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

Letting God Work Here and Now

Every day my sister and brother-in-love, Judy and David, send pictures of the progress being made on the construction of our new home in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Yesterday, she emailed pictures of my front porch.

I want to go. Now. See what God has in store for us in this new place. I can feel the tension build. I try to imagine where furniture and pictures belong. But it’s not time to go. The house won’t be completed until September . . . or maybe October. We haven’t even started packing-we’re in the what do we really need and want to take with us phase. Shredding old tax records, rereading cards and deciding which few to keep, cleaning out old clothes and towels that really aren’t useful anymore. Deciding what to throw away and what to give to Goodwill.

God whispers, “Stop those anxious thoughts. That restlessness to move on. Focus on the here and now. I have plenty of things for you right where you are. Don’t miss them.”

Seeing God Work

Yesterday, He provided me with the opportunity to visit a lady from my church who wanted prayer before eye surgery. When I got to her home, she cried. Her dog got out of the yard that morning and she couldn’t find him. Unable to drive, she couldn’t go look for him. “He helps me,” she said. “He’ll comfort me when I get home from my surgery. What will I do without him?”

She couldn’t see the buttons on her phone. So I looked up phone numbers and dialed two animal shelters. We looked at a Facebook page set up for lost dogs in her community.

And I prayed with her. For God’s peace and comfort, that He’d bring the dog home, guide the doctor’s hand, and heal her eye.

Several hours after I got home, she called me. “Someone found my dog! They brought him home! God is good!” We prayed again, praising and thanking God for His love and faithfulness.

What if I ignored the visitation request because I’m leaving in a couple of months? I would have missed seeing God work.

Work Where I Am Now

While in captivity, the Israelites longed to return to home. God told them to settle in and make a life where they were. Just like He told the the Israelites, not to speed ahead, God tells me to do His work where I am now. Watch Him work. Listen and take note. Learn what He has for me. Because it is for my good. His plan is to prosper me and give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29: 11). But I have to do my part. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13).

I chose He > i as my one phrase for 2017. I need to pay attention to what God wants for me here and now. Yes, I have a future and a hope, but the present holds lessons, joy, promise, and the opportunity to see God work. I don’t want to miss out on everything God has for me.

Linking with:

#tellhisstory, 

Coffee for Your Heart, 

Heart Encouragement

Chasing Community

Tune in Thursday

Expecting God on My Front Porch

For several years, I secretly longed for a front porch. Nothing fancy, just a small corner with a pot of flowers and maybe, hopefully, a swing. But it’s never been practical. So when I learned a front porch came with the new home we’re buying, my heart sang. You see, I’m expecting God to join me on my front porch. And I really need His help. I expect God to meet me on my front porch and help me with my 3 Rs of retirement.

Expecting God’s Presence

Something about being outside, amazed by God’s creativity, always makes me feel closer to Him. I worship in awe and wonder at His majesty. Even when I plan to read, being outside distracts me, draws me closer to God. I spend more time talking to Him and listening for His whisper as I meditate on His Word. I can see Him everywhere when I rest in His Presence.

Expecting the God’s Help in Creating Community

An introvert through and through, I feel some panic along with the excitement of moving into a new community. Meeting new people, reaching out and talking to strangers fills me with trepidation. God made us for fellowship. Not just with Him, but with others.

In my normal style, I pull my car into the garage, shut the door, and stay in my comfort zone. Me, my husband, a few good friends, and lots of books. Oh, I wave at my neighbors if I pass them, but I don’t know much about them.

So my prayer is God will nudge me to invite people onto my front porch. To sit and chat. Learn about one another. Develop relationships beyond a wave. Move me out of my comfort zone. Trust Him to work in my heart, growing and transforming me day by day.

And He’ll get me off of my porch. Get me up to say hello, start conversations with others. Build community.

I’m expecting God, and His people, on my front porch.

Linking today with Five Minute Friday.  

 

Three Retirement Rs: Rest, Relax, Renew

 

The three Rs of school are reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. Last week, I retired after 35 years of teaching. It’s time for me to replace those Rs of school life with different words. Words that I pray will help make me more content, less stressed. Focused on all God has planned and prepared for me. My new R words? Rest. Relax. Renew.

