I may or may not be getting old…

I used to be “10 feet tall and bullet-proof.” These days I’m finding myself more realistically like “just under 6 feet tall and more what you might describe as bullet-resistant.” Oh, I definitely feel the bullet, but I still bounce back pretty quickly! That happens as we get older and, hopefully, we get wiser along the way, as well.

Reality checks are actually a good thing. They’re great for assessing where you are now and helping to point you in the direction you really want to go next. I’m closing in on my 50th birthday in a few months, so I’m doing some personal assessments about, well, a lot of things including how I feel about growing older…someday.

SONY DSCSeveral years ago I had a conversation with my sister-in-law in which she warned me that my 4th decade would be somewhat less than I had anticipated. “You start getting old in your 40’s,” she told me. “Things start to break down on you and that isn’t fun at all.” My mother, on the other hand, kind of snorted at that comment when I shared it with her and then added her own prediction: “No, you tell her that doesn’t happen when you turn 40. It really starts to happen when you turn 70!” It still wasn’t the encouragement I was looking for about the aging process, but at least I felt like I had a few more good years left in me! I just wondered if it would happen gradually or all at once.

Well, I think it may have started happening…and here are just a few of my more recent clues:

  • My Aunt Beverly used to say watching me was like watching popcorn because I popped up and down out of my chair every time I got a new thought or had an idea for an new project and I just couldn’t wait to get them started. Lately, I’ve noticed that I’m really enjoying the comfort of my chair more and I like to wait until I’ve got several things to string together before I make the move to the vertical. I’d love to say that’s because I’m planning better and conserving energy, but conserving it for what?!
  • We attended a concert at our church Friday night and I must say that the former audiologist in me was ecstatic to find that we both had earplugs to help get us through the louder portions since we were close to the front and, therefore, closer to the speakers. Oh, we loved it! The music was great and had a good bit of the guitar work that my husband really loves to hear. We worshiped and we enjoyed ourselves immensely, but we also protected what hearing we have left–and I noticed that we did a good bit of it sitting down instead of standing this time. (very wry grin)
  • Earlier that day I’d gotten a haircut and my precious hairdresser and I talked about how everyone was reacting to all this “new” gray hair. For the record, she loves the way it is lighter on top and still darker underneath—kind of like an ombre effect–and she’s glad that my husband and a sweet friend had commented favorably on it recently. Actually, the gray isn’t new at all. It started showing up in grad school, but I kind of kept it under wraps because I wasn’t ready for it then. I am now. I’d love to say that it was because I’m being “fashion forward” and joining all of these trendy people who are actually DYEING their hair gray, but that isn’t it at all. The truth is that I’ve earned every single strand of it and I just can’t be bothered to cover it up anymore, so it’s a good thing the people around me most don’t seem to mind. (smile) Personally, I’m enjoying one less expense for the budget and claiming it’s Biblical. After all, God has something to say about that, too:

“The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.” Proverbs 20:29 (NLT) There’s that “old” thing again…even from my Maker.

I much prefer this one:  “A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.” Proverbs 16:31 (NASB)

 

Although I haven’t totally managed all of the righteousness part of it yet (and I know it’s hopeless for me on my own!), I live in hope, depending on God to help me while I’m working on it and I am loving that turning 50 this year isn’t cause for a mid-life crisis. After all, so far, my favorite age is right now…and I’m one of those people who has embraced the eternal life promise, so I’m actually going to live forever.

“in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” Titus 1:2 (HCSB) {BTW, that’s actually one of my favorite verses because it shares my very favorite thing about God!}

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Coffee candles and bad apples

breakfast  Good morning and welcome to breakfast with Becky! (No, I’m not really that peppy or even that awake yet, but the fruit/granola/yogurt mixture will fix that up for me in just a little bit…well, that and the smell of coffee…but I’ll get to that in a little bit.)

I’ve read  at least 3 different blogs within the past 24 hours that apologized for their lengthy absence and vowed to try to do better. I guess this at least means I’ve got a club I can join…if I were the club-joining type.

The fact of the matter is this: life is sometimes hard and messy and complicated and busy and as much as I would love to blog every single day, there simply isn’t enough time to do that. Sometimes there is time, but there aren’t words that will go into an order that won’t alarm the general populace or make any sense to me, much less to those of you who meet me here. Sometimes, silence really is golden…and necessary.

