Today is my birthday. Or at least it was. It’s after midnight and I’ve been typing frantically for quite a while. Oh, well. This always takes longer than I think it will.
I am officially 46 years old. I don’t mind telling you my age; it actually feels kinda young, relatively speaking. Or at least I thought it was young, until I counted out 46 candles. That many candles makes quite an impressive pile. (Please tell me I’m not the only one with a random, left-over assortment of old birthday candles tucked away in a cabinet.)
You thought the candles would be on a cake?
Honey, Mamas don’t tend to get cakes unless they bake them for themselves. And today, the kitchen was closed. This is about all the attention these candles will see today.
Ahem. Back on task. Things I’ve learned this year.
The past year has been quite a journey. God has brought me to places I never would have dreamed possible. Along the way I’ve learned – or re-learned – a thing or two. God was a willing teacher when I was willing to listen.
What did He teach me?
Among other things… (in no particular order)
God is good.
We may not always understand, but He is always, always good.
You’re never too old to learn (or do) something new.
I’m proof of that. I was comfortable as a 40-something-fluffy-couch-potato-soccer mom. But comfortable is never as exciting as trying new things and experiencing new learning opportunities. I’m officially doing things I would have never dreamed I would be doing just a few short years ago.
I’ve learned to do so many new things this past year within that world alone, my head could spin. Turns out that age is just a number.
I can do anything…and I mean ANYTHING…through Christ who strengthens me.
40 pushups in under a minute? Yep.
Function after getting sprayed with pepper spray? Check.
Drive a squad car fast, lights on and sirens blaring, while calmly drinking my diet soda? Uh-huh.
But it’s not me. God’s got this. When I try to do something in my own strength, I fall short. But with God, anything is possible.
I haven’t arrived.
This has been a biggie. Somehow I thought I would have it all together by now, that I would have all the answers and life would be easy. I would have all of my fears and shortcomings conquered and be well on my way to being a completely, 100% committed, sold-out Jesus Freak.
Instead, there are many times that I feel like life is coming unraveled at the seams. I still get scared. I have times when I feel like I’m moving backward instead of forward. Two steps forward, three steps back.
I’ve learned that I will never arrive while my heart’s still beating, because this world is not my home. And it’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to still struggle with doubts and insecurities. That’s part of being human. If I had it all together, I wouldn’t need God. And He is all that I need.
I don’t like giving tickets.
If I pull you over for speeding, running or stop sign, or a headlight out, I probably won’t give you a ticket if you’re nice. You can talk me into a ticket. I’d rather you not. Compassion is never something I’ve been known to have, but I’ve learned that I have it in boatloads when I’m dealing with drivers just trying to make their way. Especially when I pull over a young woman for a headlight being out TWICE in one night, several hours and a number of miles apart…and all she was doing was trying to find a place to sleep that night. (I couldn’t believe it when I walked up to her car and saw her. I just knew that license plate number sounded familiar!)
That said, carry your current registration and insurance info in your car. If I have to have it, you do too. And traffic court isn’t fun for either of us.
For the record, I DO like arresting drunk drivers. It’s a great sense of accomplishment to get someone off the road when they’ve had too much to drink. But it’s a sense of accomplishment I’d much rather not have the opportunity to get. People, if you have been drinking, DO NOT DRIVE. It’s just not worth the risk.
Failing doesn’t make you a failure.
We all make bad choices from time to time. We all fall short of our goals. Sometimes we literally fall down. It might hurt. It might be hard to get up. The temptation may be to take it personally. To give up. But we must get back up and try again. And again…and again…and again.
Speaking of bad choices. For some reason, today I was reminded of one of my earliest memoires of a bad choice.
This is a picture of me when I was maybe 5 years old.
Notice the ringlets. My mom worked hard to get those ringlets in my hair, and I often slept in rollers to make it happen. One day, I decided that I wanted to HOLD one of those ringlets. As I recall, it was the one in the very front on my right side.
Let’s just say that:
Bad decision + scissors = VERY short haircut for first grade.
Talk about an unhappy Mama. My kids have no idea their sweet Meemaw could yell like that. (Sorry, Mom!)
Anyway, the point is, God can redeem bad decisions. He can exchange failure for a future. Hair grows back. Wounds heal. We may suffer some consequences (like having everyone in first grade think you’re a boy) but we can’t quit. Let’s keep trying. As many times at it takes.
I have way too much stuff.
For my birthday, I marked off something that has been on my to-do list for years. Literally. I’ve always thought it would be a good idea to go through our house and make a video inventory of each room. I’ve never done it in the past because I thought the house was never in good enough shape to do so.
But this time I got over that. My house wasn’t perfect by any stretch. I cleaned as much as I could muster, took a deep breath, and started the video recorder on my phone.
It didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it might to record everything. I quickly discovered that there wasn’t a whole lot of stuff that I would replace if something happened to it. It was just a whole lot of stuff. Period.
Time to start purging. Maybe that’ll be a goal to reach by my 47th birthday. Who knows?
Let’s speed things up a bit.
I’m sure you’re all getting tired of reading, my birthday is gone, and Rich has given up and gone into the den with a sigh. Brief snippets for the rest. If you want more than the Readers’ Digest version of some of these, just ask. I’ll be happy to fill you in.
Sleep is essential.
Naps are your friend.
There are many, many hurting and lonely people out there.
We need to find them. Perhaps you are one who is lonely. Reach out to someone. Don’t suffer in silence. Be a friend…find a friend.
It is very easy to be selfish.
It’s also easy to be proud, arrogant, greedy, lazy…you name it. The good qualities are much harder to achieve.
A little bit of encouragement goes a long way.
Everyone enjoys a pat on the back every now and then. It can really turn someone’s day around.
It is way easier to put on pounds than to take them off.
I’ve lost over 30 pounds in the last year. Every one of them is clamoring to come back home. Keeping them off is a daily struggle.
Sometimes life doesn’t lead where we think it will.
God probably doesn’t let us know in advance where we’re going because it would scare the daylights out of us. Either that or we’d try to take a short cut. Regardless, the path we are on may or may not end up at the destination we predict.
My tastes change.
I chose PF Changs for my birthday dinner. I used to hate Chinese food. Now I love it.
“Old” is a higher age than I thought.
The older I get, the older “old” is. I might never get there.
Aches and pains are a part of growing older.
I haven’t talked to anyone over the age of about 40 who doesn’t hurt somewhere. Sigh.
Stretching makes you more flexible.
Literally and figuratively. You grow that way.
Anything that has value takes work.
Sometimes a lot of it. But that’s exactly why it has value.
Blogging is hard.
And time consuming. (Does that mean it has value? Hmmm… Not sure.)
Sometimes with blogging, you have to simply give up and wrap up. The writing is never going to be perfect. There’s always tweaking that can be done, and I doubt I will ever run out of words.
So… with that in mind…
That’s all, folks!