Tag Archives: believe

BELIEVE there is good in the world

Dear Megan

God has a plan for you, my beautiful, smart and extremely talented niece. I knew it from the very minute you came into this world. There you were at the Medical Center in Beaver, PA wrapped in my arms with a little cap on your gorgeous little head — I fell in love with you at that very moment. And then your grandma said, “look at all her hair,” and pulled the little cap off and there fell three or four inches of fine brown hair. Just precious. You changed my life at that very moment.

I spent almost every night at your house for the first six months of your life. I think your dad was probably sick of seeing me, but your mom would hand you to me and then go wash her floors or do laundry or other things. She was happy I was there. I would feed you and play with you — I couldn’t get enough of you — you just loved to snuggle in my arms. You fit there so perfectly. I used to look down at you while I fed you your bottle and talk to you about where life would take you. And dream about all the things God had planned for you, my tiny niece.

And then you were baptized and as your Godmother, I made a promise to always take care of you, keep you safe and teach you about our Catholic faith. Staying true to your faith will guide you and comfort you as you begin your new journey. And with every difficult decision you encounter along the way, find a quiet place and talk it over with God. He will give you the right answer. Always believe, Megan. Always believe deep inside of you that God will protect you and guide you. God has something wonderful planned for you.

I was there for so many of your firsts, Megan. Your first steps, your first words. Your first tears and your first giggles. You used to giggle at so many things — especially your little dog Barney. Or your bouncy chair. You were a beautiful, perfect baby — with big spiral curls and the bluest, most curious eyes. Even as you got older — I was there to see your accomplishments, awards, ceremonies and recognitions. I am so proud of you, Megan. I’m so thankful that I was able to experience so many of your firsts.

Your Mom and I took you everywhere. We would go to the mall on the weekends. I remember one trip to the mall where I bumped your head by accident on one of the metal clothing stands in Lazarus department store. You screamed and cried, and I took you outside of Lazarus inside the mall where we sat by the water fountain. I cried with you, because I hurt you. I remember holding you close and rubbing the little red mark on your head. I told you I was sorry and you smiled. I’ll never forget that. I’ve learned over the years that forgiveness is so important. Everybody makes mistakes and everybody learns from those mistakes. You have to forgive and move on and remember that most people are really good inside and want to do the right thing. Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You won’t regret that.

I believed more than anything that God sent you to us at the very moment in life when you were needed here. My dad, your grandpa or “Pappy Bob” was sick and you were that gem in his day that made all the difference, Megan. The relationship the two of you had was simply endearing — you would run to him, giggling and he would have a smile from ear to ear. Those moments and all the moments between you and my dad simply touched my heart. If you’re ever feeling alone or sad, just think about how special you are — you made such a difference in so many lives. And God’s plan for you is still unfolding!

I wish you would have known my dad the way we all did. He was a man of great faith who knew what was important in life. He could do anything he set his mind to and he taught all of us that. Dad’s advice was the best kind. He knew what the right answer was and was our guide. You and I got our talents from him. And today I believe he is your guide as you embark on this next chapter in your life. He’s looking down on you and is so, so, so proud of that little baby he knew for such a short time. Pappy Bob would sing to you all the time, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray. You never know dear how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away.” You gave him a reason to love life when life was dishing him lemons. It was you who changed his life.

So I watched you grow up into an amazing woman who is talented in so many ways. My dad always told me that if you do something in life with the talents God gave you, you would be so happy and fulfilled. You are a baker, a decorator, a designer. You are an artist, a painter, and a masterpiece creator. You have an incredible imagination that helps you dream big and your creativity is endless. You chose the right field of study — architecture. You’ll soon be immersed in a whole new world of textures, fabrics, upcycled, recycled, reclaimed, metals, woods, natural stones and countless other materials for fabrication. You’ll learn about the history of furniture and styles — what’s new, what’s old and what’s to come. And I’m going to be that pesky aunt who wants to know everything about coming.

