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)

The Little Yellow House

One of my favorite aunts passed away yesterday (dare I say my favorite?). I only have two aunts left out of 14 originally. She was kind and compassionate, hospitable, and patient. She was generous with her love. And even though she had bright red hair, she did not have the temper that is such a stereotype for redheads! Although I do have to say I saw her aggravated occasionally, usually with my uncle. But it must not have been too bad because they were married over 65 years.

I have lots of fond memories of spending time at her little yellow house that was truly a home. I loved her green Fiesta Ware dishes that were square instead of round. I enjoyed eating her “cheesecake.” It was not until later that I learned it technically was pineapple fluff, not a true cheesecake. But it did have a graham cracker crust and cream cheese in it.

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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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Words to My 22-year-old Self

I belong to a facebook group called Ministry Chick, which is specifically designed for women in ministry. In the short time I have been a part of that group, it has been refreshing to see women come together in support of one another. Today a young woman posted a question that really got me thinking.

Her question was “If you could go back and tell your 22 year old self anything, what would it be?”

Goodness! My 67-year-old self would have plenty to say. But here are the top 10 things in no particular order, except the first one, that I would tell my 22-year-old self. Continue reading

What’s Her Story?

We all have them in our churches. Women whose lives are full of hurt and pain, who struggle with job loss, economic woes, health issues, parenting issues, and more. They sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday, trying to trust God with their struggles and frequently wearing a mask to cover their pain. We will never know their stories unless we make the effort to invite them into our lives and discover who they are.

A friend and I listened as a woman shared her story of a son who is struggling with paranoid schizophrenia. She lived in fear as she watched his hallucinations and bizarre behaviors become increasingly more frequent. The hours leading to his involuntary hospitalization were something I would never wish for anyone. My heart ached for her and her pain. We held hands as we prayed for her family. My friend and I both prayed that God’s healing hand would be on this family, but it was her prayer that made me cry as I truly saw the heart of a mother who loved God. Continue reading

Living with Brokenness

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a Fresh Grounded Faith conference. I heard Ann Voskamp, Laura Story, and Jennifer Rothschild share their stories and their challenges as women of God. I loved listening to these women because they were authentic and real. They didn’t paint a “rah, rah, everything is good in our lives” picture! Instead, they talked about our wounds and our challenges and our pain–our brokenness.

thAs I listened this weekend I thought about the multitude of women I know who have shared their stories with me through the years. Stories they have never shared with anyone, secrets so deep and painful they affected the rest of their lives. And I have been a keeper of the stories that have been told to me in confidence. My heart breaks every time I hear one of them. Continue reading

Surviving Transition

ChangeTransitions. We all have them. Some transitions fill us with expectation and excitement, others fill us with dread and uncertainty.  Some transitions are of our own making, others are sometimes forced upon us.  But there is no doubt, good or bad, we all need to learn how to adjust to transition in our lives.  It is especially difficult to make a smooth transition when change comes our way, not through our own choosing, but through circumstances–sometimes beyond our control or understanding. Continue reading

The Man on the Honor Flight

10686785_10203126098255503_2263128286258544606_nToday is a very special day for a very special man. My brother-in-law, Steve, will be boarding a plane for an Honor Flight to Washington, DC. If you are not familiar with an honor flight, these flights take a veteran to Washington DC, where they can see memorials honoring those who have gone before. What Steve will see today includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and The Vietnam Wall, both of which will be moving experiences for him. This blog is a letter to a man who is not only my brother-in-law, but also a brother to me.

Dear Steve, Little did we know how big a part of our lives you would be when Sharron brought you home for the first time. I remember looking up and seeing all 6’4″ of you and being amazed at how tall you were. What I have discovered since then is that not only are you tall in height, you are tall in spirit. We have shared a lot of memories through the years. Continue reading

Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters

Cast Your Bread upon the Waters

I have been going through the daunting task of selling my home. Literally, months of preparation have taken place. The house was suffering from years of neglect simply because financially things have been difficult for me, especially since my husband’s death six years ago. The interior was dark with dark brown doors on all of the rooms, a tired kitchen and gold and blue bathrooms. The exterior? Well, that is a long, complicated story. Suffice it to say, in this house every time I turned around, some new issue had reared its ugly head. But this is where I can truly say, God is in control. Continue reading