Sapelo Island: Dr. Brillhart’s Legacy Lives On

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In the past, all this was sugarcane field. My great-great-great grandfather, Alec Walker used to plant cane right there. My father as a little boy stayed with him, and his oxcart would carry a whopping load of cut cane from here in Hog Hammock all the way up to Chocolate. The another whopping load. This is a big island, so you only had time to do two loads a day. That’s right.” Cornelia Walker Bailey, (1947~     )

A week ago, just  23 days after the passing of  Dr. William Edson Brillhart, three girlfriends I’ve known since first grade, Cindy, Jan, Mary, and I went on an adventure to Sapelo Island.  Mary & Beth, daughters of Dr. Brillhart, have been going to Sapelo, our state’s fourth largest island with their parents since they were small girls. (Click on his name to learn more about Dr. Brillhart’s life) We boarded an early morning ferry for a twenty minute ride to Sapelo Island, one of the Golden Isles on the coast of Georgia. Our adventure was planned for many reasons. First stop before we even stepped on the ferry would be to pop into the Sapelo Island Visitors Center, in Darien, Georgia, to reconnect with our friend, Bill Merriman, who we also knew in grade school, as well as Druid Hills High School. Bill is an amazing artist, and he has also been the Manager of this Visitor Center for over 20 years. It was such a joy to catch up with this long-time friend! Soon we boarded the ferry for our 20 minute journey to Sapelo! Yvonne, our awesome tour guide told us this was what they called “The Sapelo Island Rush Hour”…nothing like I-75 North during metro Atlanta’s rush hour, I can assure you! As I stood on the side of the ferry, the sea air blowing by, I was filled with peace that passes all human understanding. There is something about being near the majestic ocean. One of my favorite books, Gift From The  Sea, By, Anne Morrow Lindbergh was in my backpack as it has been for the past nineteen years, since 1996, anytime I knew I’d be near the surf. My copy is tattered and marked up with journaling and notations made whenever I have my feet in the sand on a beach, and it is one of my greatest treasures. Penned in 1955, you really should consider picking yourself up a copy this summer.

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Once on the island, we boarded an old school bus with Yvonne at the helm. She has lived on the island with her husband for the past 35 years. I was glad I had taken a few minutes to read a recent Garden&Gun article my friend, Kathy had referred me to, so I knew a little about author, Cornelia Walker Bailey and the Gullah Geechee Culture. The island is full of learning and history! We visited the classroom where Dr. Brillhart took his Emory Coastal Biology students again and again. Dr. Brillhart had an amazing passion for preserving the Golden Isles and his legacy lives on in the more than 30,000 students he taught in his 38 years as an Emory professor. In addition to being an expert in Marine Life, William Edson Brillhart has also left a Military legacy as a WWII Veteran, serving as a Medic and earning both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service in Europe. Dr. Brillhart was 95 years old when he passed away on May 20, 2015, just 18 months after his best friend and beloved wife, Connie died in October 2013 after 68 years of marriage. There’s another legacy, Bill and Connie Brillhart left together, the legacy of a lengthy, loving marriage. As we journeyed on through our day, we pondered what it would’ve been like to be one of his students. Soon, as we visited the Sapelo Post Office, we had a chance to meet and visit with a former student of Dr. Brillhart’s, Fred Hay, Island Manager, Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Mary had always heard his name mentioned by her Dad, but had never met Fred. He shared some good classroom stories with Mary and they made plans to connect soon so that she could pass some of her Dad’s extensive Marine Life book collection. Both Beth and Mary have a goal to share their Dad’s collections with as many people as possible, and Fred Hay, along with Bill Merriman are going to help make this happen.

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A few of the Lighthouse Keeper’s daily duties.One of the most fascinating places we visited on Sapelo was the lighthouse built in 1820. The Lighthouse Keeper and his family lived in a home built right next to the lighthouse. Now with all the technology and apparatus included on today’s vessels, the lighthouse has become obsolete. That does not remove the interesting history of the life of the Lighthouse Keeper.

