The Unknown Soldier

Memorial-day-2013As I thought about the upcoming Memorial Day, I surfed the web to see what interesting tidbit I could discover, and ended up on YouTube looking at videos of the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. You cannot view the ceremony without realizing how far we have come, and I’m not so sure it is in the right direction.

Today, we take a more casual approach to life as a whole and this includes the way we celebrate our special days. Even though we have our picnics and parades, we typically regard the day as the coming of summer. Alas we can break out the white shoes and officially move into a more relaxed mode. Yet these men of the Old Guard recognize the importance of this memorial and regardless of the calendar’s date, time of day, or atmospheric conditions, and man their posts to carry out their duties with honor and decorum.

Not only is it impressive to watch the guards march back and forth, it is also captivating to see that it is not merely a rote exercise. When people step out of line, they move into action to execute their responsibilities. Check out this video. Fortunately, a word to the wise was sufficient.

They know this unknown veteran paid the ultimate price with his life, and it is his sacrifice and that of others like him that allows them and all of us to continue to enjoy the rewards that come with freedom.  Let’s use this Memorial Day to remember as we enjoy the fruits of freedom they purchased for us.

What a difference 7 days can make!

Last week we visited family in the Adirondacks to celebrate my grandson’s graduation – how this sweet baby grew up so fast is beyond me – but I digress. The mountains are known for delayed springs. I expected chilly weather and was not disappointed, yet when the spring snow came, however, it provided impetus to complain. Even the locals expressed their dismay. It was time for warm weather. This week, I am home in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the temperature is 84, and people are complaining that they are hot and uncomfortable because of the heat and elevated humidity. Isn’t there a better way to take action and expend our energy? Why, I wonder, are we humans so prone to complain about the weather and think it is okay?

ComplaintsAccording to Wikipedia’s Free Dictionary, the word complain is an action verb meaning to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event and includes synonyms repine, grumble, lament and moan.

Although I have heard that several governments, including the US, are trying to control the weather by various means, obviously they have not succeeded to the point where everyone is satisfied. We still complain and regardless if we prefer cool or warm temperatures, we complain. It’s second nature to us. Yet it seems to me we are wasting our time. (Notice I’m including myself in these statements because I’m as guilty as anyone else.)

Wouldn’t it be more productive to complain about something we can change? What if we complained instead about the dirty windows in our house? We could get out the cleaning solution and rags and make them shine. Then we would have something to rejoice about. We could send out positive messages about shiny windows and invite our friends to rejoice with us. We could throw a party. If the windows were really bad to start with and obvious to passersby, we’d have no problem getting people to come. But no, we complain about something that it is impossible to change.

Perhaps we use the weather as a level playing field, a point of commonality, to initiate conversations – you know, break the ice. It does work because everyone will join in, yet grumbling and complaining are negative characteristics and instead of building people up, it drags people down. Who needs more of that?

It seems to me it will take an intentional effort to change my thoughts and expressions about the weather, but I’m going to give it a try. After all, it takes intentionality to do anything worthwhile. So here’s the deal. You have my permission to remind me the next time I complain about the weather that there is a positive aspect that I am missing. Who knows, it may filter down to other areas where I struggle to do better.

Why is it we’re never happy?

spring has sprung Keukenhof09Appearances are deceiving. I’m looking outside my window at actual green leaves on a few of the trees, fading flowers and buds on others, grass that needs mowing (my neighbor’s yard), and perennials poking up besides the blooming bulbs. It looks like spring. The air sports an aroma of spring, BUT it’s still cool. What is up with this? We should have temperatures in the high 70’s. Although I don’t want to lose the temperatures in the 60’s we’ve been experiencing to return to the 20’s and 30’s, it’s still sweatshirt and fleece weather.

Why is it we’re never happy?

It is absolutely beautiful outdoors, yet in my way of thinking, all the windows should be open to let in the fresh air. I could do that without the heat going on, but honestly, it’s too cool to be comfortable. So I will just crack the door and let in a little. That brings me back to my – and a whole bunch of others’ – discontent. If discontent leads to improvement, then it can be a good thing, right? So I’m going to try to find 10 good things about cooler temperatures.

  1. You can go outdoors without a heavy coat.
  2. You can work outdoors without getting covered in sweat.
  3. The work is rewarding because the weeds you just pulled don’t come back overnight.
  4. The biting bugs aren’t out yet.
  5. The birds have returned and you can enjoy their playful antics.
  6. The daffodils and tulips are more vibrant.
  7. The spring flowers seemed to last longer in the cool temperatures.
  8. Nature continues to move in the direction of spring as opposed to waiting.
  9. The ground is not hard and is more workable.
  10. The air is fresh and invigorating.
  11. People seem friendlier because they’re anxious to get outdoors and share with one another.

I did it. I found more than the required 10. And I’m no longer as put out by the cooler temperatures. Maybe I will try this again when a spirit of discontent overtakes me – like when I think it’s too hot. It seems like the process is therapeutic.

Does anyone really observe the National Day of Prayer?

National Day of Prayer ndop-2013-sccacc-wordpress-pageI typically listen to the radio when I have “mindless” tasks like curling my hair, cleaning the bathroom, etc. to do. I’m an auditory learner, so I really am engaged. This morning I was challenged and humbled at the number of men and women who called in to the Focus on the Family broadcast – not to ask questions, not to air their opinions, not to challenge authority, but to pray on this National Day of Prayer. The response was huge!

Each one of them prayed for our country

  • our government leaders from the President down to the janitors in the White House
  • our Congressmen and women
  • our state legislators
  • our local officials
  • our military
  • our Supreme Court Justices and throughout the court system – I should have added lawyers to the mix.

