Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas JOY the Celebration

It started like any other morning before a Spreading Joy event. A million things running through my mind and this time, it’s a little different because I’m planning and handling much of the Christmas JOY event for the ladies at the Battered Womens Shelter & children from my hotel room in Virginia. Then it hits me. SNOW!! It was supposed to snow over night. I hurry to the huge window in my room and sure enough, IT’S SNOWING!!!! The little girl in me is so very excited! I can immediately see that there are several inches on the ground already. I’m supposed to work a half day and then head home to Charlotte NC and start picking up toys for Friday nights Christmas JOY event! I quickly get ready and head to work.

Much like a child that can’t wait to get out in the snow, I find a window and look out. It is pouring snow! Buckets! My heart is filled with worry at this point. How am I going to make it home? I call my sister. Tell her what I’m seeing. She tries to comfort me saying, things will be a little stressful but it will be ok. I quickly tell her that “you are NOT seeing what I’m seeing!” We chat about the possibilities of me not making it back. Two of the greatest things I love are both now tugging at my heart, snow and Spreading Joy. I head back to work thinking ok, it will work out no matter if I get home or not. I’m just going to enjoy my gift of snow! I finish out my half day of work, head back to my hotel and preparations start. The phone calls to my mom, sister and friends asking for help. The planning of who will do what, just in case I can’t make it back into town. These ladies deserve a wonderful meal, a time of fun and laughter and these toys for their kids. I’m determined to make it happen and with friends and family that have huge hearts, it goes off without a hitch!

The phone calls come in, “you won’t believe what Clark Nexsen collected for this event!” My friends Dave and Dale from Iron Mountain assure me it will be fine for them to bring the toys to me! Wow! Not only did they collect toys, but made things easier for me by bringing them to me, knowing that I was short on time! Amazing!

We get to the church, start setting up, sorting toys, picking up food, decorating and having fun. Later that evening I hop aboard a bus with my brother in law and we had to pick up the ladies and children. We are enjoying a trip back and I tease the ladies that we are having MY favorite meal – HOT DOGS! I giggle and tell them that Olive Garden has graciously given pasta, salad and bread sticks. We are all excited.

Everyone gets settled, and is eating, laughing, relaxing and having fun. There are enough workers so that the ladies that need help with their small children can eat their meals without worry for their tiny ones. I love the view, the children laughing and slurping up spaghetti, the moms smiling and chatting with one another. Peace, happiness and pure JOY surround me! My heart is soaring beyond belief!

The children stay in the fellowship hall and I take the ladies with me next door so that they can “shop” for their children. I thank them for coming and being such a wonderful part of my Christmas! I have been thinking about them all week and take a few minutes to tell them the wonderful attributes I see in them. I give them instructions as to where to find the toys, the gift wrapping stations and such. I wander through the halls as the ladies “shop”, listening to the giggling, listening to the oooohhhhh and ahhhh’s, listening to the thrill in their hearts as they pick out toys for their children. There are Easy Bake Ovens, dolls, Barbie dolls, stuff animals, play dough sets, Tonka Trucks, footballs, basket balls, games and so much more! There are literally 4 rooms full of toys for these wonderful ladies to choose from!

The ladies finish wrapping and start heading to get their children and load back on the bus and van. Several people volunteer to follow behind to “haul” presents as there’s no way all the people and the gifts are going to fit. I love each and every single HUG that I am receiving! The sparkly eyes, bright smiles and huge warm HUGS are priceless. Everyone leaves and I look around and the Spreading JOY heroes have already started cleaning up! Wow!! Amazing!

The night is perfect. Chaos, silliness, fun, Christmas music, laughter, toys, food, drinks, hugs and the mile wide smiles make it memorable!

But, the giving is not over with yet! Sunday, more toys are given out. To a local church and some for a teacher who has some homeless children in her class. Thursday NIGHT – MORE toys will be given away!! A week of Christmas JOY, my heart can hardly stand it! It is flooded with happiness and JOY!

We were able to distribute 545 toys and books this year. This is no small feat as we normally have 8 or 10 companies collecting toys and this year, we didn’t have that many.

Thank you seems so small in the light of what YOU did to make Christmas JOY 2010 possible.

Thank you to the director of Amy’s House, Vicky, for the wonderful work you do to help these ladies! It is my honor to make a difference for them, to encourage them and to remind them just how very special they are!

Thank you to Olive Garden for providing the meal for us! There was plenty of delicious food for everyone to enjoy! Thank you to Jim Taylor and Marvin McAllister for picking up food for us. Thank you Dave Finley for meeting me with toys and saving me so much time. Thank you Momma, Angie and Meg for picking up toys on Thursday for me while I enjoyed my gift of snow and stayed safely at the hotel. Thank you Dale and Jeanne Strickland for being available at a phone calls notice to pick up toys for me and for helping out the night of the event.

