Birthdays – Choosing to See the Gifts

Birthdays, like new years, I kind of love them. There is something about a trip around the sun that makes me reflective and grateful. Two years ago my birthday had a bomb dropped on it and last year I spent trying to forget the pain of the year before but this year, this year I am choosing to see differently. Part of me wants to avoid this year in hopes to not carry over the pain of the last two years but ultimately I am expectant of year 28 in a new and fresh way. I am believing this birthday will be one of redemption and new life.

Romans 8:28Back in 2009 I would often turn to Romans 8:28 which says, “We know that all things work together for good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” This verse has been popping up in my mind more and more the last few weeks and I don’t think it is by chance but instead a promise over my 28th year. The greatest gift giver is going to exchange the ashes of the last couple of years and make it beautiful. He is going to take the fire I have faced to purify and refine me. He won’t leave me alone in the midst of it all.

Life is messy, painful and sometimes downright cruel. It is easy to become consumed by those painful things and not see all of the beauty in a life with God. Things like my oldest wishing me a happy birthday while snuggling up next to me first thing in the morning. Throughout the Bible there are promises not for an easy life but of a fulfilling one, one marked with His goodness and love. If you take the time to look around you, you will without a doubt see His extravagance. For me His love is sometimes the color of the sunset, the random item on sell or my boys telling me a story. Life in and of itself is a gift.

For my birthday I am choosing to look at my life, where I am, albeit messy and painful at times as a gift. My boys, my husband, my life as the greatest gift I could ever have dreamt up. No, things are not perfect and I could probably paint a picture that would garner me great sympathy but if I truly believe what I have confessed all these years about the Christian life, about marriage then I need to change my perspective and see life as a gift, one created to glorify the Creator.

***Awesome Coincidental Gift***

Every year my great-aunt Trudy sends me a birthday card, it arrives like clock work each year almost always the day before my birthday so I can open it the morning of. I don’t remember ever not getting a card. Cards come adorn with stickers and bunches of x’s and o’s on the inside. Well this year it came with a sticker verse but not just any verse….Birthday CardRomans 8:28

I just about wept when I saw the sticker on the back. Nothing like a sweet kiss to confirm what I had already been feeling like was the promise over me this year. God is in the details, He cares about the little things, He loves you.

Here’s to my 28th year!

ABC not XYZ // Only the Beginning

Beginning // Nothing Like I ExpectedMy whole life I have had big lofty dreams, ones that I have been told were too much and that I shouldn’t expect it to happen. When Ian showed up my dreams had to be re-fashioned to fit another person and with each kid we have had my dreams have once again had to be re-shaped. In the midst of the growth of our family I had begun to believe my dreams were strewn about the cutting room floor and I would never get to live the life I had once dreamt up and that all of my former critics were right. The pain this brought to my heart over the last few years has been at times unseen and at other times all consuming. I knew that I knew I was meant to walk this journey with Ian and every addition has been nothing short of God’s perfection. Yet the loss that I felt left me confused and longing for greater understanding of what I thought I knew when I was younger about what I would do and who I would be; because stay at home mom living in the suburbs of Texas was not what I had envisioned.

The other night I was standing in the kitchen cleaning, well honestly I was pouting but just the same dishes were being done. (Often some of my best cleaning times are when I am stressed or angry) As I was scrubbing dishes airing out all of my grievances to God as the rest of my household slept peacefully I found myself blurting out, “God, I thought I was going to ‘XYZ’ but here I am at ‘ABC’.” Instantaneously, I heard, “exactly, you are only at the beginning.” I stood there dumbfounded in the middle of my kitchen feeling liberated in a way I hadn’t in some time. My journey is only beginning; I am merely at ABC. This means all of those lofty dreams that I thought were on the cutting room floor were in fact just being repositioned in the film of my life. The cast needed to be bigger, the dream wasn’t over just not exactly how I originally envisioned.

