“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet, I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “what shall we eat?” or “what shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Thanksgiving. The very word reminds me how much I already have in a culture that constantly seeks to convince us that we need more. In the spirit of true gratitude, please allow me to share some of the tangible and intangible things I’m most thankful for today.
May I never fail to express gratitude for these gifts:
A bed to sleep in and blankets to keep me warm
Running water from my multiple faucets
Electricity that brings light and warmth
A home to return to each night
The family I was born into and the one I married into
Friends God has graciously placed in my life
The ability to be in contact with people all over the world via a device that fits in my pocket
Wheels to take me where I need to go
The beauty of creation all around me
Food in my cupboard and a refrigerator to keep it fresh
State of the art healthcare
Agencies that protect, serve and respond to our needs
Access to news, literature and art
Freedom to respectfully disagree
A sound mind
Feet to walk on
Eyes to see, ears to hear and hands to work with
A place to freely worship with other like minded believers
More love, kindness and mercy than I will ever deserve
And, should I be so bold as to ask for more, let it be for this:
To be used by God for His purposes
More time with those I love
Shared meals around my table
Experiences that linger long
Words that feed my soul
Laughter that warms my heart
Eyes to see the needs around me
Ears to hear the cries of those in need
Arms to embrace the hurting
Moments of wonder
Conversations that nourish
Opportunities to bless from my bounty
Wisdom to be a vessel of hope and healing
A heart to hold it all
I am thankful for your eyes reading this today and for all the good gifts He has given us. My prayer for you is that you, too would “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1
It’s safe to say that no one was more shocked than I that Friday morning in 1972 when my name was announced. The panel of judges had chosen me as the first prize winner for news writing at the 19th Annual Press Day at El Camino College. Sitting in the darkened auditorium awaiting the results, I had zero hope or expectation of being recognized. In all honesty, I had strongly considered not even showing up that day as nearly 400 student journalists from 17 South Bay high schools convened to compete. It was truly a last minute decision to jump into my ’65 Mustang and head to the competition. What the heck. All my friends were going, so, why not?
I remember hearing speakers, attending the informational session and being told to write a news story about it. I was as nonchalant about the contest as a seventeen year old girl could be, still pondering whether to even bother to write the assigned article or not, with no thought of a win. I was already there, and the time was going to pass anyway, so why not just write and get my participation badge?
When I look back on that day, nearly half a century earlier, I view the experience through different lenses. I now see that day as confirmation that I am, indeed, a writer- that I was born with an ability and a desire to write. This, not because I worked so hard at it, or because I studied long or honed my craft– not because I was the best prepared, but, because God gifted me with something that He wanted me to use for His glory. When I least expected to be recognized, He singled me out and shined a light on the gift He gave.
Though there was a time when I had aspirations to write on a grander scale, I am happy now to share my little stories here with you, whoever and wherever you may be. I will continue write to share with you the meaningful moments and lessons He blesses me with, as I endeavor to fully live this beautiful, difficult, joyful, challenging and precious life He has called me to. Gifts are meant to be shared, so, I will write in response to the One who gives and Who consistently reminds me to pass it on. The act of processing life through these humble words is my response to the Giver of all good gifts. It matters not whether only one person or a million reads them. He made me a writer and, so, I must write.
I am well aware that blogs like this are a dime a dozen and that there is a plethora of writers far more eloquent than I. I am a little fish in a big pond. My aim is not for wealth or fame or a certain number of followers. In fact, the older I get, the more I crave a quiet life. Still, in the rhythms of my quiet, everyday life, I see the simplest moments as stories waiting to be told.
What gifts might you be hoarding that He intended you to give away? No matter where you are in life, it’s not to late to begin. Take a step of faith. Give it away.
When I made the decision to retire, I was surprised at the number of people who expressed to me their belief that I would be bored when I didn’t have a job to go to everyday. My response was the same, 100% of the time:
“…only boring people get bored.”
But– maybe also people who don’t plan for what’s ahead. If you are currently contemplating retirement, now is the time to begin building for that future. If you have already retired and feel like you’re floundering, it’s not too late to begin.
