Leaving A Legacy Taylor Read, A Life Well Lived

Taylor’s cousin, Catherine, from Georgia, along with her friend, Kayleigh are ready to hit the Virginia Creeper Trail to ride the 8.2 miles to Taylor’s Shelter.
Taylor’s buddy since 2nd grade and into college, Josh Barker, cools off in the Holston River next to Taylor’s Shelter. So many of Taylor’s friends joined Josh for the day.
Taylor’s sister, Megan tries her hand at corn hole alongside the beautiful Holston River adjacent to Taylor’s Shelter. A shelter designed by Megan in memory of her brother.

How does one leave a legacy?

Like Taylor Read,

a legacy is left by a life well lived.

'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.' Alfred Lord Tennyson

This past weekend, we traveled to Abingdon, Virginia.  The 4th annual Virginia Creeper Trail Rails To River Ride For Taylor Read took place on 10/6/18. We have known and loved the Read Family for four plus decades. This October journey to southwestern Virginia has become a yearly tradition for us.

You might like to click here to read about Taylor’s Ride in October 2017.

Click here to see images of Taylor’s Shelter under construction, along with details about the very first Rails To River For Taylor Read in 2015.

The crowd was moved by a brief word from The Virginia Creeper Trail President, Wayne Miller. Following are a few of his remarks:

I only knew Megan and Taylor Read as children while many of you were privileged to know them and watch them grown into bright, talented young adults—ready to leave their legacy in life.

Friends from near and far surround The Read Family in Taylor’s Shelter.

Each one of us leaves a legacy, a mark on the lives of the people we touch.  Today, the whole Read Family is leaving a Legacy of Love. And, I would like to acknowledge the love that Megan has shown for her brother. That love is reflected in this beautiful structure that brings shelter and comfort to those who pause here on their respective journeys. Megan designed it in love to honor Taylor and we can enjoy the benefits of her excellent work now and for years to come. Thank you, Megan, for this gift. It serves its purpose well. May God continue to bless your family.

On a beautiful blue sky Saturday, 10/6/18, Cheryl and Billy Poe are ready for the 8 mile ride to Taylor’s Shelter on the Virginia Creeper Trail.

Following the passing of their son, Taylor, age 23, 2015, our dear friends, Paul and Kelly have traveled a road none of us would have asked for. Along with their daughter, Megan, they have traveled it courageously, demonstrating strength beyond measure. They have leaned on each other, their faith, their family, and their many friends who love them. Fervent prayers have also played a significant role in their pilgrimage…prayers of their hearts and prayers of countless others. Prayers for this tumultuous journey The Reads have been called to travel. They have learned the truth that when we love much, we will grieve much and for always. We will also smile and laugh as countless memories are recalled by this community of Love for Taylor.

So thankful for my girlfriend, Kelly.

Reaching my sixth decade, I am noting that I have lost many whom I have loved, including both of my parents. Many that have passed have been between the ages of 20-45, years before their 60th birthday. This thought brings a few things to mind…my missing of these souls, these sons, like Taylor, Matt, Brendan and our nephew, Brad, daughters, mothers like Jule Furr, daddies like Doug Rives, Steven Rahn, and Rick Gray, they are missed by so many.

I have much gratitude that I am here today. Though my body and my brain are aging, I still have breath and energy to go forward. An affirmative attitude, my perspective at the start of each new day have become more important than ever. Seizing moments has become vital. My faith in a Living God has become an integral part of a courageous existence. I have learned that when I allow discouragement or anxiety to sneak into my days, circumstances seem even more out of control.  I am also learning that when I seek joy, I find it and I am drawn to it like a magnet.

Taylor’s Grandparents, Aunt Allison, and Mom, Kelly at the trailhead. Jess Heald, Taylor’s Grandfather was excited to hit the trail at age 84 on his electric tricycle.

Back to our recent Virginia weekend. When I chatted with both Paul and Kelly individually, we talked about the joy, adventure, fellowship, laughter, fun, food, football, and Blue Grass Music.

Elizabeth dances to the awesome Bluegrass band at Taylor’s Shelter with grandson, Cooper.
Brooks, age 2 cools off in the Holston River, adjacent to Taylor’s Shelter while his Daddy looks on.

There was enthusiasm for the weekend, even as we missed the presence of our Taylor not being with us. The thing is, he was with us as we celebrated his life well lived, his legacy, with a rigorous 8.2-mile bike ride on the scenic Virginia Creeper Trail to Taylor’s Shelter at Alvaredo Station. We clinked our glasses as we announced “Cheers!” at the nearby Abingdon Vineyards Winery.

Taylor’s friends from high school and college gathered at The Abingdon Winery following their bike ride to Taylor’s Shelter.

In unison, in and around Taylor’s Shelter,  with over 200 strong voices together, we said the blessing Taylor said at family meals:

“Dear God, Thank You for everything we have and

we hope everybody’s okay. Amen.”

