According to a timeline I created during my freshman year of high school, by the time I was thirty-five I would have been a flutist for various Disney orchestras, married to a Young Life area director, and the mother of three children.
The fifteen year old version of me was incredibly idealistic.
In real life, I have been a youth ministry intern, a teacher, a cancer prevention educator, an admin assistant at a college, married a Young Life area director (got that one right), and would still love to become a mother. I have traveled across Europe, traveled through some of the western US, lived in Texas, settled in Tennessee. I have known grief, known heartbreak, and known incredible joy.
The fifteen year old version of me forgot to include all that on her timeline.
Yesterday morning, I woke up and let Knox out. Still drowsy from staying up late at my surprise party the night before, I climbed back in bed and fell asleep for a few minutes. I woke again with a start.
"It's my birthday!"
Knowing I wouldn't be able to fall back asleep, and not really wanting to, I crept out of bed and snuck away to the den. I snuggled into my reading chair to begin a now sixteen year old tradition. Every year on my birthday, I wake early to read through Psalm 139 (my favorite one) and look through the Creative Memories album my Mom made me as a high school graduation gift. That album contains my story, my birth and the nine years that followed.
This time I read the psalm and it seemed brand new. In a year when I have wrestled with my faith in a way I never anticipated, I found myself wishing I'd read it more often.
"You hem me in, behind and before
and lay your hand upon me."
God has had His hand on me all this time. He has never abandoned me. He been in front and behind me, hemming me in to safe places, even when they didn't feel that way.
"...in your book were written, every one of
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them."
He has known each day, each trial, each joy, each struggle. And he knows the ones to come. They are not strange to Him. He created them.
I found myself breathing a prayer of tearful thankfulness for this life that I've been given. In these last weeks where I've struggled with patience, I suddenly found renewed strength to wait for the days that my Father has already created for me. I prayed that I would live this next year with purpose and joy.
Thirty-five years is a gift. And each year that I tack on after this will be a gift. As I sat cozied into that chair, with the story of my life literally laid out in front of me, I marveled with new eyes at the possibility.
"Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
- Mary Oliver
I will love fearlessly.
I will create.
I will celebrate others.
I will nurture the love that has been given to me.
I will honor the strengths that God has given me.
I will learn from my weaknesses and my failures.
I will embrace what I have.
I will wait with joyful anticipation to see the days that my Father has created for me and my family.