An Unexpected Passenger/Travels with Larry

We were on our way to Livingston, Montana. We were about 45 minutes from the famous Wall Drugs when we saw a young man walking along Rt 90 with a small backpack. We looked at each other and said, “It’s 95 degrees and that young man must be roasting.” We backed up and waited for him to catch up to us. “Do you need a ride?” said Larry. “Yes, ” he said. I’m on my way to Rapid City. We looked at one another. That would be at least two hours by car. Robert sat next to Larry in the front seat enjoying the beverage and fruit I handed him. We found out Robert is a Sioux Indian from Rosebud. He was hanging dry wall in Rosebud but the job ended. He hoped to find work near his aunts in Rapid City.

We asked him if he had ever been to Wall Drugs. He said, “No”. He had never been West of Rosebud. That surprised me since he must have been around 28 years old. “Would you like to go and get ice water and a 5 cent cup of coffee?” “Yes,” said Robert. His eyes were the size of half dollars as he took in the sights at Walls. If you have been there you know it has a circus quality, many mannequins, an assortment of historical pictures, shops and restaurants. He took it all in like a first grader on a field trip to Mars. He especially enjoyed the pictures and articles of Cowboys and Indians displayed throughout the buildings. We found out Robert loves art and is artistic himself. He gave Larry a bracelet with an Indian design on it. He said it was made from porcupine quills from the porcupines his cousin hunts. We did not rush the experience but let him know he might be able to find a job at Walls in his future.

We made our way, which was a bit out of our way,  to Rapid City. He said that his aunt worked at the hospital. We said,”Does your aunt know you are coming?” “No,” he said.  I asked him if there was anything we could pray about. He said, “A job and a chance to work on his art.” So I added Robert, the Sioux Indian,” to my prayer list.

You just never know what adventure one may have while traveling with Larry.

Are You a Good Listener?

“God  has given us two ears and one mouth that we may hear more and speak less.” I work as a guest host at a Care Center in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago. My job is to explain how our center works and to tell new people about the many benefits that could be theirs. After I give them a tour, I listen to their life story. Last Saturday, Emily poured out her heart. It was therapeutic for her. She told me, “No one listens to me. When I tell about my problems, they just butt in and bring up their own.”  “You think that is bad,” they say,”let me tell you what happened to me.”

Listening is a skill that takes time to learn. While someone is sharing, be respectful and focused.  While keeping eye contact, look below the surface of the words and ascertain what the person is saying and not saying. Ask questions to get the person to really open up. Looking at individuals as if they were the jacket of an interesting book has worked for me.  Be mentored.  Larry, my husband, has helped me be a better listener by pointing out how I would ask someone a question.  Instead of listening to the response, I would start a conversation with someone else. I’m dismayed about my lack of sensitivity.

As Emily shared her story, tears were flowing down her cheeks. She was so grateful for a listening ear. Telling her story helped her get a grasp on her own life and the direction she should take next.

What would our world be like if we truly listened to one another and if we didn’t  jump in with our opinions as soon as our friend took a breath. We would have better relationships, better communities and a better world. Let’s give it a try today.

In Sickness and in Health

The fact that Larry and I have been relatively healthy in our lives makes moments of sickness or times of surgery even more difficult. Larry has undergone numerous surgeries on his knees, shoulders, neck, back, etc.   I was happy we had good insurance as teachers. Unlike most wives, I would drop him off at our local hospital and while he was being wheeled into surgery, I would take off to my teaching job or go cross county skiing around the hospital.   This didn’t bother Larry at all since we both like to make the most of our time. You may wonder how Larry tore his body apart. He was a contractor for many years and he has had bicycle and ski accidents. But like the resilient bunny in the Duracell commercials, he always rebounded quickly. One time he was scheduled for surgery when I got a call from my friend, Cleora, telling me she was at the hospital, too. Her husband, Keith, was being tested for heart problems. That morning we enjoyed a cup of coffee together in the dining room of the hospital and laughed  that both of them were in the hospital at the same time. Fortunately, none of these episodes were life threatening.

