‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred Lord Tennyson, British Poet (1809-1892) from his poem “In Memoriam A.H.H.”
Five years ago on November 11, 2013, my Daddy passed away and went to join my Mama. It was Veteran’s Day, which was appropriate since Daddy had served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in the late 1940s. My five siblings and I came up with the following attributes in reference to our father:
God-inspired, man of character, compassionate, humble, man of stability, respectable, charming, hard worker, steadfast family man, musician, avid fisherman, and beloved physician.
At the age of 93, it was certainly evident to each one of us that he had lived a long and beautiful life. Even so, this has not changed the truth of how much we miss him and our Mama, too. When one loves completely, the “missing” may lessen, but it never goes away. I spoke at Daddy’s funeral and wanted to share with you my words to honor the memory of my beloved father:
Joan’s Eulogy for her Daddy
November 14, 2013
Our father slipped away quietly on Monday, a gorgeous, autumn afternoon. The kind of day that our mom would’ve loved. When author C.S. Lewis’ wife passed away, he was quoted as saying :
“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) quote from his book, A Grief Observed, written in 1960
I believe that is exactly how our Dad felt after our Mama’s brief illness and death in October 2006. In fact, some of us thought Dad may join her in that first year of his bereavement. Perhaps dying of a broken heart. But instead, our strong and courageous father rallied.Daddy continued to play his clarinet for his many grandchildren. He took take daily walks for fitness at nearby Dellinger Park. Dad also resumed his volunteer position of delivering Meals on Wheels to the homebound.
From the time I was a little girl, our big family drove to Savannah Beach every August for our annual family vacation. Often this trip landed on my birthday and I thought that was just part of the plan. A beach birthday trip for Joan and family!
These were always great times! It was wonderful to see Daddy relax and take a break from his busy OB-Gyn solo practice.
When I think about who I am today, and who I am becoming, I think of both my mother and my father. Some of the most important character traits instilled in myself, my brothers, and my sisters are compassion and a strong work ethic. We now observe these same traits and many more in their grandchildren. WE are all thankful for the role model given to us by our parents, and I hope all of us for generations to come will honor their memory with our own lives.
Another life lesson that my father taught me is to have equanimity, a mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness. While I am definitely still learning to practice equanimity, I believe another way to think of this is in Psalm 46:10:
“Be still and know that I am God.”
In closing, I remember how special the fall season has been to our parents, their wedding was on October 21, 1948. Both Mom and Dad have now had their Homegoing in the fall.
I am reminded of one of Dad’s favorite musicians, Frank Sinatra, singing:
“Since you went away the days grow long,And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song.But I miss you, most of all my darling,When autumn leaves start to fall.”
I love you Mama and Daddy, so glad you’re finally back together!
Many may wonder why should we volunteer? When asked about why a group of folks took time out each week to volunteer, the answers were inspiring. To feel needed, to share a skill, to get to know a community different from myself, to demonstrate commitment to a cause or a belief, to gain leadership skills, and to accomplish a civic duty.
Volunteers are love in motion.
Five Reasons We Should Volunteer:
(1) Studies have shown that volunteers live longer and healthier lives.
(2) Volunteering can help you establish strong relationships.
(3) Volunteering can complement your career.
(4) Volunteering helps society.
(5) Volunteering gives you a strong sense of purpose.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Anyone who has done any amount of volunteeringfor any measure of time would likely agree that when we give to others with our heart that we can reap benefits which are glorious and unimaginable. Simply being a good listener, expressing joy and humor, or offering a genuine, friendly smile, can contribute to lighting up another person’s life. Volunteering can have many surprising benefits!
One cool thing about volunteering is that you can choose an area that you are passionate about. Your love for animals could lead to spending some time helping out at a rescue shelter or a Veterinarian’s office. If reading inspires you, spend some time reshelving books at your local library. Are you an empty nester who misses having little ones in your home, then consider contacting a local indigent hospital, like Grady Memorial Hospital. Here, you may be able to rock babies one afternoon a week. In my recent past, I have chosen The Extension as one of my main volunteer opportunities for Volunteerism since it opened in 2009. The raw courage exhibited by the women who reside there has always challenged me in my personal journey.
Oh, and volunteering does not have to be a weekly commitment. It may involve simply providing a meal for a family who is dealing with adversity, join a Mission Team abroad or near home, or simply giving a ride to someone who needs one. Just being on the look out for who’s in your path, you will soon see many ways to lend a hand.
Studies have shown that volunteering is particularly beneficial to adults age 65 and older, and those who serve more than 100 hours each year. Volunteers are more likely to report a greater sense of well-being, and of purpose and meaning in their lives, than nonvolunteers. Older adults, who may be prone to social isolation, volunteering can offer strong social networks and a way to stay active in the community. Our parents were a great example of this as volunteers for Meals On Wheels late in their lives.
There has been a debate for some time now regarding whether or not high schoolers should be required to earn a certain number of community service hours. While time management is a real issue, having raised two young adults, we have seen significant benefits of their involvement in their community and beyond. There are many of the positives that can come from your teen being involved in service, whether it is required, or not. I am proud to know 18-year-old Aidan, who is on a mission to share the joy and necessity of giving to all. Aidan is a speaker, singer, and songwriter and you can like his Facebook page here. Aidan’s website is Aidan Cares.
I would love to hear in the comments below what you have chosen to do as a volunteer.
If you haven’t gotten involved as a volunteer, why not consider starting today?
We have extra time on our hands here in St. Louis, between nursing, changing, and cuddling with our new granddaughter, Elizabeth Noel Page. Yesterday, our daughter-in-law, Jess and I decided to take in an afternoon movie while Elizabeth’s Daddy was at school.
Without giving away the whole story, based on true events, here are a few quotes by the authors of this story:
“If you really serious ’bout helping’ somebody, crawl down in the ditch with ’em, bandage up their wounds, and stick with ’em until they is strong enough to crawl up on your back ands get out.”
“The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in-between, this earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So in a way, we is all homeless—just workin’ our way home.”
“When you is precious to God, you become more important to Satan. Watch your back.”
“There’s something I learned when I was homeless. Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin’ you can do, that’s when God takes over.”
“I found out everybody’s different—the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin’ down the road God done set in front of us.”
“To love a man enough to help him, you have to forfeit the warm, self-righteous glow that comes from judging.”
“Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpected can also take you over and change your life. Put a heart in your body where a stone used to be.”
When you take time to read this book or see the movie, I am wondering what thoughts you may have afterwards?
1) love always wins
2) regardless of our race, gender or place of origin, we are similar in more ways than not
3) we all put our pants on one leg at a time
4) each of us can reach one who is in need
5) when we help someone, we are encouraged and changed
6) life is brief and kindness matters
7) judgment is never okay we never know where one’s shoes have trod
The holiday season has come and gone and ours was very full, as I am sure yours was, as well. Here are a few pictures to illustrate some of my highlights:
I know you have special photos of your moments with friends and family and I am hoping you might share them in the comment space below!
Having been around for nearly six decades, the whole subject of New Year’s Resolutions causes me to yawn. What is the use of them? What is the benefit of putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves in a world that already has enough stress as it is? Now, don’t get me wrong! I do believe in goals and change and progressing towards a better life. But I have also learned, that for me, anyway, that it is more about the journey itself than it is about the destination. I want to be kinder to myself, more compassionate towards my fellow humans, and more faithful to my God.
Here are a few things that I found on social media that caused me to pause, to be still for a moment, and consider how I want to navigate into this new year: 2017.
So, I encourage you, along with me to say:
‘THANK YOU for being in my life, and helping me to continue to learn, to grow, and to smile past the struggles, while counting my blessings.”
Thanks to all of you out there who follow my Pages From Joan. Please help me this year by sharing any posts that resonate with your heart.
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.
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!!!
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!
Memorial Day! Cookouts, beach trips, boat rides, parades, picnics are just a few of the activities you and I are taking part of on this Memorial Day, 2016 as we celebrate the start of SUMMER!
We are the home of the free because of the brave.
I want to share with you three ways to honor and raise up our flag as you enjoy this special time with your favorite people. Click here for an amazing 3 minute Memorial Day video produced by Zoomability.
As I have been placing flags around in flower pots and window sills, my mind keeps going back to when I was ten years old and the U.S. was directly involved in the Vietnam War. Over 58,000 Americans were killed in this horrific war, and if you have never taken the time to view pictures/videos about it, or if you haven’t in years, I strongly urge you to click here to learn more about this time. The U.S. involvement was during the 1962 and 1973, and as a girl at the time, in addition to the news/media coverage, I have three vivid memories.
First, a close friend of our family, Timothy Faust was injured badly in Vietnam and I remember us standing on our driveway on Webster Drive together when he came home. Tim’s mouth was covered with gauze because of the deformity caused by his injuries. After many, many surgeries, Tim passed away as a result of his injuries. Second, our family was very close with The Allen Family, who attended church with us. Their brother, Larry Michael Allen was killed instantly in ‘Nam and here is what a U.S.A. Today article stated in 2012:
“I will mark this Memorial Day by remembering Larry [Michael] Allen, a fallen Marine from Decatur, Ga. On June 18, 1970, somewhere in Vietnam, our squad ran into an ambush and was surrounded. We were taking heavy fire from the enemy we could not see. We were advancing when Larry (Mike) stepped directly in front of me and one other Marine, taking a bullet wound in the lower stomach, meant for us. As he lay dying before us, I will never forget the helplessness I felt. The firefight was so intense that our choppers could not get in to help Larry (Mike) and the other wounded. That day, we lost a wonderful 18-year-old Marine who not long before was running high school track in Georgia. I salute you, Larry (Mike). Thanks for giving two of us our lives. Semper fi, my friend. Terry Franks; Springville, Ala.”
And a word from Betty Lou, Mike’s sister: Sgt. Terry Franks, came to meet my folks in August 1970 when he returned home to B’ham. He still keeps in touch with my mom, called last month.
True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.
And thirdly, and closest to me, my own big brother, John Wade Walker was serving there as a Marine. John was the oldest of six children and I recall Mama praying around our dinner table for his safety. Thankfully, John and his wife of four decades live in southern Mississippi and have three grown married children as well as three grandchildren. John went onto become a lifetime Marine, serving in many future battles. Semper Fi!
(1) Think of and remember those, and their families, who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, for our freedom.
(2) Teach and train up our children with understanding about what our flag represents.
Cub Scout Pack 178 and Boy Scout Troop 173 Scouts in Marietta, Georgia placed 18,000 flags in minutes. My friend, Stephen Moon shared this story from their day:
“This happened to make it even more special: A stranger was waiting to take a picture. After Sam placed the flag, Colleen started to cry and thanked him. This was her father’s final resting place (Marine Cpl. Richard D. Marks, Korean War)”
(3) Honor and pray for those who are currently serving for the preservation of our freedom.
What memories does this Memorial Day 2016 trigger for you? How can you and I raise up and honor our flag in the days ahead?
This week began with scores of warm hands and one very warm heart…
My phone rang unexpectedly at 7:15 on Monday morning. I was admittedly being lazy, after just driving in from Knoxville the night before. My husband, Donny, had forgotten his cell phone and there was no way, in his line of work, the day could continue without it. So what did I do, I heated up some coffee, grabbed the warmest things I could find for me, my hands, and my feet and jumped in our truck. In the early morning rush-hour, I got to catch a few views that I would’ve otherwise missed.The start of a new day, a new week. As I glanced at my dash, noting the 22 degrees showing there, my mind moved to the boxes in my back seat.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King, Jr.
You see, on December 22, 2015, we had a Christmas gathering and we encouraged our friends to bring canned goods, gloves, and warm hats for the people who are cared for through MUST Ministries. Since Donny’s office is right near this shelter, I knew I needed to head that way to distribute a few of these donations on this freezing Monday morning.
Now I realize the best way to “donate” is through the distribution site, but on this freezing morning all I could think of was frigid hands…Initially when I pulled up, there was no one there, but then a young man named Charlie came close enough for me to open the window and ask him if he could use some gloves. Charlie answered me, “Yes!”, cheerfully, and asked if he could have a hat and gloves for his mother who was accompanying him, and waiting for him, just inside. Soon, there was a short line forming at the passenger side of our truck. Running out of men’s gloves before the line ran out, I promised them I would be back with more within the hour.
Upon my return, again, probably because the temps were so low, there was no one there. Again, soon after my arrival, a few more who needed them came to receive this gift of warmth. Thinking of Leah and Walker when they were young, and how during carpools we used to hand gloves out on freezing days, my heart was reminiscing with the memory. By 9:15 a.m. I was heading back home, knowing my husband had his phone and there were a lot of warmer hands and one very, very warm heart. Thanks to those who gave these hats and gloves so generously back in December! Some of the hats and gloves are only $2.00 each. Perhaps you’d like to keep a few in your car to give out when you see a need.
You might want to consider taking your children or grandchildren to pick some out for those in need. After all, children are like little sponges and teaching them about compassion when they are young is a wonderful thing!
I know many who are growing weary of all the social media in our world today. While I cannot deny that it can be a “time-drainer”, a “conversation killer”, a “drama-promoter”, and sadly, even an extremely evil “tool” for some, with pornography growing rampant in our communities. Still, I am convinced that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more have given us countless ways to stay connected with others, to find others whom we would like to find, and to share ideas with one another. [pullquote]Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Brad Paisley [/pullquote]For me, it’s about “balance” in all things…something I honestly work on daily! I have to also say that it has been cathartic for me to share my musings several times a week here on Pages From Joan, and as 2016 has its start, I thank you once again for reading and sharing my posts.
This post and my next one are about two special folks I found as a result of social media. I honestly believe that my connection with these two would have been essentially nonexistent if it were not for the opportunity to find them here on-line. Their stories remind me to be in tune to who shows up in my daily path, to look towards making a difference in the lives right in front of me. These stories I will share below, and in my next post, with their permission, remind me of an earlier post entitled:
I first met Sam because he is a nephew to some of our dearest, life-long friends, Jan and David. Though we have met in person at a wedding or two, our friendship stems from our connection here. I so appreciate the support and encouragement Sam has given me to keep writing. Sam is keeping an eye out for those who need some kindness, those who show up in his path. A recent story from Sam:
“As I ride the Marta train home, I am thinking long and hard about your story. (This was after Sam had just read my post We Can Embrace It.) I pass by Inman Park, Candler Park, Little Five Points. Years ago, you could’ve never gotten me to ride a Marta train. I’ve come to really enjoy it. I enjoy listening to the conductor, observing the people. I’ll never forget boarding the train this time last year. I saw my usual seat had been taken over by a female with her 3 children all spread out in the last 2 rows . They were all completely exhausted, and you could tell they had been up all night long. I have often wondered if she had been evicted, or been a victim of some type of abuse. As I rode the train to my connection point at 5 Points, I was moved to give her some money. I shook her aggressively, she finally aroused and I slipped her $20 – I wish I could’ve given her $100; but, I digress. This year, there weren’t any Marta patrons that moved me to tears, but there was a couple (and their family) who boarded my flight early this morning. His wife was seated in 3D. As he was boarding, I could see his eyes were completely blood-shot from crying. I introduced myself and he said his name was Larry. He went onto say they had received some very devastating news. He was overcome with grief — It was all around him, and his wife too.They were in that place where; if you have ever experienced such grieving it’s like being in another world… As they deplaned I wished them a Merry Christmas , but it seemed so hollow. Their Christmas season would be different from now on. *That’s why I am going to embrace the small joys, and make this a holiday to celebrate living. There is so much life to live.”
