Thursday, May 25, 2017

Time to Remember

We're approaching the Memorial Day holiday, which many view simply as a kick-off to the summer vacation season.  But Memorial Day is so much more than that. This is a holiday which has its roots in the days following the Civil War and which began as a way to honor and remember those who had died in that war.  Although in recent years it has been observed much like other patriotic holidays (Independence Day and Veterans' Day) as a way to honor all the men and women who serve in our nation's military, I believe it is important to remember why we have this particular holiday. 
This day is so much more than just a kick-off to summer, and it is so much more than a day to honor the military, as important as that is.  We have Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May) to honor those who are now serving in our nation's military.  Sadly, unless you are part of a military family or you live in a community near a military base, you may not even be aware of this holiday.  We have Veterans' Day in November to honor all those who have served in our nation's military.

This holiday, Memorial Day, is a day set aside to remember those who have died in service to our country.  To remember that freedom isn't free.  To remember that all those who went off to war didn't come home.  Memorial Day is a day to remember.

In places like Gettysburg and Vicksburg.  At Bull Run and Bunker Hill. In faraway places like Normandy and Argonne. Korea and Vietnam. Baghdad and Mosul.  Kabul and Kandahar. In all these places and many more, somebody died for you. Memorial Day is a day to remember that.  Somebody died for you.

As you're celebrating Memorial Day with family and friends, remember.

This weekend, while you're enjoying your day off from work, or your day at the beach, or your barbecue, or your ball game, take time to remember.

Freedom isn't free. 


Somebody paid the ultimate price so you can enjoy all these things.


Somebody died for you.


"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."  (John 15:13 ESV)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Life On The Road. Focus.

We are midway through our fifth week of life on the road. Five weeks of sleeping in hotels. Five weeks of loading and unloading as we travel from one hotel to the next. Five weeks of living out of a suitcase. Five weeks of restaurant food, some of it really good, and some not so much.

Five weeks away from home makes one weary. After this length of time, even little inconveniences get magnified into big irritations. Being away from home and family and friends for this length of time finds us longing for home, which makes this a good day to make a determined effort to focus on the positive.

Whether you're on an extended road trip or not, fatigue has a way of dragging us down, causing our focus to shift from the positive to the negative. That makes this a good day to shift my focus. To focus my attention on the positive. To remember all the reasons I have for being thankful.

Let's just start with this: yesterday marked six months since my stroke. Six months ago life changed, not just for me, but for my husband as well. Six months ago I was in the ICU, with family and friends wondering if I would wake up. Today I am so much improved that most people don't even realize that I had a stroke! Yes, there are things I can't do as well as I once did, but I am alive and healthy! I am a very blessed woman, and so thankful for how God has brought me through this challenge!

When I finish this post, I am going down to the gym to walk off some of the delicious food I have eaten over the last few days. A few months ago, I wouldn't have been able to do that, but now I can!

While we have been on this trip, I have been reading. Yes, reading! I never thought I would be able to do this again, but I am actually reading a book and enjoying it! It's a very slow process for me. In my "previous life", I probably would have read this book in 2 or 3 days. Currently, I have been working on it for about 5 weeks, and I'm about halfway through. If I let it, that could really frustrate me, since in the past I probably read about 10 books a month. But now, I am so grateful to be reading again and enjoying the process, something I never really believed would happen.

We have seen some beautiful countryside on this trip. We have eaten some delicious food. We have experience all kinds of weather.  It is a warm, sunny morning here in Ohio, which I'm very thankful for after almost three weeks of cold and gloom and rain.

One of the things I am most thankful for today is a change in our travel schedule, which allows us time to go home for a few days before we finish the trip. I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. I'm even looking forward to doing my own laundry in my own washing machine!

Life on the road can be challenging.

But there is always something to be thankful for!

Monday, May 8, 2017

How Do You Spend Your Time?

How do you spend your time?

