Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Long, Hot Summer

The first official day of summer came in like a lion.  On June 20, Atlanta’s temperature reached 90 degrees. The longest day of the year became the hottest day of the year so far. 

In this heat, wearing a mask to escape the Covid-19 virus is uncomfortable and suffocating unless in an air-conditioned car or store. A recent study published by Kayla Rivas was posted on Fox News Online entitled “Summer rays can inactivate coronavirus in 34 minutes.” The study said that the super-heated cities of Miami and Houston produced enough solar radiation to kill the virus in a short period of time.  In other less hot locations, the virus stays activated for a day or more.  The benefits of being outside in the sun outweigh being locked down in a house where the virus can more easily spread.  I am enjoying my fully opened moon roof on my car because the sun’s radiation is helping me to stay healthy. 

Things are also getting hot in our cities. Like the summer of 1967, race riots are the staple of the news.  It breaks my heart to see the damage done to people and property because of the actions of a few rogue police officers.  Changes need to be made, but defunding or dismantling police departments will only lead to more murder and anarchy.  Our freedom as Americans is at stake because freedom cannot flourish during instability.

Even Siberia is having a heat wave.  Verkhoyansk, a town north of the Arctic Circle, experienced 100.4-degree temperatures on the first day of summer. The residents are enjoying the unusual heat wave, but the melting permafrost is not good for the environment. Temperatures this high have not been recorded in this region for thousands of years.

What I’d really like to do to escape all the bad news of this summer is to stream the 1958 movie The Long Hot Summer with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.  It would take me back to my more carefree teenage years when life was easier. 

In the meantime, I must rely on God’s promise of peace in the midst of turmoil.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.
 I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Slip-Sliding Away

Do you feel the earth slipping under your feet?  Everything is changing and will not be the way it was before March 1, 2020.  What we could depend on is no longer dependable.  Much of the familiar is dying. Restaurants, department stores, businesses, shops, and services are changing the way they are doing business and praying for a rebound. Bankruptcies are announced daily as businesses try to regroup from the Corona catastrophe. 

Many of those places were part of the rhythm of my life.  Restaurants we visited on a regular basis are closing for good and we will miss their good food and service.  Many stores where I used to go for retail therapy are struggling to reopen. Buying online is not the same as in-store browsing.  Our church will reopen on June 14 but will scale back summer programs and camps for children and students.  I have put off several wellness checks to doctors and dentists.  Our local hospital is facing layoffs because people are afraid to go in for elective surgeries. 

Our aviation consulting company has been put on ice like the commercial airplanes that are parked in the desert until passenger demand returns. We thought 2020 was going to be the year when twenty years of hard work was going to pay off.  Disappointing—yes! Decisions will have to be made that we did not anticipate or prepare for.

When the earth shifts or a tidal wave comes in, it’s a good time to reevaluate priorities. There are at least seven changes I can make in my thinking and actions.

  1. Be even more thankful for all my blessings.
  2. Pray for those families who have lost loved ones due to the virus.
  3. Help those who have physical and other needs.
  4. Be positive about change. Complaining is not productive.
  5. Place all the circumstances of my life in God’s loving hands.
  6. Let go of the life I had planned and live the life he has set before me.

 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the
LORD’S purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:21

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Corona Quicksand

My experience with Quicksand is zero except for what I’ve seen in old westerns. Watching a victim sink into the miry muck is quite frightening. The danger is not obvious until it suddenly snares the animal or person in a liquefied soil that creates a sucking trap. A nightmare scenario for sure! If the victim flails around—and who wouldn’t—the situation causes the entrapped to sink deeper. Escape only comes when someone comes to the rescue.

The Pandemic we are experiencing could be called Corona Quicksand. It came upon us quite unexpectedly and has sucked us into a spongy situation with few opportunities to escape. The pictures of the virus are enough to instill fear. The round ball with porcupine suckers is a nightmare scenario.

We are stuck in Corona Virus Quicksand and trying desperately to get out. We are told that it is too dangerous for older people to venture out into the world for fear of contracting the virus. My question is:  When will it ever be safe? I decided to test the waters.

Small businesses in Georgia are starting to reopen. Yesterday I got my hair cut and had a long over-due massage. I was quite impressed with the precautions taken at each location. My temperature was scanned. The technician only let me in the building when it was time for my appointment. Everyone wore masks and sanitized workstations between each customer. It was cleaner there than at my own house.

I heard stories from the technicians about how difficult it has been for them to stay home and not get a paycheck for the last month. Most of these folks are independent contractors who have yet to get stimulus checks from the government.

