Sunday, June 30, 2019

Words Matter


“One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you’re going through now, and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.”  (Suspended Coffee-blog post quote)

That one day arrives much sooner than we think.  The necessary gobbles up so much time, not much is left for contemplation and creativity.  The impetus to finish Charles’ memoir, Chasing a Whirlwind, became more real this past week when I read about the sudden death of Jennifer Kennedy Dean.  She was a writer extraordinaire on the Christian’s prayer life and spiritual growth. She wrote dozens of books on those vital topics.    She had not been sick, and I am sure she didn’t wake up that morning expecting it to be her last.

I wake up every morning determined to get back to editing Charles’ book, and before I know it the day has gone.  I sure can’t blame Charles. He has given me page after page of material to edit and massage into a story format. So now it is up to me—no pressure, right?

The same has been true with my blog writing in June. I’ve neglected it far too long. First, we spent a very busy week working in our church’s Vacation Bible School. Both Charles and I were at the church by 8 am each day setting up for the boys’ and girls’ arrival.  He manned the parking lot making sure everyone was safe. At the registration table, my workers and I passed out name tags and helped the kids find their rooms. We were done in by the end of the week, but so glad to have been a part of the VBS team.

We spent the next week working with a realtor to help my son find a new place to live. Apartment rents in this area are sky high, so he needed to find a better fit for his budget. We looked at over a dozen places and  agreed  on a townhouse closer to his children.


 
Finally, we were able to take a week’s vacation in the mountains.  We traveled to Highlands, North Carolina and soaked in the mid-70’s temperatures and the beauty of the hills and valleys around every bend and curve.  Charles hiked, I shopped, and we both enjoyed being away from home and all our responsibilities.

Now it is time to put aside all the going and doing and get back to the business of writing.  A change of pace is good, but there is also a lot to be said about routine and quiet times.

Tomorrow I will take Mark Twain’s admonition to heart and kick my book writing into motion.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”



Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Hedgehogs & Computer-itis


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have issued several warnings to the public about the danger of Salmonella. The “Don’t Kiss or Cuddle Hedgehogs” warning was issued in January 2019, and today the CDC warned about the dangers of backyard poultry.

“Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored. Poultry should not be kept in day cares, preschools, hospitals, or nursing homes. Don’t kiss backyard poultry, or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.”

The CDC didn’t need to warn me about hedgehogs and backyard chickens.  I have never and will never kiss hedgehogs and backyard chickens, let them into my house, or snuggle with them.

I’m also not in the habit of kissing or snuggling up to my computer, but it still has infected me with a virus and a bad case of computer-itis. I’m late writing my blog for May because my email has been most uncooperative—in fact, it quit working in Outlook all together.

Enter my two late bloomer husband’s attempt to fix it. His well-meaning efforts fell short when he allowed an unknown computer tech company access to my computer. They immediately started fixing things that didn’t need fixing and selling him an expensive plan to beef up my anti-virus and malware protection. 

And my email still did not work.  In fact, my email inbox showed that I now had 43,000+ unread messages.  My computer is only six years old and every email and spam message since 2013 suddenly showed up in my inbox. Yikes!  I thought that stuff was long gone. I even beat Hillary in the number of deleted emails.  How come they couldn’t find hers?

My inbox was over stuffed and no new messages could arrive. In the past few days, I’ve deleted over 12,000 messages —50 at a time—anymore and the email locks up.  I found over 1000 Costco messages and an equal number from Amazon and other stores, along with hundreds more from every online site I’ve visited.  Do these companies have nothing more to do than to bombard my inbox with their ads?

In addition, my Facebook messenger site was hacked by someone sending out messages in my name.  Some of my friends let me know of the suspicious activity.  Now I need to change my Facebook password.

I’m actively deleting my consumer and shopping history, so that I can get back to business.  How much of my life has been controlled by my online usage?  It’s a reality check.  Computers help us in wonderful ways, but create their own set of problems.  At some point I also need to delete hundreds of emails from my cell phone before it shuts down.  I spend too much of my time on line to the exclusion of other important efforts and spiritual pursuits.  I think God has gotten my attention and I’d better listen.



Tuesday, April 30, 2019

New Paint


It’s easy to become satisfied with what is old and comfortable—a faded bathrobe, baggy sweats, stretched-out shoes. Shaking things up takes work and effort. We resist doing things in a new and different way. Getting out of our comfort zone and taking on new challenges is even harder the older we get.

Sticking with the old and comfortable had to go if we were going to paint the interior of our house. We knew that moving furniture and taking down pictures and window treatments would reveal lots of dust and dirt. We’d look at the cracks in the sheet rock, the scuffed-up walls, and chipped baseboards and one of us would say, “We really do need to paint, but it’s so much work.” This spring, we decided to bite the bullet.

