Busy School Days Three Things We Did

School Days are busy days, that is for sure! The days will go by, no matter what.

Welcome to Reality - Road sign

The hour is 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, and I find myself walking through our quaint Marietta Square thinking about afternoons gone by, when our son and daughter were small and coming up. Now married, ages 31 and 28, Leah and Walker are both married with children of their own.

Were we busy on school days! The hours between 2:30-8:30, six hours in all, were so jammed pack, roller skates would have probably helped me to make it to their bedtime. Homework, sports, carpools, snack time, Mission Friends,  baths, music lessons, dinner, and more, filled those six hours each weekday and the memories come flooding in when I allow them to. My husband’s work schedule did not allow him to help me shuffle them here and there, so it was lots of other Moms, and me, who counted on each other to create plans that were workable.

TODAY, however, as we continue to face the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic. school days are anything but “normal”. (I heard it said once that “normal” is nothing but a setting on a washing machine, lol)

What we are facing, collectively, is something most of us have never dealt with before—the threat of contagion, the challenges of quarantine, and the possibility (or reality, sadly) of major losses, both in human terms and economically. AND now, it is August and Back To School Season, after abruptly closing our schools down in Mid-March 2020.

During these especially challenging times, I think it is particularly important to remember to be non-judgmental, kind and supportive regarding the school decisions that our family and friends are making for the students who still live at home.

Some are choosing virtual, some are home-schooling, and some are attending classes face-to-face. All choices are permissible.

As we continue to move forward with tremendous hopes for finding a viable vaccination as soon as possible, let’s pour out resolve, resilience, and support to all who are in our path. Let’s look for ways to help others during this time, even in small ways such as an encouraging note or a meal for a neighbor who is battling cancer. Let’s all Look UP, keeping our faith strong.

Now at a local Starbuck’s patio at the corner of Whitlock and North Marietta Parkway, the hour is closer to three p.m., and I think about the parents are  would normally be heading to schools for pick-up, while the teachers are calling the day a wrap as they clean their boards and straighten the classrooms in preparation for Hump Day.  Not this year. Not in 2020. Many schools are virtual, while a few are not. Either way, the days go by, no matter what.

Back to school design over white background, vector illustration

I don’t feel sad as I recall these school days gone by, but I do recall easily three things that we intentionally tried to do every single day:

1) Eat dinner together as a family-not every night, but we tried hard to make it most nights. We would go around the table sharing “highs” and “lows” from the day gone by. The crockpot was my best friend then! Click here to read a pertinent article about this.IMG_5309

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2) We read together every night at bedtime. When they were nonreaders, we would read to them and once they learned to read, we would read with the popcorn method-you read a page and your child reads a page. Click here to read an important article about reading with your kids.

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3) Each and every night, we would rest our hand on our child and give them the following blessing from Numbers 6:24-26: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Parents today, more than ever before, still want the Lord to bless their children. 

How about your family? What intentional traditions and memories are you building into the busy days of your children and grandchildren? The SKY is the limit!

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Letter Challenge Send One Today

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Mama and Daddy were married on October 21, 1948 Rossville, Georgia.

I have a letter writing challenge for you today. This past March 4, 2020 would have been my Daddy’s 100th birthday!

Among many other things, Johnny Walker was known for gentleness, kindness, wisdom, and love letters.

 Here is a short love letter he mailed to my Mama just a few months before they wed in October 1948, with a promise to write again when he reached his hometown of Irvine, Kentucky.

I cannot help but believe that small acts like sending this note to his fiancé added up to great love among themselves, their children, grandchildren, great-grands, and the multitudes they crossed paths with during their 58-year marriage. Now they are together forever!

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Mama’s engagement picture, Summer 1948, at the time she received this note.

The challenge is simple. Instead of the usual texts and emails, let’s challenge each other to surprise the special people in our lives with handwritten love notes. These can be sent or mailed to grandchildren, best girlfriends, collegiates, young marrieds, parents, and more.

For those you share a home with, a short note can be left for them to find in a lunchbox, under their pillow, on a bathroom mirror, on a car seat, slipped in a suitcase for the traveler, or by the coffee maker.

Like my Daddy’s example, it doesn’t have to be long. The message will provide affirmation, a reminder of your love, and emotional support for the recipient.

