I went to a luncheon for senior adults today. Someone challenged me and asked what I was doing there because it was for seniors. I proudly told them my age much the same way I did when carded for buying alcohol in the early seventies. I am proud of my age and all the discounts that come with it:) I’m counting down excitedly the way I did at fourteen because I can’t wait to get Social Security! It’s even better than getting a driver’s license. Of course, I may not say that when my license is taken away for being too feeble to focus.

Being a senior is a serious matter to some, and I do notice that things are changing:) My body doesn’t move as fast as it once did, and my mind is like a cluttered desk much of the time; but I’m loving the freedom I have.  Getting older means grandchildren, and I thank God for the privilege of being able to help with my sweet grandbabies. They keep me young, but I also feel my age after carrying Mylah or trying to keep up with Lillyann. What a joy those aches have become.

Retirement allows time to study and read and write, and I love doing all three.The learning over the past four years has been the most powerful to date. My head and my heart have been stretched beyond what I could have ever imagined as I delve into God’s Word in a way I cannot describe. Having the time and opportunity to do that makes getting older a blessing.

Falling into seriousness was the topic of the luncheon today, and Jack Hinson said it was the definition of sin according to the speaker at a lecture series he attended. He warned of the dangers of taking myself too seriously. The Baptist in me felt the need to repent as I’m very guilty of doing just that. Seriousness is important when it comes to a task, a job, or an appointment. I want my surgeon and my banker to be serious as they operate on my body or invest my money. I need to be serious about what I do, but not about who I am. There’s a big difference, and that’s where sin sneaks in.

It’s that pesky little self that gets in the way when it comes to seriousness. Self can always use a dose of silly, especially when hurt, angry, or weary. Laughter lets down my guard and lets in healing. It has been proven to be effective in the healing process, and there is even a branch of medicine called Humor Therapy. That doesn’t surprise me at all because I know I always feel better after a good belly laugh, and that sweet sigh that comes afterward releases tension like nothing else. I believe it is your body asking your self, “Seriously?:)” and self giving in and laughing along:)

I also know the opposite is true. When I cry, even for a little while, I am physically and emotionally spent. My head and heart ache, and I feel as though I’ve been wrung completely dry. There are different studies on crying. It can be a release and a relief, but it can also bring tension, sinus troubles, and stress. I think the difference must be if there is an end to suffering in sight. If there is none, the hurt gets worse. If there is, then crying gives relief. My head still hurts, so I suppose that’s not a good sign. It does help to have someone hear your heart and be a loving presence even if you know the hurt isn’t going away. A true friend offers a shoulder and feels your pain. I believe it is in the sharing that both laughter and crying offer healing.

I just can’t help myself when it comes to crying or laughing. Both are important release valves God put in place to help me deal with stress, and laughter gets rid of that serious little self that wreaks havoc on my heart and messes with my mind. I thank God for laughter and for tears. They remind me that I am human and that Christ shares the same flesh and knows the pain and joy that comes with it. That is a marvelous mystery that makes me mindful of the love that He expressed with His flesh. I am eternally grateful to have a Savior who laughed and cried just as I do. That changes the way I love and live my life.

Black Eyes and Broken Hearts

Lillyann and Mylah both got their first black eye within a week of one another.  Both involved difficult lessons, as do all black eyes.  Little Mylah was first and learned that a slick round metal surface does not provide the same grip as a solid wooden one. She grabbed the pole on her bouncy station and whirled around and down to the floor.  She was shocked, I’m sure, to learn too late that she didn’t have the support she expected. Lessons learned the hard way stick with us, especially when accompanied by a black eye! She’s too little to notice her black eye or feel embarrassment, and her injury wasn’t as severe as her big sister’s. So I imagine she didn’t think much more about it except to learn not to use the bouncy bar for support in the future.

Lillyann’s accident was far worse and left a real shiner under her left eye.  She put her legs through the legs of a kitchen stool and found that gravity can be a painful thing as the top of the stool hit her square in the eye.  There is particular pain in that area, and it always leaves a mark when you’re whacked there! The mark remains as a reminder and serves to humble as folks just have to know how it happened. It hurts our pride to have to relive embarrassing moments over and over until all is faded and forgotten.

Fist fights normally leave such a mark, and it is seen by some as a purple badge of courage:)  Lillyann certainly didn’t think that about her eye, and I got the impression that she was embarrassed by the whole affair and would rather not discuss it. I dropped the subject because I know just how she feels. I don’t recall ever literally having a black eye, but I’ve had more than my share of lessons that humble. You find out who your true friends are; they are the ones that wait for you to tell them the story and don’t ask if you don’t tell.

A black eye sets the stage for a good story and makes us the center of attention whether we want to be or not.  When did you get it? How did it happen? What does the other guy look like? Those questions start a tall tale that embellishes the truth and ends differently depending upon who’s doing the narrating. Boys seemed to sport the injury more often than girls, but I don’t have any proof of that.  However, Tom’s Guide for Gadgets does report this: “But did you know that boys playing with their Wii are more likely to be injured than girls? Patrick O’Toole, Robert Miller and John Flynn did a study as part of their work for the division of Orthopedics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that boys accounted for 49 out of the 92 motion-control-related injuries.”

Playing and living involve injury, and I suppose the more I’m willing to put myself into either, the more likely I am to get a black eye or a broken heart. God’s call for witnesses involves getting out into the world, getting a black eye, getting humbled, and getting right back out and doing it all over again. The same is true for love except you end up with a broken heart rather than a black eye. The trouble with a broken heart is that it can be easily hidden. I know the girls will have many spills as they learn what does and doesn’t work when it comes to holding on and climbing, and I know one day they will have the same spills and lessons when it comes to love. I hope they keep on grabbing and climbing and loving anyway.

The best stories, no matter who is telling them, come from those who get black eyes and broken hearts. If I never have either, then I’m not living or loving. When those injuries come from doing something silly, stories are replaced by prayers that no one saw it happen!  Black eyes and broken hearts are part of life, and lessons that humble will continue as long as I reach out, grab on, and try to make a connection. It’s best to be like we are at Mylah’s age and learn quickly, forget as quickly, and then move on.  The more I nurse my hurt, the more it hurts. Being able to laugh at my mistakes is icing on the cake and makes for a much better journey.  I learned early in life to laugh along with everyone else when I make those goofy mistakes. That is far easier to do with a black eye than with a broken heart, but you have to be willing to learn and laugh from both. Black eyes and broken hearts heal, and lessons learned from them help me navigate the next leg of my journey.  Laughter makes the sting of the humbling at little less painful, and the journey a lot more enjoyable. Having friends who cry and laugh with me along the way is just God showing off.

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