Inspire – March 1, 2021 – Virtual

Before COVID, how often did you use the word ‘virtual’?

Rarely did I use or say ‘virtual’ before the pandemic hit last year. Now it is as common in my conversations as laundry or groceries.

We work virtually. We play virtually. We meet virtually. We teach virtually. We learn virtually. We celebrate virtually. We grieve virtually. We comfort virtually. I am grateful we have been able to work through the pandemic – thanks to email, Dropbox, Google Chat, Zoom, FaceTime, etc. In some situations, virtual has been easier than in-person meetings, but it is not my first choice.

My son Matt has an Oculus virtual reality headset. It’s hilarious watching him (and his family) play – especially when I can’t see or hear what he is seeing and hearing. This pic is of my grandson Lincoln. I’ve been told the games feel very life-like even though they are virtual.

Games aside, I am tired of virtual. I am tired of screens. I crave human interaction. I am a weirdo and get filled up by being with people. I like hugging people and sitting together at church, ball games, birthday parties, etc. My grandkids need to be in real life, in person school. I don’t want them to grow up thinking mask-wearing, avoiding people and social distancing are all normal. I want to hug, comfort and grieve with loved ones who have lost someone. I want to gather with people in real life, in-person.

Some of you may think I am being self-centered or selfish but I contend that God did not create us to be isolated from one another – to be fearful of getting too close to one another – to hole up in our homes – or to avoid people. The longer this way of life continues, the harder it will be to go back to in depth personal interactions. I’m finding it difficult to meet new people in Arizona because of the pandemic restrictions. It’s especially hard to get to know someone while wearing a mask and staying 6′ apart. Mumbled conversations because of the masks are not fun. I find myself repeating, “What did you say?” or “Pardon me?” or “Could you repeat that, please?” Sheesh. It is tiring and sad. I am happy for some nearby younger people who are willing to hang out with us older folks. I don’t know what I would do without them.

So, what is the point of all of this chatter? I don’t know. Except I choose real life over virtual life any day. I’m looking forward to spending time with dear friends next week. We’ve been meeting virtually for months and I can’t wait to see, hug and hang out with them in real life.

May we find ourselves engaged more in real, in-person life and wean away from virtual life as much as is reasonably possible. May we sense God’s presence as we meet together because “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

Cheering on!

Inspire – February 15, 2021 – Rumble

Are you ready to rumble?

“Let’s get ready to rumble” was played on repeat while driving to Florida for spring break with our boys and friends. (Joel Hampshire and Mike VanGessel). The over-played theme song got us through many a weary night of driving through MontEagle, Chattanooga, Macon and Valdosta.

Rumble. That’s the sound of F-16’s and F-35’s soaring overhead. Luke Air Force Base is just a few miles north of us and I do not tire of the rumble overhead. As mentioned in a previous post, my daughter said “It is the sound of freedom.” Often the jets are out of sight by the time we hear the rumble. The sound of freedom waves on.

Do you suppose there was a rumble when the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb? A rumble that continues to spread waves of freedom.

I get chills as the Air Force pilots maneuver in the sky above, risking their lives to protect you and me. I get even more chills thinking of what Jesus did on the cross and tomb for the freedom for all. I don’t understand why God loves us so much. I certainly don’t deserve His love but I gladly and gratefully accept it.

Rumble. Jets. Freedom.

Rumble. Stone. Freedom. Forever. For all.

May we never take for granted the rumble of jets and more importantly, the rumble of the Stone.

Inspire – February 8, 2021 – Imitate

Whom do you imitate most?

While spending time with my youngest grandchild, it was apparent he was watching and listening to me. Whenever I made “tickle-tickle-tickle” sounds and he would echo back at me. To say he was cute isn’t even close – stinking adorable is more accurate – – – of course, I am his proud Mimi.

