Farewell 20s

Jul
2014
28

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This year I am turning 30 and because I have such a sweet, affectionate husband I am sitting on a balcony in Destin enjoying a little bit of R&R to celebrate. Technically my birthday is next Sunday but when you’re an adult you don’t really get to make a big deal about YOUR DAY anymore. On my actual birthday Josh will be preaching and we’ll just have a normal day. (Incidentally he also preached on Mother’s Day and he has a meeting on the night of our anniversary next week. There is a lot of celebrating before or after this year.)

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(Here we are at Bud and Alley’s Taco Bar. Eating Tacos. By ourselves. Glory.)

So we’re here, relaxing. Doing all the things parents do when they have  a brief respite from family demands. Sleeping in. Taking forever to eat a meal. Laying by the pool without worrying about someone drowning. Reading without interruption. Going for a jog. OK going for a jog might not sound restful but it’s kind of fun to just decide to go for a run when you feel like it. Plus I just got new purple running shoes and I don’t care how old you are, new shoes are exciting. Especially if they are purple. So obviously I had to take them for a spin.

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Speaking of shoes and birthdays, I so vividly remember the awesome floral Keds I got for my 7th birthday. I’m sure my parents have no recollection of this but I LOVED THOSE SHOES. And we went to Chuck E. Cheese and watched The Great Mouse Detective, which had just come out on VHS. And that is all I remember from my 7th year of life. Think about that, parents, when you are creating all those precious memories.

Anyway, one of the great things about these 4 days is being able to hit the pause button and let myself think. With all the small kids and the daily demands I often don’t really have much time with my thoughts during the day. It’s only when they go to bed that I’m able to stop and think and by then my thoughts look something like “I should probably…I think I need to…wasn’t there something?…Oh never mind I’m going to bed.” And by the way, if you’re wondering why I haven’t written much over the summer it’s because during the school year I often wrote my blog posts on the mornings when all my kids were in school. Because my brain works at 10am. But no one really wants me to write after 7pm. Trust me.

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(Sitting on the balcony. Thinking all the thoughts.)

I’ve been thinking about turning 30 and about the last decade of my life. Don’t worry, I’m not about to get all existential and “what is the meaning of life?” on you. The end of Ecclesiates kind of answers that question for you anyway. But I do think it’s good to look back and see all that God has done. The truth is that my 20s were not at all what I expected them to be. My 19 year old self had a lot of ideas about what that decade would be like. There were 2 tracks I envisioned, and neither held marriage or children. I always feel a little guilty about that, because for so many that’s the dream. But if I’m being completely honest I didn’t want to get married young. I wanted to live my life first. I wanted to go to grad school and work for a publishing company. Or I wanted to go work with high school students somewhere, because the woman I admired most at the time (and still do) did that and she loved Jesus more than anyone I knew. And so I wanted to be like her. Either way, I wasn’t looking for my MRS degree and I wasn’t even sure how I felt about children. I just knew there were some things I thought I’d enjoy doing and I wanted to do them before I started the whole “family” thing.

That was the year I met Josh, who turned my world upside down and challenged me to really think about who God was calling me to be through His Word and His Church. Not through some arbitrary ideas I had spiritualized in my heart. With Josh my whole trajectory changed. I was married by 21. I became a Pastor’s wife at 22 when my husband left his successful career to answer the call. I had my first baby at 24, my second at 25, which meant I basically had 2 babies. And at 28 I flew to Uganda to adopt 2 more. In 10 years I’ve basically ended up going as hard and as fast as I could in the opposite direction of what I had planned.

Now I know that many would say, “Yeah, but that’s kind of the dream life.” And you’re right. It’s a beautiful life and I know now how much I should have wanted it. But I don’t want to trivialize the fact that it is God Who made me want the life He’s given me. We often sing the old hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” at church and I am always struck by that line, “Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth.” What an odd thing to say, that our desires are met in what God ordains. And yet this is the story of the Christian life, as we are transformed “from one degree of glory to the next.” He doesn’t just meet our desires, He transforms them into the desires He has for us.

What I wanted for myself was not necessarily bad. A fun career is not bad. A life of ministry is certainly the opposite of bad. And yet God had something better for me than my plans. Not better because it makes me happier. Although that’s true sometimes. But sometimes I am sacrificing all of my time and energy for 4 small ones and it seems like more than one person can do. And I dream of that old dream of mine. No, it’s better because it’s what He wants. He knew how selfish I would be if I got all I wanted. He knew that mixed in with the good desires for success and influence were bad desires for isolation and self-exaltation. He knew that this life He’s given me would lead me deeper into confession, repentance, dependency and holiness.

So as I leave those unexpectedly amazing 20s behind I am filled with gratitude for God’s all-surpassing wisdom and kindness. And I look ahead to 10 more years of all of my desires being met under His sovereign care.

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