Right now, I’m typing this on a desk that is so pile-filled with paperwork that I’m actually having to steady the keyboard and I’m using the back-button A LOT so that typos won’t drive us all to distraction. I’d move the piles, but then I’d have to start over and reset them later today and so, for now, this will have to do.

Our week started off with a trip to the ER. We left our house before 9:30 AM on Sunday morning and arrived back home just a bit before 1 AM on Monday. We are blessed. God provided up to and including chairs that were far out into the waiting room hall so that we weren’t surrounded (read TRAPPED!) in the midst of all the flu victims as we waited for my husband to get his turn for medical care and his issue should be able to resolved without further invasion. Unfortunately, the start to this week has felt a lot like the last couple of months and yet, I know it still…God is good.

My husband has returned to work and is, even now, being used of God to provide for us and I am grateful. I’m also grateful for those who have checked on us and prayed for us and loved on us in all manner of ways. I’m particularly grateful for my friends Kelley and Marsha, who have been so diligent to check on ME as well as my sweet hubby and join him in a united insistence that I take some time for myself…so I’m blogging about it. This is my ME time for today.

Yesterday was quiet and I was under specific orders from my husband to take some time to rest, so I turned on the TV to listen to old NCIS reruns (love that show!) while I cleaned out kitchen cabinets and linen closets and did laundry and bathroom chores…in my nightclothes…until 4 pm. It was great. Not, perhaps, YOUR idea of a day off, but the normalcy of it (although I do not generally do these things in my nightwear!) was a balm straight from Gilead to my soul. The ordering of life in small doses and the putting right that which has need of order is spectacularly gratifying when so much is beyond your control.

Anyway, as I sorted and assembled piles for throw away and take away/donate yesterday, I decided I’d use the new-to-me-but-really-actually-from-the-1930s/40s glass coffee container in my kitchen. I’ll post a picture of it later, but, for now, just know it is really cool. The problem is that we aren’t really big coffee drinkers. Friends and family generally bring their own stuff when they come because we’re more a juice/water/milk household here…but this jar was too cool to leave where I found it, so I brought it home. I cleaned it up and started looking for coffee to put in it. I found some, but it was pretty evident that I’d had it awhile (think: it moved from MS with me over a year ago now old!) and so I searched on. There in the back of the cabinet was a brand new unopened bag of coffee…with ancoffee candle bad apple expiration date that had passed several months ago. Well. What to do now? I wouldn’t want to drink it, but it still smelled amazing, so I made a quick decision and grabbed a vase and a candle from the back porch stash. I poured the coffee into the vase and set the candle in on top and voila! I now have an amazing coffee-candle-vase-thing that looks great and smells heavenly. It was such a pleasure to walk out this morning and inhale that wonderful aroma that I almost understand all of you people who can’t seem to start your day without drinking a cup…or twelve (yes, I also have those friends.)

 I took a photo for you to see and I really wish we had smell-o-vision for this one because it would be great! I downloaded the picture and then I noticed it…one of my apples has a bad spot on it. UGH! Well, in the interest of making the post pretty and, of course, making all of you think that I’m still that person who has it all together (HA!!) I ran back out of the room to rearrange the fruit and took another photo (see it over there? It’s the second one that looks almost like the first one!), because, seriously who wants such a great  celebration of my totally unexpectedly great coffee crafty thing to be ruined by a bad apple?! And then I started laughing at myself, because truly…who cares? The coffee candle crafty thing still smells amazing and this just tells me that I’ll be cutting off the bad spot and adding in a few others to make a nice baked apple side for supper tonight. How terrible can that be? The house will smell like coffee and baked apples tonight and all will be well…because here’s the lesson of the day:

God is good even to those of us who are control freaks. He is good to those of us who are tired and in desperate need of normal days where something–anything, please!–goes like we planned it. He is good to those of us who look like we have it all together, but really know it’s all in how you arrange your fruit and take your shot. He is good to those who will know what I’m talking about and to those who have no idea and to those who will think I’ve finally and truly lost it this time. God is just good.

 

 

Paris in my living room

Factual doesn’t always mean truthful and sometimes the events of the day just can’t be processed without a trip into the Word and the mind of God. Yesterday was just such a day in Paris and around the world.

