The Art of Being Kind: 31 Acts of Deliberate Kindness

At the end of July I committed to making the entire month of August a month of deliberate kindness.

Every single day I made a conscious decision to do something for someone else.

The amazing thing about doing anything day in and day out is that it becomes a habit.

I found myself smiling at everyone, opening doors even with a little one in my arms, and speaking with kindness to everyone I encountered.

The little things sometimes have the most powerful influence and I’m proud to have recharged my love and passion for helping others.

My dear friend Amanda also participated in this challenge with me and she blogged about her experience as well.

I encourage you to read about her journey as she taught her two daughters the power of doing good and helping others.

(You can read it here).

I loved Amanda’s post because she showed that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to go out of your way for others.

She is a beautiful soul and it makes me so happy to see her children growing up to be loving, selfless individuals just like their mother.

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DAY 1:

I left an anonymous card with an encouraging message and gift card inside for our neighbors two doors down.

DAY 2:

We bought buckets and shovels in the dollar section of Target and passed them out to kids at the beach.

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My original plan was to leave them like the photo above but as we were playing in the water I began to notice kids around who looked bored and so I passed them out.

It was so wonderful seeing their faces light up and to watch them build sand castles with their new toys.

DAY 3:

We paid for the guy behind us in the Starbucks Drive-Thru line.

DAY 4:

I made a donation for art supplies to The Sick Kids Foundation.

I really wish we had something like this here in the US, it is such a brilliant concept.

DAY 5:

At one of the parks Declan and I frequent we always see a group of mentally handicapped men and women with helpers.

They walk around the benches to get some exercise in a few times a week.

Since it’s been so hot recently, I decided to buy them some water bottles so that they could stay hydrated.

DAY 6:

I left dollar bills in some sympathy cards at Walgreens.

I figured that someone nice enough to go out of their way to get someone a card like that deserved to have their day brightened too.

DAY 7:

I frequent Target like most women so I found myself there in the dollar section once again.

This time I bought a coloring book and box of crayons.

When I paid for them I asked the cashier to then give them to the next child she came into contact with at her register.

She was very kind until I asked her to do this.

Once I had included her in my good deed she seemed annoyed and coldly said,

“Uhhhh, okay?”

And rolled her eyes.

I thought that was really interesting and also sad.

DAY 8:

You’ll see these pop up now and again.

Derek and I tag teamed on a couple days.

This day, he went and pushed all of the shopping carts into their proper place while I held Declan.

DAY 9:

We went for appetizers at T.G.I. Friday’s and left our waiter a large tip.

DAY 10:

I saw an old friend post a Facebook status about going through a rough time so I decided to reach out to her and send her a $25 Fandango gift card through Facebook to help brighten her day.

DAY 11:

I left flowers on a random car in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

DAY 12:

We have been sponsoring a young girl named Mariella since the first time I did this challenge in 2012 but they always need more help at World Vision.

So I made an additional donation to be put towards wherever it was most needed.

DAY 13:

I went and got a massage and we gave the employees a box of cookies as a thank you for pampering people all day long.

I tried to take a picture but was in a hurry and it came out all blurred.

DAY 14:

We left mechanical pencils, pens, and a holder for the kids across the street from us who had just started school.

DAY 15:

I met my Beachbody coach for the very first time on this day at the Idea World Convention and she had very briefly mentioned that it was also going to be her birthday.

So I decided to surprise her with a cake pop from Starbucks.

DAY 16:

We made a $100 donation to ALS and also both participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

DAY 17:

I wrote out encouraging words on Post-Its and Derek spread them throughout the grocery store for people to stumble upon.

DAY 18:

A neighboring family recently adopted a sweet dog with a hip problem.

I love watching them play with her and wanted to do something kind for them so I left them a box of treats to give to her.

DAY 19:

There is this older man who periodically parks his truck on a busy street by my house and sits there for hours on end.

He’s got wooden crosses on the front and back of his vehicle and he just hangs out there, sharing his message with everyone who passes by.

I saw him on my way to Target (shocker) and decided I wanted to do something nice.

So I bought a thank you card, bottle of water, and bag of chocolate chip cookies.

I wrote in the card and made my way back to the spot only to find him gone.

Turns out God had someone else in mind for me that day.

So instead I gave the cookies and water to our mail person.

The funny thing is, it wasn’t even our same mail person that day.

It’s always a woman but on this particular day it was a man.

Seeing that my note clearly said woman, he rang the doorbell and explained to me that she had the day off.

I told him the only reason I put woman was because I had seen her before and to please take it and he was so incredibly appreciative.

He thanked me, welcomed me to the neighborhood as he knew we just moved last year, and walked away with the biggest smile.

DAY 20:

Declan woke me up super early so I decided to go on a coffee run.

I was making my way down the usual road when I saw the man in his truck again!

Determined not to miss him this time and still having the card I had written him in my passenger seat, I grabbed a cookie for him at Starbucks and hurried back.

When I walked up to his truck with Declan in arms I saw him sitting there reading his bible.

I got his attention and he rolled down his window.

I handed him the card and cookie and he looked at me as though nobody had ever stopped for him before.

We chatted for a few moments until Declan got fussy and then I left.

