Thursday, November 8, 2018

No Rose without a Thorn


My twenty-year old granddaughter, Rose Davis, is my guest blogger today.  A French proverb states there is “No rose without a thorn.” Her story about the thorn in her life that caused her to bloom into a delightful young woman is well worth sharing with my readers. Here is her bio and her story.

Rose Davis is a Christian, a dancer, a social media influencer, a student, and a granddaughter. She has a dream to make a difference by increasing access to dance for low income communities. She dedicates her time to her studies in Sociology and Communications at the University of Toronto in Mississauga, Canada and curating lattes at Starbucks. Rose also manages a creative team for her church’s young adult ministry. Her biggest venture is PinkBalletShoes—an Instagram account with over 290,000 followers—where she creates a culture about dance through the medium of photography. To follow her, check out her website: www.pinkballetshoes.com

Rose wants you to know:
“I love what I do and I am happy to share a little piece of my life with you!”

I see my life as a collection of stories. Every moment, every heart break, every joyous occasion, every piece of mundane living as a collection of stories to create this one beautifully written piece. The thing about stories is there is this chronological order that must be followed in the midst of chaos to understand the outcome.

I see my life in seasons. Every season carrying high and low moments, that work together to teach me something I otherwise might not learn. The thing about seasons is they are always changing, reflecting wondrous and repetitious things we have seen before.

My whole life I grew up in church. I was your typical Christian kid memorizing Bible verses, earning KidzCash for prizes, and proudly knowing every lyric to the Veggie Tales’ songs. My reality was living in that four-wall-built structure. Beyond that there was no meaning for me. I challenged the thought of God by questioning His very existence. To me He wasn’t real, but I so wanted Him to be.

Then chaos hit and I thought my life was over. I was moved out of my home and  found myself trudging through a barren land in a foreign country. I experienced loneliness to the point where I felt so low that suicide was an option. “God, why would you do this to me?” I questioned. “Take me out of here,” I pleaded. The only response was absolute nothingness. I’d heard of God being real to others, so why wasn’t He real to me? I was hurting. I was broken. I needed God to be real.

“Where are you God?”


“Where are you God?”

He was nowhere, until He met me in worship. From nothing into something, His presence hit me and I began to weep. He was close like a Father, holding me tight. I knew He was real. His voice began to comfort me with answers of “I’m right here, I’m right here.” He restored my knowledge of His presence.

In the broken, in the hurting, in the barren, God exposed my loneliness. He revealed how absent I had been from Him. Growing up Christian was only an introduction to Christ. God had to teach me to encounter Him, to embrace Him as He embraced me, and to cry out so He could replace my pain with joy.

I was in a story of doubt—in a season of loneliness—where God brought me understanding by His closeness. He taught me to allow myself to embrace and be embraced.



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

My Visit to The Big Dipper

My view (without the lines)

It’s hard to clearly see the night sky in the suburbs of metro Atlanta. The view is dulled by the proliferation of lights that define our modern era. Charles and I often go outside to get a glimpse of the moon and the stars, but come away disappointed by the lack of darkness. It makes him long for the wide open skies of the West and other underpopulated areas.

Much to my surprise, I got to view the Big Dipper almost “up close and personal.” At least it seemed that way. We left for France just as the sun was setting in Atlanta and didn’t see daylight until we landed in Paris 8.5 hours later.  After our tasteless dinner on the plane, we attempted to settle down for a long sleep so we would be alert in the a.m.  We put on our eye masks and ear plugs and tried to dose off.  I was in the window seat and couldn’t get comfortable no matter how hard I tried. Charles, as usual, was out like a light.

I knew the plane was flying the Great Circle Route along the northeastern seacoast before turning East over the Atlantic to Europe. After about four hours of flying, I lifted my window shade hoping to see the lights of Nova Scotia or Greenland far down below. Much to my amazement, the bent handle and bowl of the Big Dipper was on display right outside my window. It seemed close enough to touch. I watched the celestial show for over an hour until our plane changed course.


