The Value of Friendships among Women

art by Rosalie Garde

I was never good at making friends. Much of my life, I was an introvert with social anxiety. It took me a lot of years and practice to open up. As I grew, I would have one or two good friends and that was it. 

When I moved away with my husband for a job transfer in the 90s I left what few friends I had behind. I had to rely on long-distance phone calls and letter mail. Because I was an introvert, I didn't make those phone calls. And I missed having connections. 

I assumed friendships would stay the same and when I would move back home I would be embraced by old friends. It didn't happen. They had each seemingly moved on with their own lives. 

Pray for Your Friends 

I decided one day that if I really cared about these people I should pray for them. I should not look for how they could fill my needs but for how I could bless their lives. 

Do you pray for your friends?

I also prayed that God would restore old friendships at the right time. Eventually, a few old friendships did get reinvigorated. Prayers were answered. 

If you desire authentic relationships, pray for your old friends AND pray that God will bring you new friends. 


Value in Authentic Friendships


Women friends are valuable to have because of the way our interaction with them strengthens us at our core. When friends are authentic in sharing, we are able to make sense of our own life. For instance, at a recent lunch with friends, the topic of using store-bought mashed potatoes came up. I'd been buying them recently to cut dinner-making corners but sometimes felt I was being lazy or extravagant. You can imagine how relieved I felt hearing a friend say she makes potatoes out of a box! 

We also shared about our aging parents and struggles we have had over worrying about our adult children. Sharing helps us put our own lives into perspective. We know we aren't alone in our struggles. 
art by Rosalie Garde


Be Willing to Initiate Conversations

Being an introvert and working from home while living away from family and friends for so many years due to our job transfers, I learned to make the most of basic interactions. That meant starting conversations with whomever I might bump into--mostly sales clerks, office receptionists, and the like. We all need human interaction and, at times, talking to a store clerk is the best I can do. 

I've learned that not all sales clerks want to interact. I've also learned that sometimes my interaction is timely. One lady I struck a conversation with thanked me because what we talked about prompted her to make a doctor's appointment she'd been putting off. 

As I shared with another woman recently about just having come from having a full-body massage, she felt prompted to make an appointment for herself--something she too had been putting off.

Hearing from each other and having others to share our life stories with is important. 

More Than Networking

I didn't know where to start when I moved where I live now, but since I worked from home, I saw the opportunity to join in business networking groups. I participated because I wanted more than chit chat or another Bible study. 

These types of groups are helpful, but at times, you can feel like just another potential customer or audience member. The conversation in these groups may become repetitive and you may find you are constantly questioning the motive of others. 

If you're a business woman who has to network for her job, be mindful of your motives.  Try to see others as human beings, not just potential clients. 

Put it Into God's Hands

I have 3 coffee invitations on the table right now. These are people who on social media said, "We should get together for coffee." Not being an initiator, I am poor at following up. I guess I'm afraid I'll over-schedule myself, waste time, or that the other person will be too busy for what I have to offer. It's always easy to find things to fill our time with. 

If you're like me in this way, commit the requests to God. Ask him to set the schedule if you are to meet with others. Ask him to touch your tongue and put on your heart the conversation he wants you to have. Ask him to be your appointment setter. Be his hands and feet by willingly meeting with who he sets you up with. 







No One Has All the Answers


I like to write these blog posts to offer encouragement. When I feel God has downloaded a thought, I like to post it here. I like to be his vessel who brings his message of hope to women. 

I'm still plagued with tinnitus though. God has not healed me. I get a few days of quiet where it feels I've been healed, and then it returns. I tell you this because it has really set up a stronghold in my life. It diminishes my focus, my joy, and my ability to write easily. Continue to pray for a miracle for me. Thanks.

And even with the challenge, pray that I can release myself from its grip and continue to do the things God has put me on earth to do. 

It's funny that years ago when I heard of tinnitus, I couldn't imagine anyone having to live with it. Did the enemy hear me say that? I never dreamt I'd end up with such. I so want my life back! 

If you have no tinnitus, thank God for it. Enjoy the quiet!!!

What's the Point?

Other than ask for your prayers for healing, what's the point of me putting this here in my midlife blog? 

Simple. To let you know that life sometimes sucks. Bad things happen to good people. Aging sucks too. At times, it can feel like we have one medical or physio appointment after another.

