Life is a conundrum. When I assume I might be figuring things out, it all changes and I think I haven’t got a clue.
Aware that half of 2020 is now in the past is weighty. What a strange year thus far, and the bizarre train is full throttle.
July is my birth month, and wisdom of the years comes from the hardest places. Memories of joy-filled celebrations gave way to take-out food, simple gifts, and texts from friends and family. Knowing I am loved and remembered is enough this year.
We arranged a retreat only to cancel. We planned events and celebrations but rescheduled more than once. The goals written in January lie somewhat dormant on the page of my bullet journal.
The gardens I labored over in spring battle for space while Kentucky fescue invades like a bully. More delicate flowers will lose if I don’t step in with Round-Up. My tomato plants wilt daily from the heat as I watch for green to turn to red.
This has become the year when taking it one day at a time is a mantra. Sweet William and I routine through our days. Mornings on the deck are a reprieve while the air is bearable, birds serenading from the little woods like they don’t know any better.
Perhaps they understand more than we do. They rejoice with song each new day, depending on food from the earth, a provision of their Creator. They build nests and raise young until little ones grow too big and must learn to fly.
Why should I worry about tomorrow or the next half of 2020? Does God feed the sparrows in my back yard, clothe the lilies in my field, send me sunshine and rain, marking seasons with moon and stars? He does.
Worry is futile, projecting into a future not yet here. The Lord made this day, preparing fresh mercies. He is more than enough for my concerns, sorrows, and burdens. He is my Good Shepherd and the God who sees me, right here, right now. He is my peace and my righteousness. His love will never ever fail me.
I heard someone say this week that the life expectancy of an American is 78 years old. I had to google that and found that in 2018 life expectancy was indeed 78.5 according to World Development Indicators.
My eyes widened, and I thought, “Oh my, 78 is not that far away.”
Last year when I reached a milestone decade, I faced it with some trepidation. The day came and went and I didn’t feel any different. So much for that.
” . . . that life picked up speed, then most of it was gone — made you breathless really.” — Elizabeth Strout
Another birthday pages through my calendar, and I have mixed feelings. I suppose it’s my age. I think deeply about life, death, today, and what’s left of my tomorrows.
I remember past birthdays, some joyful and some a little sad. Some were memorably celebrated and some slipped quietly by.
When I was a child a July birthday offered possibilities, outdoor activities and swim parties with cousins and friends. We ate ice cream and watermelon, letting the juice run down our arms and spitting seeds in the yard. At this age I think it’s so hot, too hot to go anywhere or do anything. I feel like a party pooper to my own fiesta.
When my mother was alive, she made my birthday important. An only child, cherished and loved, she knew how to make a gift special, to make a day fun. I especially miss my mother on my birthday.
“No matter what peoples’ lives might hold . . . still and all people were compelled to celebrate because they knew, somehow, in their different ways, that life was a thing to celebrate.” — Elizabeth Strout
I’ve heard this quote from Annie Dillard’s book, The Writing Life, “How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives.” And it seems so simple. The dailiness of living, the tasks of keeping a home, the going to and from work, the raising of children and loving a family, the art and beauty we create become the life we build. Day upon day, we make the life we have.
But what of the things that happen to us that are out of our control, like illness, death, choices others make that affect us? How we deal with it, or even choose not to deal with it, also becomes the life we have.
“All life events are formative. All contribute to what we become, year by year, as we go on growing. As my friend the poet Kenneth Koch one said, ‘You aren’t just the age you are. You are all the ages you ever have been.‘ ” — Mr. Rogers.
Daily I make choices that impact myself and others, forming the life I am building. I am more thoughtful these days to my calling, my art, and my contribution to the world. I understand a little better the gifts I’ve been given by my Creator and how to use them for His glory.
When I was younger, I was not good at saying no to any and all requests. I wanted to please people and said yes more than I probably should have. Now I understand better what it’s like to move in the flow of my giftedness. Trudging along in a place where I’m not called can be drudgery.