DAY 21:

I surprised Derek’s office donuts.

It was actually really neat because the woman and the donut shop showed me a random act of kindness as well by giving me three extra donuts for free!

DAY 22:

I made a donation to Whittier First Day Homeless Care.

DAY 23:

ADT salesmen came to our door and it just so happens we were in the market for a security system.

It was about 3:30 pm and they had been out in the field all day.

We had just finished up our fantasy football draft and had a bunch of left over food so we offered it to the ADT men.

They politely declined at first but quickly changed their minds.

Next thing we knew we were in our kitchen laughing and telling stories with them as they chomped on chicken soft tacos.

It was really cool to be able to do something like that, especially for door-to-door salesmen who are used to people being rude to them.

DAY 24:

We still had so much food leftover so I made a care pack of it and we drove around trying to find a homeless person to bless with it.

We drove for over an hour but never saw anyone which was bizarre because we see people daily.

So instead we bought a scratcher at the gas station and taped it to the pump for someone to find and enjoy.

DAY 25:

Derek has an employee who has been going through a rough time recently and told him he only eats one meal a day.

So Derek took that care pack of food I made the day before and brought it to this man at work.

DAY 26:

As I was leaving the grocery store I saw a woman and her young daughter sitting outside in the shade.

I had seen her there once before with her sign and Derek had given her money previously.

But I didn’t have any cash on me so instead I put my groceries in the car and walked over to her.

I offered to bring her and her daughter inside with me and let them pick out something to eat for dinner but she told me she didn’t speak English and unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish either.

But I worked through the language barrier enough to explain to her where I was going and to make sure chicken would be okay.

I went back into the store and bought her a whole rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, cornbread, and water.

DAY 27:

I had seen a homeless man in the morning the previous day so I decided to go back and see if he was still there.

I went to Walmart to make a kit up for him.

For $35 I got him a towel, washcloth, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush/holder, tissue, bandaids, wet wipes, body wash, q-tips, hand sanitizer, Pringles, fruit bars, peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread, a gallon jug of water, and utensils.

When I approached him he was asleep so I put it all next to him and left.

But as I caught a glimpse of his face I noticed a big smile as he slept on the ground with so little to his name and it filled my heart with so much humility.

The sleeping man blessed me that day too.

DAY 28:

A friend had posted on Facebook that her son was doing a fundraiser  and really wanted to reach his goal so I decided to visit the website and support him by purchasing something.

I took the opportunity to make these items a little gift for my mom too as a congrats for starting her new job.

DAY 29:

I sent a “just cause” gift anonymously (I think!)

That was the plan, but it may have included my info anyway so we shall see.

DAY 30:

I made a plegde to Pay It Forward and I started by signing five other petitions on Causes.com.

DAY 31:

We left a $5 bill on our walk for someone else to discover.

We tried to take a picture but the memory on Derek’s phone was full and I accidentally left mine in the house.

…………………………….

I hope you feel inspired to go out there and do good.

Kindness is contagious and can not only make a big impact in other people’s lives, but in your own.

The heart is a muscle.

So put in the work and watch it grow.

Using God To Hate

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Hate is okay, but only if it’s in protest to something I love.
Tell me, is that the Christian motto?

I have a serious problem with the way my religion is represented in the public eye these days thanks to social media and bloggers like myself.

Anyone with an opinion to share can start a blog, write their feelings, and spread their nonsense for the world to see.

It’s cool when we stay light hearted and funny.

Or even when you come across a good story or opinion that really makes you think.

But it is a horrible use of our freedom of speech when people use their blogs to promote hate.

The most notable cringe-worthy events in the past year have been the 2012 Presidential elections, the Chick-Fil-A drama, and now this whole Duck Dynasty thing.

When I see blog posts like these being circulated around my Facebook it makes my stomach churn and leaves an awful taste in my mouth.

What was said by Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty is not my issue.

What has since been said by “fellow Christians” however IS.

Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22: 37-39)

Of everything the bible teaches, Jesus lays it out for us right here and says:

“Hey guys, these are the two most important rules to obey above all else”.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean “love everyone except for left wing ‘speech controllers'”.

I don’t have a problem with people supporting the Robinson family.

What I have a problem with is people turning this into a left versus right, Christian versus heathen battle.

Using A&E’s decision as an excuse to hate on all non-republicans and non-Christians makes you no better than the very network you’re protesting.

If people redirected their energy to actually supporting the Robinson’s with God’s grace, humility, and love then maybe Christians wouldn’t have such a bad name.

But as long as believers cast out stones of hate on anyone/everyone that thinks differently than them they will continue to alienate the rest of the world through their self-righteousness.

“If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:26-27

Jesus dined with sinners, not the all mighty “religious” Pharisees.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” Matthew 23:13

Calling yourself a bird doesn’t make you magically sprout wings and calling yourself a Christian doesn’t put you in God’s kingdom.

I think that’s worth remembering when you’re social networking.

Be mindful of what you say, what you post, and what you do.

Would Jesus dine with you or call you a hypocrite?
Something to think about today.

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Daddy Diaries: Our Phoenix

Today I strolled into work the same way I normally do. I Walk into my office with a quick insult/jab at my production manager, a breakfast smoothie in hand, and right to checking my emails to plan my day at the shop.

