Because People-Love

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Every single day I’m reminded how beautiful my life really is. But every single day I’m also reminded how hard life can be. And hard times feel even harder during the holidays. My dear friend, Sister Johnice at the Response to Love Center in Buffalo, NY helps take care of people during hard times. And honestly? It’s so easy to make a difference. Way too easy to sit back and do nothing. This time of year wipes out the food pantry at the center. And when clients do come in, many of them have no winter gloves. Over the next few weeks I’ll be collecting canned food and winter gloves for adults.

If you’re a Buffalo local, would you consider adding to my Canned Food & Winter Gloves Collection? I’d love to have you join me.

Wondering how I got connected to the RTLC? Diapers. It was through Diapers. Read more here…

It’s the Little Things that Make a Wonderful Life

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“What if you woke up one day and it turned out your whole life was only a dream?”

My older daughter Casey shared this quote with me the other day. She read it somewhere recently and it really spoke to her.

As she and I went back and forth about the craziness of this concept and how it would feel and what it would be like, what struck me the most was this: She said she’d be devastated. Because– and I quote, “I have a pretty damn good life.”

Woah.

I was not expecting that.

I was not expecting that, given our family history– her father’s death when she was just a baby, my recent divorce and all of the preceding circumstances, and some of her own personal struggles in the past– I just wasn’t expecting to hear that she loves her life so much.

On sleepless nights, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about everything I haven’t been able to give my kids (read: an intact happy family) and the variety of loss they’ve experienced in their lives. I think as parents, especially, we tend to think it’s all much more complicated than it really is. And although at times my kids do feel the rough edges of brokenness rub up against them, it’s not how they define themselves or how they view their lives as a whole. There are tons of little things that give them so much happiness and make them feel loved.

And as it turns out, it’s the little things that make life wonderful, even when the very big things don’t measure up.

My daughter’s remark got me thinking. There are really only a few things any us of need to feel like it’s a pretty wonderful life after all. And the more people I talk to, the more I’m convinced that especially during the Christmas season, we cannot be reminded of this enough.

So what exactly makes the short list?  

Love that makes us feel secure

Feeling accepted for who we really are

A passion that lights us up

Lots of laughter

Being surrounded by people who genuinely like us

These are the things that make a wonderful life. It isn’t about creating an atmosphere of perfection. We never could anyway. It’s about tons of love, grace, and laughter. It’s about really connecting with each other. It’s about pursuing things that speak to our souls and set our hearts on fire. It’s about friends that feel like family and family that feels like friends.

George Bailey would’ve lassoed the moon for Mary. But even that was too much.

Mary toasted her friends simply by wishing them this~

“Bread. That this house may never know hunger.

Salt. That life may always have flavor.”

To which George added, “And wine! That joy and prosperity may reign forever!”

And in the end, it’s the bread, salt, and wine of life. The little things that make it wonderful, even when the big things may not be perfect.

Cheers to the little things~

And cheers to a truly wonderful life.

A Kindness Countdown to Christmas

Somehow I’m always a week or two late with this post– but not this year! Thanks to Snovember and all of those days we were trapped inside, The Kindness Countdown to Christmas is happening right on time! I asked my girls if they were up for this again and got a resounding YES! We hope you decide to join us for what ends up being a very fun and thoughtful way to count down the Christmas season.

Every year I have such mixed emotions about the holidays. Of course I want to enjoy them with my kids and family and friends, but sometimes there’s a sticky gap between expectation and experience. The busyness and exhaustion of the season and all that it requires gets all jumbled up with the ghosts of Christmas past, loss and grief (December was the month I lost my first husband…and then buried him on New Year’s Eve), stress over broken and tricky relationships…and the holidays can feel like The Hot Mess Express. Bleh. Skip to January. PLEASE?

And I regret this. I hate it, actually. Because in the deepest parts of my heart and soul,   Christmas is all about the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Advent, the 25 days leading up to the celebration of the birth of Christ, represents the darkening of winter and the whole world as it awaits a savior. A yearning. A recognizing of the ache for something more that what this life has to offer. And then He came. On a glorious star-filled night. And nothing would ever be the same. Including my life. Surely, this is a reason to celebrate, rather than dread.

So. A few years ago I stumbled upon a simple, fun and creative way to help nurture more happiness during December. I will forever wish I had thought of this myself, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… so it’s on! 25 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. Yep. Everyday in December, the girls and I perform a random act of kindness accompanied by a card that says, “You’ve been RACK’ed”. The card has an explanation of what we are doing and why. The sentiments are small–so far they’ve included candy, fun trinkets (think Target dollar aisle) and $5 Tim Horton’s gift cards, paying for the car behind us in a drive-thru, doing little favors and chores for neighbors…But the return for us has been priceless. It feels good to give, but it feels even better to see how happy it makes the other person. Kindness. Just. Feels. Good.

In a season when children (and adults) spend a lot of time thinking about their own wish lists, intentionally planning a daily way to think of others is now a precious pause we take. I know there will be days we accidentally forget, but that means we get to do it twice the next day. And right from the start of this, my kids caught the concept: Kindness matters. Even teeny tiny acts of kindness matter. And what if the people we surprise decide to do it too?  Now we’re part of a kindness chain. And what if we do it every day, instead of just at Christmas time? Then what? Could we change our little part of the world with our little random acts of Christmas kindness? Well actually, I think we can.

And in reality, we ARE part of a kindness chain. It started with a baby born 2000 years ago. In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, may my exhaustion come from kindness. I will gladly work full-time to keep that spirit alive in my heart and in my family.

It’s perfect timing to participate! Click here to find the link for free printable cards.