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!
Do you remember The Family Circus syndicated comic strip created by cartoonist, Bil Keane? Originating in 1960, and one of my favorites, I remember running to the AJC newspaper to find it every Sunday. The cartoons without fail left my spirit warm.
During this tumultuous and troubled season across our globe today, we have to find a way to keep our sense of humor and our healthy well-being.
ALL you need is LOVE. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
Charles M. Schulz
Viewing a few Family Circus strips might help! You may not believe this, but many years ago, I collaged the front of our basement frig with Family Circus strips and they are still there today! It is fun to look at them again and again.
I hope you will enjoy them as much as our family has through the years.
What will you and I and our loved ones do in the days, weeks, and months ahead to maintain love and laughter in our moments?
I believe it is fair to say we are in the midst of a tumultuous, uncertain season across our globe.
“It can be too sad here. We often lose our way. It is easy to sense and embrace meaning when life is on track. When there is a feeling of fullness—having love, goodness, family, work, maybe God as parts of life—it’s easier to navigate around the sadness that you inevitably stumble across. Life holds beauty, magic and anguish. Sometimes sorrow is unavoidable, even when your kids are little, when the marvels of your children and your parental amazement, are all the meaning you need to sustain you, or when you have landed the job and salary for which you’ve always longed, or the mate. And then the phone rings, the mail comes, or you turn on the TV.” Anne Lamott, from Stitches: A Handbook On Meaning, Hope, and Repair
Political gridlock, evil terrorists, human sex trafficking, and a wide use of illicit drugs are just some of what we are experiencing in this grim avalanche surrounding us today. Easter: The Season of Hope is upon us. Did you know? Easter is celebrated in a variety of ways across the world. Click here to read about some of them. With all of these hopeless things going on, Easter brings Good News for those who believe.
Yesterday was the first day of spring on our calendar. What are some of your favorite things about spring? Springtime is associated with the ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. Though the pollen bothers many, the vivid blooms and flowering trees are truly something to behold!
With many world-wide challenges, some may be asking “Where Is God?” I had something happen in the past week that assured me that his eye is on us.
Did you know? There is a set of verses in the Gospel of Matthew where we are taught what to do with worry. It is human nature to worry some, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a place to go with our worries?
One place to go is found in Matthew 6:25-34. Today, we will look at two of these verses, v. 26-27, and apply them to what happened here in our home.
Have you ever noticed a bird’s nest somewhere on your property? Mama used to say that when a bird builds a nest near your home that this is a sign that you have the gift of hospitality! <smile>
We have a wreath right outside our kitchen entrance that is being used as a nest spot for a bird right now. It is a bit camouflaged …can you see it here below?
So my brief story begins with a homemade wreath that our daughter, Leah made for an upcoming bridal kitchen shower for a dear friend. Leah lovingly used burlap and a big white G for the wreath. Click here to read a previous post that will show you how to make this wreath. In preparation for the Sunday party, my co-host, Cyndi and I began decorating a couple of days ahead. The wreath was hung on our front door on Friday, two days before the festivities would start. On Sunday morning, as I was checking on everything, I noticed that an important project had begun in the burlap wreath: a bird’s nest! In just two days, LOOK at what progress this industrious bird had made!
Some of The Gillam Gang hold beautiful, delicious cookies Baked With Heart by my friend, Louise who has her own business in Virginia. Check out her Facebook Page here. Louise can make the most creative cookies I have ever seen and will carefully pack and ship to your home for a very reasonable price.
Sorrows cannot all be explained away…In a life truly lived, grief and loss accumulate like possessions.” Stephan Kanfer
How do we describe grief? How do we express how much we miss someone’s presence in our days? Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process. The reasons for grief are many, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, or the letting go of a long-held dream. Dealing with a significant loss can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life.
I can easily recall after my Mama passed on in October, 2006, there was a physical aching in my heart, a pain I had never experienced before. I knew then a little more about what grief was. When our much-loved nephew, Brad died in April, 2009, our family learned more about this process of grief. We held onto each other a little tighter after that. My Daddy went on to join Mama in November, 2013, so I have had a glimpse of what grief is about. Like you, I have lost friends who have meant the world to me. Some of you have lost a beloved spouse. Grief is something we would definitely never invite in, but something we are all called to experience at one time or another.
Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead.” Frederick Buechner
Unlike many of you who are reading this, I have never walked through the loss of a child. I can only imagine that losing one of our children would be like losing a limb, or worse. That is where our dear friends, The Reads are today, on March 7, 2016. They are looking at the calendar, recognizing this date and marking the first anniversary of their son, Taylor’s passing at the young age of 23.
