Yes, I know it is hard to believe, but I hit the 4-0 today. In honor of my birthday, I thought I would try to sum up some big lessons I've learned on the road I am traveling. Enjoy!
40. Food is not the enemy. Our attitude and what we have been taught about food frames our perception about it. Bring joy back to the table and the anxiety that people have about food will be lessened (Also, eat real food: life is too short for that processed crap. Eat and Love, real food).
39. Don't feel guilty about exercise. Exercise to enjoy what you are doing. Exercise to put the body to work for God's work in the world and you will have more motivation to get up each day. No exercise is worth it if it makes you feel less than you are.
38. Learn to love you. God made you for a reason.
37. Cured and healed are not the same thing. I am not cured of my disease, but I am very healthy in spite of it. God heals.
36. Stop and watch the butterflies.
35. Enjoy color. I have a bad habit of watching the pavement when I run. I push myself each time to identify colors around me in every season.
34. The Bible tells us multiple times to "Trust in the Lord." This is harder to do than it sounds. Trust in God in the big and the small stuff. I trust in God with my health every single day. I trust in God with my anxiety every single day. When I am overwhelmed, my trust in God somehow creates the hours I need to get it done. This may be the most important lesson: Trust in God in everything.
33. There are some years I would rather have a re-do in my life: years 38-39; 12-15; 17; 22-23, 30. These weren't stellar years by my reckoning. But if I stop, I realize I learned a lot during those years. Even in the midst of crisis, learning and love bloom. I cannot regret those years, they've made me who I am.
32. God really does love us and want us to be happy. Love can come out of crappy things.
31. Each moment, month, year, is just a splice out of the over-arching scope of our lives. We shouldn't judge the quality of our life by moments. Look at the big picture.
30. However, don't miss the flowers, the trees, the children for the big picture. God is the only absolute in life. Everything else: shades and nuance.
29. Parenting is hard. It's the hardest job I have ever had. I am fairly sure my kids will identify many things I did wrong....just like I did with my own parents. The good thing, they get to make their own mistakes trying to get it right.
28. Apologies don't cost anything but my pride.
27. My friends and family are my bedrock--you think I am a strong person? It is only because I am built on the love of my friends and family.
26. I love to travel.
25. I love to read.
24. I love to eat. I have a love affair with food. I love chocolate. Pizza is my deathbed food.
23. I love coffee. I love wine. I love to share all these things with friends and fellowship.
22. I LOVE my cochlear implants. I am blessed that God gifted people with the brains to create the technology that let's me hear. I love country music. My only regret is that I can no longer sing.
21. My father taught me about the church. My mother taught me about my faith. These are important distinctions. I don't always agree with the church, but my faith in God never waivers.
20. It seems to me, on both sides of whatever political or theological fence you sit, there are a lot of people that hurl accusations, labels, derogatory comments, and untruths. I wish we would all think a little about what we are saying. You can defend your belief set without tearing someone down. People rarely fit into the box in which labels put them and it builds resentment and walls.
19. It's REALLY important to understand the Christian church's history. The Christian faith IS influenced by history, society, and culture. God may never change, but our understanding of God changes all the time based on the microcosm of our lives.
18. I finally feel comfortable calling myself a writer. I am not sure how I am a nurse AND a writer, but I am. I am not very sure I am excessively good at either, but where your heart is, there also is your treasure.
17. I'm fairly sure God has a lot more things to teach me. Sometimes this scares me a lot.
16. I've learned to see ministry where I am in life. Sure, I'd love to hop on a plane and be a missionary in Haiti, or Africa, or somewhere, but it's equally important that I see a mission in my local community, and as a mother. As a mother, I am raising (hopefully) the next members of the church. The church would die without mothers.
15. I LOVE cooking in soup kitchens.
14. My body is no longer 20 years old. I REALLY do regret not enjoying it when I was that age. The flip side is that I'm getting better about not putting myself down. This is a pretty dang awesome body at 40 years. It's got scars, and mileage, some stupid mistakes, some great children, and lots of love in it. It may not be much, but I'm proud of what it's done. I'm ok with myself these days (I am NOT okay with whiskers--that's just cruel and unusual punishment, and proof that God has a sense a humor).
13. I am cherishing every moment my kids can still curl up in my lap. Every year, I realize they are getting bigger and bigger. It makes my heart ache a bit. Time moves faster and faster the older you get.
12. I wish I had been less judgmental in my 20-30s. I thought I knew it all. I am so sorry for those that had to deal with my judgement. I hope I wasn't too overbearing. And feel free to call me on my comments these days. I learning to make myself a better person daily, just like you.
11. I love that I have a zest for life. I hope it never goes away. I really do want to go out with a "WhooHoo" on my lips and a smile on my face.
10. Life, work, and family balance is crucial to a healthy life. If any of that gets out of balance, things go to pot.
9. It's really important to identify for yourself what the most important things are in your life. These can be your guideposts on where you spend your time. For me, the most important things in my life are God, my Family and my health.
8. You cannot divorce your spirituality from your physical and mental health. It simply isn't possible. If your spirit is sick, your body will suffer as well as your mind.
7. Stress is a killer. I am 99% sure my stress level contributed to my cancer diagnosis. I am very good at sweating the small stuff. I've learned it really isn't worth it.
6. Stuff is just stuff. It goes in the small stuff box. Material stuff, career stuff, physical stuff. It's just stuff. It's not going with me to heaven.
5. We don't think enough about heaven. I think that some people think it's a given and therefore it is a foregone conclusion to life. I am not 100% sure about that. I continue to study, and pray about it, but I do think what we do in this world and how we act towards others is important. How that all plays out in the end, I'll let you know when I get there, but I think we should all think about heaven a lot more.
4. It's okay not to have an answer or an opinion on everything going on in the church. Discernment is a phase defined by careful study, prayer, conversations, and theological reflections. You would be surprised the number of things I am unclear about in the church, and I am okay with that. It goes back to the principal of: TRUST IN GOD.
3. Work is good for the human body.
2. Miracles happen every day.
1. I am blessed beyond measure and understanding. I have far more than I could want or hope for in my life and I think it directly correlates to TRUST IN GOD.
I love all y'all. Here is to 40 more beautiful years of work together.