Having A Bad Day? Are You Feeling Down? Help Someone: Part One

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With the observation of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday just passed, I’ve been thinking about how important it is to reach out and help those we find in our path. We all have bad days, those days when we are feeling down. These are opportunities to help someone!

IMG_8463Just think, back in the days of the Civil Rights Movement, if it were not for the countless citizens, both black and white, who aided others, no telling how this difficult season would have ended.

If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Did you know? A white woman by the name of Viola Liuzzo was murdered at the age of 39 for shuttling civil rights activists back and forth in Alabama. Now, of course, I am not saying to reach out, putting ourselves in dangerous situations such as this, but I am calling us to be brave, look outward vs. inward, and to carry out small deeds which impact others in a positive way.

IMG_8433And remember, it may be as simple as a smile or a kind word that is powerful enough to turn someone’s day around.

Many of you already know that I am working hard on writing a book, a compilation of some of the things I learned from my Mom. Did you know? I started this blog because of my Mama and the many lessons I gained from growing up with her. Here below and on the next post, you will find Part One and Part Two of an excerpt from my book.

LESSON THREE: Are You Down? Help Someone!

This is a lesson I’ve practiced again and again in my life journey. We all have times when we feel discouraged, even hopeless. If we pull up our bootstraps, and help someone, they will be encouraged, and we will feel better too. This works like a charm every time! Try it the next time you feel blue.
The date was August 5, 2005, when my dear friend Jil drowned in an Alabama lake while her family was with her. They were delighting in the final hazy, lazy days of summer when she slipped away. Jil was 40 years old. Jil Cain was one of those humans who inspired others to laugh and love. Jil is still remembered and missed by multitudes of people, even now over 10 years following her passing. Jil left a memorable legacy behind for her family and friends.
My memory bank holds many, many sweet images of Jil, one of which was our participation, along with my girlfriend Kathy, in an Avon 3-Day 60 mile Breast Cancer Walk together in 2000. With the help of my friend, Jules Furr, I was able to raise over $6,000.00 and I walked in memory of my teaching friend, Debbie Ledford who had died in late 1999 of cancer. Leah and Walker even held a dog-wash to raise funds.  : )  Throughout this weekend in 2000, Jil, Kathy and I were surrounded by survivors at every turn. The 60-mile journey was an incredibly inspiring experience. A stirring of the soul.
An experience that changed our lives forever.
Later in the month of August, 2005, soon after Jil had died, I was driving aimlessly down the road. Our children were at Wednesday night youth group, my husband was working late, and I was falling into the depths of despondency as I grieved the loss of my 40-year-old girlfriend.
Suddenly, I remembered this important lesson that my mother had always told me. Mama had often modeled this lesson as well. I considered what I could do to make a difference in someone’s path, and my car, changing directions, was soon traveling up Dallas Highway towards the Boots Ward Recreational Center.

Is there someone in your path, in my path, who may need a boost in the days ahead?

To Be Continued…

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Five Ways To Love Well: Part Two

We Are Called To Be Brave

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

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

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

The soul is healed by being with children. Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It Is Well With my Soul

A Grace Disguised

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Anne Lamott: Best Day Ever

Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

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

Are You Driving? Put The Phone Down

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Meet triplets, MacKenna, front, Alyssa, middle, and Issy

Are you and I distracted drivers? I’m not referring to folks who use blue-tooth, hands free methods to communicate as they take the wheel. Instead, I am asking about those of us who handle our phone, check Facebook while at a stop light, or send a quick text while traveling in stop and go traffic. It seems I am noticing this becoming an even greater problem lately. Like traveling behind an interstate driver who is moving well under the speed limit, passing them, only to confirm that their face is glued to the screen of a smartphone.

There is a reason I am asking this. A recent article in our local Marietta Daily Journal was about a victim of a distracted driver and this got me thinking about my own driving/smartphone habits.

Reading about this brave family has challenged me to be more intentional in the days ahead about stowing my phone away whenever I drive.

