Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking back at 2012

As I sit back and reflect on 2012 one word comes to mind.
THANKFUL.
We had so many ups and down in 2012 I don't even know where to start...
There were lost friendships, new friendships, friendships that blossomed more than I could have ever imagined.
We said goodbye to our old preschool and hello to a new one.
We now have a 6, 4, and 2 year old.
I had a very very traumatic health scare with my stroke in July.
A new car.
New members added to our families.
Growing this little space of mine in the blogging community and meeting some truly amazing women along the way.
We went through struggles, high times, low times and every in between times.
I learned to accept and allow help in times when we need it-rather than to let my pride get the best of me.
I learned that time with my children is more important than having a clean house.
I learned to not take anything, anyone, or any opportunity for granted because tomorrow is never promised.
I learned the true meaning of giving, even when you don't feel like you have much to give.
I learned more forgiveness that I ever thought possible.
And this year I really truly learned to stand strong and steadfast in my faith.
I look back to this time last year and I was a completely different person than I am today.
I have grown so much spiritually that now my whole day focuses around the Lord.
Most mornings the first things I do rather than get caught up in social media is read my devotional.
The lessons we teach our children are based on His words, and His ways.
We learned to lean on Him in times when we didn't know what to do.
We have become incredibly close to and cherish our church family more than we ever have.
2012 was certainly a year filled with more downs than ups....but oh how those ups were so very sweet after triumphing over those lows!
Goodbye 2012...hello 2013

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Christmas

Our Christmas was a good one! I am just so thankful to be here to celebrate with family this year! I wish I could say we enjoyed a nice quiet Christmas Eve and day in our warm house opening presents and enjoying each others company- but that was not the case. Instead we hosted Christmas Eve dinner for all of my husbands family plus our family of 5. Our house was definitely full of love and laughter. There was no shortage of alcohol either which made for some good times as well. Everybody are until we were stuffed and then we opened some presents and said goodbyes to out of town family. The family that did stay kept up our tradition of opening adult gifts to one another at midnight and I'm happy to report I got a new sewing machine! Woohoo!! I can't wait to get my shop up and running again :) Christmas morning went way too quickly as it seems to every year. All 3 boys enjoyed opening their gifts and were truly thankful and content this year for what they received. Then we served breakfast for our guests, cleaned up as much if the wrapping paper and cardboard mess we could and were off to visit my side of the family. We spent te rest of the day opening presents, eating lots of yummy homemade food, and enjoying the company of those we love! Then sadly, the next day I was back to work :( boo no fun! Not to worry though I learned my lesson and have already got vacation days planned for this same week next year haha! How was your Holiday?















Friday, December 21, 2012

I made it!

Well I survived my first week back at the office...barely!
I am sitting here with my glass of wine while the kids watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, our Christmas tree is lit, and we are totally getting into the Christmas spirit.
Now that it's Friday and we had a 1/2 a work day today which also included an office work party {yay!}, I am able to say that I made it through my first week alive.
However, if you had asked me that say oh Wednesday night my answer would not have been the same!
The same goes for Thursday night.
It's really hard to get back into a flow after being off the past 5 months.
Work days are long.
8 hours long.
And then when said work day is over I have to shuffle home to take care of three kids...
who expect dinner, every.single.night!
Just kidding...well kind of!
It's exhausting!
I already need a maid because my house is in shambles and we're hosting Christmas Eve dinner at our house for ALL of my in-laws....yeah I should probably get on the cleaning train :)
Anywho....even though I was exhausted this week it was a really good transition week for me.
There were only 3.5 work days in my week this week and there will be 3 days next week because of the holidays.
I'm hoping this will help to ease me back into a schedule that won't make my brain completely explode.
How was your week?

Monday, December 17, 2012

My thoughts

As I sit here and type this post my heart is extremely heavy.
In fact extremely simply does not do justice to what my heart is feeling today.
By now we've all heard of the school shooting in CT.
I learned about it Friday afternoon as I passed by a television.
I honestly couldn't bring myself to sit and watch the coverage...and I still can't.
I immediately began praying and still am today.
Praying for the families, the friends, the colleageus, the neighbors, everyone involved in this horrific event.
There aren't enough words right now to console those who this event directly impacted.
And I'm not even sure there ever will be.
For me and my family this really hit home.
As a momma to three little ones this event has really shaken me to my core.
We've got a 1st grader and Pre-K'er in our house these day who both attend public school full time.
I can tell you this as a momma my senses have been on high alert since Friday.
In fact, the momma bear in me came out on Friday as I picked both of our children up early from school just so I could hug them and know they were safe in my presence.
Tears! Oh yes, there were tears!
Tears from me to them, tears for the parents who wouldn't be able to give their innocent, sweet children hugs that night, tears for the siblings who wouldn't be able to play with their brothers and sisters who were called home, tears for unwrapped presents under the Christmas trees, tears for dreams that were never able to be lived out, tears for smiles that won't be seen anymore.
All I can say is that these past few weeks-with Hurriane Sandy and the school shooting in CT-my emotions and our world has really been rocked.
I won't lie, there are days where I have to really fight the urge to say, "What is our world coming to?  Why is all of this happening?"
And then just as quickly as these thoughts run through my mind I am reminded of my faith.
My faith that tell me to lean into our Heavenly Father even when we can't possibly understand the destruction, and the hurt that is happening.
My faith that tells me He will heals all wounds and comfort those who mourn.
My faith that assures me it will all be okay....
of course this won't happen overnight...
it is going to take time to heal,
time to figure out how we can move on from this (if that's even a possibility)
time to figure out how to make our schools as safe as they possibly can be for our little ones
time to remember to make each day count more than the last
time to tell our family, and friends how much each and everyone of them means to us-even if we don't see them or speak to them that often.
My husband and I have had many deep conversations this past weekend about how to approach this subject, where do we go from here, how do we keep our children as safe as possible?
We both settled on the same answer.
Our faith.
Our faith is what makes us strong, and will pull us through this time of heart wrenching grief.
For now I will not subject myself or my children to the harsh tv interviews, the updates on social media, or the gossip amongst my friends.
We will stand strong in our faith.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

