Empty Nest, Abundant Life

Nag Less, Pray More

Category: Marriage (page 1 of 3)

Loving Others Well

I can’t think of a single better way to use the rest of my life than loving others well.   Before my eyes are even fully open in the morning, I have already mumbled “I love you” to my husband and scratched one of the cats.  Before I get out of bed, I express my love to God by reading His Word, applying it to my life, worshiping Him, and praying for over 100 people.  When I spend this time with God, I find that He fills me to overflowing with love so I can’t help but look for opportunities to love others all day, from those closest to me to those I have not yet met.

Love can be expressed in so many ways.  We often thing of it as physical affection, but that is just one way to show love.  We can make time to spend with others in deep conversation.  We can do something kind for others.  We can encourage one another with our words.  We can let someone know we are thinking of them with a text message, phone call, or a gift.  Even a smile to the grocery checker or the person in the car next to you in a traffic jam can ease a burden and make someone feel special.

The current rhythm of modern American life is becoming so fast-paced and impersonal that stopping to unselfishly invest in another’s happiness seems unnatural.  So many days I fail at loving others well.  I get caught up in the rush of life and my own agenda that I view others as obstacles to what I need to do instead of high priorities.  It is only when I go to God to get refreshed in His love that I have enough to give others.

When I am no longer on this earth, I want to be remembered as someone who loved others well!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Savoring Each Moment

Our lives are moving at a quicker pace than they ever have.  We have our to-do lists, our cell phone notifications, and overpacked schedules to keep us busy from the time the alarm sounds in the dark hours of the morning until late at night.  We are constantly thinking towards the next thing.

It’s hard to slow down and appreciate the little things in life, yet this is exactly what is necessary for a healthy and balanced life.  When we look at life as an experience instead of a destination, we can enjoy the journey so much more.

When I participated in the Eugene Half Marathon this Spring, I’m sure I would have had a much faster finishing time if I totally focused on pushing my body as hard as I could and didn’t look around to savor the atmosphere.  I met a friend with a similar pace, and as we passed something interesting, I would say under my breath, “I always want to remember this.”   She looked at me with an odd expression until I told her of my quest to enjoy the memories I was making step by step along race.  She soon joined my glee as we witnessed someone playing a didgeridoo to cheer us on, a live pet duck sitting on its owner’s lap at the curb, the bright signs on poster board that encouraged us, and the beautiful Willamette River flowing under us as we crossed multiple bridges.  By the time I  entered the stadium that housed the legendary Hayward Field, where many Track and Field World Championships have occurred, tears escaped my eyes at the glory of the crowds cheering, the brisk wind, the blue sky, the worship music playing in my headphones, and the finish line stretched out before me.  I savored it!

One of my favorite verses in the Bible takes place during the telling of Christ’s birth in Luke 2.  In the midst of the birth of the Messiah, the angels’ chorus, the shepherds’ visit, and the animals in the stable, Mary took the time to savor the moment.  She must have been exhausted from having her first child out of town in a stable with many visitors, but Luke 2:19 says,  “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Let’s be like Mary and treasure and ponder in our hearts!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Hope for the Future

One of my favorite Christmas traditions as a child was sitting next to our stereo cabinet listening to Lionel Barrymore’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge on an album of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.   I loved the sound effects, the background music, the lively reading of the well-loved book, and especially Barrymore’s characterization of Scrooge.  I was a naturally fearful child, and the visits by each of the ghosts caused me to hide under a blanket for protection.  The most terrifying ghost to me was the Ghost of Christmas Future.  In fact, I can still remember the terror in Barrymore’s voice as he pronounced, “I fear you more than any specter I have seen.”   This was my first exposure to the word, future, so I always associated the future with anxiety and panic.

I’m learning that we can anticipate the future with great hope and excitement or we can dread it.  The choice is ours.  The future will inevitably contain both positive and negative elements.  I am assured that I will die in the future, unless Jesus returns before then.  I could choose to focus my life on that so much that it prevents me from living today to the fullest.  I can look forward to upcoming great times with loved ones, the addition of a new generation to our family tree, and the chance to grow and learn into my fifties, sixties, and seventies.   I can’t wait to see just how valuable my golden years will be!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Change

My life has completely changed in the past ten years.  In October of 2007, I had two young teenagers living at home whom I was homeschooling full time, my dad was still alive and took a lot of my time and energy, I was still driving close to 100 miles a week in a minivan, we had different pets, I weighed close to fifty pounds more than I do now, and my good health was sporadic.  Now, just ten short years later, the kids have moved out, my dad and two pets have died, I drive less than 50 miles a week in a sporty Camry, and I’m in the best shape and health of my life.

It would have been ridiculous to refuse to accept the changes as they came.  I would have done my children and my husband a disservice if I refused to allow the kids to spread their wings and fly the coop.  I get much better gas mileage in my car than I ever did in my van.  I have energy to get up each day, thanks to my new exercise and diet habits.

I used to view change as scary and unwelcome, but it is inevitable.  I can deny it and resist it, but that doesn’t keep it from happening.  It just makes life harder for everyone.

In this new decade of my life, I will choose to embrace change.  My husband’s and my lives will certainly change this coming April when his job of nearly 27 years comes to an end.  Our children’s lives are changing as is our relationship with them.  We can grow and learn so much from change.  I don’t know all the changes God has in store for my life in the next ten years, but I will trust Him and look forward what is to come.


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Nurturing Myself

 

Nurturing myself seemed like a selfish use of my time when I was raising my children.  My days were already so busy that taking time for myself appeared to be an impossibility.  I felt like nurturing myself would be the opposite of generosity.

