New Seasons Are Before Us Fall, Football, and First-Time Grandparents

New seasons are before us, fall, football, and most importantly, we are first-time grandparents.

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure a year in the life. How about Love? Measure in Love. Seasons of Love. ”  from Seasons of Love by, Donny Osmond

How do we measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

Measure in Love. Seasons of Love.

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.”

New First Time Great-Grandmother, Gloria Standard, hugs Leah as she says good-bye to Baby Tripp.

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.

Grand baby #1’s mug. I have already ordered one for Grand baby #2.

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.

My girlfriend, Rita meets Tripp for the first time.

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!

Getting to know our 2nd grandchild, Elizabeth

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.

My Mama rocks our first-born, Leah, who is now a first-time Mommy herself.
My big sisters, Laura Lea and Mary Ann take in the pure joy as they meet Tripp.

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.

October 8, 1988 with our first-born baby, Leah Page Andrews, now Mommy to Tripp.

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.

The Circle of Life has never been so evident and clear to my heart.

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.

The Beat Goes On!

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Fertile Prayers

St. Louis With Family

Solitude: 7 Ways To Find It

A Mother’s Wisdom: Five Lessons Learned

Five Ways To Love Well

Five More Ways To Love Well

It Is Well With My Soul

My Own Little World: What If There’s A Bigger Picture

Peace Like A River

How The Soul Grows Through Grief

Parenting And Grandparenting: Four Ways To Plant Roots And Strengthen Wings

Where Is He?

Wrestling And Seeking: What Do You Think?

Four Questions For God

Thank God He Has A Forgetful Nature

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

Here I will share with you four ways to better love our peeps.  As Valentine’s Day is here, 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

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.”

img_5259
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

IMG_0746

Memorial Day 3 Ways To Raise Up The Flag

IMG_5656

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.

IMG_1106

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!

IMG_7483
My brother, John Wade and his bride dance at our niece’s wedding.
IMG_1104
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.

IMG_1112
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.

IMG_1078
Facebook post from my friend, Jay

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

13321765_10208593667815418_4594282451995394522_n
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:

13260020_10208593761417758_3461809113501615790_n
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)”

13265903_10208593760777742_2133255965193609431_n
Our friend, Rosie Moon, age 7 places flags around Marietta National Cemetery.
IMG_1075
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.

13318715_10206654329891996_614204221_n
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.
IMG_1101
My friend, Julie’s Memorial Day post.
13116409_10100961307389201_164189326727793675_o
Lt. Ryan Jackson & Lt. Lauren Jackson, both helicopter pilots are currently serving at The Naval Academy.
13254602_10206694277458442_7581771230876307939_n
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?

IMG_1102
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!

Charlotte’s Web

IMG_0931

IMG_0861

I had the opportunity this past Tuesday to go to The Barter Theater, again with my lifelong friend, Kelly Read.

You have been my friend, that in itself is a tremendous thing.” Charlotte to Wilbur in the story of Charlotte’s Web

If you have never had the chance to visit this theater and the quaint Virginia town of Abingdon, please put it on your radar for a trip in the future.  Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Southwest Virginia, this town not only boasts of this great, old theater, but also the famous Virginia Creeper Trail. I like to joke and ask my husband again and again, “When can we move here!?!” Seriously, we love it!

IMG_0865
Kelly, Wilbur the pig, and me!

Charlotte’s Web is often called “the best children’s book of all time,” and occupies a special place in the hearts of young and old alike.IMG_0860

Along with busloads of school children, Kelly and I saw the play Charlotte’s Web.

IMG_0868
Templeton, the rat is from Newnan, Georgia!

As a retired teacher of elementary kids, I love this story for many reasons. One of the reasons is I read it aloud to my class every year. Another reason is during my one year of homeschooling, I read it along with Trumpet of the Swan and Stuart Little to Walker during his first grade in school. All of these timeless stories were written by E.B.White and illustrated by Garth Williams.

