Category Archives: joy

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On the 13th Anniversary of my 40th Birthday

I read an article a few days ago assuring 40-somethings that increased life expectancies and healthier lifestyles have pushed the official midlife age from 41 to 53! How wonderful… for THEM! My Granny Mabel lived to 107 (giving me 6 more months to the half way point) — but no matter how I slice it, dice it or determine to define it — “midlife” is in the house.IMG_5052

Reading on, that scholarly article said, “You are seen as middle-aged if you enjoy afternoon naps, choose comfort over style and groan when you bend down.” Busted.

I take comfort in the fact that when I ran into my similarly-aged doctor at the tennis courts last week, he said, “At our age, if you aren’t hurting, you aren’t moving enough!”

I’ve written about midlife several times in the last few years. It’s definitely been a journey. But lately there have been BIG things to process. And everything points in the same direction — sort of a changing of the guard. After a lifetime of my focus being primarily mom and homemaker, this new season is not just an age.

Recent mid life changes bring with them a lot a heightened perspective as I celebrate – yes, CELEBRATE – that I am 53! So, what’s been happening?

ONE –All three of my children will be married within 15 months — two down, one to go. As they start new families (I’m grateful to be blessed with two beautiful daughter-in-laws and a wonderful soon to be son-in-law), I am full of joy. It’s an answer to many years of prayer for their some day spouses. We are close and see each other pretty often, but by definition, I have become their “family of origin” as they create distinctively new family units.

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Webster’s Definition of Family

  1. a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.
  2. all the descendants of a common ancestor  —  I have moved to definition number two in reference to my children — still important! but secondary — HOWEVER, I have a chance to make up for lost time with ROB who now shares my #1 family definition with no one (except two adorable Springer Spaniels!). Despite appearances, the picture below is from a Wedding Luau Celebration and NOT an old folks cruise. We can still hang til midnight with the 20-somethings — listening to “our” 70s and 80s music that they claim as theirs! IMG_4777

The many emotional changes and challenges involved in my growing and aging family really mean that things are are as they should be. And I am certain God has an abundant, new plan for us all moving forward. He will use everything for our good. All is well.

And lest we think of “slowing down,” Rob’s given me two more adult children in the pipeline to keep us busy and active!

TWO — Full circle, I’m going back to the name of my earliest years: Easie. I will be a grandmother soon! A beautiful baby girl is on her way, and I’m already smitten. Tears fill my eyes as I type about her. I’m so excited to love her, meet her, hold her and watch her parents raise her.  I’m certain they will be amazing parents.

I am so proud, but a grandmother?!?  I’ve looked forward to this… but in my dreams it was always in the distant future. Grannies are plump, grey-haired, smiling, available, loving… could it be I’m becoming one? I’ve been getting a jumpstart lately on that “crown of splendor.” Again, all is well and as it should be, and God is on the move.

IMG_3041THREE — And I am moving. Not much more about that here, but Rob and I will soon be residents of Georgia. Know anyone who wants a great family home in Tallahassee?

Either God has a great plan for us in a new place, or we have misunderstood. 😉 Either way we are in His loving care and desire to follow Him, and that’s always a safe and adventurous place.

But it’s not easy. Home maker is a big part of who I’ve been. I’m beginning to emotionally divorce myself from this home I love. A home God provided to offer me peace, beauty, rest, and close proximity to my parents, just when all were most needed. I’m going through the many bins (5 children’s worth) of keepsakes and memory albums. Letters to Santa, poems, cards written with crayons. Handprints and endless artistic treasures.

Christmas morning photos… some of the sweetest memories.  And some of the hardest to let go of. Am I really finished raising children? Am I really the grandparent generation? I am, and it’s part of the passing years of time.

But God (the promise and hope in those two words will be the title of a post to come)… But God is a God of the present. His work in us is always redemptive. He has plans for all my family moving forward. Different than it has been, but Glorious just the same.

FOUR — My dad recently passed away. Tears of a different flavor flow as I type this.IMG_4685

It’s still too soon to write much about Daddy. Of course, God is my ultimate Protector, Provider, Advisor, and Father. But He gave me my Dad (and more recently, Rob) to put some skin on Who He is. To show me a Father’s love. I feel a vulnerability with Dad’s passing.

I am forever changed because of the part of me Daddy took with him. Nothing prepared me for losing my father. I’ve been distracted, unproductive and sad. I tear up at all sorts of reminders that all is now different in my world. I’ve learned that grieving can’t be rushed and must be felt.

If you’re over 45 you’ll get this: I feel like the same “me” on the inside as I was at 30. In the same vane, my vision of “family” exists in a world where I have parents, grandparents, siblings, children and grandchildren —  all the generations I have ever known and loved — together in one life, just as they are in my heart. The reality of my vision only exists in heaven. But OH WHAT A PROMISE!

I woke up on my birthday waxing philosophical and wanting to write after a long dry spell. Looking back at my life I am sure of one thing in the midst of overwhelming changes. God has been, is and will be faithful.

IMG_4300Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.”

Psalms 119:90  “Your  faithfulness endures to all generations;  you have established the earth, and it  stands fast.”

And I will place my full faith in God who loves me completely and has never let me down.

Hebrews 11:1  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

I am so grateful for the promise God gives us that all His children will be reunited one day in Heaven — from every generation and time. It motivates me to live differently here today.

I want to talk to everyone about Jesus. About how we can be assured of God’s love and our heavenly home for eternity. It’s what really matters. After 53 years I have so many wonderful examples of what God has done in my life — stories of His redemptive work, His faithfulness and His love.

And God-willing, I have half a life left to share HIM with anyone who will listen! The rest is in His hands. Hallelujah!

Anybody can know God and know you have eternal salvation through Jesus. Just pray something like this with all your heart —

God, I know I’ve sinned.  I need your forgiveness,  I believe you sent Jesus, your Son, to earth to live and die and to be raised from the dead. His blood was shed to pay for my sins, so I can be forgiven. I believe Jesus offers a free gift as an answer for my eternal life and for this life.  I receive this gift of eternal life. I want a personal relationship with you, God. Not a religious relationship only, but one where I know You love me, I love You, and You live in me and through me — to make a difference in my life and the lives of others. I love you God, and thank you for loving me. Amen.

 

 

What do a Fire, a Wedding and Glitter all have in Common?

I’m not sure where this one’s heading, folks! But I feel nudged to write, so here goes.

IMG_1560Yesterday, I started about 50 tasks, but made no progress. While “working” I also read, napped, talked on the phone,  played with the pups, and checked Facebook 8 times. The irony? I wrote web copy stating social media addiction as a specialty. Hmmm, might need to revisit my own triggers for that!

Why so antsy? I’m recovering. Life has been coming at me in double time. Curveballs — an endless barrage of the stuff that makes up our days. Some of it wonderful. Some, not so great. All without pause. I think God has been reinforcing two Truths  that are so well known, we can easily forget their magnitude:

  1. to trust God no matter what the circumstances, and
  2. to keep Him on the throne as my number one priority!

Pushing through life in the strength of my flesh, I needed a reminder. Busyness is no excuse for neglecting time with God, but we all cave sometimes under pressure. And He still loves us and works for our good. Maybe that’s why God allowed “life” to drive His plan home and give teeth to my faith before I launch my business. A business that only makes sense if He is central.

Early June, I was in Atlanta for an engagement party, when that party’s mother of the groom interrupted to say Rob had called me on HER cell. My heart sank. There had to be a problem… a big one.

IMG_2384The building we had moved our business into weeks before was next door to a building struck by lightning. The firemen let Rob through the barricade as he explained, “I own the building on the right… but I heard we’re ok.” When the deadpan reply is, “You’re gonna need to talk to the chief” you might have a BIGGER problem.

The fire had spread to our roof, and 550,000 gallons of water poured into our first floor space — 100% interior total. I kept telling myself this is “an act of God,” and He has a plan. All will be okay. Rob is a calm guy — even in the face of fire and devastation. I’m not always so steady, but one employee thought it was weird how cool and collected we were.

IMG_2399It wasn’t an act; we were consciously placing our faith in God. Trust was our only choice, as we added a major fire to our already full plates. But we weren’t without our moments. It was awful to go to the building. It was oppressively hot as they tried to dry out the framing, and the stench spoke to the devastation. Depression and overwhelm hovered nearby.

We looked for silver linings, but I was weary.  I didn’t have much energy for prayer  — beyond the typical ones that rise out of chaos and confusion. “Why? God, is there a message in this? We thought this business was your will? But it’s not going as we thought it would…”

IMG_2396I learned during a long and arduous 2008, that favorable outcomes are not an accurate indicator of whether you’re living in God’s will. His ways are not our ways. Things can look bad to our eyes, when all is going according to HIs plans. The building is still only protected by a tarp, but He is providing. We feel His peace.

