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.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Giving JELL-O?

I was recently asked to speak on organizing for the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at Liberty Bible Church in Chesterton, IN.  I was working with the coordinator and we had negotiated and finalized my speaking fee.  Several weeks later, I had an idea.  What if the MOPS group could help me on a giving project I was working on?  What better way to spread a message, share about giving and get others involved.
For the past several years I have been volunteering for 500 Turkeys.  500 Turkeys is an annual event where hundreds of individuals, businesses and churches collect food and volunteer with a goal of providing families in the community with a Thanksgiving meal.  It takes tons of people collecting all the wonderful foods that make up the Thanksgiving meal.  500 Turkeys collects mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, green beans, carrots, yams, cranberries, corn bread mix, brownie mix, boxed JELL-O, salt and pepper and roasting pan.

This year I signed up to collect 200 boxes of JELL-O.  Every time I go to the store I pick up ten boxes in hopes of getting to 200!  There are no rules on how to collect the items so I thought what if the MOPS group could help me get to 200 faster? I emailed the coordinator and asked if the group would be willing to collect 50 boxes of JELL-O. If so, I would waive my speaking fee.  They enthusiastically accepted my challenge. I was so excited!  Number one, I didn’t have to collect all 200 myself, and number 2 I was spreading the message of 500 Turkeys and getting others involved in giving.  1 Making a Difference in action!
I showed up the morning of the speaking event and the women of the Liberty Bible Church MOPS group did not disappoint.  They had taken the challenge seriously.  They didn’t collect 50 boxes of JELL-O, but 115!  I was so grateful for their generosity. 

I go back to my mission of this blog and really my life.  It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make a difference.  One box of JELL-O that cost between $.50-$1.00 will make it into a box along with other Thanksgiving staples that will end up on a family in needs table at Thanksgiving.  It will be probably the one thing that everyone will eat and enjoy.  One little box of JELL-O will impact, most likely, a family of four or more.  One little box of JELL-O making a difference and helping to feed a family on Thanksgiving.
 As I was walking out to my car with all the JELL-O and thinking about 500 Turkeys and what the women of the MOPS group did, one of my favorite quotes popped in my head:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead.

I know I have said it often and will keep saying it but it doesn’t take much to make a difference!
To learn more about 500 Turkeys or to get involved go to

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Being Grateful

October 19, 2007 I graduated for the police academy. On that day my sister gave me a journal with an inscription on the front that said, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Inside she wrote a note to me that I should take a couple of minutes every day to write down what I’m grateful for. 
My first journal entry was on October 23, 2007.  It read, “My goals are simple, I will always be painfully honest, works as hard as I can, learn as much as I can and hopefully make a difference in people’s lives.  (This is the creed of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)  Last night was Bob’s funeral. It was very sad to see such a great man, gone to early in life.  Today I am grateful for Bob being in our life and the opportunity to have known him and call him a friend.”
Bob built Mike and I’s first two homes.  He was our builder, but through the process became our friend.  Unfortunately while building our second home he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away shortly after.  It’s funny that after all these years I still walk through our home and Bob’s touch in different places and smile.  We have an archway from the reading room to the living room that was his idea.  Our laundry room is upstairs, which I was convinced it would leak and make a huge mess, but he talked us into it. Boy was that a great decision. No more carrying clothes up and down to flights of stairs.  He worked our kitchen out perfectly so I could have my double oven.  He suggested pocket doors in several places to save space. And his writings are still on some of the concrete outside.  I see the writings when I’m planting flowers and just smile.

We miss Bob and sometimes talk about him as if he is still living down the road and may pop in and see us. I loved seeing that grey truck pull up in the driveway and his smiling face at the door.  He always had an idea or was trying to solve a problem we threw his way.
My original intent for this post was to talk about being grateful during times of trouble. Being grateful when there is something you could be complaining about. Being positive about a situation when most people would look at the negative. 

My intent for this post was to write about how I received word from my dentist today that I had an abscess tooth.  I was bummed about the news, but then immediately saw the good.  I was in Rhode Island and Connecticut on work travel last week.  The first night of my travels I woke up with a terrible pain in my tooth.  I took two ibuprofens and tried to go to sleep. When that didn’t help I took another and then got a warm, wet washcloth, laid it on the tooth that was hurting and applied pressure. Somehow I fell asleep and for the remainder of the trip my tooth never hurt.  I have talked to several people that have had an abscess tooth and they needed immediate attention from their dentist.  I’m grateful the pain went away, I was able to have a productive trip and I’ll be able to get this issue taken care of by my home doctor. 
Anyways, I went to write this down in my gratitude journal and realized my first entry was six years ago yesterday and I wanted to share with you about my friend Bob.  In all the time I knew Bob, even through all his cancer treatments, I don’t think I ever heard him complain once.  There is always two ways we can look at a situation, I’m really trying to focus on the positive. It’s funny when we focus on the positive, the thing that could have gotten us down doesn’t seem all that bad in the grand scheme of things and is nothing compared to what others are going through. 

Be positive, find good in everything and always be grateful.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wal-Mart- An endless sea of opportunity for giving

If you have ever stopped and looked around at Wal-mart there is an endless sea of opportunity for random acts of kindness and to give to others.  As soon as you walk in the door there is an opportunity to be polite, smile, say thank you for your cart and wish the greeter a great day.  I have found most of the time people ignore the greeters and don’t treat them well. 
So imagine this…Wal-mart on a Saturday morning.  Checkout lines filled with people, the parking lot busy with cars and people coming and going just minding their own business.  I myself was on a mission to get out of the store as quickly as possible and continue on my day.

As I was exiting the store, I noticed an elderly lady getting out of a mini-van.  After exiting the van she was struggling to move.  She would start to move forward, but it was as if she couldn’t lift her legs.  Mind you this is going on as tens of people past this lady by.  I myself am just standing and staring.  It was as if I knew I needed to help, but I was having an internal battle to help or not to help.  I am a bit ashamed that I even had to think about it, but I have found that sometimes I’m embarrassed to ask people if they need assistance as talking to a total stranger is stepping out of my normal comfort zone.
After standing there for a couple of seconds and being disappointed in myself and others, I parked my cart and approached the lady.  I said, “Mam, do you need some help?” 

She sheepish looked up at me and said, “Yes I do. I just can’t seem to lift my feet. “
I held up my arm and she grabbed a hold.  She just needed a little support. I slowly walked beside her until we reached the breezeway.  She said this was a good place to stop and would wait for her daughter to assist the rest of the way. 

The random act of kindness took me about a minute. One minute out of my life to assist another human being.   As I was heading back to my car, someone laid on the horn.  It scared me a bit and I jumped a little.  Then I looked in the mini-van and a lady was giving me a big wave and mouthed…THANK YOU!
I waived back and kept walking to my car with a big smile on my face.  I make the commitment today to always stop to help those struggling to walk and lend an arm.  Will you do the same?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Between Me and You Part II

It is funny how life turns out, surprises me with little things that constantly make me smile and if I’m open puts me in the path of people I need to meet.  I encourage you to go back and read Between Me and You Part I as it will give you the history to this story.

For mother’s day this past year or heck maybe it was 2011, I can’t remember, my sister and I gave my mom the Between Me and You-Mom journal.  This journal is broken out into several sections and asks questions about:

·         When You Were a Kid

·         Your Youth

·         My Dad

·         What About Me

·         You, Now

·         Other Stuff

 The journal was a way for my mom to document our lives together and a keepsake I will always have long after she is gone and hopefully be able to pass down to my children someday.

This year for Christmas my mom gave the jfilled in ournals back to my sister and me.  I couldn’t wait to read the journal but I knew I would have to be alone because I was guaranteed to cry.  During my Christmas vacation I snuggled up in one of my favorite chairs and started to read.  It was so AMAZING!  I learned things about my mom I never knew. I learned things about her and my father, her family and her dreams for the future.  I learned about sadness and joy that surround my birth that I had never heard about. My mom wrote,

“The day we brought you home was filled with people coming and going all day and evening long. I was there all day except for leaving to go out to the farm to see Grandma Braley.  Grandpa passed away that afternoon.  A friend from Tangelwood church wrote in a card that, “You were the rosebud and he was the rose that withered.” “

  I learned more about her dreams for me, regrets she had in her life and she gave me a ton a great advice through her favorite quotes.  She wrote:

“Instead of advice I will share some of my favorite quotes and Bible verses that can serve as advice.”  Click here to read my mom’s favorite quotes and verses.  I wrote a separate post because they were too good to keep to myself!

