The Cycle of Life

My parents died in the same year – Mom in April and Dad in August.  I remember my sisters and I looking at each other and saying “We are now the older generation.”

Until that time we could think of ourselves as young – it was our parents’ and their siblings who were old.

But now that generation is gone and we are the old ones.

Even then, still in our 50’s and 60’s, we did not really feel old.

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But time has passed and we are slowing down.  We look at each other and see the wrinkles, the grey hair, the slower gait and realize we have come to the last chapter in the book.

With that in mind, recently I have seen so many posts on Facebook of the next generation – my daughter, my nieces – becoming grandparents and it has made my heart so happy.

Watching them and their excitement at having grandchildren brings back the memories of that time in my life.  I relive those wonderful days of children and grandchildren.  Now I rejoice in great grandchildren.

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I love this picture of my youngest grandchild.  She is 8 now but this is still a favorite memory!

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When this little grandson was born, doctors were not sure he would live and said if he did he would be a weak little guy.   Today he is 6 foot 6 inches tall and anything but weak or little.  God is good!

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Love this picture of our youngest son with two of his children welcoming their baby sister.  All three are grown up now but still a joy to me.

Seeing their joy, seeing the next generation take the stage – it brings me such satisfaction to know our family will continue on.

Shakespeare said it well:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

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Each stage of life has had its blessings and its difficulties.

Those carefree days of childhood with little or no responsibilities.  Still, there was the pressure to do well in school, trying to “fit in” with the other kids.  Hoping to make friends.

Young adulthood brought the joy of first love and marriage and babies.  What excitement those first years of marriage brought.  Yet, there were sleepless nights with babies who would not stop crying, worries about meeting the bills.  For me that time also brought sorrow as my husband was killed in an accident and I struggled as a single mom with two young girls.

Middle age came.  Finally, jobs were more stable and money problems were less.  The kids were at a age to really enjoy adventures with me and many evenings were spent playing board games, shopping or just “hanging out” together.  For me there was new joy as I found love again with a wonderful man who loved my girls.  However, I began to realize my body was aging.  I could still do what I did in my 20’s but it took me longer and I was many times exhausted by the end of the day.

Now old age has come.  This body refuses to do what it once did.  Not only does it take me longer to walk the mall, I simply cannot shop as long as I once did.  My husband and I love road trips but even those have to be shorter and I am exhausted for days recovering from the trip.  Still, there are joys in this stage.

I can get up before dawn, sit with a cup of coffee and watch the sun raise.  Or, I can turn over in bed, pull the covers over and sleep until long after the sun has risen.  Lunch and dinner can be a gourmet meal with our best china sitting at our dining room table sharing a great conversation with my husband.  Or, we can eat pizza on paper plates while sitting in our recliner and watching a movie.  There is a great deal of freedom to just do whatever I want to do.

Realizing that my days are much fewer than when I started this journey called life, I am more appreciative of each one.  Thankful for the sunshine, for the rain.  Thankful for the silly jokes my husband tells, for the scrabble games we play.  Thankful for the phone calls from grandchildren checking on me.  Thankful for the hot shower.

A study by Laura Carstensen, a psychologist at Stanford found that as people age they got happier and their emotions bounced around less.  Our drama-filled days seen to lessen as our negative emotions such as sadness, anger and fear become less pronounced.

Psychologist Karl Pillemer interviewed over 1,000 older people for his book,  30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.  He found that:

“Many people said something along these lines: ‘I wish I’d learned to enjoy life on a daily basis and enjoy the moment when I was in my 30’s instead of my 60’s,’” he says. Elderly interviewees are likely to “describe the last five or ten years as the happiest years of their lives.”

So my advice to those in the earlier cycles of life:

Enjoy each moment.  Do not let the difficult times stop you from enjoying all the good times.  This day, this moment in time will not come again.  Look for all the good in your life and savor that experience.

As for me knowing I am playing out the last chapter of my story, I take comfort in God’s Word.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

May my last chapter be my best!

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Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-is-so-good-about-growing-old-130839848/#xr2BBzFeUxqfgrfg.99

Whatever Happened to the Blood?

Growing up in a conservative church background we sang a lot of songs about the blood:

  • There is Power in the Blood
  • Oh the Blood of Jesus
  • What Can Wash Away My Sins? (Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
  • The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power

I hear less and less songs about the blood.  Many seemed to think such songs “turn off” people we are trying to reach.  The very thought of being washed in blood is, honestly, a little strange.  When I turn on my shower I would be horrified to see blood instead of water coming from the shower head.  And who would wash their white tops in blood and expect them to come out sparkling clean.

On the surface it is a silly concept.

Yet when the Bible was written little was known scientifically about blood.  Everything the Bible said about it was in opposition to scientific knowledge.

For instance, throughout the Bible we are told that the life is in the blood.  Yet, until just a few hundred years ago doctors would bleed patients thinking losing blood would cure them.

