God has recently been telling me, “Give it away” and that is just what I am doing! I’ve invited some beautiful souls from my favorite Facebook community for women in the 50+ season of life, The Consilium:a Gathering of Wisdom and Grace. Enjoy the words from their hearts and, if you don’t mind, would you leave a comment to encourage them? Feel free to join us over at The Consilium – we would love to see you there!
Today, I’d like for you to meet Elizabeth Stewart:
The orchid was in full bloom when it was given to me. After the blossoms had withered up it sat on the
windowsill and, for the longest time, appeared doomed to never blossom again. I finally decided to give
up on it and throw it away. When I went to get it and toss it in the trash, I was shocked to find a beautiful
blossom on the plant I had given up on.
It was the summer I turned 50. I wasn’t excited at all about this season, about turning fifty, about passing
middle age and sliding down the slippery slope to senior citizenship. I wasn’t excited about my place
either. I felt stuck and I was angry and bitter about being stuck. As a wife and as a mother, as a
grandmother and as a pastor’s wife, if felt like my whole world was affected by others and their decisions
and choices. I felt tired, hopeless, used up and dried up. I was consumed with resentment over people
and circumstances that I couldn’t change, and I was convinced that because of my circumstances there
was no hope for a vibrant future for me.
When my husband asked me what I wanted for my fiftieth birthday, I think I surprised myself as well as
him by blurting out that I wanted a night away at the beach by myself. I’m so thankful that he was
understanding and willing to grant my birthday request. (I’m not sure I would have been as gracious if he
had told me that what he wanted for his birthday was, in essence, a night away from me!)
It was a hot, sunny August morning when I got in our car and headed to the Oregon coast. I cranked up
the air conditioning and also the worship music and sang along as loud as I wanted to. I don’t think I was
halfway through the two hour drive before I started to feel a crack in the wall around my heart.
I was sitting on a rock on a bluff overlooking the sea, my Bible and journal on my lap, when I heard God
speak these words to my heart. “Build your life.” He helped me to recognize that I had developed a victim
mentality. I had convinced myself that other people and outward circumstances were in control of my life
and destiny. He was directing me to turn my focus away from circumstances I could not change and had
no control over, and to turn those things and the other people involved over to Him and trust Him with
them. Then He told me to start focusing on what I could change, to build the life I wanted to live, the life I
felt like He had purposed and promised for me long ago.
The next afternoon, I came drove back home with a lot less emotional and spiritual baggage, but a lot
more hope. My life didn’t change drastically overnight, but choice by choice, I began to build the life I
believed God wanted me to live instead of the miserable life of a victim of circumstances. I began to say
no to things I didn’t feel I needed to take responsibility for any longer, and I began to say yes to pursuing
some of the dreams that God had placed in my heart decades before. I began to believe and to act upon
the truth that I could choose to make the rest of my life the best of my life.
I am 57 years old now and I can tell you without exaggeration, life is great! I discovered that when I
focused on making good and godly choices for my own life, when I began to pursue the dreams that God
had put in my heart, when I quit focusing on how I wanted to change others and circumstances that were
out of my control, that not only did I find myself blossoming, but God’s hands were free to take care of
those other things once my hands were off of them!
“This is my season and my place of blossom.” I read those words written by Kimberly Daniels and my
heart jumped and my spirit said a loud amen. I am smack dab in the middle of God’s will, God’s season
and God’s place of blessing and blossoming. I am going to finish strong.
Elizabeth Stewart is a 57 year old woman who is passionate about making the rest of her life the
best of her life and encouraging others to do the same. She is a whole hearted Jesus follower who has
been married to her pastor husband for 38 years. She has three wonderful daughters, two great sons-inlaw,
and five of the best grandchildren in the whole world. She is active in teaching God’s Word and
mentoring others in her local church. She blogs at justfollowingjesus.com and is pursuing her writing
dreams, her love of photography, and her passion for all things beautiful.
Latest posts by Diane W. Bailey (see all)
- What God Can Do with A Shattered Heart - September 5, 2022
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“God’s hands were free to take care of
those other things once my hands were off of them!” Yes, Elizabeth! YES!! Removing our hands and letting His hands take control. This is beautiful. Thank you for this lovely reminder.
Thank you, Mary. That moment on that rock overlooking the sea was so life changing for me. I’ve gone back to that place several times, wanting to meet Jesus there again.
Oh friend. I can feel the salty breeze on my face and hear the crashing waves as our amazing God refreshed your soul. It is refreshing to me today and your friendship, words and photography have encouraged me so many times. Your bloom is beautiful.
Hi sweet friend! So thankful for your encouragement in my life. The post published all chopped up for some reason, which bothers the perfectionist part of me, but have a feeling even in this Jesus is reminding me “it’s not about you Elizabeth!”
