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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

YESTERDAY; BUT A DREAM

It's a new day...the sunrise is spectacular as I type on our back porch. I am chilly, yes, chilly, sitting here in my workout clothes because the current temperature is only 62 degrees...It is difficult to believe that in just a couple of short hours, we will be back into the nineties, the dog days of summer.

Did you see how blue the sky was yesterday? It truly was that North Carolina/Colorado hue!

Did you get outside in nature yesterday? My early morning mountain hike with my girlfriend of more than 20 years gave us a great chance to look in on each other's lives and work out at the same time. Awesome!

Did you go to your place of employment with new energy after the weekend and carry a positive attitude, which we all by now know can be very contagious?

Did you help someone in need yesterday? I had the opportunity to meet Melanie, a homeless woman in our community and help her out a little bit. She is addicted to meth and we talked a lot about her disease and how it had driven her down in her 30 years of life. I am hoping that the little bit of time I spent with her will go a long way to encourage her on this new day.

Did you connect with any loved ones yesterday? That includes those that live in our homes and those that do not. I had the blessing of a long phone call with my sister, Laura Lea, an afternoon visit with my husband, and a one mile walk around the track with our Daddy, age 89, his 3rd time for the day!

Did you stop for a moment and utter the words: "Thank You", to the One who made us? As a 50 something woman, that has become my most frequent, through-out my day, prayer.

Now that I am in my fifties, the list of loved ones that never made it to their 50th birthday has grown longer. There is my high school friend, Kathleen, a co-worker and friend, Debbie L., a best friend, Jil, our son's 1st grade Sunday School Teacher, Julie R., our Pediatrician, age 38, at the time of his passing, Dr. E. Umpierre, a dear friend's 40 year old husband, Doug, our nephew, age 25, Brad, just to name a few. As I consider each one, with fondness, it causes me to "take pause", remembering that every day matters.

Just this past week, a local mother, Jeanette Prather, age 50 and her son, Matthew, age 15 perished in a family car accident just south of Atlanta.
Mrs. Prather's husband and 18 year old son, Stephen survived the crash. While we do not know this family personally, we know that they live just a short distance from our home and we mourn along with them. As I read about Mrs. Prather in the paper, it was easy to see that she understood the importance of making her days count. "Jeanette was a loving wife and mother and a loyal friend. She was part of the Outreach Ministry in her church. Jeanette had recently earned her Master's Degree in Speech Pathology so that she could help children with speech difficulties." And in reading about 15 year old, Matthew in the news, it became clear that his parents had already passed the baton of purposeful living onto their sons: "Matthew had a real heart for missions in Africa. In fact, he was scheduled to leave on July 4th for a one month trip to serve the children there."

There is a favorite quote of mine that comes from The Sanskrit, a historical Indo-Aryan Language:

"Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow is only a vision. But today, well-lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day, for it is life, the very life of life."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NO EXPIRATION DATE

Last night, my husband and I enjoyed homemade apple cobbler with spray whipped cream. Unfortunately we were out of vanilla ice cream which eliminated the chance for ala mode! This after dinner delicacy was actually so good that I decided to surprise our son with the same treat. He was holed up in his room, so I went ahead and fixed this dessert without even asking him if he wanted it.
When I had it all ready, with whipped cream, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar, and 3 musketeers chocolate syrup, I called him down.

He was very pleased when he first arrived in the kitchen...then upon his initial observation, he asked about the date on the syrup.
I responded with the truth: "I have no idea what the date on that syrup is."
Ok, now, don't be shocked, but he decided to check the date and it was May of 2005...I am not kidding!!! ( I wish I was!) Needless to say, it went straight in the trash and he fixed himself a new dessert!
WE had some good laughs about dates on products that are in our ten year old home and how we might want to check them out a little more often and a little more carefully in the future...
Soon, our son was checking the dates on some of our other things...the milk had a good date, the yogurt was okay, too.

Later, just before retiring for the night, our son and I started talking about other "expirations", like letting too much time go by before we open the Word.
If we are not careful, we wait too long to go to the Word for the answers to the big questions that we have in our lives. Just because we do not take the time to look in that direction, does not mean the answers are not there. If we are not careful, our days go by and we do not reap the benefits and the strength that it is in the Word for each of us to grab a hold of. As 50 something women, we realize more than ever that our lives on this earth have an "expiration date". Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 reminds us: "There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season. There is a time to be born and a time to die."

So, maybe you want to go check the dates of some of the products you have in your refrigerator, and perhaps you want to take stock in the date of the last time you delved into the Word as well.

Do something today that you have been putting off because we are not promised tomorrow. Only God knows the number of our days and He's not telling us that number.

"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever."
1 Peter 1:24-25

The Good News is that once we are His, considering God and His Word, there is NO EXPIRATION DATE!

Friday, June 26, 2009

SENIOR PICTURE DAY

Our 3rd President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson passed away on July 4, 1826 at the age of 83. He recognized the importance of time spent with loved ones. "The happiest moments of my life have been those which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family."

Today is senior picture day for our son, our last born.

Through the years, occasionally I would jot down memories in a small journal for each of our children. On Tuesday, February 27, 1996, 7:30 a.m. the entry reads:

"Happy Birthday, Walker! YOU are four years old today. The weather is beautiful and spring-like. It is early in the morning and it is already 61 degrees.
You will take blue cupcakes with chocolate icing and sprinkles to preschool today. Then, this afternoon, we will take you and five of your buddies to Discovery Zone. You are very excited. More to come later! I'm so glad you were born into our family four years ago on this day. Love, Mommy"

Ironically, we passed right by his preschool on our way to his photo shoot! As I watched our son posing for his senior pictures, first with a tux on and then in casual attire with his one year old Labrador Retriever, Gracie, so many remembrances flooded in and out of my mind! Just to mention a few of these...

