A Tribute to a Father/Daughter Relationship

August is our busy birthday month. First comes my son, Aaron’s birthday, then our foster daughter, Donna Paluch,  and finally my birthday.  I’m 28 days older than Larry and he reminds me often during the month of August. I remind him that he looks much older—too bad guys generally don’t wear make-up—at least not Larry unless it’s Halloween or he wants to fit in with my tribe of girlfriends. But while Donna was living with us for three years during high school, she entered a contest describing why her foster father should be given the award of Father-of-the Year.  I opened up an unread book we have had on our shelf named The Heart of a Father and found this letter in it. See what she said below.

For years I have been a foster child. I have never known the love a father and daughter share. There was no one to help me with school; there was no one to help me at all. As a child, I had no  one to look up to. I had no one to call dad. I have a dad now. He is the most giving and compassionate man I know. He took in a girl who had no where to go. Not only was she a stranger, she was a stronger with a past. She was me. He has stood with me through moments of hell. We have climbed mountains together the last two years. He gave a girl on the brink of death a chance to experience life. He is an example for all people—-a member of big brother, big sister, an activist for the homeless, an activist for me. I call him Dad.

She won the award and a limousine picked her and Larry up and took them to the Oprah show. She was then on Channel 9 sharing her story and received free tickets for all of us to a Cub’s game.

Before we picked up Donna, she had attempted suicide by taking tylenol tablets. The hospital pumped her stomach and saved her. The three teenage years we had her were turbulent but we knew there was a gem within her. She was smart and tenacious. Today she is a lawyer living in Louisiana with her husband and three children.

God has saved her and used her as a public defender to help those with no hope. There were days during her times of fighting drug abuse that I thought there was no hope. She was hospitalized for a period of time and was strong enough to cut off unhealthy relationships. Donna read  45 books—mostly classics that summer and played basketball with me. She had the advantage being a lot taller than my 5 ft. frame. We are proud of the woman she has become. Happy Birthday Donna.

Larry in FL 030

 

What’s Larry Up to Today?

A friend asked what Larry was up to after his knee replacement.  It has been 4 weeks since his surgery on June 1st,2016. Larry was on the roof cutting down limbs from a tree. That is what he was up to. I told him he was crazy to be up there but he just asked me to throw up a broom. He was on his mountain bike last week taking a short ride. The physical therapist said he is way ahead of schedule at this point. But he has trouble sitting for prolonged times so long trips are out of the question.  He needs to still take it literally one step at a time.

He is already planning serving opportunities and helping our daughter who had a massive plumbing problem that destroyed her bathroom ceiling.

Yes, Larry is on the move and I’ll do my best to keep him off roofs but then again I’m not even 5 ft. and he is 6 ft. 2 in. Any suggestions?

Fill Your Home with Life and Laughter

 

Do you have the gift of hospitality and enjoy having your home filled with life and laughter? Would you like to enjoy the company of your friends but fear all the work and preparation it would take? Then learn from our years of experience having potluck meals. It’s an easy way to gather friends and family and connect in fellowship with one another. We send out an Evite invitation with a theme such as A Time to be Thankful or Celebrate Spring. Then we ask our guests to bring their own meat (sometimes we provide it) and a dish to pass. We provide Ice Tea, lemonade, pop and coffee.

Next, we fire up the grill and wait for the scrumptious dishes to arrive. It’s always exciting to see what the guests will bring. We would never have time to prepare the food that comes through the door. It doesn’t matter who does or doesn’t show up. When they arrive, I give everyone a name tag so they don’t have to remember each other’s names. But most importantly, on the name tag include something about that person. Here are examples of what I write on them with their permission: Hart, the gardener, Joe, the biker, Carol, the Super Mom, Rick, the guitar player,  Helga, the reader and Rachel, the nutritionist, This immediately gives strangers a chance to strike up a conversation.  If someone looks disengaged, I ask them to help me set up and keep up a lively conversation with them about our various guests.

For summer potlucks, have simple games for people to play. Bean toss, badminton and bocce ball are a few of our favorites. We also enjoy having a Music Fest where we will ask people to bring guitars, keyboards and noise makers.  We provide words for songs ranging from show tunes like The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and the Beatles to hymns like Amazing Grace and Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.  Fortunately, we have a piano and guitar but it’s not essential. Your guests will enjoy sharing their talents with other like-minded music-lovers. But music is not the only way to connect. They may have a poem, a favorite Bible verse, and a mini-message or life experience they want to share. It’s kept short and focused.

