Living Big

I don’t want to dwell on sad things but I also could not let the anniversary of my parents death go by without writing a little something here because I know many of you knew my mom (and dad) personally and may be feeling a little sad today as well.

It’s funny because no matter how much I think about this horrible day and the fire a year ago, the things that keep reigning bigger in my mind are their their lives and their hearts.  That made me think about how important it is that we all live BIG.  Something like a fire could easily be a big enough event to steal our focus and memories.  A fire that size is scary and almost has a life of its own because it is so uncontrolled.  If someone lived a small life, it might be the  the scary fire that kept invading our thoughts when we remembered them. But neither of my parents lived small lives.  They  did many small (and big things) with BIG kindness and BIG love.  They reached out and made people everywhere feel welcome and special.

So yes, I think about the fire sometimes but that fear and sadness gets so quickly pushed away by the bigness of their love and the way they impacted us all while they were here.  What an important thing that we all live with big love and passion because that is what we will leave behind for others to remember  no matter how we leave the planet.  That step into the next life is so quick but what we do with our lives while we are here impacts those around us forever.  How many people can we help while we are here? How many people can we love? Are there people we could make smile today with a phone call? Is there someone whose day could be turned around by a little encouragement? That is the BIG stuff of life.  So yes, a little fire may be occasionally thrown into our lives but that is so small compared to how BIG we can live. I want to make sure the things in my life that should be big are BIG!  It is our love and our passion that will live on long after we are gone and that really is a wonderful legacy.  God bless you all.

Happy Birthday Mom!

I wanted to take a moment to share a special day with many of you who I know faithfully followed my mother’s posts.  First of all, thank you for all the kind words and support you offered her throughout her writing career, both as professionals and as friends. I just wanted to invite you to celebrate her birthday with us today.

When I woke up this morning I said a quiet “Happy Birthday Mom” before I got out of bed.  I wanted to somehow make the day special because she was such a wonderful person to all of us kids and her extended family made up of lots and lots of the friends she had met throughout the years.  I have to admit my first thoughts this morning were a bit sad.  I still miss my parents a lot.  For everyone of us I know the loss of both my mom and dad was a very sudden one.  But let me assure you now that they would have probably hated a long, drawn out ‘goodbye’.   That’s how they were.  They never wanted to draw attention to themselves.

As I started my day this morning I had a renewed sense of loss, realizing it  was going to be a long time before we met again in person.  So before the day even really had gotten started, I think I had resigned myself to the idea that it probably wasn’t going to be one of my favorite days on the planet.  I resolved to just enjoy it the best I could and to try to appreciate the memories and the thoughts of her and my dad throughout the day as best I could.  However, throughout the day I found myself smiling much more than I thought I would be.   I thought how proud she must be of her grandkids for all they are accomplishing in their lives and even how she might laugh with us at some of our goofy antics.  Driving in the car with the two dogs in the back seat, heads hanging out the windows and tongues hanging excitedly, I couldn’t help but think of her laughing at their funny faces, struggling to keep their eyes open in the wind.  I wanted to hang my head out the window just like them and squint through the wind too.  Probably not a good idea though since I was driving ; )  I felt  a big ‘mom’ smile inside because she is the biggest animal lover of us all.  As I had lunch with my teenage kids and gave them extra squeezes throughout the day, I felt her (and my dad) again in those big hugs. Everywhere there was love today, they were there.  Every small moment of appreciation, every chuckle, every sweet word, they were in and around us.

What I thought was going to be a sad day, ended up being very sweet.  I realized over and over again how much they had given us and what they had taught us.  Their faith, their encouragement and their huge, unconditional love that shown through everything – not just for us kids but for friends and even strangers.  What a great gift to us all.  By the time I headed out the door for my run this evening, I felt amazingly light on my feet.  Instead of dragging and wanting to hang my head, I had the music turned up high with songs about their favorite person (Jesus). The words ‘lift you up on eagle’s wings’ felt very real as I ran effortlessly, feeling as if my energy would never run out.  During those strides, dreams were getting rekindled and clarity of purpose was getting renewed in my heart.  “Dream Big” – her message still lives on.  It wasn’t such a sad day after all, but in fact a very uplifting and beautiful one – just the way they both would want it to be.

So here I am writing you a quick note. I just wanted to take a minute on her birthday to do what she would have done. Wish you all a wonderful day.  Give you all just a little hug in whatever way you could use one today.  Try to enjoy every moment and “Dream Big!”

 

DARE TO DREAM BIG!: The Power of Two!

