The older I get the more I’ve come to appreciate how it’s the little things we do for people that matter most to them. Little things that come naturally for us because of how God uniquely made us,

I’ve got a few stories for you today to illustrate this point. Stories that I hope will inspire you to bless others in ways that are easy and natural for you. But before we get into today’s episode, here’s what this podcast is all about. 

 Welcome to You Were Made for This

If you find yourself wanting more from your relationships, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll discover practical principles you can use to experience the life-giving relationships you were made for.

I’m your host, John Certalic, award-winning author and relationship coach, here to help you find more joy in the relationships God designed for you.

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Today’s episode 

If you’re a regular around here you may recall that our most recent podcast episode, no. 211, was my “Men With Waffles” story. Click here if you missed 

A Men’s Breakfast Like No Other. It’s the story of how 5 men who each received a waffle maker for Christmas got together one Saturday morning to make waffles for the guys in our adult Sunday School class.

As part of the breakfast they each wrote down on a large sheet of newsprint one thing they appreciated about their wife. I took photos of the whole event, including individual shots of each guy holding the paper describing what they wrote about their wife. Then I made a slide presentation of the photos and showed it to our Sunday school class the next morning. The ladies loved it.

The photo that evoked the most oohs and ahs was of Allen. It’s the one you see at the top of the show notes for today’s episode.

Little things we say can mean a lot

Allen simply wrote, “I appreciate Carol.”  As I described in the episode, he was the quietest man in our church. While he was a man of few of words, each one of them counted. I don’t know about you, but I’m drawn to people like this.

While our men with waffles breakfast is so vivid in my mind that it seems like a recent event, it actually took place in March of 2011. So much has happened in the lives of the men at that breakfast since then. 

Scott and his wife adopted a child. Randy took a new job that moved him to Pittsburgh. Bill completed his Ph.D. and moved first to California, then to Washington State. Brad finished his Ph.D. and took a job in Kansas, and then later moved to South Dakota for a different job.  Gregg retired. Mike also retired and is now caring for his wife who recently suffered a debilitating stroke.

But the biggest change of all happened to Allen. Ten years later.

The day that changed everything

On Sunday, March 7th, 2021 Allen went downstairs to the basement of the home where he and his wife Carol lived, together with their 16-year-old quadriplegic granddaughter Haily who is confined to a wheelchair.

It seemed to Carol that Allen had been in the basement doing some little thing for an unusually long time, so she called to him, “Allen?” There was no answer. She called again. Still no answer. So she went downstairs, and there discovered Allen lying on the floor, having suffered a massive fatal heart attack.

The funeral was held at our church, and I remember going up to Carol in the lobby. But before I could say anything, she began recounting to the people standing around here what happened to Allen on that fateful day a week or so before.

Carol was clearly in a state of shock. What is this going to mean to her and Haily, I thought. Will she be able to care for Haily by herself, given all that Allen did so lovingly to care for and raise their granddaughter? It’s what the whole church who knew Allen and Carol were thinking about. We were all in a state of shock.

Little things we do tell you a lot about a person’s character

In the months that followed I periodically thought of Allen. I would remember watching him each Sunday morning pulling into a handicap stall in our church parking lot and sliding Haily out the rear ramp of their handicapped-equipped van.  

He would push her in her wheelchair into church so quietly and with such ease. It was a little thing he did that mattered so much to Hailey and Carol. 

So often when I saw Allen doing this I thought, That is a man who loves well. 

I never heard him complain about the toll on him and Carol in caring for Haily.I should be more like him. I complain way too much.

Now I have not heard the story of why Haily’s parents were not raising her, but it didn’t matter.  Allen and Carol, as her grandparents, have filled in the gap for what is missing in Haily’s life. And at a great sacrifice.

Fast forward to the breakfast I had with my friend Randy at the end of last year and the waffle he ordered. It reminded me again of Allen and our men with waffles breakfast that I talked about in the last episode.

Seeing Randy’s waffle prompted me to go back and look at the photos of that little event, especially the one of Allen declaring on a large piece of newsprint that he appreciated his wife, Carol.  I had thought for a long time after Allen died that I should make a copy of that photo and give it to Carol. I had the file for it sitting on the desktop of my computer for at least a year with good intentions to act on my thought. But with pitiful procrastination for actually doing something about it.

Until just the other day.

A little thing in the mail prompted action

I got an email from Walgreens that they were having a sale on photo enlargements. I saw how easy it was to get a print enlargement of a digital photo. So I ordered an 8 x 10 canvas print of Allen wrapped around a 1-inch frame. It’s the photo you see at the top of the show notes.  It didn’t cost much at all and it was done in 45 minutes. All I had to do was pick it up at the Walgreen's only a few miles away.

A few days later I put it in a small gift bag and took it over to Carol and Haily’s house. I was a little apprehensive because I thought what if they moved and someone else is living in at the address I had for them? I didn’t want to call or email, so I took a chance and drove it over there. 

