The Day I Rang The Salvation Army Bell Each One Reach One

It may be a distant memory now, but there were some very rainy days in Georgia during the month of December. It is easy to recall driving home slowly from a holiday party and climbing into our warm, comfy bed as soon as possible.

Then the thoughts would begin…Where are the homeless sleeping tonight on this soggy cold evening? Were there enough beds at the shelter? Are there children out there with their Mommies and Daddies? Will they be okay?

Then I would utter a brief prayer from my bed. “Please, Lord, keep them safe and help them to find dry shelter and warmth.” I knew in my heart, felt compelled in my soul, that He would use me to help those in need somehow, someway during these cold, wet December days.

Donations ready for those in need!
Just look at all of the donations we collected from generous friends and family on December 22, 2019!

As the December days clicked by, we held a wonderful caroling gathering on the last Sunday before Christmas. Our guests brought new socks, underclothes, gloves, hats and scarves. We collected an abundance of these items, wrapped a bow around them individually and delivered them to The Zone. A nearby center, The Zone has programs that fuel recovery and fight addiction. Those who are in the throes of an addiction are often not welcome in their family home during the holidays. Knowing The Zone would be open for 36 hours during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, feeding all who came by, our small love gifts would be distributed to those who stopped in.

Soon it was Christmas Eve, 2019. Knowing that my last-minute chores were squared away, I stopped by the local Salvation Army office and asked if I could ring a bell. The receptionist told me that no one was ringing at a nearby Wal-Mart and would I be willing to work there. My assigned shift was 10:00-1:00, and a Salvation Army representative would meet me there. 

I arrived a few minutes early. After waiting a good while, the representative never arrived. I tried calling a few numbers, but most offered only a machine since it was Christmas Eve. Sadly, I entered the Wal-Mart to pick up one last thing, potatoes for our Christmas feast.

As soon as I came out, I saw her! A woman was ringing the bell cheerily and walking to and fro on the storefront sidewalk. After introducing myself and acknowledging that there had been some misunderstanding, my new friend offered me the bell and her chair and slipped inside to hang out at the Subway sandwich shop. I was going to get to ring that bell after all!

I was so glad I grabbed these chocolate Santa lollipops as an afterthought. They were appreciated by both young and old, alike.

The next couple of hours, I called out Merry Christmas to all who could hear, offered up friendly smiles, and a chocolate Santa to the children. I noticed the variety of nationalities represented. (and considered my American citizenship)

This Mama told me Salvation Army had saved her from difficult circumstances in her past, and she was happy for the chance to give back with a donation.

Sadly, I saw a homeless young man searching for food or a tobacco butt in this trash can and ash bin. I offered him a chocolate Santa and he heartily accepted it. ( and I sent up an arrow prayer of gratitude that I had never been in this man’s shoes) I took in the number of taxi rides folks needed to get the shoppers to and from the store. (and I thought about our pick-up truck in the lot full of gas and ready to take me home)  I thanked those who slipped small change, a single or a five into the traditional red bucket.  As I thanked one woman with her two young children, her reply warmed my heart, “Salvation Army made a real difference in my life in the past, and I want to give back.” (and I considered the fact that I had never had to reach out for help like this)

Just as He promised that cold, rainy night when I uttered a short prayer from my bed, I was given the privilege to help some souls in need. My heart was warmed that Christmas Eve, not just by the surprising warmer, 60 degree Georgia temp and blue sky, but by that feeling you get when you’ve made a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small.

I was reminded of that old song first penned in 1955, “Let There Be Peace On Earth and Let It Begin In Me”.

YOU can listen to this song here.

Each One Reach One.

Let’s Start Today.

Thank God He Has A Forgetful Nature

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In the midst of preparing for Thanksgiving 2019 and tolerating the countless words and expressions during the Impeachment Hearings, it is good to simply stop AND consider things of eternal value.  The “reason for the season” and similar musings, like the message that resonated with our hearts back a few years ago. Messages that remind us that God has a forgetful nature.

It is my hope that this message will encourage your heart as it has mine this morning!

Back in 2015, Donny and I were so inspired as we left Piedmont Church.  It was the first Sunday in December and for such a large sanctuary, it certainly is a warm and welcoming place to be and this Sunday was no exception. The lights shone brightly, the trees and wreaths adorned the bannisters, the stage. But the thing that encouraged us the most was when our Pastor, Ike Reighard,  gave an unforgettable message, as he began a new series, entitled PRICELESS.

