Friday, October 17, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness -- Reflections from the Journal of a Survivor

This time it was someone that I love~

October is designated as the month to focus on Breast Cancer Awareness --billboards, magazines, posters, celebrities.  Much time and effort is given to raising awareness so that hopefully, one day, there will be a cure for this devastating disease.  On a personal note, I have not needed to wait for October to arrive.  Thoughts of breast cancer have filled my every waking moment for the last 10 months.  Every day, every night, every breath~

Breast Cancer does not discriminate. It is an equal opportunity disease.  Rich, poor, young,old.  It does not care if you are 33 years old and the Mother of two beautiful babies ages 4 and 1. 
 I know this because breast cancer has invaded our lives -- the life of my own beloved family.  This time it found it's way to my beautiful daughter in law, the Mother of our precious granddaughters.

 This has been the year from hell. And yet -- through it all, Alicia has fought this disease with courage, and determination, and grace.  Amazing grace.  With her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation now behind her, finally she and her family are starting to move past all the struggles that have overtaken their life this past year. I have not shared our family heartache with you because I have been holding my breath -- for the last 10 months.
When you watch someone that you love slowly crawl their way back through the gates of hell, it changes your own life forever.  Our grandbabies are still too young to understand, but someday, they will know how strong their Mother was and how courageously she fought this disease so that she could be there for them -- always.
And all the while, my son carried the weight of worry,
 for his wife, and the Mother of his children,
on his own shoulders.
Breast Cancer affects those we love,
and those who love. 

 has graciously offered
 to share with you now, some reflections
 from her own personal

"Breast cancer is NOT--
pink ribbons,
It's not strong enough 
to stop GOD"

"lots on my mind tonight, 
as I approach the end of my chemo treatments. 
 I have been thinking about how the world views breast cancer. 
 I feel that it has been glamorized 
and that it is really no big thing 
to go through~"

"breast cancer is real. 
 It takes a part of your life from you. 
 Yes, you can come out stronger than before.  
With God on your side,
 you know that you can make it through-- 
but the hell that you have to go through to get there--
 is more than what is shown on television."

"if I could get the world to see one thing about breast cancer,
it is that it's not pink ribbons,
 5 K runs, 
and support groups~"

"it's nights of being afraid to go to sleep,--
having to look people in their eyes
and see them feeling sorry for you."

"it's wanting to eat something,
and it tastes so bad--
it's watching your body transform into
something you don't even

"it's watching your friends and family
hurt-- and you can't fix it."

"there is a lot of bad from breast cancer,
and I've yet to find the good.
What I have found,
is how great my God is."

"even on my worst days,
I have always felt God's strength.
It's through his strength that I have survived.
This is a part of my story that He has written
specifically for me."

"I am stronger 
and I have a new outlook on life--
but not because of cancer."

 "it's because for the the first time
in my life,
I've had to completely give
everything I am, and everything I have
to Jesus."

"He has guided every step of my battle
with cancer."

"THIS is what I want the world to know~
cancer has not made me stronger,
God has."

~perhaps you or someone you love 
is also facing this difficult journey to wellness.
 Alicia would like to provide words of comfort or support~~
you may contact Alicia through me-
I will forward your every email to her

 "Only by weathering the great storms,
can we appreciate
the most beautiful
Tyler Knott Gregson

Please allow me to share with you
 the latest in my "Seraphina" knitted collection~
my "Breast Cancer Awareness" wrap.
The charitable proceeds from the sale of this 
wrap will be donated to the
Susan G. Komen Foundation. 
you can find all the details
about this heirloom quality wrap
Some updates~
We've been away on travels.  With Alicia on the mend, the Gardener and I traveled to Canada for what would turn out to be the trip of a lifetime.  I'll be sharing some of those photos with you soon.
 This photo was taken in Perce', Quebec

While we were in Canada we were witness to their own
 Breast Cancer Awareness project --
I brought home a lovely pair of pink mittens to share with you. 
 If you would like to be considered for the drawing --
 please just leave the word mittens at the end of your comment or just tell me that you would 
like to be entered.  


Please, please remember my very special charitable project for Josephine's Children.  If you could find a small space in your heart for these precious children, it would make such a difference to them.  Donations of craft supplies and/or a $5 Walmart card will be accepted until December 1.  You can find all the info here.     (there are some wonderful prizes to be given away also!)

ps --- I've missed you all!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Letters from Africa" -- A Charitable Opportunity and A Giveaway!

