A Road Less Traveled in 2015

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Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by,

and that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost

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It’s a new year and we are all considering what different paths we might want to take over the next 361 days. On the first day of this new year, soon after a hearty New Years Day brunch, five friends and I took a 3 mile hike through the woods in the North Georgia Mountains. Part of our hike was on the well-known Benton Makaye Trail.  The air was cool, clean and fresh! All six of us agreed that this was an ideal way to spend January first, 2015 and we made a promise to plan many more hikes in the coming months. We talked through a specific route that would be approximately 2 hours of hiking each way, and we would definitely need to plan a picnic lunch in our backpacks for that one.

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L to R: Donna, Joan and Molly

Taking less traveled roads involves some preparation.

When we were parents to two young children, I remember being at a restaurant with another couple and asking them: “Why do all parents that we know,  do _________ this way?” I can’t even recall what was in the blank part of my question, but I do remember the response of the husband of the other couple. He said, “‘It’s the ‘herd mentality’.” I have never forgotten that and I have tried to not be a part of the herd mentality, but instead to go my own way, the way that feels most right for me and for my family. Another friend, years ago, said it like this: “They act like that because they have the mind of a lemming.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I had to look that word lemming up to see what she meant! A lemming is a small rodent, usually found in or near the Arctic in tundra biomes. They are known for very odd behavior regarding their migration habits. Because of their association with this odd behavior, “the actions of a lemming” is a frequently used metaphor in reference to people who go along unquestionably with popular opinion. Have I ever exhibited the characteristics of a lemming? Absolutely! Do I desire to less and less? YES!

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Our fellas! L to R, Jack, Kerry and Donny

Taking less traveled roads involves lots of thought,

planning, and most of all, courage.

If we remember that we are all made completely different, it is easier to seek out that path prepared, planned and designed especially for each one of us. For example, the two girlfriends and I who were on this hike with our husbands, are close friends, still, we differ from each other. We, all three, have varied, but important gifts. Molly, is fantastic with plants, flowers and anything to do with nature. She pointed out and taught us about drays while we were in the forest. Do you know what a “dray” is? I didn’t , but I know now! A dray, drey — or dray — is a tree squirrel, or flying squirrel, nest. Drays are usually built of twigs, dry leaves, and grass, and typically assembled in the forks of a tall tree. Molly is soft-spoken, patient and thoughtful. She also helped to found a program called Healthy Smiles from the Start, a prenatal dental health education program for pregnant moms, new moms’ oral health and the oral health care of her newborn.  Donna, has been the owner and gallerist of dk Gallery on the Marietta Square since 2008. She shares her business and her passion and knowledge of art with those in her path. Donna is perceptive, wise, and often donates her beautiful workspace for worthy causes,  and  I, well, you already know this, I love to write!

While I realize that gifts and talents are two different things, I believe that we all have God-given gifts.

[pullquote]You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”
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Discovering our specific gifts and then using them in our day makes our lives much richer and definitely more purposeful! And then when we are all together, our time is that much better. Our unique gifts and talents mix and mingle, as we complement each other.

What “less-traveled” path do you want to consider in

this new year that is unfolding before our very eyes?

From Broken To Beautiful

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Directives for 2015 and beyond…shared on “Uncommon: Media/News/Publishing” Facebook Page

It is New Year’s Day and I hope this day finds you with folks who are special to you, great television reception for some back-to-back football bowl contests, with delicious snacks and yummy homemade soup in front of a blazing fire. Following a mountain hike with dear friends, that is where I plan to spend most of my day today!

Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.

                      –Melody Beattie

I’m sharing some thoughts and facts with you today regarding a difficult but important topic: sex trafficking in America. A friend recommended that I read Susan Norris’ short novel, Rescuing Hope, to prepare myself before diving into this discussion. While the book did break my heart, it’s also helping me to see that this is an issue that must be examined by all who have a beating heart. While I wish I could’ve chosen a bit of a lighter read over the recent holiday season, I’m glad I read this book and became more enlightened about the truth regarding sex trafficking in America as well as other parts of our world in 2014-2015.

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I am learning that not only do I want to “show up” for things in life, but I want to show up with an open heart and an open mind to receive all that might be wherever I am.

