Category Archives: Aging

Redeemed

Redeemed

Her room was still like time had stopped, her eyes at nothing, stared,
Until a beep from the machine, brought her back crystal clear.
She looked down at her arm and saw the IV in its place,
Just for a moment, she had gone back, to another time and space.

Tears trickled down that old drawn face, her lips began to quiver,
As she recalled the years gone by and pain that she’d delivered.
It now was clear, as she looked back; it wasn’t clear back then,
She wished to have a second chance, some way to make amends.

The angry names her mother hurled still made her cringe in pain.
And knowing that she did the same brought grief, regret, and shame.
She didn’t end dysfunction, though that had been her hope,
And life went by so very fast, change ceased to be her goal.

She looked up at the ceiling, and cried out “Are You there?
Do You care about me? Can You remove despair?
Does hope exist? Can change be known? If so, then show the way,
Hear my prayer, see my heart; I’m buried in mistakes!”

Questions filled her weary mind as she lay there exhausted,
Is it true that God restores the hurt and broken hearted?
She shut her eyes; her shoulders shook, as tears continued falling,
With humbled heart, and contrite spirit; she longed for a new calling.

The hours trickled slowly by with no response from heaven,
But a strange rest had filled her heart and peace was like a fragrance.
That restful state was broken with a stroke upon her hair,
A voice that she had longed to hear said “Mom, I’ve news to share.”

“A year ago, at my ropes end, I gave my heart to Jesus,
Since that day I’ve changed and grown, more than I can measure.
I’m learning to submit my will and die to my own way.
The chains that tightly bound us, He’s breaking more each day.”

“I love you Mom, and know your plan was never one to hurt us,
You too were hurt, and it’s been said; hurt people… will hurt people
But hope has come into my heart, revealing a new path,
We cannot change the hurt-filled past, but hopes with us at last!”

“For I can see a future paved, with a new legacy
It’s there for us if we will grow and seek God on our knees,
In God’s all knowing timing, He’ll heal each hurt and scar,
Submitting all and letting go; our lives will be restored.

“The devil brought destruction, to our hearts and souls,
But God is here to lift us up and take back all control.
We can forgive each other, as Christ’s forgiven us.
He’ll wash us clean and make us new as we give Him our trust.”

“Dear Mother, I invite you, to join us in this path,
To know that you’re forgiven and all that’s passed… is past.”
That withered hand reached out to hers, as tears rolled down their faces,
With breaking voice the elder said, “Oh…the years I wasted.”

“I’m sorry for the things I’ve done, and for the words of pain.
I wish that I could turn back time and wash it all away.
But know dear, that I love you, and I’m sorry for the hurt,
I need the hope that you have found to mend my broken heart.”

Just before the morning broke with no bells or alarms,
With peaceful heart, she breathed her last, and went to Jesus’ arms.
Her children knew that she was free from bitterness and shame,
And they rejoiced, with hands upraised, to hope in Jesus’ name.

God used her children’s hurt-filled past; took beauty from the ashes,
As they reached out to hurting souls and others who had suffered.
No troubled path, no chains that bind, no mountain sized life problems,
Are greater than the power of God who brings good from our losses.
But stubborn hearts we must lay down; to change, we must be willing,
And as we do, we shall fulfill, God’s awesome, glorious, calling.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

REDEEMED

 Mary Redemption

Her room was still like time had stopped, Her eyes at nothing, stared                             Until a beep from the machine, brought her back crystal clear.                                       She looked down at her arm and saw the IV in its place                                                       Just for a moment, she had gone back, to another time in space. 

Tears trickled down that old drawn face, her lips began to quiver                                     As she recalled the years gone by and pain that she’d delivered.                                         It all seemed clear, as she looked back; it wasn’t clear back then.                                   She wished to have a second chance, some way to make amends. 

The angry names her mother hurled still made her cringe in pain                                  And knowing that she did the same brought grief, regret, and shame.                            She didn’t end dysfunction, as she was sure she would                                                        And life went by, so very fast; it was too hard to change. 

