An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. "Why do you bother?" the old man scofted. "You're not saving enough to make a difference." The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. "Made a difference to that one," he said.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 364-Gifts Galore!

Yesterday may have been one of my busiest days giving days of the year.  I had several gifts that I had meant to give earlier but for one reason or another I just didn’t.  Also, I have been off work for over a week and I have been cleaning out every drawer, cabinet, closet and room of my home and some gifts from decluttering.

Several of my gifts came because of a tradition that was started when I was little and continues to this day.  When I was growing up mom, my sister and I would spend a day baking cookies and candies and then deliver the treats to friends and family.  Sometime around Christmas, even though we all can’t be together to bake, I still spend a day or two in the kitchen making tons of goodies for neighbors and friends.  This year on Day 363 I took cookies to a neighbor and then yesterday on Day 364 I took cookies to several friends, the post office and a nonprofit I support.  Gift #1.
The non-profit that I took cookies too is Housing Opportunities.  They provide housing for the homeless, help families prevent foreclosure; provide home ownership education and affordable rental housing in Northwest Indiana.  On Day 187 I donated toilet paper and on Day 238 I volunteered in their food pantry for the United Way ofPorter County’s Day of Caring.   Yesterday besides cookies, I dropped off new hats and mittens and toilet paper and paper towels.  They always seem to be running low and in need of the last two items. Gift #2.

I love the public library but my books to tend to always be overdue.  I finally finished, Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow and needed to return it. It was only about 10 days overdue!  I enjoyed the book though there was too much play by play of his college football games and the book got a little boring for me.  I am intrigued of how the media has treated Tim Tebow over the past year.  We have a guy who has, from what I can tell, done nothing but good things in his college and NFL career yet the media makes him out to be some terrible person just because he boldly talks about his Christian faith. Call me crazy, but I am not for sure what’s wrong with a guy who does a lot of charity work, goes on mission’s trips to help with an orphanage in the Philippines and is a role model for the upcoming generation, regardless of his faith these are all positive things that children of today don’t see much of.  You would think positive is positive and let us encourage him to continue to do good deeds. Okay enough of my soapbox!  I got a little sidetracked; while I was at the library I donated used books and magazines.  Gift #3.
Finally I dropped off a car load of unwanted items at Goodwill.  As a professional organizer, now is a good time to make a commitment to simplify the material things in your life.  Go through your home and keep only those things you love and you use on a regular basis.  The other things are physical and mental clutter which causes stress.  This donation was Gift #4. 

I want to wish everyone a safe and blessed New Year’s Eve.  Have a fun New Year Eve but please don’t drink and drive!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 362-My favorite Christmas card

Christmas cards are one of my favorite things about the holiday season.  With Facebook, e-cards and e-mail I am fortunate that many of my friends still take time to send Christmas cards. I enjoy the letters and family photos, especially from those I don’t see or talk too much throughout the year.

Out of all the Christmas cards I receive, there is one I always wait for and is my favorite. It is the Christmas letter from Coach Bullock and Mrs. Coach.  Coach Bullock was my cross country coach at Taylor University.  He is a spry older man who had an impact on me that few in my life have.  Yes, there are many people that come and go in our lives and many make an impact. But there are those special few that make such a significant impact in your life that no matter where you are, how old you are or what you do, they will always be there in your thoughts, be reflected in how you make decisions and in your heart. Coach Bullock is one of those people. He was there with me day 1 when I stepped on campus at Taylor University, he was there when I suffered heartbreaking injuries and he was there with me on my wedding day.

He wasn’t only an amazing coach but he was a great friend who expected a lot of us as runners and as Christian women.  I think what I liked most about Coach was that he never made a decision for us as a runners.  He always gave us choices, the choice to work hard or be lazy or the choice to run extra miles or quit for the day. He made you want to work hard without ever raising his voice or being negative. He was an encourager. I worked hard because the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint Coach.

My gift yesterday was a hand-written note to Coach Bullock and Mrs. Coach.  I didn’t send Christmas letters (only cards with photos) this year, but felt it necessary to write and send one to him.  He is getting up there in years and his health has deteriorated but through his Christmas letter, I know he is still the same old coach.  By sending him this letter I wanted him to know what I had been up to but also to let him know that I still think about him and that he is loved and remembered.
Over the years, who has impacted your life? Take a couple of minutes today to drop them a note to tell them thank you for the difference they made in your life.  It will brighten your day and theirs!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 96-We received a gift!

Today I am going back to Day 96.  This day renewed my faith in people, strangers in the world that also believe in random acts of kindness.

