Empty Nest, Abundant Life

Nag Less, Pray More

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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!

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!

Aches and Pains

I will admit that aches and pains are not my favorite thing in life.  There’s not an hour that I don’t feel a twinge of discomfort in some part of my body.  However, I have learned some advantages to pain.

  1. It reminds me that I am still alive.
  2. It makes me rely on God more.
  3. It causes me to look forward to the day that I will leave this imperfect body on earth.
  4. It often signifies that I had worked a muscle hard enough to fatigue it.
  5. It allows me more empathetic with others who are experiencing physical pain.
  6. It forces me to slow down and rest.
  7. It humbles me and shows me that I am not invincible.
  8. It helps me to be thankful for the moments that I experience less pain.

As we age, aches and pains are inevitable, but moaning and complaining about them is optional.   I am making the choice to rejoice!

 


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!

Peace

One of my favorite influences over my life is peace yet I often take it for granted until I feel the turbulence within my spirit that shows me that peace is not reigning in my life.  Peace is defined as freedom from strife or dissension; the freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, and anxiety; stillness; tranquility; or a state of untroubledness.  It cannot be achieved by rushing or striving, only by trust in my God who longs to guard my heart and my mind  with His peace.

I’ve always believed that achievement was marked by activity and busyness, but I am learning that the achievement of peace is one of the greatest achievements of all.  I need to train my mind to relax and move towards God’s peace instead of the clutteredness of the world.   Peace will be a vital component of my fifties and beyond!


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!

Healthy Choices

My first half marathon, August 2015. I weighed 225 pounds and completed the race in just under 4 1/2 hours.

My second half marathon, August, 2016. I weighed 190 pounds and finished in just over 4 hours.

My most recent half marathon, August 2017. I took nearly half an hour off my previous year’s time, and I weighed 170 pounds.

My health, laziness, and gluttony dictated my lifestyle through my twenties, my thirties, and most of my forties.   Brownie bites and peanut M&M’s were staples on my Costco shopping list.   My exercise routines were nonexistent.  I chose dinner recipes based on ease of preparation and what the family liked instead of looking at the nutritional information.  The number on the scale rose steadily over the years, but I blamed it  on stress, my health, and having babies instead of my sedentary lifestyle and poor habits.  The more I weighed, the more my health declined and the less I moved my expanding body.  Three years ago, I was hospitalized for five days, too weak to breathe or walk on my own due to neuromuscular issues.  I weighed well over two hundred pounds.

After my hospitalization,  I made the decision to take control over my health.  I began training for walking a half marathon.  I purchased less junk food.  I focused on getting the rest my body needed instead of waiting for illness to force me to rest.   After walking my first half marathon in 2015, I decided to kick it up a notch and hired a trainer, a friend in her forties who had birthed ten children and then had made wise choices about her strength and health.  She designed a strength routine for me.  The first time we met, I was so weak that my whole workout was sitting down in a chair ten times and standing up again then ten bicep curls with five pound weights.  Even that was a struggle with my debilitated muscles.  She also had me log each piece of food I ate with an app called MyFitnessPal, trying to keep under 1200 calories a day.

Now, more than two years after starting with my trainer, I strength train for over 30 minutes three times a week with up to fifteen pound weights.  I walk or run three other days a week.  I still log my food each day.  In fact, I have almost a 600 day streak on MyFitnessPal.  I have dropped nearly 70 pounds.  I have completed three more half marathons.  I have more energy.  I am off all prescription drugs and all their nasty side effects.  I see a holistic chiropractor monthly who checks me not only for misalignment and weak muscles, but also hydration levels, vitamin deficiencies, food sensitivities, and thyroid and adrenal gland function.  I try to average close to 8 hours of sleep a night.

All of these new activities in my life are not part of a “diet,” but have been integrated into my lifestyle for the rest of my life.  It doesn’t mean that I can never have a piece of chocolate.  I enjoy a piece of Dove dark chocolate 3 or 4 days a week.  It also doesn’t mean that I never go out to eat.  It doesn’t mean that I can never take more than one day a week off exercise.  I’m flexible, and I’m giving my family the gift of a healthier, happier wife and mom who plans to thrive on earth for many more decades!


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!

Acceptance of Current Circumstances

We have a limited amount of time each day and free will on how to spend that time.  We can waste it by pining away for the past, fretting about the future, or wishing away the life we have today.

Maybe our current life is not what we thought it would be.  I never thought  both my parents would die of cancer before I reached my 50th birthday, I would deal with so many health issues, or that  my husband would lose his job, yet all those circumstances are a part of my everyday life.  I can choose to allow the sadness and stress that these circumstances cause to keep me in denial and from moving forward in life, or I can accept those circumstances and trust that God will work them together for good.

I am confident that I will look back on this time in my life twenty years from now and see exactly how God used these parts of my life to grow me.   When I do catch myself slipping into a funk, I try to apply the Serenity Prayer each day, “God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Amen.”


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!

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