Oh how blessed we are

6b428dfcb7ec9a69577941481908fc2dWith the US Independence day this weekend it makes me reflect how blessed I feel to be free. I think many Americans have no idea how free we are.

This past week I was drawn to a small red box film called, Desert Dancer, that was the true story about an Iranian dancer named Afshin Ghaffarian. This movie gave me a whole new perspective on how naive I am to the freedom I enjoy each and every day.

Afshin grew up unable to dance & was actually punished as a young child for dancing in his childhood school. His story was one of needing self-expression, desire, passion, and seeking to live from his heart. This movie opened my eyes further to understand those countries that live in such suppression. It made me try to imagine how it would be to have to hide a passion; to have to break rules to live a dream; to seek a better understanding of a world so torn and broken and to finally have a taste of freedom.

As we celebrate our freedom, I challenge all of you to share a prayer of thanks for the wondrous freedoms we live each day. Peace. Love and Freedom to all.

To all of you who are feeling less than free. May you find it in your heart today.

Peace and Love to all.

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Give because WE have been given much

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This time of year makes me truly reflect on the many things I am grateful for. I think my heart gets to a place of deeper meaning, of stepping more outside of myself and wanting to do more for others. I think we all begin to feel this sense of holiday spirit. We gather with our families, grateful to have family. We see fall colors and are grateful to be given the gift of seeing. We see the seasons change and are grateful for change within our own lives. We sit together and give thanks.

I know for me, I especially want to do more, to serve, to be an instrument in God’s hands, so I decided that I wanted to create a list of opportunities for all of us to GIVE, because WE have all been given much.  I hope you will look at this list and find an opportunity or two that your family can embrace together. I hope you will find a little more service this holiday season, so when you are sitting down with your family, your heart will be even more full of giving, of love and grateful for the abundance in your own lives.  Peace to all of you this beautiful holiday season.

Some fun ideas to share with your families:  Spread the LOVE. If there are some ideas you like—share them with your friends and family and make the chain of LOVE even bigger.

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Samaritan’s Purse: Operation Christmas Child.  I LOVED this idea because it is not hard to do, benefits children around the world and will bring smiles to all who open.  You literally fill a shoebox with small gifts for children and then send it. You can even pay a little extra $ to track it and discover the destination it is going. I think it would be a great project to do with your family just before Thanksgiving. The drop off dates are just before Thanksgiving Nov 16-23. Check out the link to this great project. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/

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Create No-Sew Fleece Blankets for groups like Project Linus, Wrap them in Love, Stitches from the Heart, Binky Patrol to name a few.

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Make cards to send some LOVE: make cards for kids in the hospital http://www.cardsforhospitalizedkids.com/make-cards.html  Write a letter to a woman with breast cancer at http://www.girlslovemail.com or fill out a letter online to servicemen at http://www.forgottensoldiers.org/write-a-soldier/

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Donate items for The Hugs Project: They are looking for a variety of items including handmade christmas ornaments and stockings, food items, socks, etc. They create care packages for troops http://www.thehugsproject.com   here is a link to the full item list of what they are looking for http://www.thehugsproject.com/care-package-items/

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SoleHope: Makes shoes out of jeans for Kids in Uganda. http://www.solehope.org/who-we-are/

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Make a dog treats for a local shelter: here is a recipe from the Humane Society http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/eating/recipes/animal_treats/bowser_biscuits.html

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Make place mats or decorate lunch bags for Meals on Wheels http://www.doinggoodtogether.org/bhf/blog/six-ways-to-help-meals-on-wheels  Make sure you contact your local area to find out their specific needs.

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Make something homemade to help: Here is a list of handmade items that are accepted by a variety of charities.  http://www.handcraftingwithlove.net/charity/hcharity.html

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Make a bird feeder to feed the birds in your backyard–that is giving too!  Here are some directions: http://www.marthastewart.com/270700/pinecone-bird-feeder

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Well, I hope these ideas get you started to giving of yourselves even more during the upcoming holiday seasons. Remember, it is easier to give with a grateful heart.

Peace to you. -H

Oh, precious gifts.

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Oh, how precious life is. Oh, how precious are the gifts we are given each day…health, comfort, freedom, family, joy, suffering…I awoke this morning to my sweet daughter crying in pain from an earache. My heart struggled seeing her in such pain. I took little soothing remedies and got her calmed down. I looked at her and prayed that she would sleep in comfort and feel better. I also looked at her and had a tinge of sadness for parents who watch their children struggle with harsher illness and feel like they are helpless. I instantly had a feeling of relief and gratitude that she does not suffer daily.

These are the moments where I find myself even more grateful to have those I love close to me. We often take those closest to us for granted, so here is an opportunity for all of us to gain a greater understanding of our feelings, of our gifts of the wonderful people around us. *Think about the following questions regarding any important person in your life: What would I be missing if that person were no longer in my life? In what specific way would I miss that person? And, What would I like to say to this person if I only had one more chance? 

