Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

As many of you know, for the last several years, my wife Trisha and I have been invited speakers for groups and organizations interested in planning and living a healthy and happy retired life. Our presentations, based upon our book The Best of Our Lives, have included everything from financial planning to travel tips. While much of our material came from social and medical research, expert opinions, and our own experiences, it was also based upon our religious faith.

As we look forward, we have prepared a new presentation entitled Retiring With Grace in which we emphasize the role faith should play in all of our lives, and most certainly as we prepare and live through our senior years. Each of us has the opportunity to live with God’s Grace and, as advised in scripture, constantly renew our minds, or as we like to say, “learning to fly again.”

If your church group or organization would be interested in our presentation, please contact us:

http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

 

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http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com 

 

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Ephesians 2:8-9

“For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

As we prepare for and live through our retired-life years, we can be sure we will face a range of challenges, both physical and emotional. The modern world provides us with a vast array of therapies, gurus, distractions, and medications to help us cope with these challenges. None of these can compete with the Grace of God.

Grace, of course, is defined as “unmerited favor of God toward man.” Having the knowledge of this Grace provides believers a courage to face obstacles that others will never know.

This assurance of God’s Grace and the courage it provides as we live out our lives asks us only to be true to God and live our lives doing what is right and true. I enjoy reading the essays of C. Kingsley, and here is what he wrote about courage:

“There is one thing you have to fear in heaven or earth – being untrue to your better selves, and therefore untrue to God. If you will not do the thing you know to be right, and say the thing you know to be true, then indeed you are weak. You are a coward, and sin against God, and therefore you cannot expect Him to stand by you. But who will harm you if you be followers of that which is right?”

Isaiah 46:4

“Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you, I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

God bless,
John

ATTENTION!!!!   Trisha has some great new recipes posted.  Just click on

“Trisha’s Dishes.”

Photos!!!!

Here are a few pictures of Trisha and me on our recent trip.

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Trisha and John Parker on Ferry to Sicily

On board the ferry to Sicily. Our train from Rome actually boarded the ferry.

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Trisha and John Parker in Lipari

We took another ferry to the Aeolian Islands and stayed on the island of Lipari.

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Trisha and John Parker on Mt. Erice

After driving, taking a gondola, and hiking, we reached the Temple of Venus on Mt. Erice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 4:8 

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

As we grow older into and throughout our retired lives, it’s so easy to fall into routines and behaviors that are simply comfortable and often monotonous. While we do begin to slow down physically, patterns of watching endless television programs and other such behaviors can leave one feeling mentally and spiritually empty.

This verse from Philippians provides God’s clear direction and guideposts for directing our minds. I’ve been reading it each day for some time and it’s truly amazing how often I find myself editing and changing the direction of my mental energy.

There is nothing wrong with entertaining ourselves, but why not do so with those things that inspire us. The things God would like us to think about.

Blessings,

John

Having survived this years political struggle, I’m reminded that Veteran’s Day is upon us. For me, I reflect on the service of my grandfather (Army) and my father (Navy). I personally served four years in the United States Air Force, but did not serve in a combat area. As most people my age, I lost a number of friends in the Viet Nam War. That nightmare still exists for so many who survived but have led a lifetime of illness and shorter lifespan due to injury and/or the effects of Agent Orange.

I hope all who did not serve will remember and honor those who did, and for those who did serve, I hope you will take advantage of the many discounts, free meals, etc., that are offered to you by so many businesses. I recently bought something at a local hardware chain and got 15 cents off my purchase for being a veteran. The young clerk was pleased to give me the discount and I smiled and thought about those four years.My father had a saying, “better than nothing.” I agree. I was bitter often during my service because I felt my life was on hold. Now, I am proud to have served and grateful for the wonderful people I met along the way.

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As a keen observer of the joys and challenges experienced in retired life and aging in general, I find myself fascinated by people’s lifestyle choices. Although it wouldn’t be completely accurate to stereotype, some fairly clear generalizations can be made.

One of these generalizations relates to one’s attitude as he or she ages. It’s an inescapable fact that throughout the aging process, everyone endures physical changes, health issues, loss of friends and family, declining resources, etc. What I find curious is the difference in attitude maintained by people as they go through this experience. Some are able to maintain a positive and upbeat attitude toward their everyday life while others appear to be stoic, bored, and unhappy. I realize these are the extremes on a continuum, but I do believe as people age they tend to fall into the more extreme positions on the scale of “positiveness.”

