Letter Challenge Send One Today

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Mama and Daddy were married on October 21, 1948 Rossville, Georgia.

I have a letter writing challenge for you today. This past March 4, 2020 would have been my Daddy’s 100th birthday!

Among many other things, Johnny Walker was known for gentleness, kindness, wisdom, and love letters.

 Here is a short love letter he mailed to my Mama just a few months before they wed in October 1948, with a promise to write again when he reached his hometown of Irvine, Kentucky.

I cannot help but believe that small acts like sending this note to his fiancé added up to great love among themselves, their children, grandchildren, great-grands, and the multitudes they crossed paths with during their 58-year marriage. Now they are together forever!

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Mama’s engagement picture, Summer 1948, at the time she received this note.

The challenge is simple. Instead of the usual texts and emails, let’s challenge each other to surprise the special people in our lives with handwritten love notes. These can be sent or mailed to grandchildren, best girlfriends, collegiates, young marrieds, parents, and more.

For those you share a home with, a short note can be left for them to find in a lunchbox, under their pillow, on a bathroom mirror, on a car seat, slipped in a suitcase for the traveler, or by the coffee maker.

Like my Daddy’s example, it doesn’t have to be long. The message will provide affirmation, a reminder of your love, and emotional support for the recipient.

I ‘m quite sure you are aware of the passing of Mrs. Nancy Reagan, wife of our 40th U.S. President, Ronald Reagan in March 2016.  President Reagan was also known for sending love letters to his sweetheart. Click here to read a sampling of some of these notes and letters.

I am currently reading a historical fiction book The Postmistress by, Sarah Blake set in both London and coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. This intriguing novel based on details of the early 1940’s really got me thinking about the importance of personal letters.

And it does not have to be a full letter! How about leaving behind post-it notes for the ones you love the most. (like the pictures here)IMG_9256 IMG_9253

The Way of Love 1 Corinthians 13 The Message

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

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Mama and Daddy …great love always!

Who will you send a note or letter to today?

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Wrestling And Seeking The Rubber Meets The Road

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

We can all agree that our globe has been turned upside with the sudden turn of events since the initial spread of the Corona Virus around December 31, 2019 in the community of Wuhan, China. We’ve been asked to social distance, shelter-in-place, and take every precaution necessary to keep ourselves safe from this ruthless rival.

We’ve had lots of time alone.

Time to think, time to ponder our life circumstances prior to this unexpected interruption. This is when the rubber meets the road regarding our inner self, our own personal beliefs about creation, mortality, and faith.

We can also agree that for the most part, these circumstances have brought out the very best in the human soul.

I have been wrestling lately about how I can best express to my friends here on Pages From Joan the reality of my personal faith journey. Especially during the tumultuous and uncertain times that we find ourselves currently living in.

A dear friend of mine, Laura, who battled breast cancer before dying in 2014 in her fifties, once told me she was wrestling. She decided that wrestling and seeking are synonymous. I agree with her. As I have wrestled, I have been seeking God’s will, His unique plan for me. Meanwhile, I want to share just a few details about my journey, related to my faith.

Click  here for a huge dose of pandemic encouragement. Google this song and read the back story of It Is Well With My Soul.

I am not my mistakes. I am not my old habits. I am not my PAST. I am a beautiful reflection of God. I am forgiven. I am loved. I am free. Shanel Cooper Sykes

Raised in a Southern Baptist Church with my five brothers and sisters, I now consider myself more of a Christ-follower than a member of a certain denomination. At age nine, I professed belief in the Lord, Jesus Christ. As I grew, I believed God had my back, but I made the choice to stray away from a close walk with Him, for approximately ten years of my life. There is nothing wasted in God’s Economy. As time has gone by, I have come to realize that God used my time away to mold and deepen my faith in Him. It was during that time away that I learned about compassion, courage, forgiveness, and repentance.

I’ve often heard the question:

“If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?”

