Seventy Lessons for 70 years

Today I will have reached another decade. When I was younger, I can remember thinking that 70 was ancient! And here I am. I have learned so much through my years and often think it is such a shame that it takes a lifetime to gain wisdom. If only I had known these things when I was younger. So, I want to share 70 lessons I have learned through the years (in no particular order). Not everything was learned from personal experience . . . well, maybe some of them were.

Find joy in life

1. Despite my brother thinking my mom had a hard time delivering me because I would not put the book away, I really did not come out reading. Learn to read.

Me and my chubby cheeks.

2. People say, “I could just squeeze those cute little cheeks,” DON’T.

3. Spiders are creepy, crawly, things.

4.  Volunteer to catch grasshoppers for your uncles to use as bait for fishing. They may pay you a penny each.

5. Every 5-year-old covers their face for pictures. Just roll with it.

6. See Dick and Jane run really was a thing. Just change the names and ask my siblings what happened when someone yelled, “Snake.”

7. Some people move a lot. Just learn to roll with it.

8. No, butter really does not make a sunburn better. Use sunscreen and avoid skin cancer.

9. Everyone needs to read “Little Women” and “Pride and Prejudice” at least once.

10. Blowing bubbles from bubble gum isn’t as easy as some people make it look. Neither is whistling.

11. There are worse things than being picked last for the team. But I can’t think of too many.

12. Have a dictionary handy when you read “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

13. Always wear your seat belt. Just in case you are in a car that rolls over.

14. First crushes are hard.

15. Understand that sometimes even the young die. Do not say God needed them in heaven.

16. Find a brother-in-law with nerves of steel when he tries to teach you to drive a stick shift.

17. Find a brother-in-law who does not yell when you tell him, “I think I hit your truck with your car.” (his brand new Dodge Charger car)

18. Finish high school.

19. Everyone should have their heart broken once.

20. Make life-long friends.

21. It is good for you to live away from home.

22. Work hard at a job that makes a difference for others.

23. Find a hobby that makes you happy.

24. Don’t be in a rush to get married young, but if you do, choose wisely.

25. Take care of your toes, especially protect them from bookshelves.

26. You may wish the earth would just open up and swallow you when you are embarrassed, but it won’t.

27. There is such a thing as arachnophobia. Don’t make fun of people with it.

28. Be grateful for indoor plumbing, then you do not have to worry about a spider biting you in the butt while you are in the outhouse.

29. It is okay to switch careers if it makes you happier.

30. Look for the good in people.

31. Don’t believe everything you read on social media.

32. Don’t wash your hair at work.

33. Let your promises mean something.

34. Spend wisely, save thriftily, and give generously.

35. A small kindness goes a long way.

36. Courage is doing the right thing at the right time.

37. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride. (My mom’s favorite saying.)

38. Don’t fall into walls or trip over curbs. Choose a soft landing when possible.

39. Being pregnant at 39 is a lot different than being pregnant at 30.

40. Tell your children you love them every single day.

41. Get plenty of sleep before you have children because it goes downhill from there.

42. Making comparisons is the fastest way to becoming dissatisfied with life.

43. Be humble. Be kind. Be loving.

44. Find out other people’s stories. They shape who they have become.

45. Learn to identify toxic friendships and avoid them like the plague.

46. There is always that “one” in the family. Love them, but don’t let them rule your life.

47. You are never too old to learn.

48. Make a bucket list and actually do some of the things on it.

49. Traveling to another country helps you understand you are not the only cultures out there.

50. Let your grandkids call you “squishy” because you know it is true.

51. You will not die from public speaking, but you may think you will. Do it anyway.

52. Admit to your mistakes. I have become a pro in this area.

53. Develop a strong sense of humor, but never at the expense of someone else.

54.  Many friendships are just for a season in life. But there are also many you need to hold on to. Find friends to laugh with, to cry with, and to vent with on occasion.