...His actual day of birth early in the morning in 1992 when the doctor could not get him to respond at first and the pensive expression on my husband's face as he watched. Later, we heard that the cord was partially wrapped around his neck.

The smile that broke out on all of our faces every time he would call his big sis "La La", instead of her name, Leah.

How proud he was of himself on that first day of Kindergarten in 1997 in his yellow shirt, blue plaid shorts, and sneakers.

The summer before 4th grade and his disappointment over leaving two week camp, just two days after he had arrived there. We had to go pick him up after he broke his collar bone during a wrestling skills class.

The moments that he first learned to ride a two-wheeler, delighted in a sand castle, and flew across the surf on a skimboard...just to name a few...

For the 50 something woman, memories can surface in a blink of an eye, many of which can bring such JOY and some that result in sorrow. Whichever it is, gladness or heartache, memories of those we hold dear are a gift because our remembrances are evidence that we have lived and loved.

Oscar Wilde was a writer who lived from 1854-1900. In his play, The Importance of Being Earnest, he came up with this line about memories:

"Memory...is the diary that we all carry about us." I agree.

And aren't we grateful for images that are captured on film. These photographs bring a sense of nostalgia, inspiring memories to come flooding back at a moment's notice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

YOU NEVER KNOW

I have learned that one never knows what will happen when the college experience begins anew in a life...What friends will be made, what will be my area of study, will I meet the love of my life????

When I graduated from high school in Atlanta, GA, in May 1976, I chose Tennessee Tech University because I heard it was a good school and I loved the rolling hills of Tennessee. You see, most of my family, including my Dad, attended a small school in East Tennessee called Carson Newman College. Being the 5th of six children, I took many trips there to deposit my older sibs to their new residence halls in TN. I am sure I spent hours in the back seat of a wood-paneled station wagon, gazing from the car window, at the rolling hills. Thus, the start of my love affair with the bucolic rolling hills of Tennessee, and later, a decision to attend a school there in 1976.

I attended TTU for two years before transferring to University of Georgia where I did end up meeting the love of my life on a blind date...but that is another story for another day!

The experience of sorority rush, was one I was told, I did not want to miss. Even if I did not choose to pledge a particular sorority, I would have the opportunity to meet a lot of different girls as I went through the week of rush.
So, I found myself in the midst of rush in no time flat...The sisters of Alpha Delta Pi chose me and I felt most comfortable with them, so it was a fit for both of us.
This is where I met eight friends that know me through and through, & love me still!
Aside from the fact that we all went to college together, our solid tradition started after Kay's wedding in December 1978. The rest of us (not Kay because she was on her honeymoon!!!) gathered at Kelly's childhood home, in Tullahoma, TN, for a sleepover and gift exchange. We had such a grand time, we said..."We must do this again!" and we did...for the next 30 + years, never missing a year...INCREDIBLE, countless memories along the way!!!
We have alternated meeting in different homes through the years. Delo consistently brings the candy cane cookies, Kelly, the sticky buns, Deb, the homemade pound cake, Kay, the chex mix with M & Ms, Jo Ann, the chicken salad and pimento cheese, Becky, the paper goods and sliced bread, 'cause she doesn't love to cook, and Leslie, the chips, dips and other delightful snacks for the same reason! I always bring the rich creme de menthe brownies and Susan brings the white chocolate peppermint candy and the cucumber spread. What a spread and a time of fellowship we have shared through the years !

A few years ago, we, the nine of us, took a trip to New York City to commemorate our 30th reunion!

All together, we have given birth to 16 incredible children.

Our group encompasses the careers of business, finance, nursing and education.

Most importantly, we all share a common faith and we share prayer concerns from year to year...We offer prayer support to one another through each year...And yes, thanks to Becky and Debby, the only actual sisters in our group, we have matching flannel gowns, videos and photo scrapbooks to share with our families!

In reading this, perhaps you might be inclined to share this with some young woman that is in your life...help her to see that she, too, can have a similar invaluable friend experience while she is in college.

You never know...

MY FRIEND, KELLY

I first met KELLY in the fall of 1976. Even though we are nearly the same age, she had somehow managed to be one year ahead of me in school, the smart girl that she is! I was beginning my freshman year in college. I was going through sorority rush without a clue about what I was doing. You see, my family had no sisterhood "legacies" to speak of. It was here at this medium-sized university, TTU, in Cookeville, Tennessee that I first met Kelly. Thankfully, Kelly and the rest of her ADPi sisters decided that I was a good fit for their group, and so began a story of friendship, of nine friends, in total, that has lasted a lifetime.

My dear friend, Kelly and I power-walked 6 miles in the North Georgia woods last Saturday.
We both are now 50 something woman who love to stay fit and we never lack for subjects to cover when we are together. We have celebrated marriages together, as we were in each other's weddings in 1982. Our wedding took place on Kelly's 24th birthday! We have attended baby showers for one another. We have watched our children grow into young men and women. We surprised each other in 2008 as we reached our 5oth birthdays! We have appreciated seeing our husbands develop a lifelong friendship. Yes, Kelly and I have reveled in a rich friendship, for sure.
We both love to cook and entertain, so we have doled out countless recipes via phone, letters, and email. We have taken pleasure in a friendship and camaraderie with seven other women for more than 30 years, a group you will read more about tomorrow!
One thing I have respected so much in my friend, Kelly is the way she has worked diligently in her nursing career for many years. Indeed, two of my FFs, Forever Friends from high school, Mary and Cindy have done the same in this identical profession. I have great respect for all that I know that work in this field, because it truly takes a unique individual to take care of and nurture the ill in our world. Kelly has worked in a variety of jobs, from a maternity nurse to a high school school nurse who counsels young pregnant teens. When the nine of us from TTU, gather for our annual reunion, Kelly always has the best stories from her experiences in caring for others.
As we walked on Saturday, Kelly told me about a friend of hers who is a 50 something woman. This friend declared to Kelly that she does not quite know what to do with herself, as her children have left and she is no longer taking care of them. This 50 something woman has not worked outside of the home for more than 20 years. And now, she is unsure of which direction to go in her life.
A multitude of my 50 something friends, like Kelly, still work countless hours outside of their homes. Many, like Kelly, are passionate about making a difference in their workplace. My FF, Jan, is another great example as she is contributing to her household by working with young disabled children. Wherever a 50 something woman might find herself, be it, full or part-time employment, volunteerism, caring for senior adults or grandchildren, enjoying a favorite sport, owning a business for the very first time, I trust that each of us will look after ourselves for a change...Like Kelly and me, put yourself on the list for that power-walk with a cherished friend...and let someone else make the pancakes just as we did this past Saturday morning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PURPOSE

