Usual? I think not.

blogIMG_0311As soon as I read this week’s photo challenge theme – unusual you know what happened? An old Tom Jones song from the year 1965 popped into my head.

“It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone, it’s not unusual to have fun with anyone…It’s not unusual to go out at any time…It’s not unusual, to be mad with anyone, it’s not unusual, to be sad with anyone…”

Of course, Jones was singing about being in love, which is not unusual.  Happens pretty often to us human beings. So what is unusual? More than we think.

I’m venturing on a different route here today. Usually, I showcase a photo that personifies the photo challenge and I expound on that theme with one story or thought centered on the subject.

But instead, I’m compiling some unusual events I’ve noticed in totally random order in list form.  So here’s my catalogue of uncommon or rare happenings lately:

  1. Respect for law enforcement. Several months ago when a good bit of verbal bashing of law enforcement officers was publicized in social media and on the news, I witnessed something which stayed in my mind ever since. At a very busy restaurant, our family waited patiently to be seated. The queue of folks giving their names to the hostess just kept getting longer and longer. The restaurant doors opened and in walked two uniformed state policemen, obviously on a dinner break. I watched with interest as the hostess called a couple who had been waiting longer than us for an open table.  Instead of following the hostess, they walked over to the officers and offered the policemen their table. What a kind and respectful thing to do. And how often does that happen I wonder? Unusual, I think.


  1. Kindly concern for a stranger. I have a strange skin issue happening; I seem to be losing pigment. As a very fair-skinned person, I’ve always been subject to sunburns easily unless I use sunscreen. Now, I’m even more fair-skinned with the loss of melanin, yet despite the fact that my skin turns very red and looks burned if I’ve been exposed to the sun without protection, it doesn’t hurt and my skin doesn’t peel away as in the past. Instead, the redness just fades away. While on our second day of vacation in the

    Me looking more like a lobster than this guy!

    blistering heat and sunshine, I forgot my sunscreen. By the third day, I was definitely doing a lobster impression based on the color of my skin, even though I had sunscreen applied by that point. A considerate stranger approached me and asked me if I was alright and did I need some sunscreen because as she stated, “I don’t know if you realize it, but you’re getting very red.” I thanked her kindly, told her I did have sunscreen on, and that I truly was just fine. Random act of kindness? Surely. Unusual, I think. 


  1. Loving in-laws. Recently, we enjoyed a visit from my sister and brother-in-law who live out west. On one of their last evenings with us, they invited us to join them, our other sister and brother-in-law, and a couple who have been their long-time friends for dinner at a local eatery. We enjoyed lively conversation and started talking about our parents. As always, we sisters reminisce often about our folks because we are a close family and miss our deceased parents so much. A wistful look passed across my western brother-in-law’s face for a moment as he commented, “They were the most wonderful in-laws a person could ever ask for.” They truly meant the world to him. What a tribute to the kind of people my parents were. And how many folks could and would say that about their own in-laws? Unusual, I think.


  1. Thickly Settled. On yet another vacation day, Papa and I were traveling through Massachusetts and stopped at a quaint little town. We missed a turn, so we found a side street in which to turn around. I noticed a street sign reading “Thickly Settled” causing me to pull out my camera. Perplexed by the wording, we assumed that thickly settled meant a densely populated area, but that neighborhood didn’t fit the description to us. The streets of Boston – now those were thickly settled. After we came hblogIMG_0031 (2)ome and shared this unusual sign’s photo with other family members as well as the one that said “Speed Hump” (our signs caution us that there is a speed bump), I conducted a bit of research about why those signs are worded in that fashion. According to the Massachusetts driver’s manual, “a ‘thickly settled’ district is an area where houses or other buildings are located, on average, less than 200 feet apart.” The significance though is an unposted speed limit – 30 mph – exists in those areas, so if you exceed that, it’s considered unreasonable and improper, and you will end up with a speeding ticket. So how would tourists know that I wonder? Should we consider that a speed trap? Unusual, I think.


  1. Foxy neighbors. Papa enjoyed some lobster for his birthday dinner while we were in Connecticut on our vacation. We ate a simple meal one evening, sitting outside with a view of the waterfront directly in front of us. While driving back to our hotel in Mystic, we passed through a picturesque village on qblogIMG_0241 (2)uiet neighborhood streets. Quite suddenly, Papa applied the brakes and exclaimed, “Look!” Two foxes were cavorting and playing right in the middle of someone’s yard. And it was a ‘thickly settled’ area too. I managed to snap a quick photo of one of the daring critters. It’s not often you see foxes so close to human houses. What does the fox say? Unusual, I think.


