Category Archives: Inspiration

An Unexpected Event

Memorial Day Weekend May 23rd-2020

We woke up to a beautiful morning. I took my 10 mile bike ride and thought to myself I’d bet Larry would enjoy a motorcycle ride today—somewhere local since it was suppose to rain at 1 PM. He loved the idea so we decided to visit our friends in Palatine, Carol and Chris Benson. Chris was working on scraping the house to prepare for painting.

We were on Rt.68 (Dundee Rd) near Deer Grove Forest Preserve on our way home. We were heading straight and had the right of way when a car making a left turn out of the Preserve collided with us. At first I thought we’d miss him but the next moment Larry and I and the bike were on the ground with bike parts scattered all over the road. My prayer was that we would not get hit by another car. My hip and leg hurt but I was able to walk to the curb where some wonderful people greeted me and wanted me to sit in their car. I chose to lean against a fence instead, and put on my mask. I was concerned about Larry, who has had two past back injuries. He was standing by the bike in the street and I wanted to make sure he was OK. His thumb was out of joint but he pushed it back in. He was scrapped, had a swollen hand, and some surface wounds. I had heavy gloves on and we both were wearing our helmets. Our helmets were dented, but without them we would have suffered probably for me a broken chin and for Larry, a head injury.

The policemen, Tim and Eddie, did a great job making sure we were OK and gathering all the information they needed. We both had up to date insurance. Tim said he hated seeing motorcycle accidents since he has one too and loves riding. The young man who hit us was so sorry and told us he did not see us driving straight ahead when he made the left turn. It was his first time being in an accident. Haven’t we all at one time or another had a situation where we came close to an accident but fortunately were able to avoid it. We walked into the ambulance and the paramedics checked our blood pressure and asked if we wanted to go the the hospital. We decided our injuries were minor. They too were very professional and caring. The Bensons, great friends, took us home and were very comforting.

Reflection

We should have reconsidered going out on Memorial day weekend in a populated area.

In the past, we have taken trips to WI on back roads.

Warning to others—accidents often happen close to home and wearing the proper motorcycle gear is important at any time.

We thank God that we are here to embrace another day—hopefully wiser.

We are both so thankful for our wonderful friends and family.

A Sunday Reflection may 20

I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain and I began to grumble forgetting that I had just enjoyed two days of sunshine and outdoor beauty. Then it came to me. “I’m not any different from the children wandering in the desert complaining about the manna God gave them.” It’s Sunday, a day of rest, and I should be happy to have some time to write, to read and to reflect.

Voices are shouting over the internet, the TV and the newspapers. Each voice is shouting, “Follow Me. I know what we need to do during Covid-19.” And yet as I reflect on this rainy morning what comes to my mind is all the grumbling the Children of Israel did while wandering in unchartered deserts. The Voice that did come in clear was, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.

As I gaze at the picture of my granddaughter drawing pictures of birds, I think of verses in Matthew 6 – Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount “Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they . Who of you by worrying, can add a single hour to his/her life?”—-“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

I hope you find peace today and hope for the future, compassion for one’s fellow human beings, thoughtulfness and prayer for our vulnerable demographic and appreciation for essential workers, respect for teachers who care deeply for their students, and for students who now treausre their teachers, and finally love for your families, friends and your Creator.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. A sound mind—not a grumbling heart while walking through the maze of unchartered waters.

Stay Calm during Covid-19

I woke up this morning and checked the amount of deaths in the US. As of April 19, 2020, it was 45,075. And even if we are making progress according to Governor Pritzker and the President, it looks like social distancing will continue through the summer and there is even talk of a possible upsurge in the fall with the combination of influenza and Covid-19. That might even make it difficult for young people to go back to school. This prognosis causes a cloud of depression to engulf me. On top of the news, my left foot has been giving me problems. What has kept me sane during the shutdown is my faith in God and my ability to take long walks while enjoying nature.

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I’m doing what I can to take care of my left foot and I’m thankful for the many blessings that have come my way as a senior citizen. These have been the golden years for Larry and I. We have traveled to Germany, Spain, Italy and Hawaii. We have biked throughout Illinois and Wisconsin and skied the hills of Wilmot and Colorado. We have been blessed with a good pension and a wonderful financial planner.

