Follow by Email

Saturday, May 30, 2009

DELIGHTFUL BEACH DAY WITH DAUGHTER AND FRIENDS!

When my FFs (Forever Friends from Druid Hills High School) and I planned this trip to the sandy beaches of South Walton, it did not enter my mind that I might be blessed with a visit from our 20 year old daughter. She is in summer school and school is in session! On the drive down, we stopped by her exit at school for a hug and casually invited her to join us.
Well, SHE DID! She arrived just in time for a BLT and chips on the beach for lunch and a total afternoon with our feet in the sand. Her next class is not until Tuesday.
SANDY FEET ARE HAPPY FEET!
Leah loves these girlfriends and knows them all so well!
What a treat for me to not only spend time with these enjoyable friends, but to also have our daughter here, too!
As a fifty something woman, I realize more and more that connections with friends and family are more important with each passing day.
Every day matters and spending our moments with those we love the most makes for a very delightful day!

Friday, May 29, 2009

YOGA: HAVE YOU TRIED IT?

For part of our fitness regime at the beach today, a few of us checked out a nearby health studio called BALANCE (www.BALANCE30A.com) to attend a seventy-five minute YOGA class. Now this was interesting for me as a newbie, because I am known (especially by these girls who knew me as a high school cheerleader!) for my lack of coordination. :~)

If you go to THE BALANCE HEALTH STUDIO website you will read the following:

MIND. BODY. BREATH.
Developed in India, yoga is a physical discipline with roots going back about 5,000 years. Today, this unbroken tradition can be found all over the world. Most yoga practices in the West focus on the physical postures called "asanas", breathing exercises called "pranayama" and meditation.
However, there's more to it than that, and the deeper you go, the richer and more diverse the tradition becomes.
At BALANCE we believe in movement because we understand that movement is LIFE!
With regular practice, yoga can create flexibility, build strength and develop stamina.

This class was led by Melissa and she did a marvelous job helping me, and a few others in the class that were new at this, to feel comfortable. Two of my FFs were there with me and they, as accomplished yogis, were also very encouraging. We also had a 20 year old niece with us who has told us that this group of 50 something friends has "inspired her" to work out more! And yes, the rest of the group took their morning walk or run for today's fitness...
I found this experience to be inspiring, cleansing and therapeutic for both my body and my mind. When I return to Georgia, I plan to attend a local class and maybe even pick up a yoga DVD to use at home.
How about you? Have you tried this for fitness and well-being? Why not try something today that is new and inspiring, like yoga?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

FOREVER FRIENDS

Yesterday, five of my FFs ~ friends that I have known since my childhood, thus known as FOREVER FRIENDS ~ traveled through Georgia and Alabama, arriving here on the sandy beaches of South Walton and Scenic 30-A just in time for a sunset over the bay. A sixth will join us later today. The other two have family vacations that will keep them from joining us...this time.
Yes, there are eight of us in all, graduating from Druid Hills High School, in Atlanta in 1976. When we are together, it is like stepping into a time machine because we see each other through thousands of shared memories.
And this morning, we have already power walked 4 miles, collected the "kitty", monies for the provisions, and stocked the pantry and frig. Our beach picnic is almost ready and the cooler is packed , so I better finish this up!
This group is linked by more than forty five years of experiences and memories, eight women from Decatur, Georgia. WE are a lesson in the power and lifelong benefits of friendship. We remind each other about important health appointments.
We commiserate, console one another about unique issues in our lives and we solve the problems of the world.
GIRLFRIENDS, and SISTERS, TOO, add so much to a life journey, whether they have been around for years like my special group of FFs, or they are a new addition in my life.
GIRLFRIENDS understand better than anyone else around.
YES, FFs are a gift I hope I will never take for granted.

I just read this aloud to this extraordinary group of girls....Have you told you your special girlfriend how much you care about her? Why not call, write, text, or email her today?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SAND IN MY SHOES

"Life is either a great adventure or nothing." Helen Keller

My Mama used to always claim to have sand in her shoes, claiming to be on the ready for the next adventure in her life. I am becoming more like this with each passing day and the past 24 hours is proof of that. Last night, I was sleeping with family on the lake in the North Georgia Mountains and tonight, I am spending the night with friends on the coast of Florida. Yes, I, too, have sand in my shoes.

One of the things that I am realizing is so important as a 50 something woman is to connect with others, friends and family alike.
These girls I am at the beach with have been my sidekicks for more than forty years! How blessed I am to be here for the next several nights with these bosom buddies.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944), a French writer, pilot and author of The Little Prince said: "It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joy."


So what about you...what adventure are you looking forward to in your life?
Do you have sand in your shoes?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SUNRISE, SUNSET

Last night, the sunset over Blue Ridge Lake was awe-inspiring, a real masterpiece!

