Eight Ways To Share With Others

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My sisters and I love to share when we are together! Here is a Kentucky hanky that Mary Ann gave to Laura (’cause Laura Lea is the only sis born in KY!) and a picture of Kathy’s newest granddaughter, Noelle Victoria Findlan, born in September 2014.

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
Khalil Gibran

Sharing just makes a person feel good. Robert Fulghum even included SHARE EVERYTHING as his number one thing to learn in life in his famous writing: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

My Mama taught me early, as the fifth child of a total of six, that sharing was a way to practice unselfishness. Mama showed us that when we share, we in turn, get an extra bonus and blessing in our days. I have found this to be so true as I have journeyed through my life.

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Mary Ann and Laura Lea decide on some items that are ready to pass on.
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Kathy and Mary Ann share some things they no longer wear.

(1) This past week, my three sisters and I met at our usual place, Cracker Barrel for our Sister Session. We try to make this happen every 2-3 months. When I am with my sisters, more than any other time, I feel like Mama is right beside us. It’s an opportunity to remember, to share our hearts and photos, update our family calendars, and laugh ’til we cry. We always share things with each other that we can no longer use…shoes, jewelry, clothing items, books and more. It is such a nice way to pass on things we love that we have no need for anymore, knowing that one of our sisters is going to get some use out of them. What’s in your closet that you still love, but just don’t use or wear anymore? Share them with a sister, daughter, niece, or a friend.

(2) Keep a “GIVE AWAY” box in your garage or basement and fill it throughout the week.

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Once it is full, deliver it to Must Ministries, Goodwill, or some other charitable organization and then start filling it again.

(3) Be on the lookout for ways to give back. Currently a lot of my girlfriends are joining me in the battle against human sex trafficking by preparing Freedom Bags for girls who will be rescued in 2015 in the Atlanta area.

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A Freedom Bag pulled together by our life-long friend, Karen.

To learn more, go to my earlier post entitled “What Is A Freedom Bag?”. Our friends, The Arntzens were recently touched by orphans in Cambodia and founded a ministry to aid them. Go to Saving Susan to learn more. There are so many needs in our world today. What mission is your heart being called to share a part of yourself with?

(4) Use your creativity to share with others. Our gifted sister-in-law, Jeanie, does this very well and this picture demonstrates just one example of how she shares in this way. IMG_1908 IMG_1911Before our Sister Session, Jeanie mailed a homemade bag for each one of us, complete with the African continent sewn on. Since our parents were missionaries in Belgian Congo in the 1950’s , this gift was extra special.

(5) Recently, we had a party and we asked our friends to bring non-perishable foods for our local homeless shelter’s pantry. Here is how much we were able to gather in just one night!

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(6) Share your story with trustworthy friends and family. This past weekend, we were with our two children and their new spouses. My husband and I took some time to share life experiences from our young adult years, our early days of marriage, and our parenting season, including mistakes that we had made along the way. Our Pastor Ike calls this a ‘courageous conversation’. Transparency and authenticity allows individuals in any relationship the chance to be true to themselves without the fear of judgment or criticism.

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Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” 

Brene Brown, Author/Founder of The Daring Way

(7) Share Birthdays! They are Parties in our Souls! A birthday is a perfect chance to honor a person in our lives, not for what they do, but for who they are and for what they mean to us. An opportunity to say to them:

“Thank you for being born and being among us!”

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Rita presents our dear friend, Jack with a cake for his special day.
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Our son, Walker blows out his candles and makes a wish on his day!

(8) With each new day, share a smile with at least one fellow human you meet who shows up in your path. Sure, you may not receive a smile in return, but you will know you have made your attempt to bring joy to someone else’s day.

In what ways will you and I

share in the days ahead?

What Is A Freedom Bag?

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Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.

Mother Teresa

As a mother, I cannot quit thinking about the issue of human sex trafficking and I know, I just know, that there is something we can do to have a direct impact on this horrific issue. That is just how I roll these days. Each one, reach one, one day at a time. Learn, then listen for ways one can make a difference.Tea by the lake

After attending the Justice Conference in Atlanta on January 31, 2015, I decided one way we could positively encourage and help some victims of this crime is to put together Freedom Bags that are being collected by Operation Liberate. This is a huge undertaking, but my Mama taught me to dream big, so I am asking for as many of you as possible to come on board to join me in this huge project. more about Operation Liberate: “Doing What Is Required”, click here.