Now, we are called to sit on the shelf of life for awhile. This is not an easy task for the Schuerrs who have a bit of Bohemian in them. We love to travel and to enjoy new experiences and meet new people. We are gregarious. But what are we thankful at the time in life. We were able to visit our Montana family at Christmas and we have our daughter and her beautiful family 48 miles away from us. We were able to travel to Oahu, Hawaii in February and stay at a military resort called Hale Koa and a base called Hickam AFB. We spent 10 lovely days strolling this beautiful island and enjoying wonderful hikes and scenic ocean views. I close my eyes and hear the ocean, see the flowers and enjoy the beauty that surrounded me.

Skiing in beautiful CO.

Now we are learning new ways to deal with the stay at home order. We are finding that we can find happiness in simple ways. We have time now to enjoy the birds at our feeder, to cook delicious meals, to give to others in need and to develop our talents. We are getting to know the people in our neighborhood and to Zoom with friends and family. We hope that during this time we will become a better version of ourselves.

We have so much to be thankful for. Everyday, we find something to laugh about. Humor is of upmost importance. In fact, I wrote a story for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Laughter is the Best Medicine that was published. I love reading the stories before bedtime. At breakfast, we are planning our dinner menu. Larry has taken it to new heights creating tasty dishes. We can have an extravagant meal with wine and candle lights right here at home. We can enjoy our own yard as we watch the flowers bloom. I can write and play the piano and share it with friends and family. Right now, we are reading the book of James to glean morsels of advice on living a better life. That has led us to finding ways to give to people who are struggling financially at this time. We find that helping others has taken the focus off ourselves as it brings unexpected joy to others. We are following the guidelines to keep Covid-19 at bay.

An evening at the Hale Koa

Zoom has opened up a new world. I’m part of a book club that has 7 members and now 2 international members from Australia. Technology has opened up so many new doors for us. What can we learn to be a better version of ourselves during these days. What are you doing to brighten your days? Feel free to comment.

My wonderful book club friends
Julie and family in Lake Geneva, WI
My daughter Deborah with granddaughter Natalie at a concert near the Bean in Chicago.
My son Aaron Schuerr

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National Lake Shore Indiana

easter 2020-a most unusual time

I heard a flock of sand hill cranes overhead beckoning the end of winter. I even saw three fox pups frolicking in our yard. Despite seeing snow flakes today, April 9th, the trees are budding, the crocuses have pushed their faces toward the heavens and the days are getting pleasantly longer. 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 Passover/Easter message.

This has been a very difficult month with the unseen enemy lurching in all corners of our nation waiting to prey on young and old alike. It is no respecter of social economic status-willing to target even the likes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and actor, Tom Hanks. The stories of it’s capricious nature is the subject of our daily news. Covid-19 as of April 11th has infected 423,135 and killed 14,390 just in the US. Worldwide 105,722 have died from the virus. We are making progress in remedying the invader by practicing social distancing, isolating ourselves in our homes and wearing masks. We hope these activities will vanquish the enemy. At this point, all of our idols are being torn down and we are scrambling like Humpty Dumpty to put the world back together again. Many of us are resorting to Zoom to celebrate Easter this year. We can’t help but reflect on our lives, our families, our occupations and our relationship with the living God. We are cornered. The distractions have been relegated to the four walls of our homes, our yards and occasional walks in our neighborhoods.

But there is hope. God loves you and has a plan for your life. “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. 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 offer. We know deep inside that the end of life is not the end. It’s written in our hearts.

I was an agnostic at the University asking God,while watching the sunset, to bring 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, my husband and soul-mate, at a dance. I was intrigued that maybe there really was a God. I dusted off the Bible tucked away in the corner of my dorm closet and began reading the book of John. Jesus was just an historical character to me, not a living and resurrected being. I started keeping a journal of how He demonstrated his existence to me. Over the years of our marriage, we have seen the hand of God in our own lives, our families’ lives, and so many others.

My search for God, brought me to a study of the Old Testament prophecies pertaining to the coming Messiah. We are thankful to the Jews who faithfully and accurately penned the Old Testament with the prophecies of Christ. (See Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and google the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls) Also read Acts 10 and 1 Corinthians 15.

I was a skeptic and understand the many questions and concerns you may have,especially in this politically charged atmosphere where I’d rather refer to myself as a follower of Christ rather than as a Christian. Regardless, I have spent years as an educator with a Master’s degree from Concordia University. 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? He has a significant plan for your life. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12).” 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? Anything this important cannot be ignored.

