I’m Sister J (Dawn’s younger sister, not a nun). I’ve been working to simplify my life and live out my compassionate ideals. Lofty, I know. But there are some really easy ways to make a big impact, and I wanted to share them with you.
1. Books For Soldiers. Our family house has a lot of books! We listed most of them on Amazon and Ebay, but some of those titles weren’t selling. Through Books for Soldiers, I found that there are soldiers posted abroad with downtime and nothing to read. As a recent college graduate, I’m poor, so I hosted a garage sale via Craigslist to raise funds for shipping care packages overseas. To my sweet surprise, once I was actually at the post office, I learned that the price of postage to overseas military bases is actually only the cost of shipping to your nearest stateside military base (or warehouse?).
Anyway, I have been really blessed through this ministry. The wonderful elderly postman who spent twenty minutes processing my packages was a veteran. I was profusely apologetic for taking so much of his time, but instead he thanked me for supporting the troops. His sincere “thank you” moved my hard little heart so much that I cried. Since then, every soldier to whom I sent a package has written a note or email to thank me, and I’ve kept in regular correspondence with one. I am ashamed to say that, until now, I have been fairly blasé about our country being at war – it feels like we’ve been at war for most of my life. Now I have the opportunity to learn more about what life is like for our soldiers, and to thank them for their service.
2. Women’s Shelters. I have a lot of half-used cosmetic or personal care products that are great, but suddenly start irritating my sensitive skin. It seems a shame to throw out a giant tube of nearly-full Origins cleanser (Origins has a great return policy, but I don’t have one very close to me), so I went rooting about for someone who might want my stuff. It turns out that women’s shelters are always in need of basically anything and everything. I spoke to the woman in charge of donations at my local women’s shelter, and since they help women transition into new living situations after their stay at the shelter, they could always use the things that make a house run smoothly. Good to know!
3. One of the things I’ve missed since my dad has passed is being able to thank him. Thankfully, I don’t have any regrets in that regard. I thanked both of my parents a lot, but often the words passed through my lips without an understanding of what sacrifices they were really making for me. Around the time of my graduation, I went out to buy 20 thank you cards. But, as so often happens when my sleep-deprived self finds itself standing in line at CVS, I ended up with 40 thank you cards. I thought about my dad and challenged myself to use all of those cards. It’s been a tremendous exercise in gratitude. I’ve thanked my friends who supported me while my dad was dying, my middle school english teacher, professors, and people I don’t know well but whose presence was important to me.