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Up with Upgrades!

3 Jun

Upgrades. We all love them, don’t we? My husband flies internationally many times during the year, and with his long legs, he always is eager for an upgrade to sections of the plane with more leg room!

I saw this photo that made me think how desperate we get sometimes for an upgrade. This is one man’s attempt to upgrade while waiting to move up from his iPhone to an iPad! LOL.

I also saw an overworked computer mouse that needed a serious upgrade!

Upgrades are fun, and often a wonderful blessing. We might upgrade appliances when we remodel our homes, or upgrade our wardrobe when we lose a lot of weight.

Did you know you can upgrade something every single day?

As a midlife woman, I suddenly came to the conclusion that I had spent all of my life serving others, but needed to focus some time on much-needed changes in my own life. My appearance was a little ragged. My quiet times were a little desert-like. My times with loved ones were a little scarce.

It was time for some upgrades! I discovered that even little changes each day make a difference, and it doesn’t matter the season of life you’re in, either!

Let me give some examples:

Appearance: Making sure my hair is neat and wearing simple makeup helps. So does watching what I eat. (For me, cutting out wheat is a major change ~ but simple choices every day are still required.) Writing in appointments for the gym make a difference (when I make the choice to keep them)! I’m starting to feel like a new woman, one choice at a time!

Quiet Times: Just as in marriage, doing the same thing the same way brings a level of comfortableness, but if we’re not careful and creative, the relationship can get stale. Likewise, in my relationship with God, I don’t want my interaction with God to suffer from sameness. So I started memorizing bits of scripture, and praying them back to God. I imagined God saying many of the “red letter” parts of scripture to me personally. I put a Bible on a chair near my Quiet Time spot to remind me that the Living Word is always present with me. Simple things.

Relationships: My girlfriend Pam Farrel is such a people person; but I’m a blinders-on task-oriented person. If I’m not careful, I’ll go a whole week and not see anyone! That’s not healthy, and it certainly doesn’t contribute to building a marriage or leaving a legacy with children and grandchildren. I need to see, interact with, and serve people. I need to rub shoulders with people who don’t know Jesus, too. So I have scheduled “timer breaks” from my work to either pray for or call people, or to jot down a note about something I want to share with others. And I clear out spaces in my calendar each week to “see people” ~ lunch dates, social gatherings, church, special meetings, “dates” with a grandchild, etc.

The point is, I can do a little bit of something every single day to upgrade these weak areas (and others) that need change. Every little choice helps!

Four questions help me know how to upgrade, and I hope they’ll help you!

1. Ask: What’s Going on Now? ~ You have to see and admit where you are, what your circumstances are (your weaknesses as well as your strengths) before you can see clearly what needs to be changed. Before you can upgrade, you need to drop any pride (Proverbs 18:12) and stand humbly before God, asking Him to show you your heart attitudes and behavior as they really are.

2. Ask: What Do I want to Be Different? ~ Get specific about upgrades. You have to decide what you want to do or change before you can make any plans for progress. You might also want to clarify what you don’t want … but spend more time on what you do want to be different. Let that be your focus. (Where you place your attention is where you’re going to see the greatest benefits and blessings. )

3. Ask: Lord, Is This Something YOU Want Me to Upgrade? ~ Always check with God to be sure your goals are good, godly, wise, worthy, and in His will (biblical) ~ see Romans 8:28.  If they are, you can ask Him to help you upgrade (believing that it is possible, because He put it in your heart).

4. Ask: What Choices Am I Going to Make TODAY to Get There? ~ This is the tough part, but it’s necessary. Ignore the arguments in your mind. Eliminate the excuses. Just act … take a first step. And a next step. Take baby steps, if necessary, but get moving forward on your upgrade. The point is to make a situation or attitude better.

When you change one little thing, you may find that an entire pattern of life changes, necessitating other changes.  How fun!  (Your habit patterns got you where you are, and new habit patterns will take you somewhere else! This Replacement Principle is illustrated in Romans 12:2.) When it comes to the nitty-gritty of life, upgrades happen in day-tight, bite-sized pieces.

