Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Young at Heart April 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 10:53 pm

photo 5

I was recently watching an NBA playoff game between the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks and overheard something that caught my ear. “You’re the youngest you’ll ever be today” the announcer said about some coach who said that to some player at some time. I didn’t get all that part but I heard the quote itself loud and clear. I heard it and I loved it. I think I may have even tweeted it or Facebook statused it. I liked it that much. I am indeed, not getting any younger.

Growing old1

But, I also don’t want to feel old. Maybe it’s because I just returned from my alma mater for my last ever “Mom’s Weekend” with my daughter. Something about going “home” to OU makes me feel young again. Hanging out with college kids at college hang-outs can do that. So does getting together with fellow moms I went to college with and stay in touch with to this day. Seeing our daughters go to the same exact places we did many moons ago has a way of making us feel young and invincible all over again. And it’s not just me. Other moms were right there with us. Moms of my daughter’s friends and random moms I ran across, all letting their hair down and having fun. I guess you could say we partied like it was 1981.

Each Mom’s Weekend has somehow or another leant itself to a song that ends up being the “theme song” of that weekend and one of them is Fun’s “We Are Young.” Ironic or prophetic?

Who wants to get old? Not me!

But, once back in my suburban routine I catch myself acting like a woman whose best times are behind her. I write, I read, I organize, I decorate, I watch too much TV, and I piddle around the house. This is all well and good though. None of us, me included, want to be “that” mom who doesn’t act her age and thinks she’s much younger than she is. But, at the same time there’s no reason to act like a 70-year-old either. It’s a fine balance and it’s one I vow to achieve.

There’s one problem: I’m a home body. I love being home but I also love being with friends and family. Maybe I just don’t like making the plans. I’m bad at that and I’m sure my close friends would agree. Go to a movie? Call me. Take a road trip? I’ll drive. Dance in the clubs? Let me get my dancing shoes!


That’s one of my favorite quotes (and reminders!) from one of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin. It’s scarily true. Don’t some days just drag on but years seem to fly by? Consider it Exhibit A, B, and C for why we need to live those years with the hearts and minds of a child opening Christmas day presents or a dog coming across an open gate.

Don’t get me wrong. By “staying young” I don’t mean Botoxing and filling your face ‘til you look like a Housewife of you name the place, being a “cougar” (I even hate that term…so not clever or original), or wearing clothing that’s too tight or not age appropriate. It’s also not about living in the past or not growing up. It’s aging with dignity. It’s living life to the fullest but with taste and style.

They say laughter is the best medicine and I tend to agree.  People seem to take themselves waaay too seriously and in doing so, miss out on so many of life’s little gems. We go and go and get and get and then we find ourselves old and often alone. That’s not my idea of “the golden years” and I venture to guess it’s not yours either.

“The only person who is with us our entire life is ourselves.”

In researching this topic, I came across an article that began, “As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend.” I thought, “That’s me.  To a tee!” Also significant to me was the advice to “Enjoy the simple things. When children are young, the simple things are all they can afford and they love them. Same with college students and retirees. Start appreciating them again, now.” Gotcha.

Yep, my life isn’t perfect but it’s my life and I want to have fun. I’ve made peace with my past and I’ve learned I don’t have to win every argument. I’m also trying not to compare my life to that of others and am realizing I really don’t like secrets.

Growing old

I feel blessed to have to color my gray hairs, apply eye cream on my crow’s feet, and put essential oils on my knees and back. I’m also trying to be more positive about things. I would love to fit in a size 10 and wish I loved to exercise, but I’m also grateful for all the yummy food I’ve been blessed to eat and short walks with my dog. I will keep pushing myself to return to yoga and workouts but I will also continue to put too much creamy dressing on my salads. I’ve always said, I’m not overweight because I’ve eaten too much salad dressing!

You may have never heard of Regina Brett, but she wrote something remarkable.  At the ripe old age of 90.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer printed her “45 Lessons Life Taught Me” and it’s since become the most requested column.  Here are just some of the 45 lessons that I spoke to me:

  1. Stay in touch with your family. Your job won’t take care of you when you’re sick, but they will.
  2. Save for retirement beginning with your very first paycheck.
  3. If a relationship has a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  4. Everything can change in the blink of an eye.
  5. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.
  6. Over prepare then go with the flow.
  7. Believe in miracles.
  8. Your children only get one childhood. Do everything in your power to make it a good one.
  9. If we threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d probably grab ours back.
  10. Envy is a waste of time.

I also liked her advice to “burn those candles, use nice sheets, and wear good shoes. Don’t save anything for a special occasion. Every day is special.” Her words of wisdom made me think of my friend Karen who recently moved into a new home. She and her husband are empty nesters and I loved when she told me she gave all her every day dishes to her son and is going to only use her good china.  You go girl!

