Is it Time to Boycott Eggs?

Eggs are one of the best foods we have available today. They’re delicious, high in protein, and low in calories as well as carbohydrates. They’re wonderful by themselves or in salads, sandwiches, or other dishes at just about any time of the day for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are a necessary staple in many recipes such as baked goods and casseroles. And they used to be cheap!

Have you seen the price of eggs lately, though? On my most recent trip to the store, eggs were $7 a dozen! I remember a time not too long ago when you could buy them for .39 cents a dozen just about anywhere.

This huge price increase is being blamed on the Avian bird flu which has wiped out a lot of chickens. Why are egg prices escalating, but chicken prices have only increased slightly? According to this CNBC report, the bird flu is mostly impacting egg-laying chickens and not those raised for meat.

In the fall of 2021, eggs were less than $2 per dozen. Now they are at least $6 per dozen. That’s triple the cost! In contrast, chicken breast, thankfully, has only gone up by about $1 per pound over the last couple of years. If the price of chicken had gone up in price as much as eggs, we’d be paying $12 per pound for chicken today! Or, most likely, we wouldn’t be eating chicken.

The flu is extremely hard on egg farmers because they are required to kill the remainder of their chickens once it hits their flock to stop the spread. Chickens raised for meat have a much shorter life span and are thus less susceptible to the bug.

One can’t help but wonder, though, if this huge price increase is all because of the bird flu or if the industry is using this opportunity to push the prices up to see how much people will pay? Hopefully, that’s not the case. I love eggs and use them a lot in cooking, but if we collectively stopped buying them, there would be a surplus the price would come down. Perhaps it’s time for us to say, “This chick ain’t paying this price any longer! As good as eggs are, there are plenty of other things to eat.

Experts tell us it may be a while before egg prices start to come down, so if you want to boycott eggs altogether or just cut back until they become more affordable, here are some options for cooking and eating without the incredible edible egg.

stack of pancakes with blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Pexels.com

Alternative breakfasts

Oatmeal with any number of toppings from fruit to peanut butter and nuts is very satisfying. Add some meat on the side such as bacon and sausage for more protein. I’m personally not a big fan of cold cereal, but if you choose one without sugar and add meat as a side, you’ve got a pretty healthy breakfast. Fruit and yogurt with granola is also a fantastic option as well as bagels and cream cheese. Baked beans are a popular breakfast dish in Europe. Maybe we should try that here in the USA. Assorted cheeses with fruit are yummy for breakfast. Some people eat pork chops or steak for their day’s first meal. My husband’s favorite non-egg breakfast is currently a kale salad with avocado, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and bacon.

Vegan recipes

You can find numerous delicious recipes in any vegan or plant-based cookbook or website that doesn’t use eggs and you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy them. My favorite is Forks Over Knives. Additionally, in many baking recipes, the egg can be substituted with applesauce. Here’s a link to some delicious vegan pancake recipes I found.

Looking ahead

If you have some breakfast ideas or recipes for baked goods that don’t include eggs, let us know in the comments below. I will be happy when eggs return to an affordable price and look forward to eating a lot of them in the future. In the meantime, I’m thankful we have options!

Therefore I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more importance than they?”

Matthew 6: 25-26

Finding the Joy in Disappointment

As you well know, the best part of any Christmas is being together with the entire family in one place, enjoying the beautiful Christmas decorations, a festive table, eating delicious, rich dishes that we only get this time of year, opening presents from one another and witnessing the joy on our grandchildren’s face as they tear open their gifts. But, without a doubt, the absolute best part is just being together with every child and their spouse, and every grandchild in the house sharing in the festivities.

As in years past, that was our plan for this Christmas. We even moved our family celebration to the 26th so that the entire family could be together. My daughter and her family were to celebrate Christmas Day at their home in Texas and then fly in on the morning of the 26th for our family get-together.

But then this happened!

Like thousands of others, we had our Christmas disrupted by Southwest Airlines’ technical problems. My daughter’s family discovered upon arrival at the airport on the morning of December 26 that their flight had been canceled. Since she was nearly eight months pregnant, driving the thirteen hours to Tennessee was out of the question.

Of course, I wasn’t alone in my disappointment this holiday season. My sister-in-law fought back tears as she told me their flight to California on December 26 to be with her son’s family was canceled. It had been nine months since she had seen them and she had been looking forward to the trip ever since their last visit.

We’ve seen videos of the horror stories of people stranded in airports for days, some without their luggage or their needed medications. We’ve heard about the much-anticipated vacations to Hawaii or the Caribbean canceled because the flights could get them there. Some of the stories are heartbreaking.

Making it Right

Southwest has long been my favorite airline. It’s always the first place I check when booking a flight. But, they made a big mistake by putting off upgrading their technology, and, unfortunately, it caught up with them at the most inopportune time.

Their leaders have taken full responsibility and come out with an apology and I believe they will make the necessary upgrades to prevent this from happening again. They have gone overboard to refund passengers, take care of their hotel or rental car costs, etc. That is admiral, but the one thing that they can’t refund is time with our loved ones. Unfortunately, that’s gone forever.

The Cure

We have to look for the silver lining in every situation we cannot control. We may not be able to change the circumstance, but we can feel much better about our dilemma when we look for the positive.

So what were the positives from something as disappointing as missing Christmas with our grandchildren?

  1. Southwest refunded them the cost of their tickets and also gave them $800 in credits. I’m sure they could use those funds with a baby on the way and having to buy a bigger car.
  2. Besides being very pregnant, my daughter was also suffering from an eye infection at the time. Being home and resting for the week was probably more healthy for her than coming in and having a full week of activities with both our family and her husband’s family.
  3. My husband and I will be traveling to Texas to help them out when the baby is born in late January. We’ll bring all their Christmas presents with us so the two boys will have new toys to play with while she’s in the hospital and caring for a new baby.
  4. They say that anticipation is half the fun, so now we get to anticipate seeing them for another whole month.

