Do you ever wish you could have a few more hours in your day? I’ve caught myself thinking: “If I just had a few more hours, I could…get all my work done, find time to exercise, be more thoughtful, eat better, have time to relax and play some music,” etc! Well, let me tell you what actually happened on the day my wish was granted. It was January 21, unseasonably warm with a heavy fog draped across our window panes. Joel had Alan and me to the airport on time to catch our flight to Chicago, but our flight was delayed…once, twice…the third time was the charm. We left 2.5 hours late after re-booking our flights out of Chicago to Los Angeles. We arrived in Chicago’s O’Hare needing a shuttle bus to the C terminal and no time for the lunch we were looking forward to at Manchu Wok. In fact, the shuttle bus required a 15-minute wait, so we arrived at our gate with just enough time to grab a bag lunch from the venue next door to the gate: McDonald’s. Better than nothing, right?! The flight to Los Angeles was breath-taking. I was thrilled to have a window seat even after the last minute flight switch, since my chief delight on flights is sitting with my nose pressed against the window watching the world glide by beneath me. I wasn’t thrilled to be separated from Alan, and I was downright unthrilled when I discovered that the lovely couple sitting next to me wanted me to pull down my window blind so the light wouldn’t bother them while they worked on cross word puzzles and read.Nevertheless, they eventually drifted off to sleep, and I resumed my watch, rationalizing my uncharitable behavior with the thought that my body was blocking enough of the light so they never stirred from their happy slumbers. However, it was increasingly hard to relax as the hours passed and I realized we were going to arrive at Los Angeles’ LAX at about exactly the time we needed to start boarding for our flight to Hawaii. “DOOMED!” I think they say. As soon as we landed, Alan and I caught each other’s eye to make sure we were both registering the same level of panic and joined the snail trail of passengers who seemed to take longer than forever to relocate and unload their overhead luggage. Wide-eyed, we raced up the landing dock and couldn’t believe our fortune! We landed at Gate 74 and our new flight was departing from Gate 76, just next door! We heaved a huge sigh of relief and waltzed from arrival gate to departure gate with ease and only some slight discomfort from not being able to access a restroom before boarding. Not to worry! We’d have six hours and twenty minutes before landing…definitely enough time to catch up with john. We flew directly into the sunset, its pastel glories blocked by the wing, and soon it was pitch black. We read. We slept. I ate another burger and fries (all the Mediterranean wraps are gone? Hmm…not surprising…) and felt rather ill from a double dose of barf burgers for lunch and dinner. I tried to read some more but was too listless to concentrate. I tried to sleep some more but couldn’t. By the time we arrived, it was only 8:30 pm Hawaiian Standard Time, but it was 1:30 am by EST (aka/ Armstrong body clock time). So far, the extra 1.5 hours on our 24-hour day hadn’t garnered us anything but grogginess. An exhilarating 45-mph wind whipped up by the time we reached Lihue, Kauai, and the descent and landing were attended with jostling and jolting unlike anything I’ve experienced since riding Hollywood Studio’s Tower of Terror. We all braced ourselves for a crash landing…which switched to giddy applause after we touched down and catapulted safely to a screeching halt. The rest was a bit of a blur, but we did make it to the right spot to catch the right bus to the right car rental to dig out the right car and find our way to the right resort to check in and find our way through an incredible maze of hallways to the right room (600+ of them sprawling like a six-story serpent along the oceanfront). By the time we unpacked enough to bathe and climb into bed, it was midnight Hawaii time. “Whew!” Alan sighed as he flipped out the light. “What we needed was a day with about five fewer hours.” I couldn’t help but laugh. I finally got more hours in my day, but if anything I’d been more grouchy, exercised less, ate less carefully, had not relaxed, and had been too listless to get everything on my “wish list” accomplished! So, note to self (and friends): Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it!
“Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” (Psalm 119:35-37)(All photos taken last week on a trip to Mayo Clinic’s Medical Update in Kauai.)
Posted in Adventures, Autobiography, Hawaiian Island Adventures, Memoirs, Travels in America
Tagged Flights from Grand Rapids to Hawaii, Grand Hyatt Kauai, LAX, Manchu Wok, My 29-hour day, O'Hare Airport, Psalm 119:35-37, Wishing for more time, Would you like to have more than 24 hours in your day?
