What Next?

On August 17, I celebrated a “milestone” birthday.  That’s what they’re called when you enter a new decade of life I guess.  20, 30, 40, 50 and now 60!  I’ve noticed that past the age of 60, milestone birthdays are celebrated every five years: 65, 70, 75, 80… and from then on the cards written all seem to be celebrating with great fanfare the fact that you’ve lived another year and Hallmark and the friend who gave you the card is proud and maybe somewhat astonished at this accomplishment.

Am I being facetious?

In July, I spent a memory-filled weekend with five friends from high school.  We call our little group “The Babes of ’58” since it was in that year we all were born.  We decided when we turned fifty that we would all get together for a weekend reunion at some resort spot to celebrate our “milestone” birthdays.  We didn’t want to have to cook or clean, just feel pampered and spoiled.  Our goal was to renew in person our close friendships, to laugh, to reminisce, to share our lives and to drink wine.  Not necessarily in that order.  We had such an amazing time at our first reunion that we decided to continue our get-togethers every five years.  That way we had time to plan and save up for our time away.  Our first gathering together was in Osoyoos, in the Okanagan, at a Villa in the middle of vineyards.  Splendid weather, long walks and fabulous cuisine was a perfect retreat for us all.  The next reunion was in Fairmont, B.C. at the hot springs resort there, and this last reunion was in Sooke, B.C., in the small town where we had grown up and gone to school together.  We rented a townhouse for the weekend, close to eateries and toured down old roads re-visiting old stomping grounds and recapturing childhood memories.

We each live very full lives with our families, jobs and hobbies that govern our time.  To escape for a few nights away is a welcome distraction even though we spend most of our first night’s conversation talking about our families and hobbies.  Sharing our lives, even though we can do so over social media, is not as satisfying as when we are face to face and we can see the slight nuances in body language, and enjoy the close camaraderie of being with good friends.  Although this year, our hair is a little grayer than it was five years ago, and our step is not as lively as it was the first time we got together, we are sixteen again in our mind’s eye when we relive memories from high school.  The laughs are genuine.  Our friendships are precious.

I am the “baby” of our group, because my birthday falls in August after the other gals have already celebrated their birthdays.  In high school they kidded me a lot about being the least mature of them, the baby, the one that wasn’t old enough to get into their kind of mischief.  I’ve embraced the title now.  It’s nice to be the youngest in the room for a change!

I have spent some time now coming to terms with the fact that I am in my “senior” years.  My husband is in full denial of the fact that he a senior.  He still enjoys besting the twenty year olds in weightlifting at the gym he attends.  He might lift more weight, but he feels it more the next day too!  We can’t deny that our bodies don’t behave the way they used to when we were young – er.  Me?  I acknowledge that although the mind may be willing, the body is weak.  I discovered this summer that paddle-boarding may look easy, but falling off of one at my age hurts a bit more!  My cracked ribs will attest to that!  Still, I don’t want to just stop trying and doing new things because I am a “senior”.  I want to continue to  experience new things, see new sights, and set new goals for the future.

I am not a fan of the term “bucket list”.  I think I’ve said that before.  I don’t want to have a long list of things I must do or see before I “kick the bucket”, because that implies if I don’t do everything on the list I’ve failed at life.  That’s dumb.  I have places I would like to see, but I have discovered that God directs my path.  I will gladly go where He takes me, near or far.  I’m content.

That said, when God puts a new adventure in front of me, I can’t negate it just because I’m “senior”.  I’m not ready to retire.  I wonder what I will be able to share with my “Babes” at our next reunion in five years.  I’m praying it will not be predominantly my complaining  about aches and pains and lamenting over teen years gone by, but instead I hope I will be able to share about my new adventures, new experiences and the rich insights about life I did not know before.  A lot can happen in five years.  God’s calling still challenges me and directs me in new and fresh ways.  I look expectantly to the future and wonder, “What next?”