Yes, I’m sorry that I didn’t get to hear the pitter-patter of those little feet at my house during Christmas week or spend time with my daughter. I’m disappointed that the two boys missed going to Cheekwood to see all the Christmas lights and that I missed seeing the joy on their faces as the little lit-up trains made their way through the tracks in the woods. I hate that my daughter and son-in-law missed the annual steak restaurant dinner with their siblings and their spouses.

But when situations are out of control, we have a choice. We can choose to dwell on the negative or think about the positive. Since dwelling on the negative never changes anything, I chose to do that only for a little bit, but then decided it was time to look to the positive. That’s when the joy comes back.

One thing this debacle must have driven home to Southwest and all airlines is that they’re not just transporting bodies from one point to another. They are transporting human beings with their souls, spirits, and relationships, with the joys, sorrows, circumstances, and everything else that comes with the living.

While taking down the Christmas decorations this year, I was still thankful for the precious, joyous Christmas we had with the rest of the family, but I had to admit that it felt incomplete. And it’s okay to grieve for a while for something we missed. But now it’s time to look forward to our next visit with them and anticipate seeing the joy on those boys’ faces when they open their Christmas presents at the end of January. Then we get to witness the best present of all when we all lay eyes on that precious little sister, our tenth grandchild, for the first time! And this time we will be driving!

Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning,

Psalm 30:5

2022’s Last Week – How to make the most of it

It’s December and we’re fast approaching one of my favorite weeks of the year — that week between December 26 to January 1, when the world seems to slow down a bit and we all get to take a rest and enjoy our friends and family. With the Christmas stress behind us, we now have a little extra time to also begin to think about and plan for the upcoming year.

When my children were home, I especially looked forward to this final week of the year because it was the one and only week where there were no ballgames, no practices, no school, homework or even church activities. It was just a quiet time to be with the family and reflect.

Looking forward

I find that I don’t get anything done unless I put it on a list somewhere. Therefore, I’ve been a goal-setter and a list-maker most of my adult life.

Several years ago, when I first started to write out my goals, I wrote some down for that year that I thought were big, but reachable, in a journal and then tucked it into a drawer and pretty much forgot about it. That year I also made another list in the same journal. These were some prayers for the year. Here I listed the things that I knew would never happen unless God intervened. They were situations that were important to me, but I had little or no control over them. At the end of the year, I happened to pull out the journal and looked at both my lists. I found that I had not achieved one single goal on that list! I then looked at my prayer list and discovered, to my amazement, that every prayer had been answered! It seems that God is more faithful to me than I am to myself.

From that experience, I decided that I should ask the Lord’s direction before I started making a list of things I’d like to do and I needed to put the goals in sight so I could see them throughout the year. Asking God can be scary because what if He wants me to do something I don’t want to do, I am uncomfortable doing, or I feel inadequate to accomplish? Most assuredly He will because He’s always wanting us to grow. Asking is the easy part. Obeying is harder.

Goal setting with a twist

Goals are important because they keep us from drifting through life and wasting away our days. They give us a sense of direction, purpose, and accomplishment. Our lives are enriched when we make plans to use our talents and gifts to do more for the good of others and become a better version of ourselves. It’s futile, however, to say that we’ve failed if we don’t reach all of our goals, because the journey toward them can be fulfilling and rewarding itself, even if we don’t reach every one of them every time.

As retirees, we often find ourselves busier in retirement than when we were working. Perhaps we have a lot of interests and try to do everything we’ve ever dreamed of. It seems like we have an infinite amount of time now. But we don’t. There are still just twenty-four hours in a day. We’re limited by time, space and resources. Goals help us prioritize what’s important to us.

Photo by Leeloo Thefirst on Pexels.com

You probably set a lot of goals with your job while you were working. But have you carried that discipline over to your personal life now that you are retired?

If not, why not take the last week of the year to seek God’s plans for you for 2023 and beyond? How would He have you serve Him next year. If you like to travel, ask Him where you should go? Is there an area the Lord would want you to grow spiritually? Are there classes or trainings you should take? What about your health? It’s more than just losing weight. Are there foods that you should eliminate or begin to include in your diet? Should you begin exercising more or less? Perhaps you love to read, but you can’t read everything. What books should you read in 2023? Or is there a book you should write?

Prayerfully begin to write out your goals in each of these seven categories: spiritual, financial, family, social, physical, intellectual, and work or hobby. Start with a dream goal and then add a five and/or ten year goal. A dream goal is not something you’ll be able to achieve this year, but something exciting to work toward for the future. Dream about where you want to be years from now in each category. Long range goals are just as important in this stage of life as when we’re younger. From these goals you can set your yearly goals. Just make sure each goal is specific, measurable, and with a time limit.

For an exciting, fulfilling and prosperous 2023, dream big, write those goals, make those plans, and seek God with each one. And when things don’t go as planned, don’t fret. As the verse below reminds us, God may just be redirecting your steps.

A man’s heart plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Remedy for a Blue Christmas

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This year, I felt a little melancholy while putting up my Christmas tree and decorations and I couldn’t put my finger on the exact reason. It was my first Christmas being retired, which meant that I didn’t have to stress out trying to get everything up in one day over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I could take the entire week to get every piece just right. However, I found that I didn’t like my house being messy for an entire week, so next year I’m going to shoot for a two-day setup. Was the slower pace causing my blueness though? No, it was something else.

We had recently decided to move our family get-together from Christmas day to December 26. The reason being that my daughter who lives in Texas let us know they wanted to start having Christmas morning at their home now that her two boys were getting older.