Once I got to the house I recognized the van Allen used to take Haily places, which made my concern evaporate.

Nobody's home

I rang the front doorbell, but there was no answer, so I went to the side of the house along the driveway looking for another door. At the back of the house I found a door that had a ramp attached to it, which I assumed was where they got Haily into and out of the house. I couldn’t get to the door because the ramp was up about 3 feet off the ground, so I placed the gift bag with the photo on the ramp. It seemed safe to leave it there, as there was no rain or snow in the forecast and surely Carol would find it. So I left.

But then on the way home, I wondered if she would find it. What if she and Haily were out of town? Maybe I should call or email Carol. I tried both, but there was no answer to my call, and I had the wrong email address. This is nuts, I thought. Just let it go. She’ll find it. Move on to the other things you’ve got going.

You never know how the little things we do will bless others

The next day I received a message at 1:35 pm through our podcast website

from Carol. She gave me permission to share it with you. The subject line read “A Thankful Heart,” and the body of her message reads as follows:

Just want to tell you how much you blessed me by such a wonderful act of kindness that the Lord knew I much needed. It has been hard lately, getting older alone and taking care of Hailey alone and trying so hard to be what God would want me to be for such a time as this.

I opened it and sat and cried, but they were good tears. Dale called (that’s one of her kids) and soon we were both crying – thank you so much for remembering myself and Allen. I miss him more than words could convey, he was such a good man. He is missed each and every day.

That wonderful picture will be on my fireplace forever. I was going to call you, but it is hard to talk with the tears that keep coming. It will be 3 years on March 7th, but feels like so long and yet just yesterday. I can't wait to see him again. l pray the Lord bless you both as you have blessed me.~ God bless you, love Carol and Hailey

Then a few hours later on my way out the door for an appointment, Carol called to thank me verbally for the print of Allen. She was a little choked up and through her tears told me again how much she appreciated what I did.

How neighbors remember Allen

Her grief was palpable as she told me several stories from neighbors about the impact Allen had on them. One was from a woman who couldn’t get her snowblower started, and when Allen noticed it he offered to fix it. He went and got the needed parts to get it up and running. After he fixed it she offered to pay him, but Allen wouldn’t accept any money.

Another time Allen noticed a neighbor was having a hard time straightening up a small wall that had fallen in his backyard. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” the neighbor said. But Allen did. So he spent the better part of a day helping the man with his problem, and again he wouldn’t accept any payment for his troubles. 

“I like helping people,” Allen told the neighbor.

These two stories are just samples of how Allen blessed others. What were little things to him, these acts of service that came naturally for him, were things that greatly impacted people. Things they were willing to pay for.

I mentioned to Carol that the thing that struck me the most in her message to me was when she said he was such a good man. He is missed each and every day.

Allen and Joseph, father of Jesus

I said that her phrase “he was such a good man” is the way Matthew, the Gospel writer, describes Joseph, the early father of Jesus.  He was a good man too. And Joseph was quiet, also. Just like Allen. He was a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, just like Allen. They were both cut from the same cloth.

One of my all-time favorite episodes of this podcast is one I did a few years ago at Christmas, number 135 entitled Christmas with a Good Man Brings Joy. It’s about Joseph, and now that I know more about Allen, it’s about men like him, too.  I’ll have a link to it at the bottom of the show notes.

What I learned

This episode about Allen has taught me a few things. Here are some of them:

  • It doesn’t take much to bless others. We underestimate the power of little things to make an impact in people’s lives.
  • Good intentions don’t mean anything unless they result in good actions.
  • There are good men out there like Allen. We just have to be observant to notice and appreciate them
  • We can all be like Allen. Probably not in repairing snowblowers or fixing a fallen wall, but we can use the abilities God has wired into each of us to make the world a better place.
  • Doing good for others, like Allen did, reflects the image and character of God. It doesn’t get much better than that. It’s a great way to live

I’ll close with an updated version of the main point of episode 135, it’s the one I mentioned about Joseph, the father of Jesus:

A good man is hard to find. But they’re out there, men like Allen often in the background, not saying much. Their character and behavior tell us more than their words. Look for them. Be like them.


As we close up shop for today, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to do something small for someone. Something that comes easily and naturally for you.

For when you do, it will help you experience the joy of relationships God desires for you. Because after all, You Were Made for This.

Well, that’s it for today. If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. Scroll down to the bottom of the show notes and click on one of the options in the yellow “Share This” bar.

And don’t forget to spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. Like Allen did. And I’ll see you again next time. Goodbye for now.

Other episodes or resources related to today’s shows

135: Christmas with a Good Man Brings Joy

139: Why Should I Listen to This Podcast?

021: The Most Important Relationship of All

The prior and most recent episode

211: A Men’s Breakfast Like No Other

All past and future episodes

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