Hope for Aging Bloomers

The peach-colored gladiola greeted me each morning. Its bloom a reminder of summer days and the impressive creations of the Master Gardener.

But within a week, the lower buds began to shrivel, then drop off. While the top of the stalk retained moisture and health, the bottom continued to degenerate.

Yet even the dead blossoms held sections of their original beauty. Miniscule veins of color. Delicate membranes leftover from full flowering. The furling of a final blossom mirrored as the bulb it once was.

Such a lovely plant and a reminder of the fragile value of every life form. So like the final act many of my friends and I are journeying through.

We have seen our dreams and goals bud and flower. Children raised. Grandkids birthed with the promise new generations always offer.

Our careers established, thriving or enduring until we reached that magic retirement age. We look back with fondness at the memories of colleagues we knew, accomplishments valued, goals reached. Perhaps even souls we have impacted with our words or our books.

A life lived with purpose and the hope that our work mattered. We mattered.

Now, we are seeing more wrinkles. The surge of life feels slower. Every year requires more intentional ways to stay healthy. To keep away from chronic illnesses or acute dangers.

Our skin pales and membranes feel more fragile. We drop out of the 8-5 traffic loop that scurries over highway threads each Monday through Friday. We are grateful, but also miss the adrenaline rush of getting to work and completing our day.

As we move farther from the blossom of youth, we realize how quickly our lives budded. How swiftly purpose changed. And we wonder — did I make a difference? Did it matter, the work I did and the life I lived?

The answer is Yes. Abundantly confirmed. Even though the physical appearance has faded and shriveled, the soul’s significance remains intact.

Wisdom has germinated and is eagerly offered to the youngers who inquire. The lessons we have learned can still be shared through memoir, blog posts and books.

Impacts still to be accomplished. Souls still to be inspired.

And within our last act, we look upward toward the prize that calls us home. To be even more like our Creator. To offer whatever we have left. To move forward — with hope.

©2022 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

For a daily meditation in the last act, check out Day by Day: Hope for Senior Wisdom.

Hope Repurposes a Life

It’s fun to find a discarded item and repurpose it. A piece of furniture from the neighborhood dumpster. A pot made from an old bowl. A scarf that morphs into a wall hanging.

My repurposing gifts stem from growing up on a farm and making do with whatever we had. DIY projects began on the family farm.

Need to make a straight row for the garden? Use sticks and baling twine. No need to buy something fancy from the gardening store.

Create a toy out of a piece of cardboard or leftover wood. Use Grandma’s old dresser and repaint it for whichever grandchild needs it next.

Our fashions consisted of hand-me-downs from dozens of cousins. The rule on the farm was: “If you don’t have what you need, make it with whatever materials you already have.”

Creativity thrived, but we did not think of our projects as art. More like survival. Repurposing became our way of life.

My repurposing projects have expanded well beyond furniture, wall hangings, or garden projects. I took the pieces of a former life and with God’s guidance, remade it into something new.

The ministry of counseling and coaching, helping people find a new direction in life, morphed into the ministry of words.

The solitude of sentences. Helping writers birth their words. Edits and publishing resources. Watching their books and mine expand on the dream shelf.

Any type of life transition becomes a repurposing project. How to stop being who we were to become the best “self” for a new season of life.

Henri Nouwen wrote, “The task is to persevere within the solitude.”

It is not a struggle to write, edit, and create in the quiet of my home. This is the creative side that has always existed—which God planned before the creation of the world.

It is just different. A new normal as I had to discover my function within a changing role.

When repurposing an object, we sit awhile and look at it from all angles. How can it be painted or redesigned? How can it be used most effectively?

Think Tom Hanks in Castaway as he sat on the beach staring at a piece of tin until he imagined it as a sail. His life-saving mode of escape.

To repurpose a life requires even more reflection. How can we use our gifts to bless others when the audience lives in cyberspace? Is this moment best used writing a blog post, editing a book, taking a creative walk, or reading a novel? All choices are important.

But which choice strengthens us for the new role? Allows us to end the day with a sense of purpose? Can we be content to just BE?

Learning to just BE has been hard for me—the natural doer, the planner, the initiator. But as I have learned the principle of quiet reflection, I now find a stronger creativity emerges. Unusual and unexpected projects completed. New ideas nurtured.

The beauty of a personal repurposing project is the assurance that God loves us no matter what we DO. He saved us to BE—to transition into different people.