Well, I was certainly the one who moved away from Him for that season of my life, but I see, looking back on that time, that He never, ever left me. I must say my time away has taught me so much about patience (on God’s part), compassion towards myself and my fellow-man, and love towards all created humans.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. You may ask for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:1;14

Fast forward to a few years into our marriage, when Donny and I, together as a couple, had begun to move closer to God again. We spent three years of our marriage dealing with infertility, and you can read about that part of my journey here. In December 1987, while I was on Christmas break as a teacher, I found myself pleading with God to give us our first child. I cross-stitched Romans 8:28 in a small frame to keep on my desk.

Soon after this, after over five years of marriage, I became pregnant with our first child. I felt strongly, that this was, in part, due to the fact that I had finally surrendered to my God about my dreams of having a child. I believe God rescued me from my childless sorrow and I had a renewed desire to draw close to Him. Leah was born on October 8, 1988.

I believe He has continued to woo me, rescuing me, providing for me in countless ways since that time.

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Our first-born, Leah, with my Daddy. (2012)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

A few things that I learned during this season of my life:

  • God’s timing is perfect.
  • God, Creator is never surprised by the events that occur on this earth, not births, deaths, horrific events of nature or virulent viruses.
  • God created us and He knows even better than us what is best for us.
  • Adversity makes us stronger. We must stick together especially when things get tough.
  • When we seek God, drawing close to Him, we will find Him every time. In adversity, He draws us into a deeper walk with Him.
  • God hears our pleas.IMG_5151

Did you know? There are more than 7,000 promises in The Bible. I am sharing this with you because I believe with all of my heart that Christ came to rescue each and every one of us. God keeps those 7,000+ promises as we seek Him, we will find Him, and He will rescue us from our troubles, and even from ourselves.

The gift is in the promise, and as believers, we may go about our work-to the best of our ability, assured that what God has promised, He is able to perform. And that the gift, which we already possess, will be realized when we need it the most.

One of my favorite bumper stickers states:

CHRISTIANS AREN’T PERFECT.

THEY ARE JUST FORGIVEN.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT)
Tripp and Jojo cheer the Georgia Bulldogs on in October 2019.

I hope you now have a clearer picture of my perspective as I post here on my Pages From Joan. It is my desire to bring encouragement, learning, and inspiration into your days as I seek my God and share authentically from my heart, soul, and mind.

And now, today, with all that has transpired in my over six decades of life, and everything that is taking place during these unforeseen times, my husband and I are drinking in the presence of our  19-month-old grandson , Tripp and our 19-month-old granddaughter, Elizabeth.  Our daughter, Leah and her husband, Scott are first-time parents, as of 8/24/18 and our son, Walker and his wife, Jessica are first-time parents as of 9/7/18.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude to my Father in Heaven as He continues to pour blessings into my days, even amidst my wrestling and seeking.

Oh, how He Loves You and Me.

What do you think?

Whether you believe in Jesus, find your belief in something else, or question what you actually believe, God is interested in hearing from you as one of His unique and beautiful creations.

It is both ultimately and intimately

between each

created human

and God.  

I know for sure though, from my own personal experience, When we seek Him, we will find Him, every time. And I know I would not want to be on this planet earth without a relationship with the God of the Universe.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Be still, and know that I am God. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 46:1;10 and 91:1

A few songs that have helped me along my way:

It Is Well With My Soul

Brave

Do Something

Bless The Broken Road

Praise You In This Storm

Mended

Who Am I?

Merciful, Wonderful Savior

How He Loves Us

How Great Is Our God

Related posts you may have missed:

Peace Like A River

Where Is He?

Joy Comes In The Morning

Thank God He Has A Forgetful Nature

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No Expiration Check The Date

IMG_7642A good number of years ago, when we still had a high-schooler living under our roof, my husband and I enjoyed homemade apple cobbler with spray whipped cream. Unfortunately we were out of vanilla ice cream which eliminated the chance for à la mode! This after dinner delicacy was actually so good that I decided to surprise our son with the same treat. He was up in his room, so I went ahead and fixed this dessert without even asking him if he wanted it.
When I had it all ready, with whipped cream, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar, and 3 musketeers chocolate syrup, I called him down.

