Advanced Preparation

As I write this blog post, Hurricane Harvey is barreling into our country (Texas). The news footage is filled with scary scenes of people either fleeing for their lives or else digging in and trying to weather the storm. Either way, having prepared in advance could make the difference between life and death. This thought had me contemplating some ways we can all be better prepared for the future.

Create a disaster plan. – Think through what would be most important if you had to leave your house suddenly, possibly never to return. What would be reasonable to take with you? It is prudent to have a backpack stocked with some food and water. It is also wise to have important documents copied and kept in this pack. I’m sure we’d like to take it all, but you may only have time to grab what is handy and reasonable to carry. What if you were confined to your house for a lengthy time? Be sure to have water, canned goods, medications, and batteries in enough supply that you could survive for at least a few weeks without leaving your home.

Take a CPR class. – Generally this suggestion won’t save your life, but it could be the difference between life and death for someone you love or even a stranger that is in medical distress. Check out various places in your community that may be offering training – the library, fire station, or churches sometimes offer classes. There are even online classes, although I would strongly recommend taking a physical class at least the first time so that you can practice chest compressions on a CPR dummy. Even after taking a class, you may feel fearful to put your knowledge into action. You may not move through the steps in perfect form, but at least you’ll have a better idea of what you should do. How horrible to have to stand around helplessly because you’ve never taken a class and have no idea what to do.

Carry a medical card in your wallet or purse. – I work in the healthcare field. Part of my job is to update people’s medical histories. When I ask patients what medications they are taking, more often than not I get incomplete lists. Some people know what condition they need to take medication for, but cannot remember the name of the drugs they are treating it with. I’ve actually had patients pull a pill out of their pocket and show me, like I’d have any clue what it is. I’ve encountered a number of men who answer my question with a shrug and say, “I don’t know what I’m on. I just take the pills that my wife sets out for me!” I’ve also had people tell me one or two medications and then end with the statement, “I think that’s all you need to know!” All medications have potential for cross reactions, including supplements. Non-prescription medications do count, as even an 81 mg aspirin can change bleeding time. My best advice is to make up a medical card that you can carry with you and update it frequently. You can alternatively keep a list on your smartphone or even take a picture of the prescription bottles. If you ever are in a serious health crisis, you may be too flustered to think through what you are taking or you may not even be able to talk. You can write out your medical info on an index card or you can create one online. I just made one up for free through CVS Pharmacy – https://www.cvs.com/drug/wallet-card-report.

Have an eternal plan. – Finally, as a Christian, I would be remiss to not advise that you think beyond this life. Although most people’s bodies don’t live more than 100 years on this earth, the Bible tells us our souls live forever (John 5:28,29; Luke 12:20; Matthew 16:25,26). What good does preparing for temporary disasters do, if you aren’t prepared to meet your God (Amos 4:12)? We may suffer setbacks for not preparing for natural disasters or health emergencies. Our lack of preparation could ultimately result in our or someone else’s death, but failing to face the consequences of our sin will assuredly send us to a place of torment that we’ll never be able to escape (Mark 9:42-48, Luke 16:19-31). When a hurricane threatens to destroy us, authorities tell us to flee to safety. When our sin threatens to destroy us, God (our ultimate authority) tells us to flee to the safety of His own Son (John 3:16-18; Romans 8:1). We don’t have the resources God requires to escape judgment. It is only through the gift of life that God’s Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, provides for us that we can ever be safe from the fury of the wrath of God (Romans 1:18; Proverbs 11:4; Psalm 2:12; Ephesians 5:6; John 3:36). Take heed! Don’t wait for another day!

Breaking News on the Blog: On September 5, Maturing With Grace will celebrate a year since my first blog post was published. It has definitely been a year of learning. It has opened this old mind to an area of the internet that I had no idea existed just a short time ago. I’ve had some fun adventures through gathering material for articles and it has pressed me into trying some activities that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. It has made me search God’s Word for truths to convey, not only to my readers, but to the edification of my own soul. It has been fraught with difficulties, as I’ve had to try to keep up with the demands of weekly postings. Each blog post that I’ve written has behind it hours and days of research. My sweet husband has had to put up with me pouring over the computer for hours each week, all the while neglecting time that I could be spending with him. He has been with me on many of the adventures that I’ve later written about. It would be minimizing the sacrifices he has made to say that this last year has affected him too. I have had frustrating times trying to correct images that have resisted being upright and finding html codes that would create a seemingly simple box around a paragraph. I appreciate you readers who have stuck it out with me through the thick and the thin. Thank you for weeding through the grammatical errors to get to an article that may have helped your insomnia. Although my solid readership was only about a dozen or so people, I found it interesting that along the way people from all over the world have stopped by briefly (Canada, UK, China, Philippines, India, Australia, and Brazil – in descending order). I am starting into a demanding work schedule that will occupy much of my time over the next couple months. I have decided to take a leave of absence from blogging at this time. During my hiatus, I will examine whether it would be better to take it up again or lay it to rest permanently. I have gone ahead and renewed my domain name (maturingwithgrace.com) so that I have an option to use it in the future. Again, thank you all for taking this journey by my side and supporting me along the way. You are welcome to contact me either publicly by commenting on my blog or privately at heidi@maturingwithgrace.com.

