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The 
Question

How do you feel about turning 50?

Turning 50

I can still feel the tree bark beneath my hands: This is no ordinary tree. It is old. Very old. It is so big that I can only reach around about a quarter of it. Its bark must be at least three inches thick—the ridges are deep enough in places to put a silver dollar inside. How beautiful! I have never seen ridges this deep. Surely it is the same with people. Our age, our wrinkles and folds, these are beautiful things.

Tomorrow I will be 50 years old. I am so excited! Whereas most women seem to dread turning fifty, I think it is freakin’ awesome. This attitude runs in my family: My sister, Kathy, was totally jazzed to turn fifty 50; my mother relished the opportunity to impress small children asking how old they were, and then she would 

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proudly respond, “well, I am half-a-century old!” This sounds quite impressive to a four- or five-year-old. For my cousin, Cheryl, turning fifty meant “adventure.” She feels deep in her heart that God plans to use her to bless people in ways she could never imagine. What an adventure to be a part of God’s plan!

I agree with Cheryl. Adventure! That’s what turning 50 means to me. Ever since reading Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place,” I have known that the most exciting, unimaginable things can happen after you turn 50. For Corrie, this meant hiding Jewish people from the Nazis, being taken away to a concentration camp, liberation, and then becoming a best-selling author and world-renowned speaker. This is the kind of adventure that we all go through in life: terrifying, painful experiences that walk hand in hand with overwhelming blessings that fill your heart up so full, you think it will burst.

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Tree hugging in Geneseo, Illinois

Janet, sister Kathy, mother Sara

Cheryl and Janet

I do not expect the rest of my life to be easy. The immediate challenges that face me are already too much for me to bear . . .  alone. But I am not alone. The joy that bubbles up in me despite insurmountable problems comes from a lesson that toddlers have taught me over the past two years: I am a child. I am immature. I throw fits. God simply waits for me to vent my emotions before scooping me into His arms again. His patience never fails.

 

I am grateful to finally understand that all of our problems, including sickness, violence, mental illness and death are small and temporary. They are no more and no less than the trauma of a new-born being pushed out of the womb into the cold air, or the heartbreak of a baby whose

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mouth is erupting with pain and terrible, hard bumps called “teeth.” I love how a three-year-old can throw a fit with their whole body, and then leave their frustration behind and run off to play and laugh. In this sense, I believe the immaturity of children is much more mature than the sophistication of adults who take themselves all too seriously.

 

In turning fifty, I have decided to become a child again. I want to love without restraint, cry, laugh, and bubble over with joy.

Kathy going to work ☺

“I have said these things to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”

-John 15:11 (The Schorschi viola verse.)

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