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5 Brilliant Lessons Age Spots Taught Me

2 Sep

I didn’t know lion cubs are born with spots—brown rosettes—on their body. Almost like a leopard.LionCub_pogo_mm_Pixabay

A funny cartoon shows Daddy lion talking to his young cub.

“Don’t worry, Son,” the lion said.

“They’ll go away as you get older. They’re just youth spots.”

Youth spots are cute, but what about age spots?

Poet Elaine Bishop wrote, in “Poems of Hope and Humor,”

“When I woke up this morning, I found another spot.

I do not know what’s causing them, but I sure have a lot.

Grandma called them liver spots; that does not appeal to me.

Now I’m hearing age spots; Oh, Lord, that could not be.

I’d pass them off as freckles but that would not be true,

And I must always tell the truth whatever else I do.

As long as I’ve no name for them and I’m still in the dark,

I’ve decided I’ll call them my special beauty mark.” *

GrandmaDorothy_LOLWithGod_5BrilliantFactsAgeSpotsTaughtMeI always said I wanted to grow old like my Grandma Dorothy (pictured here). Yes, she had wrinkles and age spots, but her gentle spirit and kind heart always glowed.  She loved Jesus and it showed!

I just didn’t expect to see my own wrinkles and age spots so soon! 

As I sat in church one Sunday, I stared at my arm, counting the age spots:  1 – 2- 3 – 4. Oh, please! Enough already!

As I sat there, only half listening to the preacher at that moment, I was hearing another message. My age spots were “speaking” to me, and they taught me five important lessons. Brilliant lessons!

1. GET SMART: Use Sunscreen!

I haven’t been wise. Although I wasn’t a “sun baby,” since moving to California I’ve soaked up lots of sun just in daily activities. And I haven’t used sunscreen.

Damage is apparent, but it’s not too late to start. (I hope.)

I’ve read lots of home remedies for age spots (like a mixture of brown rice, agave nectar and lemon juice), and the market is flooded with potions for a price. (I’ll probably get emails from them!) But the truth is, we all get them. Some more, others less.  We need to get smart and use the sunscreen!

2. SEE REALITY: Beauty IS More than Skin Deep.

My Grandma is in heaven now, but I remember her true beauty. Whenever I looked at her face, I saw more than wrinkles and age spots. Her beauty truly was more than skin deep. Her beauty was deep within and it blessed all of her family and friends.

In extolling the virtues of the noble woman, the writer of Proverbs says, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised” (Proverbs 31:30 HCSB).

Matthew Henry wrote, “…the fear of God reigning in the heart, is the beauty of the soul; it lasts for ever.” **

I want that beauty of the soul, don’t you?

3. FACE TRUTH: You’re Terminal.

Hollywood celebrity Valerie Harper, diagnosed with brain cancer, said, “We’re all terminal; none of us are getting out of this alive.”

The Bible says much the same thing about our earthly existence. Unless the Lord comes to snatch us away (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), we’re all doing to die (Hebrews 9:27).

We’re all terminally ill with a disease named “death.” 

Christians don’t need to worry about this fact. To be “in Christ” and to die is “gain” (Philippians 1:21). We go directly into the presence of the Lord (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8). Paul said he had a desire “to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).

4. REDEEM TIME: Don’t Lose Opportunities.

Although we don’t know the final date for our tombstones, we have today to love and serve the Lord and people.

We need to “redeem” (buy up) every day, looking for opportunities. How?

There are many ways to redeem our remaining days. Here are just a few:

  • We can awake from our sleep and understand the times (Romans 13:11).
  • We can look carefully how we behave and be wise (Ephesians 5:15).
  • We can make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5b).
  • We can seek the will of God each day—our marching orders (Ephesians 5:17).
  • We can be filled with God’s Spirit (Ephesians 5:18b) and under His control.
  • We can do all God calls us to do with all our might while there is still time! (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
  • We can set our mind on heavenly things, because really, the truth is we are “dead” to this life—with our lives alive in and “hidden with Christ” (Colossians 3:1-3).

Don’t live in such a way that your final day is filled with regrets. Where you have sinned, confess and repent … and then move on! God has much to accomplish through you until your dying breath!