An added benefit is that my husband will tackle unexpected house projects. One time, though, he re-sanded our wooden kitchen floor, stained it and put three coats of polyethylene on them. I couldn’t clean the house until the last day for fear of stirring up dust—–but now I have a beautiful, new floor.

For summer potlucks, don’t worry about cleaning the bedrooms or basement.  Your guests will be outside enjoying your deck and the beautiful weather.   Around Thanksgiving, we ask people to prepare a short three minutes talk about something they are grateful for.  At Christmas, we gather around the piano and sing carols and enjoy delicious homemade cookies.

By following these simple steps, your gift of hospitality will be in full swing with little labor and cost. Your home will be filled with joy and laughter and your guests will be begging you to do it again. Now feel free to add your ideas to my blog entitled www.lifewithlarry.org.

 

A Hope for the Future

We live in a time when so much information is swirling around us through multiple means of media. When we were raising our family, Dr. Spock was the author everyone was turning to for wisdom. It was a time of no discipline and wisdom crumbled into a time of anarchy.

We raised our children through insights found in the Bible–We found  the book of Proverbs and the words of Jesus our best blueprint for living.  It spoke about how to deal with enemies by overcoming evil with good. Julie, our daughter, was the new kid on the bus and was not greeted warmly. We made cookies and the next day she distributed them and built a bridge of friendship through kindness.

We are living in difficult days where  marriages are crumbling and the suicide rate and death by bullets is at an all time high. Our society has all kinds of directional devices  but not one for living a good life. We need a societal directional system.  Today I put together wisdom I found in 2 Timothy 3 and 4.  I hope it will help you understand the times we live in and give you strength to stand firm.

“People will be lovers of themselves. Boastful, proud, abusive. Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–Always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. To suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers saying what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth. But you, keep your head in all situations. Endure hardship–Discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 3 & 4

By committing your life to Christ and spending time in his love letters to us, life will have purpose and meaning.  “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10.

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Larry Will Give You a Hand

We were enjoying our late afternoon hike in Frozen Head State Park outside of Oakridge TN, when I came across a solo ranger with a chain saw working on a large logjam. “Hi,” I said. Joe enjoyed the interruption. “Do you have any volunteers to help?” I asked. “No,” he replied. Then I did what I always do best. “Larry will give you a hand; Frozenhere he comes now.” I’m always volunteering my husband of 47 years. He just set the date for what he calls his Darth Vader knee replacement earlier that day. “This logjam is causing water to spill onto the graveled path,” said Joe.  Larry, a former contractor and teacher, looked at the situation and came up with a workable solution. The two entered the stream thigh deep and removed large branches and trees. As their cheerleader, I gladly stood on the sideline taking pictures I would add to my lifewithlarry.org blog.  The ranger, a bit fearful of cutting the large root of the tree, gave it the go. “Boom!” It finally came to rest on the bottom of the stream where it would be much easier to dismantle. Joe beamed from ear to ear, and Larry was thrilled to use his knowledge and muscle as a 69 year old man to help in a random act of kindness.  “It was the best part of the vacation,” he said as he asked the ranger to please hand him his silver cane.

 

