USE IT OR LOOSE IT

Last month I turned 69, so I am now living my 70th year. Wow!! For some reason, 70 is a big deal in my mind. I feel like I am getting ready to cross over into another country…..Senior Country.

Every decade in life presents its own challenges, and I’m not so sure I am ready for this new one. But, do I ever think I’m ready for what is ahead?

No!

Why?

Because there is no way to know for sure what my seventies will bring. The only thing I am sure of is that I made it through my sixties, with all of its unknowns, and challenges.

I now see that these last ten years have served as a transition decade for me. Major life changes brought challenges that exposed weak foundational areas in my life that were a result of neglect. This decade has been one of strengthening these basic areas, preparing me for this next Season.

DON’T NEGLECT THE FOUNDATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS IN YOUR LIFE

The most important relationship I have is with my Lord and Savior. I don’t know why, but, when things are going pretty good, I tend to let that relationship slide and become apathetic. I stop making Him the main thing. I don’t take the time to pursue Him. The more familiar you are with someone, the more attention you need to give them. I find myself doing the same in my marriage. We are coming up on our 47th Anniversary and we have to make sure we keep that flame alive and strong!! I love these quotes on familiarity breeding contempt.

Familiarity breeds contempt and children“….Mark Twain.

There can be no prestige without mystery, for familiarity breeds contempt”…..Charles de Gaullle.

In communications familiarity breeds apathy“….William BernBach.

The problems that result from neglect begin to show up when major life changes take place, as they did in my sixties. I moved away from all things familiar. I no longer had job demands on me. I was way less busy and life returned to revolving around and me and Jesus, and then, me and my spouse.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

I had a total knee replacement at sixty-five. Everything went great for two years. So great, that I began doing some more strenuous exercising (like deep knee bends, I know…..I’m crazy) which resulted in sharp pain in my knee. After numerous X-rays, and months of physical therapy, it has been determined that I have an old hamstring injury that has flared up because I’ve overworked my weak muscles. In other words, my new knee is much stronger than my old muscles can handle. So, after 1 1/2 years, I am still dealing with this hamstring that is taking forever to heal. If I had paid attention to my body and kept my muscles strong and not overworked them, maybe they would have been able to handle my new knee.

In my fifties and sixties I was always too busy to do those basic exercises and because I had knee pain I gave up too quickly and talked myself into waiting until I got a new knee. I didn’t take the time to do the things that would take care of me. Some people are good at making time for themselves, and, others aren’t so good at it. It doesn’t matter where you find yourself, the important thing is to take time for the basics that will keep you strong physically and emotionally. Exercise, eat healthy food and do your nails….Ha!! Take care of you!

I believe my sixties exposed weaknesses that I wasn’t aware of. Areas I neglected because they weren’t causing problems at the time. As a result, they became weaker, and when everything else around me changed, their weakness left me hurting and vulnerable.

The good thing is that I still had a foundation left that had been laid strong and secure so I could begin to rebuild. I just needed reinforcements, which came as I again pursued the Lord and got to know my spouse in this new season. I’m different, yet the same. Life is good, but in new ways. Relationships have never meant as much to me as they do now. Swimming, strengthening major muscle groups, and eating healthy food is a must these days if I want to keep upright in this next decade!

This had me on the floor laughing!! Life happens!!

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.

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!

AN UPDATE ON HOW I’VE BEEN “ENJOYING” 2019

Finding purpose and joy in this season of life.

Enjoy is my word for 2019 and I have been challenged to see the joy in every experience I have this year.

January in Florida was kind of cold and dreary but ENJOY IT I DID!  So many people come to this part of the country in January to escape the rigors of winter in the north and as a result many of our friends and relatives have come our way.  It has been fun to have coffee every Thursday morning with friends and dinner out with other friends, having the joy of catching up with them and their families.

Then in February I spent almost three weeks in that beautiful cold and snowy climate up north helping both of my kids with their families.  My son and daughter-in-law and two grandkids needed my help because mom had broken her ankle and she was not able to walk on it at all!  After helping there I went to help my daughter and son-in-law and 9 grandchildren as mom and dad and two of the kids went to Florida to a conference for 5 days.  I also had the joy of being with my mom who turned 92 during that time. I ENJOYED EVERY MINUTE OF IT ALL!

Needless to say, those three weeks flew by.  I was so busy I didn’t have much time to think about anything else AND I quickly and easily slide back into my old life of responding to the needs of those around me.   The easy thing for me is to serve…..the hard thing for me is to use my other gifts and talents and stretch myself to go beyond the familiar into the unfamiliar.  I enjoy being with my kids and grandkids and it has been hard being so far away but I also know I am right where I am supposed to be.  By the time I came back to Florida I was tired (physically) and I’d had enough of the cold and the snow and I was reminded again that my new life in this season is the one meant for me.

So, here I am being open and honest and using this blog to talk to myself (and hopefully others who find themselves in this season of life).  My word for 2019 to ENJOY is a choice and some days it has been difficult.  It’s not hard because of the weather or any hard circumstance in my life.  It’s hard because everything in this new season is still so unfamiliar.  I don’t HAVE to DO ANYTHING, which is so different for me.  Every day it is up to me to make my life purposeful and to CHOOSE TO ENJOY even in the unfamiliar.  One thing I do know is that I am determined to press forward…..forget the past……enjoy 2019 and see what my future holds. Time is precious and not unlimited. Every day is a potential open door of purpose to walk through and I don’t want to miss it because my eyes are closed.

Along this way I am going to begin to be more purposeful in sharing with you all some practical steps I will be taking to pursue this journey of finding purpose and joy in this season.  If you are finding yourself in a season of change similar to mine and are having difficulty finding your way, let me know what you are doing that is helping you navigate and I know we will benefit each other.  #ENJOY2019