Since it may cost an estimated $150.00 to buy the bag and all O.L. is expecting to have included in each bag, this could be a great joint project between 2-4 girlfriends, mothers & daughters, a small group Bible Study, a Book Club, a Tennis Team, the ideas of ways to achieve this goal are limitless!!!!

Operation Liberate helps rescue women and girls with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They want to be able to bless each of these precious ones with a unique bag created with love and prayers to encourage these victims on their first step to recovery. Because of an upcoming large-scale rescue, Operation Liberate is trying to collect as many Freedom Bags as possible by March 15th.

If you are “IN,” please let me know, so that I can count you as a “YES.” Do not hesitate to contact me with your questions.

We are on a tight schedule as these bags need to be pulled together between now and my goal date of Thursday, March 5th.

The deadline for Operation Liberate is March 15th.

PLEASE SEE BELOW THE INFORMATION THAT WAS SENT OUT BY OPERATION LIBERATE:

“Thank you for your interest in helping Operation Liberate serve the many women and girls that the Lord is going to free in 2015!”  To give each girl a special, one-of-a-kind Freedom Bag, please only fill your bag with NEW, unused items. If you are unable to pack an entire back yourself, consider partnering with your small group or church.

As you assemble your bag, please pray over the girl who will receive it – she’ll be so encouraged to know that she was prayed for. If you have questions or would like to get others involved, email Rachel at operationliberate7@gmail.com. Thank you for sharing Jesus’ love with these precious ones!

Instructions for Packing a Freedom Bag – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

Please select a NEW feminine tote, duffel bag, or backpack that is sturdy and roomy enough to serve as an overnight/weekend bag. Heavier items should go in the bottom. Clothing and blankets should be neatly folded. For smaller bags, clothing and blankets may fit better rolled. Toiletries that might leak should be packed in Ziploc bags. Utilize any pockets for smaller items, like lip balm or travel-size deodorant. Pack anything breakable, like sunglasses, last.

Print the following information on an index card and pin to the outside of the bag:

Woman (17+), teen (13-17), or child (under 13) & clothing size (XS, S, M, L, not numeric sizes)

If you’d like, sign the card “Hand-packed with love by [your first name]” or “With love from [church or ministry]”

Once your bag is assembled, please contact Rachel at operationliberate7@gmail.com to arrange a time for it to be dropped at Midtown Church BY MARCH 15th.

Fill your bag with the following NEW items

Toiletries:

Remember this is a gift intended to show the love of Christ, so treat it like you would a care package for your own child or best friend in their first semester away at college. PLEASE ONLY PACK FULL-SIZE TOILETRIES to guarantee that each survivor receives similar items.

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, & floss
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Gentle face wash
  • Body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Chapstick
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hair brush or comb
  • Feminine pads & tampons
  • Travel pack of Kleenex
  • Hard candy or gum

Clothing:

Please ensure that all items in your bag are the same size (small, size 2/4, etc. While we need mostly xs, s and medium, there is also a need for Large.)

  • Sweatpants
  • Sweatshirt or thermal tee
  • 1-2 pairs of socks
  • 1 pack of panties

Special touches:

PLEASE PLACE YOUR NOTE IN AN OUTSIDE POCKET OF THE BAG, as each note must be reviewed before being given to a survivor.

Every bag will include the Life Recovery Bible, which we believe is the most important element of the Freedom Bag. If you would like to cover the cost of the Bible for your bag, PLEASE INCLUDE A CHECK FOR $10 MADE OUT TO MIDTOWN CHURCH. YOUR CHECK SHOULD BE PLACED IN THE SAME POCKET AS YOUR NOTE.

  • Handwritten letter or prayer
  • Journal
  • Pens

Fun items:

Please include three or more of the following so each girl feels special and loved:

  • Nail polish
  • Lip gloss
  • Cross necklace
  • Small stuffed animal
  • Lightweight scarf
  • Sunglasses
  • Hair ties, clips, etc.
  • Colored pencils & sketchbook
  • Coloring book & crayons (can be great therapy even for adult women)
  • Slippers
  • Small, soft blanket or throw
  • Travel-size pillow
Click this link for a printable list for Freedom Bag Instructions.
If you have made it to the end of this long list of needs, I hope that means you have decided to make a difference in just one young hurting woman’s life.
Contact me today, and remember, this can be accomplished with a group if just one person will step up agreeing to be in charge of each bag, delegating needs to the rest of the group.
I can meet you anywhere in Metro Atlanta to pick up your Freedom Bag.

 Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”Starfish on the beach

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said,

“It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

Leave a Notation Little Notes Can Help Us Remember and Bring A Smile

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As I recently thumbed through Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul, I came upon a notation made by my Mama. Recognizing her penmanship, I knew it was her note, marked with a P.W. for Polly Walker, dated 12/9/97, and furthermore, she jotted that she had read this page to Leah and me. Knowing Mama held my book and read this aloud to the two of us back in 1997 warms my heart! My Mama was really good about having a pen in hand whenever she opened a book, whether it was her Bible, a favorite cookbook, or an inspirational read. I love finding a notation in her own unique handwriting. Often, along with her note would be a date as well as her initials, indicating that “I was here, in this book, on this day and here you will read my very thoughts about what I was reading.”
The written remarks are mostly brief…”delicious! perfect for a crowd” or ” I want to do this more,” she might have written next to a devotion that spoke to her heart on a particular day. Mama loved sharing things she thought were important and meaningful and the memories of her passing on wisdom to me and our children comes back to me again and again. Funny, I told a friend recently that I think of my Mama every single day, even though she passed away in October 2006, now over eight years ago. “That’s a good thing, Joan.” my friend quickly responded. “Because that means she’s with you every day, too!” I believe this is true.

This reminds me that I want to make notations in cookbooks, in my Bible, in books I read, in devotions I meditate over. Dated notations which may be seen by generations to come.  I am developing this same habit and I love it! I enjoy using a dictionary (or dictionary.com!) to look up words that I might run across in a devotion, not because I have no idea what they mean, but because I want to have a greater understanding of how the writer intended to use that particular word to get his/her message across. I nearly ALWAYS date and name the event that I took the time to prepare a special recipe for. It is fun to look back, and remember those times when we sat around the table laughing, loving and yes, enjoying that favorite recipe!
And, my Bible is full of dates and thoughts and notes that I have dashed off through the years. These, too, bring back fond memories of days gone by…a baby dedication, a particularly inspiring message from the pulpit, a date for my reading of one chapter of PROVERBS each day. These notes remind me that I am on the right and best path for me at this time.
Just as my mother took the time to make her notations along her life journey, I want to give this gift to my children and grandchildren, as well. I want them to read a jotted note by me, smile, and say : “That was important to my MOM on that day!”

As I read over this advice Mama shared with us 18 years ago, I believe it bears repeating, especially now with two married kids:

Marriage Advice from 1886

Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger.

Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.

Believe the best rather than the worst.

People have a way of living up or

down to your opinion of them.

Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship. The person you choose to marry is deserving of the courtesies and kindnesses you bestow on your friends.

Please hand this down to your children

and your children’s children:

The more things change the more they are the same.

Jane Wells (1886) Submitted by Carol Abbs

Since Mama’s notation was about marriage, of course my memories flew to the 2014 weddings our family had last year. Even though my parents were together in heaven when both our children married their best friends, I believe they were with us in spirit and I trust that their legacy of true love will live on in our children and in generations to come.

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The Andrews on March 29, 2014
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The Pages on June 21, 2014

How about you?

  What notation will you make today?

Young female is writing notes and planning her schedule.

Fear & Worry What's The Difference?

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“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013

With six married kids and a boatload of grands, my Mama was a true prayer warrior. She would call fear and worry “concern” or “guarded optimism”.

There is a great post written this past week by a wise young friend of mine, entitled “The Weight of Worry”, click here to check it out.

In light of our recent local and sad news here in Cobb County, I want us to consider worry and fear today. For those who have not heard, a Georgia couple in their late sixties, Bud and June Runion, took a short road trip south this past Thursday, excited about plans to buy a ’66 red convertible Mustang like the one Bud had upon his return from Vietnam. The Runions are grandparents and loving parents to three grown daughters. Mr. Runion had made contact with a guy through Craig’s List who promised to meet them, let them take a look at the car and potentially sell them the Mustang. After The Runions went missing for a few days, tragically, they were both found shot in the head. This guy has been picked up as a suspect for their deaths.

These folks are the face of our parents and grandparents.

How does our community, our state,  our world, move forward after such an event? We can consider following the example laid out by one of the Runion daughters, Virginia, in a television interview just before the bodies of her parents were discovered:

Over the weekend, the Runion’s three daughters spoke out about the disappearance of their parents.CIMG2776

“We are a Christian family. If someone has taken them we have forgiven that person — love and forgive. It will certainly take time, it will be a long process, but we will forgive them. Only through God can we do this.” said Virginia Owen.

