Growing Older Gracefully Archives 2009
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  • The Palm and Cedar Trees  by Wayne Walker
  • Getting Older by W. Frank Walton
  • How To Understand And Encourage Your Elderly Friends by Gabriel J. Adams
  • Mr. and Mrs. Horovin by Cindy Granke
  • The Bible and Growing Old by Joanne Beckley
  • When I Am Old And Gray Headed by Kent Heaton
  • Dear Older Member by Brady Cook
  • Dear Younger Member by Brady Cook
  • 45 Life Lessons and 5 to Grow On by Regina Brett
  • Reflections on Aging Gracefully
  • Loneliness & the Armour of God by Joanne Beckley
  • Happiness is Within Us - No Matter Our Age
  • Married 85 Years and Counting by Carla Adai Hendricks

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The Palm and Cedar Trees

by Wayne Walker

"The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon" (Psalm 92:12).

I have always liked looking at palm trees. Of course, growing up in the midwest I never saw a palm tree, except for potted ones indoors and on television shows, until I went to college in Florida. However, some of my favorite television shows were ones like McHale's Navy and Gilligan's Island (as silly as it was), because both were set on tropical islands with swaying palm trees. I have always thought of sitting under a palm tree on an island beach romantically idyllic. To many people, the palm tree, because it is always green and luxuriant, represents that which grows lush and full.

However, the cedar tree is something with which I have always been familiar because it grows abundantly in the area where I was raised. It evokes a slightly different picture, but there are similarities. Palm wood is not good for much of anything, but cedar wood is prized because it is strong, durable, and fragrant. Also, cedars can grow where other trees will not, so it represents tenacity and endurance. Thus, the "cedars of Lebanon" are used to symbolize strength and stability (Psalm 80:10, 104:16). Yet, it also exhibits a certain luxuriousness, because, as the old song says, it stays green "Not only when the summer's here, But in the coldest time of year."

The Psalmist is saying that the righteous flourishes luxuriously like the palm tree and at the same time grows strong like the cedar tree. In fact, he goes on to tell us, "Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him" (Psalm 92:13-15). When trees grow old, they no longer produce good fruit (have you ever tried to eat the apples from an old and gnarled apple tree?). Yet, the Psalmist says that those who are planted in the house of the Lord will still bear fruit in old age because He is their rock. The righteous can be both like the palm and the cedar trees.

http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org

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As I was looking for a picture of a date palm to illustrate the article above, two thoughts came to me as I thought of the verse, "The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree." I noticed how the palm trees grew in such 010309_0800_2438_nshs.jpgharsh climates, even deserts. I thought of growing up in Miami and seeing coconut trees growing in the sandy soil along the beach. The palm trees flourish in sandy soil when most trees would soon wither and die, thus provoking the idea that the righteous can grow even in harsh situations in life.

The second thing I noticed about the date palm trees was how fruitful they are in their production of nutritious dates; mature date palms can produce 176–264 lbs of dates per harvest season. The date palm begins producing fruit when it is about seven years old and sustains abundant yields on average for 75 years. This information illustrates how the righteous, as a palm tree, will flourish, bearing spiritual fruit to a ripe old age. -Pat

The trees of the LORD are full of sap,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

Where the birds make their nests;
The stork has her home in the fir trees.

Psalm 104:16-17

The voice of the LORD is powerful;

The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars,

Yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon.

Psalm 29:4-5

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GETTING OLDER

"The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness" (Prov. 16:31).

W. Frank Walton

As soon as we are born, everyone begins to get older. Have you ever plucked out a gray hair? Our sensual culture worships youth and good looks more than virtue and good sense. This began with those who came of age in the l960's, sayng, "Don't trust anyone over 30." Those spoiled baby boomers have had to revise their mantra, pushing it ever higher as they themselves age. However, there is more to life than being young, looking good, and having a good time.

In the Biblical world, gray hair was a badge of honor, not a sign of being decrepit. "The splendor of old men is their gray head" (Prov. 20:29). It represented maturity, hard-won experience and wisdom by living long and learning well from God's university of hard knocks. God's purpose for our lives is our spiritual and moral development, "so we might share in His holiness" (Heb. 12:10).

It is not how long we live, but how well we live before God that counts. "Teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom" (Psa. 90:12). As the years roll by, we never retire from the Lord's service. Caleb was one of the faithful few to the divine vision to conquer Canaan with God's help against all odds. He remained active and alert to the end, with youthful exuberance to take on new challenges (Jos. 14:6-15). "Paul, the aged," still wrote encouraging letters during his final Roman imprisonment (Phile. 9). To keep his mind sharp and occupied, Paul was still studying toward the very end of his life (2 Tim. 4:13). Victor Hugo said, "Winter is on my head, but spring is in my heart."

Someone has said, "Experience is what you get after you don't need it." No, if we keep active in the Lord's work, we can use our experience somewhere in the future, even if it is teaching someone younger (Titus 2:3-5). Contrast this with some elders who may think serving as an elder is a lifetime appointment to a board of directors, regardless of their declining fitness of age and ability to execute the "hands on" work of shepherding the flock.

David Lipscomb, long-time editor of the Gospel Advocate and co-founder of David Lipscomb University, knew the Bible in his day about as well as anyone. In the very last months of his live at 84, he would sit in his rocking chair and study his Bible for up to 2 hours daily. In 1916, a year before his death, he wrote, "We have long ago passed the threescore and ten years allotted to man on earth...As we approach the end, the more we study the Word of God, the more anxious we are to meet Him, knowing we have opposed all innovations and changes upon His order at every point along the line of duty drawn by Him" (Gospel Advocate, 1916, p. 1).

May this be our epitaph, that we were faithful to the Lord and His Word, as we get older until the very end of our life on earth. It is better to wear out than to rust out in the Lord's service. Christians should not detest getting older. As we progress through the Lord's school of discipleship, it brings us closer to graduating to that heavenly shore where there are delights with our Lord forever more (2 Cor. 4:16-18). The sick and physically weak are then forever healthy and strong.

http://www.simplebiblestudies.com

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How To Understand And

Encourage Your Elderly Friends

 

     This is the story of a woman facing aging and disabilities. Even if you are not in this situation, you probably have a parent or grandparent who is.

     No longer a strong independent woman, a disabled female senior citizen must learn new ways to cope with her changing lifestyle.

     At one time in her life, she was confident, physically strong and mentally alert. She was able to multi-task-cooking, cleaning and seeing to the needs of her husband and children.

     How things have changed! Her husband has passed away. Her children have grown and no longer need her nurturing. They have families of their own which takes up their time and energy. Brief phone calls and occasional short visits are what remain of her time with her children.

     Her ability to work in her chosen career has long passed. It is a chore just to get out of bed on her own and then her walker is her constant companion. Her doctor is her confidant although she seldom goes to see him anymore because there really isn't anything he can do for her.

     She lives on a meager monthly amount of social security, not really enough to meet basic needs. She chooses which medications she can afford to get refilled every month. What she eats is determined by what is on sale and she must wait until someone has time to go to the store for her.

     Lately, not only do her legs not want to cooperate, her memory is failing. She tries to hide it and makes excuses for why she has not returned calls she doesn't remember getting.  Although she is lonely at times, she often lets the answering machine get her calls. Conversations often don't make sense to her anyway.

     Although she would like to tell someone how she feels, she isn't sure how to describe it and doubts if anyone wants to know. When she tried to share with her daughter, the response was not what she had hoped for. Her daughter said, "I hope I never turn out like you."

     She fears that if she complains too much, her family will totally avoid her or put her in a nursing home. When her sons come around, she always has projects or chores that need to be done. She feels she is a burden.

     The years seem to have passed so quickly. Now the days seem to drag on.

     Do you have a parent or grandparent who might be feeling this way? Think about things they need but are afraid to ask. This could be as simple as your time. Remember that we will all be there someday and will want the next generation to look after us. 

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

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Mr. and Mrs. Horovin
by Cindy Granke

 

     Losing their independence is often very traumatic for the elderly.  This is especially true if they have been able to drive themselves to restaurants or to the grocery store in their own car.  Not long after we moved here, I noticed that a taxi often arrived at the house across the street.  When the taxi returned, the old couple who lived there would have grocery bags to carry inside.  I never saw anyone visiting them.  Sadly, I later learned that was because they were Jewish.  I decided to try to get to know them. I baked some cookies and took them across the street and introduced myself to them.  They seemed so pleased to have company.  As we talked, I asked if they would like for me to take them with me when I bought groceries.  They gladly accepted the offer.  Managing to finish my grocery shopping about the same time they finished theirs, so the cold foods would survive our hot summer temperatures which usually were in the 90s, was a little awkward to do.

     I found knowing the Horovins to be rewarding. They were both born in Russia in the 1890s, and proudly declared that they had escaped to the United States.  The Horovins told fascinating stories about moving to this country. 

     Our children were very young at the time, and enjoyed drawing pictures or taking little things over to them. Doing that also helped the children learn to respect older people and to visit them (Leviticus 19:32).

     Elderly folks need to know that people care about them.  You can lift their spirits or brighten their days by simply giving them your time.  Need suggestions?  A visit. Surprising them with a cooked meal. Taking them out to a park, if they are able. Or taking a few flowers to them from your own garden.  Sending a cheery "Thinking of you" card through the mail, even if they live close to you, will give them joy.  Finding it in their mail box will be special.  These kinds of things are especially important if the ones you know are your parents or relatives.
 

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The Bible and Growing Old
By Joanne Beckley

     God is eternal (Ex.3:6). All people die and God lives on (1 Peter 1:24-25). If we desire to live on, God will provide this if we remain faithful unto death (Rev.2:10).     

     There are specific concerns about old age in the Bible that can help us understand ourselves better and insure that our quality of life can be improved. The Bible also gives guidance for younger Christians which will help them understand and increase their love and respect for older people. 

The beauty of continued service to God in old age gives spiritual stability to the family of God and dispenses love in its highest form (Abraham - Gen 25:8, Simeon and Anna - Luke 2:25-36). Joshua was confident that God would help him during his older years (Josh.14:8,10), and his chosen elders were faithful until their deaths (Josh.24:31). The prophet Daniel is another example of serving God throughout his life into old age. 

The command to honor parents is strongly stressed throughout the Bible (Lev.19:32; Prov.23:22; Mark 7:9-13). We are told to respect and provide sustenance for our parents’ old age, and this in turn will increase our chances of living to an old age (Exodus 20:12; Eph 6:2-3). Offering respect includes allowing the old to work while they are still able, irrespective of age (Ex.36:2). The Bible’s relevant criteria for giving and serving considers one’s spirit, motive, and character – not age, as the world does. However, work should be modified according to ability (Num.4:25-26). Because of Ruth’s choice to honor Naomi, their relationship is an excellent example of closing the gap of understanding between ages (book of Ruth).  John’s first letter is full of loving one another, declaring the so called “generation gap” sinful.      

Christ expects wisdom and leadership in older Christians, as was also true under the law of Moses (Ex.18:21; Mark 10:16; 1 Tim.3:2ff; Phil.2:15). Wisdom requires knowledge, understanding and experience – which requires time. Wisdom cannot be inherited or borrowed. (Note several qualities of wisdom in Titus 2:1-13; Ex.18:21; Deut.1:13)  One can repent and change his life at any age (Jer.31:19). This is wisdom at its best. 

Troublesome characteristics of old age:

  • Failure to grow in the Lord (King Saul - 1 Sam 9-31).  Hosea warned of the danger of moral decay the older we get. (Questions asked of God out of pain and agony are healthy if we are open to reliance on Him (Job 35:10; Mark 9:24.)
  •  Loss of good looks (Prov 31:30; Isa 53:2) (men-strength, virility - Prov 20:29; 5:18-23)
  • Becoming incompetent, physically and mentally (2 Sam 19:35; Psalm 71:9, 18; Eccl.12)
  • Resisting change – including leadership in a congregation and becomes a major factor in creating the “generation gap” when decisions to be made are not concerning the law of Christ, but of expediency; King Saul was unwilling to accept the rightful place of his successor (1 Sam.18:17); Nicodemus learned he must change (John 3).
  • Temptation of pride, fearing loss of respect (1 Kings 13:11ff; Job 29:4ff)
  • Carrying grief because of past mistakes (failure in parenting - 1 Sam.2:12-17; Jer.31:19)
  • Difficulties in passing the torch, retirement (King David toward Solomon - 1 Chr.22:5. Notice Solomon’s willingness to accept the provisions David made concerning building the temple)
  • Wisdom rejected by younger men (Rehoboam - 1 Kings 12; Joash - 2 Chron 24:17,18)
  • Desire for continued independence (2 Sam.19:31-40)
  • Memories become sweeter, and make the present less appealing (Ezra 3:12-13).
  • Loneliness and a fear of being unloved (Prov.5:18-23; 2 Tim.4:9,21)
  • Fear of death, awaiting death because life is a burden, or longing for death (Phil.1:21-22)
  • Deal with reality now
  • Number our days (Psalm 90:12). Accept the responsibilities of life (Phil.1:21-22)
  • Make the most of what comes
  • Christ becomes all – an inner sufficiency and therefore resources are available to fight fear and any other inner battle (Phil.4:11-13; John 12:25).

