How Can Little Become Much?

“…’If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, Move from here to there,’ and it will move, Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matt. 17:20 HCSB    

I received extraordinary encouragement from the book “Fierce Convictions-The Extraordinary Life of  HANNAH MORE-Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist “.  Though she is little heard of, yet she had a great influence as a Christian woman in the 18th century.  It so greatly inspired me, I  am going to share with you a few bits and pieces of it.  After all, she also lived to the age of 88 and was not idle in her service.   She serves as a great example to us in our senior years.

Early Years of Life

Briefly about her beginnings, she was born in 1745 near Bristol, England.  In those days ladies were only supposed to be learning cooking, sewing, embroidery, dancing, etc.  But Hannah had such a thirst for knowledge that her parents encouraged her and provided opportunity  whenever they could for her to learn others subjects as well, like classical languages and mathematics.

Hannah was one of five girls.  The family plan was for the girls to open a school of their own since teaching was the only profession acceptable for woman of that  period.  This they did with the oldest of the sisters at aged 20 being the headmistress and second oldest supporting her.  Hannah was only 13 when they started and was a pupil at  first but became a teacher at the ripe old age of 16 in this school.  They taught subjects like French,  Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Needlework as well.  It was quite unheard of in those days and caused quite a stir, but it was profitable enough for the sisters to retire in 1789 after 30 years.   Then they handed it over to a former pupil who kept it open to at least 1808.  Their financial management, high principles, and benevolence led to the success of that school.

This school was only the beginning.  Through its students, the school became connected to the theater.  As a pupil, Hannah, had started writing poetry.  It was well known that she had writing talent.  Through the theater, she cultivated social connections that gave her opportunity to write more.  She even wrote plays that were performed at the theater.  She even made the 120 mile trip by coach to London Theater Royal annually, and did so for 35 yrs.   Hannah developed some close friendships and remained close friends with Eva Garrick (whose husband managed the theater) for 43 yrs after his death.

Hannah never married though she did receive a couple of proposals.  The engagement lasted 6 years and the prospective groom backed down three times, after which Hannah had had enough and refused any other offer after that.  For that matter, none of the five sisters ever married.  Either they were really close or maybe after seeing what happened to Hannah, they decided not to pursue that avenue.

Spiritual Growth

Though Hannah had come to faith while young,  John Wesley was a major influence, having built a chapel in 1739 a few miles from the Mores’ home.    It naturally took some years, but she did grow from just plain ‘piety’ to ‘an understanding’  to ‘the heart’, but it was a process that started in her family.  Her faith was a ‘religion of the heart’ in her day and age.

During the years of her society life in London, she read a book called Cardiphonia by John Newton (wrote Amazing Grace.)  Over several years following , she became increasingly unhappy with life in high society and turned more fully toward the Christian faith she had assumed all her life but not completely embraced fully.  She went to visit Newton’s church to talk which led to another step toward an increasingly evangelical and personal faith.  Hannah began perceiving how evil slavery.  William Wilberforce who was a member of parliament; spear headed the legal efforts to end slavery.  He and Hannah became close friends in this battle.  What William did in the public sphere, Hannah did in the private sphere.  It wasn’t till the end of both their lives that they accomplished their goal, but it was something that they worked on together through out the remainder of their lives.

One other thing worth mentioning was the struggle to relieve the suffering of the people in the neighboring village where the More sisters lived.  They talked and decided to start a “Sunday School.”  Sunday schools in those days were schools held on Sundays for poor children because they have no means for formal instruction.  Sundays were the only days the children did not have to ‘work.’  The sisters scoured the countryside.  Patty and Hannah rode on horseback and on foot to talk, explain, cajole, bribe, beg, for children to have the privilege to go to school.   When it finally started, they taught reading, arithmetic, Bible, catechism, knitting and spinning.  She worked with the Sunday schools for over 30 yrs.  They closed after her death but became the basis for primary schools  educating English children today.

Hannah did suffer illnesses during her life also.  Many of the symptoms she suffered sound a lot like migraines of our day and possible clinical depression.   The very thing that sustained her to the end was prayer.  Her convictions and passions did not change in the end of her life; touching many areas of life, literature, education, morality, religion, and abolition.  If a woman of this time period who didn’t have all the advantages we have; could live such a godly, moral influence and example; how can those of us who have so many advantages not strive to do the same?  Hers sounds like a life well lived.  Though she did not have what we do today, yet she had much influence.  I encourage others to read to see how this ‘little’ lady became much to inspire them to do the same.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KQ2G7QS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 “Forgiveness is the economy of the heart. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.”– Hannah More

Read more: https://www.christianquotes.info/quotes-by-author/hannah-quotes/#ixzz4s8gHyZxpHannah More

 

 

 

 

A Place for Dad-Exploring Living Options

Even to your old age  and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.  Isaiah 46:4

Hello there!

