Welcome to Growing in Grace….at any age! Just as every plant has a timetable for its growth — from seed, to blossom, to fruit — Growing in Grace has been slowly maturing in the quirky recesses of my mind. Fertile ground, I think — but that might be questioned by those who know me best, and those who also know the chaotic twists and turns my life has taken since I first envisioned a blog site for Catholic girls.
But wait. Is this a blog site for Catholic girls? No, definitely not. That’s just what I thought it was going to be, three years ago, when the Growing in Grace seed was first planted in my heart.
Maybe in some future post I will share with you what that original site would have been like, but this is not the time for reminiscing. It is time to introduce myself and to share a little about the new vision for Growing in Grace… at any age!
My name is Elizabeth. Family and friends know me as Betty, but here, at Growing in Grace, I am Elizabeth. There is a reason for the name, and not just a fancy nom de plume to add an uppity elegance to my writing. In a future blog, I will share with you why the name Elizabeth is so important to me. (I will also share sometime how much I HATE that word blog! I am and always will be a writer, not a blogger. Hmm. Does that give you a hint to my age?
If not, here is another one: I have been happily married for 49 years and ten months. Tom and I will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary in June. We have three grown daughters, Lisa, Rebecca, and Christina, two wonderful sons-in-law, John and Monty, and one amazing (yes, that’s a Grandma talking!) grand-daughter, Lydia. You will soon get to know Tom better because he will be writing posts for Growing in Grace when I have cataract surgery at the end of May.
Throughout my life, I have worn many hats. In the 60’s, I graduated with a BA in English and Drama. I had heady dreams of moving to New York and becoming the next Dame Judith Anderson. But then (thank God!) I married Tom and nine months later, Lisa, our first-born, surprised us by arriving six weeks early. She gave my dreams a decidedly different twist. I became (as was the norm in that day) a stay-at-home mom.
Eventually, I added stay-at-home writer to my resume. I had a new dream: to write a historical novel set in WWII France. (Why WWII? Why France? I have no idea.) But then someone (very smart) suggested that I start with smaller writing projects. I took that advice, and began writing for magazines: all sorts, including bridal, religious, and eventually, children’s magazines, such as Highlights and Guidepost for Children. I also wrote Sunday School curriculum, which leads to the next rung of my resume ladder: teaching.
I became a Sunday school teacher, then youth group leader, then a home-school creative writing teacher. That twist in the road came about after a disastrous stint at home-schooling on my own. Just ask my daughter, Christina, what a mistake that was. Hmm. Maybe this story will be another candidate for a future post. Hey, it was good enough to be published in Today’s Christian Woman!
Teaching groups of home-school students whetted my appetite to become a “real” teacher. After acquiring a Masters in Teaching when our youngest went off to college, I became a 6th and 8th grade religion and language arts teacher at a parochial school in Portland, Oregon.
When I retired from “real” teaching in 2003, I continued to work with younger children in our parish’s RE program. It was there that the Growing in Grace seedling began to push through my imagination and into the serious planning stage.
I had already entered the “blogging world,” writing weekly Scripture meditations and a personal blog (that awful word, again, shudder!) for Catholic Finish Strong, a great website that you can find in the blogroll. So, I was ready to launch deeper into the blog (shudder) world with my own site. Then, “life” happened and the little green shoot that was Growing in Grace died – or at least I thought it did.
Health-wise, I hit a debilitating patch of troubles — first a knee replacement, then hand surgery, then a serious bout of pneumonia — that left me completely wiped out, with barely enough energy to get up in the morning.
With wrenching regrets, I retired a second time from teaching. I no longer had the stamina needed (!) to work with young people. Eventually I also had to stop writing for Catholic Finish Strong – another heartbreaking decision! Since both teaching and writing were such an integral, life-affirming part of my life, I felt completely lost – who was I? I felt empty, but too tired to think much about it.
A diagnosis of clinical depression seemed to throw a little light on my situation; but antidepressants and visits with the psychiatrist didn’t do much to lift the murky haze that had settled over my life. I was SO exhausted, SO achy, SO, as they say in social media, bleh. The only good thing going for me (at least I thought it was good) was that, finally, I was losing weight!! Of course, I didn’t feel like eating much, so that helped.
That was how things stood just one year ago. today. May 4, 2015. The day I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In the next post (hopefully on May 7) I will share “the rest of the story.” Why, for instance, I consider this last year to be the most blessed year of my life. And, why Growing in Grace, an idea of a website for Catholic girls, has morphed into a blog about aging! Oh, yes, and cancer.
Mostly though, Growing in Grace will be about the adventure of walking this scary path of growing older, with its inevitable pitfalls of pain (both physical and emotional), not just with my supportive and loving family, but most important of all, with the Prince of Peace. Walking with the Lord is not a new thing for me – I have no memory of being without God’s presence in my life. But walking with the Prince of Peace most definitely is a new experience.
Please “stay tuned” to find out how the three words, Peace, Cancer and Blessing, could ever coexist in the same sentence. And please feel free to leave me a comment or prayer request. I will get back to you! As were my readers at Catholic Finish Strong, you will always be in my prayers.
P.S. I promise that all future posts will be shorter than this introduction!
“Grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.”