Elizabeth, love the way you tell your story. You have built a beautiful life, and it reflects and encourages so many of us. It is hard finding ourselves where we are shaped and molded by other’s demands, and used up and spent…but then, we see that God has us in a season of rebirth and it opens us to such beautiful gifts if we just listen and follow the dreams he put in our hearts. My word this year was “give”. So, I have been giving of myself to God, to trust him to lead me. It is a wonderful journey and season to experience him without agenda or the demands of the world to distract us from his plan. So glad I met you in this season Elizabeth. You bless me.
I feel the same way about you Kelly! You are a blessing and encouragement to me.
Thank you for a well written, thoughtful post. Looks like your husband got the best end of the deal. He knew a good date with God was just what you needed and he was right. I remember telling my husband to be that God would always be number one in my life. His response, “playing second fiddle to God ain’t a bad place to be.” Still after 39 years he’s not complaining. Husbands – surely a gift from The Lord.
He’s a good guy like that and I am blessed!
I needed this today, Elizabeth. I’ve felt that resentment over being still so needed at this stage in my life. Bit by bit, I’m releasing–and reminding myself that just because I carry a Medicare card doesn’t mean I’m sliding down senility slope. My best years could still be ahead.
Sandra, the fear of aging and all that it may or may not look like, the wondering how I will finish and what my life will look like, can sometimes sneak up on me and try to choke my now life right out of me. I have to purposely have “no fear of the future” and to set my mind on promises that “God will carry me even when my hair is white with age”. It’s a frequent battle.
Elizabeth, you (and I mean this sincerely) are one of my greatest sources of inspiration. You are so obviously a life-long learner, and outside of being a life-long lover of Jesus, I want to be a life-long learner more than anything. I can relate to so much of what you wrote, here, because I have had moments of feeling like I’ve lost myself to my family. 4 kids (3 of whom are 5 and under) ain’t no joke! When my husband surprised me with my camera, neither of us knew how great the gift. It’s been so amazing to learn new things during this season…from photography, to editing, to blogging. Gratitude is a secret to happiness, but so is learning! You inspire with your blogging,your daily devotions, your walking, your marriage, your housekeeping/cooking/decorating, your photography and editing, your love for your family, etc. I’m so thankful for your example, your wisdom, and your love.
Thank you so much, Brandee! I can’t wait to hug you neck in real life at Jumping Tandem!
Elizabeth, visiting from Jennifer’s place this morning. As a 60-something woman I relate to every word written in this post. I am grateful that God never retires us – and, I want to be a willing vessel for His use!
Thank you, Susan! I, too, believe that as long as we have breath, we have a purpose here on earth. I desire to cooperate with God in all that He has for me!
This is beautiful! So much freedom and life! It’s funny because I am a new empty nester and God has had me in a season of quiet and waiting and as I feel it may be coming to an end, I am wishing I would have enjoyed it more because I can feel the new season unfolding and chances are it won’t be (as) quiet or slow! I love the quote – and will be reminding myself of it as the days unfold! We are neighbors over at Jennifer’s place for #TellHisStory today and I am so glad I stopped by!
Karrilee, so thankful God put you as my “neighbor” and that God used these words to bless you in some small way.
Elizabeth, I really needed to hear these words today. I feel so overwhelmed sometimes that I wish there were two of me. Sometimes I feel guilty because I can’t always be there for the people “I” feel I need to be caring for. You have reminded me that I should do what I can do and depend on God to take care of the rest. I agree with what Brandee said….you really are a great source of inspiration. Thanks for the wonderful post.
You are a daily blessing and encouragement to me, Debbi. It takes a lot of courage to say no to some things and some people, doesn’t it? I found myself resentful, but really I was doing it to myself. I’m trying to learn to wait and see what God wants me to do before saying an automatic yes.
Karrilee, so thankful God put you as my “neighbor” and that God used these words to bless you in some small way.
Today is my 51st birthday. Yesterday I finished reading “Wild”. Interestingly the author, Cheryl Strayed, and I share the same birthdate, albeit 5 years apart (I’m 5 years older). Much of Cheryl’s story describes the impact of the loss of her mother (to cancer) on her life. This quote from “Wild” that I read yesterday reminds me of the sentiments you shared today…”I never got to be in the driver’s seat of my own life,” she’d wept to me once, in the days after she learned she was going to die. “I always did what someone else wanted me to do. I’ve always been someone’s daughter or mother or wife. I’ve never just been me.”
And I, too, have an orchid sitting on my kitchen table that my son gave me for Mother’s day. The blossoms have disappeared and since I have never had an orchid before, I’m watering and waiting and watching for blossoms to return…not sure when or even if…but remaining hopeful for the signs of new growth in this next season of the plant and in my life, too.
Happy Birthday, Jill! It is so nice to meet you and have you here!
