Posts Tagged With: Children


You is kind.
You is smart.
You is important.

Aibileen may have been just the lowly black servant of the house, but she forever positively influenced the lives of the children’s ears she whispered those words into.
I watched “The Help” and then read the book recently. A wonderful story with touching characters and harsh realities of our world.

Aibileen was treated as unimportant, but she made sure the children in her care felt elevated.
Aibileens kindness and intelligence went unnoticed because of her skin color, but she was one of the most perceptive and giving characters in the story.
She saw the prejudice around her and the prejudice directed at her, but she rose above it and lived in truth.

Prejudice still exists today. Sometimes it not the color of the skin, but the address of their home or the intelligence of their being. Hate comes masked in all different forms. Evil comes masked behind pretentious smiles just as often as hatred is visually noticeable in others body language.

We need love, we need acceptance, we need purpose.
We need to be told we are kind, smart and important. People do not realize we feel that way unless we tell them. Can you imagine if every child was told each day how important they are to the world around them…what a world this would be…just stop and imagine…now help that become a reality!

Those three little sentences in a movie about so many life lessons may have been the most profound for me.

Do we tell those around us how important they are to us? Do we reach out in kindness to others? Life brings us many challenges, depression can come so easily if we feel that we have no purpose. The funny thing is, you may never know how one small act can impact another. Consider Mark and Bill…a true story…

Mark was walking home from school one day when he noticed the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove and a small tape recorder. Mark knelt down and helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. Since they were going the same way, he helped to carry part of the burden. As they walked Mark discovered the boy’s name was Bill, that he loved video games, baseball and history, and that he was having lots of trouble with his other subjects and that he had just broken up with his girlfriend. They arrived at Bill’s home first and Mark was invited in for a Coke and to watch some television. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some shared small talk, then Mark went home. They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once or twice, then both graduated from junior high school. They ended up in the same high school where they had brief contacts over the years. Finally the long awaited senior year came and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they could talk.

Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they had first met. “Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day?” asked Bill. “You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn’t want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mothers sleeping pills and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together talking and laughing, I realized that if I had killed myself, I would have missed that time and so many others that might follow. So you see, Mark, when you picked up those books that day, you did a lot more, you saved my life.”

-John W. Schlatter

You may have read or heard of a similar story on the internet about Kyle, but that story exploded from this simple one. But this story is not simple, it was important to Bill. It is a story that needs to be shared.

You can make a difference too!
You can be a Mark to someone else and turn a simple momentary act into life altering action!
You can be Aibileen and build up someone’s confidence by using only the power of your words!

How will you be Kind, Smart and Important to someone else today?

Categories: Balance, Family, God | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Destination or Journey

Oh my! I can’t believe it has been a month since I posted…Well, I promise to get myself back on track!

I was at a Conference a few weeks ago where the presenter posed the question:
“Are you a destination person or a journey person?”

Think about it…some may say aren’t you on a journey to your destination? But he posed the question as two separate descriptions and after reflecting on his description I clearly see the difference.

Our family drives on most of our vacations, we always have. We love the time we share in the car, just the four of us together. When my children were in grade school, we filled the car with books and games, never a television, a tv is contradictory to everything about a road trip? Back on point…my husband does most of the driving (by his choice) and looks at the road as a means to an end – let’s get to Colorado! I see the time in the car and the places along the way as an exciting adventure and part of the experience. Both are fine, but uniquely different. He wants to get to the destination and I enjoy the journey along the way. He wants to get their to start the vacation and I want to stop at this small town to see this cute museum in the brochure. Maybe because I totally trust that he is going to get us to the destination therefore I am able to enjoy the journey, but we approach it differently don’t we?

What about every day, not just vacations?
How do you approach your day?
Do you want to get to work, put in your time and get home?
Do you enjoy the relationships you are building everyday?
Do you stop during the day and take in all that is around you?

Are you a destination person or a journey person?

Life has thrown some curve balls along my way, as we all have in our lives. My husband lost a job, a child moves cross-country, a sister moves to China (literally), turmoil and distrust in organizations involved in plus stress in and out of the day. We all deal with these types of situations throughout life, but think about how we deal with them.

Life is filled with wonderful surprises throughout the hardships…are we looking for them? Are we allowing ourselves to experience the journey? Can we embrace the struggles with the joys?

Balancing the hills and valleys of our lives can be a miraculous adventure if we wrap our arms around our faith and hold on with a smile knowing that the journey to the destination is a roller coaster ride of thrills and shrills!

Enjoy the journey!


