Hope you all had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July. I was fortunate enough to watch a neighboring city’s fireworks from the comfort of my living room. If I hadn’t already put my nightgown on, I would have sat on the porch to watch. I realize how little so many of the holidays have an effect on me the more I age. I’ve really become a hermit type person. It’s a good thing I can use my creative nature to provide engaging activities. I have, however, lost my ability to be conversational. I tend to listen more than contribute when I’m with other humans. I don’t suppose that’s a bad thing. We do need to listen more to what others are saying, especially God.

In my silent observation of nature, I think about God and how He created us to be like Him. I know how far short I fall on this scale, and I’m humbled to know he loves me despite my imperfections. Our world is so full of chattering, with everyone trying hard to be the voice to be heard, it is difficult to sift through the noise and choose. Therefore, I have chosen to avoid the news, and the clamor outside and around me. I just want to hear what God is saying.

With Him I find peace. I’m a nature loving person who doesn’t have the courage to go off alone in nature any longer. I realize older people are vulnerable to those who see them as easy targets. I’ve become a bit paranoid, I guess. I miss being able to commune with nature when my hubby and I would travel together. But those times are over.

So now I sit on my porch or in front of my windows and look at the views God has created. And I listen. And I’m thankful.

The Blessings of Life

Today I’ll be spending the afternoon with my granddaughter, who just turned 17, as we celebrate her birthday watching the movie Top Gun – Maverick, followed by dinner after. I have enjoyed sharing one on one time with my grandchildren for many years on each of their birthdays. The last birthday we do this is on their 18th. In three years, all my grandchildren will be 18 or older. Hard to believe how fast the years have passed.

I was thinking this morning of how special our grandchildren are to us, and how different from when our children are born. With our children, we learned with them as they grew. We made mistakes, we worried, we prayed and tried our best. Then one day, we were holding the child of our child in our arms. This little one became the responsibility of our child to raise. We were at a different stage of life and these little babies were ours to spoil and send back to the safety of their parents’ arms.

I’ve heard my children say many times: “That’s not the woman I grew up with.” And one day, they will hear the same thing. Life is a circle. I feel blessed to be part of a never-ending circle of life. As my grandchildren come of age, I no longer carry a picture album in my purse to show to everyone I meet. Times have changed. My grandchildren are getting married and having babies of their own. Now I hold great grandchildren in my arms. And when I do, I remember God telling Abraham He would make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. He has carried through on that promise, and I thank God I am part of those descendants, as are my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

A Word Can Change A Life

Our words are powerful. The Book of James teaches us that none of us can tame the tongue. With offer blessings and curses from the same tongue. Ugh. Have you ever stopped to think about that? About your words?

Looking back, I see how I’ve failed in the past to use kind and encouraging words. Instead I spoke through my own pain trying to wound another, and I’m sure succeeded. I sinned. And by doing so, I caused pain not only to another, but brought more pain upon myself. But words cannot be unspoken or unheard.

As I have matured in Christ, I hope I’ve become less apt to speak without thinking. Words can hurt or encourage. I want to be an encouragement to others when I speak. Last fall, a follower of my blog, Andy Oldham, commented on one of my posts that I should add my books back for sale on Amazon. He didn’t realize how much I needed encouragement to come out of a boring retirement. I’d been receiving signs from God not to waste the gift He gave me. This was another, and one that gave me courage to move.

This word of encouragement led to the rising of the passion to write again. To share stories of how God uses the pain and brokenness in lives to create a new faith-based life through forgiveness and trust. Katy’s Heart, a book God asked me to write years ago, came to fruition because God used one of my reader’s to light a fire. Thank you, Andy!

Katy’s Heart was published in digital format on June 7, and paperback on June 9. The reviews on Facebook have been encouraging. All glory goes to God. I write always after prayer and seeking His wisdom. God never fails!

Some “reviews” left in comments on Facebook.

“I have just finished reading Katy’s Heart. By far the best inspirational and heart felt book. I enjoyed every page from beginning to end. Carol Ann always puts her heart and soul into her books and I recommend everyone should read this one.”