“Numbering my days isn’t about computing days but rather about drawing me to attentiveness. Life on earth is a brief sojourn–brief but not unimportant, brief but not inconsequential.”— Jean Fleming
In the last few years, I’ve compiled a list of my ten commandments (not to be compared to The Ten Commandments), a guide for the rest of my life. The first one is Be Peggy. Be who I am, not who someone wants me to be, not what culture dictates or how trends and styles try to mold me.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made by my Creator, an individual with DNA like no one else. I insult the One who formed my innermost being if I continue to try to be someone I am not. It’s taken awhile to learn this.
The poem called Grab Your Purple Hat describes the stages of a woman’s life from age 3 to age 80. Age 70 says she “Looks at herself and sees wisdom, laughter and ability, goes out and enjoys life.”
Yes, that is the woman I want to be, wisdom gained through years and experience, laughing much and using my abilities. I want to enjoy this one beautiful life, welcome people with open heart and listen to their stories. I want to love and be loved. I want to give myself away until my final breath.
“I believe we grow old only when we stop growing. Inner stagnation leads to death before dying.” — Lois Mowday Rabey
Years ago I cut a page from a magazine with artwork by Mary Engelbreit. It is an old woman gazing at her reflection in a mirror and seeing herself as the young girl she used to be. The caption reads: “We are always the same age inside.” Isn’t that how I exactly how I feel, not in my aching bones or my aging flesh, but the real inner me?
My beginning was ordained by a good Father and He watched as I was formed in the darkness. I believe He has purposed my ending and all the in-between days, guided by His Spirit. There is nothing to fear as the years add one upon another.
This is my life. I hope I leave something good behind. I plan to walk the path, holding to my heavenly Father’s hand, and enjoy the ride.
Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. — Psalm 139:3 KJV
Becoming. That is where I am. Already and still in process.
Viewing my life from birth to birthday, I see where I’ve been and where I am. The years impart wisdom that only comes from living out my days.
I am becoming more comfortable in my skin, wrinkled and sagging as it is. I see how God is working in me through experiences of trouble, joy, sorrow, hard work, celebration to become more the person He planned when He fashioned my DNA.
There were days of hiding behind my mother’s skirts, fearful of who I was. Days when I wore a mask to hide who I might be. Days of putting on a costume in effort to conform to another’s expectations. Each was uncomfortable, and without being able to put it into words, I knew it wasn’t who I was meant to be.
Like an onion being peeled, layers of covering slowly, sometimes painfully, fell away, the pretense and pretending of trying to please and appease, of trying to be like someone else. Only let me be who God made me to be with no apology.
In no way does this give me permission to be rude or offensive, to commit sin or disregard the doctrines of Scripture I believe to be good and right. Nay, in following God’s commands I walk in the utmost liberty.
I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. — Psalm 119:45 NLT
I am free to follow where He leads, to use the gifts He gives, to accept my personality strengths, to recognized my weaknesses and cooperate with my Creator to change where needed.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. — Philippians 1:6 NLT
I am not where I can be, fully who I was made to be. But I am becoming.
Christ in me, I become more and more, year by year, the woman He is calling out. “Will the real Peggy step forward and live out her purpose?”
Before the days of ultrasounds and 3D imaging, I was left wondering if I would have a son or a daughter. When I became pregnant, there were no expectations of knowing until I could hear my doctor proclaim at the time of birth, “You have a boy” or “You have a girl.”
I don’t recall a secret desire for either. I just wanted a healthy baby. People told me they predicted a girl, something about the way I carried the growing life nestled under my heart. Some were convinced and gave me dresses at the baby shower given by the ladies of my church.
When I consider the morning sickness that lasted all day long, the girth of my belly, the stretch marks, the pain of labor and eventual C-section, it was all worth it. Seeing that beautiful round head as my doctor announced, “It’s a boy” veiled everything else.
The first time the nurse brought my son to the room and placed him in my arms, his eight pounds felt like the weight of the world. Realization hit me that I was responsible for this child. How could God trust me this much and was it really such a good idea?
I hoped to parent as I had been parented, with patience and kindness, lovingly nurturing my son and teaching him the ways of a world brand new to him. I failed a lot.
I was determined he would not be a shy child like I had been. I didn’t understand introversion, extroversion or personality types. What I knew was how I’d suffered from being painfully withdrawn. So I encouraged him to speak up, say hello, don’t hide behind.