I ‘m quite sure you are aware of the passing of Mrs. Nancy Reagan, wife of our 40th U.S. President, Ronald Reagan in March 2016.  President Reagan was also known for sending love letters to his sweetheart. Click here to read a sampling of some of these notes and letters.

I am currently reading a historical fiction book The Postmistress by, Sarah Blake set in both London and coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. This intriguing novel based on details of the early 1940’s really got me thinking about the importance of personal letters.

And it does not have to be a full letter! How about leaving behind post-it notes for the ones you love the most. (like the pictures here)IMG_9256 IMG_9253

The Way of Love 1 Corinthians 13 The Message

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

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Mama and Daddy …great love always!

Who will you send a note or letter to today?

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A SPOT OF SUNSHINE Let's Watch For Them

With the end of April 2020 upon us, I am sitting here counting my blessings, naming them one by one. Amidst all of the chaos our world has observed since mid-March, I’ve discovered that having a heart of gratitude is more important than ever before.

Two of our FF (Friends Forever) group, Jan and Jane Ellen. Yes, friends since Fernbank Elementary.

As a sixty-something woman, I am  grateful for my reliable God, my family, my friends, just to mention three bounties here in my earthly life.

As I ponder this further, I realize that sometimes the basis for gratefulness in my day is because a “spot of sunshine” has come my way.

That spot of sunshine may be the simplest thing. The simple things can be missed if we are not in the habit of watching for them.

This may have come to me in a smile, a kind word, a note in the mail, a loving hug, an encouraging text or email, artwork, birthday celebrations, a laugh, a song, a written message or verse, a yummy taste of a favorite food, the chance to aid another, sweet memories, excellent health care, and the way my loved ones say my name, just to name a few.

Measuring The Moments…the “spots of sunshine” with our two children, Leah and Walker, when they were growing. (1993-1994)

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.
“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”
~James M. Barrie~

What are the spots of sunshine that you are most comforted and encouraged by
during this crazy season we are finding ourselves in?

Let’s Watch For Them.

Taylor’s Ride with dear friends. October 2018.

Earlier Posts You May Have Missed:

Wholehearted Wednesday: A Time To Look Inside Your Heart

Mustard-Sized Faith

Musings On Marriage

What Is Happening? Write It Down.

A Loving Eulogy for My Father

25 Memories From This Mama’s Heart

Five Reasons We Should Volunteer

Pandemic Alterations Let's Work Our Muscles!

Have you considered some alterations you would like to see in your life journey. Seriously, the vast majority of us have had extra time to consider our lives and our ways of living out our days. This reminds me of a favorite hit from the Broadway hit, RENT. Seasons Of Love. “525,600 minutes, 525,600 moments, how do you measure a year in a life? How do you measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. In 525,600 minutes. How do you measure a year in a life. Measure you life in love.”

Click here to listen to this great song.

It’s easy to recall all the hype that came with the introduction of a brand new decade just 113 days ago. 2020 had quite the ring to it didn’t it!?! Now that the first quarter of this new year has sailed us by, we are left here wondering what has happened. That trio of months seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? It does to me! So much has changed.

This Global Pandemic has truly turned our world upside down, hasn’t it? This unprecedented season came to us with very little notice and by mid-March, our schools and “non-essential” establishments were shutting down. We were, in fact, blindsided when COVID-19 came to town, weren’t we!?!

How have you and I navigated this new normal? Have you, like me, had more pj pants…yoga pants…in the laundry than ever before? More food in the frig, the pantry than ever before? More rest and relaxation than ever before? More time to think, to reflect than ever before? If so, then WE are the lucky ones. Unlike the countless first responders who are carrying 40 + hours on the front line, quarantining from their families, literally laying their lives on the lines for the rest of us.

Yes, we are the lucky ones if we have the resources, shelter, and food that we all need. WE are especially fortunate if we have a stable foundation of love and emotional support under our roofs, as well.

How is our overall mental health? An article by, Jennifer Glover Yaeger that I read recently could be very helpful to you and to me in this current environment. Click here to find it.

I recently read a devotion that reminds me that Life takes muscle work and resilience. I want to be willing to make changes as life evolves.

Otherwise, I am just “a bystander”. And I don’t know about you, but I want to be “a participant” in this life, not just someone who is here and accounted for, but not really taking part, not connecting, not interacting, not having an impact.

I am learning that the best way to bring peace to my external circumstances is to begin with internal work. Internal peace will begin to settle external chaos.

Here is an excerpt from the devo I read:

“I’m convinced that life without risk isn’t much of a life. There’s a certain comfort in predictability. But it’s the kind of comfort you don’t find when you’re moving and growing. It’s the comfort you find in hibernation.
If you’ve followed sports or been around athletes, you know that an athlete regularly stretches his muscles to the point where they burn. Otherwise these muscles become inflexible, unresponsive, and easily fatigued. The same is true with your soul. It must be regularly stretched. Failure to do so gives you comfort in the short-term, but ultimately leaves you emotionally and spiritually unfit.
Connecting, loving, and pursuing dreams, all require risk and energy! Yes, you’ll be stretched to the point of discomfort. Yes, you may experience some hurt and disappointment. But these are far better alternatives than the loneliness, boredom, and quiet desperation that accompany a life without risk.” ~Steve Arterburn, New Life Live~
While it is not always comfortable, I want to stretch ALL of my muscles from here on out! My physical muscles, my faith muscles, my brain muscles, my compassion for others muscles. ALL of these, and more.
In addition, I want to discover what in my life is no longer serving me well.
Maybe it’s a bad habit I have been carrying around for decades. A routine that has become commonplace. A Rut. A pattern that is no longer useful. A temperament that is not as kind as I would like. There is no better time than a pandemic to make the changes we want to make, when many of us are allotted an extra span of time to ponder this.
If only we will.
What is it for you and for me that we would like to change and alter for the  days ahead as we all begin to live our “new normal”? What pandemic alterations would we like to create?
What is no longer serving us?
Yes, it can be difficult, and risky, too. But, so, so worth it. It is truly a Fork In The Road, and we get to choose the way.
Let’s Start Today!

P.S. I know you join me in this thought: I cannot wait to give big hugs like this one to all of my friends and family!!!

Gloria Standard, otherwise known as “Shoots”, hugs our daughter, Leah, in celebration of the birth of her very first great-grandchild, Michael Scott Andrews III.
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6 Ways We Can Relieve Stress During A Pandemic An Acronym

Don’t we all wish our feet were on some sandy beach somewhere!?!?

Do you have a lot of stress in your life these days? With all of the changing news of the pandemic, day-by-day, it would be no surprise to anyone that our stress levels are at an all-time high.

We are all getting a taste of a slower lifestyle, one that came unannounced,unplanned, and topped with an uncertain future.

What has slowing down meant for you? Have you and I stopped to think about our days gone by when we were so busy that we could barely catch our breath? I think it is a good opportunity to look at that busy life and see what changes might be possible going forward.

'We're all broken. That's how the light gets in.'
Ernest Hemingway

Today, I will share with you six ways we can begin to relieve our stress starting today.

S-Seize the moment, pause and be IN the moment. Realize that this few minutes may be all we have. Breathe deeply connecting with your heart.

T-Take a break to meditate and pray…whatever that means for you. Express gratitude. While you are taking a break, consider coloring, collaging, escaping for a bubble bath, or taking a walk alone. Exaggerated self-care is vital during this time of sheltering in. 

As a Christ-follower, I have learned that He meets me right where I am whenever I reach out to Him. I’m so thankful for this truth.

R-Rest enough. I know this is easier said than done. Especially for parents and teachers who are currently homeschooling when they were not used to doing it. Insufficient sleep puts us on edge. Try setting the timer on your phone and stretch out for a 15-25 minute power nap. At night, keep your screens away from your bedside table. It is particularly important to do this before sleep as it can cut down many of the problems related to insomnia and other sleep disorders.

We love to catch up as we hike up Kennesaw Mountain when my friend, Kathy comes into town.

E-Be sure to get some exercise, even if it is a simple walk around your workplace parking lot during your lunch break. Move. Stretch. Stretch. Move. Exercise will pump up your endorphins, improving your mood. 

Exercise comes about naturally for our grandson, Tripp, 19 months old.

S-As many have been sharing on social media, this is actually a perfect time to declutter your spaces. I have found that an uncluttered space = less stress. Watch YouTube videos to give you ideas and the motivation to get started. Shed Stuff. Even after the Pandemic, keep a “give away” box handy and put things in there on a regular basis. Most will agree that we just have too much stuff! Let’s give things away that are still useful and unclutter our lives some to help us relieve stress.

