Category Archives: Aging

Excuse Me, That’s MY Tiara

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Excuse Me, That’s MY Tiara

It was less than a week after my birthday. While not a Hallmark milestone year, it was a benchmark for me. Suddenly I was eligible for even more “senior” discounts. At 62, theater tickets and even hotel rooms are cheaper.

I receive your blessing, Lord. I didn’t come this far to walk away from a good deal!

While I was willing to embrace the discounts I was not willing to accept the tag. Senior.

My parents were senior citizens. Senior citizens grumble about their “fixed” income and eat dinner at 4:00 to avoid crowds and save two dollars.

I was scrolling through Facebook, which always makes me feel better about myself. Right there on my news feed was a post about the Disney Princess Half Marathon – my friend had just signed up. Suddenly (and a bit impulsively) I was in.

You should know this about me: when the total of any purchase approaches high double digits my pulse quickens; if it hits triple digits I need a gut check. And yet I navigated over to the web site, whipped out my credit card and shelled out $185 to register. I was giddy – it might have been the tiaras or the hopes of a “dream come true magical experience”, but I had grand visions of crossing the finish line, hand in hand with my dear friend.

I imagined we would spend hours comparing training schedules and cheering each other along as we added distance and shortened times.

I made a meme for my Facebook cover. I wrote it down in my goals. Oh, this was going down, friends.

Perhaps this would be a good time to mention that I hate running. I love the idea of running; but running hurts me. It twists my guts in knots; I get something called a “stitch” in my side. With every foot fall I feel the jolt, first in my feet and then up my legs and into my torso. I literally feel like I’m pounding the pavement.

After I’ve been in motion (I can’t run very far, but at least my body doesn’t revolt against walking) for thirty minutes or so, the nerves behind the third and fourth toes on my right foot begin to burn. It’s somewhere between fire ants and electrical shock. It’s most painful with foot fall, so it’s only hurts every other step.

My breathing is labored and because I’m panting so hard I’m thirsty before I get to the end of my driveway.

I should also mention that this friend lives as far away from me as you can get and still be in the Continental United States. With almost three thousand miles separating us, our joint training was not impossible, but highly improbable for two people who can’t seem to get together for an occasional phone call.

You have a question, don’t you? You are dying to ask. 

Go ahead…I’m waiting.

Okay, I’ll ask it for you.

Why in the world did I think this was going to happen?

Twice I’ve positioned myself along a fence near the finish of the Disney World marathon. I watched every face as I checked the status of my runner on my smartphone. The first time, I was torn between urgency and dread.

26.2 miles. How could her body endure such punishment? And yet, I never took my eyes off the course as I scanned every face for the one that I loved. My child.

And I saw her. She was smiling, she was running well, and I cried. Relief and pride and joy swept over me. My baby girl had done it. 

Again last January I stood near the same place, watching. When I spotted her I made a spectacle because I wanted to make sure she knew I was there. It was a harder run; she hadn’t trained as well and she was hurting. But she did it. I know she had to dig deep to cross the finish, but she did.

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My beautiful daughter and her son at the finish.

Each time, I carefully surveyed the runners. They were all shapes and sizes. Some were running alone, others part of a team. Some ran for a cause emblazoned across their chest; others I was sure ran for reasons much more private but no less noble and meritorious.

I was inspired. I allowed myself to consider the possibility. I decided I would do that. One day.

And so it is not surprising that on that day, as I considered the number of days I hope to have left, I knew it was time to walk right into the dream that was birthed in my heart years earlier.

But August came and with it some significant pain that started in my hip and radiated down my leg and into my shin. I rested.

The pain persisted. It got a lot worse when I walked any distance. I relented; an appointment was scheduled and the diagnosis was harsh. Arthritis.

The short story is that I can’t do 13.1 miles. I’ll never cross that finish line, exuberant yet exhausted.

I’m been bummed. I’ve felt guilty about wasting the money. But most of all I’ve wondered what else is no longer possible. I have regrets over things not attempted. I also am beginning to understand why some of us are less “Snow White” and more “Grumpy” with age.

