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.
We have a small pond behind our Marietta, Georgia home and that is the first place our yellow lab, Gracie and I visit upon waking up.
Geese are a common occurrence on this pond. On this particular morning, however, as Gracie took care of her business, I stopped to count them. Still in my cozy bathrobe and holding a mug of steaming coffee, I counted…amazingly, there were 36 geese, seemingly frozen in place on our pond. I took pause, as I often do, my phone shining a bright light in the pre-day darkness.
I love nature and how it can speak into your soul, inspiring us to be the best version of ourselves. What did it say to me on this chilly January morning?
“Observe the quietness of these floating before you. That is what I want to encourage you to do a little each day. Remember that cool verse in Psalm 46:10: ‘Be still, and KNOW that I am God.’? Brief moments like this one can help you to practice this.”
When is the last time you took a few minutes to JUST BE in nature. A back yard, some nearby woods, a porch, Kennesaw Mountain, a pond, a lake, or my favorite, by the sea?
“Please tell me a story.” was a common request in our home back in the day when our kids were little. Here, you will learn about some wooden toys to use during story time that will add imagination in play! In case your time is short, and you want to go straight to The Wooden Storyteller site, click here. You will love these!
Story time is such a great time for connection, teaching, and halting the rush, if only for a few minutes, that we all seem to be experiencing these days.
Do you currently have little ones that are an important part of your life?
I hope you will check out these creative wooden storyteller pieces that your children and grandchildren will surely delight in.
My niece, Rachael along with her husband, Thomas are the creators of some amazing “hands on” toys that you just might want to add to your list for the little ones that you love. Read on to learn how they were inspired to start their little, growing business:
“We are a Southern family living in the Pacific Northwest. We have one son, Titus, who is three years old. “Mama, I strong. I wild. I fierce.” Thank you little one.
My husband, Thomas, started making toys for our son’s play. He would need a boat for his men or a monster for the sea. We began to get compliments and people were shocked when they discovered we made them ourselves. We soon had orders from family and friends. We knew we were on to something and the rest is history.
We honor both free play and storybooks. We believe storytelling is the perfect mix of the two. Telling your child a story while acting it out only solidifies the tale. When your child retells a story and plays it back out….something magical happens. They make this tale their own. This is imaginative narration in play, and it is so good.
We keep our wooden toys simple. We desire children to have toys that are both visually and tactically beautiful. We want children to explore with creative thought and to learn truth from stories. We believe children should get the quality of the toy and the quality of the story.
We would love to hear from you! Happy Storytelling!”
They offer a number of story pieces including Jonah and the whale, The Nativity Story, The 3 Little Pigs, and many more. Each set comes in its own drawstring bag to keep the story pieces together. They can also make special orders that you do not find in their current collection.
New season. New start. What does it look like from your view?
I am taking a time out here on Pages From Joan amidst changing landscapes, new hopes and dreams.
The phone conversation took place only a few days before my Mama’s passing in October of 2006. I hadn’t summoned the courage to cry with her about her imminent death following a few short months of an esophageal cancer diagnosis. So when I returned to my home from a visit, the emotional dam broke as the tears flowed. “It’s a new beginning, Joan,” my Mama said softly, knowing that her time here on earth was drawing to an end.
We're all just walking each other home.
Today, that thought returns to me as I have decided to start another new beginning for me. Starting now, for a season, I will focus more on my book project and less on my Pages From Joan.
With each passing day, I am making more self-discoveries. Is that how the aging process works? I believe so, if we are open to the breakthroughs that can come with constructive comments by those who love us the most.
And yet, I am at a fork-in-the-road again, wondering how well I have been taking care of myself of late. I feel out of balance. How about you? Is it time for a new beginning in your life journey? Remember the story about the oxygen mask? Click here to read it. Do you consistently put your O2 mask on before helping others? The moral of the story being that you can’t pour a glass of water when you’re cup is empty. Ironically, this scenario is more a lesson in giving than it is in selfishness.
I so appreciate you, my readers, the ones who have followed my Pages. You who have encouraged me so along the way, sending me messages, comments and even notes in the mail. THANK YOU!
I plan to take a few months furlough with a projection to return later this year. Meanwhile, I would love to stay in touch. If you would like to communicate with me via email, through Facebook Messenger, or even by being pen pals, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My friend, Nancy R. Chalmers has recently published her book entitled, “No One Visits the Mother of a Drug Addict.” This autobiographical story recounts the author’s experiences as she endured her son’s addiction, the physical, emotional and spiritual turmoil the addiction was on her and the entire family. The center is filled with family pictures illustrating their journey. Readers are given a firsthand look at how drug addiction took over her son, Andrew’s life, straight from her heart. This personal story took a ton of courage, bravery, as well as a hefty dose of vulnerability. This story is not just for parents of addicts, but for families who find themselves in a hard season that seems impossible to change.