Taylor Heston Read will always be remembered as a kind, strong, athletic, funny, loving young man, and he will be missed forever. Taylor’s parents, five grandparents, friends and relatives, including his sister, Megan know they will see him again, as they look ahead with godly confidence of this truth.I miss Taylor, too! You see, Taylor’s parents and I first met when we were just starting college at Tennessee Tech University back in the 70’s. Kelly and I bonded quickly as ADPis and went on to stand alongside each other in our 1982 weddings, vacationed together and yes, raised our children together.
Taylor was a precious little brunette baby boy. A tall young man, I’ll always remember Taylor as a gentle giant, with a comforting smile. His many friends, both guys and girls, describe Taylor as a caring soul, as “the one who looked after me,” … a bridge over troubled water.
The remembrance of Taylor will forever kindle fondness, smiles, and pure love by so many of us still here on earth…
In response to Taylor’s passing, his family soon began to consider how they wanted to mark the memory of his life here while having a positive impact on their beautiful community of Abingdon, Virginia.
Before long, it became apparent that a shelter on the Virginia Creeper Trail would be designed by Taylor’s gifted sister, Megan. The construction began soon after.
~~~~~~~A Labor Of Love~~~~~~~
The first annual “Rails To River” bike ride fund-raiser for Taylor was scheduled for October 3, 2015. When the day arrived, all plans were in place…the t-shirts had been sorted, the BBQ lunch was simmering, and the weather in Virginia was trying to put a damper on the plans. Even a cold and rainy forecast didn’t stop the fifteen plus riders on the trail who made the 8 mile trek to Taylor’s Shelter for the very first time. A huge crowd turned out to support this family and the trail. The stormy weather couldn’t block the sun from popping out just in time for the dedication of this creative retreat, this refuge from the storms of life for generations to come.
Donny and I cannot wait for our next bike ride to Taylor’s Shelter over Easter Weekend, 2016!
How do we describe grief? I do not know, but I do know how to describe a response to grief. In one word, The Read Family has chosen to respond with HOPE. Rest In Peace, Taylor Heston Read, a life well lived.
In addition to knowing we will all go through grief, we also know that our time to die will come, as well. I read a great article published this past week, “On the Day I Die”, by, John Pavlovitz. Click here to read it.
What is it like to be ninety? Though my Daddy lived to be age 93, in my late fifties now, I honestly have no idea what it is like to be ninety years old…
I enjoyed talking to a friend of mine at a Christmas Open House all about the aging process. My friend, Gerry, who is in her seventies told me that an Orthopedic Surgeon friend of hers told her this: “If you wake up and you’re not in pain, you’re dead.” We had a good laugh over that and I have to admit I have repeated it a time or two for more chuckles. It’s a known fact that things tend to hurt more as we age.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 NLT
As long as I am healthy, I hope to see my ninth decade. Even though I am not yet a Grandmother, that would be pretty cool to not only be a Grandma, but to also have a chance to be a Great-Grandma! Very few of us are blessed with this privilege. It is truly remarkable that George and Barbara Bush reached their 70th wedding anniversary earlier this month. That is a lot of living!
I recently ran across a list of 42 life lessons 90-year-old Regina Brett of Cleveland, Ohio said that life has taught her. While I don’t have the space to list them all, I picked some of my favorite lessons:
Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
When in doubt, just take the next small step.
Pay off your credit cards every month.
Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
It’s okay to let your children see you cry.
Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present. Youth is the time to study wisdom, old age is the time to practice it.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Don’t compare yourself to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
If a relationship has to be secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
Over prepare, then go with the flow.
What other people think of you is none of your business.
Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
Believe in miracles.
Growing old beats the alternative-dying young.
Your children get only one childhood.
If we threw all our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
No matter how you feel, get up, get dressed, and show up.
Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it is still a gift.
On January 14, 2016, Rene Angelil, husband of Celine Dion, lost his battle with throat cancer.
I will perform My Heart Will Go On for the rest of my life and it will always remain a very emotional experience for me.”Celine Dion
Angelil was 73. Did you know? Before he was married to Celine Dion in 1994, he mortgaged his home to help her gain stardom? Celine, a Canadian was the youngest of 14 in her French-speaking home. Once Angelil learned about her amazing voice, when she was only age 12, the rest was as they say, is history. Later, after working together for many years, they fell in love, married and have three boys together, Rene-Charles, age 14 and twins, Nelson and Eddy, age five. The memorial service was held at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal. Communion was served to the grieving family and the congregation.
Parting with someone who has brought such light and happiness into a life has to be one of the most difficult things about living. And yet, we all know that death IS part of life, and after parting, our hearts must, with bravery, go on. It seems I know many who are going through this very same experience themselves today. And Celine’s family had even more sorrow when two days following her husband’s service, her 59-year-old brother, Daniel lost his fight with cancer, too.
Click here to read an earlier post about how we can best help those who are going through this season of loss.
