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 my blog.

The Power of a Song

My earliest memories  are of my mom putting us to bed upstairs and then returning to the room downstairs to play us a lullaby to calm us down and put us in a state of sleep. My love of piano began with her as she filled the house with music. My older brother would gather his friends around the piano and I sat as a child curled up on the sofa enjoying the singing of various current songs and musicals of the time. Oklahoma was one of their favorites. I was especially moved by my brother’s  gifted voice and my mother’s ability to play just about anything requested.

After retiring from teaching English, I have returned to my love of music by playing the piano at a nearby hospital. I saw the grand piano in the newly built lobby and was drawn to it like a bee to a flower. I sat down to play this fantastic donated piano and then got the idea to volunteer to play it once a week. It was my fourth week of playing a variety of tunes from classical to musicals and pops. After I finished playing, I went up to the receptionist to chat when an elderly woman came up to me and said, “Was that you playing the piano?” “Yes”, I said. Then she told the story about how much she missed her husband even though she knew that God was now her husband. [Isaiah 54:5]. As she walked into the hospital, I was playing Moon River. That was our song. God used you today to help me,” she said. We all got teary eyed and there was an instant bonding.

A Thoughtful Response to the 2016 Election

What a year of turmoil, division, and mudslinging this election season has caused.  Let’s hope we never see the magnitude of it again. My friend Jayne McGrath who I knew through Bright Hope, an organization that works with the very poor in the world has written this response. I share part of it with you now.
The Trumps and the Hillary’s will come and go and the common issues will always be there for each new President and Government. What will be measured is the ability to create impactful, meaningful change through individuals. One way to do that is to take your strongest voting issue and work on it, or volunteer to make it better. Join a board, join a coalition, fund a need, and put your “back into it.”
Spend time IN the issues instead of on the issues.

An example: Many have talked about their core issue was Pro-Life in
this election. I encourage those people to look into a foster care
agency and change a life to foster a child or adopt the over 100,000
children waiting for adoption and 402,378 in foster care nationwide
that did not ask for the circumstance they are in. Less than 49% of
foster youth complete their GED and therefore go on to have employment difficulties, thus adding to our national costs and their suffering.
If looking to foster or adopt a special needs child, please call me to
put you in touch with a 20 year established solid resource. Children
need love of a real family not only money given to charity. Churches
often have programs to help foster or single parent family children in need. Or fight for free birth control, saving the state money on
healthcare and reducing abortions by 40% (program working in CO) or volunteer to educate moms to discuss options for adoption or help single moms care for their children. These are workable solutions,real-time action that actually helps the issue.

Veterans lives matter as well, so pull up an organization to get
involved with re-career training, homelessness or injury
rehabilitation. USO needs volunteers to help make family time
memorable with those in active service. Paralympics/paralyzed vets
need volunteers to help with activities like teaching vets to downhill
ski, fishing etc. Combine your hot topics. Vet and sports or Vets and
homelessness, education etc.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters help children locally, or if interested
in a specific impoverished country to serve, please call me for
referrals if needed. Feeding programs for extreme poverty food packs are held in local communities through Feed My Starving Children. Northern Illinois Food Bank and Chicago Food Depository are always looking for the help of hands and feet.

Environment – there are local activities to help with environmental
issues or plantings, gleanings, animal care and foster, animal and
natural park preservation groups. Many fantastic ones are right here

As we know, there are many ways to make an impact, many of you already are.This is the only way I know of to make things better is to BE better, to collectively put our hands into action. May this serve as a reminder for those that feel powerless to affect change after the
effects of this election. As we enter into a new paradigm with many
new challenges as a nation, I wish you well, Go with God, Serve
others, keep moving forward in betterment through self-development, seek company of others, keep loving your families and direct your steps towards the future, hopefully a better one each day. Thanks for listening to my thoughts, it helps me to write, so consider this your loving gift of a free therapy session for me! Still sad, but faith-filled for a master plan and hopeful through the power of people’s compassion, thoughts, and ideas. Thank you Jayne.
I would like to end with a thoughtful verse from James 2:15-17.
“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well;keep warm and well fed; but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”