And today the first email I saw was from my lovely wife (see single/engaged men how I keep that going?)

“Write a blog post today. I love you”

To be honest I have been trying think of what to write for a “guest” post for a while now. Ironically enough today is 9/11 and my first thought this morning when I woke up was “wow I can’t believe it’s been 12 years since such a heart sinking moment happened”.

I remember where I was as I am sure many of you do as well.

I had ditched school and came back home thinking my aunt had left for work. When I walked into the apartment she was standing there in the center of the living room and didn’t notice me come in. I walked over to her to give some excuse why I wasn’t in class, but she didn’t even look at me. I then saw the horror on TV as the first plane had just struck and before I could wrap my head around where it was and what was going on the second plane struck more than just the south tower, it struck every emotion in every man, woman, and child at once.

My wheels began to turn in my head this morning on my way in.

My son will hopefully never have to experience such shock and horror, but then again how many other shocking tragedies have come up since.

School shootings, theater shootings, bombings, riots, natural disasters, wars, etc…

All these terrible things on our planet no doubt strike a chord with any morally sound person and now as a father they terrify me.

My son will most likely have his own moments of heart dropping sadness. My son will no doubt have his own opinions on these matters and what “could have” been done to prevent them, who is to blame, and how to stop them from happening again.

 This long intro was my thought process on way into work this morning and leads me to what I would like to share today.

This world is full of scary and painful things no matter what corner of it we may live.

But now as a parent my glass has shifted more to the half full side.

Every day new diseases are being cured. More and more cancer patients go into remission. And if 9/11 taught us anything it was people have a natural survival instinct that binds us all together. We come out stronger from each and every storm we weather together.

And that’s how I plan on raising my son.

Andrea has always been the optimistic one between the two of us while I have always been the half empty glass. As a father I have decided not look down, but to look up. To believe in God and his plan that works through our lives. I would never want Declan to experience such horrors, but when the days come I want him to have hope, to have love in his heart, and compassion for his fellow man. I want him to rise above the situation and understand united we all stand. Together New Yorkers persevered as the world embraced them.

I have no doubt my son will be an amazing man one day. He alone has made every sacrifice in my life worth every second of pain. If you have followed Andrea’s blogs then you know the pain she and I went through. Declan in a way is Kinlie’s phoenix.

For people who are not nerds a phoenix must die to be reborn from his own ashes.

My son is the good in which came from the most painful experience I have ever been through.

He will no doubt one day hear about his sister and that God needed her to be with Him in order for Declan to be with us.

I want Declan to know that hope is stronger than fear. Love is stronger than pain. And standing together as his mother and I did and on a larger scale the American people did is much stronger than standing alone.

So here’s to You Son as life may throw turmoil and chaos your way your mother and I know you will persevere.

James 1:12
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

 

Month Two

Happy two months to my little man!

I know that every parent thinks their child is amazing so yes, this statement is biased.

But I am in awe of how quickly Declan is developing.

From birth he could hold his head up and now at only two months old he can almost stand up on his own.

Tummy time often ends less than pleasantly because he gets so frustrated that he cannot yet crawl.

It is very clear that I’m going to have my hands full with this stubborn, strong bodied, and strong willed child of mine.

Who am I kidding?

I already have my hands full.

I love being a mom so fiercely.

It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done with my life.

But it is also the most challenging.

There are days that are  considerably easy.

And then there are days where I find myself sobbing through the lyrics of “You are My Sunshine” pleading with Declan to either fall asleep or God to take me now.

But even on the days when I am overwhelmed by the demands of parenthood I manage to end the night with a smile.

Once he is asleep in my arms all the stress from the day just melts away and I become filled with utter joy.

I look at my husband and son and everything just clicks.

So here’s to another month!

New discoveries and challenges are no doubt in store.

But keeping my mind on all of the wonderful moments will get me through the rough ones.

And if not, there’s always bubble baths and wine.

They make everything better!

And so does that face.

A Letter From Heaven

Dear Mommy and Daddy:

Today marks one year since I’ve been gone.

Sorry that it’s taken me so long to write to you.

In heaven time doesn’t run the same as on earth and I’ve had a busy agenda:

Telling stories with our family.

Flying kites with Benjamin Franklin.

And praying with Jesus.

I know you have a lifetime worth of questions and I wish I could answer them all, but you’re going to have to wait until you get here.

Patience isn’t a virtue our family possesses, but I promise you it will be more than worth the wait.

What I can tell you and what I’m here to tell you however…

Is that I am safe.

I am healthy.

I am happy.

And I love you both, so much.

I’ve seen every tear you have shed for me.

Every outburst towards God.

And I’ve heard every whisper, every prayer, and every song you have sent.

I know you think about that day a lot.

You wonder if there was anyway you could have saved me.

I see you retrace your steps.

Going over every last detail in your mind.

But what you fail to remember is that I am saved.

Jesus says it this way:

Life on earth is like being at a giant amusement park.

You’ve got fun rides, fast rides, and scary ones with lots of bumps and sharp turns.

And heaven is the main attraction.

It’s the Space Mountain, the X2, the Silver Bullet and everyone gets a ticket to ride.

