Muscle Work Let's Make The Change

I read a devotion this morning that reminds me that Life takes Muscle Work and 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.
Here below are some specific things offered by A + A Wellness, a group  founded on the belief that everyone deserves how to live the healthy lifestyle. For more great tips, check out their website here.
This list can be applied to all kinds of muscle-building in our lives.
We CAN  begin to incorporate more muscle and discipline into our days.
A + A Wellness Information
What is it for you and for me that we would like to change and alter for the  days ahead? 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!

Unbroken Circle Of Life, Love 5th Annual Rails To River Bicycle Ride For Taylor Read

Kelly, her brother-in-law, Brian, and her Dad, Jess, are ready to hit the VA Creeper Trail!
Joan and Delo on the Trail! WE met at TTU in 1976, over 40 years ago! The circle of life and love grows bigger.

We experienced an unbroken circle of life and love this past weekend as we  once again gathered to celebrate a life well lived. The 5th annual Rails To River  is held every October to celebrate the life of Taylor Read, who left us too soon in March of 2015.

Kathy, Kelly, Delo, and Joan are ready to hit the VA Creeper Trail for the 8-mile trek to Taylor’s Shelter!

A unique shelter, designed by Taylor’s sister, Megan was dedicated during the first ride in 2015. Following an 8-mile ride on this scenic trail, Taylor’s shelter is the destination for a picnic, Bluegrass music, and fellowship with friends and family.  The day could not have been more perfect. The late summer heat had finally lessened, the rain stayed away, blue skies were wide open, and fall was truly in the air on the Virginia Creeper Trail.

'Dear God, Thank you for Everything we have, and we hope everybody's okay.' Taylor's Prayer

Wayne Miller, the past president of the Virginia Creeper Trail shared a few words: “We can all experience Heaven while on this beautiful trail that Taylor loved so much. Taylor’s Spirit has been felt all day on the ride and now at his shelter. Let’s all enjoy this very special day.”

Yes, Taylor was with us, with many of his friends from both high school and college, many now married and a few are new parents. Taylor was with us, with his cousins, his Aunt Allison and Uncle Brian from GA, his grandparents from VA, TN, and GA. Taylor was with the dozens of The Read’s friends who watched him grow from a baby into a handsome young man. A guy who loved his family so much. Taylor loved people, golf, baseball, and God. A student who worked hard in school and loved hanging out with his friends. Taylor was with us as we remembered the day we received the unexpected news of his passing, but more than that, we recalled the days that he lived, laughed, and loved.

'We're not going to build just a little lean-to for our Taylor.' Becky Matney

Megan Read expressed the appreciation of her entire family, to the crowd of over 200. Family and friends have helped in wonderful ways to help keep Taylor’s Legacy alive. As the designer of the shelter, Meg  also talked a bit about the background of the design and structure that was approved and built in seven short months. Click here to read an earlier post and see pictures of the months of building Taylor’s shelter.

Taylor’s Sis, Megan Read traveled from San Diego, California to share the trail with us!

As I looked around the shelter area and under the big, white picnic tent, I was moved by the wide variety of ages present on Saturday. Babies, babies, and lots of children, too, were all around for Taylor’s celebration. There were no less than four “pull-alongs” for those littles who are not quite old enough to bike the trail.

This circle of Life and Love is growing and Taylor Heston Read’s Legacy is expanding, too!

Leah, Scott, and Tripp Andrews, our family.
Our grandson, Tripp one-year-old on 8/24/19 prepares for the kickoff of his very first VA Creeper Trail ride.

Extra special for our family was having our first grandchild, Michael Scott Andrews, III, “Tripp”,  riding in one of those pull-alongs, towed by his strong Dad, Scott. Having Leah, Scott, and Tripp experience this meaningful weekend with us for their first time was just so awesome!

And our friend, Kathy Owen joined us from Pensacola, Florida for her first Taylor’s Ride. I bet it won’t be their last. We loved having my college friend, Delores and her Mama, Pat join us all in our Air BNB in Abingdon!

So, the next time Summer is drawing to an end, we’ll be making our plans to make the annual trip to SW Virginia, an area that has become dear to our hearts, just like Taylor Heston Read has.

Previous Posts about this inspiring family, The Reads, that you may have missed:

Leaving A Legacy

We Can Get Advice From A Trail

How Do We Describe Grief?

Standing At The Crossroads, Trying To Read The Signs

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

35 Life Reminders For You And For Me

Life Reminders For You and For Me, Whether We Are Young, Old, or In Between

No matter our age, we are all here to help one another. Helping those younger than we are and those older than we are will add spice to our own lives. These life reminders will make our life sweeter, too!

