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.

When I Teach, I Learn. . .

On Valentine’s Day I wrapped up a promised Christmas gift, one that my goddaughter requested. Since I had been a middle school teacher and because they were studying Southeast Asia, Miss Lain invited me to share about my trip to Cambodia in 2013.

I began cramming for my presentation by reviewing facts about Cambodia and designing a worksheet for students to fill in the blanks as I talked. To my surprise, I didn’t need to use PowerPoint but instead loaded the pictures into Google Photos where she could remotely access them.

Arriving at 7:45am, I reported to the office, signed in, and then waited in the classroom for her to return from a meeting with parents. That brought back my memories from the 1990’s of early morning meetings.

Most of the classes were well-behaved, but it was Valentine’s Day and a few teachers were handing out candy with Skittles, as always, the favorite. In contrast, Miss Lain’s surprise for her students was a 65-year-old, white-haired guest speaker.

Here’s what I learned or remembered from teaching 7 forty-seven-minute classes:

  • Thirteen-year-old student behavior hasn’t changed much since the 1990’s.
  • Approximately 5 students in each class were not born in the U.S.
  • Silence works well in regaining their attention.
  • They loved the photos and accompanying stories.
  • Today’s seventh graders ask good and sometimes difficult-to-answer questions.
  • Teachers must find ways to involve students to make a point, such as asking them to stand if they wore glasses and then explaining how they would have been arrested for that in Cambodia during the late 1970’s.
  • Six hours of constant talking and standing in front of teenagers is still exhausting!

God bless those of you who teach. Its rewards are priceless. In today’s mail, notes from each of Miss Lain’s classes thanked me for the presentation.

Gratitude is still alive and well in the hearts of our children even if it takes a special teacher to extract it! Perhaps that’s one of the more important things teachers teach.

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