Time Away: A Women’s Retreat We All Need Time To Refuel

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We all need time away to retreat. So this past weekend, November 11-13, 2016, seventeen women from Piedmont Church in Marietta, gathered in the North Georgia Mountains for a retreat. Even though we were all so glad to be together, the date we chose ended up not being the best weekend for all who attended. One of our friend’s husband was celebrating his 6-0 (they celebrated early).

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Another friend’s daughter had a birthday (they celebrated late, on Sunday afternoon). I am quite sure there were other commitments among the 17 of us that went unmentioned.  Like most women, our calendars are always full of  engagements, work obligations, and conflicts, but somehow, we managed to steal away for two nights, all in the name of faith and friendship.

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Women’s Retreat Breakfast

“If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find them scarce.

If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” Zig Ziglar

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A large group of ducks on Lake Blue Ridge Saturday afternoon.

img_6662img_6660We connected with nature, we cooked together, danced together, laughed together, exercised together, prayed together, sang together,  bunked together, laughed together some more, and cried together. There were several quiet one-on-one conversations where hearts connected.15095430_10208012373692815_6339721073766000874_n

At the end, when it was time to say our good-byes, we all agreed that we were re-fueled, encouraged, and lifted up. We felt better equipped to face the days ahead, no matter what they may bring.

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As this year draws to an end, and 2017 makes its début in just forty-seven days, consider what group of like-minded women you may need to steal away with.

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Sheila’s PJ’s!
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Party Favor, thanks to Susan, plain and peanut M&Ms!

img_6675img_6686 img_6683 img_6677img_6676img_6681Make some plans. Consider being the one who initiates the get-away. You and all who attend will be forever grateful! No matter our age or season in life, women need time together. And if you are a gentleman reading this, please stand by your sweetheart in support when she makes her plans to take a brief retreat with girlfriends. Times spent with girlfriends or my sisters, whether it is these church friends, college friends, girls from my childhood, or local friends, these times are always memorable, encouraging, and treasured occasions for me!

Related Posts You May Have Missed:

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Solitude: 7 Ways To Find It

The Long and Winding Road

Anne Lamott: Best Day Ever

Honesty With The Truest of Friends

8 Traits of an Authentic, Successful Woman

We’ve Got Your Back

Are You A People Pleaser? Five Tips To Help You Stop

Where Is He?

RETREAT

Choose To Not Be Blue: Part One

Choose To Not Be Blue: Part Two

Joy Comes In The Morning

Girls Need Time Together

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Scheduled just following the recent election, we all agreed to not discuss our thoughts on the outcome. This agreement left us plenty of time for expressing to each other where our HOPE lies and lots of time for laughter and fellowship.

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!

Posts You May Have Missed:

Children Are Wet Cement

Let’s Listen To Children

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

Four Ways To Best Help The Bereaved

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

Read It Loud How To Make A Connection

Earlier today, on Tuesday, I was reading aloud to my father-in-law and his neighbor, Bob. Having always loved reading to Leah and Walker, I discovered, once again, that reading aloud is a great way to make a connection with another beating heart. I hope by the time you finish this short post, that you, too, will be inspired to share reading with someone in your world.

Back in the mid-1970’s, I was a high-schooler when I would drive myself to Wesley Woods Retirement Community to visit my paternal grandmother, Anna Mae Walker, known as Mamaw to all of us.

Dying is only one thing to be sad over. Living unhappily is something else.” Morrie Schwartz to Mitch in Tuesdays With Morrie

 Mamaw had been widowed for well over a decade and our Mama encouraged us to visit her as often as possible.

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My Daddy and his mother, our Mamaw

Those were lonely days for our grandmother and you could sure tell it when you walked into her small apartment. Mamaw would be sitting in a comfortable chair, in a pretty dress, looking out the window. Her hair would be in a tight french twist on the back of her head. Our conversation went something like this: “Hi, Mamaw, ” I would say with a smile. “Oh, hello,” she would answer softly, always a little surprised to have a visitor. After our greetings, there was little more to talk about, and now I wish I had thought of the idea to read aloud to her. Back in the early 1960’s, just after her husband had passed away, our grandmother lived in a children’s home as a piano teacher for all of the children. The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” Morrie Schwartz to Mitch in Tuesdays With Morrie 

She loved journaling, reading, and all sorts of things. Reading aloud to her would’ve given us interesting things to talk about.

