When I Grow Up…

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. My husband surprised me by getting my best friend and her husband to fly in from Seattle and he threw me a giant surprise party at our church complete with a DJ and all my people from multiple different intersections of my life. It was a fun and joyful event and it made me feel so loved by my friends and family… which helped me offset the deep feelings about the milestone I had just set foot upon.

The interesting thing for me about my birthday is that it always instigates a well of feelings all around it. Is that unusual? I often wonder if that is other people’s experience as well… My birthday inspires me to do a lot of “checking in” about myself. Where am I from? What does that mean for me? Am I who I want to be? Did I achieve what I wanted to this year? What are my goals? What do I want to do next?

Although my birth certificate tells me that 40 years have passed since I have arrived on Earth, somehow it baffles me that I am truly this far along in life. I still feel 27 (and apparently I look it!); I have to catch myself when people ask me how old I am. I love the old adage that you are the age you feel. I certainly don’t feel 40!

I became a mother at the age of 27 and perhaps that is why that age is stuck in my heart. So much about us changes when we become parents. Dan Allender’s book, “How Children Raise Parents” is one of my all-time most favorite parenting books that I have read because it is so very true that raising children grows us and stretches us and presses us to look at God and ourselves in ways we never did before.

Mother Theresa

I’ve mentioned before that I am still deciding what I want to be when I grow up, but 40 has begun to change my mindset a bit. I’ve morphed from asking myself what I want to be when I grow up, to reminding myself that I AM grown and I am full of joy at the invitation to continue to discover the gifts I’ve been given and how I can utilize them in my sphere of influence.

There is a profound mystery in this life that we’ve been given. We love to “know” things so that we can make plans and respond well, but there is a limit to what we can know. That either frustrates us or it can pique our curiosity at what God has in store for us next.

As a mother of growing older kiddos, there is a lot of transition and undulation to my time and my attention. The moments of calm and quiet have invited me to consider with curiosity what God might be up to in my life and the path He has laid out for me. They give me an opportunity to learn and grow in areas I am passionate about for me personally because I have the space to do so. Yet there are also times when my moments are raging with activity; those are the times I need to remind myself of what to hold on to so that I am not blown and tossed about like waves of the sea.  This quote by Mother Theresa grounds me often in this season of my life. It directs my attention to what I want my priority to be. I have this quote hanging on a huge canvas right outside my bedroom door so that as I go downstairs to “enter the world” each day, I pass it and am reminded of what matters to me.

I still don’t have a career outside of attending to my family. It sounds very strange to say that as a woman in today’s culture and certainly as a 40-year-old “grown up” woman. I still feel a sense of less-than or lacking whenever I am asked what I do. And yet, that is my ordinary life and I am grateful to “do” this job for the past 11(ish) years since quitting my paid position.

40 feels like a more steady age in many ways; so much life is still ahead and so much life has been experienced. What a sweet spot! I guess that leaves me as a grateful grown up after all.




As my life has unfolded before me, there are certain authors I’ve clung to and learned from who have impacted my views in hindsight and my hope for my future so deeply that I couldn’t untie myself to their work if I tried.  I have found so much freedom from Dr. Dan Allender’s work as a therapist, teacher and author. I’ve read the majority of his works and I listen to his podcast on a regular basis.

I think what I love about Allender-beyond the healing and help his work has offered to me-is how honest he is about hurt. In one breath he can cry curses over the pain of this life, the evils of this world, and in another he can proclaim the richness of God’s beauty and goodness. I am still learning how to hold both pain and joy to the glory of God. Allender’s work is an encouragement and a guide to how to do that humbly and hopefully better with time.

For all of you Parks and Rec fans, I do realize I sound like Chris Traeger discussing his therapist, Dr. Richard Nygaer. (Thankfully, I have other authors I love too like Brenee Brown, Shauna Niequist, Beth Moore, Ruth Haley Barton, Richard Foster, Tremper Longman, John and Stasi Eldredge,….you get the picture?) But joking and amazing sitcoms aside, Allender is an amazing resource if you are a Believer in Christ looking for a book about marriage, parenting, leadership, abuse, trauma, finding your path and more. I’m beginning to think the only thing Allender hasn’t written about is fly fishing!

In one of the most recent podcasts from The Allender Center, he discusses how communities of believers hold one another when we are not well. More specifically, the discussion focuses on the person who is admitting that they themselves are not well to others.

11141293_10153426144503933_2051468299558528271_oIt’s so easy to be the one to step in and help when trouble and hardship loom, but it often takes even more courage to be the one admitting that you are not well and you need help. I’ve shared my story here about how God began the good work in me of teaching me my need for control and how avoiding my need for help was a hindrance to my health and spiritual wellness. The post I linked to was a pivotel moment in my life that I will never forget. God used that time to teach me how to begin to be honest with others when I am not well. It began the long journey of allowing other people to help me and to acknowledge and receive such a gift.

From the podcast, “Not Doing Well” Allender and Clinton discuss the difference between powering through a hard time and admitting the truth of being unwell when the desire is to either withdraw completely from community or self soothe with a variety of potential addictions; “In so many of these patterns there is a false nobility. Whether we’re trying to shoulder all our pain and carry the weight of the world, or we’re removing ourselves from others, convinced that our absence is better for everyone when we are unwell. This sense of nobility and martyrdom is intimately wrapped up with our most well-worn structures of addiction and sabotage. Dan: “The process of disruption is the gift that actually begins to stop you.”

I’ve experienced that disruption that began to stop me from martyrdom and the sense of nobility withdrawal and self soothing brought to me.  I’m so grateful for the gift that it was in my life. It altered the path I was on in large ways that will forever impact my future path.

Holding the realities of both the deep beauty and joy of this Earth as well as the profound brokenness we carry and enact as broken people is not something a heart was designed to do alone. We need people who will be brave and disrupt us in our addictions, sabotaging, willfullness and martyrdom. This podcast that is available is only part one and I am intrigued to see where Allender and Clinton take the next episode. But for all of you who might be unwell, who might be in a season of deep sorrow and sweat pants, I want to offer you some interruption with gentle love and care. As another favorite author, has said, “Tell the people you love what you need.” Brenee Brown.

Blessings on you as you walk with Jesus, even when you are unwell. Thank you Jesus, that you are the Healer.


Other works by Dr. Dan Allender:

To Be Told
The Wounded Heart
The Cry of the Soul
Leading with a Limp
Bold Love
The Healing Path
How Children Raise Parents