Picking out a paint color, a painting contractor, and a start date was half the battle. Once we made a commitment, we dove into the packing and moving process. We decided not to paint our sun room now so we could use that room for storage.  Charles had the unenviable task of taking down wall decor and window treatments that hadn’t been dusted in quite a while. I packed up all my glassware and dust collectors scattered around the house. By the end of day two, we were both coughing and sneezing. But there was no time to stop. We unloaded our master closet, made a mound on our bed, and covered our clothes with a tarp.

Fortunately, we have a finished basement with a sofa bed. We piled 6” of padding on top of the mattress to make it bearable for five or six nights.  We hauled clothes, food, and dishes down the stairs for our week of “glamping.” If you don’t know that term, it means camping with some of the luxuries of home, such as a bathroom and kitchen facilities. Is there any other way?

The painters hope to finish today, and our physical labor will begin again–in reverse order. Take everything back upstairs, unload the boxes, and take our clothes off our bed. The best part is that everything will smell and look clean, and we vow to keep it that way, at least for a while.

During our recent Easter celebration, we were reminded by our pastor that with the Resurrection of Jesus, everything became new. Living life encumbered by sin, the fear of death, and a secular world view has to go in order to fully embrace the new gift God wants to give us. 

We each have a choice to make. We can leave the dust and dirt in our lives, or pack it up and make a fresh start. When we        choose to let God’s Spirit dwell in us, we receive his                forgiveness, joy, and love. Only  then will we become new inside and out.


                                           

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).


Thursday, March 28, 2019

A Spring in My Step






Spring is a much anticipated time of the year that I eagerly await – until it gets here. Then I have to face some of the more challenging things about the season.




  • The sun doesn’t come up until after 8:00 am and I have a harder time getting out of bed in the dark. Thanks Daylight Savings Time.
  • The deck and car is covered in yellow dust and there is a haze of pollen in the air.  I am using more antihistamines, eye drops, and nose sprays just to make it through the day.
  • My closet is a jumbled mess. Heavier clothes need to be cleaned and boots packed away.
  • Dust bunnies are visible in the late afternoon sun reminding me it’s time for spring cleaning.
  • Baby squirrels busily destroy my container garden of pansies and tulips before we discover their nest under our grill cover.


As new life springs up all around, I am also reminded of the enjoyable aspects of this time of year.


  • The ornamental fruit trees are dressed in white, pink, and purple blossoms. The red and orange leaves on oak and maple trees gradually fade into green.
  • Catalogs arrive with page after page of colorful spring fashions that tempt me to order the latest and greatest.
  • My too late bloomer husband agrees to use on sale coupons and take his semi-annual shopping trip for his furnishings.
  • Reminders of the Easter season and the new life experienced in Christ are in the stores and even on the History Channel (Jesus: His Life.)
  • My thankful heart rejoices in all the challenges and joys that this season of renewal has to offer.





Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Season of Change


The place was mostly abandoned and spooky.  Wind whipped up dry leaves that danced around the empty store fronts.  Rows of dealer—not shopper— cars filled the parking lot. We’d hoped to find a place to eat around the mall, but most eateries were closed.  We saw up close the new face of suburban America. 

On March 1 of this year, CNBC online pronounced, “The retail apocalypse is alive and well this week with major chains… announcing massive closures, totaling the death of more than 465 stores over the last 48 hours.” Ten years ago, only a few saw this massive change coming.

Online shopping from the comfort of your own home is replacing the brick and mortar experience.  I do my share online, but still like a retail therapy trip to check out the merchandise. Just as the mall replaced the downtown main street shopping experience during the past fifty years, the future of retail is changing again to meet consumer demands.  The malls that are thriving incorporate experiences, other than shopping, to attack customers.  Indoor put-put golf, bouncy houses, carousels, pottery painting, and live theaters seem to be major attractions.  How do we handle the changing times that are imposed on us by our society?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  As a Baptist type of Christian, I usually don’t give up anything for the forty days leading up to Easter. But, I feel it’s an important time to reflect on the meaning of Easter and the Resurrection.

In New Testament times, life was about to change drastically for the twelve men we call disciples and all the other followers of the Teacher, who was called Jesus Christ. He tried in many ways to prepare them for the upheaval that would affect their lives forever.  Following Jesus was new and exciting as the disciples saw Him perform miracles, heal the sick, and drive out demons.  They envisioned a new kind of kingdom that would overthrow the Roman Caesars and restore the power of King David’s empire. They were shocked when Jesus began to predict His death and could not comprehend the possibility of His resurrection.  Things were changing all around the disciples, and they didn’t see it coming.

After Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, life would never be the same.  He would no longer walk with them in the flesh, but in the Spirit. His disciples and followers ever since would be filled with God’s Spirit when accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Lives and society would be transformed by the good news of the Gospel. 

Will there be malls in twenty years, or will all shopping be done online?  I still can’t imagine buying a car online without kicking the tires.  Only time will tell, but the huge change that Jesus brought to this world will still be alive and well in the heart and minds of His followers. Climate change proponents who predict that a weather apocalypse will destroy the earth in twelve years must not be students of the Bible.

God plainly states in the Scriptures that He will have the last word and the future of our planet is in His capable and loving hands. We should open our eyes to the truth of God’s word and embrace each season of change.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

My Diamond Jubilee


According to Wikipedia, “A 75th birthday or anniversary is commonly known as a Diamond Jubilee.

“How did I reach three-quarters of a century old?” If I had been born in any other period of time, I would not have lived to celebrate this time of my life.  It’s been a long and at times difficult journey to get this far.  Health issues plagued me most of my life culminating in a successful liver transplant in 1998. The medical technology of the 20th century and the generous gift of a donor organ saved my life. Three have been health problems since then, but nothing of that magnitude. You can read about my second chance at life in my memoir, Born Three Times: A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love.

Since this is my diamond jubilee, I decided to research those precious stones. Diamonds are the hardest substance on earth.  They are formed within the earth’s mantle and brought to the surface by deep source volcanic eruptions.  The impact of asteroids and meteorites on the planet can also produce diamonds. Much of the world’s diamond mining comes from Africa. South Africa and Angola are sources of diamonds, but they are also mined in Canada, Russia, and Australia. The only diamond mine in the US is found near Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Diamond mining can be very labor intensive and environmentally harmful, leaving massive scars on the earth’s surface.

“As you can imagine, the journey a rough diamond undergoes from its violent formation process to being mounted on an exquisite setting is long indeed and passes through many different channels.”  (Beyond 4Cs-The real insights to mining diamonds) "The round diamond is the undisputed king of brilliant cuts. With 57 carefully placed facets, every round diamond that is polished from a rough crystal has the potential to becoming a jewelry masterpiece.” Carat, cut, and clarity determine the price of each precious gem.

A Jubilee was significant in Old Testament times.  During Jubilee years, it was mandated that lands be given a year’s rest so that the earth could rejuvenate.  Healthier and better crops would grow in future plantings.  Also during a Jubilee year, the slaves and indentured servants were set free from their bondage and given a second chance at life. 

I see many parallels to my life’s journey. Like the diamond, I have been cut and polished and been given the opportunity to enjoy an abundant life here and eternal life after death.  After all, it is said that “Diamonds are forever.”  And like the Israelite slaves, I’ve been given a second chance at life.  

At our wedding Charles and I played the song, “Grow Old Along with Me, the Best is Yet to Be.” 
  That has proven to be true in both of our lives.


 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Jumping to Conclusions



I recently watched an old movie with Paul Newman and JoAnne Woodward.  In The Long Hot Summer, Newman’s character was falsely accused of being an arsonist.  Almost the whole town jumped to the conclusion that he was guilty and tried to run him out of town.

A quote from Pinterest reads as follows:

“Snap judgments often lead to regrets from those
whose only exercise is jumping to conclusions."

Two events in Washington, DC have captivated the news in recent days. The ever-present cable news networks and social media took these false stories and inflamed public opinion.

The first accused the President of telling his lawyer to lie to Congress.  With no documentation to back up the claim, much of the news media had the President convicted of an impeachable offense.  The accusation was later walked back when the Special Counsel who investigates such crimes said it wasn’t true.

Next on a demonstration-filled weekend in the nation’s Capital, teenage boys from a Catholic school in Kentucky were accused of racism against Native Americans. The accusation was based on a cherry-picked video.  When the full video was released, it was revealed the boys did not instigate a confrontation, but were themselves victimized by epithets from a Black Hebrew Israelite group. 

These two incidents of the media defaming people and making snap judgments, made me question if the Bible had something to say to me on the subject.  Yes, I confess; As a Christian, I’ve been guilty of jumping to conclusions myself.  Four truths "jumped" out at me.


Appearances Can be Deceiving - See the situation from all sides and from another’s point of view.
John 7:24  “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Be Slow to Judge - It’s better to be discerning and deliberate in our thinking than to pay the price of false judgment.
Proverbs 25:7-8  “What you have seen with your eyes, do not bring hastily to court,  for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?"

Grow in Wisdom - Senior adults should use their life experiences to help resolve difficult situations and relationships.
Job 12:12  “Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding?”

Remember your Weakness – Look inward and not outward before jumping to conclusions.

Luke 6:37 “Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

I conclude with a word to the wise from author, Scottie Waves:
“Stay open-mined. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”