Valor

My friend, former coworker, and confidante Debra Dickey wrote today’s blog post. I never stop learning from this woman. Thank you, Debra.

In my experience, valor is a prevailing and significant part of kindness, faceted, inextricably entwined.  Kindness, by definition, is a perfectly generated act; designed especially and wholly specific to its purpose and direction; genuinely presented, without distinction, qualification or condition, expecting nothing in return.  Valor described as an act of bravery, never counting the cost, steeped in gallantry, graciousness, conviction, heart and spirit, is kindness with a noble twist.   Therefore, by interpretation, kindness and valor incorporate the self-same characteristics within their disposition. Benevolence etched in valor. Parallel objectives; peerless outcomes.   

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARenowned acts of kindness in their character and dispensation continue to deserve distinguishing mention in the journals of my life. Inscribed with valor, often jagged and irregular in my plebeian existence, friendly kindnesses have always been around me, typically crafted in the form of benign pleasantries and considerations.  Yet in shining moments, there have been more imbued magnanimities.  Only a matter of degree?

Maybe.  Perhaps solely the ‘knight in shining armor’ psychology?  Who’s to say!  But I do know that once in a while, there have been notable and remarkable, made-to-order, selfless acts of kindness extended to me unsuspecting, some requiring momentous valor, others only requiring love, but all totally unexpected, indubitably unsolicited, yet perfectly tailored to fit, and indescribable in what they meant to me, because . . . .  they were meant for me.

Easily recalled:  once, a concerned stranger with particular insight; again, more than once, a relative with a huge heart; many times, family generosity; friends, too, with no agenda other than my well-being; and most recently, my children, giving from their hearts, from their own resources, gifts designed for no one but me.   Each a pure act of kindness, but none which could happen without their own special brand of valor when choosing to listen with their hearts and act.

Nothing touches me more profoundly than genuine kindness, authentically offered, with no strings attached.  Masterpieces in eloquence!  Uncommon gems of great value – beautiful, melodious symphonies upon the heart-strings.  Not accustomed to such grand gestures, I’m always moved to tears, rendered speechless, and have no words worthy of adequate response to these magnanimous altruisms.  Gifts of supreme kindness with actions in valor . . . ‘their price far above rubies’.

Most people do not consider their kind actions meritorious, but I most assuredly do!  Valiant, unhesitating, chivalrous, bounteous, without equal – timely gifts perfectly given – nobility at its finest.  I am humbled and grateful to be included in this honorable gift exchange program directed by the Almighty!  Considering how very little I have to offer in return, it always feels like winning the lottery!

How did they know?  How do I express their incomparable value and great importance?  How can I explain their incredible significance for me?  How will I ever manage to repay them all??   God chooses a few folks and endows them with uniquely wonderful talents as cannot be described, His Wonders to perform.  These truly are my ‘knights in shining armor’.  I am so grateful for each and every one.

Embodying the spirit of giving

With MIdge on My Wedding Day*Today’s post is written by contributor Dr. Teresa Burns Murphy, one of my former professors. Dr. Murphy is a fabulous writer; I’m thankful that she regularly contributes to my blog and still takes the time to mentor me as a writer, demonstrating to me the true spirit of giving as well. Merry Christmas, Dr. Murphy!*

Christmas is just around the corner, and I know of no one who embodies the spirit of giving more than my aunt, Midge Brewer.  I’m grateful to her, and I can say without reservation that many other people have also benefited from her acts of kindness – not just at Christmastime, but all year around.

One of my favorite stories about Midge happened when I was fifteen.  For Christmas that year, Midge gave me a beautiful turtleneck sweater from Neiman Marcus.  She had spent the fall taking an extensive training course in Dallas, but she took the time to go Christmas shopping and find a lovely gift for me.  I had never had such a fancy sweater before, and I wore it for years.  On that particular Christmas, the sweater was the perfect present because it provided a beautiful cover for the back brace I was wearing for my scoliosis.  She probably had no idea how much that sweater meant to me, just as I’m sure she has no idea how much her kindness has meant to me and to the other people she has come in contact with over the years.

Another Midge story occurred one day while I was waiting to have my hair cut in my hometown of Batesville, Arkansas.  Even in a small town, it’s rare to overhear perfect strangers engaged in a conversation about someone you know, but on that day I overheard a man and woman talking about Midge. Of course, I listened in.  They were discussing a wedding shower she had given for someone at the church they all attended and remarking on what a wonderful job she had done. I’m certain that Midge lost count years ago of the number of showers she has given as well as the number of weddings she has directed.

In addition to giving showers and directing weddings, Midge is also skilled at making wedding cakes and has made dozens of them.  Several years ago, she made a wedding cake for a relative and placed it in the church kitchen so it would be there for the reception.  In the meantime, a man broke into the church and helped himself to some of the food in the church pantry, including a slice of the beautiful wedding cake Midge had made.  When the mother of the bride discovered what had happened, she called Midge.  With no time to bake another cake, Midge whipped up some frosting and filled in the space the thief left behind with a Twinkie.

Midge is generous and resourceful, but she is not one to call attention to herself, and I will probably get into trouble for writing this post.  I’ll take the risk.  We live in a culture where sensational acts of heroism are celebrated.  While that’s important, people who quietly practice acts of kindness and generosity on a daily basis rarely get the recognition they deserve.  Midge has spent her life in service to others, and this Christmas I’d like her to know that I am grateful for all the things she has done.

Why gratitude?

I asked my Composition II students to write a brief essay explaining their motives for expressing gratitude and offering at least one example of a moment when gratitude was expressed to them or when they chose to express gratitude to someone else. This essay was written by my student Jessica Whitmire, who is always smiling. Students like Jessica make my job lighter and brighter!

My family has always instilled in me the concept of treating others the way I want to be treated. Generally speaking, if we are kind to others they will, in return, be kind to us. At times this does not always happen, but that cannot be helped.  The Bible tells us to help those who are less fortunate. I believe that it is my responsibility as a Christian to help others when it is needed. I know that at times I have needed a helping hand or encouragement, and there has been someone there for me.

FullSizeRender-2My Granddad passed away two years ago but was in the hospital for two weeks before he passed, and the amount of love that was poured out on my family was immeasurable. People sent food and cards, constantly for those two weeks he was in the hospital and the week following his death. They came by the hospital and prayed with us and so much more. Without all the love and support I do not know if I would have ever made it through that difficult time. From that moment I knew that I needed to repay all the generosity and love that was given to me and my family.FullSizeRender

I feel that if everyone worked together and lifted each other up instead of tearing each other down, our country would be a much better place. There is too much hate and not enough love. Everyone has the ability to make a difference, and no act of kindness is too small or insignificant.