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Friday, March 22, 2013

30 Amazing Gifts

 I turn 30 this year. Tomorrow. And when I think about how incredibly much I've grown and changed and endured and accomplished in my 20s I'm pretty blown away.  Not that I'm fantastic or anything, it's just that a LOT of growing up happens in those 10 years.   It's certainly the biggest 10 years of my entire life.  (aside from perhaps my very first ten years)

When I turned 20, I was in college.  So let's start there...

1. College taught me what it means to work HARD, how to be responsible and manage time, and recognize the gifts and talents that I have as an individual.

2. I learned to start over and make new friends. And there I met some INCREDIBLE, like-minded, lifelong friends that I still love and stayed connected with today. I simply would not be the same without that core group of lovely people.

3. It was in college where I was first confronted with the option whether to attend Sunday church. Or not.  And I chose church. I chose to make faith my own, to make faith my life. I got involved in campus worship, extra activities, and small-group Bible studies. But most importantly my heart was changing.

4. But despite that I learned how it feels to struggle emotionally.  To question. To doubt. To feel so terribly small. To hurt deeply in places that aren't visible.  And I reached a turning point in which I chose life. For always.

5. With my concert band I traveled.  To New York City, to Europe.  We joined hands and sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" at Ground Zero.  We stayed in the homes of families in England and Germany and others. We performed in Carnegie Hall and in the smallest of churches. We really were an incredible ensemble.  As great of musicians as we each were, we as individuals were nothing compared to what we were together.

6. I graduated college.  Succeeded and accomplished.  A semester early.

7. Then I married my college sweetheart.  And I vowed to love and honor him. For always.

8.  I moved across the country, away from family and friends and everything familiar.  And after years and years of long-distance relationship I so enjoyed having my man by my side and finally getting to enjoy the simple things like pizza delivery,  rainy days by the fire, and cereal in front of the tv. 

9. The Navy moved us again, to New England, where we really knew NO ONE and I learned the importance of finding a good church.

10. While there our family forever changed with the birth of our firstborn, Elijah William.  I became a Mommy. A parent.  My heart exploded and I developed a love I never knew existed. And so it all began... the decisions, the choices, the adventures, the trials, the exhaustion, the thrill of each new "first".

11. With motherhood, I entered the life of always feeling an instant connection with any other mom on the planet.   It happens, it just does. 

12. 19 months later our 2nd child gave us the surprise of a lifetime with an unplanned home birth. I now can view childbirth as "not so bad" and a beautiful and natural event.  Hannah Elizabeth is my sweet girl with whom I can share all things girly. It was with her that I first saw the love between siblings grow and develop and change through the years.

13.  The Navy chapter ended for our family, and we moved back to Iowa during a transition period.  We learned what it meant to trust God's plan for us, as Kevin was unemployed for a couple months while waiting for the start of his new civilian job.

14.  We settled into a whole new way of life, a country life.  It's beautiful. And free. And peaceful.  I more appreciate nature. And the farm life, because although we don't have fields or livestock, we are surrounded by it.  I better understand the effects and dangers of weather.  Wind, tornadoes, blizzards, drifting snow. And mud. Oh the mud.  But I LOVE it. This way of life. The open yard, porch swing, sunrises and sunsets, camping, gardens (or not), fireworks on 4th of July, the stars.  Oh the night stars.  Amazing.  And letting kids out to play, just play, for hours on end.

14.  We were blessed with our 3rd child, Carter James, and we learned that God sometimes (or often) gives unexpected, unplanned gifts that are far more wonderful than anything we could plan for ourselves.

And now here I am in the current...

15. 8 years into marriage and I am still learning what it means to choose my husband daily.  To choose marriage, to honor my vows, to put him before kids and schedules and friends and activities, to look at the positive and overlook the rest, to forgive as Christ forgave me, to love because He loves me, to respect and serve, to communicate, to let go of expectations, to be his helper and companion, to build him up and encourage him, to let him lead and trust his decisions, to laugh and enjoy once again.

19. I am still learning what it means to choose faith, to choose God's will for my life and not my own path, my own ways. To make time to read the Bible daily and keep it a priority. 

20.  I am still learning how to manage my time, how to juggle all the duties of a homemaker and mother, to be productive and wise with my time, but not be so hard on myself that I miss opportunities to just enjoy.

21. I have gained confidence in motherhood in how we are training our children. The habits,  behaviors, and values that we are instilling in them, the character that we are shaping, the memories we are making.

22. Yet I am learning to give myself grace when I feel like I'm failing. (A process....)

23. And I'm learning what it means to give grace.  Love anyway. Forgive anyway. Be kind anyway. Do good anyway. Regardless of circumstances. Simply because that's what Christ did for us.

24. I have incredible new friends in Nebraska.  I have seen them come and go, split apart and reunite. I have seen them laugh and I have seen them cry.  I have listened, consoled, advised, prayed, and encouraged.  And they have done all the same for me.  They are a significant part of my day, my life. And I am ever grateful.

25. Through all these years, I am continuing to learn how to cook and how to make things like an over-easy egg for my hubby, use baking soda to clean the oven, sew curtains, get stains out of the carpet, run the grill, operate power tools, and the work process it takes for house remodeling. The basics of running a house.

26. I am growing in photography, and have learned how to operate a camera, and dabbled in amateur work for others. I've learned what hobbies I enjoy and what hobbies I don't really and aren't worth my time.

27. I am learning that STUFF does not equal happiness.  In fact it's the opposite.  And I am on a journey toward a simpler life.

28. I am learning that social media isn't all that great and that it's more important to be fully present with those who you are with. I simply can't carry the burdens of ALLLLLL the people I care about.  It's just too much on my heart and my time. And the gift of NOW is too wonderful to miss.

29.  I am learning (again) that life is difficult.  God has a purpose in all He does. And not a purpose to punish us, but to help us grow. 

30. And I am learning that my life is pretty darn great.  A healthy dose of perspective is needed from time to time.  There is so very much to be thankful for.  Always.

This post is not about all the great things *I* have done in the last 10 years.  It's about what GOD has done in my life.  "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence  comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:5

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."  Psalm 115:1


Randi S said...

I love this. You are an amazing woman of God and I am so so so so blessed to call you friend.

In Light of the Truth... said...

Thanks, friend!! It's so easy to write in words, but so so hard to live out!!

Stacey said...

Happy Birthday!