Saturday, May 14, 2022

Walking for fun and health



One of four mosaic murals on Ocean Springs-
Biloxi Bridge

Looking through some of my old iPhone photos has brought back memories and questions. 

My favorite place to walk used to be the ultra-safe walking lane on the bridge spanning Biloxi Bay between Biloxi and Ocean Springs, where we live. The bridge was built after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the old bridge.

For me it was an added pleasure walking on that bridge because of the role that a former student of mine had in the design of the new bridge.

In 1970, Connie Moran was a student in one of my ninth-grade English classes that I taught in Ocean Springs. 

By the time Hurricane Katrina arrived 35 years later, Connie was mayor. It was a turbulent time of loss, grief, making do, and charting recovery for coast cities and residents. 

I was proud of her for taking a stand that the new bridge should offer more than transport across the bay between Ocean Springs and Biloxi. 

She fought for features to be incorporated that would highlight the beauty of our town's history and natural environment and complement its reputation for giving residents and visitors opportunities for enjoying the outdoors through work, play, art and healthy exercise.

I continue to appreciate the decisions made by Connie and others who have contributed to people-friendly areas throughout our town.  

My second favorite place to walk was the paved walk that started near the bridge and stretched along the beach from the bridge for about a mile to the Ocean Springs Harbor. If I got tired I could sit down on the concrete barrier separating the walk from the sand beach.

That gave me a perfect position to enjoy the breeze, the view, and the opportunity to observe Hubby's explorations as well as the activities of boaters and other beach goers. I especially enjoyed the joy of kids playing in the sun, sand and water.

That drive back home was another chance to soak up the satisfying vistas of shrimp boats, sailboats, other vessels large and small, salt marsh, birds, bay and sky.

More local bridge art

When a later hurricane messed up the beachside paved walk, ongoing repairs had Hubby and me trying out alternative places for walking.  

With age, weather, increased activities with family, friends and church, my walking routes have changed dramatically, and we are still walking the "alternatives."

One of those alternatives is our house, built to accommodate my stroke challenges. We have a lovely ramp with railings from our driveway to our entry door. 

The concrete is exposed aggregate which I really like. The entry door is painted a "Remington Red" that I picked out and still love. That red door doesn't directly affect my walking ability, but it does boost my spirits.

Inside, our two bedrooms are separated by French doors that are open unless we have overnight company. When it's too hot, too cold, too rainy or too windy, I can still make the circuit around the inside of our home to keep moving. 

About three to four times around make a tenth of a mile. So with walking to do inside chores, it is not that hard to make a mile.

But the reality is that I need more than a mile to keep up my strength and my "want to." It's a great day for me if I can see that iPhone mileage registering well above a mile! 

Another factor in a great day is reading about blogging friends who are walking way beyond my distance. Their experiences offer a huge boost to my determination! 

Bless you fellow bloggers! Thank you for setting a great example, in both the physical exercise category and also with choosing to find joy in life, often in the midst of personal challenges.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Getting the Message

We have been attending the same Bible-teaching church for about a decade. 

But age and my stroke-associated conditions have been signaling a need for a change in our routine for some time.

I love the people, the messages and the option of the Thursday night services. But whichever service, the loud music from the praise band has had us removing our hearing aids and stuffing our ears with pieces of tissue.

Also, I had come to long for the sermons-in-a-song of hymns that were the sound track for my growing up years and most of my pre-stroke years. 

Hubby had been visiting other churches for a while in addition to attending those Thursday night services at what I'm now calling "our old church." 

After one Sunday visit, Hubby reported he had found a church, Grace Baptist Church in our hometown, with a worship service that still included hymns.

Yes! 

I was all in when he wanted me to visit that church with him the upcoming Sunday. But even before Sunday rolled around, we had a visit from the associate pastor and his wife from Grace Church. Pleasant temperatures that day provided for a relaxed, enjoyable get-to-know-you time on our screened porch. 

