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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Just for Him

Jun
15

And The Award Goes To…

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Rare is the time when I actually am all caught up with my schedule. Whenever I think I am caught up, something happens that takes that and throws it out the window.

Such was the case this past week. I was very much happy with the fact that I was on schedule and I had everything in hand. Nothing makes me feel better.

Of course, this is mostly delusional, at least for me. If there ever was an award for being delusional, I am quite certain I would be at the top of the list. The amazing thing about being delusional is that you never think you are.

As I was wallowing in my delusion and enjoying every moment of it, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came and said rather sharply, “Are you ready to go?”

At the moment, I had no idea what she was talking about. And so I responded, “Huh?”

I’m not sure if that is really a word or not, but it accurately described my delusional moment at that time. I had no idea what she was talking about.

“You haven’t,” she said, “forgotten what day it is, have you?”

I was tempted to say, “Of course not. It’s Tuesday.” Fortunately, I did not yield to that temptation and just responded with another, “Huh?”

With a disdaining look she said, “You would forget your head if it wasn’t attached.”

I wouldn’t tell her, but I probably would not miss my head if I would forget it. After all, I don’t wear a hat.

“Today,” she said in a very serene voice, “the two grandchildren are getting awards at school.”

I’m not quite sure if I forgot or if I was not listening when the instructions came my way. At this point, I was not going to let anybody know, particularly my wife.

“Oh, yes,” I said getting up from my chair, “I’m all ready to go. Let’s go.”

She gave me one of her classic sarcastic grins and we headed for the door.

Our one granddaughter was graduating from the third grade and the other from the fifth grade. Unfortunately, one was at 8:30 in the morning and the other was it 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It would make sense to have them all at once, but what has sense to do in our world today?

I did not want to complain, after all, it is our grandchildren, but I think the planning could have been just a little bit better than that. After all, sitting in the school cafeteria listening to the award ceremony is about as exciting as it can get.

The chairs that we had to sit on were uncomfortable, which was very fortunate for me because I was not tempted to fall asleep during the ceremony. I believe that was done on purpose.

Imagine getting an award for completing the third grade!

I cannot remember any such thing when I was going to grade school. Our great award was leaving school and going home in the afternoon. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

We live in a different world today where everybody gets an award for something or sometimes for nothing.

Then I remembered my cell phone in my shirt pocket. It is times like this that God had in mind when he invented this cell phone technology. I pulled out my cell phone and started checking my email.

Then I felt a sharp pain in my right ribs (thanks Eve) and I heard a voice saying, “Put that away and pay attention.”

Slowly and reluctantly, I returned my cell phone to my shirt pocket and tried to pay attention but I didn’t have enough quarters. Paying attention can be very expensive when you’re in situations like this. Read More→

Jun
07

Where Do You Look When She’s Lost Her Voice?

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megaphoneIt has been a quiet week at the parsonage. Far quieter than usual. I cannot remember a time when it was quieter. If silence is golden, the week glowed with a yellow brilliance.

Have you ever noticed when you lose something, it is always in the last place you look? I could save a lot of time, not to mention energy, if I would look for that lost item in the last place first.

Back to the sounds of silence in the parsonage.

When the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage awoke from her beauty sleep on Monday morning, she discovered sometime during the night she lost her voice. It was a strange sensation that bears repeating – often.

At first, I thought I lost my hearing. I am not accustomed to starting the day with such silence. I could see my Beloved’s lips moving, but nothing reached my ears.

I must confess that there have been times when I feigned not hearing her, but this time I really could not hear a word she said. Immediately I plunged a finger in each ear to check for any foreign correspondent.

My fingers reported nothing. I must admit that clean ears are a novelty for me. God gave me such large ears attracting all sorts of stuff.

My ears produce enough wax each week to take care of 17 Rolls Royces. The strange thing was, I had just waxed my car the Saturday before.

With nothing in my ears – or between them, for that matter – I could not explain this sudden silence of my Little Lamb.

I am the kind of person who tries to find good in everything. Some circumstances severely try my efforts in this endeavor, but, believe it or not, I was able to find some good about this little incident in our parsonage.

The good news was my wife had lost her voice; the bad news, however, she insisted that I look for it.

Have you ever tried looking for something you hoped you would not find?

Through the years, I have engaged in many things my heart was not totally in full sympathy with.

Such things as Christmas shopping with my wife at the mall; going to a wedding reception for some family member; attending the Christmas play by first graders at the elementary school.

All these activities are good in and of themselves; if only they would merely keep themselves to themselves, it would not irate myself so much. As a dutiful husband and father, I bolster up both chins and go forward.

Being the considerate soul that I am, I submissively went through the motions of looking for the lost voice. (I did have my fingers crossed.)

My problem was: where do you begin looking for a lost voice? In my lifetime, I have looked for many lost items. My car keys, my wallet (especially when the check at the restaurant is due), and my mind, which I have yet to find.

However, where does a voice go when it turns up missing?

I began my search under the sofa and found a set of car keys I lost seven months ago and my checkbook that I looked everywhere for and finally had to close the account and start over again, but no voice.

I spent a few moments meditating in the garage, but did not find or hear the voice of my Beloved.

I looked in the refrigerator – pausing for a small snack without fear of remonstration from you know who. Of course, I may have been remonstrated, but I did not hear a thing. Read More→

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May
25

My Advice: Twice Is Just As Nice

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NWhat is your marriage modelingothing is more important to a blissful marriage than finding a point of agreement. Every veteran husband knows if he wants to change his wife’s mind about anything, just agree with her. It is amazing how this works. The technical name for this is “re-wife psychology.”

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I have been married since 1971 and have not had a serious argument or disagreement. (She does not allow me to talk back.) We have had rough times, but not with each other.

We have survived nine congregations, 19 homes, three children with nine grandchildren and all without compromising our relationship. My sanity is another issue.

Throughout our marriage, we have always held to the advice not to go to bed angry. Of course, there have been a few sleepless nights. I have a simple rule: do not close your eyes if there is an angry woman in the vicinity.

I honestly can say our marital relationship through the years has been most amicable. Since our marriage, my wife and I spend a lot of time working together and we never seem to get bored with one another.

We are a great team. She puts up with me and I let her. It works wonderfully and we have been able to accomplish a good deal together.

Only one area where we disagree and there may not be much of a remedy for this departure in company.

Never fear. Our marital dissolution is not near.

We have just learned to live with this dissent and, I might add, have survived quite happily.

I suppose no relationship is absolutely perfect this side of the Pearly Gates. Not to boast, but I have my wife beat in this one area. I do not often get the upper hand with her; in fact, I cannot remember any other occasion where this has occurred.

Nevertheless, we have come to a meeting of the minds on this subject. Really, if you don’t mind, the meeting doesn’t matter. Read More→

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May
11

Mother Said There’d Be Days Like This

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mom and daughterMothers are the greatest dispensers of advice since God said, “Let there be light.” Some, not me, refer to it as maternal instinct.

My own mother gave me some splendid advice when I was growing up. Unfortunately, much of Mom’s advice shed light on nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.

Let me outline some advice my mother gave me that, to this day, I have no idea what she was talking about.

I distinctly remember my mother standing before me, with hands on her hips, scolding me for something and then saying, “Who do you think you are?”

This always disturbed me and caused me to wonder about my nativity. As a young person, I often pondered this question myself.

As with most teens, I had long moments of identity crisis. (When you are young most of your energy goes into producing hormones, and so the brain functions on low voltage.) It greatly confused me that the person who should know who I was, asked me the question I had been asking myself. If she does not know who I am, what hope do I have?

Then there was the time I asked my mother for money. She whirled around and replied, “Do you think money grows on trees?”

Up to that point, I have never given the matter much thought. I simply assumed money came from my father going to work and being paid. However, here was something new to ponder. Where does money come from, really? What added to my confusion was the name of our bank ‑ The Elm Tree Branch of First National Bank of Harrisburg. Now I was totally confused.

When I was quite young, I remember asking my mother for something in the store. I think it was some small toy that I took a fancy to and asked my mother to buy it for me. She flatly refused. I complained and demanded to know why. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Because I am the mother, that’s why.”

To this day, I still do not know what in the world that statement meant. What did her being a mother have to do with buying me that toy?

When she saw my confusion, she told me, “When you have children of your own, you will understand.” I have children of my own as well as grandchildren, and I still do not know what she meant. It must be a mother thing, which is all I know.

Then there was the time I wanted to do something with some friends and my mother would not let me. “But everyone else is going,” I protested in vain. That’s when my mother gave me her spin on the situation at hand.

“What if EVERYONE jumped off a cliff? Would you do it, too?”

The thing that confused me was, nobody was going to jump off any cliff. In fact, nobody in his or her right mind would ever think of such a stupid thing. Nobody, that is, but my mother. I figured she must have gotten her sadistic side from her mother. It must be something mothers pass on to their daughters, because as a man, I don’t get it.

Most memorable of her nuggets of wisdom to me is that piece of advice I still abide by. Before I would leave the house, my mother would say, “Make sure you have clean underwear on in case you get in a car accident and have to go to the hospital.”

I have never figured out what clean underwear has to do with going to the hospital, but that piece of advice made for the worst day of my high school years. Just as I drove into the school parking lot one day it dawned on me that I had forgotten to put on clean underwear. Panic raced through my teenage heart like never before. I was certain some disaster awaited me around the next corridor. Read More→

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May
09

Covert Code for your Kids

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I wrote a previous article about teaching your kids a code of ethics/values.  It was awesome and you can read it here.   

This article is about the type of code that is a lot more clandestine . . . that is to say “secret,” and can help your kids manage social interactions without their peers becoming aware.  It’s especially valuable in helping your kids stay safe as they start visiting other friends and are out of your watchful eye.

Here is a situation:

Mel has been playing over at your house all afternoon.  You, being the great dad that you are, have been helping your wife make dinner (or, maybe she’s helping you) while you keep an ‘eye’ on the kids playing.

At some point, Mel, asks your kid if he can stay overnight for a sleepover.

Your son/daughter still sleeps with a stuffed Snoopy, and doesn’t want to have to explain that to Mel because he/she will be the laughingstock of the school the next week.

So, your offspring comes to you:  Dad, can Mel spend the night?  We can put up the old camping cot in my room . . .

You have arranged a secret ‘code word’ with your kid . . . and “camping cot” is the term that means:  “please say no to a sleepover.”

So, you reply, “Oh I’m sorry, but we have to [_insert excuse_] and you can’t do a sleepover tonight.

Your son/daughter turns to Mel, “Oh rats! Sorry, maybe next time.”

Crisis averted!

You can see by the above example that the idea is simple:  Set up a secret code with your kids to give them an appropriate social ‘out’ if a situation is tense, uncomfortable, or unsafe.

I suggest having a family meeting and arranging some codes.  The sleepover one is good.  You might also want to construct one for friends that ask to stay for dinner, etc.  You might need to have the codes work both for kids wanting to stay at your house, and transversely when kids invite your child to social engagements. 

Codes can be non-verbal also.  Rubbing your head (I’m bald and this one works for me) could mean ‘come rescue me from this conversation.’  Rubbing your elbows could mean ‘say no to anything I ask.’  Rubbing your forearms could mean ‘steal second base.’

Quick note:  Kids need to learn how to be assertive and tell people ‘no’ and speak honestly.  However, there are always those situations where visiting kids don’t pick up on social cues, or beg, or situations that might involve protection from social ridicule or embarrassment.  It’s probably a good idea to discuss the difference with your kids in a family meeting. 

There are many uses for a family code and one of the best is to keep your child safe.  When kids are teens, they are sometimes invited to social engagements that turn illegal or illicit.  What if your kid rode with several other kids to a party?  Then, the party gets ‘out of hand’ and drinking/drugs are involved?

Peers:  Come on!  Stay, it will be fun.

Your Child:  No, I think we should go.

Peers:  We’ll I drove, and I’m going to stay for a little while.  I’m not going to drive you home and come back.

This is a great opportunity for your kid to call to check in (because you have set up that they check-in on a regular basis throughout the night – good job Dad!), or to have your son/daughter drop you a quick call/text that includes the code.

For phone calls, the code can even contain a prompt for you to start asking questions.

[Ring]

Child:  Hey dad, I’m checking in. (dramatically rolls eyes to friends to show that he hates having to call to check in) I’m excellent.

Dad:  [Recognizes that your child used the code word “excellent” instead of fine] Do I need to come and get you?

Child:  Yeah, we are just messing around playing ping-pong and stuff.

Dad:  Ok, I’ll come.  Do I need to create some emergency text and excuse to get you?

Child:  Sure, I’ll check in again later.

Dad:  [Hangs up.  Waits about 15 minutes, then texts “Hey, something came up and I have to come get you.  I’ll explain in the car.  Tell your buddies sorry.”

Child:  [Shows friends the text and feigns disappointment while cursing all parents for being ‘losers’]

I recently read online about using a similar system where the code is just a texted ‘X’ to mean “make up an excuse to come get me because things are ‘not good.’  The article even added a little suggestion that is worth including.  If you have to rescue your teen/pre-teen from a “not good” situation via the secret code, then don’t ask any questions about the situation on the ride home – that way your son/daughter won’t have to elaborate how they got into a rescue situation.  They can bring it up on their own time.  (Kids will always bring things up later if they can trust you.)

Codes don’t just have to be for extraction.  In our house, we have the accepted code “for real” to mean “tell the truth.”  If my wife or I think that there is a lie involved in something we are hearing, we say, “for real.”  That gives our kids, or each other, the prompt to tell the full, gritty truth because it will be worse if they don’t. 

Wife:  Did you kill that enormous spider in the bathroom?

Me:  Yeah. Guts went everywhere.

Wife:  For real.

Me:  No, It was freaky-big.  I was trying to figure out how to kill it, then the little sucker ran at me and I panicked.  Turns out it was just a feint and it ran under the cabinet to escape.

Wife:  Great.  Now we have to burn down th bathroom.

Here is something you might find interesting:  They used secret codes in the Bible, and early Christians also used a code to stay safe.  When the idea of ‘church’ had just started after the first Easter . . .  the FIRST Easter, the one where Jesus rose from the grave and ascended into heaven . . . people that followed Jesus and met together could be arrested or killed by the Roman government.  Christians would draw a fish on their door as a secret code.  The Greek word “ΙΧΘΥΣ” means “fish” and those letters are also the initial letters of the phrase, “Lesous (Jesus), Xristos (Christ), Theou (God), Yios (Son), Sotare (Savior).  If you saw the fish drawing, then you knew there was a secret meeting of Christ-followers that met at that location.

Well, either that or a bass angler lived there . . .  which probably led to some awkward situations. Read More→

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May
04

Black Eye Causes Quandary of the First Order

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bedroomQuandaries come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. As someone who is somewhat of a connoisseur in this area, I can readily attest to this. However, many do not realize quandaries come in two categories.

First are those quandaries that come about through no fault of the person in said quandary. For all practical purposes (and those in a quandary are usually not practical), it is impossible to adequately prepare for such an event in life.

Second are self-imposed quandaries. This, unfortunately, is the area where I flounder the most. To be perfectly honest, and I’m not suggesting that I’m perfect; I have created most of the havoc in my life.

Believe me, I would like to put the blame on someone other than myself in many of these situations but, alas, I am to blame. What I am about to relate belongs to the first category.

I found myself in a quandary recently through no fault of mine. And yet, I’m not able to prove it. This is the most discouraging thing. I know it was not my fault, but nobody will believe me.

Through the years, I have adopted a certain nocturnal procedure. When I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I keep my eyes closed. There are two very simple reasons for this:

One, I know exactly where I am going, so I don’t need to open my eyes.

Two, I do not want my body to know that I’m awake. I want to fool my body into believing I’m asleep. Read More→

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May
03

Play Date Haskell Style

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This turned into a really long series on Dads facilitating good manners and etiquette. Well, mostly it was a long series because I TOOK THREE MONTHS OFF.

But I’m back to finish off our series with one of the big issues our kids experience in testing their manners in social situations: The Play Date.

But first, a couple of short disclaimers. This first one you’ve seen before several articles ago but I thought I’d better add it again. I don’t want anyone to think I am the EXPERT on all things social, because I’m not. I’m an introvert that grew up lonely and isolated in the barren wastelands of Indiana. Ok, Indiana isn’t that bad . . . but I was pretty much a loner.

Disclaimer #1
I didn’t have personal experience with social interaction much as a kid. I grew up in an Amish area, and the nearest neighbor with a child my age was miles away (several cornfields at least). So, I had to learn much of the information on dealing with neighborhood kids, visiting friends, having ‘play-dates’ through my kids and trying to navigate the experience as a parent. The good thing, is that our family will routinely have ‘pow-wows’ to discuss how to handle social issues. Much of the ideas in this article and others in this series involving ‘other people’ were developed from meeting as a family and discussing how best to handle each experience.

Disclaimer #2
In my day we didn’t use the word “Play Date” it was more commonly referred to as “having someone over” or “Going over to ___’s house.” “Date” makes it sound like it was planned or involved ‘romance.’ I’m pretty sure ‘Play Date’ came as a result of parents that wanted to control their kid’s interaction into prearranged and encapsulated time periods. That’ would be nice. But we dads know that kids need some flexibility and will use this article, and my others, to make even the most unplanned get-togethers a successful experience. For the purpose of easily talking about the process of “going over” or “having over,” I’m going to use the term “play date” to indicate any such informal get-together.

Now, on to the article . . .

Those of you that grew up in any age that wasn’t considered “Millennial,” will probably remember Leave it to Beaver. This TV show originally ran in the 1950’s/60’s and was rebroadcast frequently when I was a kid in the 80’s. It’s had resurgences over the years and you can usually watch it on one of the stations that broadcasts ‘classic’ TV. If all else fails you can probably find it on YouTube.

The show was a depiction of the ideal upper-class family, with good morals and ideals living in a small suburban town somewhere in America. In this family named the Cleavers, there was a mom, dad, and two boys. The show centered around the adventures of the youngest son that had the nickname ‘Beaver.’ However, every story needs a villain, and one of the main foes to this idyllic family dynamic was the teenage neighborhood friend that would frequently visit: Eddie Haskell.

Eddie was deceitful, rude, and mean in his dealings with Beaver and the other kids on the show, but when he visited the Cleaver family, he transformed into an over-the-top, sugary sweet gentleman. All of this being a lead-in to today’s topic of teaching your kids how to show good manners while participating in a play date with their friends. Read More→

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Apr
27

Life Does Have Its Compensations – Occasionally

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sun through the cloudsAt times, it seems as if there is absolutely no justice in this world, and then something wonderful happens making up for almost everything. This past week I was fortunate enough to experience one of those rare jewels of life.

I must say not all weeks are like this. My weeks usually range from bad to worse to when will this ever stop?

A normal week for me is when I take two steps forward and get run over by a car. Or, just when I think I’m caught up, I discover I’ve been working on last week’s to-do list.

Not that I’m complaining because complaining never gets anywhere in life. At least, no place I want to go.

A man who complains aloud is a man who is not married. Wives have a way of turning their husband’s complaining into “Well, its your own fault.” It’s amazing how this one phrase can cover a multitude of sins.

So, I’m not complaining, I’m just musing on my life and celebrating a great event this week.

I got home on Tuesday and the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage was not there. I made myself a cup of coffee and got comfortable in my easy chair to rest from the labors of the day.

A good cup of Joe goes a long way to smooth the rough edges of any day. No sooner was I settled than the telephone rang. It was my wife.

“Are you home yet?” she said in a very meek and quiet voice. From the tone of her voice, I knew something wasn’t exactly right.

For a moment, I was tempted to answer her question in the negative. But then I do value my life. I knew the question was rhetorical and was not the reason for her calling. Something was up.

“Could you come over to the church right now?” she asked.

I had just settled in my easy chair and was a little reluctant to extricate myself from my comfort zone. I could, but I wondered why she wanted me to come over.

