Monday, December 31, 2012

Work In Progress

I have been asked to be a part of a blog chain called "The Next Big Thing." For this blog chain, we talk about our latest Works In Progress. Besides my blog, I am also working on a book. Here's some information about it and links to the person who invited me to this chain and also to five other people whom I'm inviting to be a part of the blog chain. Thanks for checking this out!
Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book? Behind the Stage

Where did the idea come from for the book? From some things my pastor said about life as a pastor

What genre does your book fall under? Christian contemporary fiction

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Patrick Dempsey as the main character Josh Allen and Elizabeth Banks as his wife Leah.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Behind the Stage delves into the psyche of a popular minister as he combats attacks on his simple life of helping others.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-published

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? A year and a half

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I don’t know of any.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? I was inspired by my pastor and by the hope that it might help people with the issues it explores.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? This is a look at what happens behind the scenes in a popular minister’s life as he helps people deal with sex addiction, age discrimination and mental illness.
Thank you, Angela Yuriko Smith, for inviting me to be a part of this blog chain. You must check out her blog Dandilyon Fluff!
I'm inviting the following wonderful ladies to join the chain:
Aimee Jones of The Plain Wife Blog
Suzanne Stock of Spoonfuls of Grace
Connie Mann of Busy Women, Big Dreams
Gail Gaymer Martin has two blogs, one on writing and one on cooking
Julie Cosgrove of Where did you find God today?
God Bless, everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Soul Searching

My mother in law made a comment a few weeks ago that struck me. She knows I volunteer for the American Cancer Society. Many times she has said she hears about so many more people who have cancer now than when she was growing up. She said that back then everyone talked about the March of Dimes.

Now I know the name the March of Dimes and I know it has to do with children. But what I didn’t know was that the March of Dimes has been around for 75 years, was started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to fight polio and has had famous supporters like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

Cancer may be the disease many people are concerned with today, but healthy babies are always a concern and that’s why the March of Dimes changed its focus to preventing birth defects and infant mortality after the polio vaccine was developed.

I have to be honest, the March of Dimes is not the best organization for keeping administrative and fundraising costs down. According to Charity Navigator (CN), a quarter of every dollar it spends goes to fundraising and another eleven percent goes to administrative expenses. CN gives the organization two out of four stars.

So, should you give your money to the March of Dimes? It’s a personal decision. Right now it’s getting donations matched so every dollar you contribute is doubled. It’s also going to get $10,000 extra dollars from Famous Footwear if it breaks the record for most e-cards made.

The March of Dimes has done a lot of good in the last 75 years, but this brings up the issue of what you look for in a charity. Do you think it’s OK for a charity to spend more than a third of its money of things other than its mission? Or is that sometimes necessary, especially in today’s economy?

If you believe in the mission, it may be worth it to you to give, despite these facts. Today, I’d like you to think about that. What issues are you most in tune with? What strikes you as something you want to support?

Disaster relief? Feeding hungry people? Educating the poor? Women’s rights? Environmental issues? Animal care? A particular disease like Alzheimer’s, cancer or muscular dystrophy?

Next week I’ll be giving you a list of ways you can impact the world but the question usually ends with what charity you want to benefit. That’s up to you. In the new year, if you want to make a difference, you can. Some people say it’s better to support just one or two causes so that what you do really adds up, rather than scattering support among many causes.

I’ve never really held that belief before. I believe that every little bit you give or do counts. But you do have to choose where your dollar or your time goes. I feel the tug of wanting to help so many organizations but I can’t help them all. Now, at the end of the year, maybe you should do a little soul searching and decide where you want to help. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

What Does Giving Biblically Look Like?

Five more kids will have presents from their fathers in prison this year because of the Angel Tree program and the ladies of my bible study. I called some local churches and one of them said they’d look into doing Angel Tree next year, too.  I know it’s not much but it’s something those five kids will not soon forget.

Today I’m going over to my local food bank to drop off food from my hurricane closet. Hurricane season ends when November does so I cleaned out my closet and had a bunch of canned soup, ravioli and veggies to donate. I put a note on my Facebook page so my friends can give me items to donate, too.