One of our granddaughter’s recently explained heaven and “the bad place” to her younger sister. She relayed what her momma had shared with her and it was obvious she did not want her sister to go to the “bad place”. A sweet yet eye-opening sermonette.

When our boys were young, they pretended to shave like their dad – using similar facial expressions. Children imitate their parents or grandparents or peers. A little scarey, huh? We pray they pick up on the good habits and don’t imitate the bad.

Young and old tend to imitate those with whom they surround themselves. So back to the original question? Whom do you imitate most? A Hollywood star? A professional athlete? A career politician? A teacher? A Disney starlet? A YouTuber? An Instagram influencer? The Apostle Paul wrote:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (NIV) Ephesians 5:1-2

May we imitate the One who is the perfection of all that should be imitated.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – February 1, 2021 – Inheritance

Have you inherited something special?

Since I’m not a trust-fund baby, I don’t expect to inherit anything of great monetary value. There are two things I hope my mother will pass down to me. First, an oak hall tree that belonged to my Grandpa and Grandma Strader. The hall tree “survived” a flood when the White River in Indianapolis spilled its banks in 1913. The second item is a large painting of the Neuschwanstein Castle which also belonged to my grandparents. It’s not art I would typically gravitate to but because it belonged to my grandparents and has inlays of mother of pearl, it has special meaning for me.

Statements people make about family members: “They inherited their mother’s eyes or their father’s thick hair” or “their grandma had perfect handwriting or their grandpa was a hard worker”. Some families have generations of talented singers, musicians, pastors, teachers, factory workers, bankers, business owners, nurses, doctors or farmers. It’s not uncommon for multiple generations to be involved in the same things – the love of music, art, collector cars, animals, plants, camping, biking, books, etc.

Our children have inherited things from Phil and from me. Fortunately some have inherited their father’s strong nails, thick hair, and vocal talents. Unfortunately, some have inherited my thin fingernails, bad knees, and dry skin.

Regardless of the physical traits that are inherited, there is only one thing I want to pass down to my children and their children. I want them to know, love and live for Christ. That is the only thing of value I can pass to them. Everything else is just stuff. Nothing else will last forever. Only a living faith in The Living Lord.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 New International Version

May what you are storing up for your children and the generations to come be that which lasts for eternity.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – January 25, 2021 – Talk

Have you talked to anyone today?

Phil flew from Arizona to Fort Wayne for a few days last week so I was alone at our condo in Arizona. I didn’t realize how much I talked to him. A friend of mine who was widowed early in 2019 has mentioned that on some days a long period of time may pass without talking. I had a teeny weeny itty bitty glimpse into what she meant.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a talker. I know – hard to believe – ha! According to Phil I talk in my sleep, too. I never had a Chatty Cathy doll but, oh, how I wanted one. She would have been appropriate for me since I’m confident we would have had great conversations. As the 1960’s commercial said, “You’ll never know what she’ll say next.”

Have you ever wondered how much of our talking is filler – chatter – nonsense – empty? Probably a lot – at least in my case. Words. Lots of words.

Ecclesiastes 5:2, The Message version, says, “Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think. Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear. God’s in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better.” The NIV translation: “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

Ouch! Maybe our world would be better off if we talked less, used less words, and recognized God is the One in charge not us!

May the words we do speak be sweet and healing. “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” Proverbs 10:24

Cheering you on!

Inspire – January 18, 2021 – Peace

Is peace possible today?

Pause. Stop before speaking or lashing out.

Examine. Are my motives pure?

Ask. Go to God. Talk to Him.

Commit. Choose to be a vessel of peace.

Exhale. Breathe in God’s Word. Breathe out God’s love.

May this song sung by my long time friend Ron Moody speak to your soul.

May peace begin with me. And you. May God’s rest on each of us today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – January 11, 2021 – Heavy

Is your heart heavy today?

The troubling events of last week and much of last year weigh heavy on my heart. A heaviness similar to losing a baby girl in 1987, the estrangement from a loved one and the terrors of 9/11.

Words of my friends and family this week:

I couldn’t sleep.

I cried.

I prayed.

I watched in horror.

How can this be happening?

This seems like a nightmare.

Who have we become?

Why is there so much hatred?

Why don’t more people speak up/out?

Why is the media biased (to the left or to the right)? Why can’t they report the facts without editorializing?

Why do a few people cause everyone to be thrown into a particular group?

What is our country coming to?

Friends, it does not matter whether you are are loyal to the blue, the red or are neutral, everyone is feeling a heaviness. I don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, the next day or a month from now but I do know the One in whom I trust. God. The Holy Spirit. The King of kings. The Lord of lords. The Way, the Truth, the Life. The Good Shepherd. The Bread of Life. The Prince of Peace. The Light of the world. The Messiah. Jesus.

Thank God we can go to Him and He will give us rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 I can’t imagine not being able to go to Him. I can’t/don’t want to carry this heaviness by myself.

May we release our heaviness to Him so that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7. May our rest, our peace and our trust be in Him alone. Not in a person. Not in a loved one. Not in a political figure – past, current or future. Not in a political party. Not in an activist group. Jesus. Only Jesus.

And may God heal the United States of America.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – January 4, 2021 – Goals

What are your goals for 2021?

Here are my goals:

  1. Read a book a month. I’m off to a super start because I started and finished The Greatest Gift yesterday afternoon. It’s short and sweet and was a gift from my son-in-law’s parents. The holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life was based on it. My friend, Deb Sherer, recently recommended reading Sold which is now queued up on my Audible list.

2. Walk or bike daily. Easy to do in Arizona in the winter. Phil and I are off to a super start on this one.

3. Learn how to play pickle ball. Don’t laugh and no old people wise cracks. Any recommendations as to where to play in the Litchfield Park area? Equipment needed?

4. Spend more time with family. I love this goal mucho.

5. Read the Bible daily. I read through the book of Psalms in 2020. I started in the book of Isaiah on January 1st. My mind and soul are thirsty for more of God’s Word plus I need something to combat the craziness of our beautiful world.

6. Daily journal in my 5-year book. I did so-so in 2019. March-June’s pages of 2020 are blank because I left the book in Indiana while we “weathered” the pandemic in Arizona. The journal will go with me everywhere in 2021.

7. Travel. Whenever and wherever possible. I get antsy when I am in one place for very long. My mom says my middle name was “Go” when I was a little girl. I haven’t changed. Phil’s mom is coming to Arizona later this month. We are taking her to see the Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, AZ. Due to Covid, passenger occupancy is reduced to 30% which should make our ride feel very personal.

My goals aren’t extravagant or crazy and I most certainly want them to be within God’s will for me. I want to be open to whatever He asks me to do and wherever He asks me to go. I want to live with purpose and on purpose for Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

May our goals align with His goals. May we love others and live our lives on purpose.

Cheering you on! (Please feel free to share your goals)

Inspire – December 28, 2020 – Year End Refections

What was your most memorable moment of 2020?

2020 was a year like no other for most of us.

January and February were fairly normal except for the heartbreak of one of our friends passing away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Phil, Jan Landrum and I traveled to Guatemala at the end of February for the annual IMPACTO Retreat and board meeting.

And then…

March. Things got wacky around St. Patrick’s Day. Covid-19 forced everything and everyone to change. Life was no longer like we once knew it. March Madness was cancelled which was a tough one for this crazy college basketball fan.

No indoor dining. Restaurants and businesses were forced to change their dining practices or close.

No large group gatherings.

Nursing homes and hospital visitation shut downs.

Schools went to virtual learning.

April‘s highlight was a dinner on the golf course in Arizona for my 66th birthday.

May was blessed by our 13th grandchild making his entrance into this world.