It is with great sadness that we write to let you know that our mother Sandra McLeod Humphrey was killed Friday along with our father Brian in a house fire. I know how much she loved writing these encouraging posts each week and how much she enjoyed interacting with so many of you. Our father had the same heart.  We were unsure how to let everyone know so we thought we could write her post this week in the same style she wrote each week.  Here goes…

Imagine This: You are a retired couple living in Minnesota with a heart for helping kids, animals and all people.  You want to inspire, guide, and help others.

Who: Brian and Sandra Humphrey

What: On a mission to help encourage and make a difference wherever they could.

Where: Minnesota

When: A lifetime of selfless service.

This is the inspiring story of a special couple named Brian and Sandra Humphrey.  They met in college at the University of Minnesota and married.  They raised three kids and adopted a multitude of dogs, cats, turtles, hamsters and other animals.  Throughout their lives they found ways to share what they had, whether it was money, time, their talents or their home.  They made sure everyone felt welcome and that everyone knew they were important.  It was a beautiful gift they gave to those who were around them.

Upon retiring, when most people slow down, Brian and Sandy revved it up several more notches. Now they had even more time to invest in other people.  Sandra wrote books to encourage kids and teens and Brian used his business skills to help organize bigger fundraising for the needy.  They jumped in wherever they could –  supplying gifts to those in need, soup kitchens, driving around those who couldn’t drive themselves, teaching kids and more.  People who came in contact with them, walked away feeling a little bit taller, a little more confident and with a little bigger smile on their face.

They continued their full life until the day they were taken to heaven together and even though they could no longer be physically present, they started a legacy of impacting others that will continue on through those they touched.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for caring enough to make a difference not only for us but for others as well!

Something to Think about: How can each of us carry on this same beautiful legacy of giving and service?

From our family to yours – Remember, DARE TO DREAM BIG!!!

 

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

DARE TO DREAM BIG!: The Power of One!

Imagine This: You’re a 15-year-old Pakistani girl who wants to go to school, but the Taliban opposes the education of girls and they have already destroyed many schools. So what do you do?

Who: You’re Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl

What: You’re shot three times in the head and neck by a Taliban gunman.

Where: Pakistan

When: October 9, 2012

This is the inspiring story of 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai who headed a campaign in Pakistan to help girls gain access to education.

You have already been an activist for several years. At age 11, you worked as an anonymous blogger for the BBC to advocate freedom of education and expose information about your Taliban-ruled area of Pakistan.

And since then, you have headed a campaign in Pakistan to help girls gain access to education.

On October 9 you’re shot in the head three times by a Taliban gunman on your school bus on your way home from school. You’re in critical condition and are airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England.

In response to your extraordinary courage, people all over the world are calling for you to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Today there is both good news and bad news. The good news is that the assassination attempt by the Taliban did not scare young girls away from going to school. Instead, the shooting has galvanized support for the rights of women and girls in regions where the Taliban is established, and new schools are being planned for poor children in sixteen areas. Thanks to Malala, thousands more children, girls as well as boys, will receive the education they deserve.

The bad news is that even as Malala recovers from her injuries at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, there are new attacks being planned against her. One of these retaliatory groups is a new British-based Islamist group which will be issuing a religious decree against Malala

Thank you, Malala, for caring enough to make a difference!

Postscript: Bonnie Lloyd, a professor of sociology in Rochester, New York, has started a petition on Change.org asking Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice to nominate Malala for the Nobel Peace Prize. Stop by http://www.change.org/petitions/take-a-stand-for-the-girl-who-stood-up-nominate-malala-for-the-nobel-peace-prize to see Bonnie’s petition.

For More about Malala:

Something to Think about: How do you think Malala had the courage to take on such a powerful group as the Taliban?

 

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Willoughby and I hope you enjoyed this week’s true story and will be back next week for another story to inspire you to DARE TO DREAM BIG!

 Reminder: To be eligible for the weekly drawing for an autographed copy of one of my books (your choice of book), please leave a comment.

(Two Restrictions)

1) There must be a minimum of 10 visitor comments

2) Only U.S. residents please to save on mailing costs.


THIS WEEK’S WINNER IS SANDY NACHLINGER

CONGRATULATIONS, SANDY!

 

DARE TO DREAM BIG!: The Power of One!

Imagine This: You’re a 12-year-old Canadian boy who is inspired by the life and death of a 12-year-old Pakistani boy named Igbal Masih who spoke out against child slavery. You want to carry on Igbal’s mission to end child slavery, but what can you do?

 Who: You’re Craig Kielburger, a 12-year-old Canadian boy

What: Free the Children

Where: Canada

When: You begin your campaign in 1995 at age 12.

