nos·tal·gia

soda fountain

noun \nä-ˈstal-jə, nə-also nȯ-, nō-; nə-ˈstäl-\

: pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again

(Definition taken from Merriam-Webster dictionary.)

Don’t you just love this word? I do, and I love the deja-vu sensation it brings when I experience nostalgia.

I don’t know if it is because I’m getting old(er) or what, but it seems I have experienced several instances of nostalgia in the past days/months.

Most recently was yesterday, when I went to the dentist for my semi-annual checkup/cleaning.  The visit ended with a clean “bill of health” for my teeth….no cavities!  When I got home, I posted this on Facebook:

FB post

(Names were obscured to protect the innocent…..)

My sister Vickie and my mother Carol will understand what this means.  And I have to admit: a little bit of gloating motivated the post.

It all goes back to a tradition that we had in our family when we were growing up.  Whenever my mother took my sister, brother and me to the dentist if any of us got a clean bill-of-health (no cavities) we were rewarded with an ice-cream sundae at the local dime-store soda fountain! This was a great treat because my parents were very frugal and so this was the only occasion when we got to enjoy this store-bought treat.  The best part was we didn’t have to wait…we went directly to the dime-store from the dentist’s office!

The admitted “gloating” comes in because at every dentist appointment during my childhood years, I never had a cavity! I don’t know if it was because I loved hot fudge sundaes so much that I did an amazing job brushing my teeth or if I was just blessed with good, strong teeth.  Whatever the reason it was always my good fortune to get to enjoy the sundae.  The sad thing was if my brother or sister happened to have a cavity, they had to sit there and watch me while I enjoyed my sundae.  (I don’t know this for a fact, but knowing me I probably teased them by flying a spoonful of luscious, gooey hot fudge and ice cream past their mouths before swooping it back into my own!)  Good times…..

Another instance of nostalgia happened a few days ago when I was digging around in our storage room looking for the scrapbook that holds the red paper cupids that I wrote about in this post. (I was writing about them as part of a writing challenge.)  While searching through some boxes I found these items:

Childhood LPs

Childhood LP Albums

Bible

Bible given to me from my Grandmother on my 5th birthday

IMG_3285

Puppets to go with the homemade puppet theater one Christmas

IMG_3286

Brownie doll

IMG_3297

My “Cry-baby” doll

Safety Patrol Certificate & Badge

Safety Patrol Certificate & Badge

Various pins (Scouts, Safety Patrol, Roller Skating and Choir)

Various pins (Scouts, Safety Patrol, Roller Skating and Choir)

Thank goodness my mother carefully saved these things for me so that I still have them! (Especially my Cry-Baby doll!) Each item brings sweet memories of my childhood….

The last instance of nostalgia that I’ll write about occurred last fall.  I was helping my mother by working on a surprise Christmas gift for my siblings. She had gone through a lot of their photo albums and pulled out photos of our early childhood Christmases and mailed them to me.  I then scanned each one of the 129 photos, edited them as best as I could, and used them to create a book and an online slideshow as a gift for my sisters & brother.  It was so much fun to see all of those photos again! It brought back wonderful memories of Christmases at our Grandparents’ house, or visiting with cousins during the holidays.  Here is a sampling of some of those photos:

1967 Mom - Version 2

My grandmother, who spent just about every Christmas Eve & morning with our family (1967)

1971 4 - Version 2

My dad wearing a Santa hat (1971)

1966 3 - Version 2

Cousins playing Twister at Grandma’s house (1966)

1965 6 - Version 2

Dad, Jeff, Vickie & myself (1965)

My silly little brother playing in the puppet theater we got for Christmas 1965

My silly little brother playing in the puppet theater we got for Christmas 1965

1961 - Version 2My older sister Vickie & me with Santa (1961)

My mom (1967)

My mom (1967)

I’m thankful that every now and then a little nostalgia happens to remind us of our past & our memories.  It is a good thing…..

Soda Fountain photo credit: http://whereseldo.blogspot.com

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Cancer from a Christian’s Perspective

I have a good friend who was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma (cancer in his liver.)  His name is Ed Norman, and we met in while attending college at Liberty Baptist College (later known as Liberty University) in Lynchburg, VA.  Ed was a member of the musical group named “The EnPsalms” that my husband sang with during his college years.  We’ve been friends with Ed ever since.

When Ed got his diagnosis, he was 55 years old.  His is a rare form of cancer that has an annual incidence rate of 1–2 cases per 100,000 in the Western world (according to Landis S, Murray T, Bolden S, Wingo P [1998]. “Cancer statistics, 1998”.)  It is also an incurable and rapidly lethal malignancy unless both the primary tumor and any metastases can be removed surgically (according to wikipedia .)  In Ed’s case surgery was not an option because he is also diabetic.  His prognosis was poor and when Ed asked the Doctor how long he expected Ed would survive he was told 8-10 months.  That was 18 months ago.

But Ed would not want to be introduced as the man with cancer.  He is and always has been first and foremost a Christian.  His faith in Jesus Christ has always been the first thing anyone learned about Ed.  He has spent his life helping others worship and love his Savior, most effectively through his quite amazing musical talent as a pianist.

Ed is not the first Christian we know who has been diagnosed with cancer.  I can think of several members of our church who have passed away because of different forms of this dreadful disease. Upon hearing of their diagnoses we always react with shock and dread and wonder why such a terrible thing would happen to such wonderful people. As a person of faith, I believe that God has the power to heal anyone in an instant, and in fact has done so in the past.  Yet that faith is tempered by the knowledge that the majority of time people are not miraculously healed but suffer and ultimately lose their battle with cancer.

So why does God allow His children to be affected by cancer, to suffer and to die from this disease?  If He is truly their “Savior” why doesn’t He heal when He has the power to do so?

In no way do I claim to understand the mind of God, or to be able to explain the answer to this question.  I can only share the thoughts that I have about this question, and hope that some percentage of what I think is correct, and in reading this someone might begin to think about what their response would be to such a diagnosis.

Cancer is not caused by God.  All affliction of the human race is a result of our sin.  That is why people of all faiths (and those who profess no faith) are afflicted by this disease….because we are all human.  Christians do not become sin-less when they receive Christ; we are still human.  But we have the confidence of knowing that our sins have been forgiven by the grace and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

So why does God allow cancer to affect his people?

I believe the answer to that question is the same answer to the question of why God allows ANY bad thing to happen to His people.  I believe the answer is this:

God allows bad things to happen to His people to give them the opportunity to react to the situation in a way that will give witness to the grace, glory and love of God for humanity.

In my experience I’ve seen three kinds of responses when people are diagnosed with cancer (or when other terrible things happen to them):

1) The first response is from people whose lives have been a consistent witness for the Lord. Cancer shines a light on their testimony and allows them an opportunity to walk the walk, not just talk the talk through the scariest situation imaginable. 

2) The second response is from people who are Christians but who have focused on their lives here on earth. Cancer is a wake up call and forces their focus from their earthly perspective to the heavenly perspective.  

3) The third response is from people who do not have a strong faith in any kind of religion or God.  Cancer causes them to become bitter and despairing in their situation because they don’t have the comfort or hope that their ultimate destination is heaven.

I can’t imagine not having the hope of heaven! I don’t know how people without faith make their way through this hard and unforgiving world without it.

Ed is definitely a member of the first group.  And there is something inspiring and encouraging about hearing a person who knows the probable outcome of their situation is suffering & death and the end of all that they have known of life and love here on earth continue to praise the Lord and use his time left to share the saving grace of Jesus Christ with anyone who will listen.

It seems when someone is in that situation we all tend to listen a little more closely to their testimony.  We think “Wow, I don’t know if I could have such a solid testimony if that was me.” But hearing this kind of a testimony gives us comfort to know that no matter what comes our way, if we believe in God and the Lord Jesus Christ He will give us the strength and grace we will need in that situation.

The video below is long….17 minutes or so.  But I hope that if you are reading this post you will allow 17 minutes to listen to Ed’s testimony and his music.  It could have an impact on your life and even your eternity.

And I promise this:  You will never hear another pianist play the song “It Is Well With My Soul” and mean it more than my friend, Ed Norman.

Well done, Ed!

Cupid’s Arrow

cupids

I’ll never forget Valentine’s Day of my freshman year in college.  I was a student at Liberty Baptist College (which is now Liberty University) in the town of Lynchburg, VA.  This was the private Baptist College founded by the pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Jerry Falwell.  My grandmother was a distant cousin of the Falwell family and this was the only college I considered.  (Thank goodness I was accepted!)

Little did I realize that on the very first day when I arrived on campus the fellow who would eventually become my husband spotted me.  He had just come into the lobby of our dorm building after playing basketball with his buddies and saw me with my parents checking in for the first time.  He was a sophomore, a year older than I was.

I guess he would say it was “love at first sight” because he began a campaign to win my heart right away.  He knew my roommate and persuaded her to introduce us, which she did.  I thought he was nice, but I was more focused on my classes and studies than worrying about dating.

During the fall of that year “he” cleverly found ways of putting himself in my path.  If I was at a football game, he would happen to be sitting nearby.  If I was at a concert, he would cross my path and say hello.  When I sat with my friends in chapel, he would be sitting nearby with his friends.  After a while seeing him in my peripheral vision became the norm.

Then Valentines Day arrived.  As I made my way to my classes that day I started to see little red Cupid cutouts hanging on the walls all along my route.  Some of them had little notes on them, such as “Val, be my Valentine” or “Val, be mine!”  I started to suspect that I was the target of those messages and knew “he” was the sender because he had signed some of them.  It was fun to anticipate what might be in store on my way to the next class.