My husband and I were in his squad car going through the drive thru at the Dairy Queen, our favorite summer treat place! When we pulled up to the window to pay for our delicious ice cream treats the cashier said, “the lady in front of you paid for you!”  This was a shock to both of us.  My guess is it had something to do to the fact we were in his police car and believe it or not there are still people out there who love,  respect and know the sacrifices law enforcement officers make on a daily basis. 

We told the girl at the window we would like to pay for the person behind us. This was my/our gift for the day! She was a little puzzled but accepted our money.
As we drove away I wondered two things, one what did the person behind us say when they found out we had paid for their meal and two did they pay it forward or did the gift giving end there?

Next time you are in line at McDonalds, Starbucks or the Dairy Queen offer to pay for someone’s meal.  Random Acts of Kindness go along way and may times have a ripple effect.  Start a wave of giving today!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'm Still Giving Gifts!

Over the past couple of months people have been asking me if I am still giving gifts on a daily basis and the answer is YES!  I have kept up with my goal of giving at least one gift a day for every day this year.  I just haven't been blogging about it.

The blogging for me got a little overwhelming.  As summer came, increased responsibilities at work and more traveling, the blog was somthing I had trouble fitting into my day.

 It is my goal to go back and write about my favorite gifts over this past year and then start the new year with daily posts, some will be long and some will just be a sentence. I believe in what I am doing and it has changed my life for the better. 

Yesterday was day 336 and through Samaritan's Purse  I was able to give an orphan a month of loving care.  In more than 20 countires, Samaritan's Purse is caring for orphaned, abandoned, and destitute children by partnering with local ministries that meet their physical needs while sharing the hope of the Gospel.  A gift of $35 provided a child with a month of meals, lodging, healthcare and education.

I hope you have been giving through out the year and that it has made a difference in your life and the lives of others.

Thanks for taking the time to come visit my blog and look for more posts in the future.  In the meantime, take a minute and go back and read some of the gifts from the first part of the year.

Have a blessed day!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Days 94, 107, 108, 159, 162, 166, 170, 180, 198, 199, 200 and 205- No end in sight for these letters.

As of today, August 5th 109 police officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2011.  This is up 5% over last year at the same time.  If you have been following my blog you know that I have made a commitment to write every family who has lost a son, daughter, brother, sister, husband/wife in the line of duty.  Over these ten days I wrote 32 letters to the families of :

·         Office Schaberger

·         Officer Breitkopt

·         Deputy Justus

·         Deputy Stiltner

·         Officer Brown

·         Officer Gibson

·         Officer Dunn

·         Deputy Diana

·         Deputy Britton

·         Trooper Dobson

·         Game Warden Gorden

·         Officer Birkholz

·         Senior Officer Christian

·         Deputy Stein

·         Trooper Fotiou

·         Sgt. Chapin

·         Officer Schmidt

·         Officer Johnson

·         Officer Cooper

·         Trooper Werda

·         Deputy Sherri Jones

·         Officer Zapata

·         Deputy Taylor

·         Officer Kilcullen

·         Sgt. Vann

·         Officer Garton

·         Officer Phillips

·         Trooper Hunter

·         Officer Tirado

·         Captain Braden

·         Officer Hall

·         Sgt. Dulle

I began this committment at the beginning of the year and I am starting to see that even one hand written note from a stranger can make a big difference.  I have been deeply touched by the responses I have received from law enforcement agencies and families of those killed in the line of duty.  Many days we give gifts and we never know the impact of the gift we gave. And then other days we see and know that just one person can make a difference.

Monday, July 25, 2011

1 Making a Difference: Day 93-Susan G. Komen-Race for the Cure

1 Making a Difference: Day 93-Susan G. Komen-Race for the Cure: "This time last year I was training for one of the most physically challenging events I have participated in my lifetime. My mom and I not ..."

Day 93-Susan G. Komen-Race for the Cure

This time last year I was training for one of the most physically challenging events I have participated in my lifetime.  My mom and I not only trained but completed the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. We walked 60 miles in three days to show our support for breast cancer survivors, those that lost the battle and family and friends who have been affected by this disease.
If people actually thought about what they were signing up for they would never do it. Just think about, walk 60 miles in three days. That is equivalent to 2.3 marathons in three days.  My mom and I signed up without thinking because one of our dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. When someone you love is diagnosed with this terrible disease there are many ways to react and we reacted by doing something bold, something that showed her we with her through this battle she was about to embark on over the next year.
My friend has a happy ending.  Through various treatments her cancer is gone and she can say she is cancer FREE!  She walked this year in the Susan G. Komen-Race for the Cure. My gift on this day was a monetary donation in support of her walking team.
This year I won’t be walking the 60 miles, but I will be praying and sending e-mails of encouragement to those that are.  May God give them sunshine, cool breezes and no blisters!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 91- No e-mail, no texting but a hand written letter!

About a week ago I received a letter in the mail from a friend.  The receipt of this letter made my day.  Everyone today, even I, get so caught up in texting and e-mail that written letters are thoughts of the past even though they are, what I believe, more meaningful and personal.
One this day my gift was to several friends just letting them know what they mean to me, I appreciated their friendship and their support and thanks for them being in my life. 
I encourage you today to take five to ten minutes to write a letter of encouragement, thank you or “just saying hello” to someone that could use a little uplifting nudge in their day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 89-Donation to Kris Brown Family

I believe I was very lucky to grow up in a small, rural community in Indiana. A community that comes together in good times and in bad. On this date I made a donation to the Kris Brown family.  This is a family I have never met, but it was the right thing to do. 
Kris was in my sister’s class in high school and still lived in the community where I grew up, Versailles, Indiana.  In March his two young daughters were killed in a tragic car accident and his wife was left in critical condition.
It is on days like this my gift doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling, yet a feeling of sadness. After all of these months I am sure the family could still use your prayers.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

1 Making a Difference: Day 88- and 90-Thank God for Good Nurses

1 Making a Difference: Day 88- and 90-Thank God for Good Nurses: "At the end of March I had to have a minor surgery. I guess anytime one goes under the knife it can be a bit frightening. I am always ner..."

Day 88- and 90-Thank God for Good Nurses

At the end of March I had to have a minor surgery.  I guess anytime one goes under the knife it can be a bit frightening.  I am always nervous that I won’t wake up.  I saw this on an episode of Greys Anatomy once where a girl went in for minor surgery and never woke up.  That show is real....right?
We had to travel to Illinois for the surgery and arrived very early.  My husband was starving so we stopped at the Corner Bakery Café to grab a bite to eat. Well my husband got to eat and I had to sit staring at him since I was not allowed to have any food prior to my surgery.  I was starving. I hadn’t eaten anything since the prior evening and seeing coffee cakes, bagels, eggs and bacon made my mouth water. While we were there I saw this nice cellophane wrapped coffee cake.  I knew after my surgery I would be out of it for the rest of the day so I had to tackle my gift prior to going under the knife.  I bought the coffee cake and had decided to give it to the staff that would be involved in my surgery today.
Fast forward a couple of hours when I am lying in my hospital bed with my gown and shower cap on with an IV sticking out of my arm.  The nurse came in and I handed her the bag with coffee cake. She was so surprised and didn’t really know how to react.  I shared with her about my gift giving journey and today my gift was to her, the other nurses and doctors that would be with me during the day.  I was basically saying, “you are going to feel really bad if you killed me!” Just kidding, but the thought did cross my mind!
Two days later I would mail a gift card for the Corner Bakery Café to Nurse Jodi.  She was the nurse that was with me when I came out of surgery and stayed by my side until I went home.  She was so caring, compassionate and patient and took extremely good care of me.  The gift card was to say thanks and that I appreciated her kindness.
These were both fun gifts to give because they were unexpected, well deserved and probably to two women who often go unappreciated.  Take time in your life to say thank to those that go above and beyond to help you out, make you feel comfortable in your time sickness and pain. Hopefully you will be as lucky as I was to have wonderful nurses taking care of me.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

1 Making a Difference: Day 85- Craft Store

1 Making a Difference: Day 85- Craft Store: "One of my favorite things to do is to spoil my niece and nephews. On this week I was having a very stressful week at work. I had worked da..."

Day 85- Craft Store

One of my favorite things to do is to spoil my niece and nephews.  On this week I was having a very stressful week at work. I had worked day and night on a project that couldn’t end soon enough.  It was a Sunday morning and I was taking a couple of minutes to relax in my jammies.  My husband had gone to work and I heard the doorbell ring.  I typically don’t answer the door when my husband isn’t home so I ignored it.  The person at the door rang the bell several more times and I still didn’t answer.  I then get a phone call from my husband instructing me to answer the door.  I answer the door and there stood my five year old niece.  Poor thing had wanted me to answer the door so she could say, “Surprise, I took the bus!”  I had ruined the surpriseL  I knelt down, hugged her and started crying.  My niece and I have a special bond and her and my mom and sister had come to spend the day with me to cheer me up!
It was the best gift I could have ever received.  I quickly showered and we headed into town for lunch and some shopping.  We went to Michael’s, which my niece loves.  My gift for this day was to let her buy some crafts.  She was in heaven. I bought her ribbons, glitter glue, stickers, and some wooden items to paint.  I love that she is creative and artistic. Something I am not!
I have been blessed with an amazing family who knew exactly what I needed.  They sacrificed their Sunday, and spent 5 hours in a car to give me a gift!  They will probably never know how much this gift meant to me and I thank them from the bottom of my heart!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 83- Thank you to ISP Chaplain

As a wife a of an Indiana State Trooper there isn’t a day that my husband walks out the door to go on duty that I know he may never return.  On this day my husband received a postcard in the mail from his district chaplain.  The postcard stated “Each day I select a person from Lowell District 13 and pray for them. Today I have prayed for you. I have prayed for your wisdom, health, family and for you to be safe. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you His peace.”
I was so touched by this letter.  My heart smiled knowing that there are always many people praying for the safety of my husband on a daily basis.  My gift today was a letter back to the ISP Chaplain letting him know that I was thankful he prays for my husband and that I am grateful for the job he does. Take time to thank those that are praying for and watching out for your loved ones.  Saying THANK YOU is one of the simplest yet most meaningful gifts we can give.

Day 82-Red Cross Japan

My heart was devastated when I heard and saw all the pictures from what was happening in Japan.  The American Red Cross is an organization I have supported over the years and I believe they provide invaluable services to victims of various catastrophes around the world.  On this day, I gave a gift to the American Red Cross to support their efforts in Japan.  The Red  Cross belongs to a global humanitarian network of 13 million volunteers uniquely positioned to save lives and provide assistance to those affected by emergencies, such as the earthquake and tsunami in the countries across the Pacific.  To learn more about the Red Cross please visit

Day 81-Chief Justice Shepard

I am a pretty social person and love to attend various speaker events that are in our community. On this date the Kiwanis were hosting Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall Sheppard at our weekly meeting. We wanted a packed house so we were encouraged to invite a guest. Since I love the law I knew this was a rare opportunity to hear a Chief Justice speak in such an intimate environment.  On this day my gift was to a friend of my husband’s and an acquaintance to me. He is an attorney and I thought he might enjoy hearing the Chief Justice speak.  It is out of my comfort zone to ask people that I hardly know to attend an event with me, but I thought this would be a great gift. He was excited about the opportunity and graciously accepted my offer to come hear the Chief Justice Speak. My gift giving journey is teaching me to go outside my network, think of others and get out of my comfort zone. Have you given a gift lately that has challenged you to step outside your comfort zone?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 75, 76, 122 and 125-Dinners and Desserts

I think I have mentioned in prior post I am not the best cook, nor am I the main cook in our household, my husband has that role and does it much better than I do.  I am combining a couple of days together because they all have to do with food and me cooking or baking…YIKES!
On Day 75 I prepared and took a meal over to one of my friends for her family. Her youngest son was having surgery and a group of women got together to make sure all her meals were covered for the week. I was a bit nervous about preparing the dinner.  Sure I have people to our home for dinner, but I don’t ever recall making something to take to another family. My mom use to do this all time when I was growing up. It seemed like she was cooking and taking meals to people on a weekly basis, but the difference is she is a great cook I am not.  I called my mom for advice, I needed something easy and that kids would like.  I ended up making homemade BBQ, Mac and cheese, a veggie tray and my favorite… cupcakes!  According to my friend the dinner was a hit and no one got sick, which the latter was my goal.
On Day 76 I took cupcakes to the three neighbor boys across the street.  I had baked way too many cupcakes on Day 75 and needed them out of the house. I love the boys across the street because they are growing boys and always welcome my food, or at least I think they do!
On Day 122 and 125 I actually cooked dinner for my husband.  I have been working on a big project at work and during the past two months my husband did all the cooking and kept me fed. If it wasn’t for him I may have starved in my office. He is so supportive of my job and the long hours I must work sometimes.  Since my project is over I have more time to cook and even though my husband is the better cook he enjoys the break when I cook for him!
The gift on Day 75 was really out of my comfort zone. It was something I wanted to avoid and not do. I was actually nervous about cooking the meal and wondering if they would like it and eat it. And then I realized, the gift wasn’t about the food it was about helping out a friend and I am sure if they hadn’t liked the food they still would have been grateful for the thought and that I tried to help instead of sitting on the sidelines letting someone else do the work. I challenge you today to look for an opportunity to give a gift that will stretch you out of your comfort zone. Doing things that make us uncomfortable is how we learn and how we get over our fears. Now that I have made one meal it is my hope I will have the opportunity to make more meals in the future.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 71, 78 and 99- Calls with Emily

