As My Parents Age

As My Parents Age, by Cynthia Ruchti, is a terrific book. If you have parents who are over 70, consider picking up a copy. If you hope to someday be over 70 yourself, consider picking up a copy.

Today, though, I want to depart from my usual theme and tell you about some of the instructions I’ve now given myself, having watched the aging process assail my parents.

Take care of your skin. Dry skin is fragile skin. Fragile skin can tear and bleed and hurt. A good moisturizing soap and lotion may seem unimportant now, but it’s an investment in your future comfort.

Take care of your feet. A pedicure every once in a while may seem frivolous, but it’s also an investment in your “old person feet.” And, no, you don’t have to get your toenails polished.

Take care of your teeth. You know the routine. Floss. Brush. See your dentist. You want your teeth to outlast you. A century or so ago they seldom did, and we all tend to live longer now. So, be warned.

Take care of your weight. You think it’s hard to keep your BMI in a reasonable range now? Just wait until taking a run—or even a long walk—becomes impossible. Moderate your eating habits now so that you’ve created the habit you will so dearly need later.

Take care of your attitude. If you tend to panic or complain now, you’re going to find it nearly impossible to keep your perspective in old age. Life just tends to get more difficult. Do yourself, and perhaps more importantly, your younger loved ones, a favor. Learn to be happy for what you have, to trust the lord in all things, to rejoice, and to be at peace.

As the years creep up, KISS  more. Keep It Simple Stupid. That sharp brain of yours will probably dull a bit. So, as time goes on, make your life a bit less complicated year by year.

Enjoy your blessings! Notice what your younger self is able to embrace. Make memories. Love and be loved. Fill your happy bucket with enough to last you if and when life becomes limited.

And, now, please, those of you who have learned other essential tips, please, please, weigh in in the comments section. We all need to know what you know!

Photo credit: michelle dot com via

Questions from a Cruise

I went on a cruise! It was lovely, exhausting, indulgent, and full of unforgettable hours. As always, I looked for life lessons in the process. Let me share a few with you.

1. Ask (and heed) the wisdom of those who’ve gone before you.

When preparing for our trip, I read travel blogs and checked out opinions regarding excursions. I looked for tips on how to make the best of our vacation time.

Do you know someone whose wisdom and experience could keep you from learning things the hard way?

2. Stay focused so that you don’t miss out.

The most important moments of any day were rarely what I expected. The big shows were fun, but conversations over early morning tea were more precious,

What’s happening right now, in your everyday life, that deserves your full attention?

3. Turn off your phone.

I didn’t have cell coverage, so I was never on the internet, and life rocked on just fine without it. What a lovely reminder to me to keep the chatter of life down to a need to know basis! ‘Helped me focus on the experience at hand.

Really, how much do you need to know?

4. Be courageous.

I shy away from heights and speed, but, for the sake of my grandson, rode a really fast waterslide. It was delightful! (I rode it six more times.) If it’s safe, moral, and legal, go ahead—step up to try that new thing that gives you butterflies.

Is fear holding you back from something good?

5. Let people be your priority.

When all was said and done, it mattered far more who was with me than where I was.

Who could use a call or a hug or a visit from you this week?

6. Pray about everything, and submit even the lousy moments to God.

God has often surprised me in the way he works things out. Bugs in our bathroom at 1 am (ugh!) led to an amazing upgrade.

Have you joined the “pray without ceasing” club yet?

And have you learned a good lesson while traveling or on vacation? If so, I hope you’ll tell me all about it!

Photo by Georgy Trofimov on

Slow to Learn

January 2021.

  • Weather: Changing by the hour.
  • Quarantine: Still in place for my parents.
  • Schedule: Grandchildren here from 8-4.
  • My agenda: Have my grandchildren in the car to go visit their great-grandparents by 3 pm. (By visit, I mean stand in the parking lot and dance and wave while Meemee and Deedah lower treats down from their balcony by a rope and bag contraption.)

Before I go on with this story, here’s a quote from the Brenda of 2005, found in an old journal. “There is only panic when I set my own agenda.” That’s right, folks, I’ve been working on letting God be in control for a long, long time. And, as I’m about to show you, I am not there yet.

Those of you with small children know that an agenda like I described above can require hours of planning and preparation. (If you don’t get it, borrow a three-year-old for a couple of days.) Play time, lunchtime, and an early naptime must all align if one wants to be out of the door by 3. At about noon, things were looking pretty good. But then…

I asked Steve to play with Nick for a few minutes while I settled Kate in her bedroom. They wrestled and then built a fort for him to “take his nap in.” This is a gender thing folks, but for those of you who just don’t get it (meaning about half of the population), it’s a whole lot easier to get a kid to sleep if you do something calm and quiet right before the moment of naptime comes. See Steve having a great time doing nothing wrong, but see Brenda’s silent fuming.

I was frustrated and a bit too terse with Kate (who, of course, heard the wrestling and wouldn’t stay in bed.) Eventually she fell asleep, adorable with a big stuffed tiger as her pillow. Nick finally fell asleep about an hour later than I had planned, buried under that fort. Of course, most of the cuteness was lost on me, because my agenda had been ruined. It would be far too late to go anywhere by the time they reached full consciousness. I would have to settle for plan B, and I did not like plan B.

Halfway through rest time, I managed to let go of my agenda and my frustration, praying for a return to my usual delight in these “NanaPop Days.”  Guess what, plan B was great! They slept. I rested. Then we read books and ate snacks for a few short moments until their parents arrived to take them home. I visited my parents alone later in the day, only to discover that the weather was too cold for Mom and Dad to spend much time on their balcony anyway. The whole day would have been so much better if I’d stayed flexible instead of trying so hard to get my way.

We are still in a very uncertain time. But, really, every time is an uncertain time. We won’t always get what we expect or what we plan for. Relax. Trust. And smile. God has a way of improving on your plans. 

Why Do We Give Chocolate to Children?

Photo by cottonbro on Please note that this is not a photo of my grandson!

As you’ve gathered from earlier posts, I have grandchildren now. I also have a generous supply of chocolate chips—white, dark, milk, and caramel. While Steve and I certainly get into my stash from time to time, I keep those chip jars full primarily for the sake of the little ones in my life. Today they sprinkled them on top of pans of pumpkin muffins. They’ve insisted on adding them to our quarts of homemade frozen yogurt. Sometimes, though, I just dole out small piles of chips into each of their eager hands.

But why? Why do any of us give chocolate (or sprinkles, or ice cream or…) to children? We all know it’s not particularly healthy. I think we do it because we take pleasure in delighting those we love. I enjoy the broad smiles and pure excitement a few chocolate chips can evoke in my grandchildren. I like giving them what they like. It makes me happy.

I think God takes pleasure in delighting those he loves—that’s us. Of course, every blessing he gives us is 100% good. The questions I want to ask you today, though, are these:

  • How good are you at delight?
  • Do you keep your eyes open for God’s blessings and please him by enjoying what he gives you?
  • Do you take good things for granted or, worse yet, deny yourself the pleasure of His gifts because you know you don’t deserve them?

My grandchildren often say, “I’m so excited…” When I hear that, I’m challenged to rekindle my own excitement, to renew my recognition of the pleasant things in life, all of which are gifts from God. I want to urge you today to up your level of delight in the Lord, not just in who he is, but also in all he provides.

And won’t you please take a moment to tell me about it here?

And one more thing: Last week’s blog was written by my mom, Beth Smith. Some of you received it by email before it was properly credited. ‘Just want to set the record straight!

Goose Down

Photo by Frank Cone on

A little boy of particular importance said this to me last week.

“Mommy got me a new pillow. It’s made of eagle wings!”

Hmmm. Eagle wings. I had to think about that for a moment. Ahhh. He  wasn’t familiar with the term “goose down,” so his brain simply morphed those words into something more familiar. Goose = Eagle. Down = Wings.

A down pillow can be comfortable indeed. But imagine if we could all sleep on eagle wings. ‘Sounds delightful. Empowering. Full of rest, of soaring and trusting.

Come to think of it, doesn’t God offer us all of those things? Aren’t we able to go to him as the source of our power? Doesn’t he promise us rest when we trust? He even tells us about soaring on wings of eagles. And so, why don’t we, in a sense, sleep on eagle wings? I think, far too often, we all miss out.

We can rest every night in keen awareness of the delightful love of our Lord. We can begin every morning with a whispered prayer, “Lord, thank you for this day. Be in charge. Cause me to hear your voice, to know it, to trust, to obey. Empower me to do your bidding, and bring peace to my heart.”

Tonight, when you call it a day, whether your pillow be foam or down, I hope some part of you will imagine yourself cushioned by, or soaring on, eagle wings. The Lord loves you! So close your eyes and sleep on that!