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!

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.

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Sweet Strawberries

Have you ever been to a pick-your-own berry farm? I never had during my 50+ years of life. Maybe five years ago, I bought a strawberry tower pot. It was a dismal flop – no berries! This year I decided to leave the growing to the experts, but still get the experience of fresh fruit.

This past week, my husband and I headed off to a local you-pick farm. As we were checking in, I could hear people around us who sounded like they do this every year. I felt like a child in a new school. Thankfully we weren’t given a lot of rules. Basically we were advised not to pick immature berries and to be careful not to crush the small plants.

Continue reading

Exploring Electric Bicycles

*You should know that I received no compensation from either the Pedego company or the area retailer for writing this article.  We paid for our rentals and tested the ride before I mentioned to the owner that I would be writing a blog article.

Hello and Happy June!

The goal of my blog has always been to direct people (especially those in the older sector) to new ways of seeing the world around them and hopefully bringing increased joy to their lives in the process.  Incorporated in this endeavor is refocusing our eyes on God.  I have found just in being the bearer of these ideas that my life has been enhanced and I think I’ve experienced a fresh appreciation for my life.  I hope my goal has been realized, at least in some part, for you too.

Sometimes my search for ideas to write about has led me to try new things.  This past week has had just that experience.  Over the winter, I heard about electric bicycles.  Actually, I believe my sister was the first one to tell me about them, but I had largely forgotten them until something prompted me to do a little research online.  Maybe it was the cold weather and my longing for springtime and the start up of bicycle season that initiated this search.  I ended up contacting the Pedego company and was sent a brochure.  The first thing that caught my eye were the vibrant colors.  The pages sported bicycles in bright greens, pinks, yellows, and oranges – to name a few.  There were quite a few style options, in fact, so many that I found myself getting confused.  I figured the best way to find out about them was to test ride one.  I was delighted when I found out that there was a dealership in Michigan that also rented out their bikes.

Continue reading

9 Carry-on Essentials

A few weeks ago we flew out to Hawaii. As I was packing, I realized that this was going to involve a long plane ride and what I brought on the plane with me could really impact my trip.

Let’s be honest, these days it costs so much to check a bag that many people bring a carry-on as their only bag. This is evident even before boarding the plane because typically an announcement is made that due to limited overhead space, the airline is offering to check carry-ons for free. If you are a single bag traveler, you may think you are carrying everything you need, but I still recommend checking the following list to make sure you aren’t forgetting something important.  Note:  this list doesn’t include things that would normally be in a checked bag (i.e.; basic clothing, grooming items, etc).

Here are the nine essentials I always make sure to pack in my carry-on: Continue reading

Pineapple Tidbits

Hey everyone,

We just returned from a lovely vacation to Maui.  It was our first time on this island and it definitely had the “WOW! factor” everyone had told us about.  What do you think of when you think of an island vacation?   I suspect most people would immediately dream of relaxing on a beach chair and soaking up some rays.  If that is your idea of an exotic holiday, I will warn you never to travel with us!  We don’t ever lay out on the beach for the following reasons:  (1) Other than our daughter, none of my family were born with an ability to produce a tan.  The rest of us start working on our sunburn on the walk from the car to the hotel.  We plaster sunscreen on every exposed inch of skin, wear hats and sunglasses – and still we burn.  I actually freckle and burn.  My only hope of ever returning from a trip with dark skin is if my many freckles coalesce together some day!  (2) We want to see the sights unique to the area we are traveling through.  I feel like it would be a shame if we returned from Maui and all we could say was “we saw the sun”.  Granted, sun can be in short supply in Michigan, but if I want to get burned, I can lay out on a chair in my backyard and look at the same sun.  (3) I hate sand!  A couple of times I took my children to the beach when they were younger because I felt like it was a motherly sort of thing to do.  It might have been fine, if we could have ignored the sunburn pain, but there still would have been the SAND.  Ugh!  It finds its way into everything.  We’d always come away with it lodged in our eyes, ears, mouth (that after-the-dentist feeling), hair, clothing, and towels.  I’m pretty sure the beaches around here were a little lower from the erosive effect our family’s presence had.  The sand would then continue to show up for the next week at our house.

So now that you’ve made a mental note never to join us and expect a relaxing vacation, let me tell you about one thing we did on Maui (while avoiding the beach scene) – we went on a tour of a pineapple plantation.  There I learned a number of things about pineapple and had a chance to eat pineapple right in the field.  I really enjoy fresh pineapple, but I’ve never had really fresh pineapple before.  It was so much sweeter than any I’ve ever eaten before.

Here are some of the things I learned about pineapple growing: Continue reading

Could I Live “Off the Grid”?

I recently spotted an article in a magazine about ‘going off the grid’.  I must say this thought has always intrigued me.  As a child I read many books about early settlers.  Living off the land sounded so interesting, at least on the written page.  It could be also that I have a little rebellion in me – an attitude that I don’t need anybody else.  So, I thought I’d explore some of the suggestions on ways to survive outside of using mainstream society and a self-analysis of how I’d do.  In the following post, I’ll take a look at four of the basic needs for human life – food, drink, shelter, and safety. Continue reading

Geocaching – part 2

Hello everyone,

So last week I introduced you to geocaching by telling you why you should give it a try.  This week I’m going to continue my introduction of this activity by letting you know about the different kinds of geocaches that are out there, the variety of geocache containers you could find, and some general rules that you should be aware of before heading out.  Let’s hope your interest was peaked last week and you are curious enough to want to get out and find one. 

You need to have at least 4 things to begin your search: Continue reading