My precious daughter, Leah, with her loving Aunt Laura Lea, Lake Blue Ridge

1. Make your bed every day; even if it’s right before you get in it. But I recommend doing it first thing.

It sets you up for a great day ahead.

2. Don’t wear ‘holey’ underwear. Ever. You deserve to feel decadent at all times…regardless.

3. Travel light through life. Keep only what you need. This includes people.

One of my sisters, Kathy and me

4. Put butter on your biscuit , and twice as much when you miss me. Add some fig preserves to remind yourself that comfort can be unusual.

Kelly and Megan, Taylor’s Shelter, October 2015

5. It’s okay to cry when you’re hurt. It’s also okay to smash things; but, wash your face, clean your mess, and get up off the floor when you’re done. You don’t belong down there.

My sister, Mary Ann, serving at a clinic with my beautiful niece, Amy

6. If you’re going to curse, be clever. If you’re going to curse in public, know your audience.

Peg and Marilyn, October 2017, Abingdon, VA for Taylor’s Ride

7. Seek out the people and places that resonate with your soul. Check in with yourself…a clenched jaw, heavy heart or cranky tummy is your sign to bail.

College Reunion # 39 Marietta, Georgia 2017

8. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And just because you shouldn’t doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the chance. Just be smart about your risks.

9. 5-second rule. It’s just dirt. There are worse things in a fast food cheeseburger.

10. Happiness is not a permanent state. Wholeness is.   Don’t confuse these.

Pam and Wanda, May 2017 Lake Blue Ridge Women’s Retreat

11. If you’re staying more than one night, unpack your bag.

Robin, Rhonda, and Susan, The Dinner Team at our May 2017 Women’s Retreat

12. Never walk through an alley.

13. Be less sugar, more spice, and only as nice as you’re able to without compromising yourself.

Aimee Copeland  founder of Aimee Copeland Foundation, empowering people of all abilities to lead fulfilling and joyful lives

14. Can’t is a cop-out. BIG TIME. Step UP. Google It. Teach yourself. Don’t be mediocre.

A Hike on our Women’s Retreat May 2017

15. Hold your heroes to a high standard. Be your own hero.

16. If you can’t smile with your eyes, don’t smile. Insincerity is nothing to aspire to.

17. Never lie to yourself. EVER. Embrace your delusions…and get on with it….

Leah doing one of her favorite things, surfing!

18. Your body, your rules. Always.

Paddle boarding on Lake Blue Ridge

19. If you have an opinion, you better know why. If you don’t have an opinion, admit it and ask questions so that you can form one.

Hiking Mt. LeConte with girlfriends in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, June 2016

20. Practice your passions. Every. Day. No exceptions!

21. Ask for what you want. The worse thing they can say is no. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

My brave and beautiful niece, Pamela, Mommy to two. Here with son, Roman.

22. Wish on stars and dandelions, then get to work to make them happen (leave room for magic)

My beautiful niece, Emily with her niece, Noelle

23. Don’t skimp on good sheets. Like underwear and lovers…only the best should ever touch your skin.

24. Fall in love often. Particularly with ideas, art, music, literature, food and far-off places.

Artist, Holly Irwin visits The Women’s Extension with me 2017

25. Fall hard and forever in love with nothing but yourself.

My Girls! Leah and Jessica, Summer 2016

26. Say Please, Thank You, and Pardon Me, whenever the situation warrants it.

27. Reserve I’m sorry for when you truly are.

28. Naps are for grown-ups, too. Indulge.

29. Question everything except your own intuition.

Sunrise Cruise GG, 2016 Lake Blue Ridge

30. You have enough. You are enough.

Cocktails and Carols with David Brewer, December 2016

31. You are amazing! Don’t let anyone ever make you feel you are not. If someone does….walk away. You deserve better.

32. No matter where you are, you can always come home.

There Is Always A Road You Can Take Back Home

33. Be happy, say your prayers and remember your roots.

Our first two grandchildren, Elizabeth and Tripp. Their arrival in late 2018 has changed everything for my husband and me.
My Mama, my best friend, (1927-2006)

34. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

35. No one will ever love you more than I do

                          Copied, Author Unknown

*I would love to know what you would add to this list! Comment Below and share with those you love the very most in this life.

