Off the Stack: Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming

Recently, I had a little ego crisis. I was seeing myself through earthly eyes and struggling a little with what the world names me. Okay, so I was feeling old and forgotten.  Do you know God spoke to me right in the middle of that ugly place and called me beautiful? He not only called me beautiful, He called me desirable and He touched my heart in a way I won’t long forget. It wounded me a little, I have to say, but this limping is a stone in my shoe that I carry with me.
One of the things God used to speak love to me in this fragile state was a book my friend Monica sent me. Monica is a friend of the author and she wrote the foreward to this particular book. It just so happens that Monica sent me another book by this author a while back—a book that spoke to deep places in my heart about my longing for Home. So I knew I God was getting ready to speak something powerful into my life—I just didn’t know how desperately I needed to hear it.
The book? Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. This is a book about more than aging gracefully. It’s about seeing oneself—through the years—framed by the blue vault of heaven. The book originated with the questions, “What kind of old woman am I becoming?” and “Lord, how do you want me to think about the rest of my life?” And Jean Fleming’s reflective spirit benefits us all, because, as she says in the book, preparation is not only important, it’s Biblical.

“… I don’t know what the future holds. Will I be a widow? Face serious illness? Know loneliness and isolation? Much of what is ahead is unknown, but the known part is meat and bread for the soul. The known part, what God has revealed through His Word, is food for the journey …”

Jean reminds me that there is nothing that can happen in this life that God has not given provision for. She reminds me not to lean into my own flesh as I age, but to lean into the very Words that give life. Too often I need this reminder.
In an attempt to honor what God was planting in the fertile soil of her life, Jean started what she calls “an old woman file” in her fiftieth year.

“For twenty years, I’ve fed that file. I’ve studied Bible passages, collected quotes, and hoarded odd pages, snippets of conversation, and insights from books I was reading—whatever held the slightest promise of stimulating my thinking on this topic—all the while holding up one idea after another to the Scriptures, pondering and praying … The ideas I explore, pray over, and chew on form a body of truth-in-process for me. I catch glimmers, fully intending to watch over them like a hen over her hatch. I return to these forming ideas, asking the Lord to correct, enlarge, and refine them …”

Jean’s stewardship of these ideas culminated in this beautiful book that holds not only wisdom flowering from years of experience and walking with God, but the author’s lovely poetic voice as well. 
Isn’t that the kind of old woman I want to become? Beauty and wisdom. And a countenance that glorifies our good God.

Comments

  1. Monica Sharman says

    When He calls us beautiful/desirable and touches the heart in this way, it is wounding, yes. Not until now did I see that. And “this limping is a stone in my shoe that I carry with me.” So, it’s OK not to shake out the shoe?

    You already have that kind of countenance, friend. You glorify our good God. Thank you for sharing these words.

  2. says

    That you, beautiful Laura, would feel old and forgotten breaks my heart. And yet, I know the feeling all too well. I didn’t begin an “old woman file” but I did determine to be intentional about how I pilgrimage this season a few months before my 60th birthday when I declared I’d be “savoring sixty”. A friend created a book for me out of some of the photos and posts I shared as I prepared to enter this decade and it is a treasure to me. It’s a constant battle. We need each other to remind us of Truth. I’m adding Jean Fleming’s book to my wish list.

  3. pastordt says

    Ooooh, that sounds like a book I’d like to read. Actually, that sounds like a book I’d like to WRITE. Thanks so much, Laura, for your usual lyrical, thoughtful posts this week. I’ve not left comments often, but I am reading – please know that.

  4. says

    What a wonderful gift your friend gave you, Patricia. Yes, we do need each other to remind us of the beauty in every season. I have this dream that one day the women in our culture will celebrate the changes that come with age; see ourselves as God sees us. I long for that within my own spirit and for others as well. This book helped me see a little more clearly 🙂

  5. says

    Thank you, Monica, for these generous words. I owe you so much for introducing me to Jean’s work. Her words helped me to see it’s ok not to shake out the shoe :). (And we haven’t made it quite as far as the cover design for the book yet, but thank you for asking).

  6. Nancy Sturm says

    This sounds like a wonderful book. Since I’ve recently turned 65 (gasp! That sounds so old!) I might have to check it out. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  7. DeanneMoore says

    I am trying not to read Jean’s book too fast but finding it hard. It’s like she is sitting on the couch across from me and speaking into my life. Of course, as I approach my fiftieth, I have been asking some of the same questions and I love seeing Jean’s journey and how mine might take a similar path—or maybe not?? I just know I want to be on the “ascent” as I age with the same intent as Jean— to grow in my relationship with God all the way into eternity… and into His Presence. The second time I read it, I’ll slooowww down. 🙂 Promise!

  8. Jamie says

    So glad to find someone speaking into the lives of women my age. I just turned fifty and I have been asking for the past few years… Why are all the women a few years my senior talking to young mothers? Where are the women to speak into this season of life? Parenting adult children, empty nesting, marriage after 30 years,being the best Mimi… I will definitely be picking up this book! Would love to know of other women speaking to this season of life…

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