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Dad Page

Recently, I came up with the idea to read aloud to my husband’s father. We are about half way through one of my all-time favorite books: Tuesdays With Morrie, by, Mitch Albom, and we try to read together on Tuesdays in honor of Morrie Schwartz.

I mentioned this life-changing book in an earlier post when I wrote about Oseola McCarty.

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March 14, 2016 marked one year since we moved Donny’s father by ambulance from their hometown of Thomaston, Georgia so that we could keep a closer eye on him here near our home.

Life is a series of pulls back and forth…A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. Most of us live somewhere in the middle. A wrestling match…which side wins? Love wins. Love always wins.” Morrie Schwartz to Mitch in Tuesdays With Morrie 

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Undergoing treatment for double pneumonia, Dad was immediately placed on a ventilator, which we were thankfully able to wean him off of within a few weeks. Saying these past 14 months have been tumultuous is an understatement. Dad has been in and out of the hospital too many times to count, rehabilitation for physical weakness, and he celebrated his 85th back on October 13, 2015. Today, even though he remains under the care of Hospice, and still gets confused about things, he is correctly working word puzzles in the newspaper, and he is walking with the aid of a rollater.

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Dad Page and his neighbor across the hall, Bob have been enjoying the story of Morrie Schwartz. We have laughed a lot and the reading has triggered many good memories from both gentlemen who are living out their last season of life. The next book I plan to share with them is The Last Lecture, by, Randy Pausch.IMG_0430

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Is there someone in your path who might like

some one-on-one time with you?

It might be a small child or someone like Dad Page.

Elementary age children and teens can read to their grandparents.

Reading together will make the world a better place.

Consider reading aloud one of your favorite stories!

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How Do We Describe Grief?

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This picture was taken on a hike with Taylor’s friends.

Sorrows cannot all be explained away…In a life truly lived, grief and loss accumulate like possessions.” Stephan Kanfer

How do we describe grief? How do we express how much we miss someone’s presence in our days? Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process. The reasons for grief are many, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, or the letting go of a long-held dream. Dealing with a significant loss can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life.

I can easily recall after my Mama passed on in October, 2006, there was a physical aching in my heart, a pain I had never experienced before. I knew then a little more about what grief was.  When our much-loved nephew, Brad died in April, 2009, our family learned more about this process of grief. We held onto each other a little tighter after that. My Daddy went on to join Mama in November, 2013, so I have had a glimpse of what grief is about. Like you, I have lost friends who have meant the world to me. Some of you have lost a beloved spouse. Grief is something we would definitely never invite in, but something we are all called to experience at one time or another.

Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead.” Frederick Buechner

Unlike many of you who are reading this, I have never walked through the loss of a child.  I can only imagine that losing one of our children would be like losing a limb, or worse. That is where our dear friends, The Reads are today, on March 7, 2016. They are looking at the calendar, recognizing this date and marking the first anniversary of their son, Taylor’s passing at the young age of 23.

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Taylor (left) with his buddy, Josh, since 2nd grade loved boarding!

Taylor Heston Read will always be remembered as a kind, strong, athletic, funny, loving young man, and he will be missed forever. Taylor’s parents, five grandparents, friends and relatives, including his sister, Megan know they will see him again, as they look ahead with godly confidence of this truth. I miss Taylor, too! You see, Taylor’s parents and I first met when we were just starting college at Tennessee Tech University back in the 70’s. Kelly and I bonded quickly as ADPis and went on to stand alongside each other in our 1982 weddings, vacationed together and yes, raised our children together.

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So thankful for these friends! Our Wedding Day on 10/2/1982.
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Daddy, Paul has floor play with Taylor and Meg.
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Baseball! Taylor with his cousins!

Taylor was a precious little brunette baby boy. A tall young man, I’ll always remember Taylor as a gentle giant, with a comforting smile. His many friends, both guys and girls, describe Taylor as a caring soul, as “the one who looked after me,” … a bridge over troubled water.

The remembrance of Taylor will forever kindle fondness, smiles, and pure love by so many of us still here on earth…

In response to Taylor’s passing, his family soon began to consider how they wanted to mark the memory of his life here while having a positive impact on their beautiful community of Abingdon, Virginia.

Before long, it became apparent that a shelter on the Virginia Creeper Trail would be designed by Taylor’s gifted sister, Megan. The construction began soon after.

~~~~~~~A Labor Of Love~~~~~~~

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The first annual “Rails To River” bike ride fund-raiser for Taylor was scheduled for October 3, 2015. When the day arrived, all plans were in place…the t-shirts had been sorted, the BBQ lunch was simmering, and the weather in Virginia was trying to put a damper on the plans. Even a cold and rainy forecast didn’t stop the fifteen plus riders on the trail who made the 8 mile trek to Taylor’s Shelter for the very first time. A huge crowd turned out to support this family and the trail. The stormy weather couldn’t block the sun from popping out just in time for the dedication of this creative retreat, this refuge from the storms of life for generations to come.

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Donny and Paul…Taylor’s Shelter From The Storm
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The shelter sits beside the Holston River.

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Kelly and Meg are bundled up for the ride.
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Lisa was such a big help in organizing the ride!
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T-SHIRTS!
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The Pages and The Reads are ready to roll!
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Donny with Taylor’s sign.
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The Ride!
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WE LOVE THE TRAIL!

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What a group!
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Kelly, love her so much!
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Taylor’s Aunt Allison and cousin, Katherine weather the storm.
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Zach traveled from CA to be a part of the ride for Taylor!
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Thumbs Up with Zach and Josh upon their arrival to Taylor’s Shelter!
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Paul shares with the crowd at the dedication.

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Great Friends Gather, while Mike and Greg photobomb!
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A great spot for Taylor’s Shelter!
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Becky and Leslie take time out at Taylor’s Shelter.
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This awesome place is right on the trail!
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After many meetings and a lot of effort, Kelly and Lisa give the day a “thumbs up”!
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Kelly and Joan at Taylor’s Shelter.
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Joan and Susan gather flowers from the BBQ lunch.

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Donny and I cannot wait for our next bike ride to Taylor’s Shelter over Easter Weekend, 2016!

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This portrait, a gift from Taylor’s friends is lovingly hung in The Read Home.
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Friend, Kelsey, takes time out in Taylor’s Shelter.

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How do we describe grief? I do not know, but I do know how to describe a response to grief. In one word, The Read Family has chosen to respond with HOPE. Rest In Peace, Taylor Heston Read, a life well lived.

In addition to knowing we will all go through grief, we also know that our time to die will come, as well.  I read a great article published this past week, “On the Day I Die”, by, John Pavlovitz. Click here to read it.

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Kelly and Meg take time out in Taylor’s Shelter wrapped in a prayer shawl, a gift from precious friend, Ellen.

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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Time-Out

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Have you ever put yourself in Time-Out? I am about to do that very thing for the next few weeks. In the days ahead, I hope to pay less attention to the outside world and more attention to our household…”tidying up” each and every space…Therefore, I am taking a short sabbatical from my blog. I am hopeful the end result will be uncluttered spaces and an uncluttered mind, too!

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Meanwhile, don’t forget to pause when you see that sun rising and setting. This was a couple of nights ago here in Marietta, Georgia. Take time for breathing exercises to help you catch your breath, and Be Good to Yourself!IMG_8623Here is the book I am using for inspiration, suggested by my friend, Rebecca, writer of a great blog called In A Southern Kitchen-Doing Life Together. IMG_8625The author, Marie Kondo proposes that the reader hold up items found in the home and ask the question:

