If you were to read the following words on a small plaque my friend Bonnie Dickenson made for me, “God lead me today to those whom I need and those who need me and let something I do have some eternal significance,” you might feel overwhelmed looking at your paltry day and be defeated before you even start.
Since Bonnie gave that handmade plaque to me eight years ago, that was often how I felt as I turned away to busy myself.
A family experience recently made me look at it in a different way.
During the Christmas holiday, we spent a delightful and fun-filled week in California with our son Steve and his wife, Barbara, and their four children.
After Christmas, we all headed to sunny Arizona for a time.
There had been sufficient family togetherness, so for the first few days there, Barb and Steve did family things with their kids. After a New Year's party at our son Tom’s home, we took our grandsons to our home.
Two days later, our two granddaughters joined us in Arizona because Steve and Barb were busy and Tom and Stacy were hosting her family for a reunion.
Their ages range from 5 to 13 years old, and things can be a bit more complicated as siblings — especially those of varying ages — often resist being on the same page.
The second afternoon, we decided to go on a walk/hike and demanded all to participate.
I can’t say it was always joyful.
Teenager Braedon did some foot-dragging, and 10-year-old Jackson was always challenging a cactus, but we had fun talking and walking. The kids made a monument at the top of a hill.
This was an activity my husband, Grit, had done previously with our 5-year-old twin grandsons, Max and Luke. They knew about the monument because Grit liked to ask the boys what a monument was. They would loudly answer, “A pile of rocks!”
We took a picture of them at their “monument” to show Max and Luke.
When returning, 7-year-old Summer needed help from Grit to go down the steep hill. (I had wisely waited for them at the bottom with 5-year-old Laila.) We made it home with everyone unscathed and renewed by the fresh air.
Before we started on our journey, Summer made a list of things to find and charged Laila with carrying a small bag with a handle in which to put some of their treasures. The list was:
Two golf bols (sic)
On arriving back at the house with her carefully checked list and bag of treasures, Summer disappeared for a time. She came out bearing a small bunch of flowers wrapped in a note, “I love Grandpa so much for helping me.”
She also had a foot-long narrow piece of driftwood she had found and decorated with flowers and leaves. A note at the bottom proclaimed it “the family stick of love.”
Summer had a wonderful time running and laughing with her brothers and sister, and she climbed the mountain easily. It was when she had to come down that she became fearful and needed help. The shale was slippery, and desert plants are prickly.
When she needed help, her grandpa was there to make sure she went safely down the mountain. It was a small effort for Grit but a necessary assist for her.
Sometimes we need help getting up our mountains, while others are slippery to climb down. A helping hand from a caring person can make all the difference.
“Don’t look for big things,” said wise Mother Teresa. “Just do small things with great love. ... The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.”
So often it is not the forced, perfectly planned or world-shaking acts we do, but rather the small ones that remind us of what is important and how many times we unknowingly can and do make a difference.
May your year be full of many meaningful little things.