Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Time's Fun When You're Having Flies

On Saturday, August 24th, 2019, Nancy and I will be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary.  I know, right?  45 years with me... she deserves a medal!  I actually am amazed that these years have accumulated so quickly - it seems to have happened overnight and here we are.  

I have heard others talk about how time gets away from them.  People who say those things aren't kidding.  Those words have a large degree of truth to them.  Time flies when you are having fun (a fellow co-worker Dwight Kessler once told me that the frogs say it differently: "Time's fun when you're having flies" - nice, Dwight!)  

I would invite any of you not to squander any moment of your life, but live the fullness of life each day because it is so fleeting.  

Easier said than done because time has its own measure.  It depends upon your activities.  Sometimes time does fly by when things are going good.  Other moments drag on endlessly, so much so that even the tick.... tock.... tick.... of the clock on the wall seems to slog its way toward the top of the hour.  Some moments speak to time standing still (something I'd like to see happen in the aging process).  Still other moments require patience in waiting for a desired result - the third time's a charm.  We can try to make up for lost time, arrive in the nick of time, or believe that there is no time like the present.  We can't turn back the hands of time, but we can be in crunch time.  Time has so many faces to it.  

Here's all I want to say about time today... these past 45 years - time spent with the love of my life - have been filled with time honored moments.  After being married for five years we experienced the birth of our three children over the span of four years time.  Being with them as parents, watching them grow up has been timeless.  Now, they have families of their own - its their time to watch their own children in those precious times.  As for Nancy and I, we try to balance our time together.  We both spend a lot of time in what we enjoy doing - which is spending time at work, helping others a time or two along the way.  With assurance, I can say that the past 45 years has been the time of my life!  Time waits for no one, but i'm glad I took the time to tell you how important these times have been for me. 

Perhaps now is a good time for you to take a closer look at time - before time runs out...  

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Decision

Today, I came to a potentially life changing decision.  It wasn't an easy one to make, but after years of frustration and falling short of the mark, I feel that this decision was required.  Not only required, but necessary, for my own mental health, if nothing else.

What could be such an important decision?  Relax.  For some of you, this is going to seem very trivial.  But I have to tell you, I am steadfastly resolved to follow through on it.  Here's the Big Reveal and then I will share with you the Decision: I have come to the conclusion that I am just an average golfer.  I cannot hit the ball as far as I used to, nor can I hit it as straight as I desire.  I have spent countless numbers of minutes trying to figure out how I can get my score down to what is the basic standard in golf, normally called "par".   

Here's some background on the Big Reveal: I've been keeping some stats - if you are a numbers person, you'll love this.  I have recorded 15 rounds of golf since the start of this season.  That translates into 270 possible pars this year.  I have recorded exactly 64 pars during those 15 rounds - which is about 24%.  There is one hole on the course I play which I have not parred this year!  Not once.  Haven't even come close.  

I hate that hole.

Now, to my credit, I have birdied exactly one hole.  Exactly one.  The rest of the time has been spent in bogeys, double bogeys and others (which are larger than the first two).  My average score for 18 holes is a 91.  I counted up all of my strokes and if I were to have entered into a 15 round tournament, I would be a whopping 301 strokes over par.  That's an average of 20 over par each time I step on the first tee.  No wonder I'm so tired after a round of golf!  I'm hitting the ball too many times!

So that's my reality.  Here's the Decision: I have decided that since I am an average golfer, I am arbitrarily moving the standard of par by adding one stroke to every hole.  I will be a much happier camper knowing that if I shoot my average (which is about 91) I will only be two over par!  

This could change the way I look at golf for the rest of my life!  No longer do I need to fret over the fact that I'm never going to be good enough to break 80 (which by the new standard of par, would be nine under par.  Can you imagine what that would sound like if someone asked me how I shot today and I told them I was nine under?  I know I am going to be much happier with this decision.

I couldn't help but pause for a moment and think about the standards that we sometimes set in life.  Sometimes, they are impossibly too high for some of us to measure up to.  We work so hard to bring our "A" game to our work places, our school work, our family relationships, our marriages, our children, our communities.  What would it look like to not be so concerned about reaching a level of par that very few can attain?  

It's true that we are all equal in God's sight.  And God's grace is the great equalizer.  When we are not up to par spiritually, God's grace tells us we are still loved.  When we fall into the sand traps and water hazards of life, God's grace tells us we are still valued.  When we struggle to keep on the straight and narrow fairways, God's grace is always there, waiting for us to turn around and find shelter. 

Of course I cannot equate my golf challenges with our lives - it's just a game.  But it is nice to know that with God's grace, I can break par every time I stand on the first tee of the morning.  There's a chance because God's grace is a standard that I can hit every time because it was made especially for me and for you - persons who are just average people trying to make their lives count.

