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)

We Too

I just finished reading Mary Demuth’s book We Too, to help gather some insight for the fiction book I am writing. In my book the main character was sexually abused by her youth minister when she was in high school. While my book is fiction, the fact is there is more sexual abuse being covered up in the church than one can even imagine. If you happen to be familiar with the work of Julie Roys, Boz Tchividjian, Rachel Denhollander, or Mary DeMuth, you will be given some insights into the need for the church to be transparent about sexual abuse and how it is handled.

Little did I realize that Me Too was more than just a book to help me understand the need for the church to respond in an appropriate way, but it was also a book that was painful to read based on my own personal experience and years of working with women in the church.

In my roles in both youth ministry and women’s ministry I have heard heartbreaking stories of women and children abused by the ones who were supposed to be safe and care for them. From the misuse by fathers and stepfathers, to date rape, to clerical sexual abuse, to stalking, and more, it never seems to stop. Not just women, but men (especially young boys) are the target for increasingly common sexual abuse. We are living in a culture where sin abounds and Satan has a special fondness for sexual abuse. All we need to do is look at the pornography statistics and at the number of trafficked individuals that is on the rise.

When I headed an organization called Christian Women’s Resource Network (which no longer exists), we sponsored a program geared for women’s ministers to help identify abuse, and provide resources for the abused. We had speakers from organizations who talked about sexual abuse, physical abuse, and verbal abuse. We talked about how the church needs to respond and support those who have been abused. I only wish We Too had been written when we had the program.

The stories shared by women after the program were heart-wrenching. I will never forget the 80-year-old woman who shared that she had been sexually abused by a family member in her early teens. She had never told anyone until the day of the program. I cannot imagine carrying that burden around for as long as she did. I honestly wish I could say I have never heard one complaint about abuse at the hands of a self-professing Christian. Unfortunately, I cannot.

It would be nice to categorically say that the church is a safe place to bring accusations of abuse, especially at the hands of another Christian. Unfortunately, fact does not back that up. If you wonder why a victim has not come forward, you only need to look at the instances of victim blaming and shaming that occur when they do.

I would like to encourage you to stay informed. Research the topic for yourself. Do not just take my word for it that this is an issue in the worldwide church. It is not just a Catholic issue–it is across all denominations and “non-denominations” as well. You can order We Too by Mary Demuth at any local bookstore or on Amazon.

I want to leave you with this thought. Jesus loved the outcast and marginalized throughout the gospels.. He saw the people who had a great need for his love. So many who have been abused in the church yearn to have their voice heard and believed. They long for justice. Let us be the eyes, ears, and hands of Jesus as we minister to them.

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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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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A Day of Disappointments

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Recently I had one of those days. You know the kind. The kind where nothing has gone the way you planned–where because of Covid, you had to cancel an activity you were looking forward to, where something broke and you need to decide if you will replace it or fix it, where a friend found out they had cancer. Those are the kind of days a lot of people experience.

My list of disappointments can go on and on. However this is the thing–all of us can find all kinds of things to be disappointed about in life. And dwelling on our disappointments just magnifies feelings of anger, frustration, worthlessness, and bitterness.

The good news is that life’s disappointments do not define us and cannot defeat us if we hold strong to some tools for overcoming disappointments. One of my favorite verses 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.”

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Tell Me Something Good

Yesterday I declared it to be “Tell Me Something Good” day on my Facebook feed.

I must confess. It has been a while since I have posted on my blog. Honestly, I, like many others, have been discouraged by everything that is going on in the world around me. Every time I open my computer I am bombarded with media. Real news, fake news, liberal views, right wing views, and hate filled posts from individuals I never anticipated. I have snoozed more Facebook friends (liberal and conservative) than I can count right now because of their prejudiced, ill-thought out, memes and comments. I have been dismayed by the posts of some individuals whom I thought were Bible believing, loving, kind Christians, after reading their hate filled rhetoric. I took a break from writing anything lest I become one of those ranting individuals.

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God Loves the People You Hate

I was sitting in church when I glanced at the row behind me. I noticed a woman wearing a t-shirt that said “God loves the people you hate.” I have to confess, I was pretty distracted during the rest of the service thinking about the saying on that shirt. In reality it is hard to love the people we “hate” or “dislike” or “find irritating.” But if I have learned anything in studying Scripture, it is that Jesus wants us to love the unlovable. Continue reading

Facebook Politics and Fruit of the Spirit

I have started this post at least twenty different times this morning. On my Facebook feed I have read SO many political posts from friends on both the right and left side of politics. But this post is for my friends who are also my Christian family. My heart aches that I am seeing memes and comments that are extremely bitter against people who do not hold the same beliefs and values you do. My heart aches when I see Christians who hold Donald Trump up as America’s Savior.  We Christians have one Savior and one Lord–Jesus Christ. I frequently wonder why we are not promoting Jesus Christ and who he is, above politics.

I cannot help but think that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is saddened to see where many of his followers are today. Instead of being loving and kind, we are divisive and judgmental. Instead of praying for ALL of our leaders and elected officials, we are picking and choosing who we are praying for. Hate/love Nancy Pelosi? Pray for her daily. Hate/love Donald Trump? Pray for him daily. Love Jesus? Then act like it and develop fruit of the spirit in your life. Continue reading

Go Home, Beth Moore

Most Christians, especially women, are aware of the prolific Bible studies and speaking ministry of Beth Moore. I, along with thousands of other women (and men), have heard Beth speak on multiple occasions. She is a gifted speaker and has a passion for Jesus and God’s word that is evident in all of her studies. The first Bible study of hers I ever did was on the Tabernacle and I learned more about the tabernacle and how it pointed to Christ, than during any other tabernacle study I had done before (even in Bible college).  I am always challenged by her studies, not to emulate her, but to follow Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Recently John MacArthur, a well-known Evangelical who has written multiple commentaries, literally skewered Beth Moore and went off on a tangent about female pastors, the “#Me Too” movement, liberalism, and the downfall of the church when it listens to culture. After hearing the actual tape and reading many of the comments following his diatribe I have to say, I am really disheartened that he felt not only free to make his comments, but seemed proud of himself for making them.

I did not have a problem with his stance of only male preachers, and although I hold a different opinion, he is entitled to his conviction on what he believes to be an accurate interpretation of Scripture. I am not even in disagreement that Scriptural interpretation should not be dictated by culture (although I think we have different views on what that means). I was, however, stunned by his blatant self-righteousness and petty spirit in making the comment that Beth should “go home,” and the laughter from his cronies following that comment.

So here are some of my thoughts on lessons we can learn from this encounter. Continue reading

Lunch Lessons

Today I stopped at a buffet restaurant for lunch. For some reason I noticed the gentleman behind me in line. He had a large blue bag with him, and waited patiently as we went through the line. He had snow white hair that flowed to his collar. He walked with a slow shuffle and had stooped and rounded shoulders. However, when he looked up his face was free of lines and wrinkles, and he appeared to be much younger than I initially thought. Like I frequently do with people, I found myself wondering what his story is. Continue reading