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.
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.
As we celebrate our first born’s 31st birthday today, I am sharing this unforgettable story of how Leah came to be. Since this story played out in 1987-1988, my God has given me many reasons to be a person of hope and gratitude.
Many may wonder how it feels to be a mother of a 31-year-old daughter, a 27-year-old son, as well as a new grandmother to two one-year-olds.
My main thought is one of pure joy and gratefulness that we are all still here to celebrate this day! We’ve all heard it said that “gratitude is a game changer in one’s attitude and approach to everyday living”, and I believe this with all of my heart!
Cheers To Leah Page Andrews Today!
Wishing you many, many more birthdays in the years ahead!
As a teacher at Avondale Elementary and a few years of suffering with unexplained infertility, I was near my wit’s end. We had planned everything out perfectly hadn’t we? With my husband still in training, we were hoping for a Spring Baby so that I could connect my maternity leave with a nice long summer before
returning to the classroom.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
With May 1987, came another season of sadness and despair as we had one after another negative pregnancy test. It seemed that everyone we knew was having their first or second child. Married for five years, this was a season of adversity in our marriage. We both wondered aloud and privately if we would ever have the privilege of being parents. During my 1987-1988 Christmas Break, I found myself pleading with my God more than ever before.
I cross-stitched Romans 8:28 and placed it in this frame.
Soon after this, a snow-filled, early January Monday kept my husband and me home from work.
God can't give us peace and happiness apart from himself because there is no such thing.
Overjoyed to have this unexpected holiday together, we would later discover that this day was likely the day that our first-born child was finally conceived. (sorry for the TMI: too much information<smile>)
Some of the lessons we learned from this experience are:
God’s timing is perfect.
God knows even better than we know what is best for us.
Adversity makes us stronger. We must stick together even when things get tough.
When we seek God, we will find Him. In adversity, He draws us into a deeper walk with Him.
God hears our pleas.
Let’s be intentional about our choice to stay connected to our God and to each other when we are weak and when circumstances get tough.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10 reminds us that when we are weak, He is strong!)
“Sometimes when you don’t know the answer, live the question.”
Many tried to tell me how I might feel as a first-time grandmother. Most exclaimed that there were no words that could describe this new relationship. I agree. I do have occasional questions about these little ones’ future. Okay, the truth is that my thoughts surround Tripp, Elizabeth and their parents, constantly, lol. Our lives have changed forever since the births of our first two grands: Michael Scott Andrews, lll (Tripp) and Elizabeth Noel Page, respectively on 8/24/18 and 9/7/18. Our grand babies are pictured here during their nightly bath time.
Will they grow strong and will they be brave enough for this tough world we reside in? Will they truly know how much I love and cherish them? How will they face life challenges that are sure to come? What will they be? I find myself praying for Elizabeth and Tripp fervently each day. My Mama did the same for her children, her grands, and her great-grands.
In over six decades of living, I have come to realize many things. More than ever before, I have seen that sometimes the questions that we have in this life do not have answers that are easy to uncover…
WHY did someone have to die so soon?
WHY can’t _____ and _____ get along better?
WHY does this habit have such a strong hold on me?
WHY is this loved one living with a disability?
WHY was my husband unfaithful to me? OR
WHY did my husband die so young leaving me with the children?
FILL IN THE BLANK WITH SOME OF YOUR WHYS:_______________________________
As we journey through life, I think it is important to pray and talk to trustworthy friends, and perhaps even a counselor, about the issues in our lives.
Still, sometimes the answers just don’t come this side of heaven.
So what do we do?
WE LIVE THE QUESTION. We submit ourselves to the truth that we do not know the answer and we live the question, recognizing that the question may always be with us.
In the book CELEBRATION of DISCIPLINE, By, Richard Foster, the author speaks to this on page 111:
“I said that every discipline has its corresponding freedom. What freedom corresponds to submission? It is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way. The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondages in human society today. People will spend weeks, months, even a lifetime, in a perpetual stew because something did not go as they wished. They will get mad about it. They will act as if their very life hangs on the issue. They may even get an ulcer, develop health problems over it.”
So, today, take a few moments to consider what “questions” have been gnawing at you, and make the choice to simply breathe and live out your days with an understanding that some of the “answers” are not for us to know just now.
