Welcome again to my little blogging world, that has been silent for several months as I have learned more about little boys, ministry and marriage. 🙂 I’d like to find some words to process this new season that I’m moving into. It’s a funny business getting older. I can’t say I dislike it, because God has been gracious to bless and grow me along every stage, but there are certainly surprises! Getting married in my early thirties and having kids in my mid-late thirties is a little different the “norm.” Do I regret it? Of course not. Has it had challenges? Yes! But with it too has (hopefully) come some wisdom and grace for a season that we may not have had otherwise. What I’d like to do here is share some of the amazing lessons God has taught me in my thirties, kids or not. Because the Story of Grace has similar lessons no matter what our demographic!
Repent, rest, live grateful – I wonder if I will ever move on from this repeated lesson? Most of my last decade was spent on this topic! Isaiah 30:15 has been my battle cry: “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. (But you would have none of it.)” When I feel confused or disoriented, unsure of my next step, God often brings me back to this theme. It really is a welcome relief to “hear” God speak this to my heart – don’t forget me child; lay it all down; let go of your plans; rest. And then it comes next – repent of your discontent, and focus on gratitude. I’m less likely now to be frustrated, but instead find this to be a warm, safe hug from my Father. It’s a familiar, refreshing place, and I’d bet you will find safety there too. Give it a try?
Lock arms with others – Finding safe people has been a journey for me, and God has been faithful to create community for me wherever we have gone! Looking for “your people” is worth it. And the advice of Anne Marie Miller (while I don’t agree with all her writings) has been spot on here – be willing to go first! When I open up my heart and share vulnerably, inevitably there is someone there who will resonate with my struggle, and appreciate the chance to “go second.” Of course there is much prayer this leads up to these moments, and that continues as every relationship unfolds, but if we always “stay safe” in our relationships, how can anyone grow? Hebrews 10:25: “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Laugh and lighten up – Wow, thank goodness for kids! Before I was a mom, I was a teacher, and before that I did lots of camp ministry, so I’ve been blessed with lots of hilarious kid moments! But it’s obvious that God has a sense of humor – silly looking animals and plants, quirky people, and our own mistakes to laugh at a grow from. My “men” help lighten up my sometimes melancholy nature, and I am so very grateful! See also Nehemiah 8:10 – the original word for strength here is “refuge” or “stronghold.” Amazing! Not only are joy and laughter enjoyable, the fruit is a place of safety.
Stay in the Word – I am not the student of the Word that others are, but I have resolved to keep at it! Don’t get me wrong, I love love love the Word of God, but I can have a bent towards being a bit of an “emotional reader.” I know this is common for women, but I want to keep growing and using my mind to study, not just my intuition. Thankful for those who are gifted in this area and push me to grow! I can see how over the past decade, the more I have become “grounded” in the word, the more fruit I have seen in my life and I’m confident there is a correlation. May I commend to you Jennie Allen’s studies? I have done both the Anything book and now I’m working through the Proven study and both have been excellent!! I also love Jen Wilkin to stretch me!
Pray and keep praying – I’m eternally grateful for my rich heritage of prayer warriors! My parents and grandparents have set an amazing example in this regard. I have always been able to ask them for prayer (though my grandparents are gone now) and find it such a comfort to know they are fighting in the heavenly realms for my good and His glory. Paul and I have been through some pretty heavy stuff in our marriage as I have written about elsewhere – but prayer has sustained us – our own and the prayers of others. I’ve always sought out praying friends as well, and this has been such a life-saver! Literally!! There aren’t words enough to thank God for making a way for us to have this intimate communication with Him!
Christ is the way forward – Similar to the theme of repentance and rest is this. Leaning into the service and sacrifice of Christ and applying that to my whole life, every task and relationship – this. changes. everything! I’ve been reading and studying the book of John, and chapter 13 has been soaking into my marrow. Jesus knew what he was called to and he moved into it. He didn’t shrink back but fully surrendered to the will of the Father, even to the point of death. How often have I stepped back to protect myself? Thankfully, Jesus never did this. May my next decade be a testimony of this radical service.
Live loved – This is the fruit. The fruit of so many hard-won lessons. As I have repented, prayed, studied, served, laughed, all of the above – you know what? I’ve come to realize in such a deep way that I am LOVED! God has called me live as the beloved daughter I am, and when I do, not only am I blessed, but many others are as well! The enemy of our souls wants nothing more than to convince us that God is against us – that he is holding out and keeping good things from us. Nothing could be further from the truth! In all the hard and bad and sad, there is ALWAYS a purpose. Trust me, I have been through it. It probably didn’t look exactly like your “hard,” but we could cry together and find common ground, I’m sure. Through all the hardships, when my soul heals and I grow and find my way back to trusting and leaning into God, the fruit is this. I am known and loved. I am protected. I am safe. I CAN trust him. And you can, too.