Categories: Balance, Family, Gratefulness | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Family game nights

I’m sitting here working on my laptop and out of the corner of my eye I see three Wii guitars.
Guitar Hero took the country by storm a few years ago and has morphed into Band Hero and other active family style video games.
But what has family game nights become? When my children were younger, family nights were sitting together around the kitchen table playing card games and board games. We loved Trivial Pursuit, Apples to Apples and Brain Quest, but were most inclined to pull out our Dominoes or a Card game.

We loved family nights of UNO, Phase 10 or just a deck of cards for Gin or Seven’s. Dad would make our children a bowl of ice cream or popcorn and we would settle in for a couple of hours. Laughing and talking, having a great time.
I remember when we moved to the couches. It was Scene It.
A trivial game using video – so much fun and so much more comfortable on the couch, but we lost something – the circle of conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I love Scene It and would love to play anyone, anytime, but it changed the circle at the table into a line on couches facing the tv instead of each other. Video games tore at family nights.

Video games, PS, Wii, XBox, etc, pulled our children individually to the screen. Oh manufacturers have managed to have 2-player games and family games, like Band Hero, but again it’s a different feel on family game night. It just feels different.

I LOVE watching my son play the guitar on the Wii, dreaming of some day being that fluid, precise and animated. He makes it seem so effortless. Or watching my daughter play the drums along with him to Aerosmith or Taylor Swift. We still have the laughter and love, but it just feels different. Something has been lost…do family still own a deck of cards?

Friday I had a hair appointment and as I opened the door to enter the salon, to my left was a mother waiting with a 3-year-old daughter. This adorable little girl had a toy cell phone and was talking away to no one with her head cocked to her right shoulder to hold the phone and her blonde curls bouncing behind her. Three years old! I’m sure she’ll have a real cellphone before 7 years old! Technology has so many positive attributes, like Skyping with my sister in China for 20 minutes yesterday, but do we pay attention to the attributes of family life that are slipping away? Where’s the doll that was a three-year old’s best friend? Has it been replaced by toy cell phones?

My family gathered last month to say farewell to my sister that was moving to Shanghai – we were all together, my mother’s six children and all her grandchildren and one great-grandchild to boot! Twenty-seven in all. We decided to fit in a game night at the Caschetta’s! And what a night it was. Everyone was crammed into our sunroom while playing Loaded Questions. This hilarious game can be played on the board provided (as per the instructions) or by just sitting around asking the questions in a large group (as we improvised). It is a wonderful way to learn about each other, to laugh until you have tears in your eyes and to uncover secret dreams and ambitions. Family game night was recaptured!!

I also created a “family quiz” for my sister’s family that was leaving. All my siblings, nephews and nieces sent me facts about themselves and Toni, Matt, Margaret and Frank guessed who it pertained to. We kept track of which Barton knew the most about family members. Sitting around my brothers living room laughing and loving each other – everyone enjoyed pulling a question to ask and seeing who knew the answer. Often there were more than one person in the room that could say “me”. We discovered that “who owned a red convertible” applied to six family members!! It was so much fun. This is what family game night should be…
No one wanted the questions to end…what a great memory!

Reclaim family game night – and not in front of a television!
Pull out your dusting deck of cards, create your own trivial game or call over friends if your children are not home. Learn a new card game or enjoy the treasured ones of your childhood and circle around a table with LAUGHTER and LOVE and you will receive great blessings!!

When you go into the house, greet the family with a blessing. Matthew 10:12

Categories: Balance, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pick up and read

Okay, I love books! My family will tell you there are piles all over my house of books I have read and books I am planning on reading.

I love the feel of books in my hands, so full of knowledge, wisdom, love, history, fantasy or excitement. I always use bookmarks and NEVER dog-ear a page. I feel the author would want me to care for their labor of love and treat it with respect. Some spiritual book I do underline passages or ideas I want to remember, but always in a straight line being careful not to allow my pen to dip into the words on the page, but underline and accent the words. I’ll admit I usually use a ruler to get the line I want. Okay I am not OCD, I just like it the way I like it.

I mostly read spiritual or autobiographies, but the occasional novel can be found in my stacks too. Well for Mother’s Day this year, my children gave me a Kindle. I know, I should be pleased. But the Kindle is not the same as holding a book and I was skeptical – although I know so many people who LOVE their Kindle’s.
And I do sometime buy books and read them, never to open them again.
And I do buy books impulsively, that I have had for years and not read.
And then there are the trees that are cut to provide me books, when there is a totally doable alternative.
In addition, I did not want to return such a thoughtful gift and decided to give it a try.

I enjoyed paying less than my first book, My Lucky Life, in and out of television; by Dick Van Dyke – it was a great story, you could hear his smile through his words.

