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:


Website: https://www.tracyruckman.com/

      
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/tracyruckmanauthor/

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Woulda, Coulda, Shouda



There’s something about the Christmas and New Year’s season that makes us nostalgic—remembering holidays from the past.  The passage of time also makes us reflect on our lives and how we have lived.  Researchers from Cornell University questioned hundreds of senior adults about their most common regrets in life. Caitlin McCormack summarized for espresso blog “Older People’s Most Common Regrets.”
Pixabay Photo
·        Quitting school
·        Not taking career risks
·        Working too much
·        Not pursuing dreams
·        Not eating healthier
·        Not having kids
·        Not pursuing dreams
·        Not saving enough money
·        Worrying too much
·        Cheating on a partner

None of these deal with one of the most important pursuits we need to face in life.  What is our destination after this earthly life is over and how are we preparing for it?  Reaching the end of this physical life and realizing we have no relationship with God and are totally unprepared for the end, is a sobering thought.  The Christmas season is the perfect time to examine our faith in Jesus Christ, and to determine to take necessary steps to grow spiritually.

94-year-old Ophelia White from Ruston, Louisiana realized that her faith was not rooted and grounded and she didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ. She was baptized and began a closer walk with God.  She regrets not pursuing this path earlier in life.

It's never too late to reconnect with a church, get a devotional book to read in the new year, call someone who is ill to cheer them up, pray for God’s direction, share your faith journey with a neighbor, or give generously to a charitable cause.  Be proactive in facing the future and trust God to give you the strength for the future..
 
Thank you for another year of reading my blog musings.  2020 will be my eighth year to write. As long as you keep reading, I want to keep writing. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from 
Two Late Bloomers.



Sunday, November 17, 2019

A New Kind of Scary - Part 3


A new awareness of the scourge of human trafficking has motivated some in the business community. I recently read about efforts to train flight attendants to look for signs that a person is being trafficked and under the control of a pimp that is flying them to a destination in or out of the U.S.  Several young people were rescued because of the diligence of airline personnel.

Stuart Davis meets Pope Francis
My oldest son, Stuart Davis, is an executive with Canada’s Scotiabank.  His responsibilities include monitoring fraud and money laundering of criminal organizations. Anti-human trafficking is part of his responsibilities. He recently spoke at the United Nations on the subject and just returned from a trip to the Vatican where he met with Pope Francis and the leaders of other world religions. It is recognized that international efforts on many fronts will be necessary to tackle this modern form of slavery. Here is Stuart’s description of what he does.

“Many folks tend to think of banks as just focused on profits but what they fail to realize is that many banks are also focused on doing good in the communities that they serve.  One of the ways that they do this is stopping financial crime.  Helping banks stop financial crime (also known as anti-money laundering) has been my career largely since the events of 9-11. But since 2016, my career in banking has taken an unexpected but very meaningful direction, a focus on anti-human trafficking.  A survivor of human trafficking spoke at a conference my team attended and asked who is willing to stand with me and help?  We did, launching Project Protect among the Canadian banks to disrupt the illicit flows from this heinous crime. 

Human trafficking and the profits generated is believed to be the 3rd largest crime in the world.  Studies have suggested that there are over 40 million people trafficked per year and it is often happening right here in our communities.  However, it is often a hidden crime that includes labor trafficking, sex trafficking, and the sexual exploitation of children.

Through the collective efforts of many involved, some impact is being made but much more can be done.  Our early efforts and successes in Canada have drawn international attention.  We have been aligning with those with common goals and purposes globally.  As a result, I have had the honor and privilege to be invited to speak recently at the United Nations on our bank’s initiative to help survivors of human trafficking.  And very soon I will be discussing efforts to protect child dignity and fight child exploitation at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosted by His Holiness Pope Francis.

I would have never thought that my career in banking would have a higher purpose and tap deeply into something we can all be passionate about.  Making this world a better place and helping those being victimized recover their lives.  If you are not already involved in helping, please consider how you might do so this Thanksgiving season.”

It will take all our efforts, no matter how big or small, to rescue people caught up in modern slavery.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A New Kind of Scary - Part 2


As a senior adult, I live in a bubble. Our community consists of adults age 55 and older. We belong to a church where we mainly associate with others in our peer group.  I stay on top of the news, but often remain unaware and uninformed about the serious cultural issues affecting my part of the world.  In my last blog post I wrote about how my eyes have been open to the scourge of modern slavery—human trafficking.

Since my initial blog on the subject, I have researched ways people are addressing this problem.  I’ve interviewed two people that work in different ways to make a difference. 
 
Leah Kurtz works as a volunteer with the Out of Darkness Ministry in metro Atlanta https://outofdarkness.org/  She shared the following with me in an interview. The three-fold purpose of this important organization is to 1) Reach, 2) Rescue, and 3) Restore. This Christian organization works with people who have been victims of commercial and sexual human trafficking.

Reach
The local group of volunteers spends Saturday nights in the known hot spots and red-light districts of downtown Atlanta and surrounding counties. They pass out roses and cards to individuals and work to build relationships with those who work the streets.  The cards provide a hotline number for those who want to call for help.  Some volunteers go into strip clubs in order to be a positive presence in a negative environment.

Rescue
It can be very difficult for those who are trafficked to try to escape their situation. They have been threatened and brainwashed by their pimps and have few resources. The presence of the Out of Darkness volunteers provides an opportunity for them to ask for help. The 24/7 hotline helps them to contact someone who can listen.  If they are prepared to come out and go to a safe house, the group will conduct a rescue. As you can imagine, this is a dangerous process.

Restore
The safe houses are kept secret to protect the residents who stay from two to six weeks. The volunteers help the residents to obtain ID cards, Social Security numbers, birth certificates, and other documentation to reenter society.  Often detox from drugs and alcohol is required. All who complete the short-term stay are admitted to  long-term programs which last up to a year.  Bible studies, trauma care, PTSD counseling, and classes in life skills are offered.  Every person is different and requires help in different ways.

Leah further explained that the average age of a child that enters the human trafficking world in Georgia is 11-14. Over 2,000 men per month pay for sex and profit the pimps up to $32,000 per week.  It is a more lucrative  business than the illegal drug trade. 

Even if you don’t feel led to volunteer with this group, you can pray, and provide financial and material support. https://outofdarkness.org/  Any help will be greatly appreciated.

My next blog post will tell about how the business community is involved in raising awareness of human trafficking.