10 Life Lessons From Ten Famous People

It all started when a young , eleven year old girl named Rachel, from a small town in Virginia decided to write to famous people whom she respected or admired, to seek their responses to the following question:

“What is the most important lesson

you have learned in your life?”

Rachel had already asked this question of her parents and their responses were very helpful. DAD: “To persevere, to keep trying, and not give up.” and MOM: “That family was the most important part of her life.”

Not knowing if she would get even one response from the folks Rachel penned her letters to, it amazed Rachel that there were soon an abundance of notes filling her mailbox. Following, you will read some of these messages that were later included in a book entitled, The Most Important Lessons in Life: Letters to a Young Girl By, Rachel Chandler

John Mellencamp: “You can do or be anything if you work hard.”

Lily Tomlin: “One thing of importance that I can tell you: ‘The human mind cannot hold two opposing thoughts at the same time.’ So if you hold a positive thought, you cannot hold a negative thought.”

protect the futureMother Teresa: “Be the Sunshine of God’s Love”

Barbara Bush: “You have special talents and abilities, and you can make a difference for the better…”

Danielle Steele, best selling author, told Rachel in her letter that it was late at night and she had just finished her 60th book and was going to send it to the publisher. She wanted to answer Rachel’s letter herself, instead of having someone else do it for her. An excerpt from this long letter follows: “I agree with both your mother and your father. An important quote which I had framed for my children goes like this, ‘If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.'”

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Mikhail Gorbachev: “It is good for people your age to think about your future. The main thing is to respect your own human dignity and to value and respect it in others.”

Willard Scott: Observe the Lord’s Commandments and everything else will fall into place.”

John Goodman: “I wish I had better answers. But two very important things in life are reading and listening.”

Whoopi Goldberg: “Rachel, be true to yourself. The rest will fall into place.”

Elizabeth Dole: “I think one of the most important things to learn in life is how to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Sometimes it is hard work, however, in school and later at work, it is important to think of ways to help others by our efforts.”

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

What lessons have you learned

in this life you have lived?

My life, written on white paper

What Is A Freedom Bag?

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

Mother Teresa

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

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

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

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

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

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

The deadline for Operation Liberate is March 15th.

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

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

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

Instructions for Packing a Freedom Bag – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

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

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

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

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

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

Fill your bag with the following NEW items

Toiletries:

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

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

Clothing:

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

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

Special touches:

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

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

  • Handwritten letter or prayer
  • Journal
  • Pens

Fun items:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It made a difference to that one!”

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

Blaze Your Own Trail Dolly Parton: Dream More

I first posted these thoughts on January 26, 2015, and I am updating them here, because there has been some big news in the region where Dolly Parton was raised. Did you happen to catch NBC’s special about her life this past week? The title is Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love. DID YOU KNOW? Dolly Parton, who turned 70 on her last birthday, January 19, 1946, was raised in an unimaginably poor household. One of 12 children, yes, the home was filled with love abounding, but many times her big family found themselves both cold and hungry as they grew up in the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee area in the stunning Great Smoky Mountains. As Donny and I watched the show I mentioned above, I was once again reminded of how Dolly (along with the help of her Uncle Billy) never, ever gave up on her dreams to one day be a star. Dolly Parton, as we now all know, reached her dreams even more than could be imagined! As we also know, thousands in and around the cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge had to be evacuated on Monday night, November 28, 2016, due to horrific and rapid spreading fires throughout the Great Smoky Mountains. Parton agreed to directly aid each family who has been impacted by these wild fires and she is calling her response: “My People Fund.” What dreams do you and I want to carry out in the new year that is ahead of us? Let’s never give up on our dreams to leave the kind of legacy we would like to leave behind.

So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
Christopher Reeve

As a fifty-something woman, I am always looking for fresh ideas and new energy. That is why I checked out a book on CD from Cracker Barrel for my recent five-hour drive to Abingdon, Virginia. I decided on Dolly Parton’s DREAM MORE: Celebrate the Dreamer in You, and I am glad I did.

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Did you know that Dolly Parton’s Daddy, a tobacco farmer, could not read or write? He paid the doctor who delivered Dolly with a sack of oatmeal.  Did you know that Dolly, the fourth of twelve children, announced “I’m  goin’ to Nashville and I’m gonna be a star!” to all who would listen when she graduated from Sevierville High School in 1964?  Not only did Dolly go and accomplish this huge dream of hers, but in 1995, she also developed The Imagination Library. Dolly wanted every preschool child in her native Sevier County, Tennessee to have his/her own collection of books. Imagination Library currently serves children in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., providing more that 560,000 children with a book each month!  It was really fun listening to Dolly read and sing her way through this book on CD, as the miles from GA to VA clicked by. Dolly Parton highlighted four areas that I want to emphasize as I celebrate the dreamer inside myself and hope you will do the same:

Dream More

Don’t let the weeds grow around your dreams! Keep dreamin’ ’til you take your last breath.