I get it. I’m in no way upset because I was the same way when my children were little. My dad lived in Kentucky and we would go up there every year for Christmas Eve and then drive back to Tennessee late that night so we could all be home as a family for Christmas morning. I still remember those special times. We’d be exhausted from the late-night travel and then stayed up half the night putting some Santa toys together. Of course, the kids were awake as soon or before the sun came up on Christmas morning and my husband and I would drag ourselves out of bed to watch the children gleefully unwrap each of their gifts. We loved every minute of seeing the happiness on their faces and their excitement over their presents.

Seasons change

When Lindsay gave us the news this year, we talked about having the rest of the family over on Christmas day as usual and then having Christmas with them on another day since they would be staying the week, but finally decided it made more sense to just celebrate with the entire family on the 26th.

I’m fine with that decision because it’s more fun when everyone is there, but it serves as a reminder that as each of my children’s family grows, our original family is less important. It’s the way God designed it, but letting go is still a little painful.

If you’re retired or have children who are older, you know exactly what that’s like. You’ve, no doubt, experienced many letting-go situations along life’s pathway. After all, life itself is a process of letting go. It starts with the birth of our children. While there is nothing more precious or exciting than bringing a fresh, new, sweet smelling child into our home, I found that I missed feeling them kicking around inside of me once they were born. The first attachment had been severed and life was just beginning.

Then there’s that special time of nursing and cuddling. But in no time were working to wean them to a bottle and eventually to food because they are growing and nursing is exhausting. Again, we are sad because they no longer need us in this capacity. There is always that final time and we miss those cuddles.

Before we know it, it’s off to school and then to drive a car and eventually to college from which they may or may not come back home. And while we wouldn’t have it any other way, it still makes us sad. It’s funny how we can be glad and sad at the same time.

Life on earth is a series of letting go situations because this is not our permanent home. We are created for eternity and are just passing through this world. When we have those babies that we love and cherish so much, we’re just replacing ourself. We teach them and train them in every way how to live because one day we will no longer be there for them and they will need to know how to carry on.

I’ve been very blessed as this will be my 70th Christmas. They all have been different, starting out with my childhood Christmas’ at home where the fragrance from a live cedar tree that my father cut down each year and brought home filled our house. Then the excitement of my husband and I getting our own tree in our apartment when we were first married. Though the decorations were sparse, we were no less proud! A few years later we were able to purchase Baby’s first ornament for our tree. From there each Christmas grew larger as more children were added, more ornaments adorned the tree and the gifts around it multiplied.

Then one by one each child began to leave to start their own Christmas memories with their children. This Christmas marks the final child to do that. Sure, we’ll still get together after they each have their own Christmas at their homes and we’ll have a blast. And, frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way, because that’s the way it’s suppose to be.

This Christmas day may be a bit of a downer as my husband and I patiently wait one extra day for the sights, sounds, smells, and energy of our four children, their spouses and nine grandchildren to fill our home. But we will be thankful. Grateful that we’re all still here and able to be together for one more crazy Christmas. Not every family can say that. I personally know of families that will celebrate this Christmas for the first time without a beloved spouse, mother or father. My heart goes out to them.

Christmas is a Season

I love that we take the entire month of December to prepare and celebrate Christmas with the decorating, parties and food. After all, without Christmas we’d all be hopelessly lost in our sins. So, in the end, it doesn’t matter if it’s December 25th, 26th, or any other day of the month, the blessing is that we all still get to participate in the most joyous season of the year with those we love one more time!

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21

Six Hiking Tips for Seniors

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I’ve never been much of an athlete, although I’ve always loved to dance and take long walks. I grew up in a rural area and would often take walks down the country roads by my house. I found it a great time of solitude for thinking and processing life. Later when I married and our children were young, we’d often take them on hikes through the woods. We have found those times to be some of our most fond memories.

There’s just something about being in nature that soothes and replenishes the soul. In Nashville, Tennessee where I reside, there are numerous parks filled with gorgeous trees and plants and plenty of hiking trails. Some paved ones as well as other dirt trails through the woods. The paved trails are usually the easiest, however, they are much harder on the feet than the dirt trails. The dirt trails often have more up-and-down hills making for a better workout, but there is one danger to look out for. No, it’s not bears or snakes, but those deadly tree roots! Yes, those innocent-looking hunks of wood in the ground bringing nourishment to the trees. If you’re not careful, they can literally trip you up as I’ve unfortunately learned firsthand on more than one occasion.

My first trip up

On this particular summer day, my husband and I couldn’t decide if we wanted to go swimming for relaxation or hiking for exercise. It was an extremely hot day, so we wanted to go to the pool, but didn’t want to just lie around all day, so we decided we’d hike a relatively short trail at Radnor Lake and then go to the pool in the afternoon. It was extremely hot and humid that day which in hindsight was probably not the best day for hiking. The trail is just about a two-mile hike over a couple of hills through the woods. We were on the plateau when suddenly out of nowhere, I tripped over a root and face-planted on the ground before I even knew what had happened. I heard this weird sound in my head and my husband who was in front of me, came running to my rescue yelling “Are you alright.”

I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew I wasn’t alright, so I yelled back, “No!” He helped me up and saw my face around my eye was already turning black and starting to swell. I was dazed. He immediately took a picture and sent it to my daughter-in-law, a nurse practitioner. She said we needed to head to the emergency immediately.

We were just about halfway through our hike and had at least a mile to get back to the car. Then out of nowhere, it started pouring down rain! There had been no rain at all in the forecast, but here we were trying to get back to the car with my injury and the pouring rain hitting me in the face. Not a pleasant experience. However, I believe that the rain may have been a God send because the cold water probably kept my face from swelling so much.

When we got to the car we were soaked. Thankfully, we had packed some towels since we were planning on going swimming later. And for some strange reason, (I thank the Lord) Bobby had put an extra shirt in the car, so I was able to put on a dry one.