I’ve given this some time to marinate in my heart. I’ve asked God to cover it with grace and mercy as I consider what He would have me do next.

He is amazing ya’ll. He began to roll a highlight reel of my life. He showed me the races I have run; the ones where I crossed the finish line bloody and bruised and alone.

There were some where I barely could barely walk as I held the hand of one who came alongside and literally walked me across the finish. I saw the times that I crawled, too weary to look up…but he was always there.

I don’t know if I have days, years or decades left in this life. I don’t know how many of my dreams I’ll realize. 

But I know this for sure:

When I cross the the final finish line, he will be there waiting for me.

He is watching, he is checking my status and when I get near, he’s going to make sure that I see him. I believe he will take my hand and help me across.  

It’s true that I won’t be running with a tiara but I am his nonetheless. 

Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;honor him, for he is your lord. Psalm45:11

The hardware of this life’s races will pale in comparison to all that he has for us in heaven.

 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because,
having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life
that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12 NIV

He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes. Isaiah 61:3

Can’t stop, won’t stop,

lorraine

Learning to Love My Scars

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Learning to Love My Scars

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”
Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

It was in the early 1960’s that my aunt and uncle and their daughter, my beautiful cousin, came to visit our big family in Florida. At the time, there were probably five of us. Two rambunctious older brothers inspired my younger sister and I to run and jump and test our limits.

There was a three by five foot step at the front door of our home with a cement patio surround. Our house was situated on a corner lot – there were no neighbors directly behind the house. A right of way for power lines towered high above the wide strip of land that my parents referred to as “the field”. Even with all of that space to roam and play, we spent hours in the front yard.

That step was a perfect place to hone (and test) our jumping skills. We set goals to leap higher and longer and never once thought about the consequences of falling on our faces and losing a tooth or worse.

I don’t remember the details, but I remember the reaction. Cousin Jan fell and skinned her knee. She was appropriately upset by the sight of her own blood and her mom and dad (as all moms and dads do with their first child) rushed to scoop up their one and only. I was nervous and anxious because I’d never seen that sort of reaction to a skinned knee. Most of ours were not reported and typically discovered during bath time when the washrag lathered with dial soap found the spot and the victim yelped.

I had never heard about scars, but quickly realized they were a big concern. It was her first skin injury; her parents were worried that she would have a scar. I didn’t know much about scars, but it seemed like a really bad outcome.

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The phone just rang. I knew by the caller id that it was my dermatologist’s office; the call was expected. Several days ago they scooped flesh from six spots on various parts of my body for biopsies. I surrendered to the procedure with routine dread, knowing too well that delaying the process only makes matters worse.

Three of the six were nothing – benign something or others and whatever. Get to the others, I thought to myself as I rifled through my bag, looking for a pen and paper. One is a basal cell carcinoma. Surgery required, she said. Frozen section, so plan to stay with us all morning, she said.

The other two, squamous cell, but thin so we can “just” treat them with Efudex. The mean cream is the pet name they’ve given it. It’s a topical chemo that slowly kills the cancer cells until the area is angry; red, oozing and painful. Awesome. I scheduled the surgery and turned back to my work.

I couldn’t really focus though. I kept thinking about having yet another surgery scar on my chest. A tear threatened to escape and I scolded myself. “You just heard about a friend’s loved one with a terminal cancer diagnosis – this is nothing! Get some perspective!” (I’m so much kinder to others than to myself at times.)

post-op-patchesIn late October I had the most invasive surgery yet. MOHS surgery removed the skin cancer and left a hole in my face the size of a quarter. Following the excision, another surgeon grafted skin from my shoulder to make a patch to cover the hole. The process was traumatic, but it’s over. I need only glance in the mirror for a reminder to wear my sunscreen. That one has been hard to love.

Scars. They mark our bodies with the evidence of a wound.

But what if I look at that with a new perspective? Every scar is also evidence of healing. The hurt place is again whole.

Scars are evidence that we have lived. They are beautiful because they give hope of healing. Scars don’t form on the dead.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection he willingly showed his scars. He was recognized by them because they were evidence of his humanity.