Mustard Seed-Sized Faith Brief Time To Unplug

'Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes...including you.' Anne Lamott, American novelist and non-fiction writer
Markay Gallery Art Workshop, Marietta Square, April 2018.
Hiking in The Rockies, June 2018.

What is mustard seed-sized faith? A mustard seed is tiny. Having faith that size is surely better than having no faith at all. Did you know? The mustard seed in the parable grows to be a huge tree, just as our small faith grows into tremendous faith over time, as we trust in God.

2018 has been a year for extra reflection on my part. My 60th birthday was on August first. Our first two grand babies were born in the past two months.

Two of my sisters, Laura Lea and Mary Ann meet Tripp, born 8/24/18.
I am taking a few minutes out with Elizabeth, born 9/7/18.

The birth of these two littles feels like God has filled up a gallon jug full of His Grace, and poured it over my head!

All of this has caused my heart to desire a time to unplug…a time to Be Still, a time to think. All of the above requires intention, which I have a lot of these days.

My Mama used to say…”We all need a chance for our bodies to catch up with our souls.” And speaking of Mama, I have been hard at work again on my book about the lessons I learned from my Mama. I truly hope to have the book in hands by the end of 2019.

For those of you who have attempted this, you know how scary writing a book can be. I plan to continue to face my fears, which thankfully gives me strength for each new day.

Thoughts by Warren Buffett (1930 – an American business magnate, investor, speaker, and philanthropist):  

“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe deeply and allow things to pass.”

'You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ' I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' ' Eleanor Roosevelt, American First Lady (1884-1962)

Many thanks to each of you who have followed me on this Pages From Joan journey. If you have been here for long, you know that these posts, my daily thoughts, my legacy of love stems from my Mama, Polly Shivers Walker. (December 20, 1927-October 24, 2006) I long for the day I will see her again.  Until then, I see her face when I am present with my sisters at our quarterly Sister Session.

Our Quarterly Sister Session

See you in a couple of weeks right here on Pages From Joan. Meantime, let us be encouraged,  facing our fears with godly confidence. Let us cling  to our faith. Small faith, like the size of a tiny mustard seed, is better than no faith at all. As followers of Christ, we can be assured that this world with the heartaches, tragedies, and challenging circumstances, this earth is not our home.

'The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a mustard seed, say, you would tell this mountain, 'Move!' and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn't be able to tackle.' Matthew 17:20 The Message

Time Zone

Author Unknown

New York is 3 hours ahead of California, but that doesn’t make California slow. Someone graduated at the age of 22, but waited 5 years before securing a good job. Someone became a CEO at 25, and died at 50. While another became a CEO at 50, and lived to 90 years. Someone is still single, while someone else got married. Obama retired at 55, while Trump started at 70. EVERYONE in this world works based on their own time zone. People around you might seem to be ahead of you, and some might seem behind you. But everyone is running their own race, in their own time. Do not envy them and do not mock them. They are in their time zone, and you are in yours. Life is about waiting for the right time to act. So relax. You’re not late. You’re not early. YOU are very much on time. 

'...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.' Isaiah 40:31

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Leaving A Legacy

Why I Write

Musings On Marriage

The Disease Of Addiction Is Real. Hope Is Real, Too!

Four Questions For God

Standing At The Crossroads, Trying To Read The Signs

Wrestling And Seeking

4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

Authentic Prayer

Three Touchstones Of Showing Up

7 Reflections From A Movie same kind of difference as me

Published about the time my Mama received her cancer diagnosis, in June, 2006, same kind of difference As me: a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together co-authored by, Ron Hall and Denver Moore is truly an unforgettable story. I remember vividly, reading this book in a waiting room while Mama received her treatment. Afterwards, I shared copy after copy with friends and family.

Set in the Lone Star state of Texas, the book is now a major motion picture, opening on October 20, 2017. Click here to listen to Brad Paisley’s hit song for the movie, Stubborn Angel.

We have extra time on our hands here in St. Louis, between nursing, changing, and cuddling with our new granddaughter, Elizabeth Noel Page. Yesterday, our daughter-in-law, Jess and I decided to take in an afternoon movie while Elizabeth’s Daddy was at school.

Without giving away the whole story, based on true events, here are a few quotes by the authors of this story:

“If you really serious ’bout helping’ somebody, crawl down in the ditch with ’em, bandage up their wounds, and stick with ’em until they is strong enough to crawl up on your back ands get out.”

“The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in-between, this earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So in a way, we is all homeless—just workin’ our way home.”

“When you is precious to God, you become more important to Satan. Watch your back.”  

“There’s something I learned when I was homeless. Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin’ you can do, that’s when God takes over.”

