Fighter Jule Furr Takes Leave This Inspiring Angel Will Be Missed

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! Jordan Furr

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.

You can also read a blog post about Jule’s life story, Part 1 that was written in 2014 by Melony Brown: Courageous Women Overcoming Life’s Tough Challenges.

And you will find Part 2 of this blog post by Melony, 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.' Eleanor Roosevelt

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 Furr

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.

Jules favorite verse can be found in Romans 5:1-5. Emphasizing both peace and hope, it is definitely worth taking the time to read.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God. Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)

Those who knew Jule were blessed, and those who did not have an opportunity to meet Jule will be inspired by her life and adopt her stories to strengthen their own hearts.

It is now time to celebrate the life of this unique and special daughter, sister, mother, wife and friend to countless gals who will miss this inspiring angel so very much, including me!

Loss is loss, and I will be praying for this precious family during this time of grief. I will also be lifting up the many others I know and love who have lost in 2017.

RIP my dear warrior friend, Jules Furr. See YOU Later!

Related Post You May Have Missed:

Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

Standing At The Crossroads, Trying To Read The Signs

How Do We Describe Grief?

It Is Well With My Soul

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

Run To The Roar

Hurting Hearts, Painful Paths

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Four Ways To Love Our Peeps Valentine's Day Is Near

Here I will share with you four ways to better love our peeps.  As Valentine’s Day draws near, our minds go to the significant, loving relationships in our life journey. Are they fulfilling, communicative, in harmony, and committed? Do we enjoy time spent with these we are in relationship with? Do we laugh together? Most of us if we are completely honest, would say, that our relationships could be better.

One of the things my Mama taught me is a tool she used during her 58 years of marriage. When the faults of her man seemed glaring to her, she would take a moment, hold out both hands in front of her, like a scale, and say this to herself: “My right hand represents Johnny’s shortcomings, and my left hand represents the ways that I fall short.” Invariably, she would tell me, her left hand always weighed heavier than her right.

'Dear Friends, Let us love one another, for love comes from God.' 1 John 4:7

Rather than wanting our partners to change so things would be better, perhaps it is time to determine how we could show up differently and make the difference we are seeking.

Here are three ways to better love our peeps:

1) Cultivate Your Love Life Inside Out

This first one may surprise you, as it has less to do with your relationships and more to do with your inner heart. Did you know? Studies have shown that one will never let oneself have more health, happiness, and success than one feels he/she deserves. What does that mean? This means that right this minute you and I are attracting what we feel worthy of having. What would you say your current self-worth score is on a scale of 1-10? What things could you do to increase that score? Before we can expect to find love from anyone else, we first have to find it within ourselves. Our God loves us and wants us to have self-worth and self-respect. And let’s surround ourselves with people who truly love and support us!

'Friends are like elevators. They either take us up or bring us down.' Naomi Judd

(2) Leave the Blame Game Behind

I know when I criticize my husband of nearly 35 years, he literally shuts down, not with anger, just sadness. Blaming and judging will guarantee a poor partnership! Lucille Ball said, “Love yourself, and everything else will fall into place.” Could it be that there is something you are ‘unhappy’ within yourself? Think about it! An important relationship is our connection to our own heart. When we accept ourselves as we are, then and only then can we accept others without condition.

My Parents, Valentines for Life!

(3) Let The Past Go

Every beating heart has a story and our history (thank goodness!!!) is not our destiny. It’s good to habitually say to ourselves: “That was then. This is now.” We all have things in our past we may not be proud of, but we can let that all go and focus on today. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That is why we call today, ‘the present'” (unknown)

(4)Live Out Our Days with Gratitude and Appreciation

Wayne Dyer said: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” In every loving relationship, there are more good things than bad things going on. However, if the negative things become our ‘focal point’, then they seem way bigger and become more and more dominant in our partnership.  Read this by Charles Swindoll on Attitude. We all get to choose the thoughts that control our feelings and emotions that end up driving our lives.

Now, we all know that Valentine’s Day is just one more day established by Hallmark, LOL!

Love Always Wins!

What are some of the ways you and I can exhibit more love towards our peeps each and every day of the year? How can we make our parents, sons, daughters, girlfriends, and partners feel more treasured and cherished in the days ahead?

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Learn To Love Yourself Despite The Struggles

Every Beating Heart Has A Story

Five Ways To Love Well

Five More Ways To Love Well

Fill Your Love Tank: Don’t Run On Empty

The Love Letter Challenge

Make A Difference With “Catch A Lift” Help A Wounded Veteran Today!

You can make a difference with CAL or Catch A Lift, which began in memory of Army Cpl. Chris Coffland, and has gone on to help many veterans since its founding.

