Growing Older

Aging with Grace

Grandmother Talking With Teenage Granddaughter On BenchI am forty-four years old. 44! When I was in college I thought 40-somethings were OLD and, I guess if I were honest, somewhat irrelevant to my life. I was young and excited about the future before me. The last 20 years have flown by in a blur–so filled with activity and new experiences and busyness. And now much of what I was looking forward to is in my past, to some extent. Things like falling in love and getting married, having babies, and buying a home. I feel blessed beyond measure to have experienced each of these things. Some of you have had other dreams–maybe it was traveling the world or being a missionary or owning your own company. Many of us, by this time in our lives, have seen the fruition of some of our dearest and most important dreams. So now what?

Now what do we look forward to? Age spots? Wrinkles? Gray hair? Eyes that can’t see as well? Should my priority be to make myself look as young as possible? I can use all  kinds of powders and gels and creams and I can eat right and exercise–and they may delay the process of growing old–but they will not stop the process of my body aging. We cannot stop the clock.

In this culture, where physical beauty and youth are so highly valued, it is sometimes easy to feel very irrelevant. We feel like we have little of value to offer young people. They seem like they know it all. But, if I think back on those days, I know two things without a shadow of a doubt–

One (and, by far, the most important): I didn’t know it all, I only thought I did.   

And two: The adults who influenced me–the ones I would listen to–were the ones who cared deeply about me.

The Bible says:

Job 12:12 Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding.

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.

Proverbs 20:29 The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.

There is a natural occurrence of getting wiser as you get older. Yes, there are some exceptions to this. I am sure we can all think of at least one.  But most of us, as we experience joy, devastation, even endless days of routine, will be learning.  Learning to grow in a deeper walk with God, to trust Him, and to walk by faith. Over the course of the last 20 years, I have learned that I do not have all of the answers. And I have learned that I still have much growing to do on this journey.

But I have also learned how to handle some things in a godly way. And I am learning how to react and respond to the things I cannot change. And, as this learning process occurs, whether we are 22 or 52 or 91, we have learned something that could help a person coming behind us in this journey of life.

May we care deeply about those coming after us. May we share the wisdom that God has granted us through our experiences of living life. And may we continue to look to Him and His word as our final authority.  We must remember that it is not our opinions that matter, but what God says. If we live that and speak that and share that, maybe God will use us to help a younger person in need of guidance. Let’s turn our eyes outward and use these years to glorify God and help others along their way!

If You Don’t Like Who You Are…It Is Your Fault.

Do you agree with this statement?   I heard someone say this the other day.   My initial reaction was, “Hey!  Wait a minute!  I can’t control the circumstances in my life!”  But then I thought about all of the things I can control.  I can control how much I eat and exercise.  Which affects not only how I look but how I feel and how much energy I have.  I can control how I use the money that I have been blessed with…whether it is a little or a lot.  I can choose to spend, save, give.  The choices I make directly correlate to the peace I experience in my life.  I can control how I respond to my husband…my children…my extended family…my friends.  I can respond in love and kindness or I can respond in irritation or bitterness or indifference.  I have the choice to make a withdrawal from that relationship or a deposit into that relationship.

What about the circumstances we can’t control?  An illness or a job lost or a tragic death in the family,  just to name a few.  This is where I had trouble with this statement.  And yet…it still comes down to facing these circumstances (eventually) with submission and trust.  My sweet cousins lost their dear father (my uncle) at the beginning of this year.  The way they have responded to this tragedy has been such an inspiration and example to me.  They are godly women who have chosen to submit their wills and lives to God and to trust in Him, even through the darkness.  This attitude is the only one that brings peace and contentment.  If  they would have chosen to shake their fists at God and shout “WHY?”  it would not only have harmed their peace of mind, but their families’, as well.  I imagine that their first response was to question God and to respond in anger.  But, somewhere along the way, they both made a choice.  A choice to trust our Heavenly Father.  A choice to follow God even when it is painful.  A choice to believe that God loves them, even though He allowed an incredible tragedy to change their lives forever.

My conclusion is that this statement is probably true.  If I am unhappy, do not have any friends, struggle with being overweight, or am in debt up to my eyeballs, or any number of things…my first action must be to look at myself.  To find out if there is any sin that may be causing this problem in my life.

Of course, there are things that cause much pain and heartache, bringing about some of these things that are beyond our control…medical conditions that mess with our metabolism…spouses who do not join us in our financial goals…etc.   These things are tough things to deal with and may be completely out of our control.  But I guess it still comes down to attitude and living out the fruits of the Spirit in my life as I deal with the things that are difficult and painful.    Love.  Joy.  Peace.  Patience.  Kindness.  Goodness.  Faithfulness.  Gentleness.  Self-Control.

We all make wrong choices sometimes.  May we be prayerful enough to recognize them,  humble enough to admit them, and obedient enough to draw our strength from Christ as we pick ourselves up and move on.

Galatians 5:22-23; Proverbs 3:5-6

Embracing Change

Wow.  Twenty-two years ago I got married. I worked full-time for two and a half years and then quit when I had my baby. When that baby was four we started homeschool kindergarten for fun. If it didn’t work, we hadn’t lost anything, right? But it did work. We both loved it. Three more babies came along and as they grew they joined our school room. The oldest baby graduated. That seemed like a good time to put one of the babies into Christian school for high school. And the next year, another baby started her 9th grade year in the Christian school. The plans were to keep the last baby home until 9th grade. But, alas, I was not counting on just how lonely that baby would be without her siblings. How much she desired structure in her education. And how worn out and tired I was of homeschooling.  And, so here we are, the last baby left our home this morning for her first day of school.

I thought that I would homeschool  all of my kids through high school. But God directed us differently.  There are a lot of emotions and questions that go along with a decision like this one.  Are we giving up?  What will my homeschool friends think? How did time move so quickly? Can’t I go back for just a day?

I recently read a book called “Who Moved My Cheese?” I highly recommend it for anyone who is dealing with a lot of change in their lives. It is a short little book that can be read in a half hour. I got it from the library. It is a little parable that opened my eyes to the necessity of embracing change and moving on.  Sitting and mourning for days gone by is not helpful to anyone. It is important to follow God’s leading and then move forth with purpose and confidence.

Change is a constant in our lives. Some changes are big and some are small.  Not cooperating with change doesn’t mean that change will not occur. Of course, there may be a period of mourning and sadness, but in time we need to make a conscious decision to stop looking at the past and set our eyes on the path in front of us.

And, hey, I will always be a homeschool mom at heart.  I will always be learning new things and ready to teach anyone who wants to hear what I have learned.  It is just who I am.

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