Nature Speaks Into Our Souls Lessons From Geese

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 cool October morning?

“Stop a minute, Joan, to be grateful for your friendship with Jil Cain, who left us too soon in 2005. Jil, only age 40 when she passed on, taught you The Lessons Of Geese. Every time you see these majestic creatures, either floating or flying in their V-formation high in the sky, you remember her with gratefulness in your heart.”

flock of migrating Canada geese flying at sunset in a V formation

“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.”

As we take some time to be still for a few minutes this weekend, let us all hold close to our hearts and in our prayers the many families impacted by both recent horrific hurricanes, Florence and Michael…more proof that life can change on a dime.

Life Is Fragile, Let Us Handle It With Prayer.

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?

Earlier Posts You May Have Missed:

6 Ways We Can Relieve Stress Starting Today

Nature Restores My Soul

Three Touchstones Of Showing Up

Gift From The Sea

Authentic Prayer

Solitude: Seven Ways To Find It

Four Questions For God

Five Lessons From A Garden

Seven Lifestyle Changes=A Big Difference

And don’t forget to look up at sunrise and sunset. Many times we can capture some of the most majestic art ever!

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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.
Earlier Posts You May Have Missed:

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

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

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

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

Measure in Love. Seasons of Love.

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

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

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

Thanks for that question and your constant encouragement, Gloria!

Yes, it is the middle of September.

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

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

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

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

My girlfriend, Rita meets Tripp for the first time.

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

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

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

Getting to know our 2nd grandchild, Elizabeth

Ecstatic. Overjoyed. Contentment. Grace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Beat Goes On!

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Fertile Prayers

St. Louis With Family

Solitude: 7 Ways To Find It

A Mother’s Wisdom: Five Lessons Learned

Five Ways To Love Well

Five More Ways To Love Well

It Is Well With My Soul

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

Peace Like A River

How The Soul Grows Through Grief

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

Where Is He?

Wrestling And Seeking: What Do You Think?

Four Questions For God

Thank God He Has A Forgetful Nature

Time For A Change Of Heart How Is Your Heart Today?

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The longer I live, the more I have realized that LIFE is all about the HEART. Some days, I have to be more intentional than ever about a change of heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

 Both the physical, beating heart, and our inner, soulful heart. Now near age 60, and only a few months from being a first-time Grandmother,  a continuous change of heart is one of my greatest desires: to keep my physical heart as healthy as humanly possible, and to keep my inner heart engaged, honest, connected to my God, and linked with others.

I shared here in my recent post 10 Things That Organized People Do, that in the past, off and on, I have used the Weight Watchers Program to give me some assistance with my health goals.

Once I was in a meeting and I was forever inspired by a woman about my age who shared that she had been in a wheelchair for the past three years, and just that week had completed her first fitness walk!

Inspiration is everywhere when we are looking for it.

I have come to realize that the “new” Weight Watcher’s program is emphasizing the inner heart. Not just a number on the scales. The program encourages the participants to look after him or herself. In fact, the tag line on their planning guide is:

LOSE WEIGHT

GET HEALTHIER

 LIVE HAPPIER

Here are some of the posters in the new Weight Watcher center in Kennesaw, Georgia:

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If losing weight is your primary goal, it is important to know that the Weight Watchers Program, if followed pretty closely, promises 1-3 lbs of loss per week. This is consistent with the results I have seen whenever I have taken the program seriously.

I have appreciated the ease of scanning foods, and then deciding if consuming them will be worth it, and also knowing that ALL fruits and veggies are free! As long as you consider quantities and choices, the plan is fairly easy to follow, allowing chocolate, wine, and other luxuries.

Life-style change and a healthy state of

well-being is what I am going for.

If you still have children and/or grandchildren in your weekly life, consider Kitchen Twins. Emily and Lyla have a mission to get the family in the kitchen together cooking healthy foods. But, this post is not just about weight loss. It’s about our hearts!

Did you know? Our hearts, both inner and outer, need daily attention, just like many other things do.

