Busy School Days Three Things We Did

School Days are busy days, that is for sure! The days will go by, no matter what.

Welcome to Reality - Road sign

The hour is 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, and I find myself walking through our quaint Marietta Square thinking about afternoons gone by, when our son and daughter were small and coming up. Now married, ages 31 and 28, Leah and Walker are both married with children of their own.

Were we busy on school days! The hours between 2:30-8:30, six hours in all, were so jammed pack, roller skates would have probably helped me to make it to their bedtime. Homework, sports, carpools, snack time, Mission Friends,  baths, music lessons, dinner, and more, filled those six hours each weekday and the memories come flooding in when I allow them to. My husband’s work schedule did not allow him to help me shuffle them here and there, so it was lots of other Moms, and me, who counted on each other to create plans that were workable.

TODAY, however, as we continue to face the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic. school days are anything but “normal”. (I heard it said once that “normal” is nothing but a setting on a washing machine, lol)

What we are facing, collectively, is something most of us have never dealt with before—the threat of contagion, the challenges of quarantine, and the possibility (or reality, sadly) of major losses, both in human terms and economically. AND now, it is August and Back To School Season, after abruptly closing our schools down in Mid-March 2020.

During these especially challenging times, I think it is particularly important to remember to be non-judgmental, kind and supportive regarding the school decisions that our family and friends are making for the students who still live at home.

Some are choosing virtual, some are home-schooling, and some are attending classes face-to-face. All choices are permissible.

As we continue to move forward with tremendous hopes for finding a viable vaccination as soon as possible, let’s pour out resolve, resilience, and support to all who are in our path. Let’s look for ways to help others during this time, even in small ways such as an encouraging note or a meal for a neighbor who is battling cancer. Let’s all Look UP, keeping our faith strong.

Now at a local Starbuck’s patio at the corner of Whitlock and North Marietta Parkway, the hour is closer to three p.m., and I think about the parents are  would normally be heading to schools for pick-up, while the teachers are calling the day a wrap as they clean their boards and straighten the classrooms in preparation for Hump Day.  Not this year. Not in 2020. Many schools are virtual, while a few are not. Either way, the days go by, no matter what.

Back to school design over white background, vector illustration

I don’t feel sad as I recall these school days gone by, but I do recall easily three things that we intentionally tried to do every single day:

1) Eat dinner together as a family-not every night, but we tried hard to make it most nights. We would go around the table sharing “highs” and “lows” from the day gone by. The crockpot was my best friend then! Click here to read a pertinent article about this.IMG_5309

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2) We read together every night at bedtime. When they were nonreaders, we would read to them and once they learned to read, we would read with the popcorn method-you read a page and your child reads a page. Click here to read an important article about reading with your kids.

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3) Each and every night, we would rest our hand on our child and give them the following blessing from Numbers 6:24-26: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Parents today, more than ever before, still want the Lord to bless their children. 

How about your family? What intentional traditions and memories are you building into the busy days of your children and grandchildren? The SKY is the limit!

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A SPOT OF SUNSHINE Let's Watch For Them

With the end of April 2020 upon us, I am sitting here counting my blessings, naming them one by one. Amidst all of the chaos our world has observed since mid-March, I’ve discovered that having a heart of gratitude is more important than ever before.

Two of our FF (Friends Forever) group, Jan and Jane Ellen. Yes, friends since Fernbank Elementary.

As a sixty-something woman, I am  grateful for my reliable God, my family, my friends, just to mention three bounties here in my earthly life.

As I ponder this further, I realize that sometimes the basis for gratefulness in my day is because a “spot of sunshine” has come my way.

That spot of sunshine may be the simplest thing. The simple things can be missed if we are not in the habit of watching for them.

This may have come to me in a smile, a kind word, a note in the mail, a loving hug, an encouraging text or email, artwork, birthday celebrations, a laugh, a song, a written message or verse, a yummy taste of a favorite food, the chance to aid another, sweet memories, excellent health care, and the way my loved ones say my name, just to name a few.