Yes, Taylor was with us, with many of his friends from both high school and college, many now married and a few are new parents. Taylor was with us, with his cousins, his Aunt Allison and Uncle Brian from GA, his grandparents from VA, TN, and GA. Taylor was with the dozens of The Read’s friends who watched him grow from a baby into a handsome young man. A guy who loved his family so much. Taylor loved people, golf, baseball, and God. A student who worked hard in school and loved hanging out with his friends. Taylor was with us as we remembered the day we received the shocking news of his passing, but more than that, we recalled the days that he lived, laughed, and loved.

Taylor’s Legacy Lives On in so many hearts.

From start to end, this was a weekend to remember. Our weekend started with a visit to the famous Barter Theater to see the play Singin’ in the Rain. I had a chance to spend lots of time with my college friends, Delo, Debby, Becky, and JoAnn at the shelter.  Kelly’s husband, Paul brought our weekend to an amazing end with a Surprise Sunday Brunch for Kelly’s recent birthday on October 2nd. Yes, the weekend was filled with many remarkable blessings, circumstances that Kelly has come to call “Taylor Winks”.

Paul Read toasts his wife of 36 years at a Surprise Sunday Birthday Brunch on October 7, 2018.

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Run To The Roar

Authentic Prayer

Four Questions For God

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

A Grace Disguised

Add To Your Faith Goodness

Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

Hurting Hearts Painful Paths

Standing At The Crossroads Trying To Read The Signs

We’ve Got Your Back

It Is Well With My Soul

How Do We Describe Grief?

Fighter, Jule Furr Takes Her Leave

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7 Reflections From A Movie same kind of difference as me

Published about the time my Mama received her cancer diagnosis, in June, 2006, same kind of difference As me: a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together co-authored by, Ron Hall and Denver Moore is truly an unforgettable story. I remember vividly, reading this book in a waiting room while Mama received her treatment. Afterwards, I shared copy after copy with friends and family.

Set in the Lone Star state of Texas, the book is now a major motion picture, opening on October 20, 2017. Click here to listen to Brad Paisley’s hit song for the movie, Stubborn Angel.

We have extra time on our hands here in St. Louis, between nursing, changing, and cuddling with our new granddaughter, Elizabeth Noel Page. Yesterday, our daughter-in-law, Jess and I decided to take in an afternoon movie while Elizabeth’s Daddy was at school.

Without giving away the whole story, based on true events, here are a few quotes by the authors of this story:

“If you really serious ’bout helping’ somebody, crawl down in the ditch with ’em, bandage up their wounds, and stick with ’em until they is strong enough to crawl up on your back ands get out.”

“The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in-between, this earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So in a way, we is all homeless—just workin’ our way home.”

“When you is precious to God, you become more important to Satan. Watch your back.”  

“There’s something I learned when I was homeless. Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin’ you can do, that’s when God takes over.”

“I found out everybody’s different—the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin’  down the road God done set in front of us.”

~Denver Moore~

“To love a man enough to help him, you have to forfeit the warm, self-righteous glow that comes from judging.”  

“Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpected can also take you over and change your life. Put a heart in your body where a stone used to be.”  

~Ron Hall~

“So in a way, we is all homeless…just walkin’ our way home.” Denver Moore, same kind of difference As me

When you take time to read this book or see the movie, I am wondering what thoughts you may have afterwards?

My Reflections:

1) love always wins

2) regardless of our race, gender or place of origin, we are similar in more ways than not

3) we all put our pants on one leg at a time

4) each of us can reach one who is in need

5) when we help someone, we are encouraged and changed

6) life is brief and kindness matters

7) judgment is never okay we never know where one’s shoes have trod

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Hungry and Cold

What’s Happiness? What’s Joy?

Have A Care Kit Party

Joy Comes In The Morning

A Stocking Stuffer For Teens and Young Adults

We Can Embrace It

Eight Ways To Share With Others

The Calvary Kids

My Own Little World

Having A Bad Day?

Path Littered With Hard Circumstances?

Cheers To A New Year No Resolutions Here

The holiday season has come and gone and ours was very full, as I am sure yours was, as well. Here are a few pictures to illustrate some of my highlights:

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A post-Christmas and pre-New Years Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield hike with my long-time friend, Kathy
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A collage session on December 28, 2016, with my girls who currently live at The Extension and are battling addiction.

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I know you have special photos of your moments with friends and family and I am hoping you might share them in the comment space below!