S-Screen Time Reduced. Most of us, if we were completely honest, spend way too much time looking at screens during our waking hours. The preoccupation with our devices, even during free time can often mess up other schedules causing delays in routine work, creating unwanted stress.
Regulating screen time can help individuals block out at least some of the channels through which stress is stimulated. During this extra time at home, consider creating a “cell phone basket” where all phones can take a break from their humans. This is especially important during meal time and family board game time. 

Which of these six ideas will you incorporate into your life in the days ahead?

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The Simple Things

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Wrestling And Seeking The Rubber Meets The Road

Two open hands in the sky with a sphere of light, symbol of gratefulness and gratitude.

We can all agree that our globe has been turned upside with the sudden turn of events since the initial spread of the Corona Virus around December 31, 2019 in the community of Wuhan, China. We’ve been asked to social distance, shelter-in-place, and take every precaution necessary to keep ourselves safe from this ruthless rival.

We’ve had lots of time alone.

Time to think, time to ponder our life circumstances prior to this unexpected interruption. This is when the rubber meets the road regarding our inner self, our own personal beliefs about creation, mortality, and faith.

We can also agree that for the most part, these circumstances have brought out the very best in the human soul.

I have been wrestling lately about how I can best express to my friends here on Pages From Joan the reality of my personal faith journey. Especially during the tumultuous and uncertain times that we find ourselves currently living in.

A dear friend of mine, Laura, who battled breast cancer before dying in 2014 in her fifties, once told me she was wrestling. She decided that wrestling and seeking are synonymous. I agree with her. As I have wrestled, I have been seeking God’s will, His unique plan for me. Meanwhile, I want to share just a few details about my journey, related to my faith.

Click  here for a huge dose of pandemic encouragement. Google this song and read the back story of It Is Well With My Soul.

I am not my mistakes. I am not my old habits. I am not my PAST. I am a beautiful reflection of God. I am forgiven. I am loved. I am free. Shanel Cooper Sykes

Raised in a Southern Baptist Church with my five brothers and sisters, I now consider myself more of a Christ-follower than a member of a certain denomination. At age nine, I professed belief in the Lord, Jesus Christ. As I grew, I believed God had my back, but I made the choice to stray away from a close walk with Him, for approximately ten years of my life. There is nothing wasted in God’s Economy. As time has gone by, I have come to realize that God used my time away to mold and deepen my faith in Him. It was during that time away that I learned about compassion, courage, forgiveness, and repentance.

I’ve often heard the question:

“If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?”

Well, I was certainly the one who moved away from Him for that season of my life, but I see, looking back on that time, that He never, ever left me. I must say my time away has taught me so much about patience (on God’s part), compassion towards myself and my fellow-man, and love towards all created humans.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. You may ask for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:1;14

Fast forward to a few years into our marriage, when Donny and I, together as a couple, had begun to move closer to God again. We spent three years of our marriage dealing with infertility, and you can read about that part of my journey here. In December 1987, while I was on Christmas break as a teacher, I found myself pleading with God to give us our first child. I cross-stitched Romans 8:28 in a small frame to keep on my desk.

Soon after this, after over five years of marriage, I became pregnant with our first child. I felt strongly, that this was, in part, due to the fact that I had finally surrendered to my God about my dreams of having a child. I believe God rescued me from my childless sorrow and I had a renewed desire to draw close to Him. Leah was born on October 8, 1988.

I believe He has continued to woo me, rescuing me, providing for me in countless ways since that time.

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Our first-born, Leah, with my Daddy. (2012)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

A few things that I learned during this season of my life:

  • God’s timing is perfect.
  • God, Creator is never surprised by the events that occur on this earth, not births, deaths, horrific events of nature or virulent viruses.
  • God created us and He knows even better than us what is best for us.
  • Adversity makes us stronger. We must stick together especially when things get tough.
  • When we seek God, drawing close to Him, we will find Him every time. In adversity, He draws us into a deeper walk with Him.
  • God hears our pleas.IMG_5151

Did you know? There are more than 7,000 promises in The Bible. I am sharing this with you because I believe with all of my heart that Christ came to rescue each and every one of us. God keeps those 7,000+ promises as we seek Him, we will find Him, and He will rescue us from our troubles, and even from ourselves.

The gift is in the promise, and as believers, we may go about our work-to the best of our ability, assured that what God has promised, He is able to perform. And that the gift, which we already possess, will be realized when we need it the most.