 Advice from the scriptures for the aged: Ecc.12:13-14; Micah 6:8; Isaiah 40:31; 25:8; 26:10 

Conclusion    

     The best time to get ready for old age is to begin as soon as possible. What we have developed now will largely determine what our later years are like. Whether we are dealing with bitterness and fear now or facing life joyfully (Matthew 5:3-12), fulfilling the Lord’s commands – this will be the tool we will lean on in our old age. Change for the better can come late in life, but the Bible makes it clear that the longer one follows the wrong path the more difficult and less likely it is that the old man or woman will turn to a better way.     

     Some things are beyond our control as time moves on. Time, through wear and tear, can diminish our powers or finally destroy them. Accidents and disease can close in upon us. Retirement can bring severely reduced incomes. But it is the voluntary factors that we should concern ourselves. We can do something about the quality of our existence. We can determine what kind of person we shall be in our older years. We can determine to have a good old age as Abraham had.

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When I Am Old And Gray Headed

By Kent Heaton

The infirmity of old age is the burden of a fleshly temple ravaged by time through disease and increasing weakness of mind and body. Solomon spoke of the descent into the difficult days when the affliction and sadness burdened life; the arms and hands tremble; the legs bow down; teeth are few and the eyes grow dim; hearing is lost and the voice is softer; the “almond tree blossoms” and the appetite fails. Death is swallowed up as the loosing of a silver cord or the golden bowl that is broken and the pitcher shattered at the fountain (Ecclesiastes 12). Old age is looked upon as a time of great difficulty and sometimes despair sets in. The thought is that life for all its good is over and there is nothing left to do.

The author of Psalm 71 is unknown. What a wonder their name would be to declare to all generations but in God’s will the name remains silent. Vibrant in this Psalm is the spirit of someone who has found that old age is not the end but a continuing of what they had sought to do all their lives. Psalm 71 is a declaration of trust and hope in the Lord – not an end of things. Trust is proclaimed in verses one and five with hope the surety of faith (vv5,14). The author does not express giving up but rather there is much work to be done.

His faith in the Lord is as secure as a “strong habitation” and a “rock” and a “fortress” (v3). He is oppressed by the wicked but will not allow them to destroy his faith in the blessings of Jehovah God (4). The love of His Lord has guided him from youth (vv5,6) and his life is a testimony of Jehovah’s grace. His enemies marvel at his faith and the longevity of his trust in Jehovah. He begs that Jehovah not forsake him “in the time of old age” (v9).

The aged author is not ready to give up serving the Lord. He is doing everything he can to reaffirm his willingness to establish righteousness, obedience, praise and honor to the God he has served so faithfully. His mouth will not be silent but “tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day” (v15). His body may have weakened by the passing of time but he declares that he will “go in the strength of the Lord God” (v16). Can you see the gleam in his eye? Can you feel the strength in his voice to tell the old, old story? His work is not over – it continues.

He cannot quit telling people about the praises of His God. The Lord has been his teacher from youth (v17) and he must tell every generation about the wondrous things Jehovah God has done in his life.  He writes, “And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come” (Psalms 71:18). There are stories to tell, lessons to teach, souls to touch and work to be done. The generations after him must hear the good news. The ‘young folk” must know of the power of Jehovah God. His life is a living testimony to the strength and power of God.

“O God, who is like You?” (v19). He knows the Lord will care for him and give him strength to carry on. He praises Him for His faithfulness, redemption and righteousness (vv22-24). There is a lot of spark left in this aged man. There is a lot of work to be done – even when we are old and gray headed. May we never stop serving the Lord until the time comes to lay our armor down – then - rest!   http://www.trentonchurchofchrist.com 

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Dear Older Member

Dear Older Members,

     I want to thank you for the example that you set, day in and day out. It is encouraging to have such a strong role model in my daily life that I can look to for guidance. When I see how you handle difficulties and the different trials and temptations in your life, it gives me strength to know I can push on and continue. Life is hard, but you are living proof that it is not impossible, and I thank you for that.


     It is so hard to wake up in this time and be the Christian I know God wants me to be. The hallways are filled with language caving in on me, the internet displays things I should not be seeing, and movies are bringing me into a world that is not real. Friends tell me every day that giving in to these things are easier than fighting them, and it is hard not to believe them. They tell me about what goes on after school, before you get home from work, and on Friday and Saturday nights when their parents are out of town. It sounds like so much fun, and I am constantly bombarded with the craving from within to try just a small piece of the action. One time will not hurt, will it?