If I can fool a bug… I can surely fool a man. People are not as smart as bugs.” Charlotte, the spider to Wilbur, the pig 

IMG_4728

I wrote a blog post earlier about spiders. Click here to check it out. And if you have ever wondered why White chose a spider for his protagonist in this magical story, click here to read some of his own words about this. E.B. White’s Newberry Honor book, Charlotte’s Web is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

IMG_0857
Abingdon Library

I highly recommend you read these stories aloud to your children and grandchildren.

You should be able to find a copy in your local library where many locations offer free story times.

IMG_0862
Charlotte, the spider and me!

“Few people would guess that a pig and a spider could be best friends. In this story, not only are they best friends, but Charlotte, the spider saves Wilbur, the pig’s life. Charlotte takes a chance on Wilbur and goes on the most rewarding adventure of her life-friendship. And Wilbur, desperate for a friend, finds out that life is about more than just himself: it’s about helping those around you. Together, this unlikely duo changes the lives of every animal (and human) they meet.

Wilbur and Charlotte’s selflessness creates a better world. So does their bravery to be who they are. And their willingness to love each other unconditionally.

Take a chance on someone today. You may find that they’re terrific. Or radiant. Or humble. And they just might change your life.”

Director of the play, Charlotte’s Web, Barrett Guyton, Barter Theater

Abingdon, Virginia

IMG_4724

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.

IMG_9559
A gift of original art, by our artist friend, Amanda Claire, while in middle school.

IMG_9529

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?

IMG_9189
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.

IMG_9306
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.

IMG_9153
So thankful for these friends! Our Wedding Day on 10/2/1982.
IMG_6060
Daddy, Paul has floor play with Taylor and Meg.
IMG_6225
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~~~~~~~

IMG_9196 IMG_9197 IMG_9198 IMG_9199 IMG_9200 IMG_9201 IMG_9202 IMG_9203

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.

IMG_6035
Donny and Paul…Taylor’s Shelter From The Storm
IMG_5869
The shelter sits beside the Holston River.

IMG_9190

IMG_6065
Kelly and Meg are bundled up for the ride.
IMG_6034
Lisa was such a big help in organizing the ride!
IMG_6033
T-SHIRTS!
IMG_6069
The Pages and The Reads are ready to roll!
IMG_9195
Donny with Taylor’s sign.
IMG_6079
The Ride!
IMG_6066
WE LOVE THE TRAIL!

IMG_9192

IMG_6099
What a group!
IMG_6103
Kelly, love her so much!
IMG_6102
Taylor’s Aunt Allison and cousin, Katherine weather the storm.
IMG_6100
Zach traveled from CA to be a part of the ride for Taylor!
IMG_9194
Thumbs Up with Zach and Josh upon their arrival to Taylor’s Shelter!
IMG_6166
Paul shares with the crowd at the dedication.

IMG_9188

IMG_6172
Great Friends Gather, while Mike and Greg photobomb!
IMG_6183
A great spot for Taylor’s Shelter!
IMG_6185
Becky and Leslie take time out at Taylor’s Shelter.
IMG_6189
This awesome place is right on the trail!
IMG_6215
After many meetings and a lot of effort, Kelly and Lisa give the day a “thumbs up”!
IMG_6209
Kelly and Joan at Taylor’s Shelter.
IMG_6211
Joan and Susan gather flowers from the BBQ lunch.

IMG_6192

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

IMG_9205
This portrait, a gift from Taylor’s friends is lovingly hung in The Read Home.
IMG_9275
Friend, Kelsey, takes time out in Taylor’s Shelter.

IMG_9274

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.

IMG_9191
Kelly and Meg take time out in Taylor’s Shelter wrapped in a prayer shawl, a gift from precious friend, Ellen.

What Is It Like To Be Ninety? Check Out This List

images-6

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.

What might you and I take from this list

and begin to incorporate into our days?

Children: Let’s Listen To Them Like Mattie J.T. Stepanek


IMG_8345

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!”

IMG_8240

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.

IMG_8347
Leah and Walker 1992
IMG_8346
Leah and Walker 1992

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. Psalm 46:10a

One tool that has always helped me, and still does to this day is deep breathing. Click here for details.