My sister, Laura and our husbands joined me as we gazed at the close of another day quietly for a good 45 minutes...beautiful... another day in our life journey and a cause to look forward to tomorrow with great anticipation for what a new day might bring.
"His mercies are NEW every morning." Lametations 3:23

This reminded me of the words to a song that was sung during our wedding reception nearly 27 years ago:

SUNRISE, SUNSET

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember getting older, when did they?

Whe did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise, Sunset. Sunrise, Sunset.
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers.
Blossoming even as they gaze...

Sunrise, Sunset. Sunrise, Sunset.
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears...
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears.

Yes, the seasons of our lives come and go, but our kinship, our bond with friends, family and God are what make these moments in time all the richer.

"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised."
Psalm 113:3

As a 50 something woman, I suppose I may have more than 10,950 more sunsets, possibly 120 seasons...if I live as long as expected...

In what ways are you making your seasons memorable?

Monday, May 25, 2009

A LIVING HERO

Memorial Day Weekend at Blue Ridge Lake in the North Georgia Mountains has been amazing as we have reflected on the truth that ...FREEDOM IS NOT FREE...

As a 50 something woman, I know some heroes that have died for our country in Vietnam or other conflicts and I know many others that have survived their time spent serving our country in some United States Military capacity.

My own brother, John, is a retired Marine that was emergently flighted off the battlefield in 'Nam in need of appendectomy surgery. Thankfully, his commanders sent him back home to America for recovery. This was a very trying time for our nation as our communities' young men, age 18, were drafted, badly injured or even died in this horrific combat. After Vietnam, John continued as a United States Marine serving in many future U. S. conflicts, including the Gulf War. My brother is the father of three incredible children and the husband of a beautiful and talented woman. John is truly a living hero!
SEMPER FI!

Another living hero joined us for our cookout yesterday. We had 17 people in all, and eleven of these were students between the ages of 17 and 21. We decided to ask this living hero, our brother-in-law, Jim to share his personal military experiences with us. In particular, we wanted these young people to hear from Uncle Jim to help them develop more of an understanding and appreciation of the reason for this Memorial Day holiday that we all look so forward to.
Jim graduated high school in Tennessee in 1964 and went onto complete his college degree in 1968. Our country was in the height of the Vietnam Conflict at this time. Jim knew it was just a short matter of time before his draft notice would appear in his mailbox, so he worked at miscellaneous jobs as he waited. On December 8, 1968 he received his draft notice and was sworn in to the U. S. Army. Jim went through basic training, AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) and then onto OCS (Officer Cadet School for Engineering) On February 13, 1970, Jim graduated as a 2nd LT, top of his class as a Distinguished Military Graduate with the privilege of a choice of where he wanted to serve his tour. He chose 3rd Army Headquarters at Fort McPherson,
GA, which followed his Vietnam Training School.

Later, in April, 1972, Jim was promoted to Captain with orders for Vietnam. At this same time, the U.S. started the cutback of troops and President Richard Nixon asked if anyone wanted to get out of the service early. Uncle Jim raised his hand and the rest is history... Jim went onto meet my beautiful sister, whom he has been married to for over 35 years and they raised two wonderful children together. Jim has lived his life with noble purpose, generous service to God and man, and a work ethic beyond compare.

Jim's final message to us this Memorial Day goes like this:
"Thank you, America, for allowing me to serve a country to protect the freedoms that we have now and the freedoms for generations to come. GOD BLESS AMERICA. "

And one other living hero, whom I have never met, was recognized on Good Morning America on March 5th back in 2003. Charlie Gibson was interviewing General Earl Hailston, the commanding general of Marine Forces Central Command. The general was waiting with his troops just a few miles off the border of Iraq...waiting to go to war. Toward the end of the interview, Charlie asked him if he had any hobbies.
The general said, "Yes, I love photography, especially taking photos of my men."
He shared that while he had been waiting for the past few days he took photos of his men, and at night he would email the photos with a brief note to their mothers back in the USA. Charlie asked if he could see a sample of a letter and the general walked into his tent, turned on his computer, and read the last letter he had sent.

It said:

Dear Mrs. Johnson,
I thought you might enjoy seeing this picture of your son. He is doing great. I also wanted you to know that you did a wonderful job raising him. You must be very proud. I can certainly tell you that I am honored to serve with him in the U.S. Marines.
Sincerely,
General Earl Hailston


What living hero have you been honored to share your life journey with?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

