Water the Tree 9 Ways To Take Care Of You In December

IMG_0692How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon.  Dr. Seuss

Though this post was originally penned in 2014, this list of nine ideas still applies today. I am looking to take care of myself this December, and I hope you will, too.

Our fresh, nine foot Christmas tree is beautiful and smells amazing. When we picked it out on Sunday, we had the folks at the Calvary Children’s Home tree lot cut the end off so the tree would be even fresher. As we all know, it is important to water a freshly cut tree daily to ensure that the needles stay in place until we ring in the new year on December 31, 2014. As I watered the tree again this morning, it made me think about ways you and I can take better care of ourselves during this season.

Nine ways to take care of YOU in December:

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(1) Start your day with breakfast. Donny and I have gotten to where we must have a green smoothie as often as possible to help us jumpstart our day. (** see bottom of post for our smoothie instructions.)

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. a Chinese Proverb

(2) Exercise often. Studies have shown that even a 20-30 minute walk can change the way you feel.

(3) Drink plenty of water. The Kennesaw Mountain National Park makes sure all those puppies who hike there are well-hydrated.

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(4)  Practice deep breathing in the car, in bed just before you rise, anytime, anyplace. (The 4-7-8 exercise: breathe in for count of 4, hold for a count of 7, breathe out for a count of 8, emptying lungs completely. Repeat.)

IMG_0697(5) Practice your faith on a regular basis. Reading my Bible helps me to keep my life in perspective. *There are many free on-line devotions we can connect with. My friend and college roomie, Susan, lives near Knoxville, Tennessee. Susan and I both read My Utmost for His Highest regularly and frequently email or text about something we have read. Our small group meets weekly in my girlfriend Sara’s home, and we are currently studying 1 Thessalonians. We all agree that the more we read and discuss, the thirstier we are for more study. You may consider reading a Proverbs a day. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs and there is so much wisdom to be found there. For example today, December 3, Proverbs 3:5-6 speaks to my heart and encourages me:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him. and he will make your paths straight.”

*You may want to visit Insight for Living or Daily Bread for spiritual inspiration.

(6) Make and keep a running list. It feels great to mark things off!

(7) Call a friend to share what’s on your mind. Life is full, difficult, and challenging. Sharing what is on our hearts with a trustworthy friend can be very cathartic.

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If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.  George Burns (1896-1996) an American comedian, actor, and writer

(8) Reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves. I try to have $1 bills or a few coins on hand to insert into The Salvation Army’s red bucket when I hear the ringing bell. That small act makes my heart happy.

(9) Make yourself a cup of hot tea, put your feet up and rest, if even for a few minutes OR take a few minutes out for a hot bath.

 As you nurture your tree by watering it, consider ways you can take good care of yourself, too. It is my belief that if we consider doing these nine things, our December will be a little calmer.

** Our smoothie consists of kale, celery, cucumber, orange, apple, 3 kinds of berries (use fresh or frozen), banana, steel cut oatmeal, flaxseed meal, unsweetened almond milk, and coconut water. I don’t follow a recipe, I just use what I have on hand. These can be poured into a solo cup, covered with foil with a straw and ready to grab as you walk out the door. We have found the fridge shelf life for these is about 2 1/2 days.

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12 Reasons Why I Love Nurses and their Profession

I seriously thought I always wanted to be a nurse since I was a very little girl. My Mama was a registered nurse and so was my sister, Mary Ann. My Ob-Gyn Daddy thought it’d be fine to have more medical people in our family, so he encouraged it. In high school, I was invited to observe a simple medical procedure. There was a little blood there, but I thought I was handling everything fine. That is until my Daddy and the attending nurse told me to sit down quick and put my head between my legs. Unbeknownst to me, my face had turned the color of the white sheet on the examining table, just short of a blackout, and that ended my dreams to be a nurse. I am glad I chose Elementary and Middle Education after that incident, because being a teacher has been a highlight in my life.

Did you know?  Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was the founder of modern nursing and more than 59,000 American nurses served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II.  During the years of 1943-1948, the U.S. government provided free education to all nursing students.

