About the Guest
God can use you, no matter what your age. Today Kay Strom talks about using your life skills and resources to further God’s kingdom well after retirement.
Kay Marshall StromKay Marshall Strom is the author of thirty-five published books. Her writing credits also include magazine articles, short stories, and two prize-winning screenplays. Kay is a sought-after speaker for seminars, retreats, and writers’ conferences. More and more, Kay’s writing and speaking are taking her around the world, from Ireland to India, from Mongolia to Sudan. She and her husband Dan Kline make their home in the Northwest.
God can use you, no matter what your age.
Bob: Have you done any strategic thinking or strategic planning about what may wind up being the final chapters in the story of your life? Here’s Kay Marshall Strom:
Kay: It used to be that people would retire because they were getting ready to die. Life was over. But that’s not the case anymore. Not only do people live longer, but people live longer in the middle of their active lives. So our active lives are longer. It’s wonderful to play golf and it’s wonderful to do crossword puzzles and it’s wonderful to sleep in, but you know what? You do that for a while and then you think, “What now?”
Bob: This is FamilyLifeToday for Thursday, February 3rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. As you look toward the latter chapters, there is work to be done, and you’re the guy to do it.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I feel like today’s program needs to come with one of those warnings, not from the Surgeon General –
Bob: Just one of those things to say, “Look, you’re about to get it. Dennis and the guest are about to give it to you, so . . . “
Dennis: You know what? I thought about this broadcast and I thought, “Would it be better to show up with a whip [crack of whip] or with . . .”
Bob: See? This is what I’m talking about, folks.
Dennis: “. . . or with a stick with a dangling carrot hanging from it.” I thought, you know, “The whip is not a good image.”
Bob: It’s like with your kids. Are you going to motivate them through positive encouragement or the whip?
Dennis: Yes. You got it. You got it. And so we want to motivate our listeners with a carrot. And here’s the carrot: Ephesians chapter two, verse 10 – “For we are his workmanship,” – that means we’re God’s work of art – “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” That means every person has been created in the image of God and God’s got a plan, if we’ll be obedient to him, that he wants to work through our lives and perform all kinds of good works through our lives.
Bob: And that plan doesn’t have an expiration date, right?
Dennis: No. I think our guest today, Bob, I think she’s going to pull out the carrot as well and motivate our listeners to want to be a part of what God’s doing today. Kay Marshall Strom joins us on the broadcast. Kay, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Kay: Thank you. It’s so, so nice to be with you.
Dennis: Kay is the author of a book called The Second-Half Adventure. Now this is not about football and playing the second half of a football game. This is about the second-half adventure of how you invest your life. Kay knows a little bit about this.
She is a partner with Kline Strom International, speaks at seminars, retreats and special events around the country, has authored 34 books, count them, 34 books, and this book is really a challenge to individual people to make their life count in the second half. Right, Kay?
Kay: That’s exactly right, and I would like to offer not a carrot to listeners, but carrot cake, because this is actually sweet –
Dennis: Oh now you’re really trying to sweeten this up, but you know what? I like the image . . .
Kay: It is.
Dennis: . . . because a good carrot cake, Bob –
Bob: I was not going for the carrot, but the carrot cake –
Dennis: You can go for that.
Bob: I just paid attention now.
Dennis: When you have food like that, not the health food – Bob didn’t come out of his seat for that. But really, that is a great illustration. What God offers people is more the carrot cake, and you’re just saying people need to, as they look at the rest of their lives, evaluate “How can God use me to touch other people’s lives?”
Kay: That’s right. So many people are looking for that. They’re saying, “What can I do?” I have heard people say over and over, “I wanted to move forward with the second half of my life. I wanted it to count. I wanted to do something that really made a difference, but I didn’t know how to start. I didn’t know what to do.”
So, this is nice to be able to say, “Here’s your carrot cake. Follow.”
Bob: Are you saying that as folks get to the second half there is something inside that starts to stir them to look at how they can invest meaningfully?
Kay: Yes, I think that is very right. The thing is, Bob, people start out life with great ideas and a great desire to make a real difference in the world, but then we get caught up in raising a family, making a living and living in the world. But at some point that longing comes back.
What is going to live on after me? What am I really doing this for? When the house bills are paid and the kids are raised, what am I really doing? And I think that’s where so many people find themselves in their 50s and 60s, even in their 40s, saying, “Wait a minute. Stop. Hold on. What am I really doing?”