He was very pleased when he first arrived in the kitchen…then upon his initial observation, he asked about the date on the syrup.
I responded with the truth: “I have no idea what the date on that syrup is.”
Ok, now, don’t be shocked, but he decided to check the date and it was old, like a couple of years past the expiration date…I am not kidding!!! ( I wish I was!) Needless to say, it went straight in the trash and he fixed himself a new dessert!
WE had some good laughs about dates on products that were in our nearly twenty-year-old home and how we might want to check them out a little more often and a little more carefully in the future…
Soon, our son was checking the dates on some of our other things…the milk had a good date, the yogurt was okay, too.

Isn’t it funny how some stories are simply unforgettable! Now Walker is a husband and a Daddy, yet, I can still see his determination to check all of our expiration dates.  <smile>

Later, just before retiring for the night, our son and I started talking about other “expirations”, like letting too much time go by before we open the Word.

The tragedy of life is not death...but what we let die inside of us while we live. Norman Cousins

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If we are not careful, we wait too long to go to the Word for the answers to the big questions that we have in our lives. Just because we do not take the time to look in that direction, does not mean the answers are not there. If we are not careful, our days go by and we do not reap the benefits and the strength that it is in the Word for each of us to grab a hold of. As we age, we realize more than ever that our lives on this earth have an “expiration date”. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 reminds us:

There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season. There is a time to be born and a time to die.

So, maybe you want to go check the dates of some of the products you have in your refrigerator, and perhaps you want to take stock in the date of the last time you delved into the Word as well.

Do something today that you have been putting off because we are not promised tomorrow. Only God knows the number of our days and He’s not telling us that number.

The Good News is that once we are His,

considering God and His Word, there is NO EXPIRATION DATE!

Related Posts You May Have Missed:

Wisdom On Aging

Wrestling And Seeking

Peace Like A River

It Is Well With My Soul

Solitude: Seven Ways To Find It

Thank God He Has A Forgetful Nature

Thanksgiving An Acrostic

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Thanksgiving 2019 comes late this year! November 28, 2019. We plan to enjoy a much smaller than usual gathering in the North Georgia Mountains. But first, tomorrow, we will celebrate the life of our dear friend, Debra O’Dell, age 58, who passed recently from a cancer battle. Debbie has been quite the fighter and lover of life, as a Kindergarten, a missionary, a Mom, a wife, a devoted servant in our church and the kindest friend you could ever have. Deb will be greatly missed!

It is Thanksgiving Week and I am wondering what this annual holiday means to you. I wrote this blog post on Thanksgiving 2014.

I am grateful for what I am and for what I have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”   Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) 

One of our favorite long-time traditions on this day is passing out three dried corn kernels to each person present.Standing in a circle, before we bless the feast, we pass a small bowl around and have each one name three things they are thankful for while placing the kernels in the bowl. As we do this, we remember the pilgrims who went before us, making the famous 1620 voyage, and  we share aloud our gratitude for life. You and your family may want to consider beginning a similar tradition for Thanksgiving 2018.

What will be on the menu for your Thanksgiving Feast this year? You may want to consider a salad bar station like the one pictured above. This makes for a lighter addition to the otherwise heavier choices.

If you are in the Atlanta area for this annual holiday, think about taking your crew to the Marietta Square to participate in Must Ministries Gobble Jog! It is so much fun and it benefits the homeless and hungry in our community. Click here for info.

An Annual Tradition! GOBBLE JOG to benefit Must Ministries and so much fun for the entire family!

If you have an extra side dish, pie, or a gift card to a grocery store, drop it by The Zone. The Zone is a safe haven in Marietta for those who are battling substance abuse. This amazing center will be opened for a continuous 24 hours to feed all who come by. They welcome our help and you can click here for more information.

