On Growing Older

From My 2009 Journal. I asked my mom one day what it’s like to grow old. “Growing old happens so slowly you don’t notice it” she said. But when you look back through photos or the pages of a diary, it’s startling to see the contrast. You expect to look young in your school yearbook photos. You’re supposed to look like a child or teen. The change from child to adult is drastic.

From ages 25-50+, however, I felt no different. Adult is adult. But now when I look at those early adult photos, I realize how young I really was. Enough time has passed that I can see the huge changes that have taken place in my body, and suddenly I feel dissatisfied. Age has never bothered me before. Why now? What am I seeing? I see the squareness of my face and the wrinkles in the neck, and the post-pregnancies stomach.

Do I need to go back to my Bill Gothard notes and stand in front of a mirror and admit I don’t like the way the Lord made me? The funny thing is, when I look in the mirror, I don’t actually see it. It’s when I look at those early pictures that I notice the contrast. Why do I suddenly feel ugly? Why so obsessed with the physical,  the outward appearance? I know our bodies are wasting away, but what of the soul? Am I growing more beautiful on the inside? Or uglier? How can one tell? It’s intangible, hidden. I think I’m growing. . . .

Okay, here’s the visual of what I’m feeling. Age is like a rose. The unopened bud is childhood and the full bloom is middle age. But now I’m at the stage where the petals are starting to droop and wither. It’s the second half of the life cycle. Soon the petals will begin to detach and flutter to the earth. How do I feel about that?

I see the tree in our front yard, heavy laden with pink blossoms till a storm comes and shakes them all to the ground. And it literally rains petals. It’s breath-taking, beautiful, soul-filling. They’re pretty on the tree, yes, but it’s an emotionally moving experience watching them flutter to the earth. My soul and spirit can soar even if my body can’t. Age has its own beauty, and I am content.

 

Pink flowers 2

I’m a One-Talent Gal

From my 2007 Journal. There’s a parable in Luke 19 that has always bothered me. A man goes on a journey and entrusts five talents to one of his servants and expects him to double the gift. He gives two talents to another and expects him to double that, and one talent to the third, “each according to his ability.” Of course the punchline of the parable has to do with the one-talent guy burying his money instead of investing it. But my mind goes to the amount of the gift given in the first place. It seems unfair somehow. I personally don’t want the responsibility of doing the work to multiply five talents, but I’d like to receive the reward for doing so! But you can’t have the one without the other.

I have this feeling that I’m one of the one-talent recipients and I better make the most of it. Yet somehow I equate value or worth with the fact that I’ve only been given one. Why?

AwardI think it goes back to boarding school, Grade 9. I don’t recall anymore what all the qualifications were, but the most coveted award for the end of the school year was “Best, All-round Girl/Boy Award.” I’m sitting on pins and needles waiting for the names to be called out. I want it so bad I can taste it. But when I’m given the award, I have mixed emotions. My pride (God forgive me) steps up to the plate and says I deserve it.

On the other hand, I see the shock and disapproval on someone’s face and I feel like a fake—apparently she didn’t think I deserved the award. I knew I was NOT the most talented, nor was I the most gracious. I was stuck up and prideful. I felt like I had hoodwinked the staff who had voted for me, but my peers knew better. That award belonged to someone else who was more talented than I and who certainly had a better attitude. I felt exposed, naked, ashamed. But I held my head up high and marched to the front of the auditorium to receive that precious little piece of metal.

I have long since repented of my pride, and God has covered me with His righteousness, but I still have to address the thought that I may have only been given one talent. Am I willing to accept God’s gift, no matter how small or how large and be faithful to serve Him with it? Today my answer is YES!

How many talents do you believe God has given you and why? And is it prideful to admit you have more than one?

What Is Joy?

Relax Woman looking sea on the beach

Contentment for the body = pleasure.
Contentment for the soul = happiness.
Contentment for the spirit = joy. (Pastor Allen Jackson, WOC)

I asked my daughter Katie if she would rather have peace or would she rather have joy? Both are fruits of the spirit. Katie said she would opt for joy, while I gravitate toward peace, but I think they’re related somehow.

I know I need to put more joy into my life. I’m way too serious. (Scott says his job in life is to keep life interesting for me). But what is joy exactly? Elation? Exuberance? People try to differentiate between joy and happiness saying happiness is dependent on circumstances while joy is not. That joy is not an emotion. Yet I experience a lot of emotion when I feel joy.

Joy is running, skipping, dancing, doing cartwheels in wild abandonment. Joy is swinging from a vine and feeling your stomach drop. Sadness and sorrow are on a lower, earthly plane. Joy is above the earth, on a supernatural plane that sees heaven, an absence of pain, a future and at hope. It’s flying above the clouds. It’s mental; it’s emotional; it’s physical. And it’s spiritual when it includes God. He invites me to enjoy Him!

I have told you these things [about abiding in Him] that my joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be full measure and complete and overflowing (John 15:11).

I see Joy as a little girl laughing and dancing in the wind just before the onset of a storm, leaves swirling at her feet, the air heavy with  impending rain. As I watch, the scene decelerates to slow motion, and Joy is alone in the universe. The surroundings fade away and she hears singing; she’s suspended in midair, caught in light by a force that is greater than herself, cocooned, as it were, in softness and delight, comfort and safety, rocked gently back and forth as a baby on a bed of angel wings. Total calm; perfect peace. Joy.

Joy is defined as “Someone is glad to be with me.”
Joy is high energy; shalom is quiet and low-energy.
Joy is relational; shalom is a cozy sense that everything is right.
(Joy Starts Here, by Jim Wilder, et. al.)

Joy to the World, the Lord Is Come.