Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Great American Solar Eclipse

Georgia has eclipse fever as it anticipates the total eclipse of the sun on August 21, 2017. The Northeast corner of the state will experience 100% darkness as the path of the moon travels between the earth and the sun. We will see close to total darkness in our area as well. Eclipse parties are being planned and some Georgia counties are dismissing schools late or will not have school at all that day. The eclipse will reach its peak at 2:30 in the afternoon when school age kids would ordinarily load on buses to head home.

The last total eclipse of the sun—visible from coast to coast—occurred in 1918 and the next one in 2024 will only be seen in a small section of North America. So this is a once in a lifetime experience for Georgia. Solar eclipse glasses are selling out everywhere, but I did manage to snag a five-pack from Amazon. We are ready if the weather cooperates.

Scientists will take advantage of the eclipse to study the corona of the sun and gain new scientific data about its surface. Scientists in Albert Einstein’s day traveled across Europe to see a total eclipse to validate Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. They were able to take measurements during the eclipse that proved his light bending theory.

In ancient times, solar eclipses were viewed as omens and a foretelling of death and destruction. The Bible tells of several times in Jewish history when total daytime darkness was considered a sign of God’s judgment. In the book of Exodus, a plague of thick darkness lasted three days before Pharaoh set the Hebrews free from Egyptian bondage. On the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, the sun was blotted out from noon to three p.m. The Bible also foretells that the light of the sun and moon will be blotted out during the end times.

The anticipation and preparation for this eclipse reminds me of the frenzy of December 31, 1999 and Y2K. The arrival of the new millennium was supposed to affect the power grid and computers all over the world. People stocked up emergency rations so they could survive for days without electricity and food.  It’s always good to be prepared, but the hype far exceeded the reality.

When the sunlight is blocked for several hours on August 21, it should remind us  that we are not in charge of the heavens or the earth. It will be a good time to reflect, pray, and consider our relationship to God—the One who created it all.  

Psalm 8:3-9

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
         The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
         And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
         And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
         You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen,
         And also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
         Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
         How majestic is Your name in all the earth.”

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Come On, Ring Those Bells

“Everybody likes to take a holiday
Everybody likes to take a rest…”
 (Andrew Culverwell)

Everybody also likes a good sale.

An online shoe store promotes “Holly Jolly July.” Amazon Prime Day posts sales to compete with Black Friday—the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season.  The Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas broadcasts two or more weeks of Christmas chick-flicks, along with the introduction of the Keepsake Ornaments for your tree. The home shopping networks lure shoppers with unbeatable offers for Christmas lights and d├ęcor. 

It’s a typical July in Georgia with temperatures for the past week in the 90s, with the heat index in the low 100s. The traditional celebration of Christmas is five months away, but Christmas in July is in full bloom—right along with the back-to-school sales.  Yes, school in the metro Atlanta area starts back on July 31.  But, I digress and will save that discussion for another blog.

The summertime celebration of Christmas didn’t start as a marketing campaign to sell more goods. It originated in churches in the 1940s as a way of collecting goods that would be distributed to worldwide missions. During World War II, the U.S. Post Office coordinated efforts with the Army and Navy and the commercial card industry to send Christmas wishes to those on the battlefield. Sending cards early in the year ensured their delivery by December 25.

When do you celebrate Christmas when you live in the Southern Hemisphere? With the winter months falling in June, July, and August, some countries like Australia and New Zealand promote a July 25th Christmas to enjoy a snowy, cold weather traditional celebration. Like the Northern Hemisphere, they also enjoy the December 25th festivities which fall in the middle of their summer.

In my humble opinion, Christmas can and should be celebrated often and any time you choose—even in July. According to most biblical historians, the arrival of the Christ-child into the world probably didn’t happen on December 25. Snow and ice on the ground in Israel would have prevented the travel of thousands who were told to register for the census in the place of their birth. That’s why Joseph and Mary made the journey to Bethlehem, and Mary delivered the son of God in a lowly stable far away from the comforts of home. The important thing is to rejoice that God sent His Son into the world as a human baby who, thirty-three years later, would give his life on the cross to save us all from our sins.
That is something to celebrate all the time.

“Come on, ring those bells,
Light the Christmas tree, Jesus is the king
Born for you and me.
Come on, ring those bells,
Every-body say,
Jesus, we remember
This your birthday.” 
(Music & Lyrics by Andrew Culverwell, 1970s)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Deep in the Heart of Texas

“The stars at night
Are big and bright
Deep in the Heart of Texas”
Lyrics:  June Heshey
Music:  Don Swander

Mr. & Mrs. Brandon Clark
The lyrics to the popular song from the 1940’s definitely describe the sights and sounds of the countryside surrounding Austin, Texas. We spent four days there celebrating the marriage of our granddaughter, Marcella Davis, to her new husband, Brandon Clark. The small town of Dripping Springs, on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, is the official wedding capital of the state. Surrounded by Live Oak woodlands and rolling hills, the wedding venue was one of 35 located in the area.