“I found out everybody’s different—the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin’  down the road God done set in front of us.”

~Denver Moore~

“To love a man enough to help him, you have to forfeit the warm, self-righteous glow that comes from judging.”  

“Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpected can also take you over and change your life. Put a heart in your body where a stone used to be.”  

~Ron Hall~

“So in a way, we is all homeless…just walkin’ our way home.” Denver Moore, same kind of difference As me

When you take time to read this book or see the movie, I am wondering what thoughts you may have afterwards?

My Reflections:

1) love always wins

2) regardless of our race, gender or place of origin, we are similar in more ways than not

3) we all put our pants on one leg at a time

4) each of us can reach one who is in need

5) when we help someone, we are encouraged and changed

6) life is brief and kindness matters

7) judgment is never okay we never know where one’s shoes have trod

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Hungry and Cold

What’s Happiness? What’s Joy?

Have A Care Kit Party

Joy Comes In The Morning

A Stocking Stuffer For Teens and Young Adults

We Can Embrace It

Eight Ways To Share With Others

The Calvary Kids

My Own Little World

Having A Bad Day?

Path Littered With Hard Circumstances?

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

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

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

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

Measure in Love. Seasons of Love.

Just three weeks ago, my friend, Gloria and I were sitting in the Wellstar Kennestone Hospital Labor and Delivery waiting room. Gloria, who is our son-in-law, Scott’s Grandmother, asked me, “Joan, are you still writing blog posts on your Pages From Joan? I have not been getting any lately on my email.”

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

This brief conversation reminded me that I truly had been wanting to get back into writing posts for my Pages. Connected on Facebook with many of you on my Monday Mood, Tuesday Thoughts, Wholehearted Wednesday, Thursday Talk, and Friday Food For Thought weekly posts, I knew, however, I had missed posts here on the web.

Thanks for that question and your constant encouragement, Gloria!

Yes, it is the middle of September.

A couple of weeks ago, in Marietta, Georgia, I was sitting outside in the early dawn holding a steaming, black cup of coffee with our lab, Gracie. An owl in the distance was finishing  his hooting for the night as we sat. My mug with an image of a yawning, sleepy-eyed baby in hand. Our new grandson. Our first grandchild.

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

Here I am again hoping to add encouragement and inspiration to our lives.

Right at a time in our journey when a whole new adventure is beginning for us.  As of Friday night, August 24, 2018, we became first-time grandparents with the birth of a boy named Michael Scott Andrews, 111, also known as Tripp. Rolling into our world, three weeks early, Tripp weighed 5 lb. 2 oz. and measured 17 1/2 inches long.

My girlfriend, Rita meets Tripp for the first time.

Mommy, our daughter, Leah, and baby are doing splendidly with the constant help and aid of Tripp’s new Daddy, Scott. Watching Leah and Scott work as a team to nurture and care for this little guy has been nothing short of remarkable. Early on, Tripp required an around-the-clock feeding every two hours, even if this meant waking him up from a deep slumber to accomplish this.

And now, I find myself sitting in our son’s family home in University City, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Just over a week has passed since the arrival of our precious little baby granddaughter, Elizabeth Noel Page. Our two children had due dates that were one day apart. Our grands had a different plan and surprised us with birthdays in different months, two weeks to the day apart in age. Relieving Jessica’s parents who have been so helpful during Elizabeth’s first week of life, I am staying here for the next several nights to cook, do laundry, oh, and I might hold our new granddaughter a little, too.

Oh, and I am not sure if I told you this…neither family wanted to find out the gender of the little one until the baby announced it him/herself on the birthday! After all of the fun and surprises during childhood, there are so few events to be curious and surprised over in adulthood. Not knowing if we were having two girls, two boys, or one of each added fuel to the fire of excitement!

Getting to know our 2nd grandchild, Elizabeth

Ecstatic. Overjoyed. Contentment. Grace.

These are some of the descriptions that have come to mind at this season of our life journey.

I’ve been surprised by how much I have missed my Mama during this past few weeks. My three big sisters have helped share the excitement and enjoyment of our two new grands. However, Mama was right beside me at my time of first-time motherhood in October, 1988, and I have longed for her to be with me as a first-time grandmother.

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

Thankfully, I’ve had the blessing of being next to Leah, along with Scott’s Mom, Cindy, who has been such a help to her. I am also getting the chance to spend time with our son and his bride as she experiences first-time motherhood. I am in awe with how calm and at ease both of our girls have been with their little ones.

