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Thoughts on retirement

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People have asked me “How is retirement?”  Any why not?  I’ve been retired (partly) for a full month and a few days.  I’m an authority.

But really, I am considering the changes that have occurred since January 17th,  I’m still trying to find the rhythm of being in this season of my life.

Thus far these are my thoughts on being retired.

  • There are still sheets to change, clothes to wash, meals to cook and dishes to clean up.  The saying is true, a woman’s work is never done.
  • I find that the two days I teach my piano students are still busy, and I’m too often rushing to complete tasks before lessons begin.  Needing a rhythm here.
  • I still get up early.  It seems natural, and I enjoy watching the sun rise.  But then I also go to bed early.
  • I love that I can linger a little longer over my Bible study, my secret time with Jesus.
  • I stay in my pajamas a little too long some days.
  • It is a good thing to shower, put on a little make-up and style my hair every day even when there is no place to go.
  • Sweet William and our little Buddy dog like me being home more.  They may be getting a bit spoiled.
  • It’s nice to eat breakfast in leisure with Sweet William.
  • Afternoon coffee is still a treat.
  • I am practicing the piano more and enjoying it tremendously.
  • I’ve said “no” to some things and “yes” to others.  I’m learning to be careful about my answers.
  • I’m heeding others’ warnings that retired life can become just as busy as work-a-day life.
  • My mind is not as frantic as it used to be.  I’m traveling in the slow lane a little more.
  • While I’ve almost always had older women in my life as role models, suddenly now I’m the “older woman.” I realize this is a grave responsibility.
  • People are the most important thing.  Giving them my time and a listening ear is one thing I can offer.
  • Ministry opportunities are ever present, and very often it is around the table, whether in my kitchen, someone else’s, or a restaurant.
  • God has designed my life and even now He has plans.  I want to be aware of it and be cooperative with it.

The Almighty knows me.  He has His eye on me.  He has surrounded me with Himself.  His hand rests lovingly on me.  I cannot escape Him nor do I want to.  His plan for me was written long ago.  He thinks about me always.  (Psalm 139)

This journey forward is an adventure.

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on choosing a word

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I am a blog reader.

I’m kind of choosy about what I give attention to and what I allow to wrinkle my brain.  There are favorites I have subscribe to so they are conveniently delivered to my email.

Over the years some of my blog friends have chosen a word in January to guide their entire year.  At first I was just an observer of this process.  But this year, this first year of my retirement, I’ve decided to follow their example and choose a word for myself.  Actually two words.

Rest and Space.

I’ve been a busy person for a lot of years.  It seemed impossible not to be.

Sweet William and I experienced some life-changing events in our 30s that changed our plans.  I was placed in a role I never would have chosen, a burden I never dreamed I would carry.  Nevertheless it became mine.  Sometimes the load was very heavy.  And it became my lot to be very busy, very responsible, very tired.

So many of my days were spent going from one job to another.  Once I characterized myself as the Queen of Part-time Jobs.  It was not a royal reign.

I admit some of my busy-ness has been of my own making.  I’ve taken on responsibilities that were not my calling.

I’ve been stressed at times.  Overworked.  Over committed.

As I begin a new journey this year, I don’t want to live out the rest of my days in total overload.

Thus my words.  Rest and Space.

I question how I may accomplish this mountainous goal.  I can only try by keeping my focus.  I’m sure I will fail at times.  My bent is toward activity.  My inclination is to see an opportunity or a need and say “I can do that.”  I’ve been known to volunteer too quickly only to regret it later.

One thing I have learned is that when I am in God’s will and I’m using the gifts He has given me there is great joy and fulfillment in the project, even it if wears me out.  But if I am doing something on my own, perhaps what someone else is really called to do instead of me, I begrudge the time and can’t wait for it to be over.

I am more than willing to serve where the Lord calls me.  But sometimes I’ve served where He didn’t call.  I’ve heard it said that when we take a position where we are not called, we actually keep someone else from using their gift.  I ponder that.

So this year, 2014, I will focus on the ministry God’s has given to me.  Sometimes that is right in my own home.  Sometimes it is at church or community.  Sometimes it will be somewhere completely unexpected.

I will consider the opportunities to serve, pray for God’s guidance, and answer carefully.

I will receive the gift of space in my surroundings, my home and my life.  I will learn to “be” more than constantly “do” more.

I will allow my spirit, soul, and body to rest in the One who made me and prepared a good work for me to do.

He knows the way that I take.  I’ve strayed from that path a time or two.  I’d like to walk it right this year.

Your comments are so welcome.  I love reading them.  I’d really like to know what you think.

new years

100_1778 Already well into January and I still ponder 2014.

When I was a girl, too young to know better, I made a list of resolutions and expected to keep them.  Mostly they were simple things like keeping a daily diary or some other such worthy project.

I gave up resolutions when I grew up.

In the 1990’s I began making goals, listing them by categories like career, financial, health, home.  Some I accomplished, some just went to the next year . . . and the next year . . . and the next. Some went backwards, like my weight.  One year it was “maintain weight,” then went to “lose 10 pounds,” until it now becomes “don’t get any fatter.”  Yikes.

The past several years have been such roller coaster rides of being in and out of the hospital with Sweet William, and care-giving was what I did and what took all my energy. I have anticipated many a January 1 hoping for something different from the year before.  But sometimes it just becomes the next day.  My first journal entry of 2012 went something like this: “Another new year, another new day.  It just continues from what was.  A new year does not suddenly change all of our circumstances.  They follow us into 2012, almost like a ball and chain.”

I was having a bad day.  A bad year.

Today begins a new journey for me, one I’ve anticipated for a while. Today is my last day as director of the Academy of Arts at Little Flock Baptist Church where I have spent almost seven wonderful and adventurous years.  I could not have asked for a better job during my silver season.  Challenging work.  Great boss.  Fun co-workers.  Happy environment (most days anyway).  Music everywhere.  A piano just a stroll away.

I have absolutely loved my work at the Academy.  Watching young and older students learn to play an instrument and hearing them show off at recitals twice a year has just been marvelous. I will miss it.

Yet, I feel the guiding hand of the Lord closing one door and opening another.

My pastor’s sermon Sunday challenged me to think about the days ahead.  And I pray that God will guide these next days of my life.  What does He have in store for me?  What does He want 2014 to look like?  What gifts will He daily give?  What challenges will face Sweet William and me as we fall into the Father’s arm and trust Him for sufficient grace?

I don’t know the answers to these questions.  I only know there will be fresh mercies for each new day of the rest of my life.

Psalm 16 speaks truth to me today.

“I have set the Lord always before me.   Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure.  You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”  (verses 8, 9, 11)

My life is in His hand.  My days are His to use as He sees fit.  He has preserved me in my past.  He is with me in my present.  He will guide my future and will keep me in the palm of His hand.

Amen.  So be it.