🎈Happy Birthday to Me!

This fiftieth day of 2018 is my fiftieth birthday.

Wait. What?!  Did I say fifty? How can that be? I truly feel like a twenty-five year old in my head. However, if I’m doing the math right, I WAS born fifty years ago and I CAN account for every one of those years, so I guess I should say that I feel like TWO twenty-five year olds in my head.

But FIFTY?! That used to be so old.

In anticipation of my milestone birthday, I determined last year that I would be at the top of my game at fifty so I toyed with adopting the slogan “Fit at Fifty” or “Fifty and Fabulous” and gave myself several months (plenty of time) to attain this goal.  We joined a gym last June and I finally realized a long-time dream of getting physically fit. We began to think more about our health. I also made strides in being on a spiritual mountaintop when I came to my monumental birthday, studying the Bible and learning things that I could teach others also. I worked to come out of my shell more and be that happy social butterfly that I envy in other personalities. As I approach an empty nest, I could see that I would get more time with my aging mother and be able to do things for her I haven’t had time to do. I planned to have a photo shoot to document my happiness and publish my prettiest picture ON my big day. I would give other women hope that turning fifty was a joyful stage in life!

Well, that’s the paragraph I planned to write, but that’s not how last year went at all.

Forty-nine was not fun, not because it led to fifty, but because it was for me a year filled with many trials. Adjustments are hard. I do not run from change but the truth is that adjusting to a new reality is a shock to the system, even if it is something that is a joyful change. 

We did join the gym, but I literally fell on my knee last Fall (appropriately) and figuratively fell off the workout wagon. I became the mother of an adult child who lives in another state and didn’t need me the way I was accustomed to being needed. My daughter was away at college and beginning to date. My energetic baby boy was left at home with no siblings and two boring parents. I didn’t know how to be who I needed to be in relation to this new reality and wished I had more wisdom to offer them as they faced new challenges themselves. My mother was in pain everyday and I had no way to relieve her. I was falling apart in so many ways and just not able to deal. I wanted to quit everything because I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer that anybody would value and my own imperfections discouraged me. All of these pressures took a toll on my marriage which then caused us to get real. We should really have this thing figured out by now and sometimes it seemed like we hadn’t learned a thing.  My husband has had to find a strength and an understanding and a forgiveness and a patience to meet the challenge which has been revitalizing to our relationship.  I pray I can be there for him the way he has been there for me when he faces his greatest challenge in life.  He has certainly shown me how.

Turning fifty forces you to accept that what you wanted to be by this late date doesn’t match with what you actually are—there should have been more holiday decorations, more garnishes on the food, I should be a beacon of sunshine to the throngs who look to me for help, there should be no junk drawers (or rooms), etc.  There’s a reason perfectionists get depressed—they can never do enough to make things just right and the only place that’s perfect is heaven. Others’ imperfections are annoying, but a perfectionists’ imperfections bring on self-hate which is no picnic for those who have to live with them. Reaching an age like fifty sobers you to realize that it was what it was and there is no going back to make it better.  As a young person you have the joy of dreaming all the things you could do and become in life but older ages humble you as you realize that your story has been mostly written. It’s time to be happy with what your life turned out to be. 

(By the way, those who know me as an acquaintance may be reading this in disbelief. Some seem to think I have it all together. Nope, I am human, too.  It would take a lot of pressure off if I could tell this to the world.)

On January 2, my mother passed away. While I have every reason to be at peace with her passing, I do miss her especially today.  After all, your birthday is about you and your mother, right? She had said every time I saw her last year that I had a special birthday coming so I know she wishes me a happy birthday. It’s nice to know it would have been a special day for her, too. Her departure leaves me as the eldest in my line for my children to look to and that definitely gives me the feel of being handed the baton. If I’m going to be a prayer warrior in my older years, I have got to be becoming that warrior now.  As each of our Christian parents and grandparents pass away, we lose all the prayers they would have prayed for us.  They have set the example and it is time for us to get on our own knees and stop depending on them to do the heavenly work for us. So the next time you are bored in the company of old people, just remember that the boring life they have come to may be what allows them the time to invest in prayer for you.  If you have a prayer warrior who loves you, you are blessed indeed.  No telling how many days those warriors prayed for my children more than I did. This dependence on one another as we depend on God is another life lesson of older age. We are all on a journey and each contributing to the other. 

