A SPOT OF SUNSHINE Let's Watch For Them

With Christmas and Hanukkah upon us, I am sitting here counting my blessings, naming them one by one. As a sixty-something woman, I am  grateful for my reliable God, my family, my friends, just to mention three bounties here in my earthly life.

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

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

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

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

What are the spots of sunshine that you are most comforted and encouraged by
during this HOLIDAY SEASON?

Let’s Watch For Them.

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Wholehearted Wednesday: A Time To Look Inside Your Heart

Mustard-Sized Faith

Musings On Marriage

What Is Happening? Write It Down.

A Loving Eulogy for My Father

25 Memories From This Mama’s Heart

Five Reasons We Should Volunteer

If You Can’t Find The Answer LIVE YOUR QUESTION

An anonymous poet once said:

“Sometimes when you don’t know the answer, live the question.”

Many tried to tell me how I might feel as a first-time grandmother.  Most exclaimed that there were no words that could describe this new relationship. I agree. I do have occasional questions about these little ones’ future. Okay, the truth is that my thoughts surround Tripp, Elizabeth and their parents, constantly, lol. Our lives have changed forever since the births of our first two grands: Michael Scott Andrews, lll (Tripp) and Elizabeth Noel Page, respectively on 8/24/18 and 9/7/18. Our grand babies are pictured here during their nightly bath time.

Elizabeth Page
Tripp Andrews

Will they grow strong and will they be brave enough for this tough world we reside in? Will they truly know how much I love and cherish them? How will they face life challenges that are sure to come? What will they be? I find myself praying for Elizabeth and Tripp fervently each day. My Mama did the same for her children, her grands, and her great-grands.

In over six decades of living,  I have come to realize many things. More than ever before, I have seen that sometimes the questions that we have in this life do not have answers that are easy to uncover…

WHY did someone have to die so soon?
WHY can’t _____ and _____ get along better?
WHY does this habit have such a strong hold on me?
WHY is this loved one living with a disability?
WHY was my husband unfaithful to me? OR
WHY did my husband die so young leaving me with the children?
FILL IN THE BLANK WITH SOME OF YOUR WHYS:_______________________________

As we journey through life, I think it is important to pray and talk to trustworthy friends, and perhaps even a counselor, about the issues in our lives.

Still,  sometimes the answers just don’t come this side of heaven.
So what do we do?

WE LIVE THE QUESTION. We submit ourselves to the truth that we do not know the answer and we live the question, recognizing that the question may always be with us.
In the book CELEBRATION of DISCIPLINE, By, Richard Foster, the author speaks to this on page 111:

“I said that every discipline has its corresponding freedom. What freedom corresponds to submission? It is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way. The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondages in human society today. People will spend weeks, months, even a lifetime, in a perpetual stew because something did not go as they wished. They will get mad about it. They will act as if their very life hangs on the issue. They may even get an ulcer, develop health problems over it.”

So, today, take a few moments to consider what “questions” have been gnawing at you, and make the choice to simply breathe and live out your days with an understanding that some of the “answers” are not for us to know just now.

JoAnn, Jan, Kay, Susan, and Delores take in the sunrise on Lake Blue Ridge.
Watching our daughter as a first-time Mommy to Tripp has truly been an extraordinary experience. I’ve thought of my own Mama more than ever as I know how much she loved observing her four daughters as mothers to her grands. My heart is overflowing with gratefulness for the gift of my daughter, Leah…she is truly a loving, nurturing responsible Mommy, just like I knew she would be.
Monday Lunch Date on October 29, 2018. “A daughter is God’s way of saying…”thought you could use a lifelong friend.” Anonymous

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Authentic Prayer

Four Questions For God

Wrestling And Seeking

Where Is He?