But there are times when Larry and I  need each other desperately. I’ve lived my life actively enjoying biking, skiing, and mountain climbing. The only surgery I had was having my tonsils out at 9 years old. Surgeries are Larry’s department. I have been very fortunate. But on Martin Luther King’s birthday in 2017,  I went out to start the van and defrost the windows for my dentist appointment. It was one of the few icy days we had and I slid down our driveway and fell right on my shoulder with all my weight.  I had fallen years before in a biking accident and dislocated the same shoulder. I came in withering in pain and Larry was a great comfort. Now I have a torn rotary cuff and the prospect of surgery is scary for me. The thought of not riding my bike, not playing the piano and being without a right arm for up to 6 months is terrifying for me. So I have been learning to live with physical therapy and without surgery. But I think the time will come and when it does, I know Larry will be there for me and I’ll be more understanding of all he has gone through.

What are the lessons learned here? That when you take a marriage vow, it’s in sickness and in health. It means to be there for one another no matter what. We have learned over our 48 years of marriage to be servants to one another. Larry has never made me feel inferior being a female. It has never been about our roles as husband and wife. It has been about love and respect for the talents  and abilities of each other and what we can do to build one another up to be productive human beings.  I’m a better person because of Larry and he is a better person because of me. We both look to God for insights and wisdom in sickness and health.  I wish that for you in a marriage relationship or in relationships with friends.

<facebook.com/Sue Schuerr>

Is the Resurrection Fact or Fiction?

Every year the media focuses on Easter and its significance for followers of Christ. Questions are raised about Christ’s life, death and his resurrection. “Was he the King of the Jews?” “Did he walk the Earth after his resurrection? Was he truly the Son of God?” Certainly, followers of Christ live by faith; but is there also conclusive proof of Christ’s resurrection throughout the Bible, outside the Bible and throughout history? “If there is no resurrection from the dead,” said the jailed Apostle Paul, “then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith (1 Corinthians 15:12).”  Hopefully, my research will help you draw your own conclusions.

The most powerful argument for the existence of Christ is changed lives as seen recently in the movie and book, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. He, like CS Lewis, was an atheist. Being a successful investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune and an author, he decided to do his own investigation after being threatened by his wife’s conversion.   He found the proof for the resurrection to be overwhelming.   My own life is also an example. I was raised a Lutheran, but became an agnostic at the age of 17. I thought smart people don’t believe in God.  I have always been moved by nature though, and looking at a sunset one evening during my freshman year at Northern Illinois University, I told God if he was there, he could have my life. But he had to prove to me that he really existed and was not a figment of my imagination. That night I met my husband and the adventure began.

I had so many questions but the answers came one at a time as I searched the scriptures.  If you are feeling like something is missing in your life, could it be because you were created for so much more——a relationship with the living God? “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12).”  Not many people are willing to do the research.  They look everywhere else, but rarely study the words of Jesus, his disciples and the prophets.  If Christ was the Messiah and there is such a thing as abundant life here and life after death, wouldn’t you want to know?  The next job, the next vacation, the next house—- is that what will fill your life? Pascal once said that there is a God-shaped vacuum in each of us, and it can only be filled by a relationship with Him who knows and loves each of us. Yes, faith is important but the following essay will give facts from my research. With a Master’s degree and 60 hours beyond, research comes naturally.

To begin, the most powerful arguments are the prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming and his crucifixion.  No person could possibly script his life to fit where he would be born, how he would die, and where and how he would be buried.   These prophecies can be found throughout the Old Testament.  But for the sake of brevity, we’ll center on two books.  First, the book of Isaiah which was written in 740-680 B.C. Isaiah was born into an upper-class family where he rubbed shoulders with royalty and gave advice concerning foreign affairs of the nation.  He also attacked the social ills of his day like many of us who are concerned about the welfare of our nation.  He viewed these social abuses as symptoms of spiritual declension. To give you a flavor of his writing, see Isaiah 1: 23. “Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts.  They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.” Today, we can throw our corrupt politicians/governors in jail.  Unfortunately for Isaiah, who lived most of his life in Jerusalem, his outspoken words got him martyred by being sawed in two while inside a hollow log (Hebrews 11:37) under the reign of Manasseh. Here are the statements of a God inspired man. When reading Isaiah 53, you would be reading the lyrics for Handel’s Messiah.  Many of these verses will resonate with you.

