Friday, September 24, 2010

A Long Obedience

Posted by Terry McNichols

I do hope you will check out my new blog at A Long Obedience!  I'm hoping to write about every 4 days (or as the spirit leads!)  I have a new post today.  Thanks.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


From Terry:
Leona and I have decided to take a break from our blog, Grace and Gravity. We may decide to revive it again some day and it will live in cyberspace for years to come, but for now we are not going to be doing any more writing in this space.  Leona will continue her writing in the form of newsletters, articles and ministry updates. It has been a lot of fun working together and I will miss this connection!  I am launching a new blog "A Long Obedience" and I would be honored if you choose to follow me at that site! 

Thanks for reading! 
Terry McNichols

From Leona:
Our pastor just finished a sermon series in Ecclesiastes where I was again reminded that everything under heaven has a season. For me, the time for blogging is on pause. I’ve enjoyed sharing this site with Terry and having a place to express some of my observations, feelings and experiences in this journey called aging. Thank you for walking it with us.

I want to thank Terry for her work in developing and maintaining the site. I can’t even imagine the hours she spent scouring Flickr for pictures, being sure the entries were well written and posted in a professional manner, and most time-consuming of all — reminding me to get my copy to her! Thanks, Terry – and good luck on your new blog.

I will continue to use the title “Grace and Gravity” as it is one of my favorite workshop presentations and article headings. The words will forever express the ambiguity and angst of the journey. Truly it is God’s grace that gives us the strength and courage to face the times described as “gravity.”

Leona Bergstrom

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gone Fishing....

 Due to a total lack of inspiration and the need to rest and regroup for yet another month, Leona and Terry are taking the entire month of August off.  We might just sneak in a blog post here and there, such as the Birthday Train post, but until September, here is our poem:
Can't think, brain numb
Inspiration won't come
Can't write, bad pen
Best wishes.

(Photo by 1) Lighthelper, 2)Nadya Peek, shared via Flickr; )

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Grandma's Love

Posted by Leona Bergstrom
I suppose that ever since Grandmas have lived long enough to actually be with grandchildren they have demonstrated their love in both simple and extraordinary ways. 

Grandmas spend precious hours playing, pretending, exploring and engaging their grandkids. We comfort them when they hurt and rock them when they are sick. We love it when they are in our homes and in our laps, and we breathe relieved sighs when they go home with their parents.

And then, once in awhile, we do something extraordinary! Such was the case this weekend when Terry (my sister-in-law, friend and co-blogger) brought out four-year-old Caleb’s birthday cake! Not just one cake, but eighteen little train cars each meticulously decorated in unique candies and pretzels. Willy Wonka would have been proud! The word delighted would understate Caleb’s reaction. It was a work of art!

Today as I thought about that train and all that went into it, I imagined every little Sweet Tart, Smartie, gummy bear and pretzel as a prayer that Terry, like so many other Grandmas, offer daily for the offspring of their own children. Blessings on you, Terry, as you celebrate the “juxtaposition of joy and chaos” – and then the “juxtaposition of peace and silence.”

(A note from Terry:  Although it is my day to post and time to end our blog "staycation," I wanted to put this fun post about the train birthday cake up for today.  I am still recovering from the "juxtaposition of joy and chaos" and trying to decide how to deal with the peace and silence.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Chin Hairs - reposted

Posted by Terry McNichols

(No picture needed.  Use your imagination!)
One thing that got me thinking about writing a blog was my new experience with chin hairs. Yes, you read that right. I wanted to blog about chin hairs. I experienced an “aha” moment the other day as I was absently stroking my chin and came across a hair at least an inch long and attached to my chin. I immediately shrank back in horror and yanked it out as quickly as I could. But then I began to realize that if I could produce a chin hair with such alarming speed, unnoticed, perhaps the chin hairs I see on other people have appeared just as suddenly.

I’ve often wondered how a person can look in the mirror and spot a huge chin hair and not immediately yank it out. I’m now awakening to the reality that these hairs are stealth bombers, arriving undetected, embarrassing us without any prior warning. I’ve determined that said chin hairs must grow along the face, hidden from view and then pop out full grown. This would account for a person going out in public, not knowing there was a chin hair attack.

In talking to my friends, (incidentally all seemed to have more knowledge about chin hairs than I did) I find that sometimes the problem has to do with eyesight. One friend told the story of visiting her elderly aunt and wondering if she should mention the growing forest of chin hairs. She waited and finally the aunt asked her to pull them for her, as she knew they were there but couldn’t see to get rid of them.

I was amazed to find 124,000 hits when I searched Google using the words “chin hairs.” It appears I am not alone in wanting to write about this facial invasion. One line that caught my eye was “chin hairs are notoriously hard to kill….”

We thought we were past embarrassing facial outbreaks, but alas, chin hairs have arrived.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Aunt Josie - reposted

Posted by Terry McNichols

I wasn't really even related to "Aunt Josie," but grew to love her dearly when she moved to Bellingham for her final years to be near her niece. She lived in a retirement community and adopted several of her niece's friends as her own support group. Aunt Josie would save up her bingo wins and trade them for meal tickets so that she could invite us to join her for lunch. We had a wonderful time, entertained by the stories she would tell. Here is one that I have saved for years, thinking I'd submit it somewhere, but never getting around to it. Here's to Aunt Josie's spunk!
Aunt Josie and her friend from the retirement home, both in their early 80's, were riding together in a car one day, running errands. While driving, the friend was pulled over by a police officer for speeding. Upon seeing that the driver was not wearing a seatbelt, the officer pointed out that infraction as well, and began writing the ticket.