“Always thank your nurse. Sometimes they’re the only one between you and a hearse.” Warren Beatty, American actor, producer, screenwriter, and director (1937- )

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3 generations of R.N.s…l to r, my sis, Mary Ann, her daughter, Amy, and my Mama, Polly Shivers Walker, Amy’s GoodMama
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We are so proud of our daughter-in-law, Jessica and her diligence in graduating from the Auburn University Nursing School, in May 2014, passing her difficult boards one week before marrying our son, in June 2014, and landing her first job in St. Louis where Walker is continuing his education at SLU. Jess is working on a post-op thoracic surgery floor and though she finds the work very difficult, she tells us that she loves it and is learning so much at the Barnes-Jewish teaching hospital.

“What is a nurse? To go above and beyond the call of duty. The first to work and the last to leave. The heart and soul of caring.” Anonymous

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Mama, far right with her nursing school classmates.

In addition to my Mama and my sister, Mary Ann, I am proud to know all of the Registered Nurses in my life…girlfriends, Kelly, Penny, Sara, Sandy, Trish, Kathy, Pendy, Cindy, Marie, Karen, Mary, Paula, and Stefanie, two of our sister-in-laws, Kellie & Lisa, our daughter-in-law, Jessica, our two nieces, Amy and Rachael, many of our friends’ children Abigail, Brittany, Meghan, Lauren, and more.

“When you are a nurse, you know that EVERY day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours.” Anonymous

Following are twelve reasons why I love nurses and the nursing profession:

(1) Nurses are patient, compassionate, and have a servant’s heart.

(2) Nurses are a great asset to their families and make wonderful friends. They are the first ones to help when there is an accident and they offer TLC when it is needed.

(3) Nurses have a remarkable work ethic.  Most hospital shifts are 12 hours long and a nurse is on his/her feet for much of the 12 hour shift. Many nurses find themselves working well beyond the 12 hour shift in order to finish all of their work.

(4) Nurses are smart and knowledgeable.

(5) Nurses can work in a wide variety of capacities. Many of my friends are nurses and some of their jobs have included being a school nurse, a wound-care nurse, a research vaccination nurse, a health department nurse, and a flight nurse, just to name a few. Nursing also offers much advancement in the field, such as the career path chosen by our friends,  Karen and Malorie, who are Nurse Anesthetists.

In addition, Nurses make a priceless addition to a medical mission team.

(6) A nurse is not an alarmist.  Nurses bring a calmness to stressful circumstances.

(7) Nurses are highly skilled and efficient.  They are well-trained and prepared to start an IV, administer meds, or give a shot.

(8) Nurses are thoughtful and loving.  In a medical situation, fearful patients are encouraged by the kindness of their R.N.

(9) Nurses mourn with patients and the family members of patients. November of last year our family was preparing to accept the news that it was time for our Daddy to be moved to Hospice and the nurse wept with my sisters and me.

(10) Nurses are perceptive.  People who are ill don’t always know what they need. Good nurses think ahead and look out for the best interest of their patients, knowing what will best bring comfort to their patients.

(11) Nurses help us care for our critically ill loved ones and our aging parents.

(12) Nurses model how we can be caring towards our own loved ones.  When our son-in-law became ill with the flu over Thanksgiving, his wife, Leah, who works in marketing was a loving caretaker for him.

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Nurses are resourceful, too. Check out this creative Christmas tree made of latex surgical gloves!

Pass this to the NURSES in your life to show them your appreciation.

Hope Amidst the Fragility of Life Wisdom From Dr. Albert Schweitzer

Leah and Walker on the Wheaton College, IL campus , June 2010.

“Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.” Albert Schweitzer, German, theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary to Africa (1875-1964)

It’s a rainy day in Georgia as the community of Ferguson, Missouri waits. Nearly 7,000 miles away, tensions mount, MO Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency, and the FBI has been called in. While I have no worries about them being nearby, our son and his new wife live in St. Louis, only 30 minutes where all of this turmoil is taking place.  The Nation is waiting to hear whether or not Police Officer, Darren Wilson will be indicted for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 19, 2014.  Thankfully, Michael Brown, Sr. and his wife are strongly discouraging violence and even have folks giving out free turkeys to residents of Ferguson as a gesture of kindness. I am thankful these grieving parents are aiming to set the right example for those in their path. In addition, Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President states that the organization has always stood for non-violence.

I hope and pray that this community can come to a peaceful resolution soon.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others.  It is the only thing.” Albert Schweitzer

I am reminded once again that we only get one chance at this life…this is no dress rehearsal and I want to continue to rise up and encourage others to do the same as we go forward in our daily journey. HOW, I ask, can you and I make a difference in the life of someone today? How can our example have a positive impact in the life of another?

