"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
June 29, 2011
This is one of my favorite weeks of the year; or at least, it usually is. It's my birthday week celebration! And well, it is also Independence Day, which is always a fun day with my family. This year is not going to be quite as fun because Jon is going to will be gone, which is a bummer.
I've heard people fuss and complain and try to ignore their birthday, but my take on the situation is this: You're going to have a birthday whether or not you want to, so why not celebrate big and make the most of your day?! We're going to turn another year older whether or not we want to, so we may as well make the most of it and milk it for all its worth. Thus my birthday week!! Jon is great about taking me out to eat on my birthday and buying me a gift, which is great. But during the week of my birthday, if I don't want to cook, I'll ask Jon to take me out; after all, it's my birthday week. Or if I decide that I'd rather goof off one day instead of mowing the lawn or cleaning the house, I can, because it's my birthday week. Or if I see a cute pair of flip flops that I really want, I can splurge and buy them, because it's my birthday week. So I take advantage of my birthday and celebrate just as long as Jon will allow it!! I'm thinking Jon will have to be extra nice to me and will owe me big since he's missing out on my birthday week, this year!
I heard a middle-aged couple asked about growing older during an interview, and the lady said something to the effect of, "I've earned every one of these gray hairs and wrinkles, and I'm proud of them. I told my husband that we're going to embrace getting older and enjoy this stage of our life." It's all in the attitude.
So often I've heard people make excuses why they can't do something or learn something new due to their age. Those are just excuses, not valid reasons. I've seen women go to college and get a degree after their kids are grown, and begin a brand new career later in life. I've read articles and heard interviews of older adults who will try new adventures after retirement. One of my sisters worked at a car dealership several years ago and they had an older, retired gentleman who came in and bought a brand new sports car. Owning a sporty car was something he'd always wanted to do, but couldn't afford it when he was younger and raising a family. He had the money to buy one when he was older and had his kids married off and raised, so that's what he did. I thought it was great! That's something that made him happy and an extravagance that he could afford. A pet peeve is hearing people say, "I'm too old...." when it comes to doing something they've always wanted to do. Not having the finances or health issues are valid reason, but age is just an excuse.
I'll be 46 on my birthday, which is young to some of you and quite old according to my nieces and nephews. I consider myself to be middle-age. There have been times when I've excused my not doing something because I was too old or it being too late or saying, "If I were younger, I'd...." I've also used my weight as an excuse. But over the last couple years or so, I've decided that I don't want to become a stale, in-a-rut, boring, too afraid to try anything new, excuse-filled woman. I've seen people pass up opportunities and experiences, then later wish they'd tried it.
My sister and brother-in-law had the opportunity to go to the Philippines 2-3 years ago. They were primarily there to minister, but did have some free time to sightsee and do some fun activities. They were given the chance to go snorkeling and my brother-in-law went and had a great time (other than the sunburn). It was a beautiful area and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. My sister decided not to go, for whatever reason, but later wished she had of. That's an opportunity that she passed up that she will likely never get back again.
I've mentioned before that since I've married Jon that I've done things and traveled and enjoyed experiences that I never thought possible. When Jon and I have traveled or vacationed, I've done things that I normally wouldn't have done that pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I was determined to not be afraid and to experience as much as possible. And I can now look back and have those memories and the pride in knowing that I didn't allow fear from keeping me from stepping out of my rut. Heights aren't necessarily something I enjoy, but I'm so grateful that I pushed myself passed by initial fear and rode the Singapore Flyer, and later rode a ski gondola to the top of the Teton Mountains. Those were awesome, incredible experiences. I would have later been disappointed in myself had I not taken advantage of those opportunities.
I've played piano ever since I can remember, and really never had to work at it. I've always played by ear and it's a talent that's come naturally and God-given. But recently Jon started asking if I'd perhaps be interested in learning to play a new instrument. I thought about it for a while and decided that yes, I would! We've listened to some bluegrass recently and the talent of the musicians is very inspiring. I decided that I'd like to learn to play the fiddle. I want to play foot-stomping, swing your partner, dance a jig, hand-clapping fiddle music. Now I have never played a fiddle in my life, and don't know whether or not I'll be good at it or if I'll learn easily. It may take me a couple years to learn to play a song you can recognize (hopefully not!). I have a cousin who is an extremely talented and one of the best bluegrass fiddle players I've heard. She gives lessons (sadly, it's in Arkansas) and advised me on where to get the cheapest, best beginner fiddle and a link to the website. I ordered a fiddle for $46.99 with free shipping. My thought was, "What have I got to lose for $46.99??" If I end up not liking it or am not good at it, then I wasn't out a lot of money for a fiddle; but at least I gave it a shot and tried to learn. On the other hand, if I love it and learn it and enjoy playing then someday I can buy myself a better fiddle. But I'll never know whether or not it's something I'll enjoy, and like doing, or am good at unless I give it a try. Right now I'm feeling overly ambitious and told Jon if I really liked it and could learn it fairly easily, then I might make it my goal to learn to play as many instruments as possible during the next 10-20 years. I also want to someday learn how to clog dance and how to swim; two totally unrelated skills!
Jon and I are looking at the possibility of traveling to Scotland and Germany, for jobs Jon will be doing sometime later this year. We'd probably be in each place approximately two weeks. We have discussed that if and when we go, that we want to make the most of each trip and thoroughly enjoy each of these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Jon will have to work during the week, but we want to take advantage of the evenings and weekends and see and do as much as we possibly can. I told Jon that I'd like for my nieces and nephews to be able to tell their grandkids and great-grandkids, "I had the coolest aunt! She went to Singapore, Scotland, Germany....." I want to be one of those active, fun old women that when the younger generations look at me they think, "I want to be like her when I get to be her age." I don't ever want to quit living and taking pleasure in life. I want to enjoy each day and year that God blesses me with to the very fullest. I can remember the exact quote that I once heard, but it's something like, "I want to slide into heaven sideways, iced tea in one hand and chocolate cake in the other, saying 'What a ride!'" I don't want to go crawling into heaven, depressed, weary, and sad with my countenance looking as if I'd lost my last friend; but I want to slide in joyfully, laughing and saying, "What a ride!"
Not much gets accomplished by people being timid and afraid to try new things. Not only in our personal life, but as a country as well. On July 4th we celebrate Independence Day. We would not have the freedoms and liberties that we so much enjoy as a country had it not been for people standing up in the face of adversities and fighting for what was right. Men and women have had to put their very lives on the line in order to assure us of the freedom that we so often take for granted each and every day. We would not be the country that we are today had it not been for men like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who made tough decisions and fought for what they believed was best for our nation. The revolutionary war that made us a nation independent of England cost men their lives. The civil war to demolish slavery caused families to be divided and fight on different sides; but they were willing to do so in order to stand up for what they believed in. In each of these wars there were young boys who lied about their age in order to be a part of something they felt strongly about. There were older men fighting, who probably wanted nothing more than to sit quietly in a rocker on their front porch beside their wife and sip lemonade. But all these men and boys were willing to give up the comforts of home and risk their lives in order to make this a better nation in which to live. They didn't make excuses and say, "I'm too old," or "I may not be good at it," or "What difference can I make; I'm just one man." But they gave of themselves completely in hopes of making a better life for themselves and their families.
This July 4th when you watch the fireworks or grill burgers or eat watermelon or whatever it is you do, don't just think of it as a day off work or a time to get together with family. But take a few minutes and thank God for the freedom we enjoy. And ask God to help us to always remember Him as a nation, and pray that we will continue to enjoy the liberties and freedoms that we so often take for granted. God bless America!
I remember when I was young, I thought being another year older was such a great thing. Every year was momentous. There were especially big birthdays, like 10,13,15,16,18,20,21,25. Now, 45 doesn't seem like such a big deal. 40 is big, and so is 50. But there aren't so many momentous birthdays anymore. I've also changed perspective on what it means to be 40. When I was 10, it seemed like I should be ready to retire by 40. That was Olde!
Now that I've passed the 40-year mark, it's not such a big deal. My body is starting to fight me on a lot of things. I don't risk riding roller coasters anymore because my back doesn't agree with them. But in many ways, I don't feel that different from who I was when I was 20. I still enjoy the same goofy humor, sci-fi movies, etc. And I've found a few more things that I like to eat that I hadn't tried before. And I love being married to such a wonderful wife.
Over all, I don't feel like I've changed as much as the people around me. My family has gotten Olde. I guess it's just a matter of perspective.
And to try to touch on the Independence Day theme, too: I think we have a very isolated perspective living in such a free country. We've lived with more freedom than most countries, but hardly see it. And over time, as our liberties seem to erode away, we hardly seem to notice. But if you get to visit a world where freedom isn't so free, and where the government is in control of jobs, livelihoods, etc., it's easy to see the change. In many countries, people live in what we would call squalor. But they don't seem to notice. It's just grown into that state so slowly, they just aged into it without paying attention. It seems to be a matter of perspective.
Aunt Ruth's Homemade Banana Ice Cream
2 Tbsp. Vanilla
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 quart half-n-half
pinch of salt
3-4 ripe bananas
Beat eggs, sugar and salt well; add vanilla and half-n-half. Mash bananas and add; mix well. Pour into freezer bucket and add whole milk to fill line.
Favorite childhood and summer memories:
Catching lightning bugs and putting them in a jar; tying a string onto a june bug and letting it fly around; visiting with relatives in the evenings and playing games with siblings and cousins after dark such as hide 'n seek, lemonade, red rover, blind man's bluff, jump rope, follow the leader, drop the hankie, etc.; Mama stirring up homemade ice cream mixture, then Daddy sitting out on the front porch cranking the ice cream freezer; Mama sitting out underneath the shade tree snapping green beans and shucking corn while we girls "helped" and played around while visiting with her; getting a special treat of a milkshake or giant hamburger from the old Fleming's dairy queen in Blue Eye; walking down the dirt road to Jones' Trading Post Store and selling pop bottles to buy a candy bar or a bottle of pop; eating watermelon with the juice running down my arms; Sunday afternoon drives with the family; playing in the dirt at the edge of the yard building my farm out of sticks and ponds out of jar lids for my miniature plastic farm animals; my cousin, Kevin, and I playing cowboys and indians and riding bikes together; Mama pulling my hair back in a ponytail as tight as she could get it because my head would get really sweaty and my hair would "smell soured" (Mama's words, not mine); going to the Albert E. Brumley Gospel Singing at the rodeo arena in Springdale, AR the first weekend of August as our family vacation (getting to stay in a motel for a couple nights and go shopping and eat out was a biggie!); swimming in the creek; running around barefoot; family time together (we didn't have a TV); laying in the grass with my sister, looking up at the sky, and seeing what shapes we could make out of the clouds: "That cloud looks like a bird," "See that cloud, it's shaped like a rabbit," etc.; we had no air conditioner, so day and night, always had all the windows opened, left the front and back doors opened and had those wooden framed screen doors, and a couple box fans going; never ever having to lock our house or car doors; laying in bed talking to my sister(s) before going to sleep at night; my simple, country upbringing......
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. - Lewis B. Smedes
We love you!
Loretta & Jon