Monday, May 5, 2014

Older and Wiser

I know that a true lady isn't supposed to reveal or age; however, last month I turned fifty, and it wasn't as tough as I thought it might be. After all, I cried when I turned thirty and forty.  For me, those milestone birthdays weren't particularly pleasant at the time, so based on those past experiences, I wasn't certain if I would actually be able to enjoy this milestone birthday.

At the time of my thirtieth birthday, I had several young children at home, and some of them were sick.  It was rainy and gloomy all day long--one of those terrible, no good, very bad days.  After a frustrating day as a stay-at-home mom, I was in tears by the time my husband had come home from work.  Somehow, he soothed me and made things better by whisking me off to a special dinner outing for just the two of us.

On my fortieth birthday, I was dealing with teenage drama in my home and had gone through a particularly trying afternoon.  (If any of you have read my book, you know the kind of drama I am talking about.)  My husband had thoughtfully brought home Chinese carryout and a grocery store cake that night.  Unfortunately, my birthday cake was more of a coffee cake with glaze and not something a bit more festive with icing.  How could someone who had been married to me for sixteen years not realize that such a major birthday merited frosting?  The cake was the last straw in a day that had not gone very well up to that point.  I suddenly burst into tears at the sight of it and ran upstairs to my room to be alone.  As I sat sobbing on the bathroom floor, feeling like an idiot, my concerned husband came upstairs to check on my well being.  I explained that it wasn't really about the cake, and I was sorry for seeming like such an ungrateful woman.  I shared with him about my earlier frustrations that had finally reached a boiling point.  I let him know that I was sorry for ruining dinner and that I really did appreciate him for trying to celebrate my birthday with the kids.  He understood and was kind enough to just let me vent.  A month later, he redeemed himself by bringing home a store-bought, properly iced cake with the words:  Happy 40 1/12 birthday.  Being the nerdy math teacher that I am, I told him that I had actually thought about the fact that I was 40 1/12 years old that morning, so it pleased me that he would think of such a thing.

Instead of allowing myself to become depressed about my birthday this year, turning fifty brought some reflections on the previous decades of my life that have been filled with many blessings.  In my first decade of young childhood, I accepted Christ and had a great military brat childhood, including moves to New Mexico, California and Germany.  I was blessed with godly parents and four siblings.

After turning ten, I moved to my mom's hometown of Parsons, Kansas, and got to know my maternal grandparents.  During my teens, I asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit, which brought about a deeper walk with God and more boldness in sharing my faith with others.  I also began to use my musical skills as a pianist in school music groups in junior high, high school, and college.  I later began composing and singing original Christian music. I went off to a Christian college and formed lifelong friendships.

My twenties brought college graduation, my first teaching job, and the start of my freelance writing career.  I also got married, became a stepmother to my oldest daughter, and gave birth to three more children during this decade.  My thirties included a six-year stint as a newspaper columnist, an opportunity to write advertising, the beginning of my college teaching career, two major family moves, and my oldest daughter's marriage.  My forties graced me with two lovely granddaughters, another daughter's wedding, my husband's survival from cancer, publishing my first book, and my first missions trip to South Africa.

I am so thankful that God has been present in each decade of my life, and I am overwhelmed by all the wonderful experiences and people he has placed in my path. On numerous occasions, God has been faithful in his provision, hope, love, healing, grace and peace.  When I am discouraged, I merely have to look back on the many answered prayers and remind myself that God is ever faithful to meet every need.

I would have to say that my fifties are off to a good start.  My first grandson was born in late April, just a few weeks after my birthday.   This year, I didn't cry on my milestone birthday.  I was surrounded by many loved ones who made an extra effort to make it a joyous event.  I share my birthday with my granddaughter Chloe, now 4, so we had a party together--complete with icing on the cupcakes.  The day after my birthday, I asked my husband, "Were you surprised that I didn't cry on my birthday?"  He remarked, "You didn't have anything to cry about." That is true, but that might not have stopped me in the past.  I'm glad my husband doesn't mind putting up with an emotional, sentimental wife.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.   I will sing the Lord’s praise,    for he has been good to me.  Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)

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