When we finally got to the hospital, they took me right back for an MRI and discovered I had broken my eye socket and had a slight concussion as well. Thankfully my eye wasn’t damaged, which can often happen with this type of injury. I’m also very thankful that I still had an eyeball since there was a big, jagged stump within an inch of where I had fallen.

My three blunders

There were three mistakes that day that contributed to my fall.

(1) It was very hot and humid, making me fatigued. When we get hot and tired, we don’t pick up our feet as we should.

(2) Since it was a hot day and we were on a short hike, I had worn tennis shoes instead of my hiking boots. Bad mistake. Hiking shoes with good traction are a must when in the woods.

(3) I was not using hiking sticks. If I had them, they could have broken my fall and possibly helped me recover from the trip. Needless to say, I ordered some right after this incident.

Oh no! It happened again

It took a while for my eye to heal, and I’ll admit it was a little scary at first to get back on the trails. But I equipped myself with good hiking shoes and new hiking sticks which helped boost my confidence.

Sometime later we were on a hike with my daughter and her husband. It was a new place I’d never been to but always wanted to go called Swanee. It was a beautiful fall hike and I had on my good hiking shoes but decided I only needed one hiking stick. The hike went well as I was very cautious going up and down the wooded trail. We were actually on the way back to the car and the ground was flat when I tripped again on a root! This time I was able to catch myself with my hand, but unfortunately, that resulted in a broken wrist! Again, it was toward the end of the hike, and I was hot and tired and therefore, not picking up my feet as I should have. I had the one hiking stick, but if I’d had two of them in hand, the story may have been different.

At this point, my kids were telling me that I should give up wooded trails and only walk on paved trails, but I’ve had bouts with plantar flagitious, and too much walking on paved trails can cause that to flare up. Even with my injuries I’ve decided that I’m not willing to give up hiking trails just yet. After all, hiking and walking are some of the best exercises for older adults, and for me, there’s nothing like being in nature.

But there are some general safety rules I’ve learned to adhere to. Below are six safety rules, some of which I’ve learned the hard way, to keep us safe and able to enjoy hiking for a long time.

Start Small

If you haven’t hiked much in the past start with a short hike and then build up to longer ones over time. Most falls do come from being fatigued so don’t hike longer than you can keep up your concentration. You’ll be amazed though at how quickly your body will adapt to longer hikes. And don’t let those young folks who blow by you intimidate you. Remember their bodies are much younger and stronger than yours.

Check out your local parks

Stick with trails that are in the city, state, or national parks as they will be well-maintained and marked. These parks house some of the most beautiful areas in every community.

Know your limits

Be extra careful on the second half of your hike. This is when your muscles get tired, and your mind starts to focus on finishing instead of taking the next correct step. Be okay with turning back if you get too tired before you reach your goal. You can always come back another day and do more. Also, keep in mind that if it’s a one-way trail and you walk four miles one way, you’ll have to walk four miles back. My husband and I have been guilty of walking until we get tired because we’re having such a good time, and then we’re utterly exhausted by the time we get back to the car because we didn’t turn around sooner. Look at your watch or phone. If you’ve been hiking for one hour, for example, consider how you are going to feel after another hour. It might be time to turn around.

Bring proper supplies

Take water even in cooler weather. Water backpacks like Camelbak are great as they keep your hands free. Take a few snacks if it’s going to be a very long hike. Put some hand sanitizer in your pocket as you may only have access to porta-potties and a band-aid if you develop a blister. And don’t forget the sunscreen.

Wear proper clothing, especially shoes. Your body will build up heat as you walk, so that heavy jacket that feels great at the start may cause you to be hot later in the day. Unless it’s extremely cold, a light jacket that you can tie around your waist if you get hot is best layered over a tee shirt. Always, were proper hiking shoes that are in good condition. Boots with ankle support are recommended for trails and good tennis shoes with lots of cushion for paved trails. I include power step inserts in my tennis shoes for more cushion on the feet.

In my opinion, hiking sticks on dirt trails are essential for older hikers. Our bones tend to break easier if we fall and our balance may not be as good as when we were younger. I like using hiking sticks because they give me a little more confidence to walk faster and they keep my arms moving so my hands don’t swell.

Watch the water

Hikes around waterfalls and streams are some of the most beautiful but always be cautious as rocks here can be very slippery and, in some instances, water can rise rapidly. Pay attention to signs that warn of rapidly rising water and never turn your back on the ocean.

Don’t go alone

If you’re walking on a popular city trail with lots of other folks, you’re probably okay to go it alone, but if you’re on a secluded wooded trail and you get injured and can’t walk, you may need someone to go for help or help you to safety. Besides, walking is fantastic for relationship building, so grab a friend.

The health benefits

According to the National Park Service website, there are numerous health benefits to lacing up your hiking shoes and hitting the great outdoors.

Besides being extremely enjoyable and observing beautiful scenery that you’ll never see anywhere else; hiking is not only good physical exercise but there is also emotional and mental relief that comes from being in nature. Hiking is a whole-body workout. It builds stronger muscles and bones, improves your sense of balance, and heart health, and even decreases the risk of certain respiratory problems.

According to a study done by researchers at Stanford University, spending quality time outdoors reduces stress, calms anxiety, increases sensory perception, and can lead to a lower risk of depression.

Hiking improves your relational health. Some of the best conversations happen while on walks where there are no outside interruptions. It’s a great way to connect with your grandchild or another family member or friend.

There are over 400 National parks in the US and almost 2,500 state parks, not to mention the numerous city parks, for you to discover. Perhaps it’s time to Take a Hike and see what they’re all about.

Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you!

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Romans 1:20

Keep a Eye on your Cruise Tab!

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Once on board a cruise ship, they issue you a card or medallion to use for all of your onboard purchases. This makes it nice since you then don’t have to carry around a debit or credit card. The cruise line keeps a running total and your card is charged at the end of the cruise.