One day while riding an elevator, this small boy of mine was friendlier to strangers than I was, and I knew I had nothing to do with that. This was who he was. His very own personality was blossoming before my eyes. I would discover him rather than make him into someone I thought he should be.
More than anything I wanted him to know Jesus loved him and to learn to love Him back. We went to church a lot. I read Bible stories. We talked about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I tried to point him in the direction of the cross while being woefully imperfect at modeling Christ-like character. I prayed for him.
When it became apparent that he would be our only living child, I packed away the dolls, small china dishes, a little bed and high chair my dad made for me, things saved in case we had a daughter.
We made room for trains and guns, matchbox cars and star wars figures, drum sets and bikes that let him do tricks down our lane as he called, “Watch this, mom” over and over.
I stayed up hours at night with him to help with homework. I walked the halls of the school, confronting teachers and going to bat for him, mustering courage that didn’t come naturally to me. I fought for my son, my inner mama bear emerging if I thought he was being treated unfairly.
He grew into a handsome teenager and girls looked his way. I turned over the keys to my recently acquired, new-to-me blue Nissan Maxima so he could take his date to the prom. He never knew how often I stood at the window watching him drive away from the house, praying for his safety, that he would return home in one piece.
I tucked him into bed as long as he would let me. Sometimes after a tiring day of working a job and working a home, he’d be in the mood to talk, and I knew these were precious moments. I hope I patiently listened despite my weariness. I hope that’s what he remembers more than when I was in a rush, was frustrated or short tempered.
He became and man and chose a wife, and I knew things were going to be different for me. I determined I would love the other woman in his life. I also understood I had been displaced from being the most important one.
Years fly by, as they do. Time, distance, and circumstances have taken us on our own paths. He isn’t close enough to drop by for a cup of coffee like he once did. But when he calls, my world lights up. His laughter is sweet like honey. He probably doesn’t realize how his voice on the other end of of my smart phone is sunshine on what might be an otherwise cloudy day.
As I look back over the years since his birth, I see how his very first tottering baby steps were leading him toward independence. His first day of school, learning to drive, finding a job, going to college, all of that was designed to take my baby boy into adulthood, toward becoming a man able to stand on his own. Had I considered it, I might not have been so anxious for him to learn to walk.
After I sent my boy a picture of the birthday box I mailed on Tuesday, he texted that he had forgotten. My response was, “I remember. I always remember you, your birth, your life.”
I identify with Isaiah 49:15 where God describes his love for Zion like this:
Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.
How could I forget how he changed my life forever? How could I forget the child I loved when I only barely knew he existed? How could I forget this one who is always in my thoughts and prayers? I cannot forget.
I find it beautiful that the Creator gave us the privilege of sharing in the creation of life so we could understand on a smaller scale His magnificent, ever-faithful, unconditional love.
It’s my boy’s birthday today, and I thought of him first thing this morning, before I plugged in the peculator, before I washed my face or prepared to read my Bible. I thought of him. I can’t help but think of him. He is part of me in a way too mystifying to understand.
He has children of his own now and we have an understanding between us. His love for them mirrors my love for him. We get it, this inexplicable attachment and devotion, going deep into the heart and soul of us.
I heard this recently, that the heart has secrets no language can ever express. Indeed it does. For I will never be able to describe in words how I feel about this boy of mine.
Let it be enough to say, he is my son and I love him.
It’s been quiet on the blog for over a month. I’m not sure why I haven’t written any posts. I could offer several insights but none of them really resonate. Suffice it to say, I took a little break, because there were no words.
Contemplation seems my path in this present season. And I’m quite glad I am able to think and ponder. At my age, the ability to reason and understand is not to be taken lightly.
In the nearly two months of blogging quietude, Sweet William and I have not sat idle. We celebrated recitals, graduations and birthdays. We traveled far and came home again. We watched the seasons change from spring to summer, counting the raindrops and measuring the height of the weeds growing in the gardens.
