Can We Simply Do The Next Kind Thing?

IMG_8542What if every one of us simply the next kind thing?

What if every human woke up and made an intentional decision to do the next kind thing with everyone they encountered on that new day? How would our tumultuous world be different if we were simply kinder? I believe this is a question Daniel Lubetzky had pondered before he founded The Kind Movement in 2008.

'No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.' Aesop

Did You Know? The spring-board for this movement was a line of healthy products that were first developed in 2004. They are sold everywhere and you have probably tried one or two of them. They are still a popular choice 13 years later. So the next time you grab a delicious snack called a KIND bar, think about the origin of this treat!

The KIND Movement is a mission to inspire kindness. Small acts or big, this movement encourages it—from writing a thank you letter to someone who deserves it to volunteering with an organization you care about. Every day, our community (aka YOU!) brings us one step closer to our goal of making kindness a state of mind.

Need some inspiration for your kids or for yourself?

Click Here for some printable kindness cards produced by The Kind Movement.

Or here for a cool kindness checklist!

Was there bullying in your childhood or in the childhood of someone you love? Sadly, this was the case for founders of the Kind Campaign, Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson when they were college classmates. Their attempt at growing more kindness in our world is now  an internationally  recognized nonprofit organization that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting girl-against-girl bullying through their global movement, documentary film, in-school assemblies and educational curriculums.

One more way to show kindness to those in our path is to put our phones away! Our phones are becoming a wall between us hindering communication and intimacy with one another.

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

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

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

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

We Will Never Forget!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our friend, Will Kramer shows his respect.

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

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

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

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

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

Related Posts You May Have Missed:

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Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day: Know The Difference

Never Forget

The Hospitality of Gander, New Foundland

Man’s Best Friend

To Stay Fit: Don’t Just Sit

What Is Happening? Write It Down! A Quick Idea For Remembering

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lots of memories and mementos in these little books

As a Mommy, Daddy, Grandparent, an Aunt, or any other position you can name, does your special little one do and say unforgettable things? I bet he or she does, like ALL THE TIME. But as the moment goes by, the laughter has silenced, the memories may have a tendency to fade. One of my favorite things I did for both of our children was to write them notes now and then. These short letters are compiled in these Precious Moments books shown above.

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a 1996 entry from Leah’s little memory book
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an 1992 entry from Walker’s little memory book just a month after he landed into our family
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pictures included in Leah’s little memory book

I know it may feel like “one more thing to do”, but these little books have sparked countless discussions as I have read aloud portions on special occasions such as a birthday or a graduation. Here’s what I did. I simply recorded my thoughts in the form of a “Dear Leah” letter and a “Dear Walker” letter.  And your special loved ones don’t have to be in their youth either…they could be grown and live away and you could simply share some musings you have about them. Of course, if they are grown, you could actually mail them a real letter, which can be so so much more meaningful than a text or an email.

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another entry from Walker’s book

I started Leah’s book when she was a few months shy of her second birthday, and Walker’s when he was a newborn. My last entries were made for both just after their two weddings took place in 2014. There are some blank pages, so who knows? Maybe, I will make more notations in there at some point.

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a Thanksgiving note to our son, Walker, when he was 2 1/2

What a fun thing for them to have … notes about their childhood, and this will also be a cool thing to share with their own children some day. This post is not meant to make any one of you “feel bad” for not having done this particular thing with your own children. Everyone and every home is unique and this is just something I wanted to share with you that we did. Memories are alive no matter what we might do to maintain them. Perhaps many of you reading have grown children, or no children, and are wondering who you could now write notes to? A grandchild? A neighbor child, family child whom you are watching grow up?

'In the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.' Abraham Lincoln

This can be a very simple, yet meaningful activity. And it can be cathartic as well, because it allows us to get down on paper some of our heart thoughts and affirmations about one that you dearly love. All you need is a blank book of your choice and a pen or pencil. Here below are a few of the entries in Leah and Walker’s little memory books. Why not start today?

Dear Leah,                     February 5, 1996

We are out of school today for snow and ice. I guess Walker has been getting to you…(as siblings often do!) because today you told me you wanted to put him outside on a stand with a sign that says: “BROTHER FOR SALE ONLY $5.00!”  

Love, Mom

Dear Walker,               December 22, 1995  

Dear Walker, I guess you are ready for a bigger bed, because you fell out of your race car bed last night. I think it scared you because your were crying so hard and your heart was beating like crazy! Daddy and I got you a new twin bed for Christmas and you are going to love it!  