  • “He was despised and rejected by men-a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53.3
  • “But he was pierced for our transgressions.  He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds, we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all……he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53.5-7
  • “He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:9
  • “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life, and be satisfied:  Isaiah 53:9
  • “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered on January 28, 1949. The whole Old Testament was discovered except for the book of Esther. The book of Isaiah was relatively intact and is 1000 years older than anything found previously. The Isaiah scroll dates back to the second century B.C. which would make it impossible to falsify to fit the life of Christ...  The Dead Sea Scrolls also called the Qumran scrolls (Qumran is the main location in the Dead Sea area where the scrolls were discovered) demonstrates unequivocally the fact that the Jews were faithful in their transcription of biblical manuscripts.  The Jewish writers were extremely conscientious about copying the biblical text, and memorization was a key component of their education.  The Old Testament books from Qumran are those which we find in our Bibles. Comparing today’s scripture to those found in the Dead Sea Scrolls speaks of the accuracy found in the text.     

The second book I examined was the book of Psalms which was also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The following are some of the prophecies of the Messiah.

  • “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads; He trusts in the Lord let the Lord rescue him.  Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Psalms 22: 7-8
  • “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.  My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me…my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; Psalms 22:14 (Medically this is an accurate description of what takes place when a person is crucified.)  
  • “They have pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Psalms 22:16
  • “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” Psalms 69:21
  • “Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy one see decay.” Psalms 16:10

There are hundreds of prophecies concerning the coming Messiah which Jesus has fulfilled.  Here are a few more.

  • Bethlehem was named as the birthplace of the Messiah seven centuries before the event.  “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
  • “See your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9
  • “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10

I have only touched lightly on this topic. Research has uncovered documents by historians like Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and others. Historian Gary Habermas details a total of thirty-nine ancient sources documenting the life of Jesus.  We have also uncovered material by first century Christians which dates back to shortly after Christ’s resurrection—–with no time for legend to develop. But the biggest change is what happens to a person’s life when he or she truly follows Christ. I welcome questions and discussion on this all-important topic.

Sue Schuerr (sschuerr@gmail.com) or www.lifewithlarry.org

Music the Great Connector

Larry and I love music, and our house is filled with it.  Our time with friends and family often centers around the piano as we share the universal love of music. I encourage everyone to develop your passions and see how God opens doors for you as he has for me. “When your passion and purpose are greater than your fears and excuses, you will find a way.” Your love will help you to seek the help you need to develop your talents through friends, classes and even the internet. Be a blessing to others in this world that needs connection. Music is one of those connectors.

Open your home for a potluck and music fest and see what happens as everyone brings a developing talent to the table. Music, the great connector, bridges the gap among all people regardless of backgrounds and political persuasion. It’s so much fun as well.

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A Cup of Cold Water from a Stranger

 

Willow On Wheels, a bicycle and camping group, was going strong at the church during the 90’s.  We would meet on a Thursday night and ride our bikes anywhere from 10 to 30 miles through Barrington Hills. We made some great friends during the years WOW was active. As a result, we planned a biking tour to Kentucky. My husband and I and our teenage son, Aaron, lagged a bit behind the group after crossing a hazardous metal bridge from Illinois to Kentucky towards our next night’s destination.  Then it happened. Aaron got a flat tire. There were no cell phones then to notify our team that we were stuck in a small town in Kentucky.  A man rolled down his window and asked if we needed help.  “We need to find a bike store,” I said. “My house is up the road,” he pointed. “Just go in and use my phone.” I was surprised at his friendly gesture. “Help yourself to some water, too,” he said. We made a stop at the local bicycle store only to find out that they did not carry the unique bike tube. They advised us to set up our tent in the city park while we tried to figure out our next move.  Up the hill we could hear a party going on. It wasn’t long before they noticed us camped below. “Come on up for a hamburger,” they said.   We filled our plates and found out what it was like to live in a small coal mining town where getting a marriage license came before getting a driver’s license.

A young couple asked us if we would prefer sleeping in their living room rather than in our tent. “Thank you— that’s very kind of you,” I said,” but we’ll be fine here.” “But wouldn’t you like to take a shower?” they replied. “Showers,” said Aaron as the sweat rolled off his brow.  “Mom! You better say yes.”

This kind family opened their home to us. It was indeed a culture shock. As I closed my eyes and settled into my sleeping bag, I looked around the walls where stuffed turkey vultures and an assortment of other prized animals decorated the walls. I had never seen walls like that in the Midwest. The next day after serving us breakfast, they loaded our bikes in the back of their truck and took us to Paducah, Kentucky where we got the tube for my tire and soon joined the rest of our team. We will always remember the kindness of the Kentucky folks who shared the little that they had with us out of the kindness of their hearts.