We had the opportunity to witness one current and one former piano students’ accomplishments, finishing high school and college. I spent many hours at the piano bench and around the table with the two of them, talking, laughing, crying, and praying. It is an extraordinary privilege to be part of their lives as they have matured into young adults.
Sweet William and I drove the many miles and long hours to celebrate our second granddaughter’s graduation. It was worth every minute of time and effort to be there as people gathered on party day. I was comforted to witness the support system of friends surrounding my family in this city, answers to prayers. And our granddaughter was glowing.
Mother’s and Father’s days came and went, and we endured. With neither chick nor child close by, nor living parents to honor, it becomes challenging to observe those days with gladness. I tend to seclude and surrender to my introversion, practicing self-care and allowing my emotions to be present instead of pretending something I don’t feel. It’s the way I cope. When the day is over, I move on, recognizing it is one day in the year, that my life is full of valued relationships, that I am loved by my family, and that life goes on.
Early this month, I sent a card to a friend whose birthday is one month before mine. It’s a reminder that the day of my birth is 30 days away. Birthdays have not been bothersome except when I turned twenty, leaving my teens behind. That was hard.
However, I am giving this birthday, my seventh decade, considerable thought, evaluating my health and my mental state, wondering about my work and the retirement years where Sweet William and I find ourselves.
Recently I pulled my 2009 journal from its upstairs shelf and read what life was like ten years ago. There were joys and sorrows mingled then as now. I understood the year as one who looks at the past. Events that occurred then had profound influence on what would come later.
The coming decade I enter presents me with quandaries that are different than ten years ago. When I entered my 60s, the aches and pains were less; my hair was darker; my figure was not as lumpy; my eyeglasses were not so strong.
Along with twenty or so piano students, I still worked part-time away from home at a job that challenged me and gave me a creative outlet. I loved the people with whom I worked.
My aunt, dad and step-mother were still living, though their growing frailty was apparent, requiring more attention and help.
My family lived next door then, and I was involved with their lives. I saw them weekly, sometimes daily, and enjoyed watching the grandchildren grow. In the old journal I wrote how I felt called to invest in those dear children, filling them with the assurance of my love, so that it would be a reservoir to draw from. I didn’t know then that in two years the family would pack up a big yellow truck and move west permanently. I hope I filled them full enough.
An old clipping I saved starts with “Grab Your Purple Hat!” as it describes how a woman sees herself through the years. Age 70 says this: “She looks at herself and sees wisdom, laughter, ability. She goes out and enjoys life.”
I believe there are still things for me to accomplished, meaningful work, projects to complete, art to create and music to play. I know there are people for me love and point to Jesus. I have questions to ask and I want to be the person who leans in and listens well.
I expect sorrows because that is the stuff of life. But I also anticipate joy, celebration and miracles.
The Bible is a familiar companion for my journey. The years of reading and study brought insight, confidence, and hope. The promises I hold close are more precious than ever.
Thankfully, life has taught me wisdom, a reward of growing older. I adapt more easily to things I might have taken too seriously years ago. I’ve learned to laugh at myself and am continually entertained.
God has been good these many years. I have no reason to doubt His faithfulness in my future. His plan is working its way in me. Sometimes it’s difficult, painful even, and goes against my grain. But I’m realizing His way is best. He knows more than I ever will. He does all things well.
The future is now. I can face it because I know the One who guided my past, who holds my present, and who will be there in the days to come.
As the fog clears from my brain early this morning, I remember her. It’s her birthday.
I plug in the coffee pot and turn the numbers on my perpetual calendar to November 4. And I think of that day 18 years ago when she entered this world.
I missed being at the hospital, thinking we had plenty of time to get there. Her three-and-a-half-year old sister was brought to us in the night while mommy, daddy, and the second set of grandparents hurried to labor and delivery.
I carried a pager in those days, and that was the thing that alerted me to the news. I listened to the message of “we have a baby girl,” with a mixture of joy at her arrival and disappointment at missing this important moment.
I suppose I made up for that one time not being there by being here in the house next door to hers. For ten years she lived close enough for me to hear her playing in their yard, to see her wave and shout, “Hi Grammy.”
