Thursday, November 15, 2012

Those Who Have Crossed Over........40

When I was in my 20’s I started longing  to be in my 40s? It wasn’t that I didn't  have any fun. I was having the time of my life: married, no kids, double income, busy in ministry, traveling the world to help other people. I loved my life. But something seemed to be missing as I soaked up the words of my 40 year old friends. First of all, the fact that a 40 year old (mature) woman would spend more than 5 minutes in conversation with me…  total miracle! Why? because as a 20 something year old, I was a “know it all” who viewed life thru the eyes of today with no care for the future. Voting was optional, kids were definite and I was gonna be a definite good mom. I was always right, you were wrong.

As you well know, not every 40 year old woman embodies these traits below. Goodness, I know women in their 60s that still don't have their heads on right. Then again, I've met women in their 20s and 30s who peeked early in on them! :) These are merely my young observations...not facts! So what was it that I saw in those 40 year old women that caused me to temporarily wish away my 20s? I noticed a few things about them.
1. They don’t care what others think. It isn’t that they are unmindful
of othes' opinions; they are just not allowing those opinions to clout or leverage their fashion, values, or physical shape! They are untainted by the insignificant values that pour out of culture of today.

            2. They are resolute moms with a passionate purpose in life. They don’t seem
            to be mindlessly wandering through the forest of morals/values. Their minds are made up on what
            is best for their kids.

            3. They know what they want to be as a grown up! They are actively pursuing
            their dreams, hobbies, and job of choice. It is never too late to start back to
            School or start training for a marathon. Why not?

            4. Dating their hubby is a deep conviction that they wouldn’t sell. Date nights
            are precious, common, and most of all fun. Because they actually live with their man
            and choose not to merely co-exist, they respect their best friend. They choose not to 
            degrade him in public or private. They protect him at all costs and boasts of his strengths.

            5. They are at peace with their feminine shape. They have gracefully accepted the
            battle scars, stretch marks, and any other mommy ‘medals’ that come along with
            age and parenthood. That doesn’t mean they embrace the idea of letting the body die to waste and
            junk food. It just means they don’t fret over the scars, wrinkles, and shapes that
            they cannot control or change. Fix what they can, welcome the rest.

            6. They stop taking theirselves so seriously and instead take life a little more
            seriously. Voting is important, recycling is a good habit, and visiting all
            the food groups, not just the breads and desserts, becomes a healthy life style.
            Diets don’t exist, just healthy eating plans.

            7. The need to be heard and liked by everyone at the party becomes obsolete.
            They are the ones at parties that have conjured up a small group of other
            women and are just enjoying the conversation of a few instead of the eyes of
            many! Listening is more important than speaking.

            8. Topic of conversation seems to be less about decorating, new toys, and
            fashion and more about the future of  family, our country, and compassion
            for other people.

            9. They are open to others' opinions and are not always bent on being right. They are willing to
            hear what others say before expressing theirselves, and at times holding back
            and wisely choosing their words.

10. They see the big picture in life! Life isn’t about her but Him and understanding how He uses her to serve everyone else. Life is bigger than her.  She is only a part of this temporal time on earth. Bottom line- she gives everything over to God. 

Now, I still have 3 more years to go before I cross over and thank goodness! I could barely cross out 2 of those traits listed above. So there is hope; I have 3 more years to grow! But I am enjoying today and looking forward to tomorrow. No looking backwards.........that causes serious tripping and knocking into things like pride, self-pity and other ugly traits. 

I have been graciously blessed by many seasoned women who have entered life ahead of me with elegance, wisdom, and a spirit of humility. They continue to leave deep impressions on my soul with their gentle guiding and leading. Thank you Lori, Janie, Sheryl, Robin, Maryanne, Lisa, Julie, Barbara, Marcia and Amy, Kineka, Helen, and Mom. If their names don't give away their generation, then what does! I love it! I was inspired to write this as my friends Julie and Diana approach a new decade in the next few weeks. They are amazingly beautiful women who have greatly inspired me :)

And yes........that is me when I was in third grade with my BFF. Here I am many decades later with a daughter the same age as I was in that picture. Life really does fly!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Making Money Matter

Christmas is around the corner and lots of talk of gifts, charity, and cookies in our house right now. Every year we always help out another family in need. It's been fun to watch and encourage our girls to buy for someone else during a season in which the focus is on them (kids in general). We have been trying to shift the focus more and more each year. Even though we have always given only 3 gifts under the tree, it still seems to steal away the real reason of the celebration. In our home, we celebrate this time of year due to the birth of Christ. We not only focus on the birth of Christ but how fortunate we are this time of year and how desperate the rest of the world is. Talking about kids in other countries isn't just a one time thing in our home. We are always finding ways to talk about the less fortunate and opportunities to help others in America, Africa, Asia, or anywhere for that matter!

Since we usually do Operation Christmas Child with World Vision, we also received a magazine about different ways to help provide for kids in other countries. This year the magazine made a huge impact with my 2 girls. They stared, flipped, and gasped as they contemplated the possibilities of purchasing cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, and fruit trees for other families. So, we decided to start saving now for next December. The girls decided they wanted to purchase a dairy cow, since it wouldn't be 'killed' and the other animals would be eaten and it made them sad. They are still grasping that concept! LOL... So, they give part of their allowance each week to 'giving' (church) and this year it will go to the 'Cow fund'. I'm excited!

This is a tough concept to teach in a country that wants for nothing and has more than needed. I speak mostly of our family. We are spoiled beyond measure and blessed. Because there is nothing wrong with blessings and wealth, we have decided to share what God has given to us. It may not seem like much at times but it's what we can do. Will our kids still receive gifts? Of course!! We've just tried to scale down and possibly move past the 'large' gifts and stick to simple needs/wants so that more time/money can be given to others.

Instead of focusing on being thankful in November we are gonna try something new this year. We are gonna use the advent calendar to focus on what we are thankful for in our family each day in December. It is only natural to be focusing on the many Christmas parties, cookies, and gifts for our family and what we want to do and buy this month for us. Being thankful for  the blessings given to us by God and the biggest blessing of all, His birth, can really change our view. It would be so cool to one day prepare enough in advance so that we gave something away each day in December. This year we will give away of our time, words, and Alexander 'treasures'. It's a start. My guess is that our kids will either be amazing givers one day and turn into selfless people or end up in years of counseling cause their parents deprived them of the traditional Christmas Treasures! LOL

Christmas is my favorite time of the year! I bake, decorate, and always, always, always buy a real tree the day after Thanksgiving. So yes, we do participate in the spirit and culture of Christmas in the USA as much as the next person. It's just that we are hoping to keep the focus on Him and not us. :)