Bob: Do you remember when you started getting that itch?
Kay: I do. I absolutely do. My husband had died. I had remarried, and I had never been a missions-oriented person. I always had thought of missions as sort of being a punishment for people who needed to be scolded by God for not obeying him.
Bob: He sends you to the mission field.
Kay: Yes, you had to go to India, you had to go to Africa and get your life together.
Dennis: Back to the whip again.
Kay: That’s right. That’s right. Back to the whip.
Dennis: You wear black, you know, and you have a miserable look on your face, and you have to go somewhere to a dark continent and eat, I guess, bananas, not carrots.
Kay: No, not carrots, and then you get to come home to your home church every couple of years and show slides. That’s what a missionary life was in my mind as I was growing up. But when my husband, Dan, and I went to Brazil for a speech that he was giving for business training, I went along because I was writing for a group called Partners International. I was doing some writing for them and I wanted to visit the fishermen that I had been writing about.
We got there and I saw this whole paradigm of coming alongside indigenous Christians and allowing them to do – enabling them to do what they could do better than we could ever do, and they cannot do without us.
That partnership idea of missions changed my life. I can write about unimportant things, or I can write about things that can help other people see that we are a global family of God, and if we work together, we can accomplish what alone we can never do. I thought, “That’s what I can do. I can do that.” I have loved writing along that line. But that has been my second-half adventure, is doing that type of writing.
Dennis: I think a lot of us grow up in church and the guys with the slide shows come back from foreign countries and they show their pictures and we think that’s cool and we applaud their bravery and their heroism and sacrifice in going overseas. And I think there’s a tendency for us to think that ministry is somewhere over there and it has to be kind of kept at an arm’s length away from where we live, what we’re doing today.
I think there are opportunities today in America for ministry as never before, especially around the topic of marriage and family. In fact, Bob, we’ve actually worked together with you to create a conference called Art of Marriage where we’re actually calling upon people much like Kay’s talking about who are sitting out there saying, “I want to make a difference, but how can I? How can I connect? What are ways practically that we can do that?” The Art of Marriage video conference is a way that someone can begin to make a difference in that way.
Bob: This is one of a number of resources that we’ve been working on to try to put tools in the hands of homebuilders, people who would say, “We want to help and reach out in our community and help strengthen marriages and families.” So what we did was we took the content from the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways and we put it in a video format that any couple can look at and they can say, “We can be the hosts for this. We can do it in our church. We can do it in our community. We can do it out at our lake house. We can do it wherever we’ve got a video projector or a big screen TV and a decent sound system, and we can invite some folks in and go through this conference that’s Friday night and Saturday” – that’s kind of how we built it.
Dennis: And see people’s lives changed in the process.
Bob: See the material start to do its work and God’s Spirit do work, and you get to be a part of the process of bringing folks to that, and marriages get the fine-tuning and the adjustment they need to help do a little course-correcting and get people pointed back in the right direction.
Dennis: And, of course, if a listener wants more information about how they can do what Kay’s talking about, make a difference, in this case, where they’re living locally perhaps, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
Bob: Well, and we’re aiming the weekend of 2-11-11, we are expecting to see more than a thousand locations around the United States where The Art of Marriage video conference will be premiering that weekend.
Dennis: Kay, what we’re talking about is deploying a thousand people, just like what you’re writing about here in The Second-Half Adventure, to make a difference where they live by creating resources that are simple, easy to use, and that they can plug and play.
Bob: I know a lot of folks, Kay, will hear about something like what we’re talking about or what you’re talking about and go, “You know, frankly it sounds like a lot of work, and I’ve worked hard all my life and now I’d rather rest and play some golf and sleep in and not have to do all of this work. I mean, I did that for a while. Now I’d just like to rest. What’s wrong with that?”
Kay: Well, of course there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s wonderful to play golf and it’s wonderful to do crossword puzzles and it’s wonderful to sleep in. But you know what? You do that for a while, and then you think, “What now? What next? Is this all there is?” It used to be that people would retire because they were getting ready to die. Life was over. But that’s not the case anymore. Not only do people live longer, but people live longer in the middle of their active lives, and so our active lives are longer.
I was thinking of when you were talking about the program that you’re talking about, if you have people who have lived married lives for years, they are able to be mentors to people who are just struggling with things that they have already worked through. What a wonderful gift it is to have these mature people to be able to help in the program you’re talking about.