When you get to senior age, you may need to explore your living options.  You may decide to stay where you are, or downsize to a smaller place, join a living community, live with a relative, or have to stay in a facility where you can get the care and security you need if none of the above is an option.  As we get closer to that age, we are beginning to consider a few of those options. However, what about our older senior parents who are still alive? They are in that season right now.  How do you decide what options are best for your senior parents, or how do they decide what is best if they still are able?

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/aging/elder-care/5-senior-living-options1.htm

Living Options Dilemma

My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years back.  He still lived alone in his own house at that time.  Since he was in the beginning stages,  he was not in imminent danger or anything.  Dad drove, cooked, cleaned house, dressed and cared for himself and his dog, and even went dancing at senior centers.  Hence, he was a fairly active senior citizen.

My siblings and I all lived several states away, however, we were concerned about dad and started doing research.  We explored living options and started to prepare ourselves for what was to come.  The doctor prescribed medication for Dad and he was doing well.  He kept his doctor appointments regularly and functioned as he always had.

Back in the eighties he had started driving the some 1800 miles to go see his kids.  We enjoyed his visits and were glad to see him.  When he developed Alzheimer’s, the trips became a source of anxiety for all of us.  He would start on a trip fine, but by the second day of driving he would get lost or pass out from low blood sugar.  Next, one of us would receive a call from the doctor or police station. Finally we planned which one of us was available to go pick him up and get him home. After a few days of visiting, he felt fine and had forgotten how he arrived.

We took him to visit houses and assisted living places in our area.  He seemed very open, but said he needed to sell his house first.   Much as we understood,  we offered to help, but he refused.  Eventually, we arranged for a neighbor(a retired nurse) to check on him everyday and take him a meal so we knew he’d be getting fed and have an idea he was doing okay.  This went on for a couple years.

Freebies examples:

Decision Time

One day my uncle(dad’s only living sibling)took my dad to a doctor appointment.  Dad could no longer legally drive at that point.  Since the doctor wasn’t happy with my dad’s communication skills; he evaluated further him for a  period of a few days.  Furthermore, they decided that my dad could no longer live alone.   Then my brother and uncle took steps to take care of dad’s needs.

Since we lived several states away, it took a while to find a place.  Even though the doctor preferred a memory care facility,  my brother found a place that would accept him in assisted living as they assessed him still capable of it.   As a result, we explored a few different options.

Should we move him to live with one of us?    Would a memory care or assisted living home be better?  Perhaps a smaller residential home that provided such care with fewer residents would work?  Could he keep his dog?   Would the VA help with expenses and how to get that started ?  What about dad’s house and vehicles and other belongings?  Finally,  what about medical care?  Since we needed input from someone else, both my brother and I did consult with someone to advise and do research based on what our needs were.  Consequently, the organization I used was called  A Place For Mom.

Probably some of you may have faced a similar situation and had to make choices on what was best for your aging parent.   What affected your decisions?   It is obvious that no one choice is best for all, each situation is a little different.  The parent’s health, mental condition, financial assets, and family support is different in each case.  I’d love to hear from some of you what worked for you and why.   Consequently here is a survey you might do to help out with the information posted in this blog. 

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7BSXHKX

Thanks for your time!

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do.”— Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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About Transitioning to Retirement

“Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”  Ephes. 5:15,16.

Hello there  C. O. S readers!

I have  been wondering a lot more lately about transitioning into retirement.  What is transitioning anyway?    As I looked it up I came across a definition like this:  “a movement, process, change from one stage, state, position, subject, etc; to another”.     When I try to do research I find there is a lot out there about transitioning into retirement.  I have read about as little as 3 stages up to 6 or 7.   Hubby has been talking about it and we know it is approaching.  Since I know definitely that it is coming soon,  what do I expect?  Will things flow smoothly?  Will I have to make major adjustments or major decisions and if so, can I start now or do I have to wait till it is imperative or legal to make certain decisions?