Last year we had a food drive at my birthday party in lieu of gifts so we were able to bring a nice box of items. When I called the food bank, they were eager to get the food with so many people stopping by right now needing it. We already sent a bag of Christmas food and money for a turkey through our church.

I can’t help it. I keep hearing on the radio about the one in four children who go to bed hungry and start crying. Of course, it doesn’t help that so many children died at Sandy Hook Elementary. I feel on the edge of tears because of that happening as well.

We sent a $100 to our child in Niger so his family can get something they really need. Later a boy came to our door asking for money to send magazine subscriptions to kids in hospitals. It also helps him earn money for college. We gave him $75, too.

It’s only four more days until Christmas and I’m wondering what giving means to you. Compassion has asked what giving biblically looks like in today’s culture. I’ve given some examples of how we’re giving and want to know how you are.

Christmas is a great season to spend time with family and friends. It’s nice to get little presents and reminders of love from each other. We also know it is a celebration of the greatest gift—Jesus.

So what does giving look like to you? I usually give some gifts from charitable organizations as Christmas presents. I did a list of last minute gifts from them last week. Our child Abdou in Niger should be getting one this year from us.

Compassion offers a great Christmas Gift Catalog where you can help people not just for a day but for weeks to come. You can give gifts like water, medical care, disaster relief, or education. Consider if God is asking you to help others this year in a way that may be new to you through Compassion. Here is the link

Thank you, God, for giving us so many gifts this year! Merry Christmas, everyone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Top 11 Last Minute Gifts

Top 11 Last Minute Charitable Christmas Gifts

Christmas is getting closer but it's not too late to do something to make a difference this holiday. The unique items below can be given with the best intentions—to help others. There’s still time to get a notification card sent to the recipient but even if you wait, you can send the notice of the present by email or in many cases, you can print out your own card to hand to your friend or family member. 

1.       Alternative Gifts International - $11 pays for a share of a yak for orphaned and destitute children in the Tibetan regions of remote western China.

2.      Spend $25 or more to free forced labor slaves with International Justice Mission.

3.      A llama from Heifer International - A share is $20 while a whole llama is $150. Heifer provides all kinds of animals from chicks to water buffalo to families that can use them to generate income and useful resources for the family.

4.      A chicken from Mercy Corps International - for $35, it provides eggs and future hatchlings as well.

5.      School supplies from Oxfam American Unwrapped - for $25 you can provide School supplies like rulers, notebooks, erasers, pencils, and pens that mean that a child will have the necessary tools for class.

6.      Mosquito Nets for a family from Plan International - for $50 you can save a family of seven from mosquito-transmitted malaria, the number one killer of children under five all over Africa.

7.      Shelter in refugee camps from International Rescue Committee - $54 provide sets of rope and durable plastic sheeting to help four families construct temporary shelters in refugee camps, keeping them safe from the elements.

8.     Books for children from Trees for Life International - from $5 to $100 you can provide 1 to 20 books for children in their native language.

9.      Small business loan from World Vision International - for $100 you can help an impoverished woman start or expand her business so she can feed, clothe and educate her children. The loans are repaid and then used to provide new loans to others.

10.  Give food for a year to a child so he or she can stay in school for $50 through World Food Programme.

11.   Good Card (any amount) - If you can't decide what to get, then let the recipient decide. You pay for the value on the card and the recipient chooses a charity to which it will be donated.

Happy last minute shopping!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Angels In Our Midst

Have you ever thought of yourself as an angel? Angels are messengers from God who sometimes intercede for Him.

One Christmas I was such a messenger. It began one night after work when we got a list of children. We drove to where each one lived and delivered something very special.
You see it was Christmastime and these children were without their parents. Either one or more of their parents was in prison.

We had bought presents for one little girl ourselves and got to deliver them, too.  We drove to a dilapidated, dirty, old apartment complex where our brightly wrapped presents seemed out of place. We knocked at the dark brown door and an older woman opened it. She asked us to come in and inside was a girl about six years old sitting on the floor in her pajamas.
Her eyes lit up when she saw what we had for her. Her grandmother, for that was who answered the door, told us to come in. So, we chatted for a little bit about the weather and Christmas while the girl’s eyes were only on the presents. Soon we had to go, for we had run out of things to say after they had thanked us for the gifts.