When you see people in the road whether it's a firefighter or a police officer or a cyclist, you should remember that they have a family like us. You getting somewhere five minutes earlier versus taking a life and leaving a family like us is not worth it. Put down the phones. When you see people who are on the roadside, pass them like you love them and they're in your own family. Kim Guinn, an English drama teacher at Lassiter High School in Marietta, GA

The name of Mary Kate McGowan’s inspiring article, dated August 20, 2016, is “Triplets, 9, race toward healing”.

The 9-year-olds father, Frank, was killed by a distracted driver while cycling in April 2014 in New Orleans. Frank Guinn, a city of Atlanta firefighter at Station 21, was training for an Ironman triathlon race.

The triplets mother, Kim Guinn was at a loss as to how to help their family move through grieving the loss of Frank and found a grief group, Kate’s Club to be extremely helpful for her girls. In the spirit of Frank’s memory, as well as an opportunity to give back to this club, Kim and her girls are organizing a 5-K race called “Running Thru the flames” and YOU can help!

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Kim, MaKenna, Alyssa, and Issy

They are looking for both sponsors to add to their existing ones, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and “Pass Them Like You Love Them”, an advocacy group promoting cyclist’s safety. The girls are also hoping for more participants to sign up for the 5-K that is scheduled for Sunday, September 11, 2016. YOU can go to their link here to register or make a donation even if you cannot make the run.

Let’s support The Guinn Family as they run down the path to healing while organizing this 5K to benefit Kate’s Club!

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Related posts you may have missed:

How Do We Describe Grief?

It Is Well With My Soul

A Grace Disguised

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

My Heart Will Go On

Anne Lamott: Best Day Ever

4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

18 Holes of Golf and 1,000 Sandwiches: Just Do It

My Own Little World What If There's a Bigger Picture

What is going on in your world and in my world today? When I heard Matthew West’s song, My Own Little World this morning, my thoughts went back to the way we spent our 4th of July morning for many years.

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Peachtree Family Memories

Donny and I, lots of friends, as well as family members have participated in the Peachtree Road Race more than a dozen times.

Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. Anne Lamott

On Independence Day, since 1970, this race is the world’s largest 10 kilometer race. Started by the Atlanta Track Club  with only 110 runners, the 2016 race, including a wheelchair competition expects over 60,000 participants. All finishers win the annual t-shirt! Some of you reading this may be training for the 2016 10K.

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Peachtree Family Memories

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Call me naive or sentimental, but every single time I stood at the extremely crowded start line, my eyes would well up. You see, here were my thoughts, every year, again and again:

What if all of these humans worked together for one cause, whether it be to stop hunger in its tracks, to put a final end to all human sex trafficking, to unite, standing shoulder-to-shoulder for a common cause, regardless of their race, gender or religious beliefs?

And then, year after year, on the 4th of July, the crowd I was standing and waiting with would begin the slow trot towards the start line in front of Lenox Mall on Peachtree Road, our goal before us to complete the race and get our coveted t-shirt.

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Kim and Amy Peachtree!
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Karen and Joan Peachtree!
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Our Family Peachtree Fun!

Here are the lyrics to this thought-provoking song:

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Precious time with my sister, Laura Lea. June 18, 2016.

I had a chance to visit with my sister, Laura Lea this past weekend and I shared this post with her.

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. Helen Keller

Laura’s initial thoughts were,  “I am quite sure that many of us live our lives this way…watching for ways to make a difference in another’s day.” I believe she is right, and I also think we can all do a little better.

How can you and I forget about our own world for a time and reach out to the hurting humans in our path?

One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” John F. Kennedy

If you live in a home that houses and nurtures young people, please make caring for them,loving them well, the most important priority of all.

This is no dress rehearsal, and I don’t want to spend another day just going through the motions!

I don’t believe I’m the only one feeling this sense of urgency. Especially in light of the current events across our globe today. I feel, we, each one, can be the hands and feet, together, to make a difference.

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Without really intending to, this has turned into a Matthew West post, so as we remember the Orlando shooting victims and families left behind,  and  many others who have had a recent loss, I will share one more of this artist/songwriter’s songs: Save A Place For Me.