Measuring The Moments…the “spots of sunshine” with our two children, Leah and Walker, when they were growing. (1993-1994)

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.
“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”
~James M. Barrie~

What are the spots of sunshine that you are most comforted and encouraged by
during this crazy season we are finding ourselves in?

Let’s Watch For Them.

Taylor’s Ride with dear friends. October 2018.

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Thank God He Has A Forgetful Nature

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE

PRAYER

FORGIVENESS

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

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

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

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

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

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

We may not know the future,

but perhaps Christmas 2019 will be a season for

drawing closer to the ONE who does. 

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

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

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

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

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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!

What Feeds You And Me? Let’s Follow Our Heartsong.

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What feeds you and me? Let’s follow our heartsong.

Change is Inevitable. Growth is Optional. I’ve been thinking about some changes I would like to make and I am realizing more and more that changes must first take place from the inside out.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of evil, a ton of loss,so much sadness in our world today, what with the continued, enormous conflict and divisiveness  in our own country and across our globe. There are storms, like a current one named “Dorian”, that come up and disturb our sense of peace, our well-being.

Terrorists and criminals feed on fear. It seems their greatest delight must lie in horrifying others. Their goal-fear, our reaction-fear… is a normal response to the circumstances in our world today.

Life circumstances catch us off guard with the sudden death of a loved one, the delivery of a scary diagnosis, a job loss.

Call it naivety…

…but what if we decided to “fight back”, not with weapons, but with hope paired with our fear? What if we decided to intentionally have guarded optimism about our future days?

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

There was a brave, young soul, named Matthew Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek, who lived between the years of 1991-2004.

A heart song is something deep inside each of us. It’s our sense of why we are here and how we can keep going. It is like a purpose. It may be to live as a mommy or a daddy, or a firefighter or a delivery person, or a child with a disability who teaches others about patience and love and acceptance. Heartsongs are usually easy to hear when we are young, but we sometimes get too busy or hurt or angry to listen to them as we get older. And just like any gift that isn’t cared for or used well, it is possible to forget how to listen to the message of each song. But even if we completely lose our heart song, we can share someone else’s song until we are able to reawaken or recreate our own.” Mattie Stepanek, in the Introduction to his 2002 Best Seller, Hope Through Heartsongs 

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Mattie’s Poem penned in 1999, just five years before he passed at the age of 13

Despite a rare, debilitative disease (dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy) Mattie managed to publish five poetry books before his passing at the age of 13.

“We are each Angels-in-the-making, and that is why we can see and honor in others, such as Mattie, the goal that each of us is traveling toward. Mattie reminds us of that goal and makes us thankful.” Gary Zukav in the Foreword to Mattie’s 2001 Best Seller Hope Through Heartsongs

Mattie began writing poetry at the age of three to cope with the death of his brother of this same genetic disease. Did you know? Mattie’s fans included Jimmy Carter and Oprah Winfrey. He was well-known for his promotion of peace. As I consider Mattie’s heart and work, I am inspired to “fight back” with goodness. But how does one do that? In Mattie’s poem entitled “Bravery Prayer”, he suggests we pair hope and fear together in one great force, leading to Bravery!

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Mattie’s thoughts remind me of another great example for making the discovery of what feeds us:

The Tale Of Two Wolves

ONE EVENING, AN ELDERLY
CHEROKEE BRAVE TOLD HIS
GRANDSON ABOUT A BATTLE THAT
GOES ON INSIDE PEOPLE.

HE SAID “MY SON, THE BATTLE IS
BETWEEN TWO ‘WOLVES’ INSIDE US ALL.
ONE IS EVIL. IT IS ANGER,
ENVY, JEALOUSY, SORROW,
REGRET, GREED, ARROGANCE,
SELF-PITY, GUILT, RESENTMENT,
INFERIORITY, LIES, FALSE PRIDE,
SUPERIORITY, AND EGO.