And the wonderful truth is, God is in the process of a major upgrade in each one of us who are in Christ! His eternity-focused upgrade goes beyond “a little bit better” to total transformation ~ He is transforming us into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:292 Corinthians 3:17-18).

When you woke up this morning, it was another day for God to work in and through you for His glory and purposes and for your eternal good. Praise Him … thank Him … cooperate with Him!

No matter your season of life … think of at least one thing you can do right now to change your life for the better (An action? An attitude?).

Consider it an adventure with God. Up with Upgrades!

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Grandma’s Wisdom

10 Oct

How many of these descriptions of grandmothers sound like YOUR grandma?

  • A grandmother is a lady who has no little children of her own. (LOL!) She likes other people’s.A Hug and Kiss for Grandma
  • A grandfather is a man grandmother.
  • Grandmothers don’t have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the store and have lots of quarters for us.
  • When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.
  • They show us and talk to us about the color of the flowers and also why we shouldn’t step on “cracks.”
  • They don’t say, “Hurry up.”
  • Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes.
  • They wear glasses and funny underwear.
  • They can take their teeth and gums out.
  • Grandmothers don’t have to be smart.
  • They have to answer questions like, “Why isn’t God married?” and “How come dogs chase cats?”
  • When they read to us, they don’t skip. They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.
  • Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television, because they are the only grown ups who like to spend time with us.
  • They know we should have snack-time before bedtime, and they say prayers with us every time, and kiss us even when we’ve acted bad. (1)

A few weeks ago, while I (Dawn) visited my dear aunt Julia in Kokomo, Indiana, I had the wonderful blessing to return to the town where my Grandparents lived while I was a little girl. I visited a park where I caught crawdads under a famous old red covered bridge.

 Grandparents' graveI visited my grandparents’ homes ~ very old and broken down now ~ and then the cemetery where they were buried. There was just something about seeing their tombstones that brought me up short, and made me realize, once again, that someday my name will be carved on a tombstone. As my husband snapped a photo, I thought about my grandparents, and especially my Grandma Lillian Webb, nicknamed “Bill,” for some reason.

I often talk about my mom’s mom, Grandma Parks, because she was the last of the four grandparents to pass on, and she was a woman that I loved dearly. My sister Pam had the privilege of caring for her until she died.

But my Grandma Webb is etched into my memory because of the things she said. Perhaps you had a grandma like her.

I am so grateful for her influence in my life. Some things she said were the typical things that all grandmas say ~ like “Pretty is as pretty does.” But the times I remember most were the special moments when she encouraged me to live for God. I remember praying at her knee in her living room as she taught me to simply have a conversation with God like I’d have with a good, loving friend.

Grandma told me repeatedly that she was praying for me and praying for my husband who was “growing up somewhere in the world. (That is something this Grammy now does for her own grandchildren!) Grandma told me to be careful about the choices I made in life, because many of them would be hard to change, if I got them wrong. She encouraged purity and integrity, and Grandma reminded me that success comes from “acknowledging God” and obeying Him ~ not depending on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). And it was my Grandma Webb who wisely sent me the information about a Bible college in Pennsylvania when I was considering some secular ones nearer my home. It changed the direction of my life.

Grandma could be stubborn, but it was stubbornness for good. She knew God and wanted all of her family to know Him, too. She fulfilled Psalm 145:4 ~ “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” She left my sister and I a rich legacy of God-centered thinking that helped to shape our lives.  I know that I was spurred on to seek wisdom because of the wisdom I saw in my Grandma and her Bible-based perspective on life. Because of my Grandma ~ in fact, because of all my grandparents ~ I understood the steadfast love of the Lord (Psalm 103:17).

Grandma and son

Grandma and my dad

Now a Grandma myself, I’ve realized that grandmas have the potential to shape the future as they share truth with not only their children, but their precious grandchildren. They can encourage their their dreams, and point them toward the only things that matter in this life:  love of God and His Word; and love for people that causes us to reach out to serve, teach, and share the Gospel. In this way, grandmothers (and grandfathers) “bear fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14-15).

