#OperationStarfish

As I consider the holiday season at hand and all the homeless  people I would like to take a Christmas tree, a bag of food, and a new sleeping bag to, I feel the weight of this thought process… Seriously THIS keeps me up at night – sure I can make a difference for one; I get that. But I want to help them all, and can’t.

What I CAN do (beyond the few that I can go help…) is to use my WORDS. I totally believe if every person reaches out to one other person, we could make a HUGE dent and THIS holiday season could be EPIC out in the streets!!! WHY NOT?

So, here is a list of possible ideas for those of you (like me) who don’t have a lot to work with this holiday season –  *Fill up a bag with personal items for a man or woman ~ easy. Dollar store. Soap. Toothbrush/toothbrush. Socks. Hairbrush. Bandaids. Candy. Paper. Pen. (yes Dollar Stores have just about every item anyone would like to have in a bag….be creative and fun too. Spend a mere 10.00 or more if you can. Don’t let an ‘amount’ be a reason NOT to. ) *Do you bake at the holidays? Bake an extra plate of cookies for someone; an extra pie; an extra few containers of food. *Depending on where you live, depends on IF you see homeless people – Baltimore, Atlanta, New York City, LA are all big cities where there are for sure LOTS of homeless people that are hungry and cold, and you straight up go right into the streets! In smaller towns there are soup kitchens, missions where you could donate some bags of food they could cook with – or homemade treats to distribute. *If in doubt, fill a bag with socks, neck scarfs, mittens…(again, at the Dollar Store). *Buy some hot cups of coffee or hot chocolate, and a box of donuts. *Make a pot of chili and take some bowls – serve out of your car.  *Get your church involved with you – (power of multiplication!) – youth group – your kids – your local stores – take advantage of the fact that we as humans ARE basically NICE. Sometimes we don’t do something, only because we don’t know WHAT to do. *Don’t forget those in need who are NOT homeless and just need a helping hand. Take a name off an angel tree. *If you LOVE to sing/ perform – well, here’s your sign! Go sing to people who will be your BEST and most appreciative audience. *Go Christmas caroling. (free.) – and X a million other ideas you probably will think of yourself.

Yes you will feel overwhelmed to see SO many needy people. YES you will feel like WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. YES you will realize you can’t save the world.starfish story  We just need to do our small part.

So, this holiday season of 2014 – reach out to one person in need; one ‘starfish’ on the great shoreline of life. I think I shall christen this ~ OPERATION STARFISH. 🙂

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#IChooseJoy

It always starts with a choice. Choices begins when your mom says to you (at an age when you’re  beginning to understand such questions)  – “It’s up to you. If you behave  yourself, we can go in the store. If not, we can just go home.” ( I am sure I said that to my kids upon occasion…) Do you want your blankie? Do you want more juice? How about when you finally got to pick out your own clothes – or voice what kind what kind of sandwich you wanted for lunch – or say if you wanted a kitty or a puppy. There is one choice X a million in those formative years.

Then the choices graduated to BIGGER issues. Ah, the teen year choices  – SO many it makes a teen’s head spin, which IS why we need to walk them through this time with some grace and mercy – it is like the whole world has appeared on their doorstep demanding – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? There is one choice X a million in those years

Fast forward past childhood and teenage years, into adult hood and all the moments and seasons and circumstances that hurl at you without warning and unexpected – CHOICES come with every food group, every bill, every child, every vacation, every belief you follow, every single item placed within your home, and on and on. There is one choice X a million in those years.

So you find yourself on the OTHER side of critical life changing choices. Maybe you now only answer to your self. Maybe on the other side of marriage, is now widowhood. Maybe now on the other side of parenthood, is now an empty nest. Maybe on the other side of happiness, is…..wait. Other side? There is another side to happiness? Yes. Happiness comes from the outside of your life – things that make you happy ~ they can be big or small ~ such as a vacation on a cruise ship can make you happy just as well as a bowl of pine  cones or a favorite coffee creamer. The other side of happiness is NOT based on things, and is not contingent on tangible things or even your feelings.

The other side of happiness is JOY. And it IS a choice. Hit song – “Happy” ~~~WHY is this SO popular?  BECAUSE WE ALL JUST WANT TO BE HAPPY.  The irony of this is – I can have a big house and find no satisfaction. I can have a ton of friends, and still feel alone. I can have all the ‘toys’, power, fame, bank accounts, and prime vacation spots and STILL be depressed. Happiness is fleeting. That is why you see people who you think SHOULD be happy, and they are not. The definition of HAPPY is:  pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness,  enjoyment, satisfaction. See the word JOY? It IS part of being happy; truly happy. Joy itself means: delight, gladness, triumph, ecstasy, exuberance, euphoria, bliss, rejoicing. The two go together. But ONE is a choice. So, choose JOY. Embrace life….NOT only allowing things to determine your level of delight…joy is an INSIDE thing. It is that peace in the storm thing…it is what holds you together when by all means you should be falling apart. It is MORE than a feel-good fleeting moment that ends when that Pumpkin Latte is gone.

Do I always feel happy? Nope. But in its absence, I can still have joy. I can still have an inner glow in my soul that assures me All Is Well. JOY is a matter of the heart. It is NOT determined by outside forces and if you protect it, it can NOT be stolen by outside forces. After the house is gone, the car is gone, the mate is gone, the family is gone and even the family pet is gone – we can STILL rejoice. joy imageThis is my ONE choice  in these years – after all is said, and done, and gone, I still choose JOY.