At the end of the day when I arrived at my dorm building, I spied on the front desk a beautiful bouquet of flowers with my name on them.  It was quite an object of attention and as I opened the card I could feel the curious eyes of others watching me as I read it.

The message on the card identified “him” as the instigator of the Cupid messages and invited me out on a date.

Needless to say, I agreed and the rest was history!  We dated, got married, and had three children.  Last year we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary!  And it all started with a little ingenuity, persistence, and some red Cupid cutouts.

Reg & Val

DPChallenge: My Funny Valentine

Photo credit:  www.blumchen.com

My new business venture: VRAssist

Logo Design JPG

As the bio on this blog explains, since my youngest child went away to college and since I “retired” from my full-time corporate job last summer the topography of my life has changed; so much so that it is hard to recognize this new life of mine.  Don’t get me wrong….even though I do miss having my children at home and I miss the daily interactions with my team at my job, I am not complaining!  I just am trying to figure out “who” I am in this new place.

After six months of a “life of leisure” I decided it was time to find the next occupation or position to add to my “exhaustive resume” .  So I took stock of my skills, interests and experience and realized that my 11+ years of experience in the vacation rental industry and association with the largest and most highly trafficked vacation rental website on the Internet gave me a unique background and perspective.  Additionally I have personal experience managing vacation rental properties, having done so for the founders of VRBO.com as well as the General Manager of VRBO.com, and my own vacation rental property located in Dillon, CO.

Therefore I decided to start my own marketing & booking service for owners of vacation rental properties! My business is called “VRAssist” and was launched on February 1, 2014.

I am excited about the prospect of finding & securing clients and growing my business into something that will help me be productive and serve others.  Who knows what the future will hold?  I’m excited to see how things unfold!

 

A [[Not-So-Funny]] Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

Photo credit to http://www.baystreet.org

Today’s Daily Prompt “Isn’t Your Face Red” encourages us to write about the last time we were embarrassed and how we reacted.  Instantaneously my memory zoomed back to an event that was not the last time I was embarrassed but was one of the most mortifying experiences of my life.   I think it qualifies for this exercise.

Almost the worst part of this experience (and probably why it was so personally embarrassing) is the fact that I was the one who instigated the outing.  I happened to see a commercial for a show coming to the Denver Performance Art Center – “A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum”.  In the commercial people were gushing about how funny the show was, how much they laughed, etc, etc, etc.  I thought to myself “Hey, that sounds like fun, let’s do it!”

Living in the Denver metro area, I’ve often chided myself for not taking  advantage more often of the world-class performance art and museums that are available.  Every time we venture to a show or an outing to a restaurant or event downtown we find ourselves wondering “Why don’t we don’t do this more often?” Since we have a group of friends who enjoy a good time as much as we do, we soon found ourselves on our way to dinner and the show with Dave & Lynn and their two young adult sons as well as Steve & Jeanie.

We could only get two blocks of tickets for four, so Redgie, Steve & Jeanie and I sat on one side of the theater and Dave & Lynn and their boys sat on the other.  And the show began…..

Shall I just say the humor was quite….um….”bawdy”?  You know, the kind that is filled with adultish innuendo and complete with courtesans sporting tassel-tipped nipples???  That’s pretty much all I can remember.

You have to understand….Dave & Lynn by this time were good friends of ours, but they were also my employers.  And Steve was on staff at our church.  I could feel the waves of embarrassment wash over me as the first half of the show plodded on.

To effectively complete this exercise I need to confide that my reaction to this embarrassing situation was to dash to the women’s restroom as soon as the lights came up at intermission! I hid in the farthest stall the whole entire intermission period.  I just knew that as soon as I could muster the courage to exit the restroom I would find the rest of the group waiting in the lobby so that we could leave without watching the second half of the show.  Imagine my surprise when I found them all still in their seats.  Redgie just asked “Where did you go for so long?”

Maybe I mis-judged everyone’s reaction to the show.  I figured Lynn would want to whisk her boys out of there as soon as possible, but every now and then I could hear Dave’s booming laugh across the theater. And Steve just kids me now and then about it, joking that I should not be allowed to orchestrate any more of our group outings.

That is just fine with me.

Photo credit to http://www.baystreet.org

January Photo Dump

IMG_3165 IMG_3167

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2014:

  • Bone chilling temperatures in Dillon!
  • Redgie joins the Red Hat Society! (not really!)
  • Gorgeous photo of a sunset sky taken by my son
  • Photo tribute to Jenn Van Briesen, gone too soon….
  • Redgie’s sister Tammy & her husband Mark (love them!)
  • A freshly-bathed Bebe (none too happy….)
  • Brady’s new Mazda 3Speed
  • Sparkling winter scene in Summit County