I call myself an angel for doing these things not because I am a real angel, but because the program we were working for is called Angel Tree.
It’s an important program because one third of all prisoners is a parent while 75 percent of women in prison are mothers. That means more than 1.7 million children will spend Christmas separated from their mom or dad.

Right now, Angel Tree has a matching grant so that every dollar you donate is matched so that two children benefit instead of just one. This is Angel Tree’s thirtieth year helping spread joy and the gospel of Christ.
There are still lots of children who are unsponsored and the need for churches to be a part of Angel Tree is great. I was saddened to see that the county with the third most children still unassigned is Escambia County, Florida, where I grew up. You can check if other counties with unassigned children are near you at this website. The top two counties are in Texas.

I called Angel Tree to find out what is the best way to help at this late date but I wasn’t able to get through. I hope there is something I can do. It just breaks my heart to hear that 729 kids are not sponsored in the county where I grew up. Those of you from Pensacola who feel the tug of God on their hearts, send me an email and we’ll see what we can do!  

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Walker

Who means the most to you in this world? If you're a parent, you probably would say your child. And to your child, you are probably the most influential person as well. So when your parent is not taking care of you any more, that's a major life change. How about when you need to start caring for your parent?

This month my mother got a walker. A couple of weeks ago, she called me out of breath and upset to tell me that she had fallen three times just that day. In the past few months, she has had more health problems than in her entire life. I won't go into all of them but the latest one has been problems with her feet which have caused her to be off balance and in pain.

The day after she called me, I talked to a friend and she mentioned a walker. That's how new I am to the idea that my mother needs help. She falls that many times and I don't even think "walker" until a friend mentions it. I just don’t think of her as being a woman behind a walker but now she is.

My husband and I are coming to the stage in our lives that we have to think about how to care for our parents. My husband's father is turning 79 in a little over a month and his mother is going to be 73. His stepmother is already over 80.

We moved back to Florida to be near all of them twelve years ago and now we are working on moving even closer to them so we can be there when they need us. We only live about an hour from them now but sometimes an hour can mean all the difference in the world.

I’m writing this blog because it’s the last day of National Family Caregivers Month. According to the National Family Caregivers Association, there are more than 65 million family caregivers in this country. Are you one of them? If you are, I admire you greatly for showing your love in such an important way.

Mother Theresa said, “Spread love wherever you go. First of all in your own house” and “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

We are not all cut out to be caregivers, but we can all show love and devotion to our family. When we do that, we begin a ripple effect of love that can go out to the ends of the world.

For those of you who are caregivers, thank you for spreading your love. Be sure to schedule time for yourself. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. One thing I’ve learned over the years of being a military wife is how important both those things are. As I like to say, we all need help and we all need to help others.

I want to hear your stories. How have you helped others this week, month or year? Email me at with your story and I may feature it in my blog or on my website. On my website I have an Inspiration in Action section about people making a difference. You may be one of them. You don’t have to start a nonprofit to help others, you just have to care and do something.

This quote is attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Then tell me about it! Have a great weekend.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ten Gifts Under $50 That Give Three Ways

It’s Black Friday and shopping is on the mind of many today. So, as usual, I am releasing my Gifts That Give List just in time for the holidays and I’m keeping each item under $50. It’s a way to let you know how many retailers are making it easier to be charitable than ever before. You can give a gift that makes you, the receiver and a charity feel good.

1.      Made With Love: The Meals on Wheels Family Cookbook for $29.95. With recipes from Paula Deen, Barbara Bush and Martha Stewart, you will truly enjoy this cookbook while helping Meals on Wheels. Just out in October, you can find it at many book retailers such as Amazon, IndieBound and more.

2.      Forever Frogs Lunchbag for $35.00 embroidered. Custom design your own lunch bag by picking the cloth, handle, and even the zipper color and then adding your embroidered initials. Started in the name of a girl who had childhood cancer and loved frogs, all Forever Frogs products have a frog on them and give to the Payton Wright Foundation fighting pediatric brain cancer.

