Friday, August 21, 2020

Large and In Charge

Office Sign
Saying goodbye after twenty-four years of commitment to our aviation company is not easy. Consulting Aviation Services (CAS), like so many other businesses, experienced the fallout of the Covid 19 pandemic.  In January of this year, we were in negotiations with a major aircraft company to install Charles’ drag reduction invention on their fleet of aircraft.  Within six weeks, 95% of the U.S. commercial fleet was parked in remote desert airports. Our investors took a giant step back that left us with few options.

Charles likes to say that twenty-four years ago he made two proposals.  One was to the Air Force to develop his vortex control software and the other proposing marriage to me.  With a resounding Yes to both, we began a new adventurous life together.  Our marriage is still going strong, but the time to shut down CAS is here.

Engineering pack rats like to save every scrap of paper filled with equations and drawings.  Administrators, like me, save paper copies of every document that crosses our desks.  Storing them on the computer is just not the same.  The challenge was daunting, but we have made Marie Kondo proud.  We overheated the shredder for days on end. Numerous truck beds filled with trash made their way to the dumpster. Empty file cabinets and desk drawers could breathe again. 

Contemplating  Retirement
Memories of exciting experiences and people we met along the journey will remain. Admirals, generals, astronauts, CEO’s, test pilots, investors, and Pentagon personnel are some of the people that have visited our office, or we met on our travels to military bases.  Many employees that worked with us will remain friends.  We had our struggles with partners who had different ideas of the company’s direction, but in the end, Charles prevailed and kept us moving forward.

We still have an office filled with furniture and a lot of things to recycle, but we survived the worst of the downsizing ordeal.  Charles and I decided that really retiring looks good and the stress of maintaining a business is not desirable at our age.  Selling our office condo is the next challenge on our list.

Charles’ life story that we are writing together waits to be completed.  Chasing a Whirlwind tells of his adventurous life and his inventive aviation journey.  We plan to finish it by the end of 2020. 

We are trusting the rest of our future into the hands of God who knows what is best for us. Our pastor’s sermon last week about the uncertain times we are in really hit home.  My takeaway was his statement:


Maybe that statement will encourage you as you face a time of uncertainty.  Let me know if it does.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Wise Old Owl

At least I used to think so.  A recent Bible study in Proverbs on the virtue of wisdom led me to research more on the subject. For as long as I can remember, owls were a symbol of wisdom and intelligence. Those wide eyes that stared out from childhood stories and cartoons were considered all knowing.
Greek and Roman mythology portrayed owls as solemn birds because they were mysterious and could see through the darkness.  It turns out that owls are not so wise after all.  Their small brains compared to their body size makes them much less trainable than crows, hawks, parrots, and pigeons.  Another childhood belief burst by modern science.

Wisdom in owls and humans seems to be in short supply these days.  Socrates once said, “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” 2020 is turning out to be a year when much wisdom is required to navigate all the confusion.  The Covid 19 pandemic, killings, demonstrations, and riots have made me realize I have no control over life’s circumstances. 

I feel very humbled and know that the God of the Universe is the only one I can turn to for strength and answers during uncertain times.  God wants to give us wisdom, but he wants us to recognize him as the source and to ask for it.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."  James 1:5

Solomon established his kingship in Israel after the death of his father, King David. God was pleased with him and one night he appeared to Solomon:

God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon’s replied that what he wanted from God was wisdom and knowledge to lead his people.
He did not ask for gold, silver, or other material possessions, but selflessly asked to be a wise and understanding leader.  God answered his prayer by giving him wisdom and worldly possessions too.

How can I receive God’s wisdom? The answer is found in the book of Proverbs:

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."  Proverbs 1:7

To fear the Lord requires an understanding of the character of God and a desire to worship him and please him in the way I live. Humility is the key to receiving Godly wisdom. 
Hollywood, television, politicians, and social media scream out their message of worldly wisdom.  Follow it and you will become like the fools described above.  Godly wisdom is described in the book of James as follows:

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

I may not be a wise old owl, but I can be a wise older lady who reflects God’s wisdom in this world.

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.