It wasn’t my birthday so I knew it was not a surprise party. It wasn’t our anniversary. And as far as I knew I was not in any trouble, which in itself does not rule out my being in trouble.

“Why,” I queried.

“I just need you to come over here right now, pleeease.”

When my wife says “pleeease,” I know there’s a very good reason for it. Namely, she is in trouble and needs my assistance. Granted, this is a rare occurrence.

“Is there something wrong? Are you all right?” I asked.

“Well,” she hesitated, “I think I locked my keys in the car.”

Life does not get any better than this. Read More→

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Apr
20

The High Cost Of Speaking Your Mind

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What is your marriage modelingOne thing I have learned throughout my life is sometimes speaking your mind only gets a piece of somebody else’s mind – and not the good piece.

The old saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. However, I’m surprised the old dog doesn’t know the old tricks. What good is a new trick if you have not really mastered and learned from the old tricks?

My experience in this area stood me in good stead for many years. An incident happened recently bringing to light how valuable this “old trick” really is. I may not be good in the new tricks, but I think I have mastered a few of the old tricks.

I really do not know when this incident started, but somewhere along the line I said something resembling a guttural “uh huh,” and forgot about it. What you say in these odd moments may determine your quality of life for many years to come. This points out the difference between husbands and wives.

The only way a husband can remember what he had for lunch is to look at his shirt. A wife’s memory, on the other hand, is so keen she can remember things that never happened.

In the midst of a mild domestic discussion, any wife worth her salt can bring her husband to his knees by simply stating, “But, Honey, you promised me.”

At that point, no husband has the equipment to counter that argument. He may well have promised, but there is no way to prove one way or the other.

About a month ago, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage got it into her mind to remodel the kitchen. During this time, I did a pretty good job of staying out of her way. When the rare opportunity came soliciting my personal advice on a matter associated with this remodeling project, I quickly and enthusiastically supported her decisions.

The man who carefully measures his words will add happy years to his life. I sure don’t know how long I’m going to live, but I want that time to be happy.

Following the kitchen remodeling my wife proceeded to remodel her bathroom. At this point I should have had some suspicions, but I didn’t. As a husband, I am not equipped with a “suspicion detector.” Experience should have taught me that if one project is done successfully it only inspires another project.

When a wife gets it in her mind to remodel part of the house that thought gets stuck and there is no stopping her. After each remodeling project is completed, my wife always asks my opinion of the job she has just done. Read More→

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Apr
13

All My Friends Are Getting Old

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Getting old seems to be a long and slow process. The longer it goes the older you get.

I didn’t really think I was getting old until a few weeks ago I was visiting with some friends from high school. You know those old high school friends that you had fun with when you were young enough to have fun? And oh boy, what fun we had.

A sharp difference exists between being young and being old. You have to get old to really understand the difference because when you are young you do not have enough time to think. That’s the problem with young people today. So many things to do and so much technology they do not have any time left over to think.

Those young whippersnappers.

There is a huge difference between being young and being old.

When you are young, you enjoy having lots of fun.

When you are old, you enjoy remembering all the fun you had when you were young.

The best thing about being old and remembering those good old days is that you can exaggerate about how good they really were. Even when you are exaggerating with friends that shared the same fun, they go along with you.

Whether it is the absence of memory or just wanting to enjoy fun to its fullest extent, I do not really know.

As my friends and I were talking about the good old days, I happened to notice wrinkles on their faces. I did not say anything at the time, but they sure looked old to me. Also, I did not quite remember how grey their hair was when we were young.

When I was young and having all that fun, I never gave a thought about how young I was or that I was getting older. My whole focus was on the fun element of life and I thought that would carry me through the rest of my life.

I remember my 20th birthday very well. I was celebrating getting out of those teenage years and becoming an adult. For some reason I thought you became an adult at 20. Little did I know that it takes many years to become an adult and some do not really make it. I simply assume that the older you get, the more fun you can have. Boy, was I ever surprised!

Celebrating the good old days is quite remarkable. Because in it all, I noticed my friends were getting older. One of my friends repeated a story three times and not to embarrass him, I laughed all three times.

After the meeting and driving home, I began to think about myself. Am I as old as they look? Read More→

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