Birthday Reflections

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Birthdays ~ we have one every year, and mine just happened to be yesterday.  To be honest, there are days when I sigh at getting older, but I’m finding that the way to beat the blues is to enter each year (and each day) with a thankful heart.

As I sat and reflected on my birthday, I came up with this list of SOME of the blessings that have fallen to me in this last year.

  • The blessing of getting to share God’s Word and speak to women.  This last year I spoke again at a Pastor’s wives retreat not long after my birthday.  You typically don’t get asked to speak when you’re still “green” in ministry.  But when you’ve weathered the storms and can still smile and love God with all your heart, you have validity in your message. I also had the blessing of flying to Michigan and doing a ladies’ retreat at a great church.  That was so wonderful.  The ladies encouraged my heart.  The time up north was beautiful as we looked out the windows at the drifted snow.  I am so amazed at the blessings and joys God gives me in allowing me to serve Him!
  • Thanksgiving with my parents. I am so blessed to be four hours from my parents and be able to spend time with them.  Family grows dearer with every day.  I realize more and more how precious a gift it is to be with them, to glean from them and show love to them.  This year was the first time it was just my husband and me with my mom and dad.  We put their Christmas tree up after dinner, watched Christmas movies with hot bowls of popcorn in our laps, and took drives in the country.  It sounds like its own kind of Hallmark movie, doesn’t it?  It was.
  • Days of retreat at a lake cabin.  To have dear friends who allow us time at their cabin that we might refresh ourselves is a blessing I cannot even describe.  We didn’t need as many days to rest up when we were younger, but to have a day away gives us new vigor for the ministry and refreshes our weary bodies!
  • Christmas with our grown children.  If you think Christmas with your little kids was fun, wait until they’re all grown and you see their faces with their spouses sitting around your dining room table. My heart was as full as my dining room table as we ate, laughed, reminisced, played games, opened the Scriptures, prayed and shared gifts.  Wow.  How sweet.
  • Enjoying a second trip to Israel.  This would never have happened in my younger days!  First, there was no desire to go.  But also, the demands of parenting wouldn’t have allowed it, nor would our bank account!  But God graciously provided in every way, and this second trip was even better than the first!
  • Special times away with my husband.  As in the prior blessing, our times away years ago were few and far between.  We enjoyed dates near home, and that was great!  But now we can go away for a night or an afternoon and not worry about homeschool, or schedules of children at home.  We went to DreamMore resort in Pigeon Forge for Valentine’s Day and had so much fun!  We’ve enjoyed Pigeon Forge Wyndham Resort a couple of times, as well.  Afternoons at Biltmore are a favorite for both of us as we stroll the gardens, forgetting pressures and concentrating on communication and time together.  We realize that every day we have together is a gift from God.
  • Becoming a (foster) Grandparent.  Though the twin boys my daughter and son-in-law are caring for are not our flesh, they were born in our hearts!  They’ve completely taken over every chamber and we are blessed to be a part of their lives and smother them with love!!  I had no idea how full this time in my life would be! Wow, just wow.
  • Ministering to children, both at home and church.  My weekly Bible club with my neighbor children is such a joy to me. What a gift to get to pour God’s Word into their hearts and minds.  Pioneer Club at church has been another way to get to serve God and minister to first and second graders!
  • Our first family vacation.  I shared about that here on my blog, but I can’t leave that out of my blessings!  It was so much fun!

This doesn’t include the times I’ve spent in God’s Word, hearing from Him, and talking to Him in prayer.  I’ve left out all the sweet hours of fellowship with friends and family, in our home, in theirs, at church, in restaurants and other meeting up sites.  Even on my birthday yesterday, we had “fellowship” in the hospital where my poor brother-in-law is recovering from surgery due to fall from a roof and subsequent severe injuries.  We gathered in the waiting area and prayed, read Scripture and waited together.  Those are not the planned kind of gatherings, but they do become sweet blessings because they add to the depth of my life as I reflect on the joy of having a family who can hold hands and run to God’s Throne together.  Years ago I may have regretted spending my birthday at the hospital, but not this year.  It’s a reminder that every day’s outcome is how you view it.  This was all orchestrated by God’s hands, allowing us to have planned a trip home at this particular time.  Only God knew why we needed to be here.