She looked up at the ceiling, and yelled out “Are You there?                                               Do You care about me? Can You remove despair?                                                                 Does hope exist? Can change be known? If so, then show the way!                                  Hear my prayer, see my heart; I’m buried in mistakes!” 

Questions filled her weary mind as she lay there exhausted                                                  Is it true that God restores the hurt and broken hearted?                                                   She shut her eyes; her shoulders shook, as tears continued falling                                With humbled heart, and contrite spirit; she longed for a new calling. 

The hours trickled slowly by with no response from heaven.                                                But a strange rest had filled her heart and peace was like a fragrance.                           That restful state was broken with a stroke upon her hair                                                      A voice that she had longed to hear said “Mom, I’ve news to share.” 

“A year ago, at my ropes end, I gave my heart to Jesus                                                               Since that day I’ve changed and grown, more than I can measure.                                        I’m learning to submit my will and die to my own way                                                                   The chains that tightly bound us, He’s breaking more each day.” 

“I love you Mom, and know your plan was never one to hurt us                                      You too were hurt, and it’s been said; hurt people… will hurt people.                            But hope has come into my heart, revealing a new path.                                                      We cannot change the hurt-filled past, but hopes with us at last!”  

“For I can see a future paved, with a new legacy                                                                         It’s there for us if we will grow and seek God on our  knees.                                                     In God’s all knowing timing, He’ll heal each hurt and scar                                                          Submitting all and letting go; our lives will be restored.                 

“The devil brought destruction, to our heart and soul                                                              But God is here to lift us up and take back all control.                                                             We can forgive each other, as Christ’s forgiven us                                                                     He’ll wash us clean and make us new as we give Him our trust.”  

“Dear Mother, I invite you, to join us in this path.                                                                        To know that you’re forgiven and all that’s past… is passed.”                                          That withered hand reached out to hers, as tears rolled down their faces.            With breaking voice the elder said, “OH…the years I wasted.”  

“I’m sorry for the things I’ve done, and for the words of pain                                                   I wish that I could turn back time and wash it all away.                                                              But know dear, that I love you, and I’m sorry for the hurt                                                           I need the hope that you have found to mend my broken heart.” 

Just before the morning broke with no bells or alarms                                                        With peaceful heart, she breathed her last, and went to Jesus’ arms.                             Her children knew that she was free from bitterness and shame                                  And they rejoiced, with hands upraised, to hope in Jesus’ name. 

God used her children’s hurt-filled past; took beauty from the ashes                                 As they reached out to hurting souls and others who had suffered.                               No troubled path, no chains that bind, no mountain sized life problems,                   Are greater than the power of God who brings good from our losses.                         But stubborn hearts we must lay down; to change, we must be willing                       And as we do, we shall fulfill, God’s awesome, glorious, calling.                           

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Beauty Is

Staring long into the mirror
A face unknown seemed to be there
It’s not the face that I remember
But one that’s lost its youthful splendor.
I squeezed my eyes, then looked again
But that old face stared back again.
Sitting there so mesmerized
It came to me…where beauty lies.

Beauty lives within the heart
It shines with glory…like heavens’ art.
Beauty reaches out and heeds
It recognizes others’ needs.
Beauty seeks to understand
The thoughts of an opposing man.
Beauty is a word that flows
From humble lips, with love that shows.
Focused on what’s good and right
It thinks on pure and lovely sights.
Beauty’s found in hope renewed
In sweet forgiveness, grace and truth.
It brightens up this darkened world
Its value is like jewels and pearls.

Beauty’s not a perfect face
Beauty’s not a tiny waist
Nor is it a twenty-something
Nor words that please… but stand for nothing.
Beauty’s not the youngest skin
Nor a body that’s pencil thin.
No… Beauty isn’t our appearance
Nor gaining the whole worlds acceptance.
It isn’t found in self-absorption
In gossip, lies, or vain distortions.
It doesn’t live in brands and labels
Or fancy food upon the table.
Its not the home that fills our dreams
Its not attaining financial means.