God’s blessings!

Praying for Leaders

Hello Everyone!

Last fall, as our country was gearing up for the presidential election, I wrote a rough draft of this article.  I ended up not publishing it, mostly because I was seeing so many other bloggers writing in some way about the election.  I personally felt saturated politically and didn’t want to read one more article referring to it, even if it was my own.

So why send this out now?  I really thought (and hoped) that all the political hub-bub would have blown over by now.  Unless you are living on a deserted island with no cell phone coverage, you know that conflicts are still raging and likely escalating.  As the evening news airs each evening and our country’s latest governmental battles are examined in detail, I find myself feeling frustrated and helpless.  Will there ever be even a semblance of peace again?

My knee jerk reaction is to start looking for that deserted island.  I don’t want to hear anything anymore from either side.  Unlike many people, I’ve never enjoyed debates.  I don’t see them as entertaining contests, but as polarizing arguments.  I want to literally plug my ears and pretend our world is a happy place.

The amazing reality is that I’m not as helpless as I feel when it comes to affecting my governmental powers.  When I read the Bible, I find that I should be personally involved, rather than pretending my leaders don’t exist.  Now, if that last statement has you grabbing your sign to rally for your favorite side of a cause, I’m afraid you may be looking in your Bible for a long time to find supporting verses.  What we are told is to pray for our leaders.  They need our prayers, even when they don’t know it (in fact, maybe especially then!) and they need us to keep praying!  By the way, this includes, not just those in the volatile United States of America, but any of you from other countries who have leaders.  I think that includes all of us!

Reasons we should pray for our leaders, even when we don’t feel like it:

1) – We are to pray for all people. We are to pray for our fellow believers. Got that. We are to pray that our loved ones are saved or are restored. Got that. We are to pray for our enemies. Hmmm. We are to pray for the king. Hmmm.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2) – We are not only to pray for our leaders, but be thankful for them. Hmmm.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

3) – Our leaders, as bad as we may think they are, stand in God’s place. I believe this is similar to the mandate that children are to obey their parents. Children are not told to decide if their parents are God-like and then obey if they are. God has made certain hierarchies of authority and we are to respect and obey that position, as long as obeying them doesn’t keep us from obeying God. When we do honor them, we honor God in return.

1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Titus 3:1,2 – Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

4) God put our leaders where they are. This is a hard one for many Christians to accept. My questions are:  Is God in the minority when people vote in an ungodly ruler? Could God be doing something at this moment differently if some other ruler had been voted for? Is God powerful, except in the voting process?

Daniel 2:20-22 – Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

5) – We were put in this country to pray for it. This country is just a temporary stop in our eternal lives. We could have been placed anywhere by God, but He put us here. Instead of entangling ourselves in the earthly affairs of our stop-over, we are to pray for our country and those who are leading it.

Jeremiah 29:7 – But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

6) – Finally, we are to pray for our leaders because they could repent and be saved. When you think of your governmental leaders, do you think there is any chance that they could get saved? Are those in your country’s leadership any farther away from God than I was before I was born-again? Can God save someone in our church, but can’t save our president? Is there anything that is impossible for God? Just think for a minute with me…can you imagine what would take place if our leaders repented and turned to God with all their hearts? I’m pretty sure there would be a huge attempt at covering it up because things would have to change. I think the best Washington DC psychologists would be called in because certainly some sort of mental illness must be responsible for such a radical change. Isn’t that what was implied with Paul (Acts 26:24)?

Jonah 3:5-7 – And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water….”

