Donny and I recently made the 2.5 hour drive from Asheville, North Carolina to Blue Ridge, Georgia. Normally a scenic route along the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway, our drive was cloudy and smoky indeed from all the recent rain and flooding. In the passenger seat, I reminisced about our recent holiday season, considering the coming Christmas of dear friends who had a great loss in the past year.
As the miles slipped by in the torrential rain, I thought about what brings me the most happiness and joy.
I came upon my usual, steadfast three:
Later, I ran across the following anonymous writing and it fit with my musings as we traveled last week:
We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another.
Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough, and we’ll be more content when they are.
After that, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with.
We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.
We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our partner gets his or her act together when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice holiday, when we retire.
The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than now. If not now, when?
Your life will always be filled with challenges.
It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
Alfred D. Souza
This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.
So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time…and remember that time waits for no one.
So, stop waiting until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until winter, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink…. there is no better time than now to be happy.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Work like you don’t need money,
Love like you’ve never been hurt,
And dance like no one’s watching.
So what will bring us happiness and joy in 2018?
Pictured here are some of my favorite things from the past years.
But as you will soon see…”The best things in life aren’t things at all.”
We had our first winter storm of the year over the weekend, and believe me, this is somewhat of a rarity !!
Much of Georgia is still covered with inches of the white coat of snow.
In short, I should have liked to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet be man enough to know its value.
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
A decade or so ago, I wrote out the following in calligraphy, printed the message on green paper, and then laminated the copies. (Those of you who know me will be SO surprised with the laminating part, lol)
I gave them out to my seven grade school friends, Mary, Jan, Lynn, Debbie, Evelyn, Cindy, and Jane Ellen, who are as close as family to me.
When Mary texted me a picture of hers last week, telling me it was one of her favorite things to put out during the holiday season, I decided I wanted to share it with my friends and family here on Pages From Joan. I try to read my copy a few times over the holidays each year.
When I first shared it with my Forever Friends, this message was claimed as anonymous. Since then, I have learned that at least the first part was written by Howard W. Hunter, (1907-1995)
I have highlighted (linked) previous related posts throughout the message.
What To Do This Christmas
This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion, and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Find the time. Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Appreciate others. Be kind; be gentle. Laugh a little. Laugh a little more. Deserve confidence. Take up arms against malice. Decry complacency. Express your gratitude. Go to church. Welcome a stranger.Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love.Speak it still once again. Christmas is celebration, and there is no celebration that compares tight the realization of its true meaning—with the sudden stirring of the heart that has extended itself toward the core of life. Then, only then, is it possible to grasp the significance of that first Christmas—to savor in the inward ear of the sweet music of the angel choir; to envision the star-struck sky, and glimpse, behind the eyelids, the ray of light that fell athwart a darkened path, and changed the world.
What in the above reading will be a priority for you in the days ahead?
I will be emphasizing more laughter, better listening, and demonstrating my loyalty in word and deed.
This passage in Romans 5 perfectly describes the wonderful and brave woman I am lucky enough to call my mother. Even on her worst or saddest of days, she still shines the brightest light and takes refuge in her faith. I would never come close to the person that I am without you as my Mom!
My friend, Jule Furr, took her leave just before Thanksgiving on November 22, 2017. Jule and I were heart friends and this inspiring angel will be sorely missed. You can read her brief bio here.
Her Celebration of Life Service is on this Saturday, December 9th at 1:00 p.m. at Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence, by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.'
Jule faced cancer early in her life as a junior high student. Battling the disease for decades, when others asked how she was feeling, she was in the habit of responding, “Oh, it ain’t nothing but ‘a thang’!” with a courageous and joyful smile on her face. Whether she was dealing with loss of hair, bells palsy, or any other yucky side effect of her continual treatment plan, Jule maintained her sense of humor and her determination to live.
I've always thought I was touched by God and He chose me for a reason. Because of my struggles, my faith is stronger. I want people to see Jesus in me. We are here to shine a light.
Jule was treasured, loved, and fought for her life daily to be with her family, husband, Bryan, daughter and son, Jordan and Christian (called Fuzzy). Jule Furr considered these three her greatest gifts! The Furrs were married over thirty years. She felt blessed to have him as her husband and best friend.
Over time, many of us came to call her “Jules”. When I asked her about this, she proclaimed, “Well, I am ‘a jewel’ you know, I’m a ‘Daughter of The King’!!”
