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Happy Birthday to Me

Classroom of Life
by Laurie Lechlitner

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017

March is birthday month for my husband Brian and me. We are turning 57, which is a far cry from 27.

I think each season of our lives is marked by dreams and accomplishments we hope to live out. However, some of the things that were important to me as a teenager, are certainly not important now.

"Anyone can become a star," a young man told me recently. He'd just gotten the lead in a musical production. "If you give it all you've got, you can do anything!"

I laughed to myself, remembering the youth taking voice and dance lessons. "I can do anything!" I exclaimed. I was 17.

By the time I was 19, a casting director asked me to walk across the stage chewing gum and acting like a floozy. I gave it my best shot. "You just don't have it, kid," he remarked. I went home and cried.

I have since learned that hard work and a strong will does not always get the job done. No, even if I give it all I've got, there are some things I will not accomplish.

I was married in my 20s. We knew we'd have kids eventually. Everybody has kids, don't they? Brian got the mumps. I had female problems. We did not become parents.

"Why don't you adopt?" a well-meaning friend suggested.

We hated to tell her that we really didn't want to adopt. But we do like kids.

Because we had no children of our own, we were able to minister to other people's children. We began working with juvenile offenders. Then church kids.

I earned my degree when I was in my 30s. Bethel College, Mishawaka, was a marvelous institution. I was a Biblical studies major with a minor in Biblical languages, a scroll-head, really.

"You ought to take a journalism class," a classmate suggested. "And then there's that photography course."

"I'm going to be a minister!" I asserted with a laugh. "Those courses are for people who want to be newspaper reporters and photographers. Imagine that!"

Although I have ministry credentials, I make my living working for newspapers and doing photography. But when I was 34, I believed as a minister I would change the course of history. NOT!

When I turned 40, the hot flashes started. "Look at me sweat!" I'd tell Brian. "And I'm just sitting here doing nothing."

If 40 comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb. I opted not to take hormonal therapy and got real depressed for a while.

By the time I was inching up towards 50, I felt much better. "I'm going to lose 100 pounds," I said. And I did. I earned my nickname "Skeletor" during that period of my life. "You're just too skinny," stated my brother-in-law Stanley.

I went through a kind of female midlife crisis and even bought myself a skimpy two-piece bathing suit, with a skirt, of course, and some designer jeans.

"Why are you wearing rhinestones on your backside," a church ministry supervisor asked me one Wednesday evening. Then she burst out laughing.

My designer jeans are now at the back of my closet. For one thing, I can no longer get into them. For another, elderly ladies don't wear rhinestones on their backsides.

Nearing the age of 60, I'm coming to terms with life and getting fat again. Yes, someday I'll cross the Jordan. However, I want to see England first.

Laurie Lechlitner can be contacted by email at Lauriel

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