What’s Happiness? What's JOY?

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What’s Happiness?

What’s Joy?

Donny and I recently made the 2.5 hour drive from Asheville, North Carolina to Blue Ridge, Georgia. Normally a scenic route along the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway, our drive was cloudy and smoky indeed from all the recent rain and flooding. In the passenger seat, I reminisced about our recent holiday season, considering the coming Christmas of dear friends who had a great loss in the past year.

An article posted recently by my friend, Mary K. gave me even more food for thought on this subject: 20 Hard Things You Need To Do To Be Happy.

As the miles slipped by in the torrential rain, I thought about what brings me the most happiness and joy.

I came upon my usual, steadfast three:

Faith….Family….Friends

Later, I ran across the following anonymous writing and it fit with my musings as we traveled last week:

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another.

Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough, and we’ll be more content when they are.

After that, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with.

We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our partner gets his or her act together when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice holiday, when we retire.

The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges.

It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. Alfred D. Souza

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time…and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until winter, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink…. there is no better time than now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Work like you don’t need money,

Love like you’ve never been hurt,

And dance like no one’s watching.

~Anonymous~

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So what will bring us happiness and joy in 2018?  

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Pictured here are some of my favorite things from the past years.

But as you will soon see…”The best things in life aren’t things at all.”

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The Reason for The Season
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celebrating Jim’s birthday on 12/20/15
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a Missouri map added to my bracelet from Walker and Jess
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a tiger added to my bracelet by Leah and Scott
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a copied poem and my “original art”
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an unexpected gift from my friend, Susan F.
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six out of eight of our FF group, friends since Fernbank Elementary
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my dear friend, Kelly
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GrandDaddy Page
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my teaching companion , in Rio and dear friend, Deb
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grands of our dear friends, The Carters
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loving the resemblance between my sis, Kathy and our daughter
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experience of JOY with these two on 11/14/15
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brings me JOY knowing this ornament is now on another Page tree
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thankful for Donna Kapper’s opportunity to give this bear a special journey….Read about this on an earlier post: “Tears To Teddy Bears”
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service in a Santa Shop with my girl
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fun with friends and family as David leads us in caroling
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Oh my, love these West girls, whom I have known since “utero” : )
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special friends, The Kramers, join us in our home
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“sister sessions” with my three sisters every couple of months
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33 years of marriage and still going strong…onward and upward…He makes me smile…
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Our niece, Katie with her first-born, Noelle…Read more about our six 2014 babies in an earlier post: “Carve Your Name On Hearts”
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~~~the memories of my parents are with me daily~~~
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Cindy’s  Christmas Eve, story time legacy lives on even after they are grown
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4 of us together at Krueger wedding
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2015 Fourth of July in Barcelona
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My big bro, John Wade and Jeanie…and Grandparents to this precious trio below
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A three-way “Heart Huddle”-Walker Grands-all first borns, all born within four months of each other in 2014. Read more about them in my post “Carve Your Name On Hearts”.
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women’s retreat May 2015
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a rose in a vase at the Biltmore Inn
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Tim and Ringer
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a church in the distance as we traveled from NC to GA
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my student in Rio, so excited to receive this brand new recorder
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our awesome interpreters in Rio
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friends in our home, Bonny and her daughter, Stacy
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my sis, Laura Lea and Leah have a moment to catch up on a sunny Thanksgiving Day, 2015
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My sis, Laura Lea plays “motor boat” with her new grandson, Roman
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a Thanksgiving walk in the woods with 3 of my favorite people
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Christmas Day 2015 with Mocha
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“Great”-nephews, August and Noah
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supporting Karl’s Kure
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on mission in RIO
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R and R at the lake
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two of my favorite things: red geraniums and Gracie
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these college friends since 1976 have brought so much sunshine into my life
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Walker and Jessica, Summer 2015
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Scott and Leah, Summer 2015
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FRIENDS are a gift!
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Thank goodness Donny and Gracie know how to relax!
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Psalm 113:3 “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised.” Lamentations 3:22-23 “His compassion for us never fails and his mercies are new every morning.”
People are made of stories, not atoms.

Posts You May Have Missed:

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

Speak Life

It Is Well With My Soul

Peace Like A River

Fertile Prayers

Wrestling and Seeking

Authentic Prayer

Run To The Roar

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

Here I will share with you four ways to better love our peeps.  As Valentine’s Day draws near, our minds go to the significant, loving relationships in our life journey. Are they fulfilling, communicative, in harmony, and committed? Do we enjoy time spent with these we are in relationship with? Do we laugh together? Most of us if we are completely honest, would say, that our relationships could be better.

