Honoring Family

Today will be an emotional day, one of remembering two people who impacted my life – or at least trying to remember through the fog of MS.  The memories come and go but the impact they had on my life will live on.

I will be celebrating Edythe’s life at a vendor event today.  Strange right?  The vendor event is a fundraiser by Holly Assembly, Order of the Rainbow for Girls for the scholarship fund names in honor of her.  Growing up, Rainbow had a place in all of our lives and even through the MS fog, I still remember many of my Rainbow teachings.  Edythe was on the Advisory Board for Holly Assembly.  She helped to mold and shape the lives of girls for many years.  The scholarship is part of her legacy.   Her kindness, compassion and caring lives on in the lives of others.  Edythe was a strong independent woman who inspired me through some of the darkest days of my addiction.  Her smile and laugh could light up a room.  If you are in the area, stop by and say hello. Or if you would like to support this cause, click HERE to place an order on my Thirty One website.  I will be donating 100% of my Thirty One commission to the scholarship fund as well as 50% of the sale of awareness angel ribbons.  Complete the form at the end of the blog post if you are interested in awareness angel ribbons (additional colors are available).

  

Today also marks the one year anniversary of my dad’s death.  Some will not understand why I decided to do this event but I know my dad would totally get it.  Dad wouldn’t want me to sit around crying and being sad, he would want me to enjoy life. My dad and my mom were on the Advisory Board of Iris Assembly when I was in Rainbow.  He would definitely get why I am doing the fundraiser today.  Dad was loving and kind, nonjudgmental and accepting. Yes, there were tough times with  years of anger and hurt.  Dad was not perfect but are any of us.  He admitted his faults, and even with memories of bad times, I forgave him.  No matter how bad a situation was, he always found the silver lining and worked through it.  He leaves a legacy filled with memories for his family and friends. Dad liked to cook especially on the grill.  Didn’t matter if there was snow or rain, he found a way to grill.

Today is about honoring two people who impacted my life.  I celebrate the legacy they leave behind – the memories, the stories, and the traditions.

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!

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

Today is going to be a day filled with lots of emotions…as usual, I will be spending a lot of time crying.   Tears of gratitude for the blessings of this year mixed with tears of sadness.

This is the first Thanksgiving without my dad.  Since Belinda was a baby, we locked in two holidays which we always spent with dad, Father’s Day and Thanksgiving.  We will be spending the day with my step-mom and extended family but it will be a struggle.  Belinda is in NC celebrating Thanksgiving with her in-laws.  As I watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, I struggle with memories of past years filled with high school football games, homecoming floats, dinner at Grams with the entire family.

Today I am counting my blessings….  Blessed to have a supportive hubby. I am grateful we will enjoy Thanksgiving together.  I am grateful my family is healthy. The year has been filled with many trials.. I am listening to Laura Story’s song…

Thirty One continues to bless my life. Who would have thought 6 plus years ago, a $99 kit would make such a difference?  A growing business with an amazing team of women who continue to inspire me with their strength and friendship.  An income which allows me to still earn an income despite the challenges of MS.  A multitude of women who have gone from customers and hostesses to friends.  The greatest blessing is the ability to share with those who are struggling by giving back to our community.

Words can’t express how grateful I am today and every day. My wish is each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving – enjoy the time with your friends and family. Cherish the moments for all the years to come.

A Thanksgiving Prayer by Gwen Smith…

Dear Lord:

We come with hearts of gratitude today to bless Your name and to ask that Your hand of blessing would be upon us. THANK YOU, Father, for loving us with an eternal love that stands firm, even when we are unlovable. THANK YOU for being faithful, righteous, holy and just, yet willing to see us, Your children, through divine eyes of compassion, mercy, forgiveness and grace. THANK YOU for being a God of restoration and renewal in the midst of a broken, pain-filled world. THANK YOU for providing for our needs, directing our paths, and establishing our steps.

