Embracing Elderhood

While purchasing some second-hand pants recently I was asked by the clerk if I “qualified for the 10% discount.”  The blank look on my face led her to simply ask “55?”

Ah, I thought, she’s wondering if I am 55 so I can qualify for the “senior” thrift store discount. That’s.. just…great.

Although my face probably winced, I was gracious and resisted blurting out, “Yeah… in a DECADE I’ll be that OLD!”  Inwardly I was horrified that I looked older than my physical age of 44.

old folksAfter a bout of self-pity, I got to thinking…

What is so wrong with being thought of as 55?

Was I being vain?  Absolutely.  I was quick to scrutinize my looks after that.  Who was the culprit?  Was it my glasses, my hair style or lack thereof, my wrinkles, or my outfit that made me look 10 years older?

As I continued to fret over the woman’s question, it became all too clear that I’m an ageist too.   Why else would I react so negatively?

We live in a society that values Youth.

Except for underage, young adults trying to get into a local night club, people in general do not desire to look older than they really are.

No one wants to be old.  Most of the elderly patients I visit don’t want to be old. I even have a 95-year old woman who tells me nearly every time I visit with her, “Don’t get old.”

Getting old means your body and brain don’t function the way they used to.  You smell funny. You dress funny.  You act funny.  You are certainly NOT sexy.  You’re irrelevant, seen as out-of-date or out-of-touch, unable to keep up with the changing times.

These are stereotypes, of course, and sadly what younger generations are taught in various ways to think about the elderly.

Much to my joy, our church celebrated Elder Sunday this past week.

What a wonderful celebration of the individuals 60 and older in our congregation.  Our elders preached, sang, danced, prayed, and led our worship time.  After the service, the congregation had the opportunity to see the many talents of our elders who are writers, photographers, artists, mechanics, etc.

My children were especially impressed with a woman who began creating beautiful scenes with miniatures at age 60.  Her french knot rugs were truly incredible!! 25 years later she’s still at it.

Esther Morrison
My grandmother, Esther, who turned 98 this August!

We need more of these celebrations in our congregations, and in our towns and cities.

We must reclaim the sanctity of Elderhood, to honor our elders for the wisdom and insights they offer.

And for my own part?

I shalI honor the elder I am becoming.  I will embrace the changes, even at 44, I am beginning to see in my body.

I will celebrate the many life lessons I have learned.  I will rejoice that I am still alive to learn even more of what life and my faith have to teach me!

And yes, the next time I am asked if I qualify for the senior discount, I will resist the fear and stereotypes of aging by celebrating the sanctity of Elderhood.






From Girl to Woman

The media has been diligently documenting  the evolution of Miley Cyrus, child star from the Disney show, Hannah Montanamiley

I wasn’t overly shocked by her performance at the 2013 MTV Music Awards, but was disheartened with her recent music video, “Wrecking Ball”, in which she sways naked on, but of course, a wrecking ball and seductively swings, strokes and licks a sledge hammer.

Miley Cyrus is taking great strides at separating herself from the All-American Girl, Hannah Montana, as she moves into being her own woman.

Many girls, even outside of Hollywood, have taken this same pathway from girl to woman.   The young girl, body maturing, longs to be seen as sexually desirable. I get that.  My own understanding of being a woman in my late teens (and sometimes even now in my 40’s) was intimately tied to being sexy and beautiful.

Sandy from GreaseConsider the musical, Grease.

I love the sound track and definitely enjoyed my very minor part in our high school production of it.   But I am forever saddened with the dramatic transformation of main character, Sandy.

To finally get her man, she is persuaded into dressing seductively.  Olivia Newton-John, who plays Sandy, even provides a bit of tongue action when Danny, played by John Travolta, first spots the hot, new her. (Yes, long before Miley… the tongue thing has been done!)

My funny, talented, beautiful daughter turned 13 this past week.

As her body changes from child to adolescent to young woman, I am hyper vigilant about encouraging her to defy main stream definitions and to be her own young woman.  We discuss transformations like Miley Cyrus’ and ponder other ways the star’s emergence into adulthood could have taken place.   Perhaps it will be impossible, but I hope to help her avoid many of the body image traps I fell into at her age and struggle with still.