For me, flying is a spiritual experience. I feel like I am seeing the world with all its busyness from God’s point of view. The many activities of billions of people seem so insignificant, and yet God loves each and every person so much that he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to die for all of us. As I look out into space, I’m awestruck by the vastness and perfection of God’s creation. King David reflected on the heavens in his writings:

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

My visit to the Big Dipper ignited my curiosity about the famous constellation. I discovered that the seven stars that make up the handle and bowl are an asterism or cluster of stars inside the constellation Ursa Major or the Great Celestial Bear.

For centuries the Big Dipper has been used as a navigation tool and pointer to Polaris, the North Star. “The Big Dipper was an important part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Slaves escaping from the South were told to "follow the Drinking Gourd" to the North.” (Space.com)

Ursa Major-The Great Bear
According to Bruce McClure of the EarthSky website, “The starry sky serves as a calendar and a story book, as is beautifully illustrated by the Mi’kmaw tale of Celestial Bear. In autumn, the hunters finally catch up with the Bear, and it’s said that the blood from the Bear colors the autumn landscape. In another version of the story, Celestial Bear hits its nose when coming down to Earth, with its bloody nose giving color to autumn leaves. When Celestial Bear {and the Big Dipper} is seen right on the northern horizon on late fall and early winter evenings, it’s a sure sign that the hibernation season is upon us.”

 


Fall has arrived in Georgia with all its glorious colors. Now that I am earthbound, I can look at the beautiful fall trees and remember my visit to the Big Dipper. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Vive la France - Part Two




“In my yellow-trimmed bassinet, tucked into the corner of the dining room, I was oblivious to the swirl of history-making world events reported each day on the radio.  D-Day was still four months away. Many men in our small town were soldiers in the Pacific, and an uncle was missing in action somewhere in Europe. Since Dad worked for an industry vital to the war effort, he stayed on the home front.  I never would have been born if my father had been called into military service. My sisters remember ration coupons, victory gardens, and life-altering telegrams from the War Department, as well as dancing in the streets on VE and VJ Day. As for me, I cried, nursed, and slept through it all.”  (Excerpt from my memoir Born Three Times)                                    

June 6, 1944 has been commemorated for over 74 years as the day of the invasion of France and the beginning of the liberation of Europe from Hitler and his murderous regime. Commonly called D-Day, the Allied invasion force stormed fifty miles of the Normandy coast on five different beaches.  The logistics and tremendous sacrifice involved in such a massive operation became apparent to us during our recent visit to the historical site.  Emotions were close to the surface as we looked out over Omaha Beach. The site of the U.S. landing and the white crosses and stars of David that climbed the grassy hill commemorated over 9,400 soldiers and pilots buried there. 

Viking Cruise arranged a special ceremony for us at the site.  As the Stars & Stripes flew in a bright blue sky, we all sang the Star Spangled Banner, followed by a recorded version of taps, and a moment of silence. Then the veterans in the group, including Charles, were recognized. Each of us was given a flower to place on a grave. Charles & I chose to place our flowers on the graves of the fallen from the states where we were born—New York and Tennessee.  We prayed for those whose lives were cut short so that we can be free from tyranny today. 

A breath-taking sculpture stood overlooking the cemetery in honor of those who paid it all. The statue is a representation of a soldier rising from the water with his hand toward heaven.  It is a visual reminder of the brevity of life. 

As we traveled along the beaches, we saw the location of an artificial port build by the Allies. Remnants of the amazing feat of engineering are still visible in the water. In order to supply the thousands of troops, since the Germans controlled all the ports, caissons and piers were floated across the English Channel in order to construct an artificial port at Arromanches, France. Once constructed, tons of material could be loaded onto the beach and trucked inland to supply the fighters.  Those who operated the supply lines are the unsung heroes of the invasion force.

Our last stop on Normandy was to the water’s edge at Omaha Beach.  It was like walking on holy ground as we walked on the sand and looked up at the remaining German bunkers that dotted the hillside.  We left that place thankful and blessed to have lived in a free country bought with the blood of others.

I was reminded of John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.”

