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.

Travels to Honolulu

After serving four years in the Marines and eighteen in the Navy reserves, Larry and I were able to enjoy retirement benefits. One of these benefits was to be able to stay on US Military bases throughout the world. Here are some pictures and videos of our February trip to Hawaii.

Hickam Field
Spent the night at Hickam Field Feb. 2020
This is a memorial to those who were lost in flight. It says,” We keep faith with their memory by standing ever ready in defense of our memory.”
A boat at Hickam
We woke up to the Star Spangle Banner and went to sleep hearing taps.
We woke up to the anthem and went to sleep hearing taps.
Another scene on the Light House trail.

The Lighthouse trail is spectacular

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.

Stepping into a new Life

“Someone is sitting in the shade today, because someone planted a tree along time ago.” Warren Buffet

Stepping Into A New Life

After retiring from teaching, I finally had something I never had before—time. Time for a second cup of coffee, time to read new books, time to spend with loved ones, and time to develop new talents. The world was now my oyster. In an average lifespan, the heart beats 2.5 billion times. What was my heart beating for? I started a blog, a book club and joined Toastmasters. To be fulfilled, I had to have outlets Physically, Mentally and Socially–a new PMS without the emotional baggage.

I stepped through multiple doors of opportunity to see which ones would be the best fit for my personality and talents. The first one was Adaptive Adventures, an organization that provides an opportunity for a handicapped person to downhill ski with an able-bodied person. I peered into the sad eyes of a twenty-five year old tall man with a handsome ruddy complexion and a strong desire to communicate. “Five years ago,” Bob said, “I was in a snowmobile accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down. A few years after the accident, I lost my mother.” My eyes filled with tears as he continued to share. “You know what I miss the most,” he said, “It’s the adrenaline rush. That’s why I am here today at Wilmot Mountain, so I can use a sit-ski and ski down a mountain, again.” The following week my husband and I helped Bob fulfill his dream. He learned how to navigate a sit-ski. By the end of the day, it all clicked for him as he triumphantly cruised down maneuvering beautiful turns all the way to the lodge where he shouted for joy. “I forgot I was paralyzed.” He was ecstatic about experiencing a once unattainable dream—–an adrenaline rush!

The Blue Run!

Later that winter, I was assigned to ski with, Mary, a blind girl. Fortunately, she was not totally blind and could see shadows. We immediately bonded going up the ski lift by talking about books she was reading in her English classes and boys she liked. When we finished the day with many successful runs, a young boy about ten-years old came up to me and said, “ Can I shake your hand ?” While extending my hand, he said, “Thanks for helping that blind girl ski today.” I was so touched by his heart for Mary–a seeing boy wanting to reach out to a blind girl. “Wouldn’t you want someone to help you if you were visually impaired?” “Yes,” he said. “ “You can make a difference in this world.” He smiled thoughtfully as we parted.

Music was the next door to open. My husband, Larry, had knee surgery. While he was sleeping, I ventured out of the room to the newly renovated main lobby of Good Shepherd Hospital where I saw a grand piano. I removed the cover and started playing to the amazement of the staff who had never heard the piano played. Soon I began volunteering every Thursday. I told my book club friend, Renee, about volunteering and now she and her 90 year old mother play duets on Tuesdays. One patient remarked, “This is suppose to be a place to feel nervous and sad, but you have made it a place of joy.” Another patient before she entered the hospital greatly missed her deceased husband, and was asking God to help comfort her in her grief. As she entered the lobby, I was playing their favorite song, Moon River. She asked the staff member, “Who’s playing the piano?” I joined them at the front desk as we tearfully hugged one another—witnessing an answer to her prayer.

These experiences plus many more have helped me discover the NEW ME. The author Leo Buscaglia once said, “God’s gift to you is your talent. What you do with your talent is your gift back to God.” I continue to strive to inspire the next generation and to bless the current one.

Susan Schuerr

A Very Humorous Winter encounter

My friend, Cleora, and I have been friends for over 30 years. We call each other ‘fair-weather’ friends since neither of us liked talking on the phone too long. We would just make our plan to bike, ski, or walk and off we’d go. Cleora has been a ski instructor at Wilmot for over 20 years and she was excited to tell me about her trip to Breckenridge with her son to ski the big hills of Colorado.

Here’s Cleora with her buddy at Breckenridge and Larry in the background.

As fate would have it, Larry found a deal to ski and stay at a lodge for free in Breckenridge if we went to the time-share meeting. We were excited to be there the same time as my dear friend, Cleora. We called each other in the morning and made plans to meet and ski. Larry and I got dressed and took the elevator down to meet our shuttle bus each morning. At night, we would meet to sit in the hot tub and share our adventures on the hill.

Skiing in beautiful CO.

Cleora mentioned that she didn’t have to take a shuttle since the slop was just outside her lodge door. I thought, “Boy, how lucky!” She doesn’t have to wait for a shuttle each morning like us. This went on for a week–we took our shuttle bus and she just went straight to the slopes where we planned to meet.

On the final day, I was in the process of taking our ski equipment to the van. As the elevator door opened, there was Cleora. We looked at each other in astonishment. “What are you doing here?” she said. “No,” I said. “What are you doing here”? My room is just down the hall to the right,” she said. “Mine is the left,” I pointed. “We laughed until we cried. The whole week we were taking the shuttle and she just walked to the slopes outside her door to the right. All we had to do was walk down the hall where she was. We had been on the same floor without knowing it. What a coincidence that we booked rooms and ended up on the same floor, without knowing it.