5 Months

Well I am 5 months post-stroke...almost to the day.
This week was emotion filled to say the least.
I graduated from occupational therapy on Tuesday and was overcome by more emotion than I had anticipated.
As I walked into my appointment I had tears welling up in my eyes and was really not prepared or  expecting that to happen.
Every.Single.Day.of these past 5 months have been an uphill climb and this past Tuesday was a culmination of sorts for everything.
All of the emotions, the highs the lows, the defeats, the triumphs all came together as I took a step back on that last session and looked at how far I had come.
As I walked into the rehab center I realized that I was signing in for the last time, sitting down and waiting for my name to be called for the last time....this was my last session-forever.
My "Safe Haven" would no longer be there...
they were setting me free.
This process was something that had become second nature to me over these past 5 months...
and the therapists I have been seeing- both physical and occupational-well have become more like friends than therapists.
I have been with them 3 days a week for 2 hours each session.
The majority of my time these past 5 months has been spent at rehab and now I was having to say goodbye.
Goodbye to my friends, my supporters, and my coaches.
It was a happy, heartfelt, and tearful goodbye.
I kept reassuring everyone that they were happy tears :)
For the first time it felt so good to look back on the past 5 months and say, "Wow, look how far I have come.  The hard work that I have put in every.single.day. really is showing. The blood, sweat, and tears was worth it! I really have gotten somewhere."
I know thanks to these professional I am now on the road to recovery, and that none of this would have been possible without them.
Every session I went in there they helped me move an inch forward from where I was the day before.
All of those inches have added up and led me to where I am today.
It was a long, hard road each and every day.
I'm not going to lie there are many things I still struggle with each and every day, and I know that in time I will eventually get back to where I once was...
but I am also able to do things I wasn't able to do 5 months ago and that is amazing!
I will be forever thankful and grateful to each therapist who helped me to get to where I am today, because without their knowledge and confidence it would not have been possible.
I owe who I am today to them.
The hard work and perseverance from all of us was well worth it.
All of the days I came home from my session feeling down, mentally exhausted, or with tears in my eyes were all to benefit me.
Each day I was pushed further than the day before and that was exactly what I needed.
This week has been bittersweet in many ways.
It was my last week of therapy, my last week with my family before I return to the work field, and my last week to just be me.
Next week our family will have a new routine, a new mindset, and a new outlook on life.
Thank you so much to all of those who supported and stuck by our family through this whole process.
It has been a life style change to say the least but we are happy and thankful that we are where we are today.
I will make sure to keep you posted!






Monday, December 10, 2012

25 Days of Giving Week #1

If you read this post you know about my 25 Days of Giving challenge.
First off let me say I was overwhelmed and humbled  by the amount of responses I received.
I love that so many of you want to help others.
So let's get this party started!
Feel free to Link Up, or leave your act of kindness in the comments below!


December 1: Gave the Salvation Army volunteer my hot chocolate
December 2: Loaded up Gumball machines and gave two little boys quarters to ride the ride
December 3: Bought waters for the three ladies working return counter at Walmart
December 4: Wrote an email to a 4 year old boy who has terminal cancer.
December 5: Donated my whole day to my son's Holiday Shop
December 6: Took on an began organizing fundraiser for our local food bank-DONATE HERE!!
December 7: Brought DD coffee and donuts for all the moms and librarians working holiday shop
December 8: Held door open while Holiday shopping for every single person walking in before me
December 9: Let lady with fewer groceries go before me at supermarket

I was really bad at taking photo's this week so I'm afraid I've only got three to show ya!
I'd looooove to see your pics of acts of kindness though!
Here's to week #2 of our 25 Days of giving :)








Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Humbling Week

As I sit here with 3 kids in bed, my glass of pinot noir, my house waiting to be vacuumed, and 6 baskets of laundry waiting to be folded I have one thought...
I am so glad this week is over.
Anybody else with me?
This week was just exhausting-mentally and physically.
Like a glass of wine every night exhausting ;)
Here's a run-down of our activities:
1. Sick Kids
2. I worked the Holiday Shop for 3 full days at our oldest kids school this week and phew! that really did me in :)
3. A visit to my office and a lunch date with some co-workers
4. All presents are wrapped and underneath our tree-yes even with 3 little's roaming past it everyday!
5. Today my check engine light came on in my car which is a guaranteed $300-$400 these days am I right?!
6. Holiday shopping yesterday which was pure chaos, thankfully we were able to leave the kids home!
7. A forgotten Christmas pageant rehearsal yesterday but a wonderful church service this morning and bell choir practice for our oldest.
8. Occupational Therapy
9. Dentist appointment for Kid #1- no cavities :)
10. Grocery shopping
11. Agreeing to  head up another fundraiser to support our local food bank!  To donate click here
12. I began a new tradition for the Christmas season...The 25 days of Giving which you can read about here.  Come join-we'd love to have you!

