Come Grow Old With Me (If You Dare)

I no longer bound out of bed these days. I pray my way out of bed these days. I slowly sit up and throw my legs over the side of the bed. I sit there for a few moments to meditate on whether I should even try to get up. I must daily choose not be defeated by any geriatric state of mind so I slowly rise to stand even as cranky joints grudgingly respond to the call of the brain, “Get up, get up, GET UP!!! Slowly, inch by inch, I will myself up to my full height, whatever that looks like these days because as we age, we shrink, I think. I wobble into the bathroom for my thousandth visit since I lay down to sleep the evening before (I blame the blood pressure meds). I stare in the mirror and note the bedhead state of my hair. I can see clearly now since cataract surgery and I stare into a face that will greet me every morning from this day forward. I really did not understand just how diminished my vision was until the day after the surgery on the first eye and my face came into all its glorious focus. It took me more than a minute to recover. All I could think was a line the character Aunt Bee had in an Andy Griffith Show episode about aging, “You’re no spring chicken any more!” No spring chicken anymore. Nope, not anymore. My snapback has lost all of its snap and refuses to come back. It just limply lies there waiting for someone, or something, to push it back into place. My hair grows in gray and rallies agains any hair dye that tries to encroach on its territory. Crows peck at the outer corner of my eyes and chin whiskers grow at the speed of light as they defy tweezers. People tell me I don’t look my age, whatever they think my age may be, but my hands will not lie to save face. Birthdays insist on adding up and they refuse to stop showing up every year with another reminder that time marches on. My 18 year old mind is confused about my physical state of affairs and keeps sending out orders with which my obstinate body refuses to comply.

Still, grace continues to somewhat ameliorate the effects of growing older. I am still here, present enough to laugh with daughters, love on grandchildren and celebrate small victories. Ice cream is still a treat (always in moderation as is everything these days) and the hint of Autumn in the air wraps me with warm memories of yesterday. I move forward in the assurance of my faith which reminds me God still cares for me and He will take good care of me. I celebrate today because everyone, young or old, knows for sure (especially these days), that tomorrow is not promised to anyone of any generation.

“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

~excerpt from “Rabbi Ben Ezra” by Robert Browning

The fact of the matter is that everyone is aging no matter their age. We may not always be able to grow old gracefully every moment of every day but grow old we shall so come grow old with me — it’s all about mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. I’m good with that.

What Shall We Say To These Things?

The world is in chaos. The world is in turmoil. The world is full of Chicken Littles who run here, there and everywhere, crying out to all, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Conked on the head by an acorn of truth, that moment has been turned into a mountain of distress and each believes it is now their obligation to warn everyone of the coming apocalypse.

So many Chicken Littles today, each with a personal perspective that has morphed into a worldview panic. Unfortunately, even those who proclaim to be followers of Christ now scurry around to praise those that receive their message of woe and to condemn those who refuse to buy in to their rhetoric.

“The sky is falling; the sky is falling!” The truth of a pandemic has become fodder for conspiracy theories and doom day revelations. In light of all that is being said and done, conservative versus liberal, right wing versus left wing, red versus blue, how does one find the energy to sift through all the minutia to discover the acorn of truth that is buried under red herrings by straw men?

Fear can stalk each of us but those of us who are believers can find comfort in the promises of Jesus found in Matthew 11:28-30. When our souls are burdened with the cares of the world, we can find solace in Him.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely

dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Matthew 11

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

I closed my prayer with the silent request, “Speak to me, Father.”

As I waited in stillness, as my selected music video from my favorite YouTube pianist played, I was distracted by an intermittent chirp. I listened closely; was it the smoke detector calling my attention to a dying battery? The chirp was not that distinct so, no, not the smoke detector.

The chirp continued and I could not ignore it. I got up from my chair and followed its call. I walked over to the front window to stand and listen.

“Chirp, chirp, chirp.” Is it a cricket in the house and if so, how did it get in? I’m in California where crickets in this neck of the woods are rare. I shuddered at the thought of having to chase down a cricket.

I pulled back the curtains to look out the window and there it was, a small bird on the walkway that leads to the front steps of the house. It pecked away at kernels of something and in between pecks it chirped. I stood there, watched it and mused that a bird which could fly chose to walk on the ground to forage for food.