Pensively, James A Farley adds other questions he asks of himself and others: “How much do most of us appreciate the countless little daily acts of…kindness by others that make our lives more comfortable? How grateful are we, really, for the privilege of living in a country where most of us can take freedom, justice and security for granted? How much thankfulness do most of us feel for the marvelous gift of life itself, and how adequately do we express this to the Giver?”     In hostly assessing his own answers, Farley faced the painful truth: He was not nearly as appreciative as he should, or would, like to be. So he committed to the following resolutions:

“To thank the people who make my world run smoothly…not just with a casual word or an impersonal tip, but with some expression of genuine interest in them as fellow human beings.”

“To make myself more aware of the miraculous privileges involved in simply being an American, and to show my thankfulness by working without thought or reward to make my country better.”

“To remind myself every day of the infinitely precious value of every minute of existence, and to show my gratitude to God not only with prayers of thanksgiving but by living as close as possible to the way He wants me to live.”

And Farley finishes: “A basic rule in showing appreciation, I have found, is this: do it now. Do it while your sense of gratitude is fresh and strong. If you feel a flash of thankfulness, act on it before the impulse dies away.”   [taken from The Heart of Goodness]

So, here and now I am giving thanks and gratitude for those closest to me, for their health, our happiness and the gift we find in one another. Love and peace to you. May you find the precious gifts within your life and give thanks. -H

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LIVE each day!

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Just last week we visited my husband’s fathers grave. He has been dead for twenty years. Wow, how time goes by so quickly. I looked around the cemetery and walked by many headstones covered with flowers, rocks doodles with sharpie pens, a family having a picnic, balloons, flags, stuffed animals…it was a beautiful sight to see so many flowers in one place, but also very humbling to be among so many living that were still trying to hold onto a piece of a loved one lost.

This past week as I passed cemetery after cemetery looking at all the adorned burial places, it made me think of a great thought from Og Mandino’s book, The Greatest Salesman in the World.

The scroll marked 5… LIVE EACH DAY AS IF IT IS YOUR LAST

There was a particular part  of this scroll that made me think of all those who have passed & even more grateful for today. “This day is all I have and these hours are now my eternityI greet this sunrise with cries of joy as a prisoner who is reprieved from death. I lift mine arms with thanks for this priceless gift of a new day. So too, I will beat upon my heart with gratitude as I consider all who greeted yesterday’s sunrise who are no longer with the living today.

It made me think of those who are not here any longer, who cannot greet a new day with gratitude, who cannot sit and enjoy a sunset, a child’s smile, a sip of the fresh, spring air. It makes me think of so many tiny things we take for granted each day. I only hope and pray that as I look at the stars tonight, gratitude will fill my heart, that I will sleep knowing that appreciation sang from my soul.

-Peace to you today. Thankful for this beautiful gift of a day.  -H

What do we take for granted…

This is a big question & one that only YOU can answer. I know for me, I definitely take for granted that I was blessed to be given a daughter to hold, raise and love. I take for granted the little things that I daily am able to do like walk, see, hear, taste yummy foods, hold my husband’s hand. I take for granted that my parents are still alive and that they are still together after 40+ years of marriage. I take for granted the freedoms of where I live. I take for granted that I can read. I take for granted that I can freely learn anything I want. I take for granted that I can speak clearly & share my thoughts and ideas. I take for granted creativity, time, talents…There are many things that I take for granted at different times. I think we all do, but I have had a couple of experiences recently that have made me see a little more clearly.

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This past school year I have been volunteering & helping with the schools “service club.” We offer this little club to kids who need a place to go, who want to do little projects for needy children in other countries. It’s been a wonderful experience. The woman who heads up the club was a great example to me of selflessness. At the beginning of the year she was going through her own personal crisis–her husband was in need of a kidney transplant. It was an emotional roller coaster each week watching her deal with her husband put on dialysis, trouble with doctors, having moments of hope that a sister was a good match & then learning she wasn’t emotionally the right match…on and on. She continued to come to our little service club despite everything going on at home. What I have not mentioned is that she also has physical challenges. She walks with a cane and hobbles in pain everywhere she goes. Her hip is displaced leaving one foot higher than the other, so she has to buy $50 shoes that help her walk.

I have watched this woman all year handle all these personal struggles with a positive attitude, a can do personality, a sheer determination to make it all work. Luckily, her husband  in the last couple months did have a family member who was a good match & the transplant was successful. yay!

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For me, a big life lesson. We had been planning an end of the year service club party that we planned to do at a nearby pavilion at the school. The pavilion was probably 50 feet from the parking lot. The week before the party she hobbled in to service club & looked at me. “I think we are going to have to do a different location for the party. It is just too far for me to walk.”