This is the inspiring story of 12-year-old Craig Kielburger who was inspired by the life and death of 10-year-old Igbal Masih who was killed at age 12 as a result of his speaking out against child slavery.

At age 12 you read about Igbal Masih and his story changes your life forever. You see Iqbal as a hero for speaking out against child labor and child slavery, and you understand that a young person can indeed make a difference.

You set out to educate yourself about human rights and become so passionate about the issue that you end up traveling through South Asia to see the horrors for yourself. When you return home to Canada, you and a group of your friends found Kids Can Free The Children.

Believing that education is one of the best ways to fight child labor, your program links schools in developing countries with schools in North America, Europe, and industrialized countries around the world.

It’s the students themselves at these schools who work to find solutions which include collecting and distributing supplies for over 100,000 school and health kits (an additional 9000 kits, blankets, and warm clothes were recently shipped to help war-affected children in Afghanistan) and raising money and helping to build more than 300 rural schools (2000 school kits, desks and chairs, and 3000 text books were recently sent to Sierra Leone to help locals open their new school in Freetown).

As FTC grows, you travel the world, meeting with heads of state and Nobel Prize winners, receiving international awards, sharing your convictions with global leaders, and appearing on television shows like 60 Minutes and Oprah, which brings FTC recognition and support.

Today Free the Children has grown into the largest international network of children helping children, with more than 100,000 youth involved in 35 countries. The campaigns focus on child-labor issues, children and poverty, war-affected children, education, and children’s rights.

Thank you, Craig, for caring enough to make a difference!

Postscript: For more about Kids Can Free The Children

For More about: Craig Kielburger

 Something to Think about: What do you think about kids helping kids?

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Willoughby and I hope you enjoyed this week’s true story and will be back next week for another story to inspire you to DARE TO DREAM BIG!

 

 Reminder: To be eligible for the weekly drawing for an autographed copy of one of my books (your choice of book), please leave a comment.

(Two Restrictions)

1) There must be a minimum of 10 visitor comments

2) Only U.S. residents please to save on mailing costs.



 

The Next Big Thing: Welcome to my page and the next stop of the “Next Big Thing” Blog Hop Tour through Fiction!

We’re blog hopping our way through some great reads.  For those who aren’t familiar with a blog hop . . . it’s a lot like a treasure hunt – once you find something on one blog, you hop on over to the next blog link for more treasure.  In this case, the treasure is a wealth of new and exciting books.  Some are still being written, some are just being released.  Either way, for fiction lovers . . . it’s a treasure and I’d like to thank Joy Williams for tagging me to participate.

(Click this link to find out about Joy’s book.)

In this particular post, I hope I answer 10 questions and you get to learn about one of my favorite works and how 13-year-old Leslie emerged onto the scene as the main character of her own book.  And, as usual, comments and questions are always welcome!

Q & A

What is the working title of your book? Keepin’ It Real: A Young Teen Talks with God

Where did the idea come from for the book? I was a discussion facilitator for our girls’ confirmation group and the girls asked some really great questions. Questions like:

How do you know that God is real in your life?

Does God really answer our prayers?

If God is a loving and caring God, why does He allow so many bad things to happen?

What genre does your book fall under? It’s labeled Teen Fiction/Christian Living and I think that’s a pretty apt description. Leslie has just turned thirteen and is having a very bad year. Not only is she stuck in a new school where she doesn’t know anyone, but she’s also stuck in a “life group” at her church where the leader of her small discussion group asks tough questions that she can’t answer.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?  I think my invitation to the reader is pretty apt here: “Come along and join Leslie on her faith journey as she writes letters to God and in the process begins to find answers to some of her questions.”

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency? It’s published by CSS Publishing, a Christian publisher.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I wrote my book during my year-long journey with breast cancer and it was one of the prime motivators that kept me going during my chronic bout with the nausea and the “blahs” from the chemotherapy.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  I haven’t really read any other books in this genre which uses the diary format in quite the way I’ve used it.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? As I mentioned earlier, the girls in my confirmation group were the inspiration for my book. They asked some great questions and I wanted Leslie to ask some of the same questions in my/her book.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I think readers respond readily to Leslie’s honesty as she works through her frustrations, her feelings of inadequacy, and her feelings of social and personal isolation without losing her innate sense of humor.

