Friday, April 26, 2013

Finding encouragement and community as an old-er woman

At 44, I am what many (myself included) would consider an older woman. Not old necessarily, but old enough to be old-er. The distinction is important, at least to my vanity.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not aging well. I do, of course, suffer from the usual physical effects of forty plus years on this earth: the gray hair and the corresponding appointment with my hairstylist every 6-8 weeks, the wrinkles, the hormonal migraines that take me down for nearly a whole a week at a time, just to name a few.

Growing old, it's not a pretty sight.

But it's the unexpected repercussions of these middle years that have me reeling: the sudden grief over an emptying nest, the regrets of past failures and deficiencies, the question of "What now?"

Don't get me wrong. I like my 40's. Life is good here in the middle years, good and rich and happy. Yet there is also much that is confusing and stressful and surreal and, well, hard. It can be a lonely stage of life and a difficult one.

I've mentioned before my entirely unofficial and completely unscientific observation that there is much being currently written for young moms: blogs, books, and so on. The worn out and weary mom knee deep in toddlers and diapers--and I have so been there--can find much encouragement and community among the many resources and blog posts written to her and for her (and, in many cases, by her). This is totally a good thing. I do not deny the benefit or the blessing of these resources--not at all! I know I, and my mothering, could have greatly benefited from the gospel wisdom of these young mom bloggers. Being a young mom can be a lonely stage of life and a difficult one and young moms are right to seek out the encouragement and community offered via social media and other outlets.

Yet, and also as a result of my entirely unofficial and completely unscientific observation, it seems there is a deficit of similar resources for the older woman. We too are in a lonely stage of life and a difficult one and yet similar resources of encouragement and community seem harder to find online. Over on my personal blog, I surmised why so few of us are blogging through these middle years of our lives. I don't have all the answers but it's an interesting phenomenon to ponder. In the interest of full disclosure, my own blog has suffered a similar fate. I too have been part of the deficit.

Whatever the reasons behind our blogging reticence, we older women are also desperate for encouragement and community.

Our challenges in the middle years no longer include tantrums at the grocery store (ours or our kids') but, like the younger mom, indeed like women of all ages and stages, we well know our own insufficiencies. In fact, we see them in sharp relief, particularly as we compare ourselves to the current directives for younger moms. All that I should have done and didn't, as well as the burden of all I did do and shouldn't, I grieve both. But the gospel tells me neither I nor my failures are beyond the Lord's capacity to forgive and redeem. Because Jesus paid the penalty of my sins, all of them, whatever it is I see as I reflect on my past (or present), there is no condemnation, glory to God!

Additionally, many of us older women are enduring one transition or another, be it empty nest, retirement planning, or caring for our aging parents, or all three. For example, those of us who are old-er moms know that much of our parental influence has now passed--not all, mind you, but much. With this realization in mind, we must cling to the sovereignty of a God who seeks and saves His own and we must trust Him for our children.

In all transitions inherent in this stage of life, we need to exhort ourselves and each other to stand strong in the Lord and His sufficiency. We can trust Him for what we need, no matter how uncertain our days may seem nor how overwhelming our obligations feel. We have this confidence because of the good news that Jesus has saved us and He will indeed give us all things in Him.

The middle years can also be lonely ones. However, even if we aren't blogging or writing books, we often have more freedom in terms of how we spend our time than our younger friends. I've found it's important for me to be intentional in seeking and creating community with women from all ages and stages. I have my husband, yes and amen, and he is my closest friend and an incredible support and encouragement. I am profoundly grateful for him but I also find great blessing in my friendships with other women.

Sometimes, though, this kind of community is not so easily accomplished. I'm busy, you're busy, our young mom friends are busy, and sometimes it's just easier to neglect our need for community. Maybe it's the introvert in me, but I often have to repeat to myself, "The Lord is about people, Lisa!" To that end, I teach Bible study, I volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center, I am friends with many from the younger mom set--these are important outlets as well as critical opportunities to experience the kind of gospel community that fosters discipleship and accountability and, yes, commiseration. A shared journey is an easier journey, yes and amen!