Once again, “Laughter is good medicine.” And it seems situations like this happen often. By the way, we did not buy the timeshare. Please tell us about your experience on

On top of the world

Happy New Year! I was on the top of the world looking down on creation being mesmerized by the beauty beneath me. As often as I fly, I still get a thrill looking at untapped, unpopulated land. While traveling from Montana, where we were with family over Christmas, I snapped this photo before landing in Denver, CO.

The picture reminds me of one of my favorite verses in the book of Psalm. “The heavens’ declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard” Psalm 19: 1-3.

The language we all have in common is the language of nature. It inspires us to treasure each day as we focus on harvesting the many gifts and skills our creator has given us. What passions do you have? Is it art, music, photography, sewing, knitting, building, or helping others be a better version of themselves. Each day speaks! Are you listening? Each night reveals knowledge. Are you learning? How does the beauty of nature inspire you? Remember, there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. It’s the cement that brings us together regardless of our backgrounds. Be inspired in 2020.

My grandson, August Schuerr, after a day of skiing on top of the world in Bozeman, Montana.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I was intrigued by the life of Fred Rogers after reading about him in the Tribune Magazine section. Here’s a man who drank hot cranberry juice in the morning instead of coffee, he swam, played the piano and was an ordained minister using his talents to inspire children.
I invited our neighbors to see the movie with us on Thanksgiving Friday, 2019. I expected to be somewhat bored with a children’s movie. But I was so wrong. Fred Rogers, played brilliantly by Tom Hanks, opened the door to his studio and hung up his jacket, put on his tennis shoes and sweater. Then he proceeded to open a box with a picture of a man who had been punched in the face. The topic was forgiveness.
The movie then takes us to the life of hard-nosed Equire journalist, Lloyd Vogel, who was assigned the task of writing about Fred Rogers. He’s hoping to find some dirt on his life. But Fred notices the wound on his nose and eventually finds out it was the result of a fight he had with his father at his sister’s wedding. Fred Rogers skillfully gets to the heart wound that has plagued Lloyd since his mother’s death. The movie shows us how to live life. I highly recommend seeing it. Here are a few tips..

1. Focus on the moment and the immediate person you are talking to. Show love and respect for that person. 2. Take time to just be silent. In the movie, we were silent for a minute.3. Remember what it was like to be a child. He asked Lloyd what his favorite animal was as a child. 4.Find creative ways to defuse anger. 5. Practice forgiveness.

A Lesson for life from baby emma

We have a teenage couple with an adorable baby staying with us. She is the best baby ever. She wakes up and looks out the window and coos. She rarely cries, but gets so excited when she sees her bottle. One day I waited in the car while her mother went into Aldis to get baby supplies. She was in the carrier behind me, and behold she started to cry. It was so rare to hear her fuss, I knew something had to be wrong. I hopped in the back seat to see what caused her turmoil. It was the first time she had worn a hat. It was a bit big and had slipped down covering her face. I gently pulled it up so she could see again and then she smiled with relief.

Isn’t that the way life is for us? We try to be strong and brave but then sometimes the trials of life cover our eyes and we are terrified because we cannot see. We are blinded with no direction. But if we turn to God, he makes our path clear. “The path of the just is as a shining light, that shines more and more until the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18.

reflections on Family, Fall and Music

As the days grow shorter and leaves turn brilliant colors, our minds travel to the holiday season— a time to gather with family and friends. For us, music has been the glue uniting our family and friends in one accord. It began with my mother, Alice Gram, who was the only one in her family of thirteen to go to college. She became a music teacher. Her father, Anton Berge, sold four cows to send her to Milwaukee State Teachers’ College, currently University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She would play lullabies on the piano for my sister and me while we drifted off to sleep. My older brother, Bill, has a voice like Frank Sinatra. My memories are filled with mom playing the piano and Bill and his friends gathered around the piano singing the latest musicals. Our home was filled with the warmth of music. The love of music has been handed down through the generations.

Music the great connector

I grew up playing the piano and singing in various choruses at church and school. My three children all played the piano and other instruments. I gave, Deborah, my oldest child, piano lessons. Getting her to practice was like getting a fish to swim in water.  She loved playing and quickly excelled in not only piano but violin. I sat next to her on the piano bench as she was playing a beautiful classical piece. Suddenly, we were interrupted by a loud boom that shook the house. We looked at one another and  said, “Daddy’s Home”. Yes, Larry had pulled into our down-sloped driveway and missed putting it in park, being new to an automatic transmitter. Now the van was on a run away course as it quickly picked up speed. “My first instinct was to try to stop it,” said Larry.  “But I soon realized  tangling with a flying van was not going to make me the winner. I watched helplessly; but fortunately, a newly planted evergreen slowed down the van’s momentum and it clipped the side of our attached garage with a two foot gash in the wall.” Being a builder/carpenter at the time, Larry cleverly turned the gash into a plant holder. It ended up being a life lesson for the family. Turn your lemons into lemonade.

Deb took to the piano like a fish to the water.

Deb and I often laugh about this memory. She is currently a music teacher at Headwaters Academy in Bozeman, Montana, and additionally has 45 various students sitting on her piano bench at her private home studio. I sure hope some hot shot doesn’t crash into the side of her home.

My nephew, Matthew Gram, plays the violin at a Christmas gathering

Enjoy the fall and the coming holiday season. Fill you home with music, the great connector. God has wired us to enjoy music. “Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing—-Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150: 3-6

Tips on how to live a long and fulfilled life