seeds of kindness

I was talking with the kids about ‘seeds of kindness’…planting kindness in those around us. It is something I want to be more a part of my daily life. When the laundry has been piled on the same chair for 2 days, when the dishes are flowing out of the sink onto the counter, when crumbs lay on the floor and kids are hanging from stair banisters…the notion of planing seeds of kindness in those outside my home feels like mission impossible. And yet, I want to be that friend. I long for thoughtfulness to overflow from me, but it doesn’t come naturally for me.

So, I’ve been trying hard this month. I’ve been talking with my kids about it. Teaching them as I teach myself. Bringing them alongside me in this journey to be a woman that finds ways to plant seeds of kindness in those around me.

Earlier this week, a package arrived on my door.

A box brimming with seeds of kindness.

A box of lemons.

A sweet friend who lives out of state had posted a picture on Instagram of her lemon tree. I made a little comment about wishing I could sit with her and enjoy some lemonade. The thing about this friend is she is someone I would truly love to sit with each day and laugh over lemonade. She challenges me. She inspires me. For those that know her…they know her as someone that plants seeds of kindness…consistently and thoughtfully. We couldn’t enjoy lemonade together, but she sent me a box of her lemons.

I couldn’t stop smiling. I got a box of lemons from a friend. It was such a happy box to open.

I have many other friends & family like her. Those that shock me with their thoughtfulness. Those that I hope I can grow up and be like them.

Kids are still going to be hanging from banisters. Laundry will remain. Dishes will stack up. But I got a box of lemons. I’m going to make some lemonade. I’m going to sip it with my crazy kids and we are going to learn together to plant seeds of kindness in others.

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  • ranee - thanks for this post…funny that as i read it my sink is full of dishes and laundry is all over the place! what an encouragement…and enjoy that lemonade!

  • Mirys - Ashley: thank you for THIS post!

    I stop by every single day because you inspire me. But I see your pics (looooove), read your texts, and eventually leave a comment. Sorry for that… Today was different. IĀ“m planning on doing the exactly same thing around here, with the kids, but I was stuked… I didnĀ“t know what NAME to do to this project! It needed to be strong! To cause an impact! To chance their lives! To inspire them (the kids) to step on this boat! But I couldnĀ“t think of anything smart enough… untill I see YOUR post! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Now I have my idea, my life project, my cards and tags… and the perfect name!!!

    Kisses and blessings!
    Mirys
    http://www.diariodos3mosqueteiros.blogspot.com
    (from Brazil… but always reading you!!!)

  • Mercedes - I love this post! I know what you mean–it doesn’t came naturally to me withstand especially hard when we have so much going on in our lives. But what an impact a lovely, kind surprise can make! That’s the kind of thing that inspires you to pay it forward.

  • Mary - what a wonderful reminder for me today.
    xoxo

  • LeeH - I have a neighbor with a lemon tree, amazing juicy lemons.
    1 cup of water
    1 cup of sugar
    1 cup of lemon juice
    4 cups of water

    Heat water with sugar until the sugar is dissolved
    Let it cool, put it in a pitcher
    Add the lemon juice and 3 cups of water
    Adjust with more water until it’s the sweet/tart/lemony flavor you like.

    Cheers!
    Lee

  • Pam - What a yummy treat and such a great friend. Our family loves lemonade!

  • Amy K. - I think your kids will end up teaching *you* about sowing seeds of kindness…. they have time to think & observe that we do not, since we have to worry about the laundry & dishes!

  • Katie - That’s so sweet! My friend just put down her tax returns to come sledging with me. I wouldn’t have gone without her and she knew it. Sweetness. I brought her a tea to keep her sweet.

  • Corrie Anne - What an important life lessons. and a cheery gift to receive!

  • Karen - What a sweet thing for your friend to do. I want to be that sort of person to and it is not natural for me. I do try and try and try. I don’t always feel very successful. In fact sometimes I end up feeling put out and that is not what I am trying to achieve at all. I hope the trick is to keep trying because that is what I want to do.

    Good luck to you. And I love the imagine of your children hanging from the stairs. God bless you and miss you.

  • Lennie @ Jackson Valley - Great post and beautiful picture! I loved your instagram with the mask. Hilarious!

  • mistygarrison - They way people love you is amazing! What a blessing. And a wonderful testimony to the way that you allow the love of Jesus shine through you.

  • Molly - “seeds of kindness” i am going to use that with my kiddos too. i like a good phrase to repeat to them. might just be our mission this year. thanks for sharing!!

  • Gaby {lifeineight.com} - You’ve just given me goosebumps Ashley-ann; not only because I also aspire to be this kind of person who plant seeds of kindness in others but also because with your photo you reminded me of the lemon tree that lives in my parent’s home patio. The one that was part of my childhood. I wish my parents and that tree weren’t at the other side of the ocean! :o)

  • Cheryl - I think you plant more seeds of kindness than you realize. I stop by your blog almost daily to check out your photos and projects. Your kids make me smile, and I love that you share stories about them and your journey as a family. I agree that being more intentional in our lives in regard to service to others can only be a good thing. Teaching thoughtfulness and an ability to see beyond the needs of oneself to children benefits all of us. What a wonderful world it would be if we all did that! You and your kids will grow and learn together in wonderful ways as you continue to plant more seeds.