STAGES

Life is managed a lot in  stages.   In my own  life,  I can personally think of many transitions I have made through the years. I am remembering , for example, from childhood to adulthood, from singleness to marriage, from childless to fruitfulness, from spring season to autumn season, from non-believing to believing.  We can find stages life, stages of death, stages of marriage or divorce, stages of grief or loss, stages of love, stages of pregnancy, stages of change, of sleep,  and stages of dementia or cancer.   Therefore, why not talk about stages of retirement?   It helps to break events up into stages that we can go through a little bit at a time.  It is easier to measure our progress and makes the events of life more manageable.   The stages of retirement can be found on quite a few different sites.

Not only can you find the different stages of retirement, but you can find websites that deal with  just financial preparation, others with psychological aspects, and still others discuss the emotional aspects.

I will mention the emotional stages here briefly.  I found these on this site   and is mentioned in at least one other blog I know of.

  • Pre-retirement-The Planning time
  • The Big Day-Smiles, handshakes, farewells
  • Honeymoon Phase- I’m Free!
  • Disenchantment-This is it?
  • Reorientation- Building a New Identity
  • Routine-Moving On

THE NITTY GRITTY

Right now, I am in the planning stage of transitioning to retirement,  so what does that mean?  Yeah, retirement is in the future.    Our health is fairly good and our house is paid for.  Perhaps adjusting the budget is the next thing to work on.   Then maybe down sizing and or moving from our nice sized home to a smaller one.  Also I  definitely think we will need part-time jobs for each of us focus on.  Besides that we should be able to focus on some hobbies, maybe go traveling?  I am one who dislikes changes and if I have to change, would rather do it gradually; easing into it.  Just thinking about all these changes almost overwhelms me,therefore the more time I have to prepare, the better it usually goes for me.

However, one article I read said this:  “As reality sets in, only 24% of boomers express confidence that they will have enough resources in retirement vs. 37% five years ago.”  Therefore, it is a concern.  My understanding is that the millennial generation now outnumbers the baby boomers, but some 60 million or so boomers is a good portion of the present population.  Conclusively, we need to get busy planning boomers!   It is fast approaching.

But to sum it all up,  transitioning to retirement will involve and affect everyone in a family in some way. Planning and preparing is  not something that should be taken lightly.  From financial changes, physical changes, changing living arrangements, social activities, emotional and spiritual changes…….. Be serious and thoughtful about how all this will play out and don’t just take it for granted in our changing economy that everything will work out.   “Also in terms of the difficulties that come with retirement whether it is health or financial, I think these are crucial conversations to be having with the next generation. It is really a family project when people retire, and financial or health problems are a natural part of almost every families’ lives and members should discuss how everybody collectively be clear-eyed and speak frankly about what a future is and how to best plan.”

One assurance I do hang on to in spite of all the changes that may come, our God remains the same. He is timeless and unchanging, and for Him one day is as a thousand years. Though all His works may come to end, “But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end.” Psalm 102: 27  I am so grateful I have an unchanging God to see me through this transition into retirement as well as all the other transitions in life.

By the way if you wish to comment, click on the post title on the right and it will bring up the post for you to comment at the bottom. Thanks!

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”  Fred Rogers

Using Christian Caring Tools part 2

 

“And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly  I say to you he shall  not  lose his reward.”  Matthew 10:42

Are words the only caring tools we can use?

I knocked on the door and waited. I wondered if I was really doing any good using the tools I was using?  Seems like I had to wait longer certain times than others, but eventually the door was answered and I sat down in a comfy chair. Leaving more than an hour later, I pondered…What had I done for that time? Basically I listened and asked questions, at times sharing Scripture and at times praying. It didn’t seem like much , but the elderly lady I visited enjoyed it greatly.  It didn’t seem like much, but it meant a great deal to her as she wasn’t able to get around to socialize very much.

In addition to the first two already discussed;  the third tool  is  ‘Affirmation or Blessing.”  This tool reminds us who is in charge and working, assuring people that God is still with them; and gives comfort to people, encouragement, and helps to train our thoughts.   In addition to being positive, affirmations need to be based on truth to be effective.  Formal written prayers or affirming words, or just using verses written out are effective; read or memorized.  (Numbers 6:24-26,2 Corinthians 13:14, Philippians 4:7-examples)   It depends on the situation.  Even something like “God bless you and be with you.  May He shower you  with His hope, joy and peace.”   Consider the person’s needs and your preferences as well.  If you speak with assurance and conviction, it will come across in your words.  This is a very encouraging Christian  resource. Click this link for some more examples.