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My friend, Nancy Bray’s precious foster golden retriever.

After 9/11/01 and every anniversary of September 11th since that horrific day of tremendous loss, a phrase sticks out in my mind:

We Will Never Forget!!!

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Our friend, Rosie Moon reads the gravestone of a veteran servant.

We say we will remember forever the true sacrifice, day in and day out, of men and women in uniform, whether they be first responders or part of our strong military services.

And yet, is that statement really true, other than the usual times of remembering, Veterans’ Day, the 4th of July, and other red, white, and blue celebrations? Do you and I really remember these souls who serve and their families in our prayers? Do we truly recognize that freedom is not free, and how many grave sacrifices have been made on our behalf? Do we intentionally share our resources in causes related to wounded veterans?

'Shake off any dust that may accumulate from stagnation of purpose.' Army Cpl. Christopher Coffland (1966-2009)

Our daughter, Leah, is running a 10k in February, and she is showing her support for our veterans by running in honor of the Catch a Lift foundation, founded in memory of Army Cpl. Christopher Coffland (1966-2009).

Leah is raising funds for the Catch a Lift foundation, and she needs your help!

****I am thankful for a large group of my girlfriends who have already pooled together a donation of $200.00 during Summer of 2016!!! Thanks, GG girls!

All donations, big and small are appreciated and it is easy to donate by clicking here.

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Our friend, Will Kramer shows his respect.

Founded in memory of Army Cpl. Chris Coffland, Catch A Lift Fund (CAL) enables post 9/11 combat wounded Veterans to regain and maintain their physical and mental health by providing granted gym memberships, fitness programs or in-home gym equipment, anywhere in the United States. If a veteran has an appointed VA certified caregiver, the caregiver is eligible as well.

In addition, CAL’s M.A.P.S. Program ensures success by tracking progress and offers motivation, accountability and peer support through small squads of Veterans who heal together Vet to Vet. CAL Veterans are not only losing weight and moving away from obesity, but also eliminating the need for multiple prescription medications and finding their “new self”. CAL Veterans are thriving, reintegrating, healing and saving each other’s lives through newly established comradery; filling the void left after military service.

Won’t you jump on board and support this important cause?

All donations, big and small are appreciated and it is easy to give by clicking here.

Thanks in advance for supporting our daughter, Leah, in her efforts to make a difference in the lives of wounded veterans.

Related Posts You May Have Missed:

Memorial Day: Three Ways To Raise Up The Flag

Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day: Know The Difference

Never Forget

The Hospitality of Gander, New Foundland

Man’s Best Friend

To Stay Fit: Don’t Just Sit

Fill Your Love Tank Don't Run On Empty

I reread a favorite book recently:  THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES, How To Express Heartfelt Commitment To Your Mate, By, Gary Chapman. Our children received a copy of this book to go through when they went in for marital counseling. Chapman also published other books on this topic, such as The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts, The 5 Love Languages Single Edition, The 5 Love Languages for Men: Tools For Making A Good Relationship Great, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Loving Children Effectively, The 5 Love Languages Of Children, The 5 Love Languages/Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Loving Teens Effectively, The 5 Love Languages/Military Edition, and The One Year Love Languages Minute Devotional. There are helpful reads here for any age, male or female, teen and up.

Check out this brief Steve Harvey TV interview with Rich Wilkerson to gain a better understanding. Click here.

I’ve especially been thinking about Chapter 2~”Keeping the Love Tank Full”.

Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse deserts, and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardships our plight in life. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages

I think it is a good idea, now and then, for us to take a look at self-love.IMG_1002
Yes, everyone needs love, that is clear, but we also need to extend love to ourselves, giving ourselves mercy and grace as we journey through this life. Again, we expend a lot of time and energy caring for and loving the people in our homes and we must not forget to love ourselves…treat ourselves with kindness. That means we cannot allow ourselves to be in the habit of repetitive self-criticism, self-loathing, working ourselves to exhaustion, living an unbalanced life with no time for rest, relaxation, restoration and recreation. Click here to read an earlier post to inspire you on ways to nurture yourself: Solitude: 7 Ways To Find It.
How is your love tank looking? Are you running on empty? Let’s not wait for others to fill it up, let’s fill it up ourselves! Give yourself an “atta girl!”  or an “atta boy” today. Be beautiful and unique YOU!

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. for beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

The above message came from British humanitarian and actress, Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) when asked to share her “beauty tips.”

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Audrey Hepburn

Related Posts You May Have Missed:

The Love Letter Challenge

Children Are Wet Cement

Are You A People Pleaser?

