Thursday, February 19, 2015

On turning 60 - My life by the decades

Today is my 60th birthday and I am thinking about the good things of those years.  I am grateful to God for each thing along the way.
So here is a quick review.  Most of these lines have their own story.  Feel free to ask about them.

(I hope to return to insert some photos and I suppose there will be things I want to add)

1st decade (to age 10).

Childhood as fourth of seven children in small town of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.

Family and neighborhood fun, picnics, backyard sleep outs, playtimes with neighbor kids.

Visits with grandparents.  Summertime family reunions with lots of old people and kids our ages who we never saw any other time.

Summer swimming at community pool, fishing at the pond or in Pine Creek (crick).  Winter sledding, ice skating.

Family church habit. Sunday school, children's church, summer Bible School (VBS).

Early school experience.  One spanking in kindergarten for goofing around during naptime.  Two spankings in 2nd grade for neglecting homework.

 I develop into a left hander for writing and eating utensils.  I am right side dominant for sports and hand tools.

2nd - Into and through my teens

First job as paper boy delivering newspapers on bike or foot.  Later jobs as diswasher, busboy, farm field worker (de-tassling corn), bakery laborer.

I played Little league baseball, YMCA youth basketball (got my first trophy ever as last person on the championship team), youth wrestling program (2nd place in my first tournament).

More neighborhood and community fun times.  Bike rides to the "dead end" and "the hollow".

Once I stole a candy bar from the shoe shop on the way home from school.  Mom knew about it before I made it the 2 or 3 blocks home from there.  My life of crime was pretty much shut down right there.

Our parents got divorced, it felt to me like everyone at school knew and whispered about it.  But we younger kids then spent more quality time with Dad on weekends than before this.

I come to understand and accept the Gospel.  Church membership and being 'good' cannot give eternal life. My depending on Jesus' death in my place gives me His righteousness and a place in God's family.

Transition from elementary school to junior high to senior high.  Elected class officer in high school.

Join junior high wrestling and football teams.  Continue into high school sports, eventually college wrestling.

Learn to drive, buy my first car for $95, an old blue Plymouth with manual shift on the steering column.

I was too shy to ask a girl out.  But I wanted to.  Met a girl on a blind date for her prom. Soon Rose and I were "going steady" but I didn't know it until she told me.

Hurricane Agnes and the flood of 1972 hit our town.  We had 5 feet of water in the first floor of our house.

Graduated high school (top ten class rank, award for athletic and academic excellence), married that blind-date girl, went off to college where Rose would have a secretarial job.

Being married and my Messiah College experience was a time of great growth for me in spiritual things.  And just growing up.  The switch from high school to college academics was a big adjustment.
It was about this time in my life that I realized I had grown up in a poor family.

I joined the college wrestling team even though I had finished high school with no intentions to wrestle again.


3rd - my twenties

The birth of our son Keith when I was 20 (college sophomore) was a remarkable thing.  Such an amazing gift from God to be a parent.  The first time holding him was a humbling and touching experience.

Rose was off work for a while and we were kept going financially through the generosity of the church and college community.

Some wrestling success with 3 National Christian College championships.  But I choked in the first match at NAIA nationals in Spokane and was out of the tournament just like that.  I cried in the shower that day.

Graduated college with BA in Behavioral Science in 1977, got my first professional job at Stone Mountain Village, a home for delinquent/dependent teen boys. 

We moved our trailer home to Belleville PA.

We took our first real vacation, driving to Kentucky, Georgia, and Virginia and staying with family and friends.

I became a hunter, mostly focused on whitetail deer, both firearm and archery.

Accepted my first volunteer position in the church working with teens.  I have continued working with teens through my fifties.

The birth of our son Matt was another moving experience.  I remember holding this child just after his birth, praying for myself as his Dad and dedicating him to the Lord.

There were some job transitions after the boys’ home closed, odd jobs and factory work, then technical school for computer skills.

Was on a summer wrestling team with Athletes in Action that travelled to Panama and Peru.  Panama Canal and Machu Picchu were sight-seeing highlights.

We moved to Harrisburg New Year’s Eve 1982 for a live-in job in another group home, this one with former state mental hospital patients.

Traveled to Gabon in western Africa in 1983 as part of a short term mission team that helped build a house for missionaries.

Moved to Chambersburg in 1984 to work for Nibble with Gibbles in a new career field – computer operations and programming


4th – my thirties

We bought our first house and learned lots about home repair/renovation since this was definitely a fixer-upper.

Did outdoors things with Keith and Matt - fishing, hunting, camping.

Taught wrestling at the YMCA.

Made the first of several fishing trips with Dad to Canada - this one with Keith and Matt, later ones with brothers and brother-in-law.

Eventually was promoted to Manager of Data Processing at Gibbles.

Went to South Africa in 1991 as part of a Rotary Exchange Team.

Started a new job after 10 years at Gibbles.  (the company had been sold after bankruptcy, leading to a big pay cut).

Mom died in 1994 from breast cancer about 5 years after her surgery.

Short term mission trip to Lebanon and Syria the spring following the 9/11 attack to build church pews for a church near Damascus.  Visited Bible places Tyre and Sidon, the Street called Straight, church at site of Paul's Damascus Road vision.

I was surprised how difficult and emotional it was for me when Keith went off to college.


5th - my forties

Joined World Kitchen (then named Corning) in 1995 as contract worker, then employee.

Inducted into Messiah College Athletic Hall of Honor.

Dad died in 1998 from esophageal cancer a couple months after detection.  I was the executor of his will.

Rose's Mom Betty came to live with us when living alone no longer worked for her.

We visited San Francisco (and sister Mary, neice Sharma) and Hawaii (and brother Carl and sister-in-law Toni) for our anniversary.

I got a motorcycle - Suzuki GS850.

We sold our house and bought one on the other side of Chambersburg. More DIY work here.


6th - my fifties

Tried other hobbies after the motorcycle: fly fishing, motor boat.  Mid-life crisis symptoms?

We made two trips to Italy to visit Matt at his Air Force duty station.  Venice, Rome, Florence - WOW.

Mission trip to Honduras in 2006 to help build a craft store building and see veterinary missionary work.

In 2007 I became a runner and made some great new friends - since then I have completed races from 5k to 50 miles.  I have run 13 marathons (Boston Marathon twice) and a dozen races longer than a marathon.

Moved down a pants size for the first time in my life.

Celebrated forty years of marriage.  (It looks like it's gonna stick with that blind-date girl from way back when.)

We also celebrated Keith’s graduation and Ph. D. from Harvard University.

I accepted increasing responsibilities in our local church as board member, assistant treasurer then treasurer, and elder.

I ran to retrace my ancestor's route of the Walking Purchase of 1737 - 70 miles in 2 days in August 2013.  My support team was Keith and Matt, cousins Harv and Dale.

The last day of my fifties I ran for about an hour in 10 degree temps and made a bunch of snow angels before daylight.


And now for my sixties... I welcome them cheerfully.