I am Brazil Bound! Tonight I will be flying all night to Rio de Janeiro, arriving on Saturday morning, October 31, 2015. Our team of 10, including my sis, Mary Ann and her husband, Jim, from Piedmont Church will be joining another team from the U.S. to minister to the poor who live in a favela community there in Rio.[pullquote] When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25:39-40 [/pullquote] Since 2003, this will be my 6th trip to Rio, thanks to my niece, Amy, who was a medical missionary there for several years before marrying her love, Stephen, and settling down in Tennessee with their first-born, Noah Ray. Our family of four served together in Rio in 2005. [pullquote]If you truly believe in the value of life, you care about all of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.” Joni Eareckson Tada[/pullquote]
Did you know? The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!
On this 2015 trip, in addition to holding our usual free Medical Clinic which includes vision, dental, medical, and a pharmacy, we will be working in a school with about fifty students, playing games, telling them stories, and doing art projects. Pictured below are just some of the children I got to meet in Rio in past visits.
Mainly, we will be simply loving on these kids who are offsprings of prostitutes and drug dealers in Rio. Having an Elementary Education background, I am especially excited to be serving the children of Rio in this way.
Once you’ve been bitten by “the mission bug”, you are forever changed and you will find yourself looking for ways to make a difference, wherever you may find yourself, while you are still here on the earth. [pullquote]How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank[/pullquote]Many jobs and careers are service oriented. Whether in the U.S. or abroad, there are needs that we can meet.
Like some of my girlfriends, your ‘difference opportunity’ may be volunteering with an organization called Happy Tails Pet Therapy, reaching out to work in a soup kitchen, sorting items in a clothes closet, art therapy with folks who are overcoming their addictions, or visiting the ill who are in the hospital. [pullquote]Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” James M. Barrie [/pullquote]If you are homebound, you might send greeting cards to the list of sick folks from your church. In addition, check with local churches and see what mission trips in the U.S. or abroad might be in the works. The Matt B. Dyas Memorial Golf Scholarship Fund made a contribution towards art supplies for the students we’ll be serving and we so appreciate their support in honor of their son, Matt, who loved Mission Trips. People are willing to financially support those who go, if they cannot go. And always remember the significance and the importance of the ministry of praying. Encouraging someone who cannot return the favor effects us in an extraordinary way. You will be surprised by the positive impact this will have on your life journey.
As we reach out with a grateful heart to someone who is in need, OUR lives are forever changed, and hopefully we have helped to change their life, too, if only in a small way.
Our team covets your prayer support while we are gone and I’ll look forward to resuming my Pages upon my return to America on Sunday, November 8, 2015.
This past weekend, my family surprised me by celebrating my early August birthday since we won’t be together on my day. We had fun just hanging out, making a shrimp boil dinner together, eating cake and making homemade Oreo ice cream. YUM!
Whenever our two children ask me what I would like for a gift, I mainly say, “Just a note from you.”
I consider the notes and cards I have accumulated over the years as great treasures in my life. I enjoy looking over them again and again.
Smile at each other. Smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other- it doesn’t matter who it is- and that will help us all to grow in greater love for each other.”
Leah also gave me a small wrapped package, a gift in which I have truly grown attached to as I have researched the origin of this love gift. A small bag just big enough for my cell phone, my license, and some cash, was handmade by an Artisan Threader, from Iraq, by the name of Ameena. Leah knew I would love this special and unique gift because I am always looking for little and big ways to make a difference.
“Four years ago, Denise Smith had just returned from six years with her husband and their jobs in Beirut. Life in Lebanon had left her feeling out of place back in Georgia. She pondered and prayed on what meaning her life might take when her church, Grace (Snellville) called her and asked if she would come speak to a group of refugee women, most of whom only spoke Arabic. She agreed and began to ponder and pray on what she could offer them. The plan revealed itself in her trusty old sewing machine. “I took it everywhere with me,” says Denise. “I am never without it.”
Denise first called the manager of the apartment building that housed many of the women. “I asked if they might be interested in learning to sew,” says Denise. “His enthusiastic answer was, ‘YES!’”. Denise made some calls to friends to gather scraps of fabric and ended up with a few sewing machines as well.