“Does This Spark Joy?”

Having raised two children in this home, we have tons of keepsakes, just as I bet you do, too…I am hoping to rid our home of the items that do not spark JOY. See you! Stay tuned! I look forward to rejoining you soon with some posts that will inspire, encourage and help us to learn new things.IMG_8637

Blended Tears Live Love Laugh

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Luma, one of our classroom interpreters comforts a crying student on our final day in Rio.

Yesterday, our team flew safely into Atlanta, Georgia at 6:00 a.m. EST, just as Delta had promised. By 7:30, most of us had reached our homes, hugged our loved ones tightly, and relaxed in a hot shower or luxurious bath. Me… I was tearful, and I couldn’t seem to stop the tears.

...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4

While my family was finishing up a relaxing weekend in North Georgia, I came home to a quiet home, but that is not what I was tearful about…My tears were for many reasons…tears of Elation for reaching our homeland after serving in an unimaginable, impoverished community, tears of Gratitude as I walked into the radiant building that is my church home, Piedmont Church, tears of Joy as I hugged tightly many of the friends who had been thinking of us this past week, tears of Anguish as I later visited Donny’s Dad, who has been under the care of Hospice for the past week, tears of Grief as I considered the truth that 11/11/15 marks the third anniversary of my Daddy’s passing at this same place- Wellstar Tranquility Hospice, off of Kennesaw Avenue in Marietta, and blended tears of Hopefulness and Despair as I thought of each boy and girl I had touched in the past week.IMG_7164

Tears come from the heart , not from the brain. Leonardo daVinci

Now, I am quite sure that my tears were also related to fatigue from an all-night flight, but WOW! They sure were flowing yesterday!

And then, THIS picture here below was posted by my friend, Stephanie, in celebration of their 4th child while I was away. Part of the caption especially moved me …

“The world stopped for a moment as your daddy held out his hands to meet you and I waited to hear your first cry. ‘As for me, I will always have hope. I will praise You more and more.’  Psalm 71:14”

Good thing I didn’t try to wear any eye make-up yesterday.12189675_10207824332148795_2391057791809491018_n

When I was looking through the mail Donny had set aside for me, I noticed I had received yet another book.  In case you didn’t already know this about me, I LOVE books, and I usually start one each week. Anne Lamott, being one of my favorite authors, wrote a book in 2013 which I had not had a chance to read and it arrived in my hands at just the right time for all of these tears!  Just think with me for a moment about these words from Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair printed right in the flap:

“What do we do when life lurches out of balance? How can we reconnect to one another and to what’s sustaining? In this book, Lamott explores how we find meaning and peace in these loud and frantic times; where we start again after personal and public devastation; how we recapture wholeness after loss; and how we locate our true identities in this frazzled age. We begin by collecting the ripped shreds of our emotional and spiritual fabric and sewing them back together, one stitch at a time. It’s in these stitches that the quilt of life begins, and embedded in them are strength, warmth, humor, and humanity.”

As I move forward into this week of transitioning from living in a developing community like Rio de Janeiro for a week, to now back to living here in America, where I so easily forget how very blessed I am, I pray that my blended tears will continue. Some may say I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I believe that my blended tears are confirmation to me that there is still plenty for me to do while I am here on this earth. How about you?

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This once again reminds me of my friend, Cathy, who has chosen a life of helping others, using the loss of her collegiate son, Matthew Benjamin Dyas on October 1, 2011, to make a difference in the world while there is still time.

The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say 'O God, forgive me.' or 'Help me. Billy Graham

 Cathy, along with Matt’s father, David elected to donate $500.00 towards art supplies for my recent Rio Journey, because their Matt loved foreign mission trips, going on many trips, himself, before he left us too soon at the age of twenty.

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Cathy encouraging a group of friends to make 1,000 lunches for MUST ministries summer lunch program at the 2015 Matt Dyas Golf Tournament.
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Young boy wears his “Still Doing It” t-shirt to honor Matt Dyas.

Read more here. Cathy is forever challenging others and herself to make a difference however you can, and I so appreciate this challenge that she gives to me.

Make A Difference, Like Matt Did!

JUST DO IT!

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