A friend just shared something with me and I wanted to pass it onto you. Allow ten minutes for viewing. An awesome young lady shares her heart in an original poem about her perspective on our broken world and where we can find hope.

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5 Reasons We Should Volunteer Why Should We Do It?

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

Volunteers are love in motion. Unknown

Five Reasons We Should Volunteer:

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

(2) Volunteering can help you establish strong relationships.

(3) Volunteering can complement your career.

(4) Volunteering helps society.

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

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

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

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

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A collage project by one of my EXT friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Group of Hands Holding Letter Volunteer

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A few more collage projects from my Extension friends:

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a bookmark

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A New Angel From Indiana My Memories As An Educator

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1980’s Avondale Elementary
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1980’s Avondale Elementary

There is a new angel from Indiana, and the sudden passing of Mrs. Susan Jordan got me thinking about my career as an educator.

Nearly three decades ago, after several years as a Classroom Teacher, I found myself in a Lead Teacher for Student Services (LTSS) position at Avondale Elementary, in DeKalb County.

I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me? Did I choose to love? Nichole Nordeman's song, Legacy

 As a LTSS, one of my main responsibilities was to be a liaison between the home and the school. Many of our students did not have home phones or cars, so connecting with the parents proved to be very difficult. The “teacher’s note” did not always arrive into the hands of the Mom of the home. Emails and texts were nonexistent. I loved this job and one of my favorite parts of it was to be on bus duty every morning and every afternoon, without fail.

When our friends, Ed and Cathy announced in our small group at church recently that a former principal of their daughter’s, Mrs. Susan Jordan was killed in a freak accident related to bus duty, my heart went straight back to those years of greeting and giving farewells to our students day in and day out.

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Susan Jordan will be greatly missed!

On January 26, 2016, Jordan died instantly while pushing school children out of harm’s way when a bus jumped the curb in front of the school. The principal at Amy Beverland Elementary School, for nearly two decades, Jordan was beloved by all, students, parents, and staff, alike. Susan Jordan, age 69, has left a legacy that will be emulated and remembered for generations to come. This is such a devastating story, a tremendous loss, for sure. It is also a good reminder that this life is no dress rehearsal, and we only get one chance to leave the kind of legacy we would like to leave.

What Kind Of Legacy will you and I leave behind when it is our time to pass on?

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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.

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Open hands begging

The Disease Of Addiction Is Real. Hope Is Real, Too!

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Having volunteered at The Extension, Women’s Campus, in Marietta, Georgia since its 2009 opening, my heart is extremely soft towards those who suffer with alcoholism and other addictions. Every beating heart has a story, and the more I have worked with these women, the more I have realized that they have the same hopes and dreams for their future that you and I have for ourselves and for our families.

If you suspect your teen is drinking or using drugs, click here for a helpful guide.

The Disease Of Addiction Is Real. Hope Is Real, Too!

Andrew Chalmers grew up alongside our two children at Piedmont Church in Marietta, Georgia, U.S.A. Andrew has given me permission to share his very real and painful journey with you as he and his family celebrate his sixth anniversary in complete recovery!

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ANDREW

My Story
My story is a story of redemption and a story of great hope restored. It’s a story that demonstrates the overwhelming grace and love that God has for each and every person on the face of the earth. I feel like my story is a great demonstration of how God can make all things beautiful, no matter how messy we make them. The only reason I am alive today is because of His grace and His ability to perform miracles greater than we could ever even think to ask for. My story is one that shows it’s only when we die that we truly find life.

Growing up I had an amazing childhood with a great family. I played sports and loved to play out in the woods. I went to church with my family and was involved in all kinds of great positive activities. At 5 I first prayed to Jesus to come and save me and when I was 8, I was baptized. Then the next year something started to change. Because of a series of events, I became aware of a much different reality in this world than I was accustomed to and became really confused and angry.

