Only One Post


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Well folks it’s been fun in 2015 hasn’t it?  I mean we have laughed and shook heads in agreement with Honesty Days, touched base with God in the God’s Grace posts, and walked through grieving another death.

I hope that in my Music to my Ears posts you found yourself dancing while reading, enjoyed some awesome stories about adoption, but most of all I hope my writing inspired you.  Inspired you to do whatever God was leading you to do.  Whether it be through an act of kindness, pray with another, speak of His truth to others, or start a new adventure!  I’m so very glad you have joined me in every aspect of the journey.

I’ve written many times about connecting with others.  I know that between us is some sort of device, but I hope that my words have touched you in a way that has brought you joy.  Writing about my life experiences is a way for me to grow, help others, and deal with whatever is at hand.  I feel fortunate to be able to write in a blog setting.

Does this sound like a good bye?  Well,  don’t worry, I’m not. I’m just taking an extended vacation to focus on family, the holidays, and create a new space for us to meet.  I do have an upcoming very special post in December, just one.  Of course it has to do with #pfwg44thbirthday and you will see if I made my goals!

I pray that your Christmas season is a joyous one and that it holds the true meaning of it all.  Jesus Christ.  May you take time to watch the little ones play, sing, and be silly.  May you see the glimmer in your spouse’s/significant other’s eyes once again, and watch the adult children’s life unfold before you.  Hug and kiss the family too much and eat the good food that has been provided for you, and TAKE PICTURES!  Take moments to be generally kind to the clerk at the store, the elderly one, the ones less fortunate, and the ones alone this holiday season.

May we all encompass Christ’s love and share it too much!  God bless you and I will see you in a few weeks!

Grace is a gift,

Juli

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44th Birthday Stats – #pfwg44thbirthday


A Day donating

I thought it was time to update you all on the #pfwg44thbirthday and let you know where I am at on this journey!  As of today there are:

25 red stones in my candle. That means that with the help of my friends I am over half way to my 44 donations!  Only 19 more to go folks! Feel free to join our team and help us reach or exceed 44 donations by December 26, 2015!

Each donation normally helps 3 lives. That means 75 lives have been touched by just giving some blood and time!  Isn’t that awesome?  I could not have made it this far without others helping. I want to say thank you to all of those that have donated so far!

We have six months to collect the other 19 donations and I have mine scheduled for June 26th!  How about you? When is your next time to donate blood?  Find the nearest donation center or blood drive by clicking on Red Cross Blood Donation!

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Now onto the Handwritten Letters challenge!  I am still working on those and have sent out 27 letters.  I have 17 more to go before December 26th.  I do not send the letters until I feel compelled to put words on paper.  Lately they have been lacking but that is because I want them to be true and heartfelt.  I want to lift up individuals and bring a smile to their face when they open their mailbox.

On a side note, my daughter received a McDonald’s gift card in the mailbox with a note telling her to have a super summer!  It brought a lot of joy to the little girl. I’m not sure who it was from and it’s the second one she has received in the past year, but if you read my blog we are thanking you!

If you are unable to donate blood, take a moment to help another by sending an uplifting card or letter.  Call if that is simpler.  Just reach out and grasp the joy and share it today!

Grace is a gift,

Julie

pfwg44thBirthday – #2


Well today I was able to donate blood another time! This time I was able to have my two sisters and husband go with me!  They donated as well, this means 12 lives are going to be helped!  I love going with others to donate, it is always a fun experience!

Blood donation buddies

If you are wondering how it goes when you donate you can check out the website or let me take you on a tour of my donation!

Starting at the top left & going left to right!

A Day donating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grab a blood donating buddy!

Find a location to donate at!

Answer the questions, they test your blood for iron/hemoglobin level, blood pressure, and pulse are taken.

They take you to the nice comfy donation table/chair thingy.  Mark the spot.

Insert needle, it only stings for a moment my friends!

Hold for 5 counts, let go for 3, repeat.

And in no time at all, you have your donation given!

They remove the needle, you hold a little bandage with arm up, then you are done!

I was in and out in less than an hour from start to finish!

Then I was lucky and got to have some snacks and water or juice or coffee!

It’s seriously a good time my friends!

We would love to add more people to our #pfwg44thbirthday!  We have added another five stones (another friend gave yesterday)!  That means we only have 30 more times to donate to reach the goal of 44 donations by December 26th!  I am so proud of those that have donated and helped our team!

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I am enjoying each time I go and donate.  Having family and friends joining me in this journey has been very rewarding!  I’d like to say thank you!

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

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It’s Reminder Time Folks! #pfwg44thbirthday


I’ve been kinda quiet lately about our #pfwg44thbirthday series, but don’t worry I’m still working on it!  How about you?  Have you sent any handwritten letters or notes?  Have you donated blood?  Have you joined our team on the Red Cross app?

