Archive | December, 2015

Sunday Sermon and Day 8 “Pay It Forward” Challenge

21 Dec

There is such a special sweetness in being able to participate in creation.

– Pamela S. Nadav


Today’s Gospel was the story of Mary and Elizabeth. It made me think of how very special it is to have a child, not only a blessing, but an obligation as a mother to make sure each child is loved and cared for. No one else can have that sacred bond. 

My take on it…If you are blessed with a child, you carried that child inside you, then make every moment together special. There is no greater love. If you are a child, love your mother with all your being. I love this quote… “Call your mother. Tell her you love her. Remember, you’re the only one who knows what her heart sounds like from the inside.” ~Rachel Wolchin.

LK 1:39-45
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,  where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

This is the picture that was in my head during the Gospel. It seems like yesterday, not thirty years ago.


Now, for my “pay it forward” update.

Day 8:) “Pay It Forward” and Random Acts of Kindness Challenge

As I’ve mentioned, I really enjoy being a greeter before 9 o’clock Mass every Sunday. Today was especially dreary, cloudy and damp, but I thought…what better day to be perky and cheery. So, I donned my biggest toothy smile, held the door open, and said “Good Morning” to hundreds of people scurrying into church. When I arrived early at 8:20, I was hoping to “random” two people with a gift of holiday chocolates. I’ve noticed this one gentleman every Sunday, and it seemed like every time I would smile and greet him, he just nodded politely and continuesd on his way. I thought, aha, he’ll be one of the recipients.  So, when I arrived, he was already inside kneeling and praying the rosary. I placed a bag with the chocolates on top of his bible on his seat behind him, then back to my greeting. He didn’t see me. Cool!

Then, while I was manning the door and smiling, I looked for a random woman recipient. Mass was about to start, but people were still scurrying inside. I saw an elderly lady shuffling towards me, with what appeared to be her granddaughter, assisting her inside. I asked the young girl if I could take their picture and handed her the chocolates. She thought I was just asking her to hold it while I took the picture. So, when she tried to hand  the box back, I said, “No, that’s for you ladies. Merry Christmas.” I had my poem taped on the box. She glanced at it and said, “Thank you!”

“A random act of kindness is a lovely way to show

 That everyone is special, even people you don’t know.

 Perhaps they’ll “pay it forward”, by going that extra mile,

 Sharing kindness in the world, giving someone else a smile.”

I believe they were truly surprised and delighted. Nice smiles!

It was a lovely way to start my Sunday.

Saturday:) Sharing, Caring, a Sunset and Day 7 “Pay It Forward” Challenge

20 Dec

“A random act of kindness 

 Is a lovely way to show

 That everyone is special

 Even people you don’t know.

 Perhaps they’ll “pay it forward”

 By going that extra mile

 Sharing kindness in the world

 Giving someone else a smile.”

~ Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


This morning, while I was walking, I bumped into Bernadine. She’s a neighbor a few blocks away that I met a few months ago while walking over by the pond. We discovered that we both go to St. Gabriel’s and have a lot in common. When I baked Halloween cupcakes in October, I took some over to her and her husband Vince. So, when we started chatting today, she said, “Toni, I made you some banana nut bread, but I haven’t seen you walking, so I put it in the freezer. Can you stop by the house and get it?” Well, of course I could. 

How delightful. I was the recipient of an act of kindness, and a tasty one, at that.

Now that I’m working on my 12 Days of Christmas Challenge, it’s getting a little more difficult to come up with new and exciting “pay it forward” ideas. But, this morning while walking, I noticed a moving van around the corner. Hmmm? New neighbors! So, when I went for my evening walk, with the glorious sunset illuminating the evening sky, I decided what better way to welcome neighbor’s than with a random act of kindness.

I went home, wrote the poem about random acts of kindness that begins this post, and strolled around the corner with a box of Russell Stover assorted fine chocolates. I even jotted down my poem for the new neighbor’s. They were very appreciative. I’m sure this helped them start off the first day in their new home with a pleasant feeling.

Tina, Josh, and young Matthew. I know, I’m not the greatest photographer. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Friday:) Frost, Friends, and Day 6 “Pay It Forward” Challenge

19 Dec

“A purposeful act or extension of kindness to another is never wasted, for it always resides in the hearts of all involved in a chain of love.” ― Molly Friedenfeld


Friday is usually my happy day.  This morning started with a long frosty walk around the pond with my little doggie buddy. The morning sky was spectacular as steam rose from the water and the ducks paddled about in the chilly water.

