‘But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed.’ Isaiah 54:17.
These feel like some of those coming days. It is comforting that in Isaiah 54 is says, ‘If anyone attacks you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.’ And, ;Thought the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my Covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.’
These feel like days of such heaviness right now. I just talked with a friend who is staying away from the news and social media completely. She hears what’s going on through people in her family and at work talking about it. That is all she can take right now. I get that.
We are called to stand strong. And we know the only way to do that is to trust in the the only ONE who knows all, is in all, and will ultimately prevail over all. As Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
How are you? How are you managing your day, your thoughts, your diet, your exercise, your responsibilities? I admit, I just ‘did’ these things as I was caught up in the busy-ness of ‘life before’. I remember oh-so-many-times thinking, ‘If I only had a couple of unstructured days, I could get caught up.’
Well, now I’ve lost count of the number of unstructured days I’ve had, and I’m NOT caught up. Rather, sometimes I feel like I’m in the dryer being tossed around and unable to get my feet solidly under me.
Can you relate?
I propose, even those who are carrying on as if nothing unusual is happening are processing all of this at some level. They might be the ones who crash the hardest when faced with the realities of this pandemic in their own family.
I know, especially during the night, I get these waves of anxiety, what-ifs, grief, panic that try to overtake me.
What do you do when these thoughts creep in (or hit you like an avalanche)? [We will come back to this question soon.]
Health at all times, including during COVID-19
Health is multifaceted, and to be truly healthy, each area needs some attention.
Physical health – This includes your diagnoses, your fitness, your strength, and your immune system.
Mental health – This includes diagnoses, anxiety, depression, and panic.
Emotional health – This includes your coping mechanisms, your reactions, your strategies to manage stress.
Spiritual health – This includes your source of hope, your views about a higher power, your connection with your spiritual side.
Social health – This includes your relationships, your support network, those you care for and those who care for you.
I encourage you to take an inventory. In the past few days, how have you nurtured each of these areas of your health? Which have you given the most attention? Which have you ignored? Which need the most attention today?
There are MANY well-designed studies that have demonstrated the importance of each of these aspects of health. Especially now, during this pandemic, each part needs very deliberate strategies.
Attitude and Health
These studies have repeatedly demonstrated the negative health effects of negativity – fear, holding grudges, blame (conspiracy theories), isolation (huge right now), oppression, resentment, self-pity, rejection, and holding on to negative bad assumptions. There are TOO MANY negative messages in our society right now. Letting these rule your thoughts and emotions is directly damaging to your immune system and your physical health. It’s also damaging to your relationships (social health), spiritual health, and mental health.
In comparison, staying engaged, caring for other people, optimism (which is a choice), having supportive friends/family, maintaining an ability to bounce back (takes some real purposeful effort), learning good conflict management skills, and belief in a higher power or other source of hope are all linked to a healthier immune system, overall well-being, better health, and even longer life.
So, how can you use this knowledge to make a plan for when the waves of anxiety, grief, and worry hit you?
What do you do when these thoughts creep in (or hit you like an avalanche)?
It is normal, especially in these times, for this to happen sometimes several times per day.
So, should we let it happen? Ride the waves?
Should we chide ourselves for being so weak?
Do we need strategies?
My view is we need strategies. This is a time when we need to exercise our God muscles very deliberately. I have to admit I’ve not memorized scripture a lot in the past. I’ve been familiar with scripture and generally know what is found where, but not to the degree to be able to recite scripture.
That all changed when I went through a very difficult time a few years ago. I would wake up in the night with rapid-fire negative thoughts, imagined conversations, what-ifs, anger, frustration, and such. It felt like I was being attacked in my own mind.
That’s when trusted friends and years of hearing the message sunk in and I started memorizing scripture. I still haven’t memorized as much as I would like, but I’ve memorized some verses that have incredibly deep meaning to me. They feel like weapons I can recite over and over when I’m attacked in the night. I cling to these scriptures and keep them ready at all times.
I’ve since had opportunity to talk with various groups about stress and hope and health. So many people have described similar strategies and what a vital lifeline this is for them. None have been ‘perfect people’ who just naturally have it all together. They, too, have gone through gut-wrenching difficult times and learned the value of being battle ready.