Here I will share with you four ways to better love our peeps. As Valentine’s Day is here, our minds go to the significant, loving relationships in our life journey. Are they fulfilling, communicative, in harmony, and committed? Do we enjoy time spent with these we are in relationship with? Do we laugh together? Most of us if we are completely honest, would say, that our relationships could be better.
One of the things my Mama taught me is a tool she used during her 58 years of marriage. When the faults of her man seemed glaring to her, she would take a moment, hold out both hands in front of her, like a scale, and say this to herself: “My right hand represents Johnny’s shortcomings, and my left hand represents the ways that I fall short.” Invariably, she would tell me, her left hand always weighed heavier than her right.
'Dear Friends, Let us love one another, for love comes from God.'
1 John 4:7
Rather than wanting our partners to change so things would be better, perhaps it is time to determine how we could show up differently and make the difference we are seeking.
Here are three ways to better love our peeps:
1) Cultivate Your Love Life Inside Out
This first one may surprise you, as it has less to do with your relationships and more to do with your inner heart. Did you know? Studies have shown that one will never let oneself have more health, happiness, and success than one feels he/she deserves. What does that mean? This means that right this minute you and I are attracting what we feel worthy of having. What would you say your current self-worth score is on a scale of 1-10? What things could you do to increase that score? Before we can expect to find love from anyone else, we first have to find it within ourselves. Our God loves us and wants us to have self-worth and self-respect. And let’s surround ourselves with people who truly love and support us!
'Friends are like elevators. They either take us up or bring us down.'
(2) Leave the Blame Game Behind
I know when I criticize my husband of nearly 35 years, he literally shuts down, not with anger, just sadness. Blaming and judging will guarantee a poor partnership! Lucille Ball said, “Love yourself, and everything else will fall into place.” Could it be that there is something you are ‘unhappy’ within yourself? Think about it! An important relationship is our connection to our own heart. When we accept ourselves as we are, then and only then can we accept others without condition.
(3) Let The Past Go
Every beating heart has a story and our history (thank goodness!!!) is not our destiny. It’s good to habitually say to ourselves: “That was then. This is now.” We all have things in our past we may not be proud of, but we can let that all go and focus on today. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That is why we call today, ‘the present'” (unknown)
(4)Live Out Our Days with Gratitude and Appreciation
Wayne Dyer said: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.” In every loving relationship, there are more good things than bad things going on. However, if the negative things become our ‘focal point’, then they seem way bigger and become more and more dominant in our partnership. Read this by Charles Swindoll on Attitude. We all get to choose the thoughts that control our feelings and emotions that end up driving our lives.
Now, we all know that Valentine’s Day is just one more day established by Hallmark, LOL!
Love Always Wins!
What are some of the ways you and I can exhibit more love towards our peeps each and every day of the year? How can we make our parents, sons, daughters, girlfriends, and partners feel more treasured and cherished in the days ahead?
Hurting hearts and painful paths come with the tremendous challenges surrounding depression and suicide. Mental illness is a palpable concern in our lives these days, and we must increase the dialogue. Complicated? Yes. Grueling and toilsome? Yes. Still we must start talking more openly about this suffering that so many souls deal with much too often.
Our family has an especially heavy heart today. We have recently learned of a much-loved young man, age 25, ending his life this past weekend. A sufferer of depression, our friend was treated with meds, placed in residential settings, loved by many, and monitored carefully by his devoted parents and sibs.
However, while our hearts ache, this post is not about our dear friends’ tragic circumstances, it is far too raw and personal. They will rely on God, family and friends to walk down this horrific and painful path.
“We learned how to look after ourselves and we had to do this otherwise we couldn't cope.”
Lisa, mother of Jason who ended his life
Instead, I will share, with permission, another story that has been made public.
My hope is to shed some light on this extremely difficult subject.
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death. Risk factors include mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse, including alcoholism and use of benzodiazepines. Other suicides are impulsive acts due to stress such as from financial difficulties, troubles with relationships, or from bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at higher risk for future attempts. Suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide, such as firearms, drugs, and poisons, treating mental disorders and substance misuse, proper media reporting of suicide, and improving economic conditions. (Wikipedia)
This mission allows children to see what it feels like to be a giver, to make an impact in areas they are interested in helping in. If you still have children under your roof, I hope you will check out Kristen’s work and join in.
Here is how it works!
Donate: Generous donor makes donation to Kids Boost. Example: Donor John Smith contributes $100 to the Kids Boost General Fund to jumpstart a new Kids Boost project.2. Connect To Cause: Child chooses a cause important to him or her. Example: Weston, 12 years old, signs up for Kids Boost and declares he would like to fundraise for the Special Olympics in honor of his brother who has special needs.
3. Innovate: Child receives startup money and coaching support from Kids Boost. Example: Kids Boost provides Weston with $100 in startup funding and a coach to help him implement his project “Run the Bases Marathon.” Weston uses the $100 to create flyers for the event and provide drinks and pizza for all the participants. A local ballpark donates field time and Weston’s dad volunteers to be the PA announcer and “scorekeeper” at the event. A family friend donates time and a few huge speakers to add fun music at the event. The local dollar store donates balloons.
4. Multiply: Child Boosts multiplies funds and awareness for chosen charity. Example: All the teams in Weston’s baseball league volunteer to participate by running as many bases as they can in an allotted time frame. Each base runner volunteer collects pledges for the number of bases he runs. Weston’s “Run the Bases Marathon” raises $500 for Special Olympics.
5. Pay It Forward: 80% of the total raised goes to the charity of the child’s choice. 20% goes back to Kids Boost to help another child participate. Example: Weston presents a check for $400 (80% of the total raised) to Special Olympics. $100(20% of the total raised) goes back to Kids Boost to help another kid get started on another project. Donor John Smith sees a huge return on his investment plus the intangible benefits to Weston and his base running friends.
It is the first part of a song by Eric Clapton that was first penned in 1974. Perhaps you, like me, were in high school at that time. These lyrics remind me of our friends who have chosen a positive fork in the road, even amidst great adversity, in the past couple of years. You can listen to the song here.
Donny and I were making our five-hour annual October trek home from VA to GA yesterday in the torrential rain that Hurricane Nate left in his path. As we traveled, my mind wandered through the past couple of years, 945 days to be precise.
'The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It's about what you're made of, not the circumstances.'
Back on March 7, 2015, our dear friends, The Read’s son, Taylor Heston Read, age 23 passed away. As the miles clicked by in Virginia, and soon Tennessee, a question kept coming to my heart and mind.
“How Does A Family Move Through A Life Loss Like This?”
While we have not lost a child, Donny and I have faced the passing of all of our birth parents. We have also gone through the home going of some precious friends and other family members. We all experience grief in one way or another as we journey through this thing called life. Grief is certain in each one of our lives.
Since we have been closely connected to The Reads during this season of grief, I have some reflections I feel compelled to share here.
'Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It's the only thing.'
Dr. Albert Schweitzer, German Theologian, Organist, Philosopher, Physician, and Medical Missionary to Africa (1875-1964)
Marrying just 48 days before us, in 1982, The Reads have maintained a strong marriage partnership. They have taken in good music to soothe their soul, and enjoyed yummy food from their Big Green Egg. They have made sure to welcome continual fellowship with family and friends. The Reads have stayed connected to their church family which nourishes each other during times of need. This decision was clear after Taylor’s passing when this song was chosen to be played as the family was ushered out following his Celebration of Life service.
Along with the help of friends, family, the community of Abingdon, Virginia and the Virginia Creeper Trail Club, this family has brought about a unique “shelter from the storm” alongside The Holston River which was dedicated in October 2015. Designed by Taylor’s talented sister, Megan Read, this is a picturesque spot all should visit at some point in the future.
Already, this shelter has brought rest and has been a refuge to many including bikers, kayakers, visitors to The River Cafe in Alvaredo Station. Taylor’s Shelter has even been a venue for a few weddings.
As the miles clicked by and we grew closer to our home state of Georgia, the rain continued to splatter our windshield. Soon another song came on that brought The Read’s willful and purposeful choices to mind. They have ended their days by looking for hope in tomorrow. By Jim Croce, this song Hey Tomorrow was first penned in 1972., and it starts like this:
'Taylor was honored and God was glorified.'
Paul Read, in talking about the 3rd annual Ride for his son, Taylor on October 7, 2017
I have a couple of questions for you and for me today. How we will respond in our time of grief and hardship? Will we follow the example of this courageous family, looking up with hope in the future? I hope I will.
'Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.'
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
Kneeling during our anthem versus standing up for Black Lives Matter. Are we making any difference?
This past weekend, we watched more and more NFL players kneeling during the singing of our National Anthem preceding their football games. Every beating heart has a story, those who fight for our nation’s safety and those who kneel when our nation’s flag is being raised. Both also have a responsibility to those who are watching them, those who are following after the legacy they will leave behind.