The point is, no matter how much encouragement I might be able to dispel at other times and no matter how big my smile is in person, I have challenges too. We all have challenges! 

No One Has All the Answers!

None of us have all the answers! If you meet someone who declares they have the answer for you, run the other way. 

Telling God your problems and trusting him to help you is the only way to live. Trusting God is a daily process. That trust can be renewed daily thank goodness. Every day is a new day of possibilities. 

With one word, God can heal me. With one email, a new opportunity can arise. With one phone call, my focus can change. And so can yours. 

Work through your life issues with trust in God. It's the best way to deal with them.

Getting Over Anger of Midlife Challenges

In my last post, I talked about some anger buttons I'd had pressed. I gave myself 6 days to deal with it. That meant I was allowed to vent various issues to my husband for a period of six days and then I'd need to move on. 

Venting is often a go-to when we're angry, but too much venting or venting to the wrong person can be a problem. When we vent, we add fuel to the fire. It's easy to make mountains out of molehills. We are tempted to make drastic decisions and/or take drastic action when we are still angry. It's wise to let it settle down. 

Additionally, venting to the wrong person can result in them gossiping about it to others which is never a good thing. 

What do you do to handle anger? Do you resort to venting? Do you need to set some boundaries on your venting?



I put a photo of a lock above because that's sometimes how we feel when in a spirit of anger--locked up tight. I'd rather have freedom, peace and joy. 

I've gotten through my six days now and a woman in ministry sent an email that had much wisdom in it. I won't quote her directly but reword a personalized version here. I feel it speaks to this topic of anger:

The Lord says, (insert your name), I called you and chose you from a young age. It is I who trains your hands for war. It is I who makes you victorious over every violation against you.

When you are ambushed, stand steadfast in the armor I have provided for you. Encourage yourself in me. As you do, you will regain your spiritual momentum. 


Resist discouragement knowing you have been given the ability and authority to overcome every assault raised up against you.


Stand firm to your convictions. Stand on God's promises. Do not let the enemy intimidate you. Don't be moved by his ineffective strategies. 


Revive yourself. Take back your position as warrior. You can't have bitterness taking root or live in fear. What you see in the natural is not all there is. You are in a spiritual battle. So trust me. Let me lead you forward. 

Questioning Anger

I've heard it said we are in the sandwich generation. We are still letting our kids go while taking care of our parents. Are you there?

I've just been through a challenging year. It was a good project for me. But now it's over. You can read about it here.  

The celebration of my mother-in-law's life went well, until...



I'd set up a handicraft display in the chapel. I'd brought a matching set of her handiwork that I LOVED and wanted to keep for myself. They matched my curtains and cushions and her loveseats I'd planned to take. 

I'd taken the needlepoints to her at her long-term care home to brighten her up. I told her I would be keeping them for our home. Now that is a lie.

I knew bringing them for display was risky and it was. I was mortified when at the reception, I spotted my husband's brother rolling the favoured needlepoints up. I asked what he was doing to which he replied his partner wanted them for their home. 

Yikes! How did this happen? 

Later, I found out my husband hadn't paid attention when I'd told him I wanted them. It was my husband that released them to his brother. 

Seeing I was angry, my husband suggested I let it go. And in that moment I was overcome with a spirit of rage and frustration. 

I realized now I'd lied to my dying mother-in-law and in anger, decided I would NOT keep anything else of hers. 




At the funeral, I paused to say goodbye to my mother-in-law's husband/partner. 

He wanted to say more than goodbye, though. He used the opportunity to scold me realizing I'd removed his favourite needlepoint (a different one) from the apartment.  You see in the months prior, she had to be moved to long-term care while he remained in their apartment. He planned to downsize and commanded us on several occasions to remove her remaining items. We simply complied.

The stitchery piece in question had been placed in the closet of her long-term care room. It was there for 2 months without him ever asking about it.

I suppose it was his grief triggering the scolding. Maybe he was not so much scolding me as venting his sorrow. But I took it personally because I'd committed so much personal time to looking out for her, sorting her items, and being there for her as time permitted over the past year.  




What had otherwise been a good event, turned sour due to the two instances. 