3.      Mercury Glass Filled Votive Set or Candle Pot. Beautiful distressed glass with silver accents for $29.50 for the pot or $49.00 for the votive set. Half of the cost goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Check them out at Pottery Barn.

4.      H.E.L.P. Comfort Foods by Choco-Logo Gourmet Sweets for various prices.  Imported gray salt dusted "Salty Turtles," luxurious Caramel Almond Chocolate Chip Bars, Chocolate Covered Pretzels and a decadent caramel and chocolate-covered "Popcorn Extravaganza." With the purchase of each sweet, Choco-Logo donates to Help USA which helps homeless people get training and find jobs.  Go to Help USA to order or to Bloomingdales in Manhattan.

5.      Harry Barker Canines for Veterans Toy Gift Bucket. A bucket of toys for your puppy dog that also means a donation to Canines for Veterans, which rescues dogs from shelters, works with military inmates to train the dogs for service and  pairs trained dogs with wounded veterans. You pay $44.95 for small or $49.95 for large dog toys. Buy at Red Envelope.

6.      Charity Pot of lush lotion for $5.95 or $22.95. Handmade cosmetics by Lush are fabulous and they have a special product just for charity—the Charity Pot! It’s a creamy body lotion made from organic Fair Trade cocoa butter with a fresh floral scent. The price of the pot goes to support grassroots charities around the world. Here’s where to go to get it!

7.      Laughing Man Coffee for $12.00 to $14.00. Started by Australian actor Hugh Jackman, Laughing Man provides coffee, tea, chocolate and accessories and gives 100 percent of its profits back to education, community development and small business. Laughing Man coffee can be found in Tribeca, new York at the Laughing Man CafĂ© and at Dean and Deluca stores nationwide or online here.

8.      Natural Lip Paint for $12.00 from Peace Keeper Cause-Metics. With names like “Paint me Compassionate” and “Paint me Free,” Natural Lip Paint has attitude along with its color. It was also nominated as a finalist for “Best Lip Product of the Year” by the Cosmetics Executive Woman. Peace Keeper Cause-Metics gives all of its after-tax, distributable profits to women’s health advocacy and urgent human rights issues. Try it now.

9.      ONEHOPE California Brut Sparkling wine for $18.99. Fifty percent of the profits from the purchase of this wine goes to Share Our Strength to end child hunger. ONEHOPE has a slate of wines which support various charitable organizations so you can find out more here.

10.   Cherry Keepsake Box for $30.99. This beautiful box can hold jewelry or whatever knicknacks you want and it can be engraved as well. Even better, ten percent of its price goes to a charity of your choice through (Gift Back does this for all their gifts so be sure to give them a look.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lurking in the Shadows

This month people around the nation are walking to support those with diabetes for American Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3 percent of population—have diabetes. That’s 18.8 million people who are diagnosed and another 7 million who are not. Worldwide, as many as 371 million people live with diabetes and more than half of them are unaware that they have diabetes according to the International Diabetes Federation. It's a disease that lurks in the shadows, affecting many before they even know of its existence.

So I decided this week to have someone who has lots of experience with diabetes share her story and information about symptoms and how to help those with diabetes. Her name is Carolyn Dailey.

1.       How long have you had diabetes?   

I have had it for 37 years.  In September of 1975, I recognized the symptoms and checked my urine sugar with my Dad's “test kit.”   When the result was bright orange in color (high urine sugar), I knew I had diabetes.  I couldn't believe my eyes. I was scared, told my Mom, and then cried.

 2.      How did you life change when you were diagnosed?   

I began taking daily insulin injections immediately and had to test my urine every day (blood sugar testing was only done in a laboratory). I followed a strict diabetic diet using a meal plan and the diabetic exchange system.  Sugar consumption was reserved for when my blood sugar was low. I had to learn to balance food, exercise, and insulin in order to prevent hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).   

