Friday, March 29, 2013

40 Days of Lenten Service - A Concluding Thought

Seeing as how it is Good Friday today, I thought it would be fitting to wait until today to give my thoughts and experiences for the entire 40 Days.

When I began this journey more than a month ago, I never imagined how hard it would be to do this. I mean, how hard would it be to find someone who needed a random act of kindness? I can understand if the day passes you by and you are not looking for something, but I was actively searching. Yes, it is VERY easy to do something when it involves money, but not so easy when you have a tight budget.

At the beginning, I felt some unseen force was steering me in the right directions. It was easy. The first week of this, I kept seeing opportunities everywhere. It was almost like something was pointing these out to me and saying, "Here is an example of what you need to do." I felt the joy of being able to bring a shred of light to some of the darkest depths. I even had excess time to be able to write about it.

As the days rolled along, I kept finding it harder and harder to find those in need. Granted, I always had the fallback option of gas, gift cards or Starbucks, but I wanted to do something more. I wanted to find things with more meaning. Is society just so geared to not showing any signs of weakness to the general public? Have we just given up?

This is why this adventure was so meaningful for me. I wanted to show that humanity has not given up. There are still a few of us out there willing to make sacrifices to benefit the greater good.

Granted, this country and its philanthropic roots are great about rallying around a single cause or disaster. We have seen this in Connecticut, New Orleans, Alabama and NY. But what about everyday? There are a lot of things we can do every single day.

This is why I feel ashamed when I say this task was difficult. It was difficult for me because of the time I have to spare everyday. My day is filled with carpool, cooking meals, kids school, work, family, etc. Is it selfish of me to think a random act of servitude will impede my daily schedule, so I shouldn't do it?

Here's the thing, if everyone of us take 10 - 15 minutes out of our busy lives to help someone less fortunate, imagine what the world would be like. Some people can do this with money, while others can do this by sharing a conversation with someone on the street. We constantly strive to pass on what we have learned to the next generation. We need to pass on the fact we all live in this world and EVERYONE deserves a chance to have peace and joy in our hearts.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Season of Service: 40 Days of Good Week 4

On to Week 4!

Day 22
So this is what it feels like to have done 21 days of service for Lent. It is definitely easier to give up the kids. We had soccer tonight, so my service for the day is for them. This practice is not going to be the typical practice. I let the boys scrimmage the whole time. They had a blast and I think it might have helped them more.

Day 23
We leave for Jamaica tomorrow, so I am taking my lenten service to a new country. I don't know how this is going to work out, but it will be fun, mon! (see what I did there?) I know it is a bit cliche, but I helped an elderly lady cross a busy intersection. When I drove by, she had made it across one half of the street, but it seemed she was stuck in the middle. I pulled up to her and asked if I could help her. I stopped the traffic and helped her across. Good feeling and I hope the cars stopped saw it and passed on.

Day 24
We left DFW early this morning for Jamaica to meet D there, who was already here for a business trip. I thought my service for the travel day would include being nice to everyone at the airport. This is such a thankless job, they need to hear they are doing good every now and then. Well, started off great until I ran into our gate agent who was less than friendly. So, I decided she did not count and continued on.

Day 25
I think it is time to bring my Lenten Service Project to the people of Jamaica (LeBron reference). Again it was one of those things where being nice and a proper ambassador from the USA goes a long way. This might be the running theme of this vacation!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Season of Service: 40 Days of Good Week 3

So we begin the third week of lent. Amazing that I am not even half-way through. This is definitely a lot harder than I thought. I guess that is the point!

Day 15
Traveling to Plano today to visit my allergy doctor, who I have been seeing since 1985. I thought today would be a good day to do the Starbucks service again, but this time in Plano. As it turned out, a young mom and her 3 year old daughter were behind me. I paid for mine and then turned to them and said that I insisted on getting their order. She thanked me and proceeded to order. After doctoring my coffee, I overheard the mom telling her daughter about paying things forward and what it meant when her daughter asked her why she paid for the man behind her. This is how things begin.

Day 16
Today was a inner service day. I decided to spend 30 minutes of my morning praying and meditating. I prayed for my parents and their battles, my wife who has the burden of so many families, my niece who will be going to college in the fall, my best friend who had his second eye surgery, Bailey's Godfather (he knows why) and Snake's Godfather who turns 60.

Day 17
It was a real challenge to find something to do today. After letting things go and not trying to find something, I came across a lady in the grocery store reaching for some items. I happily got the item for her and then asked if she needed help with anything else. Sometimes it is the small things.

Day 18
I started off thinking my service project was to not yell at any refs today at soccer. That did not work. Instead I left three dollars at the gas station for whoever would find it.

