I just want to say that I am so, so happy to be fifty years old!  I know I’m supposed to be dejected, and feeling old and useless, but I don’t feel that way.  Not one little bit.  I’m not one to spend time whining about what’s happened before, but for the sake of remembering with thankfulness, I’ll say that there were many times when we all wondered if I’d see thirty years old.  Or forty years old.  Or fifty years old. 

In my mid-twenties, there was the tumor (while I was pregnant) that the doctors were so sure would be cancer that they told me to begin settling myself with ending my pregnancy.  They were so sure, but they didn’t know what my God can do.  I didn’t end the pregnancy (I wouldn’t have, regardless), Brad was born, the tumor wasn’t cancer, and I made it. 

In my early thirties, I started having strokes.  Wow, not fun.  Not what you expect when you’ve got four school-aged kids.  I had a pronounced foot-drag, my left hand didn’t work so well, and I forgot words sometimes.  I worked HARD to improve those things.  About the time I got better, I had another, larger stroke, this time while home alone with my kids.  Frustratingly, no doctor could really determine what was causing this to happen.  Migraine headaches?  The weird hole in my heart?  A clotting disorder?  Even the esteemed Mayo Clinic couldn’t figure it out, although I spent one very lonely Thanksgiving and birthday away from my family, in the Mayo rehab unit.  They did help me walk better, though, so that was good.

My late thirties brought many issues with trying to control the strokes, taking blood thinning medications, then figuring out how to manage the issues the medications brought.  A routine check up found a lump on my thyroid, and a series of tests found it to be cancer.  Two surgeries in five days revealed it to be the most serious type of thyroid cancer, and determined that it had left the bed of the thyroid.  Treating it was not fun, but pretty awesome to me, since it’s a cancer that actually has a pretty safe and effective treatment.  However, it has to be checked yearly, which requires weaning off of the thyroid replacement meds.  That makes me pretty sick and weak and tired for about six weeks each year.  Not fun, but manageable.

With my forties came a return of the cancer, treatment, some heart surgical testing, blood transfusions, a hysterectomy, and eventually a giant tumor removal.  That one “should have been” cancer as well, and wasn’t.  Another bullet dodged.

I can’t even count all the surgeries I’ve had… I get lost somewhere around fifteen.  I honestly don’t understand why God keeps saving me.  I’m very much ready to see heaven, and live forever with Jesus.  I really am!!  (I hope you are, too, and if you’re not sure that you are, I’d love to talk to you about it.)
OK, now that I’ve talked about all that, I never need to mention it again!  Hey, there was no need for you to applaud that I’m shutting up about it.

A year ago, on my 49th birthday, I posted a Facebook note here about my “year of Jubilee.”  Here’s part of what I said:

In the Bible, the year of Jubilee happened every fifty years, and was about freedom and inheritance.  If a person had fallen on hard times and sold himself as a slave, in the year of Jubilee he became free.  If he had sold his family's land, it was returned to his possession during the year of Jubilee.  This was how God provided perpetual freedom and inheritance for His people.  The year of Jubilee happened (usually) just once in a person's life, so it was not something to be used casually.

So, how does this work for me?  I haven't sold myself as a slave, or surrendered my inheritance.  But I have been in bondage to some destructive thought processes.  I've been a slave to habits.  I've surrendered some of the joy of my existence.  It's time for me to celebrate my Year of Jubilee by releasing my hold on all things negative, and reaching out toward the good things that God has for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t accomplish everything I meant to accomplish.  I did not complete my reading of the Bible, for instance.  I’m still working on it, and hope to complete it in my 50th year.  It’s been a great year of study, and I will be finishing it, even though it’s taking me longer than I’d planned.  I did a very honest assessment and found an area in which I was holding on to some “hurt.”  I’ve let it go, and have forgiven.  Soon, I will have also forgotten. (Maybe that’s a benefit of being “old.”)  :-)   I’ve always been a person who finds joy easily, but this year I’ve been even happier, and focused on being more positive.  I’ve worked on expressing gratitude more often.

I’m ready to take on the next part of life.  I’m surrounded by God’s love, by (and I mean this quite literally) the best family ever, and by a safe, warm, and happy home. 

It’s OK if you call me “old”… I’m quite proud to be fifty.  I’ve laughed so much that it’s wrinkled my face, worried enough to cause some gray hairs, and managed to wake up every day for fifty years.  When the day comes that I do NOT wake up, I know beyond a shadow of any doubt that I’ll wake up face to face with the God I’ve served my entire life, I’ll see the faithful ones who have gone ahead, and my loved ones will soon join me there.  I’m going to live forever, so the number here is just that… a number. 

Go ahead… call me old.  I’m honored.