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A Christmas Day 2016 visit with GrandDaddy Page

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Our son, Walker, visiting with his wife, Jessica, from St. Louis, gets a hug from our great-nephew, Noah on December 23, 2016
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Leigh Andrews takes a minute to read a note from her groom just before becoming Mrs. Michael Fogg on December 30, 2016.
Our daughter, Leah’s sis-in-law, Leigh waits for her wedding
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A beautiful ceremony for Michael Fogg and Leigh Andrews on December 30, 2016.
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Christmas Eve with our daughter’s in-laws, The Andrews
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A trip to the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Garden with Je, Jan and Cindy and some of Cindy’s family, friends from high school (aka: FFs) on December 11. 2016
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Our Walker Family Christmas Pizza Party on 12/26/16
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Story Time with our great-nephews, August (DOB: 3/1/14 to my right) and Noah (DOB: 6/18/14 to my left) on December 23, 2016.
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Our Six Around The Tree
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Honoring our sweet Kelsea West, and her groom, Troy with an engagement party on 12/17/16
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Leah and Scott celebrate with the future Mr. and Mrs. in a photo booth Leah created!

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Having been around for nearly six decades, the whole subject of New Year’s Resolutions causes me to yawn. What is the use of them? What is the benefit of putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves in a world that already has enough stress as it is? Now, don’t get me wrong! I do believe in goals and change and progressing towards a better life. But I have also learned, that for me, anyway, that it is more about the journey itself than it is about the destination. I want to be kinder to myself, more compassionate towards my fellow humans, and more faithful to my God.

Here are a few things that I found on social media that caused me to pause, to be still for a moment, and consider how I want to navigate into this new year: 2017.

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So, I encourage you, along with me to say:

‘THANK YOU for being in my life, and helping me to continue to learn, to grow, and to smile past the struggles, while counting my blessings.”

Thanks to all of you out there who follow my Pages From Joan. Please help me this year by sharing any posts that resonate with your heart.

Related Previous Posts That You May Have Missed:

Fire The Bad Boss Inside

We Can Embrace It

Time Away: A Woman’s Retreat

We Can Get Advice From A Trail

Your Beautiful, Complicated Life Matters

Give and It Will Be Given Unto You

Wrestling and Seeking

The Long and Winding Road

Humble and Kind

Peace Like A River

My Own Little World

It Is Well With My Soul

Gratitude and Grace

A Win For The Guinn Family And Kate’s Club Just Look What Kids Can Do!

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WOW! $20,0002.69 = A Win for The Guinn Family and Kate’s Club! Just look at what kids can do! You may have read my recent post, Are You Driving?  Put The Phone Down, about Marietta triplets, MacKenna, Alyssa, and Issy, along with their mom, Kim, and the huge positive difference they are making in our world in the challenging and onerous aftermath of their Daddy, and Kim’s husband’s passing in 2014. You see, Frank, an Atlanta firefighter, was training for an upcoming race when he was struck and killed by a distracted driver.

Age seven at the time, at first, the triplets did not want to talk about their Daddy’s passing, it was just too hard! Thanks to an organization founded in June 2003, Kate’s Club has taught these sisters how to grieve in a healthy way, while moving forward. In addition, Kate’s Club, in Atlanta, Georgia, offers all of their resources free of charge, and they even hold monthly meetings for the grieving parents, which Kim Guinn has shared has been extremely helpful to her.

The soul is healed by being with children. Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Once the sisters decided that they wanted to give back to Kate’s Club, a plan began to unfold and you can read about it in my earlier post here.

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I listened to The Bert Show live this morning, as they interviewed Mom, Kim, the triplets, as well as Kristen Stocks, founder of a life-changing organization from Kid’s Boost, and here is what I learned as a follow-up to this amazing story:

The Guinn Family contacted Kid’s Boost The Mission of Kid’s Boost is simple: To create a sustainable cycle of giving by equipping kids to serve others. Mrs. Stocks, the founder Of Kid’s Boost, believes that kids of all ages have the innate need and desire to do something great in the world. So, Kid’s Boost offered The Guinn Family $100.00 to begin their plan. Long story short, the first annual Running thru The Flames 5K held this past Sunday on September 11, 2016, in Marietta, Georgia, raised $20,002.69…$15,002.69 more than their goal of $5,000!!!

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KIDS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! LET’S GIVE THEM THE CHANCE! Fun happenings at the first annual Running thru The Flames 5K held on September 11, 2016, Marietta, Georgia

This all began with three grieving girls who had lost their Daddy because of a distracted driver, a motivated (and also grieving) Mommy, $100.00 and this family’s desire to make a difference while honoring their precious loved one. So I leave you now with a few thoughts:

  • Do you have kids or grandkids? Would you like to see them more confident? What is important to your child? THINK BIG! Contact Kid’s Boost and they will help you empower your kids to do great things to give back in fun ways.
  • Are you and I distracted drivers, one who is constantly handling our phones while behind the wheel? Read here about a tragic accident that happened just this week in Athens, Georgia, stealing a life away, a UGA Grad Researcher, Ashley Block, age 25, instantly. The driver, age 31 has been found to not only be looking at her cellphone, but also impaired.  As Kim Guinn states: “Pass them like you love them, because someone ‘does’ love them. Bikers, joggers, pedestrians have families just like you.”
  • Do you know someone who is struggling with the loss of a child or a parent? If so, encourage them to contact Kate’s Club. This $20,000+ raised by The Guinn triplets will fund camps, outings, parental resources, all kinds of great things, all in the name of helping families who are grieving the loss of a family precious member.