THE OTHER IS GOOD.
IT IS JOY, PEACE LOVE, HOPE, SERENITY,
HUMILITY, KINDNESS, BENEVOLENCE,
EMPATHY, GENEROSITY,
TRUTH, COMPASSION AND FAITH.”

THE GRANDSON THOUGHT ABOUT
IT FOR A MINUTE AND THEN ASKED
HIS GRANDFATHER:

“WHICH WOLF WINS?…”

THE OLD CHEROKEE SIMPLY REPLIED,
“THE ONE THAT YOU FEED”

So with that old story, along with the courageous, short life of Mattie Stepanek, I ask us again…What feeds you and me? Whether we fear tornadoes, death, terrorists, earthquakes, or tax collectors, let’s follow our heart song. Let’s start within our own families, in our homes, today.

Let There Be Peace On Earth and Let It Begin With Me

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Spiders, Oh My What Triggers Your Curiosity These Days?

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Charlotte’s Web, page 66

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Walt Disney

My friend, Rebecca along with our daughter, Leah could be considered arachnophobia. They both have a true fear of spiders. If they ever find themselves close to one, you can count on a very, loud, shrill scream, and this can come out of nowhere. So beware of that scream even more than the spiders. It’ll scare you half to death!!! This will soon be followed by a flip-flop smacking that is equally loud.

While I certainly don’t want to be bitten by one, spiders have never really bothered me too much. Guess I am lucky in that way. One of my all-time favorite books as a child and as an adult, and one I read to our children when they were young is Charlotte’s Web, By E. B. White written in 1952, and illustrated by Garth Williams. In the school year of 1998-1999, when I homeschooled Walker for first grade, we read aloud  a trio of White’s great stories, including this one, Trumpet of the Swan, and Stuart Little. If you have little ones, school age,  older children, or grandchildren, I encourage you to schedule a time of reading each night. It is a super sweet time to snuggle as you read. If your child is a reader, you can read using the “popcorn method”: you read a page, then the child reads a page, taking turns. These can be the best 10-20 minutes in yours and your child’s day!

I know I cannot wait to snuggle up and read stories with our two new grand babies, Tripp and Elizabeth!

Maybe it’s the way Charlotte is known as a teacher, a mentor, that softens any negative opinion I might have about spiders in general.  Charlotte was born to be a teacher. Remember how Charlotte is always teaching Wilbur new words? She’s a genuine dictionary, that spider. This spider also has some huge life lessons in her spinnerets. She’ll help Wilbur feel at home in the barn and deal with some pretty big issues, like his own mortality. It’s a good thing this spider is quite the smarty-pants. If you, your children, or grandchildren have not read or heard this story recently, run, don’t walk to the nearest public library for some reading with loved ones. I promise, you will not be disappointed!

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Charlotte, the spider.Another ingenious spider, for sure! Charlotte’s Web, page 38
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Walker studies the spider.

Recently, a very active spider caught Walker’s, Scott’s, and my attention late one night. The spider was bound and determined to spin that web and to catch as many treats while doing it. As we observed the busy spider, we made a game of catching bugs and throwing them into the web, some of which were quickly and succinctly captured and wound up by this ingenious spider. This made me wonder about spiders…While this may sound crazy, it really made me wonder why they are here and what is their true purpose in being here.IMG_4695 IMG_4693

