Category Archives: AH-HA Moments

AH-HA Moments – October 2018

HOLY HILARITY!

Whenever I think of AH-HA Moments, I am reminded of the sign I saw many years ago, which read, “Until Further Notice, Celebrate Everything”! What a great motto for living a life in the Lord!

What is your favorite saying that describes your life in the Lord? Perhaps it’s a Bible verse or an old saying your Mom used to share. All I remember my Mom saying was, “Richie, don’t eat with your mouth full!”  Maybe it’s a catchy phrase a teacher reiterated. One of my model educators liked to quip, “Laughter is carbonated holiness!” Then there’s author Ann Lamont’s quote, “Laughter is another way of crossing ourselves!” And let’s not forget good old Woody Allen who murmured, “Laughter is great…except when milk comes out of your nose!!

So, Holy Hilarity people of God, what keeps you focused on the joy we have in the Lord? We know that we live on “this side” of the Resurrection because of what He has already done for us. We’ve read the last chapter of the book, and so we know how it all turns out, in Christ!

Personally, during these days of worries, woes, whimpers, and wars, within us and around us, I need to keep remembering that the Lord has already redeemed us with His death and Resurrection. That does not make things “right” with the world, but it does put life in perspective. In the midst of the slander, sleaziness, and short-sightedness of today’s world, we as God’s people can still share and show the AH-HA’s of a life lived in the Lord!

So take time today, and tomorrow, and the next, to see the gift of laughter and joy as so crucial, especially in times like this. We can’t “laugh away” our struggles, but laughter does help to keep life in perspective, as we celebrate His joy-filled presence among us!

Review the following list of why laughter is such “good medicine” for the soul, and add some of your thoughts as well:

  1. It helps us maintain our perspective on life.
  2. It gives us a sense of power.
  3. It helps us cope.
  4. It helps establish communication and rapport.
  5. It relieves tension.
  6. It increases learning and retention.
  7. It can be used as a diagnostic tool.
  8. It works because of the incongruities of life.
  9. No need to tell “jokes” – just think “funny”. Look for humor in everyday situations, starting with your own foibles!
  10. Laughter is a Gift…”The Lord has done great things for us…and we are filled with joy! (Psalm 126:3)

As a doctor friend says to his patients, “Open your mouth wide and say, “AH-HA”!

Rich Bimler

 

 

 

AH-HA Moments – September 2018

“He is, and He is here – the signs are all around us!”

This is a favorite quote of mine from Sister Corita Kent. She captures the presence and proclamation power of our Lord in our daily lives. We only need to learn to see and sense the Lord’s presence in and around us, big and small, known and unknown. Through the Spirit, we need to encourAGE others to do the same. How can we more intentionally listen for the chirp of the morning sparrow, the chuckle of a child, the glance of the grandmother, and the sounds of our world around us? If you are like I am, we too often miss the beauty and grace of the presence of our God in all that we do, because we are so focused and intent on dealing with ourselves and our own issues.

This Gospel mind-set can also be called “God Sightings!” How can we train our minds and lifestyles to look more for the love and joy and forgiveness in the world, rather than be captured by the daily headlines of today? Or, to say it a different way, how can we become aware that “God Sightings” do come to us even from the worries and wars and woes in ourselves and throughout the world? Perhaps these “God Sightings” are beckoning us to become more involved in helping others see His Presence in our lives and witness!

A few examples from my own experiences these past days:

  1. Lutheran Summer Music Program was held again at Valparaiso University this summer. Around 100 high schoolers from all over the country gathered for a month of intensive study, practice, relationships, learning, and performances of their musical gifts. Talk about God Sightings! What a powerful witness to the talents of young people as well as the leadership of adults to encourage and involve these youngsters in worship, music, and relationships in intentional ways. For more information, contact Mr. Tom Bandar, Executive Director, Lutheran Music Program, TBandar@lutheransummermusic.org . Consider encouraging young people from your family and congregation to register for the July, 2019 event!

