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Thursday, November 4, 2010

TIME FLIES

Okay, here I go again! My last published entry on this blog was January 31, 2010 and I have covered a lot of ground since that day. I am certain that you have, too!
Now it is November 4, 2010...276 days later and I am reminded how quickly the moments, the days, the months fly during this season of my life.
Since my last post, our son made a decision to go to a college far from home and our daughter began her senior year at a university nearby.
That leaves my husband of 28 years and I in an infamous "empty nest". I have been enjoying some substitute teaching in addition to my ministry projects that I take care of as they arise.
What about you??? Has your 2010 flown by, as well?
I trust that as you ponder the details of your year that your heart is content. I continue to be convinced that the three things that matter most are...
FAITH*****FAMILY*****FRIENDS

BE BLESSED!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

OUR DAUGHTER







These past few days must be recorded in the memory bank! Our daughter and eleven of her college friends came for a visit with us in the North Georgia Mountains. This group of young people, along with three other 5o something couples, enjoyed a most incredible long stretch of hours. As I sit here in the quiet, my heart is overflowing with happiness and joy over how this time was spent and I am grateful to God for the blessing of life and living!
As I think about our daughter, I recall her saying how much we would like and enjoy these friends she was bringing home. She was right! These students were polite, gracious, helpful, and fun to have around.
As I sit here in this now serene setting, my mind wanders back to various seasons in our daughter's life... a laughing infant in my arms, a two year old running down River Street in Savannah feeding the pigeons, a six year old crying because she did not like the clothes she had to wear to school, an eleven year old tomboy, short hair, biking, climbing trees, loving life, a seventeen year old soccer player who is furious at her parents because we could not let her stay overnight at a party place that we considered undesirable, and presently a strong, beautiful, confident, friendly and smart young adult who brought home 11 friends for the weekend who appear to be on a good path to a truly bright future. Perhaps we are now experiencing some fruit of our labor as we have worked hard to be the kind of parents that I believe we are called to be.


"A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart."

Author Unknown


I love you, Leah, and I thank our God for the gift you are in my life, and you were right, your friends are great people to know!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

GRATITUDE AND GRACE


This is my nearly 90 year old Father's hand. With his hands he delivered more than 1,000 babies in his career as an ObGyn Physician. He loved giving complimentary care to all pastor's wives and they swarmed to his office from all over the Atlanta area. Holding his hand today gives me much joy and gratitude in my heart for the gift he has been in my life. He truly is a man of God, a man of Grace.



As a 50 something woman, I have been thinking a lot about gratitude and grace. I'd like to claim that I awaken each morning filled with gratitude, but that would not be honest! I can say that I would like to start each new day with both gratitude and grace, so perhaps this post will inspire you and I to do just that!

Ardath Rodale, an author, wrote in a 2005 article in PREVENTION magazine, that she "likes to think of gratitude and grace as her two hands working together. Grace is the power, beauty, and love of God that is always around us; gratitude gives us the eyes to see it."

As a 50 something woman, I have issues that have weighed on me through the years, as I am sure you do, as well. When I consider the challenges that I have personally faced in my own life, being thankful for them, seems to help me grow more these days.
Helen Keller said, "I thank God for my handicaps for through them I found myself, my work, and my God."

I have come to realize that this journey called life is never completely tranquil and smooth. All of us have experienced difficulties, mountains that are hard to climb. My nearly 90 year old Father told me yesterday as we were walking his mile, that we learn to live with the tragedies life deals us. So, as a 50 something woman, I would like to learn to look at my personal battles as opportunities to grow stronger in character and therefore, I want to learn to be more grateful for them.
Is that asking too much of myself? I think not. Perhaps when we learn to say "thanks", more often, we will open our hearts to daily miracles that happen all around us.
And Henry Beecher said,
"GOD'S GRACE IS THE OIL THAT FILLS THE LAMP OF LOVE."

May your day, your week, and your coming months be filled with both GRATITUDE and GRACE.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

EMAIL FROM A FRIEND




The following came to me in an email today from a girlfriend, Lynn, (pictured in blue on the far right)whom I have known since we were six years old.
Though it was a bit far, we could walk to each other's childhood homes.
Our birthdays are 1 day a part, so we have celebrated many times together.

Lynard (as in Skynard) is one of those friends that you can never get enough of, no matter what. We live a couple of hours from each other, in two different states and time zones, but we still manage to get together with our other six FFs (forever friends) several times a year. Usually, the main thing we do when we are together is laugh!