Do you have a scar that is bothering you? He is wild about you, dear one. Settle into him and let him whisper to you the beauty that he wants to place in your heart.

“Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word:
    forget your country, put your home behind you.
Be here—the king is wild for you.”
Psalm 45: 11

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Just one day after MOHS surgery, I met Christy for the first time. A great blogger friend and beautiful woman, she reassured me of my only unfading beauty – the work that He is doing in me.

 

May you always know you are beautiful,

lorraine

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I’m reading this amazing book and I think you would love it as well. Use the link below to preorder it today!

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About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day.

 

About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at http://www.fearfightingbook.com/.

 

 

Six Things You Need to Know About Wrinkles

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Six Things You Need to Know About Wrinkles

 

She was looking intently at me when she spoke. “Grandma, are you old? Because you have lots of wrinkles so I think you are getting old.” Her beautiful blues eyes gazed directly into mine. Completely matter of fact, she innocently gave voice to her thoughts.

I continued to braid her hair, thinking hard about how to respond. I admitted to my sweet granddaughter that yes, I am getting older. I told her that wrinkles are the blessing of a long life, but I wasn’t convinced.

She couldn’t possibly understand, but my heart ached a bit as I thought of my dear friend Sandy and my younger sister Teresa, who left us before time and gravity etched the undeniable evidence of age on their precious faces. I reminded myself to be thankful for the gift of life even as I struggled with the reality of her honest remarks.

Later, as I shared the story with my husband and daughter, I began to cry. Do you know what I’m talking about, the ugly face-contorting cry you never saw coming? My little chat with her had kindled feelings I’d been trying to avoid.

Reflections of an older woman have been popping up in my rearview mirror recently. The woman I face every morning as I brush my teeth can’t possibly be me, gray hair peeking from around her ears.

I’ve never obsessed over my appearance. I put makeup on and do my hair in the morning and walk away, rarely stopping to look in the mirror again. If I remember lipstick a couple of times during the day, I’m doing well. Maybe that is why I am so shocked when the woman looking back at me looks nothing like the woman who lives inside my head.

So why did her gentle observation touch me so deeply? With a house full of grandchildren, I didn’t have much time to think about it and I pushed the thoughts down again.

A few days later, as I polished her tiny little toenails, she asked again about my age, mentioning those wrinkles yet one more time. More tears flowed, but I quickly changed the subject to the perils of red nail lacquer. She didn’t even notice as I quickly wiped them away.

When the house was once again quiet, I looked for an answer in Scripture, the only place I trust. The people who love me want to make me feel better about myself; I needed to hear the truth.

Gently, the verses washed over my weary heart:

1. Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. – Proverbs 16:31 ESV

2. Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? – Job 12:12 NIV

3. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green… – Psalm 92:14 NIV


4. Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. – Isaiah 46:4 ESV

5. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. – Psalm 37:25 ESV

6. Since my youth, God, you have taught me and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. – Psalm 71:17018 NIV

 
Six promises – one for every decade that I’ve been given. I’m encouraged, but I still have wrinkles and the hair will only continue to turn grey. Absent a change of heart I’m destined to be sad for the rest of my life!

I discovered a beautiful series of portraits by Tom Hussey of older men and women looking into a mirror and seeing their younger selves. That is how I feel. The great news is that although my body continues to age, my spirit is growing brighter and brighter.

His light shines more every year I am closer to being complete and in the presence of my sweet Jesus. Even though youth fades, the glory of his light shines brighter. These promises encourage my heart and remind me of my true value and the legacy of faith I am building.

As I celebrate yet another year, my prayer is that although they are surrounded by lines, my eyes reflect his peace; that my face, although aging, will shine with the joy of walking with Jesus for many years.

Gracefully yours,

lorraine

 “With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.” – Psalm 91:16 ESV

Check out Tom Hussey’s photos here!

Confessions of a Fitwitch

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What good is walking if my steps aren't counted_

Way back in the 1960’s when I was in elementary school the Johnson administration established the Presidential Physical Fitness Award. To test for the award, students completed a softball throw, a broad jump, a 50-yard dash and 600 yard walk/run.

