I Have Never Felt So Old

I just turned 40, and I have never felt so old.  I didn’t expect my 40th birthday to be such a big deal, but it has gotten me rather discouraged.

You see, as a young person, I had a much different vision of the person I would be at age 40. I imagined that I would be firmly established in some great work, resulting in many accomplishments and victories.  I thought I would be much more confident and able to teach others all the wisdom I possessed.

The opposite has happened.  I have simply become more aware of how infinitesimally small my knowledge really is.  I have become more aware of my tired bones and creaky joints.  I think the trends and fashions of my teenagers are weird.  I have never felt so old.

This is a new feeling for me.  I have always looked rather young for my age, not quite as grown up or sophisticated as I should.  When I had my first child at age 23, I looked like a teenage mother by people who didn’t know me.

Now I have white streaking through my dark brown hair, and I feel and look older than I ever had before.  I know that 40 is still very young, not even middle-aged!  I am still full of life and vitality…just sometimes I forget.

I took Courage, my three-year old to the park last week.  He was complaining about being cold, so I explained to him that if he started running around, he would warm up.  Then I demonstrated by running up the stairs of the jungle gym and dashing up and down the various bridges and towers.  Courage thought this was great and joined in.  He told me that I should follow him down the slide, so I complied.  It was fun until I whacked my hip on the side.  It wasn’t made to be used by a full-grown adult.  I decided to stand back and watch Courage play.

Suddenly he rushed over to the swings with such enthusiasm, I had to follow.  I sat down in the swing next to him.  Why did I ever like these things as a child?  They are too small and squeeze my hips painfully.

I gave it a try anyway.  I started pumping my legs and began to lift into the air.  My head began to spin and I got a bit woozy.  I thought of my Grammy who would never ride the carousel with me because it would make her dizzy.  I never understood why she would give up such joy!  Now I understand!

Still, I could feel the cool, crisp wind in my face!  It felt like I was flying!  I was free, like a bird in the sky!  This is how it feels to be a child again, hair blown back, face towards the sun.  It was glorious!

It was then that God spoke to me.

“You look at your child with such delight and wonder as he explores and discovers his world.  You recognize his potential and celebrate the man he will someday become.  You are certain that he will accomplish great things during his life.  He is so new and fresh, full of promise.

I see you that same way.  I still see you as the young child with wide-eyed wonder, your face towards that sky as you “fly” on the swing.  You are full of promise and potential.  You are not old at all compared to me, the Ancient of Days.  You are not behind schedule and it is not too late.”

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I love to hear God’s voice!  He energizes me and gives me hope!  I was trying to wrap my brain around my new-found childhood throughout the next week and into the weekend when I attended the yearly Women’s Conference at my church, Life Center.

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Many amazing women took the stage and shared about the outrageous love, mercy, forgiveness, faithfulness, and goodness of God.  At the very end of the conference, a group of young women stood up to share prophetic words that God had given them about the conference attendees.  Each of us attending had been given a special name tag that was hanging on a colored ribbon.  There were nine colors and each color had its own prophetic word.

My color was pink and Tiffany began to talk about how pink makes us reminiscent of our childhoods.

“What I felt for you women is that God wants you to be able to just see something, see what you are going through, see your life, see everything around you through this different perspective of a childlike faith…childlike expectations…There is just this excitement and enthusiasm that is going to come on you and you’re going to be able to see things from a different angle and from that childlike perspective, and even when hard things come up that you would be able to just not lose your step. I just saw you skipping around.”

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God’s voice at the playground had changed my perspective of myself.  God viewed me as still full of promise and potential. God delighted in watching me as though I was a carefree and eager child.  Perhaps I should think of myself that way too.

A woman I had never met came up to me during the conference.  She had a head of completely white hair that was styled in a cute, hip way.  She had a very young face (I later found out that she was only 46).  She must have notice those white streaks in my hair because she said to me, “I just wanted to let you know that your hair is going to be totally white like mine.  Mine started out very dark like yours, but I began to get some white hairs when I started having children.”

“I think your hair is very pretty.” I replied, wondering why she felt the need to inform me of the impending signs of aging knocking at my door.

“How old are you?”  She asked.

“40”

“OH MY GOODNESS!  I THOUGH YOU WERE IN YOUR TWENTIES!!!!”  She looked taken aback by my actual age.

I raised my hands in spontaneous enthusiasm and shouted like a silly child, “THANK YOU JESUS! YES!!!! I look like I am in my twenties!  THANK YOU JESUS!”

That women just made my day.  I think I am seeing myself more that way God sees me, and I am so tickled about it!

Christmas and the Seasons of My Life

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I love the Christmas season.  I am sorry to see it end so quickly.  As I enjoyed the sights and sounds and smells of this glorious time, I remembered all of the Christmases that I have known.

As a child, the magic of Christmas emerged from the basement and took residence in our home once again, as we hung our stockings, trimmed our tree and set up the manger scene.  I would study the solemn cast of characters in the small wooden stable all covered with moss.  I would lie under our artificial tree, looking up through the branches at the multicolored lights and soak in the wonder of it all.  We would attend our Quaker Meeting’s yearly tradition; a potluck dinner (with an entire room full of desserts) followed by a carol sing and candlelight service.

