God Is Good All The Time 5-29-19

I thought I’d share what happened to me this evening. After my AA meeting, I stopped at a convenience store. As I got out of my car and began to walk in I heard someone say something to me. I looked to my left and there sat a woman on the bench outside. I looked at the woman and said “pardon me”. She asked how I was. I told her that I was doing fine and asked how she was. I’ll begin by describing this woman to you. She was heavy set, disheveled, a tad dirty and was missing many of her teeth. My heart sank when I saw her. Oddly I hadn’t even noticed her when I parked my car in front of the store. Nor did I notice her as I got out of my car.

She went on to tell me she had just left the hospital. Apparently she had an asthma attack. She told me her story and I just listened. My heart really went out to her. I told her that I hoped she would get better. Before I turned around to walk in the store, I noticed a Hispanic man walking toward the store. He opened the door for me. I couldn’t help but notice he was wearing a beautiful cross rosary around his neck. I got my things and walked up to the counter. The man was in line behind me. I asked the clerk if she knew if the woman outside was homeless. She wasn’t sure but said she comes around a lot. I told the clerk I felt sorry for that woman and wanted to buy her something to eat. The clerk was a little taken aback. I had several people behind me waiting to pay. I just explained that I wanted to buy the woman something to eat if she was homeless which is why I was inquiring. The clerk shared she didn’t really know but what she did know is often the woman would sit outside until she had enough money to buy a pack of cigarettes. I told the clerk I wasn’t willing to buy cigarettes but was happy to buy whatever food they had in their deli case. She handed me a pizza pocket. The man wearing the cross rosary said “Maam.maam” I turned around thinking he might be irritated because I was holding up the line. Instead he said “Maam that is a really nice thing for you to do. I wish I could help her too” he showed me the money he had in his hand. It was only enough to get fuel.

I paid the clerk however I was surprised that she didn’t even charge me for the pizza pocket. I took the pizza pocket and walked outside and handed it to the woman. She told me she was trying to figure out how she was going to eat this week. Wow. My heart sank again. I felt the tears build up. I simply said “well for now you don’t have to worry. You now have something to eat.” She was very grateful.

I’m sharing not for accolades, rather to share how God uses people to make a difference. He also can use one person to touch the lives of many. That homeless woman touched my heart. I felt inclined to buy her food. The man wearing the cross rosary was touched by my act of kindness. The clerks heart was open too. She didn’t charge me for the food. In short, each of our lives was touched by a woman who was sitting on a bench and had the courage to say hi despite her circumstances. I’m not sure what the miracle was but for me it was awesome to help someone but at the same time fill the hearts of others.

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Lend A Helping Hand 1-2-18

My mother and I had doctors appts today in Wenatchee. Afterwards we ran to Walmart. I don’t even remember why we went there however what I do remember is an incident that happened after we left. I can’t stop thinking about this.

After we left Walmart I saw a homeless man standing on the street corner by the signal light leaving Walmart. He had a sign that said “I’m homeless. Anything will help”.

For some reason rather than proceeding towards the signal light, I pulled in to this hamburger joint that’s near Walmart on the corner where this man was standing. My mother asked me what I was doing. I said “I’m going to buy that man lunch.” My mother asked “what man?” I said “the homeless man on the corner.”

It was tight wad Tuesday at the hamburger joint. I went through the drive-thru and ordered a cheeseburger, fries and Pepsi. After I got the order I drove towards the man. I called out to him. He walked towards my car and I handed him his drink and bag full of food. He said “I’ll sure take that Maam. Thank you. It will be my first meal today”. It was 2:00. He was so filled with gratitude. My heart went out to him. It was so cold today. I couldn’t imagine being homeless cold and hungry. I don’t know why I was inclined to do this today however I do believe that voice in my head prompting me to help that man was from god. I’m glad I did.

I’m sharing this story not for accolades rather to encourage everyone to lend a hand to those in need. It’s easy to walk away when you see someone on a street corner holding a sign. It’s easy to ignore them but really, is that the right thing to do? I try and put myself in their shoes. What if that was you? I often say “in a New York minute everything can change”. What I mean by that is “god giveth, god taketh away. I spend a whole $6.49 today. For some, that’s a lot. For me $6.49 is nothing if I can help someone in need.

Father Mario told a story once of a homeless man sitting in front of a bank asking for money. People walked in and out of the bank. Not one person helped him. They ignored him. Finally a young man walked out of the bank and lend the homeless man a helping hand. When he did, the homeless man stood up. As it turned out the man wasn’t homeless at all. Rather, he was Jesus. Father Mario asked the question “would you walk away if it was Jesus?” My answer has always been no which is why I try my best to not walk away. I’d hate to miss the chance to help someone only to find out the person I was helping was Jesus.