What?  “Something else needs my attention???” While I did not get the speaker’s name, I recently heard a radio show and I liked this idea of checking in daily with your inner heart:

“As you drive along in your car, stopping at stop lights or in traffic jams, notice when the car stops, therefore stopping your body, allow your mind to stop, as well.  Just for that couple of minutes, do some deep breathing, allowing your mind to rest. Your inner heart will reap the benefits.”

As you practice this daily, be sure to silence that inner critic voice that tries to rear its ugly head. Read an earlier post, Fire The Bad Boss Inside, by clicking here.

I am quite sure you have heard the oxygen mask story, but it bears repeating. Click here to read it.

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According to The American Heart Association, our physical hearts can benefit so much from 30 minutes of cardiovascular fitness a few days a week. Here are a couple of articles to get us moving: Identifying Your Fitness Goals, Breaking Down Barriers To Fitness, and Making A Commitment To Fitness. With Summer upon us, we are at the perfect time to set some goals for an early morning daily walk before the new day heats up.

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An integral part of keeping my inner heart in tune is reading and meditating on scripture often. Click here for some of my go-to verses that reference our hearts.

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How is your heart today?

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Have you ever read the story of Corrie ten Boom? If not, click on the link below to read about this courageous woman!

Corrie ten Boom

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Solitude: Seven Ways To Find It

Every Beating Heart Has A Story

Why I Write

Gift From The Sea

The Simple Things

Give: It Will Be Given Unto You

Friends and Fitness Make The Difference

Fire The Bad Boss Inside Now

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Standing At The Crossroads, Trying To Read The Signs To Tell Me Which Way I Should Go To Find The Answer

Did the title of this post ring a bell for you?

“Standing at the crossroads, trying to read the signs. To tell me which way I should go to find the answer.  And all the time I know, plant your love and let it grow.”

The Fritz Garden in Lenoir City, Tennessee LET IT GROW!

It is the first part of a song by Eric Clapton that was first penned in 1974. Perhaps you, like me, were in high school at that time. These lyrics remind me of our friends who have chosen a positive fork in the road, even amidst great adversity, in the past couple of years.  You can listen to the song here.   

(On a Side Note) Did you know? 461 Ocean Boulevard, the solo album by Clapton marked his return to recording after recovering from a three-year addiction to heroin. I don’t know about you, but this gives me great hope for the severe drug epidemic our world is currently addressing.

'Love Never Fails.' 1 Corinthians 13:8
My buddy for 40 years, Kelly Read and me on a beautiful fall day doing one of our favorite things: biking the 8.2 miles from the Abingdon, Va trailhead to Taylor’s Shelter at Alvaredo Station on The Holston River & The Virginia Creeper Trail.

Donny and I were making our five-hour annual October trek home from VA to GA yesterday in the torrential rain that Hurricane Nate left in his path. As we traveled, my mind wandered through the past couple of years, 945 days to be precise.

'The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It's about what you're made of, not the circumstances.' Unknown

Back on March 7, 2015, our dear friends, The Read’s son, Taylor Heston Read, age 23 passed away. As the miles clicked by in Virginia, and soon Tennessee, a question kept coming to my heart and mind.

“How Does A Family Move Through A Life Loss Like This?”

While we have not lost a child, Donny and I have faced the passing of all of our birth parents. We have also gone through the home going of some precious friends and other family members. We all experience grief in one way or another as we journey through this thing called life. Grief is certain in each one of our lives.

Kelly and her daughter listen as Paul shares about Taylor, a son, brother, friend, nephew, grandson, who has been missed so much! Zach, Meg’s boyfriend stands with them.

Since we have been closely connected to The Reads during this season of grief, I have some reflections I feel compelled to share here.

'Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It's the only thing.' Dr. Albert Schweitzer, German Theologian, Organist, Philosopher, Physician, and Medical Missionary to Africa (1875-1964)

This family has intentionally focused on faith, family, and friends. They have purposefully played outdoors any chance they get, whether it is walking their four-legged companion, Player, biking on the Virginia Creeper Trail, or tilling and planting in Mom’s Garden behind their Abingdon, Virginia home.

Player is always game for a walk around the quaint community of Abingdon, Virginia.