Marcella & Brandon built a beautiful flower-covered cross for their ceremony. It was a breathtaking backdrop as they pledged their vows to God and to one another.  The couple graduated from Texas A&M in May, and will live and work in Dallas after their honeymoon. Where have the years gone?  How did we get to be this old? 

While waiting for all the festivities to begin, we toured the Texas state capitol building.  The huge, pink granite facility was very impressive and beautiful.  It was educational to tour the historical legislative chambers, the ornate rotunda, and to check out the portraits and statues of famous Texans.  Davey Crockett, Sam Houston, Audie Murphy, and Presidents George W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson were among the many on display.

The phrase,“You can’t get there from here,” must have originated in Texas.  Both San Antonio and Austin’s interstates are flanked by one way frontage roads. You can often see your destination, but it is a challenge to get there because you can drive only one way, find the road that crosses under the interstate, and then go one way on the other side. To get back to where you started, you have to make another big loop. If it sounds confusing, it is? Charles’ driving nerves and my navigating skills got a real work out.
Texas State Capitol 

Texas is a great state to visit and it was wonderful to spend time with family.  But the tall pines of Georgia, the sultry weather, and the music of the crickets and tree frogs made us glad to come back home again. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

And We Have Liftoff

Charles & the VBS Rocket
When summer comes, Vacation Bible School is not far behind. Every year our church provides a week long opportunity for boys and girls to learn about the God who created them and Jesus who provided salvation for all mankind. It’s also an opportunity for the adults in our church to use their creative talents to make VBS a fun filled experience for all the children who attend. The theme of this year’s VBS is:

Maker Fun Factory—Created by God, Built for a Purpose

To support that theme, Charles was asked to build a rocket ship for the display at the front of the sanctuary. Asking an aerospace engineer to build a rocket is like asking a nerd to build a computer. You can bet that the new creation will be the biggest and best with all the bells and whistles and lots of bragging rights.

His steps for building the rocket were as follows:
  • Sketch a design on an industrial paper towel in the basement workshop.
  • Brainstorm how to transform the design into an actual rocket.
  • Visualize the components. Where could we find a tall cylinder, a nosecone, a set of fins, and something to simulate the engine and lights? 
  • Take scouting trips to Home Depot, Walmart, and the Dollar Tree to look for potential components.
  • Make more trips to Home Depot to get various glues, drywall putty, screws, paint, etc.
  • Spend every off hour, evening, day, and weekend assembling the perfect rocket.

After all that work, the rocket couldn’t just stand there, it HAD to do something!  So Charles worked with others at the church to create a recorded launch sequence accompanied by a loud drum roll:  “10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 All Engines Running, We have liftoff, We have liftoff.”   Each countdown is accompanied by simulated smoke coming from a fog machine.

The kids yell the countdown and the rocket blasts off each morning at 9:00 AM announcing the start of another great day of Bible School. Just as the boys and girls were created by God and built for a purpose, that rocket is fulfilling its purpose during this week of VBS.

One final question remains – “What do you do with a used rocket when VBS is over?” 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

One Hundred Years From Now

Charles and I have a saying that we often use when we are having a difficult day or thinking about an unsettling future.

“One hundred years from now, what difference will it make?”  

Somehow that puts things in perspective. As Christians, we believe in 100 years we will be rejoicing in Heaven, and that our earthly concerns will no longer matter.

A lot of scientists predict that 100 years from now, life on earth will be vastly different.  Some of the predictions are too fantastic to comprehend, while others are more realistic. After all in the early 1900s, it was predicted that we would travel in electric trains and mobile homes and communicate via video chatting.  Others believed, however, it was just a matter of a few decades before mankind would domesticate mutant seahorses and whales for overseas travel.

I put the latest futuristic warning by Stephen Hawking in the same category as supersonic seahorses and whales. Hawking is the Director of Research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. He believes Earth will become uninhabitable because of overpopulation, climate change, disease, and artificial intelligence.  In 2016 he predicted that process would take 1,000 years, but in 2017 he decided we only have 100 years to flee the planet for colonies on the Moon and Mars.  Sorry, Mr. Hawking—I’m not buying it.  I know I’m not a scientist, but wouldn’t all those same issues follow people wherever they lived?  I also believe the sun’s radiation and lack of oxygen would present a few problems, too.

Samsung, the giant electronics company, in its Smart Things Future Living Report made some exciting predictions about life in 100 years. Underwater cities, personal flying drones, 3-D printing of houses, furniture, and gourmet meals will all become a reality by 2117. Yay! No more cooking.

