Saturday, 12 October 2019

Life Beyond 50 Can be Uncomfortably Reflective






I have found that by age 50, 60 and up, we have gone through so many life phases. We can’t possibly be the same woman we were when dating our spouse, when mothering a newborn, or when seeing children off to high school or college.

Aging sucks, so some of us try to stay the same. Yet, we are not the same.

I read an article recently of a woman who looked back through her old journals and saw a different self. Of course, journals are often used to purge our darker self—the depressed self, the angry self, the self-pity self, the needy self, the frustrated with God self, and so on. So our writings often reveal ugliness. They reveal trials we faced and worked through. Hopefully, we came out a stronger woman, not a deflated one.

In life’s ugliness, we have awakenings—ah-ha moments, revelations. If we’re fortunate enough to hear God speak, He reveals to us another perspective. He sets us on a new course. He makes His plans succeed. We grow up. We may or may not record those rebirths. We may not record how God ministered to us and solved our dilemma.

The point is, real-life transitions are not like those in romantic Hallmark movies where the crisis is turned around after the commercial break. Real epiphanies often start with sad, depressed, unhappy feelings. There may be venting.

There may be crying. There may be reaching out for a hug from our spouse.

Real-life hurdles often start with feelings of self-doubt, confusion, and questioning where we stand in life. This type of phase often contains self-assessment. These moments may have triggers. They may hit us as we compare ourselves to someone else. They may hit us at night when we’re tired. They may be connected to health challenges. They may hit us during the letdown phase after a trip or achieving a goal.

Evaluation Will Get Us 

Sometimes they begin when we evaluate our accomplishments and, if we haven’t had signs of success lately, we are prone to feel beaten down.

Let me give you a few examples: I was in a diet group. We had to weigh in weekly. I started losing weight. We got to ring a bell when that occurred. When we did, we got a momentary jolt of pleasure endorphins. But two weeks later, I went on a medication and started gaining weight. I had to pay a $0.25 cent penalty for every pound I gained! The happiness was gone. I felt beaten down.

Another example, I write articles, kindle books, and several blogs. When I have weeks where sales are non-existent, I question my calling to write. If I weren’t able to see statistics on this blog to know someone has clicked in, I probably would have ceased writing it by now.  I do rely on stats, likes, and seeing fruit.

Life is Imperfect 

But there are bigger life challenges—a Christian child marries an unbeliever. A parent is left out of wedding planning. A grandchild is kept from his grandparents. A neighbor starts an argument. A husband becomes seriously ill. A woman hits her head which starts a cycle of headaches, tinnitus, and anxiety attacks.

When we meet with real-life trials, we might be tempted to question God about His plan. We demand answers.

Real-life pre-epiphanies are messy. They may last a night or weeks. They may go away and rear their head again next month.

It’s easy to feel we will never arrive. We can become caught between who we feel we are one day and what the evidence shows the next.

But, with the right approach—hanging onto HOPE, expecting God will speak, anticipating something fun is around the corner, enjoying small life moments, accepting it’s all part of life—we gain a new perspective.


The awakening is great, but it began with yuck. Not many will express their yucky side, but it happens to many of us women.

Who you are is not defined by how perfect your life is or by how you measure up against another woman. It is not defined by someone else’s rules. It’s defined by who you’ve allowed your yuck to mold you into being.

Quit rejecting how God made you. Embrace yourself. Get off that diet and simply eat responsibly. Get exercise because it’s good for you not because you need to see the scale go down. Enjoy your introverted self that doesn’t travel or go to outings as much as JANE or SALLY does. Question your self-limits. Try something different now and then. Embrace your personal values and Biblical teachings. Grow in the areas God leads you to grow.  


Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Learning to Respond to Life's Event: Guidance for the Empty Nest Christian Woman

I started this blog to continue the conversations I've had for so many years in my Midlife Christian Woman,  Ministry to Women  and Design Your Midlife Transition  Roadmap blogs.


I am now beyond midlife and life is different yet again. I decided there needs to be an older Christian woman blog, so this is it. 




               

This past month my grown son returned to school for a grad course. We are in the empty nest again. 

I'm also shifting from a long season of caring for my aging dog.  I loved her dearly and pray she is now running free and full of joy in Heaven. 

From both of these events, I'm feeling grief mingled with freedom.

These events are part of life. While we don't know in advance what will happen in life, we can put up roadmap guideposts that help us deal with life events. 

In the same way, the Holy Spirit guides us with His signs--STOP, GO, YIELD, GO SLOW, and so on. 




               

When my son needed to secure an apartment for his grad course, the guideposts we followed included TRUST GOD, MAKE LOW-COST PROBES, TAKE A STEP...

Similarly, as the time was approaching for my dog to be put down, I looked for God's guideposts.

The first signpost was, "Give it to God and respect your husband's input on your dog." 

One night I cried out, "God, I'm worn, I can't care for her any longer and we can't bring ourselves to put her down!"  

A devotional gave me this sign post: I WILL SHINE A LIGHT ON YOUR PATH.  