Imagine a skinny little girl wearing black eyeglasses pulling back to throw her hardest, only to drop the ball behind her back. That would be me.

I developed a “stitch’ in my side before the end of the 50-yard dash and the 600-yard run/walk was excruciating.  Although I was an active kid, I was more of a sprinter than a distance runner. And by sprint, I mean to the end of the twenty foot sidewalk in our front yard where we played kickball for hours or to the ice cream wagon as it passed down our street.

As an adult, I talk about getting in better shape. In fact, if talking were an aerobic activity I would be in awesome shape. I convinced myself that I would eventually find the time and energy to devote to a more fit physical body, but it never happened.

Then I got a Fitbit. I synced it up with my iPhone and found some friends. I had no idea how much my life would change over the next few weeks.

For the first few days, I was content to get to know my new device, privately counting steps. The American Heart Association recommends ten thousand steps each day. Let’s just say I was significantly south of that.

I decided that I would strive for the recommended number and began looking for ways to “get my steps in”. I had no comprehension of the dark labyrinth of step counting compulsion.

I have a sedentary job so I added a stroll around the building midday and gained several hundred steps. I vowed to walk the five flights of stairs at least once a day.

Still straining toward my goal, I sensed my purple friend mocking me. I spoke the words aloud for effect. “This device is designed to serve me; this routine will bring me joy, not condemnation!” I had increased my activity and I was content.

Or was I?  (For full effect, read that with an evil, echoing voice)

FitbitThe bulky purple band had replaced my lovely rhinestone studded wristwatch. At first, I glanced at the beautiful watch as I dressed each morning and thought, “Later, baby. I’ll take you someplace nice later. It’s just that I need to count my steps. I’m in a different place right now…you understand, right?”

It never happened. What good is walking if my steps aren’t counted?

We began walking every evening as a part of my hubby’s recovery from spinal surgery. Little by little, we increased the distance. Before we knew it, we were walking three miles. The first time that band vibrated at the ten thousand step mark was a milestone and I was hooked.

The challenges seemed innocent at first.  I was walking miles every day and I was confident that most of the people challenging me were not hitting the trail for a (by then) four mile walk every evening. For the first time in my life I felt like a competitor.

But winning has been elusive. As I sync my band to the app throughout the day, I gain a lead from time to time. But at the end of the day, the coveted “Workweek Hustle” virtual trophy slips from my hands. The screen on my phone lights with a mocking message, “Friend A just zoomed past you for the lead”.

I’ve obsessed over steps that “weren’t counted” because I was pushing a stroller or a shopping cart. I pay closer attention to the battery indicator on my Fitbit than on my smartphone. I have secret doubts about the legitimacy of others step counts (seriously, what is wrong with me???) I might have a problem.

It’s as if I developed a stitch in my side just short of the finish line. I am disappointed and frustrated over losing challenges. Apparently, I’m not only competitive but also a sore loser.

So I venture out to walk again, this time alone and with no more agenda that to listen. A quiet whisper reminds me that the greatest steps I will ever take are those that bring me closer to eternity with Jesus.

The only trophy that will last is offered for all who make the finish line.

The feet that bring the Gospel are beautiful.

All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. ~ The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:25-26

There isn’t a category on the dashboard of my Fitbit app for transformation of my spiritual heart, but it’s as real and impacting as steps counted and calories burned are to my physical heart. He knows; he sees my struggle and my determination to never give up on the daily work of denying my flesh and choosing to walk after him.

Meanwhile, I’ll catch you later. It rained today and we couldn’t walk so I’m going to go run around my house until I get my ten thousand steps.

May all your steps be counted…

lorraine

 

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Birthday Greetings from the Future Me

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Hepburn People

Oh, to reach back in time and speak to my fifty year old self…there are some things I wish I could have known. Maybe you are in approaching a big milestone birthday. Go ahead, eavesdrop; I’m good with it.

Welcome to your fifties, girlfriend! You just completed an amazing period of your life. Appreciate it; you were in your peak! In case you need a recap, your forties were eventful.