One of the things my Mama taught me is a tool she used during her 58 years of marriage. When the faults of her man seemed glaring to her, she would take a moment, hold out both hands in front of her, like a scale, and say this to herself: “My right hand represents Johnny’s shortcomings, and my left hand represents the ways that I fall short.” Invariably, she would tell me, her left hand always weighed heavier than her right.

'Dear Friends, Let us love one another, for love comes from God.' 1 John 4:7

Rather than wanting our partners to change so things would be better, perhaps it is time to determine how we could show up differently and make the difference we are seeking.

Here are three ways to better love our peeps:

1) Cultivate Your Love Life Inside Out

This first one may surprise you, as it has less to do with your relationships and more to do with your inner heart. Did you know? Studies have shown that one will never let oneself have more health, happiness, and success than one feels he/she deserves. What does that mean? This means that right this minute you and I are attracting what we feel worthy of having. What would you say your current self-worth score is on a scale of 1-10? What things could you do to increase that score? Before we can expect to find love from anyone else, we first have to find it within ourselves. Our God loves us and wants us to have self-worth and self-respect. And let’s surround ourselves with people who truly love and support us!

'Friends are like elevators. They either take us up or bring us down.' Naomi Judd

(2) Leave the Blame Game Behind

I know when I criticize my husband of nearly 35 years, he literally shuts down, not with anger, just sadness. Blaming and judging will guarantee a poor partnership! Lucille Ball said, “Love yourself, and everything else will fall into place.” Could it be that there is something you are ‘unhappy’ within yourself? Think about it! An important relationship is our connection to our own heart. When we accept ourselves as we are, then and only then can we accept others without condition.

My Parents, Valentines for Life!

(3) Let The Past Go

Every beating heart has a story and our history (thank goodness!!!) is not our destiny. It’s good to habitually say to ourselves: “That was then. This is now.” We all have things in our past we may not be proud of, but we can let that all go and focus on today. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That is why we call today, ‘the present'” (unknown)

(4)Live Out Our Days with Gratitude and Appreciation

Wayne Dyer said: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” In every loving relationship, there are more good things than bad things going on. However, if the negative things become our ‘focal point’, then they seem way bigger and become more and more dominant in our partnership.  Read this by Charles Swindoll on Attitude. We all get to choose the thoughts that control our feelings and emotions that end up driving our lives.

Now, we all know that Valentine’s Day is just one more day established by Hallmark, LOL!

Love Always Wins!

What are some of the ways you and I can exhibit more love towards our peeps each and every day of the year? How can we make our parents, sons, daughters, girlfriends, and partners feel more treasured and cherished in the days ahead?

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Learn To Love Yourself Despite The Struggles

Every Beating Heart Has A Story

Five Ways To Love Well

Five More Ways To Love Well

Fill Your Love Tank: Don’t Run On Empty

The Love Letter Challenge

Busy School Days Three Things We Did

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

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The hour is 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, and I find myself walking through our quaint Marietta Square thinking about afternoons gone by, when our son and daughter were small and coming up. Now married, ages 27 and 24, on school days, the hours between 2:30-8:30, six hours in all, were so jammed pack, roller skates would have probably helped me to make it to their bedtime. Homework, sports, carpools, snack time, Mission Friends,  baths, music lessons, dinner, and more, filled those six hours each weekday and the memories come flooding in when I allow them to. My husband’s work schedule did not allow him to help me shuffle them here and there, so it was lots of other Moms, and me, who counted on each other to create plans that were workable.

Half an hour's meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed. Saint Francis de Sales

Now at a local Starbuck’s at the corner of Whitlock and North Marietta Parkway, the hour is closer to three p.m., and  as I gaze out the big windows, I see the traffic is increasing. The parents are heading to schools for pick-up, while the teachers are calling the day a wrap as they clean their boards and straighten the classrooms in preparation for Hump Day. The days go by, no matter what.