Learn More

Keep reading, researching and learning as much as you possibly can.

Care More

There is always going to be someone less fortunate who shows up in your path. Care for them!

Be More

Follow the Golden Rule! BE the best YOU you can be.

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While in Abingdon, VA, we visited the local Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and got to meet a creative,  young woman who is going after her dreams: Artist, Jenny Nichols, owner of Mountain Primadonna. Jenny designs unique jewelry and she had many things on display at the market. I purchased this “Blaze Your Own Trail” necklace from Jenny as I reflected on the message Dolly Parton had shared with “me” on my drive north. You can also meet Jenny on her blog Freedom to be.

As I go forward I want to keep my dreams alive and blaze my trail that is uniquely prepared for me.

A tiny spark can start the flame glowing for that dream you may have left in the dust long ago.

What is that aspiration that has nearly been forgotten that you want to resurrect in your life today?

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A necklace designed by Jenny, artist and owner of Mountain Primadonna
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…let’s follow the Light that is shining on our path…
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We will encounter rocks and roots in our path, even so, let’s keep moving forward towards our dreams.

We’ve Got Your Back A 40-Year Friendship

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Our first gathering following The Brown Wedding in 1978, Tullahoma, Tennessee.
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Kay Green marries Joe Brown on December 9, 1978

Some women pray for their daughters to marry good husbands. I pray that my girls will find girlfriends half as loyal and true as the Ya-Yas.
― Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

It all began in the mid-late 1970’s when 9 girls, Becky, Kay, Susan, Delores, Leslie, JoAnn, Debby, Kelly and Joan moved themselves and their belongings to Cookeville, Tennessee to attend Tennessee Tech University. Each girl was far from home and began a search for friends who could make the years spent at Tech more fun, rewarding and meaningful. All 9 girls chose to join Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and that was the beginning of what would become life-long friendships. They certainly did not realize at the time that their common beliefs and love for one another would continue to bring them together in celebration of their friendships for decades to come.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (Life Application Bible)

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Taylor’s baptismal shell, a note from Meg’s confirmation class, and a bar of soap with the verse: Philippians 4:13 etched on it. These items were found in the rubbish, surviving the house fire.
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Though this is a new storage box, all of the silver utensils that were wedding gifts back in 1982 came through the fire, along with pieces of fabric found folded together and made into a small (new) baby quilt.

On January 4, 2014, we 9 were together for our annual weekend sleepover when our friend, Kelly received a call from her husband telling her that their home in Abingdon, Virginia was burning to the ground. It was too late to make the 3 hour drive to Virginia, so we hunkered down with our dear friend and held onto each other. This scene, 9 of us in PJs, was symbolic of what our friendships had come to mean to each of us in the past 36 years. Much of our time spent together would be doing the usual things that girls do: share recipes, talk about everything under the sun, eat and then eat some more, showing family/travel pictures. But that night, it became more apparent to me than ever before how unique this group of girlfriends is. Everyone in this circle relies on their faith daily and we have come to depend on each other’s prayer support, too, as we have listed out specific requests year after year.  We’ve been through marriages, births, and deaths side-by-side, and we’ve always had each other’s back.

The next day, we drove Kelly to her hometown to join her husband and to survey the damage. From what we saw, we assumed all was lost, and mostly everything was lost. However, with the help of many friends, family members, and neighbors, a few things were recovered.

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Kelly and Paul’s home on Valley Street

Though their sweet dog, Belle perished in the house fire, all other LIFE was spared. There was much to be thankful for, even amidst such tragic circumstances. In the past year, Kelly and Paul have been a picture of grit and tenacity as they have moved forward and renovated an Abingdon, Virginia home that was built in the 1930’s. This past weekend, their home was the spot for our 37th reunion and as usual, we had a wondrous time together! The location of their new home has allowed them to enjoy this beautiful and historical community more than ever before. They are just a few steps from The Barter Theatre and a couple of blocks from The Virginia Creeper Trail, Whitetop Yoga, and the weekly Farmer’s Market!

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Dalton, Georgia gathering in 1985
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The Virginia Creeper Trail
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The Virginia Creeper Trail
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Abingdon, Virginia gathering in 2015
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after a yoga class at Whitetop Yoga in Abingdon, Virginia, January 2015

“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
― Maya Angelou

These strong friendships have seen us through countless life experiences: job losses, deaths of parents, births/marriages of our children, and currently, the births of grandchildren. We often agree as we sing our ADPi prayer:

“Hear us sing in one accord,

Praises for thy gifts, O Lord, For thy gifts of daily bread,

For thy paths in which we’re led, From thy throne of Love on High,

List to Alpha Delta Pi, AMEN”,  

 the unity that the 9 of us share has made our lives so very rich!