Dream big, Megan. I believe you can do anything you put your mind to. Dream big for yourself and for those who matter in your life. Get a dream book and write down 100 dreams you have for yourself. That’s right. At least 100. You can write them, list them, draw them, doodle them. Take your dream book everywhere you go. Make notes and date them. Add to your book. Cross of things as you accomplish them. And find ways to make new ones come true. Don’t ever stop dreaming, Megan. Dreams will help you live life to the fullest. And, it will be interesting to see where your dreams today take you and what your dreams look like 10 years from now.

Love with all your heart. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. This Bible passage is something I read at least once a week, especially if I’m upset about something. Whenever you’re annoyed with someone else or a situation, just read these words and know that if you believe in these words, the situation will just fall apart and go away. Try it! It really works.

Be the good in the world. And believe there is good in the world. That’s my best advice, my most favorite quote. Believe there is good in the world, because there is. And you have the opportunity to Be the Good by your actions and what you do. Your kindness already touches those around you. You are so smart and caring — you’re beautiful inside and out. Your smile is so genuine and the way you show respect to those around you is admirable. Goodness oozes from within you, Megan. And goodness is contagious! You’ll attract others just like you who believe they can make the world a better place for everyone.

God has a plan for you, Megan. It’s just starting to unfold before us. I sit here and think about how much you’ve grown up and how much I love you. We would have said, “I love you big piles!” when you were two years old. The answer is still “big piles!” I can’t help but wonder where life is going to take you. Get on that ride of life and hold on tight. Never let go and always climb higher. I believe anything is possible, Megan. And I’m anxious to watch as you move into the next chapter of yours, ready to experience more of your firsts that are yet to come.

Always  B E L I E V E !

Love,
Aunt Pam

My nieces

My beautiful nieces. Megan is on the left and Tara on my right.

 

 

Thinking of Dad with Laughter

Memorial Day — one of my favorite holidays when we remember those who served and those who gave their lives so that we can be free. In Pennsylvania, it’s the official kickoff to summer with a long weekend, usually warmer weather and family cookouts.

Friday, the 22nd was the funeral mass of a friend’s wife. I had never met her, but I knew about her illness as I talked about it with him. She had an aggressive form of cancer and he had asked me about mine. I prayed for her often and for peace for her family. I lit a candle for her when I heard about her cancer and then again when I heard she had passed away. I had no idea until I attended the mass just how much faith they had.

Thursday evening I was apprehensive about attending, because she was only five years older than me, and I was worried that I might be pensive the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. In fact, I was inspired. I know that is an odd thing to say after leaving a funeral mass. I felt the same way when my Dad passed away and we left his funeral mass. It’s because I believed! I remember belting out “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left the church, and I knew in that moment that my Dad was with God!

Their family believed. During the eulogy, he told us their story — that they put all their faith and trust in God that he would make her well — but they knew if he didn’t that it was his Will. And either way it was a win-win situation for her. His faith was simple and beautiful. And he believed that everything came with a lesson and was teaching them something. He smiled and laughed — and he had peace, as did the rest of their family. As we sang “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left church, I thought of my Dad. Saturday was the anniversary of his death — May 23, 2002. It’s been 13 years.

I thought about my Dad all day on Saturday. Tom was servicing the jet ski, because we were taking it out to Shenango Lake on Sunday, even though the water was only 68°. If you’re careful, only your legs get wet — I figured we’d be okay as long as we didn’t fall in. We were going to church at 5 pm at St. Gregory, going out to dinner at the Waterhole after church, and then watching the fireworks show at Cooper’s Lake.

I talk to my Dad all the time, even though he’s not here. I pray for him everyday and then I talk to him. I’d just love to see him smile at me one more time. When I think of him, I remember a very fond memory of him where he is sitting on his bed watching TV and I go into the room and his face lights up — he grins and exclaims, “Pam! What are you up to?” And I jump on the bed next to him and give him a hug. I can recall his face so clearly and the sound of voice. I think of this all the time, because I never want to forget him.

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake.

As we waited for the fireworks to start, I was thinking of how appropriate to watch fireworks on this day, because Dad loved a good fireworks show. We couldn’t hear the music during the fireworks, but I imagined something patriotic — in memory of Dad.