Great advice, right?  So are these “Several Small Ways to Stay Young:”

  1. Throw out non-essential numbers, including age and weight.
  2. Keep only cheerful friends in your life. Grouches pull you down.
  3. Keep learning. Take a class. Learn to paint. Never, ever let the brain get idle.
  4. LOL. Literally. Laugh often, long, and loud.
  5. Don’t worry about situations beyond your control. Let it go.
  6. Let the tears happen and let others see you cry. Grieve but then move on.
  7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, or hobbies. Make your home your comforting refuge.
  8. Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it’s not, improve it.
  9. Don’t take guilt trips. Go to the mall, to a foreign country, to a beach, but not ever, ever on a guilt trip.
  10. Tell the people you love that you love them every chance you get.


I recently bought a shirt with a glass of wine on the front and the caption “half full.” When I saw it, it screamed “buy me Carla.” It’s as though it was telling me to take life by the horns and see it for what it is: a gift. A daily gift. That’s my goal. Live life with my cup of life half full. I want to relish in the joy of being imperfectly young at heart and if that means dancing to Miley Cyrus songs in a college bar one weekend a year, I’m in.


Scheduling God April 12, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:03 pm

calendar book

“Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are Lord.  Help us to spend them as we should.” 

Ps. 90:12


Of all the many Lenten emails I received daily several really made me stop and think.  One of those instructed readers to “examine your calendar and your checkbook.  What do these tell you about the gods you serve?”  Ouch.


I pretty much live and breathe according to my calendar.  Make that calendars.  I have one in my kitchen, next to my desk, on Google, on my phone, and for work.  Sometimes I make myself crazy updating and syncing them, but in the end they actually bring me peace of mind.  I love the serenity of knowing I will not forget something because it’s on my calendar.  I’m a “write it down” kinda girl and what better place to write something down then on my calendar?


Checkbooks.  For many they are thing of the past but our household still uses one and keeps it updated religiously.  Manually.  In pencil.  I know, crazy right?


In glancing over my calendar and checkbook though, how many entries do I see devoted to God?  Naturally I don’t have to write down “go to mass” every Sunday because that’s a given.  I do write down the Sundays I volunteer as a Hospitality Minister and the monthly bible study I am blessed to be a part of though.  In the checkbook I found donation entries to our church’s weekly offertory.  But is that all?  In looking deeper, I don’t think so.


“God does not call the equipped. He equips the called.  Go serve!”


I received that message from my friend Jane one day online and I loved it.  It inspired me that day and inspired me to take a second look at my calendar and checkbook.


Does helping the Austin Dog Alliance yesterday evaluate potential therapy dogs serve God?  I like to think so.  Does teaching my preschool class the real meaning of Easter and all about Jesus count?  I certainly hope so.  What about recent donations to Easter Seals and a philanthropic run/walk?  I like to believe those entries in my checkbook are serving the will of God as well.


To me, giving my time, talents, and treasures to a bigger cause serve God whether they are on my calendar or not. I also like to think they help lead us on the path of holiness.


To be holy is to be consecrated, according to some wise notes I received at my bible study.  We are all set apart for a purpose but the challenge is to act holy.  As they say, “actions speak louder than words.”  Way louder.


So, our daily task and calendar entries should maybe be asking what our mission for the day is and to “be a saint.”  Ask yourself, “am I in a state of grace?”  “What can I do today to help others?”  “Have I prayed today?”


It’s difficult to be or do any of the above if you are filled with resentment or bitterness though.  Start by eliminating self-pride from your life and adding more humility.  It’s important to remember you are not living for yourself.  We are called to be disciples and I was surprised to learn that one of our most important tasks is to do everything we can to get our spouses and children to heaven.  Wow.  Turns out family is way more important than many of us think and spending quality time with them is holier than we think.  Family is important to me and goes much further than my husband and my daughter.  I love and pray for my mom, my sisters, my nieces and nephews, and everyone in between.  Without them, I’m so much less.


Praying to eliminate unforgiveness in your life and in your heart is also important.  We all need to give forgiveness and ask for forgiveness.  It starts with justice and surprisingly doesn’t mean you trust that person again or release them from any debt you feel owed.  It simply means you are no longer going to hold onto the pain and the lack of forgiveness that hurt you.


“Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be.  My whole lifetime is but a moment to you and all my busy rushing ends in nothing.” Ps. 39


Adding more time for praying to your daily calendar is also critical. Slow down and pray.  Talk to God.  Listen.  Wait.  I start each day by reading my “Jesus Calling” devotional and find it truly talks to me and centers me.  If we don’t take time to pray what does that say about our daily task calendar?


Another way to look at things is to ask yourself “am I firmly rooted in Jesus?”  We all want to be that tree planted by the waters from the book of Jeremiah, but in order to do so our roots must be firmly planted in God in order to bear the fruit that pleases Him.


Honoring God is both challenging and simple.  How do you honor God?  By going to church?  By studying the bible?  Those are both great things, but don’t forget to honor God by what you do.  Make the decision to honor Him in all you do today and every day because you are His representative on earth.  Make Him proud.  Make Him smile.  Now that’s something to put on your calendar!


The “Good” of Good Friday April 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 3:21 pm



What is so “good” about today? Today Jesus died.  It’s a somber, dark day. I remember growing up my mom always said the weather was gloomy on Good Friday. And it was. This year it’s predicted to rain on Easter Sunday. What does that say? What is God trying to tell us?


