Do a Good Turn Daily

My friend Tracy works for an in-town start-up company-charity called Sydney Paige. Founder Courtney Brockmeyer left the corporate world to spend more time with her darling daughters, Sydney and Paige, to indulge her passion for education, and to model for her daughters how one person can make a difference.

Sydney Paige is like TOMS shoes: buy one-give one. I buy a pair of TOMS shoes for me, they donate a pair to someone in need. You buy a Sydney Paige backpack for your child, and they donate an identical backpack to a child in need. All good!

Tracy emailed that they needed volunteers to pack backpacks for homeless children in San Francisco. Kids in our area are always adding to their volunteer hours, and parents appreciate opportunities to teach our children solid hands-on lessons about using our time and actions to do good, be better, and love others.

I mentioned it to Tween; he replied, “Yah, maybe…” (he is loving long summer days of video games and bike riding and swimming with friends…). His Scout patrol leader made it a requirement, so we both signed up.

We arrived at Courtney’s garage to walls of boxes and volunteers hiding behind each corner. Our first task: to write notes of encouragement that would be stuffed along with age-appropriate school supplies in each backpack. Tracy explained: “Some of these kids aren’t told they are loved. Some have parents who think school is a waste of time. We get to tell them they can do it, that school is important and so are they.” Tears!

On index cards in brightly colored markers, we wrote encouragement like:
Shoot for the stars
Reach for your dreams
You can do hard things
Keep going!
(Tween wrote our fav): My love for you is bigger than the ocean and stronger than the waves

We opened boxes of backpacks, took them out of the plastic, and unzipped the main pocket. We assembled color-coordinated stacks of school supplies, and then we stuffed. For an hour and a half, we worked diligently until additional volunteers arrived to take our place.

My initially-reluctant Tween hugged Tracy and said, “This was SO great! Call my mom anytime you need help. Seriously. I’ll help anytime.”

In the car he said, “I kinda feel bad about leaving.” I almost turned the car around. Instead we had a heart-moving conversation about volunteering and new opportunities he might pursue this school year.

Two days later we received another plea: 12,000 backpacks were arriving at the warehouse ten days early. Could we help?

We spread the word: Tween had one available friend and Teen had three. Eight of us showed up at the warehouse to rearrange boxes to create space, unpack supplies, and write more notes. We would have given more time, but three of our eight were leaving that afternoon for nine days of work at a Kids Alive International orphanage in the Dominican Republic; their travel schedule made for a narrow window of opportunity.

We volunteered because helping others is the right thing to do. Because we want to teach our kids that a little effort goes a long way in the world. Because our kids brought other kids and the good multiplies. Because our kids are Scouts and, as the Scout slogan says: “Do a good turn daily!” It wasn’t hard, though it wasn’t necessarily convenient, either. Still, it was important.

We helped Sydney Paige and, in turn, Sydney Paige donated 24 backpacks to Kids Alive. This isn’t always the way the world works, but it should be. Good comes from good. Invest your time wisely. Do a good turn daily.

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Find Your Passion and Move Forward

I had the honor of working with today’s guest post author for six brief years when he was a recently ordained pastor and we were young marrieds with Baby #1, playing the see-saw game of ministry-life balance. Neal was gracious in so many ways, asked hard questions that led to meaningful conversations, encouraged us at every turn, and even proctored our Presbyterian ordination exams when Baby #2 made travelling to take exams impossible. I also had the privilege of reading a pre-publication draft of Move Forward, which I highly recommend!

Create Challenge #23: Neal NyboNNybo website

I find I am most creative when I am helping other people move forward in their lives. My most recent example is working with J. Mark McVey, a Broadway performer of extraordinary skill and giftedness. I have the pleasure of engaging him each week on a coaching call. I am sharing with him my experience with online marketing and self-publishing. What happens is that, as we talk about his opportunities, my creative imagination explodes. I leap from one idea to the next. I can imagine a blog post on his website turning into a book, leading to a new motivational speech and singing series for him. I start naming individuals and organizations we can contact to help him.

I’ve learned that this burst of inventiveness isn’t always helpful for Mark.

But I almost can’t help myself for spinning new possibilities out of thin air. Almost. I am learning to pull back and move at the other person’s speed. Everyone else seems to know this character trait of mine. My level of enthusiasm is famous in our home where my wife and daughters have learned to let me process out loud. It is part of who I am at my core. On my best days, I am a hand-waving force generating spontaneous construction of ideas.

It’s helpful to know this about myself. If I am going to thrive, I need to put myself in situations that are open to my creativity. I also need to know when to rein it in.

It’s helpful for any of us to know what is at our core. It gives us clarity and direction. I am clear about this now because I’ve been working over the last couple years to write it down. The result is Move Forward, a workbook and journal. This project in itself is an example of my core. I’m not satisfied to learn it for myself. I need to be able to help others as well.NNybo MF

The Move Forward Workbook and Journal contains a set of thought processes, exercises, and reflection opportunities. Combined, they create an environment in your heart and mind that naturally leads to “Aha” moments and breakthroughs in clear thinking. They center around positive events in your life. You focus on the best character elements, values, and interests that make up the core of who you are. These exercises, spread out over seven days, give you enough time to genuinely reflect on lessons you have learned throughout your life. And the time is short enough that you can come to clarity and direction much faster than you imagined possible.

This workbook and journal is the result of multiple generations of the Move Forward process practiced by thousands of people in live seminars, online video courses, and earlier versions of the workbook. It has benefited from feedback to the point it can now guide others to a positive outcome in seven days. It has grown out of my passion for helping individuals and organizations find direction.

If I can offer one word of advice, it would be to find what you love and pass it on. I need to stop there or I’ll start spontaneously constructing new ideas for everyone!NNybo

Things to know about Neal Nybo: I’ve been married thirty-five years and I really married up! Carolyn has made my work possible and my life a blessing. I once had a curb painting business and was robbed at gun point when managing a Burger King. I’ve been meeting with the same two guys for connection and accountability every Friday for more than ten years. As a pastor, I have worked with single adults and families, couples, young adults, and men. I’ve taught large groups, led a weekly men’s Bible study, provided pastoral direction to worship, communications, men’s ministry, couple’s ministry, and large connecting events like all-church retreats and Easter services for 2,000 held in a parking lot. I currently oversee a staff of 120 at a church with 2,000 members, 1,300 in worship at five services. You can find out more at NealNybo.com.