MAKE A NOTATION

One of the things I love to do when I have a few minutes is to peruse a cookbook or some other book that I know for sure my Mama held in her hands at one time or another.
My Mama was really good about having a pen in hand whenever she opened a book, whether it was her Bible, a favorite cookbook, or an inspirational read. I love finding a notation in her own unique handwriting. Often, along with her note would be a date as well as her initials, indicating that "I was here, in this book, on this day and here you will read my very thoughts about what I was reading."
The written remarks are mostly brief..."delicious! perfect for a crowd" or " I want to do this more," she might have written next to a devotion that spoke to her heart on a particular day.
I, as a 50 something woman, have developed this same habit and I love it! I enjoy using a dictionary (or dictionary.com!) to look up words that I might run across in a devotion, not because I have no idea what they mean, but because I want to have a greater understanding of how the writer intended to use that particular word to get his/her message across. I nearly ALWAYS date and name the event that I took the time to prepare a special recipe for. It is fun to look back, and remember those times when we sat around the table laughing, loving and yes, enjoying that favorite recipe!
And, my Bible is full of dates and thoughts and notes that I have dashed off through the years. These, too, bring back fond memories of days gone by...a baby dedication, a particularly inspiring message from the pulpit, a date for my reading of one chapter PROVERBS each day. These notes remind me that I am on the right and best path for me at this time.
Just as my mother took the time to make her notations along her life journey, I want to give this gift to my children and grandchildren, as well. I want them to read a jotted note by me, smile, and say : "That was important to my MOM on that day!"
How about you....what notation will you make today?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A LIFE EXPERIENCE

I had the chance to meet seven pretty incredible women at the new Women's Extension Center tonight. I am truly still reeling from this life experience. This center opened in our community on May 1, 2009 to house women who desire a change in their life. Women who are addicts of some sort. I realized tonight that the drug or drink of choice is not what matters. Instead, what matters is that an addiction of some sort has taken over a life. And these women have decided to face their fears and deal with an addiction that has literally taken over their life. This center will house up to twenty women at any given time and this home already has 10 women.
The eyes of each lady were glued to me as I shared from my heart, reminding them that courage is simply fear that has said its prayers. I praised them for the courage they were showing by facing the truth of their addiction.
The difficulty, the hardships that were shared with me took my breath away..."I've been raped six times..." "I was smokin'crack cocaine up until I came here on
May 5th." ...and more.
As I embraced these women, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the life that I have been given. Yes, I have had some rocks in my path...but no boulders or potholes, like these women.
After our meeting, the ladies invited us to join them for a spaghetti dinner. The cool thing was that the dinner was provided by a local AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) group. A man who was part of their group shared with me that this is one of the ways that they stay sober is by helping others who want to recover from addiction...

This reminded me of something my Mama used to always say...√čACH ONE REACH ONE."

And this prompted me to reconsider the story about the young boy that was on a beach one day.
The beach was covered with live star fish that had been washed up onto the sand. One by one, the boy threw the starfish back into the ocean to save them from sure death on the hot beach. A man came by, and observing the young boy, said "Young man, what do you think you are doing? You can't make a difference here. There are just too many starfish on this beach."
The young boy picked up another starfish and hurled it out into the sea, saying, " I made a difference for that one!"
And so it is with each life experience that we find ourselves in. We share, we encourage, we laugh, we cry, we love and we live each day and when we choose to make a difference in another's life, then our life experiences are all the richer for it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A SOJOURNER

"You only live once-but if you work it right, once is enough." Joe F. Lewis

You and I, we are sojourners on this earth. The Webster's dictionary defines a sojourner as follows:

"...one who is having a brief, temporary stay; a brief residence"

WE are sojourners on this earth because this earth is not our home.

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:14

Last night, as I worked for several hours organizing my thoughts, my story, in anticipation of sharing with the recovering ladies at the Women's Extension Center, it quickly became apparent to me how far God has brought me in my life.
HOW ENCOURAGING!!! My main prayer has become two words: "Thank You."
As a 50 something woman, (or any age woman!) I believe it is positively cathartic, very freeing, to think through, and even possibly write down your story, your personal testimony.
As I have expressed before, I have kept a journal for more than 20 years.
This simple tool has so often aided me in working through issues that have burdened my heart in my day-to-day life.
If you are not sure how to get started, try setting a timer for 10-20 minutes and just WRITE, WRITE, WRITE until the timer chimes...or TYPE, TYPE, TYPE...whichever is most comfortable for you.
In sharing with these women, I came up with the following verses to guide me:

Matthew 6:26-27
Lamentations 3:22-23
Galatians 5:1

"If you won't be better tomorrow than you were today, then what do you need tomorrow for?" Rabbi Hahman of Bratslay

Today, I encourage you to consider yourself as a sojourner as you contemplate your life journey. How far have you come?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

I am preparing my heart and mind to share my testimony with a group of ladies this coming Thursday night. These ladies are new residents, as of May 1, 2009, of a Women's Extension Center, a 60 day program for women that want to recover from drug and/or alcohol abuse.
A friend of mine has asked for my help and I am in the process of recruiting volunteers to help out in many areas as this new center evolves.
My book club just finished discussing the book BROKEN, A story of Redemption and Recovery By, William Cope Moyers. I highly recommend this book to anyone that might want to have a clearer understanding of the horrific disease of sddiction.
I believe that reading this book has better equipped me to minister to these women at The Women's Extension Center.
I keep thinking about a quote I heard once, although I do not recall who said it.
"They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
This Thursday night is an opportunity for Bible Study for these women, to help them see that there are answers in the Word. However if I go in there and share a bunch of scripture verses with them, some of whom have never opened the Bible before, I know that my sharing will not be effective.
Instead, I will share from my heart, my personal story about how God rescued me, and I will love these women, because ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

Monday, May 18, 2009

WHAT IS SUCCESS?