Be the CHANGE YOU want to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to celebrate our friends Malorie and Gavin’s upcoming baby boy due in January 2015. Just like you would imagine, we shared wonderful food and lots of oohs and ahhs as the tiny baby toys and clothes were viewed. While we were there, a short, but inspiring story was shared by Malorie’s aunt, Joanne, about the necklace she was wearing…And this story really got me thinking about a serious, often overlooked demon in many U. S. communities and beyond:  the sex trafficking of young girls. Years ago, after her parents returned from a mission trip to India, Joanne’s granddaughter, Maya, at the young age of nine years old, was moved to make a plan to raise funds to go toward putting a stop to sex trafficking in India where her parents had served. Since 2008, Maya, with the help of her family, has managed to raise over $5,000.00 to go toward stopping this horrendous violence. Broken pieces of glass found on the beaches of Lake Erie are lovingly transformed into pendants, earrings, jewelry, and art.

A work of art from the heart of Maya, From Broken to Beautiful.
A work of art from the heart of Maya, From Broken to Beautiful.

GLASS that was once discarded has now been recovered and made beautiful just as the rescued girls, some younger than Maya, have been emancipated and redeemed through love. In addition, Maya designs and sells notecards to aid these girls.

One hundred percent of the funds raised goes toward stopping this crime in its tracks. Maya’s website is Freedom-Glass and the theme of Maya’s creation is From Broken to Beautiful, and for a small amount of $10.00, you can support her amazing efforts. WE can learn a lot and teach our children so much from this small story about a young girl who resides in the state of OHIO. Well done, Maya!

While I realize that this subject is not a happy one, I also believe that we cannot continue to ignore the truth that it is a reality in many, many young ladies’ life journey, even in our beloved city of Atlanta, Georgia. Out of Darkness in Atlanta is the anti-trafficking ministry of Atlanta Dream Center. Their mission is to reach, rescue, and restore all victims of commercial sexual exploitation so that these girls are made safe and the glory of God may be known.

The FBI reports that the average age that a girl is first recruited into prostitution or sex trafficking is 11-14. Her life expectancy from that point becomes seven years due to the risk of overdose, STDs, suicide, and homicide.

In case you find this hard to believe, read here a story (in Canada) and another story (in Southern California) of recent arrests for human sex trafficking. In addition, here is more information from the FBI dated 6/23/14.

There will be an opportunity for all of us who live in the greater Atlanta area to learn more current and accurate facts about this issue that is thriving in our communities. The Atlanta Justice Conference: DO Something*DO Justice will be held on January 31, 2015. Many will gather at Perimeter Church in Johns Creek, Georgia from 8:30-2:30 p.m. to confront the exploitation of the vulnerable in our midst. Keynote Speaker, Vernon Keenan, Director of the GBI, will open many minds to the realities of this issue in Atlanta and the goal is to help community members find a place in the battle against human sex trafficking. For more information, contact Perimeter Church.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has NO limit. The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.” Psalms 147:3-6

As we organize our calendars for 2015 and begin this new year, let’s consider what charity we might want to give some service or attention to. Whether it is volunteering to change the problem of human trafficking, giving cash to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, reading to children at a nearby grade school, keeping/filling a GIVE AWAY box (stored in your garage and donating regularly to Must Ministries or Goodwill) or delivering Meals on Wheels, we can make a difference wherever we are. Although I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions, I do like the list of directives at the top of this post. Check out # 2 here on this list regarding finding the best volunteer opportunity that fits your passions.

READY or NOT, 2015 has arrived.

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Christmas Cards

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A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory,
like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”
Garrison Keillor 

It’s time to put away our Christmas ornaments and Santa Clauses until next year. It’s time to stack up the many loving and cheerful cards we received from our friends and family in the past four weeks. Donny and I were able to go through former Georgia Governor Roy and Marie Barnes home during the 2014 Marietta Pilgrimage in early December, and I learned two tips related to Christmas cards that I wanted to pass onto you.IMG_0909

-Take advantage of the after Christmas sales and pick up some wide, sturdy, and festive ribbon. As you can see here, the ribbon hangs well from a door frame to clip or pin the cards to. with small decorative clips or simple straight pins. The cards are easy to see and on display throughout the holiday season.

I bought these cute Santa clips at an Intown Ace in Atlanta, that has the most wonderful gift section and the tiny green clips, as well as the large rings were purchased at Michaels.

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-Take a few minutes to punch a hole in each card and place the cards together in a wide ring. These can be displayed on your coffee table year after year as part of your Christmas decor.

When you stop opening presents and listen, love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas”Author unknown

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Our great-niece, baby Noelle, was born on September 10, 2014. She spent her first Christmas with friends and family in Atlanta, Georgia, meeting many of them for the first time since she lives across the country with her parents, Katie and Adam in Colorado.

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When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things give off the greatest glow of happiness.”Bob Hope

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Here are our cards from 2012 bound together and ready for display next year!

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