The news is bad today..."Computer malfunction suspected in D.C. crash", Protest, crackdown in Iran", a local family's vacation ends in tragedy just hours from home when their son dies and mom is critically wounded in a one-car accident, and on a more personal note, today marks one year since our nephew, Brad's tragic fall. Yes, the news is tough to hear especially when you look around and see the continued signs of a failing economy everywhere you look.

And yet, as a 50 something woman, I feel this strong sense to remain hopeful for the future of one and all, this urgency for purpose in my days, reminding myself and others that our God is in the details of our days. It is up to us to trust Him and remain hopeful, even amidst uncertain times.

"Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn't permanent." ~Jean Kerr~

"Deep within you...nothing is hopeless. You are a child of God, and hope has been planted in you by God." ~Norman Vincent Peale~

"Nothing can be done without hope or confidence." ~Helen Keller~

Even as long ago as 600-400 B.C., when the book of Job was thought to be scribed, Job, himself lamented to God in Job 14:1-5 because life as Job knew it had become so bad, quite hopeless, one might say.

I want to "...apply my heart to instruction and my ears to words of knowledge."
Proverbs 23:12

I desire to "Listen, and be wise and keep my heart on the right path."
Proverbs 23:19

I long to "...apply my heart to all that I have observed and learn lessons from all I have seen." Proverbs 25:32

Yes...PURPOSE as I live out my days has become a real PRIORITY...and remaining HOPEFUL in trying times is a real PRIORITY, as well.

Therefore, "In all our ways, let us acknowledge Him, and He WILL direct our paths."
Proverbs 3:6

Monday, June 22, 2009

MY 65TH BLOG

To mark my 65th blog, I wanted to take out some time to thank my readers, my followers, including those who have left comments in the past weeks since I began this 50 Something Woman blog on April 8, 2009. You have given me much encouragement as I have traveled this road for the very first time.
Some of your comments that come to my mind bear repeating:

"We must take full advantage of this stage in your life. Circumstances can change in a heartbeat! Don't look back and say, 'I wish I had...'"

"Moving forward is a state of mind!"

"God gives different gifts and passions to each of us. It is up to us to use them."

"You are living with your heart wide open!"

As a 50 something woman, I realize more and more with each passing day that our life truly is a gift to be well-cared for. And that is why I begin this post by thanking the women in my life and I will end it by saying to these same women:

LET'S DO THE BEST WE CAN TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER!

The subsequent information comes to us from the
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. (www.komen.org)

Taking the following steps toward a healthier lifestyle can do wonders to lift the spirit, keep weight in check and most importantly, reduce your risk of breast cancer:

(1) MOVE AND GROOVE: If there is one thing breast cancer hates, it's an energetic, active lifestyle. The key to getting fit is doing something you love and doing it long enough to the all-important health benefits. Walking is something we all do every day anyway, so why not make it count? A mere 30 minute stroll at a brisk clip is a totally drama-free way to get fit. Bonus? Exercise lowers estrogen levels, fights obesity, lowers insulin levels and boosts the immune system.

(2) LIVE TO EAT WELL: A diet rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains is the ideal way to nourish your body.

(3) STEADY ON: Maintaining your ideal weight isn't just for looking good in your skinny jeans. Keeping the number on the scale in the healthy range can mean a decreased risk of breast cancer after menopause.

(4) KEEP THE (INNER) PEACE: Diet and exercise alone aren't enough to keep your body and mind in top form. Take special care of your emotional health by maintaining close relationships with family and friends as well as engaging in the activities you cherish. Reading a book on a Sunday afternoon or catching a movie with a friend are effortless ways to carve out some stress-free "me" time.

(5) GET IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: Don't make the mistake of riding shotgun when it comes to fighting breast cancer. Take control of your well-being by making sound diet and exercise choices, annual check-ups and recommended screenings.

While I have not had cancer myself, now that I am a 50 something woman, I have known many women that have gone through a personal cancer journey. Sadly, some of these precious women, including my own mother have not survived this dreadful disease. However, in every case that I am aware of, faith, friends, family, and loads of prayers have been a part of each one's difficult path. Sometimes the healing takes place this side of heaven and other times, it is a heavenly healing. In every case, COURAGE was evident and awe-inspiring.
So as we go through our days,
LET US DO OUR BEST TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER! AND LET US PASS THIS IMPORTANT MESSAGE OF LOVING CARE ONTO OUR DAUGHTERS, OUR NIECES, AND THE OTHER YOUNG WOMEN IN OUR SPHERE OF INFLUENCE!

SUMMER SOLSTICE

A Swedish Proverb goes like this:
"A life without love is like a year without summer."