Fifteen years are not a long time for a son to get to know his father…but you’ve left me now with enough good memories of you to share with my younger brothers. As I grow older, without you being around, I’ll make sure to pass on what I’ve learned from you.” Rene-Charles Angelil, age 14 during his father’s eulogy on January 22, 2016
Fame cannot protect them from the season of grief they find themselves in. They have to walk through it, like all others who have suffered this great loss. Friends, family and faith can certainly help to ease the grief journey. I am sure Celine Dion and her boys will be greatly loved and supported as their hearts go on.
Many people across the U.S. today are bracing themselves for a wintry storm. The grocery store parking lots and aisles are packed. The cars are lined up outside the schools for early dismissals. The gloves, earmuffs and heavy coats have been unearthed for this mid-January flurry of activity. But what if you and I were homeless? Don’t you feel helpless waiting at that red-light when a homeless woman or man stands at the corner with a cardboard sign? I do!
Read ahead to learn about an easy way you can help that person the next time this happens.
No one has ever become poor by giving.” Helen Keller
Click here to read the 2015 report on homelessness in Georgia.
The unifying condition for virtually all of Georgia’s homeless population is poverty. Many people who are homeless also experience some type of personal vulnerability that places them at risk, such as:
Physical disability or chronic medical problems
Development disability or brain injury
Leah and I are planning to have a care kit party soon! If you have some unexpected, spare hours that pop up in the weekend ahead with this winter weather, perhaps you’d like to plan one with your kids, grandchildren, or friends, too!
If you cannot feed one hundred people, then just feed one.” Mother Teresa
You can use Evite to invite your friends and delegate out items for each of them to bring. By the end of your party, you will all have a few care kits to keep in your car for the next time you see that homeless person on the corner at a red light. It is a very cool way to impact the homeless in our communities and have fun while doing it!
Care Kits are a simple way to provide practical help to a homeless man or woman. Keep some in your car so you’re prepared to offer to a person in need.
Items to Include: A typical Care Kit consists of a watertight gallon-size zipper lock plastic bag filled with items like:
Water bottle Socks Tuna and crackers Granola Bar or cereal bar Fruit snack or applesauce cup Crackers with peanut butter or cheese Gift certificate to fast food Hand wipes Pack of Kleenex Maxi pads Toothbrush and toothpaste Nail clippers Band Aids Chapstick Comb or small brush Mints, cough drops or gum Rescue Mission meal voucher Note of encouragement or uplifting Bible verse or young children can color a picture as you teach them about those in need. You may want to also include some information about homeless shelters in your area.
NOTE: Fragranced items such as soap, hand lotion or deodorant can negatively affect the taste of food items if placed in the same bag. Pack these separately if you choose to give them. Avoid items such as mouthwash or hand sanitizer that contain alcohol.
There will always be poor among us.” Matthew 26:11
Have a Care Kit party! Gather family, friends, co-workers or your community group to purchase supplies and assemble Care Kits together. Care Kits are useful both in warm and cold weather. In summer, include sunblock or frozen water bottles. In winter, include gloves, hats or heatpacks.
When you give your Care Kits away…
*Don’t be in a hurry. It’s okay to slip it out your window to someone on a street corner or freeway ramp. But consider taking time to park the car and hand-deliver it. *Smile. This person probably gets ignored by hundreds of people every day. *Make eye contact. It shows that the person matters. *Don’t give money. It’s your decision, of course, but we generally discourage giving cash. Instead, ask what their immediate need is and consider how you can help. Buy them a meal? A bus ticket? *Be available to have a conversation. Some people won’t want to talk, so be sensitive. Others will be delighted to tell you their story. *Pray. Before you go, while you go, for the people you encounter. Ask the person if they would like you to pray for them right there. *Offer resources. Ask if the person knows about local homeless shelters in the area. *Be wise. The majority of homeless men and women are not dangerous — they’re people just like you. But it’s smart to go out as a group when handing out Care Kits. *Inspire others. Tell others about your project and inspire them to do the same.
It was good to see in the past week where two churches in our Cobb county community joined forces to aid the homeless in Atlanta, especially as the weather turned bitter cold. There will always be needs in our world and we may not be able to solve all the world problems, but we can encourage one soul with a care kit! Always make your personal safety a priority when helping those in need. And remember to involve the young people who are in your life. Our actions can speak louder than our words, especially for the youth who are watching us as we live out our days. Oh, and click here for one of my favorite stories from 2015 about my homeless friend, Pamela.
This week began with scores of warm hands and one very warm heart…
My phone rang unexpectedly at 7:15 on Monday morning. I was admittedly being lazy, after just driving in from Knoxville the night before. My husband, Donny, had forgotten his cell phone and there was no way, in his line of work, the day could continue without it. So what did I do, I heated up some coffee, grabbed the warmest things I could find for me, my hands, and my feet and jumped in our truck. In the early morning rush-hour, I got to catch a few views that I would’ve otherwise missed.The start of a new day, a new week. As I glanced at my dash, noting the 22 degrees showing there, my mind moved to the boxes in my back seat.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King, Jr.