I just spent some time writing checks and readying a few graduation cards. We are at that season of life where we are helping our friends and family members celebrate this milestone juncture in a young person's life: high school commencement, college graduation, or even a convocation from some professional school. One of our best friend's daughter is graduating from the Naval Academy and going on to Flight School! Wow, what an accomplishment!
Yes, the Class of 2009 is certainly something to honor and commend!

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803-April 27,1882) was an American essayist, philosopher and poet best remembered for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the early 19th century.
As I was considering what success in life really is, I was reminded of this well-known poet's definition:

TO LAUGH OFTEN AND MUCH; TO WIN THE RESPECT OF INTELLIGENT PEOPLE AND AFFECTION OF CHILDREN; TO EARN THE APPRECIATION OF HONEST CRITICS AND ENDURE THE BETRAYAL OF FALSE FRIENDS; TO APPRECIATE BEAUTY, TO FIND THE BEST IN OTHERS; TO LEAVE THE WORLD A BIT BETTER, WHETHER BY A HEALTHY CHILD, A GARDEN PATCH OR A REDEEMED SOCIAL CONDITION; TO KNOW EVEN ONE LIFE HAS BREATHED EASIER BECAUSE YOU HAVE LIVED.

THIS IS TO HAVE SUCCEEDED.

By, Ralph Waldo Emerson

WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let's "GET IT RIGHT"

A good friend and I were chatting on his front porch a couple of days ago and he was letting me know that his mother's cancer had spread and she does not have long. He and I talked about what kind of Mama she had been and I cannot get what he said to me out of my mind...he said: ~
"When my mother reaches the gates of heaven, she will hear the words...
'You got it right'."
While my friend elaborated very ittle about what exactly he meant by this, I knew without a doubt what he was saying to me...

His mother made sure to ~~~~LOVE WELL ~~~LAUGH OFTEN and LOVE MUCH~~~~

I want to get it right, too! Don't you!?!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

GRADUATION TIME: A new beginning

I was at the graduation for my son's school today, as a volunteer, because he will not be a senior until next year. The volunteers were in charge of setting up a lovely reception to follow the ceremony. Everything was pulled together at 2:50, as the event was to take place at 3:00 p.m. The flowers and balloons had been arranged and were in place. The cake, punch, and nuts were ready for the crowd.
Just before the graduation began, a woman ran into the reception area calling out to us: "Call 911, my uncle is ill!" We of course, called 911, and the emergency vehicles were on the way. One of the administrators ran to his office to obtain a AED (Automated External Defibrillators). It has become more and more common for public places to have a machine like this available for cardiac emergencies.
This machine when attached to the victim reads the heart rhythm and directs the responders as to what they need to do until the ambulance arrives. A friend of mine that was present as a mom of one of the 2009 graduates, who is also a cardiac nurse, along with an Oncologist, who had a son graduating assisted this gentleman until the EMTs arrived. The good news is that the man appears to have improved with the passing of a few minutes and that is good considering my friend reported to me that he had NO heart rate and no pulse when she first appeared on the scene. She stated
that the AED was what made the difference in this medical emergency...Thankfully, this school was equipped with one! Hopefully, this gentleman will realize that he has been given a new beginning, and actually, all those folks in the audience should also realize the fragility of life after witnessing this experience...I know these were the thoughts that went through my mind!
And on this graduation day, a day for new beginnings, my thoughts once again returned to my Mama who passed away in October 2006, after just 4 short months of cancer.
When I was with her, I tried to be brave and put up this cheerful front. But there was this one night a couple of weeks before she left us that I was crying openly on the phone as I talked with her. "Joan," she said, "This is a new beginning." And so it was...

Friday, May 15, 2009

WOMAN WITH CLARITY

As I hoped, my vision was much clearer when I awakened this morning. I checked in with my doctor and he was happy with my overnight progress. My visual clarity is returning as expected.
You know, Helen Keller was born just like most newborn babies. There was much hope and anticipation when Helen came into the world on June 27, 1880. It was at age 18 months after a serious illness that she was left blind and deaf. Later, it was with the help and guidance of Annie Sullivan that Helen began to gain clarity about her life and her future became bright even through incredible adversity.
By the time Helen was 16 years of age, she was accepted into Radcliffe College and in 1904, she graduated cum laude, with honors.
As a young woman, Helen found her passion and became interested in improving the lives of others. With insight, energy, and deep devotion, she lectured throughout the world, worked to forward her ideas in Congress, and wrote thousands of letters asking for contributions to finance efforts to improve the welfare of the blind.
Annie Sullivan served as Helen's counselor and companion. When Helen died just before her 87th birthday, her name had become a worldwide symbol of what the human spirit can accomplish despite severe physical limitations.