My birthday was filled with blessings and my heart is full.  One last blessing is the growth of my blog.  Thank you to each of you who read my posts regularly.  Thank you to those who have followed me recently. Thanks to those of you who comment and encourage me. I am amazed that others read what I’ve written, but I’m so very grateful!  I trust that as the year progresses, God will grant wisdom and help to make this worth reading each day.

What blessings would you recount on your birthday?  If you haven’t, start making a list in a journal today!

Another year older, but even more blessed,

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Usefulness While Aging

 

I don’t believe I have ever met anyone who is excited at the thought of aging. Take this woman, for instance – an interviewer said to her:

“I see your birthday is May 5, Ms. Beale. May I ask what year?” Ms. Beale replied: “Every year.”

We don’t want others to know how old we are; lest they think we’re old. There really is no option however, and we all have to determine not if we will age, but how we will do it! It’s really up to us how we live our years as seniors. Denying the truth won’t change the situation, but a biblical perspective will be the best help we could give ourselves.

This week our Sunday school class studied Psalm 90-92. There are some wonderful helps in this passage to guide our aging process. Consider Psalm 90 verses 9b, 10 and 12. “We spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” We spend our years as a tale that is told – in other words we are preaching our funeral while we are living. You will be remembered by how you are living your life each day. The average years of a person’s life are seventy, but we can by His grace live to eighty or beyond, but we need to remember that we are living for the Judgment Seat of Christ where our works will be tried. We need to be living so that we will hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

I read that there are Seven Ages of Man:
6 weeks–all systems go
6 years–all systems “No!”
16 years–all systems know
26 years–all systems glow
36 years–all systems owe
56 years–all systems status quo
76 years–all systems slow

How then does an aging person continue to live so that their life counts for eternal purposes? They don’t have the stamina and strength that they had when they were younger. What can a senior citizen do for the Lord at this time in their life when “all systems are slow?” Here are a few suggestions:

  • Become a prayer warrior for a younger person. Ask the Lord to burden your heart for someone for whom you could pray. Go to that person and ask them how you can pray for them that week, then pray! Go back to them and ask them how that situation is coming, reminding them of your prayers. Continue to pray for their needs each week. 
  • Take a younger person under your wing as a mentor. Perhaps there is a younger person that would love to learn a skill you can do – knitting, sewing, baking, quilting, etc. While you’re with them, encourage them in the Scriptures and their walk with God.
  • Be a prayer warrior for your pastor and other leaders in your church. If you are familiar with other pastors, pray for their needs as well. Write them a note to tell them you’re praying for them. Satan is seeking to destroy them and their ministry; what a blessing you could be to them!
  • If you are able to bake, make something – cookies, a pie, homemade bread (you could just bake a frozen loaf) to a family that has moved into your neighborhood and is unchurched, a young family in your church that’s had a new baby or a new family that’s visited your church.
  • Give out tracts. When you go out to eat, give one to the waitress. Hand one to the clerk at the store where you shop. Put one on the bread you give to your new neighbor.
  • Be a verbal witness. Be praying for someone that the Lord would give you the chance to share the Gospel with. If you can’t get out, ask Him to bring someone to you!
  • Write a card or email of encouragement each week to someone for whom the Lord burdens your heart. It might be a missionary your church supports, your pastor, or a church member going through a trial.

These are just a few suggestions to get you thinking. I believe if we really desire to be used of the Lord we will be like Psalm 92:14 says, “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.” I love this verse. A person that serves the Lord with a right heart won’t just have leaves, they will bear fruit! No matter how old we are, we can be useful to God -even if your “systems are slow!”