And you know...that laughter is good medicine! (see Proverbs 17:22)

Lynn and I both experienced the death of a parent, her Father and my Mother, within two days of each other, back in October 2006. We've shared plenty of memories and even more tears as we have remembered these loved ones. We've shared "quotes" from these parents who have passed. Two of my favorite come from each one: Lynn's Daddy used to say: "Honey, we have so much love , we can wallow in it!" and my Mama always said about staying up later than we probably should: "We can sleep when we're dead!"
Friends are Forever and I am glad this one was given to me back in September 1964!

And now the email message:

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.
Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.
They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.
Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.
So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore.
I've even earned the right to be wrong..
So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever,
but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day(if I feel like it).

MAY OUR FRIENDSHIP NEVER COME APART ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART!

A pertinent message from a great friend!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

AGING GRACEFULLY




My three sisters and I had the opportunity to attend a very worthwhile seminar this past Thursday. There was no charge for this event and it was provided by Mrs. Nancy Craney, Executive Director, Wellstar Behavioral Health. The workshop was interactive and it was entitled: AGING GRACEFULLY.
Besides the fact that I was sitting at a table with my three big sisters that I love so much, this was such a beneficial use of our time and we are indebted to Mrs. Craney for all of the good information she shared with us that day.
As a fifty something woman, I want to share some of these tips with all the women that I know, regardless of their age or their season of life. We ALL need encouragement, edification, and continued education as we journey through this life.

I found it enlightening that in a recent study, aging women were polled regarding this question: "Is getting older better/worse than you expected?" 51% of those questioned stated that it was better than they expected.
Many times, it is our perceptions that may be more negative than the actual experience.

In our workshop, there was a great emphasis placed on optimism and its role in aging. While some may believe that optimists are reckless and not "watchful" about future events, multiple studies have proven that optimism is highly correlated with strong self-esteem and a boosted immune system, as well as, a resilience against illness. Through this discussion, we were reminded that optimism can be learned if one is more in the habit of pessimistic thinking. To train oneself in optimism, in a recent Wellstar newsletter, three suggestions were made by Mrs. Craney: (1) Practice self-awareness-question an immediate sense of doom and gloom-ask ourselves what might be positive in the situation; don't jump immediately to the negative.
(2) Take responsibility for what happens in life-do not be a victim of circumstance-take control where we can. (3) Study the positive effects of optimism on the body and begin to believe that it may have healthy effects on the immune system-that you may benefit to learn to look at the world more positively.

We cannot control aging, but there
are five health tips we CAN and SHOULD control:


---STAY ACTIVE---
---WATCH WEIGHT---
---KEEP REGULAR CHECK UPS---
---EAT LOW FAT---
---DON'T SMOKE---

In closing, Mrs. Craney reminded us that women are a really powerful bunch and that includes you and me! With aging, we gain wisdom. Let's teach our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and all the other young women who are coming along behind us,
to see the quality in the aging woman. We have a role to help the youth to relax about aging. As we grow, let's change what we can and let go of what we can't change. As we journey, let's agree to disagree and give others the right to be different.
Mrs. Craney ended this workshop on a lovely note when she shared the following video with us:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBgXN_Jwr3Q


Our time together was enhanced by a lunch of scones and quiche in a local tea room where our niece, Amy, surprised us by joining her Mama and three aunts. And here, at lunch, we accomplished one more part of aging gracefully, we laughed, we loved and supported each other on this journey we call life.

And bonds like this, between women, don't come along every day, but we will all greatly benefit from strong family and friend connections as we live out our days.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

PATIENCE

As a 50 something woman, I am so aware of the many seasons of life that one can experience in more than five decade's time. Especially being a woman versus a man, I have enjoyed carrying, birthing, and raising two babies into adulthood...that season by itself has made this life journey incredible.

I am learning to have patience as I anticipate seeing what my next "job" will be. I am waiting and praying. In the meantime, I am content to put one foot in front of the other, looking for ways each day to obey the still small voice that I hear in my heart when I am quiet enough to heed it. As I do this, I find myself in unexpected places,
often unfamiliar territory, and I wonder is this in preparation for the next thing?

This picture was taken during a medical mission trip to Rio de Janeiro , Brazil. I am holding the pastor's son, Eduardo, and we were "reading" a Portuguese Bible. (Eduardo clearly knew more Portuguese than I did!) Beginning in 2003, for five consecutive years, I was in Rio on Mission as I worked with my niece, Amy, who was living and working in the mission field there. Those trips, each one, were life-changing in various ways. Those trips, also, have made my life journey extraordinary.

Yes, the seasons of our life come and go, and I ponder what is next. I believe that the answer is unfolding, even as I type! The cool thing is that as the seasons come and go, the things we may do to make a difference might be really big, like flying to Rio for a week of ministry, or really small, like offering an encouraging word to someone who needs it, but either way, your life journey will be sweeter and more rewarding for it!
This reminds me of some of my favorite Mother Teresa quotes:


"In this life, we cannot do great things,
we can only do small things with great love. "

"I always say I am a pencil in God's hands. He does the thinking and the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard, because it is a broken penciland He has to sharpen it a little more. Be a little instrument in His hands so that He can use you anytime, anywhere. We have only to say 'YES' to God."

