"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!
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead
Last July, I shared about our church's Youth Mission Trip to Blue Knob, PA. (7/23/18-Youth Ignite) The following week, Megan posted her experiences on that trip. (7/30/18-Guest Blogger-2018 Mission Trip) This year 15 youth and 9 adults flew to Puerto Rico for the 2019 Youth Ignite Mission Trip (7/21/19-7/27/19), through TEAMeffort. They worked in Ponce, named for Juan Ponce de Leon y Loayza, a great grandson of Spanish conquistador, Juan Ponce de Leon.
The team reported that there's still devastation in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria in 2017. Many homes and buildings remain untouched since the hurricane. Shells of buildings stand as a sad reminder. Also, political demonstrations occurred during the week, however they were peaceful and no one ever felt nervous or scared. One team member said it was like a parade without candy.
While there, the team built fences around homes, constructed covered structures for multiple uses, painted fences around a church and classrooms in a school. At the end of their last work day, they held a picnic in a park, served food to locals, and organized games with children. Through their work and service, they made connections, built relationships, and shared their faith. This small group helped change lives. They blessed folks and received blessings by doing. Their experiences and memories will last a lifetime.
The team's days were long and filled with hard work. Their sleeping arrangements were nothing like home. And their showers were often cold. One of the adult leaders shared, "They never complained or whined."
But it wasn't all work. Each evening they gathered with other youth on a TEAMeffort mission trip for chapel filled with music, games, as well as worship. They had sightseeing excursions, swam in the ocean, and shopped. All of them were particularly impressed with a boat ride on their last evening to a bioluminescent bay where they swam and experienced the marvel of a blue glow as they moved in the water. Awesome! Their energy and enthusiasm as they shared about the trip was infectious.
PS- Megan did not go on this mission trip as she spent two weeks in West Virginia, where about 45,000 gathered, for the World Scout Jamboree. She was part of the international jamboree band. Maybe I can get her to share about that. Stay tuned!
"What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."
Here in Ohio, our four seasons each have pros and cons. All things considered, summer always ranks number one with me. I'd rather be warm than freezing. Don't get me wrong, in summer I do appreciate cold iced tea, lemonade, water, and ice cream. And I'm quite grateful for air conditioning!
Several days ago my hubby pointed out HOT weather warnings, a week in advance, for the weekend of July 19-21, 2019. A weather app on my phone warned of "excessive heat." Meteorologists now report many days ahead of high eighty and ninety degree temperatures, with triple digit heat indexes. This made me think of my childhood summers. Back in the "olden days" we didn't seem to know much about the weather and temperatures until the day arrived, or maybe the day before. We knew it was summer and it was supposed to be hot! Back then we did not have AC. We did not have a pool. But we did have a sprinkler and a hose. Sometimes when Dad got home from work, we'd head to a lake to cool down and a picnic supper. Oh, and let's not forget the multiple window fans that kept the hot air moving in the house. And that's what we knew.
Then our community built a pool sometime around the 60's. Definitely a popular summer hot spot. We took morning swimming lessons. And if we were lucky, Mom would take us back to the Brooklyn (Ohio) pool in the afternoon.
As we got older, we rode our bikes or walked to the pool, on our own. Then came the time when we were too "cool" to swim at the pool. But going to the pool area and park, hanging out with our friends, and walking to the Golden Point for junk food were the things to do, no matter how hot it was outside. Funny now, huh?
So, during these hot summer days, let's put memories of the heat in our mental pockets. Then next winter during a "Polar Vortex," sub-freezing temperatures, and wind chills, we'll have thoughts of this summer to keep us warm!
"Time flies when you are having fun or not." ~Mary Engelbreit
It's hard to believe so many weeks have passed since my last blog post. But "Life happens," and sometimes "Life gets in the way." Each week I'd hoped to write something. Ideas came, but clearly that's as far as I got. I wish I could say I've been on hiatus doing fun things, but not so. My time has involved Physical Therapy appointments, my own PT at home, Doctor appointments, and just moving slow adjusting through the healing process with my new knee. I've come a long way, but I have a way to go. I can't count how many times I've heard "It takes time," and "Everybody's different." My Orthopedic surgeon tells me I'm doing great, and reminds me that it may take a year. I tell myself he points that out so I won't get discouraged, and anything less than a year will be a bonus for me! I realize I may be rationalizing.