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

Besides that, it has astonished me how the memories of my experience as a first-time Mommy to Leah have come pouring back to me.

I did not know how much my husband Pop and I would love these new little people, the children of our children.

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

I now know why they call these children GRANDchildren. Tripp and Elizabeth are surely grand to us.

My hope is that you and I will be inspired, encouraged, and learn new things as we journey on together through my PAGES from Joan.  My goal to stay fit physically, spiritually, and emotionally has never been stronger than it is today. A grandmama, “Jojo” who plays on the floor and initiates adventures with these two grands is who I aim to be.

The Beat Goes On!

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Fertile Prayers

St. Louis With Family

Solitude: 7 Ways To Find It

A Mother’s Wisdom: Five Lessons Learned

Five Ways To Love Well

Five More Ways To Love Well

It Is Well With My Soul

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

Peace Like A River

How The Soul Grows Through Grief

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

Where Is He?

Wrestling And Seeking: What Do You Think?

Four Questions For God

Thank God He Has A Forgetful Nature

Being Brave Living Life With Everything You Have

Being brave, living life with everything I have, is something I have been giving my best shot at for most of my life.

I wrote my first blog post in 2015 about bravery. This post is titled, We Are Called To Be Brave. Click here to read my post about the courage of Aimee Copeland.

My husband, Donny and I were checking in for a flight. We were headed to St. Louis, Missouri to visit our son and his wife for Easter Weekend, 2018. Outside the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, we encountered a massive crowd of very young men and women. Dressed out in full U.S. Army gear climbed off a bus carrying heavy and huge dufflebags, one in each hand. Just seeing them made my heart sing with American Pride.  “Thank you for your service!”, I said repeatedly as we made our way through the multitude.

“Are you in this group, this Army Unit?”, I asked a young woman in front of us. She was also entangled in the masses. Answering me, she exclaimed quickly, “Oh, no, I am not that brave.”

As we patiently made our way past these youthful servicemen and servicewomen, I considered this girl’s words. I reflected on how many souls walking around among us consider themselves less than brave. I know that up until recently, I have spent decades feeling less than brave. Nevertheless, I am changing. I hope you will be inspired after you read this post. Inspired to make a change, too. Perhaps you will be more courageous, as well.

The weekend of December 9, 2017, we attended the funeral of a warrior woman by the name of Jule Furr. I had known ‘Jules’ for years and was well aware of her four decade battle with cancer. At age fifty-four, Jule went on ahead leaving behind her precious family. After hearing stories of my friend on that frigid, snowy Georgia day, I decided I wanted to be more brave. You can read my post about this friend, Fighter Jule Furr Takes Her Leave, here. 

 February 9-10, 2018, my friend, Julie invited me to attend a nearby Women’s Conference. An IF:Gathering.

The road to courage is lit by God's wisdom. Author, Annie F. Downs

Sometimes things happen when we least expect it. Thankfully as a Christ follower, when things come up, I can be sure to trust in God for direction.  At this meeting, I heard a well-known speaker for the first time. This speaker, Annie F. Downs  also has an inspiring podcast that I have been listening to. “That Sounds Fun With Annie F. Downs” is what it is called.

From my hometown of Marietta, Georgia, it felt like Annie F. Downs was speaking straight to me. Two decades younger than myself, Annie spoke about many things I had grown to know and understand. My ears perked up when she began to emphasize “being brave”. You see, I had already felt my God wooing me, calling me (though not audibly <smile>) with His still, small voice to be brave about some specific circumstance in my life journey. It had become a stronghold in my days. It was something that was taking more than it was adding to my days. This something needed to be addressed if I was planning to have a purposeful and fulfilling life between now and dead.

Now, my particular situation is irrelevant to you as a reader of this post. (‘Cause it’s personal, ya know!)  Therefore, I do want to encourage you, to look inside, to look at how you could be more brave with some specific circumstances that are unique to you.  ‘Cause somehow, I don’t believe I am the only human that has lacked courage in making a needed change.

His Word is a lamp for your feet. Psalm 119:105

Let’s All Be Brave!

That’s the name of one of Annie F. Downs’ books that I have just finished reading. At the risk of being dramatic, this book has been life-changing for me.

Many times I pass on a book when I have finished reading it. This time I will be keeping my copy and rereading my high-lighted sections.

With Easter, the Holiday of Hope 2018 now in the books, how can you and I show more bravery in the weeks ahead?

Let’s all be brave!