I found two pictures recently of the lane in front of our house, and I wondered why I had taken them with no apparent reason. Then I spied three tiny figures walking toward our house. With a magnifying glass I could see them, my three grandchildren, ages three, four and seven on their way to Grammy and Papaw’s for who knows what kind of adventures. Hot cocoa, dress up, games, books – these were possibilities. She was the one out front, skipping along while her older sister held the youngest by the hand. Sweet remembrance.
They always brought the sunshine when the door opened to them, whether they came by one or by three.
We two are miles apart now. I miss getting to celebrate with this special young woman today. Our connection is the Birthday Box I priority mailed to arrive in time. It contains items I hope will please her, and a sealed zip bag of my special hot cocoa mix, because that is a memory we hold and my Happy Birthday wish across the miles.
She’s a busy girl now, with school, choir, friends and family activities. She’s beautiful and graceful, funny and creative, loving and her own unique self. I’m happy that she is happy, flourishing, and becoming.
But I miss her. Especially today. On her birthday.
So I pray a blessing to the Father who knows no distance. Whose hand reaches mine and touches hers. The One who holds her life in His strong hand and knows the way He plans for her to go.
I trust and believe that He hears my prayers for her. His heart is tender towards mine and the longing I feel. He sees the tears that gather in my eyes even as I write.
My Father’s heart is tender towards her too, His love far greater than mine can ever be. He has a future for her, and He will guide her to it.
“I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have Breath.”
— Psalm 116:1-2, NLT
The garden explodes with color in mid summer, heat and rain creating bookends to an occasional temperature-perfect day. The flowers are the reward for my years of plantings. And they are coming up everywhere, even in the walkway.
Pink ladies (aka naked ladies) appear in unexpected places. The first blooms of morning glories signal late summer, their vines wrapping spindles on the deck. My few tomato plants tease me with their blooms and still-green fruit. Thankfully, I have discovered a local farmer’s market where I purchase tomatoes that taste the way a tomato is supposed to taste.
The Canadian geese have returned to the lake across the road after being gone for months. Though they look like adult geese, I think they are the family of hatchlings seen in the spring. The younger ones are smaller and the largest goose is still very protective. They all fly now, coming and going at will, forming the signature V as if they practice for a long trip southward. It’s the beautiful cycle of nature, and I get to observe it from spring to fall.
The hummingbirds have been active at the feeder on the deck. They provide entertainment when it’s cool enough to sit on the glider. Maisie keeps trying to catch one. The female sits calmly and sips. The male flits around like he is on vigil and extremely alert. Kind of reminds me of a couple I know (here at the Wright House).
As in the cold of winter, we tell our Maisie that she is a lucky dog, living in controlled temperatures and feeding from our hands. Rescued from the streets of Mississippi, she has a happy home with us who dote over her. In addition to loving to walk the lane and investigate every smell like a roving reporter, Maisie takes her place on the deck with her nose to the lattice watching for the neighbors’ dogs or the rabbits that drive her to whimpers of longing.
Among the books read this month, one on CD that has been extremely long but interesting, is Dearie, the Remarkable Life of Julia Child. It reminded me of seeing her on TV many years ago. Her story is amazing considering she didn’t learn to cook until she was in her thirties. The book stirred my interest in all things Julia. I checked out Mastering the Art of French Cooking, perusing the detailed recipes, and I will revisit Julie and Julia on DVD from my library. I even purchased a used copy of The French Chef, which includes the recipes of her innovative cooking show first aired on educational television in the 1960s.
I’d really like to master a few of those recipes, especially the omelet and souffle. A copper bowl many be in my future, hopefully found at a thrift store.
Speaking of, my favorite thrift store is gone. Yes, gone, lock, stock, and barrel, and without my notice. I drove there with a friend this month, us excited at what we might discover, and the store was empty. I was devastated. Where am I going to find the things I need at the price I am willing to pay? I’ve gone there several times with a list in hand, and found exactly what I wanted, walking out feeling quite satisfied with my bargain purchases.