Time is something that we all could use more of and I am sure if there were 26 hours in a day we would be wishing for 28.  Lately I feel like my days are full from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. To be honest I like life this way. I get bored easily so the more I am doing the better I feel.  I think on some days my husband would disagree since my over commitment at times can cause me to get stressed and a bit overwhelmed. Usually this subsides and I am back to committing myself to more projects.  I heard someone say the other day at a meeting, “If you want something done, ask a busy person!” I think this is so true.
Anyway enough of my ranting about being busy.  Sundays are a day to relax and catch-up before the beginning of the new week but typically my Sundays are just as busy as any other day of the week.  My gift on these days was time spent talking with my friend Emily. It is a gift to both of us. Even though if it seems like I don’t have time, I always try and make time for our talks. It is a great motivating start to my week.
 We are accountability partners and challenging each other to be the best people we can be.  We also discuss a book, this month, You Were Made for More by Jim Cymbala.  Great book, here is an excerpt from the back cover, “Jim Cymbala believes that anyone who wonders whether there is something more to life is on the right track. God does have more.  Whether you come from the bottom, the top, or the middle rungs of our society, Jim Cymbala knows that God can transform your life. You can become remarkable for the peace and joy you display.  Equip yourself to pursue the “more” God has for you.”
If you don’t have an accountability partner or a friend that is constantly challenging you in life, find one.  We all need a cheerleader and a coach to make sure we are living our best life!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 68-, 73, 77, 80, 86 and 87-Letters to LEO Familes

As a wife of a police officer it makes me sad and scares me at the same time that so many officers have been killed in the line of duty this year. An overwhelming amount of officers this year have been shot. If you have read my early posts you will know I made a commitment to write letters to every family of a law enforcement officer who was killed in the line of duty. On days 68, 73, 77, 80, 86 and 87 I wrote letters to the following families:  California Highway Patrol Officer Adams, ICE Special Agent Zapata, Uniontown PD Captain Stiles, San Carols Apache Tribal Officer Peru, Stow City Police Officer Bastock, ST. Rosenthal, Deputy Marshall Hotsinpiler, Detective John Falcone, Officer Crawford, Officer Pounds, Officer McDonough, Park Ranger Nickel, Officer Thornton, Park Ranger Julie Weir, Deputy Sheriff Wright, Officer Sheridan, Officer Newman and Deputy Cammon.

I have been delighted that since I have been sending these letters I have received several letters back from either the officer’s agency or the family.  Their letters have touched my heart and have put them in my “Making a Difference” file folder. I started this file folder several years because I wanted a file to look through that would make me smile when I was having a bad day. It is a file to remind me that many days when I am feeling sorry for myself that others have it way worse than I do. It is a file filled with the kindest thank you notes from people I have help and it reminds me that one person can make a difference.

Being married to a police officer and being a former officer myself I understand the dangers and sacrifices men and women of law enforcement make on a daily basis.  I have seen and heard of heroic acts these brave officers have performed that most turn and run the other way than risk their life for another human being.  One of the letters I wrote was to Detective John Falcone’s family. This detective died to save a 3-year child. Here is his story:

“Detective John Falcone was shot and killed after responding to a shot fired call on Main Street. He was just over a block away when he received the call and when he arrived at the scene he encountered a man holding a 3-year-old child and waving a gun. The suspect fled, still holding the child, with Officer Falcone in pursuit.
Detective Falcone was able to rescue the child from the man and handed the child to a bystander before engaging in a struggle with the suspect as other officers arrived at the scene. During the struggle Officer Falcone was fatally shot in the head before the man committed suicide. The subject's wife was found in a nearby car with a fatal gunshot wound to the head. Detective Falcone had served with the Poughkeepsie Police Department for 18 years. He is survived by his parents. Detective Falcone was posthumously promoted to Detective by the Poughkeepsie Chief of Police.”