Marrying just 48 days before us, in 1982, The Reads have maintained a strong marriage partnership. They have taken in good music to soothe their soul, and enjoyed yummy food from their Big Green Egg. They have made sure to welcome continual fellowship with family and friends. The Reads have stayed connected to their church family which nourishes each other during times of need. This decision was clear after Taylor’s passing when this song was chosen to be played as the family was ushered out following his Celebration of Life service.

The Reads have enjoyed many performances, whether at The Barter Theater or the incredible shows at The Biltmore Concert Series in Asheville, North Carolina.

Taylor’s Shelter is under construction Summer of 2015

Along with the help of friends, family, the community of Abingdon, Virginia and the Virginia Creeper Trail Club, this family has brought about a unique “shelter from the storm” alongside The Holston River which was dedicated in October 2015. Designed by Taylor’s talented sister, Megan Read, this is a picturesque spot all should visit at some point in the future.

Just outside The River Cafe in Alvaredo Station. They provided a gourmet picnic lunch for all of us!

Already, this shelter has brought rest and has been a refuge to many including bikers, kayakers, visitors to The River Cafe in Alvaredo Station. Taylor’s Shelter has even been a venue for a few weddings.

On October 7, 2017, the 3rd Annual Rails To River Ride For Taylor gather together, friends for 40 years, along with Kelly’s Mom, Peg and daughter, Megan.

As the miles clicked by and we grew closer to our home state of Georgia, the rain continued to splatter our windshield. Soon another song came on that brought The Read’s willful and purposeful choices to mind. They have ended their days by looking for hope in tomorrow.  By Jim Croce, this song Hey Tomorrow was first penned in 1972., and it starts like this:

“Hey tomorrow, where are you goin’? Do you have some room for me? ‘Cause night is fallen’ and the dawn is calling’. I’ll have a new day if she’ll have me.”

A few more favorite pictures from our day!

Mimi and Megan hang out after we all ride to Taylor’s Shelter.
The Womble’s Family vehicle is loaded with bikes!
Taylor Heston Read, a Life Well Lived

Lincoln, 2nd cousin of Taylor’s (by marriage) wears his homemade Rails To River t-shirt, made with LOVE by his MIMI!
Lincoln’s baby brother, Tucker takes in the day with his JimDad!
Here with our college buddy, Kay, Paul Read is always helping someone ready their bike for the trail ride.
'Taylor was honored and God was glorified.' Paul Read, in talking about the 3rd annual Ride for his son, Taylor on October 7, 2017

I have a couple of questions for you and for me today. How we will respond in our time of grief and hardship? Will we follow the example of this courageous family, looking up with hope in the future? I hope I will. 

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

Music Moves Us

Your Beautifully, Messy, Complicated Life Story Matters

Authentic Prayer

We Can Get Advice From A Trail

How Do We Describe Grief?

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

Five Ways To Love Well

Five More Ways To Love Well

A Grace Disguised

Run To The Roar

Where Is He?

Five Lessons From A Garden:Bloom Where You Are Planted

The Simple Things

Solitude:Seven Ways To Find It

Humble And Kind

Five Ways To Love Well

Musings On Marriage

We’ve Got Your Back

It Is Well With My Soul

Hope Amidst The Fragility of Life

Ten Habits We May Regret: Habits One-Five

Ten Habits We May Regret: Habits Six-Ten

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Time Away: A Women’s Retreat We All Need Time To Refuel

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We all need time away to retreat. So this past weekend, November 11-13, 2016, seventeen women from Piedmont Church in Marietta, gathered in the North Georgia Mountains for a retreat. Even though we were all so glad to be together, the date we chose ended up not being the best weekend for all who attended. One of our friend’s husband was celebrating his 6-0 (they celebrated early).

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Another friend’s daughter had a birthday (they celebrated late, on Sunday afternoon). I am quite sure there were other commitments among the 17 of us that went unmentioned.  Like most women, our calendars are always full of  engagements, work obligations, and conflicts, but somehow, we managed to steal away for two nights, all in the name of faith and friendship.

