Am I Getting Older or Wiser?

by Laura Petherbridge

Put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity…Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Ephesians 4: 24-27, 31-32 CSB

Lately I’ve noticed little things that reveal I’m getting older. Some of them include:

  • I find myself gravitating to the anti-wrinkle section of the cosmetic counter.
  • I no longer have any idea what color lipstick I’m applying because I can’t read the small print on the bottom of the tube.
  • I walk into a room only to discover I have absolutely no recollection of why I’m there.

But the Bible shares a positive side to aging, “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life” (Job 12:12 CSB). My bones and hair may be thinning, but I am not defeated. As I age, I can become smarter than ever before, if I’m teachable and desire it.

This is fabulous news.

In my 40-year journey with Jesus (so far) I have discovered a few litmus tests to evaluate whether I’m getting smarter, or merely older. These can be found in the above verses from Ephesians. I can tell I’m growing as a Christian when:

Trials and temptations are viewed as an opportunity for growth. This doesn’t mean I’m skipping through a storm, shouting “Praise the Lord” and pretending pain doesn’t exist. It means I’ve learned that God can be trusted in the middle of a crisis. I know he can bring good out of bad. The result may make me stronger than before. I hate the storm, but I love the results.

There is an increased awareness of areas of weakness and the tendency to sin. Maturing in Christ doesn’t mean I don’t sin. It does mean that my radar is sharper, my knowledge of God’s Word is greater, and my desire to obey God is intense. When I’m growing in Christ, and I realize I’m disobeying Him, I’m quick to confess. I sincerely repent, and ask God to help me avoid this situation in the future. I must be willing to make sacrifices if that’s what’s necessary to avoid sin. The passion to be free is fierce. 

I’m not embarrassed, or arrogant, about being different. If it’s been a long time since I’ve shared Jesus with another person, that’s an indication my relationship with God is in trouble. When I lack enthusiasm about God’s amazing grace, or the price it cost Jesus to save my soul, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate. When I discover my comments, and social media posts, are focused on an “us versus them” mentality, that’s an indication that pride has crept into my life. Pride is always spelled, S-I-N. 

I recognize God owns it ALL. There isn’t a person, place or thing in my life that couldn’t be gone is 30 seconds. I have no ability to keep or control anything. God can choose to remove my husband, family, home, health, bank account and anything else he feels is wise. At first I didn’t like these sobering thoughts, but when I admitted that God is in control, not me—a huge burden was lifted. He has given me the privilege to be the caretaker of the people or things to which I’m entrusted. But I don’t own them. He does.

I’ve learned to dance with my Creator. Many of my early Christian years were spent in an exhausting performance for God. I kept trying to earn the love He has already given for free. Fear kept me from accepting His embrace, but His zealous love won out. I finally gave in and accepted His lavish love. I heard him whisper, “You are beautiful and precious to me. I delight in you, Laura. Relax, Beloved. I will never leave you. Never.” Because I stopped performing, wrestling and resisting, we now dance like a bride and groom.

God is helping me to focus and keep Him the main thing, so those new wrinkles don’t matter as much. Now—if I could only find where I put my cell? A-L-E-X-A, find my phone!

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Laura Petherbridge is an international speaker and author of, When ‘I Do’ Becomes ‘I Don’t’The Smart Stepmom,  101 Tips for The Smart Stepmom, and Quiet Moments for the Stepmom Soul.  She has appeared at/on the Billy Graham Center, Family Talk (Dobson), Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, FamilyLife, Lifeway and Moody Broadcasting. She has been a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series implemented in over 60,000 churches worldwide. In addition to the USA, she has spoken in South Africa, Australia, and Canada. Laura and Steve live in Atlanta, Ga and have been married for 35 years. She has two stepsons, daughters in law, and grandkids. She may be reached at www.TheSmartStepmom.com.

Laura’s resource When I Do Becomes I Don’t-Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce is answers to her most FAQ after 30 years in divorce recovery and stepfamily ministry. It includes chapters for friends and family, and a section for church leadership. 

Join the conversation: In what ways have you seen yourself growing wiser?