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Are You A People Pleaser? Five Tips To Help You Stop (or wisdom from a Recovering People Pleaser <smile>)

Who’s In Our Path?

We Are Called To Be Brave

God Bless America and Beyond

It Is Well With My Soul

The Sandwich: A Courageous Conversation

Joy Comes In The Morning

The Simple Things

Five Lessons From A Garden

Spirit Fruits Are Real

Wrestling and Seeking

The Long and Winding Road

Easter Sunrise Service 2018 at the World’s Fair Pavilion, St. Louis, MO with our son, Walker, daughter-in-law, Jessica, husband, Donny and me
Easter Sunrise Service at the World’s Fair Pavilion in St. Louis

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Have Faith To See Follow This Example

Helen Keller, as a child with her amazing teacher, Annie Sullivan

Have faith to see. Here is an inspiring example to follow.

It is difficult to find in all the treasure-house of biographies a life story more thrilling, dramatic, and fascinating than that of Helen Keller. I am convinced Helen Keller was a woman of both faith and action, despite her inability to see or hear from the age of two. Seriously? Can you imagine even giving up one of these God-given gifts? I cannot.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

“In one of Helen Keller’s letters she told Bishop Brooks that she had always known about God. even before she had any words. Even before she could call God anything, she knew God was there. She did not know what it was. God had no name for her–nothing had a name for her. She had no concept of a name. But in her darkness and isolation, she knew, somehow, she was not alone. Someone was with her. She felt God’s Love. And when she received the gift of language and heard about God, she said she already knew.” from Phillips Brooks and Helen Keller.

Think On That! WOW! I love during our quietest times and in our greatest adversities, God makes His presence known to us.

A prolific author, Keller was well-traveled and outspoken in her convictions. A member of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World, she campaigned for women’s suffragelabor rightssocialismantimilitarism, and other similar causes. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971 and was one of twelve inaugural inductees to the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame on June 8, 2015. Keller proved to the world that deaf people could all learn to communicate and that they could survive in the hearing world. She also taught that deaf people are capable of doing things that hearing people can do. One of the most famous deaf people in history, she is an idol to many deaf people in the world.

Based on Keller’s autobiography, published in 1903,  The Miracle Worker was first performed as a play (1957) and later became a movie (1962). The story is about how Anne Sullivan had an amazing impact on Helen’s life as her teacher. At only 20 years of age, Sullivan showed great maturity and ingenuity in teaching Keller and worked hard with her stubborn pupil, bringing both women much acclaim. Sullivan even helped Keller write her autobiography.

I have loved the inspiring story of Helen Adams Keller, born June 27, 1880 for decades. I tend to give away a lot of books after I have read them, but my paper back copy of The Story Of My Life will stay a part of my personal library forever. Did you know? Keller’s birthplace in West Tuscumbia, Alabama is now a museum.

Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880-June 1, 1968)

I am wondering. Has this post caused you to recall a special soul that you’ve admired? It may be a well-known person, like Helen Keller, someone in your community, or even a family member. Whose life example are you following as you go through your days?

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Common Warriors: Part One

Common Warriors: Part Two

The Beauty Of Sight

Rules Of The Red Rubber Ball

What’s Happiness? What’s Joy?

Four Questions For God

Fighter, Jules Furr Takes Her Leave

Standing At The Crossroads, Trying To Read The Signs

Your Beautifully, Messy, Complicated Life Story Matters

Brooke Ellison

Wrestling And Seeking

Four Questions For God Time Of Solitude In A Monastery

With four questions for God, I recently took a time of silent solitude for 48 hours in a monastery. Those who know me well will find that unimaginable. <smile> I truly did, though, as I arrived on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at the Monastery of The Holy Spirit located in Conyers, Georgia. The ecumenical retreat house welcomes people of all faiths. A silent retreat is something I had considered doing for a long time. Now going on age 60 in six short months, one of my mantras is “Dream of it, then do it!”

I sensed God calling me, so I answered by reserving a small room in The Retreat House for a 48 hour stay. I am not claiming to have heard His audible voice. I never have, and perhaps never will this side of heaven. I did, however, have ‘a quickening’ in my spirit, and I am so thankful now that I responded. For any details you might like to read about this unique and sacred place, click here to visit their website.

The room consisted of a twin bed covered with a soft comforter, a desk with a lamp, a chair, and a place to hang my clothes. The shared bathroom was right outside my room. The meals in the silent dining area were both simple and filling. Snacks, fresh fruit, coffee and tea were available 24/7.