My thoughts and prayers are with you this unusual Easter 2020 as we deal with Covid-19 and the many fears that lurch around the corner of our lives. You can find peace if you search God with your whole heart and put your life in his hands. This is the perfect time to do your own search.

By Susan Schuerr

Pearl Harbor February 2020
The Hale Koa in Oahu Feb 2020

sschuerr@gmail.com

Our Daily Battle with Covid-19

About three months ago, I read a book entitled As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner. It described in detail the effects of the flu epidemic in 1918 coinciding with World War1. More people died of the flu than those who died in the war. As I read about the schools and churches being closed and no place to bury or commemorate the dead, I was so thankful that I was living today where we have a better scientific understanding of infections and a vaccine for the flu. But then Covid-19 hit us with 10,000 deaths in the US and 70,000 worldwide according to a John Hopkin’s study 4/5/20.

The novel based on research helped me to understand what is going on today. It was an eye opener for me since my mother being the 12th child in her family, talked about her oldest sister, Belinda, who lost her husband. leaving her as a widow with a son. I heard a few stories from my mother about that time. One day, as a child, she was walking in the dark from the barn to the house in Valders, Wisconsin. She was trembling with fear until she noticed an angel by her side. Her sister said, “That was probably your cousin who died in the flu pandemic.” Whether it was her imagination or a guardian angel, she grew up well aware of the many lives taken by the flu. She was even told that she had the flu and was spared when she had a nose bleed. These were stories I heard as a child.

And here we are on Sunday, April 5th, taking drastic measures to save lives as we practice social distancing and limit our trips to the store. What are we learning about life? Yesterday while we worked in our backyard, we had a lengthy talk with the neighbor behind us. I learned more about his life than I did in the 20 years I knew Dale. As I take my walks, people seem friendlier and less consumed with self and more ready to smile and say hello. We realize now how precious life is and how soon it can be taken. “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4

I leave you with a poem.

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.” By Kitty O’Meora

My Artist son/aaron Schuerr

I have been blessed with three wonderful children. My youngest is Aaron Schuerr. It wasn’t long before we noticed he was left handed. I had been told not to give them coloring books, but let them explore art on big sheets of block paper. I would share bible stories with them drawing pictures on the block paper. After having two wonderful girls, I was told a boy meant trouble. But that was not true, Aaron could entertain himself drawing and role playing various Star War characters. When he was 8 years old, my neighbor Lori Indovina-valus and I decided to exchange lessons. I gave her daughter piano lessons and she gave Aaron art lessons. It was a win– win arrangement for both of us.

One day while in high school, Aaron and his friend Kent Albin asked if they could paint the wall in Aaron’s room. I said, “No” but Larry said, “Why not?” It wasn’t long before they happily painted the wall with figures that looked like Dr. Seuss characters in a prairie and pond. Aaron would come home from high school and pick up a large art book with pictures and stories of famous artists. He’d say, “Now my real education begins.” Next, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was not totally content with the Institute, and when an opportunity came to go to Scotland for a one year exchange program, he applied and later ended up graduating from the Dundee of Jordonstone College of Art and Design. He worked diligently Monday thru Friday, so he could take off on the weekends with an outdoor/hiking group. Aaron fell in love with the luscious landscape. He connected so well with his hiking pals from Scotland/England. They became lifelong friends and a couple of them stood up in his wedding in Bozeman, Montana—all wearing kilts, of course.

Aaron and I at the Legancy Gallery in Bozeman, MT

It was a slow start to becoming a notable artist. He was married to Lynelle, also an art major. She has been Aaron’s backbone giving him artistic advice and helping him with framing, etc. Soon their first child, August, was born followed by two more boys, Jasper and Isaak. Aaron supported his family by selling his art at a local gallery and by waitering. He approached his art like a job-working numerous hours a day. But weekends were made for hiking and exploring the mountains of Montana. His inspirations came from unending hikes and trails through the Gallatin Valley, Paradise Valley and Yellowstone National Park. His creative imagination was unleashed not only in art, but in his writing and acting. I’m proud to say that family always came first with Aaron and Lynelle. They have learned the life lessons of how to handle times of need and times of plenty.

A photo from a play

Yes, it was sad to have Aaron move from Bozeman/ Livingston Montana after living in Chicagoland; but it has given him the outdoor studio he needed to paint his masterpieces——and it provided a wonderful vacation spot for his father and me.

