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.

 

 

A Time for All Things

I suppose my last post was all about how behind I felt for 2015…well, that may be a trend this year! In all actuality, as I lean in to a lot of realizations about this season of my life, I am clinging to Ecclesiastes! “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” 3:1

I have many things going on in my life all at once and I have always functioned that way. I like change and variety so much that I enjoy and intentionally create it. The trick for me I’ve found, is to recognize what I can truly take on, what I am realistically capable of doing well and what needs to wait. Thus the problem is the stuff I’m MOST excited about is often what needs to wait (or what I need to admit I can’t do well)!

Currently, the demands of being a wife and Mom, coordinating, encouraging and maintaining women’s ministry and helping with children’s ministry at my church, plus small group hosting and maintenance is all I’ve got time to do well. (It sounds like a lot I know, but I think of more all the time!) I love that and I hate it. I have a dreamers’ mind and I’m always thinking of some random thing I could do or really want to do. I’m grateful I’m married to another dreamer! We talk a big game together.

I say all that because I’m so encouraged lately not by the brevity of life, but the length of it. My birthday is next week and if I’ve done the math correctly, (communications major, remember?) then I’ll be 36. It’s way more fashionable to talk about how old I will be, but I am so young. My children are just babies! There is so much more to experience!

As I ponder the fact that one day my children will be gone from these walls, all I can think about is what in the world I will do with myself?! As someone who fills time as a sport, that is exciting to me. But more importantly, it helps me to hold on and to dive in to being present in what is before me right now. Time is more of a gift than I’ve realized and this season has a good place.

My more-seasoned female friends tell me how fast this time goes, how brief this period of my life will be and how tightly I should hold on to it. It’s easier for me to get excited about what’s next though! So I’m continually grabbing myself by the shirt and yanking my heart back to reality. Often I have to tell myself to come back, be present in what is before me now and ask for grace to fully enjoy and commit to memory the quiet rhythms of our life. What’s now is good. I am deeply grateful for this happy and mundane life. It is a gift from God and it is rare to get to enjoy it.

I want to tag and give a shout out to this woman, Kara Tippetts. If you aren’t reading her story yet, may this help you start. She is a young terminal cancer patient, wife and momma and she writes about what dying is like. I hope you’ll let that last sentence sink in…

She says, “I feel like I’m a little girl at a party whose dad’s asking her to leave early. And I’m throwing a fit. I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to go.”

I am so inspired by this woman and her public vulnerability as she walks towards what I think is the hardest thing; an untimely end. Reading her story has made me cry over and over again. It’s pulled me back and encouraged me to be present in what is happening in my life now and the lives of those around me right now.

So if you feel rushed in life, if you feel behind the curve, may it be a blessing to turn that around to being a time to enjoy where you are right now. May you be present in this whether it is a season of lament or joy!