Do you have a favorite review you would like to mention? I actually have two favorites:

“Keepin’ It Real is sassy and sensitive. It’s an honest look at a young girl’s struggles—and insights—as she faces puberty and searches for faith.” Mary Lou Carney, Christian Author

“Anyone who is (or who ever has been) 13 will identify with Leslie’s struggles to make sense of her family, her faith, her own thoughts, and the world. Through her letters to God, Leslie deals with questions as big as the very nature of God and as small as why Mom gets so bent out of shape about how the bathroom towels are folded. Sandra Humphrey has done a beautiful job of not only creating a very believable character, but more importantly, of showing young readers how inextricably faith is linked to the issues of everyday life.”

Lynn Gilliam, Editor,  Pockets

Do you have a new book you would like to mention?  Making Bad Stuff Good is being formally launched at the 59th Annual NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) Convention November 15-18 in Denver, Colorado.

The book is written for tweens as nonfiction in fiction format, and the premise of the book is that how we respond to what happens to us is more important than what actually happens to us. Attitude Is Everything!

List of my tagged blog hop buds for next week.  Check out their blogs next Wednesday to read about their WIPs and New Releases:

 

Monica Brinkman

T.R. Heinan

Delinda McCann

 D.M. Pirrone

Peggy Strack


DARE TO DREAM BIG!: Bullying and Rachel’s Challenge

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we’ll be devoting our October Posts to the problem of bullying!

 

 About Rachel’s Challenge

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Joy Scott was the first victim of the Columbine High School shooting tragedy in 1999, but she was much more than a victim. She was an extraordinary young woman who went out of her way to help others, and she lives on today through Rachel’s Challenge—an inspirational outreach program established by her father Darrell Scott following  her death with the goal of starting a chain reaction of kindness.

How to Accept Rachel’s Challenge:

1. Learn Rachel’s story. Rachel had a premonition that she would die young, but she also believed that she would somehow impact the world. She believed that random acts of kindness could start a chain reaction that would make the world a more compassionate place and she practiced what she preached.

2. Eliminate prejudice. Learn to find the good in everybody and understand that first impressions are meaningless.

3. Dream big. Set goals for yourself, even if you don’t think you will ever meet them all.

4. Choose positive influences and leave negative, angry, hate-based influences out of your life. And don’t be afraid to stand up for what you truly believe in.

5. Commit random acts of kindness. Small random acts of kindness can create a huge impact on both you and the recipient of your acts of kindness.

6. Start a chain reaction of compassion. Reach out to people you normally wouldn’t reach out to and steer away from rumors and gossip. Encourage your friends, peers, colleagues, coworkers, and family members to accept Rachel’s Challenge and spread the compassion and kindness.

7. Become a Friend of Rachel (FOR)and like her  Facebook Page

 

 

“… and people will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

Rachel Joy Scott

Meet Rachel Joy Scott

Rachel’s Official Website:

http://www.rachelschallenge.org/

Something to Think about: How do you feel about Rachel’s Challenge?

 

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Willoughby and I thank you for dropping by and hope you’ll be back next week for another true story to inspire you to DARE TO DREAM BIG!

 

 Reminder: To be eligible for the weekly drawing for an autographed copy of one of my books (your choice of book), please leave a comment.

(Two Restrictions)

1) There must be a minimum of 10 visitor comments

2) Only U.S. residents please to save on mailing costs.

 

 

 

 

DARE TO DREAM BIG!: Bullying and The Missing Link

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we’ll be devoting our October Posts to the problem of bullying!

 

The Importance of the Bystander

 Bullying situations usually involve more than the bully and the victim. They also involve bystanders—those who are also present during the bullying but are neither the bullies nor the bullies’ targets.

An important strategy for bullying prevention focuses on the powerful role of the bystander. Depending on how bystanders respond, they can either contribute to the problem or to the solution.

During my school visits, I always stressed the importance of the role of the bystander in a bullying situation, and we role-played various bullying scenarios with the bystander taking different roles.

Sometimes the bystander would encourage the bullying by urging the bully on, sometimes the bystander would join the bully once the bullying had begun, sometimes the bystander would just watch and do nothing, and sometimes the bystander would intervene and support the bully’s target.

During our discussions following the role-playing of the various bullying scenarios, we then explored how the different roles of the bystander affected the bullying situation.

What we always concluded was that the bystander’s role was a powerful role. The bystander could facilitate the bullying via his/her acceptance of the bulling or his/her passivity (which implied acceptance of the bully’s behavior) or he/she could discourage the bullying by defending the victim or redirecting the situation away from the bullying.

There are many reasons the bystander may not intervene, but bystanders can and do make a difference! Research has shown that more than half the time, bullying ceases when a bystander steps in to help, so let’s prepare our children to become active rather than passive bystanders—active bystanders who do something to discourage the bullying and support the bully’s victim.