Did you know? Spiders are the ultimate exterminator. They are important in controlling the insect population, a natural form of insecticide. Some spiders consume an estimated 2,000 insects in one year! Did you know? Female spiders are fairly prolific at generating offspring, some creating several egg sacs with dozens of eggs in each. (Sorry to tell you this Leah and Rebecca!)Most web-building spiders favor this strategy, knowing that only a few of their offspring will survive to adulthood.  Female wolf spiders carry their egg sacs with them, attached to the spinnerets. Once the spiderlings hatch, mother wolf spider lets them ride on top of her abdomen until they have their first molt, at which point they disperse to fend for themselves. Did you know? A spider’s web begins with the spider’s ability to transform liquid silk inside its special glands into solid threads. The spider does this by physically pulling the spider silk through its spinnerets – silk-secreting organs on its abdomen. Once the thread is started, the spider lifts its spinnerets into the breeze. It’s the breeze that is the secret to the spider’s ability to spin a web from tree to another. Although the thread isn’t sticky or gluey, it can still stick to the tree. Most likely it just gets tangled on small protuberances. Or it adheres due to static electrical forces, like balloons sticking to a TV screen. At this point, the spider can use the thread to “tightrope walk” from one tree to another. Usually, the spider is hanging underneath the thread on its journey from tree to tree. Many spiders build new webs each night or day, depending on when they hunt.  The breeze is the key to a spider’s ability to spin a web between two trees.

I guess that will be enough facts to share about spiders. The bottom line is most people do not like them, no matter what. Still between real spiders and fictional Charlotte in this best-loved children’s story, it is good to ask questions and stay curious.

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One of my all-time favorite stories! Read it with someone you love.
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Charlotte’s Web, page 88
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Charlotte’s Web, page 95

You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing…after all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die…By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web

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Charlotte’s Web, page 78

What are you, your children,

or your grandchildren

curious about today?

Explore that subject, animal or

topic by going to

the public library or

nearby bookstore, or

just go ahead and GOOGLE IT!

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Wilbur and Charlotte remind us: “Let’s stay curious!”

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7 Reflections From A Movie same kind of difference as me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Denver Moore~

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

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

~Ron Hall~

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

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

My Reflections:

1) love always wins

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

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

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

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

6) life is brief and kindness matters

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

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Why I Write Musings Of The Heart

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.”  

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, and poet (1803-1882)

I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Are Enough,  hosted by Positive Writer. You can check out  the Positive Writer website here!

I have always loved to write. Writing as an adult has helped me and continues to help me face unimaginable fears. Fear stops people from writing. My mind has habitually been an inquisitive one…”why this?” and “why that?”

Writing helps me to seek (and sometimes even find) answers to the big questions of living in this world…questions that most who have a beating heart have, too. Viktor Frankl was one of those who struggled with the big questions as he was in captivity in Auschwitz and Dachau. He penned some of his questions and answers in the beloved book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl is known for the quote: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”

IMG_0626I have written in my personal journal for the past twenty-five years, since 1989. It is intriguing to go back many years and read documented details of days in the life of our family. If you have never kept a journal, it’s not too late! You may want to consider starting one in 2019. There is no pressure in keeping your own personal account. You can pen a few sentences or a paragraph every three to four days and that will be enough to bring times that have passed back into your memory bank.

“Down here at the sea, early this morning while my family still sleeps. I just read Chapter Five, Oyster Bed, from Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea.  Love her reminders about Middle Age and amazed they are still so applicable today….p. 85 a quote from author Virginia Woolf who meets middle age admitting:  ‘Things have dropped for me. I have outlived certain desires…I am not so gifted as at one time seemed likely. Certain things lie beyond my scope. I shall never understand the harder problems of philosophy.” (tho I’m quite sure Walker Page WILL!)  DP just finished “When Crickets Cry” by Charles Martin, and really enjoyed it. It was recommended to him by our good friends, Jane Ellen and Sandy, in addition to myself. I hope to do a quick reread of it since it has been 2-3 years since I read it. I really want to discuss it with DP. I’ve also been rereading Gordon Macdonald’s “Ordering your Private World.” Even though it was written in 1984, the message to me here is more important than ever: p.8 “I have discovered that to bring organization to the private world where Christ chooses to live is BOTH a lifelong and a daily matter.”

an excerpt from my journal dated 8/5/11

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I write because when I do, I literally lose myself for the time period in which I am writing. I believe that to be a good thing. We can all benefit from a recreational activity that we’re passionate about. Writing is that for me.