     I hear you tell me about the sins of the world; what is wrong and how to stay away from it. What I do not understand is the why. Why is it wrong for me to have fun the way my friends do? Tell me what the reasoning is behind them. I can tell them “no,” but I can not go much farther than that.

     I hear you tell me that I should be telling other people of my faith, but how can I when I am the only one that believes it? Do you understand what it is like to stand alone in the middle of a group of people trying to do what is right? Will you tell me how to handle it? Sometimes it is just easier to give up.

     I hear you tell me about a Jesus Christ that loves me, but is it the same kind of love that you have for Mike at services? I heard you tell other people about how much you do not like his tie, and how he is always off-tempo with his song leading. “It would be better if he would just let Jim lead singing, Jim is much better,” is what you said after services. Will you say the same things about me when I start leading singing?

     Please do not forget me. I may sit in between my parents, or at the front with my friends, but we are always watching you. Every move you make is important, and every word of encouragement I cherish. You say we are the church of the future, but what will it be like?

 

Sincerely,
A Young Person
..
Brady Cook

DEAR YOUNGER MEMBER

Dear Younger Members,

     You are right, it is especially hard to be a Christian in these times. Allow me to share some insight into the future: it will be hard when you are older, too. The only solace I can offer is that with time comes experience and knowledge, and these two allies can be some of your greatest weapons in fighting off the “wiles of the devil.” Seeing your face every time we meet, it gives me hope in knowing the gospel is still at work in the hearts of so many people. A comforting thought always has, and will always be, to know that others are working too. Keep up the fight, and one day we will all enter into our rest.

     We all try to be the right example to each other, leaning constantly on the assistance of our fellow Christians. That means you too. It may be hard to believe, but I am watching you as you are watching me; learning, adapting, and finding where I can improve my own life. White hairs mean wisdom, not perfection, and I slip from time to time as well. Even when I fail, I look to you for your strength, vitality, and passion for the truth, and it inspires me on to do better.

     No matter how old I get, however, I still need to know that you are listening. My bones creak, my breath comes slower, but I have things to say that I know will be useful. Are you listening? Do you hear me when I give you advice? Do you see the way I help people with what I have? I may not be able to preach like I used to, but rest assured knowing that my other talents, the less noticeable ones, are being used to full capacity. Have you thought about using yours lately?

     I respect your passion, and your zeal for the word of God, but always remember to keep it in perspective. Honor and respect are not outdated words; they are still very much alive in our worship and service to God.  When you follow God, remember whom it is you are serving. This is the same God who delivered Noah from the flood, Daniel from the Lion's den, the Israelites from Egypt, and has promised to be with you as well. He demands, and deserves, our undying respect and adoration from a pure and sincere heart. No false pretenses will be accepted; God will judge. You may look good in your three-piece suit, and lead singing with more grace than a man twice your age, but remember the purpose and reason for you being up there. It is not about you, it is about God.

     The person you see sitting in the far left of pew 5 is the person you see now, but there was a different person occupying that pew 30 years ago. They were full of energy, life, passion, zeal, and it is because of people like them and me that you are able to enjoy the luxuries you do now. The fight to hold on to pure and sound doctrine has been going on for ages, and my generation dealt with issues that would make your head spin. It is because of the sweat and tears of so many of your older members that you can sit and listen to sermons that will direct you to Heaven, rather than Hell. Those warriors of old, the ones who sat so valiantly fought Satan and his angels, are the same people who greet you with a smile that faded many years ago, and sit right next to you on pew 5. They deserve your undying gratitude and respect.

     Whatever you do, do not forget us. We are here to help you and to guide you with the voice of wisdom. We need you, and remember that you need us as well. We are all brothers and sisters, no matter what the age, and we are here to walk with God together.

 

Sincerely,
An Older Member
..
Brady Cook

 

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Regina Brett's 45 life lessons

~ and 5 to grow on

By Regina Brett

     To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, (September 2007), so here's an update:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
45. The best is yet to come.
46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
48. If you don't ask, you don't get.
49. Yield.
50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

rbrett@plaind.com

 

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REFLECTIONS ON

AGING GRACEFULLY

    You know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.

    It seems just yesterday that I was a young man just married and embarking on my new life with my wife. And yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went.  I know that I lived them all... 

     And I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams... But, here it is...the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise. 

    How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my little kids go? And where did my youth go?