Although I grew up in a home with diabetes (at the time my Dad, 2 brothers, and 2 sisters had Type 1 diabetes) I found out how little I knew. My knowledge was that a diabetic had to take insulin injections, they sometimes had insulin reactions and needed sugar to elevate their blood sugar, but other times sugar was off limits. Wow did I get on the job training quickly. It was a whole new ball game for me.  I followed my doctors directions to a tee—followed a strict diet and rode my bike daily for exercise.  I think the hardest part was experiencing blood sugar swings and insulin reactions. I had to learn the difference by how I felt because I didn't have the means to check my blood sugar and treat accordingly.

 3.      What kind do you have and how does it affect you?

I have Type 1, insulin dependent diabetes.  My pancreas does not produce insulin. At first it was an adjustment, but after 37 years it is just a way of life. All the advances made through the years (ie. blood glucose monitoring, the insulin pump) have made it easier to control my diabetes. In the beginning years I took up to four insulin injections a day, but I still didn't have good control. I was frustrated and told my endocrinologist that I quit trying. I did everything I was supposed to do and still my blood sugars were out of control. I told him I wasn't diabetic. 

He then suggested the insulin infusion pump. I began pump therapy on February 6, 1984. The pump has been a Godsend. I still have highs and lows, but my overall control is very good.  My most recent A1C (blood test which indicates your average blood sugar over a 3-month period) was 6.4 (in normal range). I credit the insulin pump and home blood glucose monitoring for giving me the ability to achieve tighter control of my blood sugars, thus rending me free of diabetic complications (ie. retinopathy (eye), neuropathy (nerve), nephropathy (kidney)).  

4.      What are the best ways for others to help people with diabetes?   

Learn about diabetes and be supportive. If you’re the neighbor of someone who has diabetes and lives alone, then check on them in case they don’t wake up in the morning if their blood sugar goes down in the night. Let the person who has diabetes decide what they can or cannot eat. It’s always nice to have an alternative to cake or sweets for birthdays and holidays.

I also used to be a counselor at the diabetic camp in Louisiana for children. They always need volunteers. We would do sailing, sports, and so on with the kids. Dieticians taught about proper nutrition. Doctors, nurses, and medical students helped monitor blood sugars. The camp was to educate kids on diabetes and also to have fun and learn how to monitor blood sugar when being active.

5.      What are symptoms of diabetes?

Frequent urination, extreme thirst, unexplained weight loss, extreme fatigue, blurred vision.

6.      What do you do to deal with it? Diet, exercise, medication, etc.? 

All of the above. I take insulin via the insulin infusion pump. The pump is a small computer that houses a syringe of insulin connected to tubing which is connected to a needle that is inserted subcutaneously into my abdomen. The tubing must be changed every 3 days to prevent infection at the injection site. The pump is programmed to automatically deliver a set amount of units of insulin per hour at various times of the day. This is called a basal rate. I also bolus or take additional units of insulin at mealtimes based on my blood sugar level and the number of carbohydrates I eat. I monitor my blood sugar a minimum of 4 times a day (meal time and bedtime) plus any time I suspect a high or low blood sugar. I also take Metformin which is an oral agent for Type 2 diabetes. It has been found to help Type 1 diabetics with insulin resistance.

I don't follow a specific meal plan at this time, but am careful with what I eat. Whereas sugar used to be taboo it is no longer forbidden so long it is covered with insulin. The downfall is that insulin allows the sugar to enter your cells so can cause weight gain if one overindulges. I don't have a regular exercise regime much to my doctor's chagrin.  Exercise does help lower blood sugars so when I do any rigorous exercise such as house cleaning, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn or what have you, I have to decrease my insulin so as to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  It is really a balancing act—diet, medication, exercise.

7.      Is early diagnosis and treatment important? Why?

Yes!  Early diagnosis and treatment is very important in Type 1 diabetes to prevent diabetic coma or death.  Tight control is important to prevent diabetic complications to your eyes, kidneys, heart, etc. Since the pancreas of a Type 2 diabetic still produces insulin, it takes longer for them to realize they have diabetes so their blood sugars could run higher for longer periods and they could have diabetic complications from delayed diagnosis and treatment.