I met Mr. Dan at 11:30 at Chicken Express. He had called me a few weeks ago to ask if I would paint bluebonnets on a special item as a gift for his wife Sue. I wrote about that a few days ago. My big misunderstanding, where I thought Sue was deceased and he wanted to continue having a gift painted. I won’t go into it again. Most of you know the humorous story. 

Mr. Dan was waiting when I arrived. I showed him the personalized vintage English tea cup and saucer that said “Sue” on the side and  “Love, Dan 2015” on the bottom. He loved it, and I explained that she might also want to use it for her coffee as opposed to just placing it in her china cabinet with her other treasure. When he placed his checkbook on the table and reached for his pen, I explained my “pay it forward” challenge, and I told him that I could not accept payment. But, I did say, “What I would ask you to do is, someday, there might be a time where you could pay it forward by doing something nice for someone else.” He smiled and said he definitely would do that. Then, I received a big hug from Mr. Dan.

Off to do a little shopping then lunch with my friend, Zelda. When I got home, I went for another walk. Then, I scrambled home to find a box and wrap an ornament to ship ASAP to my friend, Vicky, who had a family member with a new baby. I raced over to the post office before it closed. OMG, the line was wrapped around and around inside. But, my dear friend wanted to get her package before Thursday, so I was in for the duration. Almost an hour.

Another fun Friday with friends and paying it forward.

Theme Song Thursday and Day 5:) “Pay It Forward” 12 Days of Christmas Challenge

18 Dec

“The best place to start is with a song in your heart. Then, sing out loud and proud, even if you’re a little off key”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


As promised or threatened, depending on your perspective, more about the Unbiological Sisters’ karaoke bus trip. Sherri and I met ten other fun ladies for a sing-a-long karaoke bus ride in Plano, where we drove through several over the top, amazingly decorated  for Christmas neighborhoods. We sat in this cool bus with flashing speckled lights and a karaoke screen in the back, while we passed around microphones and belted out great popular songs and then Chritmas songs on the second half.

Sherri and I were loving every minute.

We stopped several times to jump out and take some photos. Caravans of cars and horse drawn carriages also rode through the neighborhoods. I didn’t realize it was such a tradition.

Santa and I are holding hands. He promised me something special this year for Christmas. I’ve been a VERY good girl.

Day 5:) “Pay It Forward” and Random Acts of Kindness

I met my dear friend Linda Grossman for lunch this afternoon. We were going to Nom Nom, but the line was out the door, so we scooted a few doors down to JC Burgers. While we were waiting in line to order, the ladies behind her said, “Linda, is that you?” They squealed and hugged and said, “Merry Christmas! How are you?” 

Well, as is my custom, I said, “Do I get a hug, too?” And proceeded to hug two perfect strangers. I explained that I started doing that at church when I greet before Mass. One of the ladies asked, “Where do you go to church?” Turns out we both go to St. Gabriel’s. Small world! We sat down at different table, but when Peggy had to leave, we invited Michele to join us. It took forever to get our order, so we had plenty of time to chat.

Michele asked how I knew Linda, and I told her she was a friend, but also my realtor, and how she sold my old house, found me a perfect new house, and held my hand through a very painful divorce. Then, Linda proceeded to tell her what a fabulous artist I was, and raved about my hand-painted Christmas ornaments.

That’s when the light bulb went off. This could be my random act of kindness for a stranger. I went to my car where I just so happened to have an ornament that I could personalize for her, with a paint pen that I happen to carry in my purse. (Artists are always prepared.) Michele was delighted, and she gave me another big hug.

Don’t you just love a lady that wears her Santa hat to lunch!

Not only did I have a fun “pay it forward” adventure, but I made another new friend along the way. I love how that works!!!

Wednesday:) Wacky Women and Day 4 “Pay it Forward” 12 Days of Christmas Challenge

17 Dec

“Crazy people are considered mad by the rest of the society only because their intelligence isn’t understood.” ― Weihui Zhou


I’m going to start with my Pay It Forward Challenge. I had a doctor’s appointment with my hematologist at 10 this morning. I took one of my pretty pearl and pink bracelets with me, thinking that I might find a sweet lady in the waiting room to surprise with this gift. Doctor Palanisamy is also an oncologist and has many cancer patients.

When I arrived, there were only a few men sitting in the waiting room. After my blood work was drawn, and I had my exam and consult with Doctor Pala, I asked her if she might do me a favor. I told her the story about my 12 days of Christmas Challenge and random acts of kindness. I asked if she would give the bracelet that I had in a pastel pink bag to one of her patients receiving chemo today, as this might brighten her day. She was very moved by the gesture, but insisted that I give the gift to her patient myself. She had a specific lady in mind.

