Category Archives: AH-HA Moments

AH-HA Moments – December 2018

TRANSITIONING TEAMS IN CONGREGATIONS – THE TIME HAS COME!

Psalm 71 says it so well, “….Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone……..Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”

It is time to take seriously the gift of aging in our homes, churches, and communities.  It is time to be specific and intentional about how we live out our Baptismal Promise with the younger and the older around us.

We choose sponsors for the newly baptized. We have mentors for our confirmation classes. We pledge at various “stages” on our faith journey  to pray for, support, encourage , and “share the faith” with others….but where are we as older adults go through their transition times of losing a partner, moving to a new facility, no longer able to drive, and dealing with other life changes?

How can our congregations better see, not only the needs of older people, but also their gifts and experiences which they are so willing to share and celebrate, if only asked to do so?

Our culture, as well as our congregations, continue to see aging, not as a blessing to celebrate but rather as a burden to endure! Our congregations continue to focus on “growing the church” with children and families and millennials, which is all well and good, but not at the expense of the fastest growing population – people 65 and older. Just imagine: 10,000 people are turning 65 TODAY…talk about a mission field! These people are NOT burdens to bear but rather blessings to continue to serve and to celebrate the faith, with people of all ages!

What would happen if congregations would finally take seriously the gift of aging? What would happen if “aging specialists” were trained to serve and empower older adults in their baptism walk through their congregations? What would happen if “transition teams”, comprised of the younger and the older, would be formed to be intentional about meeting the needs and releasing the gifts of their older adult members?  What would happen if our worship services would continue to involve “sponsors” and “encourAGERS”, not only at baptism and confirmation, but also for people as they reached the age of 65…and beyond? What a great way to celebrate age as a gift from the Lord, begun at Baptism, and to continue to intentionally proclaim the promise of the Risen Lord through all of life!

What would this “transition team” do? For starters, it would increase the awareness of both the younger and the older that aging is a gift and that people of all ages have needs as well as gifts to share. This team would focus on special opportunities to speak and live words of comfort and hope as older adults deal with illness, separation, meaninglessness, and loneliness, to name a few areas of need. This team would engage the older in meaningful ministries to others as well, through community events, hospital visits, volunteer opportunities, and time to put the younger and the older in “ministry range” of each other! How fun it would be if parish teams would produce videos for children to listen to the “old folks” tell stories of their pasts? Can you imagine all of the wonderful stories in the minds of older adults, who are willing to “toot and tell”, about their past …but no one is there to listen to them? These teams would “be there” as a voice, an ear, a hand, a smile, to enable people of all ages to age gracefully, especially as they deal with life’s changes.

These “transition teams” would bring added energy and gifts to people of all ages! It would model for the younger that aging is not something to deny and be fearful of. It would model for the older that they are not being forgotten in their aging years. (Read Psalm 71 again!) It would break down the current stereotypes we have of what it means to grow older, and the Church of Christ would prosper as generation upon generation would “declare the power of the Lord” to one another! What great AH-HA Moments these would be!

Sign me up! As a matter of fact, we all are already signed up for this transitioning task ……because of our Baptism!

Dr. Rich Bimler (with great gratitude to my mentor, Dr. Dick Engebrecht)

Ambassador of Health, Hope, and Aging (AH-HA!)

December, 2018

AH-HA Moments – November 2018

Here is the 30 day November calendar of day-by-day Notions to Noodle and Nibble on New ways to celebrate the Now days of November! Enjoy!

  1. Celebrate your Sainthood on All Saints’ Day!
  2. Do something NICE for a stranger – just because!
  3. Start the day with a St. Arbucks to remember that “Coffee is a Hug in a Mug!”
  4. Daylight Saving Time Ends – Will you be late or early for worship?
  5. Make this a Magnificent Monday, in the Lord!
  6. Election Day – Vote as if your vote counts …it does!
  7. Look for the Wows on this Wednesday – they are all around us!
  8. This Thursday is the time to do something for yourself ….because you deserve it!
  9. It is Martin Chemnitz’ Birthday today. If you don’t know him, Google him!
  10. Saturdays are good times to clean the house …or not! It’s up to you!
  11. Today is the 25th Sunday after Pentecost. Let the Spirit guide and inspire you!
  12. Make this Monday a Yummy Day! Give treats out to your special friends!
  13. Know anyone who has a birthday today? Call or e-mail them to say HI.
  14. This is Whimsical Wednesday, just because! Share a funny joke or story with a friend.
  15. How can you make this Thursday a Thrilling one for someone else?
  16. Pray for 16 people today, and let them know you did!
  17. Mark this as “Do anything you want to do” day …and go ahead and DO it, just because!
  18. Talk to 5 new people at worship this morning, and rejoice with them through Word and song!
  19. Make final plans for your Thanksgiving celebration this week and be sure to include the hungry, the hurting, and the harried.
  20. Think of some special treats to give some friends to make it a Terrific Tuesday for both them and you!
  21. Clean the house …Your company is on their way! Or, if not, a little dusting won’t hurt anything!
  22. BLESSED THANKSGIVING …..and THANKS-LIVING!
  23. Reflect on yesterday’s Thanksgiving events. What went well? What did not? See every day as a Thanks-giving day, in spite of the spilled gravy and spots on the rug!
  24. Try not to start your Christmas shopping and plans yet. Instead, indulge in prayers of Thanksgiving and keep the season focused on the Lord!
  25. This is the last Sunday of the Church Year! Rejoice and give thanks with some hearty AH-HA’s!
  26. Hooray for the last Monday of the month. What can you do to make it a special day?
  27. It’s national AH-HA Day, so tell one, or more, jokes to your friends. (Well, honestly, it really isn’t AH-HA Day, but let’s make it one anyway!)
  28. Work hard at making this Wednesday a Wow Day instead of a Worry Day. Yes, you can do it!
  29. Celebrate this Thursday as National Thirst Day, by drinking plenty of water…and remembering your Baptism as well!
  30. On this final day of November, we remember and give thanks to the Apostle, St. Andrew, for his faithful sacrifices and faith in the Lord. May we also continue to bring AH-HA Moments in the Lord to those around us.  Look out, December, here we come!

Blessed November as we continue to Noodle and Nibble on ways to Give Thanks and Live Thanks….. AH-HA-ing all the way Home!

Rich Bimler

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