Furthermore,  besides our words, talking and sharing with someone, or praying with them,  gluing them altogether are the actual actions.    Even though it  is easy to say we care about someone,  deeds usually demonstrate the truthfulness of our words.  It just means doing simple things like taking a meal to someone,  giving them a ride, giving them a drink, taking them shopping, going out for coffee, etc.   All these type of ‘acts’ are an important tool for giving support or care; however, not only are they for seniors,  but any others going through difficulty as well.   Supporting with our words is helpful but  being  willingness to  give of our time, speaks louder than words.

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” James 1:22

Finally to review, the four Christian caring tools we have discussed:   1) Prayer with the person,  2)Sharing scripture,  3)Affirmations of truth,  and 4)Acts of service.   We not only can give good care as a Christian, we can share the source of encouragement, healing, comfort, strength with the  person we care about;  using  these tools.  I hope they prove useful to you the next you visit someone in need and enrich your caring experience.

May our Lord bless and keep you in His service.

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“You are to pay special attention to those who by accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.”  Saint Augustine

 

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Using Tools for Christian Care

 

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me. ”  Matthew 25: 40

                                   Caring for Others in Need

Have you ever heard of ‘Tools for Christian Care’?   What does a person dealing with depression for several years, someone who lost their parent, an elderly widow going through health issues, and an older woman who has lost the use of her legs all have in common? These are the type of people that need the tools I am going to talk about.  They are for giving aid and encouragement to others.   We are commanded as Christians to love one another.  Therefore, when we have relationships with  those who are hurting, we have the opportunity to give the love and care that people need in situations such as

  • …life too much to handle alone right now?
  • … health, your attitude, or your relationships suffering?
  • …adjusting to a new job, a change in marital status, a serious illness, the death of a loved one, a recent move?
  • …. don’t have anyone in your life who really cares?

Everyone goes through difficult times. Having someone to listen, to share God’s love with you, can help you get through the stress, or loneliness you may be experiencing.   Just being able to share your burden with others lightens them for you.  Sometimes you need to go to a professional counselor or pastor or therapist, and that’s ok. Basically I am referring to assisting people who have normal coping skills intact, their thinking in order and their emotions controlled. For some reason, they just need a little extra support, encouragement, prayer with them and for them, and sharing of their burdens. https://www.stephenministries.org/stephenministry/default.cfm/917

Of course, it is important to take training if you wish to be involved in your church or organization doing this on a regular basis.  However, these tools are valuable to know for anyone who is in a  relationship with a hurting person.  It doesn’t matter if the problem is physical,  financial, marital, or related to loss of a loved one, etc.  These special tools are available to anyone to use as a Christian lay person, to support someone having a hard time making it through a crisis.  I would like to share a couple of them here and a couple in the next post.  Even though no professional training needed for these, but it is helpful to have knowledge of the person you are with and familiarity with the tools. To learn more- Christian Caregiving-a Way of Life.

First of all, one tool to use in caring for others is prayer.  Prayer is a talking to God. He wants us to approach him and share our concerns with him in prayer. He tells us to “Cast our cares on Him for He cares for us.” (1 Peter 5:7) God listens and He understands  and supplies any kind of need.  When you pray for others, it  benefits your relationship and the other’s at the same time.  It results in an intimate personal experience that stems from being honest and open with each other as well as God.  You both draw closer to God together.  Through prayer, you are taking your burdens to God and bonding with the other person in the process.  Remember, only pray when the other person is willing and ready to pray, never trying  to force it.

Secondly, a valuable tool to aid others is the Bible.  The Bible records how God ministered to people and deals with many different human concerns, experiences, and situations.   Since you probably’d like to take one with you, then use a small one so as not to intimidate when you visit.  It would be good to mark down some passages or know them by memory.  Maybe  you may also share a few thoughts or explain them, but it is not always necessary. Furthermore, never manipulate or bombard people with your judgments.  It is best to  let the Bible speak for itself and bring reassurance, understanding, correction, strength, etc.  The Scriptures are definitely an important aid to keeping up one’s spirit in a crisis.

These first two tools involve using your words and words from the Bible.  Hopefully, just from having mentioned the first two, they will give you some ideas and encouragement.

Consequently, don’t be guilty of thinking your words don’t matter.  “Words change our relationships, our demeanor, our entire system of beliefs, and even our businesses. Being a planet or not being a planet makes a major difference, just as the words “I love you” or “I hate you” have majorly different meanings behind them. Words have a powerful and undeniably overwhelming influence on us – for good and, at times, for bad. Think for a moment how words have changed your life.”

http://www.askingsmarterquestions.com/words-have-the-power-to-change-our-lives/

In addition…Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”  Ephes. 4:29   They have influence.

I hope reading about these tools may benefit you and give you a couple ideas about sharing with the person you care for.  Thanks for reading and join me next time in sharing about a couple more tools to use in caring relationships.

 

 

By compassion we make others’ misery our own,  and so,  by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also.”     Sir  Thomas Browne

GET familiar with Bible.  Try this reading system!

 

 

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Age is Just a Number

TO VALUE  PEOPLE  

“You shall rise up before the gray headed, and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.”  Leviticus 19:32

HELLO  C. O.S. readers!

When I was very young, I didn’t have a good perspective of what the value of an older person was.   Age wasn’t just a number then.  I  did not know much about value as a human being. There was an older woman that babysit the four of us from time to time. It was always a scary experience for us. She lived alone apparently and never smiled that I could remember. Very often  she would be reprimanding us;  telling us “Shut up!” She astounded us by speaking to us in that way. Our mom didn’t speak to us that way, so why was she so mean?  We didn’t think we were misbehaving very badly and could never understand that. Our grandparents, so prim and proper, brought us gifts, but they never talked to us that way either.

Our neighbor, when I was a teen, was an older man who bred pointers and sold them.  His wife died and I remember he seemed quite lonely as well as having health issues.  Eventually he ended up married again being  probably in his 60’s or 70’s.   He was quite neighborly at least and was friends with the manager of our house.

First  impressions of older people were not good for me.  I could never imagine being that age, and seemingly it would be forever before it happened.   I was rather apprehensive about it considering all I had observed growing up.  Remember too, the sayings like:  “The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be…”   Another one I recollect is “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…”   If any  of these sayings were based on any iota of truth, it made older years something to dread.

 Do people think seniors are ‘washed out’? That kind of thinking bothers me.  Very frequently I hear about an elderly person being attacked and I think, doesn’t anyone respect their elders?  Why do attacks take place on those who are older and weaker? 7NEWShttp://whdh.com

A nurse says:”Much value is placed on the lives of infants, children, and younger adults.  However, older people are often devalued in American society.  We can see the bias toward youthful populations come to life when we tell the public where we work.”—  “The Elderly Are Devalued”.

Now, however, I do believe older people definitely have more to look forward to than when I was younger.  I started thinking…..if we devalue the elderly,  how can we change that perspective? One article reads: “Unless we change the way we view old age, the generation younger than the boomers will treat them the same way as soon as they show a few more wrinkles, or seem a bit shaky on their feet.”     http://oregonstate.edu—- Study: Elderly go from being perceived as capable consumer to ‘old person.’

How can we show value and respect to older people or encourage/support them?

First of all, we cannot put a price on the value on a human life; all life is sacred.  God created man in His image and old or young, ‘they’ all have value and worth.

Declaration of Independence even declares this:

” We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Matt. 10:29-31- “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Therefore do not fear, you are of more value than many sparrows.”   Young or old, we all have the same value.

Secondly, they have value for the right reasons.  As it is said,  they ‘silver in the hair’, or ‘gold in the teeth’, but some how I don’t think they want to be valued for those reasons.  Their value is much more in that they bring years or decades of experience into a conversation or situation.  They have experienced difficulties, joys, and griefs, and hopefully, successes also.    “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding come with long life.”  Job 12:12   The ability to share with the up and coming generations the way in which you can navigate certain circumstances is invaluable.  A lot of times they also have a good sense of humor . Though many seniors don’t live close to their families, they still desire to share their lives with them and others. ( http://abcfastdirectory.com– church articles)

Third, a lot of seniors are living longer and longer these days.  They are also accomplishing more things and contributing to society. I read about a “great-grandmother, Mary Bochanis, who has been volunteering for 73 yrs. at the RED CROSS.” Dorothy Davenhill Hirsch at 89 yrs visited the north pole.  Minoru Saito at 77 sailed around the world.  At 95 Nola Ochs graduated from Fort Hays State University in Kansas.  It is very inspiring to read about the accomplishments seniors are making now a days.

To conclude, yes, there is still much value in old age. All people have worth, and seniors have much more knowledge and experience to share as well as opportunities to accomplish other objectives and feats.   There is much to look forward to and I’ve only just begun to touch on that.  More to come in the future on this subject.  Until the next sunset!

“Grow old along with me!  The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made.” Robert Browning

A  free share:    Pinterest post with my favorite Bible Reading system.  Take a look, try it and enjoy!

 

 

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