We have a small pond behind our Marietta, Georgia home and that is the first place our yellow lab, Gracie and I visit upon waking up.
Geese are a common occurrence on this pond. On this particular morning, however, as Gracie took care of her business, I stopped to count them. Still in my cozy bathrobe and holding a mug of steaming coffee, I counted…amazingly, there were 36 geese, seemingly frozen in place on our pond. I took pause, as I often do, my phone shining a bright light in the pre-day darkness.
I love nature and how it can speak into your soul, inspiring us to be the best version of ourselves. What did it say to me on this chilly January morning?
“Observe the quietness of these floating before you. That is what I want to encourage you to do a little each day. Remember that cool verse in Psalm 46:10: ‘Be still, and KNOW that I am God.’? Brief moments like this one can help you to practice this.”
When is the last time you took a few minutes to JUST BE in nature. A back yard, some nearby woods, a porch, Kennesaw Mountain, a pond, a lake, or my favorite, by the sea?
“Please tell me a story.” was a common request in our home back in the day when our kids were little. Here, you will learn about some wooden toys to use during story time that will add imagination in play! In case your time is short, and you want to go straight to The Wooden Storyteller site, click here. You will love these!
Story time is such a great time for connection, teaching, and halting the rush, if only for a few minutes, that we all seem to be experiencing these days.
Do you currently have little ones that are an important part of your life?
I hope you will check out these creative wooden storyteller pieces that your children and grandchildren will surely delight in.
My niece, Rachael along with her husband, Thomas are the creators of some amazing “hands on” toys that you just might want to add to your list for the little ones that you love. Read on to learn how they were inspired to start their little, growing business:
“We are a Southern family living in the Pacific Northwest. We have one son, Titus, who is three years old. “Mama, I strong. I wild. I fierce.” Thank you little one.
My husband, Thomas, started making toys for our son’s play. He would need a boat for his men or a monster for the sea. We began to get compliments and people were shocked when they discovered we made them ourselves. We soon had orders from family and friends. We knew we were on to something and the rest is history.
We honor both free play and storybooks. We believe storytelling is the perfect mix of the two. Telling your child a story while acting it out only solidifies the tale. When your child retells a story and plays it back out….something magical happens. They make this tale their own. This is imaginative narration in play, and it is so good.
We keep our wooden toys simple. We desire children to have toys that are both visually and tactically beautiful. We want children to explore with creative thought and to learn truth from stories. We believe children should get the quality of the toy and the quality of the story.
We would love to hear from you! Happy Storytelling!”
They offer a number of story pieces including Jonah and the whale, The Nativity Story, The 3 Little Pigs, and many more. Each set comes in its own drawstring bag to keep the story pieces together. They can also make special orders that you do not find in their current collection.
In any given moment, we are guided by one of two maps: a vision map, which is a deliberate map for our future, or a default map, which is made up of our past. Choices made from our default map---our repetitive, automatic programming---DO NOT nourish our flames, nor do they move us closer to our dreams. AND even though they might feel right to us, they do simply because they are familiar. The right questions wake you up!
from page 23, The Right Questions: 10 Essential Questions To Guide You To An Extraordinary Life, Debbie Ford
Have you begun to let some of those dreams slip away? Nearly one year ago, my hiking buddy, Kathy invited me to join her and three friends for a hiking adventure. I immediately said yes, not knowing that this past week, our eight-hour hike up, viewing the sunset from a 7,000 foot vista, and trekking back down in six hours would inspire me so. After my recent climb up to the Summit of Mt. Le Conte in the Great Smoky Mountains, my dreams have been rekindled. Laughing, singing Rod Stewart, songs from musicals, Carole King, and JT, telling long stories, and “unplugging for a time” all served to rejuvenate and inspire the five of us!
It has been said that “getting old is not for sissies”, and as I draw nearer to the end of my fifth decade, I am finding this to be true. Life, at any stage, takes great courage. Climbing a huge mountain has helped to decrease my fears and rebuild my courage for the days ahead.
