Growing Older

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish
 in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”  Psalm 92:12-14
Recently I’ve been reading a book called Elderhood, by Louise Aronson, a geriatrician.  It’s an interesting book, and has a lot to say about how our doctors and medical establishment often don’t do a good job of treating seniors.  Our health goals and needs are different than younger adults.  Certain treatments and tests which are worthwhile for someone middle-aged and fairly healthy, can actually be damaging to a frail, elderly person.  As a former hospital buyer, I find this all very interesting, and I agree with most of her conclusions.
In addition, she speaks of how our society in general, favors youth, and older people are made to feel less valuable, and even “invisible.”  What stinkin’ thinkin’ this is!  Every stage of life has pros and cons, and not all age-related changes are for the worse.  Studies have shown that:
“… by their later sixties or early seventies, older adults surpass younger adults on all measures, showing less stress, depression, worry, and anger, and more enjoyment, happiness, and satisfaction.”
Older people often report that this stage of life brings freedom– they care less about what others think;  have greater confidence in their own abilities;  develop clarity of purpose.  Once retired and done with child-rearing, they are able to concentrate on the things that they enjoy and are most important to them.
More to the point, the bible verse above tells us that old age can still be a time of hope and growth–so it must be true!  God still has a plan for each of us. You don’t have to be young to mentor a teen, serve meals at the mission or send a card of encouragement, or even create a blog!
 Don’t be discouraged if you’re a senior citizen! We’re older and wiser;  we can continue to bear good fruit.

Hide Thou Me

In honor of Sean’s Libretto, Paradise, Lost Elvis Style, I thought I would publish one of the gospel songs performed by Elvis that he featured:

P.S. It’s also a favorite of my husband!

You can read more about Paradise Lost, Elvis Style in this previous post:

What’s a Libretto?

What’s a Libretto?

“A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.” (from Wikipedia)

I believe there was a Dr. Suess song entitled, “Oh The People You’ll Meet!”  It’s very true that there are so many interesting and amazing people all around us.  Each person has been created by God to be one of a kind, special and unique.  For example, my husband and I have been getting to know one of our neighbors a little better… going beyond the “hi, nice day” sort of aquaintance.  Well, it turns out that Sean has written a libretto.  In case you’re not sure exactly what that is ( I wasn’t), the definition is above.

The title of Sean’s work is “Paradise Lost, Elvis Style.”  I’m not particularly an Elvis fan, but I am an English major, so I was intrigued.  He gave me a copy to read, and a CD of the music.  I was impressed by the amount of work that went into creating this.  Sean used to be a long distance truck driver, and told us ideas would whirl around in his brain as he drove for hours, alone.

Of course, Paradise Lost, Elvis Style is a modernized, abbreviated version of the epic poem by John Milton that some of us studied in college.  The scenes in the libretto depict the fall of Satan from Heaven; his temptation of Eve resulting in sin and Adam and Eve being expelled from the garden of Eden;  a new, present day Adam (Adam Mann) who marries his girlfriend, Eve and is killed by Satan;  and finally, the apocalyptic battle in which Satan is finally defeated and Adam, Eve and others are received in glory amidst great joy.  Well-known Elvis favorites, many of them gospel songs, are creatively interspersed throughout the action, in the form of a “jukebox musical.”

I can imagine this winsome production being enjoyed by many people who would never read the original!  Certainly, it will hold the greatest appeal for fans and contemporaries of Elvis.

I give it 5 stars for charm and originality and would like to see it performed.  If you are interested in purchasing a copy, it is available from Amazon.

And just in case, you ARE a big Elvis fan and a Christian, here’s an Elvis quote for today:

“I’m not the King.  There is only one King.  And that’s Jesus Christ.  I’m just an entertainer.”




A Good Prayer to Start the Day by Martin Luther

Lord, grant that anger or other bitterness does not reign over us, but that your grace, genuine kindness, loyalty, and every kind of friendliness, generosity, and gentleness may reign in us. Amen

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all not only started the day with this prayer, but managed to stick to it?

Click on these links for more about Martin Luther and prayer:                                    Martin Luther on Praying for One Another

A Prayer by Martin Luther



The Abortion Divide — Film Review

Thirty-six years ago, on the first season of Frontline, a documentary film was aired which examined both sides of the abortion issue, focusing on The Reproductive Health and Counseling Center (an abortion clinic) in Chester, Pennsylvania.  This year, a second film has been made, revisiting the issue in the same location.