I had been looking for a gently used percolator there for several months. As a result of my store disappearing, I went to ebay, where I found a vintage Corning Ware percolator like Sweet William’s parents used when he was a teenager. I’m always experimenting to make that perfect cup of coffee. I’ve tweaked my methods to gain that rich coffee flavor I enjoy. I’m loving the somewhat old-fashioned way of preparing the pot and hearing the familiar perk. I think of my mother and dad, the many pots of coffee made at their home and how it is part of my heritage. Perhaps that is why I often approach a new friend with “Would you like meet for coffee?”
This month I got creative for Independence Day. I made a door hanging of red and white ribbons and lace paired with denim and buttons in honor of the Flag of America. Long may she wave! I will gladly pledge allegiance to a country that has offered me so much freedom. Brave men and women have fought and died for my rights to make choices and live free. I will honor them and my county by standing and placing my hand over my heart as I sing the Star Spangled Banner.
I celebrated my birthday and our son’s birthday this month. In his birthday box I included copies of old pictures, black and whites of his grandparents when they were in their twenties perhaps, him with his Granny and Gramps when he was young, one of him at about seven with his dad. They stirred memories in both of us.
Sweet William and I have been on a learning curve with our very first smart phones. We have finally gotten the hang of Google Maps, which was the main reason for purchasing the phones. GPS is amazing!
We traveled from one appointment to another last week and were uncertain of our route, so we turned on The Voice of Google Maps (I’ve yet to give her our own personal name). She directed us easily and tried to route us to a simpler way, which we did not heed, not quite trusting her yet. Later we found out she was right and we should have listened. Now she is my hero.
Sweet William and I have decided we need to trust that voice in our phones though we cannot see her and don’t understand how she can tell us which way to turn. How does she know all that?
How much more should I trust a marvelous, huge God who designed me and the world I live in, who planned from the beginning to the end, and knows the way that I take? How can I put my confidence in a voice in a digital machine, and not trust the Sovereign Creator of the universe. It just doesn’t compute.
Sometime I’ve not heeded His voice because of my lack of faith in Him. Later I learned that I should have listened to Him. He is altogether trustworthy. When He speaks, I need to pay attention.
A favorite quote this month is:
“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope and as old as your despair.”
— Douglas MacArthur
Having managed to live another year old this month, staying young as long as I can is a theme. Faith, confident trust in my God, and hope seem to be key.
I wake to the alarm, walk to the kitchen to make coffee, open the window and feel some little coolness. The dark liquid begins to flow into the pot and I remember: It’s my birthday.
How can I be this old when I still feel the same age on the inside?
I looked on the world wide web to search the day of the week I was born and this poem came to mind:
Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
While I was a Saturday child, my experiences have encompassed each day of the week. Haven’t we all?
Birthdays make me contemplative. Deep thoughts swirl and twirl and pull up scenes from the past. I remember a few simple parties when I was young, my mother and dad being the focus of my life, an only and beloved child. I’m reminded how becoming an adult changed birthdays, because there are responsibilities and work to be done even if it is your special day.
The first birthday after my mother died was hard. She made it significant. She remembered, even if everyone else forgot. Birthdays were never quite the same without her thoughtful touch on the day.
There was one birthday not too long ago when Sweet William was recovering from one of many surgeries in a span of three years. I expected nothing, but he’d arranged with some of the nurses to have surprises for me when I got to the hospital. It was especially meaningful.
There have been times when friends remembered me with cards and gifts, and I was shocked that they knew and took such sweet initiative to make me feel special.
I recall the year I turned sixty, coming home after a day of work, and being surprised by my precious ones who then lived next door. They came to celebrate. The grandchildren made a cardboard birthday cake for me, and I wore it as a hat. It became the symbol I coaxed each of them to wear as they celebrated their birthdays that year. It is a tender memory today as I look at those dearly loved faces.
Sweet William and I pre-celebrated simply on Saturday, and we anticipate dinner with good friends this evening. We will feast on their fellowship as well as the good food. And we will eat cake! Or something sweet and delicious.
I expect calls from those precious ones I long for who are miles away, sweet wishes bathed in love, their voices the gift I crave more than anything.
I have penciled dates on my calendar, plans with more precious people in the coming days. I intend to savor this birthday week as much as I can.
While there are projects I need to do, I sit and think and type away and look at pictures and remember, sipping on the second pot of coffee. The projects will be there tomorrow, of this I’m sure.
