Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thirty is an attitude...

Its official... I am 30. And as this birthday has  approached I have often thought, "I feel like I should have been 30 a long time ago," but then I also think, "how is it possible I am 30 years old when I still feel like I am a teenager some of the time." This year not only brings my 30th birthday, and my middle child turns 5 years old. At 30 I have an 8 year old, an almost 5 year old, and a 3 year old. It sort of feels like I should be 30.

I know so many people who dread getting older, or who do the whole I am 20 for the 2nd time... or I am 29.95 plus tax... etc. And while yes, I can commiserate with the whole getting older feeling, but I also think we really should be celebrating and proud of each year that passes. Why do we so often hide the age we are instead of looking at each year that passes as one more year in which we can say, "I learned a lot this year, and here is what I am going to take from it." Or why not look back on the year and say, "I am so grateful for these things!" and keep adding to that list every year. Each year we get older should just be another jewel in our crown, because each year holds beautiful memories, moments, lessons, and hardships. And yes, even those hardships are beautiful, because without each one of the things that happens in our life, we wouldn't be able to grow a little stronger or a little wiser and who doesn't want to grow stronger and wiser.

So, going forward into 30, I look back and think about what did I learn this year and what I am grateful for.

Well, the first thing I learned was I am striving more and more to be a better wife and mom. And how is it possible for me to do this. Well, it comes from simplifying my life and my family life. The conversation in our house has become what can we cut so we can have more time at home and with each other. I have started thinking about ways I can better manage my time, and this summer I started putting things in place to help me do that, and as school has started I have been working to make those plans fit in to the craziness of our school schedule. 

Second, I learned I am in love with a little island and it's people. I made my first trip to Sri Lanka when I was 28, but the following 3 were made while I was 29, and I am about to make my 5th trip. I can honestly say, the place, the people, the food, they have taken a small place in my heart. And I am so grateful for all teh of the friendships and relationships I have built. I am grateful that God has allowed me to connect with this place. I could not imagine my life without these people. However, that as also taught me another lesson on loving and loving well, and loving unconditionally, and sharing my love. It is very easy to pour all of our energy into one thing at the expense of another, and I have realized I can't love Sri Lanka and cheat other things and people in my life just as much as I can't love other areas of my life and cheat Sri Lanka and the people who mean so much to me there. So it's about finding balance and making loving each important part of my life in just the right ways for them, and it won't be an overnight accomplishment, but I can work to find just the right balance.

Third, I learned I am not as bad of a teacher as I thought I was. While I may not be good at teaching all the details of a subject I am good at showing students how to be passionate about following God's plan for your life, and about loving people. And not being afraid to figure out who you are. I learned that I do need to work on certain aspects of teaching in order to better communicate with the students the information they need to learn, but also showing them I love them and care about them and want to see them succeed no matter what happens. Which leads me to another lesson I learned: I can be overly critical of myself, but not in a perfectionist sort of way... more in a way that I see how things should be and I don't think I meet that standard. This really affects my teaching in a way that when anyone says something I take it as criticism and don't take the feedback in a way that would just help me improve.

Last, (well not really last, I did learn other things, but last for this post) I learned that I function so much better when I take time for my relationship with God and my own personal growth and mental/physical health. When I make sure I have that time, it really gives me more energy to give to the other people in my life. This gives me more to grateful for, especially grateful for my husband, who lets me have nights to go the movies free of kids, or lets me go sit and have a coffee completely alone to focus on time with God, time for school or things that just allow me to grow for me. Or the time to go ride my bike and get exercise when kids are refusing to stay in bed!

So in learning these things, it has helped me decide on a few goals for this next year and what I hope year 30 will bring me.

1. More time with my husband and kids.
2. More time at home so I can feel better about how the house is running.
3. Work on listening to my husband more and communicating better so that we can continue to have another successful 10 years.
4. Balance my love for my family, my friends, Sri Lanka etc. by not cheating one to give time to another.
5. Take feedback I get and make it positive and beneficial to growth.
6. Continue to share what God has made me passionate about with the students I am impacting and the people in my life.
7. Find time for my relationship with God and strengthening myself mentally, spiritually, and physically.

I really want to embrace being 30 and I look at this as a new decade beginning in which I will be able to grow and learn even more about who God made me (that is never going to be finished), and a new decade for making relationships with my family even stronger (my kids are out of the baby years now, so this next 10 years will usher all of them into the teen years!), another decade of discovering I really did marry my best friend, and another decade for living my life to the fullest enjoying each beautiful adventure that comes my way.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dying to Self

So, it has been a long time since I posted! This summer has been an adventure to say the least! June I was busily preparing for the school year and spending as much time with my kids as possible, and July brought a family vacation and an amazing two week trip for me to Sri Lanka. I am so in love with that place and the people, and a few of the people in particular are a part of my family now, and I can't imagine my life with out them!

Then August brought the start of school, and that meant lots of adjustments in schedule and life and just getting back into a routine. I have lots to write about things I learned and experienced this summer, but this post has been on my mind for a while.

Today was a very interesting day however, and will generate a post very soon about how amazing our friends are, and about how maybe there are times it takes God intervening for us to realize we may need to slow down! So, stay tuned for more folks, because this journey is just getting more and more beautiful by the day.

This quote came across my Facebook news feed about a month ago and I instantly saved it. I have been contemplating it ever since. I have had several thoughts about on a few different levels. First, spiritually and how I have to die a little inside and be reborn in Christ. Second, relationally particularly in relation to my husband and how I need to die a little in order to follow his lead better and wisely work together vs against each other. And third, personally as I think about the transformation process I go through as I become older and wiser.

As I thought about the idea of dying a little inside in order to be reborn, I couldn't help but think about what Christ did for me on the cross. Because Jesus died on the cross for my sins I have to die to the sinful way of human nature, and then I have to be reborn in Christ which does make me wiser and stronger. The Bible says in Romans 6: 6 - 11, "Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did." This clearly represents this idea of dying on the inside in order to be reborn stronger and wiser and more like Christ. My problem tends to be sometimes that I can't seem to kill of that sin on the inside. I like to hang on to it a little too much at times, but what I liked about this quote is that it really made me think. If I just kill off that sinful part (which will never completely go away, but I can stop hanging on to some of it), then I will become an even stronger and wiser me, more and more like Christ, which is my goal to bring glory to God in being worthy of being called a daughter of God. 

I continued to think about how this idea of dying a little on the inside to be stronger spread to other parts of my life besides just spiritually. And I realized in my relationship with my husband was one for sure. There are so many times that I am extremely stubborn, it kind of is just part of who I am, but when it comes to my relationship with him, the bible is clear that he is the leader of our home. Sometimes, I can push and push and push or just not let an issue drop because the answer he has given doesn't quite satisfy what I was hoping to hear. And that is when I have to stop and die a little on the inside and tell myself (particularly tell the stubborn self centered part of myself) he is the leader, listen to him, and trust that he is leading in the right way. I have to die a little on the inside so I can put his needs and our children's needs before mine. Not in a die inside and lose who I am and be a door mat that they walk all over, but die on the inside so that in my self-sacrifice I can become wiser and stronger and kinder to the people God has placed in my home, and trusted me to love here on earth. 

Then, that brought me to thinking about myself, and how I am in a daily struggle to be stronger and be wiser, but often the way I go about doing that is not by looking in, but focusing only on the outward methods of training, when really if I did focus on the end, I would be dying a little on the inside so I can be reborn into something stronger and wiser. The idea is to let those things inside that need to die go and not just sweep them under the rug, but officially take those things out of my life, and begin to focus on building myself up spiritually, relationally, and professionally. 

I've decided to embrace this idea for the rest of the year. I want to have a goal of dying a little on the inside each day so that by the end of the year I can be stronger, and wiser, and hopefully more capable of being able to bring glory to God, my father.