It is Nancy’s sincere hope and prayer that many families will begin to heal, not only from the tragedy of substance abuse, but from any number of difficult circumstances that happen around our globe on a regular basis. It is this author’s belief that the path to wholeness starts with brokenness, and that “healing” is our God’s specialty since we are His creation. I agree with her.
In this personal account, Nancy also reminds us how telling our story…to a trustworthy soul…can offer healing beyond measure. She is very thankful for the one friend who reached out on a regular basis to be “Jesus with skin on” for this hurting Mom.
It's amazing seeing the ripple effects of how when the hope of Jesus Christ invades the life of a person how that creates a domino effect to impact the rest of their family, their workplace, and their neighborhood.
Andrew Chalmers, Director and Founder of Take The City, also son of Nancy and Louis Chalmers,
Not everyone is going to exhibit the kind of faith The Chalmers have shown here in this story. But God can work with what faith you have. In fact, Matthew 17:20 tells us “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Church folks don't like to talk about unacceptable problems. Oh, we can go on and on about cancer, death, (as long as it's not suicide), divorce, loss of job, sudden illness, surgery, birth defects, all our 'small sins' and many more. But alcohol and substance abuse, family abuse, runaways, other addictions, mental illness, satanic activity, pornography and sexual perversions, rape, murder, and nervous breakdowns are taboo.'
Nancy R. Chalmers, author of No One Visits the Mother of a Drug Addict
At the close of her story, Nancy offers a 15 page Reflections Study Guide for hurting families. She begins it by again, reminding us that healing begins when we share our stories in a safe, confidential space.
Nancy begins the Study Guide with some frank questions:
What is going on in your family?
Who are the players in your drama?
How is all this affecting you?
Describe your most recent challenge or storm and how you responded.
To whom do you share this problem, where do you go for good counsel?
How do you find comfort?
Please note below a schedule of Nancy Reardon Chalmers’ upcoming book signings:
I’ve especially been thinking about Chapter 2~”Keeping the Love Tank Full”.
Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. For love, we will climb mountains, cross seas, traverse deserts, and endure untold hardships. Without love, mountains become unclimbable, seas uncrossable, deserts unbearable, and hardships our plight in life.
Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages
I think it is a good idea, now and then, for us to take a look at self-love.
Yes, everyone needs love, that is clear, but we also need to extend love to ourselves, giving ourselves mercy and grace as we journey through this life. Again, we expend a lot of time and energy caring for and loving the people in our homes and we must not forget to love ourselves…treat ourselves with kindness. That means we cannot allow ourselves to be in the habit of repetitive self-criticism, self-loathing, working ourselves to exhaustion, living an unbalanced life with no time for rest, relaxation, restoration and recreation. Click here to read an earlier post to inspire you on ways to nurture yourself: Solitude: 7 Ways To Find It.
How is your love tank looking? Are you running on empty? Let’s not wait for others to fill it up, let’s fill it up ourselves! Give yourself an “atta girl!” or an “atta boy” today. Be beautiful and unique YOU!
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. for beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
The above message came from British humanitarian and actress, Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) when asked to share her “beauty tips.”
School Days are busy days, that is for sure! The days will go by, no matter what.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Yesterday, Donny and I were so encouraged as we left Piedmont Church. For such a large sanctuary, it certainly is a warm and welcoming place to be and Sunday was no exception. The lights shone brightly, the trees and wreaths adorned the bannisters, the stage. But the thing that encouraged us the most was when our Pastor, Ike Reighard, who started a new series today entitled PRICELESS, reminded us that our great big God has a forgetful nature. YOU can view this series of messages on lifestream at our Piedmont Church website. God doesn’t just forgive, he forgets our wrong choices. “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12 NLT Three of the greatest gifts we as believers find in him are:
With the Christmas Season upon us, join me as I reflect on how fortunate we are that we serve a forgiving God. We ALL fall short. That’s the reason God sent his only son to the earth as a baby. Click here to gain greater understanding of the true story of Christmas. There are so many misunderstandings about this story. Many have doubted the truth of it for centuries, including C.S.Lewis and Lee Strobel, both of whom wrote books about their doubts regarding this intriguing story. “The son of God knew what it was to be a homeless person. What it was to start life without a roof over his head.” Pope Francis, Washington, D.C. October 2015
It’s Christmas and there are so many ways to identify with the Christ Child and his parents, too. As Pope Francis was here on his recent trip to D.C., he visited a homeless shelter and he reminded his audience that Jesus was “homeless” as a newborn. Jesus’ mother gives all mothers the greatest example of humility and trust in Luke 2:51b, “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Joseph, a carpenter, was a faithful and honorable man.
