Thanksgiving 2018 comes early this year! November 22, 2018. We plan to enjoy a much smaller than usual gathering in the North Georgia Mountains. It is Thanksgiving Week and I am wondering what this annual holiday means to you. I wrote this blog post on Thanksgiving 2014.
I am grateful for what I am and for what I have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
One of our favorite long-time traditions on this day is passing out three dried corn kernels to each person present.Standing in a circle, before we bless the feast, we pass a small bowl around and have each one name three things they are thankful for while placing the kernels in the bowl. As we do this, we remember the pilgrims who went before us, making the famous 1620 voyage, and we share aloud our gratitude for life. You and your family may want to consider beginning a similar tradition for Thanksgiving 2018.
What will be on the menu for your Thanksgiving Feast this year? You may want to consider a salad bar station like the one pictured above. This makes for a lighter addition to the otherwise heavier choices.
Just three weeks ago, my friend, Gloria and I were sitting in the Wellstar Kennestone Hospital Labor and Delivery waiting room. Gloria, who is our son-in-law, Scott’s Grandmother, asked me, “Joan, are you still writing blog posts on your Pages From Joan? I have not been getting any lately on my email.”
This brief conversation reminded me that I truly had been wanting to get back into writing posts for my Pages. Connected on Facebook with many of you on my Monday Mood, Tuesday Thoughts, Wholehearted Wednesday, Thursday Talk, and Friday Food For Thought weekly posts, I knew, however, I had missed posts here on the web.
Thanks for that question and your constant encouragement, Gloria!
Yes, it is the middle of September.
A couple of weeks ago, in Marietta, Georgia, I was sitting outside in the early dawn holding a steaming, black cup of coffee with our lab, Gracie. An owl in the distance was finishing his hooting for the night as we sat. My mug with an image of a yawning, sleepy-eyed baby in hand. Our new grandson. Our first grandchild.
Here I am again hoping to add encouragement and inspiration to our lives.
Right at a time in our journey when a whole new adventure is beginning for us. As of Friday night, August 24, 2018, we became first-time grandparents with the birth of a boy named Michael Scott Andrews, 111, also known as Tripp. Rolling into our world, three weeks early, Tripp weighed 5 lb. 2 oz. and measured 17 1/2 inches long.
Mommy, our daughter, Leah, and baby are doing splendidly with the constant help and aid of Tripp’s new Daddy, Scott. Watching Leah and Scott work as a team to nurture and care for this little guy has been nothing short of remarkable. Early on, Tripp required an around-the-clock feeding every two hours, even if this meant waking him up from a deep slumber to accomplish this.
And now, I find myself sitting in our son’s family home in University City, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Just over a week has passed since the arrival of our precious little baby granddaughter, Elizabeth Noel Page. Our two children had due dates that were one day apart. Our grands had a different plan and surprised us with birthdays in different months, two weeks to the day apart in age. Relieving Jessica’s parents who have been so helpful during Elizabeth’s first week of life, I am staying here for the next several nights to cook, do laundry, oh, and I might hold our new granddaughter a little, too.
Oh, and I am not sure if I told you this…neither family wanted to find out the gender of the little one until the baby announced it him/herself on the birthday! After all of the fun and surprises during childhood, there are so few events to be curious and surprised over in adulthood. Not knowing if we were having two girls, two boys, or one of each added fuel to the fire of excitement!
Ecstatic. Overjoyed. Contentment. Grace.
These are some of the descriptions that have come to mind at this season of our life journey.
I’ve been surprised by how much I have missed my Mama during this past few weeks. My three big sisters have helped share the excitement and enjoyment of our two new grands. However, Mama was right beside me at my time of first-time motherhood in October, 1988, and I have longed for her to be with me as a first-time grandmother.
Thankfully, I’ve had the blessing of being next to Leah, along with Scott’s Mom, Cindy, who has been such a help to her. I am also getting the chance to spend time with our son and his bride as she experiences first-time motherhood. I am in awe with how calm and at ease both of our girls have been with their little ones.
Besides that, it has astonished me how the memories of my experience as a first-time Mommy to Leah have come pouring back to me.
I did not know how much my husband Pop and I would love these new little people, the children of our children.
I now know why they call these children GRANDchildren. Tripp and Elizabeth are surely grand to us.
My hope is that you and I will be inspired, encouraged, and learn new things as we journey on together through my PAGES from Joan. My goal to stay fit physically, spiritually, and emotionally has never been stronger than it is today. A grandmama, “Jojo” who plays on the floor and initiates adventures with these two grands is who I aim to be.
As Donny and I awaited the exciting game to start this past Saturday night at the Atlanta Mercedes-Benz Stadium, cheering for both the Georgia Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers, the arena was electric !!!
As the Auburn University Marching Band played the Star Spangled Banner and presented the massive mid-field American flag, I got goose bumps as I always do. In the middle of all the excitement of the start of this S.E.C. Championship game, the announcer reminded us to remove our hats, place our hands on our hearts, taking a few minutes to honor our service men and women.
