By Laura Lee Leathers
Recently, Charlotte Hudson and I drove to Tupelo to visit with a wonderful friend who lives in an independent living community. Charlotte calls Dottie Hudson “Mama Dottie” (no relation), and I call her Miss Dottie.
You might be familiar with Miss Dottie. She has been a member of First Baptist Jackson for several years, served with a biblical counseling ministry, is an author, and was recognized in the December 2020 issue of MCL for her Christian leadership.
I first met Dottie and her late husband, Carl, when he was pastoring Main Street Baptist Church in Goodman. Over the years, Dottie and I have enjoyed tea parties, meals, and a writers’ group called Soul Scribblers.
For our visit, Dottie insisted we eat at the Sweet Tea & Biscuits Café. It was the perfect place for three friends to chum together. Later we toured her new neighborhood, and then it was back to Dottie’s home for a great cup of coffee.
I asked Dottie about the transitions she had encountered after Carl’s passing and what wisdom she would share with readers. She had three suggestions.
Dottie (right) and Charlotte Hudson (no relation) at the Sweet Tea & Biscuits Cafe in Tupelo
Evaluate your situation
Several years after becoming a widow, Dottie was faced with the decision to move from her and Carl’s home to an apartment. She had to consider where to live, how to downsize, and what heirloom items needed to be passed on to her children. Then about a year and a half ago, it was time to consider another move, this time to an independent living community.
These kinds of decisions can be taxing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. “Seeking the answer through scripture and prayer is very important. There is so much to pray about, and every stage is different,” Dottie said. “I have had a sense of peace through each transition.”
“When I knew it was time to be nearer to my daughter, I visited this retirement center. The complex was inviting, and I knew I was not coming here to sit and soak; instead, I saw it as a time for more growth in my life.”
Be realistic in your thinking
Dottie recommends asking yourself the following:
What can I do?
What do I enjoy doing?
What are your physical limitations and strengths? Are you engaged in daily exercise with strength training? Do you receive annual checkups? Create a “can do” list. It will help you have a grateful heart, focus on the positives, yet be aware of needed adjustments. Be honest with yourself: Note areas where you need assistance; note medical conditions that might require more care now and in the future.
“Be self-aware and don’t get depressed. (Think) ‘How can I change as things change in my life?’” states Dottie.
After moving to Tupelo, Dottie was asked to lead a Bible study for residents in her community. She initially hesitated but then agreed. It was a natural fit after teaching a Sunday school class for years. It is what she enjoys doing.
But she also learned she couldn’t do all that she wanted. She had to pull back and revamp. She isn’t teaching currently, but she is doing some biblical counseling.
Have a capable attitude
“I don’t want to miss my purpose. There is still work to be done for the Lord,” Dottie stated. “One of my daily requests is to ask the Lord, how can You use me today in this place?”
Watching Dottie interact with neighbors and visitors, Charlotte and I witnessed how God was using her abilities. She maintains a capable attitude. She engages people with a smile, a helping hand, an encouraging word, and a listening ear.
As we mature, our circumstances can change in an instant. Part of being prepared is to review the situation honestly, research options, and move forward with positivity. And remember Isaiah 46:4:
“Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.”
Laura Lee Leathers is a writer and speaker. Imagine Lois Lane, over 65, living on a farm. Her metropolis is the area of freelance writing. Her primary love interest is the Word of God. She digs for information, interviews fascinating people, offers a cup of LauraLeeLeathers.com.