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910-1997)

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.” Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

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We also enjoyed visiting the General Store for a cold beverage and a chance so sit under the shade of an old oak tree. Yvonne shared with us that many of the oaks covered with tons of hanging Spanish moss are between 200 and 300 years old. This little boy, the General Store Keeper’s son, stole our hearts with his “Heart Throb In Training” t-shirt.

This was quite and adventure for the four of us! We learned more about Mary’s Dad than we had ever known before, we met one of Dr. Brillhart’s former students, we gained more knowledge about the generations of the Gullah Geechee culture, and we got to catch up with our great friend, Bill. We all agreed that this was certainly an adventure that will be remembered forever!

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Bill shows us his office, his grandchildren, and his amazing, artistic sea-life drawings.
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Fred, Hay, Island Manager shares classroom stories of his days as a student of Dr. Brillhart, Mary’s Dad.


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Bill Brillhart is more than a professor. He has a deep respect and compassion for life which transcends textbook biology, and he gives his students an understanding of principals, thoughts, and facts that have helped me with academics as well as becoming a better human being.”

one of Dr. Brillhart’s former graduate students

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What kind of adventure do you have planned for this summer?

This life is not a “dress rehearsal”.

What kind of legacy will you and I leave behind?

IMG_3717 Continue reading “Sapelo Island: Dr. Brillhart’s Legacy Lives On”

“Let’s Go On An Adventure!”

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Always there has been an adventure just around the corner-and the world is still full of corners. Roy Chapman Andrews

Whether you are taking a hike, walking your grandchild hand-in hand down a  driveway to collect the mail, visiting potential college campuses with your teen, a girls’ getaway, an afternoon of golf with your buds, moving out of the home you raised your babies in, or taking your family on a trip of a life-time, ADVENTURE is a good word for our daily vocabulary.

“Let’s go on an adventure!” can mean anything depending on the circumstances, but it can always depict “togetherness” and a reminder for us to appreciate the little things in life, to live fully in the moment, and to seek joy in each day.

Adventure is worthwhile in itself. Amelia Earhart

 In the past, adventure has been understood to mean an exciting or unusual experience or a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome, but why can’t we begin to use this nine letter word to enhance our personal relationships and bring anticipation to an otherwise mundane event. I believe that just being together with those you love the most can be a great adventure no matter what you are doing!

Woman breathing deep in spring or summer

I mentioned Helen Keller’s autobiography in my last post about the life of Ms. Oseola McCarty. (The Story of My Life) As challenging as Keller’s life was, she was always looking at her moments as adventures. Many of her quotes have inspired me through my life, but one of my favorites is here.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Helen Keller (1880-1968)

IMG_2872 IMG_2871When our children, Leah and Walker were ages four and one, as pictured here, we began to use the word “adventure” often.

One rainy adventurous day that both of our kids still talk about was when we walked for hours behind our home in torrential rain (no lightning or thunder) and Walker’s diaper got so heavy from jumping in puddles that his pants began falling down with every step. Leah and I were laughingly taking turns pulling his shorts back up for him before he would lose them again and laugh. Memories like this  last a lifetime.

So how do we take more notice of the adventures in our moments…in our days. One idea from my friend I’ve known since first grade, Jan, is when grocery shopping, look for a new, unique item you have never tried or bought before and buy it! This may be some kind of fruit or vegetable, a new snack, or frozen item. Let me know what you find! And another friend, also from first grade at Fernbank Elementary, in Decatur, Georgia, Mary, suggests that adventure to her means spontaneity. I agree that spontaneity adds adventure to life for sure!

And one last thought about adventure, so often as we journey through our days, things just don’t go the way we have planned. Why not rather than becoming angry or frustrated, tell yourself: “Well, this wasn’t what I had in mind, but we are off on another “adventure”. Our intentional, positive response to our difficult circumstances or changes in our “route” can make a world of difference.

How will you and I begin to change our thinking regarding the word “ADVENTURE”?