Next time you see someone in need, lend a helping hand. There are so many people suffering. One little act of kindness will go a long way and heck, who knows. The person you help might stand up and be Jesus.

Kat and Ali 12-28-17

They say there are no accidents in life. Especially when it comes to meeting people.

In 2014 I walked in to CPMC in San Francisco. I was scheduled for my chemotherapy treatment. That morning I prayed for an angel to come in to my life that would speak hope in to my life. It’s no secret my life in SF was rather tumultuous with my ex. Standing next to me while waiting for the elevator was a gentleman. We struck up a conversation. As it turned out he was a pastor from Vallejo. His wife had just had open heart surgery. His name is Ali. We have been friends ever since. Ali has blessed my life so much with his prayers, encouragement and support throughout the past few years.

That day Ali asked me if I would stop and see his wife Kat that week. He felt it would cheer her up. I made it a point to go visit Kat that week. She was very sick the day I went and was so down. I have never seen Ali or Kat since that day three years ago however we remain in contact via phone and text.

Today my calendar reminded me it was Kats birthday so I texted her a birthday message. Much to my surprise I received a call from Kat. She was crying. She called to thank me. Not only for remembering her birthday but for stopping to see her that day three years ago. Kat shared that I’m always saying what a blessing they are in my life but I have failed to recognize the blessing I have been in theirs. Kat told me the day I went to see her the doctor had just told her they found a blockage and would have to perform another surgery. She was so sad. She told me that my voice and smile lifted her spirits and after I left her doctors told her the blockage was gone and she would not need another surgery. She said she often forgets my name but has never forgotten my voice or smile and the miracle I brought in her life that day. I had no idea. Her words to me were “you always say Ali and I are a blessing in your life but you really were a blessing in our life that day. I will never forget you. I wanted you to know that”.

Wow! I had no idea. I was very touched to hear her story. Even more so to know I somehow made a difference while in one of the greatest challenges in my own life.

The moral of the story is you never know whose life you’re going to bless. Strive to be a blessing for others. You may not see it today but one day you will discover that somehow you made a difference.

Black Friday 11-25-17 revised from 2014

I wrote this blog in 2014. It was a challenging year. However, after reading my reflection on the holiday season three years ago, I still stand by what I wrote.

The Christmas season has become so commercialized as has Thanksgiving. This year I had the most wonderful thanksgiving ever. I spent the entire day with my friends, family and even my grandkids. Black Friday was spent having lunch with the people I love and today I’ll spend another day with family.

Maybe I missed out on all the great deals but I certainly didn’t miss out on the best deal out there. Quality time with the people I love. I can’t put a price tag on that. In the midst of it all, my heart is always with those in need. I do my best to give of myself as often as I can. For me that really is having a holiday spirit.

BLACK FRIDAY 2014

For the past week or more all I see are advertisements or news stories about Black Friday. The biggest shopping day of the year. I find it amusing how the holiday season has become so commercialized. Four years ago I was driving to work and while I listened to the radio, a commercial came on about the Christmas season. What I found interesting, was not only had Thanksgiving not rolled around, neither had Halloween! These past few months have not only been the most challenging months of my life, it’s given me a whole new perspective on how I view things. I realize that life isn’t about the material things we acquire or the amount of money we have, the gifts we give others during the holidays, it’s really all about family and the people we love. It’s how we choose to live life.

Four years later, I began seeing Christmas decorations the first week of October. The holiday season has taken on a whole new meaning. No longer is it about being thankful on thanksgiving or being surrounded by family on Christmas morning, it’s all about the material things. Being diagnosed with cancer comes with so many negative challenges but it also has a positive impact on a persons life. Cancer can really change a persons perspective on life. It is a realization of what’s really important. My friend in North Carolina send me a quote yesterday that she saw at a cancer unit. It said “you’re going to want to give up……DONT!!!” Fighting cancer is tough business but the silver lining is you become more aware of what’s important. More often than not, living and spending quality time with family is what becomes more important than waiting in line to buy the perfect gift on Black Friday. Family is what gives a person the inspiration to not give up!

I have a very humorous personality. I love to laugh. I especially love those who make me laugh and I love any comedian who is funny. I love Ellen Degeneres. She’s hysterical. Will Ferrell. Jim Gaffigan, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler….the list goes on. If you’re funny you have a place in my book. I was watching Jimmy Kimmel last night. He’s a riot. His monologue was hilarious. He poked fun at everything including Thanksgiving and Black Friday. He said he felt it was inappropriate to make people work on Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday that you should spend with your family. He went on to say that even more disturbing were the people who set up camps on a sidewalk on Thanksgiving to be the first in line for Black Friday. He had a stellar idea. Jimmy’s idea was that those who felt the need to camp out on a sidewalk over night in preparation for Black Friday, should open their homes to all the homeless people so they had a warm and cozy place to sleep. Now I have to admit, I found myself laughing but the truth is I laughed because it was true.

