When little is big

Image credit-Peasap via Flickr

It’s a conundrum, really.

How can something little actually be bigger than it initially appears?

Well, consider this:

Have you ever helped a friend with something simple, perhaps picking up something at the grocery store, and they gushed with appreciation?

Have you ever given a small gift that the recipient treasured more than it’s actual worth?

Have you ever been immensely grateful for a small act of thoughtfulness?

It’s all about the perspective through the eyes of the recipient.


Small things become big when done with a caring heart


This holds true for so much of what we do, get or give. For instance, have you ever had to navigate a double set of doors to exit a department store while pushing a stroller?

It sounds like a game show event: “And now Sally reaches the most difficult part of the course, where she will need to grow a set of octopus arms to reach the first door handle, push and hold it open to roll the baby through, and then do it again for the second set of doors, while avoiding being squashed by those heavy doors. Let’s see how she does, Bob. Look—what a surprise!—she was helped by a friendly bystander who is holding the door open so she could easily roll outside. Just look at that smile, Bob, and listen to that heartfelt thank you!”

A simple act of kindness can feel almost inconsequential when you give, and yet seem so much bigger when you are the recipient.


Small gifts become treasures when given with love


As we look to any gift giving occasion, we may suffer from the “more expensive is better” malady. After all, marketing tells us that our children must have the coolest new toys so their fragile self esteem is not damaged. That same advertising says that if we really care about our family, we will spend thousands on each of them for Christmas.  You may have felt that peer pressure to spend hundreds of dollars on your two year old’s birthday when she would have been ecstatic with pot lids, wooden spoons and empty cardboard boxes. You might have spent thousands on a parent when he really would have preferred your company for a few days.

One of the issues here is that spending lots of money is actually the path of least effort. Conversely, spending less often may take more effort, but it also means you may be sharing more of your heart and your time.

For example, I wrote previously about the power of the written word as a great Father’s Day gift:

Many years ago, my hubbie decided to write a letter to his dad, Marshall, for Father’s Day. We had become parents of a premature baby girl in January of that year, and had gained a new perspective and much greater respect for our parents. Funny how that works…

Keith put his blue pen to an unadorned piece of lined notebook paper, and poured out a simple message of love and gratitude to his very straightforward, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, old school dad.

I don’t remember Keith writing or giving this present, nor do I recall Marshall’s reaction. What I do know now, however, is this: Keith’s dad carefully folded up that note, and carried it with him, in his wallet, for the twelve remaining years of his life.

Twelve. Years.

Allow your heart to help guide your decisions in gift giving. What may seem embarrassingly small or inexpensive to you may very well be priceless to another.


Getting to the heart of the matter


When you offer kindness, through words, deeds, or gifts, it is magnified through the lens of love and/or general good-heartedness through which it is offered. Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

If you are having an especially tough day with the kids, having a friend offer moral support is invaluable. If you have been going through a rough patch in life, receiving a card of encouragement can help you carry on. If you are a blogger who wonders if what you write matters, having a reader email a note letting you know how you lifted her up will encourage you exponentially.

Last week, I wrote about finding gratitude in the hard places and so many of you shared what you were grateful for in your lives.

This week, I would love to have you share either how you were touched as a giver or receiver via something that started small.

Here is my contribution:

Due to a change in work, we had planned on moving to a new city this month, away from our family and friends. It did not work out, and we told our church community last week we would be staying put. We received such sweet, sweet words of love from them, of being sorry it did not work out, but of them being so glad we would still be there. Their outpouring of love touched me to the core, and my eyes tear up just thinking about it.

Now here are some ideas to jump start the process for you:

Pick a flower, give it to a family member, friend or co-worker

Catch a child doing something good, and tell them using encouragement rather than praise

Give a gift from the heart, such as spending time or writing a letter

Write a sticky note of thanks or support to a co-worker or boss

Open a door or carry a bag of groceries

Visit a nursing home and share an hour of time and an activity, such as reading aloud or playing an instrument

Bake a batch of cookies for co-workers.

Make a double batch of dinner, and share it with someone in need.

I look forward to hearing from each of you how your lives have been touched or have touched others!

Colossians 3:12 NIV Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.


Sharing at Better Mom, Finding Heaven, Things I Can’t Say, Sisters in Bloom

Image credit-Peasap via flickr

This post was inspired in part by Kindness Matters at Incourage, by Jennifer, and Kindness Week by Emily of Weak and Loved.