In a culture where often the first thing we are asked by a stranger after initial introductions is “what do you do?” is it any wonder that so many of us are largely defined by our work? I learned early on to view my work as a means to support my life vs my life supporting my work. For me that meant that while I worked hard to give my best effort, I also endeavored to maintain a life outside my job. It was often challenging to manage that goal.
I have a friend who had a very successful career in a field she loved. She retired after some health issues made it difficult to continue, but has since failed to thrive and is largely housebound. She is an example of one who was so involved in her successful career that she failed to build a life outside of it.
If you are approaching retirement, here are 10 suggestions to consider :
gather with others
Build scheduled activities into your schedule now so that you have a reason to get up and get out when you’re no longer going to work. I’ve attended a Monthly Bible Study with a small group of women for the last 20+ years. In addition I’ve long attended weekly services at my church. Once I ceased working, I added in classes at the gym three times a week and began walking one morning a week with a group of women friends. These routine activities keep me active and involved in lives outside my own and give me something to look forward to nearly every day.
Kill two birds with one stone. Exercise your body while staying in touch with friends. Instead of meeting for lunch or coffee, meet at a park and go for a walk, giving you time to catch up while keeping your body strong and agile.
Don’t restrict friendships to others your own age. If all your friends are your age or older, eventually if you are fortunate enough to have long life, you will face losing many who are dear to you. Hence, there is a great benefit to having friends of various ages. I have found many young women who are desirous of being in relationship with an older woman who shares their values and can be a source of wisdom that comes with age. Multigenerational activities are enriching and expand our horizons. Spend time with grandchildren while they’re young so you’ll have strong relationships when they age.
Don’t be afraid of technology/social media. While it’s true that social media can be misused, but it can also be a blessing. Facebook and Instagram have been a means for me to stay in touch with friends all over the world. Today I was able to converse in real time with my friend who recently relocated to Luxenbourg. I group text with a several small groups of friends regularly. And, my granddaughters introduced me to Marco Polo, an application that allows us to send video messages. I’ve been using it for months and recently some of my 30 something friends have discovered it. This Senior was ahead of the curve!
Exercise hospitality at whatever level works for you. You may not feel like hosting a dinner party but who can’t manage a pitcher of iced tea and a bunch of grapes? Invite friends over for a movie night or a potluck holiday gathering.
Find a place to volunteer where you can use your gifts for the benefit of others. We all need a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives. I spend one day a week with my grandchildren, freeing my daughter to have some time to herself. I spend another afternoon volunteering at my church, supporting women’s ministries and events. Wherever your interests lie, find a place to exercise them on a regular basis.
Remember that isolation is your enemy. Don’t end up like my friend who believes retiring was the biggest mistake of her life. Ideally you start building a life outside of your work while you’re still in the game. But, if you can’t, make it a priority to do so soon after you leave the workplace.
Rediscover your partner and the things you enjoy doing together. Whether it’s going to the gym together, walking your dogs, hiking, travel or movies, make time for each other and for social activities with other friends.
Rediscover your spiritual side and the faith you may have abandoned. As we near the end of life on earth we are more incline to realize that our spirits need to nurtured and stretched. For me that means reading my Bible in the morning as I enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Ive found God’s Word life giving and able to fill my spiritual tank, enabling me to live with purpose. It means gathering with like minded believers so that we may spur one another on to good work. And, it means feeling prepared for whatever may come.
. Serve others. It may be a neighbor, a friend or someone in your church. Find ways to give of yourself to bless others regularly. Prepare and deliver a meal to a sick friend or a new Mom and her family. If you don’t cook, deliver take out or a gift card to their favorite restaurant. When you make soups prepare a double recipe and freeze half to share with someone later. Offer to babysit your grands overnight and give your adult children a night out sans children. Offer to pick up things at the market for someone who has difficulty getting out. Help with preparations for events you enjoy. The possibilities are endless and as you bless others you, too, will be blessed.
The beauty of retirement is that we have the freedom to choose where and when to spend our time and effort and with whom. It is NOT the time to burrow in for the winter. We are not groundhogs, people.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’re either preparing to or are already thriving as you age.
Here’s to Blooming in Winter! With a little preparation it can be the icing on your cake.