Pastor Ike reminded us that our great big God has a forgetful nature.

YOU can view this series of messages on lifestream at our Piedmont Church website. God doesn’t just forgive, he forgets our wrong choices. “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12 NLT

Three of the greatest gifts we as believers find in him are:

LOVE

PRAYER

FORGIVENESS

With the Christmas Season upon us, join me as I reflect on how fortunate we are that we serve a forgiving God.

We ALL fall short. That’s the reason God sent his only son to the earth as a baby. Click here to gain greater understanding of the true story of Christmas. There are so many misunderstandings about this story. Many have doubted the truth of it for centuries, including C.S.Lewis and Lee Strobel, both of whom wrote books about their doubts regarding this intriguing story. “The son of God knew what it was to be a homeless person. What it was to start life without a roof over his head.” Pope Francis, Washington, D.C. October 2015

It’s Christmas and there are so many ways to identify with the Christ Child and his parents, too. As Pope Francis was here on his recent trip to D.C.,  he visited a homeless shelter and he reminded his audience that Jesus was “homeless” as a newborn. Jesus’ mother gives all mothers the greatest example of humility and trust in Luke 2:51b, “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Joseph, a carpenter, was a faithful and honorable man.

Do you want to know more about the newborn Christ Child this Christmas? “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God.” Corrie ten Boom If so, reach out to friends and family who have come to know him and allow space in your heart to learn more for yourself. Let every heart prepare him room. Read the Gospel of Luke, Chapter Two,  More Than A Carpenter, By, Josh McDowell or Mere Christianity, By, C.S. Lewis.  Read and consider the lyrics of some of the carols of old, like Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, Joy To The World. Yes, there are many doubts about the truth of this age-old story. The horrific events in Colorado Springs, Co this past weekend may only add to those doubts as the abortion debate gains more and more momentum. However, the Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  We also read in James 4:8, Come near to God and he will come near to you. (that’s just one of the over 7,000 promises in the Bible)

Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” C.S. Lewis

Faith is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger our faith will become. No, we cannot see God, in his flesh and blood, but as we admit our need for him, believe in him with all of our heart, and acknowledge our faults to him, our lives are forever changed and then we see him EVERYWHERE we look.

We may not know the future,

but perhaps Christmas 2019 will be a season for

drawing closer to the ONE who does. 

And speaking of not knowing the future, as a UGa 1980 Graduate, I would love for you to check out this great blog post entitled “Farewell Coach”.

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from Forgotten Forever, by Max Lucado, the passage that Pastor Ike read to us yesterday morning.”

I was thanking the Father today for his mercy. I began listing the sins he’d forgiven. One by one I thanked God for forgiving my stumbles and tumbles. My motives were pure and my heart was thankful, but my understanding of God was wrong. It was when I used the word remember that it hit me.
“remember the time I…” I was about to thank God for another act of mercy. But I stopped. Something was wrong. The word remember seemed displaced. It was an off-key note in a sonata, a misspelled word in a poem. It didn’t fit. “Does he remember?”

Then I remembered. I remembered his words. “And I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 Max Lucado

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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?

Bridge Across My Sorrows A Difficult, But Important Read

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Bridge Across My Sorrows is a book I picked up during the summer. I suppose I will always be drawn to books about true people and how each one faced their own unique challenges in their life. Maybe it is because I have my own personal obstacles I have had to face, and this motivates me to read story after story of how an individual conquered their life’s trials.

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Christine and her sibs. (1950)
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Sunshine kids take a nap.

The 315 page paperback book I just finished is no exception. Another true account, Bridge Across My Sorrows, by Christina Noble with Robert Coram, like me, will surely send you realizing the potential there is within a beating heart. Noble rises above unimaginable and despicable poverty from a life of being a street child in Dublin, Ireland, to go on to make a shining difference in the lives of street children in Vietnam.

We see a human spirit of shining dignity courage and resilience--it is not a surprise when she ultimately turns her life into a magnificent act of love and generosity. Mia Farrow's remarks about this Noble's story

Seriously, her life between birth and well into her adulthood is so heartbreakingly painful, that I had to put the book down and breathe for a moment.

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These were two of Christina’s first sights upon arriving in Vietnam.

So why would I want you and others to read such a story right here in the midst of a hot summer’s end, as school buses are rolling again? I would say the main reason to read it is to be inspired by Nobles indomitable courage in the face of violence, neglect, and abuse. Christina Noble has risen above and beyond all of that.