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

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It has changed my life. I now have a new normal life. Never take a minute with your children for granted. I was texting and laughing with Matt one minute and 13 minutes later, he was gone. Cathy, Matt Dyas' Mom

This past Monday, June 8, 2015 was truly an extraordinary day. A day where over 110 golfers played 18 holes of golf in memory of a remarkable young man and more than a dozen women made 1,000 sandwiches for the low-income families in our community. This day was special in so many ways, including the truth that when a plan is laid out, a huge difference can be made in our sphere of influence in just a few short hours!

October 1, 2011 started out like any other day. A fall, football Saturday, certainly a favorite day for many folks. In Carrollton, Georgia on the beautiful campus of The University of West Georgia, students, faculty, and fans were busy with festivities surrounding Homecoming Saturday. In a matter of seconds, everything changed for the family of 20-year-old college student, Matt Dyas, when a car struck his motorcycle killing him instantly. Matt’s Mom, Cathy was hours away, when she received news of the accident, having just arrived at a destination for some time with girlfriends. Matt, a 2009 graduate from nearby Harrison High School  was known for many things , some of which are his exceptional golf score as a member of the West Georgia team, his role as a younger brother to Quinn and a big bro to Mary Cat,  son to David, a friend to countless, and a grandson, cousin, nephew to many.  Most of all, Matt Dyas was known for his strong faith and his giving spirit. “Just Do It” was his mantra. Matt was also known for his interest in mission trips, venturing to both Russia and Ukraine before his passing. I would never attempt to tell my friend, Cathy: “I know how you feel.” As I have learned more about the potential stages of grief, I have also realized that everyone grieves in their own personal way. In most cases, I do believe the “shock stage” comes first to protect us from the overwhelming truth of the tragedy that has occurred. The anesthetic shock can last a few hours, or even a few days. I am certain this was the case with Matt’s family when they heard the news just minutes after he had been in touch with them through texts and phone calls. (Since posting this in 2015, I have written three posts which might prove helpful for those who are grieving: 4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved , A Grace Disguised, and How The Soul Grows Through Loss. 5/4/16)

Over 1,000 friends and family members gathered on Monday, October 7, 2011 in memory of Matt Dyas. Quinn, Mary Catherine and many other friends wore red t-shirts with large white letters stating Matt’s birthday and his mantra: Just Do It! IMG_3636 IMG_3637Matt’s mother, Cathy, called “Ma”  by Matt since he was a boy, bravely shared a poem called The Dash with the congregation. It was a beautiful day of celebration even amidst the devastating loss that comes with losing your son.

A few months after Matt’s unexpected passing, his family began to talk about something they could do in Matt’s memory. They soon decided on a golf tournament and determined the first one would be held right around Matt’s 21st birthday, June 2, 2012.  I am unsure as to what my response would be in these same circumstances. What I do know is how this family has chosen to respond to their grief is one I can only pray I would emulate in similar circumstances.

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L to R, Matt’s sis, Mary Catherine, his big brother, Quinn, and his Ma, Cathy on June 8, 2015 Brookstone Country Club at the Matt Dyas Golf Tournament
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Matt Dyas Golf Tournament Warm-up on June 8, 2015.

Soon after saying good-bye to her middle child, Cathy began to consistently put up positive, challenging posts on her Facebook page: “Make a difference like Matt did! What can you do to help someone out today?” or “What random act of kindness can you show someone today? Make a difference like Matt did!” Between the inspiring celebration of life service paired with these posts from Cathy, many lives have been changed for the better since Matt Dyas took his leave so unexpectedly in October 2011.

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Matt’s Aunt Heather (L) and Matt’s girlfriend, Haley handle the check-in table at the tournament.

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Matt’s Ma, Cathy makes a sandwich for a less fortunate child in our community.
People are made of stories, not atoms. Korean Proverb

I was honored to be a part of the fourth annual Matt Dyas Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament this past Monday, June 8, 2015. This Scholarship Fund in memory of Matt has raised thousands of dollars impacting more young people with each passing year. Seven Harrison High School seniors have earned scholarships in Matt’s name along with 2 University of West Georgia students. This fund has also sent five students on international mission trips. In addition, the Matt Dyas Memorial Scholarship Fund has helped Amateur Golfers, James White and Ollie Schniederjans, both graduates of Harrison High School , get their start with a golf career following their completion of a  degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. It is easy to see the positive, enormous ripple effect that has formed following the death of an amazing young man, Matthew Benjamin Dyas. This year’s tournament was the best yet as Cathy added the challenge of making 1,000 sandwiches for the Must Ministries Summer Lunch Program.