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I would sit on a bench in that meeting room surrounded by the scent of evergreen branches and the flickering, golden light.  I would listen to the members of the congregation read the Christmas story from the Bible.  The words sounded so beautiful and sacred to me.

I remember the Christmases of my teenage years.  I had a small group of friends who were all very talented singers.  I could sing a melody clear and true.  My friends could harmonize any song in the most beautiful way.  We began a tradition of gathering at my house and then venturing out into the cold to sing carols to my neighbors.  The most beautiful music I have ever heard was made by our voices lifted into the frosty night air.  I felt so blessed to be a part of that wonderful sound of praise.  I have not been able to make such beautiful melodies matched with such lovely harmonies since that season, and I miss it, especially at Christmas.  I console myself with the thought that someday heaven will be filled with music like that all the time!

I think back to our very first Christmas as a married couple.  We were excited to have some family and friends over to our very first place for Christmas dinner.  It was only a tiny apartment with no real furniture, but it was ours.  We got a little tree and decorated it with the set of tiny, wooden ornaments that my grandmother had given us…our only ornaments!

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Those precious little things have since gone into hiding, being choking hazards and not suitable for a house perpetually inhabited by at least one baby and one toddler.  But that Christmas, there were no babies yet.  I wanted to make some dessert for our dinner, yet I hadn’t planned ahead.  I had only flour, sugar, and some Hershey Kisses.  I made a trip to the closest gas station (the only place open on Christmas morning) and made some short bread.  That evening, everyone piled into our small kitchen to eat around card tables, and it seemed a very joyous occasion.

I remember Christmases with little ones.  It was hard to keep the ornaments on the tree, and the wrapping paper was much more appreciated than the gifts themselves.  I remember the 7 Christmases that I was pregnant.  I wasn’t feeling very good during most of those, and didn’t care if we even put up a tree.  But I still enjoyed the joy and excitement in those little faces.

One of our children was conceived over the Christmas holiday.  What a precious gift!  The baby was a boy, and all our boys have names that begin with the letter “C.”  Chris and I joked that we should name him, Colorado Christmas Conception.  We decided to go with Chai Erik instead!

This year was a lovely Christmas.  I was pregnant but feeling very good!

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We had our 8th annual Christmas party with a house full of friends and caroling around the neighbor hood.

Chai demonstrating the joy of caroling!

Chai demonstrating the joy of caroling!

We attended the candlelight service at our church and felt that holiness again.  On Christmas morning our house was full of two parents, one grandmother, teenagers, preteens, children, and a toddler.

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We had a little of everything from toys to video games,

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from big helpers to little messer-uppers.

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  A glorious chaos of noise and joy,

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frustration and love!

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I wanted to soak in every detail of the present Christmas, as I knew it would never come around again.

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The teenagers will be thinking about college.  The preteens will become teens.  The younger ones will grow into more mature ones.

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We will get older and wiser and never be quite the same people we are right now.  Only God knows what each new Christmas will bring.  My vision of Christmas future is a huge dining room table surrounded by my children, their spouses, and their children; my grandchildren!  There could end up being quite a lot of them…perhaps 10, 20, 30, or more!

Looking back over all the Christmas seasons of my life there is a common thread.  Always there is Jesus, lying in the manger; whether he is small or large,

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made from wood or ceramic,

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set up high on a self or cradled in the arms of a child.

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Jesus is always there.  Yet the baby Jesus is just a symbol…a symbol of God’s amazing, crazy, unfathomable love!

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Jesus is a baby so longer.  He grew and became a man.  He pleased his Father in every way.  He was obedient in everything, even obedient to die on a cross.  He was revealed as the Lamb that was slain before the foundations of the world.  He decided to die for us before any of us were even here.  He set us free to enjoy all the wonderment and joy that the human heart can possess!

Yet looking back, I also see him as a Lion.  The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, always at my side, whether I knew He was there or not.  A strong and ferocious kind of God; violent in dealing with my enemies and fears and doubts, unrelenting in His jealousy for me, bold and courageous in the ways He loves me, yet soft and gentle when He draws me near.  That Lion was always with me; during the innocent years of childlike faith when I would talk to Him every night before falling asleep.  During the cynical early teenage years when I sat in that candlelight service and thought how foolish someone must be to believe that a baby born in Bethlehem was actually God.  During my last years in High School, discovering the wonder of a real God who loved me just as I was.  During my young married years when I didn’t know very much about anything.  During all of the pregnancies and births and babies and toddlers and growing and learning and sorrows and joys.  Jesus was there!

The Great I AM limited Himself to the smallness and helplessness of a baby just so He could always and forever BE WITH US!  May we never get over the miracle of Christmas; that the Lion and the Lamb, the Almighty God IS WITH US!  And we can spend eternity exploring the height and depth and breadth of His great love for us.

Merry Christmas!!!