“LOVE your book. Can’t put it down!! I’m in awe of your talent.”

“I started this at 2 AM and am on chapter 13….I love it….”

“Just finished your new book on Kindle. It was AWESOME!! Amazing work! Hope you have a great day. Love you Carol Ann Erhardt!”

Word of mouth and Amazon reviews are the only advertising I do. I encourage anyone who reads my books to please leave an honest short review on Amazon and tell your friends.

Use your words to encourage others and not to hurt them. If they hurl insults and curses at you, do not retaliate. Whisper the name of Jesus for strength and to provide a protection, and then pray for the ones who mean to do you harm. I speak truth in telling you how a word of encouragement from a virtual stranger changed my life. Be that person in the lives of others.

The Woman in the Mirror and The Woman Inside

I am a morning person. I wake early each morning to thank God for the night’s rest and the gift of a new day. Each morning I see a woman in the mirror who is like a stranger. She doesn’t look like the energy driven woman inside me. The morning hours are my most productive. I have tons of energy. But as each hour passes, the energy decreases.

This morning I was cleaning the glass on my storm/screen door before 7:30am. One of my neighbors was walking her little dog. I waved and smiled. The sun was shining through the cloud cover and everyone’s garden areas glowed with beautiful colors. I planned to write this blog from my porch, but it is not quite sixty degrees, so a little chilly for me.

I will go out with my Bible and a cup of tea soon because that is where I feel close to God. When I first saw this condo, I felt God had led me here, so I never looked at another place. This was the first, and I knew, just knew, it was going to be my last residence on earth. I get teary-eyed whenever I stop and bask in God’s creation, whether looking through my office window, like now, or sitting on the porch. It’s like Psalm 23…”my cup runneth over.”

The mirror mocks me each morning. The woman staring at me is not the one inside me. The one inside me is young and full of dreams. She’s energetic and can do anything she sets her mind to do. But the woman in the mirror reminds me this body is temporary and is prone to deteriorate. And so, I sit here with my cup of tea, anticipating the new body and new home awaiting me in Heaven.

In the meantime, I will dream, give thanks, and try hard to age gracefully, and appreciate the woman in the mirror.

Unexpected Breakdown

Saturday while I was doing laundry, I suddenly began to cry. Not just tears, but hard sobbing. I finished folding the clothes while I continued to sob, until I finally needed to lie on the sofa. I missed Templeton so much. But then I began to think of his brother and sister, who preceded him to Rainbow Bridge.

As the feeling of loss consumed me, it grew worse. Emotions of being without so many loved ones drew me deeper into depression. My dad and mom both gone, my husband, my son, my “bestest” friend and her husband (also a dear friend), and now all three of my sibling cats. My heart was burdened with loss and grief.

Throughout the day, I would burst into tears as I felt all alone. Usually something will trigger a small breakdown, but this was the worst I’ve experienced in many years. Life is not always smooth. There are hills and valleys. This was a sudden drop into a deep valley with steep hills on all sides. It was a time when I couldn’t find the words to ask God for help. It was a time to just call out to Jesus to help me and to recite Psalm 23.

Sunday was a better day. Rejoicing and praising God is greater than any medication. I had lunch after church with my best friend. We talked about life, the past, and laughed a lot. Awesome medicine. I spent the afternoon coloring.

And now it is Monday. Today I’ll begin working on formatting my soon-to-be released novel, Katy’s Heart. The sky is cloudy, but it is a pleasantly warm day with a nice breeze. I’ll be Skyping with another dear friend, also an author, this morning. We Skype every week, though we haven’t seen each other in person for a long time. Since we both have books in the publication stages, we are planning a get together soon.

The day is overcast, and a few raindrops just kissed my office window. I’m grateful for this day, grateful for every breath, every scent, and give praise to God for His healing in my time of need. I know I will be reunited with my loved ones one day. Our parting is temporary. I don’t know if I’ll see my furry babies in heaven, but I can hope. God created all animals, and I know there are horses in heaven.

Aging gracefully with God is an ongoing process for which I give thanks.