Hope thrives when we can be our authentic selves. When we embrace life and move forward with joy. What if we find a new purpose and learn to be more authentic than ever before?

©2022 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

Learning to BE is a day-by-day process. Check out some hope in Day by Day: Hope for Senior Wisdom.

Hope Discovers Eternity Present

In those foggy moments before the alarm rings and consciousness reminds me of the day ahead, I listen hard for the divine whisper.

It is often in the early mornings when the meditations of my heart remind me that I am not alone. The treasure of Psalm 127:2 becomes reality, “God gives to his beloved even in their sleep.”

A gift. A divine murmur to remind me all is well with my soul.

Such a moment recently occurred as I heard a voice call my name, “Rebecca.”

A female voice. Perhaps the nurturing comfort of the trinity’s feminine side. Or maybe an angel assigned to take care of me. Maybe a sweet relative who passed to glory and was told to visit me.

Although I could not identify its owner, I knew the voice was from no one in the realm of earth’s present. Rather, a voice from eternity.

Then a touch, a stroke of my hair and the assurance of being loved—completely and forever adored by the Divine Three.

The rest of my day filtered through that comforting feeling. Surrounded by God’s love.

How can this happen? When eternity interrupts life on earth and makes itself so very known we cannot ignore or deny its presence. Is it those moments when God knows we need more than just a Bible verse to underscore Immanuel with us?

Or does God long to remind us that eternity’s reality is not so far away?

We think of heaven as an ethereal universe far beyond our own galaxy. But what if it is all around us? What if we are separated only by a thin curtain—a sheer veil between the physical and the spiritual?

What if God is always reaching out to us? To give a hug or stroke a fevered forehead, but we’re too focused on the now to realize divinity is here.

This was not the first time eternity chose to visit. A few years ago, I received word that a good friend was involved in a motorcycle accident. No helmet, though he knew better. Brain damage. Intensive care with beeping machines.

I prayed throughout the night, then somehow knew Mike had crossed over. The confirming phone call was no surprise. Tears, yet joy for the assurance that death’s sting was swallowed in victory.

Two days later, Mike stood in my hallway. A gentle smile on his face. He wore the cowboy lariat necklace so popular in the New Mexico area where he lived. A coral stone set in silver. The black leather strap around his neck.

No words exchanged, but I knew he was thanking me for my prayers. A token from eternity that he was all right. Would always and forever be okay.

Then he was gone. Again.

How thin is that veil between this world and the next! It cannot be measured by our finite minds. But its very transparency brings comfort.

Those we seem to have lost are not lost at all. They are closer than we imagine. A great cloud of witnesses cheering us on.

And standing with them is the Savior of our souls—this One who dares to love us despite who we are or what we have done.

So, I listen hard for those divine whispers and hang on to hope. Maybe I will hear that same voice and feel that comforting touch again.

God is, after all, just a whisper away.

©2022 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

For daily inspiration and hope, check out: Day by Day: Hope for Senior Wisdom.

Hope Nurtures Gratitude

During this turbulent year of so many worldwide problems, I still do my usual thank you’s:

  • Thank you, God, for the food in my belly. So many people are hungry today.
  • Thank you for the roof over my head. Many are homeless or displaced.
  • Thank you for my son and daughter-in-love … always.

Yet now, I long to dig deeper and find gratitude within the sacred corners of my soul. Those places I hide from others. To be more vulnerable and embrace the gratitude that is more than words. The heart condition worthy of reflection.

This week, I am thankful for my new awareness of the fragility of life. Every day, the reports of shootings and killings in the Kansas City metro. School shootings that destroy another generation. The community saying good-bye to a beloved policeman.

One night, a bullet screamed through my bedroom, tore through my headboard and out the opposite wall. One inch closer, and I would be writing from heaven instead of Kansas. A wake-up call and a frantic 9-1-1.

My gratitude extends statewide this week as we exercise our civic duty to vote. The freedom our votes represent. The choices we make as we consider who will serve us best and in what capacity.

I pray for the Ukrainians who have no such freedom. No decision to make as to whether to accept Putin’s despotism or unearth their nation from the ashes. Just trying to survive one day to the next.

Back from a writer’s conference, I am awed, humbled, and cheered by the talents displayed by novelists, poets, bloggers. Any and all who take up the pen. Move their fingers across the keyboard. Create imaginary characters and a variety of world views. Share the message of hope.

I am so grateful for words and for the freedom to make them dance across the page as I wish.