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Women’s Retreat Breakfast

“If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find them scarce.

If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” Zig Ziglar

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A large group of ducks on Lake Blue Ridge Saturday afternoon.

img_6662img_6660We connected with nature, we cooked together, danced together, laughed together, exercised together, prayed together, sang together,  bunked together, laughed together some more, and cried together. There were several quiet one-on-one conversations where hearts connected.15095430_10208012373692815_6339721073766000874_n

At the end, when it was time to say our good-byes, we all agreed that we were re-fueled, encouraged, and lifted up. We felt better equipped to face the days ahead, no matter what they may bring.

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As this year draws to an end, and 2017 makes its début in just forty-seven days, consider what group of like-minded women you may need to steal away with.

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Sheila’s PJ’s!
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Party Favor, thanks to Susan, plain and peanut M&Ms!

img_6675img_6686 img_6683 img_6677img_6676img_6681Make some plans. Consider being the one who initiates the get-away. You and all who attend will be forever grateful! No matter our age or season in life, women need time together. And if you are a gentleman reading this, please stand by your sweetheart in support when she makes her plans to take a brief retreat with girlfriends. Times spent with girlfriends or my sisters, whether it is these church friends, college friends, girls from my childhood, or local friends, these times are always memorable, encouraging, and treasured occasions for me!

Related Posts You May Have Missed:

Girls Need Time Together: 3 Illustrations

Solitude: 7 Ways To Find It

The Long and Winding Road

Anne Lamott: Best Day Ever

Honesty With The Truest of Friends

8 Traits of an Authentic, Successful Woman

We’ve Got Your Back

Are You A People Pleaser? Five Tips To Help You Stop

Where Is He?

RETREAT

Choose To Not Be Blue: Part One

Choose To Not Be Blue: Part Two

Joy Comes In The Morning

Girls Need Time Together

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Scheduled just following the recent election, we all agreed to not discuss our thoughts on the outcome. This agreement left us plenty of time for expressing to each other where our HOPE lies and lots of time for laughter and fellowship.

Climb Every Mountain The Great Smoky Mountains

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“Climb Every Mountain,

Ford Every Stream,

Follow Every Rainbow,

‘Till You Find Your Dream.”

(from the musical, The Sound of Music)

Do you have dreams for the future?

In any given moment, we are guided by one of two maps: a vision map, which is a deliberate map for our future, or a default map, which is made up of our past. Choices made from our default map---our repetitive, automatic programming---DO NOT nourish our flames, nor do they move us closer to our dreams. AND even though they might feel right to us, they do simply because they are familiar. The right questions wake you up! from page 23, The Right Questions: 10 Essential Questions To Guide You To An Extraordinary Life, Debbie Ford

Have you begun to let some of those dreams slip away? Nearly one year ago, my hiking buddy, Kathy invited me to join her and three friends for a hiking adventure. I immediately said yes, not knowing that this past week, our eight-hour hike up, viewing the sunset from a 7,000 foot vista, and trekking back down in six hours would inspire me so.  After my recent climb up to the Summit of Mt. Le Conte in the Great Smoky Mountains, my dreams have been rekindled. Laughing, singing Rod Stewart, songs from musicals, Carole King, and JT, telling long stories, and “unplugging for a time” all served to rejuvenate and inspire the five of us!

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thanks for this, Melissa Chambers! Let’s Do This!

Especially in light of the horrific current events in Orlando, Florida, it is easy to feel discouraged, defeated, and hopeless, too. If your dreams are trying to die on you, watch this for inspiration!

It has been said that “getting old is not for sissies”, and as I draw nearer to the end of my fifth decade, I am finding this to be true. Life, at any stage, takes great courage. Climbing a huge mountain has helped to decrease my fears and rebuild my courage for the days ahead.