 2  Author Parker Palmer has just come out with an excellent new book that surely will be a “God Sightings” resource for many! Titled, “On the Brink of Everything – Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old,” (Berrett- Koehler, 2018), Dr.Palmer affirms the gift of aging in so many insightful ways. It is so affirming to hear this 80 year old begin by stating, “I like being old!” From that simple, yet profound statement, I knew I was going to like this book! And what about this one: “Aging and Dying – one is a privilege and the other is not up for 

negotiation.” ! He speaks eloquently about the fact that our culture celebrates youth, disparages old age, and discourages us to face our own mortality. He urges us to see the “God Sightings” around us as we reframe aging as a passage of discovery and engagement and not decline and inaction.  Check it out and watch for the “God Sightings” imbedded throughout these pages!

3.One final item: September 9 is “officially” Grandparents Day! Celebrate it well, whether or not you are a grandparent! What better gift can we older adults give to our own grandkids, and those other kids around us, than to let them help us “celebrate” our lives together? Don’t worry about whether your grandkids remember this “big” day, make it a “God Sightings’ day by thanking them for being …..kids! And then follow up with them through additional activities, notes, kind words, encourAGEments, and prayers. Happy Grand Parents Day, as we continue to become “God Sightings” for others, the younger and the older.

Have a great “AH-HA Moments” Month in the Lord….and watch for those God Sightings popping up all around us!

Rich Bimler

AH-HA Moments – August 2018

CHANGING AGING – or, WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY – AND HE IS US!

“Changing Aging” is what AH-HA people do! AH-HA people are able to take the responsibility to make the world a better place by recognizing that “we” are not only the problem but “we” are also the solution to many things. Ageism continues to run rampant throughout our church and society. God’s people, you and me, young and old, can “change the climate” by acknowledging how we, usually unknowingly, continue to perpetuate the problem by what we say, think, and by how we behave. I listen to my own biases surfacing when I say to my 78 year old friend, “Hi there, young fella!” He’s not young – he’s 78 years old! Or when I hear someone blurt out, “Oh to be young again!”, and I do not speak up to point out this obvious flaw in not seeing aging as a gift. And on and on and on!

Check out these “mini-AH-HA” thoughts as you evaluate your own concepts and behaviors around the aging process:

  1. Never forget your own insignificance!
  2. Seek joy in the saddest places.
  3. Respect strength, not power.
  4. Seek joy in relationships, not power; and find God’s grace in the loss of power.
  5. Forgive yourself.
  6. Befriend death.
  7. Allow change. Accept loss.
  8. Befriend the younger – and encourAGE!
  9. Cry and laugh whenever you need to.
  10. Stay connected to special people in your life. Don’t “go it” alone!
  11. Never make fun of someone older or younger than yourself. Only laugh at those who are your own age!
  12. Never get used to injustices.
  13. Aging allows us to be more of a BE-er and less of a DO-er – and that’s a blessing!
  14. Enjoy the diminishment in our lives that frees us up to listen, to celebrate, and to forgive.
  15. Slow down – it’s okay!

Seems that what we learn from the aging process is pretty much what Jesus was teaching!

Have an AH-HA day, in the Lord, whatever your age! (and thanks to Pastor Steve from Unfolding Light for his inspiration and insight.)

AH-HA Moments – July 2018

                 MEDITATE ON THIS!                                                                  

Breaking News: Did you know that meditation is linked to a positive effect on older adults’ lives? Well, yea!

A recent article in U.S. News and World Report praises the many benefits of meditation for all ages, but especially for those over 60.  Prayers, solitude, reflections, and devotional times have strong effects on attention, memory functions, and general cognition. Greater well-being and increased peace and gratitude toward life are also products of regular times of prayer, devotion, and “a time to remember who we are”!

It increases gratitude for what we have and allows us to become more grounded as we struggle through difficult situations. It improves our sense of resiliency, decreases our stress, and has a calming effect on all people, especially the older adults.

Besides all of this good news, we can make this happen without any more pills! We can do it anywhere.  It works quite rapidly in our system, enhances our mood, and it even increases our energy!

Studies also show, if the above isn’t enough evidence (!), that regular meditation brings greater well-being, increases peace, and makes us more aware of the abundance of blessings in our lives!