I was able to celebrate my friend, Cyndi’s 60th birthday this past Saturday and a friend I saw there shared that she found it hard to do things for herself during this season of her life, with grown married children and grandchildren now here. I told her about the 3 nights I snuck away to climb Mt. Le Conte with friends, and how doing that ( I am hoping) will make me a stronger and more loving woman, Mother, and Mom-In-Law, as well as a Grandma to our (future) grandchildren. <smile>
So what are the dreams you have had in your past that might be trying to slip away because of time and circumstances? What’s on your list, what “mountains” would you like to climb to gain serenity and hope for the future? Our adventure happened to be extremely physically challenging, but your dreams and my dreams can be whatever they are, unique to each one of us: keeping a journal, visiting a historical nearby community you’ve been thinking of, increasing your fitness,snagging 15-30 minutes each day for some solitude, some alone time, and more. Take a few moments to sit quietly, perhaps with pen and paper at hand, and jot down a few of your dreams.
I had the opportunity this past Tuesday to go to The Barter Theater, again with my lifelong friend, Kelly Read.
You have been my friend, that in itself is a tremendous thing.” Charlotte to Wilbur in the story of Charlotte’s Web
If you have never had the chance to visit this theater and the quaint Virginia town of Abingdon, please put it on your radar for a trip in the future. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Southwest Virginia, this town not only boasts of this great, old theater, but also the famous Virginia Creeper Trail. I like to joke and ask my husband again and again, “When can we move here!?!” Seriously, we love it!
Charlotte’s Web is often called “the best children’s book of all time,” and occupies a special place in the hearts of young and old alike.
Along with busloads of school children, Kelly and I saw the play Charlotte’s Web.
As a retired teacher of elementary kids, I love this story for many reasons. One of the reasons is I read it aloud to my class every year. Another reason is during my one year of homeschooling, I read it along with Trumpet of the Swan and Stuart Little to Walker during his first grade in school. All of these timeless stories were written by E.B.White and illustrated by Garth Williams.
If I can fool a bug… I can surely fool a man. People are not as smart as bugs.”Charlotte, the spider to Wilbur, the pig
I highly recommend you read these stories aloud to your children and grandchildren.
You should be able to find a copy in your local library where many locations offer free story times.
“Few people would guess that a pig and a spider could be best friends. In this story, not only are they best friends, but Charlotte, the spider saves Wilbur, the pig’s life. Charlotte takes a chance on Wilbur and goes on the most rewarding adventure of her life-friendship. And Wilbur, desperate for a friend, finds out that life is about more than just himself: it’s about helping those around you. Together, this unlikely duo changes the lives of every animal (and human) they meet.
Wilbur and Charlotte’s selflessness creates a better world. So does their bravery to be who they are. And their willingness to love each other unconditionally.
Take a chance on someone today. You may find that they’re terrific. Or radiant. Or humble. And they just might change your life.”
Director of the play, Charlotte’s Web, Barrett Guyton, Barter Theater
Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.
Donny and I took a short trip to St. Louis, Missouri this past weekend to visit our son and his bride of nearly two years. Though the flight was short, the turbulence was worse than usual, causing the attendants to suspend beverage service for awhile. In addition, the landing was one of the most tumultuous we’ve experienced. Still, as we exited the plane, as always, I thanked the attendants, and I looked straight into the Captain’s eyes, saying, “Thank you for the safe travel.” Some of them are surprised by my statement, but all seem to appreciate it. You may want to try this the next time you step off an airplane! I never want to take traveling mercies for granted, another lesson my Mama taught me.
The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.
Arriving at 3:00 p.m. on a Friday gave us a nice long visit with our children, Walker, a Ph.D Philosophy student at SLU (Saint Louis University) and Jessica, a nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Jess is also working on a Masters in Nursing Education. Jessica’s birthday was the Wednesday before our arrival, so we got to celebrate with her! Both carved out time from work and studying to play with us for the weekend! We love the old architecture and homes scattered through this Midwestern U.S. city. We visited them Easter 2015 and you can read about that visit by clicking here.
Did you know? In 1904, St. Louis hosted the 1904 World’s Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics, becoming the first non-European city to host the Olympics.