A few weeks ago, during a visit with the neurologist, I was asked that question. How do you spend your time? When she asked me that question, I had to chuckle a little bit. At the time, I was still in speech therapy, so my answer went something like this:

On Monday I do laundry, and I have a nap. On Tuesday, I go to Therapy and then to the gym, and I have a nap. On Wednesday, I do my therapy homework, and I have a nap. On Thursday, I go to therapy and the gym, and I have a nap. And so goes the rest of the week.

During our previous road trip a couple of years ago, the question was "Won't you get bored?" My answer at the time was no. At the time I occupied myself in hotels with reading and writing, and while we were driving, I took lots of pictures.

On this trip, the question is a little different. I'm more often asked if I'm doing ok. I'm sure the question relates to being on the road so long while still recovering from my stroke. I spend my time a little differently than I did on the previous trip. There is much less reading than before, because reading is still very slow for me. But I am enjoying reading Joel Rosenburg's Without Warning. I began the book as we began our journey and have read 125 pages so far. In my "previous life", I would have read this and several other books by now. But that's not how things work in my new normal.

The difference between this trip and the previous one, is that a daily nap. Whether I'm here in the hotel while Al is working, or we're driving from one place to the next, the afternoon nap is a necessary part of life, whether on the road or at home.

Over the last few months, the question How do you spend your time? has often been asked, whether by doctor's or therapists or concerned friends. I answer the question these days differently than I might have answered it a few months ago. These days, I'm much more careful about how I spend my time. I give more careful thought to the choices I make, knowing that I have much less energy than I had before, and wanting to spend my time wisely.

Even for those of you who have never had a stroke, it's a good question. How do you spend your time?

How do you choose to spend your time? What is the value system that controls the choices you make? Are the choices you make about how you spend your time consistent with the values you profess? For example, as a follower of Christ, how much time and energy are you giving to the Word of God? Have you read your Bible today? Have you spent time in prayer?

Or are you just busy being busy?

Something to think about.

"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God."
(Psalm 42:1 NASB)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

On the Road Again. The Journey Continues.

The second week of our road trip found us in South Florida. As the week ended, we began making our way to the middle of the map. The first week of our trip included some time with family; this last weekend included time with some precious friends.

As we were driving north, making our way from Florida to Missouri, we stopped in central Georgia for lunch on Friday with two precious friends. Then on Saturday night, we spent some time in Tennessee with more special friends. Friends like these are among life's greatest blessings!

Whether you are on a road trip or just "traveling through life", there are some highs and lows. We experienced some high points this week as we spent time with friends, but there have been some low points as well. In this trip around the country we have made some interesting observations. Among them, that there are bad drivers every where you go, and the disturbing reality that this country's infrastructure is falling apart! Roads and bridges everywhere are crumbling!

When we arrived here in St. Louis, we were upgraded to a suite. This is a special blessing, since we are here for the entire week. We have two rooms, which gives us plenty of room for our "stuff", plenty of room for Al to work, and a separate room for sleeping.

We left a drought in Florida to come to Missouri, where they have had too much rain, and a number of roads are flooded. Besides the rain, it is much cooler here than I expected, which makes me very glad I thought to pack jeans and a jacket!

As we begin this third week of our trip, I have three conclusions:
  • Expect the unexpected. No matter how much you plan and prepare, no matter how many times you check the weather forecast, things won't always turn out exactly as you expect they will. Be flexible. Make adjustments where necessary. And enjoy the journey.
  • Sometimes the "unexpected" is a special gift. Like our suite, for example. "Unexpected" is not necessarily a bad thing. Be thankful. And enjoy the journey.
  • Friendship is one of life's greatest blessings. Over the years we have been blessed to have many "forever friends" come into our lives. Friends with whom we share a special connection. Friends with whom we have enjoyed the journey of life, and with whom we enjoy every moment we get to share together.
We're in our third week of living on the road. We've seen some beautiful parts of the country. We've eaten some good food. Even so, I confess there are days when I long for home! But until we make our way there, the journey continues!

"In everything give thanks."  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. A Book Review.

The setting is England in the early days of World War II. All the men have gone off to war, and the women of the village of Chilbury have defied the Vigar's edict to close the church choir. "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir"  by Jennifer Ryan is the tale of five choir members and their struggles on the home-front.