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Making sandwiches! Matt’s Grandmother (R , striped shirt) joined in on our project and ten-year old Ben (center) came along with his Mom, Jennifer, to help us while his big brother Josh played in the golf tournament.
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L to R, friends from the Charlotte, NC area join us for this special day, Lori and Sandra with Matt’s Ma, Cathy, and Jennifer standing in front of our 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Thanks to Kim and her daughter, Mallori, who combined the peanut butter and jelly to make our job easier!
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Packing lunch boxes for the golfers. Chic fil A donated sandwiches!
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Rance, a young man who only met Matt Dyas one time at a UGa frat party shared at the closing of the golf tournament. This is part of what Rance told the crowd: “Though Matt and I only met once, it was like we had known each other forever, we had so much in common, and meeting Matt was unforgettable for me. I try to SHINE MY LIGHT every day like Matt did and I hope you all will do the same!”
The deeper the sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Khalil Gibran
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Cathy and me during tournament warm-up.

How will you and I make a difference in someone’s day like Matt did?

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Grandparenting & Parenting: 4 Ways To Plant Roots and Strengthen Wings This Summer

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Flower girl at Carly and Casey’s wedding on May 29, 2015.
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“Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly go the years”

Always knowing I wanted to be a mother, when I was an “aunt”, not yet a Mommy, I loved hanging out with my nieces and nephews to practice being a Mom. I wrote this out in calligraphy for my sisters to have in their homes, long before we had children of our own: We give our children two things. The first is roots, the second is wings.” I believe this brief statement is parenting in a nutshell.

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Mama and Daddy Geese escort their babies across the street in our neighborhood. Children need us more than we realize to show them the way.

On her Facebook page, my friend, Jody posted a poem I had never heard before on this very thing:

Roots and Wings

By, Denis Whatley

If  I had two wishes, I know what they would be

I’d wish for roots to cling to, and wings to set me free.

Roots of inner values, like rings within a tree, 

And wings of independence to seek my destiny.

Roots to hold forever to keep me safe and strong,

To let me know you love me when I’ve done something wrong.

To show me by example, and help me learn to choose

To take those actions every day to win instead of lose.

Just be there when I need you, to tell me it’s alright

To face my fear of falling when I test my wings in flight.

Don’t make my life too easy, it’s better if I try;

And fail and get back up myself, so I can learn to fly.

If I had two wishes, and two were all I had,

And they could just be granted, by my Mama and my Dad;

I wouldn’t ask for money or any store-bought things.

The greatest gifts I’d ask for are simply roots and wings.

In 2007, Leah was a senior in high school and we were all itching for that next season (those of you who just graduated high school seniors know what I am referring to). A little sad, with my firstborn preparing for takeoff, God gave me a visual I have never forgotten. A bird came into our home and flew into the highest corner of our ceiling. My friend, Beth, had just arrived for coffee, and we were both trying to help the bird return safely to the familiar outdoors. We tried different strategies like waving a broom at it,  opening windows and doors before we decided to just “let it be”. Soon, the bird took leave  on its own, spreading its wings and flying on out.

This served as a solid reminder to me that we had done our best to give Leah deep roots,

 and it was now time for her to fly on out into a more independent world.

Four Ways to Plant Roots and Strengthen Roots this Summer:

(1) Foster Friendships-yours and theirs. Find like-minded Moms and share pool time, coffee time, play time with fellow Moms and children. Join with other families to take field trips to the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta or Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia.

IMG_3305Consider planning a MUST Summer Lunch Party joining families to help those in need. Click here to read an earlier post about the MUST Summer Lunch Program.

