A SEASON TO TREASURE RELATIONSHIPS

Relationships change with every season. Friends that were close in those younger years don’t always remain close as our season in life changes. When we move, relationships change as well. We find ourselves making new friends and forming new relationships.

In order for relationships to remain they have to change as you change.

I am not the same person I was in my teens, thank goodness! We change as we experience more of life, hopefully for the good. I have found that the friends who have been in my life for 20 years or more are ones that have grown and changed as I have. Wether my relationships are new or have been in my life for a long time, they are have become more important to me in this season. And it’s a proven fact that relationships keep us younger, and healthier.

What has surprised me in this season is how precious relationships have become to me.

I am the oldest in my family and so is my husband. Over the almost 46 years of marriage and five major moves, we have experienced seasons of change in our relationships with our siblings. There have been seasons of closeness, and then seasons where we weren’t so close. Those not so close seasons were when are families were young and our careers all consuming, as well as when each of us were living across the country or on the other side of the world from each other!

Here are 3 ways relationships become easier over the years:

  • We find it easier to forgive and forget. Maybe it’s because we realize none of us is perfect and we are more willing to accept the mistakes of others because we know we made just as many.
  • We become more willing to choose our fights and not feel like we have to confront everything we don’t agree on. Some things just aren’t worth fighting over anymore!
  • We need each other! In our former seasons of life we took pride in being independent but as we age and gain some wisdom, we begin to realize the season we are heading into is one where we will need our friends and family. Relationships become much more important to us.

Every season in my life has changed me and my relationships. I am finding that even those I had in my early years are different and on a newer level. They are sweet and very precious to me. We are getting to know each other again and enjoying the memories of the past as well as well as building new memories in the present.

Siblings and friends. Life is real and not always easy. We need each other and life is better with them in it!

You may find yourself in a season of disconnect with your siblings or maybe you are having a hard time making new friends. I have found that I need a point of connection in order to connect…(wow…profound, isn’t it:) With my brothers we have been able to reconnect because our kids are grown, our time is more free, and we are currently living in the same country! But we have also had to make it a priority to see each other and to talk regularly on the phone. It has been important to us and I am loving it!

I believe the best place to make new connections is in a local church. Most churches have small groups that meet together during the week and just attending regularly makes you a familiar face and you begin to connect. Another great place to meet people is by participating in a group sport. No more rocking chair seniors. The ones around me play tennis, ride their bikes and keep as active as their health allows.

If you want to enjoy this season then begin to make relationships your priority. Forgive, forget, and be intentional about reaching out. This season of life can be one of great enjoyment and fulfillment.

Something I Would Tell My Younger Self:

Build on Life’s Challenges

In 2019 I wrote a blog entitled “Something I Would Tell My Younger Self: Prioritize the “S” Word in Your Marriage. Since that blog I have thought of other things I wish I would have known in my ‘younger seasons’.

Every season in life has it’s good times and it’s not so good times. I love remembering those sweet moments when my little boy smothered me with kisses and my little girl watched me adoringly as I put on my makeup. Those moments that seemed so trivial at the time but mean the world to me now. RECORDING THOSE MOMENTS has gotten so much easier with our cell phones and Social Media. The challenge still remains to make them significant. It seemed like I was always too busy just living life, not realizing life was rushing past me very quickly! Enjoy them in the “now” season.

Times of difficulty and challenge should be remembered too.

Don’t look at the challenges you face in life as being put there just to make your life miserable. They have a purpose that is hard to see when you are in the middle of them. Those times are when I learned the most and changed the most. As I remember them now, I realize they made me a better person. If it was a challenge because of a mistake I made, I tried to learn from that mistake and allowed it to be a stone I built on. My husband and I realize now that the challenges we faced in our marriage and as we raised our children improved us as we faced them and learned from them. They made us stronger, not weaker. Even those hardships in life such as illness and unexpected loss that seemed so difficult, set our life on a completely different coarse and turned out to be used for good. They developed positive things in our life that we wouldn’t trade for anything.