We acknowledge Your sovereignty, Lord, and freshly submit to Your will today. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our children, grandchildren, marriages, families, and loved ones. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our country, president, governors, senators, representatives, and local officials. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our communities, churches, schools, work places, decisions, and opportunities. Please FILL US with the presence of Your joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, and self control today. HELP US to see as You see and to love as You love. HELP US to serve others humbly for the sake of Your name. HELP US to be light that shines in the darkness. HELP US to follow Your ways and continually seek Your leading.

You are our hope and our strength, Lord. We give you THANKS in all of this and ask for the fullness of Your BLESSING in all these things, according to the power of Jesus Christ who is at work within us through Your Holy Spirit.

Amen

Have a ThirtyOne-derful Thanksgiving!

As a Child in the Presence of a Loving Father

Today we lay my dad to rest.  We will gather together as a family to say good-by again as your ashes are buried.  I can’t believe it has been almost seven months since I heard your voice.  I know you are near every time I hear talk about the “aliens”.  Miss you dad….

Thank you Michele Cushatt for today’s message.

The second the bus stopped at the corner, my little girl climbed off and ran as fast as she could toward where I stood.
Something wasn’t right. She was crying.
Immediately my mind jumped to worst-case scenarios.

Not quite so dramatic, someone told her they didn’t like her anymore. In typical grade-school fashion, the mood of the relationship had turned sour on the playground. As a result, my girl fell out of the other girl’s affection.

There on the street corner, I held her close while she cried. I was glad she told me. But what made me most proud is what she said next: “When we get home, can we cuddle?”

For years I’ve been working with my girl to learn how to ask for what she needs. It’s hard for her, tough girl that she is. Typically she either guts it out or reverts to theatrics. Instead, we’ve discussed how to use words to communicate needs.

That day, on the street corner, she did just that.

If only I could learn to do the same.

Most days I’m glad to be an adult. I mean, really. Who wants to travel back to the days of diapers or pimples?

When I’m hurt or discouraged or afraid, however, my adult skin wears thin.

When bills demand paying and parenting proves impossible. When marriage is hard, friendships struggle, and doctor’s appointments fill a calendar.

Then I wish to travel back in time, when a girl’s greatest fears could be soothed in a mama’s arms. Held close, all was well. To a child, there’s nothing greater than a parent’s ability to comfort.

But comfort doesn’t come so easily to us grownups.

Where do you and I go when relationships wound and the injustice of life stings?

We adults carry such responsibility, don’t we? Such blunt knowledge of the unfairness and volatility of this life. Even if we avoid news and media, fear and pain still have a way of finding us. We can’t escape them.

Ourselves, more often than not. We either erect a false front of strength or cave in to a pattern of complaining. But neither brings much relief.

There’s a better way.

The Bible is rich with examples of men who voiced their needs and asked God for His comfort.

Even better, the Bible nearly explodes with examples of God’s corresponding tireless affection. At times He comforted those He loved through their circumstances, and other times He comforted them in their circumstances:

– To the leader Joshua, overwhelmed by his new task: “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Josh. 1:9).

– To the Israelites enslaved by ruthless Egyptians: “I am concerned about their suffering” (Ex. 3:7).

– To the widow who’d lost her only son: “Don’t cry” (Luke7:13).

– To the adulteress caught in her shameful sin: “Neither do I 
condemn you” (John 8:11).

– To the blind man longing to see: “Receive your sight; your faithhas healed you” (Luke 18:42).

– To the disciples, who ached because their friend would be leaving them, Jesus said: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

– And to those of us who wade through the deep waters of this modern life, longing for a world we’ve heard about but have not yet seen, Jesus promises: “I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

Regardless of your pain—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual— you don’t have to pretend to be strong, nor do you need to succumb to your tears. Become a child in the presence of a comforting Father.

Don’t be afraid to expose your need and ask God for comfort.

Then, count on Him to deliver.

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!