Now the final 15 of the “40acts challenge” to do Lent generously, divided over this and the next 2 posts!

(In red was what the challenge said to do and in blue was what crossed my mind when I read it…followed by what I actually did do)

act #26: hug someone

A study conducted by the University of North Carolina showed that hugs can increase levels of oxytocin, a ‘bonding’ hormone, and reduce blood pressure – which cuts the risk of heart disease. Get out of your comfort zone and give someone a free hug today! Offer a hug to someone today who may need one, a family member or someone you ‘randomly’ meet today. (Make sure they would like one before you give them a bear hug!) Or, be proactive and make a ‘free hug’ sign and head for your local town or city for 20 minutes and wait and see what happens. If you do, it’s always good to go with a friend to help and look out for you. Have fun!

I so want to do this!

What I actually did do:

“FREE HUG” – holding up one of these signs have always been something I wanted to do actually, but proactive is not something that describes me (most of the time) and so, I didn’t. Also, I don’t think it’s something that our culture here can appreciate, us being the reserved Asians we are. So, I did the next best thing. I sent a mass email giving virtual hugs to all those on my email list saying that they can redeem the hug the next time they see me in person. A few replied with virtual hugs & at least 1 person redeemed his hug when he saw me. Not too bad given our Asian reserved-ness.

Verdict: Done

act #27: fundraise

Run, walk, skydive, climb, bake, make, be silent, sing, drink tea, eat cucumbers, wear something silly, dance, tebow, write or paint your face. Whatever you’re into, do it for charity. Whatever you are passionate about,  I can’t encourage you enough to step out and use what’s in your hand to make a difference. You could use what skills and talents you have, try and think differently and act creatively.  You never know, you might end up doing something life changing for yourself and certainly for others! Choose a cause that you’re passionate about and use whatever you have to fundraise. You can fundraise in so many different ways.

Gee…did I not say I am running for charity?

What I actually did do:

Apart from the Run, I also joined the 30 Hour Famine, where we fasted for 30 hours and raised funds to help the poor children and their families. Not exactly doing “what I am passionate about” since I am not passionate about not eating, but I am making a difference – I’d like to think so!

Verdict: Done

act #28: invite someone

Remember when you were a kid, and an invitation to a birthday party dropped through the letterbox? You’d stick it up on the fridge and stare at it wistfully until the day of the party actually came? Well, invites are still exciting. Invite someone for dinner, invite someone to your church, invite someone to your football club or Zumba class. People today are desperate for community, for friendship, security and acceptance. What could be better than a community of people who know how much they need God’s grace in Christ and therefore are willing to offer grace to anyone else (regardless of their spiritual ‘performance’)? That in itself speaks volumes.

Invite someone to church? Hmmm…

What I actually did do:

I have on more than one occasion invited people to church with me and though not all were successful, there are a few who have stayed on after the invite. And when at times I feel like giving up, I recall that one woman who became a Christian after seeing how I carried on in the faith. I believe though that as long as we are consistent and “walk the talk”, in God’s time, he will draw others to Him. We just have to be reliable witnesses.

Verdict: Done

act #29: talk to strangers

As a child I remember being taught about ‘stranger danger’… ‘Never speak to strangers’. Unfortunately in adulthood we are never told to ‘Always speak to strangers’! This may go some way to explaining why we are a breed who rarely talk to strangers. Whether crammed like sardines on a busy commuter train, waiting in a queue at the bank or working out at the gym, we would rather keep ourselves to ourselves. So why not flick the switch today? Always speak to strangers! Why not make friendliness a lifestyle? Make the decision that whether passing a stranger on the street, showing your ticket on a bus or paying for your groceries at the supermarket you are going to be friendly to strangers.

None of us have the bandwidth to be friends with everybody, but we can be friendly with everybody. The truth is that unless we can be friendly with everyone our friendliness is insincere and inauthentic. So let’s be friendly and neighbourly even with strangers, and you never know where these conversations may lead. How many strangers can you be neighbourly with today?  Make it a challenge to have at least one conversation with a new person sometime today.

They’re called “strangers” for a reason…

What I actually did do:

On the contrary, I recall a statement that says: “There are no strangers, just friends you have not met.” My mom is someone who always impresses me. She can basically converse with strangers and she is sincere and honest about it (much too honest at times, to my dislike) and I just wonder how she does it. But I try where I can talk to strangers. I told the lady who sat in front of me in church that her phone (that was silent and on the seat beside her) was ringing. Prior to that, I never said a word to her.

Verdict: Done

act #30: volunteer

At school we were divided into those that put their hands up for everything, and those that suddenly became engrossed in their pencil cases whenever teacher asked for a volunteer. Put your hand up today, in a metaphorical sense. Say ‘yes’ to helping out, and keep your eyes open for golden opportunities to share your time. Your local church or charity shop is a good place to start. Whether it’s going out for a coffee, helping to mow the grass or give a lift to hospital, hope can be restored through countless acts of generosity. By volunteering our time we send a clear message to the person struggling with feelings of isolation and shame: you are not alone and I’m not giving up on you. So here is the challenge for today: give some time to someone who needs it. No excuses, no putting-it-off-until-tomorrow – just find someone today who needs what you have. There are many local and national organisations crying out for volunteers.  Or it might be a neighbour, a friend, colleague or total stranger. Maybe you’ll buy them a drink, give them a lift or just stop and listen. Whatever you can, do it.

Volunteer? As in voluntarily? =O

What I actually did do:

I has never been in my nature to volunteer for anything. Sure, if I am assigned to do something I will give it my best, but I never volunteer. Closest thing to volunteering for me is to be asked if I wanted to do something and I just said “yes”. But this is actually something I’m slowly learning over the years. Ocassionally, I do volunteer (though it is still difficult).

Verdict: Done

3o done, 10 more to go!

Acts 31 to 35 will be published tsoon. Stay tuned! ;)

40 days, 40 reflections, 40 simple acts…