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Come on!  You know it would be great to help others and bring joy to someone as they reach into their mailbox!  I can’t wait to hear from you all that have joined our #pfwg44thbirthday fun!  Comment below and let me know how this series has inspired you or brought you to help others!

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So far I have sent 13 handwritten notes/letters and we have 8 blood donations!  That’s 24 lives that have been helped! WHOO HOO!

Join the fun if you haven’t!

Grace is a gift,

Julie

The plans He has for me


“I love seeing how your life is coming together. God has great plans for you my friend. Happiest of days to you.”

One of my friends, that I don’t see often enough wrote this on my Facebook page on the day of my birthday.  I was overly blessed on the day of my birthday but this particular message made my heart feel full.  It brought joy to me and I know every word was sincere.  She’s a dear friend and I am grateful to have her in my life.

The material gifts I received were lovely, especially the one my immediate family gave me.  It’s homemade and gives me an opportunity to feel loved on a weekly basis by them for the next year.  To be taken back to the moment when I opened the white box. each week will be awesome!

Spending my birthday giving to others was a true highlight. I am not sure I can express how very good it made me feel to donate blood.  As my friend stated in the message, I feel God does have plans for me.  When I look back on just the last 15 years of my life I can see him guiding my direction.  I know he was there prior doing just that, but I’m only reaching back 15 years today.

There were times I tried to fight His plan and times I encompassed it.  Today I am happy to say I’m in a better place and it is definitely because of God. He has wrapped me in His love, guided me through storms, rejoiced with me in celebrations, and comforted me like no other.  I know that my life has improved because I accept the gift he gave me.  The gift of eternal life.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

My Life . 2015

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Grieving and Giving – Honoring Others


Dad was at the back of my mind the weeks prior to the holiday and my birthday.  Our family normally gathered with Dad a few times a year, but not on the actual holiday.  I would receive a birthday card from him, usually a few days prior to my actual birthday.  This year I didn’t of course.  This year there was no shopping for a gift for him or watching him enjoy a good home cooked meal.  Just the memories of my Dad in my mind is what is left.

As we traveled yesterday to donate blood I was taken back to August.  As my husband took the exit and drove down the street it was oh too familiar to me.  We were headed to drive right past the hospital I had made memories with my Dad the last few weeks of his life.  A sadness came over me and bitter memories arrived in my head.   But as soon as we drove into the parking lot of the donation building I knew it was time to focus on giving to others.  To change my sadness into gladness.

I decided I was donating blood in honor of my Dad on my 44th birthday.  Turning my sadness into something giving is one way I can honor him.  I know he wouldn’t want me sad.  Heck, he might even be proud of me if he knew I was donating! 🙂

I still haven’t made it to the cemetary yet either, but honestly knowing my Dad, he probably doesn’t mind.  I miss his hugs.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

pfwg44thBirthday – #1


The day has arrived!  My 44th birthday.  I have a year to fulfill the challenges I chose.  It all started today by my husband, my sister, and I heading to the nearest American Cross blood donation location.

Donate Blood

 On the way I dropped a couple handwritten letters in the mail!  Only 42 more to go!

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As I mentioned before I had not donated blood in many many years.  So it was like starting over, which was totally ok!  I had this great gal named Renee that was a hoot!  Seriously fun, which made the experience even better! They took me to a room alone after I checked in and read through some materials.  Then I answered some questions, she took a blood sample, and we were ready to rock and roll! 🙂

Renee took me to an open room that had several people donating blood and then others that were donating platelets.  My husband was already getting setup. What a great guy!  It was his first time and he was done in no time at all!  Thanks sweetie for helping me reach my goal! My sister, helped as well.  She donated and was done before me as well!  She is in the background of the photo!

 

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Renee asked me what arm I wanted to use, and I said the left since I am right-handed.  Well, she searched for a vein and finally found one after use of the blood pressure cup.  She got all setup and began the process.  Unfortunately it didn’t go as planned.  My vein decided not to stick around or up or whatever it is.  Instead of making me suffer or get bruised we switched arms.

JV blood donation

All in all the experience was a great!  I am SO glad I did it!  I will do it as much as I am able to in the next year!  The next time I am eligible is February 20th, so I will be searching for a drive around then or making another appointment at the American Red Cross donation location nearest to me!

donated blood today

 

I hope you will join me in my challenge to help others by donating blood (if you can).  I even setup a team on the Red Cross app, it’s called pfwg44thbirthday.  Together we can make a difference!  Just three of us today helped nine people in the future!  For every pint it helps three people! Isn’t that cool?!

If you aren’t able to donate blood or choose not to, how about sending some handwritten notes of encouragement!  That is my other challenge and I think it would be great fun for all of us!  🙂  Be sure to comment if you are joining us!

Don’t forget to follow us on our instagram, find us!  pushingforwardwithgrace!   I will be completing a photo journal of our year long fun and others that have inspired us!

