Fighter Jule Furr Takes Leave This Inspiring Angel Will Be Missed

This passage in Romans 5 perfectly describes the wonderful and brave woman I am lucky enough to call my mother. Even on her worst or saddest of days, she still shines the brightest light and takes refuge in her faith. I would never come close to the person that I am without you as my Mom! Jordan Furr

My friend, Jule Furr, took her leave just before Thanksgiving on November 22, 2017. Jule and I were heart friends and this inspiring angel will be sorely missed. You can read her brief bio here.

You can also read a blog post about Jule’s life story, Part 1 that was written in 2014 by Melony Brown: Courageous Women Overcoming Life’s Tough Challenges.

And you will find Part 2 of this blog post by Melony, here.

Her Celebration of Life Service is on this Saturday, December 9th at 1:00 p.m. at Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence, by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.' Eleanor Roosevelt

Jule faced cancer early in her life as a junior high student. Battling the disease for decades, when others asked how she was feeling, she was in the habit of responding, “Oh, it ain’t nothing but ‘a thang’!” with a courageous and joyful smile on her face. Whether she was dealing with loss of hair, bells palsy, or any other yucky side effect of her continual treatment plan, Jule maintained her sense of humor and her determination to live.

I've always thought I was touched by God and He chose me for a reason. Because of my struggles, my faith is stronger. I want people to see Jesus in me. We are here to shine a light. Jule Furr

Jule was treasured, loved, and fought for her life daily to be with her family, husband, Bryan, daughter and son, Jordan and Christian (called Fuzzy). Jule Furr considered these three her greatest gifts! The Furrs were married over thirty years. She felt blessed to have him as her husband and best friend.

Over time, many of us came to call her “Jules”. When I asked her about this, she proclaimed, Well, I am ‘a jewel’ you know, I’m a ‘Daughter of The King’!!”

It is honestly difficult to describe this woman who changed the world with her birth on February 27, 1964. Number five, she  joined four sibs, sisters, Mary Ann, Kathy, Linda, and one brother, Chris. Funny story, upon her birth, her Daddy announced that he would nickname Jule “Banana” as the 5th one in the bunch, but the kids disagreed!

First living in Charlotte, North Carolina as newlyweds,  Jules and Bryan Furr soon moved to Georgia where they raised their two babies in Marietta.

My story with Jules began when we were Moms together at Eastside Christian School in the late nineties . Though I lost touch in recent months due to the severity of Jules progressive disease, our friendship is one I will cherish in my heart forever.

Here, I will share a few anecdotes from our time together.

In 2000, I was preparing to raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer 60-Day Walk from Gainesville to Atlanta. Having gone through this cancer herself, Jules was not strong enough to participate. However, she did want to help me raise funds. A participant was required to raise a minimum of $1,500.00 and our children held a Dog Wash to help. (I still laugh when I recall our son, Walker, age 8 at the time asking me if he could put out a “tip jar”!)  Along with my friends who were walking with me, Kathy Owen and Jil Cain, we raised nearly 10 grand! Jules, alone gave me a total of $820.00 the week of our walk! While registering on Day One, a woman in front of me was dismayed because she was unable to reach her financial goal. You guessed it, she was right at $820.00 short and I happily gave her Jules donation funds. Wow, was that a cool, God Wink!?!

Also, in 2000, when battling breast cancer, Jules’ fear for her two young children’s reaction,  soon gave way to inspiration. Soon, she penned an original story called, “The Scarf Game”, and it was published just a few weeks later. The 23 page story book which never mentions the word “cancer” was written from her daughter, Jordan’s perspective. The creative story line explains how both Jordan and Christian learned to tie scarves on their Mom’s bald head to help her when she was not feeling so well. This is just another example of the courageous and positive outlook this dear friend held in life.

During a particular season of illness, during the school year of 2007-2008, Jules and I would talk on the phone often. She shared with me that when she felt down and discouraged, she would list the things she was most grateful for…her husband, Bryan, Jordan, 8th grade at the time, and their son, Christian, 4th grade.