So, rather than sink into the pain and negativity, rather than chide yourself for being susceptible, stand up and take up your weapons. Let’s go to battle with the ONE true source of victory!
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
What are your strategies? I would love to hear from you. And, if your group would like to take this deeper, ‘Grace & Health in Complex Times’ is a workshop I offer. It is a chance to connect health, hope, and healing during these very difficult days. We take frequent breaks, interact a lot (even virtually), and walk away with very tangible skills to care for ourselves and others. Let’s talk.
Years ago I started having a discussion with patients who were making personal decisions about their health. “If you reach the last days of your life and say, ‘Yes, this is what I expected’, then I have done my job informing you of your options.” “If you reach your final days and say, ‘If I had known this I would have made different decisions’, then I have not done my job.”
As a clinical pharmacist and a professor, educating is one of the primary roles I have.
Personal Health Decisions
I am now frequently talking with clients about the substances they choose to take on their own. There are so many options! These can be anything from vitamins to supplements to over-the-counter medicine to naturopathic substances to homeopathic substances to formerly illicit now legal substances to still illicit substances.
It is now rare to encounter a client who is not taking at least one self-selected substance.
My first question is always why a substance was selected and what was the decision making process used to choose it. Was it a fully informed decision?
Research Pros and Cons
The most common answer is that the client has read a lot and carefully researched the substance. There is usually also a component of recommendation from a friend or other user of the substance.
Doing your research is a GREAT thing! I encourage you to read from a variety of sources.
There seems to be an undercurrent of distrust in Western medicine. Certainly the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has done several things to earn the distrust from pricing to availability to the actions of individual companies and their products. [The example that jumps to mind right now is Purdue Pharma and their questionable practices with Oxycontin®.]
Too often in every segment of society, one bad apple can taint the whole bushel. To many people, anything touting a ‘natural’ source and not within the control of PhRMA seems to be the safer and healthier choice.
A big purpose of this blog is to define evidence-based medicine (EBM) and explain the differences from many of the other substance-based therapies you can choose. The ‘evidence’ comes from well-designed studies that measure both whether the medication works and the safety. Further, it helps to define how much better is it than other known options, what doses work best in what sorts of people, and which side effects are minor and which are major.
Medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must have well-designed studies that demonstrate both efficacy (does it work) and safety. Then, the FDA assures any company making the medication is making it in a clean facility using precise methods assuring each individual dose is per these high standards.
Two examples of the critical nature of EBM that comes to my mind are with heart medicines and with hormone replacement in women. The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST) was the first in my career to completely change practice. It had long been assumed that using medication to keep the heart rhythm normal after a cardiac procedure would be a good thing. Then, this well-designed study demonstrated that in many instances, suppressing the abnormal heart rhythms right after a procedure actually increased risk of death. That was completely unexpected! But, other studies have confirmed that these findings. So, many of the medications that used to be part of standard treatment are no longer even made anymore.
The other big example was use of hormone replacement in women near and beyond menopause. The assumption was that keeping hormone levels where they are during the fertile years would maintain health and prevent many health issues that come after menopause. Then, two well-designed studies demonstrated that assumption was completely wrong! The dangers of hormone replacement were much greater than any advantages. Premarin ® and Prempro ® went from some of the most commonly prescribed medications to very rarely used.
Substances without this level of evidence
The FDA does not oversee the vast majority of the substances you can choose on your own. (The noted difference is the over-the-counter medications that are overseen by the FDA.) So, unless the company does this on its own, no one is overseeing accuracy of the label, the contents, the conditions of the manufacturing facility, or the consistency from dose to dose.
In addition, there is no requirement for well-designed studies to define when, how, and at what dose the substance is most effective or what are the side effects.
Even medication interactions with your other medications is not well known since this type of data is not required.
Healthcare providers and self-treatment
Many of my clients are disappointed that their doctors aren’t more supportive of their self-selected therapies. Some don’t even tell their doctor about these.
I HIGHLY encourage you to share ALL substances you take with each of your doctors and your pharmacist. Healthcare providers have been trained to care for you using evidence-based medicine. There is too little ‘data’ to give providers confidence with other therapies. Your doctor can’t provide you with assurance of either if the substance will work for you or if it will be safe for you. Communicate all you know to help make informed decisions.