The only issue with this is that often there are mistakes. The cruise line will usually correct the mistake if it’s reported immediately, but as I learned the hard way, the longer the mistake goes unreported the more difficult it may be to get your money back.

Recently, I was on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and I ordered sparkling water for about $2. I was lounging by the pool and I gave the waiter my card and he wrote down what I wanted. Several minutes later, he comes back with my drink, card, and the bill to sign. The paper I signed had the correct amount on it. However, later that day when I went to unlock my cabin door, I realized he had given me someone else’s card.

I promptly went to the customer relations desk to let them know I was given the incorrect card and she apologized and printed a new card for me. I then asked her to make sure that no illegitimate charges were put on my account, and she assured me that would not happen because there was a picture associated with it. However, later that day a $9 charge for a beer was on my account instead of the $2 sparkling water. Frustrated, I returned to the desk and they happily refunded me the $9. Thankfully, they also never charged me for the $2 which I think was right since I had to make two trips to customer relations on one day of my cruise.

A very pretty fruity orange drink with a lemon on top in a small jar
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

I don’t purchase a lot of drinks while cruising as I guzzle mostly the free water, coffee and tea, but on this particular day in Haiti, it was extremely hot and the frozen drink special sounded really refreshing. I walked up to the bar to order making sure the price for the special was only $11. He took my card and started to ring it up and make my drink when two other customers walked up to order. He then took their cards as well, instead of finishing my order first. He now had three different cards in his hand with three different orders to fill. This is not going to end well, I thought to myself. Sure enough, he gave me the wrong bill to sign. This isn’t mine, I said, and he replied It doesn’t matter, they are all the same price. But they weren’t the same price, this tab was $12 instead of $11. I just shook my head and signed the thing because I was hot and thirsty and didn’t feel like standing there while he canceled everything out and recharged me over $1.

Months later and still waiting for this refund

On Princess, they use a medallion instead of a cruise card. You wear the medallion around your neck or on your wrist and you never have to take it off as they can scan it from a distance. We were recently on a 14-day cruise and I checked my account often because I’ve learned there can be mistakes. I even went to the desk a couple of times and had them print out our bill to make sure it matched what was online. However, unfortunately, I didn’t check it on the last day of the cruise and was surprised when I got home to learn my husband had been charged $96 for a bottle of wine we didn’t order. Strangely, we weren’t even in the dining room that day where the charge occurred.

A lady holding papers in one hand and a cell phone in the other obviously making a call about something on the paper
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

I called the 800 number thinking I would dispute the charge and they would fix it immediately. Not so! The agent told me that I would receive a refund in the form of a check in about four weeks. I thought that was strange because they just incorrectly charged my debit card. Shouldn’t they credit it back the same way? At the company I previously worked at, if someone’s bank account was accidentally charged, we fixed it that day. It became a top priority. But I left it at that and painfully said to myself, Now I’ve got to keep a lookout for that check in the mail.

Four weeks went by and I still had not received a check so I called them back. It was then that the agent informed me that they had declined my request for a refund. Her reason was that it was because we didn’t purchase a drink package. That had nothing to do with us being charged for a bottle of wine we didn’t order. She told me there was nothing she could do and that I could e-mail customer relations about the issue, I sent an e-mail to the address she gave me and got zero response. Crickets! I emailed them again a few weeks later and to this date, still no response.

My old boss used to say that if there is no communication when there is a problem, people will start making up things in their head. That’s what’s going through my mind now concerning Princess.

We have sailed with them more than any other cruise line and are platinum members and have never experienced anything like this. So I’m starting to wonder. Are they financially in trouble and having to scrape together every dollar to the point that they can’t even issue a $96 legitimate refund?

Or do they not want us to cruise with them any longer? We’re not big spenders when we cruise. We don’t gamble, eat at specialty restaurants, or purchase a lot of alcohol. Maybe they decided they lose money on us and they would rather we go someplace else and this is their way of running us off. If that’s the case, I’m okay with that as there are plenty of other cruise lines. Maybe it’s nothing like that but they are just short-staffed and have never even seen my e-mails.

I’m probably going to keep calling until I have an answer though because I’m just like that. It’s not even so much about the $96 any longer. I just want to know what’s going on with them before I sign up for another cruise. After all, what if it’s a $500 charge next time and they refuse to rectify it.

The moral of the story for me and for you is to never disembark a ship until you have a printed invoice in hand that is correct. If you don’t, sadly, you may never see that money again, at least not without a lot of hassle.

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.

Proverbs 27:23

Six ways to Maintain Strong Relationships during Retirement

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As we get older, we may find it harder to make friends. What once came naturally to us as young people, can now seem rather awkward. When we were young, we were out and about, going to school and work as well as all kinds of social activities and sporting events where we were constantly meeting new people. Now, we are home more and may find our social circle shrinking.

As with anything worthwhile in life though, making and maintaining friendships doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it. Social goals should be just as much a part of our goal planning strategy as financial and other life goals because they are just as important.

If you’re feeling a little left out, don’t fret. Below are some suggestions of practical things you can start doing today to make sure you remain in touch with others and retain long-lasting relationships throughout life.

Start a small group in your home

It could be anything from a Bible study to a bridge club or some other type of game night. Just get a few friends together with a common interest and set up a regular time to meet. Don’t be shy in asking. Believe me, they are just as hungry for the community as you.

Shortly after my husband retired, we started hosting a Bible study in our home every other Wednesday evening. We have four other couples that we’ve done life with through the years so we invited them. It’s an evening we all look forward to. Not only just studying the Bible, but sharing our life concerns with each other and praying together for our friends and families has strengthened us. The community is just as important as the Bible lessons.

We elected to meet every other week because we didn’t want to get burned out from having to prepare every week or for our guests to get weary from driving across town to our house every week. Every other week seems to work well for everyone involved. Once a week or once a month may work for you. Just make sure it’s a systematic event on your calendar to keep everyone engaged.