My bird thoughts were interrupted by part of a scripture I had not thought of in years, “…if I take care of a two cent bird…” I could not remember all of the scripture but in that moment God reminded me of His care for me. He used a small bird that has no means other than to trust that when it looks for food, food will be found, even if it means taking a walk on concrete rather than soaring in the air.

The bird eventually walked away from the front of the house to cross the street. As I watched it, I realized that once I walked to the window to discover God’s feathered messenger, the chirps stopped though the bird remained in place for a few minutes. God got me to where He wanted me to be, to “hear” his message in the form of that tiny bird.

I returned back to my chair. As I sat, I glanced at the computer and the bible text from Mark 11:24 was on the screen. I had paid no attention to the screen during my prayer time so I was not expecting a scripture. I laughed as I read the text and thanked God for the period on His word to me through a little bird.

Mark 11:24 — “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Luke 12:6, 7 — “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Every Beat Of My Heart

My friend texted me about her mother’s condition as she battles COVID. My heart sank as I read the text but, as life usually does, I was distracted by my plans and I did not respond right away. As I scrolled through my tests, two days later, my friend’s text popped up to remind me I had not responded.

Rather than type out my prayer response, I tapped the microphone icon to pray out loud. I needed to hear my voice as I shared it with my friend. What surprised me, as I prayed, was the tender tone of my voice. It was gentler than usual. This epiphany gave me pause to think about the tone of my voice as I’ve “encouraged” others in the past.

What I heard today was my heartbeat in that prayer, a precious moment of heart connection with my friend as I felt her heartache as she watched her mother struggle to breathe, as she realizes there is nothing she can do but cry out to God for His intervention.

I’ve probably always known this but have not really thought about the heart to heart connection of prayer. I remember the elders of my past who prayed that we would have love that ran from heart to heart, from breast to breast. Prayer links us to the hearts of those for whom we pray.

Also, sometimes we are so focused on the prayer that we miss God’s heartbeat in our prayers. Prayer is not just a vocal expression but it also a moment of a linking of hearts, a moment of sensing God’s heartbeat in our prayers and in hearing His heartbeat, we feel their heartbeat, their heartache, their struggles, their brokenness.

I heard God’s heartbeat this morning. I heard it in my prayer as my heart linked to the heart of my friend.

Psalm 69:13 –

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.

At an acceptable time, O God,

in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.

What Do You Want? What Do You Need?

I have a Clubhouse Room – Reflect and Refresh – It is.a 15 minute room, a short devotional and prayer. For the last two weeks I have been praying through the names of God. One of the names of God is El Shadday/El Shaddai. I thought I knew the meaning of this name of God, The Lord is sufficient. However, when I did the research, I did discover that meaning but I also discovered two other meanings attached to this name.

Though it is not entirely clear the true meaning of El Shaddai, it can be defined as God Almighty with a reference to the time Moses was in the mountain and received the 10 commandments. El Shaddai is God of the Mountain. As I mulled over that meaning, I discovered another meaning for El Shaddai, the Lord the overpowerer. Though I have a hard time pronouncing the word, I understood the implication as in Luke 1:37 and Matthew 19:26, “With God nothing is impossible.” Though God will not violate His word, He will keep His word (Psalm 115:3) and His word is “I Am enough.”

As I put these meanings together, here is what I “hear:” God Almighty, God of the mountain, is enough. I no longer need to be concerned about whether I am enough or if I have enough. God Almighty is more than enough and when I call on His name, El Shaddai,, He can overpower every challenge, every obstacle, every challenge in my life and when I live out that knowledge in my life, when I activate my faith, frustration and fear take a back seat to faith. It is easy enough to mourn over what isn’t but God’s call is to celebrate and trust that He is and He is enough for every concern and need. The next time you face a need, change, challenge, remember this: God Almighty is enough.

What do you want? What do you need? God Almighty is Enough.