May God give us all a renewed urgency to pray for our leaders – ALL of them, no matter what political party they originate in. May He guide each person in authority, whether they know it or not and may He work His ultimate purposes through them, even if His purposes are to bring us into the last days. Last, but not least, may God show His ultimate power by enlightening their eyes to His truths and even, in His will, saving some to our amazement!

Today no matter if your country is run by President Trump of the U.S., King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister May of Great Britain, Chairman Xi Jinping of China, or some other leader – pray for them.  You say that they are corrupt and ungodly?  Pray all the more!

 

Quick ‘Wasteful Living’ update:  We went through the pile of things we knew we had to donate and separated the items seasonally  Then I added a few more items from my closet and our son put in a bag of items from his closet  Although I’m sure I could have selected more things to bless others with, we ended up with a fair share to take to our local distribution center.  Sometimes it’s better to just take what you have rather than just waiting to see if there are more goods to add to the pile.

Footgolf – Have You Heard of it?

A few months ago, my husband and I were golfing on a short course we had never tried before.   As we neared the green, we were confused because there were two pins (flags).  On closer examination, we found that one flag pole was sitting in a much larger hole.  What was this?  Was it made for the visually impaired or maybe for someone like me, who has a problem with directionally-challenged balls?  It wasn’t until later that we found out that we’d stumbled across our first footgolf course.

While there are various opinions as to when footgolf was first played, the sport became official in 2008.  It basically is a combination of football (American soccer) and golf.  The rules are essentially the same as golf.  The goal is to get the ball to the cup in as few strokes as possible.  The difference is  that a regulation size soccer ball is used and the ball is contacted by your foot rather than a club.  Also, as I mentioned earlier, the cup is larger so that it can accommodate a soccer ball.

Much larger than a regular golf hole

This last week we finally had a chance to experience the sport first hand.  We drove about an hour to a course, but the long drive was off-set by the fact that we had a Groupon deal which brought the price down to a very reasonable amount.  Most courses include a ball rental fee, so you may want to check into bringing your own soccer ball, if you have one.

From what I’ve read, most footgolf courses have nine holes.  The course we played on had a separate golf course, but most of the time we were within eyesight of the golfers.  As we were handed our scorecard, we were given given one piece of advice – “Watch out for golfers!”  I’ve never been hit by a golf ball, but I’ve had patients who have and have had devastating effects.  All I could do was hope that the golfers near us had better control of their balls that I generally do.

Dark skies couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm

Maybe this is a good time to reveal my lack of golfing ability.  Shortly after we were married, my husband and I took golf lessons.  Our thought was that since neither of us had ever played in the past, we could learn to love the sport together.  I can’t really say that has happened, even after almost thirty years of playing it intermittently, but I do love my husband and enjoy doing things with him.  Our first time golfing netted me a score of 39.  That’s not so bad, right?  That was the number of strokes it took me to get to the first hole!  It was supposed to take me three strokes. No surprise, my husband did significantly better than me.

Even though the years have improved my scores a little, I’m still embarrassingly terrible at golf.  Thankfully I married a very patient man.  For some reason he still seems to enjoy playing with me.  Maybe it’s because I make him look professional in comparison.  So I walked up to the first footgolf tee off area with fresh anticipation.  Even though I’d never played footgolf, it had to be better than regular golf.

Footgolf is not without hazards!

The first thing I happily noted is that it is much harder to miss the ball in footgolf than in regular golf.  I am not saying it can’t be done, but amazingly I never once missed contacting my foot to the ball.  Right from the start, we had a discussion about the proper way to kick the ball.  Should we kick it with the side of our foot or with our toe?  The professional soccer players use the side of their foot.  They must know what they’re doing.  So, I tried my best Pelé kick.  I was glad to see the ball move, but it went way off to one side.  At that moment I decided to switch from being a professional to being a two-year-old soccer player and just kick the ball with my toe.  I’m not saying this is the best method, considering my score was consistently at least double par, but it kept me from running all over the place.

All was going relatively well (at least compared to my usual golf game) until we felt a few drops of rain while waiting to play the second hole.  By the time we had all put our balls in the cup, it started to pour.  We were so thankful that the rain wasn’t accompanied by lightning.  This enabled us to take shelter under a nearby tree.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that a tree, while better than facing the storm without any protection, is less than perfect.  No matter where we stood, we each were getting pelted by rain.  We ran to another tree that gave the allusion that it would shelter us better under its wings.  Hah.  I was just trying to formulate the most direct path back to the clubhouse when suddenly the rain stopped, like someone had just turned off the faucet.  We finished the course wearing sunglasses!

