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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

Never Too Old
Date Posted: April 23, 2005

As a thirty-something mom, I sometimes feel "this is my life"?!

Maybe I'll never go back to school for that master's degree or get an exciting job or travel to the British Isles to research my heritage. Some days it's hard to plan past ball practice and supper, much less career changes and years into the future.

Besides, I'm supposed to be planning for my children's futures' right? I'm supposed to be settled into whatever I'm doing for life and be content with it. Right! I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up!

But I have personally known many examples of women who thought they were never too old to start something new, contribute to the world and have fun.

My grandmother came from a frugal farm family. However, they were very much in favor of higher education. Although two of her siblings earned college degrees, my grandmother had no interest in being a school teacher. (One of the few careers accepted and encouraged for women in the early 1930s.)

She wanted to be a beautician, or hair stylist as we say today. Her parents told her they would be happy to pay for her college education, but not for beauty school. It wasn't respectable or dependable enough.

So my grandmother married and did what farm wives do. My mother was born, and after she was nearly a teenager, and old enough to help with meals and look after herself, my grandmother went to beauty school.

She ran a shop for many years out of her farmhouse. I remember being there while she was working when I would go to stay in the summer. She had fun and her customers loved her. She continued "doing hair" unofficially well into her seventies.

That wasn't her only late-in-life learning experience. She had given my mother piano lessons and I had taken them, but my grandmother had never learned. When she was in her sixties she decided it was her turn. She never became a virtuoso, but I think she was proud that she mastered the basics as an "old woman."

Perhaps the piano wasn't enough excitement, because she also took a course in clown school. She thought it would be fun to dress up for birthday parties or go to the nursing home to cheer people up.

(I don't know if it's in the genes, but if so, I hope I don't wait until I retire to try something new.)

Another woman, or I should say couple, who inspired me are missionaries our congregation has supported for many years. Don and Norma Burney, who had to retire a couple of years ago due to health problems, were missionaries in Japan for several decades.

They planted churches there and worked to spread the gospel. When they were in their seventies they felt called to take the gospel to Russia, and set about learning a new language and moving to a country which was culturally and politically very different.

Imagine the courage it must have taken to make such a move. Yet I struggle with whether to enroll in graduate school or apply for a job which would require my family to move out-of-state.

I believe physical life should mirror spiritual life. If I am committed to continue growing in knowledge and wisdom of the Lord, then I should not be afraid to continue to try new things which might better equip me to serve him; put me in contact with people who need to know him; or set an example of courage for someone else.

"Lord, help me not to think I'm too old, and not to wait until I am."

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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