Yes this week was busy, but it also was a humbling week.
I was able to participate in and make connection in my son's school that I otherwise wouldn't be able to when I return to work full time.
Because of my 25 days of giving I lived this week with my eyes continuously open for how I could be a blessing to others-and that was truly amazing!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for our very first 25 Day's of giving link up!
I can't wait to read all of your acts of kindness :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Judgement

Passing judgement.
Being judged.  
We've all been there.  
I've been on both ends. 
 A thought occurred to me today while walking to my car.
As I was passing a lady who looked very tired, and weary and whose face was showing her age I thought to myself, "I wonder what her story is."
It was then that it occurred to me rather than assuming the answers to all of these question I actually tried to put myself in her shoes.
For the first time in a long time I used my self control to not place judgement.
I wondered where she had been before I saw her...I wondered what was on her mind...I wondered what battles she was fighting.
It was then that it hit me.
The old me would have assigned her a number, and written her off based on appearance alone, but the new me was not going to judge her based on appearance alone.
Why are we so quick to judge?
 When we're young we're taught to never judge a book by its cover. 
We're taught to take the book from the shelf, sit down at a table with it and read the first few pages in order to get a feel for the book.
But what about people? 
 People who are real, who have struggles, feelings, and pain,
People who are facing obstacles every day of their lives.
People whose stories are not so black and white like books. 
Why are we so quick to assign someone a story, pitch it to ourselves and believe it?
How quick we are to place judgement on strangers!
The truth is by simply passing someone in the hallway, driving next to them on the highway, or even working with them we don't know the battles they are fighting.
We don't know their past or what path they are on now.
We haven't walked in their shoes.
John 7:24 says, "Do not judge with appearance, but judge with judgements."
It has been made very clear we are not to do the judging.
It is Him who is in charge of judging so we need to let it go.
Then of course you have the opposite of placing judgement...
being judged.
This too is something I struggle with, but thanks to my faith, I know there is only one person who can judge me and that is Him.
This is a skill I am working on day in and day out and many days I still struggle.
This requires a daily commitment on my part to stay true to my beliefs and really know who I am every minute of every day. 
I need not answer to anyone else, or worry what anyone else may think.
As long as I know I am living according to His ways and making Him happy I am on the right path.
I will no longer be confined by the thoughts Satan plants in my head, but will stand with Him and fight the good fight.
I will be accepting, and open.
I will learn who people are, what they believe in, where they come from, and the road they have traveled.
I will open my heart, my life, and my door to others I may otherwise not have in the past.
Because of all of this I will grow.
I am forcing myself to step out of a place where I was once comfortable, and am no longer comfortable.
I am going to stretch myself to my limits without placeing judegment on others and without fear of being judged.
I know the One I will answer to, and the One who will answer me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The More the Merrier: For our Food Bank

Well we are at it again!
Remember this collection we did for Thanksgiving to benefit our local Salvation Army?
Well the same restaurant that helped out last time contacted us again to help them with another event.
This time we are helping our Community Food Bank of New Jersey: Southern Branch.

Another need has been laid upon our hears and we are hoping to answer BIG TIME!
Goodfellow's contacted my husband and I this afternoon wanting to know if we would like to help them raise money and drop off a HUGE food donation to our local food bank.
I read the email to my husband and we immediately looked at each other said, "We have to do this."
So without hesitation and after securing a few loose ends we are onto our 2nd fundraiser of the season.
The owners of Goodfellows have amazing, amazing hearts and care so much about this cause that they are willing to match every single penny we receive up to $1,000.00 
So my goal is raise $1,000 on top of that hopefully bringing the total to $2,000.00!!!
Can you imagine how great that would be?
How many families we could bless this Holiday?
It would bring a whole new meaning to "The More the Merrier!"
So tonight I'm sharing this with you.
If you look to the right just below my "followers" section you will see a button that says Donate.
All you have to do is click on there to donate any amount you would like to this cause-no matter how big or small.
There's also a button at the end of this post that will let you donate $5 and it is easy peasy, all you have to do is click on the button!!
Every single penny collected will be going to help those who need a little help this holiday.
I'm inviting you on my adventure with you in hopes that you can find it in your heart to donate, pray, and spread the word because there are A LOT of families out there that could use our help!










Sunday, December 2, 2012

25 Days of Giving Link Up

Yesterday you all read my post about my project to do 25 days of giving
If not feel free to read it now.
 My goal is to have as many people join in my cause to help others ( family, friends, even strangers) by doing a random act of kindness each day.
Today I am writing to tell you all the details about how we can share our good deeds with each other, and come to one central location to read everyone's posts. 
 Each Monday I will post about my random acts of kindness/ good deeds for the week before and you will have the opportunity to write your own post which you will be able to link up to my post. 
Think of it as a Linky Party of Goodness!
 Each one of you who participates will be helping me spread Christmas cheer, love, and kindness all over the country... maybe even the World if we keep spreading the word!!
 Also for those of you on Twitter and Instagram we can all follow along with the hashtag #25daysofgiving. 
There are no rules associated with this Linky Party I just please ask that you link up a post telling about a good deed you did for someone else. 
 I want to inspire you to be intentional for each of the next 25 days. 
 I want you to exhibit more kindheartedness, graciousness, and good will than you ever have in your whole entire lives.
I can tell you firsthand from someone who has stood exactly where you are standing now that some days this may require more courage, heart, grace, and mercy than you think you have. 
 Sometimes you may feel silly and even a bit crazy right before you act upon your good deed but trust me- GO FOR IT! 
The feelings you have right after you follow through with said good deed will blow all those other what if's and insecurities right out of the water, I promise.
You will be so happy and thankful that you followed through and were able to be a blessing to someone else!
Okay get to spreading that goodness and come back to link up next Monday :)