WE CAN, TOO, no matter our life circumstances. This book has been made into a 2014 movie, entitled NOBLE: A Fearless Life A Reckless Love,  which stars Deidre O’Kane, Sarah Greene, and Gloria Cramer Curtis as Christina at different seasons in her life journey. If you have Amazon Prime, you can view this movie for free.

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Christina with two of her sunshine children. (1993)

What true stories—from either a movie,play, or in book form have impacted the choices you have made in your life journey? Think about it!

Have A Care Kit Party Each One Reach One

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Maybe, just maybe, we will have a chance to “unplug” in the days ahead!

In case you missed it, my last post, Music Moves Us, made me think about another song which goes with the following thoughts:

Another Day In Paradise, by Phil Collins.

Many people across the U.S. today are bracing themselves for a wintry storm. The grocery store parking lots and aisles are packed. The cars are lined up outside the schools for early dismissals. The gloves, earmuffs and heavy coats have been unearthed for this mid-January flurry of activity. But what if you and I were homeless? Don’t you feel helpless waiting at that red-light when a homeless woman or man stands at the corner with a cardboard sign? I do!

Read ahead to learn about an easy way you can help that person the next time this happens.

Did you know that over 16,000 people were reportedly homeless in GEORGIA in a study done in January, 2013?

No one has ever become poor by giving.” Helen Keller 

Click here to read the 2015 report on homelessness in Georgia.

The unifying condition for virtually all of Georgia’s homeless population is poverty. Many people who are homeless also experience some type of personal vulnerability that places them at risk, such as:

  • Family violence
  • Physical disability or chronic medical problems
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Development disability or brain injury
  • Criminal background

Leah and I are planning to have a care kit party soon! If you have some unexpected, spare hours that pop up in the weekend ahead with this winter weather, perhaps you’d like to plan one with your kids, grandchildren, or friends, too!

If you cannot feed one hundred people, then just feed one.” Mother Teresa

 You can use Evite to invite your friends and delegate out items for each of them to bring. By the end of your party, you will all have a few care kits to keep in your car for the next time you see that homeless person on the corner at a red light. It is a very cool way to impact the homeless in our communities and have fun while doing it!

The following information was obtained by The Portland Rescue Mission website.

How To Pack A Care Kit

Care Kits are a simple way to provide practical help to a homeless man or woman. Keep some in your car so you’re prepared to offer to a person in need.

Items to Include:
A typical Care Kit consists of a watertight gallon-size zipper lock plastic bag filled with items like:

Water bottle
Socks
Tuna and crackers
Granola Bar or cereal bar
Fruit snack or applesauce cup
Crackers with peanut butter or cheese
Gift certificate to fast food
Hand wipes
Pack of Kleenex
Maxi pads
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Nail clippers
Band Aids
Chapstick
Comb or small brush
Mints, cough drops or gum
Rescue Mission meal voucher
Note of encouragement or uplifting Bible verse or young children can color a picture as you teach them about those in need. You may want to also include some information about homeless shelters in your area.

NOTE:
Fragranced items such as soap, hand lotion or deodorant can negatively affect the taste of food items if placed in the same bag. Pack these separately if you choose to give them.
Avoid items such as mouthwash or hand sanitizer that contain alcohol. 

There will always be poor among us.” Matthew 26:11

Have a Care Kit party! Gather family, friends, co-workers or your community group to purchase supplies and assemble Care Kits together.
Care Kits are useful both in warm and cold weather. In summer, include sunblock or frozen water bottles. In winter, include gloves, hats or heatpacks.

When you give your Care Kits away…

*Don’t be in a hurry. It’s okay to slip it out your window to someone on a street corner or freeway ramp. But consider taking time to park the car and hand-deliver it.
*Smile. This person probably gets ignored by hundreds of people every day.
*Make eye contact. It shows that the person matters.
*Don’t give money. It’s your decision, of course, but we generally discourage giving cash. Instead, ask what their immediate need is and consider how you can help. Buy them a meal? A bus ticket?
*Be available to have a conversation. Some people won’t want to talk, so be sensitive. Others will be delighted to tell you their story.
*Pray. Before you go, while you go, for the people you encounter. Ask the person if they would like you to pray for them right there.
*Offer resources. Ask if the person knows about local homeless shelters in the area. 
*Be wise. The majority of homeless men and women are not dangerous — they’re people just like you. But it’s smart to go out as a group when handing out Care Kits.
*Inspire others. Tell others about your project and inspire them to do the same.