It is honestly difficult to describe this woman who changed the world with her birth on February 27, 1964. Number five, she joined four sibs, sisters, Mary Ann, Kathy, Linda, and one brother, Chris. Funny story, upon her birth, her Daddy announced that he would nickname Jule “Banana” as the 5th one in the bunch, but the kids disagreed!
First living in Charlotte, North Carolina as newlyweds, Jules and Bryan Furr soon moved to Georgia where they raised their two babies in Marietta.
My story with Jules began when we were Moms together at Eastside Christian School in the late nineties . Though I lost touch in recent months due to the severity of Jules progressive disease, our friendship is one I will cherish in my heart forever.
Here, I will share a few anecdotes from our time together.
In 2000, I was preparing to raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer 60-Day Walk from Gainesville to Atlanta. Having gone through this cancer herself, Jules was not strong enough to participate. However, she did want to help me raise funds. A participant was required to raise a minimum of $1,500.00 and our children held a Dog Wash to help. (I still laugh when I recall our son, Walker, age 8 at the time asking me if he could put out a “tip jar”!) Along with my friends who were walking with me, Kathy Owen and Jil Cain, we raised nearly 10 grand! Jules, alone gave me a total of $820.00 the week of our walk! While registering on Day One, a woman in front of me was dismayed because she was unable to reach her financial goal. You guessed it, she was right at $820.00 short and I happily gave her Jules donation funds. Wow, was that a cool, God Wink!?!
Also, in 2000, when battling breast cancer, Jules’ fear for her two young children’s reaction, soon gave way to inspiration. Soon, she penned an original story called, “The Scarf Game”, and it was published just a few weeks later. The 23 page story book which never mentions the word “cancer” was written from her daughter, Jordan’s perspective. The creative story line explains how both Jordan and Christian learned to tie scarves on their Mom’s bald head to help her when she was not feeling so well. This is just another example of the courageous and positive outlook this dear friend held in life.
During a particular season of illness, during the school year of 2007-2008, Jules and I would talk on the phone often. She shared with me that when she felt down and discouraged, she would list the things she was most grateful for…her husband, Bryan, Jordan, 8th grade at the time, and their son, Christian, 4th grade.
One time when I was at Chemo treatment with Jules, her nurse, Cindy Deminsky, said about Jules, “She is a treasure, treasure, treasure!” In Jules’ usual humored way, she quipped, “No, you are! I’m just an addict!”
Jules always expressed to me how much she valued her girlfriends. Back in the day, she thoroughly loved her “Southern Living Ladies Lunch Club”. They would dress crazy for gatherings and when Jules was ill, they took two-hour shifts to stay with her.
We must meet the unknown future by bringing to bear everything that has been shaped by us in the past.
John O'Donohue, Irish Writer (1956-2008)
I am convinced Jules relied strongly on her faith as she journeyed through life, and she would want everyone to know this!
Jule Furr defined life and never allowed life to define her. Her smile changed the world, but she never let the circumstances of her world change her smile.
I am especially inspired by true life stories about one who has risen above great adversity. Author, Kevin Carroll is another example of this very thing.
Growing up in Pennsylvania, and born the same year as me (1958), Carroll’s parents ended up abandoning he and his two brothers by the time he was eight years old.
Thankfully, the boys were rescued by their grandparents who raised them with love and guidance. Initially, a scrawny kid, Carroll found his release on the playground with a red rubber ball.
With straightforward, captivating storytelling, Kevin Carroll conveys his childhood passion for sport and play into a widely engaging blueprint for life. Tapping wisdom from the playgrounds of his adolescence, where he spent hours and hours strengthening his body and his mind, Carroll shares with us his Rules of the Red Rubber Ball – how to achieve maximum human potential through the power of passion and creativity. YOU may want to click here to watch a 5 minute YouTube video featuring author, Kevin Carroll. His enthusiasm is contagious!
Finding your own -red rubber ball and chasing it to your heart’s content, he argues, is the surest route to peace, prosperity, and happiness. What is your red rubber ball, anyway!?! Life is change and change is life. You may be a growing child or a young adult just starting out in the working world. An empty nester, or in your fourth quarter of life. The following questions Carroll includes in his whimsical, little book will help you out:
What would you do for free?
What activities enthrall you?