A friend of mine, whose son has recently reenlisted in the United States Army, the largest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, had this to say on a Facebook post that has been shared over 140 times:
“Dear NFL Kneelers, this is my son, Sergeant James Todd, US Army. He makes a minuscule fraction of what you make in a year. He doesn’t have a platform like you do. He doesn’t have an audience like you do. He also doesn’t get the media attention you do. But he will have a lasting kingdom impact that you won’t have. He doesn’t care about your race or religion. This picture is from his recent re-enlistment. Yes, he chose to stay in the Army, defend our constitution and all of those rights afforded you. So keep on kneeling during the national anthem. He’ll keep defending your right to do so. At the end of the day, he and the thousands of armed service personnel are the real heros making a difference. #iwillnotwatchthenfl #godblessamerica #usarmy”
'Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.'
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
I shared my friend’s post on my Facebook page. In response, through a private Facebook message, I heard from a dear, former student of mine who happens to be a young lady of color. I taught this now friend back at Avondale Elementary School in DeKalb County, Georgia, back in the early-mid 1980’s. First, I must say how proud I am of how my student has excelled in her life! ( I will take a tiny bit of credit for that, lol) My student gave me much food for thought regarding this very difficult controversy:
“Hello…I’ve been reading your posts regarding the issue of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem and I wanted to share my perspective with you. I’m not a fan of football in any way and my father served in the military. So while I see both sides of the issue, I tend to lean towards one side in particular. I am the parent of children who I have had to have a talk with that most Caucasian parents don’t have to have when it comes to interaction with the police. I fear for my sons who at any time may be profiled and subject to abuse from a crazy officer. And I’m in no way anti-police, because my oldest wants to be one. Sadly, he has had his own negative experiences because his then girlfriend was white. To see so many blacks be abused and killed by officers without repercussions can lead to helplessness and hopelessness. This is why Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel to begin with. Not to dishonor those who serve in the military to show that this is a country that doesn’t value the lives of people with my skin color. This isn’t new. But what is new is the discussion. I only hope that it can be a productive one. But for that to happen, there has to be a respect and understanding from both sides. I just wanted to share my thoughts with you.
This is not a political post. I will most definitely not be weighing in on President Donald Trump’s comments, tweets or responses to this controversy.
What I hope to do here is to share ideas about how this can be reconciled. Colin Kaepernick made his point. Now where can we go from here without dividing our nation more than it already is? Continuing to kneel before a game, while being paid ginormous salaries to entertain the masses with their athletic abilities isn’t helping.
Call me naive, but here are five ways we might begin to make a difference:
Citizens and Police Officers have mutual respect for each other, regardless of race. All citizens show complete compliance when requests are made of him/her, while officers avoid making assumptions based on race.
All Americans show respect for our flag and for our nation, along with full gratitude for all who serve this great country.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin in me. Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God as our father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony.
Avoid bringing controversy into the workplace. This field is the workplace of these NFL players, and the tickets are being paid to watch them play.
The Golden Rule. Regardless of gender, race, or nationality, treat those in your path in the manner you expect to be treated.
Mama taught me there is a time and place for everything. I am thankful the demonstrations are peaceful, however these NFL Games are simply not the place to make changes regarding how people of color are treated in our great nation.
Here are some thoughts shared by Dr. Ben Carson on this issue:
Dr. Ben & Candy Carson
Yesterday at 8:24am · “Here we are at another NFL Sunday. That used to represent a time of fun, games and unity. I hope we can return to that situation soon. One of the reasons we play the national anthem before the game is to remind us that even though we’re rooting for different sports teams, we are united as a country. That is a wonderful message that we should not allow to be distorted by anyone. Of course we all have the right to express ourselves, but as the Bible says, there is a time and place for everything. Last week I saw a story about pre-adolescent players being drawn into the “take a knee” protests. Does anyone honestly believe that encouraging even our youth to believe they are victims of our society will actually help us come together? I think many athletes actually think they are making things better. We would encourage them and all Americans to utilize their influence to truly draw people together and not be manipulated into doing the opposite under the guise of unity.”
What are your thoughts regarding kneeling during the national anthem versus standing up for Black Lives Matter? Starting today, how can you and I have a positive impact in resolving this controversy?