Song of Solomon 7:2 “Thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.” We can’t leave this beautiful text yet, because there’s still a lot left to glean! During the fall harvest festival, piles of wheat decorated with flowers were often placed in parallel rows on the eastern threshing floors. At this time of harvest, the wheat was fully ripe and glowed with a golden sheen, and to these middle-easterners, a body the color of wheat was believed to be the most beautiful.* (Lloyd Carr. The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary, p. 554).It is easy to imagine Solomon thinking back to the beauty of an abundant harvest festival…noticing in his wife’s belly the same golden sheen and soft roundness that reminded him of “a heap of wheat set about by lilies.” Lilies—trumpets fragranced with an almost intoxicating scent— but the snow-white symbol of purity. “Set about with lilies” can mean “to be decorated with,” but it can also mean “to be guarded by.” Her belly, the overlay of her womb, was enhanced by an almost irresistible aroma but also guarded by her purity. The secret passageway to her womb was “set about with lilies”— wondrous, but kept only for him. And here, we are brought once again to the tabernacle door where we sense the glow of the Shekinah glory within. Her navel like wine…her belly like wheat…wine and bread…the two staples of a feast…the two elements of communion. How often in marriage I have sensed the holiness of the marital sex and recognized it as the physical counterpart to spiritual communion. Truly the marriage bed is holy (Hebrews 13:4), and marriage is intended as the physical testimony in this world to the spiritual realities that exist in the marriage between Christ and his bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:21-32). Is anything blocking your fellowship, or are you celebrating communion with joy these days?
Posted in Bible Commentary, Commentary on the Song of Solomon, Marriage and Family Counsel, Meditations on the Song of Solomon, Relationships, Rise Up My Love, Sex and Gender Issues
Tagged Commentary on Song of Solomon 7:2, Ephesians 5:21-32, Hebrews 13:4, Lloyd Carr. The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary, The relationship between communion spiritually and physically, What is meant by a belly looking like a heap of wheat?
One of the things I’ve noticed is that many young adults have never really learned to love cooking. Home economics classes are no longer routinely considered part of a well-rounded education, even in junior high, and unless your mothers were engaging culinary mentors or your father was a professional chef with a penchant for education, then you might not have learned the basics of cooking or discovered just how much fun it is to experiment with food. I started baking at three (cookies for my sweet tooth) and by ten was in charge of making dinner Monday through Friday because my mom taught school and I got home first. However, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of cooking until I got married and noticed that Alan didn’t really like to leave home in the morning without knowing what he could look forward to for dinner that night! It made me laugh, but I started planning ahead, and I eventually enjoyed the challenge of trying to be creative on a low income and would work out menus based on whatever was on sale at the store that week. One of the cheapest meats was hamburger (although it’s gotten pretty pricey lately). In the course of trying to find 101 ways to use hamburger, I discovered stuffed peppers. They’re basically big meatballs stuffed inside bell peppers. Here’s how:Combine 1 pound hamburger, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 2 eggs, 1 t. (teaspoon) Montreal Steak seasoning, 1/3 c. (cup) ketchup, 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. Mix thoroughly and divide into four portions. Wash four peppers,
cut off the tops and clean out the seeds from inside. Stuff the peppers with the hamburger mix and put the tops back on. Add 1/3 c. water. Bake in a covered dish for 1.5 hours at 350°F. Stuffed peppers go really well paired with a fresh tossed salad!
“The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.” Psalm 145:14-15
One of my favorite movies from 2016 is a thrilling biographical drama about American pilot Chesley Sullenberger, “Sully.” Sully was a 57-year-old former fighter pilot, glider pilot, and expert on aviation safety as well as the U.S. Airways pilot assigned to Flight 1549 on the morning of January 15, 2009. Sully and copilot Jeffry Skiles were commissioned to fly from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina with 150 passengers on board. Just three minutes after takeoff, their Airbus A320 collided with a flock of geese and lost all engine power. Although some air tower control officers thought Sully
might be able to reach an airport, Sully (who had logged 19,633 total flight hours) believed his only hope
was to land his craft in the icy waters of the Hudson River, which had never been accomplished successfully before. Although this event became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” and was described as “the most successful ditching in aviation history,” the incident was carefully scrutinized and debated in court. I don’t want to ruin the suspense if you haven’t already read all about it or remember the incident when it occurred, but even if you have, I still think the movie is very inspiring…to see the way people worked together to survive, and the bravery, valor, and courage of the many officers and citizens who were involved in the rescue. If you want to be inspired to live an unsullied life of integrity and heroism
…this is for you!
