No Time Like The Present

For the past several years my parents, aunts and uncles have met for lunch whenever it’s time for someone’s birthday.  June 30th was my parents fifty-ninth wedding anniversary (congratulations, Mom and Dad!) and July 1st is my Aunt Linda’s birthday so the get-together took place today.  Since I’m on vacation this week, I was able to join the group.  This time there was a break in the normal tradition of meeting at a restaurant – instead we all prepared a dish or two to pass and went to my Uncle George’s house, where an F1 tornado hit on June 23, 2015.

There was no mistaking the path the tornado had taken.  A huge walnut tree was down in the side yard and there were trees down behind and across the street from their farm.  The story of that night was retold multiple times as each sibling arrived.  It was no surprise to learn that the news account of the incident wasn’t one hundred percent accurate.  They never made it to the basement before the tornado hit and it is certainly only by the grace of God that they weren’t hurt or killed, nor were any of their horses, goat, dogs, birds, or chickens.  The goat, however, is reluctant to leave the safety of the barn after it’s house was blown away and she somehow ended up with the horses!  It’s very sobering to look at the damage to the house and realize how easily the outcome could have been different.  Thinking about it gives me a heavy feeling in my chest and makes me want to cry just a little bit.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how people will bond together and help each other out when there’s been a disaster or some type of adversity.  It’s as though the shared experience helps us to forget that which would normally keep us apart, things like race, socio-economic status, gender, etc.  A couple of months ago, I was in my local Target store when everyone’s cell phone started alerting us that there was a tornado warning.  There was an announcement on the PA system and Target employees escorted us to the storage area in back of the store. Where moments before we were complete strangers, we started talking like old friends.  If this incident hadn’t occurred, I guarantee I would have left the store without speaking to a single person with the exception of the cashier when I checked out.

When I was on the interstate a couple of weeks ago, there was an accident on the southbound side and cars were backed up for a couple of miles.  People were outside their cars chatting and there were even a few who were playing frisbee.  Moments before they wouldn’t have even noticed who was next to them on the highway unless they were passing, being passed or being irritated by each other’s driving. 

As I was getting ready to leave the luncheon, I was talking to my Uncle George.  He said that it seems like there are so many bad people in the world and so many bad things happen, but since the tornado, people have done so many kind things for him and his family that his faith in mankind is renewed.

What would it be like if we didn’t wait for something terrible to happen to reach out and help people?  What if we were less focused in our own little world and more focused on the things that Jesus cared about; the widows, the orphans, the poor, the sick and the broken?  What if we celebrated our differences instead of judging people who are in some way different from us?  What if we simply chose love instead of hate?

There was a lot to celebrate today, and not just my parent’s anniversary and my Aunt’s birthday.  It was good to be reminded that I never know what tomorrow will bring and I need to make sure that the people I love know how much they mean to me.  If you have people that need to hear that you love them, or you feel like there are people that can use your help, today would be a good day to take some action.

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes things don’t always work out the way I plan.  Today is my birthday and I thought it would be fabulous to go to the Waterloo Farm Museum and check out Blacksmiths, Soldiers, and Log Cabins Weekend. A picnic lunch was prepared and lots of my family members were planning to attend.  Except . . . the day dawned with rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  Enough rain to ensure that any outdoor activity was not going to happen. 

Undaunted, we got busy putting together Plan B.  Even though not everyone was able to go, my aunt, oldest son, daughter-in-law and three grandkids met at the Impression 5 Science Center.  There were all kinds of activities and fun things for kids to do.  The grandkids kept us all on our toes as all three of them headed off in different directions to check out all the exhibits and play with foam blocks and Legos.  The picnic lunch was consumed indoors, but it was almost as delicious as it would have been outside. 

Afterward, I had the opportunity for a short visit with some of my cousins and their adorable daughters.  For dinner we had some delicious chicken noodle soup that had been simmering in the crock pot all day.  It was the perfect meal since the temperature never got over sixty degrees and we felt wet and chilled. 

There’s an old Yiddish proverb that says, “Man plans, God laughs.”  So often I think that I am in control and that things are going to go exactly as I have planned.  Sometimes it does work out that way, but more often than not, I get thrown a curve ball.  The simple truth is that I am not in charge of the world and that the only thing I can really control is the way I respond when things don’t go my way.

It would have been easy to feel disappointment, anger, and frustration and let unseasonable cold and rainy weather ruin my birthday.  I could have ranted and pouted and been miserable to be around.  At the end of the day, however, all that is accomplished by acting that way is alienating all the people that I love and being consumed by bitterness. 

Would we all have had more fun if we’d gone to Waterloo?  Probably. Would I have preferred to spend the day outside in the sunshine instead of inside a building?  Absolutely.  Even so, I choose to be grateful, grateful that I have been alive for fifty-five years, that I have two great sons and two beautiful daughter-in-laws, and that I have three grandchildren and a fourth on the way. Grateful that my parents are still alive and that I have three dear siblings and lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Grateful that I have a job and am healthy and have known what it’s like to fall in love with someone.  Grateful that I have a place to live and clothes to wear and a car to drive and food to eat, friends and family that texted me birthday wishes all day long, and a ridiculous black and white dog. It’s not circumstances that make a person happy or content, it’s simply a choice.  Today I choose gratitude and hope that you will too.

Hello Kitties!

They’re not even two weeks old yet, but the kittens are starting to open their eyes.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly babies (of all kinds!) grow up!  While I want to believe that Nick is sending me pictures just so I can keep you blog readers updated, I know this cuteness is all just part of his plot to get me to take a couple of them home with me!