The clinic has now merged with another group and is called The Philadelphia Women’s Center.  There have been changes:  abortion centers in Pennsylvania are now required to comply with the same regulations as other surgery centers — this has increased expenses and resulted in a decline in the number of facilities.  Abortion providers are also now required to read a script which outlines options to abortion as well as possible complications from the procedure to all patients 24 hours before having the abortion done.  There are now bullet proof glass windows separating the employees from those entering, due to an increase in threats against the clinic.

The abortion divide has not lessened.  Volunteers still stand outside the clinic, trying to dissuade women from the decision to abort.  Crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes to assist homeless pregnant women have increased in the decades since the first film was made.

The makers of this film have presented both sides of the issue, but there is a subtle bias in favor of abortion.  Mention is made of the fact that many of the protestors are older men, along with a pro-choice supporter asking , “what right do they have to tell young women what they should do?”  and labeling it “pure hypocrisy.”  The new requirement that the clinics meet the standards of other surgery clinics has “made it harder for women to obtain health services.”  Mother’s homes which offer shelter to homeless pregnancy women “lack the resources to follow residents after they leave” and so their effect cannot be assessed.  Near the end, viewers are told that pro-life forces are “unmoved” by any arguments, and more dedicated than ever.

What could not be hidden was the guilt and sadness that almost every woman interviewed felt at the prospect of aborting her baby.  This is rarely an easier decision.  Those on the pro-choice side say “life is complicated and women deserve to have control of their lives.”  Those on the pro-life side would maintain “life is complicated, and we must help people make wise decisions about life and death matters.”

The Respectful Leader by Gregg Ward — Book Review

Although this is not specifically Christian, my borrowed copy came from Liberty University, so it is being read by Christians.  I’ve been studying a variety of books on leadership since that was a focus of our Fanning the Flame process (see Fanning the Flame #20 –The Leadership Dynamic).

The author, Gregg Ward, makes his point about respectful leading (which he also calls servant leadership) by creating a business “fable.”  Des Hogan, newly hired CEO of COR-Med has a mission — turn this failing subsidiary around in 6 months.  He’s surrounded by disrespect on all sides — employees and his boss.  Only Grace, an older maintenance employee seems to have the coaching skills necessary to help Des create a team that can improve performance.  It all hinges on respect.

Respectful Leadership is defined as:

“… giving others –regardless of their (or your) rank or status–the same kind of genuine regard and consideration that you want them to give you.”

It takes intentionality, emotional intelligence and conscious, consistent effort to lead respectfully, sincerely and effectively.

The benefits of respectful leading?

  • You will be more respected
  • Your team will be more respectful, productive, collaborative, trusting. loyal and willing to go the extra mile when necessary
  • You’ll be more resilient and better able to lead during times of transition and crisis
  • You will experience greater composure, confidence and satisfaction in your work
  • You will make a positive difference with others

Certainly all Christians who are leaders — and we all lead someone–should be respectful, servant leaders both within the congregation and in their workplaces.  This short book gives a list of helpful “dos” and “don’ts” that will help anyone improve their leadership style.

VERDICT:  5 stars

Fractured Families

A couple of days ago I wrote about the blessings of family — and I meant that sincerely.  However, in case you are thinking that my family is perfect, and we have great relationships with everyone — well, think again.  We’re no different than any other family this side of heaven.

My father was not a great dad.  He was never abusive, and he loved us, but he was not a good provider, and he was pretty self absorbed and neglectful. We weren’t estranged, and I forgave him, but we never enjoyed the close relationship you would hope to have with your dad.

One of my brothers is an alcoholic.  This disease has warped his personality and his ability to get along with others  It’s difficult to understand the way he behaves and thinks.  Some family members don’t want to be around him at all.

There are extended family members I never took the time to know and appreciate.  At my Aunt Lois’s funeral ( see How Aunt Lois Spent Her Time), her pastor spoke about what a wonderful Christian woman she was.  Evidently she was quick to visit the sick and homebound in the congregation with food and treats, and she taught Sunday School for over thirty-five years.  Sadly, I was “too busy” with my own life and children to spend time with her (although she invited me).

I could go on, listing my own failings and the failings of my relatives.  For now, all of our families are fractured, and sometimes we heal imperfectly and sometimes we never heal at all.  The good news?  As Christians, we get a do-over.  In heaven:

‘He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

When we get there, we (God’s family) will all be everything He created us to be.  We will not even remember our sinful habits and desires;  our relationships will be restored; and we will have eternity to be with one another.  If family is a blessing in the here and now, imagine what it will be like then!