Perhaps you already knew about this gift that the Lord gives to us. Perhaps you are already very regular in your weekly worship, daily prayer times, and regular “timeouts” to just sit and thank the Lord for ALL of His gifts. Others, like me, may have sensed the need for these quiet times and reflective moments but still have not made them daily “Holy Habits”. Well, what are we waiting for!

These daily meditation times can become tremendous “AH-HA” moments for all of us! They can refresh and renew us and help us to focus on who and Whose we are. As we age, these patterns of reflecting can change our mindset from DOING into a focus on BEING God’s people, just because we are His!   As Frank Cunningham states in his excellent book, “Vesper Time”, “since we (older adults) are not so noticeable anymore, why not engage in the spiritual quest of abandoning our egos!” In other words, no need to do great things to be noticed and praised! Simply BE who we are as God’s people as we meditate, mediate and model to the younger that we are human Beings first ,instead of human Doers.  To meditate is to daily recall, remember, and rejoice in the Resurrection that is ours, always!

May we make our daily meditations, reflections, and devotions AH-HA Moments, not only to make us “feel” better, but to also continue to point us to THE Mediator, Christ the Lord!

As a final AH-HA Moment, isn’t it affirming to realize that MEditate begins with ME? There must be a MEssage there somewhere!

Rich Bimler

AH-HA Moments – June 2018

The Gerontology Center on the campus of Concordia University-Chicago IS an AH-HA Moment!

This became quite evident last month as 14 folks from around the country came together for a 2 day consultation around the concept of “developing a certification track to train faith-based people to serve as ‘Aging Specialists’ in their congregations and/or communities”. It was an AH-HA Moment because of the exciting possibilities discussed, the wealth of wisdom and experiences shared, and the excitement that grew as these faith-filled folks shared and celebrated the gift of aging and the possibilities for the Church to become much more intentional about serving and equipping  this often forgotten and misunderstood segment of God’s saints and servants!

Thanks to Jim Miller, Lydia Manning, and John Holton for making it happen. Thanks to those who financially supported it. Thanks to the participants who shared their time and energies to dream and to ask “What if?” and “Why not?”

The AH-HA’s continued to flow easily with excitement and spiritual energy to develop a “one-of-a-kind” training ministry that would be tremendously significant in not only training and equipping older adults but also would be positioned to aggressively and faithfully change the mind-set of much of our church and society from viewing aging as a burden to bear instead of a blessing to celebrate!

Sure, there is so much more to do before this is a reality, but this Think Tank will hopefully stir up and launch other discussions and dreams and plans to emerge within both church and society. There are currently numerous courses, seminars, classes, and degrees that one can pursue in the area of gerontology services and support for and with older adults, but we have not yet found any that are intentionally faith-based and focused for congregational and other faith-based ministries.

Dream with your AH-HA glasses on for a moment and picture what could happen in your congregation if there is an “Aging Specialist” (professional church worker or member lay person) on the staff, who has been certified and called to be responsible for older adult ministries in order to serve and to equip people of all ages to know what it means to celebrate God’s gift of aging, – in the home, congregation, and community. Consider how this would dramatically emphasize the importance and necessity of people of all ages seeing more clearly that life is about putting people of all ages within ministry range of each other! Dream about the thrilling possibilities of worship, education, and human care ministries being experienced together by the 70 year olds and the 17 year olds! Watch and marvel how moms, grandparents and preschoolers would be rubbing ministry shoulders with each other as they witness and celebrate and serve together! 

The reality is  that it is not that these generational experiences are not happening currently in congregations; it is that we have not equipped nor been intentional enough to make them more meaningful, more frequent,  and more of a priority as God’s people!

This “movement” will alter the mindset of how you and I look at and perceive the aging process. Ageism continues to run rampant in our church and society. Ageism is really “prejudice against our future selves!” We, the Church, need a wake-up call, a ‘climate change” on how we live , serve, and perceive older adults.  Just today, I saw a Facebook posting from a “friend” that quipped, “The best part of getting older is ….nothing!” Now that’s the kind of mindset that needs to be changed and that needs to be challenged as we continue to celebrate God’s GIFT of aging!

