The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Paying It Forward on Your Birthday

I don’t know about you, but since becoming an adult (and especially since having a child), I really haven’t cared about celebrating my birthday. Sure, I want to go out with my family for a fun activity and dinner (who wants to cook on their birthday?!), but I don’t want cake or parties or gifts. In fact, since I hit 30 this year, I wouldn’t mind ignoring it altogether… but then my best friend Sarah came up with a great idea for celebrating.
We wanted to get together to “celebrate” since we both turned 30 this year, but she came up with a great idea based on a blog she’d seen – doing random acts of kindness as our birthday celebration! You can view the original post here.

We knew that with the traveling time for me to get to her house that we wouldn’t have time to do 30 random acts of kindness, but we did a few. It was so much fun, and much better than any other birthday celebration I’ve had!

Here are the random acts of kindness we did around her town.

1. We bought an 8-count box of microwave popcorn and taped them to several Redbox kiosks – everyone knows a movie is better with popcorn!

2. We left money by some cheap toys in a couple of stores.

3. We taped signs that said, “You are beautiful” in the women’s restrooms in a couple of stores.

4. We were quarter fairies at a local Aldi store. (If you have never shopped at Aldi, you have to insert a quarter to unlock a cart – it insures that their carts are returned to the cart rack – and then you get your quarter back when you lock it up again.)

5. We bought cookies to give to our mail carriers. My friend’s mail carrier left a sweet thank you note!

6. We took a meal to a grieving family. To be honest, this is the only RAK that I can claim any inspiration for. Sarah found all the other ideas. If you haven’t heard about it in the news, a 10-year-old girl named Hailey was kidnapped and murdered last month in Springfield, Missouri. My friend lives in the area. After hearing about Hailey’s murder, I texted Sarah to ask if any of our RAKs could include something for Hailey’s family. By the grace of God, Sarah had a connection that allowed us to sign up to take dinner to Hailey’s family. We managed to make it through the drop-off without crying (which is pretty incredible, considering Sarah is pregnant and I’m on fertility medicine!), but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I can’t imagine what her family is going through, and I nearly lost it as I walked past all the candles, signs, and trinkets left on the lawn as a memorial. Despite all that, I’m so thankful that God gave me a chance to do something incredibly small to help that family. I know they won’t remember my face, or what I brought them for dinner, but I will never forget that encounter.
(I had to chuckle a little when I looked at the picture – I had a reactionary smile when it was being taken, and ten seconds later was trying to not cry.)

So, we only managed to do two RAKs for each decade of our lives, but it was still a terrific experience, and one that I hope we can do again! Have you ever considered refocusing your birthday and helping others instead of demanding attention for yourself? It’s a wonderful way to spend your birthday!

In case you’re curious, I’ll even include the menu and some recipes for the meal we took to Hailey’s family. We took enchiladas, Spanish rice, and sopapilla cheesecake. I’m sure most of you already have a favorite recipe for enchiladas, but I just learned how to make Spanish rice because of Sarah!

Spanish rice
Serves approximately 6
1 can of stewed tomatoes, cut up (or 1/2 cup tomato sauce or V8)
2 cups of rice
3 bouillon cubes (chicken flavored)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
3 1/2 c water

Just cook the rice in your desired method! We used Sarah’s rice cooker, but you could use whatever method you typically use for cooking rice. You can also add can of diced green chilis.

And if you’ve never had sopapilla cheesecake, you must – it’s so good and so easy!

Sopapilla cheesecake
Serves 12 (hah… depending on your willpower!)
2 cans of crescent rolls (8-ct each)
2 packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla

5 TBSP melted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 TBSP ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Unroll 1 can of dough. Place in bottom of ungreased 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish. Stretch to cover bottom of dish, firmly pressing perforations to seal. (As you saw, we used a foil disposable pan since we were delivering the meal.)

3. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and 1 cup of the sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Spread over dough in baking dish.

4. Unroll second can of dough. Carefully place on top of cream cheese layer. Pinch seams together.

5. Pour melted butter evenly over top. Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter. (Or, my trick is to mix the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Then I use a pastry brush to brush it over the dough.)

6. Bake about 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Refrigerate for easy cutting (but I like to eat it warm!!). Cover and refrigerate any remaining bars.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Janice
    Mar 09, 2014 @ 14:25:23

    Random Acts of Kindness — what a wonderful idea! As for the sopapilla cheesecake, it is amazing! The first time I tried it at a youth group fund raiser, I knew after that first bite that I had to have the recipe! (A tip) – the crescent rolls also come in ‘recipe creations seamless dough sheet’ which makes it easier to use.
    Proud of these young women.


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