Saturday, February 21, 2015

Marilyn's Birthday Project

 Today was one of those days that will forever be etched in my mind and in my heart.  For Marilyn's birthday, she organized items to make blessing bags for the homeless. 
After everything was laid out, 24 blessing bags were built by Marilyn, Julie, and Donna.  (I was the official tag-tier).  
Next we loaded up the car and headed into Lincoln.  We parked across from Gold's building and Marilyn found the PERFECT words "It's my birthday. We'd like to give you a gift" the look on everyones' faces was priceless - so many smiles and "thank - you's" and "happy birthdays" and short conversations.

 What a wonderful feeling!! 

 We also left scarves and hats around for people to find and take.  (Thank you, Geory and Bev!!) By the time we returned to the car, the first donations had already found new homes. 
The crazy thing? - everytime we do anything like this, I'm pretty sure I receive WAAAY more than I give. It was such an amazing experience....
Hmmmm, I have until April to figure out my next birthday project!�� Happy, happy birthday, Marilyn.  You are a gift.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


"You have a unique way of looking at things.." 
I hear those words A LOT!!  Mostly as a statement, not good, not bad.  I can't really argue with them.  I do have a different way of seeing things.  Not always right (WHAT?!!) but almost always different.  I'm not sure I quite get the label of dancing to the beat of my own drummer, but I could if I had that much confidence in myself.  Inside, I am a free spirit but outwardly, I often conform to what is expected.  I really do not like to be the center of attention - I love for my ideas to be the center of attention, but not me.  It's not that I mind talking to groups or mind answering questions, I'm just not comfortable having all others judging what I have to say.  I'd guess this way of thinking goes back to school, when catty girls loved to sit and judge and talk about others.  I never really got into that, and my close friends didn't either, but many loved to bring others down to feel ...ummm, I'm not really sure what, but apparently it did something for them.  I was pretty sensitive and maybe that made me a target.  I was also a nice person...not sure why that mattered but it seemed to.  For whatever reason, I felt judged a lot.  I think this has made me sensitive to others' feelings.  I would certainly hate to be the cause of someone's pain and don't think I would knowingly do that. 

This past week I learned of a sweetheart of a girl being hurt by others' words and actions.  I don't know all of the details, but I do know enough.  Other people are knowingly and willfully hurting a precious person.  I don't get it... With social media, bullying (yes, I did say the b- word) has gotten out of control.  It is so easy to hurt and spread lies behind the ease of a keyboard.  I am constantly telling my 5 and 6 year olds to worry about their own business unless someone is hurt or needs help.  Sounds like some advice that older kids could use.  Some are so busy bringing others' down; it would say so much more about themselves as people if they would work to boost others up. 

On a different, but similar note, I've witnessed A LOT of unique children over the past 21 years in teaching.  Give a person a cast, and they have friends galore.  Give them a disability that isn't as evident, or treatable, and suddenly "Let the judging begin!"  Labels, judging, whispering, laughing...WE are all so darn smart at trying to place everyone in that "normal" box. I read an article the other day that perhaps it's actually more normal than not to be on the spectrum, to have some degree of ADHD or ADD, to have our own quirks.  Most of us do have our do we determine which ones are ok and which ones need "fixed"?  to function in society?  I've seen many children with autism who may not function the same as others, but they have amazing gifts that the "regular" kids do not possess.  I've seen kindness and tolerance from many who don't fit the norm.  Those catty girls may not have qualified to sit on the spectrum, but their brand of cool is not one I'd care to imitate.  I'll take quirks and kindness and tolerance over boxes any day. 

Friday is mismatched socks day.  - be proud to be different.  I plan to participate and have invited my students.  We need to learn to celebrate our uniqueness and special talents.  It is ok great to be different; when we can learn to appreciate each other as individuals, our world will be one step closer to living in harmony, starting with me. In this small way, I can show acceptance for those who aren't just like me, or they can show acceptance
for me!�� Who wants to join us?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pre-sister Hugs

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (before July 5, 2012) there was a world without Sister Hugs.  There was emptiness, need, and desire but no Sister Hugs.  There were sleepless nights, baby projects, and talks to God, but no solutions to this strong need to do more; to be more.  I've always known it wasn't about me, that I needed to initiate something, to listen, but that it involved many others.  The problem was, I didn't know what or how. 

If we listen, God's message will eventually be heard.

There is a need for a comforting home for girls in their 20's, a place of safety and learning, a place like Grandma's house used to be.  A place to learn some skills like sewing and cooking and gardening, etc.  learn to shop and be a family.  I saw a need for Nana's Place.  The biggest problems were pretty big obstacles - no money to start and run it and who was going to live there to help oversee the place?? Where would we find the right young ladies to help?  Field of dreams played over and over in my head "if you build it, they will come" �� however, that little thing called $$$ seemed like a pretty big thing.  

Fast forward to the 4th of July, 2012 - fabulous day at my sister's with family.  Normal obsessing on my part over Nana's Place...came home full of whirling thoughts and concerns.  Pulled up my iPad and randomly stayed up for hours just scrolling and roaming.  Probably around 2 in the morning, I was reading a blog from someone in New Zealand talking about The Sisterhood and the work they do.  I quickly went over to their page and started reading about an angel named Sophie in New Zealand.  She organized friends and strangers alike to help people in need... A little bit from you and a little bit from me will combine to create a lovely basket to someone needing a lift.  