I’d welcome your comments, responses, suggestions, and ideas. Perhaps we could do other think tanks throughout the country to experience  similar discussions that this group of 14 experienced last month at the Gerontology Center at Concordia University-Chicago!

Thanks for “listening” and for continuing to be the AH-HA people we all are, because of the Lord of ALL ages!

 

Rich Bimler

 

 

 

AH-HA Moments – May 2018

Yes, AH-HA Moments are all around us. All we have to do is be intentional about seeing and seeking them. It is like teaching your mind to look for “God Sightings” – “He is and He is here, the signs are all around us”, to quote Sister Corita Kent.

The following “Older Adult Biblical Exercises” was written by our friend, Pastor Jerry Nichols, Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Thanks, Jerry, for sharing these AH-HA moments that we can use individually, in our families, and wherever God’s people gather. I have personally shared them with older adults and at intergenerational events – and they are very well received.

OLDER ADULT BIBLICAL EXERCISES – 2018

Enjoy them – celebrate your faith with them – share them with others ….and get some exercise along the way!

May you have an AH-HA month, in the Lord!

Rich Bimler

AH-HA Moments – April 2018

WHO CAN YOU ENCOURAGE TODAY?

I always liked the word, ENCOURAGE because it means to “give support, confidence, or hope” to someone. It means to speak and act “from the heart”. It means to have and to show “enthusiasm” to and with others. And notice the last three letters of the word – encourAGE! There must be a lesson there someplace!  The Lord has placed people of all ages around us so that we can encourAGE and be encourAGED by people younger and older than we are!

Remember the line from the golden oldie song, “Home, Home on the Range”, which goes, “where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word….”? I remember a cartoon that shows a deer and an antelope talking and one says to the other, “I think I just heard a discouraging word!”

One of the major issues in today’s culture is that there are way too many discouraging words flying around ….in homes, in churches, in organizations, in politics, through twitter, Facebook, and ….it goes on and on and on. Top leaders in government and society continue to “Demean the Decent”. How much more clearly does the Lord need to encourage us than proclaiming in Micah 6:8 – “….What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  When are we going to finally catch on that even within the Church, we act more like DUH-ciples than Disciples?

But rejoice, people of God! There is hope! There are people of God, young and old, continuing to be encourAGERS, in the Lord! There is a growing number of young people listening and asking older people for their support, encouragement, and advice. There is a growing number of older adults serving as mentors and friends of teenagers. The numbers are growing of older people and younger people actually learning to like and appreciate one another! There is a growing number of congregations bringing children, youth, and adults all back together through one worship experience for all ages , rather than segregating them through Children’s’ Church, Senior Saints Sessions, and Youth-Only worship opportunities.

One exciting specific example of these kinds of encourAGEing  experiences  was held last month at Concordia University-Chicago, as the new Kreft Student Success Center was dedicated. This was followed by an upbeat extravaganza dinner and program to highlight the life and ministries of Karl and Shirley Kreft, super encourAGERS , indeed! Videos of the many ministries where the Krefts have touched the lives of students, parents, staff, and communities, were shown and celebrated. Presidents and other leaders were present from most of the institutions throughout the world where the Krefts have been encourAGERS through word and deed. The crowd was an intergenerational crowd as well, with students, staff, family, and friends joining together to celebrate their life together, in the Lord!

My point here is not that we need to have big extravaganzas in order to encourAGE and affirm people, although that sure is a fun way to do so! How about watching and planning and being involved in other ways of supporting, enabling, and encourAGING people, simply by:

  1. Sending notes and saying thanks to former educators and pastors who have made a positive impact in your life?
  2. Remembering to invite a “retired/repositioned” friend for coffee and to thank him or her for what they have meant to you.
  3. How about us older people being more intentional about being the kind of person to younger people that we needed to have around us when we were “growing up”?
  4. How about actually talking more with those who are younger than us and older than us. Why not visit someone older than us, just to listen to stories of the past. I think we’d be surprised at how much we would learn together.
  5. What if we older people would “ask for help” more, from those younger than us? An amazing thing happened in Chicago this winter when some older adults were not able to handle the snow shoveling necessary to clear their driveways – and younger people , when they sensed this “call for help”, came to the rescue by developing a “Snow Shoveling “ brigade to respond accordingly!