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Vive la France - Part One






Viking Longship
Eiffel Tower
Over 55 years ago, I sat in my third-year high school French class wishing I could see the sights of Paris (Par-ee). My American History professor made the events of World War II so interesting I wanted to see where the Allies stormed the beaches of France to liberate Europe from the Nazis. It almost took a lifetime, but I finally checked both items off my bucket list during our recent trip to France.

“Vive la France” is translated: Long Live France or Hurray for France.  This patriotic expression describes our wonderful trip to that country. Viking River Cruises was our host and travel agent for our ten-day tour. We spent three additional days in Paris before we boarded our long ship to travel the Seine River. The weather was picture perfect and so was our experience on board. Our stateroom with balcony was roomy (for a cruise ship) and the dining exceeded our expectations.

I still want to be called “Madame” and “My Lady” and waited on hand and foot but reality has set in. Along with good memories, a nasty French virus decided to fly back home with us. The stowaway gave me a sinus infection and bronchitis that is hard to shake.  But I digress and will go back to the fun parts of the trip.

Sacre-Coeure on Montmartre
The Eiffel Tower is a world renowned symbol of France. This wrought-iron masterpiece was constructed in 1889 when Paris hosted the World’s Fair.  Our hotel room was only a block away, so we had to make the 1,093 ft. ride to the top.  We were not disappointed with our panoramic view of Paris and the serpentine Seine River.

Other Paris adventures included a ride on a funicular to Montmartre to see the Basilica of Sacre-Coeure (Church of the Sacred Heart). We also enjoyed watching local artists paint around the town square. We learned about the 19th & 20th century artists who lived and painted there–Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, & Matisse to name a few.

Monet Garden
French artist, Claude Monet, is one of my favorite painters. A trip to his home and gardens in the French countryside on the second day of our cruise was a highlight for both Charles and me. His gardens and ponds which inspired his paintings are a sight to behold. Acres of colorful flowers were visible from Monet’s second floor studio and became the subjects of his impressionist paintings.

Much of the third day was spent on board enjoying the beauty of the French countryside and the chateaus and rustic villages that lined the banks. We enjoyed the lounge chairs and umbrellas that protected us from the hot sun on the top deck of the ship.  An occasional breeze carried the scent of herbs grown in containers that were to be used in the chef’s kitchen. We were finally able to relax as we floated down the river through the Provence of Normandy on our way to the place where world changing history was made.

Cruising the Seine

Stay tuned for my next blog post with our impressions of the D-day beaches of Normandy and the sights and sounds of our return trip to Paris. 


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Time for a Change

Multi-tasker Extraordinaire 


Professional boxer and entrepreneur, George Foreman challenges people to think differently about retirement:   “I don't even think about a retirement program because I'm working for the Lord, for the Almighty. And even thought the Lord's pay isn't very high, his retirement program is, you might say, out of this world.” (Brainy Quotes)

On April 13, 2001 I began working alongside Charles in our company Consulting Aviation Services. My duties required me to learn new computer and accounting skills as well as relearn administrative skills that had grown rusty.  Others in our peer group were planning their retirement as Charles and I were planning to kick-start new careers. The path that we chose has had its share of challenges and rewards, but the future potential is positive.  I am thankful that my health was restored by a liver transplant in 1998, and I have been able to make a contribution to the company. 

A sign over my office desk reads:

Do you want to talk to the man in charge, or to the woman who knows what’s going on?

That describes our working relationship. With me in charge of the administrative side of the company, Charles has been able to concentrate on the engineering and technical side. It worked well for us through the years as we supported our joint venture.

After almost eighteen years of part-time work, my last day as a paid employee will be August 31, 2018. Most of my duties have been assumed by our capable Accountant/Administrator, Erin Moss.  Our investors carry out most of the day by day operations of the company, so Charles role is changing as well. 

In the last year, deferred projects have been piling up in my home office.  There is still much to do on Charles’ book—a memoir called Chasing a Whirlwind.  I have put off the less than desirable tasks of sorting closets and dealing with personal photos and paperwork.  A commitment to chair a committee at church and involvement with my writing groups will get me out of the house and involved with others.  More time for exercise and personal spiritual growth is also on my agenda.