Now I’m convinced that the beliefs I had were lies from the enemy to keep me in a depleted, ineffective state.   When I don’t allow time to refresh and recharge myself, my emotional, physical, spiritual, and social “battery” runs out and shuts off, causing me to be useless to myself and others except as an example of what not to do!

However, I don’t think we should go to the other extreme and live in constant indulgence to ourselves and call it nurture.    I used to think a good way to nurture myself was to eat a pound of chocolate and watch hours of television on end to the exclusion of the needs of my family.  We need God’swisdom to determine the balance.

Nurturing ourselves looks different to each person.  The music and activities that soothe me may agitate someone else.  I was so out of touch with who I was as a person that I didn’t know what to do with myself when I did get the opportunity to nurture myself.

Some of favorite ways to nurture myself now are listening to worship music (Sherri Youngward’s Pandora station is my favorite), reading (I’m currently over halfway through Jan Karon’s newest Mitford book), running, writing my thoughts down,  petting my three cats, hanging with my husband, and going to bed early enough to allow myself eight hours of sleep.

What are your favorite ways to nurture yourself?


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Generosity

I came into this world with nothing, and I expect to leave with nothing, yet I seem to hold such a tight grasp on what I accumulate in this life.  I sound like a toddler, screeching, “Mine” when someone reaches for my stuff.  I remember my dad, one of my greatest influences, saying, “I would be more charitable, but what have those people done to deserve it?”  It wasn’t a natural thing for him nor is it natural for me.

In my fifties, I want to release my protective selfishness regarding my belongings and use what I have to help others.  It makes no sense to allow things that will better serve others to take up space in my home.  The release of it will give me freedom and joy.

I also want to be generous with my time.  The time I spend  teaching, encouraging, consoling, ministering to, and investing in others will far outlast my lifetime.    When I get selfish with my time, I tend to waste it binge watching television, so it’s best to give my time to what God has for me each day, and I know God can multiply that time.

It will feel so gratifying to enter this new decade giving up that what was never mine in the first place!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Laughter

Laughter has been one of my favorite parts of life since I was a baby.  There can never be too much laughter in a day.  Laughter can diffuse a tense situation, break down language barriers, lighten our load, relax us, and create joyful memories.  Laughter is a great gift to give to give one another.  One of my daily goals is to make my husband laugh really hard.  We tend to take ourselves and our lives so seriously that it feels good to step away from that just to giggle.   Nothing brings a smile to my face more than the laughter of children.

As I move into this next decade I want the following words from Proverbs 31:25 said about me,  “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”  Laughter is the perfect accessory for any time in my life, especially the time to come!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

New Family Members

I had many family members as a little girl, including great-grandparents, twelve grandparents, a special aunt and uncle, a dad and stepmom, and a mom and stepdad.  I took for granted that I would always be surrounded by a large, loving family until I started losing family members to death.   I grieved for my great-grandparents and my grandparents, but I wasn’t until I started losing members of the generation directly above me that I felt the sting of my shrinking family.   By the time my dad passed away two and half years ago, I felt quite lonely.

Photo courtesy of Katelyn Owens Photography

Now my family is growing again!  In July, I welcomed my first son-in-law to the family, and he brought his family of origin with him.   It’s fun to merge our family with  new people from different backgrounds with different traditions.   We had never met before a few years ago, yet now we share a future.

        

I also have gained family members through family dinner.  Twice a week we text our son, his girlfriend and a handful of his college friends and let them know which restaurant where we’ll be dining that evening if they want to join us.   So many of his friends do not have parents that live locally so these evenings give me times to enjoy and laugh with these delightful twenty-somethings and give them a dose of home and family.

I can’t help but look forward to being joined by grandchildren someday, but in the meantime, I’ll enjoy all the new members of my family!


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Words

Words have fascinated me for my entire life.   My earliest memories are of my mother’s lullabies, playing school with my sister, and frequent visits to the public library.  I learned to read before my third birthday and used reading as a means of comfort and escape during a difficult childhood.  I would often repeat well-written words aloud, savoring the sounds of them as they rolled off my tongue.    When I finished one book, I was lost until I had another one to read.

Words still play an enormous role in my life.  I still can’t fall asleep unless I’ve read at least two pages.  Now my love for words has branched into writing them as well.   Over the years, I’ve learned the power that words hold.   I observed my children wilting from my critical and caustic words and bloom with encouraging, uplifting words.    A single harsh remark would undo hundreds of compliments.  Every word that comes out of my mouth is a choice.   I still struggle to keep every word positive, but I am choosing to use the words I love to inspire instead of destroy.


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Aging Gracefully with my Husband

       

My beloved husband and I met at the end of our teens and now have known each other for over 30 years.  In that time, we have changed quite a bit from immature teenagers to parents-in-law turning 50.  When we were first getting to know each other in the years of big hair and endless energy, I don’t think we ever considered that the time would come when our knees would crack, our backs would ache, our hairlines would recede, our eyesight would fade, and our strength would diminish, but each of those changes has occurred in the Clark house.

Yet when I look across the room at that distinguished man who became my husband, I embrace the changes.   We can lament and laugh together as gravity and age reshape our bodies.  Instead of staring at each other with rose-colored glasses, I have to grab my purple frames for distance and hubby grabs his readers.  We can always tell when the other one is getting out of bed because of the groans and cracks.  We understand one another’s exhaustion at the end of day.

We may not look like we did in the late 1980s, but we’ve earned every  gray hair, wrinkle, muscle ache, and cracking joint.  There’s still nobody I’d rather have by my side.


This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

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