Please remember your law enforcement officers in your prayers and thank an officer the next time you see one.  To learn more about the officers on today’s blog go to

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 67-Taking care of the pets

Growing up as a child I had all kinds of pets. My first pet was a kitten named Sugar Babies, and then I had a dog Daisy, a turtle Norman, a bird Kiwi and too many rabbits to name, but my favorite was Thumper or was it Oreo? 
The first four years of our marriage Mike and I didn’t have a pet and if I would have had my way we never would have owned a pet, but my husband had other plans.
Since he was a child he not only dreamed about being a police officer, but a K-9 handler. He loved dogs but when he graduated from the police academy in 2000 the Indiana State Police did not have a K-9 program.  Around 2006 a new Superintendent, a former K-9 handler, started a K-9 program and my husband was ecstatic. He had an opportunity to finally fulfill his dream. It would be a lot of hard work, time and dedication.  He applied for the position and in September 2006 he left for 17 weeks for K-9 training.  Prior to him going to training we had a deal. This was his dog, not mine and I wouldn’t be responsible for feeding, bathing or really anything that had to with the care of the dog. And to this day my husband kept this commitment he made to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this dog, Boss, and he is a part of our family. If I am outside he is right beside me. If Mike is gone I feed and let Boss out to go potty, but 90% of the time Boss is my husband’s responsibility.
On this day, actually for this entire week, my husband was going to be gone to training so I would be in charge of the pets. I fed Boss twice a day, let him out to go potty every couple of hours and played with him. Besides Boss my husband also has four Piranhas in one tank and then another tank that has a fish my niece bought that will not die. The fish are in the basement and I actually forgot to feed them for a couple of days. Yikes! My husband would have not been happy to come home to dead Piranhas. He has been growing these fish for months.
Anyways, I feel in life, especially for the people we live with and love there are sometimes things we don’t want to do but since we love the ones we share a home with we need to help out when an opportunity presents itself.
I am very proud of my husband and Boss. My husband has committed countless hours to caring and training Boss. Boss isn’t just one of the best K-9’s in the region, but in the state. To see one of Boss’s tricks click on the video below. Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 64-Three Gifts

On this day I gave several gifts.  My first gift was to my husband. He was getting ready to leave for a week of training so I picked up his favorite snacks at the store as a surprise for his trip. I know how he likes to have munchies in his hotel room, just like I do!
My second gift of the day was creating the facebook page the Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis Club. I recently joined this organization and noticed they didn’t have a facebook page. I thought this might be a great way to get the word out about the good things this organization is doing for the community, but also use it as a way to thank our donors and weekly guest speakers. I approached several members in the group and they thought it was a great idea.  Many times we see a need but avoid stepping up and taking action.  If you have the time and know that you can help, step up and volunteer.
My third gift for the day was attending an event for The Caring Place. I have talked about The Caring Place on several prior posts. They are an organization in my community that provides a variety of support services, including shelter for victims of domestic violence. Since this is an organization I believe in, I try to support any events and fundraisers they organize.  On this date I attended an event which featured speaker and bestselling author Betty Mahmoody.  She wrote the book Not Without My Daughter, which was later made into film featuring Sally Field. If you have not read the book or seen the movie, I highly recommend both.  I believe in not only supporting organizations financially, but attending events they host. I have almost always found I probably benefit more from the information I receive at the event then the organization does by me attending.  Betty Mahmoody made me believe sometimes the impossible is possible. She talked about her life in Iran and the lengths she went to keep her daughter. It was a story of courage, faith and hope….something we all can use a little more of in our daily lives.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 63-Make-A-Wish Foundation

My gift started with a gift that I had received from a friend, a 30% off coupon for Old Navy. I was in need; okay more of a want, of new spring clothes. I am not what you would call a Fashionista, but more of a Frugalista!  I don’t need a designer label and to spend $100 on a pair of jeans when I can go to Old Navy, find something trendy and pay a reasonable price.
As I entered Old Navy I was greeted by a friendly lady sitting at a table obviously promoting an organization.  Prior to my gift giving mission I would usually avoid these tables and try not to make eye contact with anyone who might be selling or promoting something (I am sure you have probably done the same thing), but today was different. I actually walked over to the lady and asked what she was promoting. I was hoping this was my opportunity to give a gift and it was.  The young lady worked for Make-A-Wish Foundation and was collecting donations.  I shared with the young lady that my cousin had benefited from a Wish many years ago and I had a friend from college whose family was selected as a Make- A-Wish family.  I gave her a donation and wished her good luck!
About a month after making my donation my friend and her family went on their Wish to Walt Disney World. My friend is a fellow blogger and blogged about what an impact this experience had on their family. I sat at my computer crying as I read about their trip. What an amazing gift this organization has given a family and a little precious boy who has been through so much.   To hear firsthand about their personal Wish experience you can read her blog at
After reading my friend’s blog I am sure you will be touched like I was and more than happy to donate to this organization when given the opportunity. To learn more about Make-A-Wish Foundation and how to support this wonderful organization visit

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 61- Lunch, Day 72-Dinner and Coffee and Day 74-Breakfast