In June our family gathered for a week in Niles, MI, for the annual Troyer Family Vacation. Thankfully, we had a pool, game room, basketball court, fire pit and dirt bikes to keep the kids busy.

July‘s highlight was our road trip to Boyne, MI with Matt, Nat and the boys. Phil’s friend and client, Joe D’Italia blessed us with a delicious dinner at the Dam Site Inn.

In August we rebuilt my parents’ driveway posts with much help from Matt, my brother Chris and his wife, Jen and our nephew Gabe. Lots of laughs and paint in places it shouldn’t have been. Phil and I took a road trip to Fairfield Glade, TN with our daughter-in-law Abby and the three kiddos.

September included watching kids for Bohms and spending time with Alex and Elena and their four children. Eric, Abby and kids came for a weekend so Phil and Eric made a hillbilly pool with a tarp and our pick up truck which was a huge hit. We spent a weekend with my BSU girlfriends and their husbands at Pretty Lake.

I went back to AZ in October to help with kids. A few of my Ben Davis HS girlfriends came to Ft Wayne for the weekend. Lots of laughs and fun in spite of COVID.

November featured lots of ZOOM meetings and FaceTime calls, a Goon bonfire, the presidential election, Thanksgiving dinner with Phil’s mom.

We celebrated Phil’s mom’s 90th birthday in December, enjoyed dinners out with some of the Goons, enjoyed A Very Merry Prairie at Conner Prairie with our Indy kids and grandkids. December also marked the passing of my dear friend’s husband (frontotemporal dementia/degeneration). We were blessed to celebrate Christmas in sunny Arizona.

No matter where we went or who we were with the conversations revolved around these topics: covid, masks, social distancing, gatherings, medicine, illnesses, cancer, hospitals and the presidential election, racial injustices, finances, and the future. Some were heated. Some were calm. Everyone seems to be on their last nerve. It’s hard to see life through someone else’s lenses but we need to try.

There has been and continues to be shaming on all sides. Republicans vs. Democrats. Democrats vs. Republicans. Masks vs. no-masks. Gatherings vs. no gatherings. Vaccines or no-vaccines. In spite of everything, including the hate we have seen on tv, it’s been a good but hard year.

Reflecting on the final days of 2020, I choose to focus on:

  1. Faith in God.
  2. Family.
  3. Friends.
  4. Neighbors.
  5. Loving God, my family, my friends and my neighbors well.
  6. Plugging in to our new communities.
  7. Reconciliation.
  8. Hearing and listening well.
  9. Respect.
  10. The hope of Jesus returning soon.

May God continue to work through us to bring hope and joy to our weary world. He promised He will never leave us or forsake us. I am counting on Him.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – December 21, 2020 – Only

Do you have people who only contact you when they want something?

Of course, you do. We all have people like that in our lives. You know them. Those people who never call or text except when they want something from you. Their only contact is when they are in need. It is wearying, isn’t it?

Before we start pointing fingers, let’s reflect a bit. Do you suppose God feels the same way about us? I mean, how many times do we ignore or forget about Him until we need something from Him? Is our only communication with Him when we need Him to do something for us? I wonder if God ever sighs and says, “I wish they would talk to me without only wanting something from me”?

Admittedly, I am often guilty of presenting my wish list to God like a little child does to the mall Santa Claus. Relationships are two way. Listening and speaking. Speaking and listening. If I only talked to my friends when I wanted something from them, I don’t think they would consider me a true friend. A relationship with God is also two way. His word tells us to go to Him for everything. His word tells us to listen to Him as well.

May we not be guilty of going to God only when we are in need. May we go to Him at all times. Day or night – with genuine praise, with conversations, with songs of praise, with tears of joy and of those of sorrow, when we are fearful, when we are happy, when we are mad, when we are anxious. May we quiet our hearts to listen for His voice. May we read His Words. May we cultivate a growing relationship with Him. He’s ready and waiting. Only and always for you and for you and for you and for you…

Cheering you on!