In September we will celebrate our successful flight test and my retirement with a long-planned trip to France and a Viking River Cruise to the beaches of Normandy. With the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion scheduled for June 2019, we wanted to beat the crowds and see where history was made.

The next time I blog, I will update you on our much anticipated trip.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Wing and a Prayer




 This  week has been an exciting one for the Two Late Bloomers I blog about each month.
Charles & Frieda
Waiting for Takeoff

This past week has been an exciting one for the Two Late Bloomers I blog about each month. We flew into Philadelphia and traveled to the beautiful state of Delaware to experience a much anticipated event. Our hotel was in the quaint town of Lewes—close to the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean. This historical town was founded by the Dutch in the mid-1600s. “The First Town in the First State” is the motto of Lewes. Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution in 1787, making it the “First State.” 


The real reason for our visit took place in the town of Georgetown at ALOFT AeroArchitects. There we reached an exciting milestone in the history of our company.

A flight test on a Boeing 737-700 aircraft, with Charles’ Finlets attached passed with flying colors. A Federal Aviation Administration Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) has been issued and we are now free to sell his invention to commercial airlines. The engineering process began eight years ago and has involved a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and prayers.
737 Test Flight
Our thanks to our engineers—Rick Hooker, Bryan Jenkins, Andrew Wick, David Sharp and Larry Hill—who have endeavored tirelessly to make our dream a reality. We are also thankful for our investor group led by Propeller Investments. They have been both patient and faithful. And we appreciate the folks at ALOFT AeroArchitects who provided engineering and program management during the FAA STC effort.

It takes a great deal of faith and hard work to keep a dream alive. There is more work to be done, and we are grateful to all of you who have encouraged and prayed for us during this journey. 
Charles’ favorite verse has kept us inspired to keep on, keeping on.
Isaiah 40:31 English Standard Version (ESV)
“ but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Aging - Burden or Blessing






Articles and statistics often point to an ominous future for the world’s aging population.  We are told the percentage of those over 60 is increasing and the birth rate is declining. Predictions are made that economies will collapse because there won’t be enough taxpayers to support an aging population.

Twenty-first century challenges cannot be met by outdated models from the past.  Countries like Germany and some states like California and New York are examples of welfare state economies based on post World War II models. A worker labors for 30-40 years, retires and lives on his/her retirement savings and government benefits, and dies in their mid-60s. This dependency model is unsustainable with people now living into their 80s and 90s, with pensions and health benefits being paid out 20 to 30 years longer than expected.

Two internet articles about aging recommend that policies be put in place that encourage older adults to move away from dependency toward greater independence by working longer and/or volunteering more, thereby adding value to their societies. A January 26, 2018 article written by Linda P. Fried, Getting More from a Longer Life (pewtrusts.org), “Challenging the stereotypes of dependency, many older people don’t seem to want to retire, do nothing, and divorce themselves from interactions with their families and the world.”  A longer lifespan means that people should be encouraged to continue being a part of the economic fabric of society—producing meaningful work, consuming goods, and paying taxes. When not working, many older adults can provide hours of community service to their communities, churches, and synagogues. Nurturing the next generation and improving the world for our children and grandchildren can be a powerful incentive to live a longer and healthier life.

Sarah Harper in a January 26, 2018 entitled As the World Ages: When Older Populations Become the Majority asks “What happens to our workforces—as well as our communities—when healthy, active individuals are still in full employment in their ninth decade?” That lifestyle would not have been realistic for my parents’ generation but very possible for me and my children.

The mission statement for my blog is: Two Late Bloomers—an inspirational blog about discarding the stereotypes of the senior adult years. The second model of more independence discards many stereotypes. I often think about my goals and intentions during the remaining years of my life. I like to bolster my ego with statements like “I’m not getting older, I’m getting better.” There are some days that the older body tells the younger mind, “You’re getting older, period.”

 Consider the Bible verse from Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

What better goal can any of us have than that? A heart of wisdom will provide the ability to pass truth to the next generation based on our personal experiences and gleanings from God’s word.  Being a blessing and sharing those blessings with others makes our longer lives worth living.