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Do You Despise Your Mother?!

Sarcastic, disrespectful children – it’s a bit shocking to hear, isn’t it?  Ugly words get hurled, like mud balls on the playground creating much more disaster than a load of laundry.  But who are the children?  Who are their parents? I’m not referring to teens and their 40-somethings mom and dad.  I’m talking about grown adults who are hurling the words and attitudes at their elderly parents.

Perhaps it started when the parents got sick and needed special help from their children.  Maybe it began when one of the parents died, leaving just one – alone, struggling, hurting and needy. It cuts into the world and time of a busy adult already struggling with other issues of their own children, marriage and jobs.  This creates pressures and sometimes also causes wrong responses and attitudes towards the people we love and should care for the most.

Our loving God, who knows what happens in families, put a Scripture in Proverbs to remind us to guard our hearts, and to treat our aging parents with love, respect and care.

Why would a child have the temptation to “despise their mother when she is old?”  She may:

  • Be in pain and be “short” with her responses
  • Be low in finances and be very frugal, to the point that you’d be tempted to shake your head
  • Be worried about health issues and be discouraged
  • Be lonely and need your company more often
  • Be sick and need your care
  • Be forgetful and need your helpful reminders of things, appointments, places and belongings
  • Be hard of hearing and need you to repeat yourself more than once

All of the above mentioned reasons could very well test a person’s patience, but let’s face it, when we were young children at her feet, did we not test her patience?  Did she not give us extra attention when we needed it? Why then would we despise her for her needs?

It’s no mistake that the Lord, the Giver of our parents, placed this Scripture in His Word because He knew there would be a temptation for some to “despise” their mom at a time when she may need her children’s understanding and love the most.  Don’t allow the changes that have come to your parents in their latter years to build resentment towards them.  Love them they way that you would want to be treated.  After all, you will indeed reap what you sow.

Lovingly,

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Fat and Flourishing

Today’s post is a re-post from many years ago.
Every time I come across this verse in Scripture –
They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;   it brings these thoughts to my mind and I wanted to share them with you again.

Recently I heard a young person say, “I never want to get old! It’s so depressing!” The reason for their statement was that they had heard an older person complain, fuss, moan and gripe about everything that was happening around them. It’s easy for any of us to get into a state like that – no matter how young or old we are.

 If someone followed you around today would they say, “I never want to be in my 30’s! Being a mother is too stressful!” Or, “I hope I don’t stay single all my life; single people are selfish!” How about, “Women in their 40’s sure are moody!” spare me from that! There is truth in the statement, “You are what you have been becoming.” So, what are you becoming?
I love Psalm 92:12-15. It reads: The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
This passage tells us what a healthy older person should look like; they should be bearing fruit and be fat and flourishing! Fruit belongs to youth, but those that grow in grace keep on bearing fruit even in their later years. Aged believers have had experience trusting in the Lord and should have a sweet mellow temperament that feeds those around them. Why do they do this? To show to the world that their God is upright, their rock and a holy God!
I love what Spurgeon notes about this passage. He says about the older believer, “however feeble his outward man may be, his inner man is so renewed day by day that we may well envy his perennial peace. Perennial peace! That’s peace that’s long-lasting like the daffodil or tulip that will pop up again this spring. As we grow in the Lord we should have peace and contentment that keeps popping its head up through the soil of our lives. No matter if it’s been cold, or the “ground is hard.” We have a God that is leading us, teaching us and enabling us to grow old in such a way that we’re bearing spiritual fruit and are fat and flourishing!
Let’s all take a look at how we respond today to the difficulties the Lord allows in our life and ask ourselves as I am asking you right now:
Would people envy my perennial peace,
or would they shun me because of my continual complaints?”
It makes being fat and flourishing look really attractive, doesn’t it?!  Let’s live with grace evidenced in our lives today!
With love,
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