Dennis: Yes, and one of the things you talk about in your book, is you talk about how people today have causes.
Dennis: They are passionate about something. I think there are a lot of our listeners that are passionate about marriage and family, but they are also passionate about doing something about a culture of divorce. The reason that I’m kind of bringing it back to this, Kay, is because I think for a long we have had that guilt in the church, feeling like we should make a difference, feeling like there is an assignment for me, but not knowing how to go about that.
That’s why, Bob, we came to you ultimately to create that video conference, to say, “How can you create something that you can put in the hands of somebody who cares about what’s happening to marriages and families today?” Perhaps it’s only with 10, 15, 20 couples. It doesn’t have to be a conference of 200 – 300, 400 people, but it can be a small group of people getting together to interact around what the Bible has to say about marriage and family.
Bob: And you talk, Kay, about your second-half adventure centering around writing, because that’s what you’ve done all your life. But most of us who have been married and have raised kids, whatever we’ve done vocationally or whatever special gifts we have, we’ve all had the experience of kind of slogging our way through the challenges of marriage. I know a lot of people – you were talking about somebody bringing their wealth of experience – a lot of people feel like, “Well, we did so many things wrong. We don’t really have anything we could share with anybody else.” The truth is, if you share the things you did wrong, that will help people know how not to duplicate your mistakes, right?
Kay: That’s right. The somewhat unwieldy subtitle of this book is, Don’t Just Retire- Use Your Time, Skills, and Resources to Change the World. But that’s actually what we’re both saying. People who have lived have developed these skills and resources. They have developed the tools and they have honed the tools so that they are in a position to use them for the good of others. And whether it’s next door, whether it’s in their church, whether it’s in another country, wherever it is they can use these exact same skills. And their wisdom is respected and of great use.
Bob: My favorite movie of all time is It’s a Wonderful Life.
Dennis: He tries to mention this at least on every other broadcast. Not every broadcast.
Bob: There are so many illustrations in It’s a Wonderful Life.
Dennis: You have made several illustrations . . .
Bob: As you’re talking I’m thinking about the scene – if you’ve seen the movie you know. Here’s Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed and they’re walking home from the big dance and he’s got his football clothes on and she’s wearing a robe because they got pushed into the pool. Anyway, they’re starting to connect as a couple. He’s starting to notice her and she’s always noticed him, and there’s a little romance in the air.
And there’s this old guy sitting out on the porch, and he’s watching the two of them, and he’s watching Jimmy Stewart talk and watching the two of them. Finally the old guy gets up and says, “Why don’t you kiss her?” And Jimmy Stewart looks up at him and says, “What’s that?” And the old guy says, “Why don’t you kiss her instead of talking?” Jimmy Stewart says, “That’s a good idea. I think I will kiss her. In fact, I’ll kiss her . . .”
Dennis: Yeah, he’s getting into it now.
Bob: He starts going with it. But here’s the line. The old guy on the porch finally gets fed up with the fact that Jimmy Stewart’s just talking and not doing anything. He says, “Aw, youth is wasted on the wrong people.” I watch that and I often stop and think, “Isn’t it funny how, when we get older, we’ve still got some life and vitality but we’ve got a whole lot more wisdom than we had when we were in our 20s, when we had lots of energy and not as much wisdom.” Now’s the opportunity to take the wisdom that we’ve earned over the years and start to deploy that for kingdom work.
Kay: Yes. When I was doing the research for this book, one young woman in a church that I was speaking at said, “But what we want is wisdom and experience. How can we get people who have gained this wisdom and experience to work with us, to teach us? We want them.” And it’s funny because I had just been talking to some people who were in their second half and they said, “I don’t think the young people want to hear what we have to say.” They do.
Dennis: Oh, yeah, they do.
Kay: They absolutely do.
Dennis: They really do. The second half of your life doesn’t have to be dull, boring and hung up in the doldrums. You can live an adventure in the second half of your life by having a mission and a purpose and getting involved investing in other people’s lives.
Kay: I talked to a man by the name of John. He had been the driver for a bakery truck all his life. He’d get up at four in the morning, drive his bakery route, and that’s what he did. He retired and he still woke up at four in the morning because that’s what he’d done his whole life. He thought, “What can I do? What can I do? I’m nobody but a bakery truck driver who wakes up at four in the morning.”