The Old Timer In The Room

I was in Clubhouse, an new social media platform where conversations can be had with people across the globe. It was a memoir writing session. Individuals in the room shared their writing challenges as well as tips on how to begin the writing process. One woman wondered about including real names in the memoir she is writing and how she might find a third grade teacher to get her permission to include her name in the memoir. A young man in the virtual room suggested she try Facebook because “That’s where you can find the Old Timers, for sure you’ll find her there!” He chuckled as he shared this tidbit.

Wait a minute! I’m on Facebook! Does that make me an Old Timer and when exactly did that happen?

Yes, the date on my calendar moves me into a certain chronological season and yes, the gray roots of my hair are determined to take control, but Old Timer?

I walked into that virtual Clubhouse a little over a month ago. I had no clue what to expect. I really was a reluctant member, only accepted the invite because a friend wanted me to join her on the platform for a room she was moderating. After the session ended, I wandered into another room, a room filled with professional musicians. What could I possibly have in common with a room filled with professional musicians.

I can’t remember the topic but I did share my view on the subject matter. But I wanted to make a connection with those in the room where everyone seemed to know each other. My daughters are professional musicians so I decided to name drop and lo and behold, some in the room recognized their names. I was adopted by osmosi. BUT, the man who has known my daughter since her early foray into the music industry as a professional decides that from this point that I will be Mama D! From that point forward, as if a text was sent out, every room I’ve stepped into has decided that my name should be “Mama Donna,” or “Mama D.”

The joke is on me for if it’s one thing that I have never wanted to be, I never wanted to be “Mother,” or “Mama.” No, not in the biological sense. I have three daughters and I do answer to Mama when they call. But, in my culture, once a woman reaches a certain age in some church denominations, she almost automatically becomes “Mother.” My image of that church mother is one of a little old woman dressed in white who sits in the Amen corner clutching a purse filled with crumpled tissue and lint covered peppermints. I am not that woman … or so I thought!

Well, apparently, I am that woman, the woman whose voice (because Clubhouse is only audio and your picture) dictates that her she should be called “Mama,”

The revelation that comes with this moment in time is how often my new title “Mama,” also comes with “you have so much wisdom.” I do not think of myself as a wise woman; I just share from the reservoir of my life experiences and I don’t see that as an age thing. It is a God moment in those Mama moments.

God has gently nudged me into a new season, a season of nurturing and encouraging men and women that I may never meet in person but to whom I have been adopted as “Mama.” He is refining my view of my place and redefining my view of me in this season as He continues to pull me into the purpose He has already designed for me.

God has a sense of humor and I’m learning to laugh right along with Him!

God’s General Practitioner In The Clubhouse

General practitioners (GPs) treat all common medical conditions and refer patients to hospitals and other medical services for urgent and specialist treatment. They focus on the health of the whole person combining physical, psychological and social aspects of care.

I stepped into the Clubhouse hallway a little over two weeks ago. If you do not know about Clubhouse, it is a new social media platform where individuals can talk to one another but you only see their pictures. It’s like Zoom on audio only. Picture a huge conference venue where you walk down halls and there are rooms labeled with different topics from the secular to the spiritual.

When I stepped into that virtual hallway, I was a bit overwhelmed about which room I should choose. I decided to choose rooms based on that room’s title. Once in the room, as the conversation flowed between participants already in the room, I virtually raised my hand to share my thoughts on the subject. I spoke, then muted myself to listen to the thoughts of the other speakers. I soon realized I was in a room full of professional musicians and producers, individuals who have worked with big name celebrities in that industry. I immediately wondered, “Why am I in this room, Lord. I am not a professional musician,” so to make a connection, I name dropped my daughters who are in the industry and some people in the room knew who they were. Voila, I’m now Mama D! God has jokes but that’s another story.

When I visited rooms, I would stay and listen in some, share my thoughts in some, and in others I would quietly enter and quickly exit. As I began to get the lay of land, I began to realize something; these individuals, most of them much younger than I am, are specialists in their fields, have zeroed in on their gifts and are flourishing in those chosen fields as creatives, artists, entrepreneurs. They are confident in their call and are not afraid to toot their own horn.

This realization raised some insecurities in me. I do not have a speciality. I do not have that one story that shakes the souls of people. I have no traumatic experience that would draw people to my story. Though I have gone through a lot of ups and downs in my life, I share those stories I do have when God says “Now!”

When I did share my thoughts and insights in rooms, it often felt like I was heard and not heard. Many times, while what I said would be acknowledged, someone could come right behind me and rephrase what I had just said and receive a greater response.

What?

Yep, Clubhouse stirred up all kinds of insecurities in me. I began to feel peripheral to the experience, invisible and muted even as I continued to share in different rooms. In my uncertainty about my place and my voice in Clubhouse, I began to ask God about the “why” of my being a part of this new platform.

I need to be clear, though, because I do not want anyone to think I was totally shunned. In what are now familiar rooms and clubhouses, I am greeted either as Mama Donna or Mama D. I went into one room where I was not following anyone and they were not following me. Yet, when I walked into the room, I was immediately brought up to the platform. I was confused because who “knew” me in that room? Then, whoever called me up also asked me, specifically, to pray for an individual who had just shared their story. I responded in wonderment as to what was going on.

Another young man shared his story. His connection was not a good connection and I only half listened as he spoke. Again, because of something she saw in my profile, the same woman asked me to pray for that young man and I did pray, trusting God to give me the right words that would link to his story, still wondering about this new space. It turns out that I was in a room of young people, most of whom are in Nigeria, another one of God’s “What!” moments.

Still, in spite of those mind blowing moments, I still could not figure out my place in that “place.” Does my voice even have a purpose in that place?

God spoke and this is how the conversation went:

“Donna, do you have an orthopedist?”

Yes.

“What is his function.”

He deals with issues of the bones, joints.

“Do you have a dentist?”

Yes.

“Her function?”

Issues with teeth and gums.

“Do you have an optometrist?”

Yes. Vision and glasses (I’m beginning to get the drift of this conversation).

“Do you have an ophthalmologist?”

Yes. Disease an issues with the eyes.

“How about an OB-GYN?”

No longer needed, but I do get mammograms.

“Do you have a general practitioner?”

Yes. She checks out all of me, from head to toe. I bring the concerns, she listens and responds based on her expertise and experience.

“When she discovers something that needs a little more specialized care, she sends you to a specialist?”

Yes.

“Here’s the thing, Donna, these individuals you’ve seen and heard in the Clubhouse, they are all specialists, genuine and assumed. The people you have encountered in Clubhouse are specialists, specific stories for specific people. But you, Donna, are not a specialist in that place in my call; you are a General Practitioner. I have called you to be able to address whatever is happening with a person in a specific moment and conversation. Do not question the space that I have created for you; this is my purpose for you and as the Holy Spirit prompts you, you will refer them to that specialist in whom you have God-confidence. But, always remember, I am the Ultimate Specialist. I must always be your first referral!”

It is an amazing revelation. I am God’s General Practitioner called for such a time as this. I never would have thought of myself in that way, especially in a world where titles are the end-all for a lot of people.

There will still be moments when I will falter and shrink back because of those insecurities that still try to take control of my mind, my will and my emotions.

There’s an old song, “When He calls me, I will answer. I’ll be somewhere listening for my name” … as His General Practitioner.

Alpha and Omega

Some years ago, I was listening to Israel Houghton’s song, “Alpha and Omega.” I have loved the song since I woke up late one night to the video of the song playing on the television. The song took me in then; it still ushers me into the presence of the Most High God. In my research, I learned that alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. But, as I listened to the song back then, I asked this question, “Please, Jesus, tell me what it means that you are Alpha and Omega.”

This is He ‘said” to me:

I Am the beginning and the end.

I Am the first and the last.

I Am the author and the finisher of your faith.

I am your definition.

I am your defining moment.

I am the definitive in your life.

I am the song in your heart, the smile on your face, the joy in your soul.

I Am the lifter of your head.

I Am the path beneath your feet.

I was with you in the beginning of your life; I will be with you at the end of your life.

I Am with you in everything in between.

I Am the beginning of your journey.

I Am your companion on your journey.

I Am the detour on your journey.

I Am your journey.

I know what has happened in your life; I know what is happening in your life; I know what will happen in your life.

I Am present always.

I Am the beginning of the matter.

I Am the conclusion of the matter.

I Am Alpha and Omega.

Just give my due in that you do!

What else do you need to know?

Well, when you ask Jesus a question, I guess He will give you the complete answer you need … from A to Z.

When Grief Takes Up Residence In Your Heart

The world has entered into a season of profound grief. It is most likely a season of common grief that is shared around the world. Quarantined inside the four walls of apartments and homes, isolated from loved ones and physical touch. Jobs have been lost. Homes have been lost. Income has been lost. Relationships have been lost. There is food insecurity and housing insecurity that results in the new homeless. All are common events around the globe.

But, the most overwhelming loss, the most devastating loss, is the death of loved ones, some, too soon, others, too young, mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, friends and partners. All are losses that fiercely deposit grief into our hearts.

It is interesting to me that death always seems like a thing that never happens until it happens to someone we know or someone we love. Death is not embraced as a part of life so when it does take up residence in our living rooms, we are so surprised that it would dare cross our thresholds. As such, too many of us are not prepared for the grief that follows to demand absolute control of our thoughts.

Moment by moment, we are drawn into the shadows of life with only “Why” as our companion.

Those individuals who express a faith in God may turn to Him with their “Why,” but are often to broken unable to quietly process His response through their grief and the anger that they even have to ask the question.

What do we do when grief takes up residence in our hearts? Here’s what grief experience has taught me:

  1. Breathe intentionally, even if you have to set an alarm to remind yourself to take deep breaths
  2. Do your best to center yourself in the moment, heart wrenching though it may be
  3. Accept the depth of the pain but try your best not to wrap yourself in it
  4. Sort through the memories, literally/figuratively, welcome the laughter and the tears
  5. When the broken moments/meltdowns come, go with the moments then come up for air
  6. When you feel like retreating from the crowd, retreat without explanation or apology
  7. When you need help, seek help, either a good friend or a professional counselor
  8. Don’t feel compelled to explain your pain/tears/silence
  9. There is no need to take care of everything in those early days; handle what needs to be handled now; leave the rest for later

Zig Ziglar, the Master Salesman and motivational speaker, wrote that grief is not only unavoidable, but desirable because it “brings us to the point of realizing the vastness of our love,” and it “puts us in a position to trust God alone for our restoration, that it “is perhaps the most profound way of expressing love; the more we love a person we have lost, the greater our grief.”

This is not a truth any of us would want to embrace but it is definitely understood by every broken heart.

In the beginning, the grief that takes up residence in our hearts is cold and hard, slow to dissolve, but as the moments roll on, memories begin to warm our souls that eventually begin to melt the cold lump in our hearts.

I have read in the Bible that God captures our tears in a bottle. The context may be one of acknowledging our pain but I find it somewhat comforting to think that God cares enough about me to keep track of my sorrow. While most people are embarrassed by or turn away from my tears, God captures them.

One final word: Give yourself the grace to grieve. When people ask, “How are you doing?” tell them how you are doing. They may not understand. They may not be able to fix anything but you will have given them the opportunity to step into your grief with you. That is the definition of compassion (your heartbreak becomes their heartbreak; your suffering becomes their suffering).

I am grateful that He is the God of Comfort, especially when grief takes up residence in my heart.

THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER

The prince was rich, which is usually the norm for princes. The pauper was, well, poor, which is, actually kind of the definition for pauper. Each envied the other, and in time they wind up trading places with each other. Do you know what they discovered? They realized that whether rich or poor, it is not so easy to live another person’s life, that each place has its own challenges.

Most people, at some time or another, have probably wished they were someone else, but envy and jealousy are liars. They tell us our lives would be so much better if we were just in the other person’s shoes. We see the outside of someone’s life and believe it to be reality so we spend much of our time watching them, wishing to be someone else, so much so that we do not embrace our own lives.

What might we accomplish in our lives if we weren’t so busy envying the other person’s grass?

“I know my plans for you; plans of good, not of evil, to bring you to an expected end” is God’s word for his people.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14) Just remember that it would be 70 years before Israel would see the fulfillment of God’s promise. Make yourself at home where you are and move forward in God’s already ordained purpose for you. (Ephesians 2:10)


Take heed, take hope, take hold and move forward on the path God has lain out before you. Besides, that grass on the other side of the fence may be greener, but it still has to be mowed.