One of my Daddy’s mentors and heroes in life was physician, Albert Schweitzer. This green plaque hung in Daddy’s home until he passed on.  Dr. Schweitzer was known for emphasizing reverence for life, as he sought to encourage respect for how precious and unique each life is. Winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for this philosophy , Dr. Schweitzer is most famous for his 1913 founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon, West Central Africa. His legacy lives on today through the service of and to others in this hospital.

“The purpose of human life is to serve, to show compassion, and the will to help others.” Albert Schweitzer

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“I have always held firmly to the thought that each one of us can do a little to bring some portion of misery to an end.” Albert Schweitzer

“The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” Albert Schweitzer

How does Ferguson, MO connect with the work and life of Dr. Albert Schweitzer  decades ago, one may ask?

We are all, each one, given the sacred gift of life, and I think film actress, Eleanor Powell (1943-1959) says it well:

“What we are is God’s gift to us and

what we become is

our gift to God.”

Hungry and Cold Each One Reach One

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“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa, Roman Catholic Religious Sister 

(1910-1997)

I honestly do not know what it would be like for one of my children or me to be hungry, thirsty, cold, and without a home. I can only imagine this as I did in the middle of the night last night.  My sock-less feet felt cold and I pulled the covers tighter and closer to my chin as I reflected on the truth of homeless people in our community.  I woke up thinking about these same, though nameless, people and knew I had to do something TODAY to make a difference in their life journey.  We are called to serve others, especially those in need.

“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” Mother Teresa

Fortunately, we have a very organized shelter close to us that gives aid not only to homeless citizens, but also to those who simply need a meal or a hand up.  Founded in 1971 by the Rev. Wayne Williams, MUST Ministries has been helping those in need in the Marietta, Smyrna,Canton, and Cherokee areas for over 40 years.  The Elizabeth Inn sleeps 40 men and 24 women and children.  The Loaves & Fishes Community Kitchen serves a free noon meal to current residents, as well as anyone else who comes by hungry. In addition, those in need, can pick up a supply of groceries four times a year. When I checked their website, I found a list of the particular things that would come in handy as MUST continues to serve those in need who live and work in our community.

Here is the list that I found:

Outreach Needs:

General Clothing/Shoes
Professional Clothing
Rain Ponchos
New Underclothes & Socks
Tarps and Tents
Flashlights and Batteries
Bath and Hand Towels
Blankets
Luggage
Jar/Pillar/Taper Candles (new or used)
Diapers sizes 4,5,& 6

Food Needs:

(All non-perishable items)
Canned Meats
Peanut Butter
Jelly
Dried Pasta
Boxed Dinners
Spaghetti Sauce
Cereal/Breakfast Items
Juice
Powdered Milk
Canned Fruit
Dry Beans
Oatmeal/Grits
Macaroni & Cheese
Flavored Rice
Bread/Muffin Mix
Sugar

When I headed out to take care of some early Thanksgiving food shopping, I took this list with me and picked up things to deliver to MUST.  The MUST Donation Site near me is located at 55 Chastain Road NW, Suite 110, Kennesaw and will receive your donations Tuesdays-Saturdays, 9 AM-5 PM.  They welcome your gently used clothing/shoes, coats, blankets, towels, and luggage.

With the unusual amounts of wintry weather already coming in, I hope after reading this you will research a donation site near you that aids the folks in your community. I also hope we will mark our 2015 calendars to clear out unwanted household items quarterly instead of just during the holiday season.  That is a personal goal of mine.

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In addition, I like to I keep a few pairs of warm, new gloves in my car to give to those I might see on the corner holding a scribbled cardboard sign. Our children still talk about giving gloves out to folks on the street on frigid days.

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MUST Ministries’ annual Gobble Jog, Thanksgiving 2009

On Thanksgiving morning, MUST will sponsor  The 12th annual Gobble Jog. If you have never participated, you will want to consider making this an annual event with your kids and your out-of-town family.