Do you want to know more about the newborn Christ Child this Christmas? “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God.” Corrie ten BoomIf so, reach out to friends and family who have come to know him and allow space in your heart to learn more for yourself. Let every heart prepare him room. Read the Gospel of Luke, Chapter Two, More Than A Carpenter, By, Josh McDowell or Mere Christianity, By, C.S. Lewis. Read and consider the lyrics of some of the carols of old, like Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, Joy To The World. Yes, there are many doubts about the truth of this age-old story. The horrific events in Colorado Springs, Co this past weekend may only add to those doubts as the abortion debate gains more and more momentum. However, the Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We also read in James 4:8, Come near to God and he will come near to you. (that’s just one of the over 7,000 promises in the Bible) [pullquote]Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” C.S. Lewis[/pullquote] Faith is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger our faith will become. No, we cannot see God, in his flesh and blood, but as we admit our need for him, believe in him with all of our heart, and acknowledge our faults to him, our lives are forever changed and then we see him EVERYWHERE we look.
We may not know the future,
but perhaps Christmas 2015 will be a season for
drawing closer to the ONE who does.
And speaking of not knowing the future, as a UGa 1980 Graduate, I would love for you to check out this great blog post entitled “Farewell Coach”.
from Forgotten Forever, by Max Lucado, the passage that Pastor Ike read to us yesterday morning.”
I was thanking the Father today for his mercy. I began listing the sins he’d forgiven. One by one I thanked God for forgiving my stumbles and tumbles. My motives were pure and my heart was thankful, but my understanding of God was wrong. It was when I used the word remember that it hit me. “remember the time I…” I was about to thank God for another act of mercy. But I stopped. Something was wrong. The word remember seemed displaced. It was an off-key note in a sonata, a misspelled word in a poem. It didn’t fit. “Does he remember?”
Then I remembered. I remembered his words. “And I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 Max Lucado
When our children were small, I must attribute my sister, Laura Lea for reminding me to get ourselves to our public library! It was a field trip we took often. Leah and Walker were always excited to go. Our plans were to go during Story Time (so I could sit in the back and catch my breath) and then we always checked out books. Depending on their age, that is the number of books they were allowed to check out. We would read the books together again and again before returning them to check out more. We kept them in a special place on a bench so we wouldn’t lose them within our home. (at least we didn’t lose them very often!) Click here to see what teachers are listing these days as the best books for our kids. I know the competition between technology and books is a hard nut to crack, but click here for some great ideas to get your middle schoolers and teens more motivated to read. I believe that reading to or with our children and grandchildren is one of the greatest gifts we can give to them.
Did you know? There are lots of great books available in LP (Large Print).
When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before ; you see in you more than there was before.” Clifton Fadiman
Did you know? Many libraries have what is known as Interlibrary Loan. This is especially useful for when you are looking for an older book and your library system no longer has a copy of it. The ILL will search other library systems and send it to your local library for you to check out. Isn’t that cool!?!
Did you know? After a book is no longer considered “new”, the price is often marked way down, sometimes only $0.01 plus shipping and handling. Check this out on Amazon and look for a book you’ve been wanting to add to your own personal library.
A home without books is like a room without windows…A little library, growing every year, is an honorable part of a man’s history. It is a man’s duty to have books. A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life.” Henry Ward Beecher
Did you know? Many local libraries offer book chat groups, computer classes, ebooks, homework help, and more. Don’t forget books on CD. This is how my friend, Debbie gets most of her reading in while she mows her lawn or travels to see her new granddaughter, Layton.
Before our travels began, I headed to the public library to check out the Fodor’s Guide for Italy, France, and Spain. Instead of taking those along with us, I made us each a travel packet specific to the places we were going. Then, I checked out a children’s book for each country. These came in very handy for maps, culture, foods, and more. They made for easy, light reading along the way and because of their size, they were easy to pack.
Our Celebrity cruise ship docked in Florence on Sunday, June 28, 2015, six hours ahead of our clocks back in Atlanta, Georgia. We agreed that with only 12 hours in the Livorno Port, the Tuscan Region of Italy, having a scheduled guide to direct our day was an excellent idea. Thanks to Donny for thinking ahead and setting this up for the six of us!
From Livorno to the city of Florence was about a 50 minute drive and the scenery was beautiful and filled with hills and fertile valleys. I especially enjoyed the huge fields of sunflowers that popped up unexpectedly now and then. Our driver soon delivered us to our spectacular guide, Agnes, who would show us the sights of Florence, explaining everything in great detail as we walked. Later, as I checked my pedometer clipped to my waist, it would register 9,720 steps!