(2) Capture Teachable Moments-Walk in the summer rain when there is no danger of lightning, talk about respecting nature and why its important to not be a litter bug, model kindness to others you meet in your path with a smile and an encouraging word, TALK to your children and EXPLAIN anything that may come up in your moments…whether it be a homeless person or someone with a severe disability. IMG_3374Go to your public library and just sit and read.  Our children checked out the number of books which equaled their age.  I believe values are more “caught than taught. Have a chore list and get your children involved in cooking and laundry as early as possible. And most of all, teach your children to pray with a grateful heart each day.IMG_3309

(3) Choose Your Battles-All children need boundaries , and though they would never admit it out loud, those boundaries which you provide help them to feel safe. As your children grow, there will be more and more discussions about things they want to do and you will have the final say. Giving your children  choices will help them to build trust in their ability to make decisions. When Leah was around six years old, she was beginning to develop a ton of independence and it challenged me. One of our battles was what she wanted to wear to school-mismatched clothing, at times. I came up with a plan that worked well. I chose three outfits and placed them on her bed. Leah got to choose from the three outfits and this gave her the independence she longed for. As discussions (“aka: arguments”) come up, decide if it is really worth it to argue about or if it would be better to let that one go….choosing your battles will relieve the stress of parenting.

(4) Insist on an Afternoon Siesta-I got this one from my Mama. When the grandchildren would come to visit, she would enforce a one hour break each afternoon. No one had to “sleep”, though I bet Mama did!IMG_3312

The Siesta Time could be for reading or doing something quietly in your room and everyone got a break from the busy, fun vacations at GoodMama and GoodDaddy’s lakefront home in rural Mississippi. Try this in your own home. This habit will energize you, helping you to enjoy the lazy, hazy days of summer even more.

How will you plant deep roots and strengthen wings in the lives of your children and grandchildren this summer? Time is going by, no matter what, so decide today how to plant deep roots in the ones God has gifted you with.

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Leah’s long-time friend, Carly approaches the alter on her Daddy’s arm, May 29, 2015.

Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly go the years, one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.

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The beautiful bride takes a minute to give us a hug! Leah, now age 26 and married has deep roots and wide-spread wings.

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Girls Need Time Together 3 Illustrations

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Mary Ann and I take turns driving across town to meet up with our sisters.
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I-75 South to I-285 East to I-85 North to I-985 North. It is always worth the drive to catch up with my sisters.
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FRIENDS are a guiding light on our journeys. Guys need time together, too! I am happy Donny was able to get away for a diving trip this past weekend. Girls need retreats, as well, and it sure was nice enjoying this sunset with some church friends this past Friday night.

Life is difficult. Not just for me or other ALS patients. Life is difficult for everyone. Finding ways to make life meaningful and purposeful and rewarding, doing the activities that you love and spending time with the people that you love – I think that’s the meaning of this human experience.”
Steve Gleason

On Thursday, my three sisters and I seized the moment again and met for another Sister Session. Our favorite meeting place these days is the Cracker Barrel near Lake Lanier Islands. Though it is always completely worth the drive in Atlanta traffic, it is a good hour from my home. It is nice that sis, Mary Ann lives close so we can carpool.

This location works best as Laura works as a HR Manager at Singleton Marina and works hard in advance so that she can take a little longer lunch and spend it with her sisters to give us a little more time together. Although, I think we all agree that it is never enough time. <smile>

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Laura Lea takes a break from her busy day at Singleton to catch up with her sisters. We often share things we are learning, and this day was no different as Laura told us of a principle she recently read in a devotion: “Calmness is the action of trust”.
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Mary Ann shares some wisdom from The Word with her sisters.
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Kathy tells us a story. When we are together, we laugh until we cry, just like Mama did.
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Winter 1958-1959, I am the babe in my Mama’s arms, with my three sisters standing beside Mom. While Laura Lea and I have no recollection of this home in Covington, Kentucky, our two sisters were bubbling over with clear memories which they shared with us as we lunched at Cracker Barrel: 16 acres of land with two horses, a long set of stairs on the outside of the home where we practiced fire drills, how they and our big brother, John stayed outside playing all day long, catching fireflies into the night, lots of snow sledding, a German Shepherd named Black Velvet and more.
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After lunch on May 14, 2015, four sisters.
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Morning Has Broken on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.”

