me, now

Turning 40 made me extra-reflective about everything.  This past year was so full of thoughts and plans and declarations, it makes me a bit tired thinking back to everything I squeezed into it.

In the middle of it all, I faced some some hard truths last year and had to make the time to decide what was really, really important to me.

How's my marriage?  What did I want for my children at this stage of their lives?  Am I taking care of my body?  Am I making myself available for God's calling?  Am I even listening for it?  What do I love, and what am I doing about it?

Addressing these is helping me re-order my priorities, rip off some band-aids and start this transition.

Here's what I know for sure, now (in no particular order):

  • I am an introvert who can no longer pretend to be an extrovert.  Large groups and busy gatherings exhaust me and I need regular periods of quiet alone time to thrive.
  • My marriage is both strong and tender.  It does not have an auto-pilot feature and must be a vessel through which our children and other couples can learn about grace, humility and the joy that results from them.
  • My children are getting older and may all leave home, quite plausibly, within the next ten years.  I cannot dillydally with the lessons I want to teach and exemplify.
  • I want to meet the world.  Travel outside of North America is a new priority.
  • I want contribution and generosity to be natural responses, with less calculation or hesitation.
  • I value hospitality.  I want to explore different ways to practice it.
  • I am not good at housekeeping, inside and out (you should see my backyard right now).  I am no longer a lover of baking.  I don't enjoy planning parties like I used to.  And that's all okay.
  • I love reading (memoirs, mostly) and I love writing (run-on sentences, mostly).
  • I want to figure out what foods, exercise regimes and general practices are best for my own health.
  • God is my Number One.  Jesus is my Example.  The Holy Spirit is my Guide.

dear world

Dear World,

This day is a big one for me. This was the day, eighteen years ago, that my big girl, my first born, was due to arrive. She was late by eight days and, in fact, if it had been a year like this one, she would be one of those funny leap babies with only a handful of birthdays under her belt.  She was late, and yet so, so early, I thought. Too early for a very unready me. For years I thought the timing was wrong, that everyone was looking at us thinking we were too early. But then she started teething at six months and took her first steps at eleven. She made us laugh so hard with her bounciness and funny words.  I learned, not early enough, that she, that we, happened right on time.

In the sleepless hours of those early months I'm sure I pleaded for her to grow out of this phase quickly, and maybe again when potty training was lagging.

Her prom dress has arrived and we took her to a college interview yesterday. Foolishly, may I wish to slow this phase down?

Next week you will tell me that she is no longer mine. She is an adult and by law there are certain freedoms she now has independently from me and her father. Fair enough. I have been trying very, very hard on that transition from manager to adviser in the last few years, not without a lot of hopeful, maybe desperate, subliminal life lessons (moms and dads: values first!). I am loosening my grip ever so slightly, as slowly as a sentimental mother who wants her child to grow strong and not screwed up can. But as I release her, let me make one thing clear.

I am not giving her to you.

You, who ties so many ifs to beauty and taunts with fake greener grasses.  You who glorifies comfort and instills fear of failure. You who favours instant and easy and loud and famous.  You who delights in revenge and finds such distaste in suffering and surrender.

No, you may not have her.

She isn't really mine to give anyway.

I was just a steward, shaping on behalf, under direction, of her Creator.  I wasn't perfect at it, but did my best.  She has her dad's eyes and dimples, her mom's lips and maybe her sass, but she is wonderfully made in her Creator's image.  Her lungs fill with His breath, her passion is fed by His spirit. Her heart is young and feisty but it beats for the good things that He has placed in her path.  She has a purpose, quite unknown to us all as yet, and you are a player in the plan, I am sure, but the purpose is His.  So if I have to let go of this baby-girl-turning-woman, it is to put her back in the hands of our God.

So no, you may not have her. Not on my watch.

scared skinnies 101

I started swimming lessons last week.