The tale begins as the choir's closing is announced, and includes one of my favorite lines in the entire book. As the women are discussing the situation and their frustration, one of the women complains, "I don't see why we have to be closed down. It's not as if we're a threat to national security."

That made me laugh and left me looking forward to what was to come. Unfortunately, that was one of the high points of the book for me and I didn't find nearly enough such moments in the rest of the book.

There are five characters central characters through whom the tale is told: a widow whose son has gone off to war; two sisters, the younger of whom has a serious crush on her older sister's fiancĂ©; a refugee from Czechoslovakia; and a conniving midwife.

This book has obvious similarities to "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society", with this tale being a combination of letters and diary entries. It all seemed a bit disjointed to me, perhaps because of the epistolary style. In any event, it did not hold my attention and I lost interest long before I made it to the end.

The book's title and description had me looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately for me, it didn't live up to its promise.

I received a free copy of "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir" from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On the Road Again. The First Week.

We left home last Monday. This morning I've been thinking back over that first week of life on the road. There have been some definite high spots, and there have been some challenges as well.

We began this road trip in Louisville, KY. We had a pleasant stay there, except for my allergy to Kentucky Bluegrass! That nearly did me in, since the allergy medicine was one of the list of things we had forgotten to pack!

Our original plan was to leave Louisville and go to Atlanta, but the Atlanta training was rescheduled. That gave us the opportunity to retrace our steps back to Spartanburg and pick up the things we had forgotten before going on to Columbia. Al's mom was moved from Rehab to her nursing home on Wednesday, so we were able to spend some time with her on Thursday morning before heading on to Florida. We stopped for the weekend in Tampa for some time with family before making our way on to Miami yesterday.

This has been a week of highs and lows. High points of the week include time with family. And because the Atlanta training was rescheduled, we had a couple of extra days we hadn't expected. That was a special blessing!


Having those days in the Tampa area also included some of the low points of the trip so far. The Spring Hill Suites could definitely use an update! So far they win the award for "worst mattress"!

This first week has been a week of adjustments. Adjusting to living out of a suitcase.  Adjusting to different schedules. Adjusting our travel arrangements. Checking schedules and hotel arrangements, and adjusting where necessary.

Adjustments are part of life, whether you're part of a traveling Road Show or not.  Things don't always go according to plan. People don't always do what you think they will or what you might think they should or what you might wish they would. The weather doesn't always cooperate. There are many variables built into the fabric of daily living. And sometimes we have to make adjustments. It's all part of life.

The attitude with which we make those adjustments is the key. Keeping a positive attitude. A smile on your face. Apologizing when necessary. Not being too quick to place blame. Just dealing with things that happen and moving on. It's the key to success in life.  Especially life on the road.

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men."
(Colossians 3:23 NASB)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On The Road Again

A couple of years ago we took a long trip around the country, travelling more than 12,000 miles, going all the way to Southern California and Seattle, then making our way back across the country. And as of yesterday, we're on the road again!

We loaded up the Suburban (a rental), and have begun our road trip, this time around the eastern part of the country. Al will be working, doing training in various cities, and once again I'm along for the ride.

We've packed our clothes and some snacks for the trip. We have the chargers for all our electronic devices. We've tried to anticipate what we will need while we're away and what will need to be taken care of here while we're gone. All that planning and anticipating is much more challenging in my "post-stroke" world, but as much as we are able, we are prepared for this next adventure. 

Of course, it is impossible to fully anticipate everything that we might need. In fact, we already have a list of things we forgot! But that makes me very thankful for our loving Heavenly Father who sees all and knows all, and who will be with us all the way. Even when we are forgetful!

I'm excited about the places we will go and the things we will see as we travel. I'm looking forward to the adventures we will have. I'm praying for safety as we travel, and I'm praying that, wherever we go and whoever we come in contact with, we will shine the light of Jesus.

So, we're on the road again, as the old song goes. Let the adventures begin!

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."  (Psalm 19:14 NASB)