Hubby found common ground concerning the values and focus of the church. Like us, the couple had grown children with growing families. 

Unlike us, they still had one more in the nest, 13-year-old Jude.

My subsequent visit to that church on the following Sunday was joyful. But I still wasn't ready to let go of the Thursday night services at our "old" church.

Then a week later, in the Thursday night service of our old church, the stage lights were set to red and purple.* 

Suddenly my brain felt weird, like something was crawling around in my skull. 

It was scary. I had already survived a hemorrhagic stroke from a ruptured blood vessel in my brain a decade earlier. Were the lights triggering something serious about to happen again? 

I immediately closed my eyes. Then I kept my eyes focused on the floor during the rest of the service. 

Even once the auditorium lights came back on after the praise band left the stage, I was scared to look up.

That Thursday night scare pushed me closer to a change.

After two Sundays attending services at the new church plus a Friday as "stand-in grandparents" to Jude at a Grandparents Day event, we are now regulars at Grace Church's Sunday morning service.

Jude, left, our "grandson for a day" with Hubby and me
serving as substitute grandparents

 A few of the things that called to me:

--Sermons about Jesus crucified, risen and seated in heaven with God the Father; 

--Sermons about God's promises and the activity of Jesus and the Father in the lives of Christ followers through God the Holy Spirit;

--Music from Hubby's and my "old days" with a choir, grand piano on one side of the church and organ on the other side. 

--Those sermons-in-a-song, hymns offering praise to and worship of God. 

--Robust congregational singing with lots of those old familiar hymns and some that were new to me. 

We have attended the morning worship service at that small church for several Sundays now. We are still becoming acquainted with people, schedules and ministries involved.

We have also continued attending our old church's small group Bible studies that we have been in for a number of years. 

I cherish the lessons learned, friendships strengthened and "doing life together" in those groups and am reluctant to leave those.

But God has a plan for us. I just have to let Him--and Hubby--lead and not fret or run ahead of God's plan.

*As I write this I can't remember if those lights were actually red and purple or just one of those colors. Not my first time to experience memory challenges!

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Sisters-in-law


Lila, talented seamstress
and great encourager

Recently I had a busy day with Lila, one of my three dear sisters-in-law. Lila is an accomplished, creative seamstress. 

Through the years she has helped me select fabrics and then done the sewing for numerous projects from clothing to decorating the downsized home we built nearly a decade ago.

Since my hemorrhagic stroke in 2011, she also makes it possible for me to go shopping. She helps me make it safely from her vehicle to the store, providing her left arm for me to hold on with my right hand so I can keep my balance. 

Lately our fabric shopping has been at Hobby Lobby. Once inside I transfer to holding on to a shopping cart.

My contribution is pushing the cart as she pulls out bolts of material and we decide on fabrics for my projects and some for her family projects. 

With our choices loaded into the cart, we head to the lady who cuts off the fabric from the bolts.

I'm in awe of my SIL and that lady who measures and cuts lengths of the fabric we need. That wonderful Hobby Lobby employee and my SIL both do rapid-fire arithmetic in their heads. 

I would have difficulty doing those calculations, even with a calculator.

After checking out we headed to her car for the next phase of our outing.

We always end our shopping excursions with lunch, my treat at an eatery of Lila’s choice. This time it was a beach-side barbecue joint that both of us had been wanting to try. 

It did not disappoint. And portions were so generous that I had a box of leftover pulled-pork from my order that Hubby and I shared for our next meal.

The makeup of some people is to be ever conscious of the need of other individuals and just how to meet that need.

My mother had that gift and so does Lila. Being a stroke-survivor has made me even more aware of such individuals. I cherish the blessings lavished on me by my spouse, relatives, friends, strangers and a loving God.

When I feel like moaning about a health challenge or frustration at an inability to do something, thoughts of the blessings heaped on me get this old lady back on the thankful track.

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