These strangers have inspired me to reach out to those in need and to remember the words of Jesus.

“Truly I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.” Mark 9:4

 

 

 

 

 

Never Never in the Everglades Feb. 2017

We decided to escape our Chicago winter by flying to Miami FL to visit friends and see sites,  but how ironic that winter in Chicago turned into spring with temperatures close to 70. Nevertheless,  here we were in the land of sun, flowers and yes alligators. We took a gorgeous hike through Fairchild Botanical Gardens where streams gleamed and pink, red and purple flowers adorned the paths. But now Larry was ready for something meatier or should I say downright scary—-a hike in the FL Everglades. As we walked along the boardwalk, we were greeting by large, healthy alligators enjoying a sun bathe in the river below. I had never in my life been that close to them.

Everglades in FL Feb. 2017

 

 

Larry soon returned with our hiking information, and a large burly man handed each of us a long thick stick. I wondered why we would need one for the boardwalk hike. But he pointed across the street where our hike was to begin. Just like Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, I followed not Naomi but my man remembering the line—-“Wherever you go; I will go.” But wait— it’s not a boardwalk but the beginning of a narrow path on very soggy mud.  “Yeaks,”  I thought. How am going to keep my tennis shoes clean here? “Where are you taking me?” I shouted as the path got progressively muddier and the stick stuck deeper.  Yellow flowers lifted their ominous heads mocking me. “Come on,” said Larry who was quite a bit ahead of me.  “Quit your whining.” Now I have followed Larry through caves, up mountains and down steep ski hills. But soon the mud turned into a stream and my imagination went viral while slouching through yet deeper, muddier water.  Now those big, huge alligators were napping across the street. What could possibly keep their cousins from habituating here?—-and, how about their relatives the snakes and lizards.  A childhood song came to mind. I’ve been eaten by a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor! Oh no, it’s up to my toe; oh geez, it’s up to my knee; oh heck. I wasn’t going to let it get up to my neck. I yelled out. “Larry, I can’t do this. I’m going back.”  I headed toward the sound of the traffic but I  with my sense of direction I was afraid I’d get lost.  I called for Larry again—  now pleading. After sometime, he appeared wet up to his thighs. “If I had followed you, I’d be swimming in the muck with baby reptiles and who knows what else,” I said.  I happily returned my thick muddy stick to the ranger who was impressed that as first timers in the Glades we had even considered this arduous, insane hike. We gave ourselves and our shoes a hosing off and made our way back to civilized Miami. Now Ruth may have followed her Naomi. But I’ll think twice about following Larry and of course–Never, Never in the Everglades

A Witches’ Brew for a Tasty Fight

 

I am one of those people who loves mornings. I’m looking out the window as the morning wakes up. We have a dusting of snow and a pink horizon with a canopy of purple blue sky. The days are getting longer but the squirrels are not yet scampering up and down the trees in their game of hide and seek. My heart is full of love for my Lord and for my life as I greet another day of promise.

I am happy for so many things—-a warm house, a neighborhood of friendly people and a husband who loves and understands me. Over our long marriage, we have learned the secret of being patient and forgiving regardless of life’s road blocks.

That evening, we quit our jobs around the house to prepare for a volunteer dinner at Brave Heart in Popular Grove which is near Harvard. Larry began volunteering at this therapeutic horse farm to help Veterans suffering with PSD and people with special needs. Larry looked handsome in his cowboy hat and boots. I wiggled into my stylish boots straining to pull up the zipper over my ample calves. I felt good in my new green sweater, a Christmas gift from my daughter, and a new sparkling necklace from my South Korean friend. With excitement, we took off for our long journey through scenic farm land.

After over an hour trip, we arrived at our destination only to find the parking lot empty. Something was not right. We figured the dinner was at another site but Larry did not have his phone with him for contacts. From Popular Grove, we went back to Brave Heart’s other site in Harvard and found out the dinner was February 18th. So here we were in Harvard on a Saturday night in January having wasted our time and gas money. It could have been a witches’ brew for a tasty fight but instead of quoting Macbeth’s “Double, double toil and trouble” we vowed to do better.

In the past, I would have said,” Why didn’t you put the date in your cell phone, and why do you insist on never having it with you when you need it? Why do you even have a cell phone? We could have had a really nice Saturday night. But here we are in the middle of nowhere land.” He would retaliate with,” Stop ragging on me, Miss Perfect.” When was the last time you made a mistake? His voice would get louder while pointing his finger. I would begin crying and say, “Just take me home,” and we would drive home in silence.