Summer is upon us as Summer Solstice 2009 occurred last night, during the night of June 21, 2009 at 1:45 a.m. Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning "sun" and "to stand still". As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky. Just one more phenomenon of nature that we can all stand in awe of!

Longtime friends joined us at Blue Ridge Lake over the weekend to celebrate LIFE, more specifically, my husband's birthday and Father's Day. The lake temperature was ideal, around 82 degrees and Scott, our daughter's friend landed his wakeboarding flip, a feat he had been working on for more than a year! My girlfriend's mama, Dorothy, age 78 , took a spin on a jetski. Summertime creates memories! Yes, the dog days of summer have officially started and what a fine way to begin it...with our children and their buddies, our friends from college, neighbors from our children's growing up days, and colleagues from work. In all, 27 of us feasted on fried chicken, grilled veggies, pasta and green salad, hash brown casserole, sweet tea and more! And by the way...in case all this sounds highly exhausting to you, I must share that as a 50 something woman, it is more important than ever to get everyone involved in the chores and the preparation!
We had kids packing coolers, cutting brownies, dropping biscuits onto a pan, and yes, even collecting trash and cleaning bathrooms before our final boatride of the weekend. Teamwork and delegating is imperative!

Let us..."Live in each season as it passes:
breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit."
~Henry David Thoreau~

SUMMER IS HERE!

Friday, June 19, 2009

MY BEST FRIEND

Yesterday, my best friend, my husband celebrated another birthday. We made merry on this day by feasting over a Mexican Fiesta with friends, family and a Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey homemade ice cream cake!
He has now lived 18,890 days since his birth on June 19, 1957! And I have just calculated that I have had the blessing to know this man for 11,190 of these days. We've been married for 9,730 days and 7,420 days have passed since he first became a father.

This makes me think of Frank Sinatra's quote about his loved one:
"May you live to be one hundred and may the last voice you hear be mine."

And one of my all-time favorite quotes comes to us from Abraham Lincoln:
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, buddy! And HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, too! You and I have certainly experienced the following unknown quote:
"Fathers carry snapshots in their wallets where their money used to be."

THE SWAN COACH HOUSE

Our book club, this past Thursday night, feasted on a menu item named SWAN'S FAVORITE, thanks to the efforts of our gracious host, Ann. Our dinner included the delicious signature chicken salad served over lettuce, creamy frozen fruit salad, cheese straws and a thirst-quenching sunshine punch. Delighting in this wonderful menu as we discussed our book THE SWAN HOUSE took me back to the countless times I have visited this historical landmark in Atlanta, Georgia.

I recall putting on my best dress, usually an Easter dress, and going to The Swan House with my mother and sisters. We did not go often, only on special occasions, but I remember these times with great joy. The fabric lined walls, the fresh roses on each table, the sweet tea, the female camaraderie. Since then, I have been there many times to honor a girlfriend on her fiftieth birthday or to celebrate an anticipated wedding or a new baby.

If you have never been to The Swan Coach House, you must put it on your list for your next visit to Atlanta! The Swan Coach House is located at 3130 Slaton Drive, Atlanta, GA 30305 and their contact number is 404-261-0636. Their website is:
www.swancoachhouse.com

This breathtaking estate was transformed into a thriving tearoom, gift shop and art gallery by a group of extraordinary women in 1965. Their group was called the Forward Arts Foundation. These distinguished art patrons, whose dynamic leadership was matched by their determination came together to bring about this charming place that is enjoyed by a myriad of folks today. This reminds me that you never know what might come about when a group of women put their minds on a task at hand!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

BOOKS!

Our monthly book club met last night and we discussed THE SWAN HOUSE, By, Elizabeth Musser. Thankfully, I finished reading this book just in time early yesterday afternoon. Set in Atlanta, in the year of 1962, we all agreed that the story was thought-provoking and the characters were well developed. We had a great discussion.
This is the first book club I have participated in and I have really enjoyed it! If you love to read, I strongly encourage you to find or start a club...
Thinking of book clubs and reading reminds me of Victor Hugo's quote:
"It is from books that wise men derive consolation in the troubles of life."

One phrase from THE SWAN HOUSE that keeps coming back to mind came from the mouth of Ella Mae Maddux, a compassionate, loving woman that helped take care of the Middleton Family in this historical fiction story. The racial unrest of that day could not be ignored, and yet, uneducated, African American Ella Mae was one of the wisest characters in the entire book. As she counseled 16 year old Mary Swan Middleton, it became apparent to me that Ella Mae had been around the block a time or two. Ella Mae, in her faith journey, had learned much more than the average woman, especially when you consider the time.
Ella said: "You's had some hard things happen in yore life, Mary Swan. And you's learnin'some hard lessons. But don't you stew over these things. Give 'em back to Him and let Him make something beautiful out of them. I guarantee He will. But it won't be nothin' to make you proud of yourself. It'll be some way where you'll jus'praise Him for what He's done. Now that you done asked Him to take ova'in yore life, and you got the Holy Ghost in ya, well, ya be listenin' ta Him, honey."
(page 398)

Don't you think it is tremendous the way a woman can literally lose herself in a good book!?! For the 50 something woman, as well as any age woman or man, books can be a fine part of any day. Kathleen Norris pondered this subject in her own way:
"Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting me at the end of a long day makes that day happier." I agree!
What extraordinary read will you pick up this upcoming summer weekend?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

AGE~IF YOU DON'T MIND, IT DOESN'T MATTER

Someone once said that life is made up of:

THE TENDER TEENS
THE TEACHABLE TWENTIES
THE TIRELESS THIRTIES
THE FIERY FORTIES
THE FRETFUL FIFTIES
THE SERIOUS SIXTIES
THE SACRED SEVENTIES
THE ACHING EIGHTIES
SHORTENING BREATH
DEATH. SOD. GOD.