My advice to parents is to pursue your own creative outlets because by doing so, you are a role model to your children. God has given us each gifts and now due to Covid-19, many of us have time to develop them. See <www.aaronschuerr.com> for more information.

Aaron’s art work along with his article in the Feb/March 2020 issue

A Word from Martin Luther

I grew up as a Lutheran. My mother played the organ in two different Lutheran churches. As kids, we sang in the choir and performed on the stage for Christmas pagents. But I really didn’t know much about Martin Luther or his life struggles until I saw a movie about his life. When I went to NIU in DeKalb, IL, I was searching for meaning and purpose in my life. I remember walking back to my dorm and looking up at the sunset. I said, “God, I don’t think you are there, but if you are—- you can have my life. Maybe you can show me you are there by making something wonderful happen in my life.” That evening I met my husband at a Newman Center dance. He too had been searching for God. It wasn’t long before my roommate took us to a Cru meeting where we became follows of Jesus. The blindfold was removed from our eyes and we saw Jesus in a new light. We had a desire to read his recipe for an abundant life—-The New Testament. The once boring book came to life for us.

Now back to Martin Luther—He posted these words which I find very meaningful as we fight Covid-19. Let’s all do our part to keep it from spreading.

Even Martin Luther who was born in 1483 and died in 1546 knew what to do during the back plague. Words of Wisdom for us.When Martin Luther was dealing with The Black Death plague, he wrote these wise words that can help inform the way we approach things happening in our world right now…“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

Italy in Better Times.

Please stay hopeful and connected, maybe on line or in Zoom Cloud Meetings, to one another. Can you imagine how excited we will all be when life, as normal, will return. We will appreciate all the little things we took for granted.

The World as we know it

I woke up this morning to the Illinois statistics of 95 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of March 16th, 2020. This statistic is changing hourly. In Italy, there has been 24,747 cases and 1809 deaths. To avoid statistics like this, our governors have taken drastic measures by closing schools, churches and restaurants. It’s for our safety and not government suppression of our freedoms as some would say.

As you hunker down, isolating yourselves from this unseen enemy, it’s as though something very strange is happening. This might not be too difficult for the introverts; but for many of us, depression and loneliness could soon kick in. “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you. as though something strange were happening to you.” I Peter 4:12. Indeed, it’s a very strange time. Can you remember a time in our national history where schools, churches and jobs were shut down and your nation told you to live on line while isolating yourself from one another. . A microscopic virus has brought us to our knees. But by following the measures given to us, we will be able to save lives.

Be a creative cook!

Let’s find creative ways to live and to help others at this unprecedented time in our US and global history. Remember——–” God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7—–yes, a sound mind. What can each of us do to safeguard each other and our neighborhoods?

When our kids were young, one thing we liked to do in the winter was to go caving or spelunking near Bloomington, Indiana at a place called Sullivan’s cave. We brought supplies to spend the night. The temperatures could be below 0 degrees above but in a cave the temperatures stayed at 56 degrees. It was a weekend adventure to explore the cave with our family and friends. One time on our way down to Sullivan’s cave, my daughter, Deborah, broke out with red, blotchy skin—it was a rash that looked very much like measles, even though she had been vaccinated against the disease. We wondered what to do next. We carried her into the cave and got her comfortable and warm in a sleeping bag and fed her warm drinks. We had read that one should stay in a dark place when fighting measles; and what could be darker than a cave? We spent the night there and she quickly recovered.

What are some creative ways you are dealing with our current crisis? My daughter, Julie, is home with her family and they are making delicious tomato crème fraise sauce to pour over pasta. The kids have homework but not enough to fill up the day. They are taking bike rides and have instituted a rule that no screens until 3 PM.

We have a ping pong table in the family room; it’s getting more use. In addition to long walks in any weather, I continue to clean the house, read novels, write, play the piano and study Spanish. We hope to work in the yard today, since the temperatures are rising to the 50’s. So let’s get creative and share how we will spend our time.

What can we learn during this time of isolation when the world as we know it is changing daily—as though something strange is happening.

The Faith of a Mustard Seed

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

My husband and I flew into beautiful Bozeman, Montana, to see our daughter, Deborah, and our son, Aaron, and his family. Deb had arranged for us to stay at a pleasant ranch house with an attached garage leading up to a cozy dining room. Her friend, John, even gave us the use of his car while he visited family in Seattle. It was perfect.