Wedding time! I had to quickly shift gears for my son’s July celebration! It was a welcomed distraction; I’m thrilled with their marriage. But my energy was depleted, when I wanted to enjoy every moment. The joy of the Lord truly was my only strength — and it was probably a blessing I didn’t have any “fight” of my own left in me… as life kept happening.

IMG_2664 2The wedding weekend started with tux mishaps and wild storms. Two hours before dinner, I got another call…  the restaurant venue had a problem. There had been no power for 2.5 hours in a small area of downtown (also affecting the wedding hotel). The city estimated another 2 hours, despite crews working.  They were searching for another venue, but hadn’t found one.

By the grace of God, I wasn’t ruffled. We made the executive decision not to change venues. I would trust however they handled it — they didn’t need me to micromanage. Pizza could work if it had to. God had allowed the storm. All would be okay.

I only had time to text a few sisters and ask them to pray that we would have a rehearsal dinner — any kind.  I had to go to the church! I HAD to trust God had this…He had us, no matter what the outcome.  It helped that the laid back groom remained happy, as did “bridechilla.”

IMG_2761When we arrived the restaurant had miraculously cooled down, linens and flowers were on the tables, and they served the delicious original menu. Guests never knew there had been a crisis.  Shout out to amazing staff at The Edison: it was impossible to pull this off! I’m so thankful God always answers our prayers — and has a soft spot for wedding feasts!

Saturday morning was relaxed. I got my makeup and hair done with “the girls” then returned to my house to be with “my boys.” Such a special time — but it didn’t go as planned. The hairdresser finished my look with a flourish of sticky spray across my head, face and chest. I was bedazzled with glitter!

The mirror revealed not only was I “glitter mom,” but let’s just say the up do was not my style.  Flustered, but not falling apart, I went home thinking I probably needed to shower again. My boys didn’t disagree!

My sister and daughter-in-law-to-be came to the rescue (as did a groomsman with a mimosa). Bedazzled make-up was removed, and releasing my hair shook out most of the glitter that scotch tape hadn’t lifted. I washed my chest 4 times and voila — the show girl was gone, and the mother of the groom reappeared.

Everyone says most women would have flipped out. I AM most women! God’s grace and joy overwhelmed the problem, and allowed me to share the grace He has so generously shown me.

IMG_2731The slight confusion caused by the rain falling as everyone was entering the reception, only rattled me for a short while (admittedly, someone put a glass of champagne in my hand again). Nothing life threw at us could have dampened the joy of the night. It was perfect and oh so joyous, despite more than a few technical glitches along the way. God is good, all the time. So thankful I was too spent to assert my own agenda and compelled to trust Him through the weekend. Resting in Him is always the very BEST life.

I’ve almost completed two Christian Coaching courses, One serves to set up the legal, financial and technical structure of my business in a systematic way. I was on top of it… then came the fire, the wedding, the glitter and a myriad of untold circumstances.  I felt frantically behind as I worked yesterday. I hadn’t called the lawyer, accountant, web designer, etc. My perfect office was trashed — most destroyed room in our building — all except my paintings. Everything crashed to the floor, while they hung miraculously on the soaked walls like a rainbow.IMG_2698

I think God was lovingly molding me through the fire, wedding, glitter and all the other setbacks and crises. Reflecting and writing has calmed my countenance. Maybe I needed to praise God for His love, blessings, provisions and grace before moving forward. Today, I’ll tackle my task list again in earnest… after seeking Him in trust and surrender, and with so much gratitude and joy. Life just works better when my trust rests solely in Him — no matter what happens.

Creating a Fulfilling Life (Again) when You’re an Empty Nester

My beach porch is my sanctuary. God has met me here so many times… with dolphin shows, storms, gentle breezes, the artistry of a rainbow and the sunsets I so enjoy. Here I’ve received frequent guidance for life’s decisions (it’s where He told me to go to seminary). It’s where I’ve felt His love most deeply.IMG_0036

A few weeks ago some friends walked along the water with their dogs, and maybe it wasn’t the Holy Spirit, but I knew all at once, “It’s time.”

I looked over at Rob and said, “I think I’m ready for a dog.”

Not only has our nest emptied of children, but my home has reduced from an all time high of 3 dogs and two cats to a pet-less last year and a half. We thought we would be practical and wait 15 years or so to get a dog. You know, whenever life slows down and it’s more convenient… we travel a good bit and finally have no commitments or responsibilities at home. We’re foot-loose and fancy free to do whatever we want, whenever we want… but is that what life is really about?