Psalm 113:3

Within hours of our Sister Session, I was joined by six friends from our church at our place in the North Georgia Mountains for a Women’s Retreat. Girls need time together, to chat, to share ideas, to laugh, to cry, to eat yummy food together, to drink coffee, wine or tea together. Kim, Wanda, Sheila, Susan, Shari, Dixie, and I had the most wonderful , restful, inspiring time together, solitude/silence,  cooking, collaging, and just hanging out. My favorite part was all of us meeting on Mom’s Dream, our boat, at 6:15 a.m. and taking a sunrise cruise. This was the first time I had ever done this, but I am sure it will not be my last!

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Sheila (L) and Shari (R) had to leave early to make it to the 11 a.m. service . Sheila’s twins were being recognized on Senior Sunday as they prepare to graduate from Pope High School in the days ahead.
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Friends retreat from the busy-ness of life.
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So happy to finally meet Baby Elliana, four months old.
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Susan enjoys a hug from her first grandchild, Elliana who lives close to where we were holding the retreat. Susan and I have been at Piedmont Church together for the past 22 years, raising our babies into young adults during our time there. Susan and Steve have been mainstay friends in the life of our family.
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Wanda and Shari “retreat” in the gazebo.
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Carly (L and Leah’s Maid of Honor and soon-to-be bride on May 29, 2015), Kayla (Center and Leah’s Matron of Honor) and Leah (R)

Just as we wound up our Women’s Retreat, it was time to get back to Marietta where Leah was hosting a baby shower with her friend, Katie, for their long-time friend, Kayla. The “A-Hoy, It’s a BOY” themed party was super special! I got there in time to hold another newborn, Katie’s niece, this one only two months old. I was intrigued by Baby Blakely’s tiny toes!

Yes, girls need time together.

Who will you intentionally celebrate

life with in the very near future?

I am always grateful for what my Mama always called “Traveling Mercies” as we move from here to there on these adventures in our life.

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A Pandemic Mother’s Day Evokes An Abundance Of Emotions

Mother’s Day always evokes an abundance of emotions, especially during a global pandemic. Our family knows many who are celebrating their first Mother’s Day since their Mom passed on. In addition, a good number of our friends are preparing for the birth of  a very first child right around this national holiday. My heart is also with those who have been yearning for a child, yet have experienced infertility, like we did, or have sorrowed through a miscarriage. Being a Mother has definitely been the most difficult job I have ever had, but it has also been the greatest privilege.

Did you know? The modern American holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, which now holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine. Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her beloved mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Anna’s mission was to honor her own mother by continuing work she started and to set aside a day to honor mothers, “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”. Anna’s mother, Ann Jarvis, was a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues.

In 1908, the US Congress rejected a proposal to make an official holiday, among jokes that they would have to proclaim also a “Mother-in-law’s Day”. Due to the campaign efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all U.S. states observed the holiday, with some of them officially recognizing Mother’s Day as a local holiday, the first in 1910 being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. (Wikipedia)

Funny, as in ironic, how Mother’s Day conjures up so many emotions. On a Mother’s Day Sunday service a few years back , our Pastor Ike Reighard asked ALL women age 18 and up to stand and be recognized as women-not just celebrate mothers. Pastor Ike pointed out that many women who want children have not been able to have them, yet.

He did not want these women to feel isolated on Mother’s Day, a very thoughtful gesture. Our  church had single roses and cupcakes for everyone. It was a beautiful morning of celebrating the gift of MOM. The NINE Gifts of the Spirit were in full bloom for Mother’s Day at Piedmont Church.

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But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE (personal growth fruit)

PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS (personal relationships fruit)

FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL (personal development fruits). “

Galatians 5:22-23

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My husband and me with our much loved Moms who are both now angels in heaven.