We quickly changed into our cross-country clothes and waxed our skies for a day at Hyalite National Forest, just outside of Bozeman. Skiing at Hyalite was like being enveloped in a holiday postcard. The snow was deep and well-packed, the trails took us through snow-covered pine trees, and the clouds cut through the surrounding mountains while the sun peeks through, making the snow glow gold like specks from Rumpelstiltskin’s spinning wheel.

It was a very special day. We were meeting Aaron, his wife, Lynelle, and our 18-month-old Grandson, August. I was entering our car in the garage while Larry, whose 6’2” frame filled the inside doorway, said, “Looks like we have everything.” He then shut the door only to realize that he had left the key to the house on the dining room table.

“What should we do now?,” he said.

The keys and our flight plan were on the dining room table so near and yet so far from our grasp. We trudges through the snow circling the house checking for ways to enter or possibly an unlocked window or hidden key; but the place was like Fort Knox.

Nevertheless, life goes on, and we had a choice to either spend the day figuring out how to deal with our dilemma or enjoying the day. I said a prayer that went like this” “God, you see our problem and in faith I turn to you for a solution. I trust you will give us wisdom to deal with this impossible situation.” We then kept our date with our son and daughter-in-law.

My joy returned at the sight of little August who now could speak in whole sentences. August grinned with delight flying up and down the hills on the sled Aaron pulled behind him. After an hour or so of skiing, he looked up at us with his green mischievous eyes and orange hair sticking out of his cap saying, “Walk a little, walk a bit.” He escaped his cozy cocoon of enclosed blankets and began examining the new substance called “snow.” We threw a few snowballs while munching on delicious homemade revel bars. (See attached recipe.)

As shades of pink streaked the sky making shadows on the mountains,we headed back to our cars. I kissed my dear first grandson’s frozen chubby red cheeks saying goodbye to his mom and dad and thanking them for such a wonderful winter day. But now the dark cloud descended on us as we drove into the garage trying to figure out how to get into the house without a key?

After inspecting the house once again, Larry said, “I might have to dismantle the door.” Being an Industrial Arts teacher and former contractor, I knew he could probably do it with tools—but we had none. I also worried about damaging the house so graciously offered to us. Once again, I prayed for God to help us and to give us wisdom which he promises if we ask.

In a whisper, an impression came to me. “Try your home key.” It sounded absurd but why not, I thought. What have we got to lose? It does say in the Bible, “My sheep hear my voice and follow me.”

Larry reluctantly and with little hope, took our house key from my hand and slowly tried fitting it into the lock. We held our breath as he slowly turned the key, and “Voila”—it opened. Did we just witness a miracle? Did we really open a house in Montana with our key from Illinois. We didn’t care! We were so excited—we were like two little kids jumping and shouting for joy.

It was proof that our heavenly Father heard our prayers and that he saw our faith in Him to go on with our day and to trust Him to deliver us from ourselves.

By Susan Schuerr

What Can Your Grandma Do?

Times with my daughter and granddaughter at Milleium park in Chgo

My grandma can stand on her head.

She can make the most delicious bread.

What can your grandma do?

My grandma can barefoot ski.

She loves to bounce me on her knee.

What can your grandma do?

My grandma can juggle three balls.

She plays “Hide and Seek” with me in the halls

What can your grandma do?

My grandma can speak perfect French

She sings Frere Jacques standing on a park bench

What can your grandma do?

My grandma can climb to the top of a mountain.

She runs back down and gets a drink from a fountain

What can your grandma do?

She drives a big red tracker

While sitting next to me and my dog, Hector

What can your grandma do?

She can run in a marathon

And fish with me in our lovely pond

What can your grandma do?

My grandma can kiss me till I turn blue

I think my grandma is really cool

We have five grandkids that keep us moving.

What can your grandma do?

My grandma can swim across the lake

Then make the most terrific cake

What can your grandma do?

She can ride a bike from one city to the next

On her cell phone she could even text

What can your grandma do?

She can knit a sweater in yellow, blue and red.

Then she sings to me before I go to bed.

What can your grandma do?

She makes up stories on the way to school

And teaches me to obey the traffic light rules

What can your grandma do?

She holds me when I scrap my knee

And picks apples from our fruit tree

What can your grandma do?

She gives me hugs and kisses

Even when I make big messes

What can your Grandma do?

She can dance a jig

While mending my favorite stuffed pig.

What can your grandma do?

She shows me pictures of mama as a child

Sometimes I see a tear through her smile—–

My grandma is the best

Now I better get some rest.