Men chose to take lives...twelve of them with more hanging in the balance…in the name of their religious zealotry. It was reported that they repeatedly yelled, “Allahu Akbar!” which we’re told means “God is Great!” or “God is [the] Greatest!” as they deliberately killed people with souls created by the very same God who created their own.

Whatever else you read or hear about this heinous act, don’t for one single second believe that these men committed these murders in the name of God. It simply wouldn’t be true. Why would an all-powerful God need any human assistance to accomplish His will or defend His honor in such a way here on earth? Is there anything “honorable” about the destruction of human life? Absolutely not. God is the Creator of life and the destruction of it is His purview alone.

We may never know all of the twisted reasoning behind it, but it is absolutely certain that God didn’t have anything to do with this horrible lampoon of His name. (And the horrific irony that their actions were against a group of people who make light of religions of all kinds is not lost on me at all.) Terrorism and the deliberately wanton desecration of life simply isn’t within God’s nature, therefore it couldn’t possibly be within His will.

Horrible, hateful acts have been committed all over the globe and by supposed followers of every single religion for centuries. It doesn’t mean those people were following God any more than these three men. In fact, those kinds of actions prove just the opposite—and it might shock some of the perpetrators if they actually got to know God a little better and found out what He really thinks. It’s for certain that the nightly news would have a drastically different content.

As I heard the reports and read accounts from several different sources, I decided that I needed to return to the only Source that really matters, so I picked up my Bible and since my mind was just blown at the audacity of this assassination of God’s character, I started where I usually go when things don’t make sense to me. I started in the Psalms with the 139th chapter.

Psalm 139 has been a place of refuge and a plumb line for truth for me for as long as I can remember. It is my reminder that I will never be alone, that I was created deliberately and with specific attention to detail, that I am known personally and intimately, that God cares enough about me to plan out my days, that He thinks of me constantly and that, as well as I know myself, HE knows me even better. More than anything else, Psalm 139 emphasizes that God is not in search of people who are religious–He is far more interested in people who want to pursue a relationship with Him. 

It’s comforting to know those things…and to know that God is also aware that people will act in ways that don’t honor Him and take His name in vain by giving Him the “credit” for those actions. David’s words remind us that it is natural to hate those who act so despicably and to call them our enemies, but I’m also reminded that the One whose name was slandered by their actions yesterday still loves them just as much as He loves us. We are not called to emulate them in hate, but to emulate HIM in love. How we do that will be something that will take more time to discern than it does to write a blog post, but one thing is for certain: it is up to us to LIVE HIM even in this.

I can’t answer for them. It isn’t my place. It IS my place to join David in asking God to judge ME and that will give me more than enough to handle for now.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24

Preaching to the choir…and myself

There is absolutely nothing super-spiritual about getting bad news or watching loved ones suffer. Yes, it IS an opportunity for more prayer and yes, it is another opportunity for those around you to see your faith in action, but in truth, it will also wear you out.

I know this from experience…both personally and from friends who are also currently experiencing similar situations. We’re all well aware of the promises made in Scripture and we know almost every verse that tells about God’s greatness and His goodness and His plans for us. Yes, we know all of that and still…honestly, there are still days that we’d just like to skip to the end of the movie, to understand the plan, and be done with it all so we can go back to our “regular” life where it is all good and easy and safe…and sometimes you can’t.

So, what do we do on those days when our prayers feel futile? Pray anyway.

And when the promises feel like they’re for everyone else? Claim them anyway.

And what about those days when we’re tired of doing those things and it doesn’t seem like we’re ever going to get a break? Praise Him anyway, yell for a friend, and pray with them–and for them because, most likely, they need it, too.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said, “If He never blesses me again, then I’m still the most blessed person I know.” I’m serious. It’s true…and yet we never really expect God to stop blessing us, so–on at least one level–it’s also a little bit disingenuous. SO…on these days when it’s hard to see the good and we’re all just tired of it and ready for some “normal” again? What do we do then?

We get to choose to live what we know instead of what we feel. We get to go deeper than the tired and further than what we can see right in front of us. We get to LIVE HIM and remember this:

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  ~Lamentations 3: 21-24

And while we wait for morning, we are

Still standing.

Still praying.

Still trusting.

Still hoping.

Still expecting great things from our great God.