I am grateful for blogs like this one and the friends here who offer both encouragement and community as they point me to Jesus. But beyond the blogs there is great encouragement in the truth of gospel grace and in the relationships the Lord has afforded me. Both help me as I navigate my older years.

Are you an older woman? Do you find the middle years difficult? Why or why not? How does the gospel encourage you in the unique struggles of your stage of life, old or young? Where do you seek community? Let us know in the comments below; your comments and conversation are important to us!

56 comments:

  1. Love this. As you well know, I've shared many of your observations. I have struggled much more this year than previous ones, and I'm sure it's because all three are away now. I've struggled with feeling so hopelessly out of things, and like I need to re-invent myself. Thanks for being an encouragement to me!

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    1. Thank you, Kim. I am glad that we share a similar journey because, as I said in the post, a shared journey is an easier journey! :)

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  3. Oh wow could have wrote this. You put into words things I have been feeling, and I am sitting here trying not to bawling my head off. It is a good stage of life, but yes a lonely one too (of our own doing and due to the way things are). I guess I should be serving more, and returning wisdom but in some areas my life is still spinning. I am weary of "new" and just want to be established. But then again are we ever established. Goodness I could ramble, great post.

    Lori K
    www.lorisreflections.com

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    1. Thank you, Lori. I am glad that the Lord used this post to bring you encouragement. May He grant you sustaining grace in this stage of life! He is faithful!

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  4. (Trying again now that I've had some caffeine and breakfast. :0)

    Love your post, Lisa. The gospel does encourage me. Without it I would be a basket case of should'ves, would'ves, and could'ves. I'm also grateful to a local church that doesn't pigeonhole me as a member of an age or marital category but sees me in Christ first and foremost.

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    1. Amen, sister. You and me both (on the necessity of caffeine for clarity of thought as well as the desperation of the should've, would've, could've apart from the gospel)!

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  5. Lisa - I think it's a universal longing for Christian women to feel this way - at 61 the coulda, shoulda, woulda regrets have (somewhat) eased regarding things like parenting - but it's morphed into new regrets. I feel like I've got one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel and I'm keenly aware that my time to live for Christ here is running out fast - yet I still fall on my face regularly with my own sin and weakness. I also feel that the community of women my age who share my perspective is very small - maybe that's because there are relatively few involved in social media. So thankful for all you younger "older" women.

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    1. Oh Diane! I feel exactly the same way. I agree that this is probably a lifelong longing. . . . and maybe it's one that increases as we grow older, because the list of regrets just grows longer and longer as we live longer.

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    2. I am thankful for both of you and for the perspective and community you extend to me. "One foot in the grave and one on a banana peel"--now, that made me laugh!

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  6. Ditto on the blogging. I'm still busy, but less of it is about my kids now. However, I still have two boys at home who are attending the local college. I LOVE that they are still home, and yet, I realize that there will come a time when they need to move out & on with their lives. (In fact, it's looking like I may have to push them out. LOL) It will be so quiet once they're gone. I'm not sure how I feel about that. But, then again, we move on to the next phase in life...being grandparents! It's the most wonderful thing because they come to play & have fun, and then they go back home to their house, & while we collapse, exhausted) into bed. And we are glad that we had our kids when we were young because there is NO way we could do it now. :)

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Sandra! Grandmothering is a joy I've yet to experience but I know that it is wonderful!

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  7. This has been a transition year for me to be sure. First year in the empty nest. It's been wonderful in many ways, but unsettling in other ways as I question my purpose and worth anew.

    I feel like I don't quite fit in with the young moms anymore but I'm not in the grandmother crowd either. I've found more freedom than ever, but with that comes a responsibility to myself to make sure I'm using it wisely. Because who else even knows what I do all day besides God? ha.

    So thankful for his grace to see us through all our transitions! Great post, Lisa.

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    1. Ditto, my friend. Ditto on transition and it being wonderful yet unsettling and ditto on not fitting in. May the Lord grant us both wisdom as we navigate this transition!

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  8. Feeling the loneliness of the empty nest years. One at college this year, another leaving for college next year and one at home attending the community college. Not feeling like I have a purpose. Guess i need to find out what I should be doing.