Love, Mom

I hope some of you will consider starting a little “Dear_________________ Book” for someone who means the world to you. This is really way easier than a “baby book” or a “scrapbook” that can sometimes feel too daunting. I included photos, ticket stubs, and even flocks of hair from a haircut in a ziplock bag with a date.

You will not be disappointed with the opportunity to share the collection of memories!

Related Posts You May Have Missed:

Five Ways To Love Well

Five More Ways To Love Well

The Love Letter Challenge

Children Are Wet Cement: Make The Right Impression On Their Lives

Leave A Notation

Yesterday, Tomorrow, Today

Pack A Shoebox Full Of Love Plant Seeds Of Compassion

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Leah (age 12) and Walker (age 8) help organize canned goods shared by our friends Christmas 2000.
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Leah and Walker surrounded with shoeboxes they pulled together with a little help from their friends.

When I think about when our children were small, in our home, and growing day-by-day, one of my favorite memories is definitely the times we had a bunch of our friends over to our home for a service project. Whether it was a MUST Ministries Summer Lunch Party or an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Party, we always had so much fun and I believe seeds of compassion were planted not only in our two children’s hearts, but in the heart of every child who came. I believe children learn best by example, especially when they are small, impressionable, and growing. These parties helped to make Leah and Walker who they are today, married grown-ups who care about others they may find in their path.

If you still have children  or teens under your roof, or even a grandchild who lives nearby, you may want to take advantage of this opportunity to plant seeds of compassion into the hearts of the ones you are helping to mold.  Simply invite a bunch of kids and break them into small groups of 4-6. Assign a Mom volunteer or two to hang with each group and then rotate the groups through 3-5 stations. The stations might be : 1-story time where you read them a book about this shoebox ministry or another story about the importance of helping others, 2- wrap shoeboxes with gift wrap 3- pack boxes with items, 4-a coloring/craft station, and 5-a snack station.

Or here is an idea! If you are a grandparent, put together a box for a child who is the same age as a grandchild!

Actually, this would be a fantastic project for anyone of any age, because we all know how good it feels when we make a difference in another human’s life!

Click here to watch a quick, cool video about this service project.

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You should be able to pack a shoebox for between $25-$45, while the impact you will have on a child in need is priceless.

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How To Pack Your Shoebox for a trip around the world:

1. Get a shoebox and decide if you want to pack it for a girl or a boy and choose the age category-2-4, 5-9, OR 10-14.

2. Select a quality “WOW” toy such as a doll, soccer ball with pump, or stuffed animal.  

3. Fill with other fun toys, hygiene items, and school supplies.

 4. Most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift, include a personal note and a photo.  

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This list will aid you when it is time to drop your gift shoebox between November 14-21, 2016.

5. Donate $7 cash (place in shoebox with your items) to send your gift overseas. Discover the destination of your shoebox through Follow Your Box online (www.samaritanspurse.org/occ)  

6. Take your shoebox gift to a local drop-off location during National Collection Week: November 14-21, 2016.

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img_6475Time is short. The National Collection Week is November 14-21, 2016.

Leah and I will be shopping in the days ahead to put together our two shoeboxes. How about you? Use the hashtag #ipackedashoebox to share your experience.

We Can Get Advice From A Trail Beauty From Ashes

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a recent gift from my friend, Kathy
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The Virginia Creeper Trail on October 15, 2016. Taylor’s friends ride on!
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Taylor’s Shelter from the storms of life…

There are life lessons to learn at every turn…even from a trail.

One week ago today, Donny and I were in the quaint town of Abingdon, Virginia for another visit. Many, like us, drove from all around to attend the 2nd annual Rails To River, Ride For Taylor, gathered to celebrate a life well lived. As I took the 8.5 mile bike ride from the Abingdon trailhead to Taylor’s shelter on the Virginia Creeper Trail, I kept thinking about “beauty from ashes, he brings beauty from ashes.” How does one bring beauty from ashes? Only God, our Creator can do that and on this Saturday, October 15, 2016, we witnessed again and again him doing just that, bringing joy to sorrow, bringing beauty from ashes. I know God’s working, so I smile.