Peace Like A River

It Is Well With My Soul

Solitude: Seven Ways To Find It

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October Musings

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  Dr. Seuss
“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”  George Burns
As a now 60-year-old girl, my life these days is full of musings.  I am sure this has a lot to do with more than six decades of living gone by, with a variety of sweet memories and sad remembrances.  A musing is defined as a period of reflection and thought.
 “October is the one month when temperatures moderate in the daytime and invigorate us in the evening.  This month and change in the weather is conducive to reflective thought, exhilarating exercise, outdoor labor, charitable endeavor, courtships and pleasant romps with babies and small children.” ~Russell Baker, NYTimes, Ode to October~
 Just sitting still for a few minutes on this beautiful October day, my mind wanders back to when our children were small and there was little time to be still and dream.  Life was all a whirlwind, active and full.
Leah and Walker 1992.
Our life today, though definitely different, is just as much fun, but only if my husband and I make a conscious effort for it to be so.   As true empty nesters, we prepare light evening meals to share followed by a 40 minute walk in our neighborhood or at nearby Kennesaw Mountain. We both enjoy the football season, time with friends,  frequent visits to nearby Blue Ridge Lake, and we’re now planning more visits than ever to St. Louis.  This weekend we will join our long-time friends, Kelly and Paul Read, along with many others to participate in the 4th Annual “Rails To River” Taylor Read Memorial Bike Ride. Riding eight miles from the trailhead in Abingdon, VA, we will end up at Taylor’s Shelter from the Storms of Life. A shelter, designed by Taylor’s sis, Megan, that is like no other. We always love celebrating Taylor’s life well lived in early October.
With this new season, we are grateful to have one grandchild nearby, Tripp Andrews (now nearly a six-week-old) and Elizabeth Page, who lives with her parents in Missouri (now nearly one month old).
With this new season upon us, we are reminded once again how swiftly the seasons go by.
Both our daughter and our son married high school best friends in 2014, and now both families have grown to include a tiny baby. While our son, Walker and his bride live more than 500 miles away, our daughter, Leah and her husband are nearby.  We will celebrate Leah’s 30th birthday this Monday, October 8th! Life is Good. Just as we started our lives as a young family more than 36 years ago, the four of them are beginning theirs.
The beat goes on…
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Add To Your Faith Goodness We Can Add Light To Darkness

I am learning that when we add to our faith, goodness, we gain encouragement from The Word. WE can add Light to the Darkness.

As I studied some scripture this morning, I was moved by the truth in the book of 2 Peter…It has so many of life’s answers in just a few short verses:

“For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, LOVE.

For if you possess THESE qualities in INCREASING measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, (s)he is nearsighted and blind, and has FORGOTTEN that (s)he has been cleansed from past sins.”

2 Peter 1:5-9

So, today, if you have are asking some difficult questions of LIFE, I hope you will consider these verses as part of the answer He may have for you.

I wonder how much brighter our world might be if we possessed the qualities mentioned in these verses? I believe we could bring LIGHT to our DARK world.

I experienced a dose of DARKNESS to LIGHT last Saturday night at the 9th annual Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade. As over 70,000 spectators looked on, hundreds of participants, from all walks of life, carried bright, creative, and colorful lanterns as they marched down the Beltline. These whimsical lights brought smiles, laughter, and community…darkness to light.

I want to share one of my favorite ways to read The Word often, if not daily.
I read a Proverbs of the day, depending on the day of the month. Today, for example, I read Proverbs 24 for September 24th. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs…one for each day of the month! When I read the chapter, I choose one or two verses to consider all day long. I may write them on a 3×5 index card or a post-it note to slip into my purse. I’ve even been known to write them on the palm of my hand to glance at throughout my day.

There is such wisdom and life application in the book of Proverbs.

Billy Graham once said:

” I read five Psalms a day and that teaches me how to get along with God.

I read a chapter of Proverbs a day because that teaches me how to get along with my fellow-man.”

Here is an example of the wisdom that is in today’s Proverbs!

Proverbs 24:32 really spoke to me this morning…”I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.”

Did you know? The words silent and listen have the same six words in them. This verse reminds me to observe more than I talk and learn from what I see. After all, God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we would hopefully listen more than we would speak.

Our past sometimes gets in the way of our vision for the future, doesn’t it? If you and I allow ourselves to dwell on the areas where we’ve failed or on losses and disappointments that have hurt us, we might find it difficult to look forward to the future God has for us.
Just as David dreamed of building a magnificent temple, we can dare to dream of building a new life.
God has our unique layout already drawn up: we just need to follow it by faith. We may be afraid that we will start and fail, but in the words of David, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.” As someone once said:
“Beginning is half done. In other words, take the first step, it’s the toughest.”
What dreams have we been quietly suppressing?  What thoughts have been discouraging you? Keeping these to ourselves only makes life harder.  Maybe you’ve been dreaming about building deep friendships or making an impact on your community. Don’t be frightened. When God begins a good work, He is faithful to complete it. If you have a specific prayer concern that you would like for me to join you in, email me at joanwpage08@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. I would be honored to stand with you as you defeat discouragement or chase your dreams.
I hope this little time of devotion will encourage us in the days ahead.
P. S. One thing I know for sure is that a new born baby brings a magnificent amount of light into this dark world.