I was able to celebrate my friend, Cyndi’s 60th birthday this past Saturday and a friend I saw there shared that she found it hard to do things for herself during this season of her life, with grown married children and grandchildren now here. I told her about the 3 nights I snuck away to climb Mt. Le Conte with friends, and how doing that ( I am hoping) will make me a stronger and more loving woman, Mother, and Mom-In-Law, as well as a Grandma to our (future) grandchildren. <smile>

So what are the dreams you have had in your past that might be trying to slip away because of time and circumstances? What’s on your list, what “mountains” would you like to climb to gain serenity and hope for the future? Our adventure happened to be extremely physically challenging, but your dreams and my dreams can be whatever they are, unique to each one of us: keeping a journal, visiting a historical nearby community you’ve been thinking of,  increasing your fitness, snagging 15-30 minutes each day for some solitude, some alone time, and more. Take a few moments to sit quietly, perhaps with pen and paper at hand, and jot down a few of your dreams.

Dreams CAN come true, like the rigorous hike that five women, including a social worker, three nurses, and a teacher, all in our fifties took on June 7-8, 2016.  Though there are no showers or electricity at the top, the Mt. Le Conte staff took great care of us feeding us delicious, family style meals. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I will use mostly pictures to share our experience with you. Click here to see a cool, short video about the LLAMA Train that takes place on Trillium Gap Trail 2-3 times each week!

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We hiked up this trail. The first 2.7 miles is part of the AT!
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We hiked down this trail. We were able to see the llamas several times!

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Getting started at Newfound Gap. The first 2.7 miles of Boulevard Trail is part of the AT!
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My hiking buddy, Kathy.
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Connecting with Nature.
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A panoramic view of the vistas and Kathy.
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A favorite spot: Myrtle Point
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A fellow hiker taking in the sunset.
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A panoramic view of our sunset on June 7, 2016, Cliff Top.
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Pure Joy pouring from my new friend, Linda.
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Lisa staying warm at sunset, Cliff Top.
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Our cabin. The bucket was for the hot water to wash our faces with!
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Recorded on my Apple Watch after the hike down.
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Tho we saw no bears, there were lots of sightings in the days just following our visit.
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At 6,593 feet, Mt. Le Conte is the 3rd highest peak in the Smokies.
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The llama train travels 3 days each week, delivering supplies to the Lodge.
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Almost to the end of Trillium Gap Trail.
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Grotto Falls, about 1.5 miles up from Trillium Gap Trailhead.

IMG_3684Let’s Keep Our Dreams Alive!

Ten Ways To Savor Autumn

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Our first-born, Leah is an October Baby
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“Princess” Leah, October 1989

Autumn scene. Fall. Trees and leaves in sun light

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Our Parents were married October 1947
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We were married October 1982

While I cannot say that Fall is my absolutely favorite season, it is truly one of my favorites! [pullquote]Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” F. Scott Fitzgerald[/pullquote] I LOVE all four seasons for different reasons, but we’ve always cherished and savored Autumn as our season to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, and even heavenly home goings of both my mother and my father.

Ten Ways To Savor This Autumn Season Before It Gets Away:

1)  Open car windows, letting in the cooler air.

2) Notice the majestic, changing landscape.

3) Take a hike in the mountains. 

 4)  Make an apple or pumpkin pie.

5)  Wrestle in the fallen leaves.

6)  Warm by a fire.

7)  Light a pumpkin-scented candle.

8)  Carve a pumpkin.

9)  Take in a football game with great munchies and beverages.

10)  Make a list of ten things you are grateful for in Fall 2015. 

One thing our family is truly grateful for this fall is the improved health of our Dad and GrandDaddy, Donald A. Page, Sr. After a very serious bout of double pneumonia earlier this year. He is feeling much stronger and we rejoiced with him as we celebrated his 85th birthday with him this past Tuesday night.

What is on your list of things to be grateful for today?

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Don Page, Sr. born during the depression on 10/13/30 celebrates his 85th Birthday as his only child, my husband, looks on.

Who’s In Our Path? Let's Take Time To Notice

By now, everyone has heard the horrific, the amazing story of what happened on a Paris-bound train on Friday, this past week. An off-duty, U.S. Airman, Spencer Stone overpowered a gunman with the help of three other men: Alex Skarlatos, a member of the U.S. National Guard, Anthony Sadler, a U.S. student, and Briton, Chris Norman. What led them to react so quickly? Stone’s answer came in one word: SURVIVAL.