Writing involves some time researching whatever I’m choosing to write about. Come what may, I’m interested in researching the whats, the whys, the hows, the whens, and the wheres surrounding a variety of circumstances in life.

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I love, love, love reading. Reading is an important and essential part of the writing process. Just ask my husband how many books arrive in our snail mail in a month’s time! I also hang out regularly at our local library. Books fill our shelves and they fill my heart too.

One of my favorite things to write would have to be notes and letters.

I mean U.S. Postal Service letters! (receiving them is nice, too!) My sister, Laura Lea and I frequently mail our thoughts back and forth even though our homes are only 45 miles apart. My friend, Marie, whom I have known for over 3 decades, lives only an hour from my home but we have become regular pen pals over the years and I cherish her newsy notes to me. I definitely got this, like many things, from my dear Mama.

At her funeral in 2006, her pastor asked how many folks in the congregation had ever received a note, card, or letter from Polly…nearly every one of the more than 200 raised their hands. I love to write because the right words can touch a heart and soul.

One can be so encouraged after receiving some hand-written correspondence. If you have a college student in your family, aging parents, or even a young couple who lives out-of-town, consider writing them a personal letter now and then.

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“Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.” 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German playwright, poet, novelist, dramatist (1749-1832)

“There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters…I could be their leader.” 

Charlie Brown

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The Simple Things

Being Brave: Living Life With Everything You Have

Five Lessons From A Garden: Bloom Where You Are Planted

Joy Come In The Morning

It Is Well With My Soul

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

Four Questions For God

My Own Little World: What If There’s A Bigger Picture

Solitude: Seven Ways To Find It

Five Lessons From A Horse

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What’s Happiness? What's JOY?

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What’s Happiness?

What’s Joy?

Donny and I recently made the 2.5 hour drive from Asheville, North Carolina to Blue Ridge, Georgia. Normally a scenic route along the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway, our drive was cloudy and smoky indeed from all the recent rain and flooding. In the passenger seat, I reminisced about our recent holiday season, considering the coming Christmas of dear friends who had a great loss in the past year.

An article posted recently by my friend, Mary K. gave me even more food for thought on this subject: 20 Hard Things You Need To Do To Be Happy.

As the miles slipped by in the torrential rain, I thought about what brings me the most happiness and joy.

I came upon my usual, steadfast three:

Faith….Family….Friends

Later, I ran across the following anonymous writing and it fit with my musings as we traveled last week:

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another.

Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough, and we’ll be more content when they are.

After that, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with.

We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our partner gets his or her act together when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice holiday, when we retire.

The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges.

It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. Alfred D. Souza

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time…and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until winter, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink…. there is no better time than now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Work like you don’t need money,

Love like you’ve never been hurt,

And dance like no one’s watching.

~Anonymous~

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So what will bring us happiness and joy in 2018?  

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Pictured here are some of my favorite things from the past years.

But as you will soon see…”The best things in life aren’t things at all.”