Blessings as, together, we continue to encourage one another in love. Perhaps it is time for us to be more like the deer and the antelope! Watch and listen for those  AH-HA Moments around you…..in the Lord!

Rich Bimler

AH-HA Moments – March 2018

As we get ready for the biggest AH-HA Moment, EASTER, let us remind each other that the Lord’s AH-HA Moments do not only come to us through events, activities, or thoughts but also through the conversations, ideas, and dialogues that we are blessed to have with those around us. Here is a sampling of some “AH-HA Moments” that have come to me recently through the words and wisdom of others:

  1. “The new frontier is Longevity! Longevity is getting longer!”
  1. “Sitting is the new smoking! Get up and move that body!”
  1. “The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided leaders.”
  1. “If you’re not angry at something you are either a stone or too sick to be angry. Be angry, but don’t be bitter. Bitter is like a cancer. It eats you up. So use your anger – write it- paint it – dance it – vote it. Never stop talking about it.”
  1. “I look at my face in the mirror, and I like being old. It also proves that the Lord really does have a sense of humor!”
  1. “Always acknowledge your faults. This will throw those in authority off their guard and it will also give you an opportunity to commit more.”
  1. “Take more time LISTENING to people rather than TALKING to people. It is amazing how much more we will learn. It is hard to hear anything new just listening to ourselves! The quieter we become, the more we can hear.”
  1. “As we age, it is good to focus on Memory, Relationships, Gratitude, Acceptance, and Diminishment.”
  1. “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
  1. “When you love what you have, you have everything you need.”

And now it’s your turn to write down those AH-HA Messages that you hear from people around you. Make a list. Add to it. Hang it on the Frig. Tell others about your AH-HA Moments, each day!

See you at the Cross and the Empty Tomb …the best AH-HA Moment of them all!

Rich Bimler

AH-HA Moments – February 2018

                                      AH-HA MOMENTS – WITH THE YOUNGSTERS!

We older adults need to spend more time with the children and youth around us! They need us and we need them. Talk about AH-HA Moments!

And while we are at it ourselves, how can we enable other peers to do the same thing, and learn from them as well? I think of Carol and Dave Ebeling, Indiana folks, who have been doing their “Grandparent Camp” for hundreds of years (or so it might seem!) with their grandkids. I  remember our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Hillside, Illinois, who would take my brother and me to ball games and other events. I think of Ken Black, trainer-of-mentors, who regularly goes to high school sports events just to “be there” and watch the youth from his church play ball.  I remember Ralph Carrigan, Houston, Tx., who would treat me to lunch once a month, just to ask me how I was doing and listen to my ideas and thoughts. And he even treated!

Current studies show that the more young children spend time with older adults, the more positive they become about the elderly. The more they see and sense older adults as “real” people, the less scared they become of growing older themselves. You and I can help prevent ageism just by sharing our own hours and days with …..younger people! 

Intergenerational friendships need to become a priority in our families, churches, and communities. This is easier said than done, however. I meet very few people who are “against” an intergenerational emphases, but it seems that the term has become so generic and “programmed”, that it has lost its oomph. How can we help to develop intergenerational friendships on more of a one-on-one basis?

There continues to be constant discussions about how the Church can appeal more to the millennials around us. Good question. Tom Couser does a great job of keeping us focused on this generation through his regular newsletter. Keep it up, Tom!  This may sound too simplistic, but perhaps one small way of connecting better with this age group and to see them at worship and at work, is to simply show up where they are, instead of insisting that they come to us.

Let’s start a movement named something like, “Help your Kids Make older Friends!” It not only will be helpful to the youngsters around us, but it sure will be of help to us older adults as well! It’s a win-win for all generations!

How can you and I best use the gifts that the Lord has given us? We do have so much to give in terms of experiences, ideas, mistakes made, and sins forgiven. Perhaps one major way is to share our time and days by making it a priority to connect with younger people, at church, at home, at a sports event, and even at a place called St. Arbucks! Elizabeth Lindsey once said, “I believe when an elder dies, a library is burned. Vast sums of wisdom and knowledge are lost. Throughout the world, libraries are ablaze with scant attention.” Let’s share our faith experiences with others!