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Bud and his bride enjoy a simple day at the beach. The Runions lived in the same Marietta home for 3 decades, raising their 3 daughters there. Our prayers are with The Runion Family who are left to grieve after this heinous and needless crime.

The gift of forgiveness may seem an unlikely and unpopular response for many of us, but consider what “not forgiving” does. Not forgiving a person who has wronged you or your loved one ends up causing you harm. The bitterness, anger, and hatred grow inside your heart, eroding your very soul. I admire Virginia Owen and her sisters’ courageous responses to this devastation involving their beloved parents and the grandparents of their precious children. We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose our response to our circumstances

Can we move forward in fear of others in our community?

Did you know that the directive “Fear Not” is in our Bibles 365 times?

One for each day of the year.

While I am certain,  especially as a Vietnam Vet, that Bud Runion did all he could to protect his wife and himself, I believe we all can be more proactive and wise regarding our daily choices.  However,  to live in fear gives our power over to the evil ones.

Let’s move forward starting today! Continue to talk to your children and young adults about self-safety. Use the buddy system whenever possible. Text or call your loved ones as you travel from Point A to Point B. These text messages can leave a trail to follow if needed. Last night’s news suggested that the parties meet at a Police Station if we must meet someone we do not know to exchange monies for merchandise. If they don’t want to meet us there, then let’s just stay home.

We must take charge of our own safety.

Click here for more ideas on how we can do just that.

There IS good in this world!

Transform Fear Into Action Concept

“Don’t be afraid, because I’m with you; don’t be anxious, because I am your God.

Isaiah 41:10

RETREAT Time Away With Yourself

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My sis, Laura Lea, and me

It is when we stop doing our best work that our enthusiasm wanes. We must motivate ourselves to do our very best, and by example, lead others to do their best as well.” Truett Cathy (1921-2014) founder of Chick-fil-A in 1946 and founder of the WinShape Foundation in 1984

Thanks to nearby Cedarcrest Church, Women’s Group, I had the opportunity to attend a retreat this past weekend at the beautiful WinShape Retreat Property on the mountainside of Berry College.  WinShape Retreat offers a wide and varied retreat menu, including one called “Prepare to Last”, which Leah and Walker attended with their future spouses.

My sister, Laura Lea was my roomie, so that made this time extra special! Yes, we giggled and told stories and stayed up late, just like the days of our youth.

Laura and I had the opportunity to lead the 50 participants in a time of collage art and we had so much fun creating unique and meaningful projects. We were happy to meet many new friends, including Carol, the co-founder of Cobb Street Ministries, a ministry, I hope to become more plugged into.

I do realize that not everyone can pack a bag and drive somewhere beautiful to “retreat”, so I wanted to share some ideas for how we can rest and renew right where we are.

R ecline and put your feet up, even if only for a few minutes

E at Well as often as possible

T ake a Bubble Bath

R eflect on God’s Goodness

E nthusiasm for Life~”glass half-full” approach

A udience of One~ God’s opinion is what matters

T hankful Heart~jot down what you are grateful for today

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Take joy in the simple things, like flowers.
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Bundle up and take a short walk to energize yourself.

*Not to be ministered unto but to minister to.” Martha McChesney Berry (1866-1942) founder of Berry College, Rome, Georgia

*Motto of Berry College

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some of our collage art created at the 2015 Cedarcrest Women’s Renew Retreat
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some of the collage art created at the 2015 Cedarctrest Women’s Renew Retreat

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A Movie with Mama

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IMG_0922 My brother-in-law, Jim, who is married to my sis, Mary Ann loved sharing a birthday with Mama.

Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.” Corrie ten Boom

The year was 1974. That would put me in the tenth grade at Druid Hills High School in Decatur, Georgia. As we finished dinner at the long table in our home, with a bench on each side and a chair on one end, Mama excitedly said, “Let’s look in the paper and see what movie is showing!” We grabbed the newspaper and chose the movie , The Great Gatsby to see that night. Only thing was that it was to start in 20 minutes at North DeKalb Mall.  We hurriedly placed the dinner dishes in the sink, ran and grabbed our shoes, and off we went to the movies! This was a common occurrence with Mama. Spontaneity was her specialty. We made it to the theatre just as the previews were finishing and we followed Mama down the aisle of the dark theatre. The first hilarious thing she did was to choose a row that looked like it had some seats and we followed her closely. When she turned to sit down, a man’s loud voice said, “Excuse me!”, because she nearly sat in someone’s lap. We quick reversed out of that row and found a seat elsewhere. Now, if my memory serves me well, the movie had an intermission and we headed to the restroom, and that is when the second hilarious thing happened.  Mama was in the stall when I happened to notice something unusual about her shoes. In her haste to get out the door, she had put her feet into two different shoes, a black one and a navy one,  one was flat, the other with a bit of a heel. My sisters and I got so tickled that we about died laughing! We told this story again and again through the years, and she always defended the part about the different sized heel, never denying that her shoes were mismatched.