Purpose of this blog – make informed decisions
I encourage you to share your research, the reason you take the substance, and anything you’ve noticed that is different since starting the substance with your healthcare team. Then, work together to decide all of the substances you will take. Each member of your team needs to known the full picture in order to take the best care of you.
This will also allow you to make the most informed decision possible. Combine your research, your personal goals, and your doctor’s and pharmacist’s input in your decision. Then, monitor your response. In your final days, know that you made the best decisions you could make for your own health allow the way.
I recently read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. It was such a different perspective than I had seen in the past. Mr. Strobel researched and collected the evidence to support multiple events and details found in the Bible. He started as a non-believer and ended fully convinced of the Lordship of Christ.
There are many directives in the Bible to seek God’s guidance when making decisions. There is no ‘informed decision’ that can compare to a God-directed decision.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The Third Chapter has become the popular term for life past about age 60 thanks to Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot and her book by this name. Your 3rd Chapter is where you leave your legacy, focus on what is most important, and do some things you couldn’t do during the peak of your career.
Big 3 – Third Chapter Options
You can do nothing and continue to work. As a local lawyer recently stated, ‘They can pry my dead body from behind my keyboard.’
You can just let the final third happen. Some people leave the office, go home, watch a lot of TV, and drift along until their health fails and they pass.
You can plan and make this the best chapter yet.
Reasons to plan
Fulfill those dreams – What have you been putting off until you had the time, resources, and freedom to do them? I just talked with a family where the wife has been dreaming of a trip to Cuba. For much of their lives that was not possible. Now he has retired, Cuba is open to visitors, she found a deal, and they can finally say ‘Yes’ to this opportunity.
If he was still working or even just going to work to maintain his comfortable schedule, they might have missed this chance.
If no planning had been done, they would still be talking about going to Cuba someday.
Intentionally get a handle on your health – Bad habits, work stress, limited time, and distraction can be risky for your long-term health. One of the earliest plans with the biggest return on investment in retirement is your health. Proactive assessment and action now can prolong the healthy, active part of your third chapter.
While working, especially in high demand careers, many men ignore their own health in favor of the health of the company. Then, they experience a rapid health decline.
Doing nothing will continue risky habits. Our current healthcare system is reactive. Once you get sick, injure yourself, and find yourself declining, then the healthcare system kicks in. You don’t want to wait for this to happen when you have this chance to proactively avoid or delay all of that.
Make this the most rewarding chapter yet! – With planning and intention you can make a mark on the world. Your years of collected skills, interests, and perspectives can make you invaluable in a role to address some issues in society. Explore your interests. What breaks your heart? You now have the bandwidth to do something about it.
While continuing to work you will be disappointed that no one is doing anything to fix the societal problems that bother you most.
If you do nothing, your disappointment will grow. As a result, that can lead to harmful negativity or complacency.
Retirement Wellness Strategies
This is what we do and why we do it. Let’s talk today about taking a proactive approach to planning your third chapter!
You can reach Michelle at email@example.com, calling 410-472-5078, or check out the website at www.retirewellness.com.
Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.
[Now, I’ll admit, I try to think of someone else much older than me when I read ‘old age’ in many translations of the Bible. But, I think that is a translator’s term for having years of experience.]
The wisdom of years is highly respected in the Bible and in most cultures and historically in the US. I think this an important piece of our foundation that is now slipping – respect for your elders and care for your aging family members.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”
Years of accumulated experience brings perspective, skills, and a deep wisdom that comes from mistakes, successes, complete failures, adversity, and overcoming. In particular, to see how God pulls you through over and over again leads to a deeper faith that He’ll do it again.
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?
I am so excited to see what can happen when people with years of wisdom and accumulated skill apply those to needs in society.
I’ll end with this quote on our bulletin at church today by Hugh Halter:
‘The convictions we need to rally around should be about life giving, community, transformation, holistic personal growth, sacrifice, beauty, blessing and world renewal. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a people committed to something that brings personal meaning and makes the world a better place?’
I was sitting at a stoplight one block from UNC-Charlotte preparing to turn on to WT Harris Boulevard when it felt like at explosion of sirens went off. Suddenly there were rescue vehicles coming from everywhere. There were fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, marked and unmarked vehicles with lights and sirens. It was completely disorienting. I then watched motorists make all sorts of bad decisions. Some tried to speed through intersections in front of emergency vehicles. Some pulled to the right, some pulled to the left, some just stopped where they were. It was complete chaos with these first responders trying to weave their way through the confused masses to get to the emergency.