One time when I was at Chemo treatment with Jules, her nurse, Cindy Deminsky, said about Jules, “She is a treasure, treasure, treasure!” In Jules’ usual humored way, she quipped, “No, you are! I’m just an addict!”

Jules always expressed to me how much she valued her girlfriends. Back in the day, she thoroughly loved her “Southern Living Ladies Lunch Club”. They would dress crazy for gatherings and when Jules was ill, they took two-hour shifts to stay with her.

We must meet the unknown future by bringing to bear everything that has been shaped by us in the past. John O'Donohue, Irish Writer (1956-2008)

I am convinced Jules relied strongly on her faith as she journeyed through life, and she would want everyone to know this!

Jule Furr defined life and never allowed life to define her. Her smile changed the world, but she never let the circumstances of her world change her smile.

Jules favorite verse can be found in Romans 5:1-5. Emphasizing both peace and hope, it is definitely worth taking the time to read.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God. Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)

Those who knew Jule were blessed, and those who did not have an opportunity to meet Jule will be inspired by her life and adopt her stories to strengthen their own hearts.

It is now time to celebrate the life of this unique and special daughter, sister, mother, wife and friend to countless gals who will miss this inspiring angel so very much, including me!

Loss is loss, and I will be praying for this precious family during this time of grief. I will also be lifting up the many others I know and love who have lost in 2017.

RIP my dear warrior friend, Jules Furr. See YOU Later!

Related Post You May Have Missed:

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Standing At The Crossroads, Trying To Read The Signs

How Do We Describe Grief?

It Is Well With My Soul

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

Run To The Roar

Hurting Hearts, Painful Paths

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Peace Like A River Attendeth My Way

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The Toccoa River in North Georgia, so peaceful!

Last month, I wrote about the famous hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”. The first line starts like this:

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll.”

This past week, Donny and I took the most peaceful adventure, a tandem kayak, with Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking. We kayaked for 3 hours down the beautiful Toccoa River in North Georgia, and this song, the tune, the lyrics kept coming to my mind.  I was reminded of a word my Daddy used all the time: equanimity, calm amidst a storm. I considered how important it is to have faith, in good times and in bad times.

Hope is like a yeast, you know, rising under warmth. Leif Enger, author of the novel, Peace Like A River

As we paddled leisurely, my cell phone, in the dry bag, rang with the news that Donny’s Dad’s condition is changing again. Dad Page has been struggling quite a bit since March 14, 2015. He continues to be under the care of Hospice, and Wendy, his R.N. wanted us to know he seemed to be declining, again.

Life is hard, sometimes, no doubt.

These outfitters, located in Morganton, Georgia, were awesome and we highly recommend them.  They offer fishing trips and many other adventures, in addition to kayaking. This is close enough to Atlanta, Georgia to make a day trip out of it. And with the summer season heating up, the ice cold waters of the Toccoa feel oh, so good, although we were thankful we didn’t flip our tandem kayak!

Contact them at 706-258-2411. You won’t be disappointed.

Here are a few more pictures from our adventure.

Wherever you find yourself this Summer 2016, be safe, have fun,  keep the faith, and stay cool!

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My husband, Donny. We’ve been married 34 years on 10/2/82.
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This large group of geese wanted to float with us.
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We saw quite a few fishermen in the Toccoa River.

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When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

Chorus

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

Repeat Chorus

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

Repeat Chorus

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Peace Like A River

St. Louis With Family

Commercial airplane

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow. Anita Desai

Donny and I took a short trip to St. Louis, Missouri this past weekend to visit our son and his bride of nearly two years. Though the flight was short, the turbulence was worse than usual, causing the attendants to suspend beverage service for awhile. In addition, the landing was one of the most tumultuous we’ve experienced. Still, as we exited the plane, as always, I thanked the attendants, and I looked straight into the Captain’s eyes, saying, “Thank you for the safe travel.” Some of them are surprised by my statement, but all seem to appreciate it. You may want to try this the next time you step off an airplane! I never want to take traveling mercies for granted, another lesson my Mama taught me.