     I remember well... seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like... 

     But, here it is... retired and  really getting gray...I move slower and I see an older man now. He's in much better shape than some... but, I see the great change...  from when  I married who was young and strong... but, my age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd be.

     Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore...it's mandatory!  Cause if I don't on my own free will...I just fall asleep where I sit!

     And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things.

     But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last...This I know, that when it's over... I will enjoy the Spring in the arms of my loving Father...and wait for my loved ones to come when their winter is over too.

     So, if you're not in your winter yet...let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly!

     For remember that scripture?  Our life is but a vapor, it vanishes away... So, do what you can today, because you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not!

     You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life...so, live for God today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember...

     "Life is God's gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to God. Make it a fantastic one." 
    

LIVE IT WELL!!                             

~author unknown~

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Loneliness and the Armour of God

By Joanne Beckley

 

     Whatever task we face that carries an attraction from Satan will require the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-19).  We face Satan every day as he tries to destroy every good thought and deed. The apostle Paul asked for prayer on his behalf as he faced the wiles of the devil while carrying the gospel to the lost. Our temptations may only be the day-to-day variety in facing the challenge of a new day, fearing pain will increase or loneliness will be there in every room. 

     It is this last concern, loneliness, that I want to address – for it can be a killer if we allow it to dominate our lives, just as any disease can slowly destroy the body. Paul had to face loneliness while he was in prison (2 Timothy 4:9-11). Each one of us has or will have to face loneliness and it is good to look at the armour of God again, for it has been given to us to use even when we face loneliness and the temptation to allow it to hinder living as God wants us to live. 

     Being alone and having feelings of loneliness are two different things. Being alone (aloneness) is often desirable for we need times when we can recharge our emotional batteries and solidify our thoughts through prayer, Bible study and meditation – a watch placed on our souls (Eph.6:17-18). This is where we gain strength – by reaching outward toward the Father, seeking additional ways we can help our neighbour. Loneliness is often caused by no longer reaching outward, but rather facing inward. Loneliness can increase to the point of being filled with emotional pain that doesn’t or seemingly cannot reach outward. We cannot afford to allow loneliness to progress this far. 

     Have you ever cut open a golf ball? When I was a child, I was impressed when my Daddy slit the hard outside shell open and showed me all the rubber bands intertwined, and so tightly wound that I learned to keep my fingers away when my Daddy cut those bands. Loneliness that has progressed too far is much like the golf ball, tightly wound within self – with an outside shell protecting the emotional hurt from all who want to help. Obviously, this state of affairs cannot be good, for loneliness isn’t useful to the person suffering, nor to God who cannot use one who has withdrawn inward and lost hope. 

     Why do I feel so lonely? How can I change? What can I do? Can anyone help me? You too may have had to ask yourself these questions. Perhaps the following suggestions put into practice will help you as they did me. 

     First, recognize what is happening and name your feelings. Accept them as being real. Knowing what you are fighting helps you to choose a workable plan. Satan knows what a powerful enemy loneliness can be – but you can win! 

     This may sound obvious, but not all loneliness is caused by the absence of a companion or friend, so you need to seek the source that has caused your feelings of loneliness. Do this as early as possible, for the longer you allow yourself the “luxury” of loneliness, the more difficult it is to extricate yourself. (Remember the golf ball?) Sources are many and varied that cause feelings of loneliness that can eventually paralyse you in depression, even causing thoughts of suicide.

1.   The obvious source of loneliness occurs when we are physically separated from family and friends. I am confident the apostle Paul faced this source of loneliness, and reached outward. When we grow older and face living in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility, whether we have chosen this route, or it has been chosen for us, we face loneliness. Our loss of independence is added to the equation which can increase loneliness and may develop into depression.

2.   Another source of loneliness can be caused by dealing with constant pain, day in and day out, unremitting pain. I understand that pain can colours a person’s understanding about his usefulness and quality of life. There is a tendency to want to “hide” as a mortally wounded animal does. Hiding brings loneliness.

3.   When we lose our lifelong mate in death, we lose the companionship of shared routine. We miss the one we talked with, who was always there for us. The empty bed each night compounds these feelings of loneliness. This part of our grieving is reality in our face. It is not sinful. If time continues, the loneliness decreases as we accept we must go on, with thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

4.   Facing a difficult problem (financial, health, etc.) that is seemingly unsolvable will cause loneliness – because we have lost hope and have cut ourselves off from seeking help from others. We might even tell others we will “go back to church when we have solved the problem” – and by this we have cut off our best sources of a solution, our Father in heaven and our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ.