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

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

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

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3) Each and every night, we would rest our hand on our child and give them the following blessing from Numbers 6:24-26: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Parents today, more than ever before, still want the Lord to bless their children. Click here to read a thought-provoking article titled “I pray this for my children.”, By Gregory Harris

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

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Related posts you may have missed:

The Family Circus

10 Ways To Value A Teen

The Best Birthday Cake

The Long And Winding Road

Yesterday~Tomorrow~Today Take A Few Minutes Out To Remember

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (NIV and NLT)

Nearly 500 days ago, I first published this post and with the 2016-2017 school year off to a start and the school busses rolling again, I wanted to repost it. While we don’t want to “live in the past”, as Al Stewart sings boldly in his famous 1978 hit, Time Passages. The following green text is from my original post in early May, 2015. I hope this post will rekindle some special memories in your heart today.

Remember the Time Words Clock Flipping Tiles

This time last year, we were smack-dab in the middle of our two children’s weddings and our son’s commencement from Wheaton College. My, what a difference one year can make.

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March 29, 2014 Leah Page Andrews, left and Jessica Morris Page, right.
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Walker moves into his home away from home at Wheaton College, Fall 2010.

Now, it is May 2015, and here in our community and beyond, I know many, many families who are celebrating weddings and graduations themselves. More and more dear friends are becoming grandparents, welcoming little ones into their world. I wish you all well as you witness the union of your children, watch your young adult walking across that stage after accomplishing their goals or meet your grandbaby for the very first time.

Well I'm not the kind to live in the past. The years run too short and the days too fast. The things you lean on are the things that don't last. Well it's just now and then my line gets cast into these time passages. Al Stewart Time Passages 1978, US Top Ten

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August 1993 Leah (age 4 1/2) and Walker (age 17 months)

This time forty years ago, our family lived at 655 Webster Drive and the six kids had a separate phone number for our friends to call in on, ’cause Daddy was an Ob-Gyn in a solo-practice, and needed to have a clear line at all times. Our phone looked just like this and sat upon an old heater in our basement. The number was 636-9339. Yep, there was no area code needed. When we were out for the evening, my parents let the phone ring off the wall because they knew there was a friend of ours on the other line wondering where we might be.

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This time thirty-four years ago, I was putting up that huge hamburger bulletin board: “It’s Summer! Hold the Homework!” for my fifth grade students. I was also counting the days for my Summer Break. Back then, the 3 best things about teaching were: June, July and August. I was serving time on bus duty, loving on my students who were mostly from the projects. I loved teaching and the difference I had the chance to make in the life of individual children.

This time twenty-seven years ago, I was halfway through my pregnancy with our first child. A child we had longed for, prayed for, after more than 3 years of infertility. Our daughter, Leah Suzanne weighed in at 7 lbs. 4 oz, measuring 19 1/2 inches and has been a bright light in our days since then.

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One more University of Georgia football game before we become parents!
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Pure Joy as they peek in at Leah in the hospital bassinet. Cousin Amy was so proud at age 7 that she stayed up all night waiting for Leah, and her Mom, Mary Ann was a great birthing coach.
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Aunt Laura Lea gets a chance to meet her new niece, Leah.

This time nine years ago, our first born graduated from Kennesaw Mountain High School, while our son finished up his ninth grade year at Mount Paran.

And in all these years, along with our friends and our family, I have been a part of lots of joyous celebrations and tragedies that are too many to count. Thankfully, I have found it to be true that friends divide sorrow and multiply joy. Dozens of people whom I have loved have passed on, several of them passing at a much younger age than one might expect.  My parents have both taken their leave.  Still, I am here, living out my days, one by one.

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My parents, GoodMama and GoodDaddy, were married 58 years before Mama went on ahead of Daddy in 2006.

You are doing the same in your world…living, loving, laughing, caring and sharing LIFE.

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As I consider again, where I was this time last year, I am feeling peaceful,

though a bit nostalgic and reminiscent, as well.

What memories do you want to take a few minutes to reflect on?

Memories from 40, 34, 27, or 9 years ago?

Day by day, our life is a gift.

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Yesterday is History. Tomorrow is a Mystery. Today is a Gift and that is why we call it The Present. ~Anonymous~
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One of my Mama’s favorite quotes: Bloom Where You Are Planted.

Don’t Borrow Trouble He Is My Anchor

DON’T BORROW TROUBLE!

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My Mama December 20, 1927-October 24, 2006

Many of you know that I started this blog in memory of my Mama who passed away in 2006. Esophageal Cancer took her from us just four short months after her diagnosis. Mom was 78. Even when she found out about her illness, her first response was: “Well, we’re supposed to bloom where we’re planted, aren’t we?” Mama made it a habit to not borrow trouble often using the word “concerned” in lieu of “worried”.IMG_8351

 Adopted at age three, Mama went on to marry, Johnny, the love of her life at age 21 and live an extraordinary life, impacting others for good wherever she turned.  Multitudes have been blessed with her memory, her heritage, including six grown, married children, twenty-six grands and twelve great-grands. A legacy like Mama’s lives on forever!