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The Reason for The Season
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celebrating Jim’s birthday on 12/20/15
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a Missouri map added to my bracelet from Walker and Jess
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a tiger added to my bracelet by Leah and Scott
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a copied poem and my “original art”
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an unexpected gift from my friend, Susan F.
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six out of eight of our FF group, friends since Fernbank Elementary
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my dear friend, Kelly
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GrandDaddy Page
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my teaching companion , in Rio and dear friend, Deb
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grands of our dear friends, The Carters
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loving the resemblance between my sis, Kathy and our daughter
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experience of JOY with these two on 11/14/15
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brings me JOY knowing this ornament is now on another Page tree
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thankful for Donna Kapper’s opportunity to give this bear a special journey….Read about this on an earlier post: “Tears To Teddy Bears”
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service in a Santa Shop with my girl
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fun with friends and family as David leads us in caroling
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Oh my, love these West girls, whom I have known since “utero” : )
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special friends, The Kramers, join us in our home
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“sister sessions” with my three sisters every couple of months
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33 years of marriage and still going strong…onward and upward…He makes me smile…
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Our niece, Katie with her first-born, Noelle…Read more about our six 2014 babies in an earlier post: “Carve Your Name On Hearts”
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~~~the memories of my parents are with me daily~~~
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Cindy’s  Christmas Eve, story time legacy lives on even after they are grown
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4 of us together at Krueger wedding
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2015 Fourth of July in Barcelona
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My big bro, John Wade and Jeanie…and Grandparents to this precious trio below
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A three-way “Heart Huddle”-Walker Grands-all first borns, all born within four months of each other in 2014. Read more about them in my post “Carve Your Name On Hearts”.
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women’s retreat May 2015
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a rose in a vase at the Biltmore Inn
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Tim and Ringer
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a church in the distance as we traveled from NC to GA
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my student in Rio, so excited to receive this brand new recorder
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our awesome interpreters in Rio
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friends in our home, Bonny and her daughter, Stacy
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my sis, Laura Lea and Leah have a moment to catch up on a sunny Thanksgiving Day, 2015
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My sis, Laura Lea plays “motor boat” with her new grandson, Roman
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a Thanksgiving walk in the woods with 3 of my favorite people
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Christmas Day 2015 with Mocha
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“Great”-nephews, August and Noah
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supporting Karl’s Kure
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on mission in RIO
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R and R at the lake
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two of my favorite things: red geraniums and Gracie
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these college friends since 1976 have brought so much sunshine into my life
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Walker and Jessica, Summer 2015
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Scott and Leah, Summer 2015
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FRIENDS are a gift!
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Thank goodness Donny and Gracie know how to relax!
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Psalm 113:3 “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised.” Lamentations 3:22-23 “His compassion for us never fails and his mercies are new every morning.”
People are made of stories, not atoms.

Posts You May Have Missed:

My Own Little World: What If There’s A Bigger Picture

Speak Life

It Is Well With My Soul

Peace Like A River

Fertile Prayers

Wrestling and Seeking

Authentic Prayer

Run To The Roar

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Fighter Jule Furr Takes Leave This Inspiring Angel Will Be Missed

This passage in Romans 5 perfectly describes the wonderful and brave woman I am lucky enough to call my mother. Even on her worst or saddest of days, she still shines the brightest light and takes refuge in her faith. I would never come close to the person that I am without you as my Mom! Jordan Furr

My friend, Jule Furr, took her leave just before Thanksgiving on November 22, 2017. Jule and I were heart friends and this inspiring angel will be sorely missed. You can read her brief bio here.

You can also read a blog post about Jule’s life story, Part 1 that was written in 2014 by Melony Brown: Courageous Women Overcoming Life’s Tough Challenges.

And you will find Part 2 of this blog post by Melony, here.

Her Celebration of Life Service is on this Saturday, December 9th at 1:00 p.m. at Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence, by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.' Eleanor Roosevelt

Jule faced cancer early in her life as a junior high student. Battling the disease for decades, when others asked how she was feeling, she was in the habit of responding, “Oh, it ain’t nothing but ‘a thang’!” with a courageous and joyful smile on her face. Whether she was dealing with loss of hair, bells palsy, or any other yucky side effect of her continual treatment plan, Jule maintained her sense of humor and her determination to live.

I've always thought I was touched by God and He chose me for a reason. Because of my struggles, my faith is stronger. I want people to see Jesus in me. We are here to shine a light. Jule Furr

Jule was treasured, loved, and fought for her life daily to be with her family, husband, Bryan, daughter and son, Jordan and Christian (called Fuzzy). Jule Furr considered these three her greatest gifts! The Furrs were married over thirty years. She felt blessed to have him as her husband and best friend.

Over time, many of us came to call her “Jules”. When I asked her about this, she proclaimed, Well, I am ‘a jewel’ you know, I’m a ‘Daughter of The King’!!”

