You’re Only Old Once

You’re Only Old Once, the timeless book about aging, Dr. Seuss humorously muses:

One day you will read in the National Geographic of a faraway land with no smelly bad trafficIn those green-pastured mountains of Fotta-fa-Zee everybody feels fine at a hundred and three ’cause the air that they breathe is potassium-free and because they chew nuts from the Tutt-a-Tutt Tree. This gives strength to their hair, and they live without doctors, with nary a care.  And you’ll find yourself wishing that you were out there in Fotta-fa-Zee and not here in this chair in the Golden Years Clinic on Century Square for Spleen Readjustment and Muffler Repair.  

 I celebrate birthday number 49 and, like the average person, not likely to see birthday 103.  Age is one of those unavoidable, subtle realities that creep up like a garter snake in my zinnia patch.  It’s there waiting, stealthily, for me to deal with.  Like the other night, while at a home school sport event, a friend solicited advice about how to prepare for “getting older.”  Based on my two approaches to getting older, the response went something like this:

The Classic Victorian Home Approach:

I spent my childhood living in a well built , restored, Victorian homeAfter a few decades, though, the painted lady began to show her age.  So the routine maintenance regime ensued.  Eventually, so much upkeep necessitated a prioritized project list.  Weekend warriors attacked projects to keep that old gal standing strong. In spite of rickety porch steps or sorely needed exterior paint, life inside the home flourished.  Like me, as I age, a few trips down “stethoscope” row or a few coats of concealer keeps the outside maintained.   Inside, the Refiner’s fire continues to burn in this maturing vessel (Malachi 3:2).

The Tent Approach

For the more rugged, outdoor types: patch leaks, mend rips, and waterproof when necessary.  Replace tent pegs on an as needed basis.  Keep the inside clean and free of debris and that should just about do it until the call for the final dwelling place.

As I embrace the Titus 2 “Golden Years” and embark on its entreaties with a new awareness.  And since I don’t live anywhere near those “green-pastured mountains,” breath air that is potassium free,” or “chew nuts from the Tutt-a Tutt Tree,” I can do my best to maintain the outside and “dwell in the shelter of the most high.”

 


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King of Hearts

Approximately 151 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged industry-wide (not including packaged kids’ valentines for classroom exchanges), making Valentine’s Day the second-largest holiday for giving greeting cards. Not many of those cards, I bet, reflect the poetry of a broken heart.  Broken hearts don’t sell cards or candy on Valentines Day.  After the red and pink are packed away, broken hearts sculpted by disease, financial disaster, bereavement, poverty, bad choices, remain regardless of the holiday.

What’s to be done with this broken heart?  As the next celebration rolls around and the broken heart still suffocates happiness from emerging out of hiding and the constant existence of turmoil, loss, pain, and struggle, seem to constrict any chance of healing, how does one regain footing?

At this very moment, I almost feel counterfeit that I should try to convey suffering when some of my dearest friends are experiencing unspeakable trials: the deep waters, rivers, and valleys spoken of in scripture. 
 

During the suffering of these “various trials” (James 1:2) cling to “I am with you.”

              When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep you over.
When you walk through the fire
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Isaiah 43:2
.   When the sorrow and pain becomes much to bear, gather godly reinforcement to help fight the battle shoulder to shoulder.  Godly reinforcements help hold hands high, heavenly high, for we are members one of another.  Moses, Aaron, and Hur set the bar high for this example.  Godly counsel can never replace the comfort found in resting fully with God; but carry each other’s burdens.
.  Offer up to God what moves us to bended knee.  In the beginning of Psalm 13, King David wrestles with his afflictions and sorrow, expresses his discouragement through prayer, petitions God for mercy and perseverance during his time of peril.  By the end of the psalm David acknowledges his confidence in God’s sovereignty and unfailing love.  David’s pleas become praises. 
A broken heart matters to the King of hearts. The dawn will break, the darkness will lift, and our eyes will open to see our hands lifted high, and lips uttering, “Why not me? ” rather than  “Why me?” When the rushing rivers of sorrow attempt to swallow us and the depth of our distress abysmal, God is our anchor through it all.

The Strong Side

The Strong Side

We live in Maryland and the state is over wrought with Ravens Fever.  But I only caught a few minutes of the actual game; however, I witnessed abundant evidence of the infectious fan fare as I traveled a few country roads and a highway during game time.  Down the stretch of my country road, farm house after farm house, I passed no cars.  The passage of highway brought the passing of maybe three cars.  As I entered a small, suspiciously quiet, rural town near my home, we passed occasional illuminated yard ornaments that glowed with the hue of Ravens purple assured me that I wasn’t caught in a scene from I am Legend ;rather, the Ravens were doing their thing.

Inside homes, fans studied tackles and punts, rated commercials, and reviewed the plays.  It was a night to remember.

Driving on the silent and still roads on my way to pick up my son allowed the quiet to churn thoughts about training kids for the glory of God.  Parenting is like playing the Super Bowl everyday.  Parents, we read all the right play books to help us along the way, study the opposition to determine its next slick move, morph into a nocturnal creature because that is the time the kids want to talk, invest in deeper dialogue to help them form their thoughts… and then one day they get it right. Suddenly, one of the kids  blind sides us with that unexpected, right choice.

My sixteen year old kid, the one that is still fighting Goliath, chose to meet the Conqueror of Giants at Bible Study instead of watching the Superbowl. He tackled Acts 8.  He witnessed victory, not the one on the field in New Orleans; but the one where the apostle Phillip evangelizes to the crowd in Samaria. My red headed warrior chose the strong side.  He may have fumbled through the passage in Acts a time or two, but he had those small, smooth stones, the same ones the warrior-boy David clasped on the field, to defeat his giant. His choice was the strong choice and the right choice.

Our kids don’t always get it right, neither do their parents, but when they do make choices that gain yards for the team leading to an eternal touchdown— that is a true victory. 

As his parents, my husband and I humbly cheered for the spiritual yards our son made that night while the rest of the state, did the well deserved Ray Lewis squirrel dance in living rooms, in amethyst illuminated front yards, and even in the sleepy little farm town I passed through. And I bet there was a fierce chest bump or two.