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Dinner at Central West End
The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. G.K. Chesterson

Arriving at 3:00 p.m. on a Friday gave us a nice long visit with our children, Walker, a Ph.D Philosophy student at SLU (Saint Louis University) and Jessica, a nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Jess is also working on a Masters in Nursing Education. Jessica’s birthday was the Wednesday before our arrival, so we got to celebrate with her! Both carved out time from work and studying to play with us for the weekend! We love the old architecture and homes scattered through this Midwestern U.S. city. We visited them Easter 2015 and you can read about that visit by clicking here.

Did you know? In 1904, St. Louis hosted the 1904 World’s Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics, becoming the first non-European city to host the Olympics.

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happy Mama

The best part of our entire weekend away was just being together. Whether we were sharing a meal, getting a haircut, loving on Louis the cat, planting flower pots, playing cards, hanging out talking, or heading to church.

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favorite post-church lunch spot
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A cold beer is included with your cut!
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LOUIS!
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“Being a good Dad starts with presence, not presents.” anonymous
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our gift: wind chimes from Pier One Imports
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Saturday brunch/lunch farm-to-table…a “must-try”
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With 100% chance of rain, we were happy with a short break in the weather!
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These tall pink hibiscus will bloom soon!
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time out for worship at Memorial
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reflection for congregation at Memorial
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It is always so fun to hang out in St. Louis!
I sustain myself with the love of family. Maya Angelou

After a special time with our family, it was good to return to our home, even with all the congestion and traffic. “There’s no place like home.”

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Thanks, Walker and Jess for your awesome hospitality! We look forward to our next trip when Leah and Scott can join us!

On a side note, our baby birds flew away and into their own journey while we were in Missouri. Click here to read about some of our bird adventures at our home this Spring.

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Mommy or Big Baby, I’m not sure!?!
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The wreath where the nest was built.

A Father Is More Than A Sperm Donor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • vigilant and present

  • funny

  • strong

  • faith-filled

  • problem solver

  • discerning

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

  • unconditional love for his family

  • provider 

  • loving disciplinarian

As you consider my list,

what characteristics might you add?

Share this with the fathers in your path today.

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Blended Tears Live Love Laugh

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Luma, one of our classroom interpreters comforts a crying student on our final day in Rio.

Yesterday, our team flew safely into Atlanta, Georgia at 6:00 a.m. EST, just as Delta had promised. By 7:30, most of us had reached our homes, hugged our loved ones tightly, and relaxed in a hot shower or luxurious bath. Me… I was tearful, and I couldn’t seem to stop the tears.

...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4

While my family was finishing up a relaxing weekend in North Georgia, I came home to a quiet home, but that is not what I was tearful about…My tears were for many reasons…tears of Elation for reaching our homeland after serving in an unimaginable, impoverished community, tears of Gratitude as I walked into the radiant building that is my church home, Piedmont Church, tears of Joy as I hugged tightly many of the friends who had been thinking of us this past week, tears of Anguish as I later visited Donny’s Dad, who has been under the care of Hospice for the past week, tears of Grief as I considered the truth that 11/11/15 marks the third anniversary of my Daddy’s passing at this same place- Wellstar Tranquility Hospice, off of Kennesaw Avenue in Marietta, and blended tears of Hopefulness and Despair as I thought of each boy and girl I had touched in the past week.IMG_7164

Tears come from the heart , not from the brain. Leonardo daVinci

Now, I am quite sure that my tears were also related to fatigue from an all-night flight, but WOW! They sure were flowing yesterday!