IMG_8354
November 1993, Walker, 20 months, Leah 5 years. Kennesaw Mountain National Park

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.”

IMG_8010_2
Don and our great-nephew, August, listen to heart songs together.

IMG_8208 IMG_8241 IMG_8247As 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.IMG_8238

As you and I slow down,

whose heartsong

might we hear?

As we stay too busy with

our days,

our smart phones,

our schedules,

our lives,

whose heartsong might we miss?

I hope at some point, you will take 10 minutes to click here to watch a video about this extraordinary young man.

It is a “must-see”, if you are at all interested in having a clearer understanding of what a heartsong really is. P.S. be sure to have some tissues nearby.

Click here to listen to one of my favorite Casting Crown songs:

LET MY LIFESONG SING TO YOU.

IMG_8348
“Remember to play after every storm.” Love, Mattie

Previous Posts That You May Have Missed:

Fill Your Love Tank

Hurting Hearts, Painful Paths

Four Ways To Love Our Peeps

Five Reasons We Should Volunteer

Children Are Wet Cement

IMG_8242

IMG_8243

Thanksgiving In The Woods

IMG_7711IMG_7658

So we are just past Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2015.

Let us have peace.” Ulysses Grant (1822-1885)

As you reflect on your holiday, perhaps your thoughts have begun to turn towards shopping on Black Friday, checking off a gift list for those you love, an upcoming football tailgate party, or like me, clinging to memories of those who have left us too soon, including our dear friends’ son, Taylor on March 7, 2015.   With lots of folks here, six dogs, and one cat, “Louis” from St. Louis, our Thanksgiving in the woods has been a peaceful time of friends, family, and lots of fellowship!

Two tunes keep coming back into my mind, the lyrics humming their messages straight to my heart…as I reflect on those who we have missed over this holiday, those who have gone on ahead of me, those who’ve been lost in tragedies across our globe and those I have had the blessing of sharing this special day with.

Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Anonymous

I am wishing for…and praying for more and more peace in our world. I believe many of you are hoping for the same thing.

Let There Be Peace On Earth and Let It Begin With Me        AND

Imagine All The People Living Life In Peace

IMG_7717

IMG_7637
We now have a new great niece and nephew, Wynter and Roman!
IMG_7620
Scott and his Dad, Mike rose early to get our 15+ pound turkey on the green egg.
IMG_7626
Wynter and Mocha made good friends!
IMG_7614
Leah, Scott, & their friend, Caroline refinished our kitchen cabinets as a Thanksgiving gift.
IMG_7612
Walker and Jess, visiting from St. Louis took charge of the pies, using In A Southern Kitchen!
IMG_7715
Mama, with eight of her grands Spring 2006, following her last Thanksgiving with us.
IMG_7601
Mama, gone since 2006, but never forgotten…
IMG_7714
Mama’s Ideals!
IMG_7636
Scott’s Mom, Cindy enjoys Wynter as she dreams of the day she is a Grandma!
IMG_7634
Walk on Thanksgiving Morn!

IMG_7657 IMG_7656 IMG_7655 IMG_7642 IMG_7640 IMG_7624 IMG_7616 IMG_7618 IMG_7619 IMG_7593

IMG_2015
Jessica’s Parents AND Scott’s Parents joined us!
IMG_7693
My sis, “Lalea” loves on her new granddaughter.
IMG_7679
Aunt Laura and Leah visit.
IMG_7678
Rhys, “Poppy” hangs out with his new grandson.
IMG_7691
Our niece, Pamela, takes in a peaceful moment with her son, Roman.

After such a joyful, fun-filled, busy holiday, I knew that what I needed next was a few minutes of solitude.

never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” Henry David Thoreau

My Mama always said to be sure to give your body enough time to catch up with your soul!

IMG_7718
Just Gracie and me enjoying a walk in the woods!

Thanks for stopping by to share our

Thanksgiving In The Woods.

I hope your holiday was filled with fun and peace.

As you reflect on your Thanksgiving, you may enjoy seeing this acrostic and reading about our Thanksgiving 2014.

SaveSave