OUR Elizabeth Mug
Our Tripp Mug
Donny’s favorite mug…a gift when Leah announced her pregnancy.
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Why I Write Musings Of The Heart

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.”  

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, and poet (1803-1882)

I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Are Enough,  hosted by Positive Writer. You can check out  the Positive Writer website here!

I have always loved to write. Writing as an adult has helped me and continues to help me face unimaginable fears. Fear stops people from writing. My mind has habitually been an inquisitive one…”why this?” and “why that?”

Writing helps me to seek (and sometimes even find) answers to the big questions of living in this world…questions that most who have a beating heart have, too. Viktor Frankl was one of those who struggled with the big questions as he was in captivity in Auschwitz and Dachau. He penned some of his questions and answers in the beloved book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl is known for the quote: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”

IMG_0626I have written in my personal journal for the past twenty-five years, since 1989. It is intriguing to go back many years and read documented details of days in the life of our family. If you have never kept a journal, it’s not too late! You may want to consider starting one in 2019. There is no pressure in keeping your own personal account. You can pen a few sentences or a paragraph every three to four days and that will be enough to bring times that have passed back into your memory bank.

“Down here at the sea, early this morning while my family still sleeps. I just read Chapter Five, Oyster Bed, from Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea.  Love her reminders about Middle Age and amazed they are still so applicable today….p. 85 a quote from author Virginia Woolf who meets middle age admitting:  ‘Things have dropped for me. I have outlived certain desires…I am not so gifted as at one time seemed likely. Certain things lie beyond my scope. I shall never understand the harder problems of philosophy.” (tho I’m quite sure Walker Page WILL!)  DP just finished “When Crickets Cry” by Charles Martin, and really enjoyed it. It was recommended to him by our good friends, Jane Ellen and Sandy, in addition to myself. I hope to do a quick reread of it since it has been 2-3 years since I read it. I really want to discuss it with DP. I’ve also been rereading Gordon Macdonald’s “Ordering your Private World.” Even though it was written in 1984, the message to me here is more important than ever: p.8 “I have discovered that to bring organization to the private world where Christ chooses to live is BOTH a lifelong and a daily matter.”

an excerpt from my journal dated 8/5/11

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I write because when I do, I literally lose myself for the time period in which I am writing. I believe that to be a good thing. We can all benefit from a recreational activity that we’re passionate about. Writing is that for me.

Writing involves some time researching whatever I’m choosing to write about. Come what may, I’m interested in researching the whats, the whys, the hows, the whens, and the wheres surrounding a variety of circumstances in life.

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I love, love, love reading. Reading is an important and essential part of the writing process. Just ask my husband how many books arrive in our snail mail in a month’s time! I also hang out regularly at our local library. Books fill our shelves and they fill my heart too.

One of my favorite things to write would have to be notes and letters.

I mean U.S. Postal Service letters! (receiving them is nice, too!) My sister, Laura Lea and I frequently mail our thoughts back and forth even though our homes are only 45 miles apart. My friend, Marie, whom I have known for over 3 decades, lives only an hour from my home but we have become regular pen pals over the years and I cherish her newsy notes to me. I definitely got this, like many things, from my dear Mama.

At her funeral in 2006, her pastor asked how many folks in the congregation had ever received a note, card, or letter from Polly…nearly every one of the more than 200 raised their hands. I love to write because the right words can touch a heart and soul.

One can be so encouraged after receiving some hand-written correspondence. If you have a college student in your family, aging parents, or even a young couple who lives out-of-town, consider writing them a personal letter now and then.

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“Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.” 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German playwright, poet, novelist, dramatist (1749-1832)

“There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters…I could be their leader.” 

Charlie Brown

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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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University of Georgia vs Auburn University 2014

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“Football is an honest game. It’s true to life . It’s a game about sharing. Football is a team game. So is life.”

