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Well Seasoned: How Spiritual Companioning prepares us for our Death

“Who do you know that is dying, like I am?” Her feet are a step or two away from leaving earth, and I’ve come to say goodbye. This is her hello to me. We aren’t wasting time, for she has no time left to waste. “Are there others our age that are almost done, like me?” Jill* is about my age. We go way back, about forty years’ worth. In our twenties, we married within a few years of each another. Since then, we’ve traversed decades of work and play, questions and faith, prayer and vacations, babies and toddlers, teens and college kids, weddings of now-grown children, celebrations and heartaches. Amid the flood-waters of my long-ago divorce, she and her husband, Peter*, one of my college classmates, waded in beside me. Six years ago, they celebrated the joy of my new marriage. We’ve cried and prayed over the years. We’ve laughed and talked over the miles between us. Now I walk with her, for a bit, to the end of her earthly road.

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Older & Wiser: Seven Attitudes for Sustaining Love and Relationship

Some time ago a friend asked me, “How would you define maturity?” I could see this was more than a rhetorical question and there was an answer lurking behind his inquiry. I fed him the line he wanted, “How would you define maturity?” He quickly fired back, “I think it can be summed up with one critical skill: the ability to postpone immediate pleasure for long-term gain.” He expounded on how this concept was so critical yet undeniably absent from the lives of his teenage children.

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The Crisis of Mentorship: What Young Leaders Desperately Need From Those Who Have Gone Before

I was on the edge of giving up—deserted, doubtful, depressed, and done. At this point in my faith journey, I questioned everything: my trust in God, my love for the church, my mentoring relationships, and my call to ministry. Never had I considered the possibility that I wasn’t actually called to vocational ministry, but a turn of events within the context of the church left nothing off the table of scrutiny.

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Aging & Maturing: A Purposeful Movement Towards Teleious

Greeting-card slogans and our age-phobic culture color the incessant but natural process of aging, emphasizing its challenges, limitations, and frustrations. But because we are spiritual beings, God’s Spirit has the power to bring to our consciousness some alternative responses to aging, ever reminding us that we are made for more than an earthly existence.

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A Season of Mystery: Spiritual Practices for the Second Half of Life

I am studying a photo of my mom in Barcelona, a picture taken twenty-five years ago; in it she is the age I am now. A slim brunette sitting in the shadows of a Moorish hotel garden beside my handsome dad, she could be thirty-five, forty, or even a young fifty, but surely not what she actually is: about to begin her seventh decade. She has never been to Spain before, they are here to celebrate their anniversary, and there is no hint on her calm and happy face that within four years of this culminating moment she will be a widow, and that life will have changed forever.

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Listen to My Life: The Wisdom of Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story

“Go stand at the crossroads and look around. Ask for directions to the old road. The tried-and-true road. Then take it. Discover the right route for your should.” -Jeremiah 6:16 (The Message)

I arrived at this particular life crossroads after an exhausting three-year run that included a challenging “hair-on-fire” job while parenting a preschooler. I loved the purpose behind the work and the people, but the way I went about engaging in it left me depleted. In leading, I had isolated myself. Professionalism, discretion, and pride led me to that lonely place where busyness was worn as a badge of honor and spirituality was reduced to looking to God for marching orders. My soul had not been well tended, and it was evident to the people around me. This particular situation was not familiar to me, but I thought I knew what to do at a life crossroads. I had the benefit of experience that comes with some age, and I hoped that it would qualify as wisdom.

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The Journey from Innocence to Character

As with many new mothers whose bodies have gone south on them, swimsuit shopping can be a nightmare. In a dressing room that makes a phone booth seem like the Biltmore, I squished two young children, myself, and all their circus gear. I chose a conservative one-piece, black and fully functional. The girls were still and focused, no escapees this day. After the sheer miraculous act of getting in the suit, I stood looking in the mirror, uncertain of the outcome.

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O Taste and See: Meditations on Shoshannah Brombacher’s Yaakov Blessing Ephraim and Menasheh

It doesn’t go without saying that age confers wisdom; from King Lear to Captain Ahab, literature offers
us images of old men who make colossal and foolish mistakes. “Do not let me hear of the wisdom of
old men,” T. S. Eliot writes, “but rather of their folly.” His reminder not to sentimentalize the archetype of the wise elder, or to reduce it to cliché, reiterates an ancient truth: that wisdom and folly often look strangely alike. Joseph’s effort to correct Jacob as he reaches to confer his blessing on the younger grandson is the kind of intervention any of us might attempt when we witness the momentary confusion of an old person whose vision or memory or clarity of mind is unreliable. We redirect them. We lead them back into the safe bounds of propriety, trying to cover over their unruly and wayward behaviors. We give them diagnostic labels that sometimes serve only to relieve us of the more subtle and arduous effort to interpret the logic of the dreams they inhabit. Certainly clinical evidence attests to the literal, tragic loss of brain function that afflicts many elders. But it behooves us, if only to err on the side of dignity, to honor the humanity and inquire into the hopes that underlie their foolish mistakes. Some of them speak more than they know. Some of them know things that cannot be contained within the limits of convention.

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Growing Older: Struggling with Doubt, Alive in Community, Moving Toward Wisdom

Years ago, noted behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, then in his eighties, presented a speech at the American Psychological Association’s annual conference titled “Growing Old Gracefully as a Psychologist.” Skinner’s understanding of the human condition, reflected clearly in his remarks, revolved around two assumptions: the empty box and control by reinforcers.

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Journey Into Joy: Celebrating the Wisdom of Dallas Willard

The question began a journey into joy. Dallas had asked me to comment on The Divine Conspiracy as he wrote it. Every few months there would be a newly finished chapter in the mailbox. The explosive themes of the first two chapters- the invitation of Jesus to experience external living right now, the integration of our little kingdoms with the big kingdom of God, the limitations of the gospels of sin management- challenged me deeply. But the opening theme of the third chapter did not. It evoked tremendous resistance.

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