  1. Scene from “The Birds.” And finally, one day as I composed blog posts at our home office desktop computer, I saw a flash of movement outside the window. I have to admit I was a tad startled at the sight on our front lawn. I couldn’t count, but it seemed like at least a couple hundred birds the size of robins had descended. I grabbed the camera, stepped out onto the porch and whoosh! They rose up into the air and I swear, I felt like I was in a scene from that scary Alfred Hitchcock movie in the 60’s – The Birds. Creepy and fascinating all at the same time. Would anyone believe me? Here’s the photo above to prove it. Unusual, I think.

So what unusual occurrences have you noticed in your world? They’re out there, you just have to be on the lookout – and if you’re anything like me, that’s usual.

“Today is a most unusual day, because we have never lived it before; we will never live it again; it is the only day we have.” ~ William Arthur Ward




What would I give?

blogDSCN7912“He who gives what he would as readily throw away, gives without generosity;  for the essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice.”  ~Henry Taylor

One day last week,  middle daughter and I watched the movie Evan Almighty.    We’ve viewed it before, but both of us just wanted to veg out and watch something light-hearted.

I remembered the basic story line of the movie  – God tells Evan to build an ark – but one of the things I’d forgotten was near the end when Morgan Freeman (as God) converses with Steve Carrell (as Evan) and draws the letters ARK in the dirt.  Turns out what God wanted Evan to do was an Act of Random Kindness (ARK).

That thought reminded me of an action we witnessed during our recent trip south to move oldest daughter back to our home state.  We were settling into our seats for the first leg of our flight.  I turned around to see where middle daughter was located since her assigned seat wasn’t in our row.   My husband nudged me and said, “Look, do you see that?”

A well-dressed gentleman already seated in the airplane’s full first class section must have noticed a man in uniform – a military man  – board the plane.   The gentleman came back to the coach section, spoke quietly to the soldier, and without making a production out of it, offered his seat in first class to the serviceman.

“What a wonderful thing to do!” I thought.  It blessed my heart to see someone honor and respect one of our military,  especially since it was the 10th anniversary weekend of 9-11.  That definitely was one of those acts of random kindness and I doubt if very many people sitting on that plane even noticed what took place.

On our next flight, which again had full first class and coach compartments, I noticed a member of the military sat in the row in front of me.   No one on that plane offered him a first class seat.  And that made me start to ponder this question – what compels a person to give up something of value for another person?  And more importantly, am I willing to sacrifice for someone else, even a complete stranger?

The gentleman on our first flight willingly gave up his expensive seat and, by all appearances, he did so without wanting to claim any glory, thanks, or attention for himself.  That’s a truly giving person – one who expects nothing in return.

Witnessing those two separate events made me contemplate some questions on the rest of the flight.  And today, I can’t stop thinking this over and confronting myself.  What am I willing to give up?  Would I give up a better, more expensive seat on an airplane to a soldier?  Would I even think to do such a thing, would it cross my mind, or would I be so preoccupied with myself that I wouldn’t even notice that soldier?  Do I even pause to realize the sacrifices our military personnel make for me?

I’d like to think that I do.  After all, I am a former military wife.  I know the sacrifices our countrymen and women in the armed forces make each day just so I can live in freedom.  I believe I understand what any person who serves others gives up, be they firefighters, police, or medical personnel just to protect and rescue people like me.

Likewise, I think I’m someone who notices others, especially when they need help.  But the truth of the matter is, I can be just as selfish as anyone.   Am I selfless only when it doesn’t impact me that much?  When I don’t have to really sacrifice anything?  Am I only willing to give up things that don’t matter to me or aren’t that important?  I may feel satisfied when I give unwanted or unworn items to Goodwill, but would I be willing to give a favorite item to someone who needed it?

Maybe giving up a first class seat to another wasn’t a big deal for that gentleman.  But the impact it made on me is a big deal.  When I consider what God has done for me, what He has given up so I may live, I am dumbstruck.  God, the Father, sacrificed his only Son on the cross to pay for my transgressions. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~ 1 John 4:10

Jesus, the Son, gave up everything for me.  He gave up His home in glory for a time to come to earth and live among us as one of us.  Then He made the ultimate sacrifice, experienced the pain and agony of the cross, and gave up His very life for me, for all of us.     1 John 2:2  says, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Any sacrifice I may offer can never compare.  So what must I do?  I believe the answer is live for Him.  God’s Word tells me, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  ~Ephesians 5:1-2

Hebrews 13:16 also reminds me, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  But to give just for the sake of sacrifice means nothing, so I must endeavor to do everything I can, give up whatever I need to, in love so others may come to know Him by my acts.  “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” ~ Mark 12:33

Yes, I may perform an ARK, an act of random kindness, but the important aspect is will others see Jesus in me? Do I accomplish my ARKs for His glory, not my own?

As I contemplate these thoughts in today’s book of Opportunity, Chapter 9, Page 19, I marvel at the way God speaks to me even while witnessing one small act of random kindness on a crowded airplane.