Retirement Adventure #1: Try New Things

First of all, I despise exercise. I don’t even want to try exercising, even though I know it’s important. And if I truly want to lose the forty pounds that make me look, well, round, I need to do it. When I exercise, I prefer swimming. And a couple of years ago, I faithfully went to the pool at a gym and swam several times a week. Sure enough, I almost made it to my goal weight. Then, my mom got sick, and my routine evaporated. So now I need to lose weight again. I even rejoined my gym. How many times have I gone swimming? Three. Not going to cut the mustard. Now I’m retired, I keep telling myself I can get back into the routine of swimming. But it hasn’t happened yet.

This week, I’m in Prescott Valley, Arizona, staying with my sister and brother-in-love, David and Judy. Judy goes to water aerobics every day. Every. Day. I avoid water aerobics like the plague. I’m not coordinated enough, nor do I have enough rhythm, to keep up with the movements. I’m always behind and/or going the wrong direction. It makes me feel incompetent.

Judy invited me to go with her to water aerobics this morning. “It’s fun; you’ll like it,” she encouraged. Begrudgingly, I agreed to go. Pasted a smile on my face, grabbed a towel and my sunglasses, and followed Judy to the pool. I’m not too happy about how I look in a bathing suit right now, but if I don’t exercise it’s going to get worse, not better.

We got to the pool only a minute before the class start-time. And it was nothing like I expected. Thirty women, most of them my age, wearing colorful bathing suits and sun hats spread out across the length of the pool. Noodles and weights lined the pool edges. Everyone smiled.

Suddenly, someone yelled, “Jumping Jacks!” The class started. The bobbing in the pool became more purposeful. Everyone stayed where they were. No lines of people trying to go the same direction, moving in synchronized patterns. Just clusters of women, chatting and moving in the water. Judy demonstrated any movement I didn’t know. And we continued to chat while we exercised.

I loved it. I’ll join Judy tomorrow. And for the few weeks I’m still in California, I’ll check out the water aerobics class at my gym.

Try It, You May Like It

Today, I only went to this water aerobics class because Judy asked me to. She and David continue to be more than helpful and gracious, and I thought I’d be rude to look down my nose at something she likes to do. So I forced myself to go along.

I’m glad I did. I learned some valuable lessons because I went to water aerobics:
– Try new things: you may enjoy them more than you expected. Even enough to keep doing them.
– Don’t worry about anything but having fun and building relationships. How I looked in my bathing suit didn’t matter at all. Being with people, laughing, exercising were the important things. If I stayed home, I would have missed out on much needed exercise, time with my sister-in-love, and a new experience it turned out I liked.
– Just keep going. There were times when I didn’t know how to do the exercise. Judy always showed me. Since most of me was underwater anyway, no one noticed any mistakes. And I was still moving. Even if I never grasped how to do an exercise, it didn’t take long for before we switched to something different that I could do.

I have choices to make every day. Will I stay only in my comfort zone? Or will I be willing to try new things? I want to move forward. Have fun. I don’t plan on spending all my time sitting on my front porch. If I’m going to enjoy this new season of my life, I must be willing to try new things.

Let the adventure begin!

Linking with:

#tellhisstory, 

Purposeful Faith

Coffee for Your Heart, 

Heart Encouragement

Chasing Community

Tune in Thursday

#Tea and Word Tuesday

Salt and Light

Loved by the King: Celebrate Your Worth to God

On Tuesday, Van and I drove two hours to celebrate our granddaughter, Katie’s, promotion from eighth grade. Katie is a special treasure, precious and loved, so the trip was worth it.  We toted our lawn chairs and joined the other families spread out across the lawn for the picnic on the field. Balloons, flowers, and leis added to the festive atmosphere. Music from a live band of dads floated through the air. Families chatted while they enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine. Making playdates for the summer that stretches ahead. Sharing their child’s successes in school.

Katie attended a K-8 charter school, specifically for art and technology. She started at the beginning of middle school, as a sixth grader, but many of her classmates spent all of their school years here.  Every year, VCS does something most schools don’t do; they celebrate every student, from kindergarten through eighth grade. Each one heard their name called and walked across the podium. Big smiles lit their faces and there was a spring in their steps.

Teachers stood on the stage with the students, their faces wreathed in smiles. Hugs and handshakes and quiet words of congratulations acknowledged the strengths of their students.

The eighth graders, the ones the school nurtured the longest, stand out from the other students. Their class, wearing green caps and gowns, march in accompanied by Pomp and Circumstance and sit in a special section to watch the rest of the students.  Instead of a silk flower lei, theirs boast real carnations. In between the other classes introductions, several eighth graders spoke about their time at VCS.