Life Without Larry

Less Mess I must confess

No piles of clothes by the side of the bed

No giant work boots to trip over

No stinky socks and trails of drywall

No fudgesicle sticks stuck to the counter

No sugary cream filled coffee mugs

No I-Pod music pipping Carmen and Hank Williams

Yes, Life without Larry is less mess I confess

But the plants scream for hydration

The birds search for seeds

The weeds beg to be picked

My arms miss his embrace

So come home Larry from your trip to Costa Rica

Where tools and cutting boards are your friends

Let laughter and fun reside once again

In this home you build with your very own hands

Bring on the mess I confess

Life with Larry is the best                 001

By Sue Schuerr

Top Secrets during World War II/Oakridge

In 2008, I started a book club and we have become dear friends while reading many historical fiction and non-fiction books. We recently read The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan.  It took place during World War II. Women came from all over the US to a town that was not on the map. Today, we call it Oak Ridge, Tennessee which is located near Knoxville in the Cumberland Gap Mountain range. Everything was top secret. Little did they know that those working there were  instrumental in ending World War II. I had a friend who grew up in Oak Ridge. She wanted to talk in her church about her new faith in Christ and asked Larry and I to join her in the Spring of 1978. I knew her parents were scientists but little did I know that they were also involved in the Oak Ridge project. I lost track of my friend Cynthia but was determined after reading this book to contact her. After years, we have connected and here is what she said about the experience first hand.
I was very excited to receive your letter and catch up a bit on you and Larry. First of all, yes, my parents were part of the beginnings of Oak Ridge.  My father, Boyd, was tasked with research that would help dispose of the waste from nuclear reactions.  However, he never spoke of what he was doing to anyone outside of the Lab, even to my mother.  Secrecy was very much a part of the work that was going on in the three different laboratory facilities.  The town was entirely surrounded by barbed wire fences.  Each worker entering the city had to show an ID that indicated that they had received security clearance at some level.  I remember the big billboards at each of the gates that reminded people entering and exiting to guard their speech.  
To the outside world, there was no Oak Ridge.  My grandmother in Ohio could not call us directly on the telephone.  The phone operators would tell her that there was no such place as Oak Ridge, TN. I think she had to ask for the phone center in Knoxville, and they transferred her call.  My parents discovered after the war was over that one of their women friends was an official spy for the government.  He job was to report anyone who at parties, etc has “loose lips.”  The woman’s husband was the most surprised of everybody when her spying was revealed. 
It was a wonderful city to raise a family.  With the high percentage of very educated scientists who were moved there, these was a high priority on education.  So, the schools were excellent.  Also, because we were a closed city, there was a strong sense of community.  Volunteerism was huge, especially in the area of the arts. We had our own symphony orchestra, theater group, playground programs for children in the summer, and a well-stocked library.   Neighborhoods were close and supportive of one another.  The wives in my neighborhood got together frequently and played canasta.  I do remember as an elementary student responding to air raid drills.  We were to leave our classrooms and squat down in the halls.  It was an accepted possibility that we would be bombed.  There…enough about Oak Ridge.  I hope your reading group finds some of what I’ve written interesting.
I’m looking forward to visiting Oak Ridge in the near future. The wild flowers are suppose to be the most beautiful at the end of April. We are in Oak Ridge right now April 26, 2016 and getting ready to explore the history of this town and to bike the beautiful paths along the river.

Men and Their Hats

hat picsIt was a warm and beautiful day in San Diego where we escaped the winter by staying with my wonderful cousin Dave Berge and his wife Gail. We woke up to the sound of the ocean and the call of the birds and seals. Yes, his condo was right on the beach of Oceanside. We took our morning walk and ended up at a coffee shop. Larry wanted to stop and get a Marine hat. In his picture he is wearing a Navy hat. You see, Larry spent 4 years as a Marine where our daughter, Deborah, was born in South Carolina. But later, he joined the Navy reserves as an air-controller. Even though he was in the reserves for 19 years, he still was a Marine—–once a Marine, always a Marine. We walked into the local military store and checked out the Marine hats. We were not satisfied with any of them and concluded we would buy one at the Marine base in San Diego.

He was still looking around so I left him to join my daughter at the coffee shop again. She was soaking up the rays. (See picture below)

When Larry returned, I said, “I thought we didn’t like that Marine hat. I guess you decided to buy it anyway.” He frantically put his hands to his head to retrieve the Marine hat and said,”Oh no, I walked out with the wrong hat and left my Navy hat at the shop.” Now Deb and I are laughing at the imaginary sight of police surrounding Larry for the theft of an unwanted Marine hat in exchange for the desired Navy hat he left at the scene of the crime. He quickly bolted up the hill two blocks to the store to return the hat and retrieve his Navy hat.

We had a good laugh and I knew I had another Life with Larry story. Now my question is how many of you have done something similar? Have you left something precious to you at a store or restaurant? I was guilty of leaving my cell phone in a restroom at a Cracker Barrel in Kansas.  My point is that in life we need to give grace to those around us. We all make mistakes or have senior moments.  This scenario turned out OK; how about yours?coffee Deb

Deborah soaking up the San Diego sun!