55. It really is a small world when friends from Oklahoma, Missouri, and Ohio meet in Branson.

56.  Think before you speak. Don’t tell your friend the stubble on her legs looks like a Christmas tree farm. To clarify, I had been in an accident, and it was the first time I ever was on pain pills and muscle relaxers.

57. Do not let a bad past define you. Choose a better today so you will have a better tomorrow.

58. Hug your loved ones tight and tell them you love them. They may be gone tomorrow.

59. Dance, especially when no one is watching.

60. Do not let fear stop you from stepping out in faith and taking a risk.

61. If God tells you to do something, do it. Even when it means stepping out of your comfort zone.

62. Tarantulas are not pets. You will never convince me they are.

63. The greatest commandments are still to love God and love others.

64. Don’t be afraid to tell others about Jesus. Won’t it be nice to see them in heaven?

65. Chocolate is not a necessity of life. Anything with bread, however, well . . .

66. Things are just things. Build a life on what truly matters. You can’t take things with you when you die.

67. Be hospitable and open your home to others, even when the house does not look “perfect.”

68. Integrity matters.

69. Spider bites are a thing. They require strong antibiotics.

70.  Making Jesus the Lord of my life is the best decision I ever made.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

No Easy Answer

As with many others, I am shocked and saddened for the people of Uvalde, Texas–a place I had never heard of before Tuesday. There are no words that are adequate to help the wounded hearts in that town. I wrote a post of May 25, 2009 that expresses a lot of how I feel. Just a few months after the original post, my husband passed away unexpectedly and I was left with lots of questions and no easy answers. But love certainly helped me recover and take one step in front of another while grieving.

Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

I could easily talk about all the reasons I think this happened–none of which make sense in light of the carnage–or all the things we need to do in the United States to keep this from happening again. But I will not in this post. The fact is there are no easy answers for the wounded right now.

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Hidden Potential*

When they were first married, my son and his wife purchased a home that was a short sale. When they first brought me to see the house, it was somewhat difficult to look past the dirt and junk. There were piles of toys, clothes, and miscellaneous items that had been left by the previous owners.  In the bathroom, the tub surround was full of crayon scribbles and the toilets were in dire need of a good cleaning and disinfectant. In the basement the refrigerator still had food in it, and the smell was rank when the door was opened. Even trash had been left in the kitchen can.

The outside had ivy growing unchecked around the entire foundation. The large back yard was full of weeds and shrubs that had been allowed to grow wild, not to mention a pile of cinder blocks that served no useful function that we could see. Dead trees had fallen and the decaying logs were lying on the ground.

Most people would have walked away after seeing the first room, and indeed, at first I just saw all of the surface issues. But on a deeper, second look, I could envision the possibilities they saw in the home. As they worked hard at making the house into a home, a beautiful picture emerged.

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Worry Warts

This past week I was able to vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I have been two other times with my friend, who swears it is her happy place. And I believe her. She makes a better guide than most of the employees since she has been there so often! For a newbie like me that is a blessing, because she doesn’t get lost (unlike I would) and knows shortcuts to take through the parks.

Normally, I would be walking with her ahead of the vacation so that I am not utterly exhausted at the end of each day. About three weeks out, I was having a problem with my foot hurting, but assumed I needed new shoes. So I went to my favorite store and got fitted for my shoes. I picked out a cute (as much as tennis shoes can be cute) corn yellow Hoka shoe and was so excited. But alas, my foot still hurt when I walked.

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The Last Week

Photo by Cody Board on Unsplash

Today is Palm Sunday, but for Jesus it was a week that was just beginning. Palm Sunday is a day that many churches celebrate with waving of palm branches, emulating the people of Biblical times who proclaimed “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” while he entered Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. It is a day when I will be speaking to a group of individuals at an Assisted Living facility. As I wondered about what to speak on, I realized that, of course, I need to speak about the last week of Jesus’ life.

All four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, share the triumphal entry. When Jesus came to Jerusalem the crowds were already being stirred up by the disciples and started chanting together “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” You see the crowds welcomed him thinking he was going to be their earthly king. They were expecting a Messiah who was going to deliver them from the Roman rulers and establish the kingdom of Israel once again.

In fact, they did not recognize that they were actually fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

But that same crowd who cried out “Hosanna,” cried out “Crucify Him” when they realized that their dreams were not coming true. So let’s talk about Jesus’ week and the things he did after his triumphal entry.

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Help My Unbelief

Recently I have been wondering why I ever thought I could retire. I have been trying to avoid taking money out of my 401K until I hit 72, but in all honesty with today’s inflation I am thinking that may not be possible. I went to the store today to buy something to make a dessert for my home team and was shocked when the items cost $18—just for one dessert made with Jell-O and strawberries. Like many individuals on a fixed income, I worry about having enough money to meet my daily needs, let alone all the things on my “want” list.

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Chariots of Fire

Do you ever have those days when you think, “I have no clue what God is doing.” I look at the world around me and sometimes I feel so defeated. I see so much hatred and strife, and so many spiritual battles of good vs. evil. I feel like I should be out there doing something and yet, I am not experiencing clear direction from God. Yes, I do have direction to love others, develop fruit of the Spirit and keep on having faith, but sometimes I feel that God has something in store for me that I just have not recognized yet! Have you ever been there? Have you ever questioned God and wonder why he hasn’t shown himself? The response I keep getting back is: Trust me, I have it covered.

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Being Me and the Perfect Life*

Do you ever wish you had someone else’s perfect life? Have you ever thought your life would be better if you could just have their talents and skills, their perfect family, or their awesome job?  Sometimes it’s easy to envy others when we think they have the best personalities, the most talent, and other attributes we admire.  Frequently we get into the comparison game and come up the loser.

The fact of the matter is while we are busy envying someone else’s life, that very same person may be envying another person, too. When I was younger I could sense something wrong in a relationship with a close friend. I couldn’t put my finger on what was going on, but it seemed we were losing our closeness and I was stymied as to what I had done that would make her avoid me. Finally, unable to stand it any longer, I confronted her. I was stunned when I heard her say she was jealous of my ability to make friends easily and I had a boyfriend, while she struggled to build relationships. Feeling badly about her relationships, she had started to avoid me, especially when I was with my boyfriend.

But the REAL fact of the matter was that I envied her for her sense of humor, her close-knit Christian family, and her obvious musical talent. Once we were able to talk about our feelings and recognize that God made us unique individuals, with our own strengths and weaknesses, we abolished the barriers we had let build over time.

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Bittersweet Days

This evening will be bittersweet for me. I am going to the Alumni Homecoming banquet at the college I graduated from in 1974. (I know–I am truly getting old!) The reason it is bittersweet is that the college is in its last year of existence. When May arrives, the last graduating class will receive their diplomas and a school that has been in existence since 1956, will merge with another college. Like many Bible colleges the financial burden of staying open, the pandemic, and the lack of incoming students have created the perfect storm, causing hard decisions to be made.

Unfortunately I have seen several Bible colleges close in the last decade. I could cite a multitude of reasons why the majority of Bible colleges are struggling to remain open. Some of the reasons are valid, some of them are not. But that is not really the purpose of this post.

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My Independence Day

Today we celebrate America’s Independence Day with picnics, food, time with family, and fireworks. A multitude of people celebrate without recognizing the great sacrifices that were made in order to gain autonomy from Great Britain. We need to remember the lives that were given, the homes that were burned, and the families that were forever changed when America made her bid for independence.

Photo by Weston MacKinnon on Unsplash

While I love July 4th, today I want to talk about my own personal Independence Day. It is a day I still remember vividly even though it was many years ago. I came from a good home, but not a home where we learned about Jesus and made faith a foundation. My life changed when a neighbor volunteered to send me to church camp. I had absolutely no idea what church camp was, nor did I understand why I was chosen to be sent since there were six of us children in my family. But God had a plan for my life and he used MacGomery Christian Camp to set me on my path to independence.

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