So, tomorrow I turn 37. Age is a funny thing. People have been reminding me that 37 is closer to 40 than I was before (thank you for the lesson in OBVIOUS!) As far as I can tell, I like getting older better than the alternative, so I will take it. It has been fun to be in the two churches we are in. At Compelled in Troy I would be considered one of the "older" people, where as when I walked into Schenectady last week one of the women said, "Hello there, young lady!" (And she meant it!) I was thinking about it all this week as I get ready to "move closer to the 40 mark" tomorrow and I had to smile.
Turning 30 was rough for me - I felt like I was hitting a time in my life when I should have done some things that I was dreaming about, but hadn't gotten to a lot of them. Life had gone from college time to marriage to babies and diapers and all the chaos that is comes with that. When I look over the last decade (when I was turning 27 and hitting that "closer-to-30" mark) there has been some amazing things that have happened to me and in me, and I wouldn't want to go back.
What are some of those things? I'm glad you asked (teehee)...
I have made some real, intimate, passionate-about-God, change-your-life friendships. I have also learned (and keep learning) how to be a real friend. These amazing women are not around me most of the time, and the number of friendships on this level are limited - but I am so thankful for them. They are people who lift me up, whom I can call and talk to at anytime without feeling like any time has passed or like I have to apologize for not calling more. We have been through pregnancy, birth, marriage issues, kid problems, medical woes, self- esteem problems, moves across the world, and journeys with God together. I didn't know this type of friendship could exist once you became an adult and hit "real life," so I am so grateful for those people who keep showing me otherwise.
I have experienced some amazing adventures cross-culturally. Not just living in Malawi, but visiting different places - including the different parts of the US - and loving every minute of it. I love to try new foods, listen to new languages (or dialects), learn new ways of living, and have adventures. I had not been too many places growing up, and those places that I had been were at times where I could not truly relax and enjoy them. My heart is constantly calling me to the next adventure, and in that God is reminding me that the real adventure is right here with him, in his will, no matter where that may be. So I have not only experienced adventure in this world - but in my walk with him. Until recently I never understood that resting in the Shadow of the Almighty is an adventure in itself!
I have learned that I am able to do things that I never would have imagined when God calls me to it. Homeschooling 4 kids is not something I thought I would ever do - yet I am at the point in that where I can cheer because I have taught 4 children how to read! (with MUCH blood, sweat, and tears - especially tears!) I have learned to bake and cook dinners from scratch, from whatever is on hand in my house. I have learned to wash clothing by hand when necessary, and to be thankful for washing machines when it's NOT necessary! I have learned to play the piano and even played on a couple of different worship teams. I can balance my checkbook and stick to a budget - something that continually escaped me in my last decade! And, by the grace of God, I am (hopefully) teaching John French this year! (Prier pour moi, s'il vous plait!)
I have walked through some things that I never imagined I could even face in these last few years. Sitting alongside my mom as she struggled through cancer and holding her hand as she took her last breath. Mourning my life that I had to leave behind in Malawi and learning to be content and trust God's love in all circumstances. Navigating through the grief that comes with the death of different friends that - in my eyes - left this earth too soon. Watching helplessly as my baby is taken away for open heart surgery, knowing that means for a matter of time his heart would not be beating. Not being able to get out of bed to feed my kids because I was in such a severe post-partum depression I couldn't do anything but sleep and cry. All of these things eventually brought me to a deeper, more intimate walk with God and a better understanding of myself. I didn't always enjoy the ride, but I am learning to be thankful for it anyway.
So, yes - I am getting closer to 40 (But didn't you know 40 is the new 30?) and I have seen those gray hairs and laugh lines. But I feel more alive, more vibrant, and more confident than ever before in my life.
So I will take it. And I will be thankful for it and live it to the fullest!