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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?

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In the Eye of the Beholder

26 Jun

Irving was just coming out of anesthesia after a series of tests in the hospital, and his wife, Sarah was sitting at his bedside.

His eyes fluttered open and he murmured, “You’re beautiful!”

Flattered, Sarah continued her vigil while Irving drifted back to sleep. Later, he woke up and said, “You’re cute.”

“What happened to ‘beautiful’?” Sarah asked.

“I guess the drugs must be wearing off, ” he replied. * LOL!

“Beauty,” it’s said, “is in the eye of the beholder.”

Sometimes we don’t recognize true beauty, especially our own. Our vision of ourselves is subjective and limited. We measure ourselves against model-like standards of “perfection.” We define beauty in such narrow terms. Who is to say a rose is more beautiful than a daisy? How can we compare a perfect day at the beach with a perfect day in the mountains? God’s creations are varied and unique, and to appreciate each one is to appreciate the Creator Himself.

One of the most beautiful women I ever met was partially blind and “ordinary-looking,” yet she glowed with an inner strength I desired as a young girl. I couldn’t get enough of sitting by her side, capturing her winsomeness and joy and learning from her vast store of wisdom.

The older I get, the more I understand that, though we are all “wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:12-14), no human is completely  beautiful this side of heaven. We all sin, and we are in varying stages of decay (slowly falling apart) until the day we die. In other words, we are all marred images until God transforms us (2 Corinthians 3:18). I think we’ll be surprised, maybe even shocked, by our beauty in Christ in heaven.

All true, lasting beauty comes from God. “Beauty is fleeting,” the scriptures say, “but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).  Beauty includes character, gifts, purpose, faith and so much more than mere appearance.

The Christian knows there is more. When the Father sees the believer, He sees His Son (Colossians 3:3-4; Romans 8:1; 1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 2:13) –  and Jesus is beautiful. In Christ, Father God declares us chosen and special (1 Peter 2:9), loved (1 John 3:1), blessed (Ephesians 1:3), free (John 8:36) and more!

The Christian’s desire is to reflect Christ both now and in eternity, and this desire will be answered “in the eye of the beholder.”

We will behold Christ and we will be changed!

The Word of God says, “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” (1 John 3:2). In that day, we we will be perfect and beautiful – just as the Creator intended.

Do you know your beauty in Christ? (If not, here is a perfect “mirror” for you to behold yourself.)

* From Cyberslalt.org, “Surgical Beauty.”

– Dawn

Better than Botox

10 Jul

Phyllis DillerPhyllis Diller’s self-deprecating humor (when she kept it clean) often made me (Dawn) laugh. She once said,  “My photographs don’t do me justice ~ they just look like me.” I’ve used that line myself on occasion.

Arlene Pellicane wrote about Diller in one chapter of her book, 31 Days to a Younger You. [Note: You can get Arlene’s book at love-wise under “Books/Products by Other Authors.”]

Discussing the topic of “Plastic Surgery, Botox, and Other Modern Marvels,” Pellicane began by sharing some of Diller’s humor, noting that the comedian was never one to conceal her facelifts.

“Her one liners about plastic surgery brought her fame and endeared her to women and plastic surgeons alike,” Arlene said.

“Punch lines like:

  • The only parts left of my original body are my elbows.
  • My Playtex Living bra died … of starvation.
  • I never made Who’s Who, but I’m featured in What’s That?” (1) 

I (Dawn) have found that some  women have unrealistic expectations about plastic surgery and other external “miracle” procedures to procure “beauty.” Those who believe all the advertising and hype about beauty fail to understand that physical beauty won’t last, but true inner beauty is both attractive and eternal.

Arlene doesn’t condemn botox or other procedures, but she does offer words of wisdom.

“Having cosmetic surgery will change your appearance, but it won’t change your life,” she Women with Inner Beatysaid. “Friend, if you’re not enough without plastic surgery, you’ll never be enough with it. You were lovingly and beautifully created by God. If you feel insecure about your appearance, the true transformation of beauty will first happen in your mind and heart, not on the surgery table.” (2)

I am tempted to stop right there. Arlene said it all. We are awed by women with true, inner beauty. Refined by their Creator and Heavenly Father, joy radiates from their lives.

I’m just going to add some scriptures to encourage you, if you struggle with your appearance. (All are in the English Standard Version.)

  • …For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b)
  • I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14)
  • Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  (Proverbs 31:30)
  • So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  • Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Arlene concludes her book with these words, “Looking and feeling younger is about accepting your appearance, embracing your God-given age, and doing your best to improve your assets. Hear the voice of your heavenly Father as He looks at you, His daughter, and proclaims, ‘Good.’ … You are a luminous work in progress.”

Luminous. I like that.

We are told to let our “light” shine so others will glorify the Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). So, shine, Friend … you are BEAUTIFUL!

(1) Arlene Pellicane, 31 Days to a Younger You: No surgery, No Diets, No Kidding (Harvest House Publishers, 2010), p. 97

(2) ibid, p. 98

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