Pardon me… Am I “Elderly”?

This has been rolling around in my head for about a week. Normally, I wait for the Holy Spirit to give me a nudge to write something related to my faith walk. This isn’t one of those times. It’s more of an anecdotal observation.

My beloved Dad used to always tell me that “people” consider other people “old or older”, if they are fifteen years older than themselves. So, sure…when I was 35, I totally thought that someone who was (gulp) “fifty” was “old”. As my parents grew older I kept pushing that mark out further and further. When my Dad was in his eighties (but he felt forty-five on the inside…I know, because I asked him after I screamed at him to “get down off that ladder!”), I wasn’t really thinking that 80-something was old as I watched him competently drive around doing errands, snow-blowing a driveway that could conceivably hold seven+ cars, mowing the lawn, balancing a check-book, etc. I finally had to accept he was “old” when he passed away at ninety.

I remember several years ago when I had just entered my fifth decade, I was in a store, seemingly minding my own business, when a young boy, maybe seven or eight, came careening around the corner into the aisle I was in and nearly knocked me over! I heard his Mom calling after him and as he ran back to her, breathless, I heard him say, “I just ran into an old lady”. Wait!! WHAT!?! “Old lady? OLD LADY? C’mere kid so I can wash your mouth out with soap!” – at least that’s what I was thinking, but the kid wasn’t wrong…he was eight-ish and I was fifty-something so yeah, for all intents and purposes and certainly by his account, I WAS an old lady! :::insert bawling face emoji here:::

This “getting older thing” has a way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. Considerably less than a decade ago, I was slamming around on my Harley, riding fast, no hands, taking chances. Now? Fahgedaboudit! If I COULD manage to swing my leg over it and hoist it upright, that’d be about as much as I could manage. Oh, and that Harley’s for sale…hit me up and I’ll give you a good deal!

When I woke up one morning last year and looked in the mirror I was shocked! So shocked that I nearly banged my head on it as I zoomed in for a closer look. Neck wrinkles? Where did THESE come from! I didn’t have them the day before, but I’ve had them every day since. I really DO understand what my Dad was saying when I asked him how old he felt on the inside and he promptly replied, “Forty-five”. What I didn’t share was the rest of his statement which was, “I dunno, Tess…one day I woke up and looked in the mirror and there was an old man staring back at me and I have no idea when it happened.” :::Grabbing the tissue because this always made me cry!:::

How “old” do I feel? Well, on the inside, I’d say early 40-something. I dug my forties… probably one of the best decades of my life. I hadn’t hit menopause yet (perhaps that will be a forthcoming blog post), I got my motorcycle license at forty-two, I was pretty-much full of energy, I was killing it at work… working 10-12 hours a day in the office and probably another couple of hours at night when I got home. Raising two amazing kids along with my husband, and running a household. I was legit, killing it. And now, it’s all killing me.

I don’t have the stamina and physical strength that I used to have. My sharp-as-a-tack thought processes are more like a dull butter knife, sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes, and I just wasn’t expecting that. Honestly, I used to “pride” myself in telling everyone that I was gonna be “that 60 year old biker chick and that they’d have to pry those handlebars outta my cold, dead hands”. Well, the cold, dead hands part is right, anyway! (Thanks, carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve neuropathy!)

Age really IS “just a number”. Kinda like what’s displayed on my bathroom scale, which I’ve shoved in a corner until it apologizes to me! But in all seriousness, I know that each day is truly a blessing. Aging is a blessing. Not everyone is afforded the opportunity to grow old, and I don’t take that, or life, for granted.

My very best friend from high school (for over forty years) is my ride-or-die friend. We’ve been through so much together that I’m looking forward to growing older with her (and just for the record, she’ll turn 60 fourteen months before I do…just sayin’…).

Photo Cred: Pinterest

Ga’head, Father Time…add those wrinkles and age spots all you want! I’ll always be forty-something on the inside!

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

Who does God say you are?

I had the pleasure of hearing Pastor Matt Fry from C3 Church in Clayton, NC speak and bring the Truth at service yesterday at Granited United Church. One of the first things he asked was, “What label are you wearing?” Label? What label? Am I wearing a label? Geez…where is it? What does it say? Who gave me this label? Does it say “I’m anxious?”, “I’m not worthy?”, “I’m not good enough?” If you’re wearing a label and it doesn’t reflect who God says you are, it’s time to rip it off. The “Hello, My Name Is…” tag isn’t cuttin’ it because SOMEone, SOMEwhere gave it to you when you weren’t even looking and it’s defined you ever since.

Pastor Matt shared a poignant story from when he was a young boy regarding the “reading table” he was assigned to sit at in class. He promptly went, of his own accord, and sat down at the “advanced” reading table, confident that he was sitting where he was supposed to. Where God instructed him to sit, but the teacher asked him to move…to sit at the “average” reading table. There it is! The “label”…he didn’t ask for it, I’m sure he didn’t want it and although the teacher may have believed that this was the “right” table for him, she had no idea that in that one instant, she would define who he was…slapping an “average” label the size of Texas right across his chest. More importantly, even though the sign was invisible and no one else could see it, HE saw it…believing it in his heart. A teacher with good intentions…innocent enough, I’m sure, but a label-giver, nonetheless. No apples-on-the-desk for her!