But things are looking up! Last Monday, after missing several months, I met with one of my writing critique groups with a new children's devotional manuscript in hand. Since then I've worked on revising, planning to submit it by the end of June. That very same day, I had an invitation to revise and resubmit a two part devotional I submitted at the end of February. Of course, I accepted.
During the time I've been blog incommunicado, I have brainstormed a list of potential devotional topics for future projects. So, there has been some progress, even though it's been relatively slow. I keep thinking about the saying on a t-shirt my daughter brought my husband from a North Carolina island vacation many years ago. It says, "I'm on turtle time!" That's kind of been my mantra over these last many months. I'm doing what I can, slow and steady.
It's good to be back!
"One day at a time, one step at a time." ~Lynda Boucher
Three weeks ago today, I got a new right knee. I've had three weeks of healing, recovery, and therapy. My Orthopedic surgeon, along with my sister and several friends who've been down this road, told me the first few weeks would not be a lot of fun, but it does get better. I've kept my sights on their promises.
A few hours after surgery and recovery, I was up and walking in a hospital gown. Using a walker, flanked by two Physical Therapy staff people, and my husband right behind protecting my modesty, it was one step at a time. The PT staff impressed that getting up and moving is key to recovery. So I took another hallway stroll before bed when a nurse was available to walk with me.
The next day, I was awakened dark and early at 5:30. I dressed myself and prepared for the day. My surgeon arrived by 7:15. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I'd be discharged later. More vitals, more blood draws, and then finally breakfast. Physical Therapy was scheduled for 9:00am. After my husband/coach arrived by 8:15, a Physical Therapist had me grab the walker for another stroll. We went to the PT room to learn how to do stairs and get into a car. Then back to my room until the other patients' coaches arrived for our group therapy session.
Nurses, a Nurse Navigator, a Home Health Care representative, lunch, instructions, etc., and we were finally able to leave. The wheelchair ride to the car was uneventful. The transition to the car was more challenging than the simulation in the PT room. The ride to our pharmacy and the drive home was uncomfortable to say the least. I learned later that's normal.
I've had in-home Physical Therapy, along with visits from Home Health Care RNs. This week I begin out-patient Physical Therapy. I was cleared to do stairs alone last week. Such a feeling of liberation!
Everyone was right. It does get better. And I'm anticipating a lot better!
"We remember their LOVE when they can no longer remember." ~Unknown
An internet search for "Alzheimer Quotes" showed 17,600,000 results in less than one second. Wow!
An Alzheimer diagnosis casts a wide net from the patient, no matter what the situation. It also presents a myriad of decisions that increase as the disease progresses. Having been down this road with my mom, I know what it's like to watch someone you love on that insidious journey.
The other day, one of my dearest friends, who is like a sister, said she made the hardest decision of her life. She's been caring for her precious husband at home watching him decline bit by bit. Even with Hospice home care, he reached the point where he needed more care than one person can do 24/7. The angels of hospice along with her own RN granddaughter's knowledge, experience, and wisdom helped her realize the reality. He moved on Saturday to where he could get the care he needs. My dear friend said it was the "worst day of my life." She knows he will be well cared for as he's where their granddaughter works. But there is still such a sense of loss.
Beyond my friend and her sweet husband, their net casts to their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and the multitude of friends and folks whose lives they've touched in some way. I know my heart hurts, and my eyes get damp often.
At the end of February, their second grade twin great-granddaughters' school had a "Super Hero Day." On their own the girls asked to wear their Alzheimer's shirts. (They've participated in Alzheimer's Walks.) One said her "super hero is Papa because he is fighting the disease." The other said her "super hero is Grandma for taking care of him." Out of the mouths of babes!
In the many great quotes I read I'm sending this one by Leeza Gibbons to my dear friend, LRA:
"Alzheimer's caregivers are heroes."