You see, on December 22, 2015, we had a Christmas gathering and we encouraged our friends to bring canned goods, gloves, and warm hats for the people who are cared for through MUST Ministries. Since Donny’s office is right near this shelter, I knew I needed to head that way to distribute a few of these donations on this freezing Monday morning.
Now I realize the best way to “donate” is through the distribution site, but on this freezing morning all I could think of was frigid hands…Initially when I pulled up, there was no one there, but then a young man named Charlie came close enough for me to open the window and ask him if he could use some gloves. Charlie answered me, “Yes!”, cheerfully, and asked if he could have a hat and gloves for his mother who was accompanying him, and waiting for him, just inside. Soon, there was a short line forming at the passenger side of our truck. Running out of men’s gloves before the line ran out, I promised them I would be back with more within the hour.
Upon my return, again, probably because the temps were so low, there was no one there. Again, soon after my arrival, a few more who needed them came to receive this gift of warmth. Thinking of Leah and Walker when they were young, and how during carpools we used to hand gloves out on freezing days, my heart was reminiscing with the memory. By 9:15 a.m. I was heading back home, knowing my husband had his phone and there were a lot of warmer hands and one very, very warm heart. Thanks to those who gave these hats and gloves so generously back in December! Some of the hats and gloves are only $2.00 each. Perhaps you’d like to keep a few in your car to give out when you see a need.
You might want to consider taking your children or grandchildren to pick some out for those in need. After all, children are like little sponges and teaching them about compassion when they are young is a wonderful thing!
Many of you know that I started this blog in memory of my Mama who passed away in 2006. Esophageal Cancer took her from us just four short months after her diagnosis. Mom was 78. Even when she found out about her illness, her first response was: “Well, we’re supposed to bloom where we’re planted, aren’t we?” Mama made it a habit to not borrow trouble often using the word “concerned” in lieu of “worried”.
Adopted at age three, Mama went on to marry, Johnny, the love of her life at age 21 and live an extraordinary life, impacting others for good wherever she turned. Multitudes have been blessed with her memory, her heritage, including six grown, married children, twenty-six grands and twelve great-grands. A legacy like Mama’s lives on forever!
I can honestly say that I think of my Mama every single day, and I probably always will. One reason my thoughts go to her is because of the many life mantras she lived out during our days shared together.
One of these which I consider often is “Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow by worrying.” This brief nugget of wisdom can be applied to so many moments in our lives.
What might you add to this list that you find yourself worrying about?
Borrowing trouble from tomorrow is a bad kind of debt because it is “borrowing” with absolutely no pay-off whatsoever. Worry is often the nonacceptance of circumstances that you cannot do anything about. Even the Bible reminds us to not borrow trouble from tomorrow. See Matthew 6:25-34. The Serenity Prayer helps me so much as I continue to desire days where I do not borrow any trouble from tomorrow:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
How will you and I avoid borrowing trouble from tomorrow
Children. A topic that gets much attention for any number of reasons. I hope this post will be an encouragement to you as you interact with the children in your life journey.
Let’s listen to children like Mattie J. T. Stepanek. Five books written and illustrated by Mattie are available at Amazon.com, some for as little as $0.01 plus S/H. Responding to my latest post, What Feeds You and Me?, my friend, Jan Weber commented: “I have all of Mattie’s books and I am going to reread them again. Thanks for reminding us of that remarkable lil boy!”
Yes, Mattie was a remarkable young man, wise beyond his years. Rereading much of Mattie’s lifework reminds me that I want to listen more to the children in my path. This life we live can preoccupy us and we have to keep in mind that children rely solely on us for their livelihood. Children truly are like wet cement.
When our two were small, I had to constantly remind myself to not rush them…their little legs could only move so fast!
Be still, and know that I am God.
One tool that has always helped me, and still does to this day is deep breathing. Click here for details.
If I was running late, it was not their fault, but mine. It always takes extra minutes to get shoes and socks on their small feet and arms through their tiny clothes. Having little ones can teach a Mom and Dad so much if they are listening.
As Mattie says,
“If I close my eyes and sit very still,
it’s so easy to listen to my heart song.”
As I’ve sat with Donny’s Father this past week, I’ve been reminded of being a Mommy to two young children. Those who are aging with dementia, like Don, are much like young children.
Thanks for sharing this. I have read his books. I Google the interview that Oprah did with Mattie and his mother whenever I need to slow down and put life into perspective. Heartsongs sits on an end table at home for the purpose of starting a conversation which leads to inspiration.
Both take enormous patience and extra time to get their points across to the listener. Are you “listening” to the children in your life? As Mattie illustrates here, they have much to say to us and to the world as they grow.