Never Forget

  It is Monday morning and we should be heading to Royal Carribean’s Majesty of the Sea for 5 glorious days of my pink bubble. Irma has had other plans and I am home reflecting on so many things…

It is a morning filled with lots of emotion…as a nation, we honor those who were lost on 9-11.  We continue to struggle with the evil which plaques our nation.  We mourn for those lost and honor those whose lives have forever been changed.   This day is one of few memories which I can clearly remember…  I remember as if it were yesterday.  I was working at Mia’s Christmas Shop in Ocean City, NJ.  We had just opened when I was called into the office by Charlie, the owner, who had the television on showing the attacks.  Charlie immediately started to collect money for those whose lives would be changed as a result of this horrific event.  I got to share the events of the morning with many people who were on vacation and CLUELESS about what was happening.  Those days were filled with words like: Hero, Compassion, Love, Kindness, and Bravery.

Edythe

September 11th took on a new meaning in 2011 when Heaven gained another Weston angel – Edythe, my aunt, my friend  and my mom’s middle sister.  Growing up, I spent ALOT of time with Edythe (and Elsie). When I was younger, they were my babysitters.  As the years went on, they were a BIG part of my support system.  Edythe (along with the rest of my family) helped to raise Belinda. As Belinda grew up, lives changed – the world moved a little faster and we lost touch with the exception of holidays.

The words describing those involved in the September 11th attacks and recovery efforts could now relate to Edythe: Hero, Compassion, Love, Kindness, and Bravery.

Life seems to be full of moments which ask us to let go when we long to hold on.  I don’t know what you face right now, what season of life you’re in, but my prayer for you is simple and from the heart. May you know the comfort and strength of the One whose love will never fail you, and whose mercies are new every single morning!

As we reflect on this day, hug the ones you love, forgive the ones who you believe have done you wrong and enjoy the moment with those you love.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

3rd Annual Chemo Care Totes Campaign

When I began my journey with Thirty One in 2011, my goal was to make a difference.  My spiritual gifts as “helps and encouragement” so I want to continue to do just that!

Today is the kickoff of my “3rd Annual CHEMO CARES TOTES” Campaign. 

Here is the message I received from last year’s recipients:

Wanted to let you know I have handed out all of the beautiful bags you had donated for women battling breast cancer. Each person loved the bag and it put a smile on their face to know someone was kind and providing a sense of support as they started their chemotherapy treatments. Thank you again for supporting our patients.

Yes, I cried!… Now, I get goosebumps every time I read this.  Cancer has touched each of us in someone way – a friend, a family member, a sister, a mother, a father, a child, and the list goes on.

This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to my family who fought a good fight against this dreaded disease and lost: Edythe (kidney cancer), Elsie (breast cancer), Pop-pop (lung cancer) and the most recent angel, my dad (prostrate cancer). I spent many hours in the Oncology Units with Elsie and Edythe as they underwent chemo treatments.  I held their hand when they struggled with the insertion of the needles in their pic line.  I was there when they were sick from the chemo and sat by their bedside when they were too weak to go out.  As a friend said #cancersucks.  It takes many from us long before their time.  It ravages families.  It leaves children parentless.  It has parents burying children way to soon.

Recently due to my own health struggles, I have spent many hours in the infusion units of the local hospitals.  I am blessed to only have to be there a short time – time for blood work and special testing.  The many women I have seen are not there for a one time visit, they are there for weeks of painful treatments.  They smile and carry on conversations  while encouraging each other.  My heart breaks and the tears come each time I leave the unit for I know what their struggles are like.

Your gift/ sponsorship of $25 will pay for the bag and I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a blanket/scarf, notepad, pen, bottle of water, lotion, warm socks, chap stick and crossword puzzle book. Donations will again be delivered to the local Cancer Care Center to bring a smile to the face of those who are fighting this dreadful disease.

chemo bagsLast year, we delivered 31 bags to Southern Ocean Medical Center. This year, my goal is again 31 BUT I would love to make it 50.  I know it is a HUGE jump but I am confident we are up for the challenge. So, who is with me? For $25 you can bring a smile to someone who is fighting the cancer battle.

You can sponsor a bag in memory of someone, in honor of someone or just anonymously. Payments can be made via check or through Paypal at hopesgiftcloset@@comcast.net as a friend/family. I can also accept credit card payments directly.

Won’t you help to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Celebrate the 4th of July

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According to Wickapedia “Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain”.

For me, the 4th brings up all kinds of memories which are bittersweet…

Life in Ocean Grove over the 4th of July was a whirlwind of fun and excitement. I can remember many July 4th parades and bar-b-ques with the family. Belinda was always in the parade in an array of costumes. Costumes made by me – Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pocahontas, Peter Pan… are you getting the Disney theme? Yes, we were obsessed with Disney and we wore out many VHS tapes before DVDs came around. Then as Belinda got older, it was decorating her bicycle. Cards in the spokes to make the flipping sounds – okay, am I really showing my age now? Red, white and blue shirts, shorts, hats…

Sitting on the side of the parade route on Main Street waiting for the parade and the barrage of candy thrown by the floats as they traveled down the street. Grams worried Belinda would get too close to the trucks. Belinda hiding and covering her ears as the fire trucks came by – her sensitive ears were always a concern for Grams.