One of my favorite bumper stickers states:

CHRISTIANS AREN’T PERFECT.

THEY ARE JUST FORGIVEN.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT)
Tripp and Jojo cheer the Georgia Bulldogs on in October 2019.

I hope you now have a clearer picture of my perspective as I post here on my Pages From Joan. It is my desire to bring encouragement, learning, and inspiration into your days as I seek my God and share authentically from my heart, soul, and mind.

And now, today, with all that has transpired in my over six decades of life, and everything that is taking place during these unforeseen times, my husband and I are drinking in the presence of our  19-month-old grandson , Tripp and our 19-month-old granddaughter, Elizabeth.  Our daughter, Leah and her husband, Scott are first-time parents, as of 8/24/18 and our son, Walker and his wife, Jessica are first-time parents as of 9/7/18.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude to my Father in Heaven as He continues to pour blessings into my days, even amidst my wrestling and seeking.

Oh, how He Loves You and Me.

What do you think?

Whether you believe in Jesus, find your belief in something else, or question what you actually believe, God is interested in hearing from you as one of His unique and beautiful creations.

It is both ultimately and intimately

between each

created human

and God.  

I know for sure though, from my own personal experience, When we seek Him, we will find Him, every time. And I know I would not want to be on this planet earth without a relationship with the God of the Universe.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Be still, and know that I am God. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 46:1;10 and 91:1

A few songs that have helped me along my way:

It Is Well With My Soul

Brave

Do Something

Bless The Broken Road

Praise You In This Storm

Mended

Who Am I?

Merciful, Wonderful Savior

How He Loves Us

How Great Is Our God

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Where Is He?

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No Expiration Check The Date

IMG_7642A good number of years ago, when we still had a high-schooler living under our roof, my husband and I enjoyed homemade apple cobbler with spray whipped cream. Unfortunately we were out of vanilla ice cream which eliminated the chance for à la mode! This after dinner delicacy was actually so good that I decided to surprise our son with the same treat. He was up in his room, so I went ahead and fixed this dessert without even asking him if he wanted it.
When I had it all ready, with whipped cream, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar, and 3 musketeers chocolate syrup, I called him down.

He was very pleased when he first arrived in the kitchen…then upon his initial observation, he asked about the date on the syrup.
I responded with the truth: “I have no idea what the date on that syrup is.”
Ok, now, don’t be shocked, but he decided to check the date and it was old, like a couple of years past the expiration date…I am not kidding!!! ( I wish I was!) Needless to say, it went straight in the trash and he fixed himself a new dessert!
WE had some good laughs about dates on products that were in our nearly twenty-year-old home and how we might want to check them out a little more often and a little more carefully in the future…
Soon, our son was checking the dates on some of our other things…the milk had a good date, the yogurt was okay, too.

Isn’t it funny how some stories are simply unforgettable! Now Walker is a husband and a Daddy, yet, I can still see his determination to check all of our expiration dates.  <smile>

Later, just before retiring for the night, our son and I started talking about other “expirations”, like letting too much time go by before we open the Word.

The tragedy of life is not death...but what we let die inside of us while we live. Norman Cousins

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If we are not careful, we wait too long to go to the Word for the answers to the big questions that we have in our lives. Just because we do not take the time to look in that direction, does not mean the answers are not there. If we are not careful, our days go by and we do not reap the benefits and the strength that it is in the Word for each of us to grab a hold of. As we age, we realize more than ever that our lives on this earth have an “expiration date”. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 reminds us:

There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season. There is a time to be born and a time to die.

So, maybe you want to go check the dates of some of the products you have in your refrigerator, and perhaps you want to take stock in the date of the last time you delved into the Word as well.

Do something today that you have been putting off because we are not promised tomorrow. Only God knows the number of our days and He’s not telling us that number.

The Good News is that once we are His,

considering God and His Word, there is NO EXPIRATION DATE!

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The Day I Rang The Salvation Army Bell Each One Reach One

It may be a distant memory now, but there were some very rainy days in Georgia during the month of December. It is easy to recall driving home slowly from a holiday party and climbing into our warm, comfy bed as soon as possible.

Then the thoughts would begin…Where are the homeless sleeping tonight on this soggy cold evening? Were there enough beds at the shelter? Are there children out there with their Mommies and Daddies? Will they be okay?