The way I cope is to vent. I vented all the way home and for a few hours later. But I knew all the venting in the world would not help. I had to look at the driving issues. 

Love Like You've Never Been Hurt 

Later that evening, I turned on the TV and pastor Jentezen Franklin's TV show came on. He was speaking on his new book called, Love Like You've Never Been Hurt.

In his talk, he reminded viewers that we have all been hurt, and we WILL all be hurt again. Getting hurt is part of life. 

He suggests the way to deal with it is to step back, go to our sweet space until we settle down and to let God be our avenger. In time, God restores us. 

This reminded me of the Biblical account of when Peter challenged Jesus. Jesus actually referred to Peter as Satan, rebuking him. I'm sure that conversation wasn't pleasant. Right after that occurred, the next scripture says it was 6 days before Jesus was with the disciples again. Obviously, Jesus took time to withdraw. He went to his sweet spot. He decompressed. 

So that is what I plan to do too. 



Understanding Anger 

Today, I read from Os Hillman's devotional "Understanding the Source of Anger TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman March 12, 2018"



This verse stood out: "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." - Proverbs 29:11

Wow! And I like to say I cope through venting. I guess I'm a fool! 

Hillman pointed out that anger is a symptom of a deeper issue. He suggests "the source of anger is often unmet expectations or personal rights. We believe we are entitled to a particular outcome to a situation. When things change, it triggers something in us."

I know with regard to the first scenario, that my expectation was I'd take the needlepoint pieces back home to hang on my wall. But my personal rights to them were violated when they were given to another. 

With the second scenario, I felt entitled to be told thank you for all my hard work, not made to feel guilty. My contributions seemed to be dismissed when I was instead scolded. 

I know the triggers now very well--unmet expectations and violation of my perceived personal rights.  

Questions 

My husband asked me, "How do you know God didn't want the other woman to have the stitchery?"  

Maybe he did. What I do know is that simple hurt pushed me to make some huge decisions I had on my prayer list.

What transpired made me think I need to set firmer personal boundaries. 

I'm going to my happy place now so God can deal with me and avenge me. 

If you struggle with anger, ask God to reveal the source of that anger. Then take at least 6 days to let God sort it out.




What are your Gifts and Achievements?

Image result for Help me Lord I'm wilting

Have you read the book featured above?

I've been going back through it myself. There are so many things to pray about in it. There are so many prompts. 

Here is one exercise from it you might be interested in:

The following exercise is designed to help you see how you do life and to capture a glimpse of your gifts and achievements. It will also show you some ways God’s already been developing the gifts within you and using them.

Finish these sentences:
A conviction I have is:
A strength I have is:
A skill I’m good at is:
I am aware of:
I bring this positive trait to groups or parties:
I could teach someone this:
I enjoy:
I have recently had these positive social media interactions:
I have recently had these roles:
I invest in:
I keep these items organized:
I like to help:
I like to:
I love doing this:
I manage:
I migrate to this type of person:
I nurture and protect:
I offer others:
I take care of:
I trust in:
I’m comfortable with:
I’m familiar with:
Others have described me in these positive ways:
People can count on me for:
People come to me when they need:
People know me for this positive trait:
Recently, I have created:
This makes me happy:

Look at all the wonderful ways God has worked through you. Enjoy the results of your list. Be assured, He will continue to work through you by multiplying the good He has already put within you.


Your Christian Wife's Midlife Crisis

(reprint from 2015)


Ecclesiastes 4:9-12(NIV)

Two are better than one,

    because they have a good return for their labor:

 
If either of them falls down,


    one can help the other up.


But pity anyone who falls


    and has no one to help them up.

 
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

    But how can one keep warm alone?

 
Though one may be overpowered,

    two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


Is your Christian wife going through a mid-life crisis?  

If your wife is in midlife and perhaps approaching menopause, part of her crisis-like feelings can be hormonally and life-stage related.  

Do you remember having turbulent early teen years?  Maybe not, maybe so. Boys and girls face a lot of physical changes during puberty that sometimes come with turbulent emotions and the change of life at midlife for a woman is a little like going through puberty again only in reverse.

Hormonal changes do affect brain chemistry which affects a woman's mood. When combined with a life phase transitions, focusing on negatives becomes easy.  

