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Archive for the ‘Aging’ Category

This weekend and last are such a contrast.

Last weekend (the Easter weekend) held for us two church services, a birthday party, a family dinner and not much else. Our down time was spent watching BCDs (British Crime Dramas), playing with our puppy and few household chores.

This weekend we have spent all of Saturday doing chores around the house to knock a few things off the legendary to do list. The power washer was in full force, paint was utilized, the garage and storage area of our basement organized, deck furniture cleaned and put into summer position. And that is only one day!

As we were outside we got to meet a neighbor. She is in her seventies, a widower who is involved in local theatre, loves gardening and is a sun-seeker (I think we might be kindred sprits). Her smile is warm and welcoming and her eyes sparkle.

“When you do what you love,” she said of her late in life discovery of joy in acting, “life is just better.”

I continued considering her words the rest of the day and into this new morning. But, I also considered them in relation to something my hubby said of those who are aging,

“There are those who are living to die,
while others are dying to live.”

Last weekend was a good one, a mix of peopling and rest, but … maybe too much rest. I remember waking last Tuesday and my body ached … from doing nothing. This weekend I have kibitzed and laughed with my neighbors, moved heavy things, painted a table, swept and cleaned. I love doing these things, I am confident in doing them. My body is a bit achy this morning, but … I feel good! Progress was made, things got done.

I realized this morning that movement is key to keep this body feeling better … sitting still, though good for a bit, will not prevent the aches and stiffness associated with a moving-beyond-midlife body.

The same is for our minds. It is not healthy to sit still with thoughts for too long. Pain from mulling over our worries and sorrows can steal life from our souls. We cannot benefit from sitting still with our pain and struggles. We need to face problems that we can solve, to stretch our minds from problem to solution (whether it is arranging furniture, deciding on a paint color for a table or doing a crossword or jigsaw puzzle). Our minds need variety, engagement, the ability to do things that feed our souls, that we are confident in doing.

I want to be dying to live … all the days, every breath of my life, because life is just better that way.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

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While chatting with a friend recently, she told me a story that I was certain must have been a tale, for I simply struggled to believe it. A young woman she knew found wrinkles so unappealing that she was reticent to smile … ever! My friend had never seen this young woman smile, for fear that the temporary creases formed on the skin would permanently scar her perfect skin.

Just a couple days before this conversation, hubby and I got to wander around a local home and garden show. Many businesses were there, promoting their wares, some more aggressive than others. A lady caught my eye and offered a sample of a serum that would decrease the appearance of facial lines. I was invited to sit on her stool and she would apply the serum. After she applied it, she then used a small, hand-held fan to dry it. She was right … I could see that the lines around the eye with the serum had faded. I looked at the image, comparing one eye to the other, then looked a the sales person and said,

“I see the difference, but … I like my wrinkles.
I have earned each and every one”

(and that was before I heard the price was over $200 for a small vial).

I like some of my physical flaws … the ones that were attained by hard work, personal sacrifice, evidence of having experienced the blessing of still breathing in the fifth decade … the stretch marks, the grey hairs, the wrinkles on my face.

I don’t want to avoid these evidences of aging, of living. I want to accept them, to embrace them as trophies of a life lived … smiling all the way.

You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Psalm 39:5

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For some birthdays are frightening, depressing or discouraging. This reality has made the makers of lotions, surgeries and self help books wildly wealthy.

Aging has never been a thorn in my flesh. Birthdays come and go, as do wrinkles, coarse hair (covered by my lovely stylist) … and, speaking of hair, I no longer pluck my eyebrows, but I am constantly discovering them on my chin (often long enough to put in a ponytail by the time I notice them).

For me, the greys can still be covered, the wrinkles make me smile and the hairs on my chinny chin chin … they get plucked.

I have a hope for my future, alive or dead, and an appreciation for each moment I have breathed.

Don’t get me wrong, if I were given a fatal diagnosis, I would sob my eyes out and I would feel fear and sorrow. But death is not my greatest fear as I rapidly move through this autumn of my life.

My greatest angst about aging is quite simple, that …

I am running out of time.

Time to do all the things, travel to all the places, spend time with the people, try the new experiences, share the love of God, time to live … to really, fully, intentionally, live this one magnificent and glorious gift of a life that I have been given.

I don’t want to waste a moment!

Sometimes the urgency within me to do all the things resembles one who scurries in a state of constant activity powered by something deep within.

But, now in my fifties there is a new factor that is irritating me … fatigue. This fatigue does not whisper, take a break, but stops me in my tracks, holding my mind and body ransom so that I no longer can do that one more thing. This only increases my passion to not waste the days, the hours, the moments I have been given.