 Dateline: Dr. Michele Borba and the Role of the Bystander

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEjVsMtf1d0

 Something to Think about: Have you ever been a bystander during a bullying situation? If so, what did you do? What would you do now?

 

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Willoughby and I thank you for dropping by and hope you’ll be back next week for some more thoughts about bullying as we continue to encourage you to DARE TO DREAM BIG!

 Reminder: To be eligible for the weekly drawing for an autographed copy of one of my books (your choice of book), please leave a comment.

 (Two Restrictions)

1) There must be a minimum of 10 visitor comments

2) Only U.S. residents please to save on mailing costs.

 

 

DARE TO DREAM BIG!: More Thoughts about Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we’ll be devoting our October Posts to the problem of bullying!

 Here are a few statements about bullying to give you something to think about.

 

True or False*

 1. Bullying is about power and control.

2. Relational bullying can be just as painful and destructive as physical bullying.

3. Physically aggressive bullying among girls has shown a 40% increase since the early 1990s.

4. Bullies are often the most popular students and those who experience social success, but they are not necessarily liked by the majority of their peers.

5. It is possible to be both a bully and a victim.

6. Girls are no less aggressive than boys.  They are just more subtle or covert in their use of aggression.

7. Relational aggression tends to me most intense and evident among girls in fifth through eighth grades.

8. Most bullies not only possess average to high self-esteem, but many do not view themselves as bullies.

9. Many girls would rather be harassed and hurt than kicked out of their social group because the idea of being ostracized from their group of friends is much more devastating.

10. One study found that the peer group is present during 85% of female victimization, although peers may not be directly involved in the bullying.

11. Both bullies and their victims are more likely to have psychological problems than students not involved in bullying.

12. Students who bullied other students were found to be four times more likely to be  convicted of a crime by the age of 24.

*All the answers are true.

Trailer for the film Bully

 Something to Think about: Do you agree that one person can indeed make a difference?

 

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Willoughby and I thank you for dropping by and hope you’ll be back next week for some more thoughts about bullying as we continue to encourage you to DARE TO DREAM BIG!

 

 Reminder: To be eligible for the weekly drawing for an autographed copy of one of my books (your choice of book), please leave a comment.

(Two Restrictions)

1) There must be a minimum of 10 visitor comments

2) Only U.S. residents please to save on mailing costs.

 

THIS WEEK’S WINNER IS ROSEMARY ADKINS.

CONGRATULATIONS, ROSEMARY!

 

 

DARE TO DREAM BIG!: Some Thoughts about Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and we’ll be devoting our October Posts to the problem of bullying!

Since the publication of my book Hot Issues, Cool Choices: Facing Bullies, Peer Pressure, Popularity, and Put-Downs, I’ve been receiving e-mails and snail mails from all over our country, Canada, Australia, Japan, and even the Ukraine.

Unfortunately, bullying is still alive and well in contemporary societies all over the world, and some of these letters are heart-rending. Some students tell me how they have been bullied to the point that they no longer want to live.

The good news is that some of my readers have found comfort in books and have discovered that they’re not alone–that there are others out there who are facing the same problems.

This is the miracle of books and literacy! Books can provide comfort and solace, books can help heal wounded souls, and books can give help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless.

One young woman wrote, “When brokenness is real, a single light can make all the difference in the world.”

 May each of us in our own way bring a light into the darkness!

 Some Recommended Books:

 Blubber by Judy Blume

Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories by Dawn Metcalf, Megan Kelly Hall, and Carrie Jones

Hot Issues, Cool Choices: Facing Bullies, Peer Pressure, Popularity, and Put-Downs by Sandra McLeod Humphrey

Odd Girl Speaks Out by Rachel Simmons

The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake

 

Recommended Websites:

International Bullying Prevention Association: http://www.stopbullyingworld.org/

i-SAFE: http://www.isafe.org/

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: http://www.olweus.org

Rachel’s Challenge: http://www.rachelschallenge.org/

Stop Bullying Now: http://www.stopbullyingnow.com/

 

Message from Ellen about Bullying:

 Something to Think about: Why do you think some kids bully other kids?

 

 “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Willoughby and I thank you for dropping by and hope you’ll be back next week for some more thoughts about bullying as we continue to encourage you to DARE TO DREAM BIG!

 

Reminder: To be eligible for the weekly drawing for an autographed copy of one of my books (your choice of book), please leave a comment.

(Two Restrictions)

1) There must be a minimum of 10 visitor comments

2) Only U.S. residents please to save on mailing costs.