Join a small group at church

A small group of people engaged in a Bible study
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Most churches these days have small groups. They are a wonderful way to make connections and get to know people in your local church. It’s easy to fall into the trap of just attending worship services, saying hello to a few people, and then leaving, especially if you attend a large church. While the worship experience is wonderful and necessary, you are missing out if you don’t make worthwhile connections with some of your fellow congregants. The ideal small group size is no more than twelve people and be sure to choose a group with whom you have a lot in common.

It’s possible at this stage of life, that you have a church already with a lot of friends and acquaintances. If so, that’s a tremendous blessing. Just be sure you keep staying connected to those people as you age.

Our church is large so we told the small group organizers that we would prefer a group of similar age people and they hooked us up. It meets every week, but since we don’t host it, we are free to skip it if we have something else or are too tired to go on a particular evening. We rarely miss, however, unless we are out of town because we enjoy studying and talking about the Bible with people our own age. We are developing some relationships there with people we would never otherwise meet even though we attend the same church.

Join the gym

Your local gym or YMCA is a fantastic place to make friends while contributing to your health. Most offer a variety of classes for any level as well as essential workout machines. Some even have a pool for swimming which is one of the best exercises for us older adults. Over time you will naturally meet and get to know the people who are in the classes or working out around you. Just be friendly but not freaky. Some people will be friendly back and some won’t. You have to accept that. It’s nothing personal, some people just aren’t in the mood to be friendly and that’s okay. You’ll find many who are. If you go during the day and not during the busy after-work hours, you’ll get to know many retired people.

Many health insurance policies cover the cost, so it could be free for you to enjoy. If you’re not able to work out, you’re always welcome to come to hang out and drink coffee with other patrons.

A huge barbell with people in a gym talking in the background
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Host family and friends at your home

Don’t sit around and wait for your kids to invite you to their house. Invite them to yours! If your family is like most, your grown children are busy with their careers and raising their kids. Inviting them over on a weeknight for dinner can be a huge help for them while giving you time to visit. It doesn’t have to be a fancy meal. After all, they are probably not going to eat fancy at home during the week. Something easy and simple like a homemade pot roast with vegetables and salad would be a delicious meal for you to enjoy together and give them a nice break in the process. Offer to host on holidays too! I find that almost anytime I’m offering to cook food my kids will show up.

Set revolving dinner dates with friends

We have some friends that we routinely schedule a dinner date with every three months. That’s only four times a year, but we have a blast every time we get together. We go to a nice restaurant and catch up on everyone’s news. It’s just fun and I always come away feeling refreshed.

We try to make it a point to get together with Bobby’s sisters once a month. We don’t always make it because of our schedules, but when we do, we have a blast.

My husband’s company has a retiree dinner every month at a local restaurant. He makes it a point to attend when he can and he always comes home energized. If you don’t have a regular dinner with retirees from your previous company, perhaps you could start one. All you have to do is send out a text to see who’s available to come and then make reservations at a local restaurant.

A table set with a spread of Chinese food with two big bowls in the center.  It displays the hands of people digging in with chopsticks.
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Have lunch with friends

Why not make it a point to routinely have lunch with one of your friends. At the beginning of each month, think about who you would like to spend some time with and call and invite them for lunch. If they can’t make it, invite someone else.

The opportunities are endless

There are so many other ways to meet people. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to meet people with the same passions as you.

Traveling is great for human interaction. This relationship may be nothing more than short-term, but any human interaction is always stimulating. My husband and I have met many interesting people on cruise ships over the years with whom we’ve had wonderful, conversations. Also, invite some of your family and friends to go with you on some of your travels. It’s a fantastic way to spend a good deal of quality time with them and grow your relationship.

There are also bowling leagues, pickleball teams, biking groups, and all kinds of clubs and activities you can join according to your interest.

Yet, none of these things will happen unless we are proactive. We have to be intentional with our relationships. Maintaining strong relationships takes work. Don’t sit around feeling lonely and sorry for yourself because people seem to have forgotten you. Get on the phone and make those connections. You’ll enrich your life and also the life of others in the process.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:10

Does prayer really change things?

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As a working mom, I tried to take advantage of every minute of the day. On this particular day, I decided to drive to a nearby park during my lunch hour and balance my checkbook while I ate lunch. The park was located a mile or so from the school where I worked and it was another mile back into the park for parking. I thought it would be a good way to get in some nature, do something productive to check off my “to-do” list, and also have a quiet lunch. It was drizzling rain so I parked my car and sat inside to work on my checkbook while I ate.

When I finished and it was time to go back to the office, I put everything away and turned the key in the ignition to start the car – but it just ground. Oh no! I had turned on the lights since it was raining and I had forgotten to turn them off when I turned off the car! Now, my car would not start!

I was in a panic and didn’t know what to do. It was at least two miles back to the school and I was wearing heels! That would be an awful trek in the rain. This was before the days of cell phones so there was no way to call someone to come rescue me.

“God, help me,” I cried in desperation, mainly because there was no one else to call on.

It was then that I noticed a car parked to the left of my car facing perpendicular to where I was. I thought it strange that it was there because I didn’t hear anyone drive up. Since this was a very secluded area I had always taken a brief notice of any occasional car that happened to drive by and, oddly, I never saw this one pull up and park right beside me.

There were no other cars around. Still in a bit of a panic, I quickly weighed my options, I knew I was very vulnerable as I was in an isolated park with no one around but a strange man. My car was dead and he knew it. I could take off walking the two miles in the rain in my heels or I could ask him for help. I decided my only option was to ask him for help. After all, If he wanted to harm me, he could easily do that if I was on foot.