And finally, remember that TODAY is a gift, and that is why we call it “The Present”. Click here to read one of my favorite posts: The Simple Things.  Make Today A Great Day!

Posts You May Have Missed:

Children Are Wet Cement

Let’s Listen To Children

How Do We Describe Grief?

It Is Well With my Soul

A Grace Disguised

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

My Heart Will Go On

Anne Lamott: Best Day Ever

Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

18 Holes Of Golf And 1,000 Sandwiches: Just Do It

Memorial Day 3 Ways To Raise Up The Flag

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Memorial Day! Cookouts, beach trips, boat rides, parades, picnics are just a few of the activities you and I are taking part of on this Memorial Day, 2016 as we celebrate the start of SUMMER!

We are the home of the free because of the brave. Anonymous

 I want to share with you three ways to honor and raise up our flag as you enjoy this special time with your favorite people. Click here for an amazing 3 minute Memorial Day video produced by Zoomability.

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As I have been placing flags around in flower pots and window sills, my mind keeps going back to when I was ten years old and the U.S. was directly involved in the Vietnam War. Over 58,000 Americans were killed in this horrific war, and if you have never taken the time to view pictures/videos about it, or if you haven’t in years, I strongly urge you to click here to learn more about this time.  The U.S. involvement was during the 1962 and 1973, and as a girl at the time, in addition to the news/media coverage, I have three vivid memories.

First, a close friend of our family, Timothy Faust was injured badly in Vietnam and I remember us standing on our driveway on Webster Drive together when he came home. Tim’s mouth was covered with gauze because of the deformity caused by his injuries. After many, many surgeries, Tim passed away as a result of his injuries. Second, our family was very close with The Allen Family, who attended church with us. Their brother, Larry Michael Allen was killed instantly in ‘Nam and here is what a U.S.A. Today article stated in 2012:

“I will mark this Memorial Day by remembering Larry [Michael] Allen, a fallen Marine from Decatur, Ga.
On June 18, 1970, somewhere in Vietnam, our squad ran into an ambush and was surrounded. We were taking heavy fire from the enemy we could not see. We were advancing when Larry (Mike) stepped directly in front of me and one other Marine, taking a bullet wound in the lower stomach, meant for us. As he lay dying before us, I will never forget the helplessness I felt. The firefight was so intense that our choppers could not get in to help Larry (Mike) and the other wounded. That day, we lost a wonderful 18-year-old Marine who not long before was running high school track in Georgia.
I salute you, Larry (Mike). Thanks for giving two of us our lives. Semper fi, my friend.
Terry Franks; Springville, Ala.”
And a word from Betty Lou, Mike’s sister: Sgt. Terry Franks, came to meet my folks in August 1970 when he returned home to B’ham. He still keeps in touch with my mom, called last month.

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. Arthur Ash

And thirdly, and closest to me, my own big brother, John Wade Walker was serving there as a Marine. John was the oldest of six children and I recall Mama praying around our dinner table for his safety. Thankfully, John and his wife of four decades live in southern Mississippi and have three grown married children as well as three grandchildren. John went onto become a lifetime Marine, serving in many future battles. Semper Fi!

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My brother, John Wade and his bride dance at our niece’s wedding.
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My brother, John’s 3 grand babies: Anna Claire, Titus Ray, and Noah James. Their group hug forms a heart!

Read more about my “grand” nieces and nephews on an earlier post: Carve Your Hearts On Hearts.

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My sis-in-law, Jeanie sent me this pic of the flag they hang on their porch every patriotic holiday to honor those like Mike and Tim, who have gone on ahead of us.

Three Ways To Raise Up The Flag:

(1) Think of and remember those, and their families, who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for our freedom.

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Facebook post from my friend, Jay

(2) Teach and train up our children with understanding about what our flag represents.

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Our friend, Sam Moon, 9, with his new friend, Colleen, who was there to visit her father’s grave site.

Cub Scout Pack 178 and Boy Scout Troop 173 Scouts in Marietta, Georgia placed 18,000 flags in minutes. My friend, Stephen  Moon shared this story from their day:

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Some of The Moon Family with Cub Scout Pack 178.

“This happened to make it even more special: A stranger was waiting to take a picture. After Sam placed the flag, Colleen started to cry and thanked him. This was her father’s final resting place (Marine Cpl. Richard D. Marks, Korean War)”

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Our friend, Rosie Moon, age 7 places flags around Marietta National Cemetery.
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Our friend, Will, age 11, and a Boy Scout shows his respect.