25 Days of Giving

Last night I had to run to the grocerry store to pick up ingredients for dinner.
I'm not going to lie...part of me saw it as an opportunty to hit Starbucks before I went into the grocery store and pick up my favorite holiday drink- a delicious hot chocolate.
I could see myself sipping on and enjoying my hot chocolate as I casually strolled through the supermarket with no children tugging at me, yelling, or tattling on a sibling.
So I pulled into the parking lot I parked between the two stores making the logistics of the trip a little bit easier, and I could already begin to taste the drink in my mouth!
I walked into Starbucks and boy were they crowded! 
I had to wait in line to order and pick up my hot chocolate, about 10 mins altogether.
After I got my hot chocolate I began my walk across the parking lot thinking to myself the whole time how nice and warm my hot chocolate felt in my hands and how it was such a great idea to get one for myself because it kept me a little warm!
As I approached the entrance to the store I heard the familiar ringing of the Salvation Army bell that had been ringing outside of our market the whole week.
I held my hot chocolate between my hands to keep them warm, but I still hadn't taken a sip because I was afraid it was still too hot.
Just then a feeling came across me.
There was an energy between the SA volunteer and myself, an energy that I couldn't ignore.
As much as I was looking forward to sipping on my delicious, creamy Starbucks hot chocolate and as thankful that I was for it keeping me warm while walking across the parking lot that was nothing in comparison to the SA lady who had been standing outside of our store for who knows how long that day.
The same lady had been outside every other day this week too.
She was there when I went in the morning, and was still there when I went in the evening.
As I walked up to that entrance something told me to give her my hot chocolate.
She was much colder than I was, for sure.
So as I approached her I felt something pulling me towards her-I even walked a little bit past her and had to backtrack to her spot.
I went up to her and asked her if she liked hot chocolate...., "Oh of course I do, it's my favorite" was her reply.
I handed her my piping hot chocolate and told her, "Here this is for you, enjoy and Merry Christmas!"
She replied with a thank you and one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen in my entire life.


Now, I had no idea that I was going to be doing this last night.
Not before I pulled into the parking lot, not while ordering my drink, and not even while walking up to the entrance of the store.
I was planning on enjoying that hot chocolate during my child-less super market trip.
I was drooling over the thought of actually enjoying an entire hot drink by myself, but somewhere along the way I felt like I was supposed to give my drink to the lady standing in the cold.
After my good deed last night something stirred inside of me...
Was it ironic that it was December 1st and I did a good deed to make someone else feel better, and there were 24 more days until Christmas?
Or that I sacrificed my own want and desire to better someone else?
Was I supposed to do an act of kindness each day until Christmas?
Yes it was a small, small act of giving back but I am forever grateful that I acted on that feeling!


Here is what I am proposing friends...
In the spirit of Christmas and to celebrate the {reason for the season, ie Him who was the ultimate gift to us}  
instead of doing a countdown to Christmas~ 25 of Christmas~ which consists of watching Holiday TV programs, and all things materialistic ...

I want to do
 ~25 Days of Giving~ which focus's on helping others, and making another person's day just a little bit brighter.

25 days of doing a random act of kindness for a stranger each day, going out of our way to help a friend or a family member, or volunteering our time.
I'm going to do this either way, but I thought to myself how awesome would it be if we could get a group of us together-from the blogging community, OR just friends and family- to spread the word about this event.
Everything is always better with more people right?
And the end result is we will be able to bless MORE people if we get MORE people to join in this event.
However you propose to get in your daily act of kindness will be just fine...
It can be something as simple as buying a hot chocolate for someone working outside in the cold, saying a prayer for someone you pass on the street, or volunteering your time at a homeless shelter.
Whatever has been laid on your heart will do.
There are no right or wrong ways to give back
I would love it if you could join me in this 25 Days of Giving.
So what do you say?
Wanna join me? 
If you want to join me please leave a comment below or email me: treslittlebirds3 {at} gmail {dot}com and we can get this party started!
 



 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mercy

I recently heard a song that has a lyric, 
"What if the trials of this life are our mercies in disguise?"
This line really struck a chord with me.
It got the wheels a turnin' and made me think...
How many times have I been through a trial that was hard, rough, and tested me more than I thought I could handle?
The answer: A  LOT!
In my 27 years of life I have probable been through more than most 60 years olds-and that is no joke!
What I used to call "ironic" now has a new meaning.
All of the hidden meanings, answers, and where will I go next's have been answered by Him....
whether I chose to believe it or not.
Before I found my way I thought it was the universe aligning, or things going my way type of stuff but these days I believe in Him!!
When I thought about it, all the trials I have been through have eventually led me to help others in one way or another.
Whether it was a personal issue someone had never dealt with before, applying for financial aid for school, learning how to potty train their child, figuring out how to rent an apartment or set up their utilities {no matter how big or small} I was finding that I had a lot of experience under my belt in such a short life...
and these experiences were allowing me to help others in ways I never thought possible!
Then one day it hit me-WHAM- like a ton of bricks!
I have been put through all of these trials because now I can help others who are standing where I once stood.
That is an amazing, incredible feeling.
These are my person mercy ministries. 
I can give others the hope that they will get through what it is they are facing, especially when they feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
I can give them tips and tricks to help these trials not be as hard on them as they were on me.
On the opposite side of this it has allowed me to open myself to others and see if they have been through a trial I am facing.
I have become more receptive to any input or advice to help me get through that they may have for me.
And you know what?
Most of the time they have been where I have stood before, and are more than willing to share their experience to help me. 
I think at this point it is no surprise that I like helping others.
I feel like I was born with a servant's heart.
I can't help it, it's something that I really, truly, and genuinely enjoy.
I get such a natural high and good feeling from helping others.
Most days I wish I didn't have a 40 hour work week because I look forward to the day when I can volunteer all of my time to those in need.
So think about that next time you are going through a trial.
Next time you are being tested stop and think to youself that when you come out on the other side of that trial you will be able to help someone who once stood where you are.
And these trials my friends are His mercies in disguise!

 



Linking up here:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sickies

Well folks it is that time of year.
You know the time where the weather can't decide if it wants to be warm or super cold, where your kids argue with you that they want to wear a sweatshirt when they really need to be wearing a coat, and it's that time of year when all the germs come out!
Part of this come from parents not keeping their children home when they are sick, you know still sending them to school, taking them to the store, etc- but today I will refrain from stepping on that soap box I have stood on many a time before ;)
The sickies as we like to call them in our house have landed and are making themselves quite comfortable.
They sickies bring runny noses, tummy aches, body aches, and fevers.
You know all things yukky!
The sickies also bring sleepless nights for whatever child is sick, and mom and dad too.
I'm thankful for a husband who is willing to take the night shift with our sick kids so I can get a full nights sleep.
He knows just how much I need my sleep!
So far two of our littles have been taken down by these yukky's and I'm counting down the days until it gets to hubby and I lol.
Does that happen in your house?
Do you and your husband/ significant other end up sick after caring for your sick kids?
Our oldest son is rarely sick, he's lucky he's hot a super immune system.
Which means he brings home all the germs to us and never gets sick himself.