After reading the journal I texted my sister to see if she had read her journal.  Of course she hadn’t. She had stuck in her nightstand drawer and forgot about it.  Here is our conversation about the journal:

            Me: Have u read your journal from mom?

Cortney: No. why? Is it good? I figured I would cry so I haven’t yet!

Me: It’s good…and yes I cried!     

Cortney: I figured…I may start reading it tonight then.

            Jump head a few hours later

Cortney: Love that Nanna was awarded the “spirit stick!”

Me: I know…right!

Cortney: I just laughed out loud that mom and dad double-dated with Owen and Hope. These books are great! I need to get one to fill out for Jos while I can still remember stuff…haJ

Me: I know. U can order them off amazon.

My gift for this day was to my friend Winston, who created and publishes the Between Me and You Journals.  I love that I can call him my friend.  Two year ago we were strangers and now we meet for breakfast almost every month. On this day, I paid for his breakfast. It was a thank you for accepting that first request to meet with someone he didn’t know. Thanks Winston!
I believe that life is about taking chances. Life doesn’t happen by sitting back and watching it go by. It happens by YOU being active, introducing yourself to strangers, taking up a new hobby, traveling to a place and daring to give of yourself more than you think is possible.  What chances are you going to take?                                                                                                 

A Mother's Advice

As I wrote in my previous post, when my mom was asked in the Between Me and You Journal, "If you felt the need to offer some advice to me, what would it be?"

Instead of advice, my mom wrote her favorite quotes and Bible verses and I wanted to share them with you.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

"If you want to increase the power of God in your life-see how many times a day you can give." - Joyce Meyer

" Lord- how do you want me to live this day? What is it you want me to do with this one day you have given me? What is the work you want me to accomplish today?"

"It is better to be kind than right."

"When God tugs at your heart, that's the moment to act."

Isaiah 41:10- So don't worry, because I am with you. Don't be afraid because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." -Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it." -Joel A. Barker

"Its kind of fun to do the impossible." -Walt Disney

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

"If it weren't for running, I'd go crazy." -Martin-lead guitarist for Jethro Tull

"Hills are speed work in disguise." - Frank Shorter- 1972 Olympic Marathon Champion

"Pray hard. Work hard. And leave the rest to God." - Florence Griffith Joyner "Flo Jo"

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

"Instead of thinking about all the reasons that I couldn't do it, I started thinking about all the reasons that I could do it.  I encouraged myself and allowed the word of God to empower me." - Victoria Osteen

Psalm 4:3 The Lord will hear when I call to Him.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

"The Dress"

You have heard the old saying, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”  Well that was me from the time I graduated college until I was 25 years old.  I was in 7 or 8 weddings and had a closet full of bridesmaid dresses. My closet looked like a rainbow of gowns that I had sunk hundreds of dollars into that I would never wear again, except for one. 
That one dress came from the wedding of my college roommate and best friend.  Her wedding was the summer after we graduated from college and I was the maid of honor.  This was probably my favorite wedding because we had just graduated college and it was also a reunion of all my dear friends that I had recently parted ways with upon graduation.

The dress was made of satin and was an elegant champagne color with the bodice covered in clusters of pearls.   The dress was form fitting so it was a good thing I was still in shape and hadn’t gained those “real world” pounds after college.
This was the only bridesmaid dress I wore outside of the wedding. I wore it to fundraisers and gala’s. Any chance I had, I wore this dress.  Eventually the dress became a little snug but I always had hopes of wiggling back into it.  Sure I could adorn some Spanx and make it work, but let’s be honest, I like to be able to breath and sit comfortably when I go to black-tie functions.

Every time I would clean out my closet I would see that dress, look at it, smile and hang it back up. That dress hung in my closet for 14 years!
On March 22nd I saw a post on facebook from VeniVidi Vintage, Inc. that stated:              

“Thank you so much to those who have lent or donated prom dresses for my dolls at EC Central High!! It is much appreciated and they are going to look fab in them:) We will be fitting them soon for the fashion show prior to prom, so if any of you are looking to clean out your closets, please contact me by Sunday.” 
I have learned since I started this gift giving journey that when I get that little tug at my heart, I know what has to be done.  Sometimes gift giving is about the sacrifice of something you love so someone else can enjoy what you have enjoyed. I knew it was time to part ways with “the dress.” 