(3) Honor and pray for those who are currently serving for the preservation of our freedom.

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Corporal James O’Neil Todd, age 23, U.S. Army, 2nd Brigade Combat Team; 3rd Infantry Division out of Ft. Stewart, GA, currently serving in Ukraine.
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My friend, Julie’s Memorial Day post.
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Lt. Ryan Jackson & Lt. Lauren Jackson, both helicopter pilots are currently serving at The Naval Academy.
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The Gillam & Jackson Families are so excited to welcome Everly Grace, 10:51 a.m. on May 26, 2016!

What memories does this Memorial Day 2016 trigger for you? How can you and I raise up and honor our flag in the days ahead?

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I am wishing you all a Happy and Safe Summer! Please continue to join me here on my Pages From Joan and share my posts with your peeps! God Bless America!

5 Reasons We Should Volunteer Why Should We Do It?

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Many may wonder why should we volunteer? Here is a good list to get us thinking. When asked about why a group of folks took time out each week to volunteer, here were some of their answers: to feel needed, to share a skill, to get to know a community different from myself, to demonstrate commitment to a cause or a belief, to gain leadership skills, and to accomplish a civic duty.

Volunteers are love in motion. Unknown

Five Reasons We Should Volunteer:

(1) Studies have shown that volunteers live longer and healthier lives.

(2) Volunteering can help you establish strong relationships.

(3) Volunteering can complement your career.

(4) Volunteering helps society.

(5) Volunteering gives you a strong sense of purpose.

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“Why volunteering makes us healthier is rooted in biology. One of the best ways to get your mind off your aches and pains is to get your mind on someone else,” says Stephen Post, coauthor of Why Good Things Happen To Good People: How To Live A Longer, Healthier, Happier Life By The Simple Act Of Giving, and Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University. This is one of the important lessons my Mama taught me: “When you are down, help someone.” Click here and here to read earlier posts which illustrate this important reminder.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

Anyone who has done any amount of volunteering for any measure of time would likely agree that when we give to others with our heart (not from thought of benefit or reward) that we can reap benefits which are glorious and unimaginable. Simply being a good listener, expressing joy and humor, or offering a genuine, friendly smile, can contribute to lighting up another person’s life. Volunteering can have many surprising benefits!

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A collage project by one of my EXT friends.

One cool thing about volunteering is that you can choose an area that you are passionate about. If you love animals, spend some time helping out at a rescue shelter or a Veterinarian’s office. If reading inspires you, spend some time reshelving books at your local library. If you miss having little ones in your home, consider contacting a local indigent hospital, like Grady Memorial Hospital and rock babies one afternoon a week. I have chosen The Extension as one of my main volunteer opportunities for Volunteerism since it opened in 2009, because the raw courage exhibited by the women who reside there challenges me in my journey.

It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice. Unknown

My friend, Tammy and I meet up with the ladies there every other Wednesday and have an art therapy/collage activity with them. My friend and I agree that this commitment makes a real difference in our lives, and we believe it encourages the current Extension residents, as well. My personal desire to give back to the community has been renewed by the fact that I am making a difference, no matter how small. Click here to watch a quick video, one of may favorite tales about helping out: The Boy and the Starfish.

IMG_0094Oh, and volunteering does not have to be a weekly commitment. It may involve simply providing a meal for a family who is dealing with adversity or giving a ride to someone who needs one. Just being on the look out for who’s in your path, you will soon see many ways to lend a hand.

Studies have shown that volunteering is particularly beneficial to adults age 65 and older, and those who serve more than 100 hours each year. Volunteers are more likely to report a greater sense of well-being, and of purpose and meaning in their lives, than nonvolunteers. Older adults, who may be prone to social isolation, volunteering can offer strong social networks and a way to stay active in the community.

There has been a debate for some time now regarding whether or not high schoolers should be required to earn a certain number of community service hours. While time management is a real issue, having raised two young adults, we have seen significant benefits of their involvement in their community and beyond. Click here to read about many of the positives that can come from your teen being involved in service, whether it is required, or not. I am proud to know 15-year-old Aidan, who is on a mission to share the joy and necessity of giving to all. Aidan is a speaker, singer, and songwriter and you can like his Facebook page here. Aidan’s website is Aidan Cares.

I would love to hear in the comments below what you have chosen to do as a volunteer.

If you haven’t gotten involved as a volunteer, why not consider starting today?

Group of Hands Holding Letter Volunteer

Posts You May Have Missed:

The Simple Things

Wrestling and Seeking

The Love Letter Challenge

Standing At The Crossroads

A few more collage projects from my Extension friends:

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a bookmark

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Scores Of Warm Hands And One Warm Heart

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This week began with scores of warm hands and one very warm heart…

My phone rang unexpectedly at 7:15 on Monday morning. I was admittedly being lazy, after just driving in from Knoxville the night before. My husband, Donny, had forgotten his cell phone and there was no way, in his line of work, the day could continue without it. So what did I do, I heated up some coffee, grabbed the warmest things I could find for me, my hands, and my feet and jumped in our truck. In the early morning rush-hour, I got to catch a few views that I would’ve otherwise missed.IMG_8390 IMG_8394 IMG_8397The start of a new day, a new week. As I glanced at my dash, noting the 22 degrees showing there, my mind moved to the boxes in my back seat.