#365ReasonsNOTToGiveUp

I don’t know about you, but when I do something – I generally have to stand back AFTER and ask myself why I did it. It is not a bad idea ever, to examine our motives. We can deceive ourselves. After I hit the word PUBLISH for my first full-length book, I had to ask myself why I did it. It is my sharing of my heart – my real and raw and flawed moments and seasons of many years gone by. I just wrote a book and shared my grief of losing my husband to cancer. I just told you I got mad at God. I just exposed I have been tempted. I let you know I have failed X a million. Why? Because NO matter what circumstances I found myself in, I always chose NOT to give up. And if THAT helps anyone, I would do it again.

I didn’t keep at it because I had all the answers – I STILL don’t. I didn’t see my husband get healed from cancer. I couldn’t keep my house from burning down. What I learned I COULD do, was to keep moving forward. Sometimes that was crawling, or being dragged by a friend….SO why did I write this book? For a book club? To be on a talk show? No. Though that’d be awesome….of course. I wrote it for YOU. And YOU. And You…because we ALL walk this same journey called LIFE. It is filled with the unexpected and detours and pitfalls. We can’t stop that – But we CAN choose to embrace the bad with the good, and find a way for the sorrows and joys to co-exist. My book is about survival, choices, tears, grief, sorrow, failures, mistakes, detours and wrong turns – coupled with stories of friendship, family (lots of personal stories about the people who have made me who I am), love, laughter, giant moths, lost teeth, dandelion seeds, christmas fruit cakes, faith, purpose and above all else – HOPE. I’d love you to purchase it and upload it to your Kindle, and leave me a review so I can know if anyone was helped 🙂 I want you  to be encouraged on a daily basis NOT to give up. For any reason. And to know that there is ALWAYS a day AFTER the worst day of your life.

If you read it, and you are helped, pass it on to someone else…let’s all work together at bringing hope back into a very dark world.~

~Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the .free kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.  httpsCorine-Channell---BOOK-COVER

#WhyNot

courageI just left home. No, I am not 18. I am 57. 🙂 I am moved 3000 miles away. AND it’s my first time ever, to live on my own. My journey thus far ~ from a family home to college. From college to marriage. From marriage to 6 kids. From there, loss of husband, and now empty nest. There is my life in a very small nutshell. So, nope. NEVER lived on my own. Till last Saturday. Just me. 2 heavy suitcases, and 2 carry ons, and “20 seconds of insane courage”! haha! (Favorite movie quote from ‘I Bought A Zoo’.)  🙂

20 seconds to walk on to the plane, to move 3000 miles away. Is this a forever move? Probably not. I am guessing it’s just another chapter in the book of my life. Am I excited? yup! VERY. Am I scared? yup! VERY. Did I  chicken out? NO. 🙂

Telling anyone this, just to say ~ sometimes the only way to break out of your comfort zone, is just to do it. It is so easy to do the easy thing; to stick with what is familiar, and secure. And for sure, there is nothing wrong with that. There are times and seasons where we are meant to stay put, and others when we are meant to do something different/change/move. It takes wisdom to know timing.  If you are a mother of 6 kids, you just can’t decide to up and move away on a great adventure. Definitely NOT time. But, when your 6 kids are on their own, sure! Another quote from ‘I Bought A Zoo’ ~”Why not?”

#IfItWasYou

 

 A few weeks ago we went with some people to serve hot food, and give out blankets to homeless people. All I can say is, it felt like a drop in a bucket. I cannot shake it from my mind, nor do I want to. I don’t want to forget.

One older man in a wheelchair couldn’t get to the food line; he was off to the side of the street. When someone went to get him food, and asked him his name , he paused…and sadly said…”I don’t know. No one has asked me that for such a long time.” No, I don’t want to forget.

Another lady whom someone hugged, was overcome with emotion as she tearfully said how she couldn’t remember the last time anyone hugged her. No, I don’t want to forget.

On a different day, when I was going on a fun road trip with a friend, a cardboard sign caught my eye that said – Help me. My heart was moved by the sad look on the young man’s face holding the sign. We turned around and brought him hot food. We parked the car, and walked up to him, which sadly scared him. He turned abruptly to us with an anxious look and said “Am I in trouble?” It was so sad to hear his story of being a homeless veteran of war, with many physical and mental issues. No. I don’t want to forget.

. I want to care for each and every person I see, who is standing on the side of the road holding a sign that says Hungry. Or Help me. Or Homeless. I have heard people say that you can’t tell who really needs help, and some people don’t deserve help. WHAT????? Since when is helping someone contingent on whether or not they deserve it. We ALL could be the man who can’t remember his name, or the lady who never gets hugged, or the desperate single mom with 3 young girls who has no home, or the man standing in the snow hoping for a hot cup of coffee.

Image Please join me in reaching out to the forgotten, the broken, the hopeless, the ones who feel invisible, who are cold, and hungry . One cup of coffee at a time. One hug at a time. One blanket at a time. One encouraging word at a time. One smile at a time. And, IF you are able to do more, feel free. We all can do something, whether small or large…it WILL matter to someone. No, you may not be able to change the world, but you CAN change ONE life.

I want to see their faces in every stranger I pass today, and every day thereafter. No, I don’t want to forget.