40 wonderful years ….and counting. I’d marry TJ all over again…and do it exactly the same way!

11 Jun

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Wedding anniversary and family pictures; entrance exams, prayer, parents; rice planted late due to drought; tennis champion

This newsletter will be a little different from the others…can’t hold in the excitement of our 40th wedding anniversary on July 2. The semester is almost over, we have a summer break, and some family is visiting in early August. We can hardly wait!

This time two years ago we had discussed taking a train from California to the Grand Canyon for a few days…to do ‘something different and exciting’ for our special event. Never imagined our Father would put us in China for the occasion! 🙂 His plans are always better!

I am one fortunate guy. I married the ‘love of my life’ and get to spend every day with her for the rest of my life.

She is my best friend! Perhaps the only one who could stand me for 2,080 weekends, 14,564 days, 349,525 hours, 20,971,440 minutes (exact at the moment this is being readied for publishing)…and counting!

She was in my parent’s thoughts since before our births, and in my deepest, most private utterances since the early teen years.

We announced to our families in June, 1972, that we planned to marry in September, after a summer of trying to save some money and making more definite plans.

We ended up moving the wedding up on nine days notice, figuring we wouldn’t have that much more money, and it would give us more time to prepare for our last year of school at MTSU.

I would marry her all over again…and do it exactly the same way (maybe we should give Adona more notice)! It’s tempting to suggest that I am one lucky guy, except that it was more than luck that we found each other when we did. Too many things simply had to be worked out by Father!

We had both separately felt as if we were not going to find that special person…Terry in Nashville and me in Murfreesboro. She had no idea there was a university there…never heard of it.

The first time I saw her, I was jealous another perfect stranger was talking to her.

Norman Douglas said “to find a friend one must close one eye; to keep them, two.” That might be one way TJ looks at me? It is true that a friend is one who knows all about you and likes you just the same. Terry is my friend, one who knows me as I am, understands where I’ve been, accepts who I’ve become, and still, gently invites me to grow. She is one who makes me be my best.

She has a special quotation: “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

Our marriage is a series of successive surprises. Our life has been filled with adventure after adventure. And they continue!

The king of the comics, as far    As I’m concerned, is still Peanuts by Charles Schulz. I love Linus, Lucy, Schroeder, Piggen, the little red-haired girl, and Charlie Brown. There’s a ring of reality to their relationships.

One sequence comes to mind. Linus has just written a comic strip of his own, and he wants Lucy’s opinion. In the first frame, he tentatively hands Lucy his comic strip and  says, “Lucy, would you read this and tell me if you think it is funny?”

In the next frame, you see Lucy patting her foot, and a little bit of a grin comes across her face. She looks at Linus and says, “Well, Linus, who wrote this?”

Linus with his chest heaved out and a great big grin says, “Lucy, I wrote that.”

In the next frame, you see Lucy wadding it up, throwing it to the side, and saying, “Well, then, I don’t think it’s very funny.”

In the final frame, you see Linus picking up his comic strip, throwing his blanket over his shoulder, looking at Lucy and saying, “Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life.”

We find that humorous. I  dare say if you and I thought long and hard enough, we’d remember being the crab grass in the lawn of somebody else’s life. None of us wants to be a loser.

None of us wants to be a source of discouragement. And yet, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves being more pessimistic than optimistic, more discouraging than encouraging.

As Terry says often, “the best vitamin for making friends: B1.”

We experienced first-hand what our students go through every day…we were without electricity in our apartment and it was quickly close to 85 degrees inside. Terry had no classes, while I had one morning class. The heat was bad enough…was even worse that we could not get anything accomplished…no electricity meant no clothes washed, no food warmed up, and no internet.

We had some confusion about when our classes end. It is based on majors, it seems, and we were told we had two more weeks…then found out on Saturday we had one more week. We did not mind, of course, that it was one week less than we had been told, but it was a little confusing getting everything completed, since we thought we had two weeks. We will manage to work it out. 🙂

My students have been so gracious as we finish up the semester and move toward finals, expressing their appreciation that we were willing “to leave our home and family and come to their country to help them improve their English.”

I will not have my junior speaking skills students in any more classes, and it’s likely they will be “out of here” quickly, as they begin  pursuing other educational goals. I have been the one blessed by their willingness to work, interest, enthusiasm and kindness…except for 3-4 of the 146 students who missed several classes…caught two cheating on a final project 🙂

I have received very positive reinforcement to our showing of Fireproof  to some of these students. We plan to make it part of our apartment ‘movie night’ for more next semester.

