No More Goodbyes

I know that I know that I know that we are made for eternity. There’s a longing in every human heart for stability, for permanence, for things to be predictable and steady.  In the swirl and chaos of how fickle this life can be, all of us look for a rock on which to plant our feet – something solid, something dependable, something that will last. I see this in myself; I see it in others. It’s built into our very DNA as human beings. It’s how God made us.

A couple of months ago Peter and I were visiting our son, Simeon, his wife Heather, and their 3 beautiful little girls. They live far away in Kansas City, Missouri, so when we go to see them several times a year we often plan an extended stay of 10 to 14 days. On the last evening of our visit this past September, Peter and I were saying bedtime prayers with Sophie (6) and Alivia (4). As we were cuddling on the side of the bed, Alivia, put her warm little arms around my neck and said in her most endearing way, “I wuv you Gwamma and I wish you could stay heeoo fowever.” My heart melted – me too! I hate goodbyes!

Six days ago we had a funeral service and buried my Dad. My children held me as I wept. I just could not believe my Dad was gone. I didn’t want him gone! I wasn’t ready for the Dad-sized hole in my life. I miss him so much. I hate goodbyes!

The day before yesterday I drove my son to the airport so he could return home to his own precious family. When it came time to say goodbye, my heart tightened even as my arms wrapped my son in a fierce hug.  An “I love you”, and “Thanks for being here”, and then he was gone – through the doors and on his way.  I sobbed until I was half way home.  I didn’t want to say goodbye – I hate goodbyes!

In a few more days my siblings and I will be moving our  93 year old Mom to a retirement residence in the neighborhood. I’m sure she doesn’t want to leave her home of over 60 years. The house I grew up in holds memories galore for all of us. It will be a sad series of farewells as we dismantle the place a part of us hoped in vain would last forever. I hate goodbyes!

It’s at times like these that I remind myself that things haven’t always been this way. In our Maker’s mind things were never meant to be this way!

In the Garden of Eden there were no goodbyes until Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Then, because of their pride and rebellion, they became separated from the One who made them. The first goodbye was when they had to leave the beautiful and perfect Garden. Ever since then, the human story has included sorrow and pain and separation. Car accidents, medical mistakes, multiple sclerosis, crohns disease, congestive heart failure, and death are part of what we experience here and now. Every person and every family has its own heart-breaking list.

In the beginning, goodbyes did not exist. In the end, they will not exist either. Things won’t always be as they are now.

The Bible tells me that God is good. God is Love. He sent his Son, Jesus, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Jesus is coming again to establish His Kingdom on earth. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. God himself will be with us.  He will wipe away every tear, and death will cease to exist. There won’t be mourning or crying or pain any more. Jesus will reign forever and ever.

For today, and for eternity, the promises of Jesus are absolutely trustworthy: “Never will I leave you”,  and “I will be with you always”.  What a blessed assurance: no more goodbyes! Imagine!

I love it!

 

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Posted in Changes, Death, Family, Hope, Jesus' coming | 1 Comment

Good for Your Health

A most astonishing fact was recently drawn to my attention: birthdays are good for your health. Studies have shown that people who have the most birthdays live the longest!

As I approach yet another birthday, this truth is strangely comforting.

Last year at this time, I celebrated a landmark decade birthday – #60. I’m over that hill now, but I’m not over the hill, although some (who will go unnamed) would beg to differ!

My dad, at the distinguished age of 94, often proclaims that there’s nothing golden about the golden years. “Whatever you do, don’t get old!”, he advises me not infrequently.  My response: ” Dad, you know what the alternative is!”

As a child, I always found my birthday exciting. I remember counting down the days. I was filled with such eager anticipation that I thought I would burst like an over-inflated balloon! My mom and dad always made sure our special celebrations included cards and gifts, homemade layer cake wearing flaming candles, parties hopping with friends and family. And I’ve never grown weary of the heartfelt “Happy Birthday to You” refrain, sung in person if possible, but if not, then over the phone when I was older and the miles conspired to keep us apart.

Then somehow I got to an age when I began to feel vaguely sad, almost depressed, as my birthday rolled around again and again like an aggravating and persistent visitor. The years were flipping by with the regularity of the minutes clocked by my bedside radio.

Some people, in an effort to to jog my joy, have asked me, if it were possible, would I go back and relive a certain time in my life? Maybe, if you’re as old as me, you’ve been tickled with the same feather. My answer, perhaps disappointingly, is a decided no.