But after a marriage of more than 40 years, we have finally learned grace. Instead of ragging on one another, we talked about what we should do next.  The night was still relatively young.

The Bensons had called us earlier inviting us for dinner but we declined because of the volunteer dinner. I called Carol and she had a hearty laugh about our dilemma. We’ve all been there at one time or another. We decided to pick up pizzas and get together at their home in Palatine, another 25 minutes East from us.  We went all around the world but ended up having a delightful evening together. I slept well that evening until I woke up to the sound of racoons racing over our roof—–so glad they weren’t in our attic—but that’s another story.

Lessons learned

  1. Check your calendar thoroughly for events
  2. Bring your cell phone.
  3. Forgive one another. We all make mistakes
  4. Salvage your day in some way.
  5. Turn lemons into lemonade.

 

Now, what’s your story?

 

 

Add Spice to Your Life/Talk to a Stranger

One thing about life with Larry is there is rarely a dull moment. He loves meeting strangers and creating friendships especially through humor. You never quite know what is going to come out of his mouth. Believe it or not I once was a shy rather introverted woman  but that all changed with my life with Larry.  To give you an example, he often shops at an auto shop in Crystal Lake. He came in one day and was waiting to speak to the owner. When the owner looked up, Larry said, “I have a professional question for you.”Larry quickly turned around and said,”Does this coat make my butt look big?” The owner who also had a sense of humor was speechless. His coworkers said, he never was speechless but always had a come-back. Everyone laughed as they remembered the words of their wives asking the same thing.

Larry was flying solo one afternoon and asked the flight attendant a question. “Patricia, may I have more sugar for my coffee?” As a result, he won a bottle of wine simply because he was polite and used the flight attendances name. Now when I am at a restaurant, I get to know the waiter, waitress and sometimes bus boys simply by calling them by their name and asking a little about themselves.

If you look at a stranger as an interesting book and you are checking out the forward and the back cover, you will be amazed at how happy it will make both of you. Last night we met Hailey, our waitress, and found out she has a red-headed two year old daughter named Savannah. Her dad was babysitting her daughter so she could waitress and make money to continue to go to nursing school in Addison. She was delighted to be asked about her life instead of being treated like part of the furniture. Sometimes we tell them we are a praying couple and is there anything they would like us to pray about. ” A man that has friends, must show himself friendly.”{Proverbs18:24} Yes, there is no one that you lock eyes with that doesn’t matter to God. People should matter to us as well. “Each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.” Philippians2:4

Do you want to be happier today? Then try this out. Learn to listen, laugh and look at people as though they were a fascinating book to discover. In doing this simple technique, you will add SPICE TO YOUR LIFE as well.

Sharing your Life with a Stranger

On Sunday November 13th 2016, the Tribune posted an article entitled,”Readers weigh in on talking to Strangers.” It caused me to remember some very special strangers that came to our aid.

Larry and I and our son, Aaron, were bike touring with friends. We had crossed over a hazardous metal bridge from Illinois to Kentucky towards our next night’s campground when we got a flat tire. There were no cell phones then to notify our team that we were stuck in small town Kentucky. The bicycle tire was unique and the local store did not have it so we put up our tent in the city park. Up the hill we could hear a party going on—actually it was a family reunion.  It wasn’t long before they noticed us camped below. “Come on up for a hamburger,” they said.  So we filled our plates and found out what it was like to live in a small coal mining town where getting a marriage license came before getting a driver’s license.

A young couple asked us if we would prefer sleeping in their living room rather than in our tent. “Thank you— that’s very kind of you,” I said,” but we’ll be fine here.” “But wouldn’t you like to take a shower?” they replied. “Showers,” said Aaron as the sweat rolled off his brow.  “Mom, you better say yes.”

We spent the night in their home where stuffed turkeys  and an assortment of other prized animals decorated the walls. The next day, Sunday, they were kind enough to load our bikes in the back of their truck and take us to Paducah, Kentucky where we got the tube for my tire and soon joined the rest of our team. We will always remember the kindness of the Kentucky folks who shared the little that they had with us out of the kindness of their hearts. What’s your story? Reply on Facebook or www.lifewithlarry.org my blog.

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