  • Kristin - Long time reader, first comment:

    Please don’t under estimate the thoughtfulness you put into each post!!! The stories, themes – down to each photo, each word. Many many ladies, including me, benefit from your open, sharing heart!

    I realize the value in striving and challenging ourselves to be better, we all can. But don’t be too hard on yourself – each post here is its own seed! I am so grateful for the way you’ve inspired my photography and crafting, view of family. :)

  • Sara - Lovelovelove this post. So sweet and happy and wonderful!

  • Robin - Lovely post!

  • Nicole C - This is something that I too have been incorporating as much and often as I can. There isn’t anything more in this world that I appreciate as much as thoughtfulness!

  • Stacy - Funny you should write about this today, because I have been struggling with this same thing recently, and just last night I had a bit of an internal meltdown over it.

    I consider myself a gracious person – someone who can do things without any expectation that the sentiment will be returned. But being gracious is different than being thoughtful; if someone needs something, I am there for them no matter what. Yet what about the times when no one needs anything, but a little bit of extra thought from me would brighten their day? I find myself constantly having an idea for something I can do for a friend or family member, but something always gets in the way; I have trouble following through.

    This is something I never realized until I started dating my current boyfriend. He’s the boy who buys random flowers for me, and grabs an extra something at the store because he remembered I was craving it the day before. He’s always thinking of ways to make me happy, whereas I… well, I am always “too busy” or “in a rush,” and I overlook the ways I could reciprocate his thoughtfulness.

    Thank you for reminding me that it doesn’t always come naturally. Thank you for reminding us all, on this day, that thoughtfulness is something that needs work.

  • Steph - Hey can you start by sharing some of your beautiful weather you keep making us all jealous of on Instagram?? :)

    This was a lovely post, and such a noble cause when you have much much more on your plate than most people do. Sometimes just dropping a friend a text or email to check in is thoughtfulness enough (and the 10 seconds it takes are 10 seconds anyone will be impressed you managed to find). You have a still-new daughter fresh out of surgery and a whole other crew to attend to and make to feel important. Personally I’m okay with drawing inward when necessary. Then again I have a new baby on the way any day so your generosity humbles me!!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Ashley, the way you love challenges ME! Through your adoption journey, you have been planting seeds of kindness in me – to open my ears and heart to God’s will for us. Now to wait for His timing… :)

  • ali thompson - it is so great to see kindness spread. caring for your friends doesn’t have to be expensive or overthought–just a simple act goes a very long way!

  • jocelyn - oh i like that!!

  • Remaliah - I love this! What a beautiful idea to teach your children and learn from at the same time. I would like to do this also. Enjoy your lemonade :)

  • Catherine - Oh my, I so understand the intentional thoughtfulness challenge! I have trouble with that, too! I can never get birthdays right, even if I have it written down, i end up letting time get away from me and then it’s late! Anyway! I am with you! I will plant seeds of kindness. My church is doing our beginning of yr fast and I chose to fast procastination. You know, that pile of laundry that will really only take 10-15 minutes and I can do it with the kids and teach them how simple it really is to just get the little things out of the way. It’s done and off the list! Procrastionation is such an easy out for me on things I just don’t want to do. So, I pray to God for the motivation, to help me stay focused and make the mundane more enjoyable for all. Then… we go paint and sew and bake! Ha! But don’t forget, God gives each of us gifts and I have had to accept that being naturally (or supernaturally) thoughtful may not be mine. BUT I can still try! sorry so long :-/

  • RachelC - What a special gift. What a great friend. I want to be a friend like that.

  • Debra Parker (@debraparker) - We moved into our neighborhood a year ago. We have been meaning for that year to know our neighbors more. The kids know all the kids, but the parents not so much. Last night we sent an invite to host them all and get to know one another.

    In other words, I love your post. And I totally get it.

    D

  • Jen - I love this post! This is one of my goals for this year–I want to be more “show” in my love for others, respond, do the practical things (like picking lemons, putting them in a box, and heading to the post office) that let people know I am thinking of them. It’s so funny that you said you’re not naturally good at this, because you’re one of the people who has inspired me in this way. One wonderful example: when you left a gift-a-day for your two youngest to open when you and the rest of the family went to China, to let them know you love them and to help count down the days to your return. I absolutely loved that, and would never have thought to do something like that myself. So, thank you! I’m excited to plant my own seeds of kindness and make it a lifestyle.

