Welcome to Above & Beyond Midlife!
My fancy, author name is Elizabeth Duncan Stretar, but I’m most commonly known to most as just “Betsy”.
I’m a wife, mother and grammie. I’m also a flight attandant.
I often refer to myself a “fly-writer” of sorts.
And this space that I call, Above and Beyond Midlife is where I live my crazy, full, mid-life life, out loud.
I was taught to sew at an early age (10) and dreamed about becoming a Fashion Designer. I attended a vocational high school fashion program and then chose an Haute’ Couture design college to prepare myself for my next chapter….to become a runway fashion designer.
(Haute Couture is just a fancy word for “high-end, custom design”)
But yeah… That didn’t happen (and oh my goodness I’m so thankful it didn’t!)
It seems that God was fashioning another plan for me; one that still overwhelms me and fills my heart with inexplainable gratitude.
Instead, I became the mom of these eight crazies, below.
(back to front = oldest to youngest) Todd, Grace, Carrie, Jake, Frank(ie), Brad, Hannah, Sam
I was a stay-at-home-mom during my early years of parenting. Once they got a little older, I launched a home decor & design business. I always loved creating beautiful things and putting them in beautifully organized spaces. So that’s what I did.
As my older kids started leaving home (next chapter) I began to excercise my creative muscles in other ways. I assisted my husband with admin tasks, led womens bible studies, helped plan and organize various ministry events, and served the children, youth, and women of my church in a varity of ways.
In 2000, I began working for a non-profit organization called, Young Life.
I had the priveledge of starting a faith-based program for teen moms in the Cleveland (Ohio) area called YoungLives; a ministry that now, almost 20 years later, is still thriving.
A few years later I handed off the local minsitry to a new director and became Young Life’s first YoungLives National Director. I was charged with the task of leadng and overseeing the foundational growth of YoungLives staff, training, camping, and resurces. I served in that leadership role for five years.
It’s an amazing priviledge I now have to serve on the Eastern Divison board of YoungLives and to observe the ongoing growth of this ministry which is now serving teen moms throughout the world and sharing God’s love message of hope with them. My prayer today for teen moms remains the same – that they would not allow their past, their sin, their fears, or their circumstances to hold them back from becoming MORE OF WHO GOD MADE THEM TO BE!
After leaving the non-profit sector in 2006, I completed my MA degree in Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary and worked as a college admissions advisor at the design college where I had previously studied fashion design as a teen and young adult. As an admissions advisor, I learned that I loved helping people use their God-given talent – reach their creative potential- so they would become MORE OF WHO GOD MADE THEM TO BE!
In 2008, My husband and I also started a non-profit called LeaderWithin (leaderwithin.org). We wanted to find a way to use our life and minsitry experience to support ministry leaders and young people. Frank and I have had the priviledge of designing and hosting LeaderWithin workshops that help church, organization, and student leaders discover more of their own personal leadership capacity so that they too become MORE OF WHO GOD MADE THEM TO BE!
(For more information about our workshops click here.)
After completing seminary training, I began to feel an internal pull to develop my love for writing and connecting with others through words, and I began praying about a way that I could write, but also earn a living.
At the age of 52, and with the encouragment of a flight attendant friend, (but not the one pictured below)….I became a main-line flight attendant.
Who does that …right?
Crazy! I know!
But my new wings signified much more than my next chapter, new career.
I knew becoming a flight attandant was God’s provision for me both economically and professionally. I felt called to write! So I did what most aspiring writers do….I attended my first legit writers confrences. I started following lots and lots of other writers I admired. It was atually Jeff Goins, Writer, who encouraged me to take my writing seriously and to start calling myself, a writer.
And then about three years ago, I found “my writing people” – my community of fellow writers…the sweetest of writers who have become some of the sweetest of friends.
We are hope*writers.
Every chance I had in my new fly-writer-life, I would write.
In the midst of launching this blog, Above and Beyond Midlife, and several non-fiction projects (yet to be published), I also began writing children’s fiction.
And then in 2016, it happened.
I became a published author.
My book, Acorn Gert and Brother Bert was written from a deep passion I have to help other discover, uncover and grow into becoming all God created them to be. You can click here for a signed copy to your special person, or feel free to hop on over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble
While I may have worn many hats in my life, my greatest joy comes from knowing that I’m a loved child of God – and that he is a much better life -designer than I could ever dream of.
Without God’s kind intervention, I know for certain that I would never have experienced the Above and Beyond kind of life that I am living.
It’s all his amazing grace! (You can read more of My Story here)
One Final Thought:
We are more than what we do.
For most people, mid-life is a season that entails a great deal of transition.
Kids leave home, our physical bodies start to freak out and do crazy things, career changes, life role shifts, etc.
And as we look into the mirror of our former and current selves as these changes take place, we relaize that times are a-changin’ and time is a-wastin’!
I believe that it’s right smack dab in the middle of midlife next chapter that God begins the transforming work of re-shaping our identity, worth, and calling so that we enter this season of life with a renewed sense of purpsoe and calling.
This “Above and Beyond Midlife” kind-of-life is ours for the taking.
I invite you to join me in the journey of discovering more of who God made YOU to be.
You are first and foremost a child of Creator God. The rest is simply about the unique person he created you to become and discovering your place in the world to live that out.
There’s much to discover! Are you ready to soar with me?
Then please do so by subscribing to my email list. I’m excited to get to know you and grow with you.
Elizabeth Duncan Stretar (Betsy)