Then I would utter a brief prayer from my bed. “Please, Lord, keep them safe and help them to find dry shelter and warmth.” I knew in my heart, felt compelled in my soul, that He would use me to help those in need somehow, someway during these cold, wet December days.

Donations ready for those in need!
Just look at all of the donations we collected from generous friends and family on December 22, 2019!

As the December days clicked by, we held a wonderful caroling gathering on the last Sunday before Christmas. Our guests brought new socks, underclothes, gloves, hats and scarves. We collected an abundance of these items, wrapped a bow around them individually and delivered them to The Zone. A nearby center, The Zone has programs that fuel recovery and fight addiction. Those who are in the throes of an addiction are often not welcome in their family home during the holidays. Knowing The Zone would be open for 36 hours during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, feeding all who came by, our small love gifts would be distributed to those who stopped in.

Soon it was Christmas Eve, 2019. Knowing that my last-minute chores were squared away, I stopped by the local Salvation Army office and asked if I could ring a bell. The receptionist told me that no one was ringing at a nearby Wal-Mart and would I be willing to work there. My assigned shift was 10:00-1:00, and a Salvation Army representative would meet me there. 

I arrived a few minutes early. After waiting a good while, the representative never arrived. I tried calling a few numbers, but most offered only a machine since it was Christmas Eve. Sadly, I entered the Wal-Mart to pick up one last thing, potatoes for our Christmas feast.

As soon as I came out, I saw her! A woman was ringing the bell cheerily and walking to and fro on the storefront sidewalk. After introducing myself and acknowledging that there had been some misunderstanding, my new friend offered me the bell and her chair and slipped inside to hang out at the Subway sandwich shop. I was going to get to ring that bell after all!

I was so glad I grabbed these chocolate Santa lollipops as an afterthought. They were appreciated by both young and old, alike.

The next couple of hours, I called out Merry Christmas to all who could hear, offered up friendly smiles, and a chocolate Santa to the children. I noticed the variety of nationalities represented. (and considered my American citizenship)

This Mama told me Salvation Army had saved her from difficult circumstances in her past, and she was happy for the chance to give back with a donation.

Sadly, I saw a homeless young man searching for food or a tobacco butt in this trash can and ash bin. I offered him a chocolate Santa and he heartily accepted it. ( and I sent up an arrow prayer of gratitude that I had never been in this man’s shoes) I took in the number of taxi rides folks needed to get the shoppers to and from the store. (and I thought about our pick-up truck in the lot full of gas and ready to take me home)  I thanked those who slipped small change, a single or a five into the traditional red bucket.  As I thanked one woman with her two young children, her reply warmed my heart, “Salvation Army made a real difference in my life in the past, and I want to give back.” (and I considered the fact that I had never had to reach out for help like this)

Just as He promised that cold, rainy night when I uttered a short prayer from my bed, I was given the privilege to help some souls in need. My heart was warmed that Christmas Eve, not just by the surprising warmer, 60 degree Georgia temp and blue sky, but by that feeling you get when you’ve made a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small.

I was reminded of that old song first penned in 1955, “Let There Be Peace On Earth and Let It Begin In Me”.

YOU can listen to this song here.

Each One Reach One.

Let’s Start Today.

Thanksgiving An Acrostic

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Thanksgiving 2019 comes late this year! November 28, 2019. We plan to enjoy a much smaller than usual gathering in the North Georgia Mountains. But first, tomorrow, we will celebrate the life of our dear friend, Debra O’Dell, age 58, who passed recently from a cancer battle. Debbie has been quite the fighter and lover of life, as a Kindergarten, a missionary, a Mom, a wife, a devoted servant in our church and the kindest friend you could ever have. Deb will be greatly missed!

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.

If you are in the Atlanta area for this annual holiday, think about taking your crew to the Marietta Square to participate in Must Ministries Gobble Jog! It is so much fun and it benefits the homeless and hungry in our community. Click here for info.

An Annual Tradition! GOBBLE JOG to benefit Must Ministries and so much fun for the entire family!

If you have an extra side dish, pie, or a gift card to a grocery store, drop it by The Zone. The Zone is a safe haven in Marietta for those who are battling substance abuse. This amazing center will be opened for a continuous 24 hours to feed all who come by. They welcome our help and you can click here for more information.

Below, I have formed an acrostic to illustrate some of what Thanksgiving means to me. Perhaps some of these describe your thoughts about this great annual holiday.