So, younger self, as you walk through life, remember the good AND the not so good. Build your life so it just gets better because you learn to embrace every season and learn from every mistake and disappointment and challenge and blessing. They make you stronger and better.

This verse in the Bible kept me focused on the bigger picture in every season of life; “FOR WE KNOW THAT GOD CAUSES EVERYTHING TO WORK TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE GOD AND ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE FOR THEM.” Romans 8:28

My favorite books are those written about amazing people who have faced unbelievable challenges in life that have made them stronger and better.

Here are some links to books that have been an inspiration to me:

Weight Control after 50: Some tips that help me

First of all I need to make sure you know I don’t have this huge weight loss testimony and I am not saying I know everything about loosing weight. I can say I have lost hundreds of pounds …….. the same 10 to 20 pounds over and over again! Dieting wasn’t foreign to me as my family was always talking about loosing weight and then trying another diet. But once I turned 50 and entered menopause years, it was different. The kind of dieting I had done in the past didn’t seem to be very affective anymore. And, not only that, all the weight I did gain seemed to go straight to my midsection…..my stomach!!

The challenge was real and I knew I had to approach weight control in a new way.

It has taken me the last 15 years of reading and searching into the science behind weight gain and loss after menopause to begin to figure out how my body responds to food in this new season. For the last six years I have been able to maintain my weight and feel better too.

So, I wanted to share a couple of things that have helped me tremendously.

FIRST: I had to limit my sugar and carbohydrate consumption. Sugar is addictive so I actually took it totally out of my diet for some time. It was hard to do! (My favorite way to take a break during the day (which is often:) was a with cup of tea or coffee and a cookie… or two… or three.) Yes, I got headaches and cravings but I was determined and eventually I found I could easily pass up desserts. Now I eat some sweets but I don’t reach for them first. I control my sugar, it doesn’t control me!

SECOND: When I do eat carbohydrates I make sure they are whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. No more white rice or mashed or baked potatoes and a roll with every dinner. Now those are ‘once in a while’ foods. Instead I have added lots and lots of vegetables to my diet along with sprouted grain bread (I love Ezekiel Bread).

THIRD: When I dieted in the past I always cut out fats and this time I have kept eating fats. I love sausage for breakfast along with full fat cottage cheese and I enjoy lots of avocados! Fats, science is now telling us, are something we need, especially as we age. I did full on Keto for about three months and lost the weight I had carried for 10 years. I felt great and the experience changed my whole perspective on dieting and what my body needs to feel it’s best.

FOURTH: This one is the most important! I pay attention to hunger and portions. Hunger is a good thing. I had to learn to ask myself “Are you hungry ?” before I put something in my mouth. In fact it took me some time to recognize hunger pains because I hadn’t felt them in a long time! Also, I learned I didn’t need to eat until I was full. In fact, that full feeling usually meant I had eaten too much! Now I usually eat from a smaller plate and take small portions and stop eating when I am satisfied. I have found that I need much less food now than when I was in my 30’s and 40’s.

These changes in my approach to diet didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a gradual process. After starting and stopping many times, I finally have made it a priority in my life. I read books and listen to You Tube videos on the subject which has helped keep me on track. The books I’ve learned the most from are the Trim Healthy Mama cookbooks. They explain the science of food so I can understand the why’s and how’s, and their recipes are great! My favorite You Tuber is AllyMcWowie. She is very ‘real’ and has lost a ton of weight on KETO. She is all about keeping it simple and that anyone can change their way of eating.

My goal in this season is to feel my best and feel the best about myself.

IS IT TOO LATE TO FIND PURPOSE?

No matter what age or season we find ourselves statistics will suggest we have missed the opportunity to be our best. For instance, if you didn’t learn a second language by ages 7 or 8 it will definitely be too difficult now. If you didn’t run a marathon at age 28 then…..good luck! It’s interesting that for each of the statistics I’ve mentioned I can find someone who defied these limitations.