Rest

Probably the hardest R for me will be rest. Even when I’m not working, there’s a tension in my shoulders. A need to be doing s o m e t h i n g. To have a purpose. A plan. Keep busy. Be productive.

God calls me to rest. To be still. Jesus often left the noisy throng of people he ministered to and went alone to pray. When his disciples became to busy to even eat, he pulled them aside so they could rest.

Mark 6:31

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place, and get some rest.”

Rest doesn’t mean sitting and doing nothing. Thankfully, since I’m not very good at that. It calls me to pull away from the every day, the challenges, the noise. Rest brings me into the presence of God. 

Rest includes

  • Time in His Word, both studying and meditating. Thinking about what He says to me and how to apply it to my life.
  • Prayer. Talking to God, pouring out my heart. And listening to what He says to me.
  • Gift and prayer walks. Leaving the four walls of my office and venturing into the beautiful world He created. Taking note of all the gifts He gives. Gratefully acknowledging Who He is and how much He does for me.

Rest

Relax

I used to think resting and relaxing were the same. But relaxing is more about me. Doing things I enjoy. To rest, I need to pull away from the world and its distractions, but I relax right where I am.

Personally, I don’t relax well unless the house is neat and tidy, but I can relax in between loads of laundry or while I get up and down to move the hose and water the jasmine along the back fence. One of my favorite ways to relax includes sitting on the patio with a glass of iced tea and a good book, watching the birds and the train that meanders its way across the horizon. I love to relax with people I love over a leisurely lunch or coffee dates. When I can’t see people face-to-face, I connect over Facebook or Instagram. Once in a while, I may even fit in a nap.

Renew

Through rest and relaxation, I can put into practice the lessons God has for me. I read books that encourage me in my Christian life. I can’t wait to read through the stack of books I’ve collected over the last couple of years, always telling myself I’d get to them. That time is here!

I renew my commitment to God’s Kingdom as I serve Him. For several years, I facilitated a GriefShare group at my church, led small groups, and visited the sick and shut-in. As we prepare to move, I’m handing over those ministries to others and praying about being open to God’s leading in my new church.

It is always a challenge for me to wait for God. I want to jump in with both feet. But, as God has renewed and transformed my heart and mind in the past, I must exercise patience. Getting to know my new city. My new church. And letting them get to know me. Letting God, and His leaders, guide me instead of assuming the old and familiar are the right places for me, or if He’ll lead me to new. Growth and change are part of renewal.

Renew

Rest, Relax, and Renew

My journey into retirement just started. I’m not even used to the idea yet, but I hope you’ll join me as I learn where rest, relax, and renew leads me. I’m pretty sure retirement will be wonderful, exciting, and filled with new things.

I’m linking today with #tellhisstory and Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, Heart Encouragement Thursday, Tune In Thursday, Salt and Light

 

 

God’s Hands Hold My Future: Retirement Adventure

At 2:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Saving Time, the next phase of my life begins. I turn in my classroom keys and close the door for the last time. I won’t return in the fall because I’m retiring. What does the future hold? I don’t know exactly.

Much of the mundane tasks of life remain constant. Planning and preparing meals. Never-ending laundry (really, even for two people, why does that hamper fill up so quickly?). Trying to keep our home neat and tidy. But the stress of juggling that with lesson plans, grading papers, and touching the lives of seventh graders won’t be there anymore.

The Future Adventure

For my entire life, I lived in Southern California. Never more than an hour from downtown Los Angeles or Disneyland. More importantly, never more than 2 hours from family. But my husband, Van, and I bought a home in Prescott Valley, Arizona. A new state. New neighbors. A new church. An introvert by nature, I must rely on God to make new friends and find new ministries. To find my niche in this new place.

Our daughter and grandchildren will be six to eight hours away. Tears spill when I think of that, but the fewer must-dos of retirement bring hope of plenty of visits.

The Future Belongs to God

As Van and I talked and prayed about leaving the familiar and comfortable and stepping out into a new adventure, I prayed. That won’t stop as we get to know what God has in store for us in this new place. Specifically, I pray Proverbs 16:9 The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

 

My future, just like my past and present, belong to God. Through every life change, He carried me through. He never changes, always loves. I look forward to new adventures, directed by Him, as I step forward into retirement.

I’m linking today with Five Minute Friday. Join me there to read what others have to say about today’s prompt, Future.