I find many of Helen Keller's quotes inspiring. Following are some of my favorites:

"The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

"The only thing worse than being blind, is having sight, but no vision."

"What I am looking for is not 'out there', it is in me."

There is much we can learn from this remarkable woman who gained much clarity throughout her life.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

GAINING CLARITY

My daughter took me earlier this afternoon for lasik eye surgery on my left eye. Because I am still recovering, my vision is blurry as I type, so I feel certain this will be a short post. I should have more visual clarity when I awaken in the morning. As I was resting after the surgery, I began to think about the inner clarity that has been coming into my life more than ever in recent months since becoming a 50 something woman. Clarity is defined as having clearness as to understanding or perception. I do believe that clarity is not something that just happens, but instead, it is something that will happen as we begin to be still and LET THINGS GO.

Mahatma Ghandi said "In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness."

One of my favorite all time heroes, a woman known for brave deeds and noble qualities, is Helen Keller. She gained much clarity as she lived out her days and I will share more about her tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am wondering what it is you and I need to gain more clarity about today. Is it that difficult relationship that has been bogging us down? Could it be that we KNOW that we need to alter our eating and exercise habits, but we are just not doing it?
Is it that we need to live a more simple life? Perhaps, it is that we need to love and care for ourselves in the same way that we love and care for the important people in our lives.
Let us make every effort to be clear-minded as we walk through our days. That should be recognized as one of the greatest benefits of being this age!

Chelle Thompson, Editor of Inspirtation Line says it like this:
"In my own life I've practiced stepping back a bit, emotionally from difficult situations so that I could gain clarity of perspective. It's quite a miraculous feeling to recognize that we do not have to be victims of circumstance because the very freedom we seek is within each of us."

YES...LET US BE HONEST AND FRANK WITH OURSELVES AND GAIN MORE CLARITY TODAY!
We only get one chance at this life...one time around.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

DO IT ANYWAY!

I did not feel like exercising this morning...but I did it anyway and I am glad!
In fact, I must say that I have never worked out and not felt much better afterwards.
This is a good point to remember! As a 50 something woman, exercise brings on growth, whereas a lack of it can bring on decay...I want growth, and I'll bet you do, too!
This reminds me of another kind of "DO IT ANYWAY!"

As we journey through life, we will often encounter what I call "sand paper people". You know, those that can be difficult to get along with no matter what.
These folks need love just like the rest of us.
In our home, I have the following framed in our living area...I try to read it often, because it reminds me of fitting ways to LIVE and LOVE!

ANYWAY

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered, forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends, and some true enemies; succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight, build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.
The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway.
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU HAVE, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway." ~MOTHER TERESA~

LET'S DO IT ANYWAY!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

THE GRASS WITHERS AND THE FLOWERS FALL

As I studied some scripture this morning, I was moved by some Truth in the book of 2 Peter...It has so many of life's answers in just a few short verses:

"For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, LOVE. For if you possess THESE qualities in INCREASING measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, (s)he is nearsighted and blind, and has FORGOTTEN that (s)he has been cleansed from past sins." 2 Peter 1:5-9

So, today, if you have are asking some difficult questions of LIFE, I hope you will consider these verses as part of the answer He may have for you.

Also, I have been renewed by a particular website that I know will bless you, too.
I was introduced to Martha Williamson by my sister, Laura Lea when she was going through the nearly year long trial with her son, Brad. Martha's work is an inspiration and an encouragement...Just view one of her very short videos, and I know you will agree.
Go to:
http://blog.beliefnet.com/MarthaWilliamson

Today's topic goes along with this scripture and is entitled:

"Tell ME Why"

And before I leave this idea of studying the Word, I must share one of my favorite ways to read it often, if not daily:
I read a Proverbs of the day, depending on the day of the month. Today, for example, I read Proverbs 12 for May 12th. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs...one for each day of the month! There is such wisdom and life application in this book. Billy Graham once said: " I read five Psalms a day and that teaches me how to get along with God and I read a chapter of Proverbs a day because that teaches me how to get along with my fellow man."
Here is an example of the wisdom that is in today's Proverbs! Proverbs 12:1 really spoke to me this morning..."Whoever loves discipline loves knowlege, but (she) he who hates correction is stupid." Note: If you don't want to learn, years of schooling will teach you very little. But if you want to be taught, there is no end to what you can learn.
And I will add to that: "The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement." (unknown)

So, in closing, let us always remember that...

"The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8

Monday, May 11, 2009

ARE YOU A HOSTAGE TO A BAD HABIT?