I arranged for a mobile vet service to give us an in-home consultation. The vet provided the light we needed. 


              


With all this change, I am aware I'm at the beginning of yet another life season. 

I'm tempted to rush ahead with new plans but want to be God-directed. 

In designing my life just now back in the empty nest and sans doggy, I'm: 

  • continuing to exercise at my group class.
  • going for doctor appointments, physiotherapy, massages, working on my posture and addressing neck pain and headaches. 
  • resting as needed.
  • trying to do intermittent fasting to shed some pounds.


  • tending to what needs to be done at home inside and out.
  • planning events with my husband and children.
  • attending a new women's Bible study.
  • remembering how life was before having children and a needy dog and changing my mindset back to youthful thinking. 
  • decluttering my home to make it work for the two of us.
  • creating art.
  • enjoying my yard and garden.
  • Writing, and updating my blogs.





I'm keenly aware God doesn't give me instructions too far in advance. I have to make plans a day at a time, it seems. So I invite God into each day and listen for his unique instructions. 

I have hope that God will bring many new things into my life at just the right time.




Thursday, 3 October 2019

Do You Rest? Or Does Doing So Make You Feel Guilty?




"It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2 ESV).



Today, I stayed in bed until 2 pm. When I do such, my husband often says, "I didn't disturb you because I thought maybe you needed the rest." 

Am I embarrassed? No. Do I think other women do this? Some may, others definitely would not. Women who work fulltime definitely don't do this. I work freelance so I can do this. 

Most recently, we'd been through a year of palliative care of our beloved dog. I had many nights of disturbed sleep due to her needs, restlessness, and my own worry about it all. We boosted her a lot as her legs began to fail, and my body grew weary of lifting her 73 pounds. My neck and shoulders bore the brunt. She's been gone a month now. Extra rest may very well be needed as my body and mind restore themselves. 




"For I will satisfy the weary soul, 







and every languishing soul I will replenish” 







(Jeremiah 31:25 ESV). 


I'd also developed tinnitus during the last few years. Rest seems to calm it. Today I have barely any. (Thank you, Lord.)

Make the Bed or Not?

Do you arise and make your bed right away? I pull up the blankets but don't necessarily do a complete bed-making.

My mother-in-law made her bed early each morning and it stayed that way until bedtime. She said she NEVER went back to bed. I know other women who say the same. 

One person I queried never went back to bed even when feeling ill. BUT, some of these people will nap on their lounge chairs, on the sofa, and so on and not admit to it. 

I prefer my naps in bed. 

Why Not Rest?

Why not rest? How do you feel about such? Do you feel guilty for resting? Do you feel it's about time to do so after raising a family or working fulltime?

Do you feel bad for going back to bed? Why should you feel that way? 

Are You Judgmental? 

Maybe it's time to examine the judgment you use on yourself. Maybe it's time to examine the judgment you use toward others?

I have a sibling that has balked me for sleeping in and not arising like an early bird as she does. Why does she do this? To make herself feel better? Superior?

I am a nighthawk. I get a lot of work done after 10 pm. She, on the other hand, is in bed by then. Why is one routine praised over the other? 

Balance 

Though I like sleeping, every other day I'm up at 8:30 where I walk about my yard to loosen muscles and then go to my gym by 10 am for a hard circuit-style workout with a group of other lovely women. 

I know women at my gym who are compelled to work out daily. They've paid to do so and want to make good use of their money. Myself, I feel it's a chore to go every day. I also feel my body needs a day of recovery. Today, my muscles needed recovery from yesterday's work out.

Adding balance by going every other day gives my body a break and ensures I don't lose motivation and quit. 

I am sometimes teased for not going more. Why do they tease? To tease someone for not doing what YOU think they should do is nothing more than an effort to dominate, control, or criticize.

Resist the Rush

Even as a freelance writer, I feel compelled to always be working on a paying project or doing housework. Others in my circle seem compelled to always be busy doing something too. 

Yes, God warns us not to be lazy, but I don't know He wants us to fill our time to justify ourselves. He wants our time with Him. He allows rest as needed. It's important to check ourselves for guilt over not rushing to fill our every minute.

I've seen women compelled to fill their schedules. They look at their phone calendar and brag a little. One does gym work outs daily, volunteers, babysits, travels, and works part-time for pay though she's officially retired from her former career. 

I suppose these things help her feel productive and prevent boredom but sometimes I wonder if they are in the realm of busywork or works of the flesh? Does God ask her to do ALL these things? Does she do them to impress others? Does she fill her schedule to escape from feelings she doesn't want to face?



"Whatever you do, work heartily, 
as for the Lord and not for men" 
(Colossians 3:23 ESV)

Today's blog is more about speculating than teaching. I've written it as I wrestle with my own need for rest and to look at my own calendar. I want to be responsible, yet not guilty, judgmental, or out of balance. 



As you design your life roadmap, consider this topic of rest and how you feel about it. 


  • Write a statement that defines rest in your opinion. 


We may have seasons when more rest is needed. 


  • Write a rule on how you will handle such seasons. 


Feel free to leave your comments below.