If you're thinking it's a because-I'm-turning-forty thing, you are absolutely right.  I want to acquire the skill and eventually use it for exercise.  Plus I'm hoping to teach the kids after, since our previous attempts at lessons didn't pan out.

Forever and always...I'm always here.

Forever and always...I'm always here.

Lesson No. 1 - It's not easy to find the right bathing suit.  It's winter so you are confined to a single rack of mish-mashed variety in the sporting good stores.  Anywhere else is for beach-frolicking.  Uh, no thanks.  Finding a one-piece suit that doesn't hike up beyond my pelvis, provides adequate support for things that need support and doesn't cost a hundred bucks isn't easy.  I tried on over a dozen suits to no avail.  Then I finally found a Sears-branded (I'm too told to care about brands - just hold it all together, please) suit in candy apple red.  Basic, functional, cute.  And makes me look like I wish I was on Baywatch.  Oops.  Oh well.

Lesson No. 2 - The first class was great.  We started with blowing bubbles in the water.  I'm not kidding.  But hey, small victories create momentum, right?  We graduated to front and back starfishes and ended off the session with attempting to glide with kicking, which I guess is floating.  In true over-thinking form, I was convinced that I mastered the mechanics, yet when I opened my eyes under the water, I was barely moving forward.  I asked my "you could be my son" instructor to watch me try again and tell me what I was doing wrong.  In the kindest tone, he said it all.  Relax.  Story of my life, kid.  Wouldn't you know it, letting my knees bend got me moving.

Lesson No. 3 - Deciding to do new things requires you to...do new things.  We started learning the front crawl last night.  I came home exhausted.  The moving of the legs and the arms and the breathing was almost too much.  And I had a flutterboard.  But this is the necessary pain of starting something new, right?  It's unfamiliar and difficult, but just requires repetition - practice - and then your body stops working against you and goes with the flow.  Reminds me of when I was doing the write31days challenge (note to self: start writing again).

I suspect my next lesson will be about faith.  We are heading to the deep end next week.

the word for 2016

On my first morning back to work after Christmas, the freezing rain pecked at my face as I walked through crunchy new snow, reminding me every quarter-second that the dream of the unseasonably balmy weather going right into spring has died.

everyone else was smart enough to sleep in.

everyone else was smart enough to sleep in.

 

 

 

 

 

Only five days ago, on Christmas Eve, I was out for a run/jog, perhaps more of a jolly skip because its impossibility.  I had to stop along the way to take this:

minimum four swing requirement - check!

minimum four swing requirement - check!

Another awesome jungle gym has been added to our neighbourhood.  Even I am biting down hard in excitement to try the mini rock climbing contraption.

I can't, though, because there is a wire fence still surrounding it all.  Something about it is not quite ready.  I'm sure all the kids living in the homes along its perimeter are keeping a close daily watch on that fence, waiting for it to disappear and the fun to begin.

I thought about that fence that morning, wondering how this whole scene represents my life. But the fence isn't wire. It's taller and impenetrable, maybe made of brick. I can't see through to the playground.  But it's there.  I just need to get past the fence.

I can't believe we are at the end of 2015 already. The year really flew by and I am thankful for the whole thing. I read a lot of books, ran a lot, like I aimed to

update on 2015 goals...

update on 2015 goals...

 

There were things, though, dreams, I was so excited about in the early months that wilted away because of my self-doubt and fear. I gave up because I couldn't imagine the likelihood of awesomeness on the other side of the fence.

I assigned Community as my word for 2016 several months ago, without too much woo-woo Holy Spirit consultation. But then a couple of weeks ago, in the same style that Open came to me for this year, He spoke to my heart with Pursue.

Okay, then.

The coming year may get a little crazy, I suspect. I have a dog now, for goodness' sake, anything goes.  Maybe it's because I'm turning 40 or maybe it's because I'm fed up with chickening out.  But in 2016 I will trust God's promises more wholly and discover and enjoy the awesomeness on the other side of that fence.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Phils 4:19-20)