Joe Namath, former American football quarterback and actor (May 31, 1943-    )

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The excitement is mounting over a huge football game being played in the Heart of the South this weekend.  The University of Georgia Bulldogs will take on the Auburn University Tigers in Athens, Georgia on Saturday, November 15, 2014 where over 92,000 fans will gather together. A lot of folks love a good football game, and I am no exception.  Admittedly, I don’t follow the players as a faithful fan should , but I do know a few tidbits about this weekend’s big match up.  I know that the AU Tigers are counting on senior quarterback, Nick Marshall to have a mistake-free start and a strong running game while, UGa quarterback, Hutson Mason needs a key win, and running back and former Heisman front runner, Todd Gurley is returning for the Bulldogs after missing four games due to a NCAA suspension and word is that he has stayed in top shape.  This could mean he’ll start, even though freshman, Nick Chubb has done fantastic in Gurley’s absence.  AU has an increased challenge being on the road after a big loss last week.  I’ve  kept up with some other AU and UGa games this season, especially the most recent match-ups.  While UGa is coming off of a big, winning blowout against the Kentucky Wildcats with a score of 63-31, Auburn is getting over a very close loss to Texas A&M, 41-38.  There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that both teams need and want a win if there is any hope of staying in the running for the SEC title.

This game is important to us and a lot of families that we know for the  same reason.  We have both UGa fans and Auburn fans in our immediate family, so that makes us a house divided!

My husband, Donny and I met on a blind date as students on the UGa campus before our 20th birthdays and our daughter, Leah and her husband, Scott are recent graduates of Auburn.  Not only was Scott an athletic team trainer for the Tigers, his family is a many generational AU family, so we have fun ribbing each other about this rivalry. In addition, our new daughter-in-law, Jessica graduated in May of this year from AU.  Thanks to Scott’s grandparents, we were able to get some “hard to come by” tickets to the game so we will be driving over to Athens, Georgia with Leah and Scott on Saturday.  We plan to fly both a UGa flag AND an AU flag on our truck!  We are so looking forward to meeting up with lots of good friends, many that we attended high school or college with. There will be boatloads of BBQ, fried chicken, burgers, hotdogs, and ribs, chips/dips, brownies, and coolers filled to the brim with favorite game day beverages, too.  The parking lots and practically every square inch of this old school campus founded in 1785, will be covered with Red/Black and Orange/Blue, enthusiastic fans, families, friends, and students.   Dozens of kids will be rolling in the fall leaves and throwing footballs to one another.  It will be a truly All-American kind of day.   Leah and I talked today about how we will plan to stay warm as a big chill is coming in this weekend.  With a 7:15 p.m., ET kickoff, we will surely be wearing big coats, gloves, earmuffs and we’ll carry blankets into the Sanford Stadium, too. I bet we will be looking for some hot chocolate as we head to our seats.

And as the school bands are cranking up, the enormous, broad-shouldered players from Georgia and Auburn line the field on each side, the National Anthem is sung loudly, I’ll get that same thankful feeling I always get when I am in a place like this…

It is good to be alive!

See you between the hedges!

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Leah and Scott doing one of their favorite things: tailgating in Auburn, Alabama.

A Sister Session An Important Appointment

“Our roots say we’re sisters, our hearts say we’re friends.”

~Anonymous~IMG_0417

We often meet at Panera Bread near Perimeter Mall, a good halfway point between our homes.
Sunday afternoon, April 2, 2017

With both of our parents now gone, the four Walker Sisters find it more important than ever to meet for our quarterly Sister Sessions.  Today was one of those days and it was grand to be together again.  We all always agree that we feel closer to our Mama when we are at a table sharing a meal, sharing our life and our hearts.  Life is busy, that’s for sure.  Often , are too tired to travel to each other for our gathering. Yet, we all consider it a priority to make a date at least every three months.  And we easily recall how our Mama always said , “You can sleep when you’re dead.”

It is a time we pass along clothes we no longer wear and recommend books we have read.  We encourage and edify each other, and we laugh until we cry over memories we recall. We bring our calendars and note important upcoming occasions.

We all want to continue the loving legacy that began with our parents when they married in 1947.

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Mom and Dad Walker in 1999 with their six grown children

We love our two brothers and we miss them when they’re not with us, but they wouldn’t want to join us for a Sister Session, ’cause it’s all girl talk.

Sunday afternoon, April 2, 2017, Panera Bread, Perimeter Mall
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Kathy
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Joan
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Mary Ann
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Laura Lea
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at Webster Drive in Decatur, Georgia
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Cracker Barrel in Buford, Georgia on 11/4/14

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Girls should always make time to connect whether they are friends, sisters, moms/daughters, nieces/aunts, neighbors and others.

Girls need time to share what is going on in their world with someone who cares.

Our Sister Session is a great opportunity for this.

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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