Below, I have formed an acrostic to illustrate some of what Thanksgiving means to me. Perhaps some of these describe your thoughts about this great annual holiday.

Time Together 

Holiday Excitement Begins

Anyone Welcome

No Gifts Needed

Kindness Abounds

Sharing With Others

Grateful For Relaxation

In The Kitchen

Very Yummy Food

Am Loved and Blessed

Never Forget Our Angels In Heaven

Goodness Of God Is With Us

IMG_0651I hope this post will prompt you to stop for a few minutes during “Black Friday Weekend” and consider what this special holiday means to you.

Music Moves Us

Senior Man Relaxing Listening To Music On Headphones In Garden

Music moves us.

Last night I had a chance  to hear The Doobie Brothers live at the Cobb Energy Centre. Donny and I went with two couples, long-time friends of ours. In fact, I went to Fernbank Elementary with Jan and Jane Ellen. We’ve shared a 6-decade friendship.

The Doobie Brothers are an American rock band from San Jose, California. The group has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide.  They have been active for nearly five decades, with their greatest success in the 1970s.

Jan, Jane Ellen, along with the rest of our Druid Hills High School Crew grew up listening to this band, “Listen To The Music”, “What A Fool Believes”, “Jesus Is Just Alright”, “Takin’It To The Streets”, “China Grove”, just to name a few of their top hits.

Have you ever thought about how much music moves us?

I have, with the many deaths of well-known artists, in years gone by,  such as Larry Junstrom, Diahann Carroll, Robert Hunter of Grateful Dead,  Natalie Cole, age 65, 12/31/15; Craig Strickland, age 29, 1/4/16; Otis Clay, age 73, 1/8/16; David Bouie, age 69, 1/10/16; and sadly, Glen Frey, age 67, 1/18/16. As you click on each name, you will hear a song each artist was known for. It was really hard to choose one from the list of The Eagles, because I love them all, and like you, I know every line!

My Daddy’s favorite artist was Frank Sinatra, and I wrote a post about ‘Ole Blue Eyes recently. What are your all-time favorite groups?

Some of mine include: Bread, Casting Crowns, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Selah, Laura Story,  just to name a few. I also LOVE this Casting Crowns song! Oh, and I’ve always loved this Cat Stevens’ song, as well.

Our friend, David R. Brewer, plays piano like no one I have ever heard.

I could listen to David tickle the keys all day long!

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David plays as we sing Christmas Carols with friends.

As you listen to songs on the radio, CD player, Sonos, Pandora,  and I-pods, have you ever thought about how much the lyrics can move us into action when we stop to think about them for a few minutes?

One song that did this for me when I was a young mommy was Carole King’s BEAUTIFUL.

The other day as we were driving along, the song In The Living Years, by Mike and the Mechanics came up on our Sirius station. As I listened to the words and then googled the lyrics to read along, I thought about the phrase, “Courageous Conversations” that our pastor, Dr. Ike Reighard taught us nearly a decade ago…having that difficult discussion with our loved ones even when it is awkward or uncomfortable. Our family took this phrase to heart, applying it to problems, to issues, to discussions that came along. We had courageous conversations often…. agreeing to disagree many times.

That is what this In The Living Years is about!

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What are some songs that have moved you in the past?

Click here to listen to

Carrie Underwood and Michael W. Smith

perform All Is Well.

Young woman sitting in the park and listening the music from a smart phone

Memorial Day and Veterans Day Know The Difference

Have you ever wondered about the difference between two major military holidays, Memorial Day and Veterans Day? Sometimes there is confusion about the two, so I am hoping by the time you have read through this short post, you and I will have a clearer understanding of these important holidays. Click here for a brief video that does a good job of showing us the difference. EVERY DAY is a good day to raise the flag!

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Some of The Moon Family along with Sam Moon and his Cub Scout Pack 178 place flags in Marietta National Cemetery, 2016.

Children are like wet cement, very impressionable. Both of these days can be opportunities to teach them so much about the men and women who have preserved our freedom with their commitment to serve in a branch of the military.