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Goodmama holds a ball out for Walker and he takes his first steps!

I can honestly say that I think of my Mama every single day, and I probably always will. One reason my thoughts go to her is because of the many life mantras she lived out during our days shared together.

One of these which I consider often is “Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow by worrying.” This brief nugget of wisdom can be applied to so many moments in our lives.

Is someone making a long trip and you are hoping for traveling mercies? Do you have a family member who is ill and you don’t know how to best help them? Is someone you love expecting a child and you are praying for a safe delivery?  Has your child left for college and now, you have no idea what their days and nights look like? Is someone you adore suffering with the disease of addiction? Are you having communication issues with a close relationship and you are unsure how it will turn out? Do you have uncertain circumstances coming up in your journey? Are you and your sweetheart planning to start a family and the timing is not what you had thought it would be?

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 

Have you had a recent surgery, are going through physical therapy and you are not sure if you are healing well? Are you wondering how that “special wedding day” will turn out, that day you all have planned extensively for? Are you having health issues and you are not sure which direction to turn?  Is a beloved one away serving in our military?  Has someone dear to your heart passed recently, leaving you wondering how you will keep living?

What might you add to this list that you find yourself worrying about?

Borrowing trouble from tomorrow is a bad kind of debt because it is “borrowing” with absolutely no pay-off whatsoever. Worry is often the nonacceptance of circumstances that you cannot do anything about. Even the Bible reminds us to not borrow trouble from tomorrow. See Matthew 6:25-34. The Serenity Prayer helps me so much as I continue to desire days where I do not borrow any trouble from tomorrow:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Amen.

How will you and I avoid borrowing trouble from tomorrow 

in the days, weeks and months ahead?

Click here to listen to a Michael W. Smith song

and here for a Hillsong UNITED Oceans

song, two songs  that have encouraged me in this very thing.

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It Is Well With My Soul

Fertile Prayers

Addiction Is Real. Hope Is Real, Too.

Wedding Tips

Who’s In Our Path

How Do We Describe Grief?

We’ve Got Your Back

We Can Get Advice From A Trail

A Win For The Guinn Family

Are You Driving?

A Grace Disguised

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

Where Is He?

My Heart Will Go On

Every Beating Heart Has A Story

Blended Tears

Time Away: A Women’s Retreat

Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

Thanksgiving In The Woods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine All The People Living Life In Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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Just Gracie and me enjoying a walk in the woods!

Thanks for stopping by to share our

Thanksgiving In The Woods.

I hope your holiday was filled with fun and peace.

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

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Thanksgiving An Acrostic

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Thanksgiving 2016 is now in the books and we enjoyed a wonderful mixture of family and friends, totaling 15 in the North Georgia Mountains. Many hands made the work light and everyone pitched in a lot.  It is Thanksgiving Week and I am wondering what this annual holiday means to you. I wrote this blog post on Thanksgiving 2014.

I am grateful for what I am and for what I have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”   Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) 

One of our favorite long-time traditions on this day is passing out three dried corn kernels to each person present.Standing in a circle before we bless the feast, we pass a small bowl around and have each one name three things they are thankful for while placing the kernels in the bowl. As we do this, we remember the pilgrims who went before us, making the famous 1620 voyage, and  we share aloud our gratitude for life. You and your family may want to consider beginning a similar tradition for Thanksgiving 2017.

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

Time Together 

Holiday Excitement Begins

Anyone Welcome

No Gifts Needed

Kindness Abounds

Sharing With Others

Grateful For Relaxation

In The Kitchen

Very Yummy Food

Am Loved and Blessed

Never Forget Our Angels In Heaven

Goodness Of God Is With Us

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

A Father Is More Than A Sperm Donor

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Daddy’s hands reached out to many in his time…to his wife, to his six kids, to the countless babies he delivered as an OB doc, and to the poor in Africa between the years of 1950-1955. He was always looking out for others, and one of the things I miss most is holding this hand.

Have you ever wondered, like me, why there has never been a required manual written for both new mothers and new fathers? I know this is a crazy idea, but Donny and I sure would’ve loved to read it before we conceived our two!  Though it is not a complete list, read here 10 things loving fathers can do for their children.  There is also a website for DADS at National Center for Fathering/How To Be A Good and Loving Dad.