For both my daughter and my teenage son, I want them to know the joy of sex but to not be defined, judged or measured by how sexual they can be. I want them to love their bodies and to ignore the often impossible standards set before them by the media and the world of entertainment.

I want most of all for my children to intimately know themselves.

I long for them to realize and celebrate their gifts and skills using them for the betterment and healing of the world.

I desire for my children to know what they value (creativity? friendships? service? trust?) and to live by those values.

I hope they will have a sense of the Holy in their lives: to know for themselves what brings them peace and what enables them to not only survive, but to move through difficult times; to have a spiritual connection to the Divine, self and others.

As I was finishing up this post today,  I turned on the radio to hear for first time More Beautiful You by Jonny Diaz.   I love the chorus:

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies, disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

I don’t know Miley Cyrus…at all.  And perhaps I misunderstand her evolution.  But for a young woman who turns 21 next month, I suspect that she is only beginning to define and know herself.

In her journey,

in my children’s as they mature into adults,

in mine as I accept being middle-aged,

in yours,

may we trust that we are far more than sexual beings.

We are spiritual creatures capable of loving unconditionally, transforming pain, extending our hands and hearts to those in need, and dispelling hatred.  We are not only capable, but are called to do these things and so much more.

Know and believe that

You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do!

How are you walking the walk?

“I needed clothes and you clothed me,

I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Matthew 25:36


I can’t wait!

In September, I will be one of about 25 volunteers who will warmly welcome about the same number of women to their very first Kairos OutsideKairos Outside is a special weekend retreat designed to support the female loved ones of men and women who are or have been incarcerated.

I am so thankful that I was able to attend as a guest in 1996.  More than that, I am so blessed that my faith has grown and eyes have been opened to the power of God’s amazing grace throughout my many years of volunteering as a team member.

As a team, we work for months preparing for the retreat weekend by praying, creating, organizing, bonding, planning, and praying some more as we follow and trust in God every step of the way.  We are an interdenominational gathering of Christians whose goal is to bath these women in God’s unconditional love.  We believe the strongest way to do this is to “listen, listen…love, love.”

We want them to know that there is a community of individuals who loves them as they are.  We understand that their lives are not easy and that they are or were in the past “doing time” along with their incarcerated family member or friend.

We realize that they have dealt with isolation and rejection, anger and hopelessness.  Often they’ve been haunted by the poor choices they’ve made. They’ve have had dreams dashed and futures put on hold.  These women have been prejudged and looked down upon because they are involved with or related to someone (a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, child, friend, or parent) who is a felon.

Our hope for our guests on the weekend is that they will find the support they need through small group interactions.  It is a genuine support that continues long after they return home as they participate in future Kairos Outside events.

If you feel called to share this same unconditional love with inmates, Kairos Inside, an equally powerful program, is for you.

Wouldn’t you love to experience this for yourself—either as a guest or as a team member?  I highly recommend you check out the  website for Kairos Prison Ministry and see what they are doing around the world and perhaps even in your very own community.

Being a person of faith doesn’t mean solely “believing.” You’ve got to walk the walk.

Faithfulness involves taking your faith and using it to transform the world for the better. (Hmmm…makes me wonder if the Westboro Congregation believes they are doing just that. See my recent WTF?!? post for more on these misdirected people.) Anyway…

Go out and make a difference in the world!

Share God’s transformational love

in whatever ministry/volunteer program to which you are guided.







With Understanding Comes Direction…

Today’s Spiritual Prescription:

Know Thyself!

I can’t help but wonder if I had truly known myself—that I am discouraged by sunny skies and long summers—would I have still accepted the job that brought my family and me to the desert?  If I had realized how much I enjoyed being outdoors (on cool and/or cloudy days) would I have even entertained the idea of applying for a position in this region of the United States where much of my time would have to be spent indoors?

Life’s is funny like that, isn’t it?  It always makes much more sense looking back…after we’ve come through that which has taught us about ourselves.  I do believe, however,  we must take advantage of these life lessons.

If we look upon our past—be that our childhood, young adulthood or even last year–and examine ourselves with open eyes, we will begin to realize: to whom we might best commit ourselves (employers, lovers, friends, spouses, hobbies), where we might choose to live, how we would best spend our time and even our money.