Recently reading a book by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, In His Image, it was interesting to see how science has discovered the cleansing power of blood.

Such a pipeline exists inside each one of us, servicing one hundred trillion cells in the human body.  An endless supply of oxygen, amino acids, nitrogen, sodium, potassium,…surges past our cells, carried on blood cell rafts or suspended in the fluid….that same pipeline ferries away refuse, exhaust gases, and worn-out chemicals….The components of this circulatory system cooperate to accomplish a simple goal:  nourishing and cleansing each living cell…Every cell in every body lives at the mercy of blood.

We just finished celebrating Easter where much is said about the blood of Jesus being shed and his death that followed.  But, again that blood was shed not for death – but for life.

It is not true that blood represents life to the surgeon but death to the Christian.  Rather, we come to the table also to partake of His life.  Christ came not just to give us an example of a way of life but to give us life itself.  Spiritual life if not ethereal and outside us, something that we must work hard to obtain; it is in us, pervading us, as blood is in every living being.

I can not do justice to this excellent book that uses the science of our body to better understand what it means to be made in the image of God.  It is worth your checking out.

It Has Been 35 Years!

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35 years – but the memory of that time is still clear in my mind.

I had moved back to Illinois from Missouri to be near family.  My husband of 13 years had been killed in an accident and with him my dreams of a home in the country was gone.  With two little girls to raise by myself I needed the support of family.

At the time of the move the thought that I would ever love again to me seemed impossible.

But as time passed and the years ahead all alone seemed so hard, I began to wonder if I could find happiness again.

And then I met him.

Thirty-five years this month this wonderful man asked me to meet him for coffee one morning.  Nervous and wondering if this was really the right thing to do I said yes.

We both were scared as our relationship began.  His first marriage had ended in pain and sorrow as his first wife announced one day she no longer wanted to be married.  Trying to raise his two teenage children alone he was lonely too but also afraid.

Would he be hurt again if he gave his heart away to me?  Would his kids be okay with this new relationship?

I too was scared.  How would my girls feel about this?  Could I really love someone again?  Guilt also entered my mind.  If I loved again, would I betray the memory of my first husband?

During those first days in February and March I played this song over and over as I prayed and asked God for wisdom in this new relationship.

Thankful we overcome the fears and were married.  Bought our first home!

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Thirty-five years since we met for coffee.  My, what those years have bought.

  • 20 grandchildren
  • 9 great-grandchildren
  • there has been sorrow – death of our oldest son and three grandchildren
  • there has been joy – seeing our children married, grandchildren born
  • we have walked the streets of New York with a team from Teen Challenge witnessing and reaching out to drug addicts
  • lived as missionaries in the Philippines
  • been pastors of three churches, music ministers
  • survived my husband’s heart attack and my battle with breast cancer

Today as I think back to that first coffee date, I’m so thankful he asked me and that I said yes.

 

God’s Promises for the “Old Folks”

As I wrote a few weeks ago, turning 70 was an emotional time for me.

I’m “Officially” Old!

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In sharing with one of my good friends, who recently also turned 70, we came up with some quotes about being old.  (Can’t claim these as originals.)

You know you are getting old when:

  • You used to do the shuffle; now you just shuffle along with the lost.
  • The twinkle in your eye is only the reflection of the sun on your bifocals.
  • You remember when you could refer to your knees as left and right instead of good and bad.
  • You can remember getting through a day without taking a picture of anything.
  • Your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio.
  • Most of the names in your address book start with “Dr.”

And the one thing I really love about growing old:

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I had to laugh at this one.  My granddaughter recently had a sleepover at our house.  When she comes over, she comes prepared for Grandma to do nothing but play with her.  I try to keep up with her but often find I need to excuse myself to use the bathroom.  At one point she asked so innocently,

Grandma, why do you go to the bathroom so much?

I just thought,

Someday you will know little one.

But in reading God’s Word I found some wonderful thoughts on how God views the older generation.  I love these.

Gray hair is a mark of distinction; the award for a God-loyal life.  Proverbs 16:31

That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house.  They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.  Psalm 92:14-14

I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.  Isaiah 46:4

Not that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.  Psalm 71:18

All my life I have been active working for the Lord in my church. You name it, I have probably done it. Worked in nursery, played the piano for worship, led the women’s ministry, organized kids klubs, taught Bible classes and even cleaned the toilet.  Now my age and energy have limited how much of that I can do.

Yet I have many more years and I want to still be of service to the Lord.  As I have sought the Lord for what He would have me do in this “last stage” of life, I found a new purpose – to be an encourager for the younger women who are now doing the work I used to do.

To pray for them and speak words of encouragement. To be there to offer advice (only if asked); otherwise to just let them know someone is in their corner cheering them on.

So I have discovered:

Sometimes you get to what you thought was the end….and you find it’s a whole new beginning.

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Have You Had Your Checkup?

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Every six months I get a routine checkup from my doctor.  She checks my A1C, my cholesterol, vitamin D levels, my blood pressure.  She listens to my heart and takes a look at my ears and my throat.  We discuss any problems I might have.

I keep these appointments faithfully not because I am sick but because I want to make sure I remain healthy.  By seeing her on a regular basis and discussing my health if something does go wrong, we can catch it before it is a serious threat to my life.

As a follower of Christ, I think it is good that I also do a routine checkup on my spiritual life.

Some questions I ask myself:

  1. Am I sharing the good news of Jesus or just sharing my own ideas?  Do I study God’s Word so I know what it says or do I just pass on what someone else says without bothering to check God’s Word for the truth?
  2. Am I making those in my cirlce a matter of intense prayer.  What am I doing to reach beyond my own circle?  Am I praying for other groups of people, other nations or only “my four and no more”?
  3. Am really living in agreement with what I say I believe? Do I “walk the walk” or only “talk the talk”?
  4. An old song I used to hear goes through my mind when I ask these questions.  That song said:

If I were arrested for being a Christian, would there by any evidence to convict me?

 

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Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did….1 John 2:6

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Things Mother Never Said to Me

 

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It’s almost Mother’s Day – and my memories of Mom keep coming back so strong.  She was such a feisty lady.  In her 60’s she drove a bright yellow car and slowed down only slightly for stop signs.  She loved to show my daughters how to do the Charleston.   (Does the younger generation today have any idea what that is?)

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She gave me a lot of good advice (some I followed, some I did not).  But in honor of her great sense of humor, I thought I would share some things my mother NEVER said to me.  (And I’m sure there are things other mothers have NEVER said to their children.)

 

  1. How on earth can you see the TV sitting so far back?
  2. Just leave all the lights on…it makes the house look more cheery.
  3. Let me smell that blouse…yeah, it’s good for another week.
  4. If Susan’s mother says it’s OK, that’s good enough for me.
  5. If everybody else jumps off the bridge, be sure and join them.
  6. Your curfew is just a general time to shoot for.  It’s not like I’m running a prison around here.
  7. Don’t worry about sharing your candy with your sister.  After all, it is yours.
  8. You are too tired to do your homework tonight.  OK.  Just be sure and turn off the TV by bedtime.
  9. Don’t worry about wearing a coat.  Spring is only two months away.
  10. I don’t have a Kleenex with me.  Just use your sleeve.

Are We Grateful?

I can’t take credit for this story.  I heard it somewhere along the way, but I don’t know who or where.  So – if anyone knows, please let me know.  But the story is so good as I think about how we fail so often to be grateful for our “every day” blessings.

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One afternoon a shopper at the local mall felt the need for a coffee break.  She bought herself a little bag of cookies and put them in her shopping bag.  She then got in line for coffee, found a place to sit at one of the crowded tables, and then taking the lid off her coffee and taking out a magazine she began to sip her coffee and read.  Across the table from her a man sat reading a newspaper.   After a minute or two she reached out and took a cookie.   As she did, the man seated across the table reached out and took one too.  This put her off, but she did not say anything.

A few moments later she took another cookie.  Once again the man did so too.  Now she was getting a bit upset, but still she did not say anything.  After having a couple of sips of coffee she once again took another cookie.  So did the man.  She was really upset by this – especially since now only one cookie was left.  Apparently the man also realized that only one cookie was left.  Before she could say anything he took it, broke it in half, offered half to her, and proceeded to eat the other half himself.  Then he smiled at her and, putting the paper under his arm, rose and walked off.

Was she steamed!  Her coffee break ruined, already thinking ahead of how she would tell this offense to her family, she folded her magazine, opened her shopping bag, and there discovered her own unopened bag of cookies.

Recently my husband had a major surgery.  In recovering from that surgery he was reduced to having me do a lot of things for him that he would normally do.  That first week home I brought him medicine, put on his socks for him, basically waited on him “hand and foot.”

As he slowly regained his strength and began taking care of his own needs, we both thought about how we take for granted so much each day, how grateful we should be for the “little things.”

  • being able to get out of bed without anyone’s help
  • being able to put on our own socks and shoes
  • being able to walk outside and see the beautiful flowers
  • being able to get in the tub and have a relaxing bath

The list could go on and on, but we realize we need to be grateful for what we have instead of ungrateful for what we do not have.

“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm. 9:1

“O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” Psalm 95:1-3

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”       Psalm 103:1-5

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Ephesus 5:20

Thank you Lord for waking me up this morning.  Thank you that I was able to fix my own breakfast, dress myself and enjoy another day of life.  Thank you that my husband is here with me to enjoy that cup of coffee.  Thank you that I can see the beautiful flowers starting to bloom.  Thank you for being able to speak to my children on the phone or share pictures with them on Facebook.  Most of all, thank you for your mercy and love to me.

What are you grateful for today?