As I approached him, he was just sitting in his car looking straight ahead. The car was an older model, but extremely clean. I could tell he was African American and reasonably young – maybe mid 30’s. I nervously walked up to him and asked if he happen to have any jumper cables. He responded as though he was just waiting for me to ask. Obviously, he had heard my griding car. When he turned to answer me, I noticed that he had the most beautiful skin and the kindest smile I have ever seen.

He said “Yes, I do.” and proceeded to slowly get out of his car and walk to the back to open the trunk. When he opened it, I noticed that there was a pair of jumper cables lying there. Strangely, that was the only thing in the trunk.

I told him how thankful I was for him and that he was a God send as I had prayed for the Lord to help me. “That’s always the best thing to do,” he said, with that kind smile.

He promptly jumped off my car and I thanked him very much and quickly got into my car to head back to the office as by now I was running late.

As I drove off, I started to wonder. Could that have been an angel? Why didn’t I hear the car drive up? His countenance was so clean and his car was impeccable. Why were there just jumper cables and nothing else in his trunk? There was just something about him that seemed a bit out of the ordinary.

I can’t say for sure if he was an angel sent from heaven to help me in my distress or just a normal, yet kind human being that God put in the right place at the right time, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that God answered that desperate prayer in my time of need.

For what should we pray?

young woman on her knees praying beside her bed
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There are a lot of different views on prayer today. I’ve heard some say that we shouldn’t bother God with menial prayers. Are they saying that God is limited and can only handle a certain amount of requests each day? I’m sure that’s not the case. After all, he knows every sparrow that falls from the sky thoughout the world. (Matthew 10:29)

Some say we shouldn’t ask for selfish things like helping to find lost keys or parking space. I can’t say how God feels about our selfish prayers but I can say that when I do pray for such things, I always get a better result than when I don’t. I’ve prayed for room decorating decisions, lost items, and even help with a bad hair day, and am amazed sometimes at how quickly I get inspiration or help.

God is not a genie in a bottle. But He is concerned about everything that concerns us. The Bible tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17) I believe that this means we can pray about anything because God loves us and wants us to be in communion with him.

But what about when He doesn’t answer?

The problem is not in asking but in the receiving. If we ask with wrong motives for our own pleasure we ask amiss. The Lord’s probably not going to answer that prayer. (James 4:3) But, what if we ask believing and with the right motive and we still don’t get the answer we want or no answer at all. Do we then have enough faith that God knows what He’s doing?

Just like a loving parent never gives their child everything they ask for, we should trust God when He doesn’t give us what we ask for. Like you, I’ve seen almost immediate answers. I’ve seen slower answers where God will give me hints that he working in the situation and I’ve prayed for some things for years and it doesn’t seem like anything is changing, yet my gut and trust in the Lord tells me he is working in that life or situation.

How should we pray today?

There are a lot more serious things to pray for these days than lost keys or parking spots. We live in a world where we incur serious health problems, addictions family issues, divorce, crime, death, and an increasing host of other problems every single day. But when we’ve trained ourselves to come to God with the little things, it builds our faith for when we need a larger miracle.

Praying hands on a Holy Bible
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Perhaps you’ve been praying for a loved one to come to salvation. Keep in mind that God gave all of humanity free will. He will never go against that loved one’s free will no matter how much or how long you pray for them. But, rest assured that God is working in situations to draw them to Him so keep praying and don’t give up.

Accepting an unanswered prayer takes just as much faith as an answered one.

Many times God goes above and beyond what we’ve even asked. He really shows out and answers in a way that surprises us and in a manner we could have never even thought of.

The Bible tells us to Pray for each other, (James 5:16,)

Pray in every situation, (Philippians 4:6),

Pray continually ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17),

Pray in the spirit, (Ephesians 6:18,)

Always pray, (Luke 18:1),

Be faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12),

Be devoted to prayer, Colossians 4:2

There’s a lot at stake in our world today and we are naturally concerned about the kind of place we will leave our children and grandchildren. There’s much we can’t control in this world gone mad, but there is plenty we can influence through prayers for our children, families, governments, schools, and communities. We often say, “All we can do is pray.” And sometimes that is literally all that we can do, but let’s never dismiss prayer as something not important that’s never going to alter the outcome, because it will perhaps more than anything else.

Why are we reluctant to pray?

So if prayers are so welcome to God and he wants us to pray about anything, and everything at all times, why do we often neglect to do so?

Unfortunately, we have an adversary who doesn’t want us to pray because he knows how effective prayer is. Also, our carnal human nature makes us think that many times we can just fix things without God’s help. How many times do we try to fix our situation first before even thinking to pray?

The most important prayer

The most important prayer by far is the prayer of faith to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. If you haven’t done that, it’s the place to start. He will always hear and respond to the prayers of his children. Maybe not always in the way we’d like, but with absolutely our best interest in mind.

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

1st Peter 5:7

A Unique Opportunity in Growing Old

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We, seniors, have a unique perspective on the world that today’s younger generation has yet to experience. We have seen a large transition from one generation of people inhabiting the earth to another. Only those fortunate enough to live for five or more decades get to witness this.

If you are my age, approximately fifty years ago perhaps you, like me, were in college. You were young, vibrant, and excited about the future.

Young people sitting on a blanket in a part with a dog.

Think about who was alive in those days. Probably most of your professors during that time are now deceased as well as many of your high school and elementary school teachers.

My parents and all their friends are now gone and, unfortunately, three of my siblings, too. Many of the people who were living just fifty years ago are no longer alive.

The humble passage of generations

They have been replaced by other people. Back in the seventies, my four children were nothing more than a single-celled egg inside of me. Now they are full grown and busy with their own families, working to make a life of their own.

My nine grandchildren who today occupy such a huge place in my heart and life were nothing more than a possible far-off blurry hope and vision of the future. A “Someday when,” passing thought every now and then.