Five Ways To Love Well

5 More Ways To Love Well

Humble And Kind

Let’s Listen To Children

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Are You Driving? Put The Phone Down

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Meet triplets, MacKenna, front, Alyssa, middle, and Issy

Are you and I distracted drivers? I’m not referring to folks who use blue-tooth, hands free methods to communicate as they take the wheel. Instead, I am asking about those of us who handle our phone, check Facebook while at a stop light, or send a quick text while traveling in stop and go traffic. It seems I am noticing this becoming an even greater problem lately. Like traveling behind an interstate driver who is moving well under the speed limit, passing them, only to confirm that their face is glued to the screen of a smartphone.

There is a reason I am asking this. A recent article in our local Marietta Daily Journal was about a victim of a distracted driver and this got me thinking about my own driving/smartphone habits.

Reading about this brave family has challenged me to be more intentional in the days ahead about stowing my phone away whenever I drive.

When you see people in the road whether it's a firefighter or a police officer or a cyclist, you should remember that they have a family like us. You getting somewhere five minutes earlier versus taking a life and leaving a family like us is not worth it. Put down the phones. When you see people who are on the roadside, pass them like you love them and they're in your own family. Kim Guinn, an English drama teacher at Lassiter High School in Marietta, GA

The name of Mary Kate McGowan’s inspiring article, dated August 20, 2016, is “Triplets, 9, race toward healing”.

The 9-year-olds father, Frank, was killed by a distracted driver while cycling in April 2014 in New Orleans. Frank Guinn, a city of Atlanta firefighter at Station 21, was training for an Ironman triathlon race.

The triplets mother, Kim Guinn was at a loss as to how to help their family move through grieving the loss of Frank and found a grief group, Kate’s Club to be extremely helpful for her girls. In the spirit of Frank’s memory, as well as an opportunity to give back to this club, Kim and her girls are organizing a 5-K race called “Running Thru the flames” and YOU can help!

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Kim, MaKenna, Alyssa, and Issy

They are looking for both sponsors to add to their existing ones, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and “Pass Them Like You Love Them”, an advocacy group promoting cyclist’s safety. The girls are also hoping for more participants to sign up for the 5-K that is scheduled for Sunday, September 11, 2016. YOU can go to their link here to register or make a donation even if you cannot make the run.

Let’s support The Guinn Family as they run down the path to healing while organizing this 5K to benefit Kate’s Club!

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Related posts you may have missed:

How Do We Describe Grief?

It Is Well With My Soul

A Grace Disguised

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

My Heart Will Go On

Anne Lamott: Best Day Ever

4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

18 Holes of Golf and 1,000 Sandwiches: Just Do It

It Is Well With My Soul So Hope Lives On

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Karl Craft Werginz April 13, 1983-May 26, 2016

Do you know the story behind the old hymn : It Is Well With My Soul,  (Click here to listen to the song and read about the back story) that was penned in 1876. I have known this story for some time, and have reflected on it again and again.

His character, his faith, and his love for others was only magnified during his illness with leukemia. Pastor Bill Ross, about Karl Werginz

 When the congregation sang this hymn last Wednesday, followed by an explanation of the hymn’s history, at Karl Werginz’s funeral service, I knew I wanted to share this back story with each of you.

YOU see, Karl was a 33-year-old man. He was a loving husband to his wife Lisa and an amazing father to their daughter Amelia. He was a wonderful son, son-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, and friend. He was a strong Christian man. He was an air traffic controller. He was an Auburn fan. I had the opportunity to drive Karl to a few of his treatments, and he was a perfect gentleman and so appreciative. Karl was first diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) in July 2013 and he lost his battle on May 26, 2016.

The joy of your spirit is the indication of your strength. Ralph Waldo Emerson
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The Werginz Family

The thing is, KARL never gave up hope. And though this is certainly not the outcome anyone who loves Karl would have wanted, it can be well with their souls, because they have assurance that they will see him again some day.

Here are a few things shared at Karl’s service this past Wednesday:

“He sought how to get through this world while making it a better place for others. He held onto hope even amidst his loss of life. Karl understood that God was with him. Karl may have lost the battle with his leukemia, but he won the battle of life.” Dr. Joey Rodgers  

“Karl’s character, his faith, and his love for others was only magnified during his illness with leukemia. He was the best all around guy. Karl had a way about him that made you want to be better.” Dr. Bill Ross 

The special music was beautifully shared by Mrs. Stephanie Cleveland, a song I had never heard before.

Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone. Mitch Albom

 Andrew’s Song (You Wouldn’t Cry For Me Today) is now one of my new favorites! The chorus: “Blue has never been bluer. True has never been truer. Honey never tasted so sweet, there’s a song in the breeze…What seems like ‘years’, will just be a ‘moment’.”

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Our son-in-law, Scott, also an avid AU fan, supports Karl’s Kure. Karl received a “heavenly healing”.
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War Eagle, HEY! War Eagle, Karl Werginz!

“What now? We will grieve, there will be good days, bad days, and some downright awful days.” Dr. Bill Ross

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Let it be well with your soul and my soul today.

Other blog posts you may have missed:

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

A Grace Disguised

How Do We Describe Grief?

My Heart Will Go On

4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

Where Is He?

Who’s In Our Path?

Memorial Day 3 Ways To Raise Up The Flag

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Memorial Day! Cookouts, beach trips, boat rides, parades, picnics are just a few of the activities you and I are taking part of on this Memorial Day, 2016 as we celebrate the start of SUMMER!

We are the home of the free because of the brave. Anonymous

 I want to share with you three ways to honor and raise up our flag as you enjoy this special time with your favorite people. Click here for an amazing 3 minute Memorial Day video produced by Zoomability.

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As I have been placing flags around in flower pots and window sills, my mind keeps going back to when I was ten years old and the U.S. was directly involved in the Vietnam War. Over 58,000 Americans were killed in this horrific war, and if you have never taken the time to view pictures/videos about it, or if you haven’t in years, I strongly urge you to click here to learn more about this time.  The U.S. involvement was during the 1962 and 1973, and as a girl at the time, in addition to the news/media coverage, I have three vivid memories.

First, a close friend of our family, Timothy Faust was injured badly in Vietnam and I remember us standing on our driveway on Webster Drive together when he came home. Tim’s mouth was covered with gauze because of the deformity caused by his injuries. After many, many surgeries, Tim passed away as a result of his injuries. Second, our family was very close with The Allen Family, who attended church with us. Their brother, Larry Michael Allen was killed instantly in ‘Nam and here is what a U.S.A. Today article stated in 2012:

“I will mark this Memorial Day by remembering Larry [Michael] Allen, a fallen Marine from Decatur, Ga.
On June 18, 1970, somewhere in Vietnam, our squad ran into an ambush and was surrounded. We were taking heavy fire from the enemy we could not see. We were advancing when Larry (Mike) stepped directly in front of me and one other Marine, taking a bullet wound in the lower stomach, meant for us. As he lay dying before us, I will never forget the helplessness I felt. The firefight was so intense that our choppers could not get in to help Larry (Mike) and the other wounded. That day, we lost a wonderful 18-year-old Marine who not long before was running high school track in Georgia.
I salute you, Larry (Mike). Thanks for giving two of us our lives. Semper fi, my friend.
Terry Franks; Springville, Ala.”
And a word from Betty Lou, Mike’s sister: Sgt. Terry Franks, came to meet my folks in August 1970 when he returned home to B’ham. He still keeps in touch with my mom, called last month.

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. Arthur Ash

And thirdly, and closest to me, my own big brother, John Wade Walker was serving there as a Marine. John was the oldest of six children and I recall Mama praying around our dinner table for his safety. Thankfully, John and his wife of four decades live in southern Mississippi and have three grown married children as well as three grandchildren. John went onto become a lifetime Marine, serving in many future battles. Semper Fi!

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My brother, John Wade and his bride dance at our niece’s wedding.
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My brother, John’s 3 grand babies: Anna Claire, Titus Ray, and Noah James. Their group hug forms a heart!

Read more about my “grand” nieces and nephews on an earlier post: Carve Your Hearts On Hearts.

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My sis-in-law, Jeanie sent me this pic of the flag they hang on their porch every patriotic holiday to honor those like Mike and Tim, who have gone on ahead of us.

Three Ways To Raise Up The Flag:

(1) Think of and remember those, and their families, who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for our freedom.

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Facebook post from my friend, Jay

(2) Teach and train up our children with understanding about what our flag represents.

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Our friend, Sam Moon, 9, with his new friend, Colleen, who was there to visit her father’s grave site.

Cub Scout Pack 178 and Boy Scout Troop 173 Scouts in Marietta, Georgia placed 18,000 flags in minutes. My friend, Stephen  Moon shared this story from their day:

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Some of The Moon Family with Cub Scout Pack 178.

“This happened to make it even more special: A stranger was waiting to take a picture. After Sam placed the flag, Colleen started to cry and thanked him. This was her father’s final resting place (Marine Cpl. Richard D. Marks, Korean War)”

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Our friend, Rosie Moon, age 7 places flags around Marietta National Cemetery.
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Our friend, Will, age 11, and a Boy Scout shows his respect.