I trust if we take the necessary time to understand ourselves and see the patterns, we will have a clearer direction for our future wherever we are on our life’s journey.


In this Spiritual Prescription take a moment to consider these things:

(This is only a sampling of important questions and a small list of possible answers…)


What brings you joy?

Solitude? Being active? Shopping? Children? Gardening? Chillaxing? Hunting? Reading a good book? Sex?

What do you value?

Honesty? Security? Family? Diligence? Acceptance? Intimacy? Frugality? Loyalty? Spirituality? Love?

What time of year is your favorite? Your least favorite?

Fall? Winter? Spring? Summer? Fog Season? Rainy Season? Mud Season?

What are your deepest fears?

Being alone? Commitment? Failure? Getting old? Rejection? Authority? Dying? Dependence? Betrayal?


When I made the decision to accept the job here in the desert I knew that I valued being close to family and feared being rejected.  The position brought us back to the West closer to friends and family and seemed to be a place where I was accepted for whom I was as a minister.  It also appeared to be an area that could offer my family new opportunities.

The decision to move certainly wasn’t made in a vacuum and much discussion was had. I simply never considered  asking myself, or my family for that matter, what brought us joy in our lives (For me: gardening, hiking, being near water, snow, cloudy days, rain, drinking hot tea daily, baking, enjoying the outdoors with my family, walking into town, sleeping under heavy blankets–and many more things that don’t exist or are impossible or harder to do comfortably in the desert).

When we can honestly name our patterns (the good, the bad and the ugly) and understand what makes us tick—to whom we are drawn , to which situations we gravitate, that which we desire or fear, and that which we thrive on—we are better able to make the choices that uphold the good and reject the bad.

Don’t be shy!

Look upon your life, peel back the layers, ask the questions and discover more deeply who you are.  It is in truly knowing yourself that you will more clearly discern your life’s direction and God’s plan for your future.


Today’s Spiritual Prescription:

Embrace Silence

I was not born a quite person.  At all.  My mother was told by a close friend that she’d never heard a baby (as in me) babble so much.  In fact, I didn’t learn to shut-up until I was in college. (All those who know me can stop laughing now…I still have my days, I know.)

It was my friend, Ted, that gave me the gift of silence.  Ted, who was a naturally quiet person, caught a ride with me to the SF Bay Area one school vacation. Poor guy—stuck alone in the car with motor mouth all those hours south and the same torturous hours back to college. It’s a wonder he didn’t seek out an alternate form of transportation for the return trip!

It was on the ride home that I began to hear and appreciate his quietness.  And it was through his silence—and the comfort I found in our friendship—that I learned it was okay to shut up and be quiet.  In doing just that, I began to understand that the void, the stillness, did not have to be filled with conversation or even music.  It especially did not need to be replaced with my endless, monologic babble. (Thank you, Ted, for such a valuable lesson!)

Our world is even more noisy today than it was back then.  I visit with far too many hospice people who are perfectly content to carry on a conversation with the t.v. blaring.  Children and youth, I’ve noticed, have become especially accustomed to and are more at ease with having background noises in their daily living. Silence seems to be a thing to be avoided at all cost!

And what about you?  When was the last time you were surrounded by silence…?

So here’s your Spiritual Prescription:

Zip it!

Turn it off!

Shut it down!

Embrace silence.  Seek out and make room for it in your life. 

Driving around town? Turn off the radio, unplug your I-Pod, or pop out your cassette or CD depending on the age of your vehicle. 😉

Home doing chores, making dinner, surfing the net? Resist the compulsion to add those background noises for the task at hand.

Living or working in an environment that’s noisy? Seek out places that support or are conducive to silence (the library, a place of worship, a meditation room, the great outdoors).

Do you have the desire to string endless sentences together because no one else is speaking?  Please, give that up!

Do not be afraid of silence.

The times I have felt closest to the Holy, when I believe I heard that sacred voice speak, is when I was immersed in silence.  I am beyond convinced that to grow deeper in our relationship with God and to grow spiritually, we must befriend stillness.

In doing so, we open ourselves to the possibilities of incredible revelations, desired transformations and those beloved, but unexpected ah-ha moments.

Don’t wait.  Embrace and practice silence today!

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10