Doctor Palinasamy thought this was a wonderful idea, and asked her nurse to find Mrs. Vincent over in the chemo waiting room. I went over and introduced myself and presented her with the bracelet. 

Debbie immediately put on the bracelet and thanked me for my kindness. I asked if I could take her picture, then we chatted for quite a while. We discussed family, friends, etc., low and behold, we had a lot of things in common besides the same Doctor. Debbie is an artist, and she’s also a Catholic. I don’t run into many Catholics, except at church. I gave her my card and we shared info. Hopefully we will become Facebook friends and keep in touch. Such a lovely lady with a beautiful spirit. This was my most rewarding random act of kindness so far. I got in my car and smiled and sang all the way home.

I had invited a few friends over for lunch, and couldn’t wait to tell them about my adventure and the new friend I made. These are my wild and wacky talented artist friends. We don’t get together very often, but when we do, we laugh and joke and get down right silly. I love these gals. These are my other unbiological sisters.

Table Of Talent Sisters

If that wasn’t enough wonderfulness for one day, I was going to meet another group of girlfriends for a karaoke bus ride and holiday light tour at 5:30. But, that story will have to wait for tomorrow.   

Tuesday in Town and Day 3 of Pay It Forward Challenge

16 Dec

“Towns are like people. Old ones often have character, the new ones are interchangeable.” ― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose


McKinney, Texas is my kind of town. Well, so is Chicago, as the song goes, but I live in McKinney now. I love the small town atmosphere of the square, the quaint shops, the friendly people.

This morning, I went to my Zumba class at the YMCA. I love Zumba! When I got home, I decided to try and get a walk in before the mean dark clouds let loose. One of my acts of kindness today was, I texted my neighbor and asked him if I could take his dog, Bella, for a walk. He works from home and doesn’t always have a lot of free time. Bella loves to go for walks and so do I, so it’s a win/win. We both get a little exercise and I do something nice for a neighbor and an adorable dog.

I was meeting Karen and Miss Eleanor for a late lunch at Mellow Mushroom on the square around 2pm. We were celebrating Miss Eleanor’s 91st birthday. Afterwards, I walked around and visited with friends at Sweet Spot Bakery, popped into LAST Art Gallery and chatted with Dana, Judy, and Gail, then while crossing the street, I bumped into Kathryn. All of these encounters required hugs, smiles, and laughter.Then, of course, I had to stop and say hello to Officers Lindsey and John, and their handsome mounts.

Day 3:) Pay It Forward and Random Acts of Kindness

I took Bella for a walk this morning. In the afternoon, I bumped into Jeremiah on the square, And I offered him my slice of pizza left over from lunch. Then, on my way back to my car, I saw Erma (who I hadn’t seen in ages) and her husband walking down the street over by the Christmas sleigh display on the corner. I waved at her and said, “Wouldn’t you like your picture taken in the sleigh?” At first she hesitated then agreed. Now, they have a cute holiday picture to share with friends and family.

Isn’t that an adorable picture?

It was a lovely day after all. Just like in life, sometimes it starts out dark and dreary, but then the sun comes out to brighten your day.

Montage Monday and Day 2 of PAY IT FORWARD 12 Days of Christmas Challenge

15 Dec

“I came, I saw, I left the world a better place.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” ― Henry James


A week in a peek. Just a quick peek.

Yesterday, I started my 12 Days of Christmas Facebook and WordPress Challenge. I challenged everyone, friends and readers near and far, to perform a random act of kindness or “pay it forward,” every day until Christmas.  (But, why stop there? Really!)

Day 1:) Yesterday, at church, I gave a cute bracelet to a little girl who was walking in with her mom while I was greeting at the door before the service. She was thrilled and pleasantly surprised. 

Day 2:) Today, I went to McDonald’s in hopes of finding someone sitting alone, and I would ask if I could join them. (I’ll admit, I’ve done this many times before.) I met a charming lady named, Annette. When I asked if I could join her, she motioned for me to sit and said, “Please, have a seat.” We talked quite a while, and I told her about my 12 day challenge. She was from Eau Claire, Wisconsin and was visiting relatives in McKinney, but they were at work. So, she said she was out exploring and stopped to get a bite.

I asked Annette if I could take her picture, and made sure to ask,”You aren’t  in the witness protection program, right?” She smiled. (Too late now!)

Well, my friends, if you haven’t already taken my challenge, it’s not too late. It doesn’t have to be 12 days or 12,000 days. Every day is a good day to do something nice for someone. Be sure to share if you do. Who knows, you may inspire others to do the same. ” PAY IT FORWARD!”


