Just what I needed

Our family has been involved in ALS awareness, advocacy, and fundraising for 17 years. It’s hard to remember life before ALS involvement. Our story is documented on the Cure for ALS website, if you don’t already know how we got here. I admit that at times I get tired and frustrated; tired of trying to get the public to understand ALS and how underfunded it is, and frustrated that, though there have been advances in treatments and technology for PALS (people with ALS), there is still no discovered cause and no cure. In those weary times, often something happens to bring my drive and energy back to keep fighting for ALS families and the other day, something happened.  

Mike Reilly is “The voice of Ironman” to anyone who knows anything about Ironman triathlon. When someone crosses the finish line after the 2.4 mile swim/112-mile bike/26.2 mile run that makes up the Ironman distance, they want to hear Mike’s voice say, “YOU are an IRONMAN!” Mike said those words as Jon Blais crossed the finish line in Kona, HI at the Ironman World Championship in 2005. Blais was an age group triathlete and the first person with ALS to complete an Ironman distance race.

Mike brings positive energy to anyone and everyone who has the opportunity to meet him or just be in his presence. He brings that energy to his podcast, Find Your Finish Line. Listening to his most recent episode, Be Brave – Andrea Peet with Meredith Atwood was one of those moments I mentioned above that nudged in me to charge forward with renewed energy to rid the world of ALS.

Andrea is an endurance athlete who was diagnosed with ALS in 2014. Andrea decided to keep moving forward in her life and to LIVE each day to the fullest. She didn’t stop racing and she just accomplished her goal of running a marathon in all 50 states – yes, you read that right! Along the way she’s raised money for ALS research and created the Team Drea Foundation. I encourage you to listen to her journey.

ALS is still considered an “orphan” disease, which means it is a “disease that has not been adopted by the pharmaceutical industry because it provides little financial incentive for the private sector to make and market new medications to treat or prevent it.” In the past 65 days, I’ve had four people in my inner circle of friends tell me of loved ones who have recently been diagnosed; that doesn’t fall into the “orphan” category.

Help me be a voice for those who no longer have one – spread awareness for ALS and support any of these organizations with a financial gift.

Emory ALS Center

The Goode Foundation

Hop On A Cure


Life is Better at the Lake

Truths of life: I will no longer pledge to write here on a regular basis; and I will not feel guilty when, even with the best of intentions, I fail to come to this page. Instead, when the spirit moves me and I make the time, I’ll come here to reflect.

Since the last time I was here we moved into a house on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, GA. We are only about thirty minutes from our old house but it seems so much further. We have less house, less traffic, the most incredible view of the lake, and feel like we’re on vacation every day. The house was built in 1983 and needed a lot of work so the day after we moved in we had contractors here doing a lot of updating. We’ve been here exactly one year.

Our “new” house, built in 1983

Seven months ago I fell on a cement dock and fractured my left leg – a tibial plateau fracture. I spent six weeks in a straight brace and was non-weight bearing. After six weeks I was in a bendable brace, began physical therapy, and learned to walk again. Being non mobile and inactive for so long really tested my patience – but – the lake view was still there! I also was well aware that my troubles were far worse than many others’ so I did what I was supposed to and took one day, one step at a time. I am back to my walking pace prior to the injury but haven’t run yet. Well, I tried – pushed too far – set myself back – realized I am in my late 50s and not in my 30s – and took it slow once again to gain strength.

I’m exploring new trails closer to where we live and have been so happy to be back in the woods. I’m a little sad not running on the trails because it is so pretty, but walking means I go slow enough to really take in the sights and sounds of nature.

Suspension bridge on the Bridge Trail at Chicopee Woods Park

I like the pace of life here. Warm days are spent on the water, either on the boat, kayaking, or just floating by the dock. Cooler days require a warm fire in the fire pit. Cold days are spent inside, but still looking at that amazing lake and being thankful for all the blessings in my life.

“Stay close to the serenity of a lake to meet your own peace of mind.”
-Munia Khan

It’s been awhile

Though I’ve thought often that I should post here…I get deep and moving words in my head when I’m in the woods…it’s been two and a half YEARS since I wrote here. I’d like to commit right here to write on a more regular basis but I know that is a commitment I can’t keep. It isn’t like I have any followers here, LOL. This is more for me. Anyway, I did want to have a long lasting record of my experience on the trail yesterday, April 25, 2020 so here it is.


The Buford Dam is at about the half way point of my run. From the dam, water is released to flow from Lake Lanier into the Chattahoochee River, down through Georgia and into Alabama and Florida. Before the water is released there is a siren/alarm that goes off several times to alert fishermen and kayakers to make their way off the river because the water level is going to rise and the current will get dangerously strong. If you turn up the volume you can hear the siren at the end of this video. As I ran today those sirens were nudges from the Holy Spirit as I was praying, speaking to me of whom to lift up until the next alarm.
Siren 1: Daniel
Siren 2: Mike & Lori
Siren 3: Brandon & Matthew
Siren 4: Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles
Siren 5: Daniel’s friends
Siren 6: Friends of Mike and Lori
Siren 7: The church family at JCUMC
Siren 8: Physicians, nurses, staff at North Fulton Hospital
Siren 9: All who struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, loneliness
Siren 10: Daniel’s peaceful rest in the arms of our heavenly father

I felt so connected to God as I ran today, maybe more than on any other run ever.
“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” ~2 Thessalonians 3:16

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.


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.

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:

Ivy covered shed across the street from my childhood home. June 2017.

Raven Cliff Falls hike. June 2017.

Sunrise on Carova Beach, NC. July 2017. #obx

Dockery Lake trail. August 2017.

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.