A closing story: Grandma recently had knee replacement surgery which meant as she was recuperating, she needed a cane to help guide her as she walked. She and her granddaughter  went shopping for a cane. Grams picked out a sturdy black cane. After all, a black cane is easier to “hide” and will not be noticed as much. Sarah thought otherwise. “Let’s buy that red and white striped one over there, Grams. Let people know that you are alive and well and ready to play”!

 This is what intergenerational relationships are all about, as we celebrate and serve with the younger and the older. And, by the way, they named the cane, “Candy”!

May your intergenerational AH-HA Moments continue, and grow!

Rich Bimler

AH-HA Moments – January 2018

Past, Present, and Future

Spend some time during these early days of 2018 reminiscing on the AH-HA Moments you have had in 2017 …and get ready for many more AH-HA Moments to come!

Here are some of my AH-HA reflections as I continue to celebrate God’s gift of aging:

  1. The growing number of books being published regarding the whole area of aging. One new one to mention is “”This is getting old: Zen thoughts on Aging with Humor and Dignity”, by Susan Moon. A quote to tease you: “A senior moment is a stop sign on the road of life….Stay calm, let the engine idle, and enjoy the scenery. I say, Senior moment, wonderful moment, to remind the people around me of the wisdom that is to be found in these little coffee breaks of the brain.”
  2. The on-going and creative older adult ministries being developed by ALOA, the Center for Gerontology – Concordia University-Chicago, the Next Avenue website from PBS stations that inspire the 50+ generation to live meaningful, vibrant, lives” (nextavenue.org )
  3. People like Pastor Walt Schoedel who has been churning out the newsletter, “Engaging the Aging” for lo these many years. Thanks, Walt, we will miss your wit, wisdom, and winsomeness, as this resource will no longer be produced. Walt, you are a real Winner !
  4. The United Methodist National Church office, through Pastor Will Randolph, who continues to develop excellent models and resources for older adult ministries.
  5. The many congregations who are becoming marvelous models of how “to do” older adult ministries, not only through programs and resources but also by changing the mindset and climate so that the people of God see the aging process as a blessing to celebrate rather than a burden to bear!

To name only a few: Trinity Lutheran Church, Mission, Kansas – Tom Perry, older adult staff person; Trinity Lutheran Church, Bloomington, Il – Mary Bloebaum, Family Life Ministry; and Jerry Reinertson, Faith Community Lutheran Church, Las Vegas, NV.  More and more Christian congregations are finally taking seriously the possibilities, gifts, and presence of older adults who are ready and will to serve and celebrate their faith!

  1. Older Adult Ministries are not only growing and thriving in the U.S. but also throughout the world. For example , in Bethlehem, Palestine, the Ajyal (older adults) program is flourishing as Christmas Lutheran Church, Bethlehem, provides opportunities for service, volunteering, community development, and other activities for the older adult population. A laundry has been started to provide wages for people while at the same time giving older adults meaningful ways to serve others.
  2. The increasing number of “mentoring” groups that are popping up all over the country, many of them housed in the local “St. Arbucks”. What a joy to experience and see the olders gathering together with the youngers for meaningful conversations and to develop stronger relationships.
  3. More and more people are taking the celebrating of God’s gift of aging more seriously. Look around you and become involved yourself at the congregation, family, and community levels. And if those kinds of conversations aren’t happening around you, this just might be the perfect time for you to start the dialogues flowing!
  4. There is a growing sense that older adult ministry is at its best when people of all ages are able to grow, experience, learn, and share together. And let me then add that he worship service is the best place for this to happen….where God’s people of all ages gather around Word and Sacrament and celebrate together god’s gift of aging for all people! What a novel  New Testament idea!
  5. And finally, I thank the Lord as He continues to gather around me people of all ages who love, forgive, listen, encourage, nudge, console, support, and care for this 77 1/3 year old person, me, as I celebrate each day as a gift to celebrate and a gift to serve with others!

May this day, and this year, continue to be AH-HA days for all of us, in the Lord of the younger and the Lord of the older as well!

Rich Bimler