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photo by: peasap


  1. Such a thought-provoking post, Kim. It acts like a kind of magnifying lens, slowing us down long enough to really see the impact that our small deeds can have on others. I love the story about your husband and his dad!

    In our lives, it’s my parents, who eat dinners with us on the weekends. They are older, and not as robust as they used to be. Yet without fail, they bring us a favorite fruit, cut-up and ready to be eaten, just as a symbol of their on-going love and caring for us. Small, but with great meaning!

    • I love that your parents join you for dinners on the weekends. How sweet they bring an offering, too! This is such a wonderful time for you and your children to gather with your parents. We were fortunate to spend quite a bit of time with Keith’s parents before his dad passed. Our daughters were young—9 and 12, I think—and while it was really hard on them, we were so grateful they had that special time with their Grampa.

      I enjoy seeing families who intentionally spend time together. It makes for great joy and memories!

  2. I made a comment to a friend about how I had worked hard to clean my closet, and even though it now was one of the ONLY clean places in my house…nobody else could enjoy it.
    She promptly came over and sat in my closet with me.
    Made. My. Day.

    • Oh, my, gosh, Becky. You made me laugh out loud at the image of the two of you sitting in a closet. How sweetly supportive and precious! What a small and simple act so overflowing with love for you! Thanks for sharing your story today.

  3. What a touching story about your FIL…the power of written words of appreciation …so true, the little things really are big when done with love…the listening ear, the calling or writing …blessings, Kim :)

  4. Hi! I haven’t been to your sight in awhile, but thank you for the challenge of giving of ourselves in different ways. One way, one of the best ways is just listening and not fixing. I am finding people responding to that so much more than anything else I could give. Much to think aout…thank you! I love writing letters to people too!

    • Listening and not fixing. Wow, Dionne, you have hit a big one there for lots of women, I think. I know that was a real issue for me, especially when our girls were teens. It seems counter-intuitive that we can help better by listening and not fixing, but I can heartily testify my experience in how people respond when I just listen is much like yours. Thanks for adding that great bit of information to the conversation!

  5. Great challenge, Kim. We really do minimize the impact of those very vulnerable gifts from the heart. Maybe we feel that they cost too much of us–in a non-monetary way. I will be taking up this challenge and will let you know what I end up doing! :)

    • I wonder the same thing. Beth. I think we often find it easier to spend our money on a gift rather than opening our heart for something that really hits the mark. I look forward to hearing from you to see what you do! Thanks in advance for bringing a little more love and joy to the world by your actions!

  6. Hi Kim,
    I had a series of health issues and surgeries in 2007 and 2008. Sitting on the sidelines was hard enough, but needing home health care was even more humbling. Some of my most precious gifts were rides in the car, a random sack of groceries, cards and notes, etc. He taught me so much during that time, and it made me much more compassionate and attentive to the needs of shut-ins.

    In God’s economy, the little things really ARE what matter.
    Thanks for sharing today.
    Hugs from VA!

    • Although you were going through a rough time, it sounds like you learned a great deal and grew in your awareness. Thanks so much for sharing about kindnesses that made a difference to you, Susan. Folks who haven’t experienced what you have can learn so much about how a tiny thing can touch another person in a really big way.
      Sending refreshing raindrops from the Northeast to you! :-)

  7. When I was younger I thought big gifts were necessary to make a point. These days it’s a homemade cake and a plant for the garden but my family appreciates it much more. Wish I would have done that from the start.

    • How fortunate your family is to have those thoughtful gifts! I find that it can be hard sometimes to do things like that when surrounded by family or friends who buy big as opposed to creating thoughtful gifts. Thanks for sharing your experience, Cathy. I hope it helps others step out to give similarly thoughtful gifts!

  8. Hi Kim: thanks for this message. I may just change my mind about what I’m giving my dad and husband for Father’s day in light of the note your hubbie gave his dad! Thanks for sharing this post with us at NOBH.

    • You are most welcome, Kelly. I suspect you may get as much out of writing the letter as they will when they read of your joy, pride, love and laughter for them!

  9. Another thought provoking post from you! What a great message for all of us!

  10. With small actions- sometimes we don’t know what someone is going through and so we don’t know that something “small” ends up meaning the world to them!

  11. I liked your post. :) Some friends of mine had a fundraiser for their adoption costs; I made some extra coffee cakes and desserts, and they STILL are thanking me for that help. :) It’s sometimes the simplest things that make a difference.

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Emily. What a thoughtful way to help your friends on their way to adoption!


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