But you can’t get on until they call your ticket number, so in the mean time you go and explore the rest of the park.

Some people lose their tickets, others throw them away.

And some lucky ones, like me, get their ticket number called before they even get past the front entrance of the park.

Cry because you miss me.

I miss you too.

But don’t cry in mourning of everything you feel I didn’t get to experience.

I got to go to the front of the line.

Went straight to the main attraction.

And now I am patiently awaiting your arrival.

I’ll be with you everywhere you go.

Singing harmony in each song with you, mommy.

Cheering on the sidelines while you play catch with my little brother, daddy.

I’ll smile with you when you’re on the fun rides and pray for you when you’re on the scary ones.

And one day all of us will be together again here at the main attraction.

Hold onto that feeling of joy you had while I was with you and clear yourselves of the sorrow.

Remember me as that twinkle in your eyes when you first found out I existed.

And don’t be afraid to be happy.

Don’t beat yourselves up when you refer to my brother as your first child to strangers.

I know you love me.

And I know that I am forever yours.

Your little baby.

Your angel in heaven.

Your daughter.

Until we meet again my sweets.

All My Love,

Kinlie Marie 

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I took this photo in March of 2011, right after finding out I was pregnant. I had planned to take another in the same spot once I was halfway through my pregnancy and then a last one when she was born, but life had other plans for us.

Thirty-Two

I’m officially eight months pregnant and am absolutely feeling it.

It doesn’t help when it’s hotter than Hades in Southern California either.

Yesterday I left the doctors office with a baby fever of 99.6 which was probably due to this awful weather.

Why did we skip spring and go straight to summer?

I’m not a fan.

But enough about that.

We’ve got a baby to talk about!

**Note: I’m actually 33 weeks today. All posts will be a week behind**

32 WEEKS

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THE AWESOME:

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-HOME SWEET HOME-

I’m so thrilled to report that we got the house!

God definitely had His hand in it too, because the selling agent told our agent that there was another offer that was the same as ours with a little more cash down but the seller chose ours because the agent informed them that I am 8 months pregnant.

[Our agent told her]

We had our inspection on Saturday and there were no major issues, so everything is a go and we should expect to move in by the beginning of June!

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-MOTHER’S DAY-

Last year Mother’s Day was spent bawling my eyes out on the way home from the half marathon, still trying to grasp the news we had received two days before about our sweet baby.

This year was much more cheerful.

We took my mom and dad to breakfast.

Packed some boxes.

And Derek surprised me by taking me to my favorite lunch spot/Yogurtland, getting me a 90 minute prenatal massage, and making me dinner.

It was a really nice and relaxing day and I’m so grateful to have such a loving husband who spoils me.

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THE AWKWARD:

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-ARE YOU THE BUYER?-

So like I said, we had our inspection on Saturday.

Derek went to work for a little in the morning so I met him at the house.

When I got there he told me that not one but two agents had been there within the past half hour showing our house to other families.

[Mind you, the house is pending with multiple back up offers]

And the second agent approached Derek and said:

“Are you the buyer?”

To which he responded yes.

She then said:

“Oh. My clients are really hoping you don’t get this house.”

She was kidding [we think] but the way she said it was very rude.

So that happened.

Then around 2 pm we were in the kitchen waiting for our inspector to finish and ANOTHER agent came in with a middle aged couple.

“Are you the buyer?”

Me: Yes we are and we actually have an inspection going on right now.

“Oh yes I know. We are going to look around anyway okay?”

I wanted to say:

“No it’s not okay, get out of my house!”

But alas I did not.

As they were leaving she said:

“It’s a beautiful home, good luck.”

And in this moment I realized how cut throat the real estate business is, especially right now.

There I was, clearly very pregnant, happily sitting in my new kitchen with my husband and this women was treating it like the bidding war was still open.

I told Derek that it was unhealthy how bothered I was by all of the agents that day and he laughed.

Luckily we have a solid loan so I’m not worried about anything falling through and I eventually shook it off.

Damn vultures.

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-OCD PACKING-

I blame nesting for this but I have become a tad OCD in terms of packing.

I literally brought home a three page print out with step by step instructions on how to pack, what to pack together, etc.

I’ve been color coordinating all of the boxes by room and numbering them by priority.

And anyone who knows me is aware that this is very out of the ordinary for me.

I’m the girl who throws everything into one big box and says we’ll separate it later!

I actually sort of like it though.

This new found desire to have everything super organized has forced me to purge a lot of crap in our house.

It’ll be nice to have a clutter-less new home.

That is, until baby toys take over.

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CRAVINGS:

Ice cream.

I want it all day, every day.

Specifically strawberry ice cream, which I have never gone out of my way to eat before in my life.

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THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO:

Taking our maternity photos this weekend!

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THINGS I MISS:

This week I am just grateful for my son.

Nothing I have had to sacrifice holds a candle to him.

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BABY NOTES:

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Here’s to 8 months!

Rainbow Baby

I’ll never forget one night in particular, right after we had lost Kinlie.

Derek and I were in North Carolina and it had only been two days since everything happened.

He was in the restroom and suddenly I felt completely alone.

 I couldn’t breathe.

