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!

Make a Difference with Chemo Cares Totes

Make-A-Difference-Daylogo-version-3Make a Difference day was started in 1990. It is a national day devoted to helping others by doing volunteer work in the community.  It can be almost anything – just doing something to make a difference in the lives of others.  Today, millions of Americans will participate in community improvement projects. Maybe by cleaning up, fixing up, painting, and making repairs in neighborhoods or in parks or non-profit organizations.  It doesn’t matter what project you take on. It doesn’t matter whether you help a non-profit organization, the community, your town, nursing home, a church, a food kitchen, or any other group in need. What matters is you participate.

This is a great way to get the kids involved in giving back to their community. Make it a family outing. The joy on the faces of others as you make a difference in their lives will make a difference in your own life too. My mission is to make a difference in the lives of others.logo-fb-cover

My vision is for a world where women are not judged on their circumstances but empowered to learn from them so they can have harmony in their life and make a difference in the lives of those around them.

I try to make a difference in the lives of others whether it is with a smile, a thank you, a card sent in the mail, or holding the door.  I want to help organizations (and individuals) raise needed funds to pay a bill or for their kids activities or for holiday presents. I want to help them to share their SPARKLE with friends and family.

Today is the kickoff of my “CHEMO CARES TOTES” Campaign.  Now through November 15th, I will be collecting sponsors ($25) for THERMAL totes filled and delivered to the Infusion Unit at Community Hospital for individuals going through treatment.

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Cancer has touched my life with the loss of family members – my grandfather to lunch cancer, my Aunt Elsie to breast cancer and my Aunt Edythe to kidney 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.

Don’t make it just one day a year to “make a difference”. Consider helping others on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. I know, the holidays are coming and you say there is no extra money. Volunteering your time is another way to make a difference. A small random act of kindness can make a difference too. Small gestures can make big changes.

What will your commitment be to help others today? M ake a difference on Make a Difference Day!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy 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 that are bittersweet…

Life in Ocean Grove over the 4th of July was a whirlwind of fun and excitement. I can remember many 4th of July parades and bar-b-ques with the family. Belinda was always in the parade in an array of costumes. Costumes were 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 that was thrown by the floats as they traveled down the street. Grams worried that 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 that was BEFORE Belinda but it was always a lot of fun. Believe it or not, I miss living in Ocean Grove… this is so off topic. Yes, I squirreled!

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

Will You Sponsor A Chemo Comfort Bag?

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When I began my journey with Thirty One in 2011, my goal was to help others. Sometimes it was a fundraising project, or a donation at an event or giving to those who were in need. It didn’t matter whether it was a small goal or a HUGE goal, I wanted to help. As a result, I have been able to donate to various causes that are near and dear to my heart.

No, I am not telling you all of this to toot my own horn. I NEVER do any of these projects without the help of my AMAZING customers, hostesses, family and friends. Individuals who believe in the cause, or just want to help. Okay, can you guess where this is leading…. YOU GOT IT!

At the request of some friends concerning the growing need – I am looking for sponsors for Chemo Comfort Bags…

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The $35 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 blanket/scarf, notepad, pen, bottle of water, lotion, warm socks, chap stick and crossword puzzle book. Donations will be distributed to local cancer care centers to bring a smile to the face of those who are fighting this dreadful disease.

chemo bags

Last year, we delivered 31 bags to Ocean Medical Center in Brick. This year by January 20th, my goal is 50. We are halfway to our goal.  I know this is a HUGE jump but I am confident that we are up for the challenge. The bags will arrive in the beginning of February so that I can stuff them and deliver them around Valentine’s Day.

So, who is with me? For $35 you can bring a smile to someone who is fighting the cancer battle. This project is near and dear to my heart. It is a tribute to my Weston angels – Edythe, Elsie and Pop-pop – who all had cancer.

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!

Twis 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 that 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…

For our family, the holidays have changed so much over the year.  The first change came when breast cancer took Elsie from us.  She always seemed to be the glue that brought us all together – no matter what happened all year long.

Elsie

Then Alzheimer’s took Grams from us.  Belinda grew up and headed to college – more changes.   During the first 4 years in North Carolina, she traveled home where we spent Christmas with Mom.

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Then, kidney cancer took Edythe (mom’s middle sister) from us in 2011.

When, Christmas falls on hubby’s work day, he has rotated holidays off.  This year, Rob is off because Belinda and Ashley are here!  This year we are returning to a tradition that had fallen by the wayside so many years ago…

Tonight, we will be gathered with family and extended family to celebrate the holidays together.  This year’s gathering with the Loder family has grown to include spouses and grandchildren, as well as girlfriends and their family.  Lots of food, drink and fun will be had by all.

As for Christmas Day, we will stay at home watching movies, eating, playing games – I’m sure at least one game of Rummycube or Uno will be  played. Making new memories.

As I look at our Christmas tree filled with new and old ornaments, memories of Christmas Eve’s past flash through my mind.

The many years of trying to get Belinda to go to bed so that Edythe, Elsie and I could put presents under the tree.  It was really hard carrying things past HER room to get the living room.  It always made for a lot of laughs.  Waiting patiently for mom to get off work so that we could open presents.  The early morning calls to wake everyone up.  The funny thing was – Belinda wasn’t a morning person so we always had to WAKE her up.  Really, on Christmas morning????  Opening presents was a process that took forever because Belinda wanted to play with each thing before moving on to the next gift.  We learned that games were opened last or at least towards the end or else nothing else would get opened. 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 our 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 this year in  so many ways…