In a nutshell, here is some info about each of these two important holidays:

****Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It marks the start of the unofficial summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.  (Wikipedia)

***Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans, that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service. (Wikipedia)

I hope this brief explanation will help you and me, our children, our grandchildren, as well as others we meet along the way to gain a greater clarification regarding Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Now that Memorial Day 2016 has come and gone, summer is officially here. Enjoy every moment!

Some other Pages From Joan posts regarding our veterans:

Man’s Best Friend

Memorial Day: Three Ways To Raise Up The Flag

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A Loving Eulogy for My Father November 11th Veteran's Day 2013

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‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred Lord Tennyson, British Poet (1809-1892) from his poem “In Memoriam A.H.H.”

Five  years ago on November 11, 2013, my Daddy passed away and went to join my Mama. It was Veteran’s Day, which was appropriate since Daddy had served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in the late 1940s. My five siblings and I came up with the following attributes in reference to our father:

God-inspired, man of character, compassionate, humble, man of stability, respectable, charming, hard worker, steadfast family man, musician, avid fisherman, and beloved physician.

At the age of 93, it was certainly evident to each one of us that he had lived a long and beautiful life. Even so, this has not changed the truth of how much we miss him and our Mama, too. When one loves completely, the “missing” may lessen, but it never goes away. I spoke at Daddy’s funeral and wanted to share with you my words to honor the memory of my beloved father:

Joan’s Eulogy for her Daddy
November 14, 2013

Our father slipped away quietly on Monday, a gorgeous, autumn afternoon. The kind of day that our mom would’ve loved. When author C.S. Lewis’ wife passed away, he was quoted as saying :

“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) quote from his book, A Grief Observed, written in 1960

I believe that is exactly how our Dad felt after our Mama’s brief illness and death in October 2006. In fact, some of us thought Dad may join her in that first year of his bereavement.  Perhaps dying of a broken heart. But instead, our strong and courageous father rallied.Daddy continued to play his clarinet for his many grandchildren. He took take daily walks for fitness at nearby Dellinger Park. Dad also resumed his volunteer position of delivering Meals on Wheels to the homebound.

From the time I was a little girl, our big family drove to Savannah Beach every August for our annual family vacation. Often this trip landed on my birthday and I thought that was just part of the plan.  A beach birthday trip for Joan and family!

These were always great times! It was wonderful to see Daddy relax and take a break from his busy OB-Gyn solo practice.

When I think about who I am today, and who I am becoming, I think of both my mother and my father. Some of the most important character traits instilled in myself, my brothers, and my sisters are compassion and a strong work ethic. We now observe these same traits and many more in their grandchildren. WE are all thankful for the role model given to us by our parents, and I hope all of us for generations to come will honor their memory with our own lives.

Another life lesson that my father taught me is to have equanimity, a mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness. While I am definitely still learning to practice equanimity, I believe another way to think of this is in Psalm 46:10:

“Be still and know that I am God.”

In closing, I remember how special the fall season has been to our parents, their wedding was on October 21, 1948.  Both Mom and Dad have now had their Homegoing in the fall.

I am reminded of one of Dad’s favorite musicians, Frank Sinatra, singing:

Autumn Leaves

“Since you went away the days grow long,
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song.
But I miss you, most of all my darling,
When autumn leaves start to fall.”
 

I love you Mama and Daddy, so glad you’re finally back together!

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Posts You May Have Missed:

A Father Is More Than A Sperm Donor

Three Touchstones Of Showing Up: Acts Of Love Help During A Difficult Season

Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

Five Ways To Love Well, We Only Have One Chance

Five More Ways To Love Well, We Only Have One Chance

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

It Is Well With My Soul

A Grace Disguised: A Fork In The Road 

The Sandwich: A Courageous Conversation

“The Sandwich Technique” is a mindful, sensitive communication strategy which everyone (including sensitive people) can use to transform the relationships with their partner, friends, family, and co-workers.