Things Are Not Always What They Appear

by Evelyn Johnson-Taylor @drevetaylor

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”                                                                                                                                   1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV

The weeks leading up to my “Stepping into Sixty” celebration brought great joy to my heart. As a younger woman, sixty seemed so far away and appeared very old to me. However, the closer I came to that milestone, I came to think differently.

In our Christian life, we face many challenges. There are mountains that appear insurmountable. But the reality is, when viewed from a distance, we can get a very different perspective. Could it be that the obstacles appear larger than they really are?

Many of the adversities we encounter take our eyes off the prize and miss the potential victories that are in front of us. If the enemy can entice us to concentrate on the problem, we set ourselves up for defeat. But when we stand firm in the promises of God, we can rest in Him and know that our labor is not in vain.

As I look back over my life and see the many battles I’ve lost simply by walking in fear, it saddens my heart. Too often I focused on the magnitude of the situation and neglected to focus on the God who controls every situation. This is not what God wants for us. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).

Fear is worrying about something that has not yet happened and in some cases will never happen. Up close, a challenge can seem frightening, but backing away from it will help us see that God has already given us what we need to overcome that moment.

As my birthday drew near, instead of looking at it as “I’m getting old,” I started focusing on the advantages of being sixty. My thoughts were, “How can I make this next chapter better? How can I move forward in this new season of my life? What new opportunities await me? How can I use my sixty years of experience to pour into someone else’s life?” I began to thank God for allowing me to see another birthday.

It would be the first one I would celebrate without my husband. The reality of knowing that he didn’t live to see his sixtieth birthday made me appreciate God’s blessing that He has allowed me to come this far. Not everyone is blessed to reach this age. Even with such great loss, there were still so many things for which to be thankful. I had the memories of having the love and support of an incredible man for twenty-eight years. God blessed us with two magnificent daughters. I’m grateful for extended family, kind neighbors, and my sisters and brothers in Christ. I know that I am a blessed woman.

Life presents an assortment of changes and challenges, but as we focus on the big picture, the good things in our lives, the challenges seem smaller. Change your perspective on your insurmountable mountain and find the opportunity. Keep your eyes on the prize: “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB).

Simply because we still have life, we still have hope. Focus more on the one who holds the future and less about the future itself.

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Things Are Not Always What They Appear – insight from  @Drevetaylor on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

evelyn johnson-taylorAbout the author: Evelyn Johnson-Taylor is a professor of theology, author, speaker, and coach. She shares her life experiences through mentoring and encouraging others to move forward in whatever God has called them to do.  Evelyn believes that nothing is wasted with God and that everything He allows us to walk through in life is to be used to help someone else. You can connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and Facebook.

Evelyn shares her experience of caring for her husband for a decade in See Me Hear Me Know Me: From The Heart of a Caregiver, a book that she and her husband wrote together. God has given her a passion to enlighten caregivers on the importance of self-care and has graced her to share a message of hope and encouragement.

Join the conversation: What seemingly insurmountable mountain has God allowed you to overcome?

Rusty Mailboxes, Aching Bones, and the Overcomer

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5 ESV

My parents lived in the house where they raised my brother and me for almost 50 years. When we moved onto Dianne Street, I was eight and my brother was just five.

When my parents’ health severely declined, we moved them closer to my brother. But, during the last few years they have lived there, every time I make the four-hour drive to visit them, I am keenly aware of the passage of time and the toll this physical life takes on physical things.

For instance, once when I was there for a visit, I noticed the mailbox. I mean, I really took note of it. It’s the same mailbox they’d had for decades. The same one I mowed down with my mother’s Lincoln when I was a young driver. The post wedged under the car and Dad had a hard time getting it free. But even then, Dad didn’t replace the box; he just replaced the narrow iron post I had mangled with something a bit sturdier.

The day we moved my parents’ belongings, I studied that mailbox. It displayed the wounds of standing unprotected for decades at the end of the driveway in all kinds of weather. Although the numbers, 6413, still bravely cling to the side, rust dominated the exterior, and the lid didn’t quite close all the way.