Negative focus also changes brain chemistry. So midlife can become a long period of struggle. Many midlife women find themselves stuck under a cloud. Even if it isn't a cloud of depression, it can be a cloud of boredom, a cloud of exhaustion, a cloud of disappointment, a cloud of disillusionment, or of foreboding feelings. This cloud threatens to shroud a woman's sense of hope and joy.

She doesn't invite this cloud. She doesn't like feeling stuck. She just finds herself in a mire that doesn't clear away easily. 

Midlife's Deceiving Thoughts

A midlife woman's thoughts can easily deceive her.  Choices she made long ago no longer look smart and brave.  She questions some very good or normal choices and considers making drastic changes.

A woman may fall prey to infatuation syndrome. She remembers the feelings of infatuation she had perhaps with you or an old boyfriend. These thoughts tease her. A woman with infatuation syndrome crave that feeling just one more time. As a result, far too many marriages have been ruined by infatuation syndrome.  

Some women are deceived at the idea of there being a perfect soulmate. They conclude the man they're with isn't him. But this soulmate idea is largely based on fantasy. The best soulmate is the person committed to the other and willing to walk through the highs and lows of life, whether they share mutual interests or not. 

A Few Tips To Implement

If your wife is in crisis, here are a few tips that may help:
  • Pray for her and for patience toward her. 
  • Listen to her and try to understand how she's feeling. Separate yourself from what she says, that is, it's not about you.  Try not to provide solutions.
  • Affirm her.  A husband's affirmation goes a long way. Affirm her for the roles she holds, has held, and for what she brings to the relationship.  
  • Remind her that God is in control of her days. Remind her that right where she is, is God's plan if she trusts in him. God has reasons for where she is right now. He is always with her. 
  • Encourage healthful choices.  She probably won't want you telling her to go exercise, but she might appreciate you going for a walk with her.  She might not want you to tell her to see her doctor for some "crazy" pills, but she will appreciate your interest in her health checkup reports. 
  • Take an interest in the things she likes. She needs to see hope that you're going to be a good long-term mate and companion.  
  • Step away from your own interests and invite her to do something new with you.
  • Bring joy home. Tell her something interesting, funny, or sweet. 
  • Ask her, "What can I help you with today." But be ready to pitch in too.
  • Compliment her.
  • Ask her, "How was your day?"
  • Ask her, "What do you need me to do?"
  • Comment on things she's working on or achievements she's made even if it is making dinner. 
  • Give her hugs, back rubs, serve her a beverage or meal once in a while.
  • Comfort her. 
  • Speak Scripture to her.  Remind her of God's interest in her. 


What Not to Do


  • Don't become distant. 
  • Don't take your own anger and resentment out on her. 
  • Don't assign blame.  
  • Don't accuse her.  
  • Don't criticize her. 
  • Don't make her feel like she's a problem in your life, not bringing in enough money, not pitching in enough, not thin enough, etc. 
  • Don't set ultimatums. 
  • Don't walk away. 
  • Don't retaliate.
  • Don't give up on your relationship.  
There are a number of dimensions to a woman's mid-life crisis.  Men like to solve problems and a midlife crisis isn't easily solvable.  

Be prepared, your wife may break down in tears now and then. She may complain about the same things several times. She may say she feels lost or sad and you may feel powerless to help. Just listen and hug her.

She will need to grieve.  She may grieve her younger days, her youthful figure, her children growing up, her old career, her former house, her long-lost friends.  Let her grieve and be there for her.  

Until later, trust in God to make you into the man you need to be at this stage of your marriage.  

What to Try in Retirement, Empty Nest, or to Reinvent Yourself




This is a sequel to this post.

At various times in life, we will seek to reinvent ourselves. Most of us crave change and excitement. 

It can be difficult to know what to change or add to your life though. 

You may find yourself freshly retired, entering the empty nest or just needing to revive your spirit and don't know where to begin. 

Below is a simple list that may get your imagination going. 