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    1. I understand the impending loneliness of the emptying nest. My oldest has left home and my others will be following soon after him, one right after the other it seems. I will pray for you, Brenda, that the Lord will grant you discernment as you seek to serve Him!

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    2. I too understand this loneliness. We recently moved away from the home we raised our kids in. My husband retired early and we downsized to a more affordable area in Puerto Vallarta, MX. Have met no Christian women here. My daughter is married and has a 8 month old baby but lives very far away from me. So does my 25 year old son. I homeschooled my kids from 5th/3rd grades on through high school, had a great support system throughout. I had no idea how different my life would become without the purpose of raising my family. I am trying to learn just who I am again. Got lost there in my "mom" role serving others' needs above my own. Now what? Don't know yet. Thanks for sharing. I really appreciated your transparency.

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    3. Thank you for your comment, Barbara. May the Lord grant you a renewed sense of your identity in Him as well as a passion for serving Him wherever and whatever He places in your path. He is faithful and He will do it!

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  9. I love my middle years. I'm 49 and a grandmother to a 1-year old I was saved at age 40 after a lifetime in and out of church. I am not lonely, though I do wish I saw my two grown kids a little more often.

    I rather like the way I look. I think I look softer and more approachable. I'm more comfortable in my skin...perhaps because it fits a little more loosely.

    I'm not sure I like that "for your age" is now tacked on to the end of any compliment on my appearance. But, hey, "You look great, for your age!" is better than silence. I also don't mind the freedom from sexiness. What a burden I never knew I was carrying - to be "hot". Sheesh! Someone needs to tell the younger gals that for every degree of hotness they add, they lose a degree of respect, as well as the ability to be taken seriously. I like being able to talk with men without that odd tension.

    Also, I am finally finding myself able to overcome some inhibitions. I care less about making a fool of myself. I am trying new things for the first time since I was a kid,and taking up old talents laid aside during my mommy years. I'm drawing and painting, and overcoming a lifelong fear by learning to sing and act.

    The hardest part of middle-age for me is the constant and insistent sense that I am running out of time. The ticking of the clock seems incessant. I need to learn to trust God for what time I have left, that whatever it is He has for me to do will get done in the time I have left. I also need to steadily evaluate which of my goals are to His glory, and which to my own. With those categories clear, I should be able to prioritize the hours I have left.

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    2. I thank God for His faithfulness to you both! Thank you for these testimonies of the good things about the middle years and they are good. I like my 40's and life in this stage is rich and full. I well understand the tension of wanting to be wise in choosing my priorities. May the Lord grant us much grace and wisdom! Thank you both for your comments!

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    3. You know, I'm 45, empty-nested divorced working mom who came to faith at 40 too, and RE: "hotness" - it isn't just the respect people might have for you that is hurt - young ladies who are considered attractive (particularly single ones) or have an "air" about them tend to have bigger challenges with loneliness and assumptions that people make about them, true or not - over time it can easily lead to a fear of reaching out or even making eye contact with people lest they misinterpret your intentions or you naively lead yourself into danger. But add a few years and a few pounds and that magically goes away! :) I was just remarking last night at a "Supper of 8" table filled with folks ranging in age from 20 to 70s, how freeing I am finding it to be now that I am a little older, a little heavier, I have a much greater freedom to simply be friendly without people taking me the wrong way. So very liberating! I get to be congenial to the stranger and reach out in love to the sister or brother without being perceived as a threat. The 20 yr old young lady was enthusiastically nodding her head. She knows the difficulty already. This is a wonderful place to be in life. Hard, yes. But good.

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    4. " I also need to steadily evaluate which of my goals are to His glory, and which to my own. With those categories clear, I should be able to prioritize the hours I have left."

      I am going to help you with that a little bit, dear Laurie! Back to blogging! Back to those merciless and unforgiving draft pages! Back to showing us the Beauty that can come from the seeming cold Ashes of our seeming ruined lives. I was so glad to peek over there and see a new post.Whew, I thought. She hasn't forgotten about us.