Time has marked my parents as well. Joy and grief. Success and failure. Fullness and loss. Just like anyone who lives in this world for very long. Dad went to heaven late last year and Mom suffers with the last stages of Alzheimer’s. I miss my father; and though my mother is still here physically, we feel we lost her years ago.

Some days I wish I could change things. Or turn back the clock.

Yet God graciously reminds me that none of this takes Him by surprise. He well knows the effects this broken world has on His children. Sin has subjected this physical world and all that live on it to decay. We all groan inwardly while we eagerly wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises to His children (Romans 8:20-25).

We can replace rusty mailboxes with new ones, but they would soon rust again. The world would still get the last word.

But, praise God, the world does not get the last word in my parents’ lives. Or my life. The world does not have to have the last word in your life.

God gets the last word. The victory will be and is His, for everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. His victory is our victory. We are overcomers! 

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Kathy HowardAbout the author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight booksKathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, http://www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagramor Pinterest

In 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents, author and fellow caregiver Kathy Howard offers encouragement and wisdom on giving your parents the kind of care that pleases God, providing the honor and respect that will allow them to maintain their dignity.

Join the conversation: What challenges are you facing lately?

 

 

Up in the Air About Who I Am

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

I like your top,” the silver-haired flight attendant commented as I boarded the Denver-bound flight, “So sparkly.”

“It set off the metal detector in security,” I complained.

“So does my hip,” her snappy reply.

We exchanged glances with a nod and a laugh.

Seated at the front, I watched as she welcomed each passenger with a personal comment or smile—almost like she was welcoming us into her home, greeting us as she would a group of friends. She’s been at this a long time, I thought to myself. She’s good.

We laughed during her safety briefing, breaking from the traditional stuffy announcement. People chuckled – and they listenedYep. She’s good.

Because I had the prized front row single seat in this smaller regional aircraft, she sat opposite me during takeoff, our knees nearly touching. I could see the nameplate pinned to her uniform. Elizabeth.

“How long have you been flying?” I asked.

“Seventeen years. It’s changed so much over time. It’s not what it used to be.” She detailed some of the changes she’d experienced. Her biggest complaint was the decline of civility from passengers. “Demanding. Loud. Impatient. Rude. Just plain rude, ” she said, shaking her head.

“So, why are you still flying?” Clearly, she was old enough to retire.

“Several reasons. My husband is retired and not well. We need the benefits. And if I quit working, what would I do with myself every day? I’d be old before my time.”

I smiled. For most of us, we’d have said her time had come a long time ago. But that’s not how she saw it. That’s not how she saw herself. And because of her self-image, she was still here – going and doing and living at 30,000 feet—rudeness and all.

I was curious. “Do you still enjoy it?”

“Most days, I love it. For every cranky flyer I encounter, there are two or three who are lovely. Like you.” She smiled. The girl’s got skills.

As I thought about her later, it occurred to me—she’s good, because she has decided to be good. She’s also decided to stay young and to show up each day with that mindset.

Life is a daily decision. What’s my plan for living today? What’s my purpose at this point in my life? How will I show up? We’ve all heard the saying, “You’re as young as you feel.” I’d suggest an alternative, because I decided long ago not to be led by my feelings. I’d propose: “You are as young as you choose to be.” I’m not talking numbers here.  I’m talking mindset.

The story of Joshua and Caleb is inspiring. Both men were around 40 when Moses sent them as part of the twelve to explore the land. And because of their decision to see the promise of God instead of their circumstances, they were the only two God allowed into the promised land.

Many years later, as Joshua is dividing the land among those entering, Caleb comes to Joshua with a request:

“Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So, give me the hill country that the LORD promised me” Joshua 14:10-12a  NLT.

Caleb chose to see himself as God did: able, strong and prepared to enter into God’s promise.

My flight ended uneventfully – my favorite kind. But I had been reminded by my new friend that I can’t afford to be “up in the air” about how I show up each day. I will choose to be as young as I need to be – He may have important things for me to do!

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.                                                                                                                                                      Isaiah 40:31 NASB

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Up in the Air About Who I Am – @DebDeArmond on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: How do you plug in?

 

Join the Conversation: How do you choose to see yourself today? Have you decided to be able and ready when He calls on you?