Yes, Mother’s Day evokes so many feelings. With all the touching Facebook posts/pictures of our mothers, what’s not to love? But what if that was not your personal experience? What if your memories include a mother who lacked financial resources, mental health, or the support of family/friends? What if your mother passed recently, like our friend, John, and you are still reeling from the news? Adopted at birth, what if you would like to meet your birth mother, yet the opportunity has not yet presented itself? What if your mother was an addict, hooked on pills or booze during your growing up years? What if unexpected infertility describes your journey when this holiday arrives? What if you’ve experienced the devastating loss of your unborn child, like two of our niece, Amy’s best friends?  What if you’ve experienced the loss of a son or daughter in your earthly lifetime? What if your mother passed when you were very young and you have little memory of her? What if…?

One thing I know for sure is that every one of us has a mother who chose LIFE for us, and with the enormity of the present day abortion controversy, this is a bigger deal than it has ever been before.

As a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a grandmother, how can you and I bear more fruit as we journey through our lives? Are our branches bare?

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This morning’s sunrise reminded me of my Mama’s favorite verse: Psalm 118:24

I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does grow fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch, that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” 

John 15: 1-2; 4;5-8

 I recently considered two songs that have inspired me.

Click on the links below to hear them and make it a great day!

Jeremy Camp’s He Knows

Selah’s Press On

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Atlanta Steeplechase 2015: My Four Favorite Things

Considered the city’s largest lawn party, the Atlanta Steeplechase this past Saturday was quite an event! It was so fun taking time out to enjoy an adventure which we had never been on before.

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[pullquote]All equestrians, if they last long enough, learn that riding in whatever form is a lifelong sport and art, an endeavor that is both familiar and new every time you take the horse out of his stall or pasture.”
Jane Smiley[/pullquote]

The setting was beautiful, lush and green. The strong horses raced at about 30 mph. The rain held off until later that day. Did you know? The Atlanta Steeplechase celebrated 50 years this year.

My four favorite things about our very first Atlanta Steeplechase:

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Donna and I have known each other since 1989.
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Pam, from Ohio, and I met today and found out we had a lot in common, including graduating the same year from high school.
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Donna and Jack Cashin

(1) Saturday was a great chance to meet new friends and catch up with longtime friends.

It was especially cool meeting Jack Cashin, who along with his wife, Helen founded Chukkar Farm Polo Club in 1980. As we chatted throughout the afternoon, I considered how there are always new things to learn. ( I knew very little about polo, and I learned new things by talking with my new friend, Jack.)

(2) I always love participating in worthwhile fundraisers, and The Atlanta Steeplechase was no exception. This year proceeds go to help Bert’s Big Adventure, a nonprofit organization that provides a magical, all-expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families.

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Friends gather at the dk Gallery/Susan Easton Burns tent at the 2015 50th Atlanta Steeplechase.

(3) We celebrated with Artist, Susan Easton Burns. As both a rider and a painter Susan has been immersed in the horse community for more than 20 years. Chosen as the Official Artist of the 2014 Kentucky Derby, Ms. Burns created a dynamic portrait of the greatest horse race in America at historic Churchill Downs. Her knowledge of the equestrian world is intimate and her treatment of the horse on canvas reveals a powerful honesty of connection. 2014 represented the 140 Anniversary of the Run for the Roses. Susan’s art was also used as seen below for the Atlanta Steeplechase 50th Kingston Downs 2015 and can be found at dk Gallery in the heart of downtown Marietta.
IMG_2661(4) In no particular order, one more of my favorite things was being outside in nature, taking in the majesty, beauty, and strength seen in the horses and their jockeys. We have been getting a lot of rain in Georgia and having a dry day to be outside was so refreshing. It was a perfect day to enjoy a new adventure in this life.

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Artist, Susan and dk Gallerist, Donna stand with Susan’s painting.
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Donna enjoys a moment with her assistant, Ashley.
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Friends gather at the 2015 Atlanta Steeplechase

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[pullquote]

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

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Is there an adventure that you have never been on

that you’d like to make plans to go on in the weeks and months ahead?