Make a Difference For Mother’s Day

As you know if you follow my blog, a HUGE part of my journey with Thirty One is to help others.  Sometimes it is a fundraising project, or a donation to an event or giving to someone who was just in need of some loving.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small goal or a HUGE goal, I want to help.  As a result, I have been able to donate to various causes throughout the years.

This is not to toot my own horn. None of these projects would be possible if it were not for the support of my friends, family and customers.  Individuals who believe in the cause, or just want to help. Okay, can you guess where this is leading…. YOU GOT IT!

For Easter, we donated 25 Easter Baskets to Dottie’s House.  Dottie’s House is a transitional housing facility designed to aid women and children who have survived domestic violence. They proactively help these families develop the life skills needed to become self-sufficient for their future financial and emotional independence.

While delivering them, I was sharing stories of my days as a Social Worker with the South Jersey AIDS Alliance when SMACK!  Mother’s Day was quickly approaching and I wanted these moms to feel some love.

If you have children, think about how your hubby or your family make sure you have a special Mother’s Day.  For many of the women at Dottie’s House, they do not have the same support system so Mother’s Day could be just another day.  I want them to know they are special too.

So, again with the help of my family, friends and customers, we are putting together “pampering bags” as Mother’s Day Gifts for these ladies.  The goal is 18 since there are 18 units at Dottie’s House.  So far we are halfway there.

The $20 sponsorship will pay for the actual bag and I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a fuzzy socks, notepad, pen, lotion, and chap stick.  My friends in direct sales will also be adding pampering products to make these hardworking mommas feel special.   

In addition, I am selling Domestic Violence Angel Awareness magnets for $5 with the proceeds being donated to Dottie’s House.

Since I began my “give back program”, almost $10,000 in products and cash donations have been made to various causes.  It fills my cup to know we have made the difference in the lives of so many people.

So, who is with me? For $20 you can bring a smile to a mom who is a survivor of domestic violence.   The cut-off is April 20th so the bags will arrive in time to be stuffed and delivered on May 9th.  This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to the women I know who have escaped and survived domestic violence.

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.  Please complete the form for more details:

Won’t you help to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

When the Big Bad Bully Messes With You

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Being from North Carolina, I love the old black-and-white episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. (And no, we don’t all talk like that.) In one episode, the neighborhood bully is picking on Andy’s boy, Opie. This blond-headed newcomer taunts and makes fun of Opie until he feels like a total loser. He’s ashamed of his own cowardice and embarrassed in front of his friends. After Andy, the wise father, figures out what is disturbing his moping son, he gives him a little lesson in standing up to bullies. The next day, when the bully threatens Opie, the little freckle-faced boy looks his opponent in the eye and refuses to crumble under his threats.

“Do you want to fight?” the bully taunts.

Opie doesn’t say a word. He just puts up his fists.

“Oh yeah? Well, knock this rock off my shoulder and I’ll—”

Opie knocks the rock off his shoulder before the bully has time to finish his sentence.

“Oh yeah? Well, step into this circle,” the bully continues as he draws a circle around himself in the dirt.

Opie steps into the circle.

Suddenly, the bully grows nervous. “You better be glad I’ve got on my good pants,” the bully says as he backs away.

Opie never had to throw the first punch. All he did was stand his ground and the bully backed away. Bullies don’t like it when we stand our ground. Never have. Never will.

Notice how many times Paul admonishes us tostand in Ephesians 6:13-14. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able tostand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…” No one can stand for us. We must stand on our own two feet and stand up against the Enemy—and we stand onthe Word of Truth to do it.

In his book The Reason for God, Timothy Keller said this:

“If anything threatens your identity, you will not just be anxious but paralyzed with fear. If you lose your identity through the failings of someone else, you will not just be resentful but locked into bitterness. If you lose it through your own failings, you will hate or despise yourself as a failure as long as you live. Only if your identity is built on God and his love…can you have a self that can endure anything, face anything.”

We need to take our stand when the big bad bully tells us that we are no good losers who can’t do anything right, who will never change, who will always struggle with doubt, or who will never be free. He’s just messing with you. Don’t let him.

Paul said, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Maybe you’ve been running from the bully for way too long. Go ahead and take your stand. He’ll probably slink away because he has his good pants on.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy Easter 2018

EASTER cross

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

On this day, let’s remember the true meaning of Easter as we visit with family and friends.  Treasure the moments for the days go by quickly, loved ones are gone and kids grow up.  This day holds so many mixed feelings for me…..

Growing up going to my grandparents while my parents and aunts went to sunrise service on the beach.  Then home to get ready for church.  Totally new outfits to wear to 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”.  Happy memories of my childhood.