It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” Pope John XXIII

 A father is more than a sperm donor, that’s for sure, and my family was blessed with a daddy who loved me unconditionally, provided for me well, prayed for me, and never turned his back on me.

Today, November 11, 2015 marks Dad’s third anniversary in Heaven. Daddy passed away on a Monday, Veterans Day, which was poignant, since he served in the Army as a med-tech many years ago. He was 93. I know where he is, and that helps to keep the grief at bay. I choose to look at the life he lived with all of us as an enormous blessing. As I grow in my age, I know I am that much closer to the day I will be reunited with both of my parents and that gives me such JOY!

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Daddy in November 1987 ready for my brother, Billy and Lisa’s wedding.

Some of Daddy’s grandsons are now fathers themselves, emulating their GoodDaddy.

In honor and memory of my Dad, I will share a few characteristics I have come to see as important while living with the two fathers I know best, my Daddy and my husband.

It is a wise father who knows his own child.” William Shakespeare 

This list comes from my own personal experience. I do realize that some folks grow up never knowing their father or perhaps they lost their Dad at a young age.

  • vigilant and present

  • funny

  • strong

  • faith-filled

  • problem solver

  • discerning

  • love for his child’s mother and arranges frequent dates with her 

  • unconditional love for his family

  • provider 

  • loving disciplinarian

As you consider my list,

what characteristics might you add?

Share this with the fathers in your path today.

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A Memory Tablecloth Start One Today!

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What You Will Need:  

white or other light colored table cloth

sharpies

pieces of poster board 8 x 10 and larger

friends and family

Have you ever considered that much of our laughter, our sharing with one another, our memories together are made around the table, with our favorite music playing in the background?

In memory everything seems to happen to music.” Tennessee Williams 

We first learned about a memory tablecloth when we joined our friends, David and Rebecca for an annual Christmas party back in 2010. 

Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.” Bob Dylan

 Spread across their dining room table was a white cloth with messages written all over it in a variety of colors. Many of us added a notation that very night.

Soon, our family started our own memory tablecloth and it has been a highlight of many of our meals for the past five years. It is fun to look back at the memories we’ve collected on our tablecloth!IMG_5671 IMG_5672 IMG_5673A few helpful tips: 

Be sure to place poster board under cloth before beginning.

Any age friend or family member can participate

from toddler to age 100 and beyond.

Always date and initial or sign your notation.

Don’t worry if you make a mistake, just make

it into a flower or a heart and carry on. <smile>

Take to dry cleaners when dirty.

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Our Great Nephew, Jacob’s Nativity Scene

IMG_5680 IMG_5681 IMG_5682 IMG_5683Yesterday, my sisters and I gathered at our home to celebrate our niece, Pamela and her future groom with an “I Do BBQ” for our niece.

I have always loved this idea. Holidays at David and Rebecca’s are so special and I love reading the memory cloth. Several are messages from those who are now in heaven and they are even more special. It makes us feel like they are still joining us at the table.” 

Joanne Brewer Yates

We started them their own memory tablecloth at the party!

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Pamela’s cousin, Stacey, and Aunt Bonny traveled from Charleston, South Carolina to celebrate with Pam and Joel!

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Would you like to capture more

family and friend memories by starting

your own memory tablecloth?