IMG_2066Rob agreed and we quickly moved on to the bigger question: “One or two?” May I introduce Noah and Bristol?! 🙂

It became clear to me in watching our friends, that despite all the reasons it doesn’t make sense, they live more fully and abundantly for going to the trouble to fit their furry friends into their lives.

Noah and Bristol are adorable and HIGH maintenance Springer Spaniels. Every reason we shouldn’t have gotten a dog has already come to pass in just one week… we planned a get away for our anniversary, only to realize after a few days — we can’t leave the dogs, yet! They are messy (one threw up in my 4-day-old car, day 1), slow us down, demand attention and need training. However, I am already in love and wouldn’t trade them for the world!

Dogs aren’t everyone’s thing; and this post isn’t about pets per se — or even particularly about midlife empty nesters (that’s just where I happen to be). It is about letting go of fear, convenience, practicality, cultural norms, maybe your pity party or regrets, tidiness, the past or whatever hinders you from MOVING FORWARD from your present “you are here” red dot and into the abundant future God has planned for you.

IMG_1441Life is full of twists and turns. I used to dread the unknown and the inevitable changes that ushered me there. God is teaching me not only to embrace changing seasons, but to relish them. To move forward confidently — not because I have all the answers or know how things will play out, but because my God is Sovereign, and He loves me.

He is worthy of my trust which allows me to live into His peace and abundance — whatever happens. I haven’t written many posts in 2016, because my goal is to share what God is doing and teaching me in my life. Well — I’ve been way too “in process” to put it out there in cyberspace.

Dogs aren’t the only recent change in my life. In the midst of loving my parents, planning two weddings, painting, writing and now the puppies, I am studying to be a certified Christian life coach — I’m starting a new coaching business this fall. Crazy, I know. Maybe even “dangerous.” But like Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, our God isn’t safe, but He is always good.

IMG_2136Sure the old trepidation sneaks in (it was even hard for me to publicly commit here to doing this)… but more importantly, I feel alive again. I have a hope and a future beyond being a full-time mom and homemaker  (beautiful roles from another season — from my past). I always dreamed and planned for school, for marriage, for children… and maybe even a distant “old-age.” But I never had a vision for this mid-life, empty nesting stage. Now I do. I’m even thinking Noah and Bristol might be service dogs… (dream BIG — whatever passion God places in your heart).

God is so graciously connecting the dots and guiding my way. Jeremiah 29:11-13 are some of my favorite verses: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

IMG_0756God gives us desires, gifts and a purpose. I was reminded in class that it’s our choice whether we use what He offers us or play it safe and just rock along. But it’s all irrevocably ours and He will hold us accountable one day. I don’t want to leave untapped that which He created me for and intends for me to use for His Glory. That’s why I can enter these exciting changes and all the surrounding unknowns in my life not only with confidence but with compelling gladness. I was made for this!

Outcomes aren’t all up to me.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12 :9). And Philippians 4:19  promises, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

IMG_1557Proverbs 20:5 is my vision as I rely on prayer and the wisdom only God can supply for my coaching practice. “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” That insight will be supplied by God, if it’s His will that I do this. 

Because many have asked — coaching is different from counseling which valuably helps people cope with disruptive and painful problems from their past and heal what’s wrong in their lives to find stability.

IMG_2089Coaching looks forward. It’s a discovery process toward developing growth and potential. It’s more about building inherent strengths than overcoming. It’s not directive or about the coach’s expertise, but more about a partnership where the coach manages the journey by listening selflessly and asking skilled questions that guide another to set their own fulfilling agenda. Coaches help you think out of the box, and get “unstuck” or see a new vision that enhances life. Clients discover where they are and how to move from there to whatever and wherever God wants them to be. It’s the claim of John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s what we are made for — all of our days.

Henry David Thoreau ominously wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation…But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

IMG_1787As Christians we don’t need to share in this tragedy. Our God has a plan for each of His children (in every season of life) and calls us to cooperate with Him. Uniquely suited to our gifts, experiences and the desires He has placed in our hearts, the plans and purpose He has for us are assured. And they comprise our best life.  In Him we can find our confidence to embrace future change and movement with joy and thanksgiving. Sometimes we just need a little help from a friend.

Let’s bring on the puppies or whatever adventures, plans and passions He has for our tomorrows. JUST GO FOR IT!

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