These days I gave the gift of time to my friends.  On Day 61 I had and paid for lunch with some old friends.  On Day 72 I met one of my dear friends for dinner and then we went out for hot chocolate and coffee. And on Day 74 I went out and paid for breakfast with a new friend.
Meeting friends for meals is one of my favorite gifts to give and receive. I usually try to pay if they let because then I feel like it is a real gift, but I am learning through this process that time and being there for my friends is just as important as paying or buying them something.  These gifts always give me something to look forward to and I try to make a conscious effort to stay in touch and go out with friends as often as I can.  With everyone living such busy lives these days I think it is easy to make excuses to not make time for friends. I encourage you to pick up the phone and schedule a meal with a friend you have been meaning to get together with for the past couple of months. It will do you both a world of good!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 60 and Day 62- Gum and a Phone Call

On a daily basis we are given the opportunity to help and give gifts to others. It is the choices we constantly make to either ignore those opportunities or take advantage of the situation to help someone in need.  My gifts for Day 60 and Day 62 both occurred while I was traveling to Minnesota.
My first opportunity to give came on my flight to Minneapolis.  As the plane started its decent I noticed the young gentleman (probably 10-12 years old) across the aisle was holding his ears and he seemed to be in great deal of pain.  His father flagged down a flight attendant asking what he should do.  The flight attendant yells, “Does anyone have any gum?”  As I started digging through my backpack searching for gum I looked around to the other passengers to see if they were looking also. I was disappointed, but not surprised no one else seemed to care. I found and handed the flight attendant a pack of gum. She smiled and the father nodded his head and said, “Gracias.”   He spoke very little English but seemed very grateful.  His son started to chew gum and by his facial expression it appeared his ears popped and were feeling much better.
On Day 62 as I was waiting at Midway Airport for the bus back to Indiana I noticed the lady sitting next to me was on the phone but having trouble communicating with the person on the other end.  After she hung up the phone she started to ask me questions, but I couldn’t understand a word she was saying, I was frustrated that we didn’t speak the same language.  Her phone then rang again, she answered it and without saying a word to me just handed me the phone!  I was a bit shocked, but smiled and said, “Hello?”  The gentleman on the other end spoke very broken English, but I could make out bits and pieces of the conversation and one thing was very clear, he was at O’Hare Airport looking for the lady next to me when he should have been at Midway Airport.  I tried to explain to him he was at the wrong airport and if he made his way to Midway he would need to go to arrivals and his friend would be waiting at Door #4.  I had to get on my bus before the lady was picked up so I hope she made it where she was going safely.
I liked these gifts because they weren’t part of my plan and I didn’t go searching for a way to help someone. But when the opportunity presented itself I choose to help instead of ignore the situation hoping it would go away. I hope the next time you are presented with an opportunity to help a stranger you choose to step out of your comfort zone and lend a hand.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 58-Massage and Tip

On this day I gave myself a much needed gift.  If you have been following my blog you know I took a somewhat adventurous trip to Mexico.  On one of our adventure we went riding ATV’s through the Mexican Jungle and boy did I mess up my neck.  After I returned from the trip I went to see my chiropractor and he told me I had whiplash. I was in a lot of pain and he recommended a massage.
I have a great massage therapist that came to my home and gave me a 90 minute massage focusing on my neck, and shoulders. After she was finished I felt like twenty pounds had been lifted off my shoulders.  I gave her a nice tip (gift #@2) for her willingness to stay beyond the original 60 minutes I had scheduled. 
I find it difficult sometimes to find time to take care of myself. There always seems s to be more important things I should be doing with my time.   This is something that is a work in progress for me but I need to realize when I do find time to renew myself and relax I can be more open and patient with others. Have you made time to take care of yourself today? 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 56 & 57- Birthday Gifts

Some of my favorite memories as a child are the wonderful birthday parties my parents would throw for me each year.  I loved having all my friends over to the house  having a special cake designed and decorated just for me and a special gift of something I had been hoping for probably since Christmas.  
I also enjoy celebrating others birthday. I like looking for that gift I know the receiver will just love.  On day 56 my gift was money to my brother-in-law for his birthday. I really hate giving money or gift cards for gifts because I feel they are so impersonal, but sometimes it is the easiest and most appreciated gift.  My gift on day 57 was to my niece. She loves all the princesses and Disney movies. My gift theme for here was Tangled. I got her the Tangled Barbie with horse and prince, a miniature Tangle doll and the Tangled booked.  She also loves to color and told me the week prior she needed a new coloring book. She loves animals so I found her a Discovery animal coloring book and then bought the Crayon Tower that came with 150 crayons.  I would have loved this crayon tower as a child. 
Also on day 57 I gave gifts to my mom, sister and niece from our trip to Mexico.  Whenever one of us travels we always bring each other back a memento from the trip. It is a tradition we started many years ago and has continued to this day.
Do you love celebrating birthdays? Do you have any fun birthday gifts you like to give?  Do you bring back gifts for any family members when you travel?  I would love to hear ideas others have and how you celebrate birthdays!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 55-Ride to School