The reason we call Good Friday “good” is because, as my Lenten reading said today, it is not the end of the story. “Sorrow does not get the last laugh.” I love that!  We Christians know that Sunday is coming and bringing with it the real goodness of the world. We just have to believe.


Still, how much do we actually know and understand about Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday? Do we really grasp how tortuous it was?  It is shocking.  It is horrible.


Several years ago I came across an article titled “A Physician Testifies about the Crucifixion.” I’m sharing what I learned from it today.


Dr. C Truman Davis researched the physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord’s passion because, he says, “I had taken the Crucifixion more or less for granted.” Haven’t we all to some extent? Even scripture leaves out the truly grim details of a crucifixion death because torture and execution by fixation to a cross was so common back then. But, what did Jesus’ body actually endure during it all?  What was the actual cause of His death?


It all began in Gethsemane, whereas Luke wrote that bloody sweat emerged from Jesus. Luke is the only one to mention this in his gospel and ironically, he was a physician.  Still, expert after expert has tried to refute this possibility, to no avail. The phenomenon is called Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, and is known to occur when one is under the amount of stress and agony that Jesus was at that time.


Soon after Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiphus, the High Priest.  Now the physical torture began. A soldier struck Jesus across the face.  Palace guards blind folded Him and taunted Him.  The spit on Him.  The hit Him.  He is defenseless but said nothing.


Battered and bruised, the following morning a dehydrated Jesus is taken before Pontius Pilate and preparations for His scourging begin.  He is stripped of His clothes and His hands are tied to a post above His head.  Roman soldiers then use a flagellum to beat Him.  The short whip consists of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached to the ends.  They whip Jesus at full force with the whip, starting with His shoulders, then His back, then down His legs.  As the beating continues, the subcutaneous tissues are deeply cut and start to bleed.  Underlying muscles tear and the balls of the whip produce large bruises, which break open and bleed when struck with the whip.  The skin on Jesus’ back is by then hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue.  It is determined that He is near death so the beating stops.


Jesus is close to fainting when He is untied.  He slumps onto the ground.  The Roman soldiers throw a robe on Him and place a stick in His hand.  They then get some flexible branches with long thorns on them and braid them into a crown.  The crown is placed on Jesus’ head, which begins to bleed.


The soldiers mock and hit Him and then take the stick from His hand and drive the crown of thorns deeper into His scalp.  They then rip the robe from His back, casing excruciating pain as the bloody wounds reopen.  It is then that the procession begins.


The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied to Jesus’ shoulders and our Lord begins the slow journey along Via Dolorosa.  The wood of the cross gouges into His already lacerated skin and the muscles of His shoulders.  He stumbles and falls and tries to get up but his human muscles have been pushed beyond endurance.  Finally the centurion selects onlooker Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross the reaming 650 yards to Golgotha.  Once there, Simon is ordered to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backwards with His shoulders against the wood.  The nailing begins.


Most depictions of the Crucifixion show the nails going through the palms of Jesus’ hands, but they actually went through His wrists.  A heavy, square, wrought-iron nail is driven through the first wrist and then the second; all the while being careful not to pull His arms too tightly to allow flexion and movement.  Jesus’ left foot is then pressed backward against the right foot and with both feet extended and toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed.  Jesus is now officially crucified and the cross is lifted in place.


As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating pain shoots along His fingers and up His arms to explode in the brain.  The nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves.  He pushes Himself up to avoid this torment and then places His full weight on His feet.  This causes searing agony as the nail tears through the nerves between the metatarsal bones in His feet.


At this point His arms fatigue and great waves of cramps sweep over His muscles, knotting in deep, relentless, throbbing pain.  He is now unable to push Himself upward.  Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act.  Air can be drawn into the lungs but cannot be exhaled.  Spasmodically, He is able to exhale.  It is during these periods of life-giving oxygen that He uttered “”Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” and “My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?”


It is not over though.  Jesus suffers hours upon hours of this limitless pain, cycles of joint-rending cramps, partial asphyxiation, and searing agony as the ripped flesh on His back rubs against the rough timber of the cross.  Slowly, His pericardium fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.  The loss of fluids in Jesus’ body has reached a critical level, the tortured lungs frantically try to gasp small gulps of air and the heart struggles to pump.


Jesus can feel the chill of death creeping throughout his tissues.  His body is now in extremes and he whispers, “It is finished.”


With one last surge of strength though, Jesus presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deep breath and utters His last cry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  Our Lord is gone.


Shockingly, the legionnaire then drives a lance through the fifth interspace between Jesus’ ribs to make sure He is dead.  He moves the lance upward through the pericardium and into Jesus’ heart, which releases blood and water.  This escape of fluid from the sac surrounding the heart is evidence that Jesus did not die the usual way of crucifixion, by suffocation, He died of heart failure.  Jesus, died of a broken heart.


As we remember our Lord’s passion, our hearts should ache and break.  I am humbled to think He endured such pain for me.  For you.  For all of us.  Who does that?  Jesus does that.  That my friends, is what’s good.