My teen years I was filled with rage, confusion and depression. I started using alcohol and drugs at 12 and began a lifestyle pursuing the perfect mixture of sex, drugs and rock n roll. My life dramatically changed at 15 when I started using pain killers and taking club drugs. I remember my first time getting high on pills; I thought I had finally found what I had always been missing. I thought I had finally found the peace I had been searching for…

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Andrew flanked by his precious parents and son, Landon

For the next few years I headed down a path of total destruction and eventually started using heroin. When I first tried to stop at age 19 my girlfriend at the time became pregnant with my son, Landon. I tried to get myself together as we prepared to have a baby but I could not seem to get it together.

As parents watch the nightmare unfold when their teen becomes self-destructive, they wonder how they will ever reconnect with the son or daughter that they fear they are losing. It is the most helpless, hopeless feeling in the world, and it can overwhelm an entire family with unimaginable pain, chaos, and despair. from Teen Challenge Website

When my son was born I was in a detox facility having terrible withdrawals from drugs. I was so happy to have my son come into the world but was also still so consumed by my addiction. I made another decision I would get it all together that day in the hospital.

I ended up in a longer-term faith-based program and made a decision to follow Christ. When I finished the program I went home with an honest desire to start new but still was holding on to so much of my life. I had an ambition to get it all together and make everything work between my son’s mother and me. We got married that summer and I idealized pursuing The American Dream with my new wife and our baby. The dream was short-lived when we separated the next year. I was crushed when my dream was crushed. I had invested everything into this relationship and this dream. When it fell apart, so did the rest of my life.

I started using drugs again and spiraled out of control the rest of that year. I remember my first wake up call was going to jail in Atlanta for possession of cocaine and then immediately after I got out I went to get more drugs. After my heart had stopped due to a drug overdose, I remember buying more drugs the day I was released from the hospital. When I had no where else to go and ended up sleeping on the streets of a rough neighborhood in Atlanta, I can remember still only thinking about how I could get high. My life was consumed with this addiction and I was on the verge of suicide.

That’s when everything changed. My dad and I got in touch and he told me he had found out about a program called Teen Challenge and that he would help me got there. At first I was reluctant to go, but the next morning I woke up and felt something inside me say, “If you don’t get out of this place, you are going to die.” With urgency I called my dad and told him where I was. Then after waiting a few minutes, I changed my mind and left to go get high again. When my dad finally found me I was at an abandoned house, cold and shaking because of how many drugs I had been doing. I remember thinking I would kill him if he tried to take my drugs. He just sat there and watched me smoking crack and doing other drugs until they were all finally gone. When I finished I put the needles and pipe down and I remember him saying with a heart full of compassion, “Come with me son.”

16 He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
18 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
but the Lord supported me.
19 He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me. (Psalm 18)

I can relate so much to what David wrote in this Psalm when I reflect on how the Lord used my dad to rescue me out of the darkest place I could have ever imagined. When I look back I can imagine God’s hand reaching down from heaven to pull me out of the dark pit and rescuing me from enemies that really were too strong for me to overcome myself. God saved my life that day because he delighted in me even in my mess. When He saw me at my worst He loved me as much as he ever could or ever will. He loved me completely and with all of His heart. He pursued me no matter how far I tried to run away. He had a plan and a purpose even when no one else could see it.

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Haiti Orphanage Ministry, Christmas 2012

A month or so later I made the most important decision in my life. I made the decision not to just avoid hell or to be a better person for Jesus. I didn’t just pray the sinner’s prayer and feel all tingly. I made a decision to die to self. I decided one day on a loading dock that I would absolutely give everything in my life to Jesus and hold nothing back. That day has forever changed me.

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Tel Aviv October 2015

The next year or two I began to grow and deal with the many problems I had struggled with so many years of my life. One by one, the Lord just began to take away things from me. He took away even the desires that I had for these destructive behaviors as I continued to get in His presence and read His word. My life started to radically change and something new started to rise up inside of me. God started placing passions inside of me and began showing me that He had great destiny and purpose for my life. It was when He began to reveal to me my identity and destiny that I really began to strip off anything that hindered me from walking with Him. It wasn’t a set of rules that made me want to change but the overwhelming reality of His great love for me that filled my heart with a passion to pursue Him with everything.

