I Was Dreading My 30th Birthday Until My Daughter Said This…

“I can’t turn 30!” I was folding laundry in the living room and my 4-year-old daughter was sliding over the arm of the leather chair on her belly. She looked up at me and smiled. “Selah, I can’t turn 30!” I said again, half serious, and half joking.

She just giggled. (She continued pretending to be mermaid slipping down the front of the couch like it’s a water slide.) Meanwhile I began to panic inside.

I will turn 30 in just a few days. 

30? Really? 

Usually, I look forward to my birthday, but for the first time…I feel like that’s “old.”

I’m not a kid any more. 

Pretty soon, my knees will creak when I bend. My hair will gray and whiten. My eyes will wrinkle when I smile. And who knows what illness may be waiting for me in the years to come?

“I can’t turn 30…” I muttered again, this time dropping my face into my hands.

“Yes, you can Mom!” Selah said, coming over to me, smiling wide.

“I can’t turn 30!” I said again.

“Yes, you can Mom!” She said.

Then she came over to me and put her hands on my shoulders and got right in my face, just like a football coach.

“Mom,” she said, very matter-of-factly, “You have to turn 30!”

“Why?” I asked her. Honestly, wanting to know. But I didn’t expect what she said next…

“Because,” she said, getting right in my face, “God’s still growing you!”

God’s still growing you. 

And that’s when something caught in my spirit.

God

          is still

                       growing you. 

I pulled her close to me, and wrapped my arms around her, this little blonde girl, whose only four years old, but sometimes seems so much older. Who sometimes seems more like a little prophetess or angel, more like a messenger from God to me. Reminding me of wisdom from another world. Her words rang in my head.

God’s still growing you.”

And suddenly I realized, in that moment. It’s okay that I’m turning 30. It’s okay that my body might change, or will change, in the coming years. It’s okay that I get older. It’s okay I look older. And even feel older.

It’s okay that wrinkles eventually appear from all the years of laughing.

Because you know what?

God’s still growing me. 

And my body, may change, it may get weak and frail, and one day wear out. But even then,

God’s still growing me. 

And every year is a gift, to be celebrated. To look back on all God has done, to look ahead at all He will do.

And God is always, always growing us. Growing us up in Him. Growing us in Christ.

Every year He moves us a little more out of the kingdom of this world, and a little more into the kingdom of God–the kingdom we were born for.

And every birthday I turn a year older.

But that just means I’m one year closer to seeing Jesus,

face to face. 

 

And that is a reason to celebrate.

I don’t know what 30 will hold, or 50, or 70…or beyond.

But I know Who holds me.

And as long as He has me on this earth,

He is growing me. 

He is constantly growing me. 

And the only reason I breathe in and out each day is because

He fills me with His breath. 

And outwardly I may be wasting away…but inwardly, He is renewing me day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

And,  “My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

So, here’s to 30, I will embrace you with both arms. I won’t fear what the future holds. I won’t mourn my body. I won’t dread becoming older. Instead, I will smile at the future, and laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:26)

Because God is still growing me. 

“And besides Mom,” Selah says, “You have to turn 30, because you have to eat cake and blow out your candles!”

Yes, dear girl. I do. 

I Will Be Like A Tree

tree

I will raise my arms, like branches

before You. In worship.

I will spread them wide,

in surrender.

I will be like a tree,

before You.

Sending out my roots into the dirt.

Finding the water, hidden in the earth,

deeper, deeper now.

It’s not what I thought,

but it’s there. Lower, and lower down.

And how deep is Your love?

How far does it go? Further and further still.

I will reach.

For You have reached me.

I will stretch out my arms,

For You have stretched Your arms out to me,

On a tree.

 

So I will stretch out my arms, like branches,

to hungry and thirsty,

to naked and poor,

to scared and ashamed,

to wounded and pained, and

let the birds rest on my branches.

 

And yet, I will not topple.

For He waters my roots, and they are many.

He waters my roots when they cry, “Thirsty!”

He leads my roots to quiet waters,

Where He Himself strengthens me.

 

I am a small sapling,

But I shall not despise my smallness,

My tender branches,

my weak, clinging roots.

Yet, I shall not say, “Why am I not bigger?

Why am I not mighty?

Why don’t the birds rest on my branches?”

 

Instead I will drink, deeper and deeper still.

I will be steadfast.

I will stay,

Where God has planted me.

And I will be watered continually, by Him.

For He tends to me, that I will not fail.

He waters me, that I shall not fall.

 

And when I have grown, in His eyes,

For only He knows what real strength is.

When I have grown, I will reach out my branches.

And let the birds come,

and rest.

And in that day, I will not fear,

falling.

For I am rooted in Christ.

And grounded in Him,

Who arms me with strength,

and strengthens my arms.

 

Oh God, all my life,

I have wondered what You are calling me to be.

And it came so simply this morning,

“Like a tree.”

 

If that’s it God, then,

take me.

I am Yours.

I will stand my ground.

I will sink my roots deeper further down,

into You.

I will raise my arms, like branches

before You. In worship.

 

Whether big and tall,

Or small and tender.

I’ll open my arms, wide in surrender.

I will be like a tree.

 

 

I will reach,

For You have reached me.

I will stretch out my arms,

For You have stretched Your arms out to me,

On a tree.

 

Yes, I will be,

Like a tree

before You.

What Turbo Kick Taught Me About Being A New Mom

I am not sure what gave me the boost of confidence before entering the YMCA that day. But it was dangerous. As I walked in with an extra skip in my step, I looked at the schedule hanging on the door of Studio 1 and noticed a class called “Turbo Kick” started in 10 minutes. Hmm, sounds more fun than the elliptical. (Big mistake.)

I should have taken some cues as I saw a myriad of very fit looking women waiting around in the lobby, all in cute elastic work out get-ups, and I stood there with my Adidas shorts, old basketball t-shirt, and chicken legs. I was not tanned, or toned, or terrifying like any of these women. I asked the lady with the mic on her face (who was clearly the instructor) what the class was like on my way in, “Oh, it’s just like Kick-boxing combined with Insanity.” Those were her actual words. Insanity. (For someone who struggles just to keep up in the Electric Slide at weddings, the only Insanity that I would be proving that day was my own.)
If only I would have walked away then. But alas…

Within the first five minutes of “Turbo Kick,” I was completely lost. The instructor was barking out commands that sounded like a foreign language. “Upper cut! Cross over! Back kick! Front kick! To the wall!” Huh? I was soon in a stampede of women and trying not to get run over.

I looked like a drowning victim. Arms and legs flailing in every direction. If I were in a pool, there would be whistles blowing, and lifeguards jumping in after me, and people standing by with their faces in their hands.

I was bad. I mean, really stinking the place up, and only 15 minutes into it, too. Unfortunately, the class was 55 minutes long. But I was already committed now. I tried to look natural. But as arms and legs flung wildly in every direction, and I did my first “burpee” since junior high track, nothing was natural about what I was doing. Or trying to do. I’d watch the instructor, then the lady in front of me, then the mirror, then the window, desperately hoping (praying) my husband didn’t feel the need to check on me.

Of course he did.

Later that evening, after he was done cracking joke #492 about the whole episode (for he had a lot of material to work with), he said, “And what were you smiling about in there anyway?”

“Because when I saw my reflection,” I confessed, “I thought ‘What if he’s watching right now?’ And it just made me want to laugh!” I couldn’t help it. There comes a point when you are so awful, it’s actually funny. I guess I would call it, “Insanity.”

This is a lot like being a new mom.

When you become a new mommy…you suddenly enter this new world you didn’t even know existed. Motherhood. You are surrounded by all these ladies moving at incredible speeds, who seem to know exactly what they are doing and you are left spinning around not even know what direction you are supposed to be going.

I’m only 18 months into motherhood, but Turbo Kick resurrected a lot of “new mom” thoughts that I’ve been feeling since the start of motherhood, and I’m not ashamed to admit them:

1. “I have no idea what I am doing.”
New moms have no experience, none. Zippo. Therefore, no matter how much you studied your “What to Expect” books, or baby-sat the neighbor kids…you can’t be fully prepared for what’s ahead of you. Don’t expect to hit the ground running. It’s okay to hit the ground and just…lay there for awhile. You will crawl eventually. You are new to this, and you will learn.

2. “I am surrounded by women who are better at this than me.”
Let’s just get this out there. It’s probably true. If you have friends with any mommy experience at all there’s a good chance they know the steps better than you. They know what they are doing, and you don’t. And that’s okay. You can give yourself some grace realizing, “I am a beginner at this!” Be patient. Don’t try to keep up with the mom whose been doing this for ten years, when you’ve only been at it for ten months. Don’t compare, (it leads to despair.)

3. “I am surrounded by mirrors.”
Not only are you surrounded by Super-Mommies…but you are surrounded by mirrors. These mirrors are those lingering questions in your head or your heart that keep saying things like, “You should know what you’re doing. Get it together. You aren’t good enough. You’ll never get it right.” Ugh. Mirrors remind us of our weaknesses and flaws. Look to God instead, He is where your strength comes from. He made you to do this, and He will give you what you need. In His time.

4. “This is hilarious.”
As a new mom, you can choose how you will respond. For me, that day in Turbo Kick, I chose to laugh. I could have been too proud, and walked out. I could have been too embarrassed, and cried. But I chose to laugh. I was SO out of my league! New mom’s, if you feel like you are clueless, laugh. Maybe you are. Give yourself permission to fail, to experiment, to grow. Some days you will cry, whine, or be angry with yourself, and set sky-rocket expectations to “do it better” tomorrow. It’s part of being a mom.

                               You are allowed to laugh. 

Because…this is hard. And because laughing–is evidence of humility. Of growing. Of not always knowing what you are doing 100% of the time. Whether you are a new mom or not, remember one of the the qualities of the highly esteemed “Proverbs 31 Woman” that we don’t often hear about is:

She smiles at the future.
She can laugh at the days to come.
(Prov. 31:25b, NASB, NIV)

You can laugh. You are learning, we all are are. Welcome to not having it all together. Welcome to growth.
Welcome to Insanity.
Welcome to Motherhood.

 

How Beach Trips Have Changed

This season’s swimwear is skimpier than ever. I know because I searched rack after rack, and tried on enough swimsuits to dislocate my shoulder. I was just looking for some coverage and support—because, this year, I would be running on the beach. Chasing my toddler. Juking out of people’s ways. And doing sprints to grab her out of the surf. (She’s quick.)

I was disappointed to find so many zippers, strings, and strategic cuts in the fabric–all exposing as much skin as possible without being totally nude. Even some of the one-pieces seemed like something an adult store’s creepy mannequin would be wearing in the window. The sides were totally cut out, leaving no fabric but what resembled the core of an apple, along with strings, laces, and cups almost as thick as my mattress.

Yeah…not happening.

In the fitting room as I hung up suit after suit on the “Definitely Not” hook, and saw the few lone attempts at modesty hanging on the “Considering It” hook, I realized something: not too long ago the suits on those hooks would have been reversed. I used to wear “those” suits that now feel more like lingerie when I put them on.

There was a time when beach time = me time. When my #1 goal was to look good. I’d lay out all day in a bikini, basting myself with oil, basking in the sun, and working on my tan—the only souvenir I could show off, in order to get some attention from guys. This is what I loved and lived for. Then.

What changed?

I’m sure it would be safe to say: my body. But that’s not really true.

It’s something much deeper. Something in my heart.

A promise.

A promise I made on another beach, not in a bathing suit, but in a long white silk gown. Where I walked down an aisle barefoot, toward his beaming smile. Where I looked into his deep green eyes, and clasped his hands. Where the wind took away my veil. Where my name changed forever. My identity changed, merged, melted together with his.

It was a simple promise:

“My eyes only for you, my body only for you.”

The vows we wrote together. The vows we made together. The vows…we had no idea how hard it would be to keep.

My eyes

            Only for you.

My body

            Only for you.

The vows, like our hands clasped tightly together, that this world, and sin, and life, and stress and selfishness would try to rip apart.

The vow to love.

And the love that would give birth to life.

The life of this fearless little girl I now chase through the surf. Her hair so blonde, it’s almost transparent in the sunlight. She’s laughing, and screaming with delight as the waves hit her. Everyone hears. We’re getting soaked and scream together now. I scoop her up just before another wave crashes against us, knocking us off balance. Her little wet body clings tightly to mine. I look up in the foamy wake and my eyes meet my husband’s; he’s gazing at us and smiling, that same beaming smile that met me at the end of the aisle, on another beach, five years ago.

What happened to the girl I used to be?

The Tide came in,

            and swept her away.