The plants have been watered, breakfast cooked and cleared away, bed made. I will do chores as needed while music plays sweetly on the CD player. It is another day in my life, a day to be lived. It is a time to be treasured, a moment to worship, because I will not pass this way again.
Life is a gift, to be lived joyously, to be treasured. Our days are determined by God alone. He will decide when it is enough.
Until then, let me live, strengthened by the grace of Christ Jesus.
This day. It’s Sweet William’s birthday, and I think of the grace of God.
I’ve lived with this man longer than I lived without him. We’ve been through so much together. There have been hard roads and there have been joyful celebrations. It is the way of a life.
How is it that we have come to this place in time? We have been shaped and molded by our experiences. We have weathered storms, and though battered and bruised, we have come through victorious. By grace.
We have celebrated life together, cried at death together, and intend to walk together for as many days as the Lord gives us.
What to do for a birthday at this age when we have celebrated so many times? We have given the gifts and signed the Hallmark cards. God has blessed us beyond what we deserve.
And it is all grace.
If not for God’s grace, we would not be celebrating a birthday today. I am convinced of it.
So we will celebrate. Celebrate life. Celebrate goodness and mercy. Celebrate the boundless generosity of a Savior who gave us all so that we could join the family.
By grace alone, we were given life to live to the full. Thanks be to God for His amazing gift of life, Sweet William’s life.
My birthday is tomorrow. I started celebrating yesterday.
My philosophy about birthdays is this: The older I get, the longer I get to celebrate. It works for me. So this year I started early.
Sweet William took me to get my birthday present, two pots of lovely yellow knock-out roses. They remind me of a primrose blossom. I have a spot picked out in the garden that will be just right for them.
Next was the grocery where I had a birthday epiphany. Ice Cream. Let the celebration begin! I found peanut-butter-chocolate on sale and headed to the cookie isle for a generic Nutter Butter cookie. After lunch, Sweet William crushed the cookies and mixed the ice cream with them – I love that man – and we had our own version of a Blizzard.
This morning I baked biscuits, from my mother’s recipe, and topped them with jam made by a friend. I think of my mother in the days leading up to my birthday. I miss her especially when the day arrives. She taught me to cook and cook well. And for that Sweet William is very thankful.
Today I made a Plum Cake, pulling the recipe from my stash of those tried and true. Everyone should have a birthday cake, even if she has to make it herself.
Tomorrow, we will visit a church where a younger friend is a member. She is scheduled to sing in the service, and I love her and her voice. Then we plan to visit a young man in rehab who needs to know he is loved and that prayers are being lifted heavenward for him. No agenda. No message to give. We simply want to show we care.
I’m trying to figure out being this age. It’s taken a lot of years to get here. My experiences are showing on my face, fine lines deepening more than I like. My silver hair seems to be even lighter and a bit thinner. I have aches and pains regularly and especially after a day in the gardens.
I am changing eyeglass prescription more frequently, and the trifocals make me squint sometimes, just trying to find a place of clarity. My hearing is still good and my mind is clear, thank the Lord.
My figure is fuller than it used to be and in odd places. And that information about gravity pulling everything down? It’s a real thing.
I can’t put in the same hours of work I did a decade ago. That’s frustrating. I’m not as busy I as I used to be. I’m OK with that.
I wish I had kept a journal more consistently when I was younger. Those events I thought I would remember easily? I don’t. When I read old journals I am surprised at what I’ve forgotten.
Life is still sweet. I appreciate the simple and the small. Friendships are deep, us having been through years of trials and loss, blessing and triumphs together. New relationships are exciting now that I am more comfortable with who I am. I can be myself, and I don’t have to strive to impress.
I’ve learned to be a better listener without trying to fix the problem.
I’ve found God to be trustworthy through these years. I do not understand Him or His ways, and I’m coming to accept that more. He is beyond comprehension. I still wonder why He loves me like He does, and how His grace can be so inexhaustible.
I still treasure the Bible and believe it to be true. In an ever-changing world of science, technology, medicine, philosophy, and the latest idea, the words of Scripture are reliable. They speak a steadfast truth in a world that constantly wants to change the meaning of truth.