"You have not truly lived
       until you have done something for someone 
                     who can never repay you~"
                               John Bunyon 

The hustle and bustle of my "way too busy" days
 did not include 
a charity project at this time in my life--
but God had other plans~

  Across the miles,
across the waters,
across the winds that blow from 
far away places~
a letter came.

"Dear Vicki,
I have found your name and contact from your blog "2 Bags Full." My name is Josephine from Kampala Uganda.  I am a social worker working with children who are vulnerable and disadvantaged between the ages of 6-18 years.  The children are victims of physical and sexual abuse, children of young mothers and are living or affected with HIV and AIDS."


"Vicki, I have seen that you have really traveled the world and your love of knitting; I hope that one day you come to Uganda and get to see this other side of the world. This may not be your field but I want to draw your attention to it. The children do knitting as a therapy and income generation to enable facilitation of their welfare and education."

"Our good work needs feasibility, the world needs to know us so that they can know what we do-- but with limited exposure we are not able. I am kindly asking that you become my friend to enable share experiences, ideas and thoughts together.
Hoping to hear from you,"

Thank you for your email-- I am intrigued by your work with the children. I took some time this morning to look at the website for your agency and to read about the programs and support that you provide.

Perhaps I might could help--
I have some questions--
What type of items do the children knit?
Are these items sold to raise funds to support your agency?
Where do you get your yarns and knitting supplies?
Let's start with answers to these questions and then go from there--

I have great respect for anyone who devotes their career to trying to make
life better for children-- and I can appreciate the many obstacles that you must overcome.
In my private life-- I also do volunteer work for the court system as an advocate for abused and neglected children- I have been a children's advocate for about 12 years now-- it has truly changed my life.

I look forward to hearing from you--


"Dear Vicki,

Thank you so much for appreciating my modest contribution towards addressing the plight of the vulnerable and disadvantaged children. You have greatly inspired me and my work.

I answer the questions:
The children knit scarfs, sweaters, table cloths, table mats and
door mats - are made out of sisal but they also make paper bead jewelry like bracelets, necklaces, and ear rings and do weave baskets.

Yes, the items are sold to support the work of the agency because we do not have any out side funding. Yet we are supposed to provide an education to the children, medical care, feeding, upkeep and welfare to house and keep those that are under going counseling and psycho social support. The child young mothers must have an alternative to formal education in form of vocational skills training has to be given at the same time taking care of their little ones. Its a lot of work that goes around in rehabilitating these children.

We buy yarns from the Indian shops in town and we also use threads for most of our items.

Vicki, I do not complain at all for as long as I am serving to see that children that are not as fortunate are redeemed emotionally, physically and psychologically economically.

Cases of children in the court system isn't safe and private for children here as in many instances a defiler will walk free because a child was not able enough to look into his face and say he was the one and the discrimination and the stigma it brings is unbearable for the child. Without these homes a child will be pushed away by family because she/he reported someone most times a relative who abused. When we avail ourselves children feel safe and secure because protection, care and love is given that has been missing.

Looking forward to hear from you."



I'm not sure what would be the best way for me to help-- I'd really love to send supplies for the crafts-- I am including a link to a company that might be able to ship the goods to you.

Yes, I can pick up the goods if they are sent as long as I can pay all the dues related to the goods. For sure everything is welcome inclusive the yarns. Like I said earlier, our organization looks after children and any help be it supplies, yarns, will help a great deal in rejuvenating the children's lives. I have attached the lists of all items that you can purchase and could help the children both at home and at school. I have looked at the link and I think its just perfect.

 I am enclosing a list of supplies that the children need for school and also a list of items that they can use for their crafts.  We have been selling locally in the Juakali markets once every week -- we follow the market wherever it is put."
1.       School Bags
12. Rubbers or erasers
2.       Books
13. scissors
3.       Crayons
14. Glue stickers
4.       Pens, pencils
15. Pencil sharpeners
5.       Colored pencils
16. Drawing or art books
6.       Calculators
17. Note Books
7.       Mathematical sets
18. Pencil cases
8.       Rulers
19. Stickers
9.       Reading books  ( 6-12)
20. Art books
10.   Novels
21. art pencils
11.   staplers
22. Self Help books

Other Items:
1.       Clothes
2.       Dolls
3.       shoes
4.       Vaseline
5.       Panties
6.       Roll on
7.       Rain coats
8.       Bras
9.       Soap
10.   Play and fun Items for children
11.   Tooth paste
12.   Sandals
13.   Tooth Brushes
14.   Shoe polish
15.   Stockings
 sanitary pads

Items Needed for Craft:
Materials - lace, buttons, threads
craft embellishments
Tapestry Book patterns
Embroidery rings
Plain materials
Beads ( different colors)
embroidery floss
cross stitch books
Do It Yourself art books

I do have a few questions-- my readers will probably want to know--
1. Do you receive any funds from international support agencies?
2. If not-- why?