Sapelo Island: Dr. Brillhart’s Legacy Lives On

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IMG_3702[pullquote] In the past, all this was sugarcane field. My great-great-great grandfather, Alec Walker used to plant cane right there. My father as a little boy stayed with him, and his oxcart would carry a whopping load of cut cane from here in Hog Hammock all the way up to Chocolate. The another whopping load. This is a big island, so you only had time to do two loads a day. That’s right.” Cornelia Walker Bailey, (1947~     )[/pullquote] A week ago, just  23 days after the passing of  Dr. William Edson Brillhart, three girlfriends I’ve known since first grade, Cindy, Jan, Mary, and I went on an adventure to Sapelo Island.  Mary & Beth, daughters of Dr. Brillhart, have been going to Sapelo, our state’s fourth largest island with their parents since they were small girls. (Click on his name to learn more about Dr. Brillhart’s life) We boarded an early morning ferry for a twenty minute ride to Sapelo Island, one of the Golden Isles on the coast of Georgia. Our adventure was planned for many reasons. First stop before we even stepped on the ferry would be to pop into the Sapelo Island Visitors Center, in Darien, Georgia, to reconnect with our friend, Bill Merriman, who we also knew in grade school, as well as Druid Hills High School. Bill is an amazing artist, and he has also been the Manager of this Visitor Center for over 20 years. It was such a joy to catch up with this long-time friend! Soon we boarded the ferry for our 20 minute journey to Sapelo! Yvonne, our awesome tour guide told us this was what they called “The Sapelo Island Rush Hour”…nothing like I-75 North during metro Atlanta’s rush hour, I can assure you! As I stood on the side of the ferry, the sea air blowing by, I was filled with peace that passes all human understanding. There is something about being near the majestic ocean. One of my favorite books, Gift From The  Sea, By, Anne Morrow Lindbergh was in my backpack as it has been for the past nineteen years, since 1996, anytime I knew I’d be near the surf. My copy is tattered and marked up with journaling and notations made whenever I have my feet in the sand on a beach, and it is one of my greatest treasures. Penned in 1955, you really should consider picking yourself up a copy this summer.

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Once on the island, we boarded an old school bus with Yvonne at the helm. She has lived on the island with her husband for the past 35 years. I was glad I had taken a few minutes to read a recent Garden&Gun article my friend, Kathy had referred me to, so I knew a little about author, Cornelia Walker Bailey and the Gullah Geechee Culture. The island is full of learning and history! We visited the classroom where Dr. Brillhart took his Emory Coastal Biology students again and again. Dr. Brillhart had an amazing passion for preserving the Golden Isles and his legacy lives on in the more than 30,000 students he taught in his 38 years as an Emory professor. In addition to being an expert in Marine Life, William Edson Brillhart has also left a Military legacy as a WWII Veteran, serving as a Medic and earning both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service in Europe. Dr. Brillhart was 95 years old when he passed away on May 20, 2015, just 18 months after his best friend and beloved wife, Connie died in October 2013 after 68 years of marriage. There’s another legacy, Bill and Connie Brillhart left together, the legacy of a lengthy, loving marriage. As we journeyed on through our day, we pondered what it would’ve been like to be one of his students. Soon, as we visited the Sapelo Post Office, we had a chance to meet and visit with a former student of Dr. Brillhart’s, Fred Hay, Island Manager, Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Mary had always heard his name mentioned by her Dad, but had never met Fred. He shared some good classroom stories with Mary and they made plans to connect soon so that she could pass some of her Dad’s extensive Marine Life book collection. Both Beth and Mary have a goal to share their Dad’s collections with as many people as possible, and Fred Hay, along with Bill Merriman are going to help make this happen.

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A few of the Lighthouse Keeper’s daily duties.One of the most fascinating places we visited on Sapelo was the lighthouse built in 1820. The Lighthouse Keeper and his family lived in a home built right next to the lighthouse. Now with all the technology and apparatus included on today’s vessels, the lighthouse has become obsolete. That does not remove the interesting history of the life of the Lighthouse Keeper.
[pullquote]The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910-1997)[/pullquote] [pullquote]There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.” Victor Hugo (1802-1885)[/pullquote]

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We also enjoyed visiting the General Store for a cold beverage and a chance so sit under the shade of an old oak tree. Yvonne shared with us that many of the oaks covered with tons of hanging Spanish moss are between 200 and 300 years old. This little boy, the General Store Keeper’s son, stole our hearts with his “Heart Throb In Training” t-shirt.

This was quite and adventure for the four of us! We learned more about Mary’s Dad than we had ever known before, we met one of Dr. Brillhart’s former students, we gained more knowledge about the generations of the Gullah Geechee culture, and we got to catch up with our great friend, Bill. We all agreed that this was certainly an adventure that will be remembered forever!

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Bill shows us his office, his grandchildren, and his amazing, artistic sea-life drawings.
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Fred, Hay, Island Manager shares classroom stories of his days as a student of Dr. Brillhart, Mary’s Dad.


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[pullquote]

Bill Brillhart is more than a professor. He has a deep respect and compassion for life which transcends textbook biology, and he gives his students an understanding of principals, thoughts, and facts that have helped me with academics as well as becoming a better human being.”

one of Dr. Brillhart’s former graduate students

[/pullquote]

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What kind of adventure do you have planned for this summer?

This life is not a “dress rehearsal”.

What kind of legacy will you and I leave behind?

IMG_3717 Continue reading “Sapelo Island: Dr. Brillhart’s Legacy Lives On”