At the end of the devastating Civil War, Lincoln called for a spirit of reconciliation and an end to animosity.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” Second Inaugural Address (delivered March 4, 1865).
Hopefully, we as Americans can listen to his wise counsel and find ways to stop the violence. Listening, learning and loving . . .may be good for starters.
One of my favorite pastimes is swimming laps at our nearby community pool. Early morning is my favorite and when possible bringing an inspirational book and a cup of coffee or water.
After swimming a few laps and treading water, as well as greeting other swimmers, relaxing in a comfortable lounge chair and reading is delightful. Usually it is easy for me to shut out the activities and conversations of those around me. But not always.
Kids playing “Marco Polo” and other water games often get a bit rowdy until told by parents to “calm down”. Conversations between youngsters and their siblings can be interesting, as are interactions between children and parents. Most children especially enjoy playing in the water with their mom and dad. Some children wistfully watch as parents of other kids join in the fun, while theirs do not.
After finding a set of 5 squirt guns on sale, I offered them to my granddaughters. Three brothers arrived at the pool and noticed the squirt guns. “Wow, first time I ever saw girls with so many squirt guns,” the oldest loudly said. Soon all had one to use and they played well for a long time at the end of the pool.
One warm evening last summer, a large family including a mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins played energetic games of volleyball. All the other swimmers at the pool were invited to join in. It was very inter-generational, as well as inclusive. Surprisingly, not even the oldest people at the pool complained. It was refreshing to see such fun among several ages. It doesn’t happen often enough.
I live two blocks from the beach and one block from our pool, and have found being near the water soothes my soul. It is a good place to pray and think.
Jesus often walked along the Sea of Galilee as he taught his disciples. He even prepared a breakfast of fish and bread for them.
Once when His disciples thought they were lost in a sudden, strong storm, Jesus walked across the sea to help them.
My young sons and I stepped into an elevator and realized we were sharing space with Joni Eareckson, whom we had just heard speak. Although I only had a minute, it was long enough to tell her what an inspiration she was to our family. She smiled and said she was happy to hear that. Then the door opened and away she rolled.
It was July 1976, and we were at a SuccessfulLiving convention in Snow Bird, Utah. Joni was a featured speaker. Her biography, Joni, had just been published. In July of 1967, at the age of 17, Joni dove into a shallow spot in Chesapeake Bay, and broke her neck. When we met her, she had been in a wheelchair for nine years. Her beautiful smile and attitude were delightful. Her smile and attitude are still delightful today.
Joni has a daily 5 minute radio program which airs early each morning, Her messages are so inspiring as she delivers them in an upbeat tone. Sometimes she sings a few lines of a sweet song with her lovely voice. Listening to her always brightens my day.
Whenever my life faces difficult challenges, thinking of the countless obstacles Joni bravely faces helps me get a better perspective. She and her very dedicated husband, Ken, were married in 1982, so recently celebrated 35 years together.
If being a quadriplegic isn’t difficult enough, Joni was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2010. It was a very difficult time, and her body limitations complicated her treatment. But she was very determined to eat right and pray even more fervently. Joni is an avid Bible scholar and has written many book discussing suffering and even Heaven.
We live in a time when we have access to many inspiring speakers and preachers. As grateful as I am for their ministries, no person on earth has inspired me more.
At the end of her first book, written only eight years after her diving accident, Joni wrote, “I will be pleased if only one person is drawn to Christ. . .” (as a result of hearing her testimony). She said it would make being in a wheelchair worth it.
July 30. 2017 marks 50 years since her life changed when she dove into Chesapeake Bay. During fifty years in a wheelchair, Joni has shared her inspiring story with people of all ages, all over the world. She directs ministries to disabled children and their families. And she is still going strong.
One day back in the late sixties, my friend, Lois, called to ask if I was free that evening. I am so glad I was, as she invited me, and my 9 year old daughter, Pammy, to attend a talk by Maria Von Trapp. She was appearing at nearby Triton College. Of course, I did have to explain to Pammy that we were not going to see and hear Julie Andrews and she did understand that. Sound of Music had become her favorite movie, next to Mary Poppins.
Maria was entertaining and even more remarkably inspiring. She had her audience laughing and singing. Many were students of this community college but most were fans of Baroness Maria Von Trapp, coming from all around the western suburbs of Chicago. Even back then, before it became “politically correct” not to mix religion with public events, Maria did not allow the fact she was not in a church to prevent her from giving a very inspiring faith message.
I can still see her now, dynamically and boldly proclaiming how important it is for every person to “know and to do the Will of God.” She pointed out how, when she had been planning to be a nun and was sent on a temporary, short time assignment to teach children who had lost their mother, she was guided to seek what God’s Will was.
Maria discovered God’s Will was for her to become stepmother of these seven children, and not to be a nun. It is not always easy to know the Will of God, but it is worth seeking. Once we know what He wants us to do, it is important to do it. As Maria herself said ” to know and to do the will of God”.
Living in the North Woods of Wisconsin was exciting, exhausting and challenging. It was not easy with three youngsters who were absolutely full of energy and always ‘raring’ to go do something. Especially during the cold, early winter months, before the snow falls. We lived on a lake and once it was frozen the fun began.
Until then, however, we all suffered from cabin fever. Our log home was rustic and not too big. We played games, read books and did creative art projects. But my children all seemed to have very short attention spans. Some days I felt like I was at my wit’s end, trying to entertain my family.
One day, the wall phone rang and since this was before portable or cell phones, I had to answer it in the kitchen. Although I did have a very long cord, my ability to watch what the children were doing was limited. That call was important. I was trying to listen and sound professional while worrying about what was going on in their play area. Sure enough, the middle child, my most rambunctious one, had got into mischief. As I hung up the phone to survey the damage, I muttered, “You guys are going to drive me to the funny farm.”
Big mistake! Not recommended positive reinforcement.
“Can I go with? Please?” My middle son kept begging for a very long time.
“Me, too, me too,” sobbed his younger brother, while their older sister looked confused. It took much too long to explain. I doubt they ever realized it was just a silly comment.
Finally, a few days later, it began snowing and soon we were snowed in. Now we were in a winter wonderland and the fun began. There was lots to do and the price was right!
We ice fished for supper and enjoyed healthy hot cocoa out on the lake. One has to drink it rather fast, of course, before it froze right before our eyes.
So much fun in the snow. My daughter spent hours building sturdy igloos. One day I was pulling my young sons on a toboggan across the lake and met another woman walking over to my side. We became lifelong friends.
Then came the day when I suffered from frost bitten toes. Really suffered when I got stuck driving on a stretch of road the snowplow had neglected to clear. It wasn’t long before Florida began sounding wonderful. I have been here now 30 years and it is wonderful.
Those memorable days in a winter wonderland are permanently etched in my heart. My daughter and her family spend a lot of time snowmobiling in Wisconsin and sometimes send me photos. I enjoy seeing them all bundled up when i am relaxing on the beach or at the pool.
Several times when my granddaughters were visiting me with their parents, I noticed a recognizable difference between parents and grandparents. It had to do with the laughter coming from the bathtub when my two youngest granddaughters were supposed to be washing their hair and scrubbing their knees.
“How sweet,” I thought, enjoying listening to their playful fun. But then. . .
“Girls, you are making too much noise. I have a headache,” their dad called to them.
“Just get your hair washed and get in bed,” chimed in their mom.
Then, rather sadly, I remembered times years ago when my own two little boys were having pillow fights in their bedroom, laughing instead of falling asleep.
”Boys, get to sleep now. It has been a very long day. I am so tired.” I would firmly call from my bedroom. Usually I needed to repeat myself.
“But Mom, we are not tired.”
“Well, I am.”
Amazing how, now that I am much older, kids laughing in the evening is music to my ears.
I suspect I’m not alone in acquiring a fondness for children’s laughter later in life.
When my two sons were young, often while I was working on a writing assignment at home, I sat them down to do their own writing assignment. (After they wrote their story, they could then creatively illustrate it.) Thankfully, it kept them busy for quite some time. Then we all had fun hearing them read their “masterpieces”. I still chuckle, remembering how surprised my oldest son was when he realized that all moms are not writers. Now days, of course, many more moms are writers on blogs.
Those years sped by too quickly, but did seem to have an impact on all of us. It helped them do well in reading and writing in school, though none of us excelled in arithmetic.
After our television was struck by lightning, we survived over a year without a new one. One project I will always remember was their drawing and secretly delivering valentine hearts to elderly neighbors. Years later, I was at our corner drug store when a really old neighbor lady struck up a conversation with me.
“I still have that sweet Valentine heart your boys made for me,” she smiled as my mind was recapturing the incident. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to share her words with my now teenage sons. They did remember that secret kind act.