Knowing that I am not at the end gave me a new lease on life, it seems silly but it is way easier to live in this season knowing I haven’t actually peaked. Even typing that out feels silly now; of course I haven’t peaked I haven’t yet turned 30. Somehow in the midst of becoming a wife and mom I have felt lost and as if my dreams were no longer of any importance that I had forever resigned myself to supporting roles helping my husband and children achieve their dreams while mine laid there rotting. In reality though mine aren’t rotting they are hibernating better yet they are germinating and in the right season they will blossom and be seen by the world around me.

So to those of you out there reading this, the young moms, the singles and even those who have entered into what many people refer to as their final act, the grandparent aged and older, don’t give up on your dreams. You don’t know where you are in your alphabet line; I definitely didn’t think I was still chilling out at “ABC” until the other night. In Isaiah it is written, “I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.” (46:10) Maybe just maybe that dream you once held onto was something God was declaring to you about your end and not your beginning. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) He didn’t put dreams in you as a joke, He is faithful to complete what He started in you (Philippians 1:6)

Take heart in the fact that you are not through. There is breath in your lungs for a reason my friend. Be mindful and better yet hopeful that there is more to come.

Thread of Legacy

Somehow we have made it to the end of April, I feel like we just arrived here and now we are about to give way to May. Have you ever had weeks, months or even years go by like that? It is as if you look up and you suddenly there is so much time that has gone. If I am being honest I could say that about my life since Zealand arrived or maybe even since Ian stepped into it. There has been beauty and torment, moments when I want to hit fast forward through and others that if I could pause and hold on to I most absolutely would. When I look at my life and the bulk of my decisions I have one thread that ties them all together and that is the Thread of Legacy. My fight and grit comes from my intrinsic desire to leave a powerful legacy, one that is worthy of honor.

Recently I was going through old journals and I found this gem:

10 February 2010

It’s not about me. It is about my children’s children’s children and even beyond that. We are not to live for today or even for tomorrow but we are to live in such a way to prosper GENERATIONS to come. To live for yourself is to flip the bird to your great-grandchildren. If you can’t do it for you, do it for them. Show them that you love them by being who God intended you to be so they can so surpass you in the Kingdom. Set your future generations up for success.

Not everyone’s standards are going to be the same and that is okay. God has so many facets that you can’t expect everything to be as you have it. Even if the way you are doing it is how you just know God told you to do it. There is no perfect self help book or life manual for the whole world. We are not a cookie cutter creation. We each are uniquely formed and God breathed. We serve a creative God not a dull, flat line, nothing new God. His thoughts for us outnumber the sands that cover the earth and the cool thing about sand is, new sand is always being created meaning His thoughts for us are new and ever growing. Our God is so VAST! Our little minds can’t comprehend it so we may even question if He can possibly be real but then there is something inside of us that just knows and we can’t shake God. He is not a figment of our imagination. We are not smart enough to create such a vast, beautiful, perfect God. He is way more than we could ever imagine.

We will never be who we are called to be if we live for ourselves. We live on earth physically but our mentality should be heavenly, which means everything is backwards. To be first we must become last. To gain we must give. Living a life of sacrifice in order to be fulfilled. It doesn’t seem logical but its true. The saying “Its better to give than to receive” is not just a random saying your grandma made up but it is a Biblical truth.

These words are precisely why I have determination to not turn away from the hard but to press into the mess and find the gold in the muck, I have chosen to allow the pressures of life to do its work so I am left as a radiant diamond, a treasure for my family to cherish for generations. By no means is it easy but when you put purpose to your pain it becomes far easier to withstand. Before marriage or the thought of kids of my own my purpose was to honor my parents well and to set an example for my nieces. When Ian showed up my purpose intensified and multiplied.

They give every ounce of pain in the pursuit of healing a purpose.Thread of Legacy

One last thing this song was a go to for me for a number of years and has recently been on repeat in my mind. “I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me? Did I choose to love?” Take a moment to listen to it and think of your legacy.