Patricia Lorenz, a Daily Guideposts writer had the following to say about this humorous depiction of life.

"When I first heard this little version of the stages of life, I was in my late thirties, which hadn't been 'tireless' at all. In fact, with four young children and various part-time jobs, I'd been 'exhausted' most of the time.
Now that I'm in my 'fiery' forties, believe me, there are days I don't feel fiery at all. Most days, in fact.
What's 'fretful' about the fifties? None of my friends in their fifties are 'fretful'...'tireless', perhaps, and other times 'aching' with exhaustion from working and playing so hard. And a dear aunt in her sixties is 'seriously' enjoying life. A dear friend in her seventies, is quite 'teachable' as she takes one college course after another. The white haired octogenarian down the block who just retired is as 'fiery' as they come, actively involved in politics, especially issues concerning the elderly.
It's a fact to be accepted and treasured: We can all be exactly what we want to be at any stage in life."

"At 20 we worry about what others think of us. At 40 we don't care what others think of us. At 60 we discover they haven't been thinking about us at all." UNKNOWN

Bette Davis reminds us that..."Old age is not for sissies." So let us continue on this journey, chuckling as we go, bringing to mind the scripture reference..."Laughter is good medicine" (Proverbs 17:22)

AGE~A MATTER OF THE MIND

Mark Twain once said:
"The issue of age is a matter of the mind. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter!"

My Mama always expressed it this way: "I would never want to be any age but the age that I am today." Once again, I agree with my Mama.

As we age, it is critical that we continue to keep a favorable perspective about the aging process, after all, what choice do we really have!?! Just like the days, months, and years in our past, we can choose how we respond to our circumstances as we move forward in our lives. As we begin to notice more and more lines on our faces, we can consider the following quote by Thomas Bailey Aldrich: "To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent-that is to triumph over old age." Our inner beauty and our wisdom that has come with the longevity can begin to take over and shine.

Eleanor Roosevelt was quoted as saying: "Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art." and H. L. Mencken said it like this: "As the arteries grow hard, the heart grows soft."

And as the years go by, we begin to know more and more loved ones who have passed away and gone on ahead of us, many before their 50th birthday. As we remember these special people in our lives, this truth aids us in recognizing the gift that our life really is! An unknown author asserts: "Do not resent growing older-many are denied the privilege."

Soon, we will look at some humor related to this aging process.

Monday, June 15, 2009

PURPOSEFUL LIVING

As a 50 something woman, I have come to realize that purposeful living is a must.

One thing that I have learned is that this means that I no longer feel pressured to do "this" or "that"...but, instead, I desire to be intentional in choosing to spend my hours, my days, my months in ways that have meaning for me personally.

I am content to say that today was a day filled with whole-hearted living for me.

Now, obviously, this idea of purposeful living can be defined a number of different ways, but for me, it includes three things: FAITH, FAMILY, and FRIENDS.

Today, I spent the day with one of my precious sisters, one of my FFs (forever friends from grade school), along with another friend, and sixteen women who have a goal of recovery from past addictions. Our day was spent in fellowship as my sister, my friends, and I sought to embolden and love on these women who are currently in a vulnerable state. We took a drive up to the North Georgia Mountains stopping at a scenic view, picnic site to devour BBQ sandwiches, chips, rice krispy squares and soft drinks. We then continued a little further north, ending up in a quaint cabin in the woods where we took in a beautiful waterfall, hikes, and rides on four-wheelers. Before heading home, we set up another buffet, this time of salads, deviled eggs, fruit, peach cobbler, and home-made butter pecan ice cream.
I left this group of incredibly courageous women to join my husband, just a little further north of this cabin in the woods...
Yes, this day was purposeful and for that, I am so grateful.

This day included FAITH...an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus, FAMILY...a chance to serve alongside my sis and to end this day with my beloved husband, and FRIENDS...the good fortune of sharing the day with women that I care about.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

BIRDS OF THE AIR

The weather was stormy a good part of the night. This morning, the sunrise was stunning and the birds are now singing in celebration of a new day and clearer weather.
This reminds me of a verse that my Mama used to quote..."...weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5B

When life brings storms, and it will, let us place our confidence in the one sure Entity that is immoveable, unchanging, and a sure refuge in times of trouble, God, Creator of heaven and earth.

As I type, I wonder, "Where do the countless birds I hear singing go during a threatening time like the one we experienced last night? The darkness, the driving rain, the thunder and lightning. Where do the birds find shelter?"

Matthew tells us the answer:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the BIRDS OF THE AIR; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6:25-27
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. EACH DAY has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:33-34

Friday, June 12, 2009

LIFE CAN BE DIFFICULT

Life can be difficult sometimes...especially in today's times. Where are the answers to all of the hard questions that we encounter as we go through our days? How do we receive help when circumstances cause us to want to respond in anger or discouragement? What can we do to ease our concerns regarding our children, our grandchildren? We can GO TO THE BIBLE.

Last night as I was leading a Bible Study, my co-leader would repeatedly encourage the ladies to "go to the Bible." One of the young girls asks questions continually and I love that! We encourage all of the ladies by reminding them that there are no dumb questions...and to always ask in order to learn.

Well, last night this same young lady asked the question:
"What do you mean when you say, 'Go to the Bible?' ".
This opened an incredible opportunity to share with the entire group of 10 women why and how they can "go to the Bible." The preface in my Life Application Bible states, "A small change every day adds up to a changed life--and that is the very purpose of Scripture."

Of studying the Word, Alice Zimmerman, age 64 from Arkansas, says, "Over the past 20 years, I've learned the joy and value of studying God's Word. That study has helped me to have more confidence in myself--and also shown me how I can more effectively reach out to encourage and minister to other women. As a result, I've been able to help many hurting women in difficult marriages."

It is so important to trust God completely-no matter what happens! Circumstances may look very bad to us, on a human level, but God always has something in mind that will work out to His glory. The index in the back of most Bibles can prove to be so helpful when looking for that "just right" reference. When I flipped to 'anger', I found more than 20 verses that I can look up to learn more! Under the entry of 'peace', there were 15 cites listed.

My international, missionary nurse often says "This earth is not our home."

In times of trouble, when you really think about it, where else can we turn, but to God, our Creator?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BALANCE

Yesterday, I met one of my best buddies at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, just minutes from the homes we have raised our families in.
This park has eighteen miles of maintained interpretive hiking trails, ideal picnic areas and a 1.25 mountain road that is also suitable for strenuous fitness.

As we hiked, we talked about how important it is to have balance in our lives. We agreed that as we let our life shine for God, our testimony can sparkle even brighter with moderation in all things.

These questions regarding balance can mean some of the same things to each of us...

"Am I getting enough exercise?"
"Is there enough "ME TIME" in my week?"
(i.e. a break for a bubble bath or an occasion to spend an hour reading a novel)
"Am I spending plenty of quality time with my children/grandchildren?"
"Do I take time out to spend time communing with and seeking God each day?"
FILL IN THE BLANK____________________ with your usual balance questions.

More likely, the details of our eagerness for steadfastness will be as varied as are different humans in this world. Your struggle or challenge to maintain balance may be poles apart from mine. However, one cool thing about God is that He is aware of and in the business of aiding us in our longing to gain balance in our lives.

As my girlfriend and I reached the crest of the trail , we gazed out over the splendid view from the top, stopping to rest for a moment before heading down the
1 1/4 mile mountain road.

It was then that I remembered something I had read recently about this very spot we were standing on...

"It was a swelteringly hot and clear Monday, June 27, 1864, when some of the heaviest fighting of the Atlanta Campaign occurred here. Preserved are historic earthworks, cannon emplacements and monuments. Interpreted here are the historic events where over 5,350 soldiers were killed in the battle fought here from
June 19, 1864 through July 2, 1864." (taken from www.nps.gov/kemo/)

Yes, this life is the real thing. This is not a dress rehearsal.
Let's all be on the lookout to create more balance in our days.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

LIFE IS FRAGILE

An old Turkish Proverb goes like this:
"Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose."

Last night as my husband and I were getting ready to meet some close friends for dinner out, our home phone rang and the caller id established that our son was the one on the other end. He had just left to pick up his girlfriend for a dinner date. When I answered the phone, I knew right away that he was distraught. "Mom," he said, "I've been in a car wreck." Once I determined where he was, I told him that his Dad and I would be right there.

Our son is seventeen and 107 days old. He has been an excellent driver thus far, seemingly understanding the dangers of speeding as well as texting while driving. Yesterday, he was involved in his first automobile collision as he rear-ended a young mom who was accompanied by her six month old baby daughter. Thankfully, everyone was okay and no one was injured in this mishap.

An accident. That is what we call this because it was, obviously, not brought about intentionally. Still, our son was so upset and thankfully, he was also remorseful about his lapse in concentration which led to these circumstances.

In the short time since all of this came about, we have already heard plenty of reports about car accidents. Even his Dad and I shared tales in our past that we have been involved in. Some who shared their story cited trauma or tragically, the death of the driver or a passenger.

An incident such as this, even just a little fender-bender, causes me to take a pause and remember how fragile our lives really are. This reminds me that each day is a gift. It causes me to utter my most frequent prayer these days, which is simply two words: "Thank You".

Monday, June 8, 2009

TRANSITIONS

I spent the day with our son, a senior in high school, touring a beautiful southern college campus...Auburn University. Our daughter is a junior there, so we were able to go over and stay last night at her apartment. We only have the two children, so we are moving into a significant time of transition, a time of major movement in our pilgrimage, that will usher in a new season of life.

We face all kinds of transitions in life-going from grade school to high school; from single to married; from parent to grandparent, the passing on of loved ones. And in each transition, there is great potential for positive change OR for being unable to make needed changes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803-April 27, 1882) stated:
"Not in his goals but in his transitions is a man shown to be great."

In line with the usual transition our family is embarking on, many 50 something women today are walking through their own realignment because of job loss or another notable life change. I want to do my best as I journey through the many transitions that are sure to come in my future.

That is why I wanted us to take a quick look at an old Civil War hero to see how he handled his turning point. In his book entitled LIFE MAPPING, John Trent, Ph.D, brought forth the following details about the life of General Robert E. Lee.

General R. E. Lee was the ranking commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee left his home a wealthy man, commanding a mighty army, committed to victory. He would return in defeat, paroled as a prisoner of war, to a countryside mired with economic depression. At home he would find an invalid wife, five unemployed adult children, and another son missing in action.

General Lee's leadership ability was recognized on both sides of the line. But it was how he handled himself as a civilian after the war that truly showed his character. After seeing thousands of his own men die and his homeland devastated, he was quoted as saying: "I have never felt bitter or vindictive feelings towards the enemy, and I have never seen the day I did not pray for them." He was so committed to reconciliation that one historian would say of Lee, he did "more than any other American to heal the wounds of war."

Lee dedicated his later life to writing hundreds of letters, urging his fellow Southerners to put away their anger and focus on Christ and rebuilding the Union. In doing so, he provided a guiding light to thousands of Southerners who followed his example.

General Lee showed an extraordinary ability to bend with transitions, and he did so by believing that changes large and small come from the hand of God.

But some people are broken by times of change and crushed by an inability to accept even minor movements of life over which they have no control.
It is doubtful that very many of us have gone through as many losses and transitions as this Civil War hero. However, we all face our own brand of changes that can either disarm us or empower us to move forward.
What time of transition or change are you up against today? Will you choose to look at the positive potential or dwell on the potential problems?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

RED AND YELLOW, BLACK AND WHITE

Have you read the novel, The Swan House, By, Elizabeth Musser?

My friend, Ann, chose this book for our monthly book club meeting on June 17th and I am halfway through it.

As I read her work, Musser has me thinking...

I am throughly enjoying the setting and the era of this eloquent story. The setting is Atlanta, Georgia, just minutes from where I grew up. The time is the early
1960's, when I was just about to meet my FFs for the very first time at Fernbank Elementary. (see earlier blog entitled FOREVER FRIENDS dated 5/28/09)

Musser shows stupendous skillfulness as she interweaves her story so that it includes many difficult subjects including mental illness, racism, and wealth versus poverty, just to name a few.

I mentioned to my FFs last week that I would not be blogging on Sundays, but here I am because my heart has something to say!

I love when a book that I am reading causes me to take pause and look at my world, my sphere of influence, a little differently. As I sat in church this morning, I casually noticed that there were the same number of Caucasian folks as African American folks on my row. I also made note of a black gentleman named Keith, on the stage, who was helping to lead our praise music. In addition, I observed my friend, Raven, an accomplished saxophonist, likewise on the stage, who happens to be African American gentleman, as well.
Obviously and thankfully, there are not separate restrooms and water fountains for the varied members and guests at our church.
As I sat in our worship service, I began to ponder the hateful racial scenes that Elizabeth Musser has written about in THE SWAN HOUSE, and I ponder the truth... that much has, gratefully, changed during my lifetime.

My mind wanders to an enduring tune I learned as a child...

"Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A MIST; AN INCH

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes." James 4:14

At the risk of sounding like I have too much time on my hands (I don't) or that I am bored or lonely (I'm not), I must express that this Saturday was a very different one for me.
I began it by going to a very challenging seventy-five minute power boxing fitness class. I enjoyed connecting with two girlfriends there who were also up for the challenge. Whew! Once the class was over and I had finished a one mile walk with my 89 year old Daddy, I was in great need of a good 'ole bubble bath.
I got home and did just that! Magnificent!

Once all that was said and done, I prepared lunch for our son who would walk in from taking the SAT, college prep test, around 1:00 p.m. With my husband working, my son heading out with friends after his lunch, the house grew very quiet fast.
Now I consider myself in pretty good shape, still, my body was extremely fatigued from the intense morning workout.

As I took it easy around our home, I kept thinking about how as a 50 something woman I am working myself out of a job.

My journal from August 24, 1999 reads:

"I see my upcoming fall season as one that will give me time. My time has been so very wrapped up with readying our old house for the market and building this new one. TIME. There are so many things I NEED to accomplish, so many things I WANT to accomplish...but more than anything, I want to be in God's will. Better close here, 'cause I have many chores to do...I'm praying for God's will in my life."

As I look back on this entry nearly ten years ago, I see that my prayer has been answered. Our children have roots and wings, and as I have continued to seek His will in my life, I am closer to my God than I have ever been.

Benjamin Franklin said:
"YOU MAY DELAY, BUT TIME WILL NOT."

One of my dear friends likes to call our life "an inch".
So, I say, let's delight in the moments,
our inch,
while this TIME is here to be enjoyed!

Friday, June 5, 2009

"ATTAGIRL"

Today was a pleasing day as I got to begin it by meeting 3 of my best local buddies to hike the trails at our local National Park. We like to say this time together is good for our bodies, but even better for our hearts and our minds. We get to "solve the problems of our world"! We share the goings and comings of our families with one another. This is surely excellent group therapy! All three of my friends have at least one daughter in their life, as do I. This got me thinking about the young ladies who are in our sphere of influence. I challenged myself, as a 50 something woman, just as I desire to continue growing, how can I encourage my daughter, her friends, my nieces, and the many other young girls in my life to grow, as well?

One of my many beautiful nieces is an international medical missionary. We have a local lunch spot that we always go to when she is in town. This has become a favorite turf for us because we eat upstairs where we can look over the square of our town.
WE always talk and talk and talk. We share our hearts with one another. It was today at lunch that I was expressing a new direction for this blog...positively influencing the young women that are in our homes and in our path. It is this niece that has been journaling for many years, in part, because her Aunt Joan encouraged her to begin her own journal back when she was in high school. During our meal together, she stated that she had read a statement that illustrates this idea:
LIVE ON PURPOSE

As a 50 something woman, I want to live on purpose, giving, encouraging, loving, and laughing with the young women God puts in my path. Don't misunderstand! It is also vitally important to likewise impact our young men. However, because I am a woman who has lived for 50 something years, conceivably, I have a bit of wisdom to impart. I want to live out my days in such a way that I purposefully impact these girls to grow.
How about you? Which young woman might you be thinking of that could use a boost of confidence, an "Attagirl!" from you today?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

BE STILL AND KNOW

Summer might be a good time to start a journal! I have been spending a good part of this day being quiet, reading, journaling, "allowing my body to catch up with my soul", as my Mama often said. Mama would stretch out in bed or on the couch without an excuse, except to be still and spend time resting herself.

As a 50 something woman, I do not believe women do this enough!
We hustle and bustle around taking care that everyone has what they need and want, and we too often forget that we, too, have needs.

When I am in my "being still" mode, I frequently ask myself:

"Is there a private world beneath the noise and action at the surface?
A world that needs to be explored and maintained?
Can strength and resilience be developed that will bear up under the pressure at the surface?"


