Friday, January 2, 2009

Little Things Make a Big Difference

When I was in college, I shared an American Thanksgiving supper with friends. We spent the day cooking together – turkey, potatoes, green beans, yams and, of course, dinner rolls. I was in charge of the rolls. Looking back, that may have been a mistake.

I love to eat raw dough. Most any kind will do – cookie dough, cake batter, biscuit dough, bread dough – you get the idea. So I rolled out the yeast dough, sliced off a corner and ate it, rolled some more, sliced and ate, rolled, sliced, ate…. I don’t know how much of the dough I consumed before the rolls hit the oven, but I remember it as a wonderful afternoon. Until about a half-hour later.

Yeast, it seems, likes a dark, moist, warm environment. In me, it found one and did what yeast does best – it grew. And grew. And grew.

After a while my stomach was distended and I felt like the Pillsbury Dough Boy with a burping disorder.

It was soon time for supper and I felt too full to eat anything. All of that scrumptious food and I couldn’t eat.

That day I gained a new respect for the power of yeast; it doesn’t take much to make a big difference.

Little things make a big difference. Little things like yeast. Little things like kindness.

Douglas, a fifteen year old boy who lived in Missouri (USA), had been feeling badly for several days. His mother Donna took him to the emergency room where blood tests revealed one of the most frightening things a parent can learn about a child. Her son was diagnosed with leukemia.

Douglas’ life changed. He began a routine of blood transfusions, spinal and bone marrow tests and chemotherapy. The physical trauma was one thing, but he also became depressed. And who wouldn’t? He lost his former life, his healthy self. All of those exciting dreams and plans a young boy has for his future vanished, and in their place all he could see was somebody with cancer. Somebody who may or may not live long. Somebody whose life would be very different than before.

He had a good hospital and good doctors. But it he did not have hope. And without it, he was in serious jeopardy.

Douglas’ aunt called a florist close to the hospital. She wanted the sales clerk to be aware of the flower arrangement’s significance. “I want the planter to be especially attractive. It’s for my teenage nephew who has leukemia,” she told the clerk.

“Oh,” said the sales clerk. “Let’s add some fresh-cut flowers to brighten it up.”

When the floral arrangement arrived Douglas opened the envelope and read the card from his aunt. Then he saw something unusual. It was another card. The second card read:

“Douglas--I took your order. I work at (this floral shop). I had leukemia when I was seven years old. I’m 22 years old now. Good luck. My heart goes out to you. Sincerely, Laura.”
Douglas smiled. He finally felt some real hope. And why not? Here is a person who had cancer as a child and now she is 22 and working! If she can do it, so can he. Douglas found what he needed. He found the will to live.

Little things make a big difference. Little things like kindness and encouragement and hope. Little things all of us can give.

And it doesn’t take much to make a big difference.

-- Steve Goodier


Unknown said...


That is such a great inspirational article on "Little Things."

Too often we think that some small thing we do will not make a difference.

And as in your story, it often does. And even if it doesn't, it the right way to approach all you interactions. Life is much too short.

Anonymous said...

The work that I do every day is about showing others that there is a pathway forward, that their life has not ended it has just changed direction and gifted them a whole lot of new and exciting possibilities. So often we allow the very human aspect of negative to over ride and over shadow what can be the ride of our life because we simply do not lift our eyes to see the challenge and the gift that comes wrapped in a different manner. The small things are so important, the understanding of another the hand of hope and the gift of self are all that we need to traverse the climb of a challenge and to see that life is about living and loving and continuing to gift to those who follow us.

Anonymous said...

Thought I should add I am in Adelaide Australia.... please feel free to e-mail me if you want to.