Grace is a gift,

Julie

Helpful Links

American Red Cross

Download the app on your smartphone, table, or ipad!  Join our team  pfwg44thbirthday!

Pushing Forward with Grace Instagram – Come follow us!

 

Storing Up


Along with some holiday treat making this morning I decided the day had come to clean out one of my kitchen cabinets.  One that has needed cleaned out for quite some time.  It’s not even my pantry, that area of the home should  next on the list tho!  This is the upper cabinet that sits next to my stove.  It holds anything from spices to oils to baking ingredients to pancake mix to cookie decorating stuff.  You get the idea I’m sure.

I pulled everything out and as I did, I noticed how I had many duplicates of things.  As you can tell by the photo below, I either have a great fondness for various types of salts or I don’t look in my cabinets before shopping.  Oh and let’s not forget about the tapioca. (I don’t even eat tapioca – imagine me making a really yucky face right now!)

Storing Up

You are probably wondering where I am going with this.  Well, as I cleaned out I decided that there is a fact I must come to terms with about myself.

I am afraid I will run out.  Plain and simple.

In fact, if you look in my pantry you will  probably find 3 types of flour and at least 1,  if not 2 bags of each.  Pasta – buy in bulk.  Cereal – buy at Sam’s when you get there even if you have 3 boxes at home!

Honestly, I think it comes from growing up with less. (Which isn’t a bad thing, especially these days.) We never went hungary, that’s the wierd thing.  But I always have been like this, making sure to “buy ahead” and not to run out.  Is it a lack of faith in something?  A lack of faith that my Lord will feed me?  That doesn’t make me look very good does it?

So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.   1 Corinthians 10:31

Some of the items were way out of date, like years.  So, they were disposed of but the question is, will I replace what doesn’t need replaced just to try to feel safe?

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

44th Birthday Celebration!


This is the post telling you all about the wonderful ideas I’m doing to celebrate my 44th birthday on December 26th. It was hard for me to decide what to do but I finally did!  I received ideas from others and truly appreciate them! I’m using some of them here! In fact, I got a super great one to use during my next Adoption Series in 2015!  So be sure to check back to find out about that little gem in November!

I have decided to do two things.

The first one is that I will write handwritten notes to 44 people and send them starting on December 26th of this year!  My deadline of course is December 26, 2015 to get this accomplished!  Handwritten is the key!  When was the last time you actually wrote a handwritten letter or note. It’s been a bit for me too!  Nothing huge, just a note to someone?  Wanna join me?

The second one is helping others in a more physical way.  I will be donating blood as often as I can starting on December 26th. Unfortunately in the amount of time I have to reach my goal I can’t do it alone.  One can only give blood every 56 days (8 weeks).  That being said I need your help to reach 44! DON’T click away! Hear me out, even if you have never donated!

#1 – I have only donated a few times in my life and it has been YEARS and I mean years since I donated.

#2 – Do it with a friend, I am!  My husband and daughter and sister are going! My daughter really dislikes needles but she’s doing it for her Momma and others! Things are always funnier with partners right?

#3 – You can donate one time  or seven times, it’s up to you!

#4 – Donating one pint of blood helps three people.  THREE people and normally the needle is only in your arm about 10 minutes.

#5 – It’s free.  Seriously.  It doesn’t cost you money, just time.

#6 – You can download a cool app on your phone or tablet.  You can keep track of your blood donations and schedule appointments or find blood drives! It’s seriously easy to use!  Go to playstore or the app store and search for red cross app.  If you like to use your computer go to Red Cross . Or you can call 1-800-733-2767 to find a location or drive near you!  

I bet, if we do this together I can reach my goal of 44 pints of blood donated.  If I was a betting woman I bet we could EXCEED it! 🙂  Who is with me?

Here’s the plan!

Letting me know you are committed.  Commenting below will be the best way for me to keep track of where I am in my goal!  This is a team supported effort folks! Just comment below if you are committed. Once you have written the note or donated blood you can do the following!

NOW the fun part!  I decided for the next year I will be photo documenting this adventure on Instagram too.   So if you are on Instagram, come follow me on there!  It’s under pushingforwardgrace. #pfwg44thbirthday is the hashtag to use! This is where I will be sharing photos of the acts or myself doing the following:

 

Give

I’d like to share your photos as well.  If you would feel comfortable with sharing with us a photo of the difference you made,whether it be of the handwritten envelope, letter, blood being drawn, sticker or snacks provided after donating or even a selfie I’d be happy to share it on the Instagram page. You can email them to betweenthesunsets@gmail.com as well.   Or you can tag us in it and I will repost it on Instagram.

Giving to others, giving of yourself, and inspiring others is essential in living a fulfilling life.  Won’t you join me in touching other people’s lives?

LET’S DO THIS!

Grace is a gift,

Julie