I walked out onto the balcony of our hotel room, sat on a lawn chair, and looked out at the beauty that is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The sun had almost completely set and the ocean was calm and peaceful.

There were a few people walking on the beach.

Lovers.

Hand in hand.

Enjoying the gorgeous view God had created.

And in this moment I remember being so angry.

I thought to myself:

How can a God who creates so many beautiful things like oceans, sunsets, and love allow something so horrible to happen? What did I do to deserve this?

I broke down in tears.

My fragile heart could not grasp God and His master plan.

Not then.

Not there.

Not when we had just lost her.

Honestly, I still don’t understand.

And I can’t pretend that I ever will.

But one thing I do understand is that God takes the broken pieces of our hearts and puts them back together for us.

With Him at the core.

It seems fitting that today would end up being the day for this post.

It is the five year anniversary of my grandma’s death and the one year anniversary of my mom’s stem cell transplant.

After a storm God sends us a rainbow.

A reminder of His love and mercy.

Of His promise to us.

And that is just what He has done in mine and Derek’s lives.

In the baby making world there is a term used to describe a pregnancy after a loss:

Rainbow Baby.

And today it is my great privilege to announce ours to you.

Meet Rainbow Baby.

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Villux Photography

Some Things You Should Know About Him or Her:

-Baby hates fast food entirely

-Baby has mommy crying about all sorts of things from Betty White interviews to Big Cat Week on Nat Geo Wild.

-Due date is July 3, 2013

-Baby is perfectly healthy.

[For now!]

We will do the heart scan in February, but so far everything looks amazing and Derek and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

As I’m sure you can imagine, this pregnancy has been filled with so many different emotions.

Back in October I began to think I may be pregnant.

But I had thought this more than once since May and I was determined to guard my heart and more importantly, Derek’s heart from anymore anguish.

On the morning of October 24th I decided I was going to buy a test and take it at work.

That way if it was negative, Derek would never even know that I had taken it and he wouldn’t be hit with the same disappointment he had faced every month since May.

 I felt cool as a cucumber when I took it.

Even left it on the back of the toilet while I washed my hands slowly.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and when my eyes opened I found myself looking at two pink lines.

Pregnant.

Tears rolled down my face as I fell to my knees and thanked God for this blessing.

I know that sounds like a cheesy scene from a movie but it is legitimately what happened.

I spent a good 5 minutes on the bathroom floor praying, crying, and then finally composing myself to get back to work.

Elated, it took everything in my power not to text Derek immediately and tell him the good news.

Instead I decided to go for the total shock value approach.

On my lunch I went and bought a bag, tissue, and bow.

I put the test in a box, taped it up, and packaged it accordingly.

daddy

I then proceeded to tell Derek I had a little something for him when I got home… nothing big.

Derek: “You went all out with the wrapping eh?”

[He thought it was a candy bar]

Me: “Yeah well I’m trying to be more cutesy/girly.”

He was barely paying attention when he opened up the package and finally realized what was inside.

I can only describe the look on his face as that of someone who had just received the most important news/gift of their life.

Derek: “Are you serious?!”

Me: “Mhm. Like I would be kidding? What an awful joke that would be.”

He embraced me and for the first time in over 5 months we cried not from sorrow, but joy.

Currently I am exactly 15 weeks pregnant.

My emotions are haywire, sleep is non-existent, and I still hate the smell of certain foods.

But life could not be any better.

Our little rainbow is healthy. 

What more can a girl ask for?

I hope you enjoy our “Rainbow Baby Paint Fight” photo shoot.

It was important to me not only to use the “rainbow baby” theme, but to do something full of life and excitement for our announcement photos.

Life is so messy but so, so wonderful and I think that was captured beautifully.

I can’t wait to share this journey with you!

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All photos taken by the amazing Theresia Villanueva at Villux Photography

And with that, I will leave you with the first note I wrote to my little one back at week 10.

week 10

Here’s to new adventures!

XO

Happy Un-Birth Day

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been thinking about this post for weeks now.

I actually almost wrote it in advance, afraid that writing it today would be too painful.

To my disbelief, I actually feel okay today.

Good even.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have a crying outburst in my driveway after the gym this morning…

But I blame Pandora for playing every sad song on the planet even though I had it on the Britney Spears and Glee stations.

Today was Kinlie’s due date.

Of course, if she is anything like her mother she would have undoubtedly been late.

Still, there’s something different in the air today.

And it’s not the sadness I anticipated.

To explain, I need to back up a little.

It’s no secret that Derek and I have been coping in waves since May when we lost her.

One month we would feel okay, the next our hearts would be in shambles.

And then October came.

The month and I have a special relationship.

I was born at the end of it and I love all things fall/Halloween, yet I hated October for over 15 years.

All because my bio-dad left a week before my 7th birthday and I just could not let it go.

That is, until Derek came along and showed me that I had no reason to fear my birthday.

That’s why he proposed on it.

And then we got married in October.

A month that had haunted me for so long became the best month of the year.

It seems fitting that this would be the time I would find the most healing in regards to Kinlie.

On October 8th my dear friends Tyler and Amanda welcomed their second child into this world.

They chose to keep their baby’s gender a surprise until delivery, so it wasn’t until the baby was born that they discovered they had another little girl.