I started on a three week journey yesterday. For the next three weeks, I am planning to destroy a habit that has burndened me for some time. While I do not plan to specifically name this habit, nor do I expect you to name yours, I hope in reading this you, too, will be encouraged to overcome a habit that has been a burden for you.

A good friend of mine recently said it like this: "You know the difference between freedom and slavery...if a particular action on your part does not give you the feeling of freedom, therein may lie your problem."

As 50 something woman, or actually, any age, man or woman, we can ALL begin to conquer habits that imprison us...Let's start today!

Here's how to replace bad, old habits with good ones-a simple plan to change your life. I really don't remember how or when I heard that it takes just three weeks to form a good habit. The initial few days of the three weeks, you may very well expect to be miserable as you attempt to gain victory over a habit that has been with you for sometime... YOU may even feel that this is an impossible undertaking. As time marches on, and you mark each successful day off the calendar for the next three weeks, you will begin to feel like a true winner! YOU will experience empowerment! YOU will see a change in yourself that you will appreciate and love!
YOUR habit that you choose to rid yourself of can be a physical one...
"I want to eat more fruits and vegetables.",
"I want to floss daily."
a relational one..."I want to be more positive and encouraging, less critical to my child/spouse.",
"I want to stop with the negative self-talk." or
_______________________________FILL IN THE BLANK
with the habit that has kept you imprisoned...YOU know what it is!

Yesterday was DAY ONE for me...Will today or tomorrow be DAY ONE for you?
Let's destroy our bad habits together one at a time!
AS we journey through our days, we can release the burdens of a lifetime of bad habits... just one day at a time...WE can help ourselves to become better people by plugging away at particular areas of our lives. WE can review each week the GOOD habits we've managed to acquire to avoid falling back into old patterns. The best part of this is that the aforementioned experience can give us the confidence to see that we can reform ANYTHING we want to refine about ourselves by PERSISTING for three weeks! Let's start today!
(Note: information taken from a Reader's Digest article by, Anya Bateman, September 1983)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

CHILDREN ARE A GIFT!

Just the mention of or the thought of children brings to mind so many beautiful memories...of either being a child and/or having children yourself. Every human being since Adam and Eve, several billion of us, began life in the same way, as children. The majority of us have gone on to have children and grandchildren of our own.

"Babies are such a nice way to start people." ~Don Herold~

"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on." ~Carl Sandburg~

"You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you, for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." ~Kahlil Gibran~

As we come to the end of Mother's Day 2009, it is good to reflect on our childhood, on our own mothers and also on the kind of mothers we have chosen to be, that is if we have been blessed with the holy privilege of being a mom.
I know my children, a daughter, age 20 and a son, now age 17 have made me feel extra special on this day. I realize more with each passing day that even though motherhood is the hardest job ever, I would not trade it for the world!
I love these young people so much! They have added a richness to my life that is indescribable
And...those who have not become mothers may want to consider the impact one can have on children in other ways...like being a wonderful aunt, a good and loving neighbor, a gifted teacher, and a friend of children in church or here and there.
WE are all here for such a time as this.
All children need to know that they have someone they can count on.
Perhaps YOU are that someone in a child's life today...if so, that is incredibly special!

Friday, May 8, 2009

MY MOTHER REMEMBERED

Everyone is focused on the holiday of this weekend: MOTHER'S DAY, and so am I! I am, once again, thinking of my own mother and all that she taught me and gave me in the forty-eight years we were here together. One of the main things she taught me is a quote by Stephen De Grellet:
"I shall pass through this world but once.
If, therefore, there should be any kindness I can show,
Or any good thing I can do, let me do it now...
For I shall not pass this way again."

My Mama was adopted at the age of three by a Southern Baptist Preacher, his wife and their three biological sons. She was always so very thankful for the secure and happy haven this family provided for her. Later, she married my Daddy and fulfilled her lifetime dream of being a foreign missionary along with him since that was also his dream and passion. They lived in Africa for 5 years before returning stateside to care for their aging parents. Once they returned, they had 3 more of their six children (including me! I was # 5!) They celebrated their 58th year of marriage just before her death in 2006. What I remember the most about living with Mom was that she was always helping others...taking fresh baked cakes and punch to the veterans at the local VA Hospital, preparing Wednesday night dinner at church, and helping anyone, anywhere that needed a hand.
When I think about and remember my Mama, it is confirmed to me that the best moms don't just talk about what's right and wrong-they set good examples and inspire their sons and daughters to follow in their footsteps.
Being a good mother isn't easy.
Robert Louis Stevenson said it very well:
"To be rich in admiration and free from envy, to rejoice greatly in the good of others, to love with such generosity of heart that your love is still a dear possession in absence or unkindness, these are gifts which money cannot buy, and in many cases, which ONLY a wise and devoted mother can bestow as the greatest of all possessions to her children."
THANKS, MOM, for everything, and God bless you!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

TAKE IT EASY

As a fifty something woman, I am learning to let things go...to not be burdened with regrets and hold onto negative memories in my past.
It has been said that if all misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart.
The point is that everyone has things they could hold onto with regret, but it would be wonderful if we would make a conscious effort to free ourselves of these burdens.
Today is a new day!
What would you like to let go of today so that you can move forward with peace and happiness in your heart?

