Growing Old… Gracefully?

Related imageWe’ve all heard that phrase, but as I approach six decades, I’m beginning to think I fit more accurately into that category than the “middle-age” bracket I’d like to claim. Certainly, my body creaks and groans like an old, sagging door, and my stiff joints remind me of our twelve-year-old Cocker Spaniel when she first awakens. But what does it mean to “grow old gracefully,” and how is it accomplished?

I’m sure I don’t have all the answers, but another phrase often comes to mind when I’m around older people.  “What we practice in our youth we will magnify in our old age.” For example, a cantankerous man will be a cantankerous old man. We don’t just suddenly become something that we haven’t been “practicing” all our lives! In our younger days, we may be able to cover our cantankerous tracks with grace, but when we are older, sadly, either we don’t care anymore to apply tact, or we aren’t able to because of the effects of the dreaded duo: Alzheimers and dementia.

Our church recently had the funeral of a 100-year-old woman. My husband has been pastoring her for eleven years, and in that time I can’t recall EVER hearing an unkind remark, complaint, or wrangling word come from her mouth. She loved the Lord, loved everybody, and everyone loved her. Her funeral was a celebration of her life and testimony before the Lord. At the end of the service, the family gathered round the casket in the front of the church, but it seemed as though they just didn’t want to leave.  This happened again at the graveside as well. They hated to say good-bye to this dear, dear mother, grandmother, great-grand mother, aunt, sister, and friend. Yes, they knew they would see her again, but this withered and worn shell had housed a dear, sweet soul. That face had lit up so infectiously so often that it was hard to let go.

Mary Wilson had her mind and body nearly to the end of her life, and she always praised the Lord for it. I’ve visited dear saints who have lost their minds and make no sense in their speech or understanding; however, when my husband would begin to quote scripture or we would sing a hymn, their faces would brighten and they would quote the verse with him or sing along.  Hallelujah! What a wonderful example of the spirit being willing but the flesh weak! (Matthew 26:41)Years of tucking verses away in the heart and keeping a song on the lips will bring great dividends!

So what are you “practicing?” Are you working daily to develop a kind and gentle spirit?

“Well, I’m just naturally …” you fill in the bitter blank. But know that we all come with a bent toward sin. Yes, some are, by nature, more easy going, but the fruit of the spirit is available to all! You will preach what you practice when you practice what you preach!

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. Hebrews 11:4



When Life is Over…LIVE!!!

ID-100186249I can’t help wondering what my mom is thinking tonight – after fifty-five years in one house, this is her last night there.  This is the place where she brought up her two little girls, the place where Dad farmed, where life was lived. It’s over; another chapter has closed in her book of life.

I wonder if she feels like life is over?  I know Tom and I felt a bit that way when Nathan left for college this year.  The chicks have flown, the nest is now empty.  Is life over?  Only if you want it to be!

Next door to my mother’s beautiful new home, another James will grow – our grandson.   Perhaps someday, like my father, he will have cows just like his Pappy!  Maybe he will love the fields and woods too.  He is a new generation, having the rare privilege of growing up in the same room as his grandmother did!  My room is now his room!  What an awesome thought and blessing!

Growing old gracefully – it’s harder than you think!  It seems like we spend so many years changing diapers, feeding hungry teens, training our children to have character – preparing them to receive the passed baton; and then suddenly, they’ve snatched it from our grasp and are running, running, running!  (And we can’t keep up! 🙂 )  We sigh a little, remembering all those wonderful years – wondering where they went; and we can feel as though life is over.

It is a new chapter, and that can be a bit scary; but if we dwell too much on the past, we miss all the wonderful blessing that God has for us today!  And isn’t that just like Old Scratch!  In much the same way, he tempts young people to dwell on the future, missing today’s blessings !

One of my favorite sayings (I believe of Ken Hay’s of at the WILDS) is: “Keep your mind where your body is!”  Grant it, there are times when we enjoy looking forward to a special occasion: but if we spend too much time in the past or future, our lives become nothing more the skips and jumps with a whole lot of emptiness in between!  Cherish the past; prepare for the future, but most of all, relish today – you will never be able to live it again!

So here’s to tomorrow: moving day!  May this new chapter add many wonderful memories to an already full life!

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8

 “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”             Luke 12:20