No, I don’t have any desire to go back, even though with each passing year I do look a little different in the mirror. My body parts complain a tad more with each turn of the calendar. My pace of life is decidedly slower than it used to be, but I like to think of myself as taking more time to “smell the roses”.  My mind isn’t quite as sharp as it once was. I do occasionally have … what do you call them … hmmm … oh yes …”senior moments”.

My spirit, however, is alive and young – perhaps more so than it’s ever been. There’s a flame of hope that burns.  I’m enjoying the life I have right now. I’m blessed.

The years behind are littered with mistakes, actions I’m ashamed of, words I wish I could take back, attitudes I should’ve corrected sooner. If it were even possible to turn back the clock, there are so many painful lessons I’d have to learn all over again – who wants to go there? And besides, my God has redeemed it all. He’s even covered all my future bumbles. When my heart makes a habit of turning to Him in humility and trust, He works all things together for the good of those who love Him.  Maybe not right away, but eventually.

My past also shines with memorable moments of joy and events that still make me laugh out loud. There are achievements to be proud of and acts of kindness forgotten by all except the One who sees in secret. There are cherished memories in my bank account that I don’t ever want to change or exchange.

So I’ve determined that I’ll focus on the present. In this life, today is really all I have anyway. It will never come again. It’s a treasure to be savored in the moment, unpredictable and undeserved, a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.

With every passing year, my reasons to give thanks pile up: family, friends, a hope and a future, opportunities to influence another’s life, the constant companionship of One who has been with me since my beginning. In retrospect, I see countless times when I’ve been carried, protected, provided for, and blessed by the Lord. Looking in the rear view mirror, as I continue to motor along, I stand in awe at the sight of how God has guided and His angels have accompanied me on my journey.

Birthdays now remind me of God’s love and faithfulness. As the years pass, I know God does not forget me.  Though outwardly my body inevitably ages and health will eventually fail, inwardly by God’s Holy Spirit I’m being renewed day by day.  (2 Corinthians 4:16). Each birthday brings me closer to being in the eternal presence of the Lord Jesus. What could be better than that?

So I’ve decided to live with a grateful heart and welcome each birthday as it comes.

I’m so glad that birthdays are good for my health!

 

 

 

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One Fantastic Long Weekend

Years ago I asked my friend’s mother, who was in her early 80’s at the time, what it was like to look back over her life. Did it seem long? Did the years pass quickly? After pondering for a moment she replied with a twinkle in her eye, “My life seems like it’s been one long weekend.”

I’ve thought about her comment often over the years. Time is a funny thing – sometimes it crawls at a turtle’s pace. Sometimes the moments fly by and we wonder where the time has gone.

Peter and I have just come through a major event that has launched us into a brand new season in our lives. Our daughter, Bethany, our youngest and the last of our 4 children to get married, tied the knot with a wonderful young man 10 days ago. This past week Peter and I have been recuperating from the activity and emotion of being surrounded by family and friends. It was a high time, a fun time, a busy time.

Now the celebration is over. The parade that began 34 years ago with the birth of our son, Joe, has passed. The pets are dead, the kids are gone, the house is empty and quiet. Everyone has grown up and gone their own way.

It seems only yesterday that our home was teeming: babies, kids, teenagers, young adults. Coming and going, meals galore, cleaning, laundry. Good times, scrappy times, heart aches and heart breaks. Joyous laughter, jokes and puns. Grief so deep it seemed the tears would never end. A grand parade it was: anticipation bubbling, busy bodies, excitement squealing, requests unending, sleepless nights and blurry days.  Friends passing through. Homeschool. Parties and prayers, singing and sighing. The calm between the storms. Bandaging scraped knees, soothing wounded souls. Emergency trips to the hospital to mend broken bones. Never changing changes.

Those were the days! Love was the theme that tied it all together, faith the fuel that kept us going, hope the beacon at the journey’s end.

Now Bethany is married, and away on her honeymoon. Simeon and his family have gone home to Kansas City. Joe is back at school and living life with his wife and little girl. Reuben and his wife are on holiday in Europe.  Our home feels like a deserted street after the parade has passed.  All the ticker tape has fallen, the crowds have dispersed, and here we are left standing by ourselves on the sidewalk.

The other morning I was sitting alone with just my cup of tea for company. My thoughts turned to what it means to feel empty. It’s like a piece of you is missing. It’s when you’ve given everything you’ve got, and then it’s over, and it’s just you. There’s a space … that once was full.