I immediately sent a message to Vendi and we arranged to meet the following day.  When I met the owner, Bessie, I almost cried handing over the dress. That dress was tied to so many good memories and cherished times with friends I haven’t seen in years.  She was so nice and even said she would give it back after they were done using it.  I told her no, this was something I had to do. I needed to part ways.  She promised to send pictures from the fashion show.
Sure enough, I got a picture in my inbox of a beautiful, high school girl wearing my dress.  The smile on her face made it all worth it.  I received the following email from Bessie:      

               “Seniors at East Chicago Central High School modeled prom fashions lent from local boutiques and Dunhill Tuxedos or donated from ladies all over the region for their teachers and peers as a preview for their upcoming prom.  Students had their hair and makeup done by a couple of parent volunteers or their peers and looked absolutely gorgeous.  They were nothing but smiles (and sometimes fierce poses!) down the runway and had an amazing time dancing along to the dj’s music.  Our models were so grateful and overwhelmed by the generosity of those that donated dresses for the show as they now had dresses to wear to prom that they may not have been able to afford and all said they felt so beautiful in them.  They young lady that wore your dress was so excited that it fit perfectly and received many compliments from her peers.”
Sometimes we have to ask ourselves why we are holding onto our possessions. They are just that, physical possessions.  I have learned there is always someone that could use what I have more than I can. It feels so good to just give it away.  The memories are in my mind and have been captured in photographs.
What have you been holding onto that is taking up space in your closet or home?  Is there someone you know that could benefit from your unused items?  If so….give it away!

To learn more about Veni Vidi Vintage, Inc. click on their name.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Need something to do with greeting cards?

I love getting cards in the mail, but I always feel bad about throwing them away. Someone spent good money for that card, but I don’t want to build clutter in my home by keeping the cards. Yes, I must admit I keep all the Thank-you notes I receive and some special cards from my husband and sometimes friends and family but for the most part they go in the garbage. 
Several years ago I discovered the Greeting Card recycling program through the St. Jude Ranch for Children.  I have blogged about this before, see my prior post, but I wanted to remind everyone they except not only Christmas cards, but all greeting cards.  Today as I was FINALLY mailing St. Jude Ranch for Children my Christmas cards, I learned they have an increased need for birthday and thank you cards.

If you want something to do with your used greeting cards, put them in a package and mail them to:

St. Jude Ranch for Children
Attention: Recycled Card Program
100 St. St Jude Street
Boulder City, NV 89005


Wednesday, January 2, 2013


2012, what a year!  I was fortunate enough to receive a promotion in July. With this promotion came lots of changes at work; more hours, more travel, a big learning curve, but an opportunity to lead an incredible team of individuals.  It was an opportunity to hopefully motivate others to grow with me as I learned the ropes of a new role and being back in the saddle as a leader. 
Over these past six months I couldn’t have asked more from a group of individuals. A group that everyday got up ready to work long hours and sometimes weekends to make a difference for our customers. 

Today I shipped out “thank you packages” to my team, a small token of my appreciation for their dedication and commitment in 2012.
If you are fortunate to work, or choose to work, can you think of at least one person that makes your job easier?  That makes you want to be the best you can in your job? That pushes you to make improvements and be as successful as possible?  I encourage you to drop a note in the mail, if you can afford it, maybe add a gift card, your favorite tea or chocolate as a token of your appreciation.  It isn’t the amount of money you spend on the gift that makes a difference, but the action of taking the time to say THANK YOU!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Give a little more

Can you believe it? We are welcoming in a new year, 2013.  It seems so crazy as this year has flown by. Maybe that is what happens, the older we get, the faster time flies.
Today is the day everyone is making their new year’s resolutions and for most, they will fall off the bandwagon in the next month or so.  Are your resolutions the same as last year? Lose more weight, spend less, save more?  If so, have you thought about resolutions or for me, I like to set goals that have nothing to do with self. I challenge you to set goals that have to do with those around you, those lives that you can make an impact on over the coming year. 

Have you thought about how much you are going to give to others this year whether financially or with time?  Have you made a goal to spend more time with friends and family and less time on the computer or in front of the television?  Have you thought about how you can make this world a better place, one small (or large) action at a time?  If not, take a few minutes today to think about how you are going to make a difference in 2013.  If you need some ideas, shoot me a message, post a comment  or read some of my previous blogs.  Let’s make 2013 a year of more giving!