Clouds preparing to bring in rain

I have read that the introduction of footgolf may have saved some golf courses from bankruptcy.  I can see why it is starting to catch on.  No expensive equipment is needed and it is a great option for young and old alike.  I did find my toe was pretty sore by the end of play, but my husband later reminded me that I’d had toe surgery last year on that foot.  I just adjusted by finishing play with my left foot.  Not sure using my non-dominant foot hurt my game all that much.  That’s the beauty of being poor at sports.  I don’t have much to lose!

Why not give footgolf a try?  It’s a simple, inexpensive game.  It will get you outside, breathing in some fresh air.  Thankfully my husband threw our scorecard away, but like with golf, I remind myself that it’s not about winning, but enjoying.

A Proverbs Work Ethic

Have you ever noticed how many times verses in Proverbs talk about laziness?  If the book of the Bible composed of wise sayings has a lot to say about being industrious, maybe we should take note.  One thing I should point out before heading into this subject is that the author has a lot to learn in this area too.  In fact, part way though preparing to write this post, I thought maybe I’d just take a nap and work on it later!

Below I will be listing proverbs on laziness (combining references where they are essentially discussing the same thought).  Following the verse(s) will be a brief explanation of what I believe it is referring to and/or how it can be applied to our present day situation.

Proverbs 6:6-11 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise,  which, having no captain, overseer or ruler,  provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.  How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?   A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep–  So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.  (See also Prov. 30:25).   A couple points emerge from these verses in my mind.  First, I should have a game plan of my own to work on.  I shouldn’t use an excuse that I haven’t been directed as to a course of action because I should be self-motivated.  Also, the effects of not working can take a toll very quickly.  It doesn’t take long to drain a bank account!

Proverbs 10:5  He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.  We need to work while we can.  There may come a day when there will not be an opportunity to work or we won’t have the ability to do so.  Don’t put off to tomorrow what can be done today.  Old age is filled with regret for many of what could have been done, but the time is now lost.

Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.  We may be given the choice as to whether to work today, but some day that choice may no longer be ours and we may have to work hard to pay off debts.

Proverbs 12:27 The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession. (See also Prov 8:9) A lack of energy to do something with what I have on hand today may result in wasting the resources God has provided.

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.  Our dreams of the future are impacted by the choices we make today.

Proverbs 14:23 In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.  The saying is “Talk is cheap”.  Talking about doing something instead of doing it will not amount to anything.  Also, productive time can be wasted by talking – either in person, on the phone, or using online resources.

Proverbs 19:15  Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.  It’s amazing how quickly time can go by while engaged in idle endeavors.  We may have to sacrifice having a decent dinner because time was not spent in preparing it.  Choosing to engage in activities other than work can eventually lead to not having money to purchase food and other necessities.

Proverbs 19:24  A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again. (See also Prov 26:15)  Laziness leads to more laziness.  More time can be spent trying to evade work than doing it, even when it impacts us negatively in the end.

Proverbs 20:4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing.  (See also Prov 21:25)  Life has many decisions.  Sometimes we may not like doing a particular task, so it will be put off.  Procrastination can end up being costly.

Proverbs 22:13 The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” (See also Prov 26:13)  When we want to really do something, nothing will stop us.  When we don’t want to do something, we will become very creative in our excuses.

Proverbs 24:30-34 I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;  and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.  When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction:  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest;  so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.  This analogy is easily seen in literal form every day.  Drive down the street and see a home or business that was abandoned months ago and notice the weeds that quickly take over.  It can also be seen with so many barns that have roofs that have fallen in.  A decision to not make the effort today will not be met with a truce from nature around us.  Weeds will continue to grow, termites will continue to gnaw, the dishes will pile up, and our children will go their own course.  It takes continual effort to even keep our lives in a static position, not to mention trying to make progress.

Proverbs 26:14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed.  When a choice is made over and over to do what appeals to us rather than what needs to be done, it starts to become a way of life.  Others around us may step in and do the work that we’re avoiding.  Soon not only do we not expect to do the work, but others don’t expect anything worthwhile from us.  We define our role in life – we are a hinge that others rotate around.  It takes a conscientious effort to change our course of action and our reputation.

Proverbs 31:10-31 This lengthy portion deserves a careful pouring over.  It is the classic example of a woman who is industrious in every aspect of life.  Some may say she is stifled by the frenzied pace of constantly caring for her family.  Yet, no where do we read that she is depressed, exhausted, or envious of less active women around her.  Instead she is held in high esteem by her husband, her children, and the community that she serves.  She may go to bed tired, but she sleeps knowing she has sacrificed her “me time” for the ultimate goals all of us should have – serving God and loving our neighbors.

We all have different realms of work.  Some of us having paying jobs, some of us have families to care for, some of us volunteer in our community, and some of us serve God by bringing the Good News to our communities and the world beyond.  Frequently our lives encompass many different aspects of work.  The challenge is to see if we using the abilities that God has provided us with to the best of our potential.  Have we made “You deserve a break today” our life motto?  Instead, consider replacing it with this one from Ephesians 5:15,16 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Floating Along

Part of my mission in writing a blog is to give you ideas of activities that can get you out enjoying life. As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m no athlete. In fact, I have to fight a natural tendency to just sit on the couch in my temperature-controlled home with a good book. Yet, I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon – once I’m outside, I usually wind up enjoying life to a greater degree than if I stayed in my safe cocoon.

Today I’m going to address using self-propelled watercraft. Boats – they go against my very nature in multiple ways. First off, unless you are using one with your rubber duckie in the bathtub, you are likely to be *gasp* OUTSIDE! Since I’ve already discussed my aversion to being outdoors, I’ll proceed to the next point.

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Photo Books + Wasteful Living Update

I’m going to cover creating photo books in today’s post.  As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, I am a resolution maker.  For years one of my top resolutions was to organize my photos.  Early on in my marriage (and even before), I’d been pretty faithful in placing all my pictures in albums.  Then we had children.  That meant more pictures and less time.  In rare good moments, I labeled the backs of the pictures and placed them in albums.  More often than not, I just crammed the envelope of newly processed photos into an already overstuffed shoe box.  Eventually we moved into the digital age.  Our photography life still mainly consisted of vacation pictures (day to day life isn’t all that exciting), but we had an abundance of other pictures too.  Having a camera on my phone at the ready made spontaneous pictures more possible.  Hence, more to organize.

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The God of Impossible Situations (+ FREE course)

Hello.  If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post on how God uses seemingly insignificant people to accomplish His plans.  I was glad to find that this truth resonated with a lot of people.  Hopefully your faith was uplifted to believe that He can use you too, no matter how small you may feel in this world.  But what if you aren’t as much worried about how you can be useful as much as you see obstacles around you that seem insurmountable?  Should we ever see something as impossible?  Let’s look at some examples from God’s Word and find out what we can learn.

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Parades

For those of you who live in the United States, Happy Independence Day! I thought I should write a post today with a holiday theme and decided to write on parade watching. This will be a little shorter than usual, so you can get on with your activities.

When I looked up the history of parades, I found that they started as a way to celebrate military victories. The political ruler or military commander would head up the march through the city with the soldiers following. The leader would show off his prowess and the civilians would cheer him and the army on.

Religious authorities and politicians used parades in much the same way. A parade would be a way to communicate their platforms. The crowds that gathered along the parade route would allow opportunities for these leaders to interact with the common folk.

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Chosen by God

“If only I was more persuasive.  I’m not important enough to be able to accomplish this.  I don’t know enough about the subject.  They’ll never listen.  I trip over my own words.  Maybe someone else would be better….”  Moses came up with every excuse in Exodus 4 to try to convince God that he wasn’t the right person for the work God had chosen him for – leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  The trouble, however, didn’t lie in Moses’ mouth; it was in his ears.  He was so caught up in his own insecurities that he totally missed what God had said.  God had introduced Himself as the I AM.  It had nothing to do with Moses.  All power rested in God alone.  Although an onlooker would later see Moses leading the people out of Egypt, he was just a human representative.  The true Deliverer was God and He would be heading the mass as they moved from captivity to freedom.  The real question wasn’t whether Moses was capable, but was God?

Time after time God has chosen the weak to carry out His purposes.  He has used those who, for one reason or another, would be overlooked by the mainstream of society.  When I was in junior high, I dreaded gym class.  It didn’t matter if the sport of the week was basketball, tennis, or gymnastics.  I stunk at them all!  I have never made a lay-up.  I was equally talented at hitting the net with my tennis ball and lobbing my ball over the neighbor’s fence.  My final gymnastics grade depended on me doing a two minute routine.  I couldn’t do a decent somersault, let alone anything that resembled a cartwheel.  I’m convinced that the only reason I passed was because the teacher couldn’t handle me being in her class another painful year.

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