As I have shared before, I find that one practical way to learn to listen to my soul speak, and also to listen to God speak in response to my soul, is through journaling. In fact, I have three ring notebooks that date back to 1989.
With a pen in hand ready to write, I have realized that there is an expectancy, a readiness to hear anything God may want to whisper to me through reading and reflection.
Some that have never really tried journaling might find it a bit intimidating. Your journal can be a pretty purchased one, simply a spiral notebook in your favorite color, or anything in between. I use loose leaf three ring paper that I keep in a notebook that is five by seven in size. If you are not sure what to write, just sit, be still and wait. At first it may be difficult. You may feel self-conscious, odd, just waiting to begin writing. If you try this, I can almost guarantee that you will soon realize that the journaling will help you come to grips with an enormous part of your inner person that you may not have ever been truly honest with. This tool can help you to develop more inner candidness when you are ready to do so. Your fears and struggles can be surfaced and confronted through journaling. Especially in our economic times of this day, we need a place to calm ourselves, a place to express deep concerns we are having.
One trick I like to share with journal newbies it so set a kitchen timer for 10-20 minutes, and do not stop writing until the timer chimes. Just write what is on your mind, in your heart, or even just details of your day.
God offers us more than 7,000 promises from Genesis to Revelation, one of them being to watch over us. Still, He asks us to do our part:
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
Proverbs 4:23
So why not consider starting a journal today? If you do, journal keeping can become a habit for you if you will stick with it for the better part of a year.
Most people quit too quickly, never acieving the habit pattern, and that is too bad.

In closing, I have found journaling to be a wonderful way to commune with our God, to hear His still, small voice, as stated so well in Psalm 46:10,

"BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD."

In the words of C. Austin Miles' old hymn "In the Garden", consider heeding his advice to BE STILL.

"He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A CHOICE FOR GROWTH

I've been reading from the book YOUNGER NEXT YEAR, By Chris Crowley and Henry
S. Lodge, M.D. again. As I read, I am reminded of their main theme of the book, a choice that we make each day once we reach our forties, our fifites, and beyond.
The choice is between "growth" and "decay".

Tonight, I reluctantly chose GROWTH. Now, the procrastination was not because I did not want to "grow", instead it was because I did not want to exercise my body...I felt tired... I meant to work out earlier, but I spent the day with my 89 year old Dad who was making a move from one apartment to another one, just down the hall. My job was not to move him, but to hang out with him while his things were moved and rearranged. We had a nice day as I brought him to our home, fixed him lunch and then ran a couple of errands together before returning him to his new apartment. I came on back home after that and meant to work out and instead, got busy around the house...laundry needed folding, dinner preparation, you know the drill.

So before I realized it, the time had slipped away and it appeared to be even more unlikely that I would give myself the gift of a workout today.

It was then that I remembered the book mentioned above...GROWTH or DECAY?

I mean if you look at it like that, how can you possibly choose decay?

So I grabbed my free weights and worked my arms, went through my squat routine to strengthen my legs, and gave my heart and lungs a chance to shine on the elliptical machine.
Returning my thoughts to my very first blog post on April 8, 2009, I am reminded of the reason I was motivated to do this blog entitled: 50 something woman.
I was interested in this because I finally made the conscious decision to take care of myself, to put myself on "the list" as often as possible.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make ultimately are our own responsiblity."

The above mentioned book reminds us that "...the key to overriding the decay code are daily exercise, emotional commitment, reasonable nutrition, and a real engagement with living. But it starts with exercise." (see p. 36)
So let us engage ourselves in life and remember that every day matters.
Yes, LET'S GROW TOGETHER!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

HOME SWEET HOME

As a 50 something woman, I have realized that no matter how far from home I may roam, and no matter how wonderful a vacation destination might be, there is truly no place like home.
Today, I traveled back to my abode with a carpool of FFs (Forever Friends that I've known since Fernbank Elementary School) after spending nearly a week on the sandy white beaches of Florida.

Someone once said that a house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.
The thesaurus says it like this:
"A house is the building or structure where one lives, whereas, a home is the place one lives with the pleasant connotations or family ties included.

Some of the things I appreciated as I drove into our town and settled back into our home were the familiar streets and houses,
a hug and smile from my husband,
two excited dogs,
a friendly "hello" from a neighbor walking by as I watered our front porch pots,
my son asking his dad, "Is Mom home yet?" when he arrived home a bit later,
a few letters from friends, including one from my sister, Laura Lea,
the knowledge that I will spend tomorrow with my 89 year old Daddy,
dinner at home with my family,
quiet conversation,
certainty that I will sleep in my own bed, and
an undeniable reminiscence of the Forever Friends 2009 Beach Trip that will live in my mind and heart always.
Yes, going away can be magnificent, but for me, there is truly no place like home.

What is it about coming home that is special for you?

Monday, June 1, 2009

BEAUTY TIPS

My daughter and one of our FFs just left us to drive four hours back to their homes.
Left behind are five of the FFs to enjoy one more day, one more night at the beach.
As I sat in my beach chair, eating a fresh chicken salad sandwich a few minutes ago and watched the other four FFs flopping around in the ocean, I grabbed my camera and had to take a shot at the beauty that was before me.
These girls , all fifty-something women are each one an illustration of inner beauty...actually, to me, they are an example of outer beauty, too! With a touch of sun, very little make-up has been needed, with a lot of fitness, we feel strong, and with incredible conversation, we feel equipped to go forward in our lives.
Most importantly, we have laughed and laughed and laughed...and THAT, alone is good medicine!

When asked to share her "beauty tips", this is the poem Audrey Hepburn wrote as her answer to the question.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

I really like these beauty tips and hope that I implement some of these in my daily life.
how about you? What are your favorite beauty tips?