Another birthday...2015 here I come!

43 today. I remember years ago thinking, "I wonder what my 40s will be like?" I recall asking my Dad on his birthday a couple years ago, "How does it feel to be ??" to which he replied, "Well, I don't know, how's it supposed to feel?" He shrugs it off like no big deal, it's just another birthday. It isn't that he doesn't care, but he puts what matters most into perspective. All my life, I have tried to consider at regular intervals (some of those intervals may have occurred a little further apart than others) what's most important to me? What am I doing right and what could I be doing better? At some point after hitting my 30s, I found myself feeling this deep sense of responsibility. Responsibility for my family, for my community, and to weigh carefully with every day of this life we are granted, how can I be a good example and a wise steward of what God has given me? He gives and He takes away, so how am I handling that? I know several people over the years who have let the crap that has happened around them in life determine their path, their sense of being in this world. I'm gonna be really candid here so apologies if you get offended: that's bullshit. Don't let the crap that has happened in your life define you, EVER! At some point, even in the worst moments of our lives, we need to stop and consider we are alive, we are not being persecuted, we are not enslaved, we are not in a place where we have had all of our choices taken away from us. We are incredibly spoiled in this nation. We are free. We have a hell of a lot more options that a lot of people in other parts of our world. And I think we get selfish and sink into our own little bubbles of pity and forget we can do something about it. We always have the power to step into something better. Always. So on my birthday, I'm reflecting on what I've done so far in my life, and how I've overcome much, have so very much to be thankful for.

1. I have been given life and have a relationship with my Father God and salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ!
2. I'm alive and healthy!
3. I have four healthy amazing children!
4. I have a faithful, loving and wonderful husband!
5. I have extended family who love and support me!
6. I have a church family here, and church family in other states where we have lived and served in ministry that I am so blessed to know and love!
7. I have a great job!
8. I have dreams and aspirations to do more with my life than I am doing now! Graduate School here I come.....
9. I have been blessed to serve on mission trips to many places near and far with amazing teams of Christ-followers and I can't wait to do it again!

This is just a glimpse, I could probably leave this open and add to it as the day goes on. I have always been the type person that looks at life with a positive outlook, the glass is always half full kind of perspective. I know there's a whole array of perspectives on that saying so I won't go on and on, to each his/her own. At some point in the midst of some of the hardest moments of my life so far, I chose to steel myself with determination to make the best of the situation. I'll be honest here, in some of those moments I questioned if my marriage would endure and if I could hang on and keep trusting in a God who didn't seem to be there for me. It would be very easy to allow that despair to set me on a course for being hard hearted, calloused and bitter for the rest of my life. For me, this would not have meant letting myself go, not eating, staying in bed, etc. but in fact leaving anyone around me in the dust as I walked on with determination to make it right no matter who got run over in the process. Anger and deep seated frustration can set some of us on a course for extreme solitude and obsessive work to the point of cutting off everyone around us especially our family and friends. I could have been that person. But I chose to stay with it, wait on the Lord even when it seemed he was silent and distant from me. I don't ever want to look back on my life with regret. Regret is unhealthy and can eat you up inside if you let it. I have had disappointments in life, but I don't dwell on them. We are responsible for our actions, and we are going to make mistakes. So, we have a choice: learn and turn-learn from it, and turn from it OR sink into depression and self-pity.

When I stop to consider how I can be doing this life better, how can I be a better woman, wife, mom, friend, child of God? Get out of my own way. That's the key right there. Simply get out of my own way. It doesn't always come down to a sin that's in between me and God, but simply me. I have my own idea of how my life can be done right, lived well, etc. but God knows best! Nothing I do matters unless I've started my focus on Him and His full and complete purpose for my life. Everything else will fall in line when I get that right. I think too many times we "preach" at each other that if we are stuck, making poor decisions, trying to figure out what is wrong so we can be made right, we get into this tired message of "there's sin in your life, you need to get rid of it, ask forgiveness and you'll be made whole". I'm not saying that sin isn't the issue, but I am saying we need to be ready to look at ourselves under the microscope first and see that quite simply we may be getting in our own way.

The moment we get confident in any particular witnessing method of choice, we need to stop and consider God may want us to approach it differently. No two people are the same, so let's stop and consider that sometimes the best method we have in our pocket is to be ready to listen. When we ask someone, "How are you?" do we mean it and are we ready to hear what they have to say? Or, is it just a half hearted quick hello with no real intention of investing some time in that person's life? The cycle of regret, depression, despair, defining our lives by the crap we deal with, can be impacted by one conversation. God has empowered us to make wise choices in our lives, and when one of us is stuck--whether it is your spouse or a friend or a complete stranger-we can impact their lives and cause change. Perhaps that is precisely how God wants to use you today. So my birthday wish for you and for myself today, is that we stop and consider what can we do for someone else today, to cause change in their lives for the better. Whether you realize it or not, what you do and say will have a lasting impact on someone's life for eternity. 2015, here we come.....
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