If we each do one thing to help these folks who are down and out, think what a difference we could make.  This reminds me of a story that I love…

The Starfish Story: one step towards changing the world

By, Loren Eiseley
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

*adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley, American anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer (1907 – 1977)

We might not be able to change the entire world,

but we can certainly make a difference in our immediate community.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” The Gospel According to Matthew 25:35-36; 40

Kindness is Better Than a Win

“It’s not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.” Evander Holyfield, retired

American professional boxer (1962-     )

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”  Aesop, ancient story teller  

(620 BCE-564 BCE)

IMG_0567Well, the big game, AU vs UGa, that took place in the Heart of the South is now in the history books and most that care anything at all about football know what the outcome was.  University of Georgia on top,  with a final score of 34-7.   The team that won, as expected, was the team that showed up in full force to win the game.  Sanford Stadium was as loud and electrifying as ever before and I am so glad I was one of the more than 92,000 in the stands, despite the near freezing low temperatures.IMG_0573

As I reflect on the day, my mind is not on football, but on friendship, family and kindness.  Donny, Leah, Scott, and I walked miles in very hilly Athens, Georgia to ensure that we connected with some long-time friends.  These friends are from many different seasons of our lives, including high school, college, early married years,  and early child-rearing years. Donny and I have been intentional about our friendships and many of these we saw before the game have been beside us for our parents’ funerals , our children’s weddings, and many seasons in-between.

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Debbie is one of a group of eight that I graduated from high school with. We are known as the FFs! Debbie and I were also roomies at UGa.
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With our life-long friends, The Wests. Keith is credited to introducing Donny to me on the UGa campus 36 years ago.
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Mr. B. and Donny were Dads together to our young children as we raised our babies on Fallsbrook Trace.

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

Helen Keller, American author, political activist, lecturer (1880-1968)

During this long and fun day, one of my favorite things to do is to people watch.  With this, I noticed many random acts of kindness, a college kid allowing a family of four to go ahead of him so that the family could stick together in the crowd, a guy buying a pizza for the students behind him in the concession line, and a police officer handing my daughter her headband that she inadvertently dropped while being admitted into the game, just to name a few.

I also witnessed some extremely rude situations throughout the day.  A fan behind us repeatedly taunting an opposing team fan in front of us (until I turned around and told him to stop!), another fan mouthing off loudly to anyone who would look in his direction as he was leaving the stadium.  These fans could’ve easily been from either team, but sadly they were from the winning team in both situations.

And finally, as our family was pulling out of the still very crowded parking lot, a truck was parked in the way with the driver sitting in it.  His window was opened, so I called out to him to please move up a little so that we could make our exit.  His reply was, ” Other cars have been able to get by me.” and he continued to sit there when there was plenty of room for him to move forward.  We were both in larger vehicles , pick-up trucks that require more space.  Slowly, I made my way around him through the very tight squeeze.  Seriously?!?

With thousands upon thousands of humans gathered in such a small space, this calls for an extra measure of patience and even more than the usual common kindness of people.  When in a circumstance such as this, we do not have the same personal space we usually have.

Sure, I love my Georgia Bulldogs, and since only one team could claim victory,  I am happy they triumphed last night.

Practicing kindness, however, is a clean sweep for both teams!

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Wedding Tips Things I Have Learned

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Leah, our daughter and Jessica, our daughter-in-law are engaged!

I have learned a few things about weddings as a MOB (Mom-of-Bride) and a MOG (Mom-of-Groom) since  I had the chance to be both this past year, within eleven weeks of each other.  Yes, our only daughter married in March 2014 and our only son was a groom in June 2014.  We are happy knowing that they have married well-suited partners and are looking forward to a bright future for both couples!

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Our daughter, Leah and her husband, Scott become one on March 29. 2014.
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Our son, Walker and his wife, Jessica become one on June 21, 2014.

Fall is a beautiful time for a wedding!  My parents , my sister, Laura Lea and her husband, and we were all married in the fall.  Most weddings, it seems, take place in the spring or summer months.  With that being so, you may be planning a 2015 wedding.  I hope the following lessons I have learned might benefit you:

Advice for the bride and the Mom of the bride (MOB):

Breathe Purposefully and Often (see breathing exercise below).
CRY as needed, and if you don’t want to cry in public, go cry in a pillow.
KNOW that the day will go by no matter what. Do your best to enjoy it.
Also KNOW that one or more things are likely to not go exactly as planned, so as stated above, simply breathe through the circumstances and don’t let a problem ruin these special, fleeting moments.
Laugh and smile whenever you can.

Be happy that your daughter has found the love of her life.

The demeanor of the MOB spills over to the bride which spills over to the groom. It helps for the MOB to be intentional about her overall attitude and well-being.  Exercise often.