What are some special things you let your kids have when they are sick that you otherwise don't let them have?
I know for us when our kids are sick they can pretty much eat/ drinking anything they want with the exception of candy, sugar, soda, etc.
When they are sick getting them to eat and or drink is such a battle sometimes that if they actually have an appetite and want to have pizza and apple juice for breakfast or pancakes and water for dinner I let them go for it.
Anything to keep them hydrated and get some food into their bellies to give them back some of their energy the sickies are draining from them.
Also Popsicles.
Our kids know they have access to unlimited amounts of Popsicles when they are sick!
I'd love to hear your tips and tricks and what you do when your kids are sick.
Feel free to share!





Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Everyday Thankfulness

I feel like every Novemeber all of the 'Thankful elves' come out and remind people to be constantly thankful.
We see all the thankfulness via social media these days, and while that is great I feel like people focus so much on being Thankful during this one time each year they forget to be thankful the rest of the year.
The month of November has so much hype surrounding it with people constantly saying what they are thankful for...obviously because of Thanksgiving.
 I finally sat down this Thanksgiving and tried to see what all the buzz was about this holiday that was marked on a calendar on a specific date. 
My purpose of this post isn't to be a bahumbug, but rather hopefully stir some ideas inside of you...so keep reading!
Why limit our thankfulness to just one day?
 Why do we put such an emphasis on this one month, why stop there? 
Let's treat every day as though it's Thanksgiving.
Why are we purposefully thankful only one month a year, and specifically one day during said month?
 Why is it that we only make our best attempt to get together with our entire family once a year? 
Time is a precious thing we shouldn't waste!
We all know the goodness we feel once we are together with our family. 
 As we gather around dressed in our Thanksgiving best we enjoy the laughing, the bonding, the game playing and catching up that happen.
These moments are priceless. 
 Wouldn't it be nice to have those feelings twice a year, once a month, or even once a week?
 I know the hustle and bustle of our lives together with everybody's location makes it hard to get our entire family's together- or at least most of our families- more than once a year. 
But what is stopping us from trying, really really trying our darn hardest to gather with family and friends more often?
Instead of only being purposefully thankful once or twice a year,  lets be purposeful everyday. 
Lets make more of an attempt to gather with our friends and loved ones more often. 
Let's be intentionally thankful every day!
 What do you think?
Maybe you think I'm crazy or taking a "grinch" approach to this holiday but I really just want everyone to be thankful for something every day.
Plain and simple.
Thankfulness all day 'ery day ;)
 Have you ever sat back and asked yourself why we conform to the calendar holiday of Thanksgiving rather than being blatantly, purposefully, and intentionally thankful every.single.day of our lives? 
Seriously, think about it for a minute...





Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Weekend

Well our weekend was jam packed as is usual these days!
We started with Thanksgiving and having a bunch of family in town.
Our tradition has changed in the past few years due to family additions, workplace changes, etc.
This year we headed down to my aunt's to spend the holiday with my family.
My parents, and brother and sister started coming down from Massachusetts a few years ago so we were able to enjoy their company.
We haven't spent Thanksgiving with my family in about 7 years-usually my in-laws get this holiday
Any-who other than a slight mishap of hubby taking my keys with him to work that day the rest of the holiday went off without a hitch.
There was plenty of family, food, and fun.
Oh, and some black Friday shopping too!
This was the first year in quite a few years I accompanied hubby for black Friday shopping and thanks to a certain cousin and my brother we pretty much had family spread throughout the store in all the main spots we needed to hit!
Needless to say we made out well and completely sacrificed the meaning of Thanksgiving in order to get our kids the most with our money this year, HA!
The next day was spent back down with that same family so our kids could enjoy soak up all the time with all their family that we don't get to see nearly as often as we'd like.
Luckily the weather was phenomenal-like near 60-all weekend so there was lots of time to play outside!
Friday night I had a mini girls night with a dear old girlfriend who I have been through just about everything with...and I mean everything!
It was so refreshing and nice to have a conversation about us, and our lives rather than our jobs, and my kids lol!
I mean I love my kids with every fiber of my being but it was nice to have someone ask how I am doing, how I'm feeling and how I'm dealing with all these lifestyle changes for a change...ya know?
She's an oldie but a goodie and I wouldn't change that for anything!
Saturday we enjoyed a lazy day of lounging around the house and I even convinced our older two boys to lay down in their beds for a few minutes and they actually fell asleep!
Oh it was precious and much needed :)
Today hubby let me sleep till 10:30.
I'll repeat that one for ya, I slept until 10:30 this morning!!!!!
Unfortuantely we missed church but boy oh boy was it glorious sleeping in that late!
And I must have needed it because I usually can't sleep past 8 am these days, my mind just won't let me!
We ventured out early this afternoon and scored some sweet cellphone & ipod covers at 5 below {I always forget how much that store rocks}as well as some much needed k-cup refills from Target :)
This evening was spent putting up and decorating our Christmas tree.
Usually we put it up Black Friday but we slacked a little bit this year-woops!
Oh and another milestone I reached this weekend post-stroke was being able to go to the grocery store {with our youngest in tow} and yes I drove myself there and back!!
Now this is an everyday task for many of you out there and it used to be for me as well,
but little errands like this that I used to be able to do without even thinking about twice now take my full attention and complete planning ahead of time.
This is something I have not been able to do for 4 months, and today I accomplished-without panicking, without calling home 5 times to ask my husband if I forgot anything, and with one kid! 
Sure he ate 1/2 a bag of cheese curls by the time we were finished and his mouth matched the color of his coat but what we finished!!!
I am so thankful to be here for another holiday season with my family.
That about wraps up our weekend, how was yours?
 