5. REMEMBER HOPE: You’re Promised Another Body!

While the Christ-follower’s soul goes to be with the Lord, the body is changed later (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16). Our bodies are raised “imperishable”—perfect and free from all death and decay (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

This is part of the blessed hope (Titus 2:13-14) of the Christian’s eternal life. Our mind can be in the beginning stages of transformation now (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:16). But someday our lowly body will be transformed to be like our Savior’s glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21).

Our new body will never wear out or grow old, never get sick or decay and never die! 

And no more age spots!

Which of these lessons from age spots speaks to you today?  In light of your aging, how will you cooperate with the inner transformation God wants to produce in you?

– Dawn

* “Seeing Spots” by Elaine Bishop, Poems of Hope and Humor (AuthorHouse, 2013), p. 9 (Emphasis mine).

** Matthew Henry Commentary on Proverbs 31:10-31

 

Chin Hairs, Cankles and Loving People

5 Mar

There’s just something funny about chin hairs … on women. Ok, maybe not so funny.

I read these comments about chin hairs this week:ChinHair_LOLwithGod_graphicFreedigitalPhotos

  • “Some days my biggest accomplishment is removing that annoying chin hair.”
  • “True friends don’t just tell you about your chin hair. They’ve already dug out the tweezers from their purse.”
  • “I refuse to call them chin hairs. We shall call them stray eyebrows.”
  • “Make me a promise. If I end up in a coma, will you come to the hospital and pluck my chin hair?”

Chin hairs are a fact of life for the “elder set,” as are cankles (chubby ankles) and a whole assortment of other strange and wonderful body changes.

I have to admit, for some time assessing the obvious changes in my own body made me want to hide away. In fact, at one point as a speaker to women, I found myself dreading the opportunities.

“They’ll be staring at my ankles,” I thought, and I chose to wear long pants on stage.

Before I left for a luncheon engagement, I used a searchlight on my chin. “What if I miss a stray hair,” I said. “Horrors! That’s all the ladies at the table will see!

The devil doesn’t care what he uses to discourage us from ministry. Even chin hairs.

Realizing my responses were silly, I decided not to give the enemy an inch.

“Satan, I’m going to this event, and I’m going to speak, and I don’t care if I do have chin hairs and cankles. I’m going to go … and I’m going to love on people!”

Yes, we want to look our best, but if we’re not careful, we’ll miss out on God’s work in people’s lives because we’re too busy examining all the reasons we’re “inadequate” or “weird.”

The truth is, most people don’t care what you look like. They care about whether you know how to love … whether you speak truth … whether you live an authentic life.

Things that matter.

So no, I’m not like the slim speaker with the dazzling white teeth, trim waist, long eyelashes and very long legs. But I am uniquely crafted by the Creator to reach and touch the people He has ordained me to minister to and serve. I have to quit believing the enemy’s lies and embrace God’s truth.

The scriptures speak of the foolishness of comparisons.

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding (2 Corinthians 10:12, ESV).

Comparisons aren’t anything new:

  • Rachel and Leah had a real comparison fiasco going on! (Genesis 29:17; 30:1).
  • Joseph’s brothers were envious of him to the point of wishing him dead (Acts 7:9).
  • Saul was jealous, comparing himself to the beloved David (1 Samuel 18:8-9).
  • And in the New Testament, Jesus’ disciples struggled with comparisons, wondering who would be greatest in the Kingdom (Matthew 18:1-4; 20:20-28; Luke 9:46-48), and who would be called to suffer  or spared in their near future (John 21:20-23).

God simply asks us to do our personal best and not worry about what others do. Paul wrote: “Let everyone be sure to do his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work done well and won’t need to compare himself with someone else” (Galatians 6:4, Living Bible).

There are a number of negative attitudes behind comparisons.

Envy doesn’t look attractive on anyone, and discontent can disfigure the prettiest face.

The devil loves it when we struggle with the pride of comparisons, thinking wrongly about ourselves (Romans 12:3). God created us the way He wanted us to be, and all we have is from Him. We have no right to puff up with pride (1 Corinthians 4:7). Instead, we need to honor and be good stewards of the body God gave us … to bring HIM glory.

Pleasing the Lord is what matters. We will give account to Him alone, and we have no reason to glory outside of Him (Romans 14:12; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 10:17-18). He gives us good gifts, spiritual gifts for ministry (1 Corinthians 12:4-18) and we need to be grateful.