      I have sent folks to your site from mine, when they ask me for the practicalities in the fight for joy. I don't write them, because you have already said everything that needs to be said, and so well. You definitely"raise horizons" -- http://lauriemo.blogspot.com/search/label/depression Check out her series, "Thoughts Captive, if you struggle with depression or anxiety or emotional distress.http://lauriemo.blogspot.com/2012/02/thoughts-captive-part-6.html

      So there you go, some direction -- but I am not the voice of God, for sure. Just his little helper!

      your friend,
      Karen Butler

      Your blog is such an encouragement to those of us who struggle. I am sure your singing is wonderful, and if your painting is as beautiful as your taste in literature and music, we should expect to be thrilled. But I miss your writerly voice.

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    5. Wow, Karen, what a surprise to run into you here! It has been a while. I haven't felt like I have anything to say lately, which is why I haven't been blogging much. Also, while I was leading a study at church I had very little time and got out of the habit. (I am writing a short story - all two paragraphs of it that is. My first attempt at fiction.) But I will take your voice as a reminder and encouragement. I didn't know whether my writing was really helping anyone, really making a difference, and really worth all the hard work you mentioned. Knowing people are blessed is the best encouragement I can think of. I will ask the Lord to guide me into the next thing then.

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    6. Barbara, I know what you mean. I was a young woman who based a lot of my confidence on my appearance. It opened many doors for me, but shut many of the ones that mattered most: love, trust, depth of relationships, both with women and men. At age 40 my then-husband left me for a younger woman. What a way to begin middle age! Yet it was then that I began to look to Christ in earnest and 2 1/2 years later I married a man who had been my church friend for some time. We married more to perpetuate our friendship into perpetuity than for any other reason. I know I was not his "type", nor was he mine. He is the first man I've ever known who actually loves me more than the package I am wrapped in. He has encouraged me to develop and grow in the areas that really matter, those from which the roots of true beauty find their nourishment.

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  10. Must read - Lost in the Middle by Paul Tripp!! Such good stuff!

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    1. Adding it to my list... Thanks for the recommendation!

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  11. Thank you for your post. I am 56 years old, mother of 28 and 26 year old, one grand baby (8 months). This is such a difficult season of life. We recently sold our house of 28 years, after my hubbie retired in January, and loaded up a Jeep Wrangler and moved to live full time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was all very sad but also very exciting:) I am very lonely for Christian fellowship here. We have met a lot of people, super friendly and nice, but all non- Christians. I find myself feeling more on "mission" here, but still starved for a strong Christian friend. I see God using me with a few women here, and that has been really neat but also very challenging. When we lived in the States raising our family we spent most of our time with Christians. Bible studies galore, great Biblical teaching/churches. In MX, it is a lot different. I also find this season to be exhilarating in the freedom to spend so much time by myself with the Lord, really fellowshiping with HIM. I too want to make these last years of my life "count". I guess I just didn't realize how hard it would be to "let go" of my kids----so hard for me, a homeschooling mom. And how alone I would feel as a Christian woman during this season of life

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    1. What a great opportunity to serve your new friends! May the Lord grant you much grace in this new season and show Himself strong and faithful on your behalf...

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  12. Wow. I am so encouraged to read the comments here and to know I'm not alone in the many mixed feelings I'm having lately. I just turned 50--a milestone I fought with every part of my being. Vanity, to be sure. :) But more than that, I struggle with the loneliness of this stage of life. I love watching my daughters grow and fly from the nest, so I don't quite feel that sadness yet, but there is just something--something--about this time of life that feels strange. Maybe it's the feeling that I'm running out of time, as Laurie said. I wonder if I've done as much for the Lord as I could have.

    Thanks for the encouragement, ladies!

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    1. Thank you for your comment, friend! Isn't it great to know we are not alone?

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  13. I think part of the feelings I have is that we lived in a very youth-saturated culture. I am not 35 years old any more, or am I 85 with years and years of experience. So, it can be difficult to wonder where I "fit." Yesterday, my friend and I were sharing our thoughts that we have learned things, and have gained some wisdom, but we don't know where to "spend" it! Many young women are eager for older women in their lives, but many are not. This time with kids away from home but no grandchildren can feel unsettling. I keep reminding myself to study, and write, and help where I can until the inevitable day comes when I am busy with aging parents, grandchildren, or possibly an ill spouse. This time is good for storing up God's word!

