Getting Older… AND Younger…

Author, Colleen Fraioli
Author, Colleen Fraioli

I hit the big 6-0 last year. Turning 61 now makes it official: I’m off the chair lift, careening down the slope. No going back to the good old days of “almost” or “barely” something.

I thought about hiding my age, but realized that cat would get out of the bag one way or another. So I’ve decided to embrace it, or shall I say, parts of it. In a way it’s a relief to stop pretending I have 30-something skin, or run like a maniac ten times around the track. I know good and well I will never again have buns of steel, or perky anything. And remembering where I put my check book is highly overrated.

I’ve made peace with all of that. Why fight gravity and inertia? Let it be. I’ve probably been there, and may have done that, but I can’t remember. Either way, I don’t need the tee-shirt.

No more “shoulds”, and no more expectations. It may have taken six decades plus one year, but I’m there, and not going back. Freedom!

However, the part I don’t want to accept is the ‘old people conversations’ my husband and I have recently engaged in. It’s all about the ability to hear correctly, which apparently we no longer have:

Me: I’m going to look at that house before the movie, so I’ll be back in an hour.

Him: Bat house? Huh?

Me: Bat house? Seriously? Now ask yourself… Does that even makes sense?

Him: Well, then what did you say?

Me: oh my goodness! That house. T-h-a-t house for cryin’ out loud! What else?

Who am I kidding? I’m getting older and I really don’t like it. I’m not ready for hearing aids, and I don’t look good in spikey grey hair. Besides, I hate Metamucil. Apart from the senior early diner special, I need more good news.

This morning I saw this verse I’ve seen many times before, but today it had more significance:

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

And my heart said:

Lord, you mean something in me is not old? 

This verse says I’m getting younger inside. Not the foolish, reckless kind of young, either. From what I read in this chapter, it is a fresh, alive, vibrant kind of young. It’s the newness of Jesus’ life revitalizing me every morning when I wash myself in the Word. My soul doesn’t break down and decay or get hard of hearing. It actually gets more attune, stronger, and able to perceive and grow and learn with age. What is going on in the inside is the opposite of what is happening on the outside. That is good news!

So, yay! Take heart, my soul! You are still a young thing. I may be sitting down on the outside, but you are frolicking, and rocking it on the inside. You go girl! …just living the thing.

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Finding Comfort In God First…

Author, Sonna Evans
Author, Sonna Evans

Growing up it was just my mom, my sister and I. When my mom got home from work she would send my sister and I to the corner store for Pepsi and Doritos and the three of us would watch Dark Shadows as we snacked on the goodies. I didn’t know it then, but my mom suffered from depression and anxiety, and food was one of her comforts.

I have a habit of using food as comfort as well, but never really addressed it the way I should have. Oh, it has come up several times over the past 20 years, but I’ve never fully given it over to God.

Two weeks ago I went in for a physical. My lab results exposed my bad eating habits in the form of very high cholesterol. I knew this day would come, I really did. First, there’s a family history, and second, my numbers have been creeping up ever so slightly in recent years. This one was a big jump and my doctor was concerned. She recommended medication. Ugh, no more medication please. I knew then it was time for a change once and for all.

As I drove to work, I had time to think. I was angry, sad, frustrated and scared. I was angry that God had allowed the consequences of my eating habits to actually catch up with me. I was sad I was going to have to say goodbye to eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was frustrated that I couldn’t have my way anymore without running the risk of serious health issues. Lastly, and most importantly, I was scared. Change scares me.

As I drove I considered how much I really did not want to make the necessary changes. I actually told God,

“I do not want to do this.”

I thought back to all the things that have happened in my life over the past several years and remember with each one I prayed and told God,

“Whatever you want me to do, I will do.”

There was no hesitation in those times. I knew God had me in His hand and I knew that He would work in a mighty way through it all. In this situation though, I felt rebellious.

It struck me that this was really like an addiction. I thought about all my friends in Celebrate Recovery who have overcome meth addiction, alcohol addiction, and thought, how did they do it? I know they do it with God’s help. That’s the answer; I KNOW it’s the answer. I need to crave Him; look to Him, not food, for my comfort, and to ask Him to fill me when I’m feeling needy.

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

I came around by the time I hit Modesto. I knew that I could say, Lord whatever you want me to do, I will do it. So, here I go, walking in obedience and …just living the thing.

Let go and be still…

Author, Adrienne Yerzy
Author, Adrienne Yerzy

I just got back from bridal/bachelorette party weekend for a close friend. The weekend was full of planning, storytelling, some awkwardness, gift relocation, healthy laughter, and good food, wrapping up with a trip to the spa for massages.

For my friends the massage part of the weekend was the cherry on top, but I was anxious because it’s hard for me to let everything go and just be still. I’m usually multitasking, or thinking about the next ten steps for life, so lying still for 50 minutes to unwind seemed just too difficult a task.

One of the other girls drove our party of four, and as we entered the spa the smells that welcomed us promised a peaceful time, but I still wasn’t so sure. We were each summoned by our therapist, and exited the lounge to assigned private rooms. Of course, the single rooms were booked, so I was led outside to couples massage room…alone.

The poor masseuse did her best, but after quite a bit of flinching, she realized I was a piece of work that needed more than one massage session, so I think she lowered her expectation of what she could accomplish in just 50 minutes. Have you ever seen a meat mallet? They are square with sharp ridges, and you use them to pound steak? THAT probably would have been a useful tool on my back.

Massage over, I headed back into the lounge area where the other girls and I sat in our small circle of four chairs, sipped mimosas, and talked.  But almost immediately, I wanted to get my phone. I wondered if anyone had texted, if I missed any calls, or if I was missing something else. Unfortunately, it was in a locker so I wasn’t able to retrieve it without being rude to the party.

Finally, I decided to just be. Be in the moment. Be within the current conversation. Be with real, living people, in Real Life. And when I finally let go of all the places I wanted to be, I was able to unwind. Soon, I felt relieved that I didn’t have my purse, my phone, or my car. To be in a place where I forced to live in the moment suddenly felt wildly refreshing.

I could probably make a ton of comparisons about how God made a seventh day devoted to rest for a reason, how Jesus lingered with people, that He even took his disciples away for rest when they needed it, but honestly, I just want to remember that today, I sat and lived an unhurried afternoon listening to other people talk.

Although I’m grateful for a good massage, I am more thankful that I was not in control of my life for that short period of time. Today I relaxed. Just living the thing can often be challenging, hard, and sometimes full of difficult lessons, but today, I am thankful that living the thing meant just living in the moment, relaxing, and being still.

Living On The Edge…

cheriThere are times I find myself in places where I am just moving along in life, then I’ll have an idea;

Hey!  I think I will __________ .  (Fill in the blank).

This time, for whatever reason I found myself saying,

“I think I will further my education in my field of business, just for personal development”. That’s it!  Nothing more.

Then God starts talking to me in stereo through different avenues of my life. There is no way each avenue could be possibly connected EXCEPT that I am the pot it all falls into, and I start to realize maybe God is doing a new work in me. Translation: God is stirring the pot!

Unfortunately, my first reaction is often; PANIC!  Then the conversations/negotiations with God go something like this;

But I’m comfortable! I don’t need more! I don’t need bigger. Oh, but I do need more of God showing His power in my life. He tends to do it in very practical ways.

But I’m afraid.

“…Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid…” Joshua 1:9

Well, THAT’S easier said than done!

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

Lord, I really don’t think I know how to do what you are calling me to.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all of your ways, He will make your path straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

I KNOW these Scriptures and my life has tested and verified the truth of them repeatedly! I’ve lived long enough to have experienced deep pain, heights of joy, and the easy, everyday “comfortable” places.  But how does all this fit into my life’s purpose, and the greatest commandment for me as a believer to “love God and love people”? (I wish it included “love dogs”. I’d totally have 2 out of 3 down!  Sometimes the “people” part really snags me up.)

But back to the question. Where, and to what am I being called presently?  Not yesterday, and not tomorrow. Today. Where is He calling me to the edge of trusting Him AND to allow myself to be comfortable there?

My friend Barb says, “If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space”.

I believe God is once again calling me to the edge, to a new season, and He is asking me to do exactly what the Bible says; TRUST!

I can picture myself on the edge of a cliff turned backwards; toes right on the edge, arms outstretched, ready to fall into those arms of my loving God and Father who I can hear saying,

“Trust Me. I have you! Don’t be afraid! Go for it!”

…just living the thing!

New…again!

Author, Ann Marie Collins
Author, Ann Marie Collins

With 2017 fast approaching I pulled out my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible (kicking it old school) to see how many times the word ‘new’ is used in the King James Bible in reference to God’s interaction with humankind, and it was a lot! I stopped counting at 60+.

He is continually “making new” or “doing a new thing” and something deep inside me responds to that truth with excitement, and ever-renewing hope because of the extraordinary power and creativity of my God to deliver, heal, redeem and restore; to make all things new again and again!

It is a rare thing indeed for me to even be awake when the New Year arrives, though I do appreciate the symbolism, but the Lord knows I need ‘do-overs’, and ‘newness’ way more than just once a year.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  ‘The Lord is my portion’, says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’” Lamentations 3:21-24

One of my friends posted this message on Facebook:

“Our hope is not in the new year…but in the One who makes all things new.”

My hope for 2017 and beyond is in the One who gave me new life; who amplifies my joys daily, redeeming the times of hurt, loss, and failure, guiding me safely through it all so I don’t self-destruct, and teaches me to use the lessons learned to inform my present, and serve my future.

“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth.  Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert…  Because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen.  This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.” Isaiah 43:19-21

I do have some strong ‘desires’ for the coming year; to get a ‘newer’ car before this one falls to pieces around me, finally landscape the back yard, make great memories with my youngest who gets married in June, and go home to Jamaica at Christmas for the first time in 20+ years.

However, years of experience following Jesus has taught me to hold even good plans very loosely in my heart and mind because,

“ ‘…my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord.  ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

My REAL plan is to navigate this new year like a Jamaican in a crowd where they’re handing out free food; eyes fixed on Jesus, hanging on with a vise grip to the One who leads me, clearing my path and making a way even where there seems to be no way.

No anxiety. No fear… just living the thing.