O Lord, my Lord help us to see
What lasting beauty really means.
That when we look into the mirror
Our vision might become so clear.
To see ourselves, as You see us
To focus not on earthly stuff.
That from our heart true beauty pours
And radiates like sun and stars.
May our words restore and heal
May we shine with hope and zeal.
Make us glow with Your great love
With grace displayed from heaven above.
So when the darkness closes in
Light from our heart will leap and sing.
Then all will see what beauty is…
It’s You O God… living within.
Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

Change

In recent months, several people close to me have lost loved ones and their pain  has caused me to reflect on what they are going through and the emptiness they are experiencing.  The finality of huge life changes and the required adjustment  is difficult to say the least.  But the fact is, life greets all of us with change ranging from earth shattering events like death, life threatening illness, or divorce, or even smaller events like becoming an empty nester or losing a job.  How we ultimately respond to these changes determines how we live the rest of our lives.  This poem is a combination of all those thoughts.  Blessings to you!

 

Change

The house, it echoed empty
The silence was so loud
The table had an empty place
The couch once held a crowd
The covers on the bed, unturned
No laughter down the hall
No dirty clothes upon the floor
No one to help with chores
Silence marched around the house
Consuming light and air
Joyful times that were the norm
Now silent evermore.

The change, it came too sudden
Time went so terribly fast.
Why can’t God turn back the clock
And make time last and last?
The longing for some space for “self”
The compromises asked
The noise and all the clutter
The chaos and the mess
The projects left unfinished
All seemed important then
Now seem like paltry nothings
With eternity compared.

Time rolls along with no regard
To whether hearts are ready
Change brings a fog that covers all
Where balance seems unsteady
What can be done in this new day
To reach beyond familiar ways
To find new paths, new ways to serve
To navigate life’s hair pin turns
O Lord please come and show the way
Fill up these walls with joy today
May Your presence linger here
Instead of empty, lonely, fear.

Its hard to live beyond the past
Loving sweet memories but finding new paths
Embracing change in this new season
Trusting in God’s holy reasons
Letting go of what was planned
For something different from God’s hand
Lord, birth a willing heart that’s soft
Sooth the grief and heart of loss
Moving forward in Your light
Open new doors, to soar on the heights
There’s purpose still… roll the darkness away
Let new sweet memories, be made today.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Rest of the Story

A few years ago I wrote a post called Overcoming Resentment.  It is a story that covers a three year period in my life that taught me a hard lesson about pride, resentment, and forgiveness.  Since writing that post, the story came full circle and now I must share the rest of that saga because it is one that shows how the ashes of our lives really can be turned to beauty.

For background purposes, here’s a quick summary of Overcoming Resentment:  When my two youngest children were preschoolers an older couple living next door didn’t like the noise and chaos that radiates out of little kids.  The couple regularly called the police with complaints against my children for side walk chalk, wading pool noise, and laughing and yelling from childish play.  They tape recorded the kid’s noise and played it back at distortion levels into the street.  There were many other terrible events during that three year period and our neighborhood became a hostile place and I became bitter and resentful toward my neighbors.

I had been convicted for months to go and talk to the lady of the house but I always made the excuse that I wasn’t to blame for the problems;  I shouldn’t be the one to apologize…she should. But the Lord persisted with the conviction and the end finally came when I was flipping through my bible and landed on Job 36:13 – The godless in heart harbor resentment; even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.
After reading that passage, I realized that the Godless person full of resentment was me and I could no longer wait to apologize to my neighbor.  I had to take responsibility for my part.  I told God that I was too chicken to phone, but would go outside and work in the yard and if they came out, I would apologize.  As I walked out my door, their garage door went up and out stepped the lady.  With a pounding heart, I called her name and walked over to her yard and apologized.  After that conversation, they never called the police on my kids again. 

As the years moved forward, our previous enemies became our friends.  That in itself was an amazing shift but even more incredible was when she was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago; I became an active part of her life.  This woman who once hated me, called me frequently for help and when she passed away a year ago, I held her hand as she lay dying.  But the biggest blessing of all was praying with her for salvation before she died.

After her death, I kept an eye out for her husband as he was in his late 80’s and alone as his children live out of state.   Two weeks ago, I pulled into my driveway late one afternoon and noticed that his outside lights were still on and the newspaper still lay in the driveway.  Dread overwhelmed me as he is like clockwork in his actions and his lights are out and newspaper always picked up by 10:00 AM.  I called him several times and went over to his house to ring the door bell.  There was no answer.  I peeked in his windows to see if I could see him on the floor but all I saw was the coat he always wore, hanging on the back of a chair.  I grabbed the spare set of house keys they had given me, timidly went into his house, and found him passed away in his bed.

So why do I tell this story?  Because it reminds me that God is a God of reconciliation.  It reminds me that my pride and self righteousness never work for good, but humility, when I allow it to grow in my heart, births something I would never known as possible.   At the time, it seemed unfair that God required me to apologize when I had never said a rude word to the couple…but God saw the evil in my heart…the evil I had try to hide away.  When God finally got my attention, He took what the devil meant for destruction and turned it into good.

The enemy (me) became a daughter, when God totally turned the tables on a very ugly situation.  And that’s what God does….if we let Him. 

Sometimes God requires us to do things that don’t make since or that seem unfair; things that hurt a lot or cost us our pride.  But rest assured God cares more about our heart and its spiritual state than one ounce of our pride.  As we get better at humbling ourselves in the sight of the Lord, we will get better at getting out of His way and giving Him room to really move in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  That is when we will see with our own eyes that God really makes beauty from the ashes of our lives.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

Once You Were Strong

 

During the last few months life for my in-laws has changed radically.  They can no longer drive, both use walkers, both have mild dementia, and recently were moved into an assisted living community.  The poem below is inspired by their struggles with aging to the point of regression.

Once you were strong

Determined

 In control

 Doing things by yourself

Once you were king of your castle

Providing

Protecting

Guiding

Once you were busy

Working

Cleaning

Gardening

Once you were involved

With friends

Church

Neighbors

Once you were independent

Driving

Paying bills

Planning activities

Taking care of others

Now   

Memories are sweet and seem more relevant than today

You are confused by the world

You wonder how you got so old

You long to drive again and mow the lawn

Yet enjoyment is found

Taking care of your dog

Visiting with anyone who will listen

Eating

You still care for others

By praying, you are always talking to God

I know God is listening

Thank you for taking care of us in your prayers.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

You Are Beautiful, just like you are



Rejection sneaks into our lives and bit by bit undermines our confidence.  It fosters the belief that we aren’t needed and that we have little to offer both God and man. As we feel more and more rejected we devalue our talents, and withdraw from relationships.  This devastating stronghold delivers failure into every area of our lives because it causes us to perform at a fraction of our potential.  When we buy into the lie of rejection the devil realizes a mighty victory because in our hurt, we withdraw from our place in God’s army, leaving a gap in His strong front THAT ONLY WE CAN FILL. 

We will never overcome rejection solely by forcing other people to talk to us nicely or treat us better.  After all, we cannot control the heart or words of others. The reality is that we only control the decisions we make and how we behave in the midst of painful situations.
Rejection and its devastating effects will stop when we finally reject, rejection.
After all, if we were good enough for Jesus to die on the cross, then we are good enough for the world… even with our imperfections.  Remember, God created you just like you are…for a divine purpose that only you can fill. 
  
Lately I have been binding the stronghold of rejection and am already sensing a restoration in my heart. None of us is perfect, we all make mistakes, we can irritate others, and our talents can always improve; but we must keep putting ourselves out there and we must not give up. We must walk upon the lies of the devil and make our talents and relationships available to God, letting Him worry about who accepts us and who does not.  We cannot allow the enemy to shut us down. We are the salt of the earth; you are beautiful just like you are.  Let your life shine out for the entire world to see; like the old song says…”Hide it under a bush, Oh no! I’m going to let it shine!”  Whether your talents and abilities are big or small, use them to their greatest extent and leave the outcomes to God.  He needs each of us, because together, we form a perfect tapestry.


Here is an example of how I have been praying. You can use the words as a guideline and insert whatever stronghold might be binding you:


Heavenly father I thank you and praise you for the relationships and gifts/talents You have given me.  Help me to see them and to allow You to use them fully. Thank you for seeing great value in me and for wanting to use me…thank you that You created me just like I am, for a purpose.  Thank you that in You, I can make a difference in this world.   I praise You that You are mighty and above all else. Forgive me for my sins and help me to forgive those that have hurt me. Forgive me for judgment in my heart that I am harboring against those that have hurt me and I bind the spirit of judgment in the name of Jesus. Help me Lord to grow and change in the areas where I am deficient and help me to be aware of those areas but not bound by them. 
In the name of Jesus Christ the holy son of God I bind the stronghold of rejection from my heart and mind and every area of my life and I loose the knowledge that I am fully accepted by you and that my gifts are good in your sight.  In the name of Jesus I bind every destructive word and action that has caused me to shut down and believe the lies of the enemy and I loose my heart and mind to understanding the truth of your word and the truth of your acceptance and your love.  Use each hurtful word and action for your glory and for great good. I bind every wall that I have constructed around my heart as a form of protection and I loose my heart to be open and vulnerable and available to You.  Use me for Your glory my God and change me and mold me into your image. Help me to know that my gifts and talents are not about me, but they are rather about furthering your kingdom and giving of myself to others, however great or small that may be. Lord help me to diminish in my own heart and give You and Your plans the first and foremost place in my heart instead.  I am asking for the strength to “put myself out there” without fear of how well or badly I may be perceived.
I praise you Lord that there is true freedom in You. Help criticism to make me better and show me how to respond to criticism.  I love you Lord and praise your name. I ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Cover my family and me now, with the holy blood of Jesus and protect us from any retaliation from the enemy for the things I have just bound.  Place a hedge of protection about us and hide us under your mighty wing.  AMEN.



Rhonda Shelford Jansen

You’re Too Old To Drive

 
Telling Elderly Parents It’s Time To Stop Driving

Two weeks ago my husband conjured up a reason to borrow my in-laws car then drove it to our house and parked it, permanently.   What preceded this action?  Well, first they are old, 89 to be exact.  Combine old age with limited range of motion, poor hearing, and very slow response time and you get a perfect recipe for a serious car accident.  This is what prompted us last summer to have a heart to heart talk with both of my in-laws about giving up their right to drive.  Our suggestion was met with great resistance and my father in-law assured us he would know when it was time to stop driving.  We suggested that time had come; to this he became slightly belligerent.  Being ill-equipped and ill-prepared to push the issue any farther we let the matter drop.

With our concern for their safety and the safety of others increasing we readdressed the driving issue last winter.  We emphasized our fear that they could hurt an innocent driver or even a pedestrian.  “What if a five year old ran into the street chasing a ball, could you stop in time”?   My father in-law humbly agreed that this was an issue for some, but not him.  He informed us that he hadn’t been in an accident in over 30 years, was our driving record that good?   He then adjusting his tone and body language to a ridged and authoritative posture preparing to let us know he was more than capable of making that decision for himself.  Once again, being chickens, we reluctantly let the issue drop.

Throughout the spring my husband and I talked frequently about the danger his parents presented on the road.   We spent many of our evening walks brain-storming about cleaver, sincere, or in-your-face scenarios that would convince them to willingly stop driving.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t come up with even one reasonable and somewhat painless plan.  Spring moved on.

A few weeks ago my husband took his dad on a trip and during this trip my father in-law let it slip that he sees double, frequently.   He said, “Sometime I see four yellow lines instead of two but if I closes one eye I just see two yellow lines”.   So, we have an old man with limited body movement, response time, and hearing, driving around seeing double, but not to worry because he can close one eye and everything is ok, good to go, no worries. 

