Empty Nest, Abundant Life

Nag Less, Pray More

Category: New Experiences (page 1 of 3)

Growing in Gratefulness

On days like today, when life does not particularly go my way, it is harder to show gratitude.  I tend to focus my attention on what is going wrong instead of being thankful for what is going right, yet when I resolve to look for blessings and show appreciation for them, I find my attitude making a change for the better, a smile spreading across my face, and my mind fixed on the Giver of All Good Gifts.  I even find myself thankful for the challenges and obstacles in my life because they cause me to grow in patience, learn humility, and rely on God more than ever!

My Five Project Gratitude Thankful Things for Today

  1. The Soft Fur on my Cats
  2. Stimulating Conversation with a Table Full of Women who Point me to Jesus
  3. Beautiful Rays of Sun Poking Through the Clouds.  (I pulled over to the side of the road and snapped the above picture while driving through town today.)
  4. The Refreshment of Ice Water After a Workout
  5. A Phone Call from my Married Daughter Just to Chat.

What are you thankful for today?

New Month, New Outlook

I’ve always loved the first day of a new month.  It’s a day for changing calendars, for looking ahead to all the fun that the month promises, for receiving special “first of the month” coupons and emails, and for wiping the slate clean from last month.  I especially love November because I can say, “Thanksgiving is coming later this month,” and  “Next month is my birthday and Christmas.”   When I encounter a flawless, new month, I am empowered to forge ahead instead of paralyzed with embarrassment over the mistakes I’ve made or overwhelmed with too much to do.

May we all greet November with a spirit of adventure and gratitude!

Conclusion to Embracing Fifty

Before I began this series, I approached my 50th birthday with much hesitancy.  As I spent the entire month evaluating how I wanted to live my life in my fifties, my excitement grew.  The more I thought and wrote, the more my anxiety waned and my anticipation soared.   Now I can’t wait to leap into this new decade of my life.

The task of determining my values was not an easy one.  It took a lot of soul searching and frank honesty within myself.  I laughed and cried at my computer keyboard as I reflected on what I valued most and how I wanted to rest of my life to look.  I would highly recommend this activity to anyone who wants to be more intentional with how they live each day of the rest of their life.

Thank you so much for reading my 31 day series.  I hope it inspired you to consider how you choose to live the remaining days of your life.  I’d love to talk to you more about it and will answer all comments.   I wish each of you an amazing life!


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!

Encouragement

All Christians have spiritual gifts, those special attributes that God has given them to help others.  I used to wish that I could be a great worship leader or a gifted evangelist or be able to prophesy or be a natural helper or be rich in mercy, but I haven’t been given any of these gifts.   My gift is encouragement.  It doesn’t look fancy and may not get noticed much in today’s world, but I like it.  I can use it in both the written word and the spoken word.   I love that the centerpiece of the word encouragement is courage.  I believe that encouraging words have the power to equip others courage to tackle the next task, to face their fears, and to continue when they feel like quitting.

I also need to encourage myself in the same manner and let the wise and affirming words of others spur me on to grow as a person even when I don’t feel like it.  I can’t think of a single situation that isn’t improved by encouragement, so I will increase doing so as I enter into this next decade!

 


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!

Becoming an Overcomer Instead of a Victim

I am an avid reader, and I love a good story.  I especially enjoy great character development, watching the protagonist in the story grow throughout all the activity of the story and triumph over the antagonist at the climax of the story.   I get way too involved in  the characters’ lives, rooting for them, shedding actual tears due to their emotional pain, empathizing with their highs and lows, and rejoicing at the end of the book even though the hero is a fictitious, created in the mind of the author.

I need to apply these feelings to my own life.  It’s so easy for me to make excuses or blame my lack of initiative on past circumstances or on the hurt that others have caused me to feel.   My natural tendency is to see myself as the victim but it’s time to become the hero in my story.  I need to look at opposition as means for growth and change and see that I have the Creator of the universe always on my side.   I need to see the pain of my past propelling me to face the future.   I need to focus on the triumph instead of the turmoil.

I will still be the same person I was in my forties as I enter this new decade of life in just fifty days, but the fifties will be my decade of being the one who overcomes!


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!

Humility

The word humility used to scare me because I mistakenly thought it was a synonym of humiliation.  I had become well-acquainted with humiliation in my childhood years, and I wanted no part of it in my adult years.   This summer after reading a book I highly recommend called The Calvary Road, I decided I wanted to study the word humility so I began writing down pages of Bible verse that contained the word or the concept of humility and my observations from these verses, and I found that it was worlds apart from humiliation.   Here are the two definitions, and then I will list more thoughts on humility based on the Bible verses.

Humiliation is a painful loss of pride, self-respect, or dignity or mortification.

Humility is freedom from pride and arrogance.

I learned that humility is considering others more significant than yourself.   I like how C.S. Lewis phrased it, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”  Humility is associated with gentleness and patience, and it even takes precedence over honor.  Humility is rewarded by riches, honor, and life.  It is a vital characteristic when serving the Lord, and we need to actively seek it.  I can tell you from experience that it does NOT come naturally.  We should put it on every day, just as we put on our clothing, and God will give grace, save, and exalt the humble.  Humility is seeking God and trusting Him to lead us in what is right.

I’m thankful for the concept of humility and desire to live it out every day in my fifties.


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!

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes may seem like an odd choice for a list of what I want to embrace in my fifties, but I’m choosing to take the positive route.  I’ve been in perimenopause for nearly ten years now, and I’m starting to notice some new and welcome developments.  I have to shave my legs a lot less now.  The acne that once plagued me has subsided.  I’m not experiencing the constant concern whether I am pregnant.   I have an excuse for being occasionally irrational.  I love the feeling of a frozen washcloth on my neck during a hot flash.  I feel like the world is wide open to me.

My mother started her menopause journey even earlier than I did and was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer when she was about ten years older than I am now.  She was convinced that hormone replacement therapy had a causative effect on her cancer, and she insisted that I steer clear of that route.  Even though I’d never heard of any correlation, I promised her that I would avoid this treatment if at all possible.   I wish I would have asked her more about her symptoms and experience.

Hormonal changes are a common factor in all women’s lives, and it’s time to discuss them and celebrate them!


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!

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