It was a couple of hours before I learned that a gunman had entered campus and started shooting in a classroom on the last day of classes for the semester.
It was a few hours after that when I learned of the heroism of Riley Howell who ran toward the gunman and saved many lives while losing his own.
And it was a few hours after that when another life was lost just off campus in an altercation. This lost life didn’t receive as much attention, but was still a precious life lost.
Then, as were moving our daughter back from Clemson a couple of days later, she received notice of a senior killed when he hit the back of a stopped dump truck on the highway.
In the midst of all of this loss I have talked with several parents of college students. Some are grieving and throwing themselves into remembrance events. Some are shocked and having difficulty resuming daily life. Some are having nightmares and anxiety. Some are carrying on as if nothing happened.
What are healthy responses to the events around us? Certainly no day carries a guarantee of safety or ease. And, rarely does a day carry a certainty of difficulty. Most days arrive, and we use our toolbox of skills and emotional intelligence to get through them.
So what is in your toolbox of skills?
Who are the key people who support you?
How do you relieve stress?
How much attention do you give to the news?
How have you been hurt in the past?
How have you dealt with that past hurt?
What is your source of hope?
Filters as tools
As a healthcare provider, I have encountered countless people with negative health outcomes related to a lack of tools to handle stress and negative events.
Some of these negative health outcomes have included chronic pain, anxiety, depression, isolation, heart attacks, strokes, phobias, and deep anger.
Consider these filters to enhance a healthier response –
Gratitude– What is going right in your life? For what can you be thankful?
Who/what is higher than you– deity, person, other that can help guide and protect you?
Past events– When have you been stressed or in a bad situation in the past and now you are on the other side? You survived. If all of those events in the past were survivable, how can that bring you hope in this situation?
Perspective– What is the worst possible scenario you can imagine? If you can imagine that, your reality is most likely to be much better than that.
Let it go– How have you learned to forgive and move on?This is one of the most freeing acts you can take for your own health.
Are you nearing or past retirement and feel like you’re surrounded by stress and worry? We can help!
I have this mental image of the devil with a bullhorn blasting messages of doubt, insecurity, worry, what-if’s, self-deprecation, and other ugliness right into my brain. His messages are so noisy and chaotic! They can pull me down and sit on me to pin me to the ground if I don’t take action.
Do you ever feel the same way?
Jesus is speaking into my other ear with messages of love, acceptance, strength, mercy, and grace. He does not use a bullhorn. In fact, if I don’t make an effort, I won’t even hear his sweet call.
This is what I picture is happening to each person I meet.
So, how do we tune out the bullhorn and relax into the loving messages?
Here are a few tips that I know to be true. (Now don’t ask if I practice them every day. I 100% know that my day is so much better when I do, and I still mess up and skip these life-sustaining practices regularly.)
Thanks to the advice of a Godly friend, I use an app called ‘Remember Me’ to keep favorite verses on my phone. When I have a minute here, 5 minutes there, I work to memorize these key verses.
Spend TRULY quiet time focused on God and hearing His voice each day.
Stay in the Word. Keep dedicated Bible reading time and really pray and think about what you are reading, asking God to explain. It’s amazing what you will learn!
Think outside of yourself. Be aware of the people around you. Reach out to friends in need. Reach out to friends who you don’t know are in need (they all have the bullhorn in their ear).
Let God guide your path. Satan will keep you so busy you can’t catch your breath. Let God quiet you and focus you on what matters.
Here are some favorite verses about God’s deep, unfathomable love for you to get you started!
Have you ever experienced misunderstanding with someone? Did that lead you to make a bad decision? If you had understood the original message, would you have made a different decision?
I have had two client examples this week.
Misunderstanding what the doctor said
In one instance, the doctor had said something about the pain medicine and the stomach acid medicine should not be taken together. This person has had a long history of Barrett’s Esophagus – a severe inflammation of the esophagus cause by extreme gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). To break that down, this person’s stomach acid was going back up the esophagus – the tube from the mouth to the stomach. Normally there is a sphincter that closes to keep the acid safely in the stomach. In many of us, that sphincter can become loose or have a condition that keeps it from completely closing. When that happens, the acid can go back up the esophagus. Indigestion, burping, pain and/or burning in the mid chest area can result. The acid inflames the esophagus lining. When that inflammation becomes severe, the inflammation can lead to Barrett’s Esophagus. So the stomach acid medicine was VERY important!