I received a text from them at about 2:30 in the morning but it wasn’t until around 5 am when I finally got it and responded.

They called me up on speaker phone and what happened next blew me away.

Tyler and Amanda explained how much Kinlie had touched their hearts and they asked if they could use her name as their daughter’s middle name.

Meet Arya Kinlie Jonsson.

My first real step in healing was the birth of this little angel.

I’m not even sure if my friends realize the magnitude of the gift they have given us.

Names are special, I’ve said it before.

And one day Arya is going to wonder where hers came from.

And on that day, her parents will tell her of a little baby that never made it to earth.

A little baby that touched their hearts.

Kinlie Marie Franklin.

And as Arya takes her first steps, falls in love for the first time, and becomes a woman…

Kinlie will be a part of her.

On October 8th my dear friends changed my life.

From there, things got a little easier.

Then over the weekend of the 13th Derek and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary.

When we got back from our little trip to Big Bear, I went into the bathroom and noticed that my Kinlie necklace was tarnished.

I have no idea how it got this way and I know it wasn’t like that the entire trip.

In that moment as I sat there staring at it, wondering how this could have happened, I felt a tug on my heart.

Let me go.

I know that may sound bat-shit crazy.

But I felt it.

Felt her.

Telling me it was time.

Time to move forward and stop dwelling on the pain.

So I listened.

I took off the necklace.

And that Post-It I had hanging in my car since March…

I finally took it down and put it in Kinlie’s box.

(Refer to my original post here)

Today, I’m not broken.

Yes.

It makes me sad knowing that I don’t get to meet my daughter today like originally anticipated back in March when those two pink lines appeared.

But then I remember that she got to go straight to the finish line.

Kinlie never had to experience pain.

She never knew the disappointment and tragedy of this world.

And while she may never have gotten to see the beauty and love this world has to offer, I know she’s not missing out.

Because the kingdom of heaven and God’s love surpass anything and everything our minds can even comprehend.

And she’s got a front row seat.

If anything, I picture her sitting in Paradise praying for US.

Walking with Jesus in a field and asking him to bring her mommy and daddy peace.

And sending down whispers like:

“I love you both”

and

“Let me go mom. We will meet again my sweet.”

I’ll never let her be forgotten.

She will forever be a part of my soul.

But today I let go.

Let go of the hurt.

Let go of the disappointment.

Let go of the anger.

And I celebrate her.

I celebrate the joy she brought into our lives.

I celebrate the change she brought to my outlook on life.

 I celebrate the growth she prompted in my heart.

And I celebrate the fact that child no bigger than a peach changed lives for the better.

Happy Un-Birth Day my little angel.

I love you.

30 Acts in 30 Days

I’d like to point you back to this post where I stated I would be doing “30 Acts of Deliberate Kindness” for the month of September.

When I started this journey, I had no idea what to expect.

I had made a point that I wanted to carefully plan all of my acts, but as the days passed I started to notice that sometimes opportunities to encourage others come up sporadically.

And truthfully, there is something very wonderful and genuine about seeing something/someone and instantly reacting with kindness.

Though my 30 days have ended, I feel like a spark was lit within me.

I fully intend to continue to be deliberately kind, daily.

So without further ado, here is how I spent my September!

September 1:

I returned a shopping cart for an elderly woman in the Michael’s parking lot.

The old lady unpacked her cart and started looking around for the nearest spot to put the cart. I could see from her movements that she had trouble walking and so I walked up to her and told her I would take it. She thanked me with a big smile.

September 2:

We put change in baggies and taped them to a vending machine and also put one in a grocery store in the drink aisle.

September 3:

I baked cookies for my neighbor.

This ended up being such an incredible thing. The entire time I was baking I had in mind that I was going to give the cookies to a family that lived across the street. When I finished baking, Derek and I walked outside to take them the cookies and I noticed our 80 year old next door neighbor was outside watering her grass. I said to Derek, “I guess we are supposed to give her the cookies instead” and so we walked over to her and and I said, “Hi Judy! We baked you some cookies.”

She said, “Oh my. You couldn’t have come at a better time” and then broke down crying.

She went on to tell us that her daughter was in the hospital and was going to be undergoing a serious double surgery the following day.  We listened to her story, hugged her, and told her we would be praying for her and her daughter. After she thanked us again we left and tears fell from my eyes.

It was 100% God working in that moment, telling us to give the cookies to her and I am so thankful we listened.

September 4:

I left change at Fresh and Easy in the “change dispenser” with a note.

When I walked away the girl who was working called to me saying, “You left your change!” When I told her I left it on purpose she looked at me like I was crazy and was in complete shock.

Follow up:

I went back to this Fresh and Easy a week later and that same girl was working. She walked up to me and said, “you’re the girl that left the $10, right?”  I said yes and she said, “the person who received it said thank you so much. They even started crying when they saw it.”  Incredible, right? Whether they cried because they really needed the money or just because they needed the kindness, I was overwhelmed hearing about how this small gesture meant so much to this stranger.

September 5:

I bought a $5 gift card at Starbucks and asked the cashier to use it on the next customer she had.