God's grace helps me know that I can always be up to par.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Bucket List

I really don't have a bucket list.  I've never really thought about sitting down and making up such a list.  The term bucket list is interesting because of the natural reference to dying or to "kick the bucket".  One might naturally want to have done some things or set some goals before that day happens.  The movie with the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman popularized the phrase and gave it some context.  Older people have been jumping out of airplanes ever since the movie came out... almost always with parachutes on.

If I were going to make such a list, I'd have to think about what things I might want to put on that list.  Right off the bat, one thing I'd put on that list is to play a round of golf at Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia.  When I really think about that, I realize that hope is beyond any bucket list request because I think a bucket list is supposed to have things on the list that you can actually do in reality.  Playing a round of golf where The Masters is played would be beyond my dreams.  So it will have to remain a dream.  Just like the Vikings winning the Super Bowl.  It happens only in my dreams.  

I imagine that seeing some parts of the world (and our country included) could be on that list.  Traveling and sightseeing sounds a bit more attainable than standing on the course that Bobby Jones built.  Places like London, Paris, Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, and a few other locations appeal to my sense of curiosity.  I've been to a number of locations across the world that have been a complete joy to visit (Israel; Rome; New York City; Niagara Falls; Orlando; Calumet, Minnesota).  Certainly this item on a bucket list could be realistically attained.

I don't have any desire to do anything wild and crazy (like jumping out of an airplane strapped to someone's midsection and wondering why in the world I would ever do such a thing).  But I would include on that list learning how to play a guitar or learning how to play the piano.  At least, those things sound prettier and make me feel a lot safer than hurtling toward earth at breakneck speed.

I wouldn't mind hitting a hole-in-one.  Sometime.  Anytime.  At any course.  Anywhere.  With any club.  I'm about ready to settle for a mini-putt hole-in-one and call it good.

I thought about putting losing weight on the bucket list, but quickly realized that is already on my current to-do-list.  It wouldn't make any sense to transfer it to a list that I'm hoping to see happen when it is already on a list that I hope to see happen.

I were to distill it down to one thing that must be on my bucket list that I'd like to see before this journey of life ends it would have to be this: I really want to be the kind of person that God wants me to be - every day in every way.  Perhaps that sounds self righteous in some ways.  It really isn't meant to sound that way.  I just want to be the best that God is calling me to be.  

Wait, that's on my current to-do-list as well.  Shoot.  I'll have to keep thinking on it.  I'll get back to you on that.  

So, what would you include on your bucket list?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Enough Is Enough

Enough is enough.  I've sat on the sidelines for the past few months not wanting to blog anything - mostly because I don't want any more divisiveness.  I experienced something like that in one of my previous posts before I took a self-imposed exile from blogging.  I had written something that I was passionate about and several persons took me to task for my perspective - so I removed the article.  I just figured that there is enough division in the world today that I don't need to add to it.  Enough is enough.

Now, that being said, I know that we cannot escape the lines that divide us.  In fact, I've always appreciated hearing another perspective on any topic upon which someone might disagree with me.  Goodness, I'm certainly not the final authority, nor do I think I have the market cornered on any particular topic.  The thing that troubles me is when labels are attached to that point of view when labels don't need to be attached.  If someone disagrees, then why not just leave it at that?  Why can't someone just disagree without pigeonholing them into some category?

Think about it - we have so many huge issues in this nation that everyone is wrestling with: random senseless violent acts against innocent people, political divisions, religious splits over difficult issues, disagreements over immigration policies - I could go on and on.  I'm not offering any solution or critique on any one of these items.  The issues are not my point.

Here's what I am thinking about: we are always going to have different viewpoints on these matters.  It's one of the things that makes us wonderfully human.  I believe we can learn from those different viewpoints - perhaps not always agree, maybe sometimes agree to disagree, and maybe even debate the position we hold dear.  There isn't anything wrong with those actions.  When the conversation goes beyond that into calling someone a name or attaching some kind of label, well, as I said, enough is enough.

You are free to disagree with me.  I'm okay with that.  Just leave it at that.  In the final analysis, I am responsible to measure my own understanding of what I believe to be true with God's way - with God's truth (I'm not imposing that on anyone either - it's how I look at my own life - I am responsible to balance God's view into my equation of life).  

Even if we hold issues in disagreement, God will weigh in on the topic.  God always has something important to say about any issues we might disagree upon.  And if we choose to disagree with God...

...well, I wonder if (and when) God might say to us "Enough is enough".

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I Hear That...