A GREAT Disappointment CAN BE AN Appointment

Sometimes our greatest disappointments are God's appointments to be a blessing in someone else's life. I discovered this to be so true when I met Sarah L. Johnson on a Monday morning, late August, 2005 at the Boots Ward Community Center minutes from our home. A Red Cross Shelter had been set up there and my shift was 6:00-10:00 a.m. Sarah was a New Orleans native, 85 years old, never married and she was here in my community! Funny, she said she had always wanted to visit Atlanta, but didn't realize she would come like this. The story of how she got there is a story in and of itself. After the initial evacuation, though there was a power outage, Sarah and her fellow residents were returned to their apartments. When she heard banging on her door, she glanced out the window only to see water rushing into the streets and rising rapidly. We now know that the levies had broken down, but at that time, the residents had no idea what the rushing water was from. They were hurried to the roof of the building where they stayed overnight until a helicopter could pluck each one of them off the roof.
When boarding the helicopter, in all the confusion, this 85 year old woman lost her walker, her glasses, her shoes, and worst of all she was separated from a friend that was holding all of her IDs for her.
When I first met Sarah, she was just waking up in the Red Cross Shelter. I helped Sarah with her laundry, got her breakfast and she talked with me about her strong faith in God and how surely God had a plan for her even in this crazy situation. At the end of my shift, I gave her a hug, thinking I'd never see her again this side of heaven. A few days later, I received a phone call from a friend that had worked at the same shelter telling me that Sarah needed to see a Cardiologist and could I help her to get in to see someone. I had the blessing of taking her to a doctor the very next day. Her heart was just fine and this was the beginning of a sweet friendship, one that I will forever cherish. After four weeks at the shelter, Sarah was moved to a wonderful nearby assisted living facility where she was embraced by the other residents. She came to our church and even gathered at my sister's home for a huge family lunch! She shared her heart with me and told me why PSALM 27 was her mainstay scripture. Mama and I took her to the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta and she shared her memories of the Civil Rights Movement.
Later, Sarah was happily returned to New Orleans to her same first floor apartment.
I believe that God gave me this opportunity to serve and help Sarah during a time when my heart was broken over the loss of my young friend, Jil.
So if you are going through a great disappointment today, look around for the appointment that may be waiting around the corner for you to be a blessing to someone today.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A LESSON LEARNED FROM MOM

It has been nearly three years since my mother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer which spread quickly to her brain, taking her from her loving family just four short months later. As Mother's Day draws near again, I am choosing to celebrate my MAMA and the countless lessons I learned from her rather than feel sad that she has passed away. After all, one of the most important lessons she taught me, I apply to my life on a regular basis, and I have found this lesson to be incredibly uplifting, therapeutic, and sometimes, even life-changing! This lesson has helped me to soothe sadness many times in my past. Apply this lesson to your own life and perhaps you will have a similar experience.

THE LESSON SIMPLY PUT: If you find yourself feeling sad, blue or even depressed, help someone out. Make a difference in another person's day.

Booker T. Washington said it like this: "If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up."

This works like a charm to make your day better. I hope you will try this and find it to be true. One of my favorite quotes speaks to this:
"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves."
James. M. Barrie
In August 2005, soon after Jil died suddenly, I was driving aimlessly down the road. Our children were at Wednesday night youth group, my husband was working, and I was falling into the depths of despondency as I grieved the loss of my 40 year old girlfriend.
Suddenly, I remembered this important lesson that my mother had always told me. Mama had always modeled this lesson, as well. Tragically, Hurricane Katrina and the broken levies had just flooded New Orleans. In a nearby community center, there was a Red Cross shelter, a safe haven for some of the Katrina evacuees. I drove straight to this center and found out that there was a volunteer position available for the following Monday, 6-10 a.m. I signed up and felt the sadness beginning to ease. And this is where I met Sarah L. Johnson, an eighty five year old African American woman who had never married and had resided in New Orleans her entire life. A friendship soon developed with Sarah that would change my life and you will read more about that on my next BLOG!

What lessons have you learned from your mother that you are applying to your life today?

Monday, May 4, 2009

DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING

My dear friend, JIL did this...She truly danced like no one was watching and she is dancing in heaven as I type, I am sure.
On August 5, 2005, Jil drowned in an Alabama lake while her family was with her. They were delighting in the final hazy, lazy days of summer when she slipped away. Jil was 40 years old. Jil was one of these people that inspired others to laugh and love. Jil is still remembered and missed by multitudes of people!
Last night as I was looking through an old file of inspirational articles and papers, I ran across an old email that Jil had forwarded to me in 2000. Sometimes life is funny, because this email had a note from Jil attached which quoted Joan Baez:

"You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now."