The medical experts and the politicians have tough decisions to make. Whatever they decide will be criticized. If we wait for a vaccine to be available before we get our economy up and running, the sucking sound of a great depression will get louder each month.

Our current situation reminds me of a Bible verse in the book of Psalms. King David is praising God for rescuing him from the pit of sin when he writes:

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.” Psalms 40:2

Just like escaping quicksand requires a rescuer, we need to pray that God will rescue our nation and our world from this virus and put us back on a firm foundation.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Our Great Pause

“Stop the world, I want to get off.”

Our world has stopped and will stay that way for the foreseeable future.  What a year this has turned out to be. As we welcomed in 2020, nobody saw weeks of enforced isolation coming our way. Most of us are social beings. We enjoy getting out in public and sharing space with family and friends.

It’s a good thing that Charles and I get along 99% of the time and that our two-story condo gives us each a place to escape. 

There are some things I am learning about myself during this pause:

1.    I’m not as motivated as I should be. I have a hard time organizing my days when everything is out of sync. I can’t keep up with what day of the week or month it is.
Part of that is due to the change to Daylight Saving Time. I think I am still operating on Standard Time and annoyed that it is dark in the morning when its time to get up.

2.    I’ve become a procrastinator. If I don’t get it done today, I’ll have all day tomorrow to do it. So, I put it off another 24 hours and go to bed frustrated that I didn’t get anything done. I hope to get at least one or two projects accomplished during this down time. I’ll start tomorrow!

3.     I’m not real fond of cooking with no breaks for eating out.  With just the two of us, we had gotten into the habit of alternating eating out and eating at home.  We should save some money that we can spend on necessities like toilet paper—if we ever find any again at the store.

4.      I am very thankful for modern technology—at least most of the time.  When it works the way it is supposed to, I love it and when it doesn’t, I’m very impatient. It helps me stay connected to my friends, church, and family. I can bank and order groceries and other necessities from my cell phone. A lot of people can work from home and keep getting paid.

5.    I am vainer than I thought.  My growing hair and scraggly nails need attention and there is not an open spa in sight.  The Lord still needs to work on me in that area. 

6.     I am appreciative of our children and grandchildren who regularly check up on us and offer to get us anything we need.  We like to mask and glove up and tackle the grocery store on our own.  It’s our big outing for the week.

 I know that God oversees my life and what is going on in the world today. He loves me and wants me to learn from every experience in life. One thing I need to practice more is found in a verse in Psalm 46:10
“Be still and know that I am God.”

Be still means to stop striving, stop fighting, relax. It also means to “put your hands down”. Sometimes we put our hands up to defend ourselves from all that life can bring our way.  (Bible Gateway)
According to the President, we will continue social distancing at least until the end of April.  Use this time to learn what God is teaching you during our great pause.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Leap Season Begins

2020 is shaping up to be a leap year in more ways than one.  The word leap can be used as a verb—to jump a long way with force. It also works as a noun—a forceful jump or quick movement.  Whichever way it is used, it describes action.

Facts about Leap season:
  • February 29 is a leap day.  This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure, because the Earth does not orbit the sun in precisely 365 days.
  • 2020 is a leap year with 366 days.  It rolls around every four years, except for years evenly divisible by 100, which are not leap years unless evenly divisible by 400. 
  • March 8 begins Daylight Savings in the US. This means we leap ahead one hour and that day has 23 hours instead of 24.  I love this anonymous quote about daylight saving time:“Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”
  • March 20 will be the day we leap into Spring.                                                                  
Other Leap Events in 2020:
  • November 3 – Election Day.  In which direction will US voters leap? 
  • Coronavirus – As we watch it leap from one country to another, we are concerned about its effects. As a result, the stock market has taken a giant leap downward. 
Leap to a better you: 
  • Take a leap of faith.
  • Faith is the opposite of fear
  • Taking a leap of faith says that we believe God rather than what we hear in the world or what logic or fear tell us.
I can survive a Leap Year filled with uncertainties and scary changes if I take the unchangeable God at his word and rely on him through the next 366 days.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Live Life to the Max

Science continues to make news with their predictions about human life.

  •           Life spans will soon exceed 120 years
  •         The code of life will be hacked enabling more genetic engineering
  •        The human brain will be uploaded to the computer cloud by 2050

I am reminded of an often-heard quote from baseball great Mickey Mantle.