Like most families today, we take a lot of pictures. When Looking back at them I’m always amazed me how they reveal the speed at which people rapidly change. Children grow up swiftly, marry and have children of their own while each of us steadily grows older each day.

Watching the world change at such an alarming rate can be bittersweet. In our lifetime the advances in technology have been incredibly mind-blowing while the decline of morality in the world is most disturbing.

A person's hand holding a cell phone and showing all the apps on the home screen.

When we were growing up in the 1960s my brother and I would dream of the future and we’d say, “You know, one day when you talk on the phone, you will be able to see the person you talking with.” We visualized something like a TV screen that one would sit in front of and talk with the other person. It never occurred to us that this device would be a small instrument that we would hold in our hands. And that this instrument would also be our camera, dictionary, computer, compass, alarm clock, library, etc. It’s where we socialize with friends and get our entertainment and music along with a host of other functions. No wonder we’re all addicted to it. Our whole life now revolves around this thing! Let’s face it. We all get a little stressed when we’ve temporarily misplaced it.

The one hundred year test

My dad used to tell me whenever I was upset about something, “Don’t worry, in one hundred years it won’t make a difference.” That quote helped me keep things in perspective then as it still does today. One hundred years from now hardly anyone alive on the earth will still be here. So, is my problem really that big of a deal? It very well could be a big deal, but if not, the one-hundred-year test will help reveal that. If it has eternal consequences, yes, it’s a big deal. If it involves the life, health, and safety of someone, of course. These are the things we should be most concerned about today. But if not, maybe we should let it go.

Honoring the passage of time

Some things get better with time and some things get worse, but one thing is for sure – in this incredible journey called life, nothing ever stays the same.

May this be a gentle reminder for us to love and appreciate the people we have in our life today and to enjoy and be thankful for whatever blessings we have this day, for tomorrow for better or for worse they will pass.

A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.

Job 14:5

3 Tips for Finding Retirement Purpose

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Retirement is an exciting time. Most of us spend a big part of our life looking forward to and preparing for it. Yet, with retirement, comes change and possibly some apprehension. We may ask ourselves, “How will I spend my time and fill my days? Will I miss working? Will I still feel valued?”

To enjoy your retirement to the fullest, you must live in your purpose just the way you thrived in your pre-retirement years.

You must find the thing that motivates you to get out of bed, you enjoy doing even though it challenges you at times and when you are done with it for the day, you feel a sense of fulfillment.

Your purpose will be different from my purpose or your neighbor’s purpose and, as long as it’s not immoral or illegal, there is no right or wrong one.

Your purpose is not necessarily something you do to get paid for (although you might), but you do it because it brings you fulfillment and joy. It’s something that you love so much you constantly strive to get better at doing. The challenge of the goal keeps it interesting.

Some examples of purpose

My husband loves weight lifting. He gets up every morning eager to get to the gym for two or more hours. He enjoys the health benefits he gets from constantly working to make his body stronger and the challenge of setting and reaching goals while inspiring other older people to do the same. Once he’s put in the time at the gym, he’s content to do whatever else is on the agenda for the day. I enjoy working out, too, but lifting very heavy weights for hours on end would bore me to tears and wear me out.

I have a friend who loves growing flowers. I love beautiful flowers as well, but I’d never be happy spending hours working in the dirt every day the way she does. Ironically, even though I grew up on a farm, I’ve never liked getting dirt under my fingernails. The few potted plants I have on my deck and porch are enough for me.

a female's hands in a pot of dirt planting a green plant
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I have other friends who love to paint. I admire their work tremendously and love beautiful art, however, I have zero talent for painting and drawing so definitely that is not my calling.

I don’t paint, pump iron, or garden, but I love putting my thoughts on paper and sending them out into the world. If I make money at it, that’s great, but I don’t write to make money. My reward is helping someone in the world benefit from something I share with them. That gives me fulfillment and satisfaction. That is my retirement purpose.

Your purpose is a gift and calling that God has placed inside you.

He intends for you to develop, expand and grow it throughout your life. Of course, we can have more than one purpose. My husband’s sole purpose is not to just work out each day. He enjoys traveling, spending time with the grandkids, studying the Bible, and listening to sermons and travel vlogs. He works on the yard, and car, and helps with the laundry, and other housework, but working out at the gym is the one thing he must do each day or he’s not happy.

In addition to writing, I have a list every day of things I also enjoy doing. It’s no big deal if I don’t get to do any of these activities on a particular day, but if I don’t get to write, I feel that I’ve missed an important part of what I’m supposed to do.

Your purpose may be a continuation of your previous job in a different form or a gift hidden deep inside that only starts to bloom during this stage of life. God’s purpose for you in retirement could be entirely different from the purpose he had for you in your working life.

If you’ve yet to find your purpose in retirement, below are some tips to help you pinpoint it.

It’s something you enjoy

God in his infinite mercy, never calls us to do something without giving us the desire for it as well.

The Bible tells us that God gives us the desires of our hearts when we delight in him. (Psalm 37:4) I believe this can be taken two-fold. Not only does he give us what we desire, but he also puts certain desires inside us according to the plan he has for our life.

It gives you peace and contentment

When we are working on our purpose, there is a sense of satisfaction, and contentment that comes to us. It’s an inner peace that permeates our being. This is not to say that there won’t be challenges, but you’ll love overcoming those challenges when you are working on your purpose.

It comes natural to you

If you are good at writing melodies, for example, it seems so natural to you that you think everyone can do it. But they can’t. I personally don’t understand how artists come up with all those different melodies. It’s a gift that I don’t possess.

Anything that seems natural to you and others compliment you on is a gift and a part of your calling. Don’t take it for granted. Thank God for it, and develop it. It’s probably your purpose.

God has already given you the gift for your purpose. Start developing it now to fill your days with enjoyment and your life with fulfillment.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

Romans 12:6a NIV