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Kay and Joan in our matching pjs
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a quilt given to Kelly and Paul following their house fire

Tough Circumstances Hold onto the Power

IMG_0694It’s December fifth which means that Christmas Day will be here in just twenty short days. Now that truth will get you running to the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, won’t it!?!

Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary

I have spoken with three close girlfriends in the past 24 hours and we have talked through personal issues. What great comfort and therapy it is to have a girlfriend, a heart friend, that you know you can trust with your deepest concerns! How much lighter the burden is when shared! As we bantered back and forth, these friends and I, it was confirmed to me once again how hard this life is. In fact, the first line in the book, The Road Less Traveled: LIFE IS DIFFICULT.

Even though the circumstances I discussed with each of these friends was very different, the bottom line was the same…LIFE  can deal you some pretty tough cards. And believe me, I know. After 4 short months of being very ill in 2006, my Mama died of cancer and I still recall easily the physical ache in my heart following her passing.

Along with getting ready for Christmas, many I know are dealing with difficult and tragic circumstances…a recent death of a kind, generous friend named Jimmy, age 55, from my high school & college…two young adult sisters with their Dad, preparing for their Christmas celebration without Mom, Laura, our dear friend who was in our small Bible Study group and passed with breast cancer in May 2014…dear friends, a couple, dealing with the repercussions of a very serious illness earlier this year…my friend and author, Echo, who lost her musically gifted Dad just one day ago…and a college friend, Delores’ husband dealing with a scary medical situation which will require a huge lifestyle change. Many others that we know and love are dealing with other trying circumstances related to their health. The holiday season is also a time of remembering those who are no longer with us.  This may be the first Christmas you are spending without someone who has passed on. This will be my second Christmas with both of my parents gone. No matter how many Christmas seasons go by, we will always miss our peeps and we’ll continually recall sweet memories in our hearts of those who have gone on ahead of us, many at a young age and much sooner than we would have chosen.

Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. Psalm 55:22a NLT

Thank goodness there is so much HOPE wrapped up in The Christmas Story!

Many times, how we play the cards life deals us determines how the future unfolds. However, more likely, we will have times that we just have to let go and accept things as they are.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

My Mama raised six children and as we grew into adults, I remember her saying that she was not “worried” about a particular situation, but that she was definitely “concerned.” She and Daddy would also use the words, “guarded optimism” often. I wrote a post about this called, Don’t Borrow Trouble From Tomorrow.

Maybe this was their way of caring, without carrying the burden that was in their hearts. This reminds me of the Serenity Prayer that I believe is vital as we walk through our days:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian (1892-1971)

One thing that I do know is that the power that is in God is a power I would not want to live without. Recently, our community had a rough rainstorm and we lost all electrical power in our home for more than three hours. As I meandered through our home in candlelight, I would flip a switch and receive no light because of the outage.

Once our power was restored, I began to think what life would be like without power…and worse, what if we had no Divine Creator to turn to, to pray to. Where would we be?

I ask for not a lighter burden, but for a broader shoulder. a Jewish Proverb

All three of my heart friends I mentioned here at the beginning of this post seek God in their journey and the Word promises that when we seek Him, we will find Him. Let’s seek Him, always, in good times, mundane times, and tragic times.

The Word promises that when we seek our Creator, we will find him, every time. Won’t you reach out to him today

There is much power in seeking and finding the Living God and we can be assured that there will never be a power outage with Him.

A SOJOURNER Life Is A journey

“You only live once-but if you work it right, once is enough.” Joe F. Lewis

You and I, we are sojourners on this earth. The Webster’s dictionary defines a sojourner as follows:

“…one who is having a brief, temporary stay; a brief residence”

WE are sojourners on this earth because this earth is not our home.

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

Last night, as I worked for several hours organizing my thoughts, my story, in anticipation of sharing with the recovering ladies at the Women’s Extension Center, it quickly became apparent to me how far God has brought me in my life.
HOW ENCOURAGING!!! My main prayer has become two words: “Thank You.”
As a 50 something woman, (or any age woman!) I believe it is positively cathartic, very freeing, to think through, and even possibly write down your story, your personal testimony.
As I have expressed before, I have kept a journal for more than 20 years.
This simple tool has so often aided me in working through issues that have burdened my heart in my day-to-day life.
If you are not sure how to get started, try setting a timer for 10-20 minutes and just WRITE, WRITE, WRITE until the timer chimes…or TYPE, TYPE, TYPE…whichever is most comfortable for you.
In sharing with these women, I came up with the following verses to guide me:

Matthew 6:26-27
Lamentations 3:22-23
Galatians 5:1

“If you won’t be better tomorrow than you were today, then what do you need tomorrow for?” Rabbi Hahman of Bratslay

Today, I encourage you to consider yourself as a sojourner as you contemplate your life journey. How far have you come?