A person’s capacity can be unbelievable when they are determined to accomplish their purpose.

Here are some amazing examples I found on marathon runners: Ginette Bedard in 2019 at the age of 84 ran in her 17th Marathon. Then there is Harriette Thompson who in 2017 became the oldest woman to COMPLETE a Marathon. Fauja Singh has been heralded as the oldest active marathon runner at the age of 106.

These women didn’t let their age or season of life keep them from doing what they knew was their purpose.

A question I hear from so many women is “Who am I in this season? Are my gifts and talents still significant?”

NOW IS THE TIME TO SAY YES TO PURPOSE.

I recently heard a message from a pastor that helped me tremendously. He spoke from the book of John chapter 15. Jesus was with his disciples in a vineyard and He used the example of fruit-bearing trees to explain how we grow spiritually. There were two points Pastor Magongi made that caused me to see this chapter in a new light. 1. God expects fruit in our season. (He does so much to help us be our fruit-full.) 2. I, personally, need to produce fruit. (I can’t leave it up to others and use excuses of age or even hardship to be less fruit-full.)

So, here are three things you can do to encourage ‘fruit’ in this season of life:

  • Admit to yourself you have been considering trying something and have used every excuse possible to keep yourself from stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s starting a Bible Study or getting more involved in your community or school. Maybe it’s blogging or writing a book. How about learning a second language or even running a marathon!!
  • Take a step forward. If you need to take a class, sign up now. Find a friend that has taken that step and join them. Read a book that will help you explore the very thing you are pursuing. Listen to Podcasts on the subject. There are so many ways to explore any subject you are interested in.
  • Set a goal. By such and such a date I am going to _________. Then tell someone so they will hold you accountable. This can be the most difficult step but the most rewarding!!

Don’t let this season of life slip by when you are so very valuable and have so much to give.

2020: A YEAR TO ANTICIPATE

Wouldn’t you just love to be able to plan your future? Much of it we have no control over, even though our choices in life can produce results we don’t like to admit we had any responsibility for. If you are a Believer in Christ you can be sure of your life after this life but you aren’t guaranteed the living part will be smooth or without disappointments and hardships. Knowing the end is in His Hands brings much comfort and peace. So, how much input do I actually have in the day to day living of my life? I do know my attitude and the way I react to circumstances that come my way is 100% up to me.

I remember as a teenager living in Nigeria I used to complain to my parents about being bored all the time, as if it was their responsibility to make my life exciting!! I was 15 and in one of those complaining teenager moods, having just returned to Nigeria from America after being on leave for a year. I felt like life was standing still. It was a Sunday morning while sitting in church feeling sorry for myself, when we all noticed the road in front of the church was filled with military transportation trucks. We must have counted 100 or more as they drove by one after the other. As the day progressed we found out that our whole area had become ‘occupied’ by the West and we were caught in the middle of a war between the East and West. It was the Biafran War in Nigeria in 1967. We were totally cut off from all communication from the outside world for 6 weeks. Our family and friends didn’t know if we were dead or alive. (This was years before the internet….ha!) True story!!! It became a running joke in our family that all this happened because Susan said she was BORED!! That’s when I began to understand a basic concept of life…… If I want my life exciting I have to choose to live that way. I can’t just dream or complain and expect someone to make it that way. I have to step out and be intentional…..even about having fun!

In this season of life when I am in between slow and fast (if you get my drift), I have to be honest and say I have felt once again that teenage tendency to complain and blame. So here is what I’ve decided to do this year. I am making a “Bucket” list for 2020. This list will consist of things I talk about doing all the time and never make time to actually DO. I’ll put it on the inside of the kitchen cupboard door that I open the most….my coffee mug door…..so I see it every day. Here’s an example of a few items on my 2020 Bucket list.

  • 1. Learn to read a crochet pattern and make something.
  • 2. Go to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden.
  • 3. Canoe the Loxahathee River.
  • 4. Take the Jupiter Lighthouse Tour.
  • 5. Visit a country I haven’t been to yet.
  • 6. Take a History Sightseeing Boat Tour on the Manatee Queen.
  • 7. WRITE MORE. (this is a big one for me!)

This list doesn’t consist of things I ‘have to do’. They are things ‘get to do’. Last year my word for the year was ENJOY, and I chose to enjoy each day. This year I have two words….. DO IT! 😁 No more excuses. No more just wishing and talking about things I want to do. I am going to put each one on my 2020 Bucket list and DO IT!

“IT TAKES AS MUCH ENERGY TO WISH AS IT DOES TO PLAN” Eleanor Roosevelt

Making Every Holiday Special in Every Season

I love this week between Christmas and New Years. It gives me time to get my house back in order and to relax and enjoy the memories of the holiday along with wondering what this next year will bring. When my kids were at home and especially when they were little I remember watching them as they played with their new toys😊After all the excitement of Christmas they were much calmer and we were tired. Holidays can wear a person out….Ha!

This Christmas was different for me. We had planned to travel and spend it with my in-laws but because of sickness (I had a terrible cold and they were just getting over one) we decided to stay home. So it was me and my best friend (he was so sweet to make our time together special in every way). A quiet, relaxed, recuperating Christmas. It was a change, for sure.

One thing I am learning in this season of life is to make memories and to have an attitude of contentedness and thankfulness even when things don’t happen like I think they should. What I find detrimental to my ability in accomplishing this is when I begin to compare what is happening to me with what is happening with my kids, or my friends, or even what I see on social media. If you want to, you can find all sorts of reasons to feel sorry for yourself (believe me, I know). BUT if you want to enjoy your holiday and life in general, DON’T COMPARE or ASSUME or ANTICIPATE! Just ENJOY😂And smile a lot!

Here’s what we did this Christmas. My condo smelled wonderful the whole day. We started off with coffee and Bear Claw (is that how you spell it??) Donuts. A treat for us. Then my husband put on his apron and started cooking. First he make a Shrimp Bisque Soup that was to die for along with Jalapeño Cornbread. After that he made Herbed Pork Tenderloin (an Ina Garten recipe….it was wrapped in prosciutto) which he served with Bacon Wrapped Asparagus. AND we had his homemade Jeff Davis pie. We were so stuffed we couldn’t move, BUT we enjoyed every bite. And the smells were amazing. By the way, while he cooked (since he likes to do it all by himself and I get to clean up🤪)I got out a jigsaw puzzle and we watched movies. I also went for a walk….had to get rid of some of those calories!

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Christmas Breakfast and with Presents

Only thing I forgot was to get a picture of the Handsome Chef!

Gourmet Christmas Dinner

The point is, every season is challenging and you can’t rely on things always staying the same. You have to live in the moment…take it all in….learn from the hard times and enjoy the fun times. Don’t compare but be grateful and make new memories. We enjoyed facetime calls with our kids and saw all the toys the grandkids got for Christmas. (We also saw how tired the adults were…ha!) We talked to my in-laws several times as they were home by themselves too. My mother-in-law told me, “I refuse to be someone who complains about this time of life or let anyone feel sorry for me. It is what it is and I plan to make the most of it!” Thanks mother for that great advice!

Hope your Christmas was great and your New Year is Amazing and Blessed! (Can you believe it is 2020???!!!)

IT’S ONLY A SEASON

Lately I have had to remind myself “it’s only a season”. Seasons don’t last forever. I am one that always dreaded the end of Summer, knowing that the cold was just around the corner. Now that I am in Florida and Summer is pretty much all year I find myself fondly remembering the cool days of Fall. Even recalling seeing the first snow of winter makes me nostalgic.