5.   I need to also mention one other source of loneliness which is tied to how we face our problems. When we sin, and the sin is not repented of, we emotionally pull away from other Christians. Sin that has not been repented of can cause loneliness, among other problems. The guilt we carry in our hearts cannot exist for very long. The guilt feelings will grow stronger until, ultimately, our minds will not accept them. The conscience will be seared and we will no longer able to remember the sin or accept it as sin. Look around you at “lapsed” Christians who no longer worship with other Christians. They have drawn inward, allowing this feeling of loneliness, caused by sin, to mentally cut themselves off from the faithful.  Sadly, the guilt has grow so large they will no longer seek repentance. The choice then becomes either a deep depression, or rejection of God’s words in that matter, or even rejection of God entirely. 

     There is hope. There are solutions. But, as my mother often told me, it is time to check our backyards. (The front yard is for show, that shell on the golf ball.) It is time to recognize the problem and REACH for true help from God. Read Ephesians 6:10-19 again. Take your highlighter (two colours) and identify the key commands and what is represented by the weapons for our warfare against Satan. Test each point against your life. Are you using the armour? 

     What part of the armour have you failed to put on, sufficiently attached, that is hindering you to “stand” – to again be able to “love your neighbour” (Luke 10:27) and truly worship God in thanksgiving? (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Is it indeed a lack of righteousness? Could it be a lack of preparation?  Have you indeed put on the helmet of salvation? There are many preachers and devotional books that will offer you a variety of ways to put on Christ (Galatians 3:27) but He has only given us one way to come to Him. Loneliness will not leave you until you do so. Did you think you were growing in the Lord (2 Pet.3:18) as the years went by, but now you are discovering areas where you failed? Faith only lives when it is fed. Feelings of loneliness can stifle your desire for spiritual food. The effort to eat from God’s Word will just seem too great. We need to accept what God expects from us in order to grasp His gift to us. He has promised that we can win! 

     I am impressed with how the three parts, prayer, the Word of God, and meditation (“watchful” verse 18), are contained in Ephesians 6. Read Paul’s conclusion again concerning the spiritual armour that will help us to stand, to resist when feelings of loneliness begin to overwhelm us. Let us turn loneliness into a time of aloneness so that we can begin to find new ways to be a servant of Jesus Christ. 

     People around you want to help. Let them. Allow them to hug you and invite you into their homes, or for an “outing.” As you slowly begin to open your self-enclosed shell, let them help you to unwind those golf ball bands toward reaching out toward others, and away from self, to serving the living God. It is He who can truly help you to “ be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Eph.6:10).                                                        

Roll Up Your Sleeves! 

1.   First and foremost, dust off your Bible and study the Scriptures. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). Belief includes living what we believe. Therefore we must obey His commands.

2.   Forgive those who have hurt you. “Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:37-38).

3.   With obedience to God in mind, list compelling goals for your life. Plan tomorrow’s tasks so that you can arise from you bed with purpose.

4.   Reach out and serve. Looking to the needs of others releases us from being self-centered. "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35)

5.   Write your prayers in a notebook where you can return to previous pages and actually see proof that your prayers are being answered. Make sure one page is reserved for intercessory prayer – praying on behalf of others.

6.   Learn a new skill and seek ways to use it in helping others.

7.   Make an effort to improve your health. Dress each morning – including proper footwear. The way we dress affects our attitude toward the day.

8.   Treat yourself to something you enjoy doing.

9.   Accept that change is accomplished one day at a time.

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Happiness is Within Us - No Matter Our Age


Give people more than they expect
and do it cheerfully.

Memorize your favorite poem.

Don't believe all you hear,
spend all you have or sleep all youwant.

When you say, I love you, mean it.

When you say, I'm sorry,
look the person in the eye.

Believe in love at first sight.

Never laugh at anyone's dreams.
People who don't have dreams don't have much.

Love deeply and passionately.

You might get hurt but it's the only,
way to live life completely.

In disagreements, fight fairly.  No name calling.

Don't judge people by their relatives.

Talk slowly but think quickly.

When someone asks you a question
you don't want to answer, smile and ask,
Why do you want to know?

Remember that great love and great achievements
involve great risk.

Call your mom.

Say bless you when you hear someone sneeze.

When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

Remember the three R's:
Respect for self;
Respect for others;
Responsibility for all your actions.

Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

When you realize you've made a mistake,
take immediate steps to correct it.