The flag. It carries so much meaning. So much thought and gratefulness. So much sacrifice and unification.
During this festive season, I am hoping that this blog post will remind you and me to remember our military. Those who are currently serving with strength, sacrifice, determination, and loyalty to help us maintain our freedom. At the very least, they deserve our remembrance and our prayers. And while we are at it, let’s also pray for our first responders, armed officers, firefighters and those working day in and day out to keep us all safe.
So many are serving away from home this Christmas. Just this morning in our small group at church, a friend shared that her deployed son will not be able to travel home. Many families are in this place as well. And it is so easy to recall being a pre-teen in 1968, when my older brother, John Wade served in Vietnam. A few young men we knew very well never saw their 20th birthday because of that horrific conflict. John, thankfully made it back and has been blessed with an amazing family, including Jeanie, his wife for 4+decades, three married children and nearly 4 grands.
As we were heading to a work Christmas party on Friday night, this song, Christmas Where You Are, by Jim Brickman. I knew I had never heard it and made a note to listen to it again when I returned home. When I did, it was clear to me that I needed to share this song with you. Just released in early October 2017, the message holds a huge punch for all of us whose hearts swell for those who serve in the military.
Did you know? There is a cool back story. This song, by both Brickman and Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik, is a thank you to all our men and women at home and abroad who are serving our country. It’s a message that wherever they may be fighting for our freedom, we are thinking of them and that it is still Christmas where they are.
Please share this post and let us all remember with thankfulness our armed forces across the globe. Let’s continue to teach our youth, coming close behind us, the amazing sacrifice of those who serve.
God Bless America and beyond. May angels fly beside you all. May Heaven steel your hearts.
In what ways will you and I remember and honor our military service men and women in the days ahead?
While I cannot say that Fall is my absolutely favorite season, it is truly one of my favorites! [pullquote]Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” F. Scott Fitzgerald[/pullquote]I LOVE all four seasons for different reasons, but we’ve always cherished and savored Autumn as our season to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, and even heavenly home goings of both my mother and my father.
Ten Ways To Savor This Autumn Season Before It Gets Away:
1) Open car windows, letting in the cooler air.
2) Notice the majestic, changing landscape.
3) Take a hike in the mountains.
4) Make an apple or pumpkin pie.
5) Wrestle in the fallen leaves.
6) Warm by a fire.
7) Light a pumpkin-scented candle.
8) Carve a pumpkin.
9) Take in a football game with great munchies and beverages.
10) Make a list of ten things you are grateful for in Fall 2015.
One thing our family is truly grateful for this fall is the improved health of our Dad and GrandDaddy, Donald A. Page, Sr. After a very serious bout of double pneumonia earlier this year. He is feeling much stronger and we rejoiced with him as we celebrated his 85th birthday with him this past Tuesday night.
What is on your list of things to be grateful for today?
This past Monday, my friend, Sandy and I went on quite an adventure. We traveled to Athens, Georgia, joining a group of friends from the Marietta area and had the opportunity to tour Coach Vince Dooley’s beautiful and lush gardens just minutes from the University of Georgia campus. [pullquote]Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller[/pullquote]While this was my first time to visit the gardens, many of my friends who had been before said this was a “must see”. Now that I have been, I agree. Following our garden tour, we visited Jane, the proprietor of plainjane designs, treated Laura, a UGa collegiate to lunch at Last Resort Grill, and enjoyed a Chick-fil-a icedream cone with my sister, Kathy, on our drive back home. [pullquote]I am an inspiration for anyone who wants to be a gardener late in life, or anyone who would like to write a book late in life. If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is my “golf”, my get-away.”Coach Vince Dooley[/pullquote]Just 83 years young, as of September 4, 2015, Coach Dooley is one of the most humble, down-to-earth, congenial folks you will ever meet. He loves gardening and talking to others who love it, too. In the past two decades, Coach has truly designed a garden for all seasons.
Did you know? Coach Vince Dooley was the head football coach at the University of Georgia for 25 years (1964-1988) and its athletic director from 1979 to 2004. With Coach Dooley at the helm, the Bulldogs won six Southeastern Conference titles and one National Championship (1980). He received numerous awards, including being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. From 1964-1980, Dooley was notably assisted by his defensive coördinator, Erskine (Erk) Russell. Coach Russell was the one who coined the team name: Junkyard Dawgs. [pullquote]If we score, we may win. If they never score, we’ll never lose.” Coach Erk Russell[/pullquote]Did you know? My long-time friend, Jan, mentioned in my August post entitled Are You An Egg, A Carrot, Or A Coffee Bean, will become Grandmama to another Erk, as her daughter, Kathrine, who is married to Coach Erk Russell’s grandson, will be having a newborn son this Friday, 10/2/15.