You see, just before I received this email from Jil, she and I had participated in an Avon 3-Day 60 mile Breast Cancer Walk. We were surrounded by survivors at every turn. The walk was an incredibly stirring experience. A stirring of the soul.
An experience that changed our lives forever.
Jil's email message to me, just five years before her death, follows:



DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. "Jan bought this the first time we ever went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion." He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me.

"Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all the things she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things she had done without realizing that they were special. I'm still thinking about his words today, and they've changed my life. I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.
I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia bloom.
I wear my good blazer to the market if I like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends.
SOMEDAY and ONE OF THESE DAYS are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.
I'm not sure what my sister would've done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the TOMORROW THAT WE ALL TAKE FOR GRANTED.
I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing-I'll never know.
It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited.
Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with-someday.
Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write-one of these days.
Angry and sorry that didn't tell my husband often how much I truly love him.
I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.
And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that this day is special.
Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift.
YOU'VE got to dance like no one is watching and LOVE like it's never going to hurt.
(author of this forwarded inspirational story is unknown to me)


So, it has been nearly four years since we said "see you later" to our dear friend Jil...recalling her laughter, her smile, her cooking and gift of hospitality, her voice and how she SAW and HEARD and DID what she wanted during her forty years here...
How about you...what is it that you are saving for a special occasion?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

SEIZE THE DAY

Yesterday I shared about our good fortune of going to a live Kenny Loggins concert with my sister and her husband. Today I am reflecting on what events were on either side of the evening of the concert, and how important it is for me to continue to SEIZE THE DAY, doing my best to fit in the things that are important to me.
This past Thursday, five of my friends from grade school met at Lake Oconee for a girlfriend sleepover. There are actually eight of us and we call ourselves "The FFs". (Friends Forever) Just hanging out with these friends made me so thankful for friends...what a gift they are to me. Each of us is different in our own way, and we each bring something special to the table of friendship. Our friendships have lasted and strengthened through the years because we have chosen to build on our similarities instead of focusing on our differences. WE laughed, we cried and we came to solutions to some of our latest issues in life.
As the rest of the group stayed one more night, I drove home for the concert.
Yesterday, our daughter came home from college in the middle of her exam schedule. She wanted to be here for her cousin's bridal shower.
Last night gave my daughter and I an opportunity for some one on one time as we grilled steaks and watched a movie together.
Sunday brought an opportunity to worship in our church and then hurry home to host a beautiful wedding shower for our niece. This was a wonderful event and the food and fellowship was enjoyed by all.
I say all this to say, I feel very rich tonight!
Someone once said,
"If you want to feel rich, just count all the things that money can't buy."
In reading this, I hope you, too, will spend
your
days
in ways
that make you feel rich!
LET'S SEIZE THE DAY AS WE ENJOY THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE:
FAITH~~~~~~~FAMILY~~~~~~~FRIENDS

Saturday, May 2, 2009

CELEBRATE ME HOME

Last night, my husband and I had the good fortune to join my sister and her husband for a live concert with Kenny Loggins. These loved ones are in the midst of grieving the recent passing of their 25 year old son, Brad, and these plans were made in hopes to take some time out from being a full-time advocate for their son, who was injured in an accident on June 24, 2008 when he suffered a TBI. (see previous blog entitled, REMEMBERING BRAD for the whole story)
This concert was held in an open amphitheatre on the south side of Atlanta. The rain earlier in the day had subsided, leaving behind a wonderful, cool Spring night.
Some of our favorite greatest hits through the evening included: RETURN TO POOH CORNER, FOOTLOOSE, I'M ALLRIGHT, YOUR MAMA DON'T DANCE, and many more.
But when Kenny Loggins began the old tune CELEBRATE ME HOME, the crowd went wild.
As I sat there listening intently to the lyrics of this old familiar song...I thought again of my sister's son, our nephew, Brad, and sang this song in my heart to him...we spent ten long months not knowing if he would ever return to his normal self and we often wondered when he would get to go "home". As I took in the words while Kenny Loggins belted them out, it was confirmed to me that Brad is no longer on an uneasy highway, we can now celebrate him home.

Some of the lyrics of CELEBRATE ME HOME go like this:

It's time I found myself,
Totally surrounded in your circles
Whoa, my friends

Please celebrate me home,
Give me a number,
please, celebrate me home
Play me one more song,
That I'll always remember,
and I can recall,
Whenever I find myself too all alone,
I can sing me home.

Uneasy highway,
Traveling where the Westerly winds can fly,
Somebody tried to tell me,
But the man forgot to tell me why

Celebrate, celebrate
Celebrate, celebrate
Celebrate, celebrate
Celebrate me home