Perhaps you found your dream job. By now you are beginning to realize that, but hang on because you are going to love it even more!

Or became a grandma and occasionally when you were out alone with the cherub people thought you were the mom. You are rocking the grandma gig.

Your nest may have emptied. You discovered the joy of long walks and occasional suppers on the sofa. Life was less demanding and you had more time to build your marriage and pursue your passions.

Of course there were some hard times, but bless your heart, you grew through them because they revealed the cracks and flaws. It was an awakening; you paid attention. You experienced the sorrow of loss…of people, things, and maybe even a dream or two.

You learned that life is fleeting and precious and you moved forgiveness way up to the top of the list of your first responses. You discovered that the greatest gift you can give yourself is the forgiveness of another. There is so much freedom in letting go!

Here you are, a new decade stretched out before you. You are anxious. You’ve seen hard and scary things happen to women in their fifties.

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In spite of your public declaration that you are middle aged, you privately reckon with the harsh reality that not many live to be one hundred.

All of the over the hill jokes are now in your own backyard and you are not amused. And the truth is – your body might just be showing some signs of age.

One Friday night you will be scrubbing the sink like a boss and you’ll hear a strange pop. The searing pain in your shoulder must be related, but how and why?

You will spend the next six months and way too many of your flexible spending dollars on specialists who will tell you it can’t be fixed. The indentation in your shoulder where a muscle used to fire is the new normal. For the first time, you hear the phrase “When people get to be your age….” Get used to it.

One Sunday morning you’ll be strutting down the preschool hallway, slightly over confident because some sweet young momma just mentioned your grandma hotness…and you’ll turn that cute wedge sandal over and break your foot. Just like that, you go from cute wedges to an orthopedic boot. You’ll think to yourself “Six weeks. I can do six weeks.” No one warned you about delayed bone growth after fifty. For the record, THREE MONTHS.  IN THE BOOT.  But you rocked that boot, sister. Walked all over Disney World, pushing strollers, because MAGIC. And because you are more determined than ever to prove that you can.

One night as you prepare for bed you’ll take a long look into the mirror and realize you are gazing into a face you don’t recognize. She has wrinkles and a few gray hairs are peeking out around her ears. She looks familiar, alright, but more like your mother than you. And you’ll resolve to smile more because you have great teeth. And use sunscreen.

Yes, the next decade is going to introduce some new challenges, but there are so many good reasons to embark on it with joyful hope:

  • Grandchildren. You are going to be smitten, my dear. You are going to rearrange your life for these little ones and you will love every minute.
  • Menopause. You will move from always being cold to fighting the urge to disrobe in public to escape the fiery furnace of your body in a hot flash. Don’t worry, though, by the time you are sixty they’ll be mostly over. And no more monthly visitor; trust me, you won’t miss it!
  • Wisdom. You prayed for it in your twenties. As a young mother you read every related Bible verse and even tried clicking your heels together while reciting said verses, hoping for it to come. Soon you’ll discover that wisdom was not so much a gift to be received all at once; rather a package to unwrap. With each ribbon loosed, bit by bit it is yours.
  • Courage. You will try new things and stretch yourself for no reason other than knowing that you can. Your dreams have a shelf life. This is the time to run after them.
  • Opportunities to invest in others. Volunteer, mentor, and serve. You have more to offer than ever before.

If I may, just a little advice from the wiser side of the decade:

Be kind to yourself. If you judge yourself harshly, you’ll be tempted to mete out the same to others.

Get honest with yourself. Do you really want to run a marathon? If you do, get after it. If not, stop beating yourself up and set some realistic goals.

Celebrate. You won’t regret choices to carve out special moments with the people you love. When a friend wants to have coffee after you’ve changed into your pajamas, for the love, put on some yoga pants and go. When that grandson wants to talk to you about Minecraft or Star Wars, remember that you’ve listened intently to many adults who were far less interesting.

You are alive for a reason. No one knows the sum of our days but God. Go forward with confident hope, my dear, for your Lord has prepared you for the days to come.

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a Godly life.
Better to be patient than powerful, better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.”
Proverbs 16:31-33 NLT