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Friday, December 27, 2013

A Strangers' Act of Kindness At Christmas Time


It was Monday, the day before Christmas Eve around 1:00 P.M. in the afternoon. I was thankful I had the ability to take paid time off from work. The hustle and bustle of the season was in full force. My two teenage children and I headed out to Target to shop on our very limited Christmas budget. Many stressed out shoppers were honking their horns and the noise level inside Target was "Holiday High."

Believe it or not, this was my first time out Christmas shopping. It's easy to wait until the last minute when you know you have little funds to work with. Money is tight but I felt the spirit of Christmas all around me. I love the bright twinkling lights around town and the snow as it falls on this Christmas eve, eve.  I witnessed families rushing around the store in search for the perfect treasure for their loved ones. I feel at this point in my life, I know the true meaning of Christmas. To me it's not the presents around the tree but those loved ones around the tree and all the blessings that come from having food, clothing and a home.

 I knew as a single mother that my gift choices this year had to be carefully thought out. I told my children to show me around the store and pick out their top (three to five) gifts for Christmas. The kids knew the budget was smaller this year, but what they didn't know was I would pay for gifts from two Target gift cards a friend bought for me. I thought to myself how special it would be if  I could afford taking them out for a festive lunch afterwards, but knew I just couldn't do it.

My cart was filled with the gifts I needed to pick from. I felt my body tense up as I knew it was "go time."  I told my son to go out to the car with his sister and pull up at the front and I'd be out soon. I planned my strategy and took one of the last lanes near the door so I wouldn't be embarrassed if I came up short and had to put some gifts back.

I  guesstimated how much money I had on my two Target cards and laid down the items I thought I could pay for, leaving most of them in the cart. The cashier said,"Your fifteen dollars short mam." I put my hand on my chin and let him know I needed to think which gift my daughter wanted most. He restated the balance I needed to make up. I could feel my face turning red and noticed the long line of folks behind me. I prayed I could quickly figure out which gift was less, so people wouldn't get impatient and angry. I dug in my coin purse and saw a whopping fifty cents. I knew I had no money to spare in my bank account because I needed it for rent in a few days.

Taking out one of the gifts for my daughter, I asked the cashier if I had enough to pay for what was left.   As he was ready to answer me, I heard the woman behind me say, "sir, I would like to pay the difference. Is this a gift for someone, she asked me?"  "Yes, it's a Christmas gift for my daughter." The kind woman says, " I really want to do this for you- please let me buy this gift for your daughter." I answered, "Oh thank you so much but I can't let you do that." She tells me she really wants to do this good deed for me and it would make her Christmas. I could feel a warm rush of love flow through me, and the worry and embarrassment melt away. I knew she was a blessing that God put in my path at just the right time. I thanked her profusely and asked if I could hug her. After giving her a huge embrace, I shared that I was a single mother of two great teenage kids. I couldn't hold back hugging her again and the smile on her face told me we both made each others' Christmas. The cashier was welling up with tears and said, "I've heard about beautiful stories like this but have never personally witnessed it."  I was overflowing with love and joy and asked her for her name. "My name is Jana." "Thank you so much Jana, I will make sure to pay it forward as soon as I can."

I looked behind me at the long line of people waiting to pay for their gifts. Instead of them looking impatient and  irritated, they now wore big smiles and looks of wonder on their faces. As I finished up my transaction with the cashier, Jana said, "here, do something nice for yourself." She put a $20 dollar bill in my hand. I threw my arms around her and wished her a very Merry Christmas. I took one last look at the long line behind us and noticed people were teary eyed. My eyes were welled up and I was ready to just burst into tears.

I walked out the front door of the store and waited for my son to pick me up. As I poured myself in the car, I couldn't hold back the tears. The children looked at me with confusion and asked what was going on. I shared the touching story of the compassionate stranger, and soon the three of us were blubbering. We were full of gratitude and were reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. I got my wish and then some, I thought to myself. Jana wanted me to do something for myself-what better than spending the money going out to lunch with my kids at their favorite Deli. During lunch we made a heart felt toast to Jana and her wonderful act of kindness.




Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stoopininthe Suburbs: Zach Sobiech Clouds Song at Mall of America

Tonight as I lie in bed, I feel so very moved, grateful and blessed. Last night my twin sister and I were honored to be a part of something so meaningful. We performed in the largest choir in history at the Mall of America in Minnesota.

Zach Sobiech wrote the song "Clouds" before his death. It went viral fast. Zach brought so many people together last night in his honor. The mall was standing room only and packed the house on all four floors of the Mall of America.

This inspiring young man died at the age of 18 from bone cancer. He is the reason we all sang our hearts out last night at the mall. We sang his song "Clouds".  My sister and I were on the third floor.  Everywhere you turned,  people were sobbing, singing, and feeling a part of something so big. The Holy Spirit was ever present and we could feel Holy Ghost Goosebumps.

My twin sister and I held each other as we sang Zach's song in unison with hundreds of others.  We were there to honor Zach, but also to celebrate others who have lost the battle for cancer and those that are survivors.  My twin sister is a cancer survivor. Here we were helping raise funds for kids cancer. We stood there knowing what a momentous moment in time this was. She could have been gone as the doctors predicted. They gave her a 20-25% of surviving five years. CANCER SUCKS!!

This night will forever stay in my heart and I will remember the powerful, vibrant energy of love that was so thick and palpable. Please watch the video I took from the third floor.


My twin sister and I will never forget this night as long as we live.



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Announcing the Launch of Book II in the series of 'Mysterious and Miraculous'

What an incredible Christmas season this is going to be. Book II of the 'Mysterious and Miraculous' series has just been published.
I am honored to announce that both my twin sister and I have our own stories of the Supernatural, Miraculous and Mysterious in this second book of the series. We are humbled to be among a cast of amazing writers. The book was made possible because of the time and talent of Michael Friedman of Mockingbird Press.
 This is one of those captivating books that you can't put down once you've started reading the incredible stories. The book is a great holiday gift because it's rich with meaning and inspiration. The book is filled with true stories that will blow your mind. They are stories of miracles, paranormal, hope and mystery. You will come away feeling inspired and energized.
 Can you envision it now: Your reading the book as you sit in your cozy living area on your favorite recliner. You have your warm fleece blanket over your lap as you sip your favorite holiday cocktail. It doesn't get better than this! The book is already available for sale on Legacy Archives Foundation Book Shoppe and it's associated information page is also up and ready to receive visitors. Eventually, when enough books sell, it will become available on hard copy.
 One of the biggest reasons I was compelled to contribute my own spiritual story is because of the important cause. 70% of the proceeds of this book will go to 'Support Homeless Veterans' Organization. Captain Mike, our wonderful Editor and Publisher from Mockingbird press has also built in a page that allows active duty veterans of allied forces to get a free copy of each book we produce in PDF format. I hope if you don't buy one of these books for yourself, you will consider buying one for a friend or family member. It's such an honor to be a contributing scribe in this team of exceptional writers, editors, photographers and everyone else who donated their time and talent to this endeavor.

 *E-Books can be purchased at
http://storykeepers.weebly.com/book-shoppe.html