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Helping Others Guide

A few days ago a text message popped up on my phone from a life-long childhood friend that said “You’re on my brain. How’s your day going?”

It took her maaaaybe 10.5 seconds to send depending on how well she paid attention in keyboarding class in 7th grade. But those ten seconds made me instantly feel seen and loved.

I think at our core, we all want to be doers. We want to be reliable and loyal and consistent and constant for the people in our lives. We WANT to show up.

A friend/family member gets diagnosed with cancer.  The infertility treatment didn’t work, again.  A child dies.  Someone loses their job.  A child is diagnosed with an incurable illness.  Their dad unexpectedly died.  The neighbor lost his job.  A friend with small kids has the flu.  A friend has depression.  Someone’s just having a hard day.  A new baby is born.  An addict continues to wreak havoc on their family.  We can’t stop thinking about a certain person even though they seem fine. Our strong, independent friend needs to feel seen and loved.

The stories are endless.  And we find ourselves saying “What can I do to help?” or “Call me if you need anything.”  The problem isn’t that we don’t want to help.  The problem is we really want to DO something.  But often can’t figure out what to do.

This was a perpetual problem for me. I wanted to help but didn’t always know how. And thus was born the Helping Others Guide. With contributions from dozens of people who have been through all the things, this comprehensive guide will move us past the “what should I do” part and get us to the actually helping part.

This PDF guide can be downloaded straight to your phone (or desktop or tablet) for instant access when someone’s name comes to mind and you want to DO something for them or show up in some way.

Included in the guide are:

  • General ideas for ANY situation
  • Guidelines and suggestions for taking in meals
  • Specific ideas for specific situations
  • Huge list of things to take or drop-off to someone in immediate need or to someone who just needs to be loved
  • Acts of service we can do for other people
  • The best chemo care package suggestions from chemo patients themselves
  • Motivation to get to the DO part of love

“Love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.” Bob Goff

To get the guide, just click the “I want this” button below!

I want this!

This quote from Brene Brown really resonates with what this guide is all about:

Often we make showing up for people harder than it needs to be. The first step is a willing and empathetic heart. The second step is to This guide will help you do both.

Books Read in 2018

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written anything, but I’m aiming to bring it back.

I’m still convinced reading is one of God’s greatest gifts. Books are just so dang good. I started sharing the books I read each year back in 2016, and here in 2017.

Here are the books I read in 2018. I was down a little bit on reading this time due to an entire house remodel (so so glad that’s over) but hoping to ramp it up this year.

Also, for anyone who loves reading as much as I do (next to photo management stuff this is the thing people ask me the most–book recommendations), I started an Instagram account dedicated solely to books I feel worthy to pass along to others.

You can find it on Instagram: @lindsayrossbookclub

On to the books.

My top 5 in no particular order.

  1. Love Does for Kids. If you have kids, get this book and read it WITH them. We read a few chapters each night and my kids loooooved it. The stories are engaging and so so good. Perfect message for the world we live in.
  2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This isn’t in the genre of books I normally read, and I can’t even put my finger on why, but I loved loved loved this book. The writing was incredible and the story was compelling. I didn’t want it to end. So good.
  3. Becoming. Politics aside, I loved the behind-the-scenes look at the Obama family and how the ended up in the White house. My criteria for a good memoir is how I feel about the person at the end and I loved Michelle Obama by the end.
  4. This is How it Always is. This book. Wow. I read it fast and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Some people may be turned off by the topic, but it gave me an entirely new perspective on a difficult subject. Thought provoking and painful and the writing was some of the best I’ve ever read.
  5. The Sun Does Shine. This guy was wrongfully imprisoned and on death row for THIRTY YEARS. Thirty years in prison for something he didn’t do. I was gutted for him and amazed at his never give up spirit.

These are just the ones I’d start with. So many great books! Happy reading.

Alternative to school Headshots 2018

{It’s that time of year again!!  I’ve been offering these headshots for several years and we can’t stop now. Here we go again!}

As awesome as school pictures are (and by awesome I mean great blackmail for the future), once my own kids started school I decided to do my own head shots and offer it to others as well.

If you’d like an alternative/replacement for the traditional school pictures that no one ever displays, this is for you.  They’re also nice to have for those times you need a picture of your kid (for a school project, grandparent, special occasion, etc) and realize you don’t have any where they aren’t being a complete booger.

The cost is $10 per kid OR $40 per family (so if you have 3 kids, it’s $30, if you have 4 or more kids it’s $40).  This will include a vertical and horizontal headshot of each kid with a white background.

If you want a GROUP photo of all of your kids together, you can add that on for $25.  

Pictures will be edited in color AND black and white and you will receive a high-resolution digital copy (via Dropbox) so you can print whatever you want.  Cheaper (and cooler) than school pictures.  Non-school age children are welcome as well.

Our school allows us to just buy the class photo, so my kids still get their school picture taken and we just purchase the class photo (in elementary).  Then we use these alternative photos as our yearly photos.

I will be taking “school picture” head shots in LEHI (I will e-mail you the address after you sign up) on Monday, September 10th, Tuesday, September 11th, Friday, September 14th, and Monday September 17th.

Click THIS LINK to sign up for Monday, September 10th

Click THIS LINK to sign up for Tuesday, September 11th

Click THIS LINK to sign up for Friday, September 14th

Click THIS LINK to sign up for Monday, September 17th

Sign-up times are first-come-first-served so if a specific time works better for you, signing up ASAP is a good idea (I’ve run out of time-slots each year).