Pastor Matt stated that we first need to “discover” who we are in Christ and then we need to “declare” who God says we are. In his book, “I Am”, Pastor Matt shows you how to unlock God’s power and purpose for your life by discovering who you are in Him. By exploring the seven “I AM” statements Jesus made in the Book of John, he unpacks key truths that will help you discover who He is and ultimately reveal your true identity in Christ. My husband bought the book at the Warrior’s Men’s Breakfast yesterday morning, so as soon as he’s done reading it, I’m going to dive in!

Pastor Matt provides free daily declarations that you can download from his website: http://www.mattfry.com

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Yesterday’s message came without coincidence as I’ve been trying to figure out exactly who God says I am. I’ve already peeled off a couple of labels that I unknowingly picked up along the way. Although some were slapped across my chest without my knowledge, there was one label, when I was fifteen (over forty years ago), that a teenaged boy gave me regarding my weight. I didn’t ask for it…I didn’t want it but I’ve worn it for over four decades. Only recently did I take a big black Sharpie marker and cover up what it said, but I haven’t been able to take it off…yet. I know I’m moving in the right direction and I’m clearly a work in progress. I am His. I’ll just straighten my crown, pull my shoulders back and remember Who I belong to.

I need to discover who God says I am and then I need to declare it. When it comes to me clearly, filling my heart with His wisdom, grace and love, rest-assured, an air horn and megaphone will be involved because I will totally be shouting it from the rooftops!

-Numbers 14:28- “As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very things I heard you say.” NLT

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

Whaddya mean, you want me to *SERVE*?!?

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Photo Cred:  Illinois Baptist State Association 

After I joined my local bible-based Christian Church, Granite United, I kept hearing chatter about “serving”.  Being new to the church, I was unclear as to what that meant.  As I continued attending service each week, the notion of “serving” began to unfold and before I knew what I was doing, I had filled out a “Connection Card” checking off the box for “Kids Ministry”.  Wait a second…”Kids Ministry”?  What could I, as a new Christian, possibly “teach” these kids about Jesus?  They probably know way more about Him than I do.  They’ll probably teach me a thing or two.  But okay… I committed to doing it…and so it began.

Easter Service…my first time in KM.  These little bright and shining faces looking at me like I knew what I was doing (I was as nervous as a tortoise trying to cross Route 93), but I just “went with it”.  I mean, these are “just kids” after all, right?

We played some games and did a lesson followed by an Easter Egg hunt.  I watched as one of the sweetest little girls on the planet handed over the “golden” Easter Egg that she had found to a boy who happens to be blind.  As I watched this transaction transpire, the waterworks came on and I was sobbing like a baby.  I had just witnessed a four year old angelic-looking girl gladly, graciously and lovingly give up the coveted golden Easter Egg to a boy who, although he couldn’t see it, knew it was a “big deal”.  He squealed in overjoyed delight, jumping up and down with a smile on his face that went from ear-to-ear.  I stood there placing my hand on the little girl’s shoulder and bending down to her level, told her how “very proud I was of her for giving him the golden egg and that was such an unselfish thing to do.”  Looking up at me with her big, beautiful blue eyes and an ever-present smile, she beamed, “I know!”  Being such a little girl, this was, in no way, a self-serving or self-aggrandizing statement.  It was “matter of fact”, as if she simply knew that what she had done was a “good” and “kind” thing.  :::I was still crying at this point, but reined it in a little so as not to alarm them:::

As we wrapped up the Easter Egg hunt, service had concluded and parents were arriving to pick up their kids.  Hugs all around and heartfelt “good-byes” ensued.  For those that know me well, know that sometimes I’m overcome by emotion and this day was no exception.  I got in my car and as I drove the 15 minutes to get home, my heart was so full of love and happiness over these kids, I continued to cry, barely being able to see where I was going.

So I’m a few rounds into KM and let me share with you how it’s changed me and what I’ve learned.  I’ve “taught” a couple of lessons… Noah’s Ark & God’s Rainbow and the Last Supper & Communion.  I’ve watched these kids be engaging, kind, selfless and loving.  I always used to jokingly say that I could never “run a daycare” because by the end of the day, when the parents would arrive to pick up their kids, they’d either find them hanging from the ceiling fan or duct-taped to the wall, suggesting that I’d never have the patience or wherewithal to “deal” with kids.  All joking aside, how wrong I was!  I am so thankful to be involved in Kids Ministry and knowing that it’s a committed process to teach children about Jesus in a fun and loving way; without it being too overwhelming for them.

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Photo cred:  Kids Matter Kids Ministry

Kids Ministry has taught me patience, to be able to see Jesus through the wonder-filled eyes of children.  It’s taught me about giving my time, willingly and lovingly, to assist these kids in learning about and coming to know Jesus.  After all, I’m a “Baby Christian”, so I’m learning right along with them.

Since kids can sometimes be unpredictable, there have been a few moments where things were going a little “sideways”, but through the loving hand of Jesus Christ, I found myself de-escalating a situation that otherwise may have ended with a ceiling fan or duct tape.  (Just kidding!)

In all seriousness, I never, in a million years, would’ve thought that I would be where I am today…completely devoted and ever-faithful in following Christ and serving in Kids Ministry.  These kids have impressed upon me their desire and willingness to know the Lord, and by His mercy and grace I will humbly do my best to help them on their journey.  I’ll hold their hands and take this walk with them, knowing that if either of us stumble, Jesus will be there to pick us up and help us continue on our way.

If you’re a part of the Granite United family and haven’t yet served in Kids Ministry, I urge you to do so.  Not only will you be helping kids learn about Jesus, you will be rewarded in ways you never could’ve imagined!

Matthew 18:2-4 [2]”And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [4]Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven’.”

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP