3 Ways to Stay Young

Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn

I rarely drink from a straw, in fear of creating lines around my pursed lips. Lines that lipstick can bleed through, even though I’m not much of a lipstick wearer. Lines that will betray my age. But if I’m afraid of straws, will that mean I have to stop whistling as well? I bought wrinkle cream for the lines radiating from my eyes. They say that age is just a number, and my number is approaching 50. Grey hairs are slowly appearing, drawing fine lines in my mousey blond hair. Should I hide them with color or wear them proudly?

I started writing this post back in February, when I was thinking about my birthday. When I turned 47, I was celebrating a special anniversary–20 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ed and I trained and raised money to be able to walk 39 miles in the Avon Walk to End Breast Cancer. I was so excited about participating in that walk with Ed that 47 didn’t feel that old to me. This year, I turned 48; only two years until I turn 50. Ugh! Usually numbers don’t bother me, but I’ll be honest; this year’s number bothered me! It doesn’t help that many of my friends, parents of my children’s friends, are lamenting their upcoming 40th birthday! When I turned 40, I had a 4 year old, and an 17 month old baby with an ear infection. I was way too tired to even care about turning 40! (How do I remember? I wrote it down on my blog!)

My kids are older now, and so am I! I’m actually much less tired than I was back then. Raising my kids has been so fun, and they keep me young, along with these three things.

3 Ways to Stay Young
1. Learn Something New

As a 40-something, I took downhill ski lessons, which I do not recommend. If you are going to learn how to ski, do it when you are young and stupid, therefore not afraid of heights or going fast or falling and breaking your leg. There is nothing better to keep you young than to scare yourself to death. On second thought, maybe ski lessons aged me instead of keeping me young! So I went in the opposite direction and learned how to knit in my 40’s, which is a very low key and non-risky activity. Now I am part of a knitting group with some nice retired women. That will be much better for my heart!

How does this keep me young? Seriously, though, I love learning new things, including downhill skiing. It really gave me a sense of accomplishment. Learning new things stimulates your brain and helps memory functions. I don’t know about you, but I need help with memory! Where did I put my car keys again?

2. Volunteer

Okay, so I probably volunteer too much. On Wednesday, I baked 22 potatoes for a Lenten dinner. They barely fit in my oven all at one time! Most of my volunteering is at my church and at both my daughters’ schools. Volunteering is a great way to get perspective on age! When I was teaching Sunday school, somehow the subject of Jesus’ second coming came up. I talked about how Jesus was going to come down to Earth and take us up to heaven to live with Him, and how happy we would be. Well, one fifth grade boy did not look so happy. “You mean we’re going to DIE?!?” he exclaimed. “I’m just a kid! I have things I want to do!” So I tried my best to console him and said I didn’t think the second coming was imminent, which was a little tricky as a Sunday school teacher.

Recently I also volunteered at a high school for a show choir competition. Lily was competing in her middle school choir (they sang the song at the beginning of this post), and I’ve never volunteered at the high school level before. It was fun to talk with parents who have older kids than I do; I was able to help out while they went and saw their older kids perform since Lily had already performed the night before.

How does this help keep me young? Volunteering gives you a different perspective, whether it’s caring for old or young people, feeding the hungry, or just volunteering with people different from you. Plus, you feel good after helping others! When my kids are older and I’m not needed at their schools, I hope to volunteer at a hospital or library.

3. Traveling to a new places

Oh, you know this is Ed’s favorite thing to do! Well, somehow he hooked me on traveling too. We had so much fun driving to Yellowstone National Park last summer and visiting a lot of different towns and states. I just booked a trip to Maine, a new state for me! I’m so excited about our summer plans!

How does this help keep me young? The anticipation and excitement of traveling to a new place keeps me feeling young!

What helps keep you young? Let me know in the comments!


Ash Wednesday: Reflections from a small town girl

I never give up anything for Lent. I was explaining to my husband last night that I hadn’t even heard of giving up something for Lent until I was an adult. Well, he said, it was probably because you didn’t know any Catholics when you were growing up. I thought about it, and yes, that was true. I grew up in a small town. By small, I mean no traffic lights, no public library, and no McDonald’s. We had a Lutheran church and a Lutheran school, and if you weren’t Lutheran, you probably didn’t go to church at all. People who live in the suburbs where I live now have a difficult time comprehending the smallness of a town with only 800 people on a good day. But I also had no concept of how Catholics observe Lent. Moving to the suburbs with a high concentration of Catholics changed all that. Signs in local restaurants advertised egg and pepper sandwiches, and I wondered why. Well, if you can’t have red meat, that sandwich would make a good lunch. And not only Catholics gave up things for Lent. When he was single, Ed gave up fast food for Lent, although now he doesn’t because he rarely eats fast food so it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice.

My Catholic acquaintances didn’t quite know what to make of me, either. The girl who sat next to me in homeroom was shocked when she heard my father was a priest! Um, that wasn’t quite right, as I explained that Protestant ministers are allowed to marry and have children. Just a couple of years ago, I mentioned to a friend that All Saints’ Day was difficult for me because I remembered my mom on that day. She was surprised that I, as a Protestant, even knew what All Saints’ Day was.

Today, Ash Wednesday, is an important day for both Catholics and Lutherans; for all Christians, in fact. It signals the beginning of Lent; a time of repentance leading up to Easter.

When I was young, unlike Catholic churches, we didn’t have the imposition of ashes on our foreheads for Ash Wednesday. An article I found about Lutheran worship confirms the loss of this ancient tradition:

“Lutherans at the time of the Reformation did not choose to retain the Imposition of Ashes. The reasons for this are not entirely clear since there is very little written for or against this practice by Luther and his colleagues. Thus, although Lutherans began Lent with Ash Wednesday, they did not retain the use of ashes as part of their Ash Wednesday order of service.”

Many Lutheran churches, including mine, have brought the ashes back into our worship service. It’s a great tradition, one that reminds us where we come from (dust) and where we deserve to go (ashes). The blackness of the ashes remind us of the darkness in our hearts; sins known and unknown. Doesn’t that understanding and knowledge of Lent increase the joys of Easter and the Resurrection?

On my heart imprint Your image, Blessed Jesus, King of Grace.




Knit Knot

For the past couple of days, I have been reteaching myself how to knit. I’ve become just a little obsessed, as a matter of fact, to the extent that I haven’t been cleaning the house, as you can so plainly see in my picture! Why am I having this sudden obsession with knitting, since I haven’t knitted in years and have never finished anything?

I signed up for a new Fellowship Group at my church called “Knit and Know Him.” So I think I’d at least better be able to bring my knitting needles and knit a little something! I started knitting this dishcloth yesterday, reviewing how to cast on, knit and purl. I picked a simple pattern called “Simple Weave,” although I think it looks like shooting stars. Don’t you? (Maybe not….)

To make up for my neglect yesterday, I have been all business this morning. I finished a small load of laundry (unheard of!) and put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. (What?!?)

And also, wrote a small blog post.

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10


Overwhelming Joy

I’ve been thinking about what I want to write about joy for a couple of weeks, but I haven’t actually sat down to write anything besides the Christmas letter I sent to my friends and family. It’s a familiar scenario for all of us writers, I’m sure. I’ve been so busy with my little family, and writing seemed like a luxury that I wasn’t able to give myself.

As I set about trying to find joy this holiday season, I almost lost it instead. At the beginning of the month, I wanted to put up the Christmas tree for the girls, and ended up cursing at the two strings of light that needed to be replaced. Yet Joy crept in and found me among the branches as Lily and Emmy excitedly planned where to put all the special ornaments up on the tree.

Bethlehem Walk

Both Lily and Emmy participated in choirs and piano playing this December. Making sure they made it to rehearsals on time and also nagging them to practice took a toll on me. Yet somehow, joy once again found me as I sat in the audience, spell-bound by the beautiful music both my daughters and other children were making.

Things that should have filled me with joy often felt stressful; making sure we had a babysitter for our night out; buying gifts for the family (and getting them wrapped); having to miss certain events because we were double-booked; all these things overwhelmed the joy I wanted to feel!

And to top it off, I had to prepare a Christmas dinner after attending two different church services. I had to sing and play the bells on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, both of which bring me joy. But who has time to meal plan with so much going on? I knew I was going to make a ham, but as I was grocery shopping on Christmas Eve, my entire meal plan changed as I decided to make the food simpler than I had planned. And let me tell you, no one has found joy standing in line at the grocery store on Christmas Eve.

It wasn’t until I was standing in the kitchen on Christmas Day, singing along to The Messiah, when I realized that I didn’t need to find joy. Joy would find me, no matter where I was. Joy found me as I sang the descant to Oh Come All Ye Faithful in front of the congregation and as I scrubbed potatoes in the middle of a cluttered kitchen.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

The Joy that is Jesus came to you and to me in a manger, as a baby, who was sent to us by God the Father to die for us. Overwhelming? Yes!

Isaiah 96

As we prepare for the new year, I hope that an overwhelming joy finds you as well, even as the lights are being taken down, the choirs are giving their voices a rest, and the leftover Christmas ham disappears. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!