At that exact moment my husband knew no matter how much anger, frustration, disappointment, or guilt my in-laws displayed he had no choice but to drive the car away.   They knew something was up and started asking about the car the very next day.  Rather than beat around the bush my husband just straight up said, “You will not be getting the car back, you can’t drive any more”.   My mother in-law understood the situation right  away and confided in me that she knew daddy shouldn’t be driving any longer however, once her hip was better she would be able to drive. 

My father in-law,  in confidence, let me know that he knew momma shouldn’t drive any longer however, once his double vision problem was fixed he’d be good as gold to drive.  I kindly replied that neither would be driving, he shook his head and walked away.  A few days ago he let me know that he was fine not driving for now, but as soon as the doctor gave him the ok, he’d be driving again.  I just smiled, knowing the doctor would never give him the ok to drive. 

Today my father in-law requested that I accompany him to a doctor’s appointment to help him understand and hear what the doctor would be talking about.  He also needed me to help clarify his questions for the doctor.  While discussing some health concerns he managed to maneuver the topic of driving into the conversation.   He said he wasn’t driving now but as soon as his double vision problem was fixed he’d be driving again.  The doc said, “You can’t drive Jim, you’re too slow” to which my father in-law restated that once his eyes were fixed he’d be good to drive.  The doc again said, “You can’t drive Jim, your reaction time is too slow”.  My father in-law stared at him for a moment then shook his head and looked down at the floor.  For the first time since we took the car away I think he understood that he would never drive again, and it hurt.

In our society driving is what adults do.  Driving is intertwined with our identity and gives us the autonomy craved by most Americans.  So, when my father in-law understood that he would never drive again part of his world and self-image was taken from him.  My heart aches for my in-laws, how difficult it must be to age past adulthood into post-adulthood where you no longer drive, walk without assistance, live in your own home, or shower by yourself.   How hard is it to watch your children, who your raised, take away your car?   And how hard is it to be the child taking away the keys?

If you, like my husband and I, are dealing with aging parents I pray God will give you the patience and grace to treat them with respect and the courage to know when you have to be strong.  We waited too long to take the car away and I believe it is a miracle that they didn’t hurt themselves or someone else.  Please stand strong when you know the time has come and protect your loved ones by taking their keys way.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Where’s the Beauty



Gazing into the mirror, the face of a far older woman than I remember, stares back at me.  Lines and falling skin are replacing a youthful face more and more each day.  Feeling a little disgusted, I ponder fillers, Botox, and even the “S” word – surgery.  From this superficial trance, I awake and remind myself that I must age gracefully, to be who God has made me, and to do each phase of life well.

From age 12 to 60 those of us in the western world have become obsessed with outward appearance and eternal youth. It’s easy to fall in the trap of trying to look perfect.  Unfortunately, in the rush to look like Barbie we have completely forgotten about inner beauty.
 
While getting exercise and caring for ones appearance is a good thing, more importantly we must care for and challenge our hearts and minds so that the beauty of Christ radiates from the inside out. 
A physically plain person who is overflowing with peace and contentment; that is full of grace, hope, and the real love of Christ, will radiate a beauty that will be attractive to everyone. Even a gorgeous 20 something decked out in designer clothes and perfect make up but is void of peace in her heart can’t compete with that.

The same goes for men.  It’s not about muscles, or clothes, or how tall you are.  It’s about a truly submitted heart before God, full of the light that only the Holy Spirit can provide.  You will not find a better leader, a stronger spirit, or a more handsome man than that.

We are neither our face nor our shape. We are neither our clothes nor our wrinkles.  We certainly are not our physical imperfections.  But we are spirit; and a spirit if ignored dries up and dies. When that happens, the true definition of “ugly” begins to take over our body.

By the grace of God I will remember to focus on loving and trusting God fully, to allow forgiveness and hope to reign in my heart, and to ask the Holy Spirit to fill me completely each day.  Resetting the thinking process in this way will puff up wrinkles more than any filler can ever hope to accomplish.

1 Samuel 16:7  But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

By Rhonda Shelford Jansen