...and provide for those who grieve, to bestow on them a crown of beauty, instead of ashes, the oils of joy, instead of mourning, and a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3 NIV

As the day continued at Alvaredo Station, we saw examples over and over of this very thing: Nearly 200 hundred gathered… a gorgeous sunny, fall day… a wonderful bluegrass ensemble…loads of family and friends together… an inspirational word from the Virginia Creeper Trail Club President… Taylor’s buddies traveling from far and wide, even from Hawaii to join in the celebration of Taylor Heston Read’s life… “Taylor’s Prayer” being read in unison by all the guests led by his Dad, Paul Read, and many more examples of God bringing beauty from ashes.

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Taylor’s Grandfather, David and Taylor’s Mom, Kelly, listen as Paul shares with the group.

Speaking of “Taylor’s Prayer”, his Dad, Paul shared the back story with the folks that gathered to celebrate Taylor. Paul said:

“Whenever we were about to say grace, Taylor would eagerly agree to bless the meal, knowing that I may take entirely too long if I was the one who gave the thanks. So Taylor was known for his short, simple, yet meaningful prayer.

Dear God, Thank you for everything we have and hope everybody's okay. Amen Taylor's Prayer
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Paul Read, Taylor’s Dad makes remarks before leading us all in Taylor’s Prayer at the 2nd Annual “Rails To River, Ride For Taylor
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Taylor’s shelter is located here along The Holston River and beside The Virginia Creeper Trail.
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Hanging out in Taylor’s Shelter!

WE are all looking for good things. We are all seeking joy. Sadly, sometimes, “good things” and “joy” can be very difficult to find. That does not mean they are not there, though. It may be easier to understand this as you read here below the inspiration shared by VCTC President, Wayne Miller at the 2nd annual Ride For Taylor:

There is a story in Genesis 21 about Hagar and how she was lost in the wilderness and suffering from thirst.   The text casually mentions in 21:9 that “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.” It does not say that God instantly created that well on the spot, or that the Almighty tapped a little celestial H2O into her canteen. Instead Hagar’s eyes are opened to a water source that has been there under her nose all along.  One real spiritual life task is simply showing up, being open to God’s grace and care wherever we are. What we need is here, but sometimes we need new eyes to see it. Like Lucy and Edmund who walked through an old wardrobe to emerge in C.S. Lewis’ wonderfully, magical land of Narnia, we too are called to walk through life with our eyes open, ready for the impact when a glance at the familiar suddenly points to the holy, to God. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote in her poem, “Aurora Leigh”: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush aflame with God. But only those who see take off their shoes.”

The parables and teachings of Jesus feature many natural objects: seeds, rocks, birds, flowers, streams, trees, and I believe Taylor would have added fish to the list. Jesus used such familiar sights to direct attention toward the ordinary, and on the sacred, revealing truth about the invisible God. Jesus picked up something utterly mundane and said, “The Kingdom of God is like this.”

The Virginia Creeper Trail, then, is a laboratory of the spirit, for the hidden Hagar in all of God’s children. In this era of rugged individualists, we are wooed into believing that we ‘make it” in this world through self-generated sweat and ingenuity. We foolishly become our own gods, often unaware of our desperate need to connect with the true God. Though linear in direction and precise in termini, the Creeper holds infinite possibilities for grace around every corner, every milepost, and trestle. Here on this trail my eyes have been opened on more than one occasion to wells I’d never noticed before, wells offering the gift of refreshment from a Source completely outside of self.  

Linger.

Look.

Listen.

Drink deeply of the Trail’s secrets, as Taylor did.

What we need is here.

(Note: original devotion was penned by former Pastor Frank Honeycutt of St. John Lutheran Church, Abingdon, VA)

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WE will ALWAYS miss Taylor! Forever, until we see him again.  His legacy lives on. Click here for the song You Should Be Here, that makes Taylor’s Aunt Allison think about Taylor every time she hears it being played.

Click here to listen to a new rendition of an old beloved hymn, sung by The BYU Noteworthy Members, 9 “angel-like” women singing out in nature by a river.

Earlier Posts You May Have Missed:

We’ve Got Your Back

How Do We Describe Grief?

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

Peace Like A River

Where Is He?

It Is Well With My Soul

A Grace Disguised

4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

A few more pictures from our day:

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Joan and Kelly, friends for 40 years, just before we head for the trail for the 2nd Annual “Rails To River, Ride For Taylor!”

Your Beautifully, Messy, Complicated Life Story Matters Share Your Struggles

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Today, October 13th  was my Father-In-Law’s 86th birthday and our family joined him for dinner at Daybreak Village Senior Living to celebrate.We took him a new watch to help him keep time, since he recently misplaced his.  Our family has continued to look after him since he joined us in our community on March 14, 2015, and his life and legacy continues.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a post called Every Beating Heart Has a Story, and I hope you will click here to read it if you missed it.

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Hiking through Northern Italy over Lake Como was an amazing experience! (Sept/October 2016)

As Donny and I recently hiked through Northern Italy above the stunning lakes, Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Como, I found myself thinking about the statement “every beating heart has a story’, as we trudged up steep inclines with our walking sticks. I pondered my own personal story and how I had often felt compelled to share details with one other, or a small group of others who were trustworthy and nonjudgmental. Invariably, those whom I shared with were “beating hearts” I believed God put in my path to potentially be strengthened by my adversity, my weaknesses, and my journey of overcoming struggles. And that is, in part, why I keep returning to The Barbara J. Crafton Extension Center, a residential home for women who are recovering from substance abuse. As we collage together, every other Wednesday morning, we share our stories and we gain courage and strength from each other. We can all leave a legacy of love as we transparently share our struggles, our weakness, our failures, and our victories with others. Now, I am not suggesting you blurt out all of your life issues at every turn, in fact, my long-time friend, Sara, has cautioned me against that! I am saying that we all have an important story, and God can use our story in mighty ways to encourage another human being.

If only we are still enough to hear his voice, his prompting in our spirit. (See Psalm 46:10)

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My bucket of collage supplies: “YOUR beautifully, messy, complicated STORY MATTERS”

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10/5/16 With artist, Holly Irwin, and my painting, Country Summer, a 2013 Mother’s Day gift from my family.

On October 5th, at our usual collage workshop,we were delighted to have a guest, artist, Holly Irwin, join us to share her story. As the girls worked on their collages, Holly talked with them a bit about her goals and dreams and how life does not always turn out the way we hope it will.

Holly encouraged each one of us by sharing her artist’s statement:

Illustration boards flowing with ink washes and curving black lines ………elegant drawings of women in beautiful dresses and yards of fabric everywhere………..art classes every Saturday morning for years………this is my background, this is how I grew up as the daughter of a fashion illustrator, and it has all culminated in a love affair with figure drawing. The figure and the dress have become my creative voice, a way of expressing powerful emotions using the language of color, line and composition. Sketchbooks everywhere………I unwind by loosely sketching and scribbling, usually in the form of a figure or a dress. Some of my finished paintings find their beginnings there; others start with a sketch from a live model session……always intuitive, based more on emotion than reality.

Texture is important in my work because our lives are layered and textured. I paint with modeling paste, gel mediums, acrylics and oil paint using brushes, spatulas and palette knives. My works on paper are evidence of my love of line drawing, pen and ink.

I search for the girl that lives within me, searching for ways to paint her feelings and emotions. I always come back to her. This is why I paint.

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Here are some of the collages, using some of Holly’s artwork, that the girls created as. we visited together.

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14720421_10207750862995211_2269835270547777806_nWE NEED EACH OTHER ON THIS JOURNEY CALLED LIFE.

Who can you and I bring encouragement to

by sharing part of our stories today?

14642218_10207750863075213_5517547754717545121_nRelated Posts You May Have Missed:

Caring For Our Parents: 3 Tips To Help Us

Every Beating Heart Has A Story

Give And It Will Be Given Unto You

My Own Little World

Five Reasons We Should Volunteer

Speak Life

The Disease Of Addiction Is Real: Hope Is Real, Too

Learn To Love Yourself Despite The Struggles: An Interview

Who Is In Our Path? Let’s Take Time To Notice.

Every Beating Heart Has A Story Joey and Rory's Story

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Joey Martin Feek (9/9/75-3/4/16)

I saw a movie this past Tuesday night that was offered up for a two-night showing by Fathom Events. The next one is scheduled for October 6, 2016, if you decide you want to see it after reading this. The title of the movie is “To Joey, With Love”. Have you heard this story? You may have followed their journey on Rory’s Blog, This Life I Live.

Telling the truth and being real; feeding my family a home-cooked meal, that's important to me. That's important to me. Joey Feek

Seeing it has given me just one more certain reminder that every beating heart has a story, and Rory Feek, Joey’s husband wanted to be sure his late wife’s story was told. And now, I feel compelled to share it here with you.

