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)

How Should We Love?

In the book of Acts we see the infancy of the church. As we read we find that as early as the third chapter of Acts, the body of believers was established after Peter addressed the crowd on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 3:42-47 we see the response of the believers, who devoted themselves to the teaching of Christ and to fellowship with one another. Some of the highlights of this passage: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship”, “selling their possession and goods, they gave to anyone who had need,” and “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

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Five Things to Remember When Life Becomes Overwhelming

One of my friends shared on facebook that she is really struggling with all the things that life is throwing at her right now. Unfortunately, I think we can ALL identify with that feeling of being overwhelmed on occasion! Women, who tend to be fixers, sometimes have difficulty admitting they need help when life becomes overwhelming for them. So how do we learn to swallow our pride and ask for help? How do we let our friends and family know that we have reached a point where we are ready to scream, or cry, or just hide, until we can face life with equanimity again?

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

For those of you who find yourself in this circumstance, here are five things I’ve found helpful.

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My Comfort Zone

Do you ever go out of your comfort zone when it comes to serving God? It seems that since I have gotten older I have gone out of my comfort zone more frequently than when I was younger. I think when I was younger I was more consumed with parenting, being a spouse, and serving at church, than I was concerned about being out of my comfort zone. I think I worried more about making it through the day without a melt-down–either my kids or mine– than I thought about challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone more!

Recently one of my fellow church members contacted me and asked if I would be willing to speak on a rotation basis at a nearby assistant living facility. That was a stretch for me. I had been asked to speak for their small worship service and believe me, that was way out of my comfort zone. I speak for workshops and retreats for women’s groups, but I had never spoken for a service with older people. I was not sure exactly what to speak about as I wracked my brain for the normal topics I speak on. I prayed about what these individuals would want and need to hear about God.

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The Alabaster Jar

Recently in my morning reading I arrived to Luke 7: 36-50. Before you read the rest of what I write, I would like you to read this passage (below). There is much speculation as to the identity of the woman. Some say it was Mary Magdalene, but any other time in Scripture where Mary Magdalene was involved, her name was given. It was speculated that it was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Indeed, we do read in Matthew 26 of a woman anointing Jesus with costly oil while he was in Bethany and it is likely that it was Mary. But in this passage, the woman is not named, just her reputation was what defined her.

Here is a woman who has learned that Jesus would be at Simon’s house. I have to wonder, was she part of one of the crowds that listened to Jesus’ teaching? Did she stand at the back of the crowd, with her face mostly hidden, so that she could hear this man of whom she had heard so many tales? Did she know someone who had been healed by him or had she just heard the rumors and stories that were floating around? Whatever it was, it was obvious that Jesus’ words and actions had deeply touched her life.

The imagery of this woman standing behind the feet of Jesus while he is reclining at the table is powerful. She wets his feet with her copious tears and then wipes them with her hair. Not only does she wipe his feet with her hair, afterwards, she pours very expensive perfume on them. In many ways, the sheer magnitude of what she did is amazing.

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My View from the Pew

Well, technically my view from the pew is really from the chair. We never had pews at my church. Believe me, chairs are far more comfortable and during the height of Covid-19 they were able to take out a lot of chairs in order to provide safe distancing. But I digress from the real point.

I am short and usually I sit toward the front of the church because I can see better. Invariably I will end up moving because someone tall sits in front of me. Last week, I came into the auditorium just before service started and had to sit toward the back. It was interesting how different the perspective was for me. But the cool thing was, I saw from the back what I normally did not see from the front.

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My Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day that brings joy to some people, and stress to others. My cynical friends will say that it is just a day for merchants to sell more merchandise, and indeed I noticed the flower prices in my local grocery store went up substantially the week before Valentine’s Day hit. But my more romantic friends will anticipate receiving flowers, candy, or any number of things to celebrate their love.

The first year after my husband died, I found Valentine’s Day a difficult holiday to face. Now the thing is, it had never been a big deal day in our home. We didn’t do fancy dinners, or spend unnecessary money on a dozen roses. We were lucky if we gave each other cards some years. But we were together, and we loved each other. There was something about that security of knowing someone loves you and that you love someone that makes the day special. After he died, I found myself longing to be back where we were. But you cannot go back, you can only go forward.

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Finding Joy in the Chaos, Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the stress and chaos that often robs us of our joy. Today we are going to focus on some things that help us in regaining and maintaining joy in our lives. Having joy does not mean that we are happy all the time, or that we never have problems. Instead, for the Christian, it is a deep contentment and happiness that is centered on the Creator.

So how do we find this contentment and joy? I believe a large part of the answer is found in Philippians 4:8-9. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Consider this–if we focus on the untrue, ignoble, wrong, unpure, ugly or abominable, then our minds will fill with depression and fear. But in focusing on the good things, we are much more likely to find joy.

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