“Lord, life is going by so fast!
It frightens me unless I remember your eternity.
We are as rootless as tumbleweeds
and will be blown about all our lives unless you are our dwelling place.
In you we are home.
What I have in you I can never lose and will have forever.
I praise you for this unfathomable comfort.
Amen.

Tim Keller

These words of Keller stopped me the other day. They reminded me that my purpose is not just doing, but being.

They are the truthful assurance of eternity, for those of us who have submitted to the will of God. They are the reminder that it is in Him we have our foundation, our roots. They are the reminder that even during times of fatigue, we are with Him and He is with us and in that here we also have purpose.

“I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills His purpose for me.”
Psalm 57:2

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I have always adored autumn. The colors of the leaves, the still bright skies, the sunrises and sunsets, the chill in the air as the day winds down.

As I drove down the highway the other day I was mesmerized by the beauty of day, of everything I could see.

As often said at this time of year, autumn’s trees reminds us that there is beauty in letting go.

I think autumn is an exhale …

After the newness and freshness of spring …

After the refreshment and reconstruction of summer …

Autumn is the experience of lung cleanings that are exhaled in thanks, in appreciation for the sunshine that might not return tomorrow, in recognition that this beauty will fade so we must be present in it now. It is acknowledgement that dark days are coming, but choosing to not let that reality steal from today.

Until the winter rains fall, until the chill moves into our bones, until the grass withers, the flowers fade and the final leaf falls …

“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”

Isaiah 40:6-8

Autumn reminds me that it keeps going on … nature, beauty, hope, life. The circle of life has no dark corners, no exit ramp, but that which God gives existence is kept alive in the seeds He plants within each living thing.

There is an autumn in life, as well. A season to exhale the past … joys and sorrows, growing and being cut down, things learned, memories made. We can pause in this autumn of life and see the beauty in our lives. We can look back, as though from a higher vantage point and survey how the many pieces of our lives fit together … that which was never present in the moment. We can exhale in understanding and acceptance that we are no longer in the spring or summer of our lives … and that is okay.

As we look over our lives, we can walk confidently into the next season, knowing that those pieces too will fit together … that we never walk alone.

We may feel as though we are withering, but really … we are doing the good work of dropping seeds into the ground, for many seasons to come.

I love these words of Beth Moore:

Thought I’d raise a little Ebenezer today. In a brutal time, Samuel set up a memorial stone & named it Ebenezer saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
Ebenezer living is a heaven-raised gaze. Alert & deliberate daily dependence.
Of morning by morning.
Of Give us this day.
Of Today, if you hear his voice.
Ebenezer living is standing in the present moment, aware & awed that here we are, still alive and kicking and kept by God amid a fierce battle or in the wake of a season when we had no clue what we were going to do or how we’d get through.
Thus far my aging hand is still in Keith’s.
Thus far I can still lend some help.
Thus far I can get out of bed, walk dogs. Go to work.
Thus far I still enjoy things like the way a leaf rocks gently in the air, a lullaby, falling to the earth.
That’s far I still believe Jesus died and rose again and, because he did, I am changed & ever changing.
Thus far I still believe in the communion of saints & the fellowship of sacred joys and suffering.
Thus far I still bear my children close and have them in my heart though miles stretch wide between us.
Thus far, brothers & sisters, that which we thought would kill us
didn’t.
The world that we thought would fill us
didn’t.
The Lord who we thought might forget us
hasn’t.
The devil we thought would destroy us
couldn’t.
Here we raise our Ebenezer.
Thus far the Lord.

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Just writing the word dreaming makes my mind begin to sing that The Mamas & The Papas 1970s hit California Dreamin’ (and now yours is too).

Maybe not California, but I have had my fair share of travel dreams in recent months. It is hard to dream of travel when you don’t know when it will be wise to do so again.

In these pandemic days (and nights) dreaming is a key to unlocking our unfulfilled wishes from travel, to physically attending church, to dinner parties, to greeting family and friends with a hug.

Hum … those dreams sound rather different from what we might have been dreaming a year ago, before the pandemic required changes in our daily lives.

I was thinking of dreams the other day. Dreams that were, at one time, hopes for my life.

When I was in high school I dreamed of being an adult, having a job, getting married, having children. As time moved on I dreamed of seeing new sights, owning a home, having a pet, travelling with our kids. Then came the years of what I would call the more dreams … more income, more house and yard, more travel, more things. As I look back at those years I see cracks that had results that put previous dreams in peril.

We do have to be careful about what we wish and dream … for we are revealing our hearts in our desires.

The other day I realized my dreaming for the future had slowed from earlier years. Mine is not a stage in life for attaining, reaching as in earlier years. Yet I realized that I was missing the joy and anticipation, the forward-thinking that comes from dreaming.

