Monday, November 23, 2020

A Reason to Give Thanks

 

Being thankful should be a daily way of life.  But most of the time it is easier to gripe or complain instead of being thankful.  I have a lot to be grateful for this week and I will try to show it to all I meet. 


Twenty-four and ½ years ago, when I met Charles, I never dreamed I’d get to celebrate his 90th birthday with him.  This week on Wednesday night, thirteen of us will celebrate in person and five will join us online for the big event. He does not look or act his age but appears to be  at least ten years younger. 

His last big party occurred when he turned 70.  This will be a Covid party—smaller crowd wearing masks but still with a good reason to celebrate.  The only problem I have with that date is that it is the day before Thanksgiving.

Our granddaughter, Rose from Canada is visiting with us for a few weeks while she looks for a job in the Atlanta area.  Her help pulling it all off will be invaluable.  She will help decorate, help pick up the cake, and bar-b-que. I will make the sides on Tuesday and the casseroles for Thanksgiving on Wednesday.  So much to do—so little time.

During Charles’ ninety years he has seen and done a lot. His active military service during the Korean War send him to California servicing airplanes for the battle. Forty years working for Lockheed Martin and other aerospace companies and twenty-four years in his own aerospace company equals 64 years of effort.  During that time, he earned three college degrees in aerospace engineering and business administration. He filed and received two important patents to overcome airplane drag and increase time on mission.  Because of Covid, he decided to take unanticipated retirement to figure out what he wants to do next in life.

We are struggling to finish the last of his biography, Chasing a Whirlwind.  Once the rush of the holidays has passed, it looks a little easier to spend time writing.  Just maybe, 2021 will not be as hectic and disrupting as 2020.  We will try to be thankful for each day as it comes. 

I know a lot of you are stuck at home and not able to travel to be with family or friends for Thanksgiving. We are glad many of our folks are local. I hope despite it all, you will find many reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving.  I am always reminded of the Bible verse in Philippians.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Monday, October 26, 2020

A Messy October

 

Colorful leaves are blowing in the wind making a mess everywhere. Temperatures are dropping and I am halfway through sorting and packing spring clothes.  My son, Michael, is helping me sort and clean out my office so that I can get some writing done.  In other words, much of the house is in turmoil.

 

Last Monday, Charles found a leak in the downstairs bathroom ceiling. We called in a plumber who discovered the leak in the upstairs washing machine.  He fixed the hose and suggested we call a restoration company to repair the wet walls and floorboards.  Since Friday, we have had fans and dehumidifiers blowing at high speed, creating a lot of heat and noise.  We headed to the other side of the house to sleep in the guest room to stay away from the mess. Two out of three bathrooms are inoperable, and the guest bath is small.  Somehow, we are managing but the turmoil keeps piling up. The restoration team came in to check results, and the equipment will remain in place three more days.



With the election just a week away, the news reports reflect a country in turmoil.  From people being attacked in road rallies in New York City to the 24-hour debate on the Senate floor trying to derail the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, dissenters are losing their battle. Their desire to create more election week turmoil seems to be running out of steam.

 Fall weather is wreaking havoc across the country with ice and snowstorms in the Plains and another hurricane churning up the water in the Gulf of Mexico—eventually heading to the LA/MISS coast. One of the busiest hurricane seasons ever.  The winds accompanying the storms are feeding the fires in Northern California, whipping them into a frenzy as they continue to destroy property.

And, of course, we have Covid 19 which is surging in many states and effecting the stock market and economy.  The weeks leading up to a vaccine are putting everyone to the test.

A state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty is the definition for turmoil. That describes life in our home and the USA today. Living in a state of turmoil and mess requires patience and an inner peace that passes all understanding.  There is only one place I know of to find that inner peace.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The following quotes from the Bible will steady my mind and heart as I wait for the turmoil to cease.  I pray these verses will do the same for you.

 

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. John 14:27

 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

I Can See Clearly Now


Well, almost.

I am anxiously waiting for my new glasses to arrive.  It has been a long six weeks sincmy first cataract surgery.  My right eye was fixed for clearer long-distance vision and the left eye for arm-length vision.  Cheater glasses help with reading and close-up work, but I do not like to leave them perched on the end of my nose.  My new glasses will give me clearer vision in both eyes.  I can't wait. 





The first of the year started out with optimism. I challenged all of us to make 2020 the  best year of all.

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. Blog post dated February 28, 2020

That was posted in February 2020 before everything locked down in March due to Covid 19. I have had to rely on God daily through much of our year-long turmoil.  Like the blind man touched by Jesus, it has taken some time to clearly see the things in front of me.

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?" 24He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." 25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26Jesus sent him home, saying, "Don't even go into the village."  Mark 8:22-26 

Our biggest challenge this year was to close our company, Consulting Aviation Services. We sorted all the paperwork and supplies from 24 years of hard work.  I knew our office suite would sit on the market for months after listing with a commercial agent.  My blurred vision was restored when we were under contract on the day of listing.  

What a surprise to learn we will close on the sale October 9. 2020 has been a challenging year but filled with promise and hope that better days are around the corner.  The national election is almost four weeks away and I will be praying daily for the right outcome for our country.  I plan to see clearly now and wish the same for you. 

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:

GOD’S LARGE AND HE’S IN CHARGE.

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.”
John14:27

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:


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

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