It was good to see in the past week where two churches in our Cobb county community joined forces to aid the homeless in Atlanta, especially as the weather turned bitter cold. There will always be needs in our world and we may not be able to solve all the world problems, but we can encourage one soul with a care kit! Always make your personal safety a priority when helping those in need. And remember to involve the young people who are in your life. Our actions can speak louder than our words, especially for the youth who are watching us as we live out our days. Oh, and click here for one of my favorite stories from 2015 about my homeless friend, Pamela.

Previous Posts You May Have Missed:

Eight Ways To Share With Others

My Own Little World

Joy Comes In The Morning

Open hands begging

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!

We CAN Embrace It Let's Start Today

Is December 2015 different for you from holiday seasons now past? Does your path feel unfamiliar compared to this time last year?  If so, can you and I intentionally embrace the changes that are happening right in our midst? IMG_6313

As my next door neighbor, Michelle and I were chatting this morning, we talked about that very thing…aging parents with illnesses that may prevent them from traveling, children that are now married with homes of their own.

Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” Pearl S. Buck 

Illnesses and surgeries that come into play during the holidays make for changes, too.

Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.” Charles M. Schulz~Charlie Brown’s Little Book of Wisdom 

I am not referring to your first Christmas after a precious loved one has gone ahead of you…

…that kind of change is in a league of its own, and that is not what this is about, and if you know someone in these life circumstances, read this recent post about bereavement.

If things are not as they usually are…can we choose to embrace it, enjoying the moments, building new traditions, instead of allowing ourselves to get down?

For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

That is exactly what my friend, Michelle told me they were doing as they noticed some changes in what they usually expect during the weeks leading into Christmas. Their family is making an intentional choice to embrace these changes. They are seizing the changes in this season as an opportunity to spend more time with their family of four with a festive New Year’s getaway. Good for them!

Later in the day, I traveled to Atlanta to visit my friend, Mary who is making a recovery from knee surgery. As I turned onto Piedmont off of North Avenue, just before making a right onto Ponce de Leon, I noticed some blue lights in front of a church, to my left. As most would be, I was curiously looking in that direction to see what was happening. Right away, it was clear that the policewoman was just doing her job, by shooing away a homeless man who had been sleeping on the front porch of the church. While she didn’t arrest him, she simply watched him walking away slowly…what his next destination would be was anyone’s guess. I know there will always be poor among us, even still, my heart was saddened by this scene on Piedmont.

As I continued the drive to Mary’s, a glance to my right brought me a smile as I passed Krispy Kreme Doughnuts with the “HOT” sign on. You see, Mary remained in our much-loved hometown of Decatur, along with her husband, raising their two boys in the same schools where our five-decade long friendship had its start. Krispy Kreme was a place we visited often! Coming to Mary’s home is such a treat.

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” Helen Keller

It is truly like traveling down Memory Lane every time. Knowing each other since first grade at Fernbank Elementary, our visits are always so special.

Yes, life might be a bit different this Christmas…but as we consider the reality of life for this homeless gentleman in the above story,  I think it will do us all a ton of good if we recognize the good in our 2015 Season and make an intentional choice to EMBRACE IT!

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May your holidays be bright!

Stop, Look, Listen-There Are Angels Among Us

IMG_1720Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

A 16th century Englishman by the name of John Bradford spoke the words, “There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford” as he watched his fellow prisoners being led to their executions. Bradford was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his Protestant faith, opposed by Queen Mary I of England. I think about this phrase, “…but for the grace of God, go I…” a lot as it relates to homeless folks, as well as other who find themselves in dire situations.

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What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
Saint Augustine

Many of you have asked about Pamela since I posted the story entitled Joy Comes In The Morning, (click here on the title to read it) and I finally heard from her three weeks after the day we spent together in San Diego, March 15, 2015. I did get a text right after she arrived safely to Austin, Texas, but I had not heard from her since. Easter Weekend was extra special after I received the text below from Pamela.

Every beating heart has a story, and I am grateful for the opportunity Donny and I had to impact Pamela and help her turn her difficult life towards a more positive direction. As you read the above story entitled Joy Comes In The Morning, I believe you will agree that Pamela was an angel in my life that day, as well.

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 Who might be in your path today who needs a smile,

a positive affirmation or a touch?IMG_2274

YOU could be the angel in a life today.

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?