I've written to the cargo company and am in the process of working out the details for the transport of goods to you. Nick and Joseph have been most kind to me and will assist me in getting the supplies to you.  I'll get back to you the minute I have all the details finalized-


"Dear Vicki,
Thank you very much for the email.

I am happy that you are making all possible effort to find support for our children's project. To answer your question about outside support for our children--

Well, our children's project has never received funding from any organization as such, however, we have been receiving small donations from individuals within and proceeds from sales of crafts. So far the modest support we have received for the children's support has only been able to partially provide for tuition and scholastic needs. However, at the moment the children's project is in dire need of funding to cater for children school requirements and Adolescent reproductive health issues among others.

CHILD has received conditional money (USD 900) for its water and sanitation project from Friendly Water for the World which has enabled us produce BioSand water filters that will be distributed to schools and some households. So far 27 filters have been produced and these are projected to impact close to 1500 persons especially children below five years that are hugely affected by waterborne diseases.
Also --  I wrote to the cargo people and they have replied.  I don't have to pay tax when I receive the things here in Kampala. I think we can go ahead with all the plans."



 The Organizational website for CHILD 
can be found here

I didn't write last night because I stayed up late or actually morning! I went for an overnight prayer which starts at 8pm - 6am. Actually I am seeing your email that says say a prayer indeed I am praying for all this to happen. Do you also have over night prayers? I am a believer and a social worker! I am already very excited about the project! I have dedicated it to the Lord and I am saying a prayer everyday."
When I read that you had started working on the photos for the blog, I was over joyed.  But I am also equally anxious as I think deeply about the reception that it will receive.  This is so very important for the children and for their needs.  I am happy to hear that your knitted wrap is finished.  I trust that it is very beautiful!"

 "Dear Vicki-
The biggest challenge remains having all children taken and sponsored at school. Children that do not have an opportunity yet get frustrated and develop behavioral problems which if not dealt with cause harm; children throw tantrums or even escape from the center. Also in the intervention package; when we receive the children we carryout Family tracing, do family reintegration and reunification on top of all other programs. In cases where children have no family a foster family is identified and a child is placed. But we are mandated to stay with the children until when we find a family for them. When placed in families, we continue to support them as those very families are poverty stricken. Actually in our research it shows that family empowerment programs are needed.

We add sanitary pads for the girls to the list; this is another area that we are finding difficult in dealing with. The pads are very expensive to buy every month. If we had funds we were thinking of initiating a project that will be engaging the girls themselves in the making of these reusable pads. The outer lining which is normal cloth material is purchased locally. So in a way we pack 8 pieces and include 3 panties, a piece of soap. This lasts a girl for more than 4 months. This is far cheaper than the ones sold in stores.

We haven’t received any church missions as yet and none has helped us; our visibility internationally is very low although we work closely with all the local government and faith authorities on the ground. We would welcome church missions at the project. Please go ahead and include my email address ( in the post so that people can directly contact me if they so wish."

After what seems like such a long time, in actuality, a couple of months, I finally have all the plans in place for a charitable blog project that I hope will bring help to your beautiful children. Soon, I will share this project with my wonderful blog readers. You and I will pray that they will be moved to help us in this most precious charitable cause. Please remember this project in your prayers as we go forward with this mission -- I send love to you and your children -- so very far away-- on the other side of the world. 

Dear Vicki,
"I am getting very excited that the days are getting closer for your blog post. The entire home is both fasting and praying for the success of this project. I can tell you that everybody is so very excited. I have been in the village -- when it starts to rain we go there to plant food. We have been able to plant some cassva and maize, these help a little with feeding the children. 

I cannot stop thanking you for all the effort and time you have given to this project.  May God bless you and your readers abundantly.

Much love!"

"The smallest act of kindness 
             is worth more than the grandest intention" ~
                                                                                           Oscar Wilde

You are all invited to join me in sending a little bit of love in the form of supplies to Josephine and her children.  If you would like to touch the life of a child, please consider joining me in this mission. (In doing so you will have the opportunity to win some really great prizes!)