Some days I fail to thank God often enough for grace. All those years ago when my childish heart opened to the Savior of Nazareth and I ran—yes, ran down the aisle toward salvation. May I never forget the wonder of that moment. Expressly thank God for the healing of my soul.

A brief foray into my journals finds entries where I asked God questions. Sometimes railed against the answers. I am grateful God allows and invites honesty. He knows I am mortal and “Why?” is often on my tongue.

When God reveals verses which provide answers and confirm hope, I am forever aware that I am gracefully loved.

May we never take for granted how God continues to save us every day.

Although I rejoice that Mom is finished with her Alzheimer’s journey, that ending means my mother is dead. After nine months, I am still trying to process that fact. The orphan I have become feels alone.

Yet surviving the grief of loss is itself a gift.

Because God has enabled me to survive, my faith has grown. Perseverance has deepened. With these experiences in my mental backpack, I write about realistic topics and coach others in the birthing of their grateful words.

My core value of life-long learning grasps toward more lessons the Spirit and life teach me. Together we work out the kinks in my spiritual armor. Find the sacred place God has purified. Just because he is good.

Then my reasons for gratitude engulf the empty spaces. I listen hard for the sacred whisper and respond with the words the Divine Three long to hear.

“Thank you.”

©2022 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

For more essays about hope, check out Hope Shines. Available on Amazon in print, e-book, and large print.

Hope Streams Through Promises

In our crazy world of broken promises, it is soothing to know we can depend on one source of truth. God has never broken any of his covenant promises.

Some of his hope-filled words are recorded within the general principles of the Bible. “I will never leave you or forsake you. I will be your Comforter. I will show you the path to take. I will be your guide.”

Although the timing for these promises varies, and even the seasons of life sometimes interrupt their forward movement—when God says something and underscores it with a repeat—it will eventually happen.

But the promises that mean the most to me are the certainties that create the a-ha moments of spiritual awakening. They are not recorded in the holy scriptures.

Instead, they are the divine whispers during discouraging nights and dry spiritual deserts. The words that keep me living in hope even when tentacles of fear tighten.

When I walked through the pain of divorce, God spoke his personal promise for my son and me, “There will be hard times ahead, but I will meet every need.”

Even through extended months of unemployment, the scary moves away from comfort zones, the horror of watching my son suffer with cancer—through it all—the reminder of God’s whisper kept me breathing.

“I will meet every need.”

In miraculously beautiful moments recorded in my journals and kept ensconced in my heart, God’s sacred promises proved true.

Every. Single. Need. Was. Met.

Jobs suddenly appeared from unusual sources. Cars were given through the generosity of good people. The healing of my son—thank you, Jesus! My own emotional, spiritual, and physical healings. Money that somehow appeared. God’s math proving different from mine as he made money poof into existence from a negative balance.

Friendships were spawned in the cusp of brokenness. Housing was provided—one of my constant prayers, “Please God, don’t let us be homeless.” A beautiful townhome where we healed for four years. Gardens where God and I created beautiful color and bountiful food—together.

Much, much more. Every. Single. Need. Always and Forever. Met.

But as sweet as the confirmation of God’s words streamed the credibility of the One who made the promise. His whisper foreshadowed holiness because it originated from the source of love. Our covenant made stronger because of the strength of the Speaker.

During a recent spiritual desert as I awaited the resolution of another promise, I listened again for the One who has seared my heart with his grace.

“I will meet every need.” No quantity of time assigned to his statement. Just an eternal assurance that the One who spoke the words would never violate his covenant.

He would meet current needs as he has in the past, because he cannot and will not change. His promise is forever sealed within the identity of Who he is.

And in the identity of this divine three-in-One lies the source of hope. Meeting my needs—and yours— for another stream of hope.

©2022 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

Look for those promises in Day by Day: Hope for Senior Wisdom.

Hope Digs Deeper

While meeting with my spiritual director, she suggested I consider the questions, “What if?” In one of the workshops I teach, the “What if?” question is presented as a fear tactic artists sometimes use to procrastinate.

But in this instance, I was to think about the “What if?” as a possible direction, even a vision-making steppingstone. So I drove home, pulled out my journal and started listing the possibilities of “What if?” questions and answers.

  • What if my current novel makes the New York Times bestseller list? What difference would that award make in my life? Could I handle the extra book tours, publicity requirements and the pressure to write another bestseller? Would I use it for good?

  • What if I could visit Santa Fe at least once each year? What if I could own a vacation home there so I would always have a place to stay for a personal retreat?

