What I learned in 2014
I’ve had a writer’s crush on Emily for a while now and when she posted yesterday about an opportunity to link up on her blog about what I learned in 2014, I knew immediately there is no one I’d rather share my ‘first’ link up with than her. She’s the real deal and I admire her greatly. I actually got to sit on the front row in one of her workshops when I attended SheSpeaks last summer, but never mustered the courage to meet her. Seriously, aren’t we all braver behind a keyboard? Here’s to more courage in 2015.
I’ve been considering this topic for all of 24 hours now and I must admit, I’m not sure I learned much of anything in 2014. I am learning things, but nothing cemented quite yet. That’s how it goes with bull-headed people. We like to learn things over the course of a couple (several) years while the compliant, meek, gentle, and Proverbs 31ish woman learns things in a matter of days…probably during her quiet time at 5 AM before she flitters off to make home-made bread and tends to the mending and ironing of her kin-folk.
Bull-headed people also only have one 5 o’clock in their day.
It’s in the PM.
And, my iron is a water bottle (seriously, it’s amazing how wrinkles fall out with some water sprayed on them–who’s the proverbs 31 woman now?).
So, here’s my list of things I’m learning. Maybe a few things have sunk in this year. Let’s hope so. I’m so grateful for where God has brought me, but I’m still so desperate for His grace and leading.
What I learned (am learning) in 2014
1. Turning the big 4-0 was not abominable or horrific.
Actually, it was the exact opposite of horrible. Something about turning 40 is freeing and satisfying. I like the forty-year old version of who I am. Oh I am well aware of the areas God is still rooting out of my life, but He is transforming me and maturing me and I am grateful that life experience is sometimes the best teacher. I’m fairly certain the eighteen year old version of myself would be disappointed with the forty-year old version because the eighteen year old version thought I would have had all my crap together by the time I was 40. Nope. Here’s the deal, my forty-year old self is confident and secure about not having all my crap together.
Bless my insecure, immature eighteen year old self. She didn’t know any better.
2. Drink Sangrias in Spain.
In September, Stefan and I went to Costa Del Sol in Spain. Think Beverly Hills of the Mediterranean. Now, picture US there. Comical. An air-condition contractor and his forty-year old wife who doesn’t have her crap together.
(One of the things I am most grateful for in this life is the opportunity to travel with my husband on incentive trips. Incentive=mostly free. Crazy how businesses will give you thank you trips for buying their equipment).
Anyway, Sangrias. That’s what we are discussing, no? (I’m pretending I’m still there, no?) I’m not positive about all this, but my theory is if you live on the Costa del Sol you must eat like a super model about to walk the runway in Milan. Meaning, a six month old baby eats more than they do. So, imagine my surprise when I ordered a hamburger and was given a Polly-Pocket sized hamburger instead.
Y’all. Not okay.
So, I ordered a Sangria at almost every meal. Not for the drink, but for the extra fruit. It’s what I call being resourceful. You almost made me hangry, Spain. Almost.
3. My eyes actually CAN produce tears at appropriate times.
I’ll spare you all the details of my crying issues. Just know that for most of my life, I’ve never been able to cry when I’m supposed to and always seem to cry when it makes no sense whatsoever. For example, I went to the sports doctor for my runner’s knee and started crying when he walked into the room. WHEN HE WALKED INTO THE ROOM. Not crying because of pain, not crying because we are having a conversation. Crying because he opened the door and walked in. I like to make awkward situations even more awkward. It’s a spiritual gift.
But, this year, I’ve experienced more appropriate tears…crying with those who are hurting, crying with those who are rejoicing, crying with those who are afraid.
I still cry every time Kaden leaves to go back to college.
And, I cry thinking about my other kids growing up, moving out, and moving on.
I cried for days when we said good-bye to our Wrigley. She died of a heat-stroke in September.
I also cried like a baby watching the Fault in Our Stars.
And, at some of those mother’s day commercials. Sheesh. Those were brutal.
Here’s the point, I’m learning that a tender heart is beautiful. A strong heart is beautiful too. But, when a person has both a strong and tender heart…now that’s the most beautiful thing.
I may even start crying now.
4. NYC with girlfriends is always a good idea.
Especially if you’re celebrating your 40th birthday.
And, your husband gives you birthday cash to shop.
5. “Great Things for God” needs re-defining.
I was at lunch with a friend today and we were discussing how sometimes people say things which inadvertently puts undue pressure on us as Jesus followers. My friend said, “For example, like when someone says, ‘God’s got big things in store for you.’ Or, ‘You’ll do great things for God.’ ”
Those people mean well. They do. They are words meant to encourage and edify. I’ve said those sentiments, or something like that to people. But, I’ve been the recipient of those phrases frequently this year and it’s been paralyzing to me.
Because I’ve defined “great things for God” and “Big things in store” erroneously.
I’ve seen it over and over in myself and in other people. Christians waiting for the big thing they are supposed to do, the world-changing opportunity to declare His glory, or the great thing God prepared you for and prepared for you.
And, while I believe we are God’s masterpieces created in Jesus for good works He’s prepared for us, I also believe we spend a lot of time waiting for those “big things in store” while missing the opportunities for good works right in front of us every single day.
Because mundane doesn’t feel miraculous. Our small lives don’t feel “great” or “big” and so we question if our small lives are what we were made for, or if we are missing the big, the majestic, the great, elusive, world-changing thing God has prepared for us.
Here’s what I’m learning:
The world will be changed through small, mundane lives who live out the gospel with great love.
Changing a child’s diaper in the middle of the night is a great thing.
Teaching and shaping 22 fourth graders who are rowdy, restless, and disrespectful is a great thing.
Loving a teenager through dark, rebellious, and messy decisions is a great thing.
Working long hours without validation or recognition to provide for your family’s needs is a great thing.
Listening to the heartbreak of your friend’s failing marriage is a great thing.
Praying with your daughter before she walks the lonely halls of Jr. High is a great thing.
Fighting for your marriage is a great thing.
Cleaning and re-cleaning your house after a long day of refereeing sibling arguments and 3-year-old temper tantrums is a great thing.
Holding your tongue when the gossip mongers start in on their next victim is a great thing.
Sacrificing your reputation for the sake of loving the scandalous is a great thing.
These are the big things God has in store for us. These are the great things we do for the kingdom.
Look at us being world changers!
I think I actually have a tear in my eye.