What he did was exactly what you’re talking about. He went through some training to answer questions online, and because people called at all hours, he would get up and man his computer at four in the morning and respond to people’s questions. That’s what he does every day. He’s not a trained counselor; he has gone through instruction as to how to respond to questions. If he gets to something he doesn’t know what to say, he knows who to refer it to. But that’s what his second-half adventure is.
Bob: And you think there are a lot of people like John, the bakery truck driver, who are channel surfing who need to turn off the TV –
Dennis: Oh absolutely! People are people having marriage problems and difficulties raising children around the world.
Kay: That’s right.
Dennis: And they need help and hope. So here’s the deal: If you’re a bakery truck driver, we’ve got an assignment for you. If you’ve got thirty minutes a week, an hour a week, we’ve got a simple way that you can get some training, really in less than a couple of hours, right, Bob?
Dennis: And you can go online and begin to serve the online community with answers from the Bible about how they can make life’s most important relationships go the distance.
Bob: And somebody listening might say, “You know, I don’t think that interests me, or I’d be good at that,” or “That doesn’t fit what I want to do,” or they hear us talking about The Art of Marriage conference and putting that on at their church and they go, “No, I’m not sure that fits either.” Really, Kay’s book is designed to say, “Okay. If those don’t, what does? Let’s stop and get creative.”
Back to what you read at the beginning of the program, Ephesians 2:10, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that he prepared before us that we would walk in them.” So what are the good works that he created for you to do so you could walk in them? Figure that out, and then get busy, right?
Dennis: Yes. Right. And what Kay has done here is really tackle the major issues that people face in addressing how best to use their lives during the second half: what the obstacles are, what kind of training they need, how do they determine where they best fit in? It’s a very short book, but it’s just chock full of great illustrations and practical advice on how you can make a difference where you live or in another country of the world.
Bob: And it really dovetails nicely with the book that your wife Barbara wrote with our friend Susan Yates for women called Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest, where they talked about a lot of the emotions and changes that go on for a woman when she enters into the empty nest phase of life, that chapter of her life. But one of the things they called women to is the same thing that, Kay, you’re calling both men and women to, and that is to invest these years in kingdom priorities.
Bob: I just want to encourage our listeners, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to get a copy of Kay’s book, The Second-Half Adventure, and get a copy of the book Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates wrote, Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest. We have both books available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can request them when you’re online at FamilyLifeToday.com; that’s FamilyLifeToday.com. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329, 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “TODAY,” and you can request copies of these books and we’ll make arrangements to get them sent to you.
You know, this is an exciting time of year for us here at FamilyLife. Our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways kick off next weekend. I think we’re in half a dozen cities next weekend, and in hundreds of cities all around the country we’ve got the premier of the new Art of Marriage video event happening in churches and locations all around the country – in fact, all around the world. It’s been exciting to see folks responding to that.
We’re getting ready for our first ever FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It cruise, and we’re taking a full ship for a week down in the Caribbean. That kicks off on Valentine’s Day, Monday, February 14th, so there’s a lot going on here at FamilyLife as we seek to try to provide practical biblical help for marriages and for families.
Of course our radio program continues every day, FamilyLife Today. Our website continues to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we just want to take a minute here and say thank you to those of you who make all of this possible. Our funding – 65 plus percent of our funding for this ministry comes from people like you donating to make this radio program possible, to keep the website up, to make all that we do possible. We appreciate that and we just want to say thank you.
We also this month want to express our thanks if you’re able to help with a donation of any amount, by sending you a four-CD bundle, a message from Dennis on CD about how to keep the romance alive in your marriage during rainy seasons, and then three CDs where we have a conversation with Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus around the questions women tend to ask about intimacy in marriage – the challenges that wives and moms face in that area and how to address those issues biblically. Those CDs are the thank you gift we’d love to send to you this month when you give a donation of any amount to support FamilyLife Today.
You can make that donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com. When you do, type the word “ROMANCE” in the key code box on the online donation form so that we know to send these CDs to you. Or, call 1-800-FL-TODAY, make a donation by phone and again, ask for the romance CDs when you make your donation. We’re happy to send those to you, and we do appreciate your financial partnership with us. It’s always great to hear from you, so thanks in advance for whatever you are able to do in supporting the ministry.
And we want to encourage you to join us back tomorrow when we’re going to continue to look at how we can invest well during the second half of life. Kay Marshall Strom is going to be back with us; hope you can be here as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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