The community of monks, 40 strong, gathered five times each day to read scripture, offer up prayers for the world, singing and chanting the verses in unison and in harmony. It was truly a beautiful experience. I made it to every prayer time, including the 4:00 a.m. Vigils on both Wednesday and Thursday. I didn’t want to miss a thing!

As I spent my hours in silence, I noted 4 questions I asked of God:

(1) What do You want to teach me here?

(2) How can I be more Christlike in any given situation?

(3) How can I best love/support my husband as he begins a season of part-time work?

(4) How can I best love/support our two married children and their loves in the current circumstances of their lives? Both couples are coming up to four years of marriage and are expecting their first child September 2018.

As I experienced the many shared prayer times, my own contemplative prayer time, took intentional time in The Word, and created a few collages, I found myself in a very sacred space. One I will treasure, always.

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is located close enough to Atlanta to allow a day visit for most.  The Visitor Center is open Monday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Monastery grounds are open to the public every day. 2-3 hours is the suggested time for a day visit. All are welcome to join The Monk Community during their prayer times, a time they are dedicated to praying consistently for our world. And The Lord knows how much we need these prayers more than ever. Guests will also want to enjoy nature walks while admiring the exquisite architecture, taking time out from the busyness of life.

In addition to joining The Monk Community for worship in the Abbey Church, visitors will want to take time out to visit the fascinating Monastic Museum full of images telling the story of how this place came to be. In the museum, there is also a video to watch about the life of the monks at the Monastery.

Posted in the Monastery Kitchen

There is a Monastery Garden Center and the Abbey Store where visitors will find many special and unique treasures, including books, crosses, and much more.

The stunning Abbey Church at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Georgia

For those interested in a little more structure and an overnight visit, many weekend, as well as midweek retreats are available in 2018. Some of these include Emotions: “Our cross and our crown” (Feb. 5-8), Embracing Deep Rest In Turbulent Times (Feb 9-11), Spiritual Rx for Stress and Anxiety (Feb. 23-25), Contemplative Prayer (Mar. 19-22), Image Faith & Photography (May 11-13), Yoga and the Christian Contemplation (May 25-27), just to name a few. The entire retreat schedule can be found on the Monastery website. Click here. 

Seen in the Monastic Museum during a self-guided tour, the Monk’s robes and hats from the original group who started this Monastery.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

This time of solitude and silence and contemplation was certainly time well spent for me.  I do realize that many cannot carve out the time for a day visit to a Monastery, much less an overnight stay. I recommend a time for solitude for every soul, but I recognize that this is nearly impossible for most. Therefore I encourage you to find small ways to be alone and quiet. A hot bubble bath? A walk in the woods? A visit to an open small sanctuary? With timer set, sitting in a comfy chair alone? I bet you, too, can think of some way, somehow, to have some quiet, solitude, a time of rich and rewarding contemplation.

“Be still and know that He is God.”

Psalm 46:10

In the hallway on the way to the dining area, there was a framed prayer by Theologian Thomas Merton. I found myself reading and rereading it several times each day. I wanted to share his thoughts with you.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) an American Catholic writer, and theologian.

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Solitude: Seven Ways To Find It

Standing At The Crossroads

There Is No Expiration With Our God

What Is Happiness? What Is Joy?

Wrestling And Seeking

Where Is He? He Is In Us

It Is Well With My Soul

Brevity Of Life

Thank God He Has A Forgiving Nature

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Fighter Jule Furr Takes Leave This Inspiring Angel Will Be Missed

This passage in Romans 5 perfectly describes the wonderful and brave woman I am lucky enough to call my mother. Even on her worst or saddest of days, she still shines the brightest light and takes refuge in her faith. I would never come close to the person that I am without you as my Mom! Jordan Furr

My friend, Jule Furr, took her leave just before Thanksgiving on November 22, 2017. Jule and I were heart friends and this inspiring angel will be sorely missed. You can read her brief bio here.

You can also read a blog post about Jule’s life story, Part 1 that was written in 2014 by Melony Brown: Courageous Women Overcoming Life’s Tough Challenges.

And you will find Part 2 of this blog post by Melony, here.

Her Celebration of Life Service is on this Saturday, December 9th at 1:00 p.m. at Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence, by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.' Eleanor Roosevelt

Jule faced cancer early in her life as a junior high student. Battling the disease for decades, when others asked how she was feeling, she was in the habit of responding, “Oh, it ain’t nothing but ‘a thang’!” with a courageous and joyful smile on her face. Whether she was dealing with loss of hair, bells palsy, or any other yucky side effect of her continual treatment plan, Jule maintained her sense of humor and her determination to live.

