Friday, September 13, 2013

Growing Old

It may seem strange to talk about growing old when Christina only lived to be 31.  But I watched her carefully and was with her daily through her last several months.  And I learned.  I learned what it looks like to let go with grace.  Here are a few observations.
1.  Christina slowly gave up many things in the last few years. 

She gave up living alone in Portland.
She gave up her motorcycle.
She gave up half her eyesight.
And with that she gave up driving.

And with all that decrease of ability, 
she did not give up loving people. 
She did not give up reaching out.

She carried on the most amazing conversations.

She wrote many, many encouraging e-mails.

She loved her husband well.

She cared for Isaiah as much as she possibly could and then graciously let others help her.

And as the end drew near, she gave up more.

She gave up being able to move very much.

She gave up being able to care for Isaiah at all.

She gave up all her eyesight.

And still, if you spent time with her, she did not complain.  She asked how you were doing.  She knew the issues of your life and wanted the details.

And though she couldn't see or move, she rejoiced hearing her close friend Mandy was pregnant and joked about naming the baby Georgie.

She told our Pastor Mike, (who had just had a heart procedure and some stints put in place) "Be careful, don't pop any stinties!"  

The last time Christina was able to hold Isaiah.
2.  Christina made much effort to stay engaged even though it was very taxing.  Near the end, she said, "Tell everyone I am trying really hard even though it doesn't look like it."  It would have been much easier to just quit and become silent and sullen.  She fought the silence and withdrawal with every breath.  

3.  She spent no time talking about increased pain or decreased ability.  Not one time did she complain about not being able to see.  She seldom complained about pain--we had to figure it out by observation.

4.  She graciously accepted help for all the things she could no longer do for herself.  

And so, I think about my next years.  If I live much longer, I will be facing the decreased ability brought on by the aging process.  I long to be a person who engages the world around me and notices other people.  I will try to keep my various physical failings in the background. I will try hard--just like Christina.  I will celebrate what I can do and not become bitter about what I am leaving behind.  And if I need help, I will accept it with grace and courage and remember the beautiful example that Christina lived for us.


  1. AMEN! What wonderful lessons to live and die by! Thanks once again, Jo Dee, for blessing my heart and reminded me as I age (not always so gracefully) that it's not all about me, but it IS all about GOD!

    1. That's a wonderful thought--all about GOD. He is the director, shepherd, and sustainer of our life and He's got great plans!!!!

  2. Wonderful words of wisdom. I am not so sure I could approach the circumstances of Christina's illness with the grace and acceptance she did.

    Always such a joy to read your words that give such hope and encouragement to those of us whose faith pales compared to complete faith Christina showed us.


    Much love to you and many prayers, my sweet friend.


    1. Thanks, Jan. You are such a gift to my heart.
      The truth about Christina is that she leaned hard into Jesus. The harder the circumstances, the harder she leaned.
      And He is a mighty fortress, a strong tower, our shield and our strength.
      So, we can all lean hard and find Him solid!

  3. yes yes yes... for all our days we will be saying: 'Christina taught me this." she calls us to a bigger life & doing the hard things well.. in ways that I would not have thought of. So so enriching! nancy

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I like the phrase "a bigger life". It reminds me of something else I really want to write about:)

  4. HI Jo Dee, You don't know me, but I'm the wife of a cousin of Loralee's...and I love your posts. You are a wise woman and your heart shines for God. I lost my sister 11 years ago. She was murdered by her boyfriend. I wrote a grief book titled, You Died, and I Wanted to Die, Too, and that's how I felt. But, bit by bit, I realized that I would honor my sister best by living and by making a difference in the battle against domestic violence. God allowed me to see angels in the clouds which I painted and combined with poems I wrote to encourage and empower women. It is a way I raise money and awareness for the domestic violence issue. As an inspirational speaker I talk about how God takes painful and makes it powerful IF WE LET HIM. You are a perfect example of this. Thank you for sharing your story. (You can see the angel cloud art at Please keep writing--you have a great gift!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Jane. I appreciate you telling your story. Making the journey from "wanting to Die" to living well, with purpose, is a powerful one. Painful to powerful is a great way to frame that. Well done. Thanks so much for writing. Much love to you...