Life in Ocean Grove was fun and has lot of memories for us. I mean there was a time when ALL of us lived in Ocean Grove on Broadway – Edythe, then Grams, Pop-pop & Elsie then closest to the beach was mom and I. Okay, so it was BEFORE Belinda but it was always a lot of fun. Believe it or not, I miss living in Ocean Grove… Yes, I squirreled!

Best wishes for a ThirtyOne-derful day with friends and family celebrating today…

Happy Easter 2017

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”

As the sun begins to rise on Easter morning, I think of Easter’s past…

Growing up, I went to my grandparents while my parents and aunts went to sunrise service on the beach. Then home to get ready for church. New outfits for church. Sometimes even a trip to the Boardwalk for the Easter Parade in Asbury Park. Then back to my grandparents for a traditional Easter dinner with the whole family. Easter baskets overflowing with candy from the “Carmel Shop” and “Old Monmouth”.

As the years passed, life seemed to get in the way – no more fancy Easter outfits, no more Easter baskets combined with a feeling of not belonging. Then I was blessed with my daughter, Belinda. Childhood memories and traditions came back to life starting with Belinda’s first Easter. Four generations – Grams, Mom, me and Belinda.4 generations Easter

Easter was different. Easter baskets were filled with toys and games because Belinda didn’t like chocolate – I know SHOCKING, right? It was a treasure hunt to find the basket with clues left in Easter eggs throughout the house. I can still remember the squeals of excitement as she found the basket. I even remember making her Easter outfits and heading to Atlantic City for the traditional Easter parade. That is my cutie in one of those outfits!

Dinners were a little smaller but family was still together. The family was smaller – Edythe, Elsie, Grams, Mom, Belinda and I but we were blessed with 4 generations at dinner for several years.

This year is just a little different…. the miles stretch between us, as we each celebrate Easter with extended family. Hubby and I will have dinner with his family.  Gone are the Easter baskets filled with candy. Our loved ones in heaven will be celebrating together while those of us left behind will struggle with making new traditions.  This year is even tougher since heaven gained an angel this week – my Dad.  This is one of my favorite songs…

Blessings from Laura Story:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

I am blessed. I have a loving, supportive family, and a devoted husband. I have a faith which at times is as small as a mustard seed but is enough to get me through the toughest days. For I know even the trials are blessings from God.

Share your Easter stories and pictures with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful Easter!

Twas the Night Before Christmas

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Christmas Eve day… the hustle and bustle reaches immeasurable heights as last minute shoppers make the final dash to the malls for the perfect gift.  Holiday office parties are in full swing.  Others are home preparing for family and friends to arrive – dinner cooking (is it fish? or turkey? or ham?).  Kids are eagerly counting down until Santa will arrive bringing gifts for one and all.  While still others are grabbing a quick dinner as they head to church to celebrate the real reason for the season…

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As for our family, the holidays have changed so much.  The first change came when breast cancer took Elsie from us.  She was the glue which brought us all together – no matter what happened all year long.  The changes continued when Alzheimer’s took Grams from us.  Belinda grew up and headed to college – more changes.   During the first 4 years she was in North Carolina, she traveled home where we spent Christmas with us.  Five years ago, kidney cancer took Edythe (mom’s middle sister).  Now Belinda is married and holidays are shared with her extended family in North Carolina.

Tonight we will be at my best friend’s house celebrating Christmas with our extended family.  This year, Rob is off on Christmas Eve so we will be together. Mom and Sal will join us.  As for Christmas Day, hubby will head to work so others can enjoy the day with their family. I will spend the day with mom.

As I sit with hubby looking at the Christmas tree – memories of Christmas Eve’s past flash through my mind.

The many years of trying to get Belinda to go to bed so Edythe, Elsie and I could put presents under the tree.  It was really hard carrying things past HER room to get to the living room.  It always made for a lot of laughs.  The early morning calls to wake everyone up so Belinda could open presents.  Waiting patiently for mom to get off work so we could open presents.  The funny thing was – Belinda wasn’t a morning person so we always had to WAKE her up.  Really, on Christmas morning????  Then instead of opening all of her presents and THEN playing with them.  Christmas morning was a forever process.  We learned games were opened last or at least towards the end or else nothing else would get opened.  Belinda wanted to play with toys as each one was opened which could definitely make for a long day.  Great memories of days gone by…

Cherish the moments with family tonight.  Let the struggles of the year go for you never know what tomorrow will bring or if we will even be here tomorrow.   There are tears of joy, tears of sorrow for those who are no longer with us and tears of anticipation for what God has in store for me and my family over the next year.

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Merry Christmas to my friends, family, Thirty One customers and hostess and all of my blog fans.  You have blessed me in so many ways this year…