My favorite prediction is from an online report found on Fox News Lifestyle—an exercise pill. Take the pill and get all the benefits of working out without breaking a sweat. If I’m around, I will invest in that stock.

I’m all for progress, but that can’t change the selfish nature of the human heart. One hundred years from now, people will still need a right relationship with God in order to find peace within and without.  Hebrews 13.8 tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The Bible also tells us that Jesus will one day return to this earth to claim His own. So whether it’s 1000 or 100 years from now, we need to be ready.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

It's Time to Dance

May is one of my favorite months. The weather is still on the cool side and the deluge of pollen is over for the season. It’s also a month for me to celebrate two anniversaries.  May 12 is my liver transplant anniversary (19 years and counting).  It’s hard for me to remember the desperate state of my health before I received my second chance at life.  I’ve had my issues since that momentous day, but I have been blessed beyond measure with more good days than bad and the ability to live my life to the fullest.

This month I also celebrate my 5th year as a blogger on  this    site-
Too Two Late Bloomers. When I launched  in May 2012, I had no idea I’d still be posting blogs five years later.  I thought I would have run out of ideas long ago.  Through prayer, internet research, and people watching the ideas continue to come.  Thank you for encouraging me to keep writing.

May is also a month to dance! Dancing around the Maypole was popular in Europe, Germany and England.  Children and young ladies with ribbons intertwined danced around a flower decorated tall pole on May 1 to celebrate the arrival of spring. I remember doing something similar in PE back during my school days.

Celebrate Tap Dance Day on May 25.  My late bloomer husband, Charles, has fond memories of tap dancing with his father as a child.  His dad performed in stage shows in and around the Memphis area.  This day was created in honor of the birthday of legendary tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson on May 25, 1878.

Maybe you’d rather Dance like a Chicken.  Yup, this special dance is honored every year on May 14th.  This is a popular group dance at weddings and other special celebrations.  It really warms up the crowd and gets people in the swing of things.

With our granddaughter’s wedding only six weeks away, Charles & I decided to brush up on our dancing skills by taking a couple of lessons.  We met at a singles’ dance 21 years ago and danced a good bit when we were first married.  We have both gotten older and rusty, but with a little help we were able to pick up the basics of the Foxtrot, Waltz, Rumba, and Swing.  It’s great exercise and it gets us away from the computer and TV.  We will not, however, audition for Dancing with the Stars.

Dance can also be a part of our worship of God if done in a God honoring manner.  “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.” Psalm 149:3 Dancing in the Bible is usually accompanied by singing and praise as an expression of worship.

So put on your dancing shoes and celebrate the month of May. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

My First 100 Days

All the talk in Washington and on Cable TV News this week is about President Trump’s First 100 Days.  This political benchmark is an attempt to hold the President and Congress accountable for what they accomplished during this artificially imposed time period. The pundits and historians will analyze and debate their record for days and years to come.

My first 100 days of 2017 has flown by in a whirlwind.  I can’t believe May is next week.  So I have to ask myself what I have accomplished during almost one-third of 2017.  It’s sobering to look back at my productivity. I am very thankful that no newspaper article or news show will critique my accomplishments.

Since New Year’s Day I have been blessed with 16 weeks or 2400 hours of time.  That calculates to 144,000 minutes which according to the Bible is a perfect number. (See Revelation 7 & 14)  I spent one-third of that time sleeping which left me with 1600 hours to be productive.  So what have I done?
  • Four weeks were spent helping Charles through his carotid artery surgery and recovery.
  • It was not easy to shop for an appropriate grandmother-of-the bride dress and shoes for Marcella’s wedding. It took a lot more time than I expected.
  • Grocery shopping and cooking demanded a lot of time and attention. 
  • I washed at least 80 loads of dirty clothes and ironed lots of shirts.
  • My duties at our office claimed two days of each week.
  • Several days were spent editing and adding to the manuscript for Charles’ memoir.
  • Two days were spent at our tax accountant’s office preparing our personal and business tax returns.
  • I know I spent too much time watching television and surfing the net.
  • I spent several hours in the dentist chair so that doctor “drill & fill” could do her work.
  • It was a privilege to speak twice at women’s luncheons where I shared my testimony about God’s Amazing Gift of Second Chances.
  • Church activities and quality time as a couple and with our children and grandchildren filled in the remaining hours.

The stuff of life is very time consuming. The demands of the busy overshadow my efforts to rest, relax, and recharge. My personal critique is that I haven’t spent enough quiet time in prayer and reflection. It is very difficult for me—and I imagine most people—to find the balance between productive work and a quiet time with the Lord.

My best times are when I count my blessings and pray for needs of people who are experiencing difficult times. Other times of reflection come when I consider a blog topic and what to write. I feel the Lord’s presence as I share my life and offer encouragement to you.  Please comment below and tell me how you find the balance in your life between busyness and quietness.