Later that same day I walked the path from my home, passed the pavilion [the one we had talked about] and kept walking. I thought long and hard & looked to the heavens and said, “thank you for the gift of being able to walk.”  I can’t even imagine being bed-ridden, being imprisoned in a body that can’t function how it is meant to. It was a huge lesson in taking something for granted.

This made me think of the following video. This past weekend my daughter had a friend over & this song was one of her favorites. She shared it with us & then we almost all cried when we read one of the comments below the video…When i hear this song.. i remember my whole family who died in a road accident 4 months ago ! RIP Mom,Dad & my bro ! I’m left alone here and i can’t find the way to live ::::””((((

We all sat silent thinking about how hard that would be. Needless to say, it gave us a greater appreciation that we have our families still with us. I think there are moments where we all take that for granted.

Watch this beautiful video. This guy’s fiancé was in a terrible accident that left her with brain damage & he has stayed with her trying to get her to a better place. What a journey of selfless love. Beautiful.

I hope and pray that you will think about the little and big things you may take for granted in your life & hold a space of appreciation and love.  Peace to you.  -H

Truly SEE what is wonderful

IMG_3693I have this sweet, old, aging dog who has lost his hearing and is losing his sight. He follows me around with his last sense of smell and a dim shadow that I know he catches once in awhile. It makes my heart break, but it also makes me see how grateful I am to still have him in my life. Each morning me and my dog Buddy, I call him my “Soul Buddy” stretch together in the downward dog yoga position at the top of my stairs. I gently touch his paw and he begins the stretch. It is a small, loving connection that we still have this loving bond. As I watch him maneuver the house I struggle to see him trip over an object that may not usually be in his natural path. I observe him barking even louder because his hearing is so faint. It is like he feels he is not being heard, so he needs to bark louder to ensure his voice. Although many things have changed for him, he still is able to find a warm sun spot, he still nuzzles his nose under my arm for a hug, he still does his very best to follow me & be my faithful companion & best friend.

As I watch him I am even more grateful for my own sight, my ability to see the details all around me. I watch him and admire his never ending, unconditional love for someone. I see his willing heart yearn to keep up when we go on a walk, even though his body is tired and ready to turn back. I see him sleep because he needs his rest.

What do I learn and see every day from my little Buddy…

Even though his life may be a struggle, he continues on, he does his best to keep up when things are tough, he loves without limits, he ventures outside & smells everything (because that is all he can do), he gives everything he has and then only asks… for a little love and a little rest.

Are you doing your best? Are you trying to SEE what is wonderful in your own life?? Are you pushing through the struggles? Are you venturing outside and smelling the roses, or taking in the beauty of a sunset? Are you loving those around you? Are you giving something of yourself? Are you doing a little better than yesterday? When you begin to truly SEE the wonderful things in your life, your life will begin to BE wonderful.

-Peace to you and my little Soul Buddy. xoxo

Be eternally grateful for those you LOVE

Last week I was texting everyone I know asking them to pray for my husband, their brother, friend, family…I was worried because my husband never gets sick, let alone, takes 3 days off work in a two week period. Something was wrong!! We had two sets of full blood work, two different doctors visit and an ultra sound. I have been worried at different points, but I was deeply worried and found myself crying and praying like crazy that my world would not be shaken in such a way.

We found out it was a painful pancreatitis attack, but after a week he was feeling like himself again. We both sat down  with our daughter and gave many prayers of thanks with an eternally grateful heart. I asked my husband if there was a point when he was really worried & he explained when he was walking into the hospital, he began to wonder if he would be walking through those doors on numerous occasions. It made me so grateful that the outcome was not worse.

Tough experiences, hard days, are those times when you really see things a little more clearly. You don’t take for granted the opportunity to talk on the phone with your best friend, to tell them things, to share everything. The experience definitely made me see how easy life could be taken & how quickly everything can change. It made me even more aware of how important he is in my life.

 

miss-you-so-much-jpgSTOP right this minute and try to imagine someone you would miss whole heartedly if they were gone—a best friend, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a child…imagine they were taken from you & you could not even pick up the phone to call them. How do you feel? I hope you felt something & wanted to say something to them. Call them right now. Write a note of love or thanks or gratitude to have them in your life.  Give them a big hug & tell them how much they mean to you.

 

 

img-thingAsk yourself—what would I miss about…& express your feelings to those you love and appreciate. Will you miss the perfume they wear, their smile that warms the room, the way they bake your favorite cookies, your long talks, their laugh, the way you feel when they are around, their whistle, the shoes they wear, the way they wear their hair, the memories you share, the laughter you enjoy together, the favorite trips together, singing in the car, the stories they tell… Life is too short to not take the time to share how you feel. It will be a win for everyone!!

 

heart-shape“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”  -John Milton

Now, within your heart, give a prayer of eternal gratitude that you have these beautiful people you cherish in your life. People are taken or become ill every day. Those you hold dear are within your reach, so reach out and let them know you love and appreciate them.

Peace to you. Sending you blessed wishes for you and those you love.