The plan-- 
1. Please consider sending a $5.00 Walmart gift card to my designated address.  The smallest denomination for preloaded cards is $10 -- but you can buy a blank card and ask the cashier to load it in the amount of $5.  The gift cards will be mailed to my friend Sue Kosec.  Sue lives in Texas, not far from the port where the supplies will be loaded and then shipped to Uganda.  Sue and her husband will take your gift cards and purchase the needed supplies --using the list that Josephine sent to me (as is noted above.)

They say it "takes a village" and I absolutely could not do this project without you and without my friend Sue.  Thankfully my dear friend and her husband will purchase the needed supplies at a local level and box them up for delivery to the port. I am so very grateful for their help and support -- xoxo. You can visit Sue at her new blog here

2.  The cost to ship the supplies to Uganda is quite expensive. While I am willing to bear this cost myself, if you would like to consider sending a $1 donation for the purpose of helping with shipping costs, I would be ever so grateful. (xoxo)
You can tuck it into the envelope when you mail the gift card, or you can send it all by itself.  (While I am not comfortable in asking my blog readers to donate large sums of money to any cause, I hope you will allow me to ask for your $1 donations and also the $5 gift cards.)

3.  Using the list of needed craft items (as noted above) you may fill a large envelope or small box with some unwanted or unused items from your own craft supplies.  Extra buttons, threads, small bits of fabric, yarn,.... may be sent to the designated address.  In turn, I will package your items together and send them to Sue.  She will include them with the purchased supplies when being sent to the children.  Please refer to the list above when preparing your craft items for donation.  If you wish -- you may add a $1 donation to your craft envelope (to help with the cost of shipping supplies to Uganda) -- this will earn you an additional entry into the drawing for prizes.

4.  Please consider posting about this charity project on your own blog or  your Facebook page.   **This project will run from today until December 1.**  In the large scheme of things, that is not a long time. Please help me spread the word so that we can maximize this effort to send supplies to the children. After December 1, I will be sending the gift cards and craft items to Sue for packaging and delivery to the port. My goal is that Josephine will receive these needed supplies sometime after the first of the year.
Any of the above considerations 
will enter you into the contest to win
the prizes --(listed below).  
If your church or ladies group wishes
to participate, please send a list
of all the names when you send your donation.
I will personally add every single name to the drawing for prizes.  

This opportunity is open to everyone-
regardless of where you live.
If you would like to make a
$1.00 or $5.00 donation
instead of shipping items or gift cards
 you may do so 
by sending the donation
to my paypal account --
the address is

You may enter as many ways listed above
as you wish. 
Each donation will earn you an 
entry into the drawing for
If you share this charitable project on your
blog or Facebook page,
please leave me a comment here
that you have done so.
I would be SO very grateful if you could share this
with your friends.

 Please send your donated gift cards
(and $1 donations) to:
Josephine's Children
311 West Main Street
Grayson, Ky

Please send your craft supply donations to:
Josephine's Children
c/o Sue Kosec
2525 Hwy 360 #1532
Euless, Tx
(all items and donations must be received by December 1, 2014.)

Introducing my
knitted wrap collection~

"Colors of Africa"
Tapestry knitted wrap

this beautiful wrap
was created especially for this 
charitable project.

The proceeds from the sale of this wrap
will be applied towards the 
 cost to send the supplies 
to Uganda. 

this is a
"one of a kind" design
which will not be repeated again.
there will be other wraps 
in this beautiful
"Tapestry" series
coming later this year~
you can see this wrap here
in my ETSY shop

My gifts to you~  

 this beautiful
"African Dreams" necklace
was created by my talented friend, Marsha
specially for this charitable project.

 Kindle Fire 
8GB (wi-fi)
(thank you Amazon for your amazing generosity)
and support of this charitable cause!

 this beautiful Vera Bradley "Abby" purse
in the design
"Safari Sunset" 

 this Vera Bradley satchel bag
also in the design
"Safari Sunset" 
Winners will be announced
on December 1, 2014
and will be listed here in this blog post. 

"I used to pray that God
would feed the hungry, 
or do this or that,
 but now I pray that he will guide me
to do whatever
 I am supposed to do,
 what I can do.

I used to pray for answers,
 but now I'm praying for strength. 
I used to believe that prayer changes things,
but now I know that prayer changes us,
and we change things." 
Mother Teresa


Please join me in supporting Josephine 
and her children 
in this small,
 but powerful mission 
to make a difference~


ps --
I am going to take a little blog break for a few weeks.  I will be back to you in early October.  I have several projects that I want to finish and also many things that will keep me busy for a little while.  When I return in October, I will have something beautiful to share with you.  Until then, you can find me at my email --  Have a wonderful rest of the summer -- make every day special in some small way.