That’s how silly we’ve all become. A homeless person would give anything not to sleep in a tent on a sidewalk, while we would be willing to do it for a “good deal”.

There are so many homeless people in San Francisco. My heart sinks and my stomach hurts every time I’m in the car and I see people passed out or I take my walks and I pass these people on the sidewalk. Some are homeless not by choice. They’ve experienced a job loss or a tragedy. Jimmy Kimmel’s joke last night was funny but if you think about it for a few minutes, it can really put things in to perspective.

Thursday will be another Thanksgiving I won’t be spending with my family. It sucks. I wish I was. These days Black Friday isn’t even on my list. Being surrounded by family is the only thing that I think about. I met with my radiation oncologist last Friday. I was surprised to hear that I will need 36 radiation treatments opposed to 30. He wanted me to start right away. I have opted to start the 7 week ordeal after Christmas. I’d like to go home for the holidays and spend the time with my family. Somehow, that’s more important to me than anything else including Black Friday. Today I have my planning appointment along with a cat scan to prepare for the 7 week ordeal. I have a long year ahead of me, not to mention 5 years of keeping my fingers crossed. I hate having cancer but in some ways I’m grateful for the experience and the new perspective it’s given me on how I view life. Everything I thought was important is no longer in the forefront. Living is along with the love of friends and family and the quality time we share as we go through this thing called life.

This Thanksgiving, focus on the things you have to be grateful for. Focus on the time you are lucky enough to share with your family. Everything else is just stuff. That includes that great deal you’re waiting in line for on that very popular day that has become the biggest day of the year…..Black Friday. And if you can’t resist the biggest shopping day of the year, then take Jimmy Kimmel’s advice. Open your home to the homeless 😄.

Another Day In Paradise – Revised 5-24-17 

I wrote this blog two years ago on March 4, 2015. My sobriety date. Today I’m 15 years sober. I’m still climbing out of the pit but my passion for helping those in need or being a voice of hope and inspiration for others hasn’t changed. A friend send me a text this morning saying “Another Day In Paradise”. It sparked this memory and caused me to refer to this blog as a reminder of just how blessed I am. Despite the challenges in my life, I am living another day in paradise. 

Today is my sobriety anniversary. I have been sober for 13 years. It’s hard to believe that 13 years have passed since I woke up from a three day blackout in the back of a police car. I was on my way to jail for throwing a cell phone at my boyfriend. I had spent the weekend consuming an unimaginable amount of alcohol. In fact, my last drunk consisted of three fifths, a bottle of wine, a half gallon of whiskey along with many cocktails at the bar. It was Sunday, March 4th, 2002 when I entered reality. I had no idea what I was doing in a police car, I had cut my arms, legs and and face with a knife and all of my eyelashes from my right eye were gone. I suspect I burned them with a lighter. Who knows. The journey has been long but through the grace of God, I am able to celebrate my thirteenth year of sobriety. 
Between the years 2000 and 2001, my ex-husband and I went through a nasty divorce. It’s amazing how two people who fell in love and raised a family together could become so bitter toward one another. Divorce in any relationship certainly brings out the “ugly” in each of us. My divorce was no different. I find the humor in it all by referring to our divorce as “the War of the Dunkins”. If you’ve ever seen the movie “the War of the Roses” that was my ex husband and I. We fought over everything, however unlike the movie we didn’t have the chance to swing from the chandeliers. The divorce was so stressful and made me feel like such a failure that I found myself drinking every day for over a year. Of course, being the class act I thought I was, I rarely drank before 5:00 pm. I often refer to myself as the “Joan Crawford” classy drunk who never missed a cocktail hour. Looking back, I find myself so embarrassed. 

We all have stories, my story however belongs on TLC debuting as a mini series. The past few years have been a difficult journey but somehow I’ve managed to get through it without the use of alcohol. I have God to thank for that. 
I spent the morning volunteering at my church today feeding the homeless. Rather than celebrate my recovery, I find it more rewarding to give back. My story at times may seem overwhelming and more often than not, I feel sorry for myself but some how volunteering my time feeding the homeless brings so much happiness that even for just a few hours I’m able to focus on someone else’s story. I’m quickly reminded of how lucky and blessed I really am.

I began volunteering last week and since then, my life has taken on a new perspective. I’m happy again and every day I look forward to going back to my new “job” that pays me in rewards and blessings rather than with a big paycheck. I’ve met some wonderful people, I’ve cried many tears, I’ve swept floors, wiped spilled milk from tables, served oatmeal, assisted the sisters in handing out clothes and I’ve hugged people who live on the streets and haven’t bathed in several days and despite their adversities and challenges, they are filled with a sense of gratitude for what they do have that it’s hard for their gratitude to not be contagious.  