And then, THIS picture here below was posted by my friend, Stephanie, in celebration of their 4th child while I was away. Part of the caption especially moved me …

“The world stopped for a moment as your daddy held out his hands to meet you and I waited to hear your first cry. ‘As for me, I will always have hope. I will praise You more and more.’  Psalm 71:14”

Good thing I didn’t try to wear any eye make-up yesterday.12189675_10207824332148795_2391057791809491018_n

When I was looking through the mail Donny had set aside for me, I noticed I had received yet another book.  In case you didn’t already know this about me, I LOVE books, and I usually start one each week. Anne Lamott, being one of my favorite authors, wrote a book in 2013 which I had not had a chance to read and it arrived in my hands at just the right time for all of these tears!  Just think with me for a moment about these words from Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair printed right in the flap:

“What do we do when life lurches out of balance? How can we reconnect to one another and to what’s sustaining? In this book, Lamott explores how we find meaning and peace in these loud and frantic times; where we start again after personal and public devastation; how we recapture wholeness after loss; and how we locate our true identities in this frazzled age. We begin by collecting the ripped shreds of our emotional and spiritual fabric and sewing them back together, one stitch at a time. It’s in these stitches that the quilt of life begins, and embedded in them are strength, warmth, humor, and humanity.”

As I move forward into this week of transitioning from living in a developing community like Rio de Janeiro for a week, to now back to living here in America, where I so easily forget how very blessed I am, I pray that my blended tears will continue. Some may say I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I believe that my blended tears are confirmation to me that there is still plenty for me to do while I am here on this earth. How about you?

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This once again reminds me of my friend, Cathy, who has chosen a life of helping others, using the loss of her collegiate son, Matthew Benjamin Dyas on October 1, 2011, to make a difference in the world while there is still time.

The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say 'O God, forgive me.' or 'Help me. Billy Graham

 Cathy, along with Matt’s father, David elected to donate $500.00 towards art supplies for my recent Rio Journey, because their Matt loved foreign mission trips, going on many trips, himself, before he left us too soon at the age of twenty.

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Cathy encouraging a group of friends to make 1,000 lunches for MUST ministries summer lunch program at the 2015 Matt Dyas Golf Tournament.
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Young boy wears his “Still Doing It” t-shirt to honor Matt Dyas.

Read more here. Cathy is forever challenging others and herself to make a difference however you can, and I so appreciate this challenge that she gives to me.

Make A Difference, Like Matt Did!

JUST DO IT!

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good hYOUman

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It’s plain to see the deep roots that are planted in The Novek Family.
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The day that changed my life…That was it. I knew he died. David Novek. The greatest man you could meet. Gone. I had to walk back in to help everyone gather his belongings. I grabbed his shoes. What do we do now?

I started this company in memory of my dad, the man I strive to be, the man whose memory will never be forgotten.” Brett Novek

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IMG_5431Recently a whole bunch of our adult friends, along with many of our married or engaged young adults gathered to play together, to eat together, to worship together all in the same weekend and in the same place. There were 24 of us in all. [pullquote]Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. From an Irish headstone” [/pullquote]My dear friend, Rita’s daughter, Calli wore the shirt pictured here, introducing us all to good hYOUman, a company she had heard about. What Calli shared with me, moved me, so of course, I had to check it out for myself, and I hope you will, too!

Soon after Brett Novek’s father passed away from cancer, in the depths of despair and hopelessness, he determined one day to start this business in honor and in memory of his Dad. He screen-printed his first t-shirt in the bathroom of his apartment in New York. Quotes like, “My Life Story Will Be A Good One”, “—thankful—”, “Won Day At A Time”, “Forehead Kisses Are Underrated”, Novek’s company has gained interest from retail stores all across the United States for the positiveness that his clothing items portray. [pullquote]God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” James M. Barrie[/pullquote] The whole company is based around Brett’s Dad and has philanthropic collaborations. A current collaboration involves the purchase of the BEFREE Collection, which then provides a donation to The A21 Campaign to end human trafficking.  The fabrics are incredibly soft, too, which makes them really awesome!

I plan to order some things from

good hYOUman for unique gifts.

How about YOU!?!

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