Happy Easter/Passover 2016

 

Happy Easter/Passover 2016

I heard a flock of sand hill cranes overhead beaconing the end of winter. Sitting on my deck, I see budding trees, the crocuses and my new rhubarb plant. Yes, what looked like death is certainly now alive. Nature is such a beautiful picture of the resurrection of Christ. In the background, I love listening to Handel’s Messiah and the song, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives”. It is the perfect Easter message.

I am so thankful that Cornelius existed in Christ’s time, because he gave us a picture of God’s love. Cornelius was a centurion (soldier) in the Roman Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing. But he was not a follower of Christ at that time. It says in Act 10 that he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. As a result, an angel spoke to him and said, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. He was then instructed to get in touch with Peter who was visiting Simon, the tanner. At about the same time, Peter was praying and had the same vision three times where he was instructed to eat meat that was forbidden to the Jew. He then had a knock on his door and was instructed to go to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. When Peter saw that God was opening the door to the Gentiles, he said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who reverence him and do what it right. Then he told them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ. As a result, before he finished speaking—the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on them.

We are thankful for the Jews who faithfully and accurately penned the Old Testament with the prophecies of Christ throughout. (See Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls for examples). Also reading Acts 10, I see that God hears the prayers and cries of the non-Christian and answers them if they seek Him with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

For example, I looked up at the sunset and called out to a God as a freshman in college. I didn’t think He existed. But I was looking for meaning and purpose in my life. I told God if he was there, He could have my life. Then I added, “Make something wonderful happen, if you truly exist.” That night, I met Larry at a dance—-my soul mate for life. Together we have seen the hand of God on our own lives, our families’ lives, and so many others. How he speaks to you may be entirely different. Just like nature is filled with a diversity of flowers and trees, so God has many ways to call his own to himself. Most of us have a thirst for more than this life can give. We know deep inside that the end of life is not the end. It’s written in our heartsGarden PIC

Every Breath I Take; Every Move I Make

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I imagined being Laura Ingalls from The Little House on the Prairie, putting another log on the wood burning stove. It’s a clear sunny day; but make no mistake—it’-2 degrees reminding me of a time several years ago when we went up to Kettle Moraine to cross-country ski. Larry had been begging me to winter camp with him, and I wisely replied, “No”. “Look,” he said, “It will be an adventure and it’s been a mild winter. Let’s do it.” Our marriage has been about a partnership of give and take. Larry is all about his gear and likes to test the durability and reliability of his sleeping bag and tent. If the bag says, “Good to -10,” Larry wants to see if it’s true. I just like snuggling by a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate at the end of a wintery day. We skied at Lapham near Delafield, WI with friends the first day. It’s a challenging course ending with a huge hill called Slide Run. I was delighted that all our body parts were in order at the end of the day. We spent that night with our friends in a motel across from Lapham. Then we made our way to Ottawa Lake where we set up our tent for the next night. We were the only ones in the campground while our friends smartly headed home. We skied that day at Kettle Moraine near La Grange. It was getting colder by the minute. After dinner and hot tea, we made our way to the homemade tent that Larry constructed from a 1970’s Frostline kit. Our sleeping bags were supposed to be good for below zero weather. I slid into my ice cave bag and could not get warm. I put on Larry’s very smelly and sweaty ski sweater and huddled under the sleeping bag; but the aroma of the sweater was more than I could take. I came out for a breath but the air was much too cold. I felt like a tortoise sticking my head in and out all night thinking of the song, Every breath I take—Every move I make. We finally saw the light of morning and quickly took down the tent and headed into Oconomowoc for buckets of hot coffee. It was then that we learned that the temperature that night sank to -12. “What’s this about camping on a mild winter night?” I said—- after brushing my teeth in the restaurant bathroom while trying to be incognito. We survived and winter camping is now off my bucket list.

What are the lessons to learn here? Marriage is a partnership. To make it an adventure, one needs to leave the comforts of normal life. A hot shower the next day and sitting by a cozy wood burning stove never felt so good. When I ask Larry to do something he is not too excited about, he remembers I winter camped with him and additionally, we now have a good www.lifewithlarry story to tell our grandkids.

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