Check out this link for a great, quick read about The Sandwich Technique.

This technique is not intended to be fake or simply to placate others. Being brutally direct can backfire and make people feel defensive and unable to hear your comments (no matter how useful they are).

When you use The Sandwich Technique, make requests not demands. Then, when you are communicating about a difficult issue, you sandwich the request between two positive statements. It’s a creative way of presenting challenging topics so that others can hear you. Let’s say you need more alone time. First you could say, “I appreciate all your support and I need your help with this.” Then place your request: “It would be great I can take more alone time to decompress. This will help me be even more present with you later.”

You empower your relationships by expressing your needs. Also, relationships thrive on both people feeling accepted. One patient told me, “My husband accepts me as I am. Through his acceptance I have learned to be true to myself.”

We all have issues to resolve in relationships no matter how good the match. To do this, we need to have loving, creative conversations.

The Sandwich Technique is a great way to have an important discussion with someone you care about.

When is the last time you were called to give difficult news to someone or have “that discussion” that you really don’t want to have?

I am very little inclined on any occasion to say anything unless I hope to produce some good by it. 

― Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the U.S.A. (1809-1865) 

Our pastor, Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard calls it a courageous conversation.

It has also been identified as “the elephant in the room”.

The next time you need to do this, try using the sandwich method. First, make a mental list of positive things you can share with the person you need to speak with and start with one of these. Next, consider how you will say, constructively, what needs to be stated. Finally, going back to your list of positives, end your conversation with one of these.

Positive***Negative***Positive

and voila, you have had the courageous conversation that surely needed to be had and all is well with this vital relationship. “The Sandwich” is a super great way to have that courageous conversation without hurting someone’s feelings.

I hope you will try this the next time you feel it is appropriate to say something that is on your mind.

Let’s Start Today!

Unbroken Circle Of Life, Love 5th Annual Rails To River Bicycle Ride For Taylor Read

Kelly, her brother-in-law, Brian, and her Dad, Jess, are ready to hit the VA Creeper Trail!
Joan and Delo on the Trail! WE met at TTU in 1976, over 40 years ago! The circle of life and love grows bigger.

We experienced an unbroken circle of life and love this past weekend as we  once again gathered to celebrate a life well lived. The 5th annual Rails To River  is held every October to celebrate the life of Taylor Read, who left us too soon in March of 2015.

Kathy, Kelly, Delo, and Joan are ready to hit the VA Creeper Trail for the 8-mile trek to Taylor’s Shelter!

A unique shelter, designed by Taylor’s sister, Megan was dedicated during the first ride in 2015. Following an 8-mile ride on this scenic trail, Taylor’s shelter is the destination for a picnic, Bluegrass music, and fellowship with friends and family.  The day could not have been more perfect. The late summer heat had finally lessened, the rain stayed away, blue skies were wide open, and fall was truly in the air on the Virginia Creeper Trail.

'Dear God, Thank you for Everything we have, and we hope everybody's okay.' Taylor's Prayer

Wayne Miller, the past president of the Virginia Creeper Trail shared a few words: “We can all experience Heaven while on this beautiful trail that Taylor loved so much. Taylor’s Spirit has been felt all day on the ride and now at his shelter. Let’s all enjoy this very special day.”

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 unexpected news of his passing, but more than that, we recalled the days that he lived, laughed, and loved.

'We're not going to build just a little lean-to for our Taylor.' Becky Matney

Megan Read expressed the appreciation of her entire family, to the crowd of over 200. Family and friends have helped in wonderful ways to help keep Taylor’s Legacy alive. As the designer of the shelter, Meg  also talked a bit about the background of the design and structure that was approved and built in seven short months. Click here to read an earlier post and see pictures of the months of building Taylor’s shelter.

Taylor’s Sis, Megan Read traveled from San Diego, California to share the trail with us!

