What do you choose?

Today I was able to get to one of my favorite trails – the Laurel Ridge Trail which is on the line between Cumming in Forsyth County and Buford in Gwinnett County. I’ve missed being able to have glimpses of Lake Lanier at the beginning and the Chattahoochee River at the end of the run. It’s one of my favorite places and where I do some of my best “solving the world’s problems” thinking.

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My reflections from the trail today are below.

You can’t “choose love” and then post hate. I have friends who are conservative, liberal, progressive, far right, far left – and everything in between. Some people use self-control and do not use social media to share opinions on pop culture and the state of our world – I admire them and find that I linger longer on their posts because they are always full of joy, encouragement, and make me smile. Others will post their views in a thoughtful and respectful manner; they allow debate from others and refrain from name calling, insulting, and vulgar language – I appreciate those folks and often learn from both sides of an issue to open my mind to varying opinions. And then there are some who will look for every opportunity to lobby for or against everything – I recognize those right away and hit that wonderful “hide post” option.

The thing that continually blows my mind is how often individuals engaging in the hate-filled posts are the first ones posting: “pray for Texas” “Pray for Florida” and my favorite, “Choose Love, Not Hate.” THIS IS NOT A LEFT OR RIGHT ISSUE – I see this from friends of mine on both sides. How can someone share accusatory rants and images, sometimes filled with vulgar language and the highest form of disrespect towards a person or group of people…and then follow that with “Choose Love.”

Does everything we say, do, watch, or listen to have to be politicized? I remember when evening television was entertainment to help take away the stresses of the work day, when sports was just sports, when I could open my Facebook app and I’d see all positive stuff.

So if anyone reads this, I’m asking you to make a choice – do you choose Love? Or do you choose Hate? It’s one or the other – they don’t coexist.

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Be more Intentional about Being Intentional

Obviously, I am admittedly not a good blogger. The date of the last – and only second post – was January 1st. Nine months later, on September 1st I finally sit to write again. It’s not that I haven’t had the thoughts or words in my head; on the contrary I’ve had so many themes in my head that are real quality stuff…they just never seem to make it out of my head and onto the keyboard.

There’s the note on my phone, dated March 13, 2017, with this quote from C.S Lewis, “Here on the mountain the air is clear…your mind is clear.” I know that must have been on a day that I hiked in the N. Georgia mountains. I see a few other notes on the phone memo – not dated but I know they are from either during or right after a trail run or hike:

Spending a lot of time in the woods

In the woods you can’t tell anyone’s political beliefs.

People are happy in the woods; filled with Peace, Kindness, Joy.

My Facebook friends and Instagram followers get a glimpse into my happy place when I post pictures after a run, a hike, or a drive in a beautiful place. I’m much better posting a photo than the thoughts behind it. Here is a quick catch up:

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Ivy covered shed across the street from my childhood home. June 2017.
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Raven Cliff Falls hike. June 2017.
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Sunrise on Carova Beach, NC. July 2017. #obx
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Dockery Lake trail. August 2017.
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Cedar Falls Park, SC. August 21, 2017. After this we witnessed the solar eclipse in totality!

Today I attended the memorial service for a dear friend’s sister who died suddenly. The setting of the memorial was at Revival 356 – though it could be named “Heaven on Earth.” We were in a barn, on a farm, surrounded by alpacas, goats, birds, butterflies, and many other of God’s creatures. Inside the barn were the amazing group of people who meet there regularly for Bible study, support, peace, and love. It was a beautiful tribute and remembrance of a wonderful woman who showered all who knew her with joy and love. Love was the recurring theme. I felt my faith deepen, my heart stir, and my Intention strengthen. I hope to go back to Revival 356; it exudes that Peace, Kindness, and Joy mentioned above. Their mission is “to be a sanctuary where the soul is reminded of its worth. Where people are awakened to a life of purpose and presence by remembering all God created them to be.”

I’ve done a good job this year of being still; being present; being open to possibilities. I hope to do a better job of being intentional with writing.

Make each day matter. Embrace the moment. Live intentionally.

 

The little house on Donnelly Ave.

Contrary to the date posted, it is still December 31st – not January 1st. After three months since I created this page, I write just my second blog (if you even call the first one a blog) on the last day of the year.

My last run of 2016 was on my favorite trail – Laurel Ridge Trail, which meanders on both sides ofKodachrome Buford Dam Rd. It is just enough of a challenge to pay attention to where the roots are, but also quiet and peaceful. It’s where I lift my most fervent prayers and hear that still small voice.

I was on the trail at the same time that my cousins and family in Pennsylvania celebrated the life of our cousin, Bill who died on Christmas day. 2016 has been a rough one for the Noel side of the family; we’ve lost three in the family just since August.

As I ran today I thought of the woman in this picture – Ferdeline Noel, our grandma. She was the glue that brought us together. She had four children, beginning with my dad, Al. He was the oldest; then followed Catherine, Joe, and Gary. We lived in Ohio and traveled often to Pennsylvania, where all the other families lived, to visit. Each visit we would spend time with all the other families; what fun times we had! Many memories and funny stories began at Grandma’s house. Recently the cousins have had several opportunities to be together and reminisce on our childhood – the conversations always end up with a memory that involved Grandma Noel. I love this picture of her. It captures her so well – the loving hands as she lifts her grandchild, her eyes watching another one who was probably rolling down the hill.

We close 2016 tonight and hopefully leave the sadness of the year behind us. On the trail I prayed for comfort and peace for Bill’s siblings, ,children, grandchildren, and cousins. I don’t know what 2017 will bring, but I trust that God does and that’s enough for me. This quote gave me peace this morning and carried me through today; may it resonate with me all year long:

“Not knowing the future frees me to pay attention to the present, and maybe that’s the best way to be ready for the future.” 

Happy New Year – if anyone really reads this, I hope to be writing more in 2017.