Most importantly, PRAY a lot. Pray for His peace that passes all human understanding. The Bible says that those who seek Him will find Him every time. ( James 4:8 & Deuteronomy 4:29) Pray without ceasing, (1Thessalonians 5:16-18) sending up “arrow prayers” throughout the preceding days.
**And lastly, for the Bride and Groom, foster your faith together in God. “Though ONE may be overpowered, TWO can defend themselves, a cord of THREE strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

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FOUR-SEVEN-EIGHT BREATHING EXERCISE

Breathe in
through your nose,

for a count of  FOUR.

Hold for a full count of
SEVEN.

Breathe out
through your mouth
for a full count of EIGHT,
completely
emptying
your lungs.

REPEAT

I also learned a few things as a Mom of the Groom. It is truly a myth that the MOG must wear beige and keep her mouth shut.  Make yourself available for the bride, but recognize that she and her mom will likely be taking care of most details.  Keep communication open and always be ready to listen to whatever is being planned.  Stay connected to your son with one-on-one visits/phone calls/texts as much as possible.  Take JOY in knowing that your son has found a woman who loves him and that he wants to share his future with.  Pray for the couple and share Ecclesiastes 4:12 with them. On the actual wedding day, focus on the groom and his wedding party friends.  They will need to eat (a lot) and you can help attend to details that come up for them.

All in all, 2014 has been a memorable year. Six new babies were born into our family,  our son and his wife graduated from college, and both of our two children were married.

If you have been a parent of a bride or groom recently, you may have advice to add!  If so, please leave your thoughts below.

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Gulf Shores, Alabama, July 2014… 3 married couples

20140329LS_1142 jessica + walker_0440Walker and Jessica now reside in St. Louis, MO where he is continuing his education and she is a nurse.  I try to write them letters a couple of times each month, yes, actual U.S. Postal letters!  We also schedule FaceTime regularly with them.  Leah and Scott live nearby, so we are able to connect often with meals in and we exercise together.  Maintaining solid relationships with anyone, including married children, calls for intentional, conscientious choices.  My husband, Donny and I try to only give advice to the newlyweds when it is asked for, and even then, we give the “short answer”, dropping the subject unless the couple brings it up again.

With the holiday season upon us, I credit my much-loved Fernbank Elementary friend, Jan, who also has two married children, with teaching me that any holiday can be celebrated on any day, so let’s be flexible when it comes to sharing special days with our child’s in-law family.

Life is here.

Life is now.

Let us rejoice in Life.

My Mama’s favorite verse was:

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

NOTE: Since this post was first published in November 2014, both of these couples have become parents. Michael Scott Andrews lll, (Tripp) was born on August 24, 2018 and Elizabeth Noel Page made her debut on September 7, 2018. Donny and I are bursting with joy as we have welcomed our first two grandchildren within a two week period.

Elizabeth Page
Tripp Andrews

The Story Continues…

The Sandwich: A Courageous Conversation

sandwichWhen is the last time you were called to give difficult news to someone or have “that discussion” that you really don’t want to have?

I am very little inclined on any occasion to say anything unless I hope to produce some good by it. 

― Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the U.S.A. (1809-1865) 

Our pastor, Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard calls it a courageous conversation.

The next time you need to do this, try using the sandwich method. First, make a mental list of positive things you can share with the person you need to speak with and start with one of these. Next, consider how you will say, constructively, what needs to be stated. Finally, going back to your list of positives, end your conversation with one of these.

Positive***Negative***Positive and voila, you have had the courageous conversation that surely needed to be had and all is well with this vital relationship.

I hope you will try this the next time you feel it is appropriate to say something that is on your mind.

Nature Restores My Soul

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“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir, Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the U.S.  (1838-1914)

Our community is fortunate to have Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park nearby for both fitness and restoration.  Our yellow lab, Gracie and I took full advantage of this jewel a few days ago and just getting outside on a beautiful fall day did us both good.  As John Muir stated so eloquently here, “…my cares dropped off like autumn leaves.”

The park is filled with so many great trails. If you want to avoid the roots and rocks,  walk or jog on the mountain road. The road to the top of Kennesaw Mountain starts at the Visitor’s Center and is 1 mile each way.  This road also offers a challenging workout along with several spectacular long distance views.  You can stop by the Visitor’s Center at 900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive and pick up a Calorie Counter Hiking Map, checking out the historical museum while you are there.

Joining a girlfriend or two on the mountain is always a good idea!