Thank you to Pastor Jerry Taylor and Mrs. Taylor of New Grace Baptist Church for the use of your wonderful facilities and being available “just in case” I was snowed in! Thank you to the wonderful members of New Grace for volunteering to help serve, sort, clean, wrap, entertain and for the great JOY you brought my way! I could not have made it without your help!

Thank you to Patterson Pope for giving us employees paid Community Service time to make a difference in our world!

Thank you to my family for supporting Spreading JOY the way you do, helping and allowing me to make a difference right where I am. Thank you Tripp and Bob for driving the vehicles to bring the ladies to the church.

Thank you Quiznos, Iron Mountain, Clark Nexsen, Arthur Squad, Stone Pump and Trench and Linden ARP church for collecting toys.

Thank you my precious twitterverse for your online donations, the interviews to spread the word and for using your voice to reach people that I couldn’t reach without your help! You were instrumental in making Christmas JOY 2010 a huge success!

YOU are all HEROES and I hope as you watch the video, read and recount this week of Spreading JOY that your heart is flooded with warmth, love and pure delight for the part that YOU played for Christmas

Thank you!!

{{HUGS}} yall

30 Day Challenge Jan 2011

I love spreading joy to others, but more than that, I love how easy it is to get into the habit of spreading joy. A new year is upon us and it is my goal to help you see just how easy it is to get into the habit of spreading JOY.

The 30 Day Challenge - ONE thing a day for someone else, on purpose. That’s all it takes. It can be for family, friends or random people. Your mind will be looking, thinking and preparing for ways of spreading joy in no time. By the end of the month you’ll have gotten yourself into the habit of spreading joy and it will be a natural thing for you to do as you meander through your day.

Here is the challenge.

Will you publicly join me in developing this habit of spreading joy? If so, please let me know. I’d like to add your name here to a list – so that I won’t forget who is joining me, but so that I can encourage you too. If you are on twitter, please include your twitter name, cause I’m old and forgetful like that!

Together we can journal our daily acts of joy. I will write in my journal each day about what was done and then every 3 days or so, come back here and update things in the comment section. I would encourage you to do so as well. This will encourage everyone that is participating.

I’ve done this challenge publicly before and here is a link to how it turned out.

I would love to hear how this challenge affected your daily outlook, if you had any troubles and just over all, how it made your heart feel, to think, plan and then execute this challenge.

Ideas to get you going:

  • Give away reesecups and Little Debbie Cakes randomly
  • Have a NO chore day for family
  • Leave the closer parking space for someone else
  • Purchase a book of stamps and mail to Spreading Joy
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle
  • Have a “Eat dessert first” night with your family.
  • Make a financial donation to Spreading Joy, see if your company matches charitable giving – 2 acts in one
  • Meet someone for coffee and purchase it for them. Enjoy the chat.
  • Sign up for this challenge and invite others to do so as well!

There are some ideas to get you going. If you need more, don’t forget that there are a total of 100 ways of making a difference WITHOUT spending one single penny listed here and here on this web site.

Are you ready to take the challenge? Are you ready to develop the habit of spreading joy?

Those taking the 30 day challenge:




IF we all do just 1 act of JOY a day – so far we are up to 93 #actsofJOY for the month!! wow. I’m so excited to be making a difference this way!!

Thanks for JOYning me!!

{{{HUGS}}} yall

Monday, December 20, 2010

How I See YOU

I love speaking to ladies groups, kids and just encouraging others. I’m hoping to do more of it in this next year.

I recently had the privilege of speaking to some wonderful ladies that have been or are in a local Battered Women’s shelter. I spent the week thinking about some of what they may have endured, what they probably tried to do for them, their children and to bring peace to their home and focused on how those events made me see them.

Here is how I see these ladies.


BEAUTIFUL – Your beauty comes from deep within. Nothing or no one can ever destroy it. When you gaze into the mirror, look past the surface, go deeper….deeper still. That beauty that is deep within you is ready to bubble up and gush out! Let it bubble up and out freely. Our physical beauty is limited, but the beauty that is deep within our soul outshines and out lasts the physical and has a positive effect on all of those around us! YOU are beautiful!

COURAGEOUS – Yes, YOU! You lived in fear, you live with fear and have many fearful moments ahead of you, but look back with me a moment. Look at how far you’ve come. The courage you’ve shown to get out of the abusive situation and into something better is nothing short of amazing. You’ll continue to move past the fears, move past the doubts and other horrors you face daily that will try and hold you back. Your heart may tremble, your hands shake but you won’t let that stop you. You can do this as YOU are courageous!

STRONG – You are strong! You’ve endured abuse that others can’t possibly imagine, and that takes strength. You’ve tried to fix things, make things better and be the right kind of gal but that was never the issue. You then stepped out, with children in tow and are working towards a better future. The strength it takes to be a single mom, to ease their fears, to show them what is right and good is unbelievable. You are strong, you fight through difficulties, you fight to survive and you’ll push past the barriers that try and hold you down. You will make it! YOU are strong!

WISE – Yes, I said wise! Don’t sell yourself short. We all make mistakes, we all make decisions that we wish we could take back and moments we wish we could order up a “do-over”! Look at you! You are moving forward, learning and making things better. You are doing the right things right now! Don’t look back at the mistakes, unless you are choosing to grow and learn from them! Hear me….YOU are wise.

CARING – You have amazing hearts! You care so much. That’s why you tried to work things out, why you sacrifice for your children, that’s why you are the wonderful person that you are. Your heart is huge for others and you want to make a difference and believe me you DO! YOU are caring!

PERSISTENT – You put one foot in front of the other each and every day. I’m sure there are days where you feel like throwing up your hands and saying “what is the use”, but you move forward anyway. You grow tired from the struggle, but you get out of bed and face the day. You wonder about tomorrow, next month and next year, but you keep looking, hoping and knowing that the future is there, waiting on you to grab it up with both arms, embracing all the wonderful things that are waiting you. You keep trying, learning and going! You push yourselves as well as push your children! YOU are persistent.

IMPORTANT – YES – YOU!!! You make a difference every day! You bring smiles, warm hearts with big hugs. You encourage, motivate and teach. You give hope to little eyes that wonder about a million things a day and love to hearts that need it. You are important to today and the next generation. The great things that you are doing today, will have a huge impact on tomorrow and the future. YOU are important.

CAPABLE – YOU can do this! It is so easy to look and see the negative, see where we feel like we have failed and think we just can’t do it. We don’t have to teach our children to see the negative, but we do have to teach them to see the positive, do what is right and look for opportunities to make a difference. Use those negative things that creep into your mind, trying to make you feel horrible to remind yourself that you’ve learned from that. You’ve come a long way from that point and you are not going back, simply because you don’t have to. Use the past to remind yourself that you are capable of moving forward, doing whatever it is you set your mind on doing. YOU are capable.

ADAPTIVE – This is so important and you excel at it! Think with me for a moment. You knew when you had to keep the kids quiet, when you could let loose and enjoy the laughter in your hearts. You knew when “he” was home that certain things had to be done a certain way and you adapted. When he wasn’t around, you lived, loved, laughed and adapted to that as well. This is a priceless ability for when the storms of life are raining down on you. This ability will serve you for years to come as you face the mountains in your way and your initial thought is for the mountain to “swallow me up, I can’t face you.” You will adapt time and time again! YOU are adaptive.

SENSITIVE – Your hearts are tender and it grows stronger every day. You’ve seen situations that many have not had to see, much less endure. This has made you even more sensitive than most. You can see the sadness in the eyes of a child quicker than most and know how to turn that frown upside down. You can see the loneliness oozing from the hearts of others and know that a simple hug and smile will help to ease that pain. Because of this sensitivity, you have an opportunity to make dark days brighter; you have the chance to be the light at the end of the tunnel. You can shine brighter than you ever thought possible. YOU are sensitive.

SPECTACULAR – YOU are beyond awesome! You have a huge heart, a loving spirit and the willingness to fight through whatever comes your way. You don’t ask for much, yet are willing to give all for your child. You will take lesser portions, step in front of physical harm and remind your child that tenderness will get you further than being demanding and hateful. You amaze me at the courage, strength and abilities you have to make it through each day. YOU are spectacular.

These attributes are evident in all of us if we look deep enough. We tend to stop just short of the surface because that is what society is teaching us to do. We need to look past the surface. We need to look at the things that matter, which is far more than physical features.

It is my desire that as you step into a new year that you’ll be more aware of these wonderful qualities about you. I hope that you’ll focus on the positive and grow from the negative. As you look at yourself, I hope that you’ll see all of these wonderful things in a wonderful new light this year – and always.

{{HUGS}} yall

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

His Love

When I think of the love that flows
I know I’m truly blessed
I might not ever know the joy
Of fancy houses, cars and the rest

One thing is certain and without a doubt
One thing I’ll never wonder
Is the fact that I’m loved beyond measure
And that for me HIS mercy and grace will thunder

My heart soars with gratitude
For the gift of grace, love and peace
The unspeakable joy that lives there
Is because I know HIS love will never cease

Do you KNOW HIS love?

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