Sunday we headed out to the lake. Tom got up early and waxed the jet ski, because it was looking a little dirty and sun-faded from last year. That turned out to be a big mistake!!!

We met up with my brother Tommy and his fiancé, Gretchen and her son Sam who were already on the boat. After cruising around a bit, Tom and I went out on the jet ski for a couples ride. We didn’t do that often, because it’s not as fun with the extra weight on the jet ski. When we went back to the boat so Tom could get off, Tommy wanted to take the jet ski out with Gretchen. So we both decided to get off. And that’s when it happened.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Somehow Tom leaned the wrong way when I was supposed to get off and the jet ski started to tip, but as I tried to counter balance, my foot slipped on the side of the jet ski and boom — I was in the water before I knew what hit me. I twisted my bad leg and I’m not sure what I’ve done to it (I can’t put any weight on it when I go up the stairs). Tom also fell in — we were lucky that neither of us hit our head or were injured any worse. Tom’s leg was also stuck sideways in the jet ski.

Well after this fiasco, Gretchen and Sam no longer wanted to go on the jet ski. I told them that I have never fallen in — because that has never happened to me! Thanks Tom for waxing it and creating a super slippery surface. In the shock of what happened, I never even felt the 68° water temperature. So, after talking Gretchen and Sam into going, Gretchen starts to climb on the jet ski as Tommy is already seated on it and she slips on the super slippery surface and before you know it — she’s in the water too.

We got the biggest laugh about it on the way home. It was hysterical, and I wish we could have been on one of the boats around us. I’m sure they got a good laugh at our expense. These are the kinds of things that happened when we used to go boating with Dad. Despite my new injury, it was a great day. And I hope my Dad got a good laugh with us.

Always B E L I E V E !

I’m Not Giving Up Chocolate This Year

So, what am I giving up for Lent? I don’t think it’s a matter of what I’m giving up as to what I’m going to do this year to make my life better. I signed up for daily messages from Matthew Kelly at DynamicCatholic.com. They’ve created a campaign called Best Lent Ever, where you can sign up for Lenten inspiration through thought-provoking messages. Dynamic Catholic is committed to re-energizing the Catholic church in America by developing world-class resources that inspire people to rediscover the genius of Catholicism! I love that. What a fantastic mission!

I also read six-minute meditations from my “Little Black Book.” The church provides these little books that cover the 40 days of Lent (plus days leading up to Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter) with scripture readings from Luke’s passion narrative with reflections. I look forward to reading them every year. It’s one small thing I can do to consciously think about Lent every day.

So, I also had my first session yesterday with my new personal & business coach, Barbara. And, after we went strong for over three and half hours before breaking, I started to think about how things in my life are coming to a culmination. Some of the exercises and things I need to think about for my next meeting with Barbara are crossing the message that I received today from Matthew Kelly and my Little Black Book. God, I am listening.

First, Barbara has asked me to find time each day to “relax”. To just “be”. And it took us a while to define what that meant. No, it’s not working on my computer with the TV on in the background. No, it’s not shopping online. She determined that I always had to have something to focus my mind on. And that probably meant there was something that I didn’t really want to think about if everything was quiet. Of course, she’s completely correct. The times I am in complete silence, I think about things that sometimes make me cry. It’s usually when I lay down at night to pray. And as I talk to God, all my fears and short-comings come pouring out.

But before I heard of Matthew Kelly’s daily messages, or had Barbara’s homework assignment, I had decided to take 15 minutes a day to meditate during Lent, in addition to the Little Black Book. And to meditate around something with meaning that could move my life forward. I mentioned this to Barbara, and she immediately said, “and that’s an excellent thing for you to focus on for Lent.” Barbara is encouraging me to meditate and think about something that will help me move forward. Matthew’s message today was simple, “Resistance. What in your life are you resisting that’s holding you back from moving forward with God’s plan?” And the message from the Little Black Book — Jesus looked to the past the night when the Israelites escaped from slavery in Egypt, but he also looked to the future to the great banquet in Heaven. How am I looking into the past with my joys and sorrows, success and failures, etc. And how am I looking forward?

Wow! It’s like everything is coming together, and I have a challenge in front of me! God, I am listening!!!

So, what am I resisting? What is it that I need to do to move forward? How is God speaking to me? I guess now I have something to meditate around — and can I find the answer? Is it inside of me? Sometimes these kinds of things make me freeze up and get a block. I came home from work and said to Tom, “The message I got today for Lent is asking what I am resisting. So what do you think I am resisting in my life to move forward with God’s Plan?” His answer was, “Change.” I said, “What do you mean? There’s so much change in my life, and I’m usually leading it.” and he said, “I don’t know — it just sounded good.”

So, I’m on my own with this one. Maybe tomorrow’s message will help think about it in a different way. If you haven’t signed up for Matthew’s daily messages, join me! And if you’re interested in getting your own copy of The Little Black Book, you can visit their website at www.littlebooks.org.

Always  B E L I E V E ! 

Do You Believe?

I love a good tear jerker movie — or a movie with a heart warming message — they’re usually one in the same. There’s nothing like it to help you relieve any sadness in your heart and fill your with overflowing faith. But the one I watched on Friday evening was just horrible. I cried during the happy times and balled during the sad moments. If I wasn’t sobbing, tears were running down my face. I went through 25 or more kleenex, and I had to throw my contact lenses away and get a new pair! It was kind of stunned when the movie was over. It was just over.

Letters to God. I thought it would be uplifting with a happy ending. I think it hit home too hard for me, as the movie was about a boy with cancer. The movie tried to show how one boy’s cancer affected a whole lot of other people’s lives — and in many cases — were life changing for those people. You could see God working in all these people’s lives, but there’s was nothing subtle about it — it was kind of cheesy and obvious. Although, the part I thought was beautiful was when his friend’s grandpa said to him, “God chose you to be his warrior.” It made the boy feel special and strengthened his faith even more. I thought long on that message.

Did God choose me to have cancer? Well, obviously he did. And I always believed there was a greater purpose for it — for anyone who has an awful illness. It’s how they choose to live life while being dealt such a fateful hand.

Yet, I wouldn’t recommend the movie to anyone. It is just too sad — I mean, it’s not the kind of tear-jerker where you feel so good in the end at all, and the movie just isn’t that well made.

God is Not Dead. Now this movie is a keeper!!! It’s about one man’s journey from being an atheist to being a believer. Like the movie Letters to God, this movie was not made with a huge budget or high-priced actors. Oh, but it was so well done. A philosophy professor asks his first-year students to write “God is Dead”. One student couldn’t do it and was challenged to prove that God was not dead. And he did just that and so much more — and I could watch it again and probably get more from it a second time! The message was carefully crafted and brilliant.

The production company that made God is Not Dead is Pure Flix Productions — known for making movies with Christian themes. I am looking forward to their Spring 2015 release of “Do You Believe?” It looks to be another tear-jerker, heart-warming, faith-filled movie with a message for all of us.

If you’ve seen either of these movies, please comment on what you thought of them. And if there was a special message you received.

Always B E L I E V E !

The Right Answer

“Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” — Proverbs 16:3

I’ve had the lyrics to a Garth Brooks country song in my head all week, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers… Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs… That just because he doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean he don’t care … Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

I think we can all relate to something we’ve prayed really hard for. Over and over, we wondered if God heard us. With my illness, I learned to pray for the things that really mattered. Okay, maybe not all the time! I really learned, though, to just trust in God. “Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” I read that Bible verse every single morning.

I had prayed all summer for the answer to a problem at work. I had a difficulty above anything I had ever experienced before, and I struggled with how to manage the situation. In the end, there was no way to “manage it,” so I put it in God’s hands. And every morning, I said out loud, “Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. I trust you, God. Please speak to my heart and help me get through this. I know this too shall pass.”

Yes, sometimes my faith wavered and I wondered if He was listening. And then in an instant, it changed — it was righted. And I’ve been singing “Unanswered Prayers” all week, because I thought the answer I needed was not the answer at all.  And it confirms for me that God is always present and working in my life.

Always B E L I E V E !

The Journey Forward

Today I officially got to see the good news for myself — in glorious black and white images on the computer screen — scans that showed even more improvement. My doctor told me that I am the official poster child for Cryoablasion success. He tells me he’s used my scans for talks throughout this past six months on alternative treatment methods. My doctor is one amazing and creative physician whose passion for healing is profound!

I had actually got the good news via voicemail last Friday before we left for Ellicottville, NY. There was no way I could go on that trip without the results of the scan I had done earlier in the week. Dr. Goodman had left a message saying “…I am just WOWED about the way they [the scans] look. Everything looks GRAND!…” He followed up with another call when we got back and told me that the results were just incredible.

Thanks to everyone for all your prayers over the past year. The power of prayer is truly amazing. I believe that this journey comes from God, and I am learning something from it — as well as all those who know me. I may not understand everything in this lifetime, but I know I will one day. I trust God completely and today thank him for my healing.

Always B E L I E V E !

Complete Trust in God
Do not look forward to the trials and crosses of this life with dread and fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them.

He has guided and guarded you thus far in life. Do you but hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, he will carry you lovingly in his arms.

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Eternal Father who cares for you today will take good care of you tomorrow and everyday of your life. Either he will shield you from suffering or he will give you the unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace then and put aside all useless thoughts, vain dreads, and anxious imaginations.

Perfectly-timed


Another successful Christmas party! As Tom is scraping cooked-on pasta and other burnt nuggets off my crockpots, I thought I’d write an update. We had a fantastic party today to wrap up the Christmas festivities at the Peters’ house. It’s been a busy week of traveling and visiting, eating and drinking — as well as a week of reflection, prayers and blessings.

The week started with a call from my cousin, Kathie on Christmas Eve. My Uncle Frank was rushed to the hospital, awaiting immediate surgery. We sent prayers and I said a Chaplet to St. Jude before we finished the lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner. I also got word to my brother Bob so that he could join us in good thoughts and prayers for a successful surgery. My Mom and I lit candles for him at Christmas Eve mass in both our parishes. We got word after mass that the two-hour surgery took double the time, but was successful. Now the healing would begin. So we continue our prayers for Uncle Frank, as he’ll be in the hospital a bit longer.

Not long after I finished preparing the lasagna, I got a text from Gert. Our dear friend, Ronnie’s sister Rose had been rushed to Presby Hospital with a feared brain aneurysm the evening before. They didn’t expect her to live through the day. I didn’t know that she had passed away until I talked to Ronnie’s friends at Christmas Eve mass, as I was lighting candles for my Uncle Frank, my Dad and Rose.

As I prayed in church, I tried to make sense as to why Ronnie and Marg would have to lose Rose on Christmas Eve. You would always see the three of them in the last row at the 5 pm Saturday evening mass with their other friends. I got to know Ronnie and Marg well over the years as they never missed St. Gregory Super Bingo. And Ronnie had been coming our Christmas Eve parties for quite a few years. My heart went out to her as I heard how hard they were all taking it. Rose was the youngest of them at 81 years old.

And then there was a little bit of fate that evening or maybe it was a little Christmas magic. I hadn’t served as a Eucharistic Minister for a couple of years. Both Tom and I stopped serving shortly after my brother Bob left our parish. My heart just wasn’t in it any longer. Anyways, Sister Patricia had asked me if they needed me to serve if I would mind helping them. I told her I had never served with Father Larry, but if they needed me to please wave me to come up. So there was all kinds of confusion, but it was obvious they needed my help — so after climbing over everyone (the mass was unbelievably packed), I helped give out communion on the side next to the organist.

It just so happens that my line got backed up as people waited for the wine, and I had about 15 seconds to stand there waiting for it to move. And, it got stopped right at my friend, Dona (who also works at MarketSpace), who happens to be good friends with Ronnie. I had wondered when I saw her in mass if she knew about Rose. So I mentioned it to her in line. She didn’t know. Dona text me later on Christmas Eve to thank me, as her family had stopped by to see Ronnie after mass. We couldn’t believe how all the little pieces fell into place — so perfectly-timed — it felt like I served only to get a message to Dona in line in that few seconds. Somehow I imagined that maybe Ronnie had some added comfort that evening on this holy night. And amid a terribly-timed loss, maybe there was a bit of perfectly-timed love.

I reflected on that as I said my prayers that evening. I thought that while we were celebrating good cheer this year, there will always be those that are deeply hurting. And maybe somehow that hurt is perfectly-timed. I fell asleep believing that “God truly does have a plan for us all.”

At church last night, Father Gallagher talked about an eight-year old little girl from Reading, PA who had made national news. I had already read the story online, but the way he told it — in his wonderful tug at your heart strings way — it was difficult not to break down and sob. The story is about Delaney “Laney” Brown who was diagnosed with Leukemia in the spring. None of her treatments had worked and she grew very ill this past month. With only days to live, she had only one Christmas request — to hear the sounds of Christmas. And on December 21st, between 6,000 and 8,000 people surrounded her home and sung Christmas carols so loudly that Laney could hear them inside her bedroom. She couldn’t get out of bed, but posted a picture to Facebook with thumbs up and said, “I can hear you now!! Love you!”

She died on Christmas morning. While other children her age were gleefully rejoicing in their gifts that Santa Claus had brought, Laney had passed away. I can only imagine the sorrow in that home — on Christmas day! I couldn’t recite the Creed. No words would come from my mouth. I think if I tried to produce a sound, it would have been a sob — thinking about what a heart-wrenching story. And then I thought that maybe it was as it was supposed to be. She was no longer sick — she was with the angels in Heaven. And she was having Christmas like no other child would have it this year. These are the moments we must have faith — we must believe. For as we have faith, we trust that everything is part of God’s plan for each one of us. We won’t know what gifts Laney left behind for those who loved her. She was part of God’s plan for them.

So today was our Christmas party, our celebration of my good health, as last Christmas I was in the hospital. Today was Ronnie’s birthday — she is 86. And Rose’s viewing at the funeral home. My Mom and I went to the funeral home before our party began — and Ronnie and her daughter, Chris joined us in celebration between the viewing hours. It took Ronnie’s mind off of things — even if just for a few hours. She had the chance to laugh, eat, drink and be merry amidst her day of loss. And today, we cracked open our expensive bottle of ice wine from Sheldrake Point Winery in the Finger Lakes, NY and we toasted to a year of continued health.

So as we hear these sad stories at Christmastime, we hug our families a little more tightly this year. We tell them we love them maybe one more time than we would have. We count our blessings. For they all come from God and are perfectly-timed.

Always B E L I E V E .

Christmas Magic

Christmas magic is something that truly only comes once a year. It’s a time when it’s easier to see all those magic moments in the celebrations of the season or the kind works of charity that come with this time of year.

Last year I spent Christmas in the hospital. I remember it well — my private room, quiet and all alone on Christmas Eve — it was peaceful. My mom and sister had decorated my window sill with an old fashioned ceramic Christmas tree, a small manger and a fiber optic tree that all the nurses came to see. They said it was the best tree in the whole wing. I loved looking at the sparkling window sill in the dark. 

Somehow it still felt like Christmas and I was exactly where God wanted me to be. I had received a very inspirational email from my neighbors on Christmas Eve. I had always believed that God had a plan for us — and that verse Jeremiah 29:11 shows itself to me over and over again. And after reading this perfectly timed email, I repeated it over and over during my stay. The doctors had told me that the procedure they were doing would likely result in days or weeks of sickness, and that I would probably be in the hospital a couple of weeks after the procedure. Miraculously, there was not a sign of sickness after the procedure, and I went home right way. Because I believed in the Christmas magic and the miracle that it brought. And last year gave me a new perspective on Christmas this year.

Christmas magic means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, it’s the joy of watching their children open gifts on Christmas morning. For others, it’s giving of their time and resources to make Christmas better for someone less fortunate. For me, it’s making Christmas special for my family, friends and my company and looking for opportunities to give back.