14 Dec

After I wrote my blog this evening commenting on today’s Gospel and my little random act of kindness, I thought … Why not incorporate this into a 12 Days of Christmas challenge for myself, but also invite YOU to participate. It just so happens that starting TODAY, there are 12 days before Christmas. 
I challenge you to perform a random act of kindness, or “pay it forward” or just brighten someone’s day for 12 days. You can start tomorrow, 12/14 and do something special Christmas Day if you don’t want to start today.
It could be something as simple as calling an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while, visit a sick or elderly person, help someone carry their groceries, shovel snow or rake a neighbor’s yard, bring up their garbage cans, say something nice to the grocery clerk, or just shake hands with a soldier or veteran. There are endless possibilities and your ideas are probably better than mine. (You could make my day happier by telling me that you accept the challenge. That could be your Day 1 kindness.)
Then, if you keep a list, document, or post each day on Facebook or WordPress what you did, you can share with the rest of us and inspire the world to be a better, happier, lovelier place to live.
Day 1) I gave a bracelet to a little girl at church and made her smile. 


Sunday Sermon:)  Pay it Forward

14 Dec

Molly Friedenfeld

“A purposeful act or extension of kindness to another is never wasted, for it always resides in the hearts of all involved in a chain of love.” 

― Molly Friedenfeld


After today’s Gospel, Father talked about the importance of sharing with others. He used the movie, “Pay It Forward” as an example as how people can make the world a better place. My take on it…if everyone just did a little something special for a stranger, or smiled to cheer someone up, or paid someone a compliment, or performed a small random act of kindness, then that person might be inspired to “pay it forward.”

Third Sunday of Advent     Gospel. Luke 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,“What should we do?”

He said to them in reply,

“Whoever has two cloaks

should share with the person who has none. 

And whoever has food should do likewise…


This is why I enjoy being a greeter before 9 o’clock Mass. I love the smiles and greetings I get in return. I didn’t even know what the Gospel was going to be about today when I had planned my little random act of kindness. I had an inexpensive, yet really cute, costume jewelry bracelet in my pocket that I was going to give a little girl on her way into church. 

One of the ladies I know was walking in with her daughter, Chloe. I reached in my pocket and said, “Let me see your hand.” I put the bracelet on her wrist and her little eyes lit up. She said , “Thank you,” and pranced inside. I’d like to think that I made a little girl feel special today. 

It was just a tiny gesture, but it warmed my heart and a little girl will remember a random act of a kindness, and perhaps will “pay it forward” someday. 


Saturday:) Something Silly, Strangers, and Sue’s Not Really Dead

12 Dec

Sometimes a miscommunication can become an amusing story for the holidays.

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” ― Anonymous, Holy Bible: King James Version


This cute story is worth repeating every holiday season. It started with a phone call from my friend Magda, who said she got a phone call from an elderly gentleman looking for an artist who could paint on chinaware. She knew I painted on glass, so she gave me Dan’s number. She said that Dan knew a lady who painted a special bluebonnet keepsake on white  porcelain  or China for his wife every Christmas. He wanted bluebonnets painted on it and say “Sue” on the front and “Love Dan” with the year on the back. They had been married for over fifty years. “Now, she’s dead, but he wants to continue the tradition.” 

Well, my heart was touched that Dan wanted to continue to have a gift painted for his deceased wife, Sue. So, I agreed, called Dan for information as what he was looking for, and met him so he could show me some examples of previous gifts.

For several weeks, I scoured antique shops and consignment stores looking for the perfect item to paint on. I found a beautiful antique covered container and painted bluebonnets and wrote Sue on top. 

I called Dan and arranged to meet him to give him his gift. I told him it was only $20…even though I paid $25 and didn’t charge him for my time. He said that Sue was at her sister’s, so he could meet me at 11 am on his way to Rotary Club. WELL… That’s when I figured out that poor old Sue wasn’t dead, but rather, the lady who painted the gifts for Dan was deceased.

I had to laugh at my miscommunication, but thought it did make for an amusing holiday story. Last week, Dan called again and asked if I would still be able to paint a gift for Sue. I said, “Of course.” I hung up the phone, smiled, and called my sister and said, ” I got a call from Mr. Dan. I have to find something special to paint on for his not so dead wife, Sue.” Here we go again.

Here’s what I came up with for this year. A special cup and saucer made in England. Exquisite, if I don’t say so myself.

This will be my gift to Dan, a pay it forward act of kindness. Even though they are strangers to me, I’m just so glad Sue is still alive to enjoy her special gift from her loving husband.