Like many experiences in life, feeling empty can lead one of two ways. It can make you bitter or better. It can be a curse or a blessing. It can lead to death or to life. It can cause you to turn inward or outward, to become selfish or selfless, to face reality or live in denial.

For me, the emptiness I’ve been dropped into has become a cause to reevaluate my life. It is a wake-up call to go back to God and His promises.  When I surrender each day to the persistent Lover of my soul, I can totally trust Him to fill me with whatsoever He chooses – and I know it will be good because He is good.

Yes, my home nest is now empty of the children I birthed and raised. But it’s something empty that’s waiting to be filled again — with children who visit, grandchildren, and friends; with those God brings who need a listening ear, some love and a prayer; with the joy and laughter of new relationships that will build more precious memories in my heart.

My empty nest is a gift that I can now see with expectant eyes and anticipation. Fullness and fruitfulness await as I focus on the One who never leaves me.

Seems like yesterday it all began. After 34 years of living with our kids,  Peter and I have come full circle. We’re back where we began – just the 2 of us – the same and yet so different: more age, hopefully more sage. Everything has changed, but nothing has changed. Peter still rolls the toilet paper under (and I change it). I still don’t neatly stack the spoons in the spoon tray (and he changes it).

Time is indeed a funny thing. One particular parade – a big one indeed – may have passed. But if I listen carefully I can hear another one coming. The fun isn’t over yet.

In the end it’s gonna be one fantastic long weekend!

 

 

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A Tale of Two Stories

This past week our grand-daughters, Sophie (almost 6) and Alivia (3), were spending sister time together at home. Here’s what happened, as reported by their mom:

Sophie: “hey Livie, let’s play Moses and pharaoh. I’ll be Moses. LET MY PEOPLE GO!”
Livie: “ok. NOT BY THE HAIR OF MY CHINNY CHIN CHIN!”

Do you ever get your stories mixed up?

Do you ever get your story mixed up?

I do.

Daily I need to go back to the original manuscript for life written by the Master Storyteller, the Author Himself. The Bible is still the best-selling book of all time. It’s a fantastic account of God’s plans and purposes for His creation and for His children. It has an incredible beginning and an even more incredible end.

It’s history. It’s His-Story. It’s my story. It can be yours as well whether you know it now, or not.

Learning and living the story well is a life-long adventure of reading, study, and prayer. You need a humble spirit and a teachable heart. You need to come to the end of yourself. You need to accept that you’ll never get out of this life alive without the help of Someone bigger than you.

Sometimes I lose my way temporarily. I get side-tracked, misinterpret parts, wish I could omit certain sections.

But the Author has told the story just so for a reason. Its truths are constant and sure. The details of how His-story is lived out are as unique as each individual. But the beginning and the end never change.

Alivia had it right even though she made up her own tale using two different stories. The Hebrew people, as well as the three little pigs, were in bondage to a cruel oppressor. They each went through several rounds of being denied liberty. But in different ways, they stood their ground until breakthrough came. The good news is that, in the end, the people – and the piggies – got freed.

The same is true for us – we’re all in bondage. We have an enemy who delights in oppressing us, and refuses to let us go. We desperately need a Saviour. Only through His work in our lives do we have a hope in heaven of finding true and lasting freedom.

So get the story straight.

I invite you to read the Bible – some have called it Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

God’s Word will keep you on the path of life – seldom easy, but always fulfilling. It will protect you from confusion. It will guard you from the mistake of creating a story with your own tragic ending.

Oh … and just in case you’re wondering — when Moses cried out “Let my people go!”, Pharaoh did declare a resounding “No!” –  at least the first few times.

(And he probably did have hair on his chinny chin chin!).

 

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A Story of Babies and Dogs and Love

This is a story of babies and dogs and love.  Let me explain.

At 9:21 pm two evenings ago our son and daughter-in-law gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Because they’d been at the hospital since early morning, our daughter Bethany who lives with Peter and me, went to our son’s place, half an hour away, to walk their 2 big dogs and stay the night with them.

Because Bethany went on a mission of mercy and love, Peter and I got to dog-sit her fiance’s dog, Gizmo, who is currently living with us. Very confusing I know, but that’s been our life lately. One thing often leads to another – I believe it’s called the “ripple effect” – and before long you are doing something you hadn’t dreamed of. Most of you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, Gizmo is very much a “people dog” – he craves attention, loves being talked to, and insists on being close to his people. He has made a habit of being Bethany’s nocturnal cuddler. He is as much like a baby as any dog can be! He’s lovable but very needy!

Because Bethany was elsewhere that night, it fell to Peter and me to meet Gizmo’s night-time need for nearness. Hoping that he wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t actually in our bed (silly me!), I settled Gizmo on the love seat at the foot of our bed. We all dozed off around 11 pm anticipating a good night’s sleep.

All was well until 1:57 am. Despite the fact that I was wearing my trusty ear plugs, I awoke to Gizmo’s whining and pacing.

“Gizmo, lie down,” I instructed him – but to no avail. I fervently hoped he didn’t need to go to the bathroom, even though I did. Hauling myself out of my comfy bed I made my trip and returned to my nest as quickly and quietly as I could. By this time Peter was awake and the dog was still unhappy.

“Maybe he’ll settle down,” Peter murmured hopefully. “Maybe he will,” I faithfully agreed.

But he didn’t.

“I think he wants to come on the bed with us”, I posited. “Let’s try it”, was my husband’s whispered response.

So up onto the bed jumped a delighted Gizmo. Wouldn’t you know it, he settled down between our feet and went right to sleep. What a dog – what a baby!

A few minutes later Peter too was back in dreamland. I, on the other hand, was now wide awake and thinking about this and that and everything in between.

I tossed and turned. My feet were toasty, but I wasn’t used to having a furry body in my bed. Trying to fall asleep was frustratingly futile. I watched the red numbers flip on my bedside clock. Sometime after 5 am I drifted off, but awakened at 5:30 am when Peter got up to get ready for work. I snatched a few more winks until Gizmo decided to bark a cheery good morning at 6:45 am. It was time for his first-of-the-day foray into the world outside to do his business!

I thought I was tired until I thought of my son and daughter-in-law. Joe and Carmen had spent hours laboring in love to bring a new life into the world. They must’ve been beyond exhausted.  And they will no doubt have broken sleep and sleepless nights in the weeks and months to come. I have nothing to complain about!

This whole night-time adventure with dogs and babies has caused me to think again about love, how we live it out, and what it looks like practically in our daily (or nightly) lives.

The Bible says that love is the greatest gift.

It also says that love bears all things. Love “doggedly” persists – it never gives up. It keeps you motivated to do hard things. It inspires you to step up to the plate, to go the extra mile. It keeps you laboring and pushing until the baby is born. It may even require you to sacrifice a night of sleeping in your own bed, or perhaps even sharing it with a puppy.

I think I’ve just had another practical life lesson in how to live as Jesus would.

And by the way, Peter and I met our new grand-daughter, Madison Joy, when she was only 22 hours old.  It was a blessing and a privilege to hold her, cuddle her, and stand in awe of her cuteness.

When she’s older I will tell Maddie stories. Among them will be the story of Babies and Dogs and Love – the story of the night she was born and how many people were already loving her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s the big take-away?

This past weekend Peter and I attended a beautiful memorial service for a friend and peer whose life was invaded by cancer. It’s the third such event we’ve been to in the last year. When anyone, but especially when someone in my circle of age-mates, passes on it causes me to stop and think — about life, death, relationships, what’s really important, and what’s not.

Dan, Lynn, and most recently Teresa, were all people who loved Jesus and to the best of their ability lived for Him. So ultimately their lives were not lost when they left us here. They’re now with the Lord, more alive than ever before, and awaiting that resurrection day when Jesus returns to establish His final Kingdom here on earth.

The church on Saturday was packed out. The service lasted  for almost 3 hours . There was sadness and there were tears. But the worship, dance, testimonies, photos and videos were bursting with Teresa’s love for Jesus, love for the people around her, and love for the life she’d been given. It was a beautiful tribute to a woman of God who knew the importance of letting Jesus’ love shine through her. She lived her 58 years to the full! So there was much thanksgiving and joy even amidst the sorrow.

The Bible tells us about many qualities and gifts that we’re meant to nurture in our lives. The greatest and most important of these is love.

God himself is love. Love casts out fear. Love covers a multitude of wrongs. Love brings people together. Love conquers evil. Love fashions us into a closer representation of our Father.

That’s fine you may say. But when all is said and done,  what’s the big “take-away”?

For me, it’s like Teresa’s mom said at the memorial service: love God, pray more, and love the people in your life. Nothing else is more important or more rewarding.

So, as I told my son in our skype conversation yesterday afternoon, when I see him next I will be holding him a little closer, hugging him more tightly, and telling him “I love you” more often. The same goes for my other children, their spouses, my husband, my grandchildren, my parents, siblings, friends, and even folks I don’t know too well yet.

I’ve been reminded (again) to love people more, and things less. Even (and maybe especially) when I don’t like what someone is doing or the decisions they’re making, I still need to put an arm around them and tell them I love them.

Whether we’re 3 or 30 or 60 or 90, we all yearn to love and be loved. It’s the most basic need of humanity. It’s how God has made us.

Jesus himself left us with two great commandments: Love God and love people.

If we can do this, not perfectly but faithfully, with everything we have and are,  then we ourselves will be with the Lord when this present life is done. What’s more, we’ll also experience the profound joy of bringing with us the only treasure we can ever take into eternity: other people whom Jesus, through us, has loved into the Kingdom of God.

That’s the biggest take-away of all time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Learning to Read

Recently my daughter-in-law, Heather, posted a cool video on facebook. It depicted a momentous event in the life of our 5 year old granddaughter, Sophie. She was reading!

I detected the excitement in Sophie’s voice as the markings on the page morphed into words and ideas that suddenly made sense.

“Zac sat on a can. The ants ran to the jam. Zac had a pan. Zac had a fan.”

The story danced to life before her very eyes!

Though not in the video itself, Sophie’s mom was evidently close by. When Sophie hesitated so she could think about a word, her confidence didn’t waver.  “No no no, I got it!”,  “I know, I know!”,”Just a second!”.  She knew help was at hand if needed, but she also knew her mom believed in her.

Sophie knew she could do it, and she did.  Admirably – in this grandma’s unbiased opinion!

Sophie’s mom, Heather, is a woman who loves to read and appreciates a good book. So am I.  In fact, last year I made it an item on my “bucket list” to read at least another 1,000 books in my lifetime. And yes, I am actually keeping track. In the last 12 months I’ve read 87 books. At this rate I will be close to 75 years old by the time I reach my objective. There are many wonderful books out there to choose from. But the best one I’ve ever found is the Bible. It is truth, it is life-giving and life-changing, it is powerful. I wouldn’t trade it for all the other books in the world.

Soon Sophie will be like her mom and grandma – able to read all sorts of books, and even the Bible, on her own. My excitement for her is great – a whole new world of adventure and wisdom is opening up for her.

This little vignette of Sophie learning to read provides a wonderful picture of how God relates to His kids who are learning to navigate their way their through the story of  life in this world.

At times I struggle to make sense out of the things going on around me.  Relationships are often hard to read. Sometimes it seems impossible to decipher what is playing out on the page of today, let alone anticipate what tomorrow will bring.  The end of the story is a mystery. Recognizing the signs, interpreting the clues, and putting it all together into an intelligible narrative is not for the fainthearted.

In living my daily life, I want to be like Sophie learning to read – willing to receive instruction, and then confident to forge ahead.

In my life so far I have had many teachers. The best one by far has been Jesus. He has taught me so much, and I have tons more to learn.  I love the security of knowing that He is never far away. He is wise and patient. He encourages me, while challenging my capabilities.  He is there in Spirit to guide me, whisper in my ear, and help me through the tough and confusing bits. He trusts me to ask for His help when I need it.  He blesses me with the confidence to persevere and to push through to the end because He believes in me.

The Lord delights when I am not afraid or intimidated by what I see before me. Even when I have to stop to think – and pray – whether it be for a few minutes, several days or longer, it’s okay.

Because I am my Father’s daughter, He loves to hear me declare: “No no no, I got it!”, “I know, I know!”, “Wait a second!”.

So He waits. He smiles. Like the good Father he is, He delights in His child’s accomplishments. He knows I am learning from the best. And He’s always there when I need Him.

Learning to read with the Master is a joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On becoming a Sexagenarian

Tomorrow I will become a sexagenarian.  I will be turning 60 years old.  I can hardly believe it! Six decades of living … six zero … six times ten. Put another way it means I have turned 20 three times; or done 3o twice. Three score years. Unbelievable — especially since I don’t feel at all 60 in my head.

My body now, is another matter. In increasing measure I have been picked and poked by my physician, cracked by my chiropractor, drilled by the dentist, manipulated by a masseuse, and fixed in physio.  I haven’t quite achieved hormone happiness but I like to believe I’m getting close. I faithfully do my morning stretches, stay active in Aquafit and try to eat a healthful diet.

Most days the aches and pains come and go, reminding me to cherish every day without them, and enjoy each day in spite of them.

Turning 60 feels like more of a milestone than any birthday to date. It’s a kind of watershed, like the end of summer moving into fall.

Being the reflective person that I am, I have been reminiscing lately on the journey of my life. Please indulge me as I share a few truths gathered along the way.

Prayer works, and God is good – all the time.

The best things in life aren’t things.

Having weathered marital storms as well as oceans of joy over the years, my relationship with Peter is stronger now because of them. Thirty-eight years of living with the same person will make you better or bitter. It’s made me better for sure. I love him with all my heart.

I’ve had the awesome privilege of being a mom to 4 wonderful kids. Now that they all have partners of their own, the circle of my love has expanded.  And the joy of being a grandma is a wonderful and magical thing. It amazes me how I can love so many people with all my heart!

My affection and appreciation for my birth family has deepened with the passage of time as well. As we four siblings work together in caring for our nonagenarian parents who still live in their own home, we have become bonded in a very special way. I am grateful for their dedication, patience, laughter and encouragement.

I have learned the value of sleep and rest. I know what I can handle and try to pace myself accordingly. I don’t mind being the first to leave an evening gathering to head home to bed.

It’s alright to put my PJ’s on right after supper, or leave them on all day (provided I don’t have to go out anywhere!).

A good belly laugh does wonders for the body and spirit. The tears remove toxins from the body, it’s great exercise for the ab flab, it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and suppresses pain.

I don’t have to color my hair – gray hair is the crown of the aged.

I’ve lived through some incredible times in history: the first man on the moon, the bringing down of the Berlin wall, Beatlemania.

I can accept that there are many things beyond my control.

It’s positive to push my physical limits, but it’s equally good to be able to say with genuine acceptance, “I can’t do that anymore”.

It’s humbling and exhilarating to be asked by younger folk for a listening ear, some advice, or prayer for a particular issue. I love being a spiritual mom and mentor.

My favorite words are “I love you”,  “Please”, “Thank you”, and “I’m sorry – forgive me”.

Senior discounts ROCK! I’ve only had a few (most begin at 65), but the taste I’ve had has been delicious!

Facebook doesn’t have to be a waste of time. It helps me stay in touch with family and friends around the world. It’s fun to be able to play Scrabble and other games on-line with people near and far.

It’s a comfort to know that I am not the only one to experience certain oddities in life. A friend told me the other day that sometimes she opens her mouth and her mother comes out!  So good to know I’m not alone.

I have many younger friends. They keep me mentally and spiritually alert. They are a joy to interact with, and will still be alive when I am old.

My older friends are gold. We share, we sympathize, we understand each other in a way the younger generation can not.

As I enter my 7th decade on this earth, I refuse to be a miserabilist. Life is too good and beautiful to have an Eeyore outlook.

I want to laugh lots, have a joyful song in my heart, and thank God for everything wonderful and right in the world. I want to count my blessings in celebration. These are choices I’m making every day.

So if you see me slipping into self-pity, or getting down in the dumps, please remind me (gently) to lift my gaze. That’s another thing I’ve learned over the decades: it’s good to be accountable!

I’ve lived a lot of years. Instead of being sad that certain stages and ages are over, I’m thankful that they happened.

I may be turning 60, but I look forward to the future with hope. Psalm 92:14 assures me, “They shall still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming ‘ the Lord is upright, He is my Rock!'”

I believer the best is yet to come. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  Happy 60th Birthday to me!

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Changes, Choices, Family, Gratitude, Hope, Identity, Love, Testing/Trials | 10 Comments

“J’ai faim, Papa”

Yesterday I was out for an early morning walk in a neighborhood park. It was quiet. It was fresh and beautiful. I was alone with my thoughts and prayers.

Then out of the blue there it was: a message printed in a childish hand with yellow sidewalk chalk on the walkway in front of me. Enclosed in a speech bubble were the words “J’ai faim, Papa”.  (“I’m hungry, Papa”.)

I had no idea what child wrote those words. Their situation was unknown to me. In any case it was a powerful prompt that got me thinking.

Am I hungry? What am I hungry for?

As I continued on my way through the park, thoughts began to tumble through my head.

I was hungry for breakfast. What could I eat when I got home? Maybe some yogurt and home-made granola, or toast with peanut butter and banana. A cup of tea would be nice.

Then my thinking took a different turn. It was like someone said to me, “Yes, but what are you really hungry for?”

The answers bubbled up from a well inside.

I am hungry for a world where school girls aren’t abducted and sold into forced marriages or the sex trade.

I’m hungry for a world where wives and daughters don’t live in fear of becoming victims of an “honor attack”.

I’m hungry for a world where babies aren’t aborted, where suicides don’t happen, where cancer doesn’t cause my friends to suffer and die.

I’m hungry for just governments, faithful relationships, the innocence of children, and no more goodbyes.

I’m hungry for a life where there is no more pain, no more tears, no more hunger.

Impossible you say. I don’t believe so.

The human spirit yearns for more than what we have in this present life. Desire burns inside each one of us for something beyond what we experience here and now. We are “hungry” and “thirsty” because, if we are brutally honest with ourselves, we know that what we have right now just doesn’t seem to satisfy. And it never will. There must be something better, something more – there has to be!

St. Augustine describes our situation this way: “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him.”

In the midst of all our striving and struggle, our pride and our pain, the Lord is the only answer to our human predicament. Only He can fix our broken lives.

I pray that that little child’s simple words, written on the sidewalk, touched more lives than mine yesterday morning. They express the deepest longing of all humanity.

Those words echo the cry of a famished heart: “J’ai faim, Papa”.

“I’m hungry, Papa”.

I need you. I need you to do something.

Come into my heart.

Send your Son into our world again. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

 

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“The times, they are a’changin …”

I have always been a sensitive and somewhat sentimental person. They say that natural tendencies become more pronounced with age. I wonder if that’s what’s going on with me.

Tonight I feel thoughtful, and yes, sentimental. I am happy/sad because the sands of life are shifting yet again and “the times, they are a’changin’ … ”

These last few days have been an emotional ride of reflections about life, changes, growing up and growing old, the past and what is yet to come.

When I was young, I thought as many young people do. I believed that the season I was in would last forever. Time seemed long. I remember my own school days when I could hardly wait for the arrival of summer holidays. It was a wondrous feeling at the end of June to see two whole months of vacation stretching out on the horizon before me. It seemed endless …

I remember wondering when my kids were babies, if I would always be a sleep-deprived mom forever changing diapers and wiping spit-up off my shirts. That season passed.

When they were a little older I recall the incessant questions, endless lessons on sharing, and demonstrations of saying sorry and asking forgiveness. Training for life was a constant and daily activity. That season passed.

In the teen-age years there were late nights of waiting to hear the car pull safely into the driveway, discussions on dating, part-time jobs, prayers about future direction. There were many musical moments involving recorders, acoustic guitars, electric guitars and basses, and drums. The house was a hive of hustle and bustle, friends and animated arguments. That season passed.

Now all those days are gone. My nest is almost empty. The house is very quiet most days.  It is a bittersweet time. I know now that the seasons of life do not last forever. I see the changing scenes of life with more clarity.  I am reminded that only God is forever.

This weekend has been full to overflowing: Easter observances with fellow believers, special meals and visits with family, the engagement of our only daughter to the love of her life, meeting and holding my 1 month old great-nephew for the first time, saying goodbye to my nephew who is heading off for 3 months overseas to learn Russian and travel with a friend, celebrating our daughter’s birthday today and my hubby’s birthday tomorrow.

Tonight my heart is full. I am so blessed … but still, there’s a little tug. What now?

The gifts are unwrapped, the celebrations are over, the guests have gone home and the mess is cleaned up. It’s getting late; I am tired. The future seems in flux. The winds of change are blowing … again.

At the end of the day, when I’m alone with my memories and my thoughts, I realize again that the only thing about this life that doesn’t change is change itself. Some changes are good and welcome and occasions for much rejoicing; others unfortunately, are not.

But in the midst of it all I remind myself that Jesus is my Rock. He is the still point in this turning world, and only in Him do all things hold together. This is my comfort. This is my hope. This is my peace.

One of my favorite hymns puts it this way:

“Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ.”   (Words: Nahum Tate (1653-1715) and Nicholas Brady (1659-1726).

At the end of the day when all I have left is Jesus, I find that He is all I need.

The times may be a’changin’, but Jesus never does.

 

 

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Posted in Changes, Choices, Decision, Family, Gratitude, Hope, Testing/Trials | 1 Comment