In every season we are faced with storms we have to navigate. When I find myself in the middle of one of those I have to force myself dig deep and find peace. I recently read this in a devotional:

“Peace is “an inside job.” Oceanographers tell us that even the worst ocean storms rarely extend more than twenty-five feet below the surface. Gales can rip the ocean, causing tidal waves one hundred feet high, but just twenty-five feet below the surface the water is as calm as a pond.”

I have only found the kind of peace that never changes by putting my faith and trust in Jesus. I have to remind myself in the middle of a season that is difficult that deep down I’m ok and that Jesus is going to use this season of my life for His purpose. He is the calm below the surface for me and I put my trust in Him.

WHAT A CHANGE OF VIEW CAN DO……FOR YOU!

After being gone from home for over a month I can honestly say, “There is no place like home.” It’s not really about the great view from the window of my home but a sense of peace and contentedness. The change I want to talk about today isn’t so much visual, it has to do with our ability to look at our surroundings with a new perspective.

You can be happy and content in any place as long as you are willing to look through the eyes of faith and hope and a belief that goodness is in everything.

There is a story that is found in the Old Testament that really explains what I’m trying to say. It’s found in 2 Kings chapter 6. The King of the Arameans was out to kill the prophet Elisha because he was telling the King of Israel the Aramean’s battle plans every time they were planning an attack. So Elisha and his servant were hiding out in Dothan and the Aramean King found out and sent “a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city” vs 13. When Elisha’s servant woke up that morning, the first thing he saw was them being surrounded by troops and horses and chariots. They were “everywhere”. Quite a visual, right?? Fear, at this point, would be an appropriate reaction, quickly followed by run!!

Elisha, on the other hand, saw something totally different than his servant. He told his servant not to be afraid because “there are more on our side than on theirs!” vs 16. Elisha asked the Lord (prayed) to open his servant’s eyes and change his perspective. The next time he looked up he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots on fire. Elisha’s next prayer was to ask the Lord to blind the troops attacking them. When the Aramean King saw Elisha he didn’t recognize him and Elisha told him he had the wrong guy and lead him right to the King of Israel!! Both prayers had to do with seeing. One had to open his eyes and the other needed their eyes blinded.

To have a perspective of faith there are some things you need to close your eyes to and others you need to see through eyes of goodness and hope!

When I was about sixteen years old living in Nigeria with my family, we were driving through a large city in our VW van and found ourselves in the middle of traffic, blocked in at all sides. We had no idea there was a riot going on and people with large sticks and clubs had stopped cars and were yelling and hitting and breaking windshields, AND THEY WERE COMING TOWARD OUR CAR!! Needless to say, my three brothers and I and my mom were terrified. I remember sitting in that van holding my breath while the crowd came closer and closer. My dad and mom began to pray that our van would be invisible to the crowd and that we wouldn’t have a hand laid on us. AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED! It was as if we didn’t exist. They went right by us yelling and shouting but didn’t even touch our van. I didn’t see any ‘army of God’ surrounding us but I’m sure He blinded those people to protect us.

My perspective in this season of life is one where I know I have to choose every day to look through eyes of goodness and faith and hope, believing that this season is going to be filled with more fulfillment and purpose than ever before. I’ve had to close my eyes to what I don’t have and open my eyes to what I do have. When I look with a renewed perspective I realize goodness is always there! Going ‘back’ is not an option. Forward in faith is what I choose.

SOMETHING I WOULD TELL MY YOUNGER SELF

PRIORITIZE THE “S” WORD IN YOUR MARRIAGE

My ‘younger self’ and my fiance! Taken in 1974 at a Fair and made into a button I loved to wear!

Ah ha….I got your attention! The “S” word I’m talking about is one that is rarely used in our generation. In fact, it is seen as weakness but in reality brings strength to relationships, especially marriage. That word is SUBMIT. I would like to tell my young married self to be more intentional about laying a strong foundation of submission. Now that I am 45 years into this relationship I am thankful I learned what that word meant early on because I didn’t understand then the profound effect it would have on my marriage now. Although it was difficult to do when I was young, it would be even more difficult to do at my age.