I've always thought I was touched by God and He chose me for a reason. Because of my struggles, my faith is stronger. I want people to see Jesus in me. We are here to shine a light. Jule Furr

Jule was treasured, loved, and fought for her life daily to be with her family, husband, Bryan, daughter and son, Jordan and Christian (called Fuzzy). Jule Furr considered these three her greatest gifts! The Furrs were married over thirty years. She felt blessed to have him as her husband and best friend.

Over time, many of us came to call her “Jules”. When I asked her about this, she proclaimed, Well, I am ‘a jewel’ you know, I’m a ‘Daughter of The King’!!”

It is honestly difficult to describe this woman who changed the world with her birth on February 27, 1964. Number five, she  joined four sibs, sisters, Mary Ann, Kathy, Linda, and one brother, Chris. Funny story, upon her birth, her Daddy announced that he would nickname Jule “Banana” as the 5th one in the bunch, but the kids disagreed!

First living in Charlotte, North Carolina as newlyweds,  Jules and Bryan Furr soon moved to Georgia where they raised their two babies in Marietta.

My story with Jules began when we were Moms together at Eastside Christian School in the late nineties . Though I lost touch in recent months due to the severity of Jules progressive disease, our friendship is one I will cherish in my heart forever.

Here, I will share a few anecdotes from our time together.

In 2000, I was preparing to raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer 60-Day Walk from Gainesville to Atlanta. Having gone through this cancer herself, Jules was not strong enough to participate. However, she did want to help me raise funds. A participant was required to raise a minimum of $1,500.00 and our children held a Dog Wash to help. (I still laugh when I recall our son, Walker, age 8 at the time asking me if he could put out a “tip jar”!)  Along with my friends who were walking with me, Kathy Owen and Jil Cain, we raised nearly 10 grand! Jules, alone gave me a total of $820.00 the week of our walk! While registering on Day One, a woman in front of me was dismayed because she was unable to reach her financial goal. You guessed it, she was right at $820.00 short and I happily gave her Jules donation funds. Wow, was that a cool, God Wink!?!

Also, in 2000, when battling breast cancer, Jules’ fear for her two young children’s reaction,  soon gave way to inspiration. Soon, she penned an original story called, “The Scarf Game”, and it was published just a few weeks later. The 23 page story book which never mentions the word “cancer” was written from her daughter, Jordan’s perspective. The creative story line explains how both Jordan and Christian learned to tie scarves on their Mom’s bald head to help her when she was not feeling so well. This is just another example of the courageous and positive outlook this dear friend held in life.

During a particular season of illness, during the school year of 2007-2008, Jules and I would talk on the phone often. She shared with me that when she felt down and discouraged, she would list the things she was most grateful for…her husband, Bryan, Jordan, 8th grade at the time, and their son, Christian, 4th grade.

One time when I was at Chemo treatment with Jules, her nurse, Cindy Deminsky, said about Jules, “She is a treasure, treasure, treasure!” In Jules’ usual humored way, she quipped, “No, you are! I’m just an addict!”

Jules always expressed to me how much she valued her girlfriends. Back in the day, she thoroughly loved her “Southern Living Ladies Lunch Club”. They would dress crazy for gatherings and when Jules was ill, they took two-hour shifts to stay with her.

We must meet the unknown future by bringing to bear everything that has been shaped by us in the past. John O'Donohue, Irish Writer (1956-2008)

I am convinced Jules relied strongly on her faith as she journeyed through life, and she would want everyone to know this!

Jule Furr defined life and never allowed life to define her. Her smile changed the world, but she never let the circumstances of her world change her smile.

Jules favorite verse can be found in Romans 5:1-5. Emphasizing both peace and hope, it is definitely worth taking the time to read.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God. Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)

Those who knew Jule were blessed, and those who did not have an opportunity to meet Jule will be inspired by her life and adopt her stories to strengthen their own hearts.

It is now time to celebrate the life of this unique and special daughter, sister, mother, wife and friend to countless gals who will miss this inspiring angel so very much, including me!

Loss is loss, and I will be praying for this precious family during this time of grief. I will also be lifting up the many others I know and love who have lost in 2017.

RIP my dear warrior friend, Jules Furr. See YOU Later!

Related Post You May Have Missed:

Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

Standing At The Crossroads, Trying To Read The Signs

How Do We Describe Grief?

It Is Well With My Soul

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

Run To The Roar

Hurting Hearts, Painful Paths

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