Did you know? Michelangelo was first discovered as a gifted artist at the age of 14. He went on to create the masterful David starting in the year of 1449 at the age of 26 and presenting the completed magnum opus at age 29. He unveiled the statue of David in the year 1452 to a thrilled city of Florence. Here below is an example of the exact type of stone which Michelangelo worked with during that time.
Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
David was always in there in the marble. I just took away everything that was not David.”
Michelangelo (6 March 1475-18 February 1564) an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art (Wikipedia)
The San Lorenzo to the Accademia in Florence, Italy is where David is housed.
You see, Goliath, the Philistine giant, was equal to the heavyweight champion of the world and he had everything going for him. He had every advantage possible. He had great ability and he was trained, equipped, experienced, battle tested and battle hardened, and he was completely fearless. He was totally confident but it could also be said that he was overconfident.
David had no armor, no experience, no equipment, he was not battle tested, nor was he trained. But one thing he had that Goliath also had was confidence but the huge difference was his confidence was in His God and not in his own strength. David looked Goliath square in the eye because He knew that God was with Him in this battle and if God is for you, who can fight against you (see Romans 8:31)? The obvious answer is no one.
Observe his strong fingers wrapped around the stone in the statue of David’s hand. Notice his look of fierce determination. This is a man who was relying on his God, with all of his might. In our day and time, Michelangelo’s work continues to be an extraordinary illustration of how humans today can choose to live out their lives, trusting in God, no matter how big the battle may seem.
The historic center of Florence, Italy, is flat and compact—you can walk from one end to the other in half an hour. In the middle of everything is the Duomo, also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its huge dome towering over the city’s terra-cotta rooftops. The first stone for the Duomo was placed on September 8, 1296, and took more than 140 years to complete. The main three colors of marble are: white symbolizing faith, green symbolizing hope, and reddish pink symbolizing charity/love.
During Spring Break 2001, our family of four toured Italy, Rome, Florence, and Venice and made it to the top of the Duomo.
In the narrow stairway inside the Duomo, 2001. Leah, age 12 and Walker, age 9, fourteen years ago.
In front of the Duomo, Spring Break 2001, Florence, Italy.
Though not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic—all six of us were planning to climb the 463 steps in the Duomo on this trip. Our hopes to make the climb were dashed when Agnes, our guide shared with us that it is closed on Sundays due to all day worship services. Emanating out from the Duomo are Renaissance-era neighborhoods identified by their central churches and piazzas.
The Duomo to the Ponte Vecchio is the greatest landmark in the most impressive square-Piazza della Signoria. Lunch was pizza, of course, followed by gelato! Soon we were crossing the Arno River on the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge filled with shops, art galleries, and restaurants. What a festive and invigorating place to be!
Legend has it that if you and your loved one attach a padlock to any surface of the famous bridge and then throw away the key into the Arno River below, your love will last forever. Millions of couples have come to the Ponte Vecchio for expressly this reason, to lock in their love and throw away the key for eternity. Whether the couple actually believes that these legends work or not, they will find themselves believers for at least that moment at the Ponte Vecchio. Aside from the beauty of the architecture and the wealth of history that the bridge has seen for centuries, the Ponte Vecchio crosses over the Arno River, a site of one of the most romantic places in Florence. Lovers will definitely be caught up in the romance of the Ponte Vecchio, especially if they also get to experience the breathtaking sunset over the Arno River in the process. The practice of locking padlocks to the Ponte Vecchio was probably started by a locksmith who held shop at the foot of the bridge, in an effort to raise his revenue. The Ponte Vecchio has always been a bridge for merchants from the very beginning, with tables lining the bridge instead of the chic shops that many tourists enjoy today.
These days, however, it is not advisable for tourists to come flocking to the famous bridge and become part of the famous legend. At some point, the overabundance of padlocks gave the bridge a gaudy appearance and the government had to resort to removing these excessive padlocks, and for a time continued to keep on removing them, as they kept multiplying at will.Today, there is a hefty penalty to all who are caught locking or attaching anything to the Ponte Vecchio. These days, lovers simply come to the famous bridge and simply touch the remaining padlocks that have not been removed. Luck has kept them there, locked to the bridge, perhaps some luck will rub off on the hopeful couple as well, and keep their love alive for eternity. (Wikipedia)
Following our tour around Florence, Agnes sent us on our way back towards our ship, stopping in Pisa, Italy on the way.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italian: Torre pendente di Pisa) or simply the Tower of Pisa (Torre di Pisa) is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa, known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. It is situated behind the Cathedral and is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) after the Cathedral and the Baptistry. The tower’s tilt began during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight. The tilt increased in the decades before the structure was completed, and gradually increased until the structure was stabilized (and the tilt partially corrected) by efforts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. (Wikipedia)
Thanks for joining me on our June 28, 2015 adventure through the beautiful Tuscan region of Italy!
My next post will be all about Festive Fantastic France.