Happy Birthday, Jill. I once heard that God’s anointing can only be on the real you. The real me loves being all those things I mentioned, wife, mama, nana, pastor’s wife, but I forgot that there are things, plans, purposes, dreams, that God had for me, Elizabeth, too.
Thank you for the encouragement that God wants us to be victorious in Him and not victims…what a joy to read your words today 🙂
P.S. Hi Diane 🙂 and I loved your post on “Outside the Gates” blog
Thank you, Dolly! I’m glad God used my words to encourage and bless you.
You’re an awesome 57 year old, Elizabeth! I’m so encouraged by your words here. I’ll be 52 soon, and I’m still coming to grips with being in my 50s. But seeing women of God, like you, who go ahead of me, I know the Lord will go with me also.
I snickered at you asking for a day at the beach alone. That is just the kind of thing I would do too! And my husband would never do! 🙂
The sea is definitely my go-to place when I am desperate to soak in God’s presence and hear him speak to my heart. I’m convinced Jesus prefers the seaside too. 🙂
Elizabeth, I had already ready your post here at Diane’s before I saw I was your “neighbor” at Unforced Rhythms.
How wonderful that God gives us a choice, and that we can decide to choose Life and reject the victim mentality. Thanks for your insight.
Constance, I love your name but the way! I haven’t always chosen the path of the victor. I’ve had my share of pity parties. That’s such a miserable way to live! I want to live purposefully and victoriously as long as I have breath.
This is beautiful. It is easy to get enslaved to the victim mentality, to live to please others, only to find out that, in the end, sometimes it means not pleasing God. You are an inspiration to cut out the weeds, prune the branches, and focus on that prize fruit.
Thank you so much, Jennifer! I think, like with most things, it’s a daily choice that I have to make. When I fail and find myself taking on the burden of circumstances and other people that I can’t and am not responsible to change, I have to consciously give it over to God and let go. I often literally raise my hands and surrender it to Him!
How blessed you are Elizabeth to have opened your heart to this truth and message from God! So many people spend their entire lives fighting their circumstances. We may not be able to control much in this life, but we can always control our response. Thank you for sharing, you are an inspiration!
I love your comment, “we may not be able to control much in this life, but we can always control our response”. I need to write that down and pin it up someplace!
I never ever considered how this stage of life would throw a whole new battle into my mind-and I’m so thankful for the daily encouragement from the Lord.
This is grace for me just now.
Kathy, your words bless me so. Isn’t God gracious to give us one another? Those “words in due season” that He sends our way through others are amazing.
“Then He told me to start focusing on what I could change, to build the life I wanted to live, the life I felt like He had purposed and promised for me long ago.” I love it when God speaks to me when I seek Him. Your words are encouraging to this MOLDy woman who sometimes forgets to seek Him first, even though I know it’s the only way to finish strong.
That truly is the only way to finish strong. Just this morning I woke up praying for Him to show me His will about an opportunity that has come my way. I wanted to automatically say yes, but I’m learning that I get myself into situations where I’m resentful of my over busy-ness, because I don’t seek Him first.
Elizabeth, being the same age as you, so much of this post resonated with me. It is very hard to be needed in so many places by so many varied people. I recently expressed to my husband, in absolute tears,how I feel everyone wants a piece of me. It can be an overwhelming feeling at times. It was in the midst of those tears, I felt the Lord reminding me to draw my strength from Him and to rest in Him completely. In and through Him, yes!!!, we can and will finish strong. I am very grateful to have read these encouraging words this morning. Blessings!
I love that God gives us “sisters” to tread this unfamiliar path of aging with! Everyone wanting a piece of me is a too familiar feeling for me as well. I’m really trying to stop saying yes to everything just because I’m afraid of disappointing others.
Yes… Yes… Yes… finish strong… God has dropped two deep desires in my heart… first one was at 50… that I would be gray and gracious… when I looked around at aging women… graciousness is not what I saw… so I started praying this prayer…and man… right out of the gate… this was tested big time… I often laugh… I am graying pretty slowly for someone my age… I don’t know what the says about my progress:)
2. when I turned 55… this desire rose to finish stronger than when I started… to push past comfort zones… to leave behind old fears… to live vibrant in Christ until my final breath… this is a body , soul and spirit kind of work. I know there are bumps ahead… but I don’t dread the aging process…building back physical muscles and strength… and spiritual ones as well!!!
Ro, I haven’t ventured into graying yet, I have no idea what is underneath what my beautician does to my hair every couple of months! But, yes to praying about aging with graciousness!
Elizabeth, I love this, and I see this in you…the ways you celebrate what you’ve been given, the ways you build. Like Brandee, I am inspired and encouraged by your example. Love you, sister. Thank you for sharing this story. (And thank you, Diane, for hosting her.)
Thank you, sweet friend. Your encouragement blesses me.