It wasn't Nana's Place, but it was certainly a beautiful idea.  I contacted her for info and a blessing to follow her lead.  That same day Sister Hugs was born!!  Friends were contacted, word spread, our first nomination was unanimous, we received donations and shopped to fill in the rest...and woila!!! ...our first Love Bomb was created. (See picture - Love Bomb #1!!) A few days later the first basket made a transition stop, and I left the state for Portland, Maine.  Sandy then hand delivered our very first Love Bomb to Mary,  filled with precious gifts from many generous hearts.   It was filled with chips and salsa, a comfy blanket to hug her, hair and bath products to pamper, chocolates, gift cards, a mug, a magazine...and, not sure of the rest but know it was a beautiful collection of love being showered on someone who was hurting.  

We have seen a lot of change in our two plus years.  We have grown, many faces are the same while others change.  We have done many projects beyond the love bombs, but they remain our constant.  One thing that's great about our love bombs is that they don't simply exist at Christmas.  I have done "adopt at Christmas" projects, but need is present 12 months of the years, 24/7.  While we can't help everyone,  we can work on one, or two, or our current 9 at a time and make a difference in their day.  

No, it's not Nana's Place.  Maybe someday it will be; God only knows.  What we do know is that we are making a difference.  I saw that in the eyes of the recipient we met yesterday.  We are each just an individual tool in God's workshop.  We are blessed to be the hammers, nails, screwdrivers, and wretches that the Carpenter uses to create His masterpieces.  

May you all feel the blessing that you are today. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Thoughts from the day...

This morning Marilyn and I worked the Farmer's Market to promote the "Chair"ity Auction.  In addition to spending a morning with a great friend, sharing SH, seeing fun items at the market, and doing a little RAK, we had the honor of meeting one of our Love Bomb recipients.  As Marilyn said, that alone made the morning complete.  I can't begin to express the satisfaction that comes from meeting someone who felt our hugs.  
After the market, we went over to the theater to return Amber's table and tent and took a tour of the place where the auction will be held.  What a fabulous venue.  I love the old brick and the cool feel to the place.  There is a room for the dessert bar and a large room for the auction.  The live auction will be on the stage.  It is simply ideal.  
I am beyond excited to see all of the chairs and for the auction, the roots of Sister Hugs remains our Love Bombs.  It was fun to listen to Marilyn explain who we are and what we do (she's very good at sharing the mission) and to see people's reactions.  We had 2 koozies, 2 hats, and 5 dollars donated without asking for anything.  People get the need and kind hearts are everywhere.  I am very, very blessed to be a part of this; for those of you wanting to get more involved, you are always welcome.  The auction would be an easy event to volunteer at to get your feet wet. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

No regrets, EVER!!

I had a conversation with someone yesterday about the "choice" to adopt this doll when our other children were old, and 2 were out on their own. They were questioning the whys and saying that choice would not have been for them...  Something most people wouldn't do.  The other 4 are in their 20's and we have a son the same age as our grandkids.  I'll never forget the phone call, the trip Jess and I took to meet him...Look at that face - would I change a thing? Not for all the bibbities in the world.  He really wasn't a choice, he is a blessing that we don't deserve but thank God for every day.  Never a doubt that he was intended for our family from the moment we met.  My only wish is for time to slow down!  Love you, little man! 

What is Sister Hugs??

Love Bombs?? Sister Hugs?? What exactly is that? How does it work?  How much does it cost?  How do I get involved?  ....these are some of the questions I've heard in the last week.  I want to answer those with an example - we have a family of mom/dad, and 2 boys who have offered to do the shopping and filling for specific recipients.  This time they chose a 15 year old girl who has lost every immediate family member (mom, dad, brother), one by one during her 15 years.  Together they chose items and then we added specific SH touches, like the hanky and 31 bag, to send to her.  The goal is to let her know she has an army of sisters and brothers out there, keeping her in our hearts and prayers.  Hopefully the Love Bomb spreads a little cheer during a rough time.  

Other love bombs are a collective gathering.  People donate new items and each love bomb is built specifically for that recipient, a gift from here, a gift from there.  We try to personalize each gift and send hugs, coast to coast.  We have 10 Love bombs being sent this week. New nominations are always being accepted via FB message and email, people gather to build these Love a Bombs, and help is always welcome.  Once we have a location, it will be much easier to get physically involved.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In an instant, life as we knew it was gone...

Death.  Oh, how I struggle with death. Then I struggle with my degree of faith.  Maybe my faith is weak because I struggle so much with death?  I don't know.  I want to feel joy at death, but all I really feel is heartache.  

Today a 21 year old young man was buried.  It was a drunk driver who crossed the line and ended this life, just like that.  5 minutes prior he had been leaving his parents' home, 5 minutes later his dad hears sirens, close sirens.  Sirens that will forever ring in his mind.  All in an instant.

This time it was a drunk driver. A stupid choice.  I make stupid choices.  Not that one, but believe me, I make plenty.  All in an instant they could change the future forever.  I used to tell my kids that I never wanted that knock at the door because they weren't wearing a seatbelt.  I don't want to create a knock on the door for someone else, either, forever changing life as they know it.  

Look within your choices.  Be safe, be smart, be the reason tomorrow is another day.  No regrets.