Monday Memories: “Just Perfect” but still Bittersweet

IMG_8773Ever feel nostalgic when everything’s going just great? IMG_8772Alan’s turning 64 isn’t the end of the world, after all, Rock & Roll   even if we may someday have to return to the rock and roll of the Sixties
(and it won’t look anything like it used to). OliverThe fact of the matter is, things couldn’t be better! (This is Grandson Oliver.) Mike jump ropingOur kids are all doing great, 10173539_10101244980505887_778728038307778388_nand even the kids who live far away 10300248_10101244980515867_2847725752365413363_ngo to great pains to stay in touch and cheer our hearts. IMG_8388The kids visit as much as they can! Jonathan even came from Washington IMG_8691over Memorial Day, and although Linda and the kids couldn’t come, we stillIMG_8386 kept up via Skype. We were also able  to sing “Happy Birthday” to Giles IMG_8390and watch him terrorize (…er…devour) his 2nd birthday cake. And, even though  IMG_8697 Jon had to go back home, he still keeps us laughing from across the country! DSCN2580At the end of May we rented a U-Haul and made a circle tour, cleaning out Joel’s DSCN2586WMU and Stephen’s MSU apartments. Both of our youngest sons are home for IMG_8394the summer, working hard but enjoying a bit of respite before the rigors of fall. IMG_8743Both the guys have great taste, & Chef Stephen (with Chef Joel’s help) made us aIMG_874914-roll+ sushi extravaganza yesterday as a special double birthday party for IMG_8761Alan and Brianna (who share a birthday) as well as a somewhat sad goodbye IMG_8753party for Lois and Oh, who will be returning to their native homes this week. IMG_8766All this is great, right? Just the way things should be?! Kids grow up and thrive. DSCN2253I wouldn’t want it any other way, and even Alan and I are thriving! Alan got a  DSCN2587new pole barn for his birthday, and he’s expecting a new tractor for Father’s Day.IMG_8757So how come if everything’s “just perfect,” I’m still feeling a bit sad this morning? DSCN2583I think it’s a bit of the impending “Empty Nest” syndrome. Alan and I are aging!IMG_8747  We’re not “old and helpless” yet, but time is passing, & we’re having to give up IMG_8748some of the old to prepare for the future. But, it’s all good. God is good.
Time to be grateful for our overflowing cups…and clean house! 🙂

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die…a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together…a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,5,6).

Bubbles Burst But Bubbles Rose

This has been a pretty horrendous week. In the triple minus column were two accidents and two funerals. The worst was my oldest son, Aaron, who was hit by a car (driver’s fault) riding his bicycle home from work last Monday night. The lady in the car  was fine, but the impact threw Aaron into the lady’s windshield, gashed his back breaking off her side mirror, and landed him in the E.R. with an injured knee, sore arm, scratches and bruises, but miraculously, no broken neck, brain damage, or other deadly injury. I was also in an accident (my fault), where I failed to see a car coming behind a paint truck. I was totally blindsided and didn’t know she was there until she careened off the side of my front bumper. Her SUV flipped and blew out both the back and front windows before landing back upright. It was the worst car accident I’ve ever been in, but miraculously, both of us walked away without a scratch. Unbelievable! Thank you, Lord, for your amazing mercies to all four of us!