Another generalization I’ve observed relates to an individual’s sense of curiosity or sense of adventure. For some, it seems routine is the order of the day, while others seem to have cultivated an ongoing fascination with life and look forward to each new day and experience with that mindset. These folks tend to look forward more often than back. They also seem to bring a certain excitement into their lives despite the aging process.

I realize these observations don’t really break any new ground and I also try to not to be judgmental about anyone’s lifestyle choices. Intuitively, however, I do believe staying positive and curious throughout this journey is much more rewarding and fulfilling.

So, what is the reason for this serious and reflective topic? Well, as I prepare to usher in another year of my life, I’ve recently encountered a reminder of how fragile life can be. Let me explain.

Last week I drove my wife to an appointment in a nearby city. As we approached the location of her appointment, she suggested I simply drop her off and asked if I could pick up a couple of items at a store we had just passed on the other side of the street. Being a dutiful husband I said I’d be glad to do that for her. Needing to get turned around and head the other direction, I pulled into a middle turning lane. Approaching me in two lanes was a very fast group of cars. Suddenly, one of the cars decided to stop and pull into a parking lot. The car behind swerved to avoid that car, the car next to him swerved and was now coming straight at me. Only at the last moment did this giant SUV swerve back and avoid me by mere inches. I had already taken what I considered would be my last breath.

Shaken, I was able to get turned around and proceed to the parking lot of the requested store. As I got out, having avoided a tragic and mangled end, the air seemed fresher and the flowers in front of the store more fragrant. I think I smiled at and greeted every customer I encountered in the store. I joked with the young man at the checkout stand. Having dodged a bullet, life was sweet once again.

As I walked out of the store there was a bounce in my step. After taking about five steps a flash of light passed my head. It was too fast to comprehend. That was followed by an explosion just off to my side. I was hit with several pieces of something that felt like I had been sprayed with rocks. I simply stood in shock. What just happened? A young store worker who was outside at the time rushed up and asked, “What was that?” I simply stared and said, “I don’t know.” On the ground were several chunks of something along with many smaller chunks that had flown in all directions. I told the young man that something had flown past me and we both looked up at the same time. He then said something a bit profane and pointed to the very top of the building where there was a large white area. It turns out the side of the building is made up of very large tiles. One of those tiles at the very top had come loose and sailed past my head before exploding on the ground.

Twice within ten minutes I had dodged a horrible fate. I hope I can remain positive and curious, although I might start wearing a helmet.

(Notice the blank space where the tile fell off the building and the person just coming out of the door I excited and turned left)

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John Parker, PhD is an educator, author, speaker, father, grandfather, and travel adventurer. You can contact John personally at parkerphd@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It all began in 1957. I was eleven years old, my family lived in Southern California, and my hard-working father was beside himself with excitement. The Brooklyn Dodgers were moving to Los Angeles. He explained to me that one Saturday when he was a boy living in Kansas, a farmer hooked up a radio to a tractor battery and he listened to his first major league baseball game. It was the Booklyn Dodgers and he became an instant fan.

Eagerly awaiting their arrival in L. A., each day dad would regale me with the names and stories of their star players such as Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snyder, Gil Hodges, and his favorite, Roy Campanella. We could never have known then the impact this team’s move would have on our lives.

In late January, 1958, I awoke to see my father in tears. His favorite player, Roy Campanella, had been paralized in a tragic automobile accident. Dad was devastated.

On April 18, 1958, my father and mother attended the very first Dodger game at the Los Angeles Coliseum. My mother loved it even though she knew very little about baseball. Fortunately, the Dodger’s radio play-by-play announcer was a red-haired young man named Vin Scully. Not only did he call the games, knowing his audience was in great part new to the sport, he saught to inform and educate them about every aspect of the game.

He carefully explained everything from the strange gestures of the third base coach called “signs” to the funny sounding stategy called a “squeeze play.” Listening to Vin Scully, my mother, and countless others would become not only baseball fans but true experts. He also taught the history of the game with great reverance. In fact, Dodger fans so enjoyed listening to “Vinny”, as we came to call him, almost everyone attending games would bring a radio so they could both watch and listen. This became so common; the public address announcer would begin each game by asking the crowd to turn their radios down. Despite the announcement, Vinny’s voice still echoed throughout the stadium during the game.

Every night we listened to Vin Scully and the Dodgers. We ate meals, did homework, watched a little television, had family discussions, but Vinny’s voice was always in the air. Our family breakfast almost always began with, “Last night Vinny said . . .”

One summer night late in a season, the Dodgers, who were still playing in the Colesium, were locked in a tight pennant race with the Giants. I’ve forgotten who the Dodgers were playing, but my father took the whole family to the game. Our seats were way out beyond the screen in left field, and as usual, the stadium was filled with radios.

At some point in the last few innings, Vinny made telephone contact with someone in San Francisco and began to call both games simultaneously. The Dodgers won their game, but the crowd stayed seated listening to Vinny call the Giants game. The Colesium was owned by the city and the workers must have wanted to go home. As it grew very late on this hot summer night, with my family and thousands of others listening to Vinny, the lights of the Colesium were turned out. There we were, thousands of us sitting in the dark in this huge stadium listening to Vinny and loving every minute of it. It is one of my fondest childhood memories.

My family’s relationship with Vin Scully and baseball has only grown stronger over the years. I loved playing baseball and eventually played winter ball with the Angels before injuring my arm and going into the military. Married, my wife and I were blessed with three sons, all of whom played baseball. One actually became a professional player and another became a television sports producer who had the priviledge of working with Vin for a number of years.

For his 87th birthday, my late father, a WWII veteran was honored at Dodger Stadium and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Vin had an autographed ball for Dad sent to our seats. Watching the recorded game later, we were thrilled to see Vin had replayed Dad’s pitch to honor him.  Typical Vin.

It’s not surprising in a world filled with increasing self promotion and lack of civility, this consistant voice of calm, humanity, and humility still relates to fans as beloved family.

A few years ago our son Michael, who was working a Dodger broadcast in Arizona, asked my wife and I who were traveling nearby to meet him at his hotel. When we met in the lobby, our son introduced us to several of the players and broadcasters as they gathered to leave for the game. As a fan since childhood, I’ve seen Vin Scully hundreds of times at games, but now he was walking toward us and I saw our son motion him and say, “Vin, I’d like you to meet my parents.” “Sure Mike,” said Vin.

It is worth noting, I’m not star struck. I’ve worked at movie studios, music venues, and lived in southern California for many years. I’ve seen and even met more than my share of celebrities. This was different. This was Vin Scully, my hero. We chatted for a few minutes, and knowing he was going to have to leave for the game, I wanted to say one more thing to him.

“Vin, before you go I want you to know how much you have meant to me and my family through the years. At our breakfast table we called you by your first name because we considered you to be a member of our family. If a game ran late I would listen to you on my radio under the covers so my parents wouldn’t know I was still awake.

Occasionally, when a Dodger hit a homerun and you would begin your call “There’s a long fly ball . . . .,” and I would let out a yell. My mother would come running down the hall to make sure I was O.K. and I would tell her I was having a dream.”

Vin smiled, shook my hand, and said, “John, I put a lot of people to sleep that way.”

Thank you Vin.

 

Singapore

This blog is the last in a series in which I’ve written about and included photos of our recent trip to the South Seas. We truly finished on a high note by spending our last several days in Singapore.Each day was filled with beauty and excitement. Because of very strict laws against littering, the entire city is immaculate. One cigarette butt could bring you a fine of $300 dollars. The result: a litter-free city. On our first evening we headed down to the river side and Clarke Quay. Here we purchased tickets for the beautiful river cruise after sunset, but first found a great spot for dinner with friends Lyn and Herb. Several folks we had met on our cruise portion of the trip stopped by to say hello.

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The river cruise after dinner was nothing short of magical.

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Trisha and John Parker – Singapore River Cruise

I could never write anything that would do justice to this incredible city. We saw the old and well preserved buildings, the ultramodern new construction, Little India, China Town, the Muslim section. I believe its the most impressive city we have every visited.

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Of course, we hide to ride the Singapore Flyer.

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This is the magnificent Sand’s Marina Bay Hotel. Its as though a ship has been placed above three huge buildings with a swimming pool on top overlooking the city. We just had to go up there and take in the view.

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Trisha and John Parker on top of the Sand’s Marina Bay Hotel, Singapore

At the end of the week in Singapore we flew to Hong Kong and then back to San Francisco. It was a glorious adventure.