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The Examined Life

My last blog post introduced Bob Buford’s book, Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance.1 Buford begins his book by describing his successful career. Then, after experiencing the unexpected death of a family member, Buford describes his time of personal discovery during which he asks himself, “Is this as good as it gets?” Buford labeled that slice of time halftime because he equated it to a football coach adjusting his game plan between the first and second halves of a football game, thereby enabling the team to play their best game.

Buford realized that his experience was universal: Everyone comes to a point when they ask themselves,”Is this really as good as it gets?” So he wrote this book and created the The Halftime Institute to help other people create a “quiet space” for their own time of self-discovery that will enable them to live lives that are more: more creative, more impactful, more meaningful, more adventurous, more learning, more contribution. Buford’s answer to the question is, “No. Better things await you.”

Set aside a slice of your life for self-examination so that you can live more intentionally. Savor that time; don’t rush through it.

The Process of Discovery

Buford’s book picks up where Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward left off. Rohr talked about the spiritual change people go through as a result of loss and how that change leads to a “pouring out” of one’s life. Where Rohr’s book is descriptive, Buford’s book is prescriptive, guiding readers in the process of transformation from one way of living to another.

As I read Buford’s book, I felt as though I was working with a life coach who was helping me reflect on my past and work toward a plan for my future. Chapter 7, Taking Stock, begins the process, and there is also a section entitled Questions for Reflection and Discussion at the end of the book that includes several assessments.

Buford challenges his readers to create silence and intentionally spend time — weeks, months, or even a few years — to consider what comes next. Is there something you want to accomplish that you haven’t had time to do? What legacy would you like to leave? Invite your spouse into this quiet space; you’re on this journey together. Spend time in prayer, talking with the Wonderful Counselor and humbly seeking his direction.

Finding Significance

Dr. Timothy Keller’s article, “Discerning Your Calling,” served as a helpful reminder that all forms of legitimate work serve humanity. No job is more or less significant than another. Therefore, I don’t need to change my line of work simply because I want to contribute more significantly. God wants me to use my unique talents to serve within my unique community and circumstances.

All work, according to God’s design, is service. Through work we enrich one another and become more and more interwoven. When Christians do “secular” work, they function as salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13–16).

Farming and business, childcare and law, medicine and music—all these forms of work cultivate, care for, and sustain the created world that God made and loves. We are all ministers (priests) to the human community on God’s behalf.

– Dr. Timothy Keller

Dr. Wes Feltner’s sermon, “The Pursuit of Work,” also enriched my reading of Halftime.  In his study of Ecclesiastes, Feltner explained that people mistakenly work to find meaning in life. We think, “If I’m doing something significant, then I’ll be significant.” If we believe that, work becomes our savior. It provides us with a false sense of security, significance, accomplishment, and satisfaction. So even though God gave us work and it’s good, it is not our savior. Our true and lasting significance is found in Jesus, the savior. Because of the hope we have in him, our future with him in eternity is secure. Our identity lies in being created in the image of God, regardless of our abilities or disabilities. We can work and we can find rest in Christ. And we can find ultimate satisfaction and enjoyment in God.

I found the words of Keller and Feltner freeing while savoring my slice of time to plan the next steps in my own life.

If you’re experiencing some restlessness about where you’re going with your life, I encourage you to thoughtfully work through Halftime.

1 Buford, Bob. Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. Print.

Can I Skip the Crisis?

Can I have a constructive midlife crisis?

Today I began reading Bob Buford’s book, Halftime:® Moving from Success to Significance, and I’m especially curious to learn whether Buford’s book departs from or confirms the ideas put forth by Richard Rohr. As I read the preface, I anticipated that Buford’s experience might be very different.

Instead of facing a crisis as I approached middle age, I discovered that a new and better life lay before me. I called the process of discovery “halftime,” and the eventual outcome of this process led to my “second half.” The metaphor fit because, after a successful first half, I needed a break to make some changes in how I played the second. I had plenty of success over the preceding twenty years, and I wasn’t burned out or frustrated, but I felt something was missing and I needed to change my game plan. In retrospect I can see that I must have been divinely protected from chasing down the usual trails people take to find what was missing.

Compared to Rohr’s description of “a necessary suffering and humbling pain” moving people into the second half of life, Buford’s experience sounded a lot easier.

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A Necessary Suffering

crushed from every side

Yesterday I wrote a very brief overview of Richard Rohr’s book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. Basically Rohr says that people first build their identities, then experience a necessary suffering that serves as a crossover, and finally God calls them on to a further journey of faith during the second half of life. Rohr notes that not everyone chooses to move into that further journey, but rather they will spend their lives continually focused on building and maintaining their identities.

Does everyone agree with Rohr’s viewpoint? Probably not, yet it’s worth considering. I would say my own life does fit that pattern.

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A Midlife Crisis


At last I finished reading Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life1 by Richard Roar. This was the first book I read so far in which the author acknowledges a midlife crisis.

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A Blessing

Several days ago I wrote about leaving a legacy of a sincere faith, and today my husband shared an article with me from Verge Network that explained how easy that can be.

Dave Ferguson, who wrote Five Ways to Bless Your Neighbors, uses the word bless as an acronym.

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This Season

Look too far ahead or behind, and we risk missing the joy intended for here and now. There’s a certain richness in today that may never be around again.

This may not be your favorite time of year or your favorite stage of life. You may be dreaming of your next season already. Remember to fight that urge. There’s a certain richness in today that may never be around again. A year from now the landscape of life may look very different. Choose to enjoy the little things. Choose to enjoy the loud times or even the sometimes too quiet times. ‘Tis the season … to appreciate where we are, just as we are.

– Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Journal, page 24

A Sincere Faith

As Sophie Hudson opened part three of her book, Giddy Up, Eunice, she pointed out what may be obvious: “Lois and Eunice are mentioned in Scripture for, like, a minute.”

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well (2 Timothy 1:5).

She made two interesting points:

  • We need to embrace the idea of being an older woman (about 40 years old and up).
  • The legacy of these women is their sincere faith.

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No Greater Joy

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4 | ESV).

I Am an Older Woman

Four Generations of Jesus Followers

“Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior” (Titus 2:3-5 | MSG).

A Secure Future

The gossamer fibers of a milkweed pod represent an end to one growing season and hint at the beginning of a new one.


On days when I feel anxious about my future, I go to God’s word. Two passages that author Lysa TerKeurst highlighted in Uninvited have been especially helpful reminders to me of how God loves his children.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV).

… God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved … (Colossians 3:12 NIV).

When I “live loved,” my worry or fear is replaced with assurance and confidence in God and the sufficientcy of his grace for each moment.

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