"I never will understand all the good a simple smile can accomplish."

What about you...what are your thoughts about the past events in the seasons of your life? And while we are pondering this, let us all remember and pray for the multitudes that are suffering right now in Haiti. Though perhaps not nearly as impoverished, my experiences in Rio brought me first-hand experience with an extremely poor population and my heart goes out to these victims in Haiti.
Oh, and one more thing, as you ponder the past decades of your life journey. Please consider a plan to join a team to go somewhere on a mission trip before your journey on earth has ceased.
YOU won't regret it!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN


Sometimes in life, we have circumstances that can feel like a mountain before us. As a friend was sharing with me about a concern that seems insurmountable in her life today, I recalled this climb that my friend, Betsy and I took in October of 2008 in Arizona. We were there in beautiful Scottsdale with our husbands on business and both of us wanted to climb the challenging Camelback Mountain. Betsy and I had heard that these sheer redstone cliffs with their telltale hump drew thousands of hikers each year. We both felt like we were in pretty good shape for this adventure, which was important since we had also heard that this hike was not for beginners. This beautiful mountain range was known to be 2,704 feet above sea level!
This strenuous hike took us a few hours and was a tremendous work-out for sure! We had plenty of time to talk, which always makes the time go by when one is exercising. The scenery was breathtaking as we traveled higher and higher.
As a 50 something woman, I have learned that the mountains in life's journey are nearly always followed by a nice deep valley, a time to catch our breath after a difficult and challenging season.
As a 50 something woman, I have also learned that I do not want to miss the lessons that will likely be gained during a difficult climb as I overcome adversity. Just like the ageless song, "Climb Every Mountain" from The Sound of Music, I want to search high and low, following every by-way, every path I know. I want to climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, 'til I find my dream!
And just like this climb up Camelback Mountain, I have encouraged my troubled friend to persevere, to stay on the path that I know God has marked out for her. And I will follow that advice myself, living life to the fullest, climb after climb!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

REMEMBER THE DAY

As a fifty-something woman, I clearly remember the day when we would be out running errands with Mom and she would stop in at the Gulf for a fill-up. Mr. Fitch, himself, the owner of Fitch's Gulf at the intersection of Scott Boulevard and North Decatur Road in Decatur, Georgia would come on out and greet us. While the petro poured into our tank, Mr. Fitch would always check Mama's oil, even if this service was not requested. Oh, and remember how our windshield would be spotless when we left after a fill-up?

Sure, the QT or Race Track on every corner sure is convenient, with the wide assortment of both drinks and snacks while your vehicle gets its fill, but still...remember the day!?!

And in the other room, as I sit here and type, our nearly 18 year old son is setting up and explaining our new IMAC. Wow, now that is one high-tech machine! When I was a teacher back in the 1980's, a few of my co-workers had a computer in his or her room, but I did not have one and certainly not every teacher's room had one! I had this friend, this co-teacher, named James, that was the "computer whiz" of our school. Everyone always sent for Mr. Reeves when there was a problem. Now, PC s operate with such ease, for the most part! Remember the day!?!

Do you still find yourself saying "roll down the car window", or "dial that phone number for me"?
I do! Remember the day!?!

One nice thing about the fantastic fifties is seeing all the changes that have taken place since our generation moved into adulthood. What do you enjoy remembering about days gone by?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

LODESTAR

As we move along into this new year, I am pondering the word "balance". As a fifty-something woman, I desire balance every day in every way. I was reading the January 5th entry in MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST By, Oswald Chambers this morning and was moved by a word in the final sentence: "There is only one lodestar in the life now, the Lord Jesus Christ." As I looked up this word in my dictionary, I was thrilled to read the first and second definition:
1. a star that is used as a point of reference; especially the North Star,
2. A GUIDING principle, interest, or ambition.
It is so easy to fall out of sync in this life, to lose our equilibrium along the way. However, it can bring us great comfort to remind ourselves that there is a "lodestar" in our midst when we make it a point to look for it, to seek it out. Life is like a see-saw, up and down, up and down, and yet, our God can help us to stay centered and steady as we go through our days. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us to simply: "Pray continuously, without ceasing."
I like to call this sending up constant 'arrow prayers' to my Father in heaven.
My earthly, godly, Dad, who was born on March 4, 1920 will celebrate nine decades in this new year. Daddy always says it like this: "It is a good idea to live your life with equanimity, the quality or characteristic of being calm and even-tempered, having composure."

How about you? Have you called upon your "lodestar" today?