Six Weeks and Counting. . .

Al and I had to make a somewhat risky decision six weeks ago. With the pandemic looming, we had to decide whether or not to attend a wedding of our friends’ youngest daughter Phoebe and her sweet Jacob. We decided to go and were blessed to ride downtown with a couple of great friends we too seldom spend time with.

The next day we went to church as usual. But after listening to the news that afternoon about the Coronavirus, I decided to stay home from Bible study. Since then, our church has depended upon livestream worship and Zoom. Our lives together had changed—suddenly and drastically.

Since then we’ve crossed out over 20 events, appointments, etc. on our March-April calendars, cancelled an Airbnb in Flagstaff, AZ for our May family reunion, and thankfully not gotten COVID-19.

With all the changes have come new insight and skills. From YouTube, I’ve learned to make pompons for knitted hats completed for next year’s NBA All-Star game and face masks that have been donated to St. Francis Hospice and Valle Vista Health as well as given to family and friends. BTW: I’m still making them if you need some. And of course, I’ve learned to Zoom.

How have I spent my time? I’ve zigzagged between writing, reading, cooking, baking, sewing, bike riding, practicing yoga, and most recently gardening. Some things haven’t changed much. I still get up at 6am Monday through Friday and walk with two friends around the neighborhood for 40 minutes with social distancing, of course! Al and I still watch TV or movies almost every night. BTW: If you haven’t seen vintage movies such as Lilies of the Field or Casablanca, now would be a good time.

The absolute BEST part of these past six weeks, however, has been not looking forward to the next event or activity but enjoying the NOW. I’ve listened to and watched more birds than I have in my entire life. My time with God doesn’t stop with the morning study, prayer and devotional. I’ve felt His presence throughout the day—especially when I wash my hands reciting James 4:7-8. I think He gets a big kick out of that.

Relish this time. And count your blessings—one by one.

In the Rearview Mirror

I blink! Another year passes. And another. In my seventh decade, time has shifted into warp speed. When I realized 2019 closed out a decade, I couldn’t help but reflect on the last ten years.

On January 1, 2010, I would not have known my parents would pass into eternity within the decade’s first three years. Neither would I’ve comprehended that our children would marry the loves of their lives and then grace Al and me with the most beautiful granddaughters in the universe. Too often I said they would never marry. “Al and I will never be grandparents!”

Thankfully I was wrong!

 I’m not going to make any New Year’s predictions for 2020 or for any decade to come. I truly don’t want to know the future this side of Heaven. If I’ve learned one thing in 65 years, it’s this: I don’t know what tomorrow brings so I will live in real time, praising a real Savior.

Jesus cradles my time and circumstances in his hands. How do I know that? From the past. He’s been faithful and I know He cares for me now and forever.

If you don’t have Jesus in your life, consider the fact that He died to give you eternal life. While time in this finite world matters, it’s not the end of your story. Nor is it the end of mine.

Look back but also look ahead. Your final destination is at stake.

Learning at 65

When Frankie Valle and the Four Seasons first belted out “Oh, What a Night!”, they had no idea the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra would be hosting the Doo Wop Project Encore May 18, 2019, that I would turn 65 the next day, and that I would want to celebrate by enjoying their happy tunes.

Turning 65 has become a Medicare milestone which now forces me to check the last box on any age range. Ouch! That hurts a bit! What doesn’t hurt (well, maybe a little) is how much God is teaching me at this age. So I thought I would share what I’m learning at 65.

#1: Savor the Moment

Most of my life has been structured and planned. But lately I’ve been stopping to smell the roses, watching our backyard squirrels do their acrobatics with Mr. & Mrs. Duck waddling through, and listening to unidentified, unseen birds serenade us. Surprisingly, those moments feel meaningful. I’m finally seeing and appreciating the simpler things in life.

#2: Stretch More

Twenty years ago when our church first introduced Christian yoga, I went once and left unimpressed. But now that my joints seem to tighten with the slightest twist, it not only makes sense, it feels good. To listen to soft music and stretch after a day’s activity not only provides time to praise Jesus but also makes gardening, walking, and balancing much easier. I’m now a fan of intentional relaxation and trying something new even at 65.

#3: Revisit the Past

I tend to live toward the future, but lately it’s been important for me to resume relationships with childhood friends. All of us now being retired opened that door. It’s been fun and enlightening to meet them for lunch all over Central Indiana.  They remember things I’ve long since forgotten. Because of this, I’m motivated to write remembrances of my parents’ childhoods so that our three granddaughters will someday know their great grandparents.

God has blessed my family and me beyond measure. Stepping into this new phase of life is good for the soul, cultivating wisdom and peace that can only prepare me for the days ahead.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. . .Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

Proverbs 31: 25, 30

A River Runs Through It

True or False? I have never lived farther than 10 miles from White River. At the risk of your thinking I don’t get out much, my answer is True.

While growing up in Bloomfield, Indiana, our family crossed White River frequently as it edged the town’s western perimeter. My sister and I could bike to one of its creeks where we learned to skip stones and torment frogs with stray branches.

Later I followed the river north. Although I didn’t choose Ball State University based upon its five-mile proximity to White River, I enjoyed knowing it was nearby. The only Muncie river interaction I remember involved an earth science class field trip to study how the city purified its water.

The farthest I’ve ever lived from White River came after Al and I were married and rented our first apartment near Eagle Creek Reservoir. At that location, I was approximately 10 miles from the river. Ironically that was the closest I’ve ever lived to a body of water.

When we built our first home in Decatur Township two years later, we lived five miles west of the river. In 1987, we moved to our current location in Center Grove, five miles east of the river.  When it flooded in 2008, White River and our area erupted into a news flash as homes were damaged beyond repair.

This spring White River became relevant when Al and I were introduced to its scenic four-mile round trip asphalt trail, the White River Greenway Trail, which starts at Waverly’s Old Town Park. There’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Thank you, White River, for being a continuum this side of Heaven!

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. . .” Revelation 22:1

Great Joy!

October 7, 2018:

As I write this, all is quiet on the home front. Our two-year-old granddaughter Elianna and her newborn sister Tirzah are both taking a nap after church. A first since the baby was born a month ago! In fact, I’m fairly certain our daughter is asleep upstairs, too.

Since Tuesday when Al and I arrived for our two-week visit, time has blurred. Thirty plus years have sped by since we had to juggle the first month of a household of two children twenty-eight months apart. Believe me, the déjà-vu fatigue is reflected in our daughter’s face while our son-in-law is trying his best to hold everything and everyone together.

Al and I remember too well that some days inevitably will be literally filled with leaking diapers, feeding, and sobbing (the last one primarily the two-year-old and the mommy). Been there, done that!

Yet this time’s it’s different! Days that seemed like an eternity in retrospect now seem to fly by. When I was a young mom alone with a baby and a toddler, it seemed like forever until Al walked through the door at 4pm. If I had time for a shower before he came home, it was a good day.

Reliving those days with my daughter and her husband, Al and I could care less when we shower (in humid Houston, it only makes sense before bedtime). Why? Because we’re eager to share “oats-honey-raisin” breakfasts and walks to the park with our gregarious and incredibly intelligent two-year-old and cuddles, coos, and silly songs with our bright-eyed, sweet grandbaby.

October 23, 2018:

Actually it was 1:45am, Wednesday, October 24, when the texting interrupted our sleep. Our daughter-in-law’s 24+ hour labor included over 3 hours of pushing. But Nysa came into this world on her terms and on Pacific Standard Time and on the exact date and day her Aunt Valerie was due 34 years ago. Calendars do repeat themselvesJ Great joy also repeats when new parents meet their first child! We have never seen Chris and Shwetha so radiant. Tired but thrilled!

We are on hold to meet Nysa and her welcoming older pet sibling LuLu as we would like her maternal grandparents to soak up the glory of their first grandchild. They’ve traveled all the way from India to enjoy her and support their only daughter and son-in-law. But we enjoyed the family text circle that kept us up until almost sunrise. Al and I felt like we were there with them. Thank God for technology because our children and theirs live so far away.

Soon we’ll all be together, and it will be a glorious celebration of three babies: Tirzah, Nysa, and Jesus, along with a two-year-old whose favorite songs are “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Who You Say I Am.” She sings the first and dances to the second.

Great JOY!

I can hardly wait until we’re all together. That is my happy place! This fall has been an explosion of baby blessings. Al and I cannot thank God enough!

 

In the Air Again

I enjoy traveling. Packing–not so much! Not that I’m complaining, because this is the only way I can see my precious kids and their families. Since Al and I retired five years ago, we have been blessed with opportunities to travel overseas to Israel, Austria, and Cyprus, with two of those three to visit our daughter and her family.

Stateside, we have put several of the 100,000+ miles on our 2008 Chevy Malibu to drive to Maryland, Florida, Texas, California, Colorado, and Michigan. Four of those destinations involved visiting family.

Today I’ve finished packing for the fourth trip this year, second one to Houston, and believe me, I’m grateful not to being going overseas to visit our daughter Valerie, her husband Charley, and our most precious granddaughter, Elianna, who will soon become a big sister to a newborn baby sister.

I love my life!

But I loved my life, too, when both in kids were in college and our big outing for the week was a Friday night trip to Chick-fil-A with coupons. Afterward, Al and I would go to Home Depot and buy a gallon of Behr’s satin finish paint, because our weekend entertainment involved painting a room in our now 32-year-old house.

Then there were the tough-but-precious-memory years when we took care of my parents who moved from their 50+ year old home in southern Indiana into the nearby Hearth at Stones Crossing. Then most of our travel involved going to Bloomfield to check on our childhood homes. During those years time trumped travel in importance.

On the horizon we have a Utah hiking trip with friends planned, another trip to Houston, and two to San Diego where we will welcome to the family our son Chris and Shwetha’s firstborn due mid-October. Weeks later we will all gather in their new home to celebrate the holidays.

I love this phase of our life and am thankful for the God-given resources to be able to visit those we love. But occasionally I wish they were just minutes away instead of hours. Our two homebound gray babies, the infamous Bevo and Bewley kitties, agree.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

1 Timothy 6:6