So when did THAT happen?!

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, right? There comes a time when you realize that you’re now the age that you never thought you’d reach. For me, I guess that one is happening this year…50…and it is happening in just a few weeks. I mean, actually, it’s like a goal–only no one I know really talks about it very much. No one says, “Oh, boy! I can’t wait to turn 50!” and yet, it shouldn’t be a surprise when actually happens to you. Right?

It’s a bit strange, really, I mean it’s not like I didn’t know I was actually headed there (and I’m hoping to go a lot further, thank you very much!), but at the same time, fifty?! Shouldn’t someone about to turn 50 feel older than I do right now? Maybe even a lot older?

I’ve never been a math whiz, but I can manage a checking account and I can make change at art shows and I can even do most sales percentages in my head while I’m shopping, but for some reason I’ve always had to stop and actually do the math when someone asks me how old I am. I usually take some time before I respond to that question…every single time. I guess I could put it off to being stunned at the very rudeness of being asked (ha!), but honestly, it’s not that at all. It’s because I actually have to stop and count. Yes. Every single time.

For years, I was stuck at the age of 18. It was just my “go-to” age when someone asked. Then, it became 23. Some time after that it became 30, then 35, and then…well, I just forgot to think about it anymore until I turned 40. Incidentally, I’ve been 40 for almost 10 years now. (grin) It’s not that I hate birthdays. In fact, they were always a cause for celebration when I was growing up and I still like having them, but I guess I just forgot to think about the fact that I was actually getting older and that number was climbing right along with me.

It crept up on me recently. Someone I know and love–who I always think of being about the same age that I am–casually mentioned that they were going to be 53 years old this year and I very quickly did a head-shaking double-take and became very, very grateful that we were on the phone instead of face-to-face right then. Additionally, there’s been a serious rash of “look at my really gorgeous new grandchild!”-photos (and they are ALL gorgeous, people!) on Facebook recently…from children I remember being behind me in school–you know, those who are WAY younger than I am. Again, not a judgement call, just a wake-up call!

A couple of weeks ago now, I posted an anniversary message to my husband of 22 years and out of the many voices giving us congratulations came two lovely ladies from my childhood who started talking about how they remembered when I was just a little thing and how they couldn’t believe that I could possibly have been married for that long and I was like, “Seriously! Right?! How could all this life I’ve lived been happening while I wasn’t actually aging?!”

The government has recently decided to help me remember that I’m having a milestone birthday this year, however, by sending me their latest estimate of my Social Security benefit estimations (Personally, I think they’ve over-estimated that it will still be around when I’m actually old enough to get them, but whatever!) and two days ago, I got the requisite AARP card information with a list of discounts that I will soon be eligible for…and, once again, there’s the gray hair thing.

When I decided to stop covering up all the gray that’s actually been with me and multiplying since grad school, I forgot about what that might do to those who never actually knew that about me before. I like it. My husband likes it and I’ve gotten several compliments from those around me here who only know me like this. My mother-in-law says she likes it, but actually, she just stares at me intensely like she’s trying to figure out if that’s really me every time she sees me now before she says something sweet about how she just loves my hair now.  (big grin!–actually, that makes me laugh every time it happens!) I was getting it cut again today and sharing that with my hairdresser when I suddenly remembered that my own parents have never seen me with gray hair and no attempt to color it. Since I’m heading back to see them in the next few weeks I decided that I should at least give them a bit of time to prepare for it, so today I told my mother that I have gray hair. Talk about a milestone!

Her response: “Really?!

“Yes,I just thought I’d better let you know before I headed home again…and, by the way, I’ve got WAY more than Daddy does, ok? It started in grad school and I just decided that I was tired of covering it up.”

“Well, that’s ok,” she said. “Mine started when I had you.” (I guess that should have told her a lot, right?)

We laughed about it and I decided right then that I’m not really that old, after all. I’m still my mother’s baby, it’s only 50, and I plan to live forever. I’ll start thinking about getting old when I get to be my mother’s age…and I’ll still probably have to stop and do the math even then.

 

cropped-heart Grace & Peace!

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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!}

Weekend Challenge…

Happy Friday, everyone!  I’ve been thinking about this challenge for awhile and I woke up this morning with the perfect verse to go with it!  Are you ready for something amazing?!

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”  Proverbs 3:27 (NIV)

I also like the NLT translation of this verse which phrases it this way:

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.”

We’ve all read this one before and many people also tie it in with Galatians 6:10 (ESV), which says:

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Did you notice the wording in these three Scripture references?  Go back and read them again.

  • All three talk about doing “good”, but they don’t list specific actions that we’re to do.  That means we have lots of options to consider! (Let’s think of something really difficult, ok?)
  • Proverbs 3:27 says that there are people out there who actually deserve for us to do good to them!  They are DUE for some blessing from us! (Some of them, in fact, might actually be OVER-due…oops!)
  • That NIV translation also lets us know that we have the power to act. (Doesn’t knowing that make you feel great? We actually have power!!  Let’s not waste it!!)
  • The New Living Translation of that verse brings in the idea that when we act, we’re also supposed to help people. (uh-oh.  That sounds like we’re going to actually have to DO something!)
  • Paul’s word to the Galatians is that we’re going to have some opportunities come our way–and we need to take advantage of them. (Good old Paul.)

So, what monumental task am I asking you to do this weekend?  Become an observer…and then, become an encourager. Become a reinforcer of good choices or behavior. Become someone who sees the good in those around you…and lets them know. Become a person of influence!

Oh, my goodness, what a tall order!  (well, yes…and no.)

Your challenge this weekend is to be a compliment-giver!  Is that all? No!  Of course not!  Here are your parameters:

  • You have to give at least 3 GENUINE compliments to people you see regularly in your life. (This does not include things like, “Well, I see you finally got a decent haircut.)
  • Work them into your conversations, send a card or email, leave a sticky note, or write it in lipstick on the bathroom mirror–I’m not picky about how you deliver these blessings!
  • THEN extend your gaze outside your normal circle…and do the same thing for 3 people you don’t know that well. (Oh, my word!  Are you serious?!  Yes. This is your opportunity to bring a smile and a warm fuzzy to people you may never see again…unless, of course, they decide they want to become friends with someone who is so nice to strangers!)
  • And last, but not least:  No one can know you’re on assignment!  Smile and make it seem natural!  Have fun with it!  This is heady stuff!  In fact, you just might become addicted to this one and repeat it over and over and over…Who knows how many lives you can influence in just this simple thing?

cropped-heartGrace & Peace! (and a very happy weekend!)