 

 

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Unplugged

It seems like forever since I sat down and blogged but that is an over-exaggeration.  It was a purposeful absence for me as I went on a bit of a media fast this summer and re-evaluated some of my goals in writing and using social media in general.  Going on a long vacation, away from WiFi and the inability to connect online was just the break I needed to appreciate the value of unplugging more often.  Instead, connecting with my husband and family re-energized me as we gathered at the lake and spent great quality time together.  Face-face conversations rather than the daily quick texts and playful emojis made me once again remember to cherish the interpersonal connections I have in my life.  I laughed at my grandchildren’s antics as they splashed in the lake, chased bubbles, or climbed trees.  I could tell that they too benefitted from a break from their usual screen-time overload.  Although this was the first vacation that I did not curl up with a book for long periods of time, the family activity around me kept me thoroughly entertained.

Although unplugged from electronics and the internet, I was thoroughly connected to God.  In fact, I spent quality time building my relationship with Him and spending time with Him.  I waste so much time online scrolling through posts that have no eternal value but always seem to rile me up.  Being unplugged from news reports and political upheaval, and opinionated gossip that permeates Twitter and Facebook for the most part, allowed me to instead find peace that is only found in the Word of God.  It was such a welcome rest from the discouragement that always assaults me on social media platforms.

It also made me very much aware that when I am online, I need to be a voice of encouragement rather than allow myself to get caught up again in the controversies, and conversations that pit people against one another.  Journey Thoughts is all about joining God on this incredible journey of LIFE.  Life is found in Him alone.  I needed this break this summer to be reminded once again that writing this blog is to encourage believers and point others to Jesus Christ.  I may have my opinions about social issues and political actions that affect me, but I need to stay focused on my main purpose in blogging.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the “bad” news, and the divisiveness of opinions that permeate the media these days?  Are you feeling weighted down, and overwhelmed by life circumstances?

Here are some practical ways to connect to God:

  1. Unplug.  Purposefully fast from social media, television, and electronic games, computer etc.  Try it for one day.  For those who must use a computer in the work place, consider fasting from Instagram, or Twitter or Facebook for an extended period of time.  Replace the time spent online connecting with God.
  2. Read your Bible.  On Journey Thoughts I’ve compiled topical lists of Scripture.  These verses can be used as a starting point if you have trouble following a Bible reading plan, but ensure that you don’t just read snippets of Scripture without reading them in context.  Start with these familiar passages: https://lynndove.com/2014/01/08/25-encouraging-scripture-verses-for-every-day/
  3. Pray.  Praying is talking with God.  God already knows what you want to talk about, did you know that?  He wants the conversation.  Don’t do all the talking.  Listen.
  4. Connect with others.  God speaks through those He brings across our path.  Some relationships challenge us in our faith either by being contrary and difficult, or to mentor and encourage us.  In either case, God loves each and every person and we need to see them through God’s eyes.
  5. When you are online, focus on the positive not the negative.  A good rule I follow is, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it”.  God wants us to build up the Body of Christ and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world.  I have created two great Facebook pages, Encouraging Bible Verses and Quotes and Word Salt that share daily encouragement.  Feel free to follow and share!

 

 

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In Holiday Mode

This Alberta gal has been enjoying a week spent on the west coast. It was a working trip for my husband but in between meetings he took me out for meals and long drives along the ocean shoreline roads.

I love the ocean spray, the smell at high tide and at low tide. I spend a good part of my sight seeing keeping my eyes peeled for any marine life in the ocean. I’m generally rewarded with seeing a seal or two frolic in the surf but my goal is to catch sight of an orca. In all my years of living and visiting Vancouver Island, I’ve only spotted a killer whale once offshore. I have been more inclined to see them from the deck of a fishing boat or during a ferry crossing from the mainland to the island. Still, I keep searching for those black and white markings in the water whenever I am beachcombing.

As much as I love the Ponderosa homestead and the stunning view of the Rockies from our acreage, being near the water, especially the ocean, rejuvenates me! I suppose the ocean is one of my “happy places”.

I would be interested to know where your “happy place” is. It is for an article I plan on writing in the future. Leave a brief comment where you find rest and relaxation, and I may use your comment in that article.

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