A graduate of Auburn University (War Eagle!), Dooley later served as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps. Curiosity and a desire to learn spurred Coach Dooley to take a horticulture course at nearby UGa. One class led to another and Dooley had been bitten by the “gardening bug”. [pullquote]I like to start most of my plants indoors, get to know them, before turning them out to be planted in the gardens.” Coach Vince Dooley[/pullquote]Groups like ours are the fortunate beneficiaries of his love of gardening. Following 20 years of gardening, Dooley decided to write a book about it and was joined by impressionistic artist, Steve Penley in the beautiful coffee table book entitled: Vince Dooley’s Garden: The Horticulture Journey of A Football Coach, with paintings by, Steve Penley. Coach Dooley was assisted by his daughter, Deanna, as he autographed copies of this special book for our group.
All in all, it was a special day touring the gardens of Coach Vince Dooley.
If, like Coach Vince Dooley, we are able to live into our eighth decade, what hobbies might we want to develop? Let’s take a little time to sit quietly, exploring and discovering what we are curious and passionate about.
The high school, college, and yes, even the younger athletes have a football season that is now in full swing. Naturally, there is a lot of talk about the strengths and weaknesses of teams, along with their chances of winning against difficult opponents.
Recently, my friend, Shannon, who is a senior at University of Georgia, and I had a good talk about football, coaching, winning at life, and honestly what is most important in this whole ball game thing.
Here I will relay a couple of University of Georgia “behind the scenes” player stories. No matter what team you cheer for, I believe you will be inspired by these accounts. I am sure there are many tales about players and coaches at other universities, however, I chose UGa, because after all, that is my Alma mater. Athens is where I met my husband on a blind date, October 7, 1978 for an Ole Miss game, thanks to our lifelong friend, Keith, who introduced us thirty-seven years ago this fall.
JAMES EUNICE Did you know that James attended high school in Valdosta, GA, with a current, wide receiver UGa player by the name of Malcolm Mitchell?
Take time to love someone. Today, Tomorrow, For the rest of your life. Because when that unexpected day comes that they pass on, you’ll be left wondering what you could’ve done better. How you could have made them feel more welcome, and show that you do care for them. Don’t wait until it’s too late like I did. Show the love that Jesus has for you to everyone you see. Let your heart break for what breaks His.” James Eunice, On his Facebook page in April 2010, entitled “The Clock Is Ticking”
Unlike his classmates, Mitchell and Jay Rome, as a senior, Eunice was not recruited to play for the Dawgs. However, after an early acceptance to UGa in December 2010, Eunice had contacted Coach Mark Richt to let him know that he planned to “walk on”.
I think about what if something were to happen to Jon or David? Your heart goes out to them. If there’s something I can do to bless the family right this minute, however small, I’d like to do that, so that’s what we did.” Coach Mark Richt referencing his own two sons, at the time of James Eunice’s passing
Sadly, in January 2011, during his senior year at Valdosta High School, at the age of 17, James Eunice drowned while duck hunting. The Eunice Family presented Coach Richt a T-shirt with “The Clock is Ticking” on the back, which was sold to help raise money for a scholarship fund. Months later, Richt still had the t-shirt on his desk. James Eunice was listed on the team’s roster as #23 for the next four years, as Coach Richt told the family: “James made the team.”
Following his friend’s tragic passing, MALCOLM MITCHELL went onto play for the Georgia Bulldogs. However, this story about Mitchell has nothing to do with the game he plays between the hedges in a packed stadium of over 92,000 exuberant fans. This story began in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore where Malcolm and a friend were looking for some good books to read. Most are unaware that this top recruit could only read on a junior high level when he started at UGa, and he truly wanted to work on his “reading game”. A chance encounter with Kathy Rackley, an Athens resident and book club member led to a journey no one could have predicted. The only man and youngest by a generation, Mitchell soon joined Rackley’s monthly book club meeting. Watch here to see the complete, remarkable story: YouTube Video—Malcolm Mitchell. In addition, Malcolm Mitchell, a fifth year senior at UGa, is now an author of his debut children’s book, The Magician’s Hat. Two of Mitchell’s favorite books happen to be two of my favorites, as well: The Glass Castle, By, Jeannette Walls and Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.
These two real-life accounts remind us that these men who dress out in shoulder, knee, thigh pads, cleats, a helmet, and gloves, to play this game that we love so much are just that: young men with a beating heart, who have dreams and desires they hope to achieve, many which have nothing to do with the game of football.
The Bible is the greatest playbook. If you’re going to be successful and it’s going to be sustainable, you have to delve into the playbook.” Derrick Moore, Chaplin for Georgia Institute of Technology for the past 14 years
The building of their character by the countless coaches who work with these young men will have an eternal impact, one which will remain long after the time clock runs out.
You can live by biblical principles, and you can teach by those principles and still be a winner. So many coaches think you’ve got to kick your players in the rear end. You’ve got to cuss them out. You’ve got to hit them across the head. No. You don’t have to do that.” Coach Bobby Bowden
The best coaches and fans are the ones who remember this, the ones who are mindful of the truth that Winning At Life Is More Important Than Winning A Game.