But what if these gentleman were caught up in “tunnel vision” on that Friday, August 21, 2015? What if their complete focus was on themselves—their phones, their earbuds with music, their calendars, their agenda for that day? The outcome on that fast-moving train could’ve been very different, with the potential of many lives lost, if these four had been too busy to notice who was in their path.

My personal story here today is not nearly as dramatic as the one above, but in some ways, I believe it is just as important. It’s not about watching for “evil” folks in our path, but rather being on the look-out for small ways in which we can have a big impact in the lives of others in our own sphere of influence.

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This past Tuesday, I arrived early for my Bikram Hot Yoga class. As I entered the locker room, I noticed three ladies talking quietly and intently as one of them was weeping. Trying not to be intrusive, I did overhear them say that the woman who was crying had just lost a daughter. As the other two slipped out, I introduced myself to the one who was grieving and asked her if I could give her a big hug. She readily agreed. We chatted a few more minutes before class as she shared with me about her much loved daughter and how much she missed her, with her having only passed so recently on July 30, 2015. As she wept some more, I told her that one reason her grief was so big was because she had loved well. She seemed to really “hear” what I was saying. I also shared with her that though I, myself had not lost a child, my sister had in 2009 (see Celebrate Me Home post),  and dear friends lost their son in March earlier this year. (see Where Is He? or Joy Comes In The Morning posts) Even though it was impossible to change this new friend’s circumstances, I could join her in her grief, in hopes this would help her to feel less alone.

Earlier in the morning, before I left for Bikram, I took a few minutes to read through a devotion entitled Keeping Life In Focus.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13 NLT

 In a brief nutshell, the reading emphasized four things that will come about as we keep our lives in focus: our priorities will fall into order, we will develop a forward mind-set, focus will set us on the second mile, and it will enable us to know where we are going. This devo is in the book my Tennessee Tech girlfriends and I are reading together this year, starting on page 156: The Joshua Code, By, O.S. Hawkins. I am writing about this devotion because one of my frequent prayers is:

“Dear Precious and Heavenly Father,
please order my day,
help me to be a blessing in someone’s path.”
Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. James M. Barrie

I have a friend named David (DRB) who is forever looking for ways to brighten someone’s day. When you see David, you can fully expect to receive a super friendly greeting from him, a big smile paired with a hug. He has clearly made it a priority to bring joy to the lives of others, to those he finds in his daily path.

Did you know that we can even smile with our eyes and with our heart?

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Just taking time to notice those in our paths could make a world of difference in one’s day, or possibly in a life. This reminds me of a story that is suitable for retelling/adapting for any age child. I read this story about Kyle many years ago, perhaps you’ve heard it, too:

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friend tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.

We talked all the way home, and I carried his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Damn boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the smiles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class.

I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak. Graduation day, I saw Kyle.

He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him! Boy, sometimes I was jealous.

Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began. “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach … but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.” I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.” I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.

I saw his Mom and Dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth. Never underestimate the power of your actions.  (copied)”

With one small gesture, perhaps even with a smile, you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others.

Let’s take time to notice who is in our path.

Aimee Copeland Living Life

On April 23, 2015, I wrote a post entitled We Are Called To Be Brave and here is an excerpt from that post:

 The older I get, the more I realize that life as we know it can change on a dime. When that unexpected, often shocking change shows up, we are called for bravery beyond what we might believe we can offer to the circumstances before us.

I have definitely learned that it is a process—being brave—it may not just happen, but that doesnt’ mean that bravery won’t evolve as the days go by.