Katie reached a milestone, but she is precious to me. The days I get to spend with her always make me happy, whether we’re celebrating or simply hanging out.

We are children of the King, adopted into His family through faith in Jesus. Although we did nothing to earn it, through His grace and mercy, He shows me us we are worth everything to Him. And that is worth celebrating every day.

We celebrate because

  • We are clothed, not in caps and gowns, but in the righteousness of Christ. I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10.
  • We are chosen. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
  • We are set apart as holy. We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all. Hebrews 10:10 
Celebrate Your Worth

Don’t wait for a special occasion to celebrate your worth to God. Celebrate every day! With rejoicing. Declarations of His goodness. Sharing the good news.  Walk with a spring in your step. Light you face with a smile.

Celebrate Worth

Linking with

Five Minute Friday

Dance with Jesus

Fresh Market Friday

 

 

Need Help? Cast Your Burden on the Lord

I carry a burden. One of my own making. A distance in a relationship I treasure. Instead of holding my tongue, I said rude, unnecessary words, causing hurt. I’ve done it more than once.

And while I asked for and received forgiveness, the wound remains. “I need a break,” I hear. Guilt and remorse flood my heart and mind, threatening my peace and joy. I keep returning to what I could have, should have, done.

What can I, should I do now? I worry about it, fretting, certain nothing will ever be the same. I drive myself crazy.

In my current Bible study, Broken and Redeemed, I find the answer in Psalm 55:22, Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you. 

Cast My Burden

To cast my burden means to

  • remove
  • throw away
  • get rid of

And isn’t that exactly what I want to do?

My burden is heavy. It tires me. Makes me bone-weary. Irritated. Worried. My entire countenance shows that I carry a burden. I want to throw it away, get rid of it forever. I want to separate it from me as far as the east is from the west.

But no matter what I do, the burden returns. Even when I try to put it out of my mind with a trip to the beach, losing myself in a book, or buying new shoes, it follows, robbing me of the peace and joy I seek.

Since I can’t rid myself of my burden, I long for someone to help me. Relieve the stress, fear, restless spirit my burden causes me.

Who can I share this burden with? Where can I go for help?

The Lord. He willingly takes my burden, but I must be willing to give it to Him. Cast it not just anywhere, but to Him.

But He does more than remove my burden.

Need Help? Cast Your Burden on the Lord
He Sustains Me

Sustain means He

  • comforts
  • helps
  •  assists
  •  encourages
  •  supports
  • gives strength to
  • buoys up
  • carries
  • heartens

The burden causes sorrow, regret, fear, confusion. God understands my feelings, and He comforts me. I can bring my burden to Him with tears and remorse, and God offers patience, love, and mercy. He reminds me of His faithfulness and goodness in past troubles and promises He continues to work for my good.

When I don’t know what to do next, God helps me. He gives the words to say to the one I hurt. If I don’t know how or when to apologize, He provides the humility, the words, even the right tone of voice. And once I’ve done my part, He gives me patience to wait.

I may wonder how I can possibly go back into a difficult situation, and He encourages me by reminding I am a daughter of the King, beloved, forgiven. Free. The strength I need to take the first step and the next one comes from God.

At times, I feel the waves may crash over me, keeping me under the water until I drown. Self-incrimination. Self-doubt. God buoys me up, keeping me safe. He carries me back to the shore and restores me, first to Himself, and then to others.

While I wait on God to work in my heart and the heart of the one I hurt, He buoys me up, heartens me with His promises. His love. His care.

Let Him sustain you. Cast your burden on the Lord. He will sustain you.

Linking this week with Testimony Tuesday, #tellhisstory, Coffee for Your Heart, #heartencouragementthursday.

 

Lessons I Learned from Mom: A Legacy of Love

On Friday, February 17, my mom passed away. She had been sick for almost two years. Today, Mom rejoices in heaven. All of her pain, gone. She sees her Savior face to face and casts her crown at His feet. The best parts of me are because of the lessons I learned from Mom. I will miss her all the rest of my days, but the things Mom taught me are a legacy of her unconditional love.

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned from my mom. Wisdom was not found in school, but in the day-to-day examples set by Mom at home. 

Lessons I Learned from Mom

Be faithful to God

Every day, Mom took the Methodist daily devotional, the Upper Room, and her Bible and spent time alone with God. But she didn’t leave the Word in between the pages, she lived the lessons she read there. She prayed for her family and friends. Mom was faithful to go to church her whole life, but she didn’t just sit in the pew. She served however she could: making soup, filling communion cups, being on committees. And she encouraged her sisters, Sandy and Bev to go to church with her. 