This person’s other issue was low back pain due to a herniated (bulging) disk and sciatic pain. Sciatic pain results in pain and burning from the lower back and spreading through the buttocks and the leg. It is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, common with lower back issues.
When this person heard the doctor say the stomach acid medicine and the pain medicine shouldn’t be taken together, the person decided to STOP the stomach acid medicine. The sciatic pain was the ‘bigger issue’, so if both couldn’t be taken, the pain medicine took priority. The doctor was not told.
The client heard ’these medicines shouldn’t be taken together’. The more complete answer is, the pain medicine will make the stomach acid and esophagus irritation even worse. There are safer pain medicine options that won’t make the Barrett’s Esophagus worse. The person should DEFINITELY be on both a stomach acid medicine and a pain medicine. The pain medicine should just be changed to a safer option.
This was explained, and this person is now on a safer medication regimen for both conditions.
Another Misunderstanding Example
Another recent example was a man with severe vascular issues and lung cancer.
The lung and cancer doctors had together told him and his family there is no more they could do. They recommended hospice care. Hospice care was accepted.
The vascular issues caused very little blood flow to the feet. As a result, one foot and lower leg had been amputated a few months ago. The second leg and foot are now very infected. The foot infection is causing severe pain. Hospice is treating the pain with morphine. The morphine makes the patient’s stomach upset and dulls his thinking.
His wife understands that the hospice doctor is now his doctor rather than his specialists and primary doctor from before. The hospice nurses visits regularly, but the doctor has not. His wife is very upset that the doctor is doing nothing to heal the infection. She also feels he is very overmedicated since his memory and decision making are slowed due to the morphine.
When we discussed goals – quality vs quantity of life – they each indicated the specialists who recommended hospice had asked that. They chose quality. However, they didn’t understand that this would mean a rather rapid decline with the untreated lung cancer and foot infection. They thought he would be able to back to the things he loves like working on projects around the house and cooking. They see a decline in quality of life rather than the expected increase.
Now they want to go back to the specialists and change their minds. It has been six months of no curative treatment. There is most likely no way to alter the pending outcome.
Essential Clear Communication
Healthcare visits can feel fast and pressured. Any time there is bad news involved, it is hard to fully hear and process all that is being communicated. These and other communication issues lead to misunderstanding of healthcare information. This is NOT an uncommon problem.
Another contributing factor is difficulty reaching the doctor after getting home to request clarification. Most doctors are given schedules that make it difficult to squeeze in phone calls. So, it is always best to receive, process, and fully understand the information while you have the doctor’s full attention during an appointment.
At Meds MASH and Retirement Wellness Strategies, we are your advocate. You have guidance to prepare for medical visits by assuring you have your questions ready and the information your doctor needs organized and clear. We also attend the visit with you by video when you want that.
After the visit, we can provide a wealth of information to further explain any new conditions or medications. We can even contact your doctor(s) on your behalf to obtain any needed clarification.
Miscommunication and misunderstanding can lead to so many preventable problems. I often ask this question of students in the health professions. ‘Tell me about a time miscommunication led to a bad outcome.’ Usually the answers involve people going to different restaurants or friends having an argument. One time, while teaching active duty military healthcare providers, the example was of an international hunt for a notorious terrorist. The terrorist had been found and surrounded, but a delay in the order to detain him resulted in his escape. What an example!
The Bible has much instruction about good communication.
This Psalmist knows exactly how much trouble our words can cause:
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
I know I have spoken in frustration and said words I regretted. I know I have neglected to speak up when my support could have been very helpful to someone else. I know I have said the wrong thing and caused more harm than good, usually out of complete ignorance or insensitivity.
Retirement will be most successful if you take some time and do some planning. This is true whether you stop working completely or adjust responsibilities to have more flexibility.
Like every phase of life, big decision, or major transition, planning helps navigate the expected and provide the flexibility to negotiate the unexpected.
What is Retirement Planning?
When you search using terms like ‘retirement planning’ the items listed are almost solely about financial planning. There are numerous large companies, small companies, and individuals offering assistance in making financial decisions that will enable the retirement you desire.
Financial planning includes amount of funds available, timing of fund use, anticipated monthly budgets, and a diversified portfolio. (And more I’m sure; this is definitely not my area of expertise).
Succession planning is a key part of preparation to leave or reduce time at your workplace. You want to be sure what you have worked so hard to build or support will be left in capable hands.
Family care is another element of retirement planning. You are assuring the house, the car(s), the major purchases are updated and ready for the days of a more ‘fixed’ income. Legally, this is a good time to assure wills, estates, powers of attorney, and other legal documents are updated.
‘My doctor already does that,’ you might be saying. Your doctor is certainly doing some of that. Your doctor also has a very limited time with you and is frequently using that time to address issues of the moment. Healthcare in general is mostly reactive. We want to be proactive!
Part of retirement planning is spiritual health planning. How much emphasis have you placed here so far?
How are you managing these complex times in our world? They shouldn’t come as a surprise, but that doesn’t make them easy. Have you found that deep down peace and joy of Christ? That is a beautiful thing and worthy of sharing!
You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.
When I think of preparation, nothing excites me or sobers me like preparation for eternity. I love trying to imagine Heaven, eternity, God’s omniscience. Do you ever try to wrap your mind around those concepts? I can’t wait to experience them in person!
In Matthew 24, Jesus gives insights into the times before His return. There will be a lot of people trying to deceive us. There will be wars and famine and earthquakes. I can think of a lot of examples of each of these things right now.
In 2 Timothy 3 there is a description of the difficult times for Christians in the last days.
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
In Jude, who was Jesus’ brother, we learn more about the last times.
But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted.They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires.These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,[a]and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
I read in a devotion recently that we prepare in three ways:
Prepare those close to you
Prepare your church and community
How are you preparing for difficult times ahead? How can we build a more solid network of believers to support each other through these times? Once disaster strikes is not the time to develop a plan.
People make time for who they want to make time for. People text and reply to people they want to talk to. Never believe anyone who says they’ve been too busy. If they wanted to be around you, they would.
Wow, that snapped me to attention. How about you?
Same 24 hours
I know you know this. We each have 24 hours in a day. We each need to spend 6-8 of those sleeping to be our best. We each take time out to eat. Beyond that, we have so many choices.
Are you choosing to spend some of your 24 hours with other people?
With which people?
Do you focus on the person right in front of you at any given moment?
Do you gravitate to the ‘squeeky wheel’ or most annoying just to make them stop?
How about the relationships you claim are the most important in your life?
Are you guilty as I am? I know I can get so caught up in the immediate needs placed before me, I can get through an entire day shortchanging my family, especially my husband.
What about friends? Which relationships will still be with you into retirement? How much attention do they receive from you?
Investing in Personal Relationships
There’s an exercise we do in Retirement Wellness Strategies™ to think through which relationships will fade and which will sustain.
Think about with whom you would plan a vacation or weekend getaway. If you were traveling, with which friends would you stay while in their area, or at least let them know you’re in town to get together?
How much of your attention are you giving your spouse these days? Is it enough? How much time will you spend together after retirement? Are you on the same page with these answers?
Planning for a socially healthy retirement takes some focus. We can help! Contact us at Retirement Wellness Strategies to learn how we can help you have a healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially – retirement!
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
It is so easy to take those we love for granted and give all of our time to people who will not be with us in our most critical times of life. It is also easy to be around people who are comfortable and avoid relationships that are more challenging.
And what about our call to love our neighbors? Who is that? What does it mean?
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”
Look to the one source of ‘right living’. It is amazing how all of the important things fit into a day when the Lord directs it.
When was the last time you paused and really thought about this? Have you purposefully become who you are today? Or has this version morphed from a series of events out of your control?
I encourage you to grab a piece of paper and pen or a device. Shut off all distractions. Take a deep breath and do your best to clear your mind. Set your timer for 10 minutes.
Over the next 10 minutes of quiet, retrace your steps. How did you get here? What are your greatest moments? Who are the people who have led you to this point? What have been your greatest challenges? What are your principles? What is most important to you? Who matters most to you? What do you stand for? What are your dreams?