 















Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a hard, hard quality to master.
I know this too well.
In my 27 years of life it is probably the single hardest quality to embed in my life.
Every day I spend countless minutes and hours teaching our children about forgiveness.
I want them to know that it is good and right to forgive each other-always.
I want them to know that it is never okay to be malicious, keep a grudge, or to be express hate towards one another.
Even though they are still young and the forgiveness they are working on is learning to forgive their brothers when they do something they don't like, it is still a lesson.
They are still learning to forgive, and let go.
They need to learn how it feels to forgive someone for the wrongness they did.
They also need to learn to step up and ask their brother or friend for forgiveness if they were the wrongdoer.
Forgiveness is a two way street, my friends.
Incredible things have been happening with my heart lately.
It has been moved in a ways and transformed in only ways the Lord could be responsible for.
Recently I've decided to make a life changing decision to forgive someone very near to me.
It's time to let this burden go, and start fresh.
The bible tells us we need to forgive.
Plain and simple.
We are not to hold grudges, bare hatred, gossip about, or wish evil upon others.
I could go on and on quoting passages referring to these but today I will spare you...
Maybe if this is something you are struggling with you can look up the passages on your time and let them work on you in their own ways.
Each week I stand in church and recite the Lord's prayer, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Hello!
I have been so blind! 
This is a HUGE and I mean HUGE burden lifted off of my shoulders.
This is something I have struggled with for the past few years, and I am ready to be done with this bitterness.
This forgiveness is not just for me, but for my children.
The grudge that I was continuing to hold was hurting them too and that was not fair. 
Helping me realize this forgiveness needed to happen was one of my husband's aunts.
We talked and prayed about this for a very long time.
We were even able to share a conversation back in April when we were together in person.
Because of that conversation I was able to look at the situation differently, and pray for a different outcome, thus allowing me to experience this forgiveness.
When I told her I was finally ready to forgive this person in my life and start fresh she was overcome with joy and shared in this life changing moment with me.
So was my husband.
He knows how much of a burden this has been for me to carry around and he is ready for me to start fresh.
He has wanted this for the longest time too.
So now I will place my trust deep in my faith and start a new book.
I know it's not going to be easy.
The old book has been thrown away.
The past, the hurt, and the fear have been erased.
I am starting a new book and the new one now has clean, crisp pages ready to be written on.
Sure some days those pages will have wrinkles, and tears, maybe even watermarks from a few tears but I am going to keep going.
I am not going to give up.
I am going to fill that new book with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Today I'm going to take all of that built up hurt, hatred, and animosity and turn it into mercy, generosity, and forgiveness.

 
{via} 



Thursday, November 22, 2012

On Being Intentional

The other day I received a phone call from my husband's aunt.
A call about being intentional, and it could not have come at a better time.
She called me to tell me that while she was driving her car running errands that day she began thinking about our relationship and she started to get teary-eyed.
She was so thankful that God had put us together in this family and that we share so many similarities both as adults and in our childhood.
Some good, and some not so good.
But they are both a blessing because they have brought us that much closer together.
Both of us married into this family, and we are forever grateful for that.
In just a few short years-8 to be exact- our relationship has blossomed in ways I never knew possible.
She wanted me to know how much she appreciated me.
She wanted me to know how grateful she is that we have the relationship we do.
She wanted me to know how happy she is that we were able to openly talk about topics with one another that we struggle with and that she is able to counsel me through some of those.
She wanted me to know that she is thankful we were able to share and develop our faith with one another. 
She wanted me to know all of this because we need to be intentional with others, especially those we care about and love.
We need to let them know how we feel when we feel it.
Don't just let those thoughts and emotions stay tucked inside of your head and your heart, express them and share them with others.
Bless others so that you too may be blessed!
I've said it before and I'll say it a million times again...
Tomorrow is not promised.
We need to be intentional every.single.day.
Intentional with our kids, with our husbands, with our family, with our friends, with our church family, with everyone.
We need to let them know the love that we have for them...so they may feel loved.
The gratefulness we feel for them being in our lives....so they may feel grateful.
And as I was on the phone with her I felt that nudge telling me this was my opportunity to let her know how I felt as well.
I wasn't to let this moment pass.
I told her that God really knew what he was doing when he put me into this family.
I had no idea the treasure that lay ahead of me when I first started dating my now husband.
Yes I knew he was a great, gentle, caring guy who wasn't afraid to express his emotions but I could never have imagined the kind of family he was raised up in,
and the morals and values he learned growing up.
The same core values that are the center of his entire family.
Not just his immediate family, but the whole family.
The same morals and values that we are impressing upon our own children.
Morals that family always comes first-always.
Values that will allow our boys to grow up to be respectable young men and know right from wrong.
Morals that allow them to share and express their emotions and have the perseverance to work through all situations-the good and the bad.
Values that let them know that they can always come to us about anything,  at any age without fear of being ridiculed or embarrassed. 
Growing up I always knew I wanted a fully functioning, open, caring, loving, family.
A family that put eachother first before all activities, friends, and habits.
A family that was so strong at its core that nothing could shake it.
And that is exactly what I got.
For that I could not be more thankful.
I went on to tell her that from the moment my husband introduced us I knew there was something special between us.
I would never have thought our relationship would have blossomed into the relationship we have today.
I told her how I cherish our closeness, our ability to pick the other one up, our openess with one another, and her ability to make me not feel like an outcast.
I told her how I look up to her raising her 4 boys with more than enough patience, and love day in and day out.
By the end of the phone call we were both in tears and laughing at how big of blubbering babies we both had become.
Of course they were joyful tears!
But the point is we were intentional that day.
We both made the effort and made sure that we knew how the other one felt.
Honestly I couldn't tell you the last time I have done that-with anyone!
It was genuinely nice, and refreshing to be able to tell someone how much they mean to you.
In today's world it is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the fast paced world that we tend to let those deep feelings and emotions fall to the wayside.
Instant gratification has become the new demand.
So today I challenge you to be intentional in all that you do.
Not just for today, but every.single.time you see the opportunity come up.
I guarantee the feelings you have afterwards will be some of the best feeling you ever experience!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gobble Gobble