There are things that you do that you just don't have to think about: breathe, look with your eyes, move your hands across a keyboard or number pad, listen with your ears, taste something good with your mouth.  Ordinarily, you just don't really think purposefully about doing these things - they come naturally, right?  So what happens when one of these things doesn't work properly?  What then?

I'm asking that question now because I have experienced some hearing loss.  I had an appointment with a specialist in Sioux Falls yesterday.  Before seeing him, I had a series of listening tests that I need to go through.  "Push the button when you hear a tone" the hearing specialist told me.  I could hear some tones and I would push the button.  Other times I sat there in that soundproof room, wondering why she wasn't sending any tones so I could push the button.  

What a dope I am, sometimes...

The hearing specialist told me that I am generally okay on the lower tones, but it really begins to be severe on the upper tones.  The doctor specialist told me the same thing.  Evidently, my problem is located in the cochlea - that portion of the inner ear that looks like a snail shell (cochlea is Greek for snail - who knew?).  The cochlea receives sound in the form of vibrations, which cause the stereocilia to move.  The stereocilia then convert these vibrations into nerve impulses which are taken up to the brain to be interpreted.  From what I could understand, this portion of the inner ear can begin to fail.  No corrective surgery will help - but hearing aids will.  

I wasn't ready to hear that.

I mean, c'mon!  I've just been through the wringer with three major surgeries in five months (which by the way, anyone of these could have been a catalyst in accelerating the hearing loss - isn't that fabulous!)  How many things can one person expect to have to deal with in one year?  

I look at that sentence and I realize how foolish I am if I really believe it.  Because I have been blessed - immeasurably blessed by God over the years.  I've walked with persons whose courage and faith makes mine seem so small.  I don't have a leg to stand on (well, that's actually not true, I have two bionic legs to stand on).  I mean that I have no business getting upset over things like this.  It's just a part of aging.  It's natural.  I'm not exempt from any of these things.  And I believe that God will always speak loudly enough for me to hear.  So, what's my problem?  Really nothing in the vast picture of life.  I'm good.  

I hear that...

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Getting Back to the Ride

I haven't posted anything here since the early part of October of last year.  There are two really good reasons for this latest drought: 1) I've been dealing with recovery issues regarding the replacement of my left hip, and both left and right knees (three major surgeries in five months).  Now, I know I had time to sit down and blog a few ideas during that time, but then again, I just didn't feel like it.  I know.  Kinda strong, huh?

2) The second reason is more than likely the overriding factor in deciding not to journal anything during that time frame.  I had posted something that some persons thought was political in nature.  I might have been oversensitive to their response (goodness, I even deleted the post).  But it really bothered me that I wasn't supposed to have any opinion at all.  That's not what my faith tells me.  That isn't what I learn from scripture.  Followers of Jesus are called to be wise, discerning, not conforming to the world, but being transformed to the mind of Christ.  I was merely calling to light those things which were not any of these things.  So be it.  I guess it's time to put on my big boy pants.

I really wanted to share how difficult this process of healing from three major surgeries in five months has been.  I'm not certain if I actually gave enough time to heal adequately between each procedure (then again, the experts are telling me it takes about a year to fully heal from any one of these.)  I'm certain there was depression - I know this because I would sit at home and do nothing for long periods of time, knowing it wasn't helpful or even healthy.  One of signs of depression is the inability to complete a task.  For a while, that was me.

There was pain, but medication was there to help that along.  Yet even in this I was wary.  So much has been reported about opiates and the dangers surrounding them.  Two of the prescriptions were opiates.  I stopped taking them after a few weeks mostly because I was not about to become dependent upon them.

Therapy wasn't necessarily a highlight, but it did some good in the long run.  I would go to therapy feeling pretty good in my hip/left knee/or right knee, but would feel much more sore around those parts when I left.  Not sure that was the intended result.

I also had a very hard time sleeping.  I cannot remember the last good seven - eight hour sleep I had straight through.  Up every few hours, unable to sleep, wandering late at night, wondering late at night if I was ever going to be healthy again.  

And lastly, I missed connections.  Not able to be in the office and see people.  Not able to have my own nuclear family around me when I was recovering.  Nancy took a few days off to help me (which was very helpful).  When she needed to return to work, I'm sure she was glad to get away from her 64 year old patient who wasn't being very patient.  I did receive a lot of cards and well wishes - you have to know how much they were appreciated!  

So it was a rather tough ordeal.  I'm glad it's on the last track right now.  I'm glad I did it and it's over.  Like my daughter told me when we were in Israel on a colder than anticipated day "Suck it up, buttercup, you're from Minnesota!"  

I'm doing better.  I know I am.  Goodness, here I am blogging again.  

Thanks, Lord, for the healing you provide.