 8.     What sources would you recommend to someone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes?

Read and learn everything you can about diabetes. Above all take your medication and monitor your blood sugars.  Keep blood sugars in normal range. Develop a good working relationship with your together as a team. Ask questions. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a great source of information. Visit their website. Membership in the ADA includes a monthly issue to Forecast magazine which contains a wealth of information.  

9.      What life lessons have you learned from having this disease?

 Discipline and self-control.

10.  Is there anything that you would like to add?

Because I didn't give up and eventually achieved good diabetes control without complications, I was able to get pregnant and have my first and only baby 10 days before my big 4-0!!   My son is now 19 years old and I am still very healthy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Defrauding America's Veterans

Veteran’s Day is this weekend and you might be wondering what veterans want for Christmas this year. Hundreds of veteran’s charities will tell you, but the claims of fraud and fundraising overspending against some military charities has risen in the last few years. Before you donate to any, read this blog.

You can and should check out charities that ask for your money. Charity Navigator and Charity Watch are watchdog organizations that rate charities on their transparency and spending habits. Charity Navigator is free while Charity Watch gives access to all its files for a yearly fee.
Currently, Charity Navigator (CN) has a donor advisory on the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF). According to CN, “On May 23, 2012, CNN reported that Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Richard Burr, the senior Republican on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee are investigating charges that the Disabled Veterans National Foundation has spent little of the tens of millions of dollars it has raised since 2007 on programs to help veterans.” Charity Navigator also has a donor advisory on Help Hospitalized Veterans because it has had a civil suit filed against it by the California Attorney General’s office.

CharityWatch (formerly American Institute of Philanthropy) reports that in April of this year ”a fugitive using the alias "Bobby Thompson" was arrested in Oregon and is now jailed in Ohio facing charges of corruption, theft, and money laundering related to a sham charity he set up—the US Navy Veterans Association—to steal millions of dollars in donations intended to help veterans.”
Both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch also have found military charities that are spending too much money on fundraising. Some of the veteran’s organizations that are rated two or less stars by Charity Navigator are Shiloh International Ministries, United Spinal Association and National Veterans Services Fund. These organizations give up to 75 percent of their money to fundraising, rather than to charity recipients.

Don’t despair too much because there are some great military and veteran charities out there. Some of the military or veteran charities that received three or more stars from Charity Navigator are Fisher House Foundation, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, United Service Organization (USO), National Military Family Association, and Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust.

Some of the Veterans and Military Charitable Organizations that received top rating by CharityWatch are Armed Services YMCA of the USA, Fisher House Foundation, Homes for Our Troops, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, National Military Family Association, Operation Homefront and Semper Fi Fund.

You may notice Fisher House Foundation is on both lists. We have a Fisher House near where I live and I have heard nothing but good about it. Fisher Houses are houses set up for the family of military personnel to stay in while their loved ones are undergoing surgery or other treatment. It’s kind of like a Ronald McDonald house for the military. Charity Navigator reports that the Fisher House program serves more than 10,000 families annually.
The National Military Family Association is also on both lists. It provides a military spouse scholarship program as well as camps and family retreats “geared to address the needs of children and families of our nations wounded service members.”

Thanks to all our veterans and their families for what you do. Always be smart about giving to charity but don’t let the bad taint you against all those charities that are doing good.