"Young man!" Josie's friend emphatically began. "Do you have any idea how painful it is to wear a seatbelt over a mastectomy?" The officer turned a brilliant shade of red, apologized, and backed away, declining to write either ticket.

After the officer had left, Aunt Josie exclaimed, "Why I never knew you'd had a mastectomy!" "I didn't say I'd HAD one," her friend replied.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Still sagging - reposted

A chapter in one of my favorite books about women in midlife is entitled “Strut your stuff, even if it is sagging.” Of course the chapter is about accepting our bodies as they are… blah, blah blah.

Naturally I read it with half-hearted agreement.

Posted by Leona Bergstrom

But this week I found myself doomed to sagging. Yes, my insurance company rejected, denied, flat out said “no” to approving an upper eyelid blepharoplasty. Even though my eye doctor felt my sagging eyelids inhibits my vision, and the plastic surgeon submitted startling photos of my hooded eyes (without makeup!), the powers that be at Regence Blue Shield denied authorization.

I have to admit I’m disappointed. I had hoped that this simple surgery would lift my lids and reveal my sparkling blue eyes, rendering my true youthful inner being. My deepest desire was for people to quit telling me how tired I look!

So this morning I’m resigned to sagging. Guess I’ll go put on my make-up and make an effort to strut.

Pity the next person that tells me I look tired.

Friday, July 23, 2010

On rollerblading - reposted

Posted by Terry McNichols

(An update:  I did try to get rid of the rollerblades, listing them for sale and offering them to friends.  But I just couldn't bring myself to put them in the Goodwill bin.  I have just recently given them up for good, selling them at a very low price to Play It Again Sports....  But it took me two years!)

As I recover from my knee surgery (all my resolve wasn't enough to heal meniscus tears on both sides of my knee), I have come to a sad conclusion. It is time to sell my rollerblades. I bought these fancy skates, and all the trimmings, when Ken was working in Duluth, Minnesota, and I needed to find a way to fill my days. I walked along the downtown waterfront trail in Duluth watching all the rollerbladers and I knew that I could do it. I had been an accomplished roller skater in the days of my youth, spending an entire summer camped near a roller rink in Montana, skating every night. The roller skating rink was considered an "in" place to be in those days. I had no worries about my ability to skate. Stopping was another matter, and I practiced my stops before I got very brave on the skates. But I was right -- it all came back to me and I loved skating.

Shortly after our return to life and work as we now know it, I was skating around the local lake. But at just about that time, an acquaintance about my age was mowed down by young kids while skating around that same lake. She had major injuries and a long recovery. I put my skates up on the shelf for awhile, just to think about it. In a nutshell, I got cold feet!

I realize that many people over the age of 60 are still very active in the sports of their youth, but what happened for me is that I couldn't help but weigh the costs. Skating was fun, but I wasn't really all that stable on the skates, and the threat of major trauma scared me a lot. It wasn't the pain or the recovery that worried me, but the possibility that I would not fully recover and give up some of the things that I hope to do for many more years -- like walk! I have not totally given up all activities -- I still bike in spite of a fall a couple of years ago that was quite nasty. Some things still feel worth the risk.

But I think the skates have got to go. Four months of not being able to take my beloved exercise walks have been hard on me, and hard on my exercise partner, Ken! We both are feeling lethargic and out of shape. We still have a lot of travel we'd like to do, and these things must all be weighed. I've kept the skates tucked away in a corner of our attic, just waiting.... It's time. This is one of the necessary losses of my own aging journey.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Heaven is God's Mystery - reposted

Posted by Leona Bergstrom

At times of death and loss I often turn to Joni Erickson Tada’s devotional book entitled “Heaven, Your Real Home.” She has a most unique perspective on suffering and faith, loss and hope, earth and heaven.
I have a hard time reconciling the realities of death with heaven and what sometimes feels like fantasy thinking. So it helps to be reminded of the need for simple faith.
In her chapter, “Heaven is God’s Mystery,” she writes:
Heaven is your journey’s end, your life’s goal, your purpose for going on. You’re supposed to be eagerly awaiting it. But trying to grasp heaven without faith is like trying to admire the outside of a huge great cathedral with grand windows. Standing outside, you see an impressive but imposing structure. The building is striking, but has no real glory. But if you go inside the cathedral—which is a little like looking at heaven through eyes of faith—you are breathless as you stand washed in glorious colors from the light that streams through the window.
Faith takes us beyond the imposing and impressive language of golden cities and thrones, and reveals the better, brighter glory inside the walls of the New Jerusalem. Faith takes the descriptions of 24-karat asphalt and big pearls swinging on hinges and makes us certain that what we hope for is far, far better than here.
Joni Erickson Tada
Heaven: Your Real Home
Zondervan (1996)
Page 18

Monday, July 19, 2010

With Age Wisdom - reposted

Posted by Terry McNichols

With Age Wisdom

At twenty, stooping round about,
I thought the world a miserable place,
Truth a trick, faith in doubt,
Little beauty, less grace.

Now at sixty what I see,
Although the world is worse by far,
Stops my heart in ecstasy.
God, the wonders that there are!

Archibald MacLeish