Do you have good memories of your Grandma? If not, was or is there a wise “Grandma” figure in your family or church who has helped to shape your life and walk with God?

Take time to thank the Lord for this precious woman ~ and if she is still alive, drop her a note to express your love and gratitude.

(1) “Grandmothers,” Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3676, http://www.cybersalt.org

Serving in the Seasons of Life

26 Sep

There’s nothing like an obedient child who has a sweet, innocent heart ~ like little Johnny:

Mother instructed Johnny, as they waited for the bus, to tell the driver, “I am four years old,” when Bus Driverasked,  because then he would ride for free.

Sure enough, as they got into the bus, the driver asked Johnny, “How old are you?”

Johnny looked up at his mom and then at the driver. “I am four years old,” he said.

“Oh… and when will you be six years old, young man?” the driver asked.

Johnny smiled and replied: “When I get off the bus.” (1)

That mom didn’t teach her son integrity-in-the-moment, did she? One of the most powerful responsibilities of young moms is to teach their children godly character. A mom is her child’s teacher and coach, from the earliest years; and it’s a powerful way to serve God, too.

How have you served the Lord, so far?

It’s almost my birthday, and I (Dawn) was thinking the other day about how the Lord has allowed me to serve Him in all my seasons of life. As a young single, I served Him on a revival team, singing and counseling in churches across America. As a young wife, I encouraged my husband in his preaching and mission-based ministries ~ a job that has continued for our entire 37 years of marriage.

Generations

Seasons of Life

As a mother, God directed me to home school my children, and I served Him by being faithful in teaching them for many years. Feminists were loud and demanding in those days, telling women that motherhood was a “lesser” calling; but I was glad God showed me (years before I became a mom) that caring for my children would be a significant, fulfilling role, and a wonderful way to serve God!

We only have little ones for a short season, but we have the power to impact their lives for eternity! Some women cannot stay home ~ they must work to help the family survive ~ but every woman needs to make her “service” and “ministry” a matter of prayer during those crucial years.

As my sons graduated and married and I entered mid-life, I moved forward to accomplish some personal goals, but I still prayed for my boys. And now as a Grandma, I want to influence my grandchildren for the Lord. It’s not just an expression of love, it’s another way to serve God.

With every passing birthday, I’m more convinced that growing older isn’t for wimps. I’ll save you the litany of pains and aches, old bones and weary brain cells. With aging, there is a sense of futility that many feel as they see life racing by, and the sudden realization that there are fewer years ahead than behind us.

But Daughters of the King have a different perspective. We don’t retire from Kingdom life until God calls us home. We walk the path of adventure with Jesus, never knowing what might be ahead, yet savoring each fresh opportunity to seek Him, speak up for Him, and in some way, serve Him. We reach out as Titus 2:4-5 women, passing on our faith and wisdom to the younger generation.

With GrandmaMy grandma once told me that she would serve Jesus until she died, even if that “serving” was simply whispered prayers for her children and grandchildren in her final days. I know that it was Grandma’s prayers ~ actually, both of my grandmothers’ prayers ~ that kept me on the path of righteousness in my teenage years.

Our serving isn’t about prominence (Luke 22:24-28), but about obedience to the callings of God and the priorities He has for us in each season.

Remember: every season is beautiful in its time.

I recently re-read the familiar passage about the Proverbs 31 woman. She was a woman who was capable and skilled, and she ministered to her family in many loving ways. But what struck me was the foundational truth in verse 30: “a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the LORD, she shall be praised!” That is the one thread, the continuity, that weaves together the activities of the woman of God through ALL the seasons of her life. No matter where she finds herself ~ single, married, parenting, in mid-life, as a grandparent, or widowed ~ she honors and serves the Lord.

How are you serving the Lord, Friend? Does your service fit the biblical priorities of your life and your role as a woman in this special season?

If it does, smile. It’s a BEAUTIFUL thing.

(1) Adapted from “Four-Year-Old Rider,” Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3666, 6-14-11, http://www.cybersalt.org

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