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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

For those old enough, you can probably almost hear The Birds musical group singing these profound words in their song Turn! Turn! Turn! As we grow older, these words provide both reflection of meaningful memories and curiosity for the future. Predictions of our youth have now come to be and beyond.

Since Christmas I’ve received several phone calls from one of our granddaughters. The calls came from her watch. She is 9 years old. I’ve also received a call from two grandsons, 9 and 6, as their remote controlled robots were engaged in battle. I was remembering the thrill of getting roller skates for Christmas as I watched another grandson ride past me on his new motorcycle. He is 6.

I’m sure my grandfather must have been saying, “Back in my day . . . ,” as I whizzed past him on my skates

There is a time for everything. From Trisha and me, have a very blessed New Year!

 

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“Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thou mayest live long on the earth.”     Ephesians 6:2-3

I loved my late father and mother. They made it easy because they were two of the most kind and loving people you could imagine. They were both Christians. My wife also loved them dearly and we actually shared our home with them for the last thirteen years of their lives. It was a wonderful experience.

My father served in the Navy during WWII. He was a member of CASU 11, (Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 11), approximately 100 men sent to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. He traveled aboard ship for several weeks with ten other young men. They arrived on the island together, put together a makeshift camp, and worked for more than a year repairing and maintaining combat aircraft in the heat and humidity. There were alligators, snakes, mosquitoes, and Malaria.

They all survived, returned to the U.S., got married and raised families. As they got older, they reunited and spent much of their retired lives visiting each other, talking on the telephone, and having reunions. They were true brothers.

Wanting to see and experience the place my father and his “brothers” had served and recalled in their stories, my wife Trisha and I set out for Guadalcanal. Through Bill, another son of CASU 11, I acquired some maps and the name of a guide. Both worked out well and we found the old airfield (Henderson Field) and the campsite of CASU 11. In addition we visited the sites of many horrific battles that took place on Guadalcanal and the many memorials dedicated to those who served and lost their lives.

It was truly an adventure of a lifetime and one we will never forget. Our local guide Stanley was a extremely knowledgeable and a wonderful human being. He was a Christian and we will never forget arriving at the airport for our departure when he turned and prayed for us and our safe return.

                      Above: Trisha and local workmen, me with Stanley and driver, me with    CASU 11 banner Trisha made before the trip.

Below: Trisha and me at campsite (we left the banner), Trisha with locals at Christian school (the little boy is holding a drawing of Jesus Trisha always carries with her.

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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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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.

Milazzo

Trisha and John Parker on Ferry to Sicily

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

Lipari

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)

trader-joes

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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