“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17

I want to grow old dreaming dreams. I want to awaken in the morning with hopes and goals, with a direction to be working toward. I want the prayers of my lips to be whispers of the desires of my heart, staying close to God, so that my desires line up with His.

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“Just linger for a moment or two” I heard myself say. “Carole, you’ve gotta learn to linger.”

Five years ago, life was different.

Our oldest daughter was preparing to her first apartment, next daughter was living at home while studying at a local university and our youngest was still in high school, where I worked. We lived in a large home, on a sizeable property that demanded of us constantly. Hubby worked nowhere near just a forty hour work week as a pastor in a local church and his job trickled down into seen and unseen responsibilities for myself. It was our first year in a few with no International students as part of our home and family.

I was tired, perpetually tired.

It seemed that I was constantly in demand, in motion. I was either cooking, or driving, or working, or weeding …

and now …

life is different.

Our oldest two daughters are out on their own, our son still mostly living at home, sometimes working out of town, currently working locally. I still work the same hours, but it’s different. Hubby no longer working over full time as a pastor, now working a couple of part time positions. We sold our large property for a townhouse close to everything.

Life is … simpler, quieter, less demanding.

But, learning to linger … it does not come natural after years of living based on the urgent. The growing pains from a life of busy to less slow are very real.

In my adjustments to this new way of life and living, I am beginning to learn to linger … but it is a learning, a process of slowing oneself down.

It means pausing to smell the flowers, to listen, to ponder, to wonder.

It also means pausing in my day and lingering in the awareness of the presence of God. To put the book, the phone, the keys down … maybe even closing my eyes, and letting God know that I know he is right there, with me.


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It’s when I see a leaf fall, flowers fade, the sunset after dinner, feel the chill in the morning air. Autumn is here in more ways than just the change of calendar … and I feel sad.

Autumn was once my favorite season, with it’s red leaves, sweater weather and talk of Thanksgiving. It is the season hubby and I met and were married, the season when two of our three were born. It was my favorite season …

Then, for some reason, unknown to me, I began to see it, not as the start of something new, but the end of something loved.

Don’t get me wrong, I do still take delight in the cool breeze and changes in the color of the leaves, but … the seasonal change … it also seems to herald endings.

The older I get the more I embrace the heat of summer, daylight stretching into the night, bare feet, leisure time.

I recently read a verse that made me ponder these feelings about the autumn.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does will prosper.” Psalm 1:3

Maybe that is it … maybe it’s the withering that is partially to blame for my apathy towards this once favorite seasonal change. Maybe I am starting to see myself as withering and fruitless.

It is so easy to feel less fruitful once the house is quiet of the daily noise of kids in the house. It can feel a bit like you’re a leaf that was blown off the tree.

Yet, if my hope is in God, if I stay planted near him (in prayer and in reading of his word), this Psalm assures me that I will still produce fruit in my life, still be used by him to do his will.

A number of days ago, hubby was beckoned to an elderly lady. Originating from Southeast Asia, Canada has been her home for many years. Now into her nineties, she spends her days praying.

all. day. every. day.

This is what she says is her calling, her purpose … and she fulfills it beautifully.

When hubby walked to her, she said, “I am going to pray for your family” and immediately proceeded to do just that.

“It was just beautiful. Something so special,” he said, when he told me at home later.

This woman, though very much withered physically, has stayed near the living water and she has not withered in spirit or purpose one bit. She is still, very much, producing fruit.

Kinda makes me want to go play in the leaves.

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The sun shone, blue skies for miles, light breeze in the air … a smile crept across my face … contentment … not just contentment, for there was something else in the air.

Every year I feel it creep into my being. In the midst of the dog days of summer, in the midst of the season of rest and recreation, in the midst of everyday life slowing down, like a comma in a sentence …

the calendar turns to August
and I hold my breath

Like the grim reaper holding a sign declaring that “the end is nigh” the calendar reminds me that summer’s end is just around the corner.

Rest and frivolity, summer’s sun and warmth, watching the flowers grow and change each day, sunsets of bended and scattered light, coffee dates filled with laughter and evenings without a care for the morning alarm. These will largely come to their seasonal end, replaced with work and schedules and structure.

In recent years this turn of calendar page reminds me of change of season in broader sense. It reminds me that my life, in it’s natural ebb and flow, is migrating from summer to autumn. Perhaps, if I were honest with myself, I would acknowledge that it has already moved into that third season. That there is but one season left … not yet there, but I can see it …

and I hold my breath

But, for today I will stop and smell those summer roses, declaring boldly carpe diem, as I seize this day … after all, YOLO (you only live once).

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