What in life do you find irresistible, a source of inspiration, a reason to get out of bed?
What dream do you chase?
What topics do you love to discuss and ponder?
What’s your primal source of joy?
Over the years as an athletic trainer and public speaker, Carroll has transformed his philosophy into seven simple rules that any successful leader will endorse:
1) Commit to it-It requires commitment to pursue your life’s work, despite the naysayers.
2) Seek out encouragers-Sustaining your life’s work cannot be done alone.
3) Work out your creative muscle-Creativity and imagination will help you overcome some unexpected pitfalls.
4) Prepare to shine-Preparation means doing what I call the lonely work: the unglamorous tasks that no one tells you to do and the hard work that no one will notice.
5) Speak up-Challenge boundaries (respectfully) when they arise. There is always a way out.
6) Expect the unexpected-One way to embrace the unexpected is to be on the look-out for, and respect, coincidence.
7) Maximize the day-Each day contains 86,400 seconds, that is 86,400 opportunities to chase, kick, catch, and run after your red rubber ball.
Life Is Short!!! I hope this post about The Red Rubber Ball will encourage you to seek after your dreams. I am definitely more of a visual learner. Therefore, I have a new red rubber ball hanging around my home to remind me to continue to be joyful and to keep my dreams alive.
My Red Rubber Ball is the Book Project I am working on about
12 Lessons My Mama Taught Me.
Past Posts About People Who Have Overcome Adversity In Their Lives:
“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.
Since trick-or-treaters generally don’t make their way down our short street, Donny and I decided to make a date last night, and see this movie.
Without giving away the whole story, based on true events, here are a few quotes by the authors of this story:
“If you really serious ’bout helping’ somebody, crawl down in the ditch with ’em, bandage up their wounds, and stick with ’em until they is strong enough to crawl up on your back ands get out.”
“The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in-between, this earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So in a way, we is all homeless—just workin’ our way home.”
“When you is precious to God, you become more important to Satan. Watch your back.”
“There’s something I learned when I was homeless. Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin’ you can do, that’s when God takes over.”
“I found out everybody’s different—the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin’ down the road God done set in front of us.”
“To love a man enough to help him, you have to forfeit the warm, self-righteous glow that comes from judging.”
“Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpected can also take you over and change your life. Put a heart in your body where a stone used to be.”
When you take time to read this book or see the movie, I am wondering what thoughts you may have afterwards?
Here are a few of my musings:
1) love always wins
2) regardless of our race, gender or place of origin, we are similar in more ways than not
3) we all put our pants on one leg at a time
4) each of us can reach one who is in need
5) when we help someone, we are encouraged and changed
6) life is brief and kindness matters
7) judgment is never okay we never know where one’s shoes have trod
My friend, Nancy R. Chalmers has recently published her book entitled, “No One Visits the Mother of a Drug Addict.” This autobiographical story recounts the author’s experiences as she endured her son’s addiction, the physical, emotional and spiritual turmoil the addiction was on her and the entire family. The center is filled with family pictures illustrating their journey. Readers are given a firsthand look at how drug addiction took over her son, Andrew’s life, straight from her heart. This personal story took a ton of courage, bravery, as well as a hefty dose of vulnerability. This story is not just for parents of addicts, but for families who find themselves in a hard season that seems impossible to change.
It is Nancy’s sincere hope and prayer that many families will begin to heal, not only from the tragedy of substance abuse, but from any number of difficult circumstances that happen around our globe on a regular basis. It is this author’s belief that the path to wholeness starts with brokenness, and that “healing” is our God’s specialty since we are His creation. I agree with her.
In this personal account, Nancy also reminds us how telling our story…to a trustworthy soul…can offer healing beyond measure. She is very thankful for the one friend who reached out on a regular basis to be “Jesus with skin on” for this hurting Mom.
It's amazing seeing the ripple effects of how when the hope of Jesus Christ invades the life of a person how that creates a domino effect to impact the rest of their family, their workplace, and their neighborhood.
Andrew Chalmers, Director and Founder of Take The City, also son of Nancy and Louis Chalmers,
Not everyone is going to exhibit the kind of faith The Chalmers have shown here in this story. But God can work with what faith you have. In fact, Matthew 17:20 tells us “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Church folks don't like to talk about unacceptable problems. Oh, we can go on and on about cancer, death, (as long as it's not suicide), divorce, loss of job, sudden illness, surgery, birth defects, all our 'small sins' and many more. But alcohol and substance abuse, family abuse, runaways, other addictions, mental illness, satanic activity, pornography and sexual perversions, rape, murder, and nervous breakdowns are taboo.'