These last four years God has restored my relationship with my son Landon. It has been an amazing miracle to watch him change the impossible to possible. When I first got off drugs I wasn’t even allowed to see Landon in supervised visitation. Today I have joint custody and have an amazing relationship with his mom and their family. God has taken the most broken of situations and has mended it into something better than I ever could have imagined.

11745943_10206836535941652_3616794178398357446_nGod has also given me opportunities to travel and do things I never thought would be possible. I have been able to do mission work in South Africa, Trinidad, Haiti, Canada and Europe. He has also given me a chance to travel all over the U.S. and share about all He has done for me. He has given me so many amazing friends and has restored my relationship with my family. He has healed me of all depression, anxiety and ADD. He has completely taken away my desire to take drugs, drink or even smoke cigarettes. He has replaced my suicidal thoughts with a life full of passion, hope and joy. When I chose to die completely and give Him everything I got so much more in return. He has given me a life of abundance.

My life’s mission is to abide in Christ’s love in such a way that others are inspired to pursue God with reckless abandonment and that my life would burn so passionately for God that it would set countless others on fire for Him.

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Andrew Chalmers looks ahead to a positive, hopeful future…

A Resource List:

The Addiction Recovery GuideIMG_8478

Teen Challenge USA

The Extension: life*worth*recovery

Addiction Recovery

National Institute on Drug Abuse

the fix: Addiction and Recovery, Straight Up

Celebrate Recovery: A Christ-Centered Recovery Program

Davis Direction Foundation

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

Let’s Listen To Children Like Mattie J.T. Stepanek


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Let’s listen to children like Mattie J. T. Stepanek. Five books written and illustrated by Mattie are available at Amazon.com, some for as little as $0.01 plus S/H. Responding to my latest post, What Feeds You and Me?, my friend, Jan Weber commented: “I have all of Mattie’s books and I am going to reread them again. Thanks for reminding us of that remarkable lil boy!”

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Yes, Mattie was a remarkable young man, wise beyond his years. Rereading much of Mattie’s lifework reminds me that I want to listen more to the children in my path. This life we live can preoccupy us and we have to keep in mind that children rely solely on us for their livelihood.  Children truly are like wet cement.

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Leah and Walker 1992
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Leah and Walker 1992

When our two were small, I had to constantly remind myself to not rush them…their little legs could only move so fast!

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a

One tool that has always helped me, and still does to this day is deep breathing. Click here for details.

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November 1993, Walker, 20 months, Leah 5 years. Kennesaw Mountain National Park

If I was running late, it was not their fault, but mine. It always takes extra minutes to get shoes and socks on their small feet and arms through their tiny clothes. Having little ones can teach a Mom and Dad so much if they are listening.

As Mattie says,

“If I close my eyes and sit very still,

it’s so easy to listen to my heart song.”

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Don and our great-nephew, August, listen to heart songs together.

IMG_8208 IMG_8241 IMG_8247As I’ve sat with Donny’s Father this past week, I’ve been reminded of being a Mommy to two young children. Those who are aging with dementia, like Don, are much like young children.

Thanks for sharing this. I have read his books. I Google the interview that Oprah did with Mattie and his mother whenever I need to slow down and put life into perspective. Heartsongs sits on an end table at home for the purpose of starting a conversation which leads to inspiration.

Both take enormous patience and extra time to get their points across to the listener. Are you “listening” to the children in your life? As Mattie illustrates here, they have much to say to us and to the world as they grow.IMG_8238

As you and I slow down,

whose heartsong

might we hear?

As we stay too busy with

our days,

our smart phones,

our schedules,

our lives,

whose heartsong might we miss?

I hope at some point, you will take 10 minutes to click here to watch a video about this extraordinary young man.

It is a “must-see”, if you are at all interested in having a clearer understanding of what a heartsong really is. P.S. be sure to have some tissues nearby.

Click here to listen to one of my favorite Casting Crown songs:

LET MY LIFESONG SING TO YOU.

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“Remember to play after every storm.” Love, Mattie

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