Seeing this reminded me that none of us know how our stories will go. Life is full of uncertainty; with  no way to foresee what challenges or blessings await us. But as Rory shares this story, he assures us that though we may not know our story that is to come, we can trust, and hope, and have faith that God will bring “good” to our story, whatever that may turn out to mean.

“Some may have the wrong idea about the Christian life. Once they become believers, they may expect “smooth sailing”. Yet, God makes it clear from the beginning of the Word to the end that troubles are inevitable for those who call themselves His. Christ’s life was no exception: He endured false accusations, rejections by His own people, and betrayal by a close friend-to name just a few. As His followers, we expect difficulty. We can choose to look elsewhere for comfort, or we can use our hardship as a source of growth. No matter how painful the trial seems, let’s not waste the opportunity.” Dr. Charles Stanley

If we knew what was going to happen around the corner, we wouldn't get up in the morning. My Mama, Polly Shivers Walker

You see, Joey and Rory Feek were married in 2002, and had their first child together, Indiana in February of 2014.  Before parenthood, Joey and Rory had made quite a name for themselves as a country and bluegrass duo, but together they decided to take some time off on their Tennessee farm to bond with their newborn baby girl, Indy. Without telling you their whole story, I am hoping I have told you just enough to peak your interest, so that you might google them, or even better, find a theater that is showing their story on October 6, 2016. More than 750 theaters had a showing on the night that I went. You can click here to find tickets by putting in your zip code: A Story of Life, Love and Hope, that never dies.

Sometimes when you don't know what to say, you don't know what to pray, these hymns help. The hymns are here for us in the really tough times. Joey Feek

One of my most favorite songs that Joey and Rory sang together is “That’s Important To Me”. Click here to have a listen to it. Later, Rory and Joey complied “Hymns That Are Important To Us.” and you can hear part of their collection by clicking here.

Feeling broken hearted and blessed all at the same time this morning...watching my beautiful bride pour a lifetime of LOVE into a few minutes. Rory Feek, March 2016, in Joey's last earthly days
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Joey Martin Feek (9/9/75-3/4/16)
Yet you, Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Isaiah 64:8

As I often say, life is not a dress rehearsal, it’s the real thing! Rory Feek shared that Joey lived several months longer than expected, but every single day, she LIVED. Just like she lived before she was ill, as though each day was her last. Do you and I live each day like that? I don’t, but I want to. Let’s Just Do It!

Related Posts You May Have Missed:

We Are Called To Be Brave

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

It Is Well With My Soul

Where Is He?

Peace Like A River

A Grace Disguised

The Simple Things

Give: It Will Be Given Unto You Just One More Reason To Give Back

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My friend, Donna sells art to a patron and offers 20% of the sale to benefit my girls at The Extension.  I am learning that there are a lot of reasons to give to others. It helps the recipient. It feels amazing to the one who gives. And The Word reminds us that it comes back to you when you share with others.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38 New International Version
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Artist, Dirk Walker paints our event “live”.
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Thanks to dk Gallery in the historical Marietta Square, I had the chance to share about my Collage Workshops at The Women’s Extension.
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A work of art, a collage project, by Lauren, one of my Extension clients
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Art With A Heart Event at dk Gallery on September 17, 2016

This past Saturday was a special evening in my life.

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Our friend, David Brewer tickles the keys beautifully for all of us to enjoy.

More than fifty guests gathered at the beautiful dk Gallery to learn about The Barbara J. Crafton Women’s Extension in Marietta, Georgia a place I have volunteered for since 2009.

Volunteers are love in motion. Unknown
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Our beautiful friend, Rebecca wins the final project in a silent auction. A Dirk Walker original featuring her husband, David on the keyboard.

The event was called Art With A Heart and there were so many giving hearts that night, including our dear and talented friend, David Brewer who played a keyboard for us, along with artist, Dirk Walker who painted the evening “live” for us, and Donna, gallerist since 2008, who graciously opened her gallery space for us to gather in. There were delectable desserts donated by Gabriel’s Desserts and Miss Mamie’s Cupcakes.  In addition, Deb  Willyard of Blue Dragonfly Catering prepared many delicious treats. The evening could not have come about without the tireless help from our small committee, Donna, Deb, Tina, and Cher.  An alumni from The Extension, Abby, bravely shared her story with our guests. We also had other much loved artists present, Holly Irwin, Susan Easton Burns, and Thomas Arvid, all who offered their amazing work as auction items to benefit the women at The Extension. Thanks to all who attended or made donations to this cause.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

This coming Saturday, September 24, 2016, there will be a Yard Sale to benefit The Barbara J. Crafton’s Women Extension located in Marietta, Georgia. This center is a safe haven, a residential refuge for women who are dealing with the disease of alcoholism and/or drug abuse.