Thank you so much for joining me here on my Pages From Joan. You can subscribe above on my page or follow here on my Facebook page so you don’t miss a new post.
What if every one of us simply the next kind thing?
What if every human woke up and made an intentional decision to do the next kind thing with everyone they encountered on that new day? How would our tumultuous world be different if we were simply kinder? I believe this is a question Daniel Lubetzky had pondered before he founded The Kind Movement in 2008.
'No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.'
Did You Know? The spring-board for this movement was a line of healthy products that were first developed in 2004. They are sold everywhere and you have probably tried one or two of them. They are still a popular choice 13 years later. So the next time you grab a delicious snack called a KIND bar, think about the origin of this treat!
The KIND Movement is a mission to inspire kindness. Small acts or big, this movement encourages it—from writing a thank you letter to someone who deserves it to volunteering with an organization you care about. Every day, our community (aka YOU!) brings us one step closer to our goal of making kindness a state of mind.
Need some inspiration for your kids or for yourself?
Was there bullying in your childhood or in the childhood of someone you love? Sadly, this was the case for founders of the Kind Campaign, Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson when they were college classmates. Their attempt at growing more kindness in our world is now an internationally recognized nonprofit organization that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting girl-against-girl bullying through their global movement, documentary film, in-school assemblies and educational curriculums.
One more way to show kindness to those in our path is to put our phones away! Our phones are becoming a wall between us hindering communication and intimacy with one another.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
That is exactly what Pastor Levi Lusko does in his book. He takes an incredibly devastating season in his family’s life and helps readers to catch their breath, to gain strength and momentum during a time of grief.
But this book is not just about grief. No, it is evidence of death not being the end, of darkness not being the winner, of turning the Light on against dim circumstances.
A few more important excerpts from Lusko’s book:
How will you and I run to the roar of the lion in the days ahead. Did you know that a lion’s roar can be heard five miles away. Are we roaring with life today? If not, why not?
My friend, Nancy R. Chalmers has recently published her book entitled, “No One Visits the Mother of a Drug Addict.” This autobiographical story recounts the author’s experiences as she endured her son’s addiction, the physical, emotional and spiritual turmoil the addiction was on her and the entire family. The center is filled with family pictures illustrating their journey. Readers are given a firsthand look at how drug addiction took over her son, Andrew’s life, straight from her heart. This personal story took a ton of courage, bravery, as well as a hefty dose of vulnerability. This story is not just for parents of addicts, but for families who find themselves in a hard season that seems impossible to change.
It is Nancy’s sincere hope and prayer that many families will begin to heal, not only from the tragedy of substance abuse, but from any number of difficult circumstances that happen around our globe on a regular basis. It is this author’s belief that the path to wholeness starts with brokenness, and that “healing” is our God’s specialty since we are His creation. I agree with her.
In this personal account, Nancy also reminds us how telling our story…to a trustworthy soul…can offer healing beyond measure. She is very thankful for the one friend who reached out on a regular basis to be “Jesus with skin on” for this hurting Mom.
It's amazing seeing the ripple effects of how when the hope of Jesus Christ invades the life of a person how that creates a domino effect to impact the rest of their family, their workplace, and their neighborhood.
Andrew Chalmers, Director and Founder of Take The City, also son of Nancy and Louis Chalmers,
Not everyone is going to exhibit the kind of faith The Chalmers have shown here in this story. But God can work with what faith you have. In fact, Matthew 17:20 tells us “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Church folks don't like to talk about unacceptable problems. Oh, we can go on and on about cancer, death, (as long as it's not suicide), divorce, loss of job, sudden illness, surgery, birth defects, all our 'small sins' and many more. But alcohol and substance abuse, family abuse, runaways, other addictions, mental illness, satanic activity, pornography and sexual perversions, rape, murder, and nervous breakdowns are taboo.'
Nancy R. Chalmers, author of No One Visits the Mother of a Drug Addict
At the close of her story, Nancy offers a 15 page Reflections Study Guide for hurting families. She begins it by again, reminding us that healing begins when we share our stories in a safe, confidential space.
Nancy begins the Study Guide with some frank questions:
What is going on in your family?
Who are the players in your drama?
How is all this affecting you?
Describe your most recent challenge or storm and how you responded.
To whom do you share this problem, where do you go for good counsel?
How do you find comfort?
Please note below a schedule of Nancy Reardon Chalmers’ upcoming book signings: