danger, but a tamed danger—danger and safety juxtaposed. It was the place made for fire—the fireplace.  

One spark, and into reality burst the hope of warmth and comfort, and my skin and soul simultaneously felt from “good fire” the happiness one feels with a surprise visit from a faithful friend! The soon dancing, roaring blaze of white hot orange, yellow hues atop red embers, and the crackling, hissing, popping sounds sealed into my heart’s memory a feeling of family togetherness, of stillness, and there, I knew and felt my father’s care. He had created something  of ambiance for our family to enjoy. It was my father’s heart and skill and attention and gift. It was one of my fondest childhood memories of him and of his positive influence. It was intentional, purposeful, dangerous, and yet safe and comforting. The fiery gift glowed with warmth and light and spread love to others.

There is within me, a fireplace. It cannot ignite itself.

Now, heavenly Father, I pray, so ignite my heart, our hearts, with the love of God for the needs of the hurting world satisfied only in you and empowered by the Holy Spirit through Christ our Lord!

What the Prodigal Did by Sarah Burkhardt

I am discovering exactly what the prodigal did—

Who taking his father’s inheritance in pursuit of the life and the will he wanted,

Found that there is no deeper love

Than the very one he squandered.

When we learn to live beloved,

To trust the love that casts out all fear,

We learn not only how great our God is;

But that we, ourselves, in all our unique intricacies, are a gift.

A gift of creation, being made new.

We find a new identity,

And a new hope.

It is tempting to be like the older brother,

The faithful one standing above it all,

not embraced by his father’s love.

Pride itself is a fall, and self-obsession can easily plague.

Learn to let go of what you can’t hold onto. And re-learn.

We can be so close and not see,

not allow ourselves the true embrace we really need.

Be embraced by the Father. It is through Christ we can abide in his love.

It is likely exactly the key, to quench that thirst that you’ve felt for so long.

There is a fount of water that does not run out in the Spirit.

And you learn that you, yes you,

Yourself, are a gift—in your job, in your family, in your community--called to a greater mission, and a great adventure, more life-giving than you could ever find on your own.

It might mean you will go across the world, but more likely it will start in your own yard, with the Father’s embrace, saying son, daughter—you are a gift. Receive me, and my gift for you.

This gift is a true inheritance, one that will not fade away, and one that you can trust with your very life, for your entire life.

A new inheritance, one that will not be destroyed.