What to Try in Retirement, Empty Nest, or to Reinvent Yourself

  I've adapted this list from an online source:

- Try writing a blog or book, or both

- Take Udemy online courses to learn something you don't know

- Enjoy playing online or video games

- Become a board member of a non-profit

- Apply to become a volunteer

- Get into shape. Hire a trainer or join a gym

- Re-do your wardrobe with clothes that suit your new lifestyle

- Spend time with your aging parent, aunt, or other person in need

- Take walks with your spouse, neighbour, friend, or join a walking group

- Try groups in your area listed on meetup.com

- Take your children to movies or dinner

- Reconnect with old friends

- Read more than ever

- Use your library card

- Read your favourite fiction author's collection

- Read up on health topics

- Read a host of non-fiction topics

- Watch YouTube videos for learning and entertainment

- Learn how to do home repairs

- Learn how to cook

- Plan mini-trips around your local area or long-distant trips

- Plan outings around a goal or theme - for instance "old buildings", "train tours", "forests", "cities or sites that have your name in it", "gardens", "dog parks", "famous archaeological dig spots", "museums", "pancake houses", "places from your youth", "rivers"...

- Take pictures and blog about your trips.

- De-stress, get more sleep, go for massages, enjoy resting

- Find a church that suits you and go regularly

- Try different arts and crafts

- Shop the thrift stores

- Declutter your home

- Build your relationship with God

- Learn more of the Bible by joining a group or reading Christian books

- Visit charities and give to them

- Go to a comedy show or concert


I'm sure you can add to this list. Leave your ideas in the comments section!

Take Care of What God has Given You

Of course, added into what is new will be all your normal responsibilities--taking care of your home, being there for significant others, running errands, attending church, cooking, and so on. Being a good steward of what God has given you IS important. 

Watch Your Mindset 

One of the major challenges you'll need to deal with in such a life phase is to come to terms with a new way of life. Tell yourself it's okay to not be busy all the time or to be justified with by a job title.

Take the approach that something unique and wonderful will happen to you each day.

Look for small blessings -- joy in nature, the conversation with a store clerk, the interaction with a friend, something you've created that you know it was God working through you, the love of your pets, yummy dinners, coffee. 

Keeping your mindset positive will make all the difference in such a time as this.


Walking Through Midlife Crisis, Empty-Nest, and Retirement

16 Essential Steps to Help You Walk Through Your Midlife Crisis: A Self-Coaching Tool for Midlife Christian Women (Self-Coaching Tools for Midlife Christian Women) by [Garde, Rose]

In the book pictured above available on Amazon, I end it with suggesting readers take new steps to reinvent themselves and to add meaning to their lives. 
The principle isn't just for those in a midlife-crisis. I've found even nest-emptying moms and semi-retired or retired women need to find new passions and ways to reinvent themselves. 
Let me start with a qualifier from personal experience--EVERYTHING ALWAYS CHANGES

Walk Out New Steps
I point out in the book that we don't SOLVE a midlife crisis. Similarly we don't SOLVE what to do in retirement or after the kids leave home.
Instead we JOURNEY THROUGH our choices and take on each day.  
Understanding that you may never feel you will ARRIVE is important so you don't spin your wheels and fall into disappointment too easily when things don't go as you imagined. 
You will also have setbacks and lulls. Walking through lulls takes grace, patience, and understanding all is well in the Lord. 
Adjust Your Expectations
Go into new activities and events with positivity but with the reality that things will eventually change, a season will eventually end. Not everything will work out as to your expectations.
You may start an exercise program and get injured and need to take time off. You may sign up for a program and meet a great group of women only to see them leave the program one-by-one. You might apply for work and not even get an interview. You might visit a new community centre and become disappointed with what you see. 
You might sign up for a bible class on friendship and eagerly anticipate meeting new friends your age and become shocked that only white-haired women 20 years older than yourself show up.
Chances are, you will try a number of activities in your search for social life, purpose, greater life meaning, and things to keep you busy, and at times, programs will fall short. 
Even things you self-initiate may not work out. I held a conversation group for women at a deli. At first six women showed up. Next only one showed up. The third week, none showed up! I sent a message saying the group was cancelled, but apparently while I didn't show up to the last group, another woman did.  
I don't want this post to get too long. I'll stop here so you can ponder this concept. 
Yes! It is important to take new steps, try new things and venture out of your comfort zone. Yes! Things may not go as you hope. 
No! You won't likely arrive at something long-term like a job you might hold for 20 years. You will likely move around and need to be creative with your plans. 
In the next post, I'll list a few things you might want to try to make your life more full.