Originally I sat down and began writing this post on Monday morning...and am just now getting to posting it on Wednesday-FAIL!
In the midst of writing this Mr. Three came down with an allergic reaction to something he ate and landed him in the ER for 7 hours all while I was still determined to potty train our 2 year old which I began this weekend.
Needless to say the week has gotten away with me whilst being filled with turkeys, allergic reactions, basketball try-outs, and potty training :)
Oh and two Harvest parties at school today!
Gobble Gobble!

**************************************************************************

Have you all heard that Thanksgiving is around the corner?
Something about turkey's, family, and being thankful for what we have?
I think it's this Thursday :)
Okay, the jig's up...joke time is ova!!
So if you read this post you know that last week I set out to raise money and turkey's for our local salvation army.
I found out about this need on Wednesday so I didn't have much time to get things moving, I had to get started quickly!
Let me tell you what- if I didn't know the impact social media had on people I certainly do know now!
Donations started to come in on Wednesday and just stopped late last night :)
On Saturday my husband -who hadn't asked any questions about my wanting to do this so far-asked me where we were planning on putting all of these turkey's we were going to buy.
At first we had enough money for around 20-25 turkeys from Shoprite.
I just shrugged my shoulders and said to him, "I have no idea.  God has told me that we are supposed to do this so I'm going to trust in his plan and let him open the doors for me."
Hubby has gotten used to this crazy new me so he just shrugged his shoulders and went about his business.  
At church on Sunday I made an announcement after service and that allowed us to receive more monetary donations from people last minute.
Then on Sunday a local restaurant, W.L. Goodfellows, contacted me via Facebook me telling me they had 4 turkeys for me to come pick up.
My first thought was woohoo, 4 more turkeys!!
I then texted my husband telling him how crazy it was that a local restaurant knew what we were doing and wanted to help...wow!
That's when I knew He had a greater plan for this than I could ever have imagined :)
When I got there I spoke to one of the owners named Jim.
During our conversation he mentioned that they purchased their turkey's at our local Costco because the price was amazing.
As soon as he said that the gears in my mind started turning.
I wanted to get the most bang for my buck...or turkey- same thing!
As soon as I came home I began counting all of the cash we had collected from last week through yesterday and it was waaaay more than I thought!
That combined with what out of town family, friends, and strangers donated via PayPal brought us to $575!!!
I immediately called Costco to see if they would be willing to waive the member fee, because we're not members, in order to help us help the Salvation Army.
I hit a road block- WHAM!
As much as they wanted to help they were only willing to give me 15 turkey's because they had to save some for their club members.
I was determined to get the best deal on turkey's and was not going to let this stop me.
Next call? BJ's.
We're members at BJ's and when I called to ask if they would be willing to help us out they told us that there was a limit of 5 turkey's per family...even though we were trying to help out the Salvation Army.
Road block #2-WHAM but I was determined to see this thing through!
Remember the restaurant that donated 4 turkeys and told me about the great deal on turkey's at Costco, W.L. Goodfellows?
In the midst of all my road blocks the owners contacted me saying they would love to let me use their membership at Costco to purchase turkeys!!
I turned to my husband and said, "Another door was just opened.  The restaurant wants to let us use their membership to buy all the turkeys!"
Within 15 minutes I was on my way to Costco with the restaurant owner.
The owner who had never met me, didn't know why I was going all of this, and was willing to drive 30 minutes each way  to help us feed hungry people!
AMAZING :)
When we got there we each grabbed a cart and literally filled the entire thing with turkey's!!
Let me tell you how hard it was to steer a cart filled with 30 some frozen turkey's, but man was it worth it!
As we made our way through the crowded store people stopped to tell us what a good thing we were doing, smiled at us from afar, we even got a few thumbs up too!
Man it felt GREAT to be able to do this!
I came home with 45 turkey's from Costco!!!!
But it didn't stop there...oh no it did. not!
Later that night I left my house 3 times to pick up various items and each time there was somebody outside with a turkey!
We filled up two refrigerators and freezers with turkeys and because the weather was so cold we left the rest in my trunk covered in ice!
We were able to raise $845 and had 9 turkeys dropped off.
This event was so much bigger than I could have ever imagined, and for that I am grateful!
All together we dropped off 61 turkeys to the Salvation Army, plus a last minute cash donation of $150!!!
I spoke with Captain Stevenson at the Salvation Army and they were able to fulfill their need to feed 498 families which will include 837 adults, and 654 children.
How amazing!!!
Do you know how many lives have been touched this Thanksgiving?
All of this was possible because people chose to come together for the greater good.
That's 1,491 smiles we were able to help put on people's faces this Thanksgiving!
That's 61 more families that were able to give their families a Thanksgiving that they prayed for.
My heart was changed in ways I never knew possible this weekend, and definitely for the better.
My faith grew larger than I knew it could this weekend.
My relationship with the Lord became stronger.
My ability to pray was really stretched beyond what I knew, to a place where I want to be always.
I will be forever humbled and truth be told helping these people did more good for me than they will ever know.
The Salvation Army now holds a special piece of my heart.
Things we take so easily for granted are really hard for some families these days.
So do me a favor treat each day as a gift, give when you can, and always keep those who are less fortunate in your prayers.
Sometimes others just need a little help, wouldn't it be great if you were the one to help them? 












Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Turkey's turkey's everywhere...