  • What if I could learn to live in the present every day so that everyone I meet feels the love and light of the Divine Three in me? What if I could become a better listener?

If I thought long enough on the subject, I could easily entangle myself in all the possibilities the “What if?” question might involve.

When we dig deep, some of our visions and dreams carry their own baggage. Change is not easy, and the transitions of life require us to change along with them.

Another point my spiritual director made was that I should “Listen to my heart.”

I just finished reading Julia Cameron’s latest book, The Listening Path. She describes how we can learn to listen to our hearts, but also to the sounds around us—even to the silence within us.

To dig deep requires that we listen carefully and consider what our souls are saying. One reason why I journal is to process my way through life, to tap into my inner conflicts for clues about how to clearly understand divine guidance.

Digging deep means we listen for that still, small voice that ushers us into the divine space. When we tiptoe into that soul sanctuary, we learn more about ourselves and become more teachable.

What does my heart tell me?

It reminds me of the many ideas I have for more books, so many stories swirling in my soul. The artist in me yearns to bring them to life.

Even for my writing clients, my heart breaks for the unwritten books, the stories waiting to connect with their characters and the voices longing to be heard. That urgency to write while we can, to share the wisdom and experiences God has gifted us with through the many years.

My soul beats with a restless tone, eager to authenticate itself and complete the mission God birthed in me before the foundation of the world.

As I dig deeper, another question surfaces. I stop breathing as I consider the implications of what its answers might entail. Almost afraid to add it to my journal page, I force the pen to scratch the question across the page: What am I avoiding?

We may avoid doing something that requires a major change, because we’re afraid of what that transition might ask of us. A move, a new job, the addressing of a spiritual weakness, the uprooting of our comfort zones.

Yet in the avoidance, we remain in the zone of discomfort. We stress our souls to the point of losing our true core. We avoid what our hearts long for, because we are so blasted practical and cannot imagine any other type of experience.

My journal now contains several pages of personal reflection around these three questions. And I offer them to you as a spiritual writing prompt:

  • What if?
  • What is your heart telling you?
  • What are you avoiding?

I look forward to the time when these questions find their connecting answers in my life. What about you? Are you ready to dig deeper?

Hope shines when we find the courage to ask the hard questions.

©2022 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

Digging deeper is a daily exercise as we find strength Day by Day.

Hope Survives with Good People

In the southern plains, including my home state of Oklahoma, some folks are labeled “good people.” Even while speaking in the singular, we say, “He’s good people.” This type of person is always focused on helping others, always available to serve — even in ordinary ways.

My cousin and his wife are good people. During Mom’s funeral, they kept watch over our coats. Kept them ready for the moment we would need them, for our trip to the cemetery.

Good people.

Another couple takes me out for lunch once / month. They keep track of what I’m writing, encourage my work and pray for me. They have followed my son’s journey as well and always check up on him. When he changed jobs, they visited the business to make sure he was okay.

Good people.

My sister is another one. She writes a family missive each week, updating all of us on all of us. Then she ends with an encouraging note we can carry into the next week. She helps a recent widow by taking her out for a meals and/or ice cream at the local Braums. Just to get her out of the house and find some hope. As a cat-whisperer, my sister also pays for the neutering and spaying of numerous cats.

Good people.

Another semi-retired couple opens their home for groups and retreats of various genres. A few healthy boundaries set. A welcome place to learn, to grow, to create. At no charge. They welcome photos of each group and create a growing wall of frames, dedicated to the service they have provided.

Good people.

None of these folks know I label them as good people. In fact, one quality of good people is a high sense of humility. They act anonymously. Simply climb out of bed each day and hope they can help someone.

Good people interact with others in hospitals, schools and nonprofits. At Target and in the parking lots around any town. Good people can be homeless or unbelievably wealthy. They stay up all night to check on the needs in their community and to offer their services willingly. Or slip an extra twenty to the waitress who pours their coffee at the local diner.

Good people regularly pay it forward simply because they want to.

In this world of death and destruction, good people live everywhere. They stand out. We need only to keep our souls open to see them and find them.

Hope multiplies when each of us locks in with the intention to become good people. To see God around us and within the folks we meet. To start each day with a prayer for divine appointments. To be good people wherever we go.

Hope blossoms when we look for good people. But it thrives when we ourselves become good people and share the love.

©2022 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved

Be good people and share Day by Day: Hope for Senior Wisdom with someone who needs daily hope.