Nancy R. Chalmers, author of No One Visits the Mother of a Drug Addict
At the close of her story, Nancy offers a 15 page Reflections Study Guide for hurting families. She begins it by again, reminding us that healing begins when we share our stories in a safe, confidential space.
Nancy begins the Study Guide with some frank questions:
What is going on in your family?
Who are the players in your drama?
How is all this affecting you?
Describe your most recent challenge or storm and how you responded.
To whom do you share this problem, where do you go for good counsel?
How do you find comfort?
Please note below a schedule of Nancy Reardon Chalmers’ upcoming book signings:
School Days are busy days, that is for sure! The days will go by, no matter what.
The hour is 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, and I find myself walking through our quaint Marietta Square thinking about afternoons gone by, when our son and daughter were small and coming up. Now married, ages 27 and 24, on school days, the hours between 2:30-8:30, six hours in all, were so jammed pack, roller skates would have probably helped me to make it to their bedtime. Homework, sports, carpools, snack time, Mission Friends, baths, music lessons, dinner, and more, filled those six hours each weekday and the memories come flooding in when I allow them to. My husband’s work schedule did not allow him to help me shuffle them here and there, so it was lots of other Moms, and me, who counted on each other to create plans that were workable.
Half an hour's meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed.
Saint Francis de Sales
Now at a local Starbuck’s at the corner of Whitlock and North Marietta Parkway, the hour is closer to three p.m., and as I gaze out the big windows, I see the traffic is increasing. The parents are heading to schools for pick-up, while the teachers are calling the day a wrap as they clean their boards and straighten the classrooms in preparation for Hump Day. The days go by, no matter what.
I don’t feel sad as I recall these school days gone by, but I do recall easily three things that we intentionally tried to do every single day:
1) Eat dinner together as a family-not every night, but we tried hard to make it most nights. We would go around the table sharing “highs” and “lows” from the day gone by. The crockpot was my best friend then! Click here to read a pertinent article about this.
2) We read together every night at bedtime. When they were nonreaders, we would read to them and once they learned to read, we would read with the popcorn method-you read a page and your child reads a page. Click here to read an important article about reading with your kids.
3) Each and every night, we would rest our hand on our child and give them the following blessing from Numbers 6:24-26: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Parents today, more than ever before, still want the Lord to bless their children. Click here to read a thought-provoking article titled “I pray this for my children.”, By Gregory Harris
How about your family? What intentional traditions and memories are you building into the busy days of your children and grandchildren? The SKY is the limit!
Bridge Across My Sorrows is a book I picked up during the summer. I suppose I will always be drawn to books about true people and how each one faced their own unique challenges in their life. Maybe it is because I have my own personal obstacles I have had to face, and this motivates me to read story after story of how an individual conquered their life’s trials.
The 315 page paperback book I just finished is no exception. Another true account, Bridge Across My Sorrows, by Christina Noble with Robert Coram, like me, will surely send you realizing the potential there is within a beating heart. Noble rises above unimaginable and despicable poverty from a life of being a street child in Dublin, Ireland, to go on to make a shining difference in the lives of street children in Vietnam.
We see a human spirit of shining dignity courage and resilience--it is not a surprise when she ultimately turns her life into a magnificent act of love and generosity.
Mia Farrow's remarks about this Noble's story
Seriously, her life between birth and well into her adulthood is so heartbreakingly painful, that I had to put the book down and breathe for a moment.
So why would I want you and others to read such a story right here in the midst of a hot summer’s end, as school buses are rolling again? I would say the main reason to read it is to be inspired by Nobles indomitable courage in the face of violence, neglect, and abuse. Christina Noble has risen above and beyond all of that.
WE CAN, TOO, no matter our life circumstances. This book has been made into a 2014 movie, entitled NOBLE: A Fearless Life A Reckless Love, which stars Deidre O’Kane, Sarah Greene, and Gloria Cramer Curtis as Christina at different seasons in her life journey. If you have Amazon Prime, you can view this movie for free.
What true stories—from either a movie,play, or in book form have impacted the choices you have made in your life journey? Think about it!
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.