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Angels

What were you doing two Saturdays ago? If you’re like me, life is so busy that you can hardly remember what you did yesterday, never mind two weekends ago.
But I had been building up to Saturday, October 20th for a long time because I’m the captain of an American Cancer Society Relay for Life 2013 team.  We had our first fundraiser the 20th. It was a great big yard sale in the parking lot of our church.
My team is called Angels for a Cure because we operate out of our church, the Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church. I’ve been going there since January of 2004 and we became members in 2005 (I think, once again the mind reels at all to think back that far.)
It wasn’t until 2010 that I found out we had a Relay team. We’d gone to other Relays, supported my husband’s work team, my sister’s team and so on. Have you ever been to an event? There’s a Relay for every 60,300 Americans and there were 5,146 Relays in 2010.
There were Relays that year in 18 countries outside the U.S. and even a virtual Relay for Life through Second Life where 3,000 plus avatars raised $222,000. Dogs around the U.S. also celebrated 179 Bark for Life events and 870 national youth partner teams raised a million bucks, too.
I volunteer at the American Cancer Society twice a week and we were reorganizing our pamphlets yesterday. It seems like there are more kinds of cancer than months in the year. Almost every month features a different kind.
This month supports awareness of two—lung cancer and stomach cancer. Lung Cancer Awareness Month culminates in the Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Vigil November 13 and the Great American Smokeout November 15. I also just found out you can join Team Lung Love and run, bike, swim, golf, play tennis or do another sport for lung cancer awareness, too.
For the first time ever, No Stomach For Cancer is kicking off Stomach Cancer Awareness Month® with a walk tomorrow as well. Even if you’re not walking, it’s a day to wear the official stomach cancer color periwinkle as you go about your day.

So, back to the yard sale. It was a great success! We got to church by 7 a.m. (late by yard sale standards), set up and were selling by 7:45. We made about $100 an hour and finished up with over $400 in sales. ($413.51 to be exact!) Way to go, Angels (and THANKS for all your help with the sale!)!

We’re not doing any more fundraisers this year because our church will be busy with supporting the community for the holidays but I feel we got a great start to our campaign.

Now for next year, we’ve got a fundraiser planned for each month before Relay in April. Look out world, here come Angels for a Cure!


Friday, October 26, 2012

One in Four

How does it start? Anger, lack of control and lashing out at someone else. One in four women and one in nine men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime according to the Centers for Disease Control. Five million children are impacted by domestic violence each year and two hundred seventy five million people are impacted worldwide from domestic violence according to Makers of Memories.

Can you imagine what it’s like to live in constant fear of violence? Or maybe you know what it’s like from personal experience. It’s not pretty. Long-term effects of domestic violence on women who have been abused may include anxiety, depression, death, health problems, malnutrition, panic attacks, suicide attempts and an inability to adequately respond to the needs of their children according to

Those children suffer, too. They suffer shame, guilt and self blame, fear of abandonment or expressing emotions, anger and depression. Children of domestic violence can act out or withdraw, be aggressive or passive, act as a parent substitute, lie, have bedwetting and nightmares, show reduced intellectual competency, experience headaches and stomachaches and be at risk for self abuse according to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV).

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month sponsored by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).  How to help? Besides direct donations, NCADV gets support from many companies.

You can buy products from the Body Shop in the Stop Violence in the Home campaign which has raised over $1.5 million dollars. Mineral Fusion also gives to NCADV and has a special deal this month where you can get free shipping and a free facial scrub while they donate $1 to NCADV if you spend $50 or more. NCADV partners with Cellular Recycler, so if you have old cell phones to donate, email  NCADV also receives $5 from Generess when you fill a prescription with them and make them your charity of choice. They take vehicle donations as well.

Another important organization against domestic violence is Futures Without Violence. It has programs to prevent domestic violence like the Coaching Boys into Men Coaches Leadership program and Preventing Violence Against Women on College Campuses. The focus on developing men is important since most of domestic violence happens to women from their male partners. In 2010 Futures Without Violence also developed a resource center called Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center which has advice for employers and unions.

Makers of Memories (MOM) helps children of domestic violence. MOM reports that without “education, a new focus and new tools, more than two thirds of these children will go on as adults to repeat what they learned.” That’s why intervention is so important, so kids can stop the cycle and see that their experience has made them ready to deal with anything.

Today’s blog is serious business. If you know someone going through this now, you can help. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline is 1800-799-SAFE. Its counselors can give you tips on what to do. Let’s help stop the violence.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Last Friday and the Rest of Her Life

Last Friday was World Arthritis Day and honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say about it. Arthritis is a condition that affects more than 46 million U.S. adults—a number that's expected to increase to 67 million adults by the year 2030. But I’ve not had a personal experience with it until I became friends with a lady at my church who has arthritis. She asked people to wear blue on World Arthritis Day and then I asked her if she'd like to be interviewed!