Once you sign-up, please be sure to make your appointed time.  If you need to change your time for any reason, please do it as soon as possible so someone else can take your time-slot.

You only need ONE TIME SLOT PER FAMILY!  (Each kid only takes 1-2 minutes plus a group shot if you want to add that on so just 10 minutes per family is enough time).

If these dates/times don’t work for you, I will probably be doing a make-up date for those who can’t make it.  E-mail me to let me know you are interested and we’ll try to work something out.

The head shots only take about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the moods of the kids (because you know, kids).

Please mention in the comments (on the sign up sheet) how many kids you’ll be bringing and if you want a group shot or not.

To see more samples of what the headshots will look like, click on the arrows to scroll through the photos!


Books read in 2017

The past few years I’ve really upped my game in the reading department.  The most common question I get about that is “how do you have time to read?”.  I don’t have more time than any other crazy busy person out there, I just make time.  Reading matters to me.

Life the past few years has felt harder for a variety of reasons.  And I realized instead of being an emotional eater, I’m an emotional reader :).  So instead of stuffing my face with breadsticks or donuts, I just read a book.  Oddly enough, I like to read pretty heavy stuff.  I’m a huge fan of a memoir or a historical novel with some deep, heavy topics.

Anyway, here’s the books I read in 2017.

I read a lot of reeeeeeally good books this year so it’s hard to narrow it down to my very favorites.  But here are some worth singling out (also please note I take no responsibility for language in any of these books–I can’t remember which ones have stronger language and which ones don’t–sorry.  I’m able to look past some language if I think the message of the book adds value to my life.  Take that for whatever it’s worth).

  1.  Little Bee  The writing in this book is out of this world.  So so good.  If I read a book in less than two days, you know it’s a good one.
  2. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood  This is a memoir about Trevor Noah.  I had no idea who he was before I read the book.  This was super interesting.  I wanted to more about how he ended up where he did, but the first part of his life is fascinating.
  3. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life  Possibly the best self-help book I’ve ever read.
  4. All the Bright Places.  This book is pretty heavy, and I don’t normally read Young Adult fiction, but man this one was good.  Couldn’t put it down good.  Her other book Holding Up the Universe I also thought was really good.
  5. Killing Jesus (Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Series)  This is a non-religious account of the life and death of Jesus.  I’ve read a lot about Jesus and I lived in Israel for four months studying his life and visiting all the places he lived, but I still learned so much in this book.  Super interesting and very well written.
  6. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less  I’ve been making a very deliberate effort to simplify every aspect of my life and our family’s life.  Less less less in just about every aspect.  This book was super helpful in that pursuit.

I could go on and on with books I’ve loved, but this is at least a starting point of books worth reading.

You can see the books I read in 2016 and some of my favorites in this post.

I also share books I’ve read on Instagram if you want to follow me there (@ltross)!

If you have a book you’ve read and loved, let me know.  I’m always looking for good books!

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Homeless blankets follow up

Truthfully, I wasn’t even sure how to write about this so I just kept putting it off.  But so many of you helped and it turned out far better than I ever imagined, I would feel pretty ungrateful if I didn’t at least give a little update.

On December 8th I sent out a little call for help with a project I was doing.  I wanted to collect as much money as I could to buy blankets for the homeless community in my area.  You can read all about WHY I wanted to do it and what I asked in this post.

We collected money for 5 days, made 4 trips to Costco, raised around $4500 from 130 different people.

We donate often to the Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City and I’ve seen the donation center around Christmas time.  It’s overflowing with things and slightly chaotic.  I was worried the blankets might get “lost” for a bit before they got in to the hands of people who needed them right away.  So we decided to hand them out directly to the homeless out on the streets instead of going through the shelter (I love the shelter and love donating there, this just felt like special circumstances and timing–normally we still donate through the shelter).

I was admittedly pretty nervous.  I’d never donated this way before and I had no idea what to expect.  I wasn’t worried about my safety.  Just nervous of the unexpected I guess.  And I truly just wanted it to be helpful and not some dumb project that just made us “feel better”.

So on a snowy Saturday morning, we drove downtown with our kids and a few family members, 2 cars full to the ceiling with blankets and socks, and a wagon.  We went to Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake, a known area where the homeless community gathers.  We loaded up the wagon, our pockets and our arms with the blankets and socks and walked from group to group handing them out.

The people were gracious and kind.  Some were chatty and had stories to tell.  Some clearly had mental illness.  A few were visibly drunk.  But they were polite and thankful and plenty were full of humor and smiles.  My kids were a little nervous at first, but they quickly realized these are just people.  And the people loved seeing my kids.

After giving blankets and socks to everyone at the park, we headed over to the shelter and handed the rest out to people outside around the building.

We handed out close to 200 blankets and more than that amount of socks.  And my only reason for sharing is to THANK all of you who helped make it possible.  We saw a need (it’s so cold here in Utah in the winters), we found something that would fill the need (those Costco down blankets are magic), and we asked all of you to help us.  And you did.

I’m hoping we (I could never have done this without so many of you helping) can make this an annual tradition because it worked.  It helped people.  For those who got the blankets, it made a difference for them.  We can’t help everyone and I know it gets overwhelming when we see all the need around the world, but we CAN do SOMEthing and we can make a difference.  It’s what we’re meant to do.  I believe that with my whole heart.

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