Did you know?  Kennesaw Mountain was a physical barrier standing between a large Federal force and an important Confederate railroad and manufacturing center. The battle played an important role in a complicated national drama of bitter military combat and politics.

Where do you go to disconnect from the world and technology?

What place aids you in restoring your soul?

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Gifts Come From Hospitality

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[pullquote]“Your guests will not recall details about how clean or unclean, big or small your home is, or even what you wear. Those in your home will always remember how you made them feel.” Mama, Polly Shivers Walker (1927-2006)[/pullquote]

Mama taught me by example how to serve others through hospitality.

When she wasn’t serving veggie soup, cornbread and sweet tea to young and old alike, she was collecting homemade cakes on Sundays at our nearby church. My brothers, sisters and I were solicited to head to the nursery after worship to bring the donations to our car. These cakes would then be served, with a cup of refreshing lime sherbet punch to the Veterans at the V.A. Hospital on Clairmont Road in Atlanta, Georgia, and we were right beside her as we all served together.

With Mama’s help, I have learned that a number of gifts come from hospitality and I will share a few of those here.

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FUN and FELLOWSHIP

When folks gather in your home, you are almost always guaranteed FUN and FELLOWSHIP, especially when the group is connected to your own kids, as pictured here.

I recently had the chance to co-host a baby shower for mommy-to-be, Brittany P. This family has been in our lives for decades, so that made this September Saturday even more special for me. Brittany and her Mama, Susan are pictured here as the baby girl gifts were opened.

A gift that comes from co-hosting a party is TEAMWORK. It always feels good to be a part of a strong team. The ladies, Mary Lynn, Renee, and Rhonda who helped throw this party in my home were amazing!

Another gift you get to enjoy is yummy food, especially when the buffet is provided by group effort!

Though there are many gifts that stem from hosting friends and family in our home, I will end with these last two for today.

Opening your home and your heart might give you the chance to MAKE NEW FRIENDS and GAIN WISDOM.

New friends can be made, as well as rekindling relationships with those you have not had the chance to connect with recently. During this shower for Brittany, I met many new friends, including Brit’s cousin’s Grandma, Virginia H., and we became instant friends. You see, Virginia reminded me of my own mother, mainly because of the joy she exuded as well as her contagious smile. As we chatted, I soon learned that Virginia had recently entered into a new season of life, as her husband had died in November 2013, just two days after my father passed away. As we all know, death of a loved one changes everything and Virginia’s circumstances were no exception.

We had the chance to encourage one another while visiting at the baby shower. I made certain to get a few hugs from Virginia, as well, and she hugged just like my Mama.

As she was leaving, Virginia shared a book title with my friend, Debra O. and me, stating that the book had changed her life. As I added her number to my phone, I told her I would call her and we could discuss the book once I had a chance to read it.  And that is exactly what I did!

When we talked on the phone, we had an engaging conversation about Andy Andrews’ book, as well as the many seasons of a woman’s life.

GAIN KNOWLEDGE when you are with others
GAIN WISDOM when you are with others

EVERY beating heart has a story and I am so glad I didn’t miss out on hearing about Virginia’s journey as I opened our home for this baby shower.

What are some of the gifts you’ve received because you made the choice to be hospitable?

IT IS VERY LATE

Easter Weekend is here and I am up late waiting for our children to drive up to join us here at our log cabin in North Georgia. Our son, Walker’s plane from Dominican Republic was a little late, but thankfully, our daughter, Leah was happy to wait patiently for him and she will do the driving tonight. The trip is under two hours and she had a good nap this afternoon, so I feel certain, they will be fine!
Thanks for the comments you have left in response to my Blog. I really appreciate your thoughts and the connectiveness that we have as women.
I believe each one of us wants to know that we have a purpose here until we take our last breath…What that purpose is may not be readily clear to us.
One tool I have really enjoyed for the past two decades is personal journaling. I try to write an entry 3-4 days per week. At the end of the year, I reread my entire journal between the holidays of Christmas and New Years, highlighting common themes that “keep coming up” as I read…These end up being things I want to work on in the new coming year. Journaling has helped to shed light onto my purposes in my life.
One consistency that has proven to be true for me is a lesson my mother taught me and I have implemented more and more with each passing year. The lesson is that when I find myself feeling down or blue, I make a conscious effort to help someone else by making a difference, big or small, in his/her day. I really encourage you to try this and see how it works for you! Let me hear about your experience of making someone else’s day a bit easier.