And I discovered it was okay to read on the Kindle. No I’m not marketing the Kindle, I actually downloaded Google Books to my phone for free and read Promise Me, by Nancy Brickman. Her sister was Susan G Komen and the book is about their lives, battles with cancer and building the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I read that on my phone…pretty small, but great to be able to read in waiting rooms and free moments. With Google Books you can read from your laptop or phone, but the versatility of an eReader like the Kindle has its advantages.

So for someone who loves books, but has a hard time finding time to read books…I have found myself on my fifth book since receiving the Kindle in June, (we celebrated Mother’s Day on Father’s Day because neither of my children were home on Mother’s Day). I don’t think I have ever read 5 books in 45 days!

I have rediscovered my passion for reading and am now trying to read through the stacks of books on my tables and bookshelves and then I reward myself with a new Kindle book to read. Well, I can’t give up on beautiful traditional books, now can I?

Actually, it’s already both…my daughter asked me to read Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth”. She loved the storyline yet – do you know how thick that book is!! YIKES!! I thought I would never be able to do it. But I told her I would give the book four chapters and if it intrigued me I would attempt to finish it.  Well on page 120, I got on Amazon and discovered it was only $6.99 to carry it on my Kindle! And that HUGE book can not be carried in your purse…so I gave her the hard copy back and will finish it with my eReader.

Guess I got use to the ease of the Kindle fairly quickly…and I’m reading more, what’s not to love about that!

Rediscover your passion for reading – or discover it for the first time – Pick up and READ!!

Categories: Balance, Explore | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pride for an American Hero

Pride in our family, our nation, our heroes was seen throughout the southwest suburbs today.

At the funeral of my cousin’s son who was killed in Iraq, emotions ran deep.
As I stood in the back of the funeral home listening to the stories about this young man with a huge heart I was moved to tears. An honorable man who loved everyone he met, loved playing the guitar and loved making a difference in the lives of others by serving in the army. He was an American Hero.

He was an American Hero as a soldier
His wife, mother, father, sisters, brother, grandfather and grandmothers now wear the Gold Star for their sacrifice. I will be eternally grateful to all the men and women who have given their lives so that we may be free. The service was distinguished and honorable, with Patriot Guard Riders standing in respect throughout the visitation and funeral. The room hushed as they came forward to say their final goodbyes, especially the final Patriot Guard; a World War Two veteran that saluted Mike’s casket. The image of the Patriot Guard Riders standing with the US flags, then riding with the motorcade to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery for his final resting place is imbedded in my memory.

Never have I been so proud to be an American.

He was an American Hero as a brother, son and husband.
As we drove through Homer Glen, Lockport, New Lenox, Joliet and Elwood the streets were lined with hundreds of people. Young and old, walkers and strollers, boy scouts and soccer players to honor a fallen hero. Businesses stopped and employees stood at the street under their company signs that were changed to read “In memory” or “We miss you”. People on the streets held handmade signs with “Thank you for your sacrifice”, “God bless Mike”, “Our hero” and just miles and miles of American flags. It was so touching to see so many people, some that may not have even know Mike, taking time out of their day to stand on the streets in respect. Then we would pass fields with no one and suddenly at the end of a farm-house driveway would be a single person standing and saluting the 200 cars, or a woman, dog at her side, right hand on her heart and left hand holding a flag, alone but honoring another. Then, there was a mother and her two sons, in their Boy Scout uniforms with flags in Homer Glen, then they appeared again in New Lenox – they must have got in their car and traveled on back streets to get in front of the procession to honor Mike twice. A mother teaching her sons about committment, dedication and honor…a message they will never forget. Nothing is more important than honoring our heroes and paying our respects. I have known that my whole life, but I felt it deep in my heart today.

At the cemetery, six soldiers carried Mike’s casket to his final resting place, as everyone encircled the family with love. The 21 gun salute, the folding and presenting of the American flag and the bugle rendering Taps, brought everyone to a somber reality of this final goodbye. As I wiped my eyes, I saw something moving from the corner of my eye and I looked up. Past the lines of the uniformed headstones there was a grove of trees and beautifully soaring in a circle above the trees were three hawks. Then a fourth hawk flew towards the group and they flew off together. I believe this was the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, soaring to bring Mikey home. And off he went with the Trinity to his true home. Faith and Life in the ultimate image.

I know how touched I was by the outpouring of honor, respect and love – I can only imagine what Mike’s wife, parents and siblings felt.

Today I was so proud to be an Olivieri and more importantly humbled and proud to be an American! May the faith of Mike’s family and the prayers of a community comfort them in their grief.

On behalf of a grateful nation…God bless you Mike!!

Categories: America, Balance, Family, Gratefulness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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