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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?

No More Memory Lapses

9 Nov

Bert and Maggie were sitting in the living room and Bert asked his wife, “Honey, can you make me a peanut butter sandwich with grape jelly? Be sure you use the grape jelly, not the peach.”

JellyJar_grape2“Sure,” she said. “One slice or two?”

“Two … and make sure you use the grape jelly, not the peach,” he said. “You know how forgetful you are. Write it down.”

“Honey, I don’t need to write it down,” Maggie said. “I will remember – grape jelly, not peach.”

After a while Maggie came out with two scrambled eggs, a bowl of grits, and a cup of coffee. Bert looked at his meal and shook his head, smiling.

“I knew it. I knew it,” he said. “I asked you to write it down, because I knew you would forget the biscuits!”

I laugh at this, even though it’s beginning to hit a little close to home. I am forgetting a lot of things these days!

The closer I get to my final days – hopefully in 20 or 30 years or longer – the more grateful I am that my memory will return in heaven.

Just think:

  • No more, “What was her name again?”
  • No more, “Where did I put those car keys?”
  • No more, “What did I come in this room for?”

In heaven, my body will be perfect. My thinking will be unhindered. My resurrected body will be like Jesus’ body!

“… we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. … Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2).

And what will that body be like? No hunger and thirst (Revelation 7:16a) – even though we will eat and drink (Luke 14:15; 22:18). No death … no sorrow … no crying … no pain (Revelation 21:3-4).

In other words, because we will have glorious, powerful, incorruptible bodies, we will not suffer the ravages of disease or any other conditions of the body that we deal with on earth – none of the things that cause us so much pain and distress here now.

This hit home for me tonight as I visited a dear man, struggling to remember. Everyone at the table was finishing his sentences for him as he searched for words, details, memories.

Traveling home, I thought of all those I love who are suffering from dementia … and some, even the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease. They love Jesus. Right now, they can still speak about Him with clarity. But for how long?

What comforts my heart is knowing God dearly loves each one of them. He will heal them … someday.

Whether it’s the simple “Where are my keys?” or a more devastating question to a spouse:  “Hello, who are you?” – God is our life and hope.

Heaven … think of it. No more memory lapses.

What are you looking forward to in heaven?

— Dawn

The Songs We Will Never Forget

3 Jul

I always feel bad for singers who botch the National Anthem.

AmericanFlagCloseUpIn May, 2013, folk and jazz singer Alexis Normand, a Canadian from Saskatoon, said she only had a few hours to learn America’s National Anthem before she sang at a hockey game. A headline dubbed her butchered rendition the “Star-Mangled Banner.”

But she’s Canadian. Easy to forgive. (The crowd even tried to help her, singing along.)

It’s a tough song to sing with its wide vocal range and potential for a squeaky “land of the fre-e-e-e-e-e-e” at the highest note.

Country musician Luke Bryan was criticized when he read the words to the anthem off his hand at a MLB All-Star game (July, 2012). But Superstar Michael Bolton also had crib notes.

National Anthem word blunders include Cyndi Lauper’s “…as our flag was still streaming;” Christiana Aguilera’s “What so proudly we hailed” (instead of “…we watched”); and Scotty McCreery’s “no Jose can you see.”

If some of these singers weren’t so young, I’d chalk it up to age. (A funny card describes aging as: “Remembering the words to every song from the ‘ 80s, but forgetting why you walked into the next room.”)

While heading in my car toward a lunch engagement, I decided to sing some old hymns of the faith.SingTheWondrousLoveOfJesus

It started well with “How Great Thou Art,” but then I forgot the lyrics of other songs.

The sweet “Fairest Lord Jesus” became “Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature, O thou of God ….mmmmmmmmmmmm… Thee will I cherish, thee will I honor …mmmmmmmm.”

I tried another and destroyed those lyrics too: “Come thou fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace…… mmmmmmmmmmm.” (I knew the words “melodious sonnet” and “I raise my Ebinezer” were somewhere in there. Distracted, I paused to ask, “What’s an Ebinezer?”)

Song after song, words escaped me.

What’s wrong with me? I asked in frustration. I can’t remember all these songs I loved. (The same thing is happening, by the way, with scripture verses I memorized. What we don’t use, we lose!)

Still driving, I started thinking about music in heaven. I knew that singing began in eternity past when the “morning stars” (angels) sang (Job 38:7); and the book of Revelation says there will be singing in heaven.

I wondered, will we all sing the songs of our generations for Jesus? Think about it …

Israel often worshiped God in song (the Songs of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15:1-21, the Song of Deborah and Barak in Judges 5). The Old Testament saints often sang from their Hebrew Hymnal, the psalms. Will they lead us in these songs? Revelation 15:1-4 tells us the saints of heaven will “sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.”

What is the song of the Lamb? What did the New Testament church sing? Remember faithful Paul and Silas singing in prison (Acts 16:25)? The early Christians considered singing an integral part of their worship (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). Will they teach us those songs from the infancy of the church?

I thought about the music of believers through many centuries. Are there songs from the years of persecution? How about the sturdy hymns of Reformation saints?

What about the songs I’ve sung all my life? Will I sing stirring revival hymns in heaven? Gospel tunes? “Bus songs”? Or are all these songs simply for a specific time and place?

As I contemplated the music of heaven, I remembered a scripture verse that begins …

“And they sang a new song….”

Later, I looked up that scripture. It’s part of the Revelation 5 account of the Lamb of God opening a scroll (an official document), acknowledging His Lordship over the entire earth – His right to judge and reign.

Verses 9-10 describe the scene: “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

I’m not sure those are the actual words of the song we’ll sing in heaven. Maybe it’s more the reason for the song.

And what a song that will be! A song of redemption. A testimony of God’s grace. The context of heaven’s powerful songs is worship.

Heaven will resonate with God-centered praises.

God has designed each of us with the capacity to worship. We all worship something or someone.

As I reflect on the songs that most stir my heart to worship God, I long for more songs that are packed with biblical truth (such as the Gettys’ “In Christ Alone”).

David said God put a “new song” in his heart – a song reflecting God’s goodness and grace in rescuing him (see Psalm 40:1-3). Because of the song, he said, “Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” As we lift up our praises to God – proclaiming what He has done for us in Christ, using the truth of scripture in our songs, and worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 96:9a) – I believe the Spirit of God may draw people to Himself and prepare them to hear the Gospel.

As you meditate on these scriptures, understand that our “new song” of salvation blesses God and invites all of creation to join us in worship.

“Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth” (Isaiah 42:10a).

“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day” (1 Chronicles 16:23).

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day (Psalm 96:1-2).

“Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works” (Psalm 105:2).

These are the songs we love, and the songs we will never forget.

– Dawn

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