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Aimee Copeland has kept this determined attitude and glowing smile since her life-changing accident in May 2012. “Patience is the name of the game, there’s a whole lot of ‘hurry up and wait.'” Aimee Copeland

Most of you will remember the story of Aimee Copeland, the athletic, graduate student who was injured on a homemade zip line back in May of 2012. I suspect that Tuesday, May 1, 2012, was a day much like yesterday in Georgia. Full sun. Birds singing. High between 75-80 degrees. Aimee and some of her classmates were ready for a reward, some fun in the sun. Aimee had just completed her last final for her last class of the semester, studying at West Georgia as a graduate student. What began as a beautiful time in nature with friends turned tragic when Aimee encountered an equipment malfunction on her second pass on the line. Her fall set the stage for the development of necrotizing fasciitis which led to amputations and the failure of her five major organs. Instead of saying, “Why me?”, Aimee recognized that it could have been any one of her group of friends, but she was the injured one. Aimee also stated, “You can’t live your life being paranoid, or in a bubble. The truth is, things like this happen when you least expect it.” I assure you that the remainder of this post won’t be a downer. Instead I would like to share with you the many ways Aimee’s life journey has exhibited bravery and stick-to-itiveness, again and again.

LIFE calls for BRAVERY. It truly does. You can click here to read my April post in its entirety.

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“You cannot grow if you do not struggle.” Aimee Copeland
Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. Mahatma Ghandi

I caught up with Aimee recently and asked her if I could share an update about her current life journey, along with some recent pictures. Aimee wholeheartedly agreed! Three years ago doctors told Aimee she would never walk again without two forearm crutches, but every day victories keep Aimee motivated to reach her goals. When her trainer, LC Reese of Reesefit in Carrollton, GA, suggested trying her prosthetic legs on the treadmill for the first time, she jumped on and quickly mastered it, reaching a speed of 2 mph. Proving the doctors wrong, she released the treadmill and walked completely unaided for two minutes at a time! Next up, she plans on walking a 5K to show people with and without disabilities that with the power of perseverance anything is possible!11164841_1639067282993565_8144863041424290737_n

Aimee traveled to Ohio in May of this year to be fitted with new myoelectric “robo arm” prostheses by the great folks at Touch Bionics and world-class prosthetist Randy Alley.

This past August 5, 2015, a You-Tube video was publishing showing Aimee getting biodesigns’ HiFi Prosthetic Sockets.

 

Aimee has built a new life for herself that includes white water rafting, wake boarding, climbing, and a lot of other great activities. She is living life well!

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Aimee is indebted  to her fabulous teachers, Joe Gudger and Chris Townsend. As Winnie the Pooh so wisely said, “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

“Helping other people is one of the most healing things a person can do.” Aimee Copeland
The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

One focus which Aimee is developing more and more is reaching out and aiding people in her path who have similar circumstances she is living in these days, as shown here with a young man who is an amputee. She wants to be available and supportive of anyone in a similar life experience. In fact, Aimee was in the news in July 2015 for offering encouragement to a young woman in Gwinnett County who has been suffering with this same condition: Necrotizing Fasciitis. Read about this here. In addition, Aimee has become a spokesperson about the signs of illness that could be associated with the chances of this life-threatening condition, and is also encouraging those who live with disabilities to realize more freedoms that can come with their life circumstances. Aimee has a background in psychology, and is working towards a second Masters in Social Work. As Aimee shared with Denis O’Hayer and Rose Scott on a June 18, 2015, NPR interview, the two big “take-aways” she tries to give to her listeners are The Power of Perseverance and The Power of Compassion. Click here to listen to the 13 minute NPR interview in its entirety.

Two years ago doctors told Aimee she would never walk again without at least two crutches. Here she is a year later, proving them wrong. She recently has taken many steps completely unaided by crutches.

No one can decide your limits for you.

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If they try, it provides a great opportunity to prove them wrong.
It's not what you have, but what you do with what you have that really matters. Regardless of who you are, there's always a way to experience a connection with the world. Kahil Gibran

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” Only YOU can decide what possibilities await you!

Resilience and perseverance have helped Aimee find a new normal after surviving an extreme case of flesh-eating bacteria. She has built a new life for herself and says that COMMUNITY, social, and family support, have been of utmost importance for Aimee’s mental recovery. This makes me wonder how you and I can have a positive impact in our own sphere of influence in the days ahead.

What ‘community’ can you and I join up with in order to be an encouragement to someone in our path who is going through a difficult season?

WHAT WOULD YOU ATTEMPT TO DO IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD NOT FAIL?