The best part of our entire weekend away was just being together. Whether we were sharing a meal, getting a haircut, loving on Louis the cat, planting flower pots, playing cards, hanging out talking, or heading to church.
I sustain myself with the love of family.
After a special time with our family, it was good to return to our home, even with all the congestion and traffic. “There’s no place like home.”
Thanks, Walker and Jess for your awesome hospitality! We look forward to our next trip when Leah and Scott can join us!
I must admit that dogs are a lot of trouble at times. They make messes that require cleaning and tear up things that need replacing. Having a dog requires the owners to make vacation plans around them, take them to vet appointments, and make sure their food and treats are in stock.
However, I have found that you get back ten-fold in pure love all that you give to a dog.
Today, I want to introduce you to two of the countless best friends in our world: WHIZZ and LUCCA, both are examples of true heroes! And both received the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) award!
I first heard about Whizz on a recent radio show. Whizz, a Newfoundland, worked with the Royal Navy Rescue, the Severn Area Rescue Association and the Marine Volunteer Service. Whizz went to Doggie Heaven on March first of 2016 at the age of 12, following a ten-year water rescue career. Whizz was given a posthumous award, the PDSA Order of Merit, an award given to animals that display outstanding devotion to their owner or society. Newfies are bred in the frigid environment of Newfoundland, Canada. With flaps of skin between their toes, their feet turn into webbed paws enabling them to swim more efficiently. Whizz’s breed is also gifted with soft, oily fur which allows them to float, astonishing strength, and the most endearing personality a dog can have.
Whizz rescued nine people and one dog during his working years.
Owned by David Pugh, Whizz will be forever remembered by his, handler, Ellie, a top lifeguard in the UK. It was Whizz’s job to provide the strength and ability to help people in trouble, but as this big “bear” rescued frantic swimmers, Ellie provided the human touch and was the one who calmed them, telling them what to do. David explained, “A drowning person has the strength of ten people, and in a panic, would most certainly pull the dog under. The role of the lifeguard is to make sure the drowning person is well and to convey that the dog is there to help. Thereafter, the dog is able to perform the rescue.”
Through all of her treatment, and despite the pain she was in, her temperament never changed.
Cpl Juan Rodriguez said of Lucca, the war dog
GYSgt Chris Willingham, a Marine, was first paired with Lucca on April 23, 2006. In her six years of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were zero human casualties. Sadly, Lucca was injured by a bombing in Afghanistan’s Helmund Province, with chest burns and the loss of a leg in 2012. Still with Willingham, Lucca lives in California and is being utterly spoiled during her retirement.
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After visiting the amazing St. Louis Zoo with our family a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had not been to Zoo Atlanta in decades. After dropping my husband at the airport yesterday afternoon, I decided to take a solo trip to check it out! An adventure of sorts. [pullquote]I love acting, but it’s much more fun taking the kids to the zoo.” Nicole Kidman[/pullquote]Having grown up in Decatur, Georgia, just a short drive from the Atlanta Zoo, I went there often as a child, sharing a picnic on the wide, grassy hills that surround the zoo.
Did you know? If you would rather not take your little goblins trick-or-treating, the Atlanta Zoo is having Boo At The Zoo for the next two weekends on October 24, 25 and the 31st, too. The decorations there are festive and they are giving out that prized candy, too!
After visiting two zoos in two weeks, I realized there are a few lessons we can learn from the animals who live there:
(1) Be Content. For the most part, the animals we saw at the zoo were content in their natural habitats.
[pullquote]I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12[/pullquote]
(2) Trust. Trust that all will be well and others will look out for you as you journey through life.
[pullquote]Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” William Shakespeare[/pullquote]
The zoo animals trust that they will be fed and treated well while living in the zoo.
(3) Enjoy the miracles of nature. Again, living in their natural habitat, the zoo animals take in the beauty and comfort of nature.
(4) Be playful, loving and get along with others. Yesterday, when I was alone at Zoo Atlanta, I took the time to sit and observe the monkeys for a good 30 minutes. They were loving with one another and it was truly inspiring to watch.
I hope you get a chance to visit a zoo in the near future.