It is honestly difficult to describe this woman who changed the world with her birth on February 27, 1964. Number five, she  joined four sibs, sisters, Mary Ann, Kathy, Linda, and one brother, Chris. Funny story, upon her birth, her Daddy announced that he would nickname Jule “Banana” as the 5th one in the bunch, but the kids disagreed!

First living in Charlotte, North Carolina as newlyweds,  Jules and Bryan Furr soon moved to Georgia where they raised their two babies in Marietta.

My story with Jules began when we were Moms together at Eastside Christian School in the late nineties . Though I lost touch in recent months due to the severity of Jules progressive disease, our friendship is one I will cherish in my heart forever.

Here, I will share a few anecdotes from our time together.

In 2000, I was preparing to raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer 60-Day Walk from Gainesville to Atlanta. Having gone through this cancer herself, Jules was not strong enough to participate. However, she did want to help me raise funds. A participant was required to raise a minimum of $1,500.00 and our children held a Dog Wash to help. (I still laugh when I recall our son, Walker, age 8 at the time asking me if he could put out a “tip jar”!)  Along with my friends who were walking with me, Kathy Owen and Jil Cain, we raised nearly 10 grand! Jules, alone gave me a total of $820.00 the week of our walk! While registering on Day One, a woman in front of me was dismayed because she was unable to reach her financial goal. You guessed it, she was right at $820.00 short and I happily gave her Jules donation funds. Wow, was that a cool, God Wink!?!

Also, in 2000, when battling breast cancer, Jules’ fear for her two young children’s reaction,  soon gave way to inspiration. Soon, she penned an original story called, “The Scarf Game”, and it was published just a few weeks later. The 23 page story book which never mentions the word “cancer” was written from her daughter, Jordan’s perspective. The creative story line explains how both Jordan and Christian learned to tie scarves on their Mom’s bald head to help her when she was not feeling so well. This is just another example of the courageous and positive outlook this dear friend held in life.

During a particular season of illness, during the school year of 2007-2008, Jules and I would talk on the phone often. She shared with me that when she felt down and discouraged, she would list the things she was most grateful for…her husband, Bryan, Jordan, 8th grade at the time, and their son, Christian, 4th grade.

One time when I was at Chemo treatment with Jules, her nurse, Cindy Deminsky, said about Jules, “She is a treasure, treasure, treasure!” In Jules’ usual humored way, she quipped, “No, you are! I’m just an addict!”

Jules always expressed to me how much she valued her girlfriends. Back in the day, she thoroughly loved her “Southern Living Ladies Lunch Club”. They would dress crazy for gatherings and when Jules was ill, they took two-hour shifts to stay with her.

We must meet the unknown future by bringing to bear everything that has been shaped by us in the past. John O'Donohue, Irish Writer (1956-2008)

I am convinced Jules relied strongly on her faith as she journeyed through life, and she would want everyone to know this!

Jule Furr defined life and never allowed life to define her. Her smile changed the world, but she never let the circumstances of her world change her smile.

Jules favorite verse can be found in Romans 5:1-5. Emphasizing both peace and hope, it is definitely worth taking the time to read.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God. Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)

Those who knew Jule were blessed, and those who did not have an opportunity to meet Jule will be inspired by her life and adopt her stories to strengthen their own hearts.

It is now time to celebrate the life of this unique and special daughter, sister, mother, wife and friend to countless gals who will miss this inspiring angel so very much, including me!

Loss is loss, and I will be praying for this precious family during this time of grief. I will also be lifting up the many others I know and love who have lost in 2017.

RIP my dear warrior friend, Jules Furr. See YOU Later!

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Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

Standing At The Crossroads, Trying To Read The Signs

How Do We Describe Grief?

It Is Well With My Soul

How The Soul Grows Through Loss

Run To The Roar

Hurting Hearts, Painful Paths

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