A Celebration of Life/ 2019

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National Lake Shore

I heard a flock of sand hill cranes overhead beaconing the end of winter. I even saw three fox pups frolicking in our yard. Despite the April 14th snow storm, the trees are budding, the crocuses have pushed their faces through the snow and the days are getting 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 Easter message.

I am so thankful that Cornelius, a centurion in the Roman regiment, existed in Christ’s time, because he gave us a picture of God’s love for all mankind. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing. But they were not followers of Christ. 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 heart 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, as recorded by Dr. Luke in Acts 10.

We are thankful to the Hebrews, 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 for examples.) Also read Acts 10. “You will seek me and find Me, when you seek me with all your heart, “(Jeremiah 29:13.) This is the perfect time to do your own search.

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.

Cook Up a delicious life

“Catch on fire with enthusiasm, and people will come from miles around to watch you burn,” said John Wesley. Add humor, purpose and service to your life and cook up a tantalizing dish that is sure to bring happiness and joy. The first ingredient is humor.

My husband Larry and I were hiking in Olympic National Park in Washington a few years ago and having a surge of energy, I went ahead through a circular tunnel leaving my 6’2” husband behind. While in the tunnel, I got the idea to hide at the end and jump out and scare him. It would be revenge for throwing my pillow down the hall in the middle of the night or stuffing my pillow case with shoes. I hid myself among the rocks and waited for the sound of heavy shoes. In my mind, I timed it perfectly, 5,4, 3, 2, 1. “BOO” But instead of being Larry, it was a 6’5” Englishman yelling, BLOODY HELL at the top of his lungs. “I’m so sorry,” I said, “I thought you were my husband,” which gave him little comfort. But I had time to hid my almost 5′ frame in the rocks like a little gnome and still scare Larry. We laugh often about this memory.

Now, I don’t recommend scaring Englishmen, but I do recommend more laughter in our lives. Physically, laughter triggers the release of endorphins that cause a sense of well-being. Children laugh on an average of 300 times a day whereas we laugh a dismal 17 times a day. What has happened to our childlike spirit and to our smile? We are robbed of our joy by worry when studies show that 85% of what we worry about never happens; And if it does, we find we have the coping skills to deal with the problem. As the days grow longer and Spring opens up its beautiful arms to us, take time to enjoy God’s creation. “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face,”Victor Hugo.

While reflecting on God’s goodness, remember the second ingredient for a fulfilled life— purpose. In a normal life time, the heart will beat 2.5 billion times. What is your heart beating for? What is your vision and passion? Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with your talent is your gift to Him. Carve out time to develop your gifts and surround yourself with people who will help you develop them.

Now my third and final spice is service. “Service to others is the price you pay for your room here on earth,” said Muhammad Ali. I volunteer at a Care Center. As a guest host, I have so many opportunities to step into the lives of those in need. The beauty is that our Care Center can help a client not only get food, but dental, eye care and legal services if they qualify. We also find them jobs and a place to flourish in church. But the best gift is an empathetic listening ear. Our motto is James 1:19 “Everyone should be quick to listen, and slow to speak”…..It’s such a rewarding feeling to see a person enter with little hope and leave with a sparkle in their eyes knowing that God holds their future in His hands. Our aim is to change the world. Now that is a lofty goal. “In this life we cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love,” said Mother Theresa.

Now you have the ingredients to cook up a vibrant life of humor, purpose and service. As we dedicate each day to Jesus, he will open the doors for us to impact lives. It’s an exciting and meaningful job. “We make a living by what we do, we make a life by what we give,” Sir Winston Churchill

Not Without Hope

A day at Chicago Botanical Gardens.

  by Karen Klotz, my neighbor, who has had MS for 39 years and yet lives a joyful and fulfilled life.

There are many things I can do no more

Like bake my cookies or scrub the floor

Or even run on the ocean shore

Yet a quiet calm is in my soul

For the peace of God I’ve come to know

His love and caring guides my way

And in His arms, I long to stay

As I sit in my chair quietly and still

Watching the birds as they eat their fill

The feeder is hung by the water bath

Bringing a smile as they splash and splash

My body has slowed yet my soul expands

Forever nurtured by His loving hands

A Winter to Remember

Camping at Kettle Moraine, WI 3/4/2002
Sue Schuerr winter camping for the first time.

The polar vortex arrived this morning with a vengeance. It was -26 in our little town of Fox River Grove, IL. It brought back memories of our time winter camping in 2002 up at Kettle Moraine, WI. Larry talked me into winter camping up at Kettle Moraine, WI after our first night in a motel. It had been a relatively mild winter and after begging me to camp, I finally agreed, half heartedly. The advantages he said were as follows: No bugs, no mud, no loud obnoxious campers, almost free lodging and our choice of campsites. We had bags that went down to zero degrees and a tent used on Mt. Everest. During the night, I was cold and put on his stinky sweater. He had been X-country skiing in it for the past two days. I spent the night ducking in and out of the sleeping bag. Under the bag, I would gage because the sweater smelled like stinky feet. Outside the bag, it was freezing cold. We woke up at 6:30 AM to -12 degrees and rushed over to our favorite coffee shop in Oconomowoc where our teeth chattering while drinking our hot coffee. Like a homeless person, I made my way to the bathroom and brushed my teeth once they settled down. This was another lifewithlarry adventure but my heart goes out to homeless people who be looking forward to much warmer temperatures at the end of the week.

Creating a New You in the New Year

In a life time, the heart will beat 2.5 billion times. What is your heart beating for? What is your vision? What keeps you up at night? These are questions I ask myself. I strive to make each day a masterpiece. I have found that my greatest joy comes from helping others attain their vision. Without a vision, the people perish. If you listen well to others, you will know what makes their heart skip a beat. Then I can come along as a mentor and help them climb their ladder. We cannot remain stagnant if we want to grown spiritually, mentally or physically. John Wesley has worded it so well. “Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”Just think of Forest Gump as he ran across the United States inspiring others to run. Fictional, but it had a point.

Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it, is your gift back to God.” Have you noticed that the talent you have been given needs to be developed and honed by hard work, sweat and tears. My goals are to be a better writer, to improve my piano skills, to speak Spanish and to be in good physical condition to accomplish my goals. You may ask. Why these goals? These are the tools I can use to further the kingdom of God. . To bring others into the abundant life I am experiencing. Our purpose is the change the world. Now that is a lofty goal. “In this life we cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa. That is true but Helen Keller had another way at looking at life. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much. “ Continue to check my blog, www.lifewithlarry.org for tips about stepping out of your comfort zone and into the person God created you to be.

Laughter A Cure for the Winter Blues

There is so much to do in the month of December. It can be a stressful time as we prepare for the holidays. But my advice to you is to take time to laugh at yourself and with others.  Larry and I love to laugh. No matter what trials we have faced, we can’t stay blue for long.  And that is a good thing. “Laughter is good medicine.” Physically, laughter triggers the release of endorphins that cause a sense of well-being. Studies have demonstrated that children laugh on average more than 300 times a day. We adults only laugh a dismal 15 times a day. No wonder grandparents enjoy being with their grandkids. I watched a group of three-year-olds today. I was the big bad wolf who was trying to blow their house down.  They called themselves the piggies and ran from one house to the other. They squealed with laughter and brought out the child in me.

Did you know that 85% of what we worry about never happens; and if the problem occurs, our excellent coping skills help us to manage successfully?

So find people that make you laugh.  Play with kids. Pass around good jokes.  Be like the Proverbs 31 woman who smiled at the future.   “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” Victor Hugo

Share a laughable moment on my website. I have a great one to tell you called Sweet Delusions.

What Shall I do When I Retire?

Working on a Habitat for Humanity Job-

“Someone is sitting  in the shade today, because someone planted a tree along time ago.” (Warren Buffet). Now you have time and the World is your Oyster! But you won’t know it at first. In the beginning, retirement can be difficult as you step into the new you. It takes time to shape who you will be next. My advice, step in and out of many doors.  I was eager to start a blog named www.lifewithlarry.org to share  what I have learned over the years and my life experiences with my husband, Larry.  As a mother of three, and grandmother of five and as a former high school teacher, I gained wisdom about how to live a fruitful life.  Being a mentor to the next generation and using my talents and skills have been a priority. Now is the time to spend time with grandchildren if you have them or help children in your neighborhood. Of course, if funds allow, travel. I have reconnected with many through Facebook and have visited them personally.

Now you have the gift of time. Time to develop interests and talents. I loved waking up to the sound of birds and being able to have a second cup of coffee. I live by the PSSS acronym.  To be fulfilled, it is important to cover the following facets of your life- Physical, Social, Service, and Spiritual.

Physical/ I love the outdoors so hiking, biking, jogging and soon, skiing are some of my passions. I joined a health club to be able to use weights and as an avenue to meet new friends.

National Lake Shore

Social/ I started a book club. We meet once a month at Panera. There are 7 of us. Keeping it small is wise. We have gotten to know each other well. Each summer, we go to a WI summer home for two days and hike, bike, kayak, play tennis and discuss our books. I also joined Toastmasters both for social and intellectual enrichment. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. I keep my connections with teachers and friends by getting together for coffee. We open our home by having potluck dinners with themes like Italian or Mexican Night.

Service/ Find Your Passion-My first serve was with Habitat for Humanity. It took me 12 times to pound a nail. But in time I got better. I love playing the piano in the lobby of our local hospital. At first I was very nervous but with practice, I have improved as a musician. I also wrote for Compassion and Justice issues at Willow Creek Church and I have been published in some anthologies. Being an extrovert, I love meeting new people as the Guest Host for a Care Center. I’m working on learning Spanish by doing a Duolingo App on my phone. I join my husband and daughter by volunteering for www.humbledesign.org/Chicago. I would recommend trying many service organization to see what suits you best.

Spiritual/-At the age of 18 when I was searching for meaning and purpose in life, I looked up at the sky and told God–” I don’t think you are there: but if you are, please show me.” That night, I met my future husband and became a follower of Jesus Christ. I love reading Psalms, Proverbs, and  the New Testament. There is wisdom on how to live an abundant and fulfilling life. Over and over again, I see his presence in my life. He is the hub in the wheel of my life. 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bird’s Eye View from the Sandia Mountains in NM & Hope for the Future

We decided to escape colder weather in Chicagoland by traveling to Albuquerque, New Mexico in October. But it was colder than at home. Finally warmer weather and sunshine made its way and we took a tram to the top on the Sandia mountains within the Cibola National Forest.

The boy running our tram had been on the job for about a month. He had penetrating blue eyes and a pierced nose and ears adorned with various sparkling piercings that sparkled in the afternoon sunlight. I asked him if this meant he was able to snowboard in the coming winter for free. “Yes,”he said. “How do you get a job like this?” I said. Well, you have to be able to get on the top of the tram which is 10,678 ft high in case there is a problem or the need for an adjustment. “Yikes, that sounds scary,” I said.  “Many who try getting up there just freak out and that ends the application process.” he said. I thanked him for sharing detailed information about the mountain and handed him a small tip for doing a good job getting us safely up and down the mountain. It was a breathtaking site.

Our stomachs were growling and I saw an ad in a magazine for “Happy Hour” at a nearby restaurant. I was interested in the free food so I talked Larry into driving to Nob Hill restaurant near the University of New Mexico. But we missed the “Happy Hour”by two minutes. We had passed  many ethic restaurants and decided on Ramen. It was full but they said we could probably get seated in  15 minutes; but after 40 minutes of waiting, we talked about leaving. The young man next to us noticed my husband’s retired Navy hat and he said,”Thank you for your service. You can go ahead of our party. We are just hanging out visiting, anyway.”  I found out that Miguel was in the police academy ready to graduate soon.

After 8’o’clock, we finishing eating our delicious healthy meal and asked our waitress for our bill. She said,”There is no charge. Someone else has paid your bill.” I knew it had to be Miguel. I told him how touched I was with his generosity and that I would make it a point to pray for his safely as a police officer and that God would bless his life.

There were many young people at Ramen. Meeting Miguel and his friends made us realize that the future is in good hands.

 

 

 

 

My Precious/Lost

I titled this post “My Precious/Lost” because of Larry’s love for the trilogy The Lord of the Rings.  While reading the novel to our three children, his imitation of Gulum was spot-on way before the movie came out. Gulum throughout the book grieves the loss of his precious ring.

It looked like it was going to be a great day volunteering with others using his expert carpentry skills. This particular day, he woke up earlier than usual to travel to  South Chicago.  Larry is not an early riser. His famous saying is “If God wanted me to wake up early, he wouldn’t have made  sleeping in feel so good.” After showering and getting dressed, he looked over to our bed stand to see where he put his wedding band.  But it was nowhere to be found.   “What happened to my ring? Did you see it?” he asked. Larry often takes off his ring while doing construction work.  In the almost 50 years of our marriage, he has lost several rings often due to a hole in his pocket.   He had been very careful with the current band; it was the most costly one and he wanted to have this one for the rest of his life.

With a heavy heart, he asked me to look for it while he made his way to volunteer for www.humbledesign.org/Chicago,  an organization that helps the homeless by turning their newly acquired empty houses into clean, dignified and welcoming homes.   It was hard for him to be his usual humorous and jovial self that day as he replayed in his mind where and how he lost his “precious”. He checked his truck, his drawers, under the bed, etc. I looked all through the garage and rechecked every coat and shirt pocket, to no avail.  I even called the restaurant that he frequents. The day before he had been chopping wood for our wood-burning stove. I actually went to the spot he had been working and raked away debris to see if it had dropped from his pocket.  I thought of the woman in Luke 15:8 who had 10 silver coins and lost one.  “Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it.” And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me’ I have found my lost coin.” The story is equated with God rejoicing over our return to Him.

A few days later when he had given up all hope of finding his ring, Larry put his hand in his drawer to get a pair of socks when he touched an unfamiliar metal object—it was his ring.  We both jumped for joy, our cup of happiness returned—no longer “Glum.”

Where were you on 9/11/01

Where were you on 9/11? I remember teaching a class in British Literature where we were studying Beowulf on 9/11/01. A student went to the nurse’s office and came back with the news about the twin towers. We thought he was joking since he was the clown of the class.  Beowulf is about the nature of good and evil and we read the rest of the book with this thought in mind. In the end, good overcame evil but not without sacrifice. I thank God for the protection he has provided our nation since then. Let us stop and remember and pray for those who lost so much that day, and for those who have died with illnesses related to that day. 

On our block, we lit candles in remembrance of those who died. The silence of no planes overhead was eerie. The nation was in mourning. The churches were full as many were looking for direction and answers.  One of our teacher’s husband, a fireman,  volunteered at Ground Zero.

We rejoiced the day President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.  Just like in Beowulf, justice was measured out with the help of the Navy Seals.

Sometimes I wonder why we get so upset over a triviality when so many in our world have gone through so much trauma.  One way I measure problems is to ask myself this question,”Is this a first world problem?” If it is, I can deal with it and thank God it isn’t something worse.  Wish all of you well, and feel free to share where you were that day either here or on my Face Book page Sue Schuerr

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