There are more than 100 types of arthritis but rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis. More than 1.3 million Americans are affected by RA. According to the American College of Rheumatology, about 75 percent of those affected are women. In fact, between one and three percent of women are likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis in their lifetime. So, it’s appropriate that my friend is a woman. Her name is Melissa Maxey and here is her story.

1.       How long have you had arthritis?

I was diagnosed at age 35 (I am now 42), but the specialists believe that I have had it for the majority of life based on my medical history.

2.      How did your life change when you were diagnosed?

I was unable to work because of the extreme pain and spasms. My husband had to become the primary caregiver of both our son and me. I was wheelchair-bound for a year.

3.      What kind do you have and how does it affect you?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), (a form of rheumatoid arthritis) which means that my spine is gradually fusing together. With all aging people, I also have osteoarthritis which is in the joints. I am unable to cook, clean, and bathe without assistance. Depression is common, so I am on medication for it and see a psychiatrist quarterly. AS is in the RA "family" of autoimmune diseases, which is different than osteoarthritis and common in all adults.

4.      What are the best ways for others to help people with arthritis?

The biggest way to help someone with RA is to offer assistance: Do they need a ride anywhere? Would they like to go clothes or grocery shopping? Early mornings and evenings are the most difficult time for RA sufferers because of exhaustion and swelling. Going out to lunch or the movies, visiting them at home, and sending friendly texts or emails about nothing in particular are the best ways to make sure that they don't feel isolated. I have many online friends, but not very many locally. I need to get out and meet people, but most activities are in the evening because of work schedules for those my age. The greatest gift I receive is at church where people give me gentle hugs and beautiful smiles! I also have a friend who cleans my house monthly and I give her what I consider a nominal amount. This is HUGE because my husband and son are messy!

5.      What are symptoms of RA?

The Mayo Clinic sites varying degrees of these symptoms of RA: tender, warm, and swollen joints; morning stiffness that may last hours; firm bumps of tissue under the skin of your arms; fatigue, fever, and weight loss.

6.      What do you do to deal with it? Diet, exercise, medication, surgery?

Rest and medication are my current regiment. When I have the energy, which unfortunately is not often, I exercise; the best exercise to alleviate joint pain is water therapy (I joined the local YMCA for access to a swimming pool). Weight gain is one of the worst things for arthritis as it puts more pressure on joints. There are theories that avoiding gluten in the diet helps with pain management, but this did not help me. With RA and AS, surgery is a temporary treatment because these are autoimmune diseases which worsen with the years. There is no cure. 

7.      Why is early diagnosis and treatment important?

Understanding the reason for my pain helped me learn to live by my limitations and ask for help (that's the hardest part!). For years, I was told that my pain was psychosomatic because all clinically-based testing was negative. When my AS developed enough, then the MRI and CAT scans showed moderate-to-severe fusing in my cervical-spine (neck) and mild to moderate in other portions of my spine. Just knowing that I'm not "crazy" helped my attitude immensely.

8.     What sources would you recommend to someone who has just been diagnosed with arthritis?

I scoured the internet and harangued my doctors in my quest for answers. I had never even heard of AS, so how could I have it? I belong to several online support groups for RA, AS, RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), and fibromyalgia, all of which I have. As a postscript, once you have one autoimmune disease, very often you will develop others. My best sources for information come from,, and other chronic pain sufferers. Speaking with others who have RA gives me hope that I can live fully, how to work around obstacles (my husband put up grab bars throughout the house), and information about alternative treatments.

9.      You have a great attitude about life. What life lessons have you learned from having this disease?

Thank you! The best lesson I am learning is that the greatest gift is my family. I was so career driven that I set aside my little boy and husband in order to climb the corporate ladder. My strong faith gets me through day by day, hour by hour, and moment by moment. God is within all of us and wants us to learn from all situations, making them better, and living the life which others would like to have. To me, this is the greatest way to witness.

10.  Is there anything that you would like to add?

Pain does not have to be a life sentence! All autoimmune diseases can go through temporary "remission," so enjoy the good days and rest on the bad.