  • Elizabeth Whild - I have always done my best everyday to plant a seed of kindness, I talk to my children about why we are cooking a meal for another family that are too busy at a hospital with a sick child to cook that night, buying a meal for a homeless man digging in the dumpster behind the take away store etc. but my biggest obstacle is not planting a seed or ‘paying it forward’ as we call it in our home, it is not being disheartened by family that say we’re just sucking up to other family or friends that we help. I pick up my mother in law from work because I know if she could drive she would do the same for me, not to score brownie points. Today I talked to my children about not being discouraged by those that taunt, and that caring for others is something that sometimes not everyone understands. Thank you for this prompt. Lovely seeing your family grow and your inspiring photos, that make me take the time to snap away my own family and realise that the posed family pictures aren’t really capturing my children’s personalities, that the simple everyday snaps really tell our true stories. Thank you. X

  • Katie - You seem to have the most wonderful friends!

    I also think that even if you are not planting physical seeds of kindness, your blog is overflowing with thoughtfulness and kindness that it makes me happy, and want to be a nicer, more generous, and more crafty person.

  • Carrie Hall - That is a wonderful post, thank you again for doing what you do. I look forward to your posts as a bright spot in my day. With that said, I had a similar moment this week with my best friend. I was having a crappy week. I wrecked my new mini van and smashed my garage door all in one fowl swoop; I decided also to jump back into photography last week and I was feeling insecure about my skills… any way i was feeling really low. Unexpectedly my sweet friend Tess dropped by unannounced on her way somewhere with her family just to drop of a darling mug with my initial on it. It was a sweet gesture, given to help lighten my spirit. But it wasn’t until later when I actually used it to have my coffee that I realized the specialness of it. That mug was a seed of kindness she planted in me… every time I fill it with hot coffee goodness and sip that first sip, I am reminded that she is with me… whether my day is hard, or if I am just sitting to enjoy the beverage i love most. And it makes me smile. She is the friend that has always made me rise to the occasion, made me want to be a better mother, a better friend, a kinder person. That seed that she planted is growing with me and it made me want to plant more seeds of my own. It is really funny how that works. I hope you enjoy those lemons lady! I really connected with this post, thanks!

  • Kim - Such a simple post, yet such a simple truth. I long to have friends like yours, and my desire is to be that friend as well. Blessings!

  • Marty Ann - So love your blog. I started watching you because of your pictures and I thought maybe just maybe I’d learn from you (camera wise). But the Lord had other plans. You are just the person I wanted to be and want to be. I’m not talented as you, but my heart is in the arts and children. Now I’m 54 soon to be 55 and a mom of 6 and a “memaw” to 14. I’m.. through you getting back to some of the crafty artsy things I love. So through your seeds of kindness, you are helping me along the way :o) Thank-you. And when you talk of laundry, dishes, and meal planning it takes me back. (good times now when I look back)Thank-you Ashley, God bless you and your beautiful family.

  • Laura Skilbeck - Ashley Ann I LOVE your photography and your blog! What a wonderful gift you are creating for your little ones by so beautifully capturing this time in their lives! Thank you for the inspiration.

  • LeighP - Yes. I love this sentiment. I love that you are bringing your children along on your journey and not pretending that you have it all in check already. They will learn from that too.

  • Marie-Eve - LOVE IT !!
    OX-

  • Christina - You obviously plant many seeds of kindness because look at all the wonderful friends who feel the need to send kindness back your way. We all approach those seeds in different ways and you definitely plant them in abundance from what I see (read).

  • Andrea - Such a great reminder. And how thoughtful that gift was!! Love this :)

  • Allison - your thoughts and your actions are so inspiring. thanks for sharing. it’s hard as a mom to look past you self, your house and all your kids’ needs to the needs of others. but how else are we going to impact others? ive been struggling/thinking a lot lately on the things God would have me do for others and the lasting impression i’m making on people’s lives. thanks for the dose of reality and the necessity to overcome and to act.

  • Kelly Shannon - You know Ashley Ann,
    This blog plants so many seeds of kindness. I feel I want to do better after I visit you and your family. I am inspired to create and do more for others. When I see the happiness your children radiate from your photos, I want to be a better, more accepting and patient teacher. You do plant so many seeds each and every post. You are a warm and very special photographer, mother and friend.
    Thank you for sharing your goodness!

  • Kimberly Dial - What an awesome friend! It’s always a good idea to make lemonade :) Enjoy!

  • heather - she really is one of the most thoughtful people i’ve ever met. i so want to be like her when i grow up!

  • Brandy - Hello Ashley,
    I came upon your blog via a recommendation – your words have been very refreshing and inspiring! My family has been home 2 months with our little China baby, who also was born with a cleft. I am originally from Arkansas and actually went to the OTHER OBU – Ouachita. :) Your warm Oklahoma (relatively speaking) is sounding wonderful to this (now) Minnesotan.

  • Chrissy W - I have been reading your blog for over a year now and this is my first comment :) I am always astounded at the ability you have to put into words the feelings of my heart! This entire post was so inspiring and just what I needed today! You are a truly gifted woman, with the ability to touch the hearts and souls of so many! What a treasure your blog is to me. Please don’t ever stop being so incredible.

  • Julie - Beautiful. I want to be the kind of person who does something like that.

  • Wordish Wednesday {you are loved} - Julie is Coco and Cocoa - […] this “Seeds of Kindness” post. That’s the kind of person I want to […]

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