Last year was the most prolonged time I have ever had of being in a valley. While I would never ask to go through such an extended time of trying, I have to say that my awareness of God is at an all-time high.  I am now very aware that all I have is God and am excited beyond my ability to express it to know Him better. It’s like a colorblind person putting on those glasses that allows him to see colors for the first time in his life or a deaf person being given a device to allow him to hear the sounds that have been undetected until now. The more I know of God, the more depth I see that there is to see. My black and white world is now in technicolor and it is amazing!

I do not presume to live one hundred years or even eighty, but if this birthday can be seen as a midpoint in either my life or my adulthood, I want to focus even more in the second half on knowing God, who has allowed us to have a personal relationship with Him. Incredible! I can already see that the troubles I have come through this past year have brought me to a point of growth where I can make decisions that I now need to make. My thinking is now adjusted to be able to think thoughts that never entered my mind but now I have eyes to see and ears to hear. These are obviously decisions the old me would have gotten wrong.

One of the main things I realized at Christmas was that I do not want to attain any new thing as much as I want to keep the things I already have.  I already have the greatest things I could have asked for in this life.  Above all, I have salvation in Jesus Christ.  Not only is heaven guaranteed for me but I can live a life in amazement of Almighty God and grow more like him as I follow him daily.  This is all because I placed my faith in Him, humbling myself and trusting that it takes His perfect blood to cleanse my sinful soul. I have lived a wonderful life, largely at the hands of my parents and husband.  Yes, they have bought me many gifts and provided for my needs, but I am mainly speaking of the life and love they shared with me. I have three off-the-charts children (I won’t enumerate which charts) and we are all in good health.  Do you know how much my life would change if there were a health problem with any one of them?  We coast along as if this is the way we deserve it to be and the way it will always be but it wouldn’t take much to turn our lives upside down and we would then beg God to please put it back how it was when we didn’t realize how wonderful we had it. Good relationships, having everything we need, celebrations, health, freedom—we are rich, People!

So, now you’re thinking that I had a birthday and invited you to my pity party!  That is where I have lived for far too long, though I realize my problems are small (and are not over).  I have close friends whose children or grandchildren have died this year.  In light of that, I have no problems. But any problem can overtake us if we do not lean hard on God and those He has placed in our lives to be His hands. In my case, I needed to learn what true leaning was and to value the blessings I already enjoy. Let me encourage you to see through “I’m fine” and know that everyone is hurting over things they CANNOT tell you. I have gone to church with great needs inside and wanted to hug everyone who gave me a smile or a brief encouragement. You cannot know how much a thirsty soul needs that love.  Why be stingy with it? It’s free and it’s priceless. A kind gesture makes a huge difference.

Fifty feels like it should be my prime—definitely not in looks or memory skills, but to be young enough to do things yet old enough to have learned a lot. If you’re counting by fifties, my birth was a big celebration of which I was not aware and being one hundred would be a big celebration which I doubt I will see, so this is THE birthday that I am now guaranteed and I celebrate it as a milestone of God’s goodness.  I can never thank God enough for my salvation. Heaven will be beyond description. The family and lifestyle He has given me is more than a person could ask. But my salvation is not just about heaven; it is about God changing me. To walk with Him every day and to trust His wisdom and care and to have new understanding of the world and awe of Him with each passing day is a blessing I constantly enjoy and I will enjoy more and more of it every new day that He gives me.

Today is definitely a turning point in my life.  In many ways, it feels like my old life has died and my new life is beginning. I am thankful for everything God brought me through, every blessing He gave me, and every person that contributed to my life, but I am also thankful for the excitement I feel for a future of exploring how good and holy my God is!

I've Been Talking About You!

Hey, Facebook Be Keepers Followers.  I have a secret to confess: I've been praying for you behind your back.

I launched Be Keepers one month ago today and I have prayed through the list of 350 followers since that time. I do not take it lightly that we know each other or that you "liked" Be Keepers.  God has a purpose in bringing us together. I want there to be a benefit to knowing me so I lay our acquaintance at Jesus' feet and allow Him to work it for our good. There's a gospel song called "Make Me a Blessing".  It doesn't mean it in the sense of "make me a sandwich" but in the sense of make me TO BE a blessing to someone. A life lived to bless others is the most satisfying life there is and the greatest way I can be a blessing to you is to pray.

I get along well with most everyone, but there are those with whom I have had differences.  I haven't grabbed anybody's hair in a throw down, but we have disagreed, probably without your knowing or possibly without my knowing. If I ever loved you, I still do. No doubt we all are trying our best to do what is right and I mess that up and you do too. The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies. Hopefully no one considers someone an enemy who simply disagrees with him, but if that were all it took then I suppose we would all be enemies. If we all agreed on everything, this world would be pretty lopsided. All that to say I wish the best for everyone and watching your life is a testimony of God's working.  It's a slow-playing miniseries that I catch glimpses of every now and then.  It's fascinating and I am eager to see good things come to you.

I do have an organized prayer life, but I also switch things up sometimes so I do not burn out. For the last month, I prayed for at least ten followers per day. I knew the first hundred so I was able to pray according to what I knew about them, but after that I had to go to your Facebook page to learn about you--children, relationships, interests. Fewer than half of the followers are listed by name.  I suppose some have your Facebook set to hide your name when you like a page.  That is perfectly fine.  I prayed for you anyway.

I learned that it is easier to pray for someone that you know. What made it easy to pray for people I do not know is that we all need the same things: safety, health, relationship and financial help, wisdom, and most of all Jesus.

As I called each one of your names out to God, I became excited to see you and to see you thrive and prosper. I saw your Facebook posts and wanted to say "I prayed for you today!" I hope I had some part in your success. It was neat to see things that happened. I prayed for a lady and her family and found out a few hours later that her daughter had her baby that day. A couple of times I prayed for people and then found that it was their birthday. Several other times I saw that the ones for whom I prayed that day were going through a difficult time. I've said before that I do not fully understand prayer from a human perspective, but it is easy to see the benefits to the pray-er and the pray-ee when I obey God's command to pray.

Loren Crisp

Prayer is just talking to God. He already knows everything you know, but a relationship is developed through communication, and if you do not have a relationship with Almighty God, you are missing out on the most amazing experience life has to offer.

The development of my prayer life usually comes from desperation. When you are at the end of your rope, you end up uttering a humble, childlike prayer to God--and that is prayer at it's best! When you make a habit of just admitting to God where you have gone wrong, laying out your burdens to Him, and thanking Him for what He has done for you, a sweet understanding of your dependence on God enters your constant awareness and you have a Friend with you at all times, and an all-powerful Friend at that! I wouldn't want to live any other way. If you have never begun a relationship with God, you can begin that with a prayer of turning away from a life of sin and accepting Jesus' sacrifice of His perfect life to pay for your sins to be forgiven. After making Jesus the Lord of your life, God will hear your prayers as His child.

I jotted down some of the things I prayed for you.  If you want to learn to pray, you could use these prayers as a starting point. I use "her" since most of my followers are women, but I prayed these same prayers for the men.

Lord, help her to maximize her opportunities for serving others as a single woman.

Keep her pure.

Give her wisdom as she rears those children.

Encourage her in the work You have given her to do.

Help her to draw near to You.

Comfort her heart as she misses her loved one who has died.

Thank You for the encouragement and example she has been to me.

Help her as she studies.

Thank you for her faithfulness to church.

Help her have the time to practice her instrument and have opportunities to use her ability.

Thank you for the time I got to spend with her.

Give her strength to meet the needs of her special needs child.

Help her to keep her vows to her husband.

Allow her business to prosper.

Raise her and her husband up to be leaders in our church.

Thank You for giving her that husband. OR Thank You for NOT giving her the husband she thought she wanted.

Thank You for all she taught my child.

Help her to flourish spiritually. Give her a taste of what could be. 

Give her joy.

Be with her as her child is in college/the military.

Help her as she teaches. Help her message to get through.

Keep her healthy.

Give her wisdom, courage, discretion.

Mend the broken relationships in that home.

Help me to be more like her.

Protect her from accident, crime, illness, disease.

Give her an excitement about her relationship with You.

Thank you for her upbringing.

Heal her husband of cancer.

Help her to show Christ to her coworkers.

Thank you for her influence on my daughter.

Give her wisdom in making decisions about her parents.

Help her and her husband to make a priority of their marriage while they rear their children.

Give her wisdom to know if she should marry the young man she is dating.

Help her to take the next step spiritually.

Thank you for her spunky spirit that encourages others.

Help her as she adjusts to being the mother of an adult.

Give her a ministry where her gifts can shine.

Please don't allow her cancer to come back.

Let her children be a blessing to her.

Help her relationship with her husband reach a new level of unity.

Help her leadership qualities to be used for Your glory.

Please give her children if it be Your will.

Please help my joy to be obvious like hers.

Let her minister to body and spirit as she works as a nurse.

Thank You for her beautiful voice.

Thank You for helping them through their child's surgery and recovery.

Thank you for allowing her to serve faithfully in our church.

Help her not to be lonely.

Help her with the challenges of being a military wife.

Increase his desire to know You more.

Keep their marriage strong.

Bring salvation to this home, whether it's for the parents or the children. 

Draw them to you.

Heal the heartache.

Stabilize the emotions she is facing today and help her to be calm and at peace.

Help her to turn to You and Your word for the answers to her problems.

Show her the emptiness of sin.

Allow one of Your children to reach out and show Your love to her today.

Help her heart to be tender.

Make her marriage what you want it to be.

Give her patience with her children.

Help her to thirst after righteousness.

Help her to be disgusted with sin and turn to You.

Let her know how much You love her and that her value comes from You.

As I prayed through the list, I realized that I am in the company of some incredible people! You may think you are just living your life unnoticed, but you are an encouragement to me. You are a survivor. I know some of your trials whether they are family issues, disease, or death of a loved one. Even if you haven't had some life-shaking challenge, you have relationship and financial problems, and you need wisdom and emotional strength. Just living life is a challenge. It's hard to be a person, but you are making it with help from the Lord. We need as much of Him as we can get.

May we seek and trust God to make the most of our lives. God bless you all and thank you for following Be Keepers. I will continue to keep you in my prayers.


An Unlikely Grocery List

The grocery store provides a lot more than a place to buy food and household needs.  I get my workout pushing that buggy (that's Southern for "shopping cart"), especially since the front right wheel is ALWAYS 😉 going wacky.  You load that puppy up with bottled water, laundry detergent, and a week's worth of groceries, push it all over the store, unload it onto the belt, reload it into your buggy, push it uphill to your vehicle, load it into the trunk, and unload it again when you get home.  THAT is a workout!  It totally counts in my book.

But there is another task I accomplish while in the store.  

I pray.  

Everywhere I look I am reminded of someone I know.  There are names on all the products and I think fondly of my friends and family. I have told people before that I thought of them, but what good does that really do?  If I'm going to think of someone, I had about as well go ahead and pray for them.  There are many people that I know that are not on my prayer list but I would still like to say I have prayed for them. That should be one of the benefits of being my friend.  I have decided to pray for folks whenever I am reminded, and the grocery store is full of reminders.  

One store has the word "Always" posted throughout the store. That reminds me to pray, too, because Luke 18:1 says that we "ought ALWAYS to pray."

I just went to the store the other day and prayed my way through.  Here is the "prayer list" my store provided this time:


Of course, THIS reminded me to pray for my husband...



And I prayed for myself when I saw this--for strength to resist!



You know, everybody needs prayer.  And it's ok if we don't understand how it works.  I mean why should the Creator of the Universe wait for my plea in order to do something?  How many prayers does it take?  The Bible gives us answers to many of our questions but the bottom line is that God commands us to pray. We exercise faith when we trust Him and obey.

There is so much I would love to do for people.  Some would say that the least I can do is pray for them, but I submit that it is the greatest thing I could do for them.  

So from now on, don't just be reminded of someone--🐝be reminded to PRAY for someone.

And don't forget to ALWAYS pray for the last name you see before leaving the store...