I also attended two funerals. One was the brother of a friend, and the brother was just 2 weeks older than I am. This man was an alcoholic and his family wasleft with great grief and pain. The other was a very elderly lady from our chapelwho was much loved by everybody and had earned the nickname “Bubbles.”Despite these frightening and very sad negatives, there were some happy positive events too. I helped a friend with her garage sale to raise money for the adoption of a little guy from Columbia, and she raised a lot of money! On Saturday, thesound guru from our chapel sponsored a surprise 60th birthday party for the power-point guru and even managed to get his family from Wisconsin to come!Our pastor and the head of our deacon board sponsored a great impersonation of Doug and Bob cracking jokes behind the scenes, and Andy noted their similarityto some other famous commentators. Here’s our pastor, who cheerfully endured such cracks (doubtless his idea) as: Doug: “Boy, I sure wish the messages were on TV.”   Bob: “Why?” Doug, “So then we could turn ’em off!” After the fun, therewas lots of good food(which I think is pretty much a part of most “family” gatherings, isn’t it?),and lots of good fellowship. Welcome to the 60’s Bob; they’re not so bad! 🙂It’s also ArtPrize in GR right now, an annual event that attracts about a half a million visitors and I believe has the biggest monetary prize of any art fair in the U.S. Alan’s hospital uses this opportunity to invite psychiatric residents to consider coming to GR after they’re through with school, and so Alan and I enjoyhelping host a gala event at the top of the GRAM (local art museum) each year.It’s a family event, & this year Daniel and Brianna joined us. The food was great,

and we always have a wonderful evening! Sunday we had friends from Virginia stop by for church and Sunday dinner, and our ladies’ Bible study has started up again. All 50 workbooks have already been claimed, and I think it’s going to be a great study on the book of James. (Not too late to join if you want!) I took a platter of goodies to our new neighbors, saw a beautiful buck on our lane (which has become my new facebook background now…) So, despite all the bubbles that burst, and there were bubbles of happiness too. The morning after Aaron’s accident, Reid (2) got up and decided on his own to set the table: “Daddy hurt, Mommy! I hewp!” Now, that cheers the hearts of parents and grandparents!And we mustn’t forget Bubbles! She rose and went to heaven. So, in the midst of all the ups and downers in life, I hope we all remember that even though some of our hopes and dreams burst like bubbles, if we’ve become the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we are like Bubbles, and we will rise when we die!

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4).

All On a Golden Afternoon

This morning’s headline in U.S.A. Today reads, “Amid tragedy, ‘thank God.'” Over the past few days, 74 tornadoes devastated 10 states, killing at least 39 people and wounding hundreds more. Some of the tornadoes had winds up to 175 mph and left debris as much as 68 miles away.
The damage is unfathomable, and so I was especially impressed by the courage of the people who were interviewed in the article. Many who escaped praised our weather service’s early warning system and word-of-mouth reports, saying that they were able to seek shelter, and that “it could have been far worse.” Alan had to attend a conference in Orlando this past week. On the way down, our plane tried to land in a blinding rainstorm in Baltimore. The pilot touched down, then skidded and went back up in the air, circling for a few minutes before making a second (and successful) attempt to land. That was slightly frightening, but it seemed like nothing after reading about what was happening in the the Midwest.Once the conference ended Sunday afternoon , we decided to go for a walk.It was a golden afternoon. Last April when we came down to Disney for our annual camping trip (right after Alan finished his radiation treatments), a tornado touched down just ten miles from our campsite, and it rained so hard that Alan declared we had waterfront property, but this year the weather was superb!I collected all these beautiful pictures to share with you, but after reading the news this morning, I felt rather guilty enjoying peaceful sunshine while others are suffering great pain and heartache.I was also feeling guilty for being so sick that I couldn’t help out Kathy and Carl while they’ve been in such need with Carl’s broken ankle and now the new baby.How do we balance enjoying the good of life that is our “lot” with care for family and the endless stream of needs around us? How do we help without becoming so overwhelmed that we cease to take pleasure in what we have?I noticed that the newspaper listed both the Red Cross and the Salvation Army as good avenues for giving a donation to help with the crisis and mentioned $10 as a helpful amount. That doesn’t seem like much, but if everybody who can will share even $10, that could make a huge difference.Maybe that’s part of the answer. Doing something, even a small something, is better than doing nothing. If we all share and reach out to help each other in our times of need, then the crises are much easier to handle.I’m thankful for the many people who’ve reached out to help Kathy. In a couple of days, I’ll be home and hopefully well enough to take over without passing on influenza, but I’m so grateful for Carl’s sister and other family and friends who helped us fill in the gaps! So, I was able to enjoy a golden afternoon, and I hope you’re able to set aside all your worries and enjoy the golden afternoons in your life too!

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1