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

Those Who Mourn

July 7, 2022

Here’s something weird that happened to me today. I have a sweet 90-year-old neighbor who wants to have her windows cleaned. She gave me a flier a few weeks ago for someone she was hoping would do the job. I made a call and what I thought was an appointment. Nobody showed up. I called the number on the flier again today. Short version: the guy who answered told me he was busy, that I should wash the windows for her myself, and then hung up on me. So, yes, weird. And, for a few too many moments, insulting and upsetting. Fortunately, I remembered that people sometimes have bad days, and I let it go.

A few hours later, I got a text that a dear friend had that very morning passed away too young and too fast. Now I’m the one having a rough day. But I don’t look any different. If I stub my toe, I’m probably going to break out in sobs. If I have to wait in a long line, I will probably look impatient. And if someone wants to have a deep conversation with me, there’s a good chance they’ll wonder why my face shows such obvious distraction. They won’t know unless I tell them.

  • If you’re having a rough day, please be willing to tell those who love you or who need to know so that they’ll understand what’s going on inside your head.
  • If someone treats you roughly, please be willing to make allowances, since you don’t know what may be going on inside that person’s head.

My grandchildren have been learning to list the fruit of the spirit, creating a perfect opportunity for me to review and remember that list as well:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

If you’d asked me to name them a month ago, I would have gotten about seven out of nine. The two I think I would have missed were goodness and gentleness. Those are the subtle ones, ones that are all about how we treat others, and the ones I urge you to consider today. Please, go about your day today with goodness and gentleness, letting the rough edges of those around you become beacons of need. We have the Holy Spirit within us, equipping us to make allowances, even when they seem undeserved. We may never know the full story…

Photo credit: Fa Barboza via


Last month, I spoke at a wedding. In preparation, I asked the bride and groom to each tell me why they loved the other. Their answers were marvelous, and I had fun sharing them with the whole congregation. I followed up by saying, “And when you find yourselves frustrated with one another, probably over something that doesn’t really matter, remember the words you’ve shared with one another today. They will help you show one another grace.”

Last week, I got mad at my husband. Once in a while he does something that hurts my feelings, always something that doesn’t really matter, and it silences my joy for far too long. I still need to get better at showing grace*.

Long ago, I wrote these words. “We need to get along. To cut each other slack. To put up with inconvenience. To encourage one another. Petty grievances, and the discord they can create, are as old as the hills. When moments of hurt or anger threaten to weaken your relationships and silence your joy, remember that we have a common enemy, Satan, who seeks to divide us, to entice us into choosing offense and harboring hurt. At the same time, we share our common Lord, who calls us to forgive, to overlook, and to show grace.

Ken Werlein of Faithbridge church said, “No matter what someone does to provoke us, we have done the same and more to provoke the wrath of God. Yet God forgives us and offers us his forgiveness, his love and kindness every single day. Thus, even when we find no earthly reason to offer grace to a fellow human being, we have a wealth of heavenly reasons to do so.”

James 1:19 instructs us to, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

This week, I’ll be asking the Lord to help me follow that command. Join me?

  • “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult” (Proverbs 12:16).
  • “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

* And, since I prepare these blogs in advance, I need to add here that today, as I review this, I no longer remember what Steve did or why I was upset. All the more reason to show grace right away!

The Greatest Valentine by Beth Smith (My Mom!)

Happy Valentine’s Day! (Almost)

Please remember that God sent us the greatest Valentine, Jesus Christ, because he loves us so much. 1 John 4:15-16 (NIV) says, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” Love is his nature. It would be terrible to have to strive constantly to make God love us, trying to do enough to be acceptable to him, to be loved by him. That’s not the case! We can rely on his love for us, even though we don’t deserve it.

Romans 8 promises us that nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from his love.God is love. His love is eternal. And he has asked us to love each other.

We can love in thought: If we dwell on someone’s faults or shortcomings, we’ll have a mighty hard time showing them love. It’s better to believe the best of every person.Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person” (1 Corinthians 13:7 AMP). And since, thankfully, God doesn’t keep a list of our offenses, we aren’t to keep a list either.

We can love in word: After we practice thinking good things about others, it’s time to speak those good things, those words of love and encouragement. “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Proverbs 16:24 NLT). The old kid’s chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie. Most of us remember some sort of terrible thing said to us in childhood that still hurts. God wants us to love with our words.

We can love in deed: Once we’re thinking and speaking love, it’s easier to show our love and the love of God in what we do. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18 NIV). For each of us the action we take will be different, but here are a few suggestions.

  • Forgive someone. (God has forgiven us, and we need to do the same.)
  • Show real kindness. (We have the power to be kind to others.)
  • Do for others. (Call a friend, do a chore that isn’t yours, or meet a need even if it’s inconvenient.)
  • Be generous with your compliments.

We need to be extravagant with our love toward others, because God has been extravagant with his love toward us. Let’s do it! Let’s start today.

Stick Your Neck Out

While I’ve told this story before, it bears repeating. We lived in the same house for 30 years, and we had the same next door neighbors for the entire time. Not too many people can say that these days! I learned a lot from that wonderful couple. Let me share just two of the lessons they taught me.

When we were out of town and a freeze was coming, our neighbors covered our pipes without a word. They saved us all sorts of trouble because they took the time to notice our need. I’d like to get better at noticing the needs around me and meeting them when I can. That’s the simpler lesson, though. This next one is a little trickier.

A couple of years ago, Steve pulled out of our driveway with a rather large moving van full of furniture. He was simply helping our son and daughter-in-law move all of their worldly goods from a storage unit in Houston to an apartment in Austin. But you can imagine how that might have looked, since I wasn’t in that van with Steve. Some people would have decided to “mind their own business,” but my neighbor was at the door within the hour, just to check and make sure all was well. That meant the world to me.

Too often, I have used “minding my own business” as an excuse to avoid what could be an awkward situation when, in reality, the needs of our neighbors may well be our business if we can be of help. Our culture is too quick to call for isolation in the name of privacy.

It’s not easy to stick our necks out and ask if our friends and neighbors need help. What if they say, “Hey, butt out!” Pause for a moment to truly contemplate that question. The real answer is, “That’s probably not such a big deal. It’s probably worth the risk.”

With “worth the risk” in mind, I called a new friend not long ago. He had been across the room from me in Sunday school and just didn’t look well. It felt a little awkward to make a “Hey, are you okay?” call, but I did it anyway, leaving a voicemail when he didn’t answer. Later he called back to catch me up on life a bit, tell me how to pray for him, and express his gratitude that I cared enough to call. On the other hand, another friend hadn’t been showing up for church for a while. I didn’t make a call to her and later found out that she was very ill.

And so, I’m hoping to get better at sticking my neck out—at asking, at the risk of being rebuffed, if I can be of help or encouragement to those around me. If you’re one of the people I call, please be nice!

Silence Is NOT Golden

An earlier blog of mine extols the wisdom of Thumper. In essence, that cartoon cottontail said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep quiet.” Taken to the extreme, though, that word of advice can do terrible damage. So here’s another thought: never stop talking.

I know of siblings who refuse to speak to one another, spouses who have gone days without a word, and friendships that have nearly slipped away as resentment dissolved into silence. I fell into that trap myself and nearly lost a now precious relationship. While we may be tempted to count our quiet resolve as a noble response to injustice, a refusal to speak says far more than any words. What it says can be, whether intentional or not, very cruel. “I hate you. I hope that my silence is causing you pain. I no longer value you. I want to pretend you do not exist.”

Silence gone longer becomes so much stronger. The initial wound that causes a rift may fade over the years, but by then the tear in the fabric of friendship or family ties may gape so wide that neither party knows how to mend it. Never stop talking.

Forgiveness is easier earlier. No, it’s not easy, just easier. And it’s demanded by our Lord. We do not have the right to resent. We have been forgiven, and we are commanded to forgive. When our children are small, we teach them the process of apology and forgiveness. “Susie, say ‘I’m sorry.’ Now, Sally, say, ‘I forgive you.’” But the two are not inextricably linked. We can apologize even if we fear that our apology will be met with a refusal to forgive. And we can—we must—forgive, even when an apology never comes. It doesn’t matter who “started it.”

1 Peter 2 speaks volumes on this issue. I’ve pasted a portion of it below, setting in bold type the phrases I find most convicting. Never stop talking is simply one of a thousand corollaries to this far more important directive: never stop forgiving.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good…But now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy…

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us…

 Show proper respect to everyoneFor it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God…Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.