I’ve never wanted to live my life over. Why would I want to go through all that again? We often wish we knew “back then” what we know now. Wouldn’t that be a lot simpler? But I think we only get the wisdom to understand as we live through this life. I’ve learned through the living.
If I had the chance, what would I say to my younger self, the one who was in her twenties, thought she knew most of the answers and didn’t have a clue?
Slow down and smell the roses. Pay attention to the little things.
Don’t worry about the dust on the furniture. It is not a life and death issue.
Invite people over more without cleaning the house first.
Play with children and welcome them into your life. They show us how to live in the moment.
Laugh a lot. Sing out loud. Move to the rhythm.
Get a good night’s sleep. It is healing to your body.
Put those photographs in good albums that won’t fade the memories.
Slow dance with your husband.
Listen well to your friends and family and neighbors and anyone who needs an ear.
Save some money and spend some money. Plan for the future because it is coming.
Buy quality not just what is on sale. It will last longer.
Memorize Scripture while the brain is young. Memorize poetry too.
Let go of hurts and don’t hold grudges. Forgive and get over it.
Don’t worry about what other people are thinking of you. They aren’t. They are thinking about themselves.
Take good care of your skin. It’s got to last a long time.
Disregard the size of your dress or jeans and what the scale reports. They’re only numbers and not the value of your life.
Respect yourself and respect others. Speak up for yourself when necessary.
Slow down when you eat and enjoy the flavors.
Pay no heed to your critics. Instead, hear the people who care about you.
Pay attention to your elders. They have been where you are.
Stay in church. There are people there who need you. You need them too.
Be patient with yourself and others. Pray for patience if you must. It does not bring more tribulation as you may have heard.
Don’t whine. It is not attractive.
Smile a lot. It brightens the face and makes it more beautiful.
Don’t let the rich and famous be your role models. Some of them are not doing so well themselves.
Love yourself, the unique gift you are to humanity. Explore your talents and enrich them however you can. Then use them to bless the world.
Love others well and freely without expectations. Expectations kill relationships.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You are one of a kind, made in the image of your Creator who makes no mistakes.
Be thankful. Always. In all circumstances. Everything is working for your good.
Life is a precious gift. The years mount up and I wonder how many birthdays I’ll have to celebrate. But that is not my concern. My God is in control of that, and I rest in His divine plan.
Tomorrow I will be 68 years young. I feel every bit of it. I have lived it, laughed in it, cried through it. I have been loved greatly and have learned to love in return. I have experienced the miracle of salvation and felt the ocean of grace all around me.
I don’t know what my future will look like. I trust my Father with that. He’s been looking after me all these years, and He will continue to keep His watchful eye on me.
I do believe the best is yet to be.
Mother’s Drop Biscuits
This is such an easy recipe, almost as easy as opening a package of refrigerator biscuits but so much better. Try it for yourself and see.
1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening or oil
2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup of milk – use buttermilk if you have it
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put about a tablespoon of vegetable shortening or oil in a skillet or griddle. (I prefer a cast iron griddle.) Put this in the oven as it heats up. You want the oil to be a little hot so the biscuits will cook crispy on the bottom.
Measure flour into a large bowl. Pour the oil into a measuring cup, then add the milk on top of it to equal 1 cup of liquid. Stir the liquid into the flour and mix.
Drop by large spoonfuls onto the hot oil.
Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until the little peaks of the drop biscuits are browned.
Serve with butter and jam. Oh my goodness, they are good!
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This is a simple cake with a spicy flavor. It is very moist and looks lovely baked in a bundt pan setting on a footed cake plate.
1 cup of oil – or for richness use butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 small jars of plum baby food. (I’m having trouble finding plum baby food these days, so a dark fruit substitutes well.)
Combine oil and sugar. Add eggs one at a time.
Mix flour and spices together. Add to oil/egg mixture and combine well.
Add baby food and continue to mix.
Pour into a greased and floured bundt or tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour.
1 cup powdered sugar
Dash of salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine all and pour onto warm cake, poking a few holes in it to allow the flavor to infuse the cake.