I was able to see the reaction on the man’s face as I waited for my coffee which was awesome. He looked down at the gift card with a big smile and then scanned the room as if to see who had left it for him.

September 6: 

I had a free pastry on my Panera Bread rewards card, and when my cashier told me about it I asked her what her favorite dessert was and used the credit to get her the dessert of her choice.

She was pretty confused. Laughed and said, “You don’t want it?” This was my first encounter where I realized that people are so unused to acts of kindness from strangers that it can sometimes make them uncomfortable.

September 7:

 I went to In-N-Out and paid for the car behind me’s food.

This was one of my favorites because I prayed about it on the way and thought to myself, “but what if the car behind me ends up being a full family!” I decided to trust God and went for it. Upon first glance the red car behind me only had one person in it, so I was set. Then I noticed a little kid in the front seat.

Two people? That’s fine! Then I saw two more kids in the back. It looked like the lady was their grandmother. Since I had already made up my mind that I was doing it no matter what I told the cashier at the window that I would like to pay for the car behind me as well.

She immediately said, “Thank you so much for doing that. I don’t see people do this often, but when I do I love it, I think it’s so great”.

Turned out the bill for all four of them was only $8. I paid and left, and as I was on the way back to work I noticed their car speeding up behind me.

They pulled up next to me with all of their windows rolled down, and they all smiled, waved, and yelled thank you. It was such a sweet moment.

September 8: 

We went to Universal Studios and had lunch on City Walk. I had our server pick out the best dessert on the menu and asked him to bill me for it and give it to a couple sitting across from us once they finished their meal.

September 9: 

I left money on a random car’s windshield.

September 10:

I bought a $25 grocery gift card and gave it to a girl in Fresh and Easy.

I walked up to her and said, “Hi, I know this is random but I wanted to give this to you.” She looked reluctant and said “thank you. For no reason?”

Just like the girl at Panera, she seemed pretty surprised and confused by this gesture. I caught a glimpse of her total when I was walking up and it was $23, so I felt really happy to be able to pay for her groceries that day.

September 11: 

Dropped off a bag of Life Savers and a note to the local fire department in honor/remembrance of September 11, 2001

September 12:

Sent an email to each child that had not received anything yet this year (7 total) on this incredible website Post Pals.

It is a UK based charity where you can send an email, a letter, or a present to any of the sick children they have listed. It updates you on their conditions, including if/when they pass and it even gives you the option to send things to their siblings. If you need a good cry check the website out. It is an extraordinary and something I would love to implement here in the states.

September 13:

 I bought a bag of Joe for a troop overseas at  Cup of Joe for a Joe.

The whole concept is to bring a piece of home to our troops with something as simple as a cup of coffee. I even received an email back from an SSG thanking me for the coffee and support. Plus, they sent me a bracelet which brought a smile to my face!

September 14: 

Made a commitment to be a monthly sponsor of a child named Mariela from Bolivia through World Vision.

I remember in high school I did this, but since my only source of income was my weekly allowance aka lunch money, it didn’t last long. Sponsoring a child is the same price as a weeks worth of coffee for me, which I will gladly give up once a month!

September 15: 

This was a day when I realized that not all acts of kindness need to be so grand. I drove everywhere we went so that Derek could relax, opened the door for everyone behind me, and smiled at everyone I saw.

September 16:

Sent my friends who are about to have a baby a few gifts from their Babies-R-Us registry.

They have not advertised their registry to anyone but when we did a search for them on the website I found them. Anyone who reads my blog consistently can imagine that being on a baby website was difficult. At one point Derek even said to me, “I don’t know how you are even looking at that stuff.” I spent the whole day trying to think of what to do and it was already the evening when it came to me, and I knew God was telling me that it was something I needed to do. Our friends whom we sent the gifts to are phenomenal people and have been wonderful support systems for myself and Derek, making it all the more important to me to show them our love. They received it two days later and my friend sent me a text letting me know that they received it and she cried. It was a wonderful feeling knowing that I could bring some joy to them.

September 17: 

I posted “Words of Encouragement” signs around town.

Follow Up:

I happened to go by one of them a few days later and it was still there in tact with only two tabs left. Pretty cool to think that God’s words may have really helped to comfort someone on that day.

September 18:

 Derek and I went to Olive Garden for dinner and tipped our server a 70% tip on the bill.

September 19:

Left dollar bills in miscellaneous spots in the grocery store for people to find.

I emphasized spots where kids tend to be such as the candy aisle and Halloween decorations.

September 20: 

Yes, our mailbox is dirty.

Left a treat for our USPS delivery driver. Don’t worry, I put it in the mailbox before I left!

Follow Up:  

Derek and I both forgot to check the mail that day, but when I checked it the following morning I found this note inside.

It’s been pretty incredible to see how a little gesture can really make a persons day.

September 21:

 Bought drinks for my co-workers as they had to unload a huge truck.

September 22: 

Let two guys cut in line with us at check-in because they were running late for their flight at the airport.

September 23: 

We helped a couple with purchasing tickets/using the Bart for the first time.

September 24: 

Since we were in San Fran for the weekend, we spent a lot of time on the BART and we had about $8 left on our tickets so we gave them to a woman and her small child so they could ride for free.

September 25: 

I went to my local Vons and bought a $25 movie theater gift card. When the cashier handed it to me I handed it back to her and told her I bought it for her. She said, “for me? Why?” and I told her just because. Oddly enough, the manager was the one bagging my groceries at that moment and when she witnessed this she said,

“Oh cool. That is so nice. She is such a hard worker, she really deserves it.”

To which I said, “Well then it sounds like it when to the right person.”

The manager said, “Definitely. Wow, what a blessing.”

The cashier thanked me and I left.

September 26: 

Supported a school fundraiser at my local grocery store.

September 27: 

Left some flowers and a note on a random car in the parking lot. I purposely chose the most beat up car in the parking lot and as I was leaving a lady saw me do it and I watched her walk over to the flowers, read the note, and call her friend over to look at it too. Pretty funny.

September 28: 

Good old Friday. My best friend and I had a failed attempt at kindness this day. We used to walk the same route every Mon, Wed, Fri [until we got gym memberships a few weeks ago] and we would always see this same man on Fridays, collecting bottles and cans at a specific dumpster. So we both collected our bottles and cans for weeks, saving them up so that we could give them to this guy and Friday was finally the day we would give them to him.  We went to the gym and drove over there, but he was nowhere to be found. I think we miscalculated when he gets there. It was a let down, but we are going to do it this Friday instead :)

September 29: 

We gave a giant slice of New York pizza to a homeless man on the street. It was my first visit to New York and I had heard stories about some of the homeless being less than grateful for anything other than money, but the man whom we gave it to was incredibly kind and thankful for the gesture.

September 30:

Paid for a man’s dessert. We went to the famous Carnegie Deli in NYC and were seating cafeteria style, next to a man who was all by himself. He had just finished his meal and ordered a dessert. I went to our waiter and asked him to put the man’s dessert on our tab instead. We ended up chatting with him throughout our entire meal and when he got the bill and the waiter explained we had covered his dessert he was surprised and grateful. It was neat to not only show him an act of kindness like that, but also spend our dinner chatting with him. It was obvious that he had not had many conversations with others recently.

Here’s to Kindness!

Upside Down and Inside Out

I put my undies on inside out this morning and discovered it hours later.

I feel like that sums up anything and everything about me recently.

Frazzled.

Scatter brained.

Upside down and inside out.

Week days feel never ending, sloth like.

Weekends feel too busy, too short.

I see the months slipping by and yet it feels like eternity for an hour to pass.

I want to fast forward to a life with little ones running around while I cook dinner in my dream kitchen, waiting eagerly for my husband to get home.

Yet I want cling to this moment of trial and tribulations, thankful for the opportunity to grow through suffering and awestruck by what God can do with a broken heart.

I’m a bit of a contradiction these days I suppose.

Not a girl, not yet a woman.

No, that’s not right.

Get out of my head Britney Spears.

Okay but on that same train of thought, I swear the radio is reading my mind.

I was JUST thinking about this clip and you’ll never guess what song started playing.

Yep.

Thank you for that radio gurus.

Nothing better than having your co-worker walk in seeing you jamming to Natasha Bedingfield.

Lucky me, I am no stranger to awkward moments and being caught in them.

Yesterday my co-worker caught me talking to myself.

He didn’t walk in on me, he was sitting in his cubicle.

His open, glass windows cubicle.

Right next to me.

But no, sorry Phil, I wasn’t talking to you. I was chatting with myself.

About?

It’s neither here nor there.

Annnd

I have now unintentionally proven my point even more with this rant.

Sc-att-er brained.

I just hope the insanity that is currently me is not the start of a mental break down.

What color represents crazy?

Whatever it is, it doesn’t match my eyes, or schedule for that matter.

But on a serious note…

I’m just trying to enjoy my life right now.

There is a certain element of beauty in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The weird place I am in right now has made me aware of it.

I’m noticing things that normally go right past my conscious self.

Almost like my mind is slowing down individual moments, allowing me to fully take them in.

Last night when I came home from work it was the same routine.

Came in, greeted the dogs, gave my husband a kiss, and started to make dinner.

But my mind lingered on the simple gesture of that kiss.

My husbands eyes when I walked in.

Bright and happy.

A kiss.

So simple but so full of love.

Little moments such as this one have been entrancing me.

Stopping me completely in my tracks.

It’s funny because my forever lesson has always been to slow down and be patient.

I think I finally understand why.

I’m the person that asks what is for dinner while I’m eating my lunch.

But how can you enjoy your lunch if you’re stressing dinner?

How can I appreciate my day, my life, a kiss even, if I am always looking ahead towards the next thing?

I can’t.

And now it makes sense.

A lesson almost 25 years in the making, that I’m sure I will need reminding of several more times in my life.

But right now, it is fresh in mind and it feels so good to be free.

Free of tomorrow.

Because if you waste your time worrying about tomorrow you’ll miss out on today.

Here’s to today.

**I am resisting the urge to tell you all about my current “30 days of deliberate kindness” journey, because I want to do it all at once at the very end.

But let me just tell you this.

I am only 6 days in and it has already been an incredible experience.

Seriously, I strongly encourage you to try it at one point in your life.

Especially at a time when you are feeling the most self-involved.

What an eye opening, humbling experience.**