Coffee With Mom by Mike Glenn — Book Review

Anyone who has been a caregiver to a parent with Alzheimer’s or dementia will find things to relate to in Mike Glenn’s musings about his mom. I did. (see my posts Wash One Another’s Feet?? and Washing Feet (continued)).  As the “decider” of the family Mike’s mom did not gracefully accept her son’s new role as her guardian.  She was often angry and she let him know it! She didn’t want to give up her car keys;  she didn’t want to move from the home she had lived in for years;  she didn’t want to leave her church for the one Mike was pastoring.  However, her continuing descent into dementia made these things necessary.

Mike came to see that:

“Her happiness was no longer the goal;  her health and well-being were.”

To others facing a similar situation he says:

“The only thing that matters is if you can live with yourself and the decisions you make…. No one has figured out Alzheimer’s.  Don’t be angry at yourself because you didn’t figure it out sooner, faster or better.  You did the best you could, and sometimes, that’s all you can do.”

Coffee with Mom: Caring for a Parent with Dementia

Mike maintains his relationship with his mother by stopping by for coffee with her every morning and is able, at times to relive family memories.  He realizes that her time at the piano is her way to pray, and he finds humor in some of her comments to him, many of which he “tweets.”  For example:

  • “My friends tell me you’ve been talking about me.  How do you get on that internet thing so I can talk about you?”
  • “Your sermon was short (I went about 22 minutes).  After all week, I thought you would’ve come up with a little more.”
  • Well, if you’re to going to buy me a car, get me a chauffer like that lady in the movie.”

Nobody’s journey with dementia is the same, but reading about the experiences of Mike and his mom can help us feel less alone.  This was a moving story, but frankly repetitive.  It would have made a better essay or article than a book.

Would you like to order this book? Follow the link below to learn more:


VERDICT:  4 stars


The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255


The Blessing of Family

“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.”  Psalm 128:3

We had a family gathering this past weekend.  My eldest granddaughter, Katelyn, graduated from high school and wanted to have a party.  My younger daughter, Kate, and her new baby drove up from South Carolina. Hello Hailey #2 We all got together at my niece’s house because she has a pool.  There were between thirty and forty people there, most of whom are related to me.  I sat and talked with my two sisters and one of my brothers, and it felt really good to see them because we don’t get together often.  We laughed and told family stories, and caught up on how everyone was getting along.  I felt truly blessed to realize how many people I have who love me and would help me out in a pinch;  and how many people I have to love.

Yes, it’s true, families can be irritating.  We don’t always agree.  We see the same people and the same situations from completely different perspectives.  In a large family, it feels like someone is always in crisis, and we’ve had our share of health issues, addictions, job loss, grief and disappointment. Life isn’t easy for anyone;  but how wonderful it is that:

“God sets the lonely in families …” Psalm 68:6a

Today I’m giving thanks for mine.  Every last one of them.


This Is Your Brain on Faith

You may recall that I recently posted about how different experiences can “change our brain” and create more empathy (see The War For Kindness by Jamil Zaki — Book Review). 

Well, I have more good news for you!  In the brain health class I’ve been taking at the local senior center, I’ve learned that religious disciplines such as prayer and meditation also change our brains in a good way.  Such practices calm down the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that regulates the fight/flight response to fear.  During meditation the brain becomes more balanced and we experience calmness and peace.  Over a period of time as short as eight weeks, the brain actually changes and depression and anxiety can be decreased.  (Of course, as Christians we know that we do not meditate on nothing, but on something, and even more important on someone!)  There is a relatively new branch of science called neurotheology which studies the effect of faith on the brain.  This quote from Why God Won’t Go Away:  Brain Science and the Biology of Belief describes some of the findings:

“The sensation that…. the Franciscans attribute to the palpable presence of God is not a delusion or a manifestation of wishful thinking but rather a chain of neurological events that can be objectively observed, recorded, and actually photographed. The inescapable conclusion is that God is hard-wired into the human brain.”

In addition, humans are a gregarious species, and isolation and loneliness contribute to dementia.  People who regularly attend worship services, and belong to a community of faith live longer, and have a reduced risk for developing dementia.  They are encouraged to forgive, and forgiveness actually rids your body of toxins!  They have a purpose in life, which contributes to staying active, excited and animated while aging.

My question is this:  why are people flocking to the gym, and not to church?  It looks as if the evidence points to this as a simple way to increase your health and quality of life.

My assignment for my next class is to write a personal mission statement.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I already have one.  You can read it by going to this post:

What’s My Mission?

My mission statement has helped me immensely in making important decisions about what I want to do next in my life, how I want to behave toward others and prioritizing.  I also recommend that everyone try to articulate their personal vision.