Believe in GoodIt’s definitely different for me this year. Somehow maybe I’m seeing the true meaning of Christmas more clearly for the first time. There have been moments during the days leading up to Christmas that have brought me so much joy in my heart. At MarketSpace, we gave back by bringing Christmas to a family with seven children. It’s been a tough year with their father out of work for more than a year. We collected more than $1,500 and brought them a Christmas to remember. I had asked my staff to throw in the money they collect for a gift for me each year. They were hesitant, but I insisted. In return, instead of an expensive gift, my staff made me this simple poster — Believe there is good in the world. When Trish gave it to me during our Christmas party, she said something about this gift represented all that I am. When I opened the package and read the words, it was truly a magic moment. There were no words to express what those simple words meant to me. This gift was greater than anything else they could have given me.

When you show kindness, the joy you get back is greater than anything you can imagine. It’s infectious. And it changes who you are. That’s the magic of Christmas.

Always B E L I E V E.

I Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and I’ve been thinking about all the things that I’m thankful for. I’m so thankful for Tom for who he is and all he does, all the time, everyday. Of course, Sid and Ben Ben, my two little cats (and yes, Tom, they come second). I’m thankful for my family and friends — all the fun times we have, and all the things we celebrate all year long. I’m thankful for MarketSpace and all the wonderful family there. I’m thankful for my faith and trust in God. I’m thankful for my health that I’m here today, and for as long as God chooses me to be on this earth.
Four Seasons in Pittsburgh

I’m thankful that I get to enjoy all four seasons — winter, spring, summer and fall. It snowed last night and now feels like Christmas!
Finger Lakes

I’m thankful that Bob introduced us to the Finger Lakes in New York.
Friends

I’m thankful for friends, neighbors and celebrations at Peters’ Pub.
Boating

I’m thankful for weekends on Tommy’s boat — tubing, wakeboarding and jet skiing.
Cabin

I’m thankful for our family cabin in Tionesta, PA. Everything about it reminds me of my Dad, and takes me back to those days when he was with us.
CaribbeanI’m thankful for good friends, Caribbean vacations to Aruba, Antigua, St. Lucia, Bahamas and the Riviera, laughter, catamaran cruises and island excursions.

Homemade_PizzaI’m thankful for my Mom. Tom’s Mom. And all the wonderful memories of our Dads. Memories of Grandma and Grandpap Knowlson. Memories of Grandma and Grandpap Miller. Father Bob. Debbie. Debbie’s pizza. My beautiful nieces. Tommy. Dan. Scott. Aunt Mary. All my cousins. Our home. St. Rose of Lima Parish. St. Gregory’s Catholic Church. Humility. Faith. Miracles. Surprises. Birthdays. Great doctors. Creative doctors. New technologies. Friends. New Friends. Old Friends. Lost Friends. Turkey. Homemade noodles. Chicken and dumplings. Steak on the grill, medium rare. Arby’s curly fries with cheese. Pittsburgh Potatoes. Coca-Cola. White sand beaches. Crystal blue waters. Summer rain and liquid sunshine. Diamonds in the snow. Diamonds in the sky. Shooting stars. Rainbows. Sled riding at Mom and Dad’s house. Velour leggings. Amusement parks and water parks. Online shopping. Christmas shopping. Outlet shopping. Christmas caroling. White Christmases. Christmas movies. Super bowl games. Steelers’ parties. Playoff parties. Christmas parties. Giving back. Paying it forward. Photographs. Old photographs. Traditions. Art glass. Typography. Kerning. Handmade papers. Uncoated paper. Letterpress printing. Etsy.com. Recycled and up-cycled stuff. Cabins. Camp Fires. Cats. Dogs. Sheep. Cows. Horses. Baby animals. Farms. Hookstown Fair. Canfield Fair. Tear-jerker movies. Slot machines. Lake Erie. Ellicottville. Martha’s Vineyard. Charleston. Nostalgic small towns. Lakes, oceans and swimming holes. Country music and Christmas music. Sixties fashion. I’m thankful for all my memories of all that is good in this world.

I’m thankful for living in the land of the free — one nation, under God. I am thankful for our service men who won’t be home this holiday. And, as we give thanks this coming Thursday, I pray for those who are less fortunate and those who find only sadness this time of year. And will give thanks for all that God has blessed me with in my life.

Always B E L I E V E.