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donations from 12/22/15
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donations from 12/22/15
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donations from 12/22/15

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King, Jr.

You see, on December 22, 2015, we had a Christmas gathering and we encouraged our friends to bring canned goods, gloves, and warm hats for the people who are cared for through MUST Ministries. Since Donny’s office is right near this shelter, I knew I needed to head that way to distribute a few of these donations on this freezing Monday morning.IMG_8402

Now I realize the best way to “donate” is through the distribution site, but on this freezing morning all I could think of was frigid hands…Initially when I pulled up, there was no one there, but then a young man named Charlie came close enough for me to open the window and ask him if he could use some gloves. Charlie answered me, “Yes!”, cheerfully, and asked if he could have a hat and gloves for his mother who was accompanying him, and waiting for him,  just inside. Soon, there was a short line forming at the passenger side of our truck. Running out of men’s gloves before the line ran out, I promised them I would be back with more within the hour.

IMG_8407 IMG_8404Upon my return, again, probably because the temps were so low, there was no one there. Again, soon after my arrival, a few more who needed them came to receive this gift of warmth.  Thinking of Leah and Walker when they were young, and how during carpools we used to hand gloves out on freezing days, my heart was reminiscing with the memory. By 9:15 a.m. I was heading back home, knowing my husband had his phone and there were a lot of warmer hands and one very, very warm heart. Thanks to those who gave these hats and gloves so generously back in December! Some of the hats and gloves are only $2.00 each. Perhaps you’d like to keep a few in your car to give out when you see a need.

You might want to consider taking your children or grandchildren to pick some out for those in need. After all, children are like little sponges and teaching them about compassion when they are young is a wonderful thing! 

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two of the ladies and a child who received hats and gloves that day

Our 2016 Path Awaits Us : Part One

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I am wondering who will be in our 2016 path?

Our 2016 Path Awaits Us!

I know many who are growing weary of all the social media in our world today. While I cannot deny that it can be a “time-drainer”, a “conversation killer”, a “drama-promoter”, and sadly, even an extremely evil “tool” for some, with pornography growing rampant in our communities. Still, I am convinced that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more have given us countless ways to stay connected with others, to find others whom we would like to find, and to share ideas with one another. [pullquote]Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Brad Paisley [/pullquote]For me, it’s about “balance” in all things…something I honestly work on daily! I have to also say that it has been cathartic for me to share my musings several times a week here on Pages From Joan, and as 2016 has its start, I thank you once again for reading and sharing my posts.

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Speaking of connecting on Facebook, check out this request I saw over the holidays and then the response of strangers!
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This illustrates the response of strangers as they heard the pleas of a mother they will likely never meet.

This post and my next one are about two special folks I found as a result of social media. I honestly believe that my connection with these two would have been essentially nonexistent if it were not for the opportunity to find them here on-line. Their stories remind me to be in tune to who shows up in my daily path, to look towards making a difference in the lives right in front of me. These stories I will share below, and in my next post, with their permission, remind me of an earlier post entitled:

Who’s In Our Path. 

I first met Sam because he is a nephew to some of our dearest, life-long friends, Jan and David. Though we have met in person at a wedding or two, our friendship stems from our connection here. I so appreciate the support and encouragement Sam has given me to keep writing. Sam is keeping an eye out for those who need some kindness, those who show up in his path. A recent story from Sam:

“As I ride the Marta train home, I am thinking long and hard about your story. (This was after Sam had just read my post We Can Embrace It.) I pass by Inman Park, Candler Park, Little Five Points. Years ago, you could’ve never gotten me to ride a Marta train. I’ve come to really enjoy it. I enjoy listening to the conductor, observing the people. I’ll never forget boarding the train this time last year. I saw my usual seat had been taken over by a female with her 3 children all spread out in the last 2 rows . They were all completely exhausted, and you could tell they had been up all night long. I have often wondered if she had been evicted, or been a victim of some type of abuse. As I rode the train to my connection point at 5 Points, I was moved to give her some money. I shook her aggressively, she finally aroused and I slipped her $20 – I wish I could’ve given her $100; but, I digress. This year, there weren’t any Marta patrons that moved me to tears, but there was a couple (and their family) who boarded my flight early this morning. His wife was seated in 3D. As he was boarding, I could see his eyes were completely blood-shot from crying. I introduced myself and he said his name was Larry. He went onto say they had received some very devastating news. He was overcome with grief — It was all around him, and his wife too. They were in that place where; if you have ever experienced such grieving it’s like being in another world…
As they deplaned I wished them a Merry Christmas , but it seemed so hollow. Their Christmas season would be different from now on.
*That’s why I am going to embrace the small joys, and make this a holiday to celebrate living. There is so much life to live.”

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My friend, Sam.

Thank you, Sam for reminding us to

embrace the small joys in our days,

as we keep an eye out for those

who are in our path!

Our 2016 Path Awaits Us!

Brazil Bound

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN BIRTHDAY TO MY SIS, KATHY!

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I am Brazil Bound! Tonight I will be flying all night to Rio de Janeiro, arriving on Saturday morning, October 31, 2015. Our team of 10, including my sis, Mary Ann and her husband, Jim, from Piedmont Church will be joining another team from the U.S. to minister to the poor who live in a favela community there in Rio.[pullquote] When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” 
Matthew 25:39-40 [/pullquote] Since 2003, this will be my 6th trip to Rio, thanks to my niece, Amy, who was a medical missionary there for several years before marrying her love, Stephen, and settling down in Tennessee with their first-born, Noah Ray. Our family of four served together in Rio in 2005. [pullquote]If you truly believe in the value of life, you care about all of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.” Joni Eareckson Tada[/pullquote]

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A long line for the clinic begins forming the night before. (2004)

Did you know? The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!

On this 2015 trip, in addition to holding our usual free Medical Clinic which includes vision, dental, medical, and a pharmacy, we will be working in a school with about fifty students, playing games, telling them stories, and doing art projects. Pictured below are just some of the children I got to meet in Rio in past visits.

IMG_6691 IMG_6696 IMG_6697 IMG_6690Mainly, we will be simply loving on these kids who are offsprings of prostitutes and drug dealers in Rio. Having an Elementary Education background, I am especially excited to be serving the children of Rio in this way.

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The school where we will be working in Rio.
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The school where we will be working in Rio.
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Our Portuguese Coloring Book to Use With our Kids!
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Our family at the Christ Statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2005.

Once you’ve been bitten by “the mission bug”, you are forever changed and you will find yourself looking for ways to make a difference, wherever you may find yourself, while you are still here on the earth. [pullquote]How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank[/pullquote]Many jobs and careers are service oriented.  Whether in the U.S. or abroad, there are needs that we can meet.

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A young patient snuggles with a Happy Tails Volunteer.

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Like some of my girlfriends, your ‘difference opportunity’ may be volunteering with an organization called Happy Tails Pet Therapy, reaching out to work in a soup kitchen, sorting items in a clothes closet, art therapy with folks who are overcoming their addictions, or visiting the ill who are in the hospital. [pullquote]Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”    James M. Barrie [/pullquote]If you are homebound, you might send greeting cards to the list of sick folks from your church. In addition, check with local churches and see what mission trips in the U.S. or abroad might be in the works.  The Matt B. Dyas Memorial Golf Scholarship Fund made a contribution towards art supplies for the students we’ll be serving and we so appreciate their support in honor of their son, Matt, who loved Mission Trips. People are willing to financially support those who go, if they cannot go. And always remember the significance and the importance of the ministry of praying.  Encouraging someone who cannot return the favor effects us in an extraordinary way. You will be surprised by the positive impact this will have on your life journey.

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As we reach out with a grateful heart to someone who is in need, OUR lives are forever changed, and hopefully we have helped to change their life, too, if only in a small way.

Our team covets your prayer support while we are gone and I’ll look forward to resuming my Pages upon my return to America on Sunday, November 8, 2015.

Two open hands in the sky with a sphere of light, symbol of gratefulness and gratitude.

How might you and I reach out to

someone in need in the days ahead?

Peace Of Thread

This past weekend, my family surprised me by celebrating my early August birthday since we won’t be together on my day. We had fun just hanging out, making a shrimp boil dinner together, eating cake and making homemade Oreo ice cream. YUM!

Whenever our two children ask me what I would like for a gift, I mainly say, “Just a note from you.”

I consider the notes and cards I have accumulated over the years as great treasures in my life. I enjoy looking over them again and again.

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Smile at each other. Smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other- it doesn’t matter who it is- and that will help us all to grow in greater love for each other.”

Mother Teresa

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Leah also gave me a small wrapped package, a gift in which I have truly grown attached to as I have researched the origin of this love gift. A small bag just big enough for my cell phone, my license, and some cash, was handmade by an Artisan Threader, from Iraq, by the name of Ameena. Leah knew I would love this special and unique gift because I am always looking for little and big ways to make a difference.

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My own unique, one-of-a kind Peace of Thread bag!

