A Back-track to 2017 Goodness

I’ve been grounded! Not the kind where I’m punished and in trouble. But kinda like when an airplane can’t fly.

After hand surgery earlier this month, I’m taking some time to READ, do my therapy, and show-binge while I recover. I hope to be back to “normal” writing in late February.

I’ve had friends ask if they can do anything to help, but no one has taken me up on the “suggestion” to clean my house, cook for my family and handle my carpool duties. Drats!

Typing is hurting less and less. So, before January is over, I think now is the perfect time to kick out my best-of list to “officially” close out 2017. Yes, I was supposed to do this at the beginning of January, but hand surgery got in my way.

In the meantime, if you missed any goodies from Juliana’s Journal in 2017, this is your chance to catch up. Here is the top 7 list of the most popular (most read, most shared) of 2017.

I’m glad to have you share in this journey with us!

1] This post is a teacher rant!

I was honored to “complain” about Juliana’s teacher and the odd things happening because of her and the staff at Juliana’s school.

2] Training Daze

Juliana walked the entire Angelman Syndrome Foundation Walk in May 2017. A big step up from Lamar pushing her in the stroller in the 2016 race.

3] The Celebrity Living on My Street

Role models come in all shapes and sizes and we are so fortunate to have this awesome friend who spoils Jessa way too much and makes a big impact on her in such a positive way.

4] Interview with the First Love of Their Lives

Nothing says Happy Father’s Day like a sit-down interview with the guy my girls love most in their lives. My husband Lamar shared his thoughtful views on fatherhood.

5] It’s a Do-Nothing Day/Moment

These moments rarely come for me, but I had to do a post about a day in which I got to do one of my favorite things–nothing!

6] Three Steps to Keep you from Quitting

The debut of my 3 year project to write my e-book Forward. I share my insights of how to push  through to finish what you start. Wow, all this advice is free, too!

7] When it Keeps Raining, Find Rainbows

Summer 2017 brought some unexpected clouds and lots of rain. We made the best of it and Jessa’s rainbows reminded me of beautiful things that come after the clouds pass.


They Are Giving Through Work

Sometimes I think I’m a bit of an odd duck. I’ll happily admit that. When I meet people, I think about their lives and stories and the take-aways.

Not all the time, but frequently. I had this feeling when I met Lucy and Elizabeth. I wanted to know more about the ladies who helped me get a grasp on my new normal.

The Sheriff and Supergirl costumes you see are so fitting for who they are when showing up for work. Lucy is the Executive Director of Focus + Fragile Kids. Elizabeth is a program coordinator. The Focus + Fragile Kids tagline is Comfort. Hope. Fun.

I see Focus + Fragile Kids as an organization that has breathed a new life into our definition of special needs living. There is a team of 10 people and hundreds of volunteers who support special needs parents in every aspect of their lives from workshops to fun family outings and events in the metro-Atlanta area.

10 people doing a marvelous work. I’ve worked for corporations who couldn’t pull off the feats that Focus + Fragile Kids does.

You see, they affect so many lives by being there to help special needs parents navigate their challenging and unexpected worlds.

Imagine changing lives just by walking in to work. I think that is pretty darn cool!

You serve over 4,500 families in what you do, how does it happen?

Lucy: “I’ve been the Executive Director for 20+ years and I started out as the program director. Now, my job is to provide online parent support-the initial intake when new families come to us. I do more fundraising—meeting with donors and handling social media. I think about the future and how to make us sustainable.”

Elizabeth: “I’m the comfort, hope and fun coordinator! I create and develop events and programs for families. I build relationships through share groups, bereavement groups, and hospital visits. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and I’m always looking around the corner for something new to help where needed.”

Everyone knows that working for a non-profit pays well (big giggle of sarcasm). So really, why do you do this?

Lucy: “There’s nothing better we can do than coming alongside a family to support them. Having that opportunity to give them encouragement is phenomenal.”

Elizabeth: “I love what I do. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping people feel loved, wanted and needed.”

There are always obstacles when you’re trying to do something good. What gets in your way?

Lucy: “Liability—the goal is to run a program where children are happy and safe. When training our volunteers, we prepare them. We have plans for everything—rules. And, it’s hard to have a balanced life in the non-profit world. It can be hard to disassociate from the pain and difficulties. You can’t save the world, but the world will appreciate your effort.”

Elizabeth: “When I started the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) support group I could see myself in those parents. It was hard and scary. But now, I can be there to smile and lift those families up. Being there is no longer a trigger in remembering the loss of my daughter, Kathryn. I can’t make things better for our families. But, I give them memories. People see hope.”

And there you have it—the idea of seeing hope. Isn’t that what we all need at one time or another? This lifeline of hope that is now Focus + Fragile Kids grew from two couples whose children shared a hospital room.

Those four parents became friends and got help from doctors and nurses for support. From there things blossomed.

Because four people had a vision, my daughter attends a camp designed with her needs in mind. When our family attends Focus + Fragile Kids’ events it’s as if they’ve thought through every little detail to make the experience accessible and easy for us to enjoy.

I’ve always marveled at those who decide that their life’s work is about helping others in some unique way.

I don’t expect this post to make you run out to get a new job. This type of giving through work is not my calling and it may not be yours. But…

My intention is always to leave little drops of inspiration that lead to something—that my simple words spark a call to action of some sort.

Comfort. Hope. Fun. Even if it’s not in your work, we can all take a cue from Lucy and Elizabeth to spread a little bit of that to others in our own way. Will you?

The Must-Hear Christmas Playlist

Nothing says holiday spirit like two cute kids smiling near a Christmas tree. This time last week, there was a big chill in the air and a MOUNTAIN OF SNOW (okay inches) that kicked my Christmas spirit into high gear. I think that kinda counts as a white Christmas.

What, you say you’re not there yet? Then check out my brand-new You Tube channel and my first ever playlist! Yes, I know there are 8-year olds with You Tube channels. This is a big deal for me, so work with me on the excitement!

I’m sharing Christmas favorites that I can’t go without during this festive season. You’ll find old classics and new ones that will make you smile, relax and appreciate this season of gifts and giving.

Here’s Jessa in her debut performance of a new classic. The original “Noel” is sung by the award- winning Christian artist, Lauren Daigle. 

It’s a close tie as to who sings it best. I’ll let you judge for yourself.