Time Together 

Holiday Excitement Begins

Anyone Welcome

No Gifts Needed

Kindness Abounds

Sharing With Others

Grateful For Relaxation

In The Kitchen

Very Yummy Food

Am Loved and Blessed

Never Forget Our Angels In Heaven

Goodness Of God Is With Us

IMG_0651I hope this post will prompt you to stop for a few minutes during “Black Friday Weekend” and consider what this special holiday means to you.

Thank God He Has A Forgetful Nature

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In the midst of preparing for Thanksgiving 2019 and tolerating the countless words and expressions during the Impeachment Hearings, it is good to simply stop AND consider things of eternal value.  The “reason for the season” and similar musings, like the message that resonated with our hearts back a few years ago. Messages that remind us that God has a forgetful nature.

It is my hope that this message will encourage your heart as it has mine this morning!

Back in 2015, Donny and I were so inspired as we left Piedmont Church.  It was the first Sunday in December and for such a large sanctuary, it certainly is a warm and welcoming place to be and this Sunday was no exception. The lights shone brightly, the trees and wreaths adorned the bannisters, the stage. But the thing that encouraged us the most was when our Pastor, Ike Reighard,  gave an unforgettable message, as he began a new series, entitled PRICELESS.

Pastor Ike reminded us that our great big God has a forgetful nature.

YOU can view this series of messages on lifestream at our Piedmont Church website. God doesn’t just forgive, he forgets our wrong choices. “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12 NLT

Three of the greatest gifts we as believers find in him are:

LOVE

PRAYER

FORGIVENESS

With the Christmas Season upon us, join me as I reflect on how fortunate we are that we serve a forgiving God.

We ALL fall short. That’s the reason God sent his only son to the earth as a baby. Click here to gain greater understanding of the true story of Christmas. There are so many misunderstandings about this story. Many have doubted the truth of it for centuries, including C.S.Lewis and Lee Strobel, both of whom wrote books about their doubts regarding this intriguing story. “The son of God knew what it was to be a homeless person. What it was to start life without a roof over his head.” Pope Francis, Washington, D.C. October 2015

It’s Christmas and there are so many ways to identify with the Christ Child and his parents, too. As Pope Francis was here on his recent trip to D.C.,  he visited a homeless shelter and he reminded his audience that Jesus was “homeless” as a newborn. Jesus’ mother gives all mothers the greatest example of humility and trust in Luke 2:51b, “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Joseph, a carpenter, was a faithful and honorable man.

Do you want to know more about the newborn Christ Child this Christmas? “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God.” Corrie ten Boom If so, reach out to friends and family who have come to know him and allow space in your heart to learn more for yourself. Let every heart prepare him room. Read the Gospel of Luke, Chapter Two,  More Than A Carpenter, By, Josh McDowell or Mere Christianity, By, C.S. Lewis.  Read and consider the lyrics of some of the carols of old, like Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, Joy To The World. Yes, there are many doubts about the truth of this age-old story. The horrific events in Colorado Springs, Co this past weekend may only add to those doubts as the abortion debate gains more and more momentum. However, the Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  We also read in James 4:8, Come near to God and he will come near to you. (that’s just one of the over 7,000 promises in the Bible)

Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” C.S. Lewis

Faith is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger our faith will become. No, we cannot see God, in his flesh and blood, but as we admit our need for him, believe in him with all of our heart, and acknowledge our faults to him, our lives are forever changed and then we see him EVERYWHERE we look.

We may not know the future,

but perhaps Christmas 2019 will be a season for

drawing closer to the ONE who does. 

And speaking of not knowing the future, as a UGa 1980 Graduate, I would love for you to check out this great blog post entitled “Farewell Coach”.

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from Forgotten Forever, by Max Lucado, the passage that Pastor Ike read to us yesterday morning.”

I was thanking the Father today for his mercy. I began listing the sins he’d forgiven. One by one I thanked God for forgiving my stumbles and tumbles. My motives were pure and my heart was thankful, but my understanding of God was wrong. It was when I used the word remember that it hit me.
“remember the time I…” I was about to thank God for another act of mercy. But I stopped. Something was wrong. The word remember seemed displaced. It was an off-key note in a sonata, a misspelled word in a poem. It didn’t fit. “Does he remember?”

Then I remembered. I remembered his words. “And I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 Max Lucado

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