"Normal is Just a Setting on Your Dryer" ~ Patsy Clairmont
It seems like a long time since my last blog. But on the other hand it doesn't feel that long at all. So much of life has slowed down during quarantine from what used to be normal. In many ways, days, events, COVID-19 news, directives and rules all tend to scrunch together.
As 2019 merged into 2020 we heard reports about Coronavirus "over there." We thought and hoped, "Keep it there!" But, it didn't. Humph.
Some of us have had many weeks of quiet sheltering in place, while medical professionals, first responders, and other essential workers have been closer to exhaustion. Hopefully down the road they'll get their well-deserved respite.
Cancelled appointments, postponed meetings, delayed gatherings, and online church services have resulted in amounts of uncommitted time from what was normal. Time moved at a slower pace. Time to do things long procrastinated like Honey Do lists and closet cleaning, to name a few. Some sewed face masks for friends, family, and medical personnel. That's something no one imagined several weeks or months earlier. (I made 38, but I heard of a woman who made 1,000!)
Now that we had this time of sheltering, slowing down, and staying at home, I have to wonder what will happen next. As states and businesses begin to open again, will folks take off like a shot cramming their schedules and days to their old normal levels? Or maybe folks will reassess to establish a new slower paced normal. I guess time will tell.
What are you thinking for your new normal?
Continue to stay healthy and safe! And I will admit I'm counting down to my next scheduled hair appointment!
"Thank you so much for speaking so beautifully and gently to the hearts of children." ~Cameron Bellm
Last week I shared "Prayer for a Pandemic" by Cameron Bellm. After getting her permission to post her prayer on my blog, I sent her a message that I had some thoughts about adapting her prayer for children. She urged me to go for it. After writing "When and Then Prayer," I ran it by Cameron, received her encouraging words, and am now posting it on my blog.
WHEN AND THEN PRAYER
by Lynda Boucher
When I can't be with all my friends,
Then help me remember people who have no friends.
When I'm healthy, loved, and safe,
Then help me remember people who are sick and alone.
When I have to stay home and do school,
Then help me remember teachers preparing my lessons.
When we have to call off our vacation and stay home,
Then help me remember people who have no home.
When we can't get everything we want at the store,
Then help me remember people who don't have what they need.
During this time when life is so different than ever before,
Then help me do what I can to make someone else's life better.
I can make phone calls, write letters and stories, send email,
Read to someone, play games with my family, and
Stay safe and healthy!
PS- I recently read a suggestion (I wish I could remember where) about having kids keep a journal during this time when life is so different. It could be a few words, or many. It could be pictures or drawings. It could really be anything that fits their learning style, or whatever they're inspired to do on any given day, to express what they're thinking, feeling, or experiencing. Many years from now, this will be history to show to their kids and grandkids.
"Thank you for praying with me!" ~Cameron Bellm
The other day I read a prayer-poem a friend posted on Facebook. Perhaps you've seen "Prayer for a Pandemic" by Cameron Bellm, which she recently wrote. Very timely and inspiring for such a time as this. I'm sharing her words here, with her permission, in case you haven't seen it, heard it, or read it. You will also find it on Cameron's blog, Krug the Thinker, at
Prayer for a Pandemic
by Cameron Bellm
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
Let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Stay healthy and safe!
"It's like watching The Notebook." ~ Deb Marshall
A couple times on this blog I've mentioned Alzheimer's, my mom's fight with the dreadful disease, and a friend who walked every step on that long path with her precious husband. (Long Story Short - 4/16/18; On My Heart - 3/11/19)
A few days before Valentine's Day, TA's final chapter ended. Since then, I knew I wanted to share something with you. I've processed and mulled over what to say for days. Actually, as I started this, I still wasn't exactly sure where it would end up. Just let it flow, and then figure it out.
Eleven months and two days was TA's time at a care facility, first in Assisted Living, and then Long-Term Care. He began Hospice while still at home, which carried straight through to his final day. (Hospice staff really are angels here on earth, IMHO.) What a blessing it was that someone from Hospice spent each night by his bedside so the family could rest at home when it was clear his days were numbered.
Long before Alzheimer's stole his memory, he and his bride, my dear friend, planned and arranged to donate their bodies to science for medical research. In my head, I imagine how wonderful it would be if the scientists studying his brain made an important discovery about Alzheimer's that would lead to groundbreaking treatments, understanding, and an eventual cure! I told my husband I think a decision to donate your body to science is admirable, and I need to find to more about doing it.
I've been friends with LouRae (LRA) and Tom (TA) since the early 1980's. We've been through many things together, and she and I have a special sisterhood. A most precious memory I have of them on this Alzheimer's journey is even in his final days whenever she would put her face near his face, even if his eyes were closed, he knew it was her and would pucker up for a kiss. That's the sweetest thing! And it's a true testimony to the powerful love they shared, and the legacy of their marriage and life together.
"Everyone was dancing and laughing. Good time!" ~Night to Shine guest
Friday, February 7, 2020 was another awesome Night to Shine prom for special needs people worldwide. This year 721 churches hosted over 110,000 honored guests. The NTS website reported 215,000 volunteers helped make this a very special night. Wow! There were proms in all 50 states this year, as well as 34 countries. Ohio had 42 proms, and here in northeast Ohio 13 proms took place.
This was the third year our church hosted the prom. It's the sixth year since Night to Shine started in 2015, a ministry of the Tim Tebow Foundation. Once again it was a very successful and fun time for all, with many memories made.
After each guest checked in, they met their Buddy for the evening. Flowers, hair stations, shoe shine stations, and a limo ride to the red carpet, all before a delicious dinner. Lots of pictures - candid and posed. Karaoke was again very popular, to say the least. And the dance floor was always full. This year the DJ threw out a "dance off" challenge between the Chick-Fil-A cow and the Texas Roadhouse armadillo, who have joined the fun each year. It was quite a spectacle that everyone enjoyed. I'm still giggling at the sight. (-:
Pastor Jody shared he had an opportunity to stand at the door as guests departed. He was overwhelmed and blessed with all the positive and encouraging comments and hugs of appreciation for the event. Many guests have attended all three years. For some it was their first time. I'm thinking they will come back.
All the decorations are now down and stored until next February. And that's when we'll do it all over again. It takes a lot of planning, organizing, and work. We have an amazing NTS coordinator who handles the details with grace and peace. But she will say it's a "God thing" and all the folks who pitch in to get it done to make it happen.
"It was the very first present I had ever received. It was the best day of my life."
~Tanya, Shoebox recipient
Operation Christmas Child has been a project for our family for several years. We've filled shoeboxes with gifts, returned them to church, which were then taken to a local drop off center. This year, our church became one of many drop off centers that opened last Monday, November 18th. My hubby and I volunteered some of our time, energy, and in some cases, "muscles." The first delivery we literally "hit the ground running" with 311 shoeboxes. But we got through it, and it paved the way for the rest of the week, which ends today.
Later today, 100+ cartons of shoeboxes will be transported to a designated collection location. Last night when we left, the total was 122 cartons filled with 1,808 shoeboxes. These cartons will be loaded with others in a semi tractor-trailer rig for delivery to an Operation Christmas Child processing center in North Carolina. There are eight processing centers in the US, where shoeboxes get inspected for harmful/hazardous items. Monetary contributions and donations defraying shipping costs are removed, and boxes are taped. Millions of shoeboxes get shipped for distribution to millions of children around the globe.
It's when shoebox gifts are given to children that the real blessings begin. I believe some quotes from shoebox recipients can express those blessings far better than anything I can say:
"It's hard to put into words what that box meant to me. It really changed my life." ~Lejla
"When I got my box, I wondered what I felt in my heart that made it beat so fast." ~Nastia
"I took each item out of my box one by one. I wanted to rejoice for everything." ~Andy
"When I got my shoe box, I heard the words I love you for the first time in my life." ~Dominika
If you packed a shoebox this year, or sometime in the past, you've been a blessing. Thank you. If you've never done it, keep it in mind for next year. I'm betting you'll feel the joy in a box!
"A falling leaf is nothing more than a summer's wave goodbye." ~Unknown
Here in northeast Ohio, falling leaves are overwhelmingly waving goodbye right now! If asked to rank the seasons, Fall would be third on my list. My order of preference is Summer, Spring, Fall and last of all Winter.
As the temperatures started cooling, and the leaves started turning into a mosaic of color, we took advantage of the process. We enjoyed drives to feast our eyes on the natural wonder of autumn, strolled through a wooded arts and crafts fair, and hiked park trails to take in the beauty. (The hikes were milestones for me as I continue the rehab process from my Total Knee Replacement in March. My last hike had been quite painful in November, 2018..)
But this past week the leaf focus has changed. Around our neighborhood, mowers are mulching, mega leaf blowers are blowing, and rakes are reaching into landscaping to gather up those waving falling leaves. We are personally grateful that we've left the back third of our property wooded. It's not only a barrier between us and the house behind us, but it's also a great place to haul all those fallen leaves from our many trees where they can decompose naturally.
While searching for a quote to go along with my musings, there were several that caught my attention because of their hopefulness and positivity. Let me leave you with a couple favorites, and maybe you'll understand why it was hard for me to pick just one.
"How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days." ~John Burroughs
"The falling leaf that tells of autumn's death is, in a subtle sense, a prophecy of spring." Robert Green Ingersoll
And one last thing. Remember to "Fall Back" next weekend when we say goodbye to Daylight Savings Time, unless you live in an area that does not do all that time manipulation.
Until next time...
"When I was a kid, I dreaded the question." ~Adam Grant
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" That's a question we can all relate to in one way or another. Either you were asked it, you've asked it, or both.
The other day the title of an article, "Stop Asking Kids What They Want To Be When They Grow Up," caught my attention. Adam Grant, the author and an organizational psychologist stated, "The question forces children to define themselves in terms of work." As a retired teacher, parent, and grandparent, I spent some time mulling over his thoughts. I'm certain I've asked the question, and guessing many other adults have as well, just as adults in our young lives asked us.
Thinking back many years to my childhood, common answers were fireman, policeman, nurse, teacher, and even cowboy or cowgirl. What percentage of past generations actually achieved their childhood replies? Kids now have a much broader spectrum to choose their responses on any given day. Today there are careers and jobs that didn't even exist a few years ago. And I expect new job titles and careers are yet to come into existence.
In days gone by, folks stayed with a company or even a career for their entire work life. (My husband had several job titles with the same company for 45+ years until he retired six years ago, for example. That sort of employment tenure is becoming extinct like dinosaurs.) I recall many years ago in a college class or workshop, a professor stated that in the future people will have many jobs, employers, and/or careers in their work life. How prophetic.
Rather than asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, Mr. Grant proposes, "Instead, invite them to think about what kind of person they want to be -- and about all the different things they might want to do."
Makes sense in 2019, don't you think?
"The first rule of hurricane coverage is that every broadcast must begin with palm trees bending in the wind." ~Carl Hiaasen
As I write this on Sunday, Hurricane Dorian batters Abaco, Bahamas as a Category 5 with 185 mph winds. I recall a few Abaco vacations back in the 1970s and 1980s - beautiful beaches, balmy breezes, friendly folks, and fabulous food. It's hard to imagine what it's like today, and what tomorrow will bring.
I know I've written about hurricanes before. ("We Can Make Our Plans" - 9/18/17 and "Hurricane Force" - 10/15/18) They capture my attention. Dorian's the 4th named storm at the beginning of September. (Tropical Storm Erin's somewhere out there, but not getting much attention.) Compare this year with 2017, when at the beginning of September, we were watching the 9th named storm, Irma. And in 2018, we saw the 6th named storm, Florence, in September. All that to say, let's hope this is a less active hurricane season than the previous two years. Hurricane season in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico ranges from June 1 to November 30, with September being the most active month.
As I've checked in with The Weather Channel for hurricane updates through the years, I often shake my head as meteorologists put themselves out there in the middle of wind, rain, flooding, and flying debris. From the comfort of my living room, it seems dangerous. I hope there are precautionary measures in place behind the scenes to keep them safe.
Recently I saw Stephanie Abrams sharing "Safety Tips" using TWC's "Immersive Mixed Reality Technology." It was really quite impressive. She educated viewers with virtual technology on all that can happen during the stages of a hurricane, and how to prepare and stay safe. But I couldn't help but wonder, after the feature finished, why the TWC staff tells us one thing but then puts themselves in peril. Perhaps one of the meteorologists might consider doing a feature on how things are behind the scenes and how they are really safer than it appears as they battle the elements. I know it would help me feel better about it. How about you?
Hi everyone! I’m your guest blogger for this week, Megan Bockelman. As you may recall, I wrote for the blog once before about a mission trip I went on with our church. This summer however, as our church youth group went to Ponce, Puerto Rico I was spending my time in West Virginia at the 24th World Scout Jamboree. Before you ask, no I haven’t joined Scouts BSA (as many girls did starting last February), but rather I am in a Venture Crew. Crews are part of Scouts BSA and is co-ed for ages 14-25. Where scouts focuses on general survival skills and later leadership, Venturing mainly focuses on high adventure and leadership for all four of our ranks. Being in the crew was also what allowed me to be on staff at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree (also at the same place in West Virginia), as well as go to the Summit Bechtel Reserve in 2018 for Venture Fest. So, by the time I was making the 6 hour trek to the Summit just a few weeks ago, you could say I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. As in 2017, I was staff for the event IST (International Service Team) and was a member of the Band, which is part of Program staff. Hence, I was allowed backstage access and worked pretty closely with many other adult professional staff in charge of putting on the amazing stadium shows as well as base camp bashes. In total, there are around 10,000 staff members (18 and older) as well as 40,000 participants (ages 13-18). These scouts come from all over the world. At the Jamboree, there were more than 150 countries represented by participants and staff! And the whole event was co-hosted by the US, Mexico, & Canada. Therefore, all main information sent out to any staff or participants was sent in English, French, and Spanish. There were also many translators for various languages on staff. Personally, I am mostly fluent in Spanish, and was able to converse with a few different groups of people over the event. In total, I was at the Summit for 15 days straight, staying in a tent (with three other women) and using buses to get to and from my usual work spot- Summit Center (which is about a 45 minute to hour walk if the busses weren’t running!) Since the band has many performances, a lot of days we were told to report in the morning for a rehearsal (anywhere from 1 hour to about 4 hours long) followed by either a lunch break and another several hour rehearsal, or a few hours off before our evening performance(or performances!). By the end of the Jamboree, we had played for a vast majority of the scouts present, our biggest performance being on the top of the Consol Energy Bridge as thousands of scouts walked underneath us to get to one of the main stadium shows. Throughout the trip, I enjoyed making many wonderful friends from many different countries. I was also able to spend hours per day playing clarinet (one of my favorite past times!) for very enthusiastic crowds of people! Overall it was a fantastic experience that I will remember forever- just as I still have fond memories of the 2017 National Scout Jamboree!