A few years ago, I was looking at a different birthday and a completely separate bunch of feelings. At that time, I was mostly staying at home with two little children and felt like I was sinking beneath oceans of laundry and dishes. There are some women who find completeness in being a mother and a homemaker. While those are significant roles and high callings, I often struggled with the source of my identity and continually asked myself, “Is this all there is to my life now? Laundry, dishes, and taking care of little ones?” During those down times, I turned to God and began to find my identity in Him. As the dreams and visions for Bright Side Youth Ranch took shape over the years following some of those dark emotional times, I learned to see life in seasons (as mentioned in a previous blog) and saw God was molding me and shaping me through each stage of life.
Now, I am looking at another birthday, but my emotions are much brighter this time around. As I look back over the last year, I see nothing but God’s goodness, faithfulness, and providence. He has guided us, challenged us, directed us, and called us; and we have strived to just be obedient. I know God’s timing is perfect, and I see it so much more clearly now. My feisty, stubborn, and determined personality is so much more even-tempered and others-focused than it was years ago. My overly optimistic outlook is balanced with the wisdom of life experience too. And, my identity is no longer challenged by circumstances or situations, and that’s a blessing for everyone else, I’m sure. Make no mistake, I’m still a work in progress, but I’m learning to trust and lean heavily on Jesus as never before. It’s so much sweeter than I ever imagined.
This past year has also taught me that adventures don’t diminish or disappear as you age. And, I’m so glad! The adventure of moving, starting over, establishing new routines, creating new communities, and learning new cities has been overwhelming at times but also good for my marriage, my family, and myself. This journey has brought life back into my heart. I might be a year older, but I feel years younger.
I’ve had to laugh a bit at what I perceive as God’s sense of humor. Growing up in the Tarheel State, I never thought I would leave my beloved North Carolina. However, God called me to college in Kentucky, and off I went. As a native North Carolinian, I could never imagine living in Virginia, yet God called us there too. I thought I could never leave the South and warmer weather and oceans, and then God asked us to move to Wisconsin. I never imagined life in South Carolina could be as grand as life in North Carolina, but yet here I am in little York, South Carolina, just about 15 minutes from the boarder of the state where I grew up. So funny to me, really. Each chapter of life, each stage has been an opportunity to grow and trust and experience, and I am full of love for all the people in each location. God has taught me so much over the last _____ years (yeah, I’m not gonna just throw my age out there), and I am thrilled He hasn’t given up on me and continues to give me new opportunities to be a part of His ongoing story.
So, here’s to being another year older! Bring on the next adventure!