That first meeting began a journey that became the answer to many prayers. The prayers of women who have fled horrific conditions and only want one small opportunity to make a living, raise good children and BE American, as well as the prayers of a woman who wanted to know what she should do with herself. Peace of Thread was born of these prayers.
The designer accessories company provides training, language lessons, fellowship and jobs for women who have made their way from upheaval and threat to a place they can breathe and make a new life out of the patches of their former selves. The words from their website read: “Peace of Thread is a not for profit organization that empowers women who have come to the United States seeking refuge from war, persecution and poverty to make a new life for themselves and their family. The women of Peace of Thread hand make high quality and one-of-a-kind accessories using top-of-the-line, refurbished fabric. Their mission is to “promote the exchanging of cultures and the international development of women in vulnerable populations by teaching and improving life, business, and language skills through the platform of designing and sewing “one-of-a-kind” purses, bags, and accessories using re-purposed materials and to engage in activities which are necessary.”
Founder, Denise Smith seeks to bring Eastern and Western women together to foster fellowship and peace. “Women need work to contribute to their economy and support their families,” says Denise. Through sewing and mending, the physical, emotional and spiritual pieces of each woman are mended as well. “God is peace and we are all people of peace,” says Denise. “Each of these women want just one small chance to learn a craft and be able to contribute to their household needs.”
We show the beauty of each woman by designing the inside of each bag even more beautifully than the outside and teach the women that they were designed in this very same way.”
Founder and CEO of Peace of Thread
The need for sponsors is endless. Each woman who enters the program is given a sewing machine, thread, needles, patterns and scraps of fabric. The majority of the fabric comes from the Atlanta Decorative Art Center and are scraps from the finest interior design products in the world. Parisian silks, Belgium patterns and countless more of the world’s loveliest fabrics are cast aside after becoming pillows, upholstery, and curtains. These incredible fabric scraps are designed and sewn into amazing bags that show the heart and soul of the artist. “To turn our bags inside out, you will find beautifully appointed fabrics that complement each other,” says Denise. “They are just like the women who sew them, beautiful inside and out.” (and truly the small bag Leah gave to me is as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside)
Inside the pockets of each bag is tucked a card that tells the story of each artisan. “Six of our women have graduated Level 12 English which means they can read to their own child a story or understand the papers that come home from school,” says Denise. “Education is power for the formerly unemployable.” Each woman has a means for an income and desire to live “West alongside East”. “Byunderstanding the gaps in culture, the women shed fears and become good American Citizens,” says Denise. “They will not be going back to their birth countries, so they need to belonghere.”
Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own.”
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
Booker T. Washington, (1856-1915)
Remaining true to her mission and relying on prayer, Denise Smith and her volunteers work hard to ensure that those who want to find a way to support themselves and their families are able to do so. Volunteers are needed for all manner of roles. Watching the children of the trainees during classes is important. Transportation to the training center is always needed. “You don’t need to know how to sew in order to help,” says Denise. “We can always use more volunteers.” To order a bag or learn how you can help, visit the website, www.peaceofthread.com.” (from a recent Gwinnett Citizen article by Beth Volpert-Johansen, click here to read more)
Purchasing bags straight off their website for yourself and for gifts can have a huge impact.
Located in Clarkston, Georgia, some of the volunteer opportunities mentioned on their website include: Designer
selects fabrics for making bags; is familiar with different kinds of fabrics and textiles and/or has sewing knowledge.
uses patterns to cut the fabric after it has been selected by a designer.
organizes and categorizes fabrics according to style and seasons, or cuts pieces of fabric for scraps and to make business cards; keeps the design studio organized and in a clean manner.
ensures that patterns are cut properly and that instructions are clearly labeled on them.
How about you and I?
How are we impacting those in our daily path in small or big ways? As I have said many times before, even a smile or a kind word to someone we cross paths with can brighten a day…potentially theirs AND ours.
Are you still looking for your “purpose“, the way or ways you can make a positive difference with this one life you’ve been given???
Let’s all start today in our own families, then moving beyond as we feel led.
This story about how Denise Smith founded Peace of Thread inspires me to reach out more to those less fortunate than me, and I hope it will do the same for you.