Outsiders who try to define you
It is hard to find quiet time to reflect in our society. Messages, demands, and noise are everywhere. If you haven’t already decided who you are, there is a world waiting to create this definition for you.
– Those over you– how do you help the company meet the bottom line?
– Social Media– do you measure up? Is your life as exciting as your ‘friend’s’?
– Politics– do you agree with me on very point, or are you one of ‘them’?
– Movies and TV– are you as beautiful and perfect as these fictitious characters?
– Wealth– are you as rich as your neighbor, and do you have as many cool toys?
– Spouse– are you everything your spouse expects of you?
– Faith/social community– do you measure up to the expectations of your groups?
Ultimate last word about who you are
Your future is not already scripted based on your past. You are in a unique position to choose your trajectory.
Are you pleased with your current self? You can stay on this path that is working well for you.
Are you ready for change? You can change your direction, your purpose, or your values. You don’t have to be shaped by the things currently defining you.
Do you have a plan to avoid the retirement pitfalls of rapid health decline, divorce, or suicide?
Retirement Wellness Strategies
At Retirement Wellness Strategies we talk with many people who have landed in a place they don’t desire to be. That is not the end of the story! We have a number of tools to help you explore what could come next. The years beyond retirement can be fulfilling, purposeful, and meaningful.
How about you? How have outside influences ended up defining you? What roles do work, family, money, appearance, or belongings play in your self-description?
I know they have way more impact on my self-perception than I would like.
I had the opportunity to spend a week in one of the poorer parishes in Jamaica on a mission trip. On this second international missions journey for me, God gave me such a life-altering revelation.
We are called to, ‘Live Jesus and squeeze in life’. This is in opposition to living life and squeezing in Jesus.
You might be saying, ‘No duh’, but can you say you’re able to claim this each day? Life gets busy and demanding. Jesus is not demanding. Living Jesus requires a conscious, dedicated, disciplined decision. And this decision can be required each minute.
As I typed this last paragraph, the song, ‘Just Give Me Jesus’ by Unspoken came on the radio. I thrive on these God moments.
The Bible points us toward living for Jesus repeatedly. Here are a few examples:
What are the feelings and thoughts that come to mind when you consider the word ‘RETIREMENT’?
I am finding one of four answers from executive men who are nearing this transition.
I have been planning with fitness, travel plans, family plans, hobby plans and can’t wait to retire.
I am consumed with reaching my final goals at work and succession planning, so I’ll deal with retirement when I get there.
I am not looking forward to retirement, so I plan to die at my desk.
I am being coerced to retire before I am ready, and I am very unhappy about it.
No doubt there are other scenarios, but these are those that have been communicated most frequently.
Major Life Transitions
In life, we all traverse many transitions. Some are small and others are large. Some are planned, even eagerly anticipated, while others come out of nowhere.
Some of the major transitions in our life are:
Choosing a career
Changing jobs or careers
Losing a loved one
There is a planning process that can be used to prepare for most of these major transitions. Consider the number of life skills training, wedding planning, child preparation, career building, and grief counseling resources that are available. These transitions can be very difficult, and the help and counsel of wise experts can make the leap much more manageable.
Retirement Wellness Strategies
We exist to help you strategically plan for retirement. This process will benefit you the most if you start about 2 years prior to retirement. This will minimize the surprises and disappointments that are common with unplanned retirement.
You will have
Your personal board certified specialist health advocate to walk through all medical and health encounters
A thorough health review to enter retirement with optimal health and stamina
Risk identification and minimization based on your personal and family history
Planning tools to avoid the unexpected
A retirement strategic plan for building a meaningful active next life phase
Contact Dr. Michelle Fritsch today at firstname.lastname@example.org 410-472-5078. Learn more at www.retirewellness.com.
As we enter this New Year, consider the imposed transition of the calendar. This is a good time to think about change, new goals, and exciting possibilities.
From way back in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, we have verses of promise for the future.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
What about the changing of years brings you hope?
What brings you sadness?
How adaptable are you to change?
I have been accused of creating change on purpose, so I’m definitely in the camp that appreciates and promotes change. I have many friends who find change very difficult and often unnecessary. Where are you on this spectrum?
I find great hope in the many verses that explain God’s promises of provision, even during change.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.