Day 19
As you have noticed, my blog entries keep shrinking everyday. I guess when I started this project, I did not realize how long 40 days is really. This is tough, but it is not supposed to be easy. Sunday is a day of reflection and of peace. I pray for all the peace in the hearts of all people in all nations.

Day 20
So this is the day D left for Jamaica (boys and I head down Friday morning), so I decided to take about 10 dollar coins and every restaurant or store that had a drop box for donations, I would put that money in there.

Day 21
Final day of week 3 and a little less than halfway through. I decided today I was going back to my roots growing up of doing what my dad taught...Always stand when introduced, hold doors open, take your hat off, etc. I was going to show my boys what it is like. Good day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Season of Service: 40 Days of Good Week 2

In case you have not been following, I took it upon myself to do something a little different this Lent Season. How difficult would it be to consciously do a good deed every day? Yes, we can all give up chocolate, soda and other items (not saying this is wrong to do), but I need to do something more this season.

Week one complete...on to Week 2

Day 8
I decided to dedicate this day to my two boys, ages 6 and 10. I wanted to make sure that they knew how much I appreciated them every single day. So, I decided today would be all about them and what they wanted. There were a few rules...1) Nothing electronic. The tv, xbox, DS or Kindles were not going to be used. 2) There would be no arguing. It went perfectly, although we did end up finishing the day with a 30 minute cartoon. I am sorry, it is tough to live back in the stone age!!

Day 9
So today was a great day! I was able to have lunch with Bai's Godfather, Uncle Marc. Afterwards I had to stop at the gas station for a water, and I saw one of the panhandlers that we tend to hear about. They come up saying they are on a long trip and need money for gas. Before, I would have simply ignored them and go on my way. But today was different...I gave them the $10 I had in my wallet. I offered to buy them some food or to get a gas can, but they did not want anything more. I had blessed them enough. Look, I know it is a scam, but if your life consists of you have to beg for money at a gas station and pull this scam, then you need all the help you can get. I figured they needed the money more than I.

Day 10, 11 & 12
Based on how difficult the previous weekend was in trying to perform acts of servitude, I decided that this weekend would be more of what my attitude looked like. I was going to be "nice" and "civil" in my heart and with my actions. I view it as a success. Never did I raise my voice at anyone, get angry at anyone or anything AND take on any aggressive behavior. I went to bed Sunday evening with the knowledge that I was not part of any ill-will. I went to bed with my conscience clear at a peace.

Day 13
Today I decided to pull out an oldie but goodie. I was going to give $1 to every panhandler I came across today. The very sad part is at the end of the day, I had spent $13. It pains me to think about it this way. While our elected officials in Washington are living like kings (both sides of the aisle) and deciding whether to sign bills that effect the lives of ordinary citizens, we have American Citizens who are definitely not "Living the Dream." We have the power to change. This is OUR country. These are OUR brothers and Sisters. It is OUR responsibility. This is MORE than just ONE man. This is about ALL the branches of OUR government. This is OUR United States of America. (can I get an AMEN? Or how about just some patriotic music in the background?)

Day 14
I love waking up and wondering what opportunities are going to be placed in front of me. It is a great way to start the day. Today I did something different. I went into the convenient store where I purchase my lottery tickets (just once, please?). I purchased my two, and handed the lady a five. I started to walk out and she stopped me to say I forgot my change. I simply said, that is for your lottery tickets.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Season of Service: 40 Days of Good Deeds Week 1

Today is Ash Wednesday and is the first day of the Lent Season. In case you didn't the last post (which I hope you did), instead of giving up something for Lent, I plan to do a good service everyday for 40 days. My hope is that you will take part in this with me. If this continues, then pretty soon there will be good deeds being handed out everyday.

Tweet it (#40days) or Facebook it.

Day 1
Instead of giving a homeless man money, I told him I would be right back. I went to the nearest Subway and purchased a $50 gift card and gave it to the man.

Day 2
While shopping for the items to cook a wonderful V-Day meal, there was an older lady behind me with a bouquet of flowers. I told the cashier to go ahead and ring her flowers with my stuff. I think they were both stunned. The older lady thanked me and said it is great to see the love of people is still out there.

Day 3
Today was a little bit harder to find something special to do. The past two days, things just sort of presented itself to me, saying "Here is something to help you on your quest."I had to really search today, so this one dealt with driving. We all have done the thing of not letting someone cut in front of you after you have waited in line. Today, I made sure to be the most courteous driver and let everyone in front AND with a nice friendly wave.

Day 4
This morning I had to be at the soccer offices bright and early for meetings. What a better way to start of the day than by purchasing a $10 gift card at Starbucks then handing it back to the "barista." I told her to use the card on patrons until it runs out. Tell them they are having a blessed morning.

Day 5
I was struggling this morning to even get out of bed. Let's just say wife and I had a lot of "fellowship" last night with very good friends. Today I had to be out at the baseball fields to run tryouts for Snake's age group (he did great, thanks for asking), so I thought it was going to be another difficult day. But wouldn't you know, as I was walking around, I noticed a man's wallet on the ground next to the restrooms. It was really bulging with cash. I found the family's phone number and called them to tell them I had the wallet. He and his family were very thankful, and they told me the money in the wallet was for a family vacation today.

Day 6
What a wonderful day today! Sure it was a tad gusty at times, but you cannot beat 70 degree weather in February. Today's 40 Day Lent task was very sneaky good. It seems everywhere I look in the house, I seem to find another gift card. I am kind of suspicious of them partying and doing who knows what to reproduce, but back to the subject. I found a gift card for $15 to Chick Fil A just laying in a pile of junk. That is when a brilliant plan hatched in my mind...So I had to stop and get gas ($3.70? Really?) this afternoon and decided to pull up next to someone already pumping gas. I saw them go in the store, so I carefully placed the envelope (gift card and note inside) on the gas pump so they would not miss it. The front of envelope said, "God Bless. Pay it Forward". I couldn't but giggle when I saw the lady looking around and then she got a smile on her face when she opened. Good day indeed!

Day 7
Today took on a different type of service for Lent. I was now thrust into helping our four-legged friends who tend to use the restroom outside and bark. I don't know if you were thinking of something else, but the correct answer is a dog. As I was leaving to go to our warehouse this morning, I saw a dog roaming the neighborhood by herself and dragging a leash. She was dangerously close to a main street so I ended up stopping her (I lured her in with some beef jerky). After about 5 minutes or so, a frantic man and a young girl (4 or 5) came running. The girl was walking the dog with her grandfather and the dog got away from them. This young girl went up and gave this dog a big hug and the dog was happy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Season of Service

As the season of Lent approaches, it is time for everyone to start giving up the things they love for 40 days. In the past I have given up alcohol, candy, french fries, work, just to name a few. It is really a good thing to do, but is it enough?

This past Sunday, our Sunday School class lesson was about what the season of Lent is actually all about. Yes, it is great to give up something or sacrifice in order to remember about Jesus' ultimate sacrifice. But can we do more?

So, during the sermon (not that I wasn't paying attention Larry) my mind began to wonder about what else I can do during this time of the year. Then I came up with this idea, for the 40 days of Lent I will do one selfless act for another person. This could be as small as dropping change in the donation box at the pet store or it could be buying someone's gas or meal. Then I will make a post on Facebook and Twitter about what I did that day.

My hope is that everyone reading it will also do one selfless act themselves each day. This would then grow into a much larger event. We did this for Christmas in honor of the Connecticut Tragedy, so why not do it for ourselves.

As a parent, my ultimate job is to leave this Earth in better condition than when my life began for my two boys and the rest of the younger generation. This should be the goal of everyone. What if, for one day, everyone decided to do something good for someone else? Then we move to two days, then three, then a week, a month, a year? What would the world be like then?

So beginning tomorrow with Ash Wednesday, my 40 Days of Service will begin.

David Harrell (Facebook)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kindergarten Chili Cook-Off

Blue Ribbon Camp Chili

This simple but delicious chili recipe was one I created for my youngest son’s (Snake) Kindergarten Chili Cook-Off. Of course, it contained absolutely no peppers, onions or other vegetables (hey, I was trying to appeal to the K palette).

2 lbs ground beef (I actually used ground sirloin)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
One 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 T chili powder
1 t cumin
2 t ground dried Mexican oregano
2 t salt
1 T Montreal Steak seasoning
1 T Smoked Paprika
1 T Hershey’s Ground Chocolate
¼ t cayenne pepper
¼ cup Masa Harina (corn flour)
One 15-oz can kidney beans
½ lime, juiced

Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in garlic. Cook until browned. Drain off excess fat. Transfer to slow cooker. Pour in tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, steak seasoning, paprika, chocolate and cayenne. Depending on consistency, you might need to add water. Let simmer in slow cooker for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

After one-hour, place masa harina in small bowl and add ½ cup water and stir. Dump mixture into chili. Stir together and adjust seasoning to taste. Add more masa to get to preferred consistency. Add beans and lime juice and simmer until ready to eat. Serve with your fixins (we used cheese and Fritos).