Even as we wind down our weekly discussions, we had a new English teacher attend this week…that’s five who have been a part of at least one session.

I said several years ago, when we began attending lectureships in Searcy, that is was “the only place I know that seems to appreciate the wisdom and experience older men can give,” due to the gray-haired teachers working there. They were so professional, with a ready smile and willingness to speak and answer any question of anyone, it seemed.

I was made to ‘feel my age’ when some students recalled in speeches this week seeing me for the first time, with “my white hair and large computer bag” on the first day of classes. They said it as a compliment and a pleasant memory and offered enthusiastic appreciation for us “leaving family and America and coming so far to help them learn English.”

I got my third Chinese haircut today and it seemed that many of the men in the shop were having someone “paint their hair” black. 🙂

Greetings from Terry: The new cuckoo clock we thought our neighbors had turns out to be the real thing. I haven’t laid eyes on it yet, but it is a real bird. Gary and I hear it from different directions when I am in the kitchen during the mornings.

Friday evening the discussion group stayed and watched The Ultimate Gifts with us. We had pop corn and Pepsi. It was so much fun. I like movies and sharing them with others makes it even more fun.

Hope we can have more “movie nights” next semester. They can practice their English, learn American culture and it opens more topics for discussion.

We had four of my students over for lunch last Saturday. After meeting them at the front gate, we ordered food and took it back to the apartment, where we had a leisure visit while we ate.

The students gave me a very nice photo album with a few pictures of themselves and their classmates this semester. It was very thoughtful of them.

I will be very interested in what becomes of these students in the future, where they will go and what they will accomplish. There is a plan for their lives; of that I am sure.

I encouraged the class monitor, who is a natural leader, to make wise choices and be careful where he leads. I am so glad we will be able to see these students on this campus next year as sophomores. Gary may even have some in his classes, since he wants to teach mostly on the Central campus.

After many days of labor, two of the graduate students that come for discussions turned in their dissertation papers. We called and rejoiced with them over the phone and invited them over for a bowl of orange Jello and Chinese cookies. Now the hard part of finding a job begins. I am glad they will be close by for about a month. We are still cultivating, planting and watering

I finished the book Forgiveness by Gary Inrig. It is a thought-provoking book we have both  read…and recommend to others.

“We love our crazy job.” Love, Terry.

Chinese high school students prepare for Gaokao — June 7th and 8th were tense dates for millions of Chinese high school students as they took one of the most important exams in their life, the college entrance examination. More than 9.3 million students sat for this year’s test. As millions of students were doing some last-minute cramming for the national college entrance examinations, authorities launched a crackdown on sales of high-tech devices used to cheat on the tests.

The National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), or “gaokao,” is the world’s largest standardized test. However, a string of cheating scandals featuring the use of high-tech devices have cast a shadow over the test.

Since late April, police have busted eight criminal rings that have admitted to selling devices such as wireless earphones and transmitter-receiver sets that allow their buyers to cheat on the exams.

Fourteen of the 18 arrested ring members are still in custody. Wireless communication devices are used by some students to obtain answers from people outside of the examination venues.

In the news after the first day: one student was 10 minutes late in arriving, and was not allowed to enter and take the test. He was found later having committed suicide by jumping off the nearest building. Pressure on them is intense…and everything hangs in the balance, in their mind, because the grade determines whether they get to attend a first-tier school.

This country celebrated French Open winner Li Na (see photo) a few days ago. Newspaper accounts responded to words of support in Mandarin: “Jia you!” — which loosely translates to “Let’s go!” After so many years of “Come on” and “Allez” and “Vamos,” there’s a new language on the tennis landscape.”

Li became the first Chinese player, man or woman, to win a Grand Slam singles title by beating defending champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-4, 7-6 (0) at Roland Garros.

She already was the first woman from that nation of more than 1.4 billion people to win a WTA singles title, the first to enter the top 10 in the rankings, and the first to make it to a Grand Slam final — she lost to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open in January.

Tennis is considered an elite sport in China, and while participation is rapidly increasing, it still trails basketball, soccer and table tennis, among others. But Li’s victory was big news back home.

Li broke away from the Chinese government’s sports system in late 2008 under an experimental reform policy for tennis players dubbed “Fly Alone.”

Li was given the freedom to choose her own coach and schedule and to keep much more of her earnings: Previously, she turned over 65 percent to the authorities; now it’s 12 percent. That comes to about $205,000 of the $1.7 million French Open winner’s check.