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Celebrating another anniversary with them.

Today, December 20th, would have been my Mama’s 87th birthday and I decided, with this story in mind, to go to a movie in her memory. I chose a movie I knew she would love, ANNIE, which opened just yesterday. If for nothing else, I recommend this movie for the performances of Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and especially Quvenzhane Wallis, who plays Annie. Mama would’ve loved this movie.

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I am thankful Walker and Leah were plenty old enough to know my Mom well before her passing in 2006.
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My parents enjoyed ten years of retirement on a lake in Mississippi before moving back to Georgia. Leah and Walker loved our road trips to visit them there.
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Even though Mama already had several grandchildren by the time our firstborn came, she was always so excited to hold a new grandchild!
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Mama and Daddy were so in love. Their legacy of true love for each other will live on forever!

I love you, Mama!!!!! Happy Birthday!

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Water the Tree 9 Ways To Take Care Of You In December

IMG_0692How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon.  Dr. Seuss

Though this post was originally penned in 2014, this list of nine ideas still applies today. I am looking to take care of myself this December, and I hope you will, too.

Our fresh, nine foot Christmas tree is beautiful and smells amazing. When we picked it out on Sunday, we had the folks at the Calvary Children’s Home tree lot cut the end off so the tree would be even fresher. As we all know, it is important to water a freshly cut tree daily to ensure that the needles stay in place until we ring in the new year on December 31, 2014. As I watered the tree again this morning, it made me think about ways you and I can take better care of ourselves during this season.

Nine ways to take care of YOU in December:

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(1) Start your day with breakfast. Donny and I have gotten to where we must have a green smoothie as often as possible to help us jumpstart our day. (** see bottom of post for our smoothie instructions.)

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. a Chinese Proverb

(2) Exercise often. Studies have shown that even a 20-30 minute walk can change the way you feel.

(3) Drink plenty of water. The Kennesaw Mountain National Park makes sure all those puppies who hike there are well-hydrated.

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(4)  Practice deep breathing in the car, in bed just before you rise, anytime, anyplace. (The 4-7-8 exercise: breathe in for count of 4, hold for a count of 7, breathe out for a count of 8, emptying lungs completely. Repeat.)

IMG_0697(5) Practice your faith on a regular basis. Reading my Bible helps me to keep my life in perspective. *There are many free on-line devotions we can connect with. My friend and college roomie, Susan, lives near Knoxville, Tennessee. Susan and I both read My Utmost for His Highest regularly and frequently email or text about something we have read. Our small group meets weekly in my girlfriend Sara’s home, and we are currently studying 1 Thessalonians. We all agree that the more we read and discuss, the thirstier we are for more study. You may consider reading a Proverbs a day. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs and there is so much wisdom to be found there. For example today, December 3, Proverbs 3:5-6 speaks to my heart and encourages me:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him. and he will make your paths straight.”

*You may want to visit Insight for Living or Daily Bread for spiritual inspiration.

(6) Make and keep a running list. It feels great to mark things off!

(7) Call a friend to share what’s on your mind. Life is full, difficult, and challenging. Sharing what is on our hearts with a trustworthy friend can be very cathartic.

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If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.  George Burns (1896-1996) an American comedian, actor, and writer

(8) Reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves. I try to have $1 bills or a few coins on hand to insert into The Salvation Army’s red bucket when I hear the ringing bell. That small act makes my heart happy.

(9) Make yourself a cup of hot tea, put your feet up and rest, if even for a few minutes OR take a few minutes out for a hot bath.

 As you nurture your tree by watering it, consider ways you can take good care of yourself, too. It is my belief that if we consider doing these nine things, our December will be a little calmer.

** Our smoothie consists of kale, celery, cucumber, orange, apple, 3 kinds of berries (use fresh or frozen), banana, steel cut oatmeal, flaxseed meal, unsweetened almond milk, and coconut water. I don’t follow a recipe, I just use what I have on hand. These can be poured into a solo cup, covered with foil with a straw and ready to grab as you walk out the door. We have found the fridge shelf life for these is about 2 1/2 days.

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