Category Archives: Mid life

IMG_4386-1

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.

IMG_5043

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.

 

 

It’s About Time! Musings at Midlife

Midlife and the Empty Nest. I’m many years into both but still searching to understand this new rhythm and stride. Shouldn’t someone have written What to Expect when I’m Expecting — but don’t Know What?

IMG_1287In my experience, the freedom is intoxicating at first. You do fun things you couldn’t fit in before. The bucket list remains and can serve as a defining focus. Carpe diem!

But if we listen there are other voices.  Sometimes an edge of loneliness creeps in with the absence of structured opportunities for socializing with other parents. Often there are the added distractions of illness, menopause, weight gain, elderly parents, job shifts, relational shifts, moves, children’s graduations, jobs, weddings, and/ or those absolutely wonderful grand babies…

Time marches on. Circumstances multiply and keep coming at us, as if we’re drinking from a fire hydrant. Nothing is quite as it was. I call this perfect storm being in the sandwich generation.

Time especially has become an unrecognizable commodity.

On paper, I have all sorts of “freed up” time. But somehow my reality is that I’m pushed, pulled and distracted. Busy but without even a vague notion of just what it is I’m accomplishing. At least not in a “big picture” sense. And the clock’s rotations seem ever faster.

IMG_3428

In childhood it seemed there was an eternity between holidays and all the markers of my calendar. Time meant nothing to me outside the present moment and whatever was just ahead.

In my 20s, 30s, even into my 40s, I meandered through my days with anticipation. I still remember what I wore on those milestone birthdays (now I can’t remember if I’ve done laundry this week). It felt like THIS season was the REAL LIFE I had always dreamed of. I had all the time in the world.

But in midlife, time is moving faster! I’d swear I was at the dentist just before Christmas — but I’m due my 6 month appointment! I find myself thinking “that went so fast” about everything.

In my heart I’m a young mother with a family to raise. In reality the kids have been adults for a while, and the stranger in my mirror has pills to take each morning.  I’m living a favorite phrase of my Granny’s,  “Tempus do Fugit,” but I’m not sure how to respond? I feel an urgency to get life figured out.

I’m conflicted about how to save and spend my time. I’m protective in scheduling, but not sure for what purpose. Not only did I not plan for this stage, I never really believed I’d be here!

The angst makes sense not only because of my denial, but also because midlife is a major transition — the process of changing from one state to another. Beyond the family dynamics — the physical, emotional, and spiritual adjustments are forces to be reckoned with.

IMG_3000What is my purpose, God willing, these 25-30+ years I’m already inhabiting, but without an instruction manual (sounds like bringing the 1st baby home… sigh). Who am I besides what I’ve known? I know God is calling me to something else — but the particulars are not yet clear.

I’ve been trying to give myself grace in the questioning and to live in patient expectation. To be comfortable with this in between and experiment my way to the answers — allowing for missteps and mistakes along the way. Admittedly, it’s hard.

Even the same old, same old often feels very different today. The once comfortable is ill-fitting, like a well-worn glove that’s been molded on someone else’s hand. One part of me is ready to discard it to make room for tomorrow’s new thing; another is holding on to that glove, as if it is Life.

What is it I feel… is it lonely? Lost? Or a new sort of peace?  I’m befuddled. I want desperately to engage in something that’s not yet here, and I’m oddly protective of my Time, so I don’t miss it when it arrives.

Ambivalence. Juxtapositions. Change.

I looked around yesterday and realized I’ve become a stranger in my own home. A month after Christmas an almost dead poinsettia is still on the coffee table along with a strand of Christmas lights that went half dark while still on the tree. A Swiffer has long been propped in the kitchen near the ever-cluttered island counter. My bed isn’t made. But the house doesn’t mind; no one is bustling in and out. And Rob and I no longer “see it” or care quite in the same ways as we once did.

I am not this person! …Or am I…?

I used to enjoy having a well-used, but almost always tidy home. A full refrigerator and pantry were a given as we were a “hub” of activity. Meals were fed and clean sheets offered to the predictable tides of friends and family. Happy times for a mom who loves hospitality.

IMG_1418But my truth today IS different. I’m frustrated with the late afternoon taunt in my head, “what’s for supper?” It’s just the two of us — that’s not the cooking I understand or enjoy! The fridge is all but bare, save the outdated produce and dreaded “healthy” additions like coconut milk and kale — neither of which I had heard of when I was young and skinny. But alas, the battle of the bulge is lost if we’re not fighting. There is no cease fire. Culinary enjoyment removed until the next holidays or party.

I resent the dust, laundry, clutter and such that perseveres in its attack to wear me down. Yet it feels frivolous to have someone else help too often with the everyday stuff — when it’s just the two of us.

Rob left a great career in corporate America, to make a change. Am I different? Could it be OK to shift my entire focus? To let go of what’s worked so well? Is it time for something altogether new?

Homemaking distracts me and pulls me away, but from what? Exploring. Purpose. Meaning. I’m restless, but certain God is up to Something…

My sense of time. My priorities. My friendships and involvements — they’re all changing. A metamorphosis is taking place. I’ve been in the cocoon for a while — but I’m emerging. I can feel it. Life has been defined by my own little red wagon. God charged me with certain roles and responsibilities. Certain people and places. And now, my purpose is less clear.

But one thing He is speaking loud a clear… I am so much more aware of eternity. His Kingdom. Biblical Truths I have always heard but couldn’t absorb are becoming Life to me.

My world is increasingly complex and confusing — with many demands on me and my time, making it easy to get lost and perplexed as to what’s next. What’s important.

IMG_3591

Philippians 3:13-14 says, “…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

It is critical to my peace and well-being to nurture and strengthen my relationship with Jesus.

Direct answers to my question of “what’s next?” have been elusive. But God reminds me of Matthew 8:3 and my need to be more childlike: embracing patience. Being present wherever I am — in the moment without worrying about the next. Humble. Dependent.  Trusting. Expectant. Full of awe and wonder.  So much easier said than done.

To relish focused time with my Papa first and foremost helps all else fall into its proper place. He’s reminding me of what it is to be “like a little child,” for there is much there that connects me to the kingdom of heaven.

I have 52 years of His faithfulness to draw on as I trust Him. At His feet, I’m finding rest and renewal. Life. For now that — with hope and faith in the future God already knows — is enough.

All will come, in His Time.

 

Confessions of 2016

James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

img_2988IMG_2396

Did you ever read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Mix that with Pharell William’s song determined to be “Happy,” and the saving grace of the mix… “Say Amen” by Finding Favour  — and you’ll have a picture of my 2016.

My Confession: 2016 has been a wonderful, no good, frustrating, joyful, fabulous, overwhelming, love-filled, exhausting, fractious, and exhilarating year. I have cycled from fully and joyfully alive —  to exhausted resignation with mild depression — and back again. Sometimes with both all mixed together in a pot I called menopause (but the doctor said it wasn’t that).

Many times, I have called out to God both in thanksgiving and despair. Shamefully, at other times I have all but ignored Him, as I became swallowed up in temporal circumstances. The urgent and pressing.

Since we rang in 2016 from our tranquil porch at Alligator Point, I have participated in (personally or through close friends and family) many BIG, significant events.  They have included several broken bones;  numerous ER and hospital visits; countless joy-filled weddings (two of my own children); divorces; one office remodel, move then destructive fire; repeated vandalism and deception; a crazy election year; two new puppies; a hurricane targeting both houses; starting my new business; unemployment/ new employment; back to school; high risk births, serious parental illness; and family funerals — just to name a few.

In living and praying through the highs and lows, the scheduled and unscheduled events of 2016, I seemed to have put a lot of life on hold — on the back burner for a more convenient time, even though some I feel are at God’s leading.

  • despite aspirations to go to a writer’s conference and start a book, I have written only five blog posts
  • I sort of launched, then postponed starting my coaching business — until 2017 when the craziness would slow down
  • after doing so well the 2nd half of 2015, I let stress win the health battle in January 2016, and put off weight loss and cardio health until 2017
  • my “quiet time” became dismally distracted — reduced to at best “prayer without ceasing,” but without disciplined and real focused time alone with God
  • I set up my studio to paint more frequently, but rarely felt the creative spirit
  • I imagined but didn’t begin numerous projects… my to do list grew and alas is misplaced
  • my values and mission statement documents were literally lost in the chaos before any efforts  were made (and before I committed them to memory)

I’m sure I could continue listing circumstances and distractions — excuses and understandable delays and failures in reaching goals.  Possibly you can relate? We all have years that are just “one for the record books.”

img_2739IMG_0940

But where is the nugget of truth I need to carry forward to 2017? The circumstances — even natural disasters, family weddings or deaths — are not the core issues.