“Four years ago, Denise Smith had just returned from six years with her husband and their jobs in Beirut. Life in Lebanon had left her feeling out of place back in Georgia. She pondered and prayed on what meaning her life might take when her church, Grace (Snellville) called her and asked if she would come speak to a group of refugee women, most of whom only spoke Arabic.
She agreed and began to ponder and pray on what she could offer them. The plan revealed itself in her trusty old sewing machine. “I took it everywhere with me,” says Denise. “I am never without it.”

Denise first called the manager of the apartment building that housed many of the women. “I asked if they might be interested in learning to sew,” says Denise. “His enthusiastic answer was, ‘YES!’”. Denise made some calls to friends to gather scraps of fabric and ended up with a few sewing machines as well.

That first meeting began a journey that became the answer to many prayers. The prayers of women who have fled horrific conditions and only want one small opportunity to make a living, raise good children and BE American, as well as the prayers of a woman who wanted to know what she should do with herself. Peace of Thread was born of these prayers.

The designer accessories company provides training, language lessons, fellowship and jobs for women who have made their way from upheaval and threat to a place they can breathe and make a new life out of the patches of their former selves. The words from their website read: “Peace of Thread is a not for profit organization that empowers women who have come to the United States seeking refuge from war, persecution and poverty to make a new life for themselves and their family. The women of Peace of Thread hand make high quality and one-of-a-kind accessories using top-of-the-line, refurbished fabric. Their mission is to “promote the exchanging of cultures and the international development of women in vulnerable populations by teaching and improving life, business, and language skills through the platform of designing and sewing “one-of-a-kind” purses, bags, and accessories using re-purposed materials and to engage in activities which are necessary.”

Founder, Denise Smith seeks to bring Eastern and Western women together to foster fellowship and peace. “Women need work to contribute to their economy and support their families,” says Denise. Through sewing and mending, the physical, emotional and spiritual pieces of each woman are mended as well. “God is peace and we are all people of peace,” says Denise. “Each of these women want just one small chance to learn a craft and be able to contribute to their household needs.”

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The INSIDE of my bag!
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We show the beauty of each woman by designing the inside of each bag even more beautifully than the outside and teach the women that they were designed in this very same way.”

Denise Smith,

Founder and CEO of Peace of Thread

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The back of my bag.

The need for sponsors is endless. Each woman who enters the program is given a sewing machine, thread, needles, patterns and scraps of fabric. The majority of the fabric comes from the Atlanta Decorative Art Center and are scraps from the finest interior design products in the world. Parisian silks, Belgium patterns and countless more of the world’s loveliest fabrics are cast aside after becoming pillows, upholstery, and curtains. These incredible fabric scraps are designed and sewn into amazing bags that show the heart and soul of the artist. “To turn our bags inside out, you will find beautifully appointed fabrics that complement each other,” says Denise. “They are just like the women who sew them, beautiful inside and out.” (and truly the small bag Leah gave to me is as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside)

Inside the pockets of each bag is tucked a card that tells the story of each artisan. “Six of our women have graduated Level 12 English which means they can read to their own child a story or understand the papers that come home from school,” says Denise. “Education is power for the formerly unemployable.” Each woman has a means for an income and desire to live “West alongside East”. “By understanding the gaps in culture, the women shed fears and become good American Citizens,” says Denise. “They will not be going back to their birth countries, so they need to belong here.”

 

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Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own.”

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

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Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

Booker T. Washington, (1856-1915)

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Remaining true to her mission and relying on prayer, Denise Smith and her volunteers work hard to ensure that those who want to find a way to support themselves and their families are able to do so. Volunteers are needed for all manner of roles. Watching the children of the trainees during classes is important. Transportation to the training center is always needed. “You don’t need to know how to sew in order to help,” says Denise. “We can always use more volunteers.” To order a bag or learn how you can help, visit the website, www.peaceofthread.com.” (from a recent Gwinnett Citizen article by Beth Volpert-Johansen, click here to read more)

Purchasing bags straight off their website for yourself and for gifts can have a huge impact.

Located in Clarkston, Georgia, some of the volunteer opportunities mentioned on their website include:
Designer
selects fabrics for making bags; is familiar with different kinds of fabrics and textiles and/or has sewing knowledge.

Design Cutter
uses patterns to cut the fabric after it has been selected by a designer.

Design Organizer
organizes and categorizes fabrics according to style and seasons, or cuts pieces of fabric for scraps and to make business cards; keeps the design studio organized and in a clean manner.

Pattern Detailer
ensures that patterns are cut properly and that instructions are clearly labeled on them.

How about you and I?

How are we impacting those in our daily path in small or big ways? As I have said many times before, even a smile or a kind word to someone we cross paths with can brighten a day…potentially theirs AND ours.

Are you still looking for your “purpose“, the way or ways you can make a positive difference with this one life you’ve been given???

Let’s all start today in our own families, then moving beyond as we feel led.

This story about how Denise Smith founded Peace of Thread inspires me to reach out more to those less fortunate than me, and I hope it will do the same for you.