“The integrity of the upright shall guide them” (Proverbs 11:3).“He [God] delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth” (Daniel 6:27, ESV).
Posted in Adventures, Biographies, Inspiration, Movie Reviews
Tagged Chesley Sullenberger in Sully, Daniel 6:27, Example of integrity and heroism, Heroic ditching of Airbus A320 on Hudson River, Miracle on the Hudson, Most successful ditching in aviation history, Proverbs 11:3, Rescue on January 15 2009, Review of 2016 Movie Sully, Story of US Airways Flight 1549 from NY LaGuardia, What happened to Sully's aircraft when it left LaGuardia?
Ever hear of an African Christmas tree? This is what it looks like.Dozens of vultures roosting in a dead tree,
just waiting for some dead meat for lunch. Doesn’t sound very pretty, does it? And…who likes vultures, anyway? Aren’t they sort of the offscourings of the world? Well, all that changed for me when we went to Africa
and discovered that vultures have gotten a bad rap. They are so universally considered disreputable that they have been mistreated until they’re the world’s #1 endangered species. I had no clue. Furthermore, they are an important part of our ecosystem,
serving as the world’s morticians and garbage collectors.Polishing off carcasses ASAP helps prevent diseases from spreading. So fierce has been their persecution and demise that I’ve had a change of heart toward them, and they’re now on my “favorite birds” list. Let me tell you about our vulture culture experience.Ever hear of a restaurant that caters to vultures by serving free carcasses? Well, neither had I until we stayed at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge
in Zimbabwe, where they have started working with Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust
to help save vultures from extinction. Every day at 1:00 pm they serve up yummy carcasses
at their “Vulture Restaurant.” It was very windy the day we watched, but pretty soon the debris and leaves gave way to the air being filled with circling vultures, who knew it was almost time for some claw-licking’ good fine dinin’.A few minutes before 1:00, the waiter arrived with a load of gourmet delights.I was surprised at how politely the vultures awaited their luncheon party. As the crowd grew, there was definitely an electric feeling…great expectations!Get on your mark, get set…Gooooooo!!!A feeding frenzy followed for about fifteen minutes,replete with party crashers, in particular some gangly marabou storksand a couple of Pumba’s cousins…totally muddied warthogs.If you’ll forgive the comparison…we humans can be a little like vultures. Sometimes it’s easier to live off others
than it is to work hard providing for ourselves.Some people become very unpopular and develop bad reputations.I am thankful that God is a kind Father who provides for all who will come. He doesn’t turn anyone away…no matter how awkward, dirty or ugly we are!Furthermore, He encourages us to do the same for those who need our help.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Posted in A Few of My Favorite Birds, African Adventures, Bird Photos, Health Issues, Nature Studies, Travels Around the World
Tagged African Christmas Tree, Images of Vultures, Matthew 5:44-45, Some surprising facts about vultures, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, Vulture Culture Experience, Vulture Restaurant, World's Number 1 endangered bird species
The Crown is a fabulous historic drama about the early life
and reign of Queen Elizabeth II over the United Kingdom. My daughter recommended it, and once Alan and I started, we could hardly wait to see the next episode…like a great book you don’t want to put down! This 2016, 10-episode T.V. series garnered well deserved
but outstanding ratings: of 8.9 on IMDb and 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.The first season follows the life of Queen Elizabeth from her 1947 wedding to 1955, especially focusing on her family relationships, flashbacks to her childhood, and the development of her close alliance
with Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The producers expect to continue the series over six seasons,
each covering a decade of the queen’s reign up right up to the present day. The Crown, which cost $130 million to produce,
is the most lavish TV series ever produced, and spared nothing, including $35,000 to make a wedding dress for the first episode…just one of 7,000 costumes used throughout the series. Although there was some Hollywood sensationalizing, the overall consensus of critics is that The Crown gives a credibly accurate portrayal and is without a doubt the most intimate and humanizing look into the royal family ever. If you’re interested in British history during the time when the United Kingdom was the greatest, most influential kingdom on earth, check it out! It’s remarkable!
“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:4-6)
Posted in Biographies, History, Movie Reviews
Tagged Greatest Kingdom is the Kingdom of Heaven, Greatest kingdom on earth, Inside look into the life of the Windsor family, Insight into the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill, Most costly TV series in the world, Passionate relationship between Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend was real, Revelation 1:4-6, Story of the early years of Queen Elizabeth II's life and reign, The Crown 2016 Netflix TV Miniseries