Easter is shaping up into something nearly overwhelming for me again this year. Last week Friday, Kerrie asked if my mom and I would like to see “The Case for Jesus” with her. Wow! I hadn’t known anything about it, and I was moved by the research (being part geek).
Today, my niece Erin would have turned 38, but instead she’s forever 26. In these 11.5 years since she’s been gone from us, it’s been easier to grieve, and to remember the joys instead of the sorrows. She was a joy to me, and I still miss her every day.
We all probably have a loved one or several that we miss. I truly believe she’s in a better place, and that I will get to see her one day again, along with all of the others who’ve gone before us.
Bad things happen, but God is not behind them. Instead He weeps and grieves with us, gives the loved one a forever home, and holds us in the palm of His hand until we can walk and talk again.
Today I can stand up and tell you about a beautiful, talented, vibrant, and wise woman named Erin. I am a better person for having had her in my life. Because of her, I got my first tattoo. Because of me, she learned to love Pierce Brosnan. Because of her, I learned to love Heath Ledger. She was born on my half birthday, so we would celebrate each other’s half birthday when we celebrated our birthday. Easter is hard, because she and I would take turns giving each other an Easter basket filled with games, books, puzzles, and candy. She would do one year, and me the next.
Erin, her friend Lynn, and I became a trifecta of friendship. It’s because of this there are craft days in my life then and now, stories of snorting jingle bells from the back seat of my car, and that tattoo. Lynn and I are pretty sure that Erin is still present at craft days. We feel her presence and hear her laughter.
Erin, you are still loved, respected, and your cat Joy is well cared for. If Joy gets to see you again before me, I hope she is kind in her description of the diet I put her on and forcing her to be cuddled and loved.
Last night I was blessed to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speak at Miller Auditorium as part of the Kalamazoo Reading Together book of 2017. He made me cry and laugh, and we gave him multiple standing ovations. I chose to come home before I turned into a cranky pumpkin last night and an unfun person at work today, so I do not have his signature in my book.
One of the many concepts he shared that stuck for me was about critical thinking. He said something to the effect that we need to teach our children critical thinking instead of merely to memorize facts and recall them on tests because they need to be able to identify lies. Someone who only knows the answers to fill in a test might not be able to hear the subtle nuances that identify truth from fiction.
I believe I was taught both, but sometimes my lie detector is broken. Other times, I cannot keep the memories or critical thinking skills in my head long enough to use them on a test. Or is it just that when the word “test” is spoken or at the top of a page, I suddenly feel like I’m in a frozen tundra and ice demons are tormenting me?
In all seriousness, it is vital that we be able to identify fact from fiction. It can save us time, energy, and heartache.
Moral of the Story: Critical thinking is a skill that will pay off for a lifetime. Memorization skills fade as we age (at least for me).
February 8, 2017 – I saw a little birdie today. It wasn’t pretty, didn’t have feathers, and was attached to one unable to drive his car with dignity.
I was in a 35 mile per hour area, and I got behind a guy going about 17 miles per hour – half of the posted limit. I did not honk. I did not race around him and burn rubber. I did not call out obscenities. I did not shake my hands in anger or give him any rude gestures. After waiting for a safe clearing to pass him, I was looking as I started to come up next to his car to see if he was suffering from a medical condition, such as a stroke or seizure.
Turns out, he was suffering from a very common medical condition – angry dude in a car. I thought I saw from the side of his car that he was flying a birdie at me – right on the glass of the car window. I slowed down so I could see better. Yep, a single finger up and flipping me off with a scowl on his pasty face.
What did I do in return? I gave him 3 fingers, and then 5 fingers. His expression and finger didn’t change, so as I began to move ahead of him (as the many cars suddenly behind me were delighted to see), I did it again – giving him first 3 and then 5 fingers. Why? The speed limit was 35. I’m not sure he could understand that, since he had no reason to be angry with me to begin with and we’d passed at least one such sign already.
A few years ago, I was on a semi-country road with the posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour. Normally, people are behind me pushing me to pick up the pace while I’m going 50 or illegally passing me, but on this particular day, I was behind the slow guy. At first he was only going 40, but by the last half mile, he was barely doing 15 miles per hour. This entire time, we were in a no passing zone. I didn’t pass for a second reason: fear this person was encountering a medical condition.
During this time, I did not shake my hands in angry gestures, honk my horn, or cuss him out. I got my phone out in case I needed to call 911 for help.
Yet, when we neared the next intersection, he slowed further to stop at the stop sign and even turned on his right turn signal. I was going straight and was next to the slow car. I looked over to see if the driver was even able to sit up or in need of help … and it was an old pasty guy who flipped the bird at me while clearly spitting unkind profanities my way. I could only hear mumbling through my closed windows with the audio book playing, and I’m grateful.
There was much I planned to accomplish after church today: write the Christmas letter, work on a Christmas 2016 book, and finish laundry. I started the letter, I never touched the book, and I finished half the laundry. However, I did accomplish three other things.
After putting in said laundry, I realized that it was snowing, so perhaps it was time to take out the air conditioner in my room. It’s been a nice long summer and fall, but the white flakes floating by the window led me to consider the winter season may actually be upon us. It felt good to have that task done.
I realized with the snow, I’d better put out our outdoor Christmas decorations, since the ground won’t be pliable much longer. My dear deer is out and a few new ones too. Another item I can add to my “To Do List” that will be pre-checked off.
I then put the load in the dryer, but headed out to take photos instead of putting another load in. Oops! My photo journey in the snow led to a slip and fall on the mushy snow and muddy ground. Therefore, I declared it nap time.
The funny thing about the fall was this: The instant I hit my knee on the ground, it felt EXACTLY like when I would skin my knees as a child. I was certain though that this was merely a feeling and would not be a reality when I got in the house. Especially since I was able to get up reasonably quickly and hobble to the house.
Nope, when I saw my knee, I could hardly believe my eyes … total knee skinning, just like when I was six and fell on the garage floor. I can only assume it will also have wonderful shades of bruising over the next few days too. Thank goodness though that it did not lead to sciatic pain, broken bones, or my face smacking the ground (which this klutz has done before).
All in all, a productive day!