Other groups I had not thought to add to my original list were the families of the military, especially those who were still grieving the loss of a child, spouse or sibling who had given the ultimate sacrifice.

Interestingly, the biggest challenge and emphasis was not for the President and leaders, but for the church in America that we might be humbled and focused to seek God with our whole hearts. This is indeed a challenging thought. If God is going to be glorified in our nation and if we are going to have any measure of peace and safety, cleansing of hearts and lives will have to begin with God’s people and that includes me. I told you I was challenged. How about you?

A blogger’s confession

who is a good blogger imageWhere have all the blog posts gone?

You may have wondered if I dropped off the side of the earth because I have not posted anything to the site – at least consistently – since working on my new ezine Golden Gals Only, an inbox magazine for women 50+. Now that it is officially launched and I am into the continuous improvement stage, I can get back to some things that were put on hold. You’ll also be glad to know that Columbus proved the world was not flat as the scientists of his day claimed, so you have no worries about falling off yourself. Makes you wonder what about the scientists of today, but I digress.

The encouragement to continue came from a blogging friend, who primarily but not exclusively writes movie reviews. Likely she has no idea how her Friday blog – Ramblings of a tired woman – impacted me and who knows how many others.

Experiencing a phenomena characteristic of most writers, a.k.a. writer’s block, she had the integrity to post her true feelings and let others know she was human and not a fabulous writing machine. Short and to the point, she still injected her delightful sense of humor as she further displayed her human side.

One of my goals for 2013 is to write quickly, concisely and engagingly. Not easy feats for any writer, but certainly something I can strive for. With Jane’s candor as my model, I plan to use this blog as an exercise to share some things that are important / interesting to me while working towards achieving my 2013 goals.

Thanks for letting me be open with you and don’t forget to check out janemcmaster – true confessions of another blogger.

Pride goes before a fall

pride-before-the-fallMaybe it’s because I was an only child and never had others to ask to pitch in and help me, but for whatever reason I find it hard to ask others for help. Bottom line though, it is an issue of pride, and we all know where that leads. So before I fall, I’m ditching the pride and asking for help.

For months, I have been working to prepare an ezine – an email inbox magazine – for women age 50+. Whether you recognize it or not, there are an increasing number of us, and we’re not ready to settle for the rocking chair. Yet most magazines target the 15 to 45 year olds in their topics. This leaves us feeling a bit disjointed because we have lots of things we’d like information on but eradicating acne is rarely one of them because we’ve been there and done that.

We’re looking for purpose for the second half and ideas and information about our health and wellness as well as weightier issues like dealing with aging parents, serious illness or a myriad of other topics. We also know that we’ve got a lot of experience that can be shared, but wonder how to share it; hence, the arrival of Golden Gals Only.

Here’s where I need to ask for help – there are three areas, really. Even if you don’t fit the category, there are ways you can render assistance.

  • Would you sign up for the FREE newsletter to help me out with numbers or would you pass the sign-up information on to those who are in this category and might be interested?
  • All you need to do to sign up for the bi-weekly newsletter (Monday and Thursday) is go to www.goldengalsonly.com and add your information in the blue box. You’ll receive an email with a link to click which will confirm your subscription. That’s it!
  • If you know of anyone in this age bracket with a great story or desire to contribute an article to the ezine, would you put them in contact with me via this blog or at my website?
  • Would you pray that this endeavor would bring honor to the Lord? This is of utmost importance to me.

I was touched this morning by a song sung most frequently by George Beverly Shea, who died this week at the age of 104. He is associated most often as having traveled with Billy Graham. His signature song gave me great encouragement as I venture out in what for me is uncharted waters, and I hope the lyrics of  His Eye is on the Sparrow may touch your heart as well.

Do you ever talk to yourself?

Sometimes talking to yourself is excellent therapy, and in today’s blog, that is what you will find – a conversation with myself. Auditory learners benefit from this method. I decided to include it in my blog as an encouragement for others who might be struggling in the same way.

Just wondering  …

What do Halloween masks, heights and new ventures have in common? The answer is they are all scary – at least initially.

If a person donning a frightening Halloween mask jumps out at you unaware, you are initially shocked, but the terror ends because logic enters the picture. You realize the person behind the mask has no intent to harm you, and the mask itself has no intrinsic powers beyond the initial reaction.

A fear of heights (acrophobia) may begin as a God-given gift or self-protective mechanism to keep you from danger, yet when a person fails to conquer the anxiety, he can experience a sense of desperation that impacts his lifestyle. For most people, however, taking precautions like tying off a ladder or using protective equipment provides reasonable victory for them to continue to live a normal life. They address the fear by reducing it to a manageable state and do what is in their power to take precautions and make reasonable accommodations.

When it comes to new ventures, stepping into the unknown and trusting resources, both internal and external, can actually cause paralysis for people who otherwise appear quite normal – like me for example. The fear may be rooted in previous rejection, perfectionism or a host of other experiences that have reinforced an illogical perception, but bottom line, it can keep you from pursuing ideas and dreams that might truly be directed by the Lord.

As a Christian I’ve learned that in order to please God, I have to have faith – faith that He is leading and directing me, yet knowledge is only half of it. Knowledge puffs up (pride) and the Bible tells me where that pride will get me. There appears to be more. Knowing what to do is good, but I need to act on it, trusting the Lord to do what He said He would. Perfect love casts out fear, and what more perfect love is there than God’s love for His children. So if paralysis or the lack of moving forward is an issue, I need to name it – call it fear and deal with it. This may be a daily, even moment-by-moment, practice for a while, but God is faithful.

The situation is similar to the problem of the scary mask or fear of heights. In this case, however, I will trust Him and not my own resources to overcome my fear. This actually makes brilliantly logical sense. He is the Almighty. What better resource could I have?