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    1. I think your point about the youth-saturated culture is a wise one and spot on. And, yes, let us be faithful to store up God's Word!

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  14. I'm here from a link at Challies, and so glad to discover this blog. I'm 55, have been married 33 years, have three sons ages 28, 25, and 19. My older two left the nest at the same time 3 years ago, one to get married, and the other to move several hours away, just about the same time that we moved from the home they grew up in to go to another state. Quite a blow to have all of that happening at once. The hardest part is the intense missing them and not being part of their everyday lives. Texting, Facebook, and Facetime or Skype all help with that (when I was first married, I could only afford to call home once a month!) But there are perks to the empty nest as well -- more freedom to pick up and go like early married days, less housework and laundry, fewer dishes, greater freedom in scheduling my day.

    You're right, though, that most blogging is geared toward young moms, and I remember so well that in my young mom years, I needed all the encouragement I could get. But there's not so much for older moms and the challenges we face. Even my own blogging to encourage women has been geared mostly to younger women, though I wrote one post on why older women don't serve in the church as they might have in younger years (http://barbarah.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/why-dont-older-women-serve/) and about ways they can serve (http://barbarah.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/how-older-women-can-serve/). But you've prompted me to think of more ways to encourage ladies in the "afternoon" of life.

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    1. Welcome! I am glad you found us. Like minded blogging women are a great blessing!

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  15. Thanks for a great article--but I am one of the exceptions to the life of an "old-er" woman. I was married in mid/late 30s, had both my boys in my 40s, thereby having TEENS in my 50s......Now when many people are grandparents, I am "mother of the groom-to-be" - so I truly know what "old" means - grin - and I appreciate all the encouragement I can get from a "young-er" woman......40 is "young" in my book, as you can imagine! God bless--and keep writing "stuff" like this - it is much needed for us all!! ;-)

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    1. Thank you for your comment! I had a dear friend many years ago who was in a similar position and what an encouragement she was to me! Her years had granted her much needed perspective and thus she lent great wisdom to me as a young-er mom :)

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  16. Good article!Have you noticed much of the encouragement written TO younger moms is written BY younger moms? And some of what they have to say is how they don't like what older moms have to say. The internet and the availability to so many "voices" sure has changed since I was a young mom.

    One of the perks of being an older moms is that I have never spent as much time in God's Word as I have the past couple of years. I have a thirst for like never before, and I have way less interruptions. I can also serve in ways I couldn't when the kids were little, and I have had a greater appreciation for those who did things that served me back then. I've even written a few thank yous over the past month or so as various people have been brought to mind.

    I'm still working out what shape my life is likely to take in the next couple of years (two more years of homeschooling which will probably include dual credit at the local jr college) but I am open to what the Lord shows me and I am open to new people and things even now. I'm kind of excited and kind of scared all at the same time.

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    1. I completely agree and totally relate to the greater thirst and the greater appreciation you describe as well as the freedom I didn't have as a younger mom. Thank you so much for your comment! Excited and scared sums it up well!

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    2. "Have you noticed much of the encouragement written TO younger moms is written BY younger moms? And some of what they have to say is how they don't like what older moms have to say."

      I have noticed this. It is very sad really. The young moms could gain so much from listening to our experience, especially those of us who are humble enough to recognize our failings along with our successes. We can look back and see what was really important and what was a waste of time and life. Science can offer information but not wisdom, and not grace. And a lot of "Christian" parenting books are just dreadful, full of fool-proof systems that make fools of those who buy into them. Young moms are so full of fear, and so subject to gimmicks, and think parenting is all about food, clothing, safety, gadgets,and health - to the neglect of precious and tender souls which need gentle love and firm boundaries.

      When we are young, we tend to live as if we will never grow old. The presence of older people in our lives, at every stage of our lives, is a strong antidote for that kind of thinking.

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  17. One more quick thought. This is an intense time in regards to my children (16-23) especially spiritually and using discernment as to when to speak, what to say, how to direct, lots of praying, and all while keeping their hearts open to me so that my input is welcomed. So, I think the busy-ness of younger years has been replaced in my mid 40s with a heart busy-ness for my children.

    I think one reason it is difficult to blog about this season of life is because the issues I struggle with are not things my family would appreciate me putting "out there" for folks to read. Not that it is any different from what other moms are struggling with, but figuring out a balance of how to be real/authentic about my own struggles in this season while protecting their sense of privacy is challenging.

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    1. Wayside: that is something Lisa and I have discussed on previous occasions: the need to be discreet. My children are 18-23 years old, and sometimes, it is very difficult to sit back and watch, and that's all we can do. That creates a feeling of being the "only one" who has the trouble. I'm so thankful for the ladies here because they are so generous with their counsel and wisdom!

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    2. Yeah. What Kim said. Blogging about your two year old's tantrum is very different from blogging about your teenager's rebellion. Discretion is critical and something I wish I'd paid more heed to in my earlier years of blogging and I do not merely speak of my mommy blogging but in other areas as well. The idea of feeling like the "only one" is dangerous hence I too am grateful for the like minded, godly old-er bloggers who encourage me!

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    3. Right. And even when they are not rebelling, even doing good things, it is difficult to discuss because of respecting them as persons. Or it can sounds like bragging and not be encouraging to those who are struggling.

      This is my first stop here, but I will keep reading. :)

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    4. Thanks, wayside. :) I look forward to further conversations! I am so glad you stopped by!

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  18. "I surmised why so few of us are blogging through these middle years of our lives"

    And I agree with your surmisings there, and thank you for this discussion, because I have found rich new veins of wisdom to mine from the blogs of women who have posted there, and here.

    My reasons for not opening up about my life are, and will always be pride, pride, pride. It is the same reason I do not open up my home for hospitality in the uncertain seasons of my life: I want to appear like I have it all together, that my plaster walls are not really crumbling into dust, and my baseboards have not been dusted since who knows when. I want all the holes fixed in the walls before I let the Lord open a hole in the roof to let let those suffering infirmities in. So silly. No, I do not have all the answers. Yes, most of my questions are still hanging in the air..."Lord, are you at this time going to restore...? or, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

    I want it all nice and neat and tidy, and preferably with a happy ending, as the music swells. But I must repent of all that. And I find my greatest joy is in opening up my messy home, and welcoming others who equally struggle in.

    I wrote about this aspect of hospitality, and as a testament to what the Lord has done in me, I am going to post a link to it at my very neglected hospitality site "The Dancing Kitchen" It has always been a storage site for quantity recipes for our church homeless ministry, but I am sensing it is where the Lord wants me to focus more attention these days, and clean up the place for company.

    But you all can see it in its orphan state.
    Karen Butler

    http://happymommysdancingkitchen.wordpress.com/what-hospitality-is/

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    1. I have the same struggles with hospitality! Thanks for stopping by and I will definitely go check out your link.

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  19. I don't blog, though I love reading them. For the most part, I just don't have enough to say! However, I do notice that there is a dearth of blogging for we old-ers.
    My oldest son, 33, has presented me with my first grandbaby. Youngest son, 13, is just entering the maelstrom of puberty. The ones in between are plowing through their own journeys, and I feel blessed when I am included in any part of it. I am dreading the empty nest, still 5 years away, while looking ahead at the new opportunities opening up.
    I would love to read more, talk to more women, hear more about this stage of my life, and what God has in store, from those who have been there.

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    1. A new grandbaby! How exciting! I too am 5 years out from an empty nest and cannot wrap my mind around that fact. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. It is our desire here at this site to develop the kind of community you describe and we pray the Lord will make it so!

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  20. Wow. THANK YOU for the post and all these comments! A friend of mine who I've discussed this with sent me the link and am I glad she did! I turned 44 this year and have now had two recent *big* life events...the passing of my Momma and our youngest finishing up high school. Our older daughter is on her own, the younger is looking forward to her license and a car soon so it means even less she'll "need" me. Been struggling with "what I'm suppossed to be when I grow up" and what to do now that neither daughter *need* me for the mundane daily tasks, which is a fantastic thing to have them growing up like they should, and I find all this time on my hands. Guess it just takes us by suprise at how abruptly it seems to "end" AND NOT MANY LADIES OUR AGE TALK ABOUT THIS!!! Thank you for letting those of us, like myself, who've wondered if we're the ONLY one out there feeling this way know that we're not alone.

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    1. PS...I have also struggled with feeling guilty for not having a *real* job anymore. My husband is the sole breadwinner. We homeschooled so I had my *real* job. To this day he still does not want me to work outside our home. Not really sure where this self-imposed guilt came from other than the lie of the world-system that says we should do it all. I'm learning to see my worth in the home even though the kiddos are grown...especially since my hubby works out of town all week.

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  21. So very much enjoyed your insight and putting a name to the quandry of aging.

    I am 56 and have found so much of life such a surprise. Yes I was "warned" about empty nest and equipped myself for the changes inevideable in marriage. I have been totally taken back by the difficulty of transitioning in relationship with my "adult" children. I have been surprised by divorce in my childrens marriage and how I then became caregiver to my grandchildren. I am for the first time actually facing "empty nest" of course that is if you ignore our 28 year old son who lives with us and has a chronic health problem. The last of 8 grandchildren will go off to kindergarten next school year. That bringing to an end 10plus years of caring for 3 grandchildren ages 5, 8, and 10.

    I could not have forseen what aging would look like or the challenges that life would reveal as time continued it's trek.
    God tells the older women to teach the younger. My "teaching" has been simplified to Trust Jesus. Nothing surprised Him though I have been constantly caught off guard as "my plans" had to be adjusted to the good work God continues to do. I have realized I never really had control but God has always been in control.
    It seems simplistic and it is as simple as knowing the faithfulness of God but as complicated as knowing the faithfullness of God.
    Thank you for sharing~

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  22. I am 46, and find that I AM still dealing with toddler/preschooler challenges. After five children, the youngest 2 in high school, the Lord surprised us with a baby three years ago, and I now am both a grandmother and the mother of a preschooler! It's disorienting to have an oldest child who is 26 while dealing with the rigors of a little one. Some days, my head spins. It is exhausting these days, and yes, lonely. No other women I know is in my stage, because my life defies the traditional stages. I find most encouragment online and write at my own blog, The Hope Blog, to encourage other Christian women, whatever their stage in life. Thanks for this good post!

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  23. I am in a group of ladies from church and we are reading through "The Afternoon of Life" by Elyse Fitzpatrick. It is an excellent book and each chapter deals with a specific area of being an Afternoon woman: empty nest, physical changes, caring for aged parents, etc. I highly recommend it!

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  24. I am 50 and straddled between these 2 worlds. I have young children at home (my youngest is 8) I have one who has left school and we are beginning the negotiation of an adult living in the parental home still. It is lonely because most of the others I relate to are 10-20 years younger than I am. We have children the same age but are very different in outlook and experience. Most women my age are long past young children and most have returned to full time employment. It can be a lonely road but I remind myself that Jesus loves me no matter what. I get on with the taxi run and relate to those around me the best I can. I rejoice that I can help out others as I work part time from home and so have greater flexibility and so can help with school pickups etc and that enables others to work to pay the bills. Loneliness can be a problem in all stages of life. We need to invest in people and relationships in our churches so that we can be a real community.

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  25. I am 50 and LOVING this season of life. I have 5 kids, 25-15, 2 are married and another well on her way to being married. I now have more time for women's ministry and mentoring these young moms. I, too, have a neglected blog that gives me rare twinges of guilt. But I've decided that it is more important for me to interact with others on a physical level rather than a cyber level. The time I could spend blogging about my responsibilities as an older woman can be better invested in actually reaching out as an older woman. Instead of writing about fulfilling the mandates of Titus 2, I can actually be about the business of DOING Titus 2. That's where I've decided my priorities should be and so my blog lies silent for now.

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