I have travelled quite a journey these past 13 years, I’ve been up and I’ve been down but somehow God has seen me through it all. Thirteen years ago I was rock bottom, ironically thirteen years later I’m rock bottom again. The good news is with gods help I was able to climb out of the pit of addiction and all the demise that came along with it, I suspect he will help me climb my way out of this pit too and who knows, in a year from now I’ll be able to look back and say “look how far I’ve come” and once again be able to say God carried me through this challenge too. A good friend once told me “Velma, you’re rock bottom. There’s nowhere to go from here but up”. I may be rock bottom but I’m moving on up!!!

In the meantime I’ll keep moving forward and take this time to ask anyone reading my blog to give back to your community. Whether it’s volunteering your time to help those less fortunate or even donating clothes or money to your favorite charity, please do so. It’s such a rewarding experience. My song for today is “another day in paradise” by Phil Collins. I chose it because sometimes when we feel like our lives are in disarray and we feel sorry for ourselves, remember there’s always someone else less fortunate and our lives really are another day in paradise. 

To One Angel From Another Angel 4-14-17

I have said on numerous occasions I joined JMT because I sincerely want to add value to the lives of others and make a difference. I have also shared I have a passion for helping those in need. This morning I woke up and the sun was shining. Rather than go to the gym I thought I’d walk outside and breathe in air and pure light. My walk is 3 1/2 miles on a country road. As I walked I was listening to one of my meditation videos. Today’s mantra was give love to someone in need and refrain from being judgmental. As I walked I saw a van parked along the road. There was a big white dog sitting next to the van. As I walked past the van I noticed a woman sitting in the driver seat. She was wrapped in a sleeping bag. I noticed the van was filled with many personal belongings and the top of the van had coolers and other items. At first I was overtaken with fear so I started running. However, as I ran a voice in my head told me this woman was homeless and she was in trouble. I walked another mile and a half and by the time I arrived at home it was clear I needed to help this woman. I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote this woman a note. I told her I didn’t know her story and it was none of my business. Her story was between her and god but I wanted to remind her that she was loved and I encouraged her to have faith and trust god would see her through this. Encouraging words I have heard from so many JMT members during my own trials. I put a $20 bill in the letter and stuffed it in an envelope. I addressed the envelope “To an Angel from another Angel.” I got in my car and drove to give the letter to this woman. I was fearful as I pulled up next to the van. I could have never imagined what awaited me. The woman I saw was actually a young woman in her mid twenties with a young son who was probably 3 or 4. They were eating dry cheerios out of a bag. My stomach sank. This young woman kept trying to make up excuses as to why she was there. Her son was happily telling me his name was Jaime. I handed her the envelope. She said “oh no. I’m ok really. I just lost my phone”. I knew she was lying. Her young son began opening the envelope. As he did I felt the tears roll down my eyes. I wasn’t alone. This young woman began crying too. I knew then I had done the right thing. I drove home in tears. I don’t always make a difference in the lives of others but I certainly hope I made a difference in this woman’s life this morning. I take my affiliation with JMT very seriously. I’m so grateful that today I was able to exercise the Law of Intuition and use it to help someone in need. I didn’t judge. Instead I gave love to someone in need. Despite my fear, I followed that little voice that said “help”. I’m still teary eyed as I share this story. However I’m grateful to be a part of team who encourages me to be intuitive to helping others. 

Many years ago when I was probably in my late 20’s the priest at my church gave a powerful homily. He told about a homeless man who sat on the sidewalk next to a bank. He was a man in need. This man was disheveled, dirty and had a beard. As people walked in and out of the bank they ignored and shunned him. Not one person stopped to help. Finally, a young man before walking in to the bank stopped to help this man. He not only gave him money he asked the homeless man what he could do to help. The homeless man stood up. When he did, he wasn’t what he seemed. In fact his entire appearance had changed. He was Jesus and he blessed this young man with so many blessings. The priest at my church ended the homily by saying “often times god speaks to us or disguises himself through people. Never walk past someone in need. You never know, you might miss your chance to meet Jesus and miss out on the many blessings he has in store for us”. That homily had an enormous impact on my life. It’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about helping those in need. I don’t want to miss out on the chance to meet or help Jesus. 

You never know whose life you will change when you choose to be their light for a day. And as you’re helping someone in need, remember….you never know the person you are helping just might be Jesus! 

Matthew 25:31-46New International Version (NIV)

The Sheep and the Goats

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Photo credit Gaylord Rhodes