(3) Honor and pray for those who are currently serving for the preservation of our freedom.

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Corporal James O’Neil Todd, age 23, U.S. Army, 2nd Brigade Combat Team; 3rd Infantry Division out of Ft. Stewart, GA, currently serving in Ukraine.
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My friend, Julie’s Memorial Day post.
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Lt. Ryan Jackson & Lt. Lauren Jackson, both helicopter pilots are currently serving at The Naval Academy.
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The Gillam & Jackson Families are so excited to welcome Everly Grace, 10:51 a.m. on May 26, 2016!

What memories does this Memorial Day 2016 trigger for you? How can you and I raise up and honor our flag in the days ahead?

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I am wishing you all a Happy and Safe Summer! Please continue to join me here on my Pages From Joan and share my posts with your peeps! God Bless America!

St. Louis With Family

Commercial airplane

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow. Anita Desai

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.

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Dinner at Central West End
The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. G.K. Chesterson

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.

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happy Mama

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.

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favorite post-church lunch spot
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A cold beer is included with your cut!
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LOUIS!
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“Being a good Dad starts with presence, not presents.” anonymous
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our gift: wind chimes from Pier One Imports
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Saturday brunch/lunch farm-to-table…a “must-try”
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With 100% chance of rain, we were happy with a short break in the weather!
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These tall pink hibiscus will bloom soon!
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time out for worship at Memorial
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reflection for congregation at Memorial
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It is always so fun to hang out in St. Louis!
I sustain myself with the love of family. Maya Angelou

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.”

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Thanks, Walker and Jess for your awesome hospitality! We look forward to our next trip when Leah and Scott can join us!

On a side note, our baby birds flew away and into their own journey while we were in Missouri. Click here to read about some of our bird adventures at our home this Spring.

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Mommy or Big Baby, I’m not sure!?!
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The wreath where the nest was built.

The Family Circus

IMG_9560Do 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

We must make it a priority to be encouraged. As recent as this morning at 10:00 a.m. while I was taking a family member to the Hartsfield-Atlanta Airport, the main departure lanes were temporarily blocked off by police while a suspicious package was being checked out. Thankfully, within the hour, all was clear and the passengers and employees were allowed to return to their plans for the day.

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.

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A gift of original art, by our artist friend, Amanda Claire, while in middle school.

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IMG_9558 IMG_9557 IMG_9550 IMG_9549 IMG_9548 IMG_9547 IMG_9546 IMG_9544 IMG_9537 IMG_9535What will you and I and our loved ones do in the days, weeks, and months ahead to maintain love and laughter in our moments?IMG_9533 IMG_9532

How Do We Describe Grief?

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This picture was taken on a hike with Taylor’s friends.

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.

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Taylor (left) with his buddy, Josh, since 2nd grade loved boarding!

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.

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So thankful for these friends! Our Wedding Day on 10/2/1982.
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Daddy, Paul has floor play with Taylor and Meg.
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Baseball! Taylor with his cousins!

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~~~~~~~

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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.

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Donny and Paul…Taylor’s Shelter From The Storm
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The shelter sits beside the Holston River.

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Kelly and Meg are bundled up for the ride.
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Lisa was such a big help in organizing the ride!
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T-SHIRTS!
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The Pages and The Reads are ready to roll!
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Donny with Taylor’s sign.
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The Ride!
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WE LOVE THE TRAIL!

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What a group!
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Kelly, love her so much!
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Taylor’s Aunt Allison and cousin, Katherine weather the storm.
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Zach traveled from CA to be a part of the ride for Taylor!
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Thumbs Up with Zach and Josh upon their arrival to Taylor’s Shelter!
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Paul shares with the crowd at the dedication.

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Great Friends Gather, while Mike and Greg photobomb!
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A great spot for Taylor’s Shelter!
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Becky and Leslie take time out at Taylor’s Shelter.
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This awesome place is right on the trail!
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After many meetings and a lot of effort, Kelly and Lisa give the day a “thumbs up”!
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Kelly and Joan at Taylor’s Shelter.
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Joan and Susan gather flowers from the BBQ lunch.

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Donny and I cannot wait for our next bike ride to Taylor’s Shelter over Easter Weekend, 2016!

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This portrait, a gift from Taylor’s friends is lovingly hung in The Read Home.
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Friend, Kelsey, takes time out in Taylor’s Shelter.

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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.

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Kelly and Meg take time out in Taylor’s Shelter wrapped in a prayer shawl, a gift from precious friend, Ellen.