Smile when picking up the phone.
The caller will hear it in your voice.

Marry a man you love to talk to.
As you get older, their conversational skills
will be as important as any other.

Spend some time alone.

Open your arms to change,
but don't let go of your values.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Read more books and watch less TV.

Live a good, honorable life.
Then when you get older and think back,
you'll get to enjoy it a second time.

Trust in God but lock your car.

A loving atmosphere in your home is so important.
Do all you can to create a tranquil harmonious home.

In disagreements with loved ones,
deal with the current situation.
Don't bring up the past.

Read between the lines.

Shstr your knowledge.
It's a way to achieve immortality.

Be gentle with the earth.

 Pray! There's immeasurable power in it.

Never interrupt when you are being flattered.

Mind your own business.

Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

If you make a lot of money,
put it to use helping others
while you are living.
That is wealth's greatest satisfaction.

Remember that not getting what you want
is sometimes a stroke of luck.

 Remember that the best relationship
is one where your love for each other
is greater than your need for each other.

 Judge your success by what you
had to give up in order to get it.

Remember that your character is your destiny.

 Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

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MARRIED 85 YEARS AND COUNTING 

In a day when marriages begin and end with the greatest of ease, Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher are a rarity. The James City, N.C., husband and wife have been wed 85 years and hold the Guinness World Record for the longest marriage of a living couple.

Banners and signs celebrating that record decorate the front lawn of their ranch-style home. They’ve captured the attention of newspapers, magazines and websites everywhere. And just recently, they received a signed commendation from President Obama with a promise of an official invitation to the White House to meet him.

The hoopla over their accomplishment doesn’t faze them at all. Zelmyra, 101, scorns the idea that there’s some secret to the longevity of their marriage. “No secrets,” she says. “There isn’t any secret. It was only God that kept us together.”

Herbert, 104, is amazed at their longevity. “I didn’t know I would be married this long,” he says. The retired Coca-Cola Bottling Co. mechanic still has a sharp mind, though his hearing is failing. Revered as a hard-working husband and father, Herbert built the family home in 1942, and he and his wife still reside there. His diligence and aggressive saving paid for the college educations of the couple’s five children. They also have 10 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

Their granddaughter Iris Godette is responsible for arranging the Guinness recognition. In 2005, after seeing a TV news report about a couple married for 75 years, she was motivated to research how long her grandparents had been hitched. After poring over records at the county Register of Deeds, she found that they had been married for 81 years. But when she submitted an application to Guinness, another couple who had been married just a few months longer held the record. Godette resubmitted the application in 2008, and that year they officially became the world’s longest-married couple still living.

Besides family, God and the church have been ever-present in the Fishers’ lives. They have maintained memberships at separate houses of worship during their marriage. She belongs to Jones Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; he’s a member of Pilgrim Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. Both are in James City, the close-knit community where they grew up together.

Despite separate church memberships, their hearts stay connected. Through the ups and downs of marriage, neither has ever considered divorce. Zelmyra adamantly opposes the idea of divorce and remarriage. “I didn’t know it would be as long as it is now,” she says of her 85 years with the same man. “I knew that I wouldn’t be looking for another husband.”

Zelmyra doesn’t attribute her long, vibrant life to healthy eating, exercise or costly nutritional supplements. Her efforts have been focused on her inner person and building relationships with others. “[You have to] know how to talk to people,” she says. “Try to treat everyone right.”

The centenarians have a loving understanding of each other and enjoy a simple life. They are fond of television news programs, and Herbert especially likes watching his favorite baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. They also take pleasure in sitting on their front porch to watch neighbors come and go and railroad trains whisk by.

“I think it is a blessing first that two people can ultimately love each other, respect each other and still want to be each other’s friend,” Godette says. “These days, you just don’t hear of a couple that stays together so long. They took those vows, ‘till death do us part,’ seriously. They have weathered the storms. There were good times and bad times, but they stuck it out.”

Those bad times include the lean years of the Great Depression when Herbert worked for as little as a nickel a day. They had to raise their own food and ration it for their young children. Perhaps those difficult years bonded and empowered them to remain married for so long.

“They cherish each other,” Godette continues. “If they had to be apart, their lives wouldn’t be as fruitful. … They are connected. They are soul mates.”

By Carla Adair Hendricks 
Source: AARP Bulletin Today August 17, 2009

Some people, no matter how old
they get, never lose their
beauty - they merely move it
from their faces into their hearts.
Martin Buxbaum