It is indeed a brave new world and where it will all lead, no one can predict. As humans, we enjoy a mind, a body, and a spirit. All three components of life intersect and affect the other. To be at full capacity, our physical, mental, and spiritual health must be in good working order.

If we neglect one of the components, we pay a price. We all know the drill: eat right, exercise more, keep our minds active, socialize, pray, read the Bible, and go to church.  In the cold, wet winter it’s easy to get lazy in one or more of these areas. 

My greatest challenge is staying physically active.  Since the first of the year, I’ve been in physical therapy trying to wake up painful muscles that have limited my activities and given me pain. More of the right kind of stretching and movement must become part of my daily life. It’s so much more fun to pile in my recliner and watch the political shenanigans on TV.  But if I want to be able to go shopping, travel, and enjoy life in general, I must bite the bullet.

My routine involves bands, and different size balls to stretch my legs, hips, shoulders, and everything else that hurts. I am experiencing some pain relief, better sleep, and less groaning.  I can’t regress and must stay motivated.

What’s your greatest challenge when it comes to your mind, body, and spirit?

Despite what the scientists proclaim, my body and mind will one day deteriorate and return to the dust of the earth from which it came. However, my spirit is the part of me that is destined to live forever. Because I have chosen to place my faith in Jesus Christ, the giver of my salvation, I know my spirit will spend eternity with him in heaven.

We are well into 2020 and we shouldn’t put off any longer giving attention to all three areas of life.  Our minds, bodies, and spirits must be nourished to give us the best and richest life possible.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Dreams off the Back Burner

I thought we were adventuresome two late bloomers, but some friends of mine, Tim and Tracy Ruckman outdid us last year by far. I followed their tent-camping, cross-country trip via Tracy’s blog posts and was amazed how these two discarded the stereotypes of the senior adult years.  Tracy’s photography skills documented their challenging journey and together with her writing, created a book you won’t want to miss. Tracy gives us some highlights and pictures to whet your appetite. Her book will inspire you to take something off the back burner and “Just Do It.”

Dreams off the Back Burner

Tim & Tracy Ruckman

“Ever dreamed of doing something so big, so epic that seems impossible, yet the idea remains on the back burner?

At the end of 2018, my husband and I received difficult news that forced us to make some life-changing decisions. We began tossing around questions and ideas as we grappled with changes coming our way. Was it time to take that outlandish dream off the back burner and make it a reality?

Tim is 72 years old, I’m 56. One of our back-burner dreams had always been to travel around the country, but we’d never thought it was something we could do. We’d always focused on what we didn’t have, rather than on what we did, but when faced with these sudden changes, our perspective changed.

First Tent
We didn’t own an RV, nor could we afford one. But we drove an SUV, and being lifelong campers, we knew tents were affordable. We didn’t have savings, but we had Tim’s small retirement income and my small business income (I work online), so it was more than nothing. We weren’t in top physical shape (unless you consider round a shape?), but we could still get around and being more active would be a healthy improvement. Our kids were grown and on their own. By the time we finished listing all that we had, our decision was made.
We sold or gave away most of our belongings and put the sentimental stuff in storage. We bought a used tent (big mistake!) and packed our gear into and on top of the SUV.

On January 8, 2019, we turned over keys on the rental home we’d lived in for eight years and our back-burner dream became a reality. We hit the road, heading south and west, trying to escape the winter weather.

We spent a total of 189 days tent camping our way around the country. We camped in national parks, like the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Sheyenne National Grasslands in North Dakota. We camped in state and city parks, rest areas, Walmart parking lots, and alongside the Erie Canal. We visited lakes, rivers, the Atlantic, deserts, plains, and caverns. Niagara Falls was never on our bucket list, thinking we’d never have the opportunity go, but I’m so glad we made it!

Saguaro Cactus
During the first three months of our trip, we stayed in motels nine nights – some due to weather, some due to exhaustion, once due to health. But from April to July, not a single motel stay for the entire leg – I guess we toughened up a bit.

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to all the states. But we visited 36 states! Twenty-three of them were new for Tim, 18 new for me. We saw places we never knew existed, ate food we’d never tried, and experienced once-in-a-lifetime opportunities we never imagined before we left home. We checked off many items on our individual bucket lists, but we added twice as many more for future trips.

Would we do it again? In a heartbeat.”

Tracy Ruckman is an author, artist, and book publisher. Her book, Go West, His Momma Said, detailing the first leg of the Ruckman’s tent-camping journey released January 8 and is available on Amazon. Tracy’s artwork is available for purchase on FineArt America. She loves to connect, and invites you to follow her online: