Healing Power of Joy (and Laughter)

“A joyful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22a (NAS)

Enjoyment of life is a great gift, but there are things that come into our lives that tend to rob us of our joy. Sometimes those things are related to physical problems. 

When life gets me down, I pray, but I also often curl up with a book and become lost in a good story. My spirits are usually lifted by authors who employ humor in their storytelling and by stories with unique characters.

During my extended stay with our younger daughter, Joanne, as she valiantly battled cancer, several of us became involved with relatives and friends in our own little “book club.” It was amazing to observe how much the reading and discussing of entertaining stories lifted our spirits. This involvement helped pass the time and caused things like chemotherapy to no longer be the ever-looming dark cloud.

A favorite of the “Cancer Clubbers” was Alexander McCall Smith’s, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. We laughed our way through Mma Ramotswe’s hilarious adventures at her very own detective agency in Botswana, and we anxiously awaited her solutions to each mystery. 

We also polished off The Mitford Series by Jan Karon. For the spouses and kids in the group who have lived in parsonages, identifying people we might have “known” in the descriptions of Father Tim’s church members was sometimes rather easy. We all rooted for Father Tim to find a wife and enjoyed the way he handled the unusual problems in his parish.

A talented few authors possess the ability to lure readers into a positive world that provides a temporary escape from trouble and pain. Amazingly, these are usually the authors who can draw word pictures without including gore, bad language, or erotica. Hats off to that gifted few!

I’m so grateful that Joanne’s cancer is in remission. I pray for those I know who are currently going through surgeries and chemotherapy, and for their families.
I pray especially for:
·        Friend - Lori Cunningham Wegley
·        Suzanne – cousin’s daughter
·        Zoe – cousin’s granddaughter
·        Gale – Fellow OKWU board member
·        Those on my “Prayer Warriors” list who are fighting cancer: Caron, George, Gabriella, Angela, Joanne, Barbara, Doris, Mary Ann, Brennan, Debbie, Jennie, Mary Beth, Kim, Nancy, Dixie, Amy, Bob, Tom, Judy, Jean, Wendy, Aaron, Tami, & Sonny. (Thanks to Pat Wilcox at St. Andrew, Saline, MI, who coordinates this group of faithful prayer warriors.)


Change, Change, and More Change

Hubby and I received a record player as a wedding present. It played 45s, 78’s, and 33⅓’s. We deemed it to be quite the special possession.

Over the next few years, we collected what records we could afford and owned enough to provide a decent variety. Hubby liked Southern Gospel. Me? Not so much! Being the more “worldly” one, I preferred Pat Boone and a little bit of Elvis. I can still hear Pat crooning, “With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair.” Then the 8-Track debuted. Although the 8-Track craze was short-lived, we had sufficient time to get on board and, in doing so, stir up the Southern Gospel/Other Music controversy.

Not long after moving into the land of 8-Trackdom, we discovered that a new development was entering the electronic world of sound. What we needed now was a cassette player to play music stored on little tapes. This was a format I liked, and one I stubbornly hung onto even after the introduction of the next big innovation, CD’s. But then I traded cars and, much to my dismay, discovered that there was no cassette player in my new model. So, once again, I had to pitch my favs - even the Judds!

I have come to accept changes in our tech savvy world, but have been surprised at how quickly readers are moving toward choosing eBooks over print books. In an article published last week by public relations firm, EMSI, the author discusses changes in publishing: (See: “Do You Need a Major Publisher to Get Media Attention?”) If this writer’s assessment is close to accurate, much about the way authors publish and the way readers purchase books will change very quickly.

Even though originally one of the “hold-out people,” admiring the book; savoring the smoothness of the paper as I turned each page, I find myself more and more caving to the convenience of the lightweight reader and, okay, I’ll admit it, feeling a little guilty about that, especially since I have a book in print. But where else can I purchase a classic for ninety-nine cents or even download one free?

How do you feel about eBooks versus holding that hard copy in hand?


A Promise is a Promise

During a long walk this past week, I came to a quiet, breezy cove and sat down to rest and take in the beauty of the mountains. While sitting there, I remembered that Father’s Day would soon be celebrated, and I started thinking about my Dad, the dependable anchor for our family.

Daddy was a multitalented “doer.” He could carefully mend the broken leg of a doll, build a “new” bicycle from parts of castaway bicycles, and make a streamlined sled from scraps of lumber. Mama never lacked for shelves or cabinets in which to store things. If she needed them, Dad built them.

Painting, hanging wallpaper, building porches, laying flooring, fixing plumbing, installing electrical wiring, and repairing and replacing shingles are a few of the many things Daddy did to make comfortable the little dwellings we called home. He developed a long-term relationship with ladders, but could also fold his large frame into a tiny crawl space if a job required him to do so.

Playing baseball and board games with Daddy always meant lots of real competition and much laughter. These good times are always recalled when I see a display of Father’s Day cards.

Daddy was a minister. Turning run-down parsonages into livable homes was secondary to his calling from God to share the gospel. His priority was caring for his ministerial duties: preaching memorable sermons* and tending his “flock.”

While Daddy did many things that were special, the most special thing I remember is that he always kept his word. A promise made was a promise kept. There was no coming back after a promise was made to say he had changed his mind; wished he hadn’t made the promise; had discovered something else might be better. He may have regretted a promise, but if he did I never knew that.

So if I could send a Father’s Day card to Daddy in his Heavenly Home, it would read: Thank you, Daddy, Special Christian Promise Keeper. I know your reward is great.

*Last week my sister was doing an internet search and came across an advertisement in the Binghamton (New York) Press for a revival (see link below). My handsome Daddy’s picture is in the revival advertisement on the lower right-hand corner of the page. This was 1947. I was in elementary school at the time.



Lessons From Retirement

Hanging with retirees is what I do these days and, in doing so, I have learned a lot about managing retirement. I’ve learned so much, in fact, that I’m thinking there might be a future for me as a retirement consultant.

Topics of conversation oft introduced by retirees include such things as managing life without the stuff around which life revolved pre-retirement, snagging the best senior bargains, and health.

Retirees are preoccupied with the on-going process of restructuring priorities. They often describe (and maybe mourn the loss of) possessions once found in their much larger spaces. More often than not, these possessions are now claimed by children and grandchildren. With all of the anxiety that occurs when retirees part with stuff, I have to wonder if it would be helpful to establish visitation rights when giving possessions away.

Upon entering Retirement Land, one soon discovers that the residents never really downsize. They are always in process. A common lament is that there is never enough storage for the really important stuff that was kept. The realization that storage spaces do not grow comes slowly. Hence, retirees make frequent trips to thrift store collection sites.

Whether golfing, going to a movie, taking in a community event, or going out to dinner, the retiree who finds the best deal is admired by all. No self-respecting retiree would even consider going to the Home and Garden Show without first finding the best coupon deal or discount.

Summertime hot spots for retirees include, but are not limited to, art shows, concerts in the park, festivals, craft fairs, and fireworks displays (all free events). In our area, there are sufficient events to wear retirees completely out and send them to their knees to pray for cold weather so they can curl up with a good book in front of the fireplace.

Although some of the younger generation might consider warehouse stores good places to fill their stomachs by gobbling up samples, a retiree’s stomach may not react well to a meal that consists of salsa on a chip, chocolate covered dried strawberries, soy nuts, gummy calcium, chunks of pizza, fish-shaped crackers, and a hunk of a power bar. But retirees do know all of the great local eating places. Two-for-one specials, early bird meals, and places where two can share without a plate charge rule the day. After dinner dessert is often at the home of a neighbor. Retirees have time to cook.

After only limited conversations with retirees, one knows which doctors, clinics, and hospitals are stellar (as well as which ones to avoid at all costs). Good information at any age, but I’m hoping we will have many more happy years of downsizing before becoming too dependent on these services.