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And if you live nearby, YOU can help!

Many of our friends have been downsizing and moving into smaller homes, so if this describes you, you may have already given most of your unused items away.  But if you do have a few things to give, that would be great!

If you live in Cobb County, and assuming I will be able to fill up my truck’s tank soon,  (some of you may not know that six states including TN, VA, GA, SC, Alabama and NC are in a state of emergency because of a fuel pipeline break) I would be happy to come to your home to get your donations any time today through Thursday if you send me a private message with your address.

I have decided that keeping a home organized is definitely a life-long project. I wrote about this in an earlier post entitled 10 Things That Organized People Do Every Day. Now, I have to say, I do not do these things daily, but it is a good goal to work towards.

So if at all possible, show up with a few household items that still have some life in them. These will be sold to benefit the brave and warrior women I have had the privilege to work with for the past six years.

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Dirk Walker’s “live” painting of our extraordinary and unforgettable evening.

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Addiction Is Real. Hope Is Real, Too.

10 Things Organized People Do Every Day

Humble And Kind

Five Reasons To Volunteer

Change Of Heart

The Simple Things

Websites To Check Out:

The Extension

Davis Direction Foundation

dk Gallery

Books You May Want To Check Out:

Broken: My Story Of Addiction And Redemption

Between Breaths: A Memoir Of Anxiety And Addiction

Drinking: A Love Story

Moments Of Clarity: Voices From The Front Lines Of Addiction And Recovery

Wrestling And Seeking What Do You Think?

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

I have been wrestling lately about how I can better express to my friends here on Pages From Joan the reality of my personal faith journey. 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 is 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.

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

While I now consider myself more of a Christ-follower than a member of a certain denomination, I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church with my five brothers and sisters. At age nine, I professed belief in the Lord, Jesus Christ. As I grew, I believed God had my back, but I chose to stray away from a close walk with Him, for approximately ten years of my life. 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, 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, and I believe He has been wooing 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:

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 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)

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.

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:

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

Related posts you may have missed:

Peace Like A River

Where Is He?

Joy Comes In The Morning

Thank God He Has A Forgetful Nature

Bridge Across My Sorrows A Difficult, But Important Read

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Bridge Across My Sorrows is a book I picked up during the summer. I suppose I will always be drawn to books about true people and how each one faced their own unique challenges in their life. Maybe it is because I have my own personal obstacles I have had to face, and this motivates me to read story after story of how an individual conquered their life’s trials.

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Christine and her sibs. (1950)
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Sunshine kids take a nap.

The 315 page paperback book I just finished is no exception. Another true account, Bridge Across My Sorrows, by Christina Noble with Robert Coram, like me, will surely send you realizing the potential there is within a beating heart. Noble rises above unimaginable and despicable poverty from a life of being a street child in Dublin, Ireland, to go on to make a shining difference in the lives of street children in Vietnam.

We see a human spirit of shining dignity courage and resilience--it is not a surprise when she ultimately turns her life into a magnificent act of love and generosity. Mia Farrow's remarks about this Noble's story

Seriously, her life between birth and well into her adulthood is so heartbreakingly painful, that I had to put the book down and breathe for a moment.

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These were two of Christina’s first sights upon arriving in Vietnam.

So why would I want you and others to read such a story right here in the midst of a hot summer’s end, as school buses are rolling again? I would say the main reason to read it is to be inspired by Nobles indomitable courage in the face of violence, neglect, and abuse. Christina Noble has risen above and beyond all of that.

WE CAN, TOO, no matter our life circumstances. This book has been made into a 2014 movie, entitled NOBLE: A Fearless Life A Reckless Love,  which stars Deidre O’Kane, Sarah Greene, and Gloria Cramer Curtis as Christina at different seasons in her life journey. If you have Amazon Prime, you can view this movie for free.

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Christina with two of her sunshine children. (1993)

What true stories—from either a movie,play, or in book form have impacted the choices you have made in your life journey? Think about it!