At her news conference, Li wore a new T-shirt with Chinese characters that mean “sport changes everything,” and offered thanks to Sun.

When a reporter mentioned the June 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square and asked whether her victory could spark a sports revolution, Li said she’s “just” a tennis player and added, “I don’t need to answer … this question.”

Finding FriendshipsFaithful friends are one of life’s greatest assets

Men’s Life magazine surprised itself with a survey – asking its readers “What’s the most important thing in your life?”  And no, it was not sex, it was not career, it was neither fame nor fortune.

The most important things to 63 percent of the men were their wives and ninety percent of married men called their wives their best friend.

I wish we knew the author who wrote: “There are those who pass like ships in the night. Who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight With never a backward glance of regret; Folks we know briefly then quickly forget. Then there are friends who sail together Through quiet waters and stormy weather Helping each other through joy and through strife. And they are the kind who give meaning to life.”

One man summarized what he had learned during a Dale Carnegie course: “If you want to keep friends and have people like you, there are three things you must never do. Each one of these begins with a “C”. The first one is, “Never complain”; the second, “Never condemn;” and the last one, “Never criticize.”‘

I especially find C. S. Lewis’ words delightful: ‘Eros will have naked bodies; friendship naked personalities.”  I suppose anything you can do together as a couple helps strengthen your marriage.

I love the poem that describes what I enjoy: “O, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, Having neither to weigh thoughts, Nor measure words — but pouring them right out — just as they are — Chaff and grain together, Certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them — Keep what is worth keeping — And with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

Real friends don’t care if your socks don’t match. Real friends have a great time doing absolutely nothing together. A real friend warms you by her presence, trusts you with her secrets, and remembers you in her prayers.

Our friends are the people whom we choose; usually friends are the same sort of people as ourselves. My neighbor is the man whom I do not choose; he is the man whom the Father gives to me. He is the man who happens to live in the house next to mine; he is the man who happens to sit opposite to me in the train; he is the clerk who works at the desk next to mine. I have no right to say that he is no concern of mine, because, if I am a Follower, I know that he is the man who has given to me.

A friend is one who warns you. A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you today just the way you are.

Jay Kesler has said that one of his great hopes in life is to wind up with at least eight people who will attend his funeral without once checking their watches.  I love it!  Do you have eight people who’ll do that?

“Two boys in the last war were devoted pals and friends. After a bitter battle one day, one of the boys found that his pal was missing and knew that he was somewhere out there in No-man’s Land.  He asked for permission to go out after his friend but the commander said it was no use for no one was alive out there after the withering fire of many hours.

“After great insistence, he was finally given permission to go.  Some time later he came back with the limp body of his friend over his shoulder. The commander said, “Didn’t I tell you it was no use to go?”  to which the boy replied with radiance in his eyes, “But it was.  I got there in time to hear him whisper, ‘I knew you’d come.'”

We don’t know the source of these words, but they speak to all of us who have that ‘special person’ in our life.

A friend is: a push when you’ve stopped, a word when you’re lonely, a guide when you’re searching, a smile when you’re sad,  a song when you’re glad.

A friend will joyfully sing with you when you are on the mountaintop, and silently walk beside you through the valley. — Gary

10 Commandments of Friendships

1. Speak to people — there is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.

2. Smile at people — it takes 72 muscles to frown, but only 14 to smile!

3. Call people by name — the sweetest music to anyone’s ear is the sound of their own name.

4. Be friendly and helpful — if you would have friends, be friendly.

5. Be cordial — speak and act as if everything you do were a real pleasure.

6. Be genuinely interested in people — you can like everyone IF YOU TRY.

7. Be generous with praise; cautious with criticism.

8. Be considerate of the feelings of others — it will be appreciated.

9. Be thoughtful of the opinions of others.

10. Be alert to give service — what counts most in life is what we do for others!

Signs ‘You Have No Friends’

1. No calls from salespeople pushing MCI’s “Friends and Family” plan.

2. You go to a video store and say out loud to yourself, “Well, what do you want to rent tonight?”

3. You send birthday cards to members of “The McLaughlin Group.”

4. You are one of the five best solitaire players in the world.

5. At your funeral, the entire eulogy is, “Yep, he’s dead.” or  6. Having a Super Bowl party means dressing up your dogs and tying then to the furniture.

7. James Taylor sings the first bars of “You’ve Got a Friend,” notices you in the audience and stops.

8. All your phone calls start with “900.”

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Posted by on June 11, 2011 in Jingzhou


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