Early on in our marriage I realized I had better figure out what this word meant if I was to be a happy and content wife. I knew the scriptures from Ephesians but as I studied them I realized they were usually only half quoted. The real reason for the teaching was for everyone (not just wives) to understand that we are all under authority and that submission has to be a part of all relationships if they are to be successful. Paul says in Ephesians 5:22 that we should “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” I also read a book after we had been married about 5 years that changed my whole way of thinking about submission. (Of course I don’t remember the name of the book!) It focused on my attitude toward my husband and the importance of honoring and respecting him. I learned that he is responsible to God for me, his wife. My responsibility is not to make sure he makes the right decisions or to constantly correct him, but to support, honor, respect, give my advice and input, and then pray for him. Even if he makes a wrong decision I know God is going to take care of me if I am doing my part. I began to be intentional about putting him first and encouraging him to lead, not worrying about how things were done or if they were done my way. It was a painful process, being that outspoken, first child that I am, but after a time I began to see that my responsibility in our marriage is very important!!! I support, encourage and give advise and all the responsibility is on his shoulders. Well, not ALL but we are a Team and we each have our place!

What I didn’t realize then is how important that foundation of submission with honor and respect in our marriage really is. I am writing this at a time when there are shootings in our schools, higher than ever teen suicides, and the basic family structure in our society is falling apart. Honor and respect, let alone submission, is laughed at and ridiculed. Men are made to look stupid and women are supposedly the answer to everything. Kids these days don’t really know what a home is supposed to look like. We started out together almost 45 years ago, just me and him. And now we are once again just me and him. If we hadn’t taken the time to prioritize our life together and build our marriage on submission with love, honor and respect for each other we would have nothing now. We have had to travel some bumpy roads and have struggled with big decisions. We know each other better now than we did 45 years ago. Honoring and respecting doesn’t get any less challenging, but it does build a strong marriage. As I make him my priority, he makes me his priority. Our lives are full and we still have each other!

Intentional Living

In this new season of early retirement, I’ve noticed things about myself that I never paid attention to before. I don’t know why they seem so glaring now when I was able to ignore them in the past. Maybe because there are fewer distractions in this season so I have more “me” time. Or maybe God, in His mercy, is bringing them out into the open so I will pay attention and change my ways? He is so good at that!

Here are a couple of things I am working on being more intentional about to be a better me.

  • Instilling the habit of thinking before I speak, criticize or give my opinion. I know I’m not the only person whose thoughts, when spoken, can come out different than when they were just thoughts in my head! They say by 80 years of age your filter disappears….if that’s true then I’m in trouble and no one is going to want to be around me. I have to begin changing my ways now! Lasting relationships are important in this season and you have to be careful what you say if you want them to stick around! I recently read that people over 60 are some of the loneliest people you will meet. They haven’t taken time to develop connection with people in their generation. Sometimes you have to change in order to achieve your goals. If you wonder whether you need to change in this area, just ask your kids. I’m sure they will let you know!
  • Instill some daily routines in my life NOW. I have noticed that people who have some sort of routine in their daily life adjust easier to change when it comes their way. Routine is important. It gives you a reason to get up in the morning or to go to bed at night. Things like prayer and Bible study, exercise, time with friends. Routine is something I have never really liked but I am realizing it brings stability and consistency to my life and in this season I need both those things. I still have plenty of “life” that can distract me right now but one day those things will fade and I will be happy I have my routine in place.
  • Become a happy person not a grumpy person. I always thought of myself as pretty positive and happy but in this season I have had to fight for that kind of an attitude. People want to be around people that are happy and positive. They don’t want to be around complainers and grumpy people. Being grateful is something that strengthens a positive attitude. I have so much to be thankful for and even though things aren’t always going my way I will choose to be grateful for life and enjoy every possible moment!

If I want to be wise in this season I need` to realize that life is very short. So, intentional living has to begin today.