Today was a fun gift for me to give, but it was a gift that happened because of a bad situation. One of my friends little boy was taken to the emergency room late the prior night. I found this out through facebook so I sent my friend a text to see if there was anything I could do to help.  She asked me if it would be possible to go pick her other son up at her parents in the morning and take him to school.  She had her hands full as did her parents.  I graciously accepted and was more than happy to give this gift that would help her family out.  As a bonus for me I got to spend some time with her little two year girl who is just adorable. On our way to school the topic of conversation was Boss, my husband’s K-9 partner. Kids just love him and always have tons of questions about him. I am glad my friend’s child had paid attention because even though he is in first grade he knew exactly where I needed to pull in to drop him off and which door he needed to go in. 
How many times do you see a need or where someone could use an extra hand and ignored it or tried to justify you are too busy to help? I have been guilty of this in the past but I am trying to change to old ways. It is sometimes easier written than actually taking action, but I am trying.  It is easy to make excuses and come up with laundry lists of why we can’t help. Yes, sometimes it is just not possible to help out, but I think we need to start distinguishing the difference between we can’t verses we won’t.  I think once we make the conscious decision to help we open up the door to grow friendships and let people know we are someone they can count on for not only the fun times but the difficult times also. That is the kind of friend I want to be!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 53, 54 and 66-Referrals

I apologize that I have gotten a bit behind on my blogging lately.  Every year about this time I start a large project at work that I work on for about two months working early mornings, late nights and weekends. After sitting in front of a computer from morning  until night  the last thing I have felt like doing is blogging.  I hope to catch up by combining some of my days that have similar gifts.  Today I am writing about days 53, 54 and 66. 
As a small business owner I understand the importance of networking and referrals.  Due to having a full time job, I am limited to working with organizing clients in the evenings and mainly on weekends.  Over the past several months I have had numerous potential clients contact me wanting my services and I didn’t have time to take on their projects. Instead of just saying no, I can’t help, I located other professional organizers in their area and then contacted the organizer and passed along the referral. This gift was both to the customers I couldn’t help and to my competition. 
How many times have you contacted a business and never received a return call? Or how many times were you told by a company they couldn’t help you. I have had this happen on many occasions and I know I will never contact that business again.  If you are a small business owner, provide a gift to people you are unable to assist and refer them to someone that can.  Networking is how many small businesses receive customers. I almost always know if I don’t offer a particular service I know someone that does.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 52-Bob Evans (February 21st)

I am not sure why, but I am having trouble writing a blog for this day.  I have started and stopped it about 10 times today and seem to be having writers block.  My gift for this day was to treat my friend and her son to breakfast at Bob Evans.  It was her day off and I was happy she chose to spend her morning with me. I had gift cards left over from Christmas so I figured I could use them on this day to pay for our breakfast. My friend was gracious for the free meal and she had leftovers for her son for lunch.  I use to be stingy with my gift cards, trying to make them last as long as I could and only using them for myself.  But since my giving challenge has started I find it much easier to use up my gift cards on other people. It is funny how the more I give, the more I want to give and the more opportunities I to find to give. Have you given a gift today?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 51-Run 2 Remember (February 20th)

If you have read any of my prior posts you will know that I have a soft spot for families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.  I think one of my callings in life is to be there to provide support and comfort to these family members.  I don’t know if feel like it is my duty to support the families; I mean, their son, daughter, wife, husband, brother, sister died protecting us and keeping us safe.  I think I also do it, because God forbid something ever happen to my husband on duty, I would hope someone, even people I don’t know, would be there to support me.
For the past two years I have participated with a group of friends in the Chicago 5k Run to Remember. It is an event sponsored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation provides support and assistance to the families of Chicago Police Officers who were killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty.  It is a day not only to have fun with friends and get a little exercise along the lakeshore, but it is a way to show our support to the families.
My gift for this day was to sign up and make my contribution to participate for the third year in a row in the Run 2 Remember.
If you are a runner or walker in the Chicago area I encourage you to come out and join us for this event. More information can be found at