As I looked around the shelter area and under the big, white picnic tent, I was moved by the wide variety of ages present on Saturday. Babies, babies, and lots of children, too, were all around for Taylor’s celebration. There were no less than four “pull-alongs” for those littles who are not quite old enough to bike the trail.

This circle of Life and Love is growing and Taylor Heston Read’s Legacy is expanding, too!

Leah, Scott, and Tripp Andrews, our family.
Our grandson, Tripp one-year-old on 8/24/19 prepares for the kickoff of his very first VA Creeper Trail ride.

Extra special for our family was having our first grandchild, Michael Scott Andrews, III, “Tripp”,  riding in one of those pull-alongs, towed by his strong Dad, Scott. Having Leah, Scott, and Tripp experience this meaningful weekend with us for their first time was just so awesome!

And our friend, Kathy Owen joined us from Pensacola, Florida for her first Taylor’s Ride. I bet it won’t be their last. We loved having my college friend, Delores and her Mama, Pat join us all in our Air BNB in Abingdon!

So, the next time Summer is drawing to an end, we’ll be making our plans to make the annual trip to SW Virginia, an area that has become dear to our hearts, just like Taylor Heston Read has.

Previous Posts about this inspiring family, The Reads, that you may have missed:

Leaving A Legacy

We Can Get Advice From A Trail

How Do We Describe Grief?

Standing At The Crossroads, Trying To Read The Signs

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

GriefAs we move into the Fall 2020 season, I begin to reflect more than usual on the 14th anniversary of my Mama’s passing on October 24, 2006, I wanted to share what I have learned are some of the best ways to help those who are grieving.

Did you know? The definition of bereaved is “to be deprived of a loved one through a profound absence, especially due to the loved one’s death”. With our global Pandemic far from over, many of us have suffered unexpected loss. WE were never meant to journey through this life alone. I know we are all beyond grateful for the front-line health care providers who have been with our loved ones when no visitors have been permitted during Covid-19.

People may excite themselves in a glow of compassion not by toasting their feet at the fire and saying, ‘Lord, teach me more compassion,’ but by going and seeking a person who needs compassion.” Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887, an abolitionist)

This fall, in November, also marks the passing of my Daddy,  seven years ago. With both of my parents now gone, I have been encouraged by friends and family, alike.

We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand…and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it therefore before it is too late.” Marie Edith Beynon

 I have grieved with my husband in the passing of his mother in 2010, and then his father just a few years later.. We have stood with my sister’s family (2009) in the loss of their young adult son, Brad, and more recently we have joined our dear friends in Virginia in the loss of their 23 year old son, Taylor in early 2015.

In recent years, I have also had the privilege to support others in their grief journeys. A grief book that has helped me so much is called A Grace Disguised: How The Soul Grows Through Loss.

4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved:

(1) Show Up. When you’re not sure what to do, simply be there.  Those who are grieving want to know you are praying for them and that you care about their loss. This calls for us to reach for courage in order to go to the hard place and love on those in need. Show up with attention and grace.

The people we love most do become a physical part of us.  When we lose them, be it by death or earthly separation, the sense of rupture is real and raw. Meghan O’Rourke

(2) Don’t worry if you don’t have the right words to say. My Mama used to tell me that if I didn’t know what to say, it wasn’t necessary to say anything, but to be physically present is always important.

(3) Remember them in the weeks and months ahead. Mark your calendar if necessary to remind yourself to drop them an encouraging note, text, or email. Share your memories of their beloved one. Mail a book, a small gift, or drop some banana bread by their home to let them know their loss has not been forgotten. Many who lose a loved one feel as though everyone else’s life is going on and they are stuck in this place of grief.

YOUR reaching out to them may be just what they need at a particular time.

(4) Speak their name. Never stop saying their loved one’s name. Some people may believe that speaking the deceased’s name will bring the survivors sadness, but instead there’s a good chance it will bring them joy as you remember their loved one by speaking his/her name often.

sculpture guardian angel

There are many additional ways to

come alongside and encourage those who are grieving.

What are some actions that have helped you

during your season of bereavement?