IMG_2988In a few days we will sit in the same beach rocking chairs, looking ahead to 2017. Again, I have no idea what’s in store. 2016 was truly a wendinger of a year… but maybe this is the new normal of mid-life empty nesters with aging parents and many adult children??? Despite all that’s unknown and out of my control, how can each day of 2017 be better? What can I learn? How can I grow? How can I please God?

I think the answer lies in #4 bullet on my unedited list processing the back burner spokes in my wheel of life. “My ‘quiet time’ became dismally distracted — reduced to at best “prayer without ceasing,” but without disciplined and real focused time alone with God.”

Heart of my confession: Lord, I have let other things — worthy, good and “bad”– steal my attention from You. Forgive my idolatry — which has lead to destruction. (Phil 3:19) All those other bullet points above are simply evidences of the consequential destruction when I forget my first love. img_3233

It’s so exciting and amazing that God forgives and offers His grace and mercy fresh each day! Not because I have “changed” or “been good,” but because of  Jesus! He is my atonement! Still —  true confession involves the overflowing response of repentance! Turning 180 degrees away from sin — back to God.

God not only wants but demands total devotion from His people. Complete allegiance. It is foolish to ultimately trust in myself or anything else in this life. Anyone or anything I love (or give my attention to) ahead of God puts me in danger, and should be considered an idol.

Matthew 10:37-35 says  “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” 

That stings. Especially for 2016.

IMG_0638

Those are not words the modern culture encourages us to embrace. Today’s world often calls us to worship family, achievement, recognition. Or to put it in words that sound more palatable to me and allow me to sin without feeling immediate guilt… I am encouraged and feel really good about myself when I’m seen as competent, self-reliant, poised, responsible — the one who can be counted on to “be there” for my friends and family.  When I’m the near “perfect” wife, mother, daughter, friend. Giving and serving — at home, at church and in my community.

Actually all those can be good things — but never when they come at the expense of my devotion to God. That’s what I let happen in much of 2016. It’s not that I forgot God or that He is always with me. It’s not that I stopped praying altogether or even that I quit trusting Him. I just didn’t make a lot of one-on-one time for being with Him.

I was overwhelmed by immediate needs and events, and God got squeezed out of His rightful spot in my life.  Nothing and no one deserves primacy in my life except God — Creator of every good thing. He needs to be my steering wheel — not just my fuel.

img_3821img_3827

I’m looking at my Christmas village — where I love creating a Hallmark-worthy little town. The North Pole has all sorts of colorful and fun factories producing bikes, gumdrops and other great things. My heart, left unchecked, is a similar factory — producing all sorts of enticing idols. Temporal things (meant to be good if kept in their secondary place of affection) that become idols of my flesh if I put them before God in any way.

I have loved other things more than God. I have given my first fruits of attention to good and worthy things before giving God my undivided, focused devotion.  At times to His exclusion.IMG_3000

2017 new year’s resolutions are days away. There is time to make plans to meet my goals. But my repentance can’t wait!

Starting THIS MOMENT God is my unrivaled #1 love again. My Sufficiency. My All in ALL… the One I will turn to for answers and guidance. The One I trust above all else…

And when I feel myself slipping (as I will do as long as I’m on earth), I pray I will catch myself earlier and more quickly. When the time I truly want to give to God is feeling rushed or second tier — I will see a problem. This is not an isolated occasion that calls for a reorganization of priorities… it’s idolatry. I’ll ask His forgiveness again, and return to Him as my first love, as often as necessary —  until He brings me home.IMG_2755

My prayer is that today and everyday God’s love for me overwhelms the circumstances of my life. That I allow my moments to be defined by The Good Book and the reality of God’s Truth in my life with Him. My favorite great hymns are a good playlist to live by!

  • “Great is Thy Faithfulness”
  • “Amazing Grace”
  • “It is Well”
  • “How Great Thou Art”
  • “My Life is In You, Lord”
  • “Blessed Assurance”

Your comments are so encouraging —  either in the comments section or through social media below. Thank you for “hearing” my confession, and for your prayers.