Fast forward (many years) to having my own home with my daughter, Belinda.  Easter took on a different meaning.  As an infant, I had lost touch with God, feeling like I didn’t deserve his unconditional love.  Easter was still about dinner with family but gone were the traditions of church and the Easter parade.  When I entered recovery, things changed ever so slightly – now I was entering into a relationship with God but still did not have a church.  As Belinda got a little older, we did Easter baskets but they were filled with toys and games because she didn’t like chocolate.  I know can you believe it!  She did like white chocolate but only in small amounts.  And of course “stale” marshmallow peeps.  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.  Dinners were a little smaller but family was still together.

Now, as the miles stretch between us, we each celebrate Easter with our extended family.  Gone are the Easter baskets filled with candy.  Gone is the traditional family Easter dinner.  There will be loved ones in heaven celebrating together while those of us left behind still struggle with making new traditions.  The true meaning of Easter begins to shine through…

My relationship with God has grown and I am grateful he loved me enough to sacrifice his son for my sins.  Today, I will head to church then hubby and I will head to Atlantic City to have brunch with mom and my step dad.  I miss those traditional family holidays (those I remember) but am learning to create new memories with each passing day.

Share your Easter memories with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

I Don’t Remember

As I sat at the computer thinking about what I wanted to write about today, I had a brain fog moment.  A moment when I couldn’t remember what I had been writing about the past few days let alone the past few weeks or months.  As I scrolled through the published posts and the scheduled ones, I couldn’t remember writing some of them.
So, why am I telling you all of this?  It has been awhile since I shared about my MS journey.  For some, you may tune out.  For others, they are curious.  While still others have been on this journey with me so they totally get it.
How often have you said “I don’t remember”?  Maybe you walk into another room and forget what you went in the room for?  Go to the store and forget to get things unless they are on a list.  Imagine if every day was like that – every hour even.  Welcome to my life with MS.  I don’t say it for sympathy, it is more about me starting to accept the impact it has on my life and others.
Most days, I just let things slide.  Family and close friends try to adjust to the fact I don’t remember things or even times spent together.  The hardest are the missing memories of childhood – mine, my daughter growing up, my wedding, high school and so much more.  Not to mention the frustration as I try to work my business remembering customers and hostesses or even the names of products or prints.
Those who meet me just think it is a “senior moment” when the reality is I honestly don’t remember.  I remember faces (most of the time) but names I’m not very good at.  I may know I “should know you” but don’t know how or why.
Today is Thursday and I can barely remember what I did on Saturday or Sunday even though I lived through them.  I think hard about the weekend but the only thing I remember is I can’t remember.  Thankful for my planner where I write down scheduled plans and even note things I have done in case I forget and try to do them again – like pay bills, make calls to customers, etc.
There are so many things which could have filled my time. It’s possible I might have buried a dead body in the back yard (nope, hubby is still here with me – LOL), I could have won a years supply of chocolate (now I’m stalking the UPS driver), or I maybe I robbed a bank and am now a multi-millionaire so I should have moved to a tropical island escaping the cold weather.  Who knows? I sure don’t.
The one thing I am blessed with I’m still breathing, I’m alive alive, and ready for a new day, It’s weird how my brain works. You have heard about selective hearing where people can tune out things which annoy them? Well I think I have selective thinking.  No, really at a talk last week, the doctor said “the most common symptom of MS is cognitive issues and memory loss”.  HELLOOOO!!! I have been saying it for years.  It honestly was nice to hear a medical doctor confirm it and say it out loud – or did I dream it?
What truly amazes me (and everyone around me) is I have no problem remembering the words to songs but easily forget Sunday is trash day or Wednesday is recycling.  If I didn’t have reminders on my phone or it written in my planner I’d probably not get anything done.
I forget to call people back, answer text messages and respond to emails. It’s not intentional. It just is what it is. If I haven’t responded to you…I’m sorry. If I forgot your birthday or anniversary…again, sorry.  If I can’t remember your favorite color, miss an appointment because I didn’t have it written down or forgot your name, trust me, it’s not on purpose.
Multiple sclerosis just has this way of scrambling my thoughts and at times turning them into mush. Sometimes I wonder how I get anything done at all.
Time to get some things done – now where did I put the list?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Is Your Past Tripping You Up?

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message….

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (Philippians 3:13b, NIV)

It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.

Amen! I thought.

The message? Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.

The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Chris followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.

Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage…

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game-changing statement:

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16, ESV)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.

It’s the way of life!

I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven … You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.

I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.

Clearly this press-on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble – when we sin – we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God. Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.

And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.

The reward of faith is freedom in Christ. The past has no hold on us.

Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.

So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person … not to stumble on things that are behind me.

Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.

And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature-in-faith.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!