Turkey's Turkey's everywhere...at least that is what I am praying for.
Before you think I'm completely crazy let me explain...
Last night our local news did a story about the Bridgeton NJ Salvation Army.
You can view the segment here.
  Each year for Thanksgiving the Salvation Army provides turkey's to families in need. 
 This year they are in need of nearly 500 turkeys and only have received 200 donations.  
This story, these families, and their need have been laid on my heart 
and I am feeling the need to help in a BIG way.  
300 more turkey's are needed to fill their goal and feed all of the families signed up this year.
Hubby and I decided to put a call out to our friends and family via social media...
Twitter //  Facebook // Blogger, etc. 
We are asking for either monetary donations to purchase turkeys which will be dropped off to the location in Bridgeton or drop off a turkey to our house and we will drive them to the Salvation Army site!
Anything at all will help, even $1, or $5 :)
 If you live out of town and would still like to donate feel free to donate via Paypal to my account directly surfby57 {at}yahoo {dot}com.
We've already had quite a few donations through Paypal from friends who live out of town!
 All monies received will go directly to helping out these families in need!
 We will be driving these turkey's directly to the Salvation Army in Bridgeton on Monday morning to be distributed that afternoon! 
 Thank you and God Bless! 





Tuesday, November 13, 2012

To the Family at the Dollar Store

Yesterday I took our older two boys to the store to pack up our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.
Every year our church participates in this program that is run through Samaritan's Purse.  
It is a wonderful program and as our boys get a little older each year they start to understand a little more about having a giving heart.
This year it was adorable to watch them go through the store and pick out toys, pencils, coloring books, etc for what they were calling their "buddies."
And our 4 year old felt it necessary to kiss everything before he put it in the basket because he wanted his buddy to know he loved him.
Oh how it melted my heart!
Don't get me wrong they still tried to sneak in toys for themselves but after a couple friendly reminders that we were there to shop for little boys/girls that weren't able to have a Christmas like we do they caught on!
So up to the register's we went to pay for our goodies and I noticed that in front of us was a family.  
There was a mom, dad, and their daughter who was probably about 6 or 7.
As they went to go pay for their groceries ( I hadn't noticed what they purchased) the cashier told them that they don't accept the form of payment they were trying to pay with.
The mom and dad gave each other a look and told the cashier they would run home to get cash and be right back to pay for the groceries.
They asked if they could please leave the groceries and come back in a few minutes.
So they left their cart at the end of the check out while the dad ran to the car to drive home and the mom and daughter waited outside of the store for him to come back.
I paid for all of our toys for our shoe boxes, the boys got their gumballs out of the machines, and we headed to our car.
On the way back to the car something nudged me.
A feeling came over me telling me that I was in that store at the time for a reason.
I had noticed the family as soon as I walked in the store, and through a couple of aisles we were in but never thought twice.
That's when I knew it was Him telling me to do something about this.
It was Him telling me that I was able and that I was to pay for their groceries.
I shook my head in disbelief and kept walking to my car with my kids.
People were going to think I was crazy, plus I didn't even know the family.
As I got to the car I opened the door and looked at the inside of the car we were driving.
Again, I stopped and listened.
My kids had clean name brand clothing, car seats to protect them, smiles on their faces, I was driving a state of the art car to keep our family safe, and I had just piled in three bags of toys to give to those who were in need.
Why stop our giving at just the shoe boxes to fill?
For a long time I have been trying to teach our children about the importance of always giving, even when it seems like you don't have much to give, or even though it may seem silly.
It is important, and it is what God tells us, as Christians, we need to do.
So I took out my cell phone and I immediately called my husband.  
In the shakiest voice ever I said to him, "I have something to ask you...I feel like I need to do something. There was a family in front of us that could not pay for their groceries and I would like to pay for them. Is that okay?"
Without hesitation he said, "Pay for them."
I took both kids back out of the car, walked into the store, and waited in line. 
The whole time was my heart was beating out of my chest.
All of my insecurities and what- ifs came rushing through my mind.
What if they didn't allow me to pay for the items?
What if the family was offended?
What if they all thought I was completely crazy?
I kept pushed those thoughts aside, and kept moving forward in line.
When it was our turn I pointed to the cart of groceries sitting there and asked the cashier to ring up the entire cart of items because I wanted to pay for them.
At first she said, "But they are their's," and pointed to the mom and her daughter still waiting outside for the dad.
I said, "I know.  I would like to pay for them."
Then the cashier asked, "Do you know them?"
To which I replied, "No."
After giving me a long confused look, and shrugging her shoulders she then just said okay and started 
un-bagging all of the items and placed them on the belt to ring them up again.
As I started unloading the items I noticed there were some Christmas decorations, crayons, and little toys but there was also milk, eggs, cheese, snacks, and other food items.
My heart was breaking for these people buying their necessities at the dollar store and immediately I felt reaffirmed by Him that I was doing the right thing.
A peace came over me, unlike anything I have ever felt before.
I was hoping to pay for all of the groceries, leave the cart exactly where it was, and head back to my car thus making it an anonymous act of kindness.
Unfortunately as the last items were being rung up by the cashier the family came back into the store and saw what was going on.  
The mom thought the cashier was ringing them up for her to pay until I politely said excuse me and swiped my card in the machine.
The mom gave me a puzzled look and said, "What? Why? I have the cash here."
I simply looked at her, the dad, and little girl and said, "This one's on me.  I would love to do this for you."
They both looked at one another then back at me with the biggest smiles on their faces and said, "Thank you."
I left that store yesterday with tears in my eyes, and saying a prayer for that family.
I don't know who they are, where they live, or anything about them.
I don't know if they are struggling, or if they really did just leave their cash at home.
But it doesn't matter.
All I know is I  was supposed to pay for those groceries yesterday for that family.
And I couldn't be happier that I did.
I am grateful to have had the resources to do it for them, and hope it helped them in some small way.  
I am thankful for listening to what God laid on my heart.