Let’s spend more time loving and serving people; and if we have to compare, let’s spend our time comparing our lives to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2)—not comparing chin hairs and cankles.

Where do you tend to compare yourself to others? Can you instead thank God for who you are and all that you have?

-Dawn

Graphic adapted, imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Invest in Growing Old Gracefully

29 Mar

There are more than 75 blog posts and articles using this photo of “Very Old Barbie” on the Internet (and I can’t find the original source) – but she’s obviously captured the imagination of many people.OldBarbieDoll_GrayHair_sourceUnknown

I keep thinking, “Wow! I hope I look that good when I’m Very Old Dawn!”

Besides her long silvery coiffure, Very Old Barbie has puffy eyes and wrinkles on her forehead, upper lip and neck … and charming “smile lines.” (It’s probably a good thing they didn’t show Very Old Barbie below her  shoulders.)

In these days when commercials abound for anti-aging creams, “lifts” for double chins, and “guaranteed” wrinkle removers, the focus seems to be on preserving a youthful look.

This might be tough as I get older. I already have more wrinkles than a Shar Pei!

But I’m wondering if people ever think these days about aging gracefully … or preparing to live in eternity with God? Thankfully, everything (body, soul and spirit) will be perfected for those who are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:1-5, 17). Oh, how I am longing for that day.

My spiritual mentor, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, often says something like this: “… since I was a little girl, my goal in life has been to be a godly, old lady. I’ve always had this image of what this godly old lady looks like.”

I don’t know too many women who had such foresight as a child. But I do understand the “image” thing.

I’ve learned so much from watching my husband’s mom, Adele. We are so different, but she has inspired me for years to strive toward excellence. My own mom, Patricia, taught me the value of endurance and trusting God, even in the dark.

But going further back, I watched two precious grandmothers grow old gracefully. I wanted to be just like them.

TwoGrandmas

They demonstrated such joy and contentment as they modeled the love of  Christ. Grandma Lillian taught me to love God with all my heart; Grandma Dorothy reminded me, “Your love for God should always result in love for others.” I treasure the legacy I received from these two precious women.

In more recent years, I watched my brother-in-law’s mom, Nancy, age in God’s grace. She carried so many of my prayer burdens. Eventually, Grandma” Nancy‘s mind played tricks on her and sometimes robbed her of right Nancy_croppedForLOLpostthinking; but even then, I saw glimpses of the marvelous woman she was. “I want to be just like you in a few years,” I told her.

When she passed on to glory, we were comforted to know we’d see this same joyful, God-loving  spirit in heaven. I still miss Nancy’s precious smile and dancing eyes.

Watching all of these women, I’ve come to understand:

Aging well requires intentionality.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. And works of art require skill, an investment of time and creative effort.

I decided, long ago, to invest in my “old age.” The first thing I did was pray for wisdom.

Then I asked God to create the “Very Old Dawn” He wanted me to be. On my part, cooperating with God was all about choices. Over the years, I’ve been learning to embrace and apply the scriptures that will make me more like God’s Son, Jesus.

Some of my aging gracefully choices:

Understand … I am not perfect in choosing these things. Not at all.

But at least I have a biblical template for my choices, and overall, my choice is to partner with God in my sanctification as I follow Jesus. To decide to surrender, trust and obey. To triumph, ultimately, in godly maturity.

There is an old Hasidic saying that describes exactly how I feel about aging:

“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.”

Every season of life is special, but this season of the harvest is so fulfilling. A precious time with opportunities to pour other women’s lives; and unique opportunities to bless my children and grandchildren and try to give them a hunger for God.

If the Lord does not return before I die, someday people will likely sit at my memorial service or funeral and consider my relatively short life (short in terms of eternity).

I hope they will say they saw something of Jesus in me. I hope they will say I numbered my days and applied my heart to wisdom. I hope they will say I lived for a Kingdom greater than any kingdom I could ever hope to build here on earth.

That would make Very Old Dawn very happy. Better still, I think that testimony would please my Father God.

It will be worth the investment!

How about you? No matter your physical age right now, how are you investing today in your old age? Do your investments count for eternity?

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