Give others the gift of yourself

Mom gave love, kindness, and caring in so many ways. She helped others even if she had something else to do. If someone couldn’t drive, she picked them up and drove them to church or to the market. She baked Christmas cookies and fudge and gave them away. She called people who were alone.

Put your family first

Mom would go without so we kids had whatever we needed. She made sure that there were treats like a candy bar on Sunday afternoon when we stopped at Joe’s Italian Store to get the weekly pasta.  Mom opened her home for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and holidays so the whole family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—could be together. She and Daddy took my daughters, Kim and Erin, on vacations to Yosemite and Sequoia. When Erin lived in Hemet, she brought Zach and Katie to Mom’s every week to use the washing machine and take the kids swimming. 

Christmas 2013
Let your children be who they are

Mom encouraged each of her three children. She went to every tap dance recital, Girl Scout badge ceremony, mother-daughter tea, and basketball game. To keep me supplied with the books I craved, she drove me to the library every week. But she didn’t freak out when she realized I went into  the bathroom every night after dinner to read and then hid the book in the hamper. She made me stop reading until after the dishes were done though!

Never stop learning and growing as a person

Take risks and venture outside your comfort zone. She traveled with Daddy to the Orient and Europe. When she first moved to Sun Lakes, she took swimming lessons. For twenty years, Mom loved doing aerobics with her friends. At seventy-five, she got a computer and a tablet and kept up with friends and family on Facebook.

Mom and her great granddaughter
Make life-long friends

 Mom and her friend, Marilynn, met in elementary school. In their fifties, they started weekend adventures several times a year. When I was in elementary school, Mom and her friend Alice met for coffee every morning after the housework was done.  Alice moved to New York fifty years ago, but last month, Mom and Alice chatted by phone. Mom looked forward to her Breakfast Club every Friday, and every year on her birthday showed me all the cards she received, “And not one is a duplicate,” she said with amazement. She loved her newest friend, Laura, deeply. Mom was delighted when she got Laura to eat broccoli and fresh cranberries and watch Call the Midwife. And Mom’s life was enriched by Laura’s care.

Never give up on yourself or others, keep trying

Even in pain, Mom made her bed every morning. She tried chair aerobics when she couldn’t do her regular aerobics any more. She liked reading the paper with a cup of coffee while she enjoyed the beautiful view out her kitchen window. “God is always good,” Mom said constantly. “He’s given me a great life.”

My life is better because of Mom and the lessons she taught me. She never said I needed to know these things; this was how she lived.

Her example and her love will always be with me. They are the best parts of me. The lessons I learned from Mom are gifts I will treasure and use forever.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.

 

We are of Value to God

I know it’s a cliche, but one of the best parts of being a teacher is having eight weeks of vacation during the summer. I value this time as a period of rest, getting household cleaning projects done, and time with family and friends.

My daughter, Erin, works for the United States Postal Service as a supervisor in a plant that sorts mail. Because her children are teenagers—Zach is almost 15 and Katie is 13—she works the graveyard shift. She gets home just in time to get them to school, sleeps while they’re at school, and gets up a few short hours later to pick them up and spend the afternoon helping with homework, spending time with them, and eating dinner together. That means I don’t see her very often during the school year, because our days off don’t coincide.

I love the days in the summer when I can make the 2 hour drive to her home and enjoy time visiting. Last week, we went to see Finding Dory (which I highly recommend, no matter what the age). Next week, we’re going to the beach and then I’ll bring Katie home with me. My other granddaughter, Robyn, will join us. I look forward to a week of giggles, art projects, baking cookies, silliness, and hugs. Just the thought of being with these people I love puts a song in my heart.

Spending time. No agenda. Listening. Being together. I value this more than words can say.

I am of value to God

God values me like this. He wants nothing more than me. My attention. No agenda. Listening; He listens to me and I listen to Him.

It’s another thing I love about summer. I have time to linger over His Word. To gaze out the window at His creation—and sit outside on the patio when it’s not 100º—meditating on what He reveals to me. Or being amazed at His gifts (thank you, Ann Voskamp). I’ve spent hours watching the birds take baths in the sprinklers this summer, fluffing their feathers to dry. Admired the smell of jasmine and basil, the magenta bougainvillea and red roses, the sounds of birds chirping and tweeting.

I sit amazed. I am of great value to God. Just the way I am. He loves me. He wants to spend time with me and is always there, waiting. Ready to welcome me into His presence.

And that is the greatest gift of all.

Value