46 years, 364 days

 Tomorrow, I will turn 47.

That means that today, I’ve been in this world for 17,154 days.

That’s a long time to have already lived. I was telling Justin this morning that in the past, on the day before my birthday, I usually would think about the things I haven’t done: The changes unmade, the pounds undropped, the relationships unforged. I’ve always been pretty hard on myself. I expect a lot of myself, but I also see (glaringly) where I fall short of my own unrealistic expectations.

But finally, gently, year by year, grace is breaking through. The same grace I try to extend to others in my life is beginning to take root in my daily existence. I could sit here tonight and write about all that I’m not, all that I haven’t accomplished, and all that I don’t do. But as I scoot closer to 50 than to 40, I’ve decided that I’m going to celebrate. I’m going to celebrate the moments, the people, the real, the grit, the pain, and the soul-deep JOY that life is.

There’s something sobering about realizing I’m at an age now where I most likely won’t live the same number of years in the future that I’ve lived in the past. 90 maybe. 94, not so much. I think back to my childhood a lot and the people and places that shaped me. I think about my family, my cousins, and my dream of having a houseful of grandchildren someday, the same way my grandparents did when we were kids. And I’m gaining clarity on some things that have happened (and continue to happen) since my last birthday.

I’ve been witness to some seriously amazing growth in my husband. He is already something special, but this past year, watching him step more fully into the role of dad to our daughter and into the most challenging job of his life, I’ve been blown away. Papua New Guinea has changed us both. I’m honored to see his transformation.

I relaxed in my parenting. My daughter just wants my time. That is her love language. We don’t have to do fancy crafts or have elaborate plans…she just likes being with me. And with the pre-teen and ten years looming on the horizon, I’ll enjoy that fact for as long as I can. She’s so bright, and fun, and funny, and I’ve become even more crazy about her if that’s even possible. Praying for my daughter has become one of the most important ways to show her I love her.

I read some books this year. That may not sound like a lot to anyone else, but to me, it’s AMAZING! I made it a goal to read more when we came back from the US last summer. And I have! Maybe I’ll keep reading, maybe not, but it is a good thing to set a goal and do it. I’ll be stepping into the role of high school teacher for an indefinite amount of time when school starts here in two weeks. I look forward to reading with the kids.

Family and friends are life blood for me. I can go days, weeks, or even months without talking to some of the most amazing gifts and I’m always struck by the goodness of God in giving us each other. My parents become more priceless to me by the day, and it will be my absolute privilege to be there for them as they journey through the coming decades. I have close friends who have been there through some of the most wonderful and the most difficult times of my life and we are still part of each other’s stories. My oldest friend (33 years and counting) and I are in the early stages of planning our 50th birthday year trip to Europe!!! I. Can’t. Wait.

New friends are a treasure. Old friends know the me that I was. New friends know the me I’m becoming. Without who I was, I wouldn’t be who I’m becoming. I adore our Kudjip family. We’ve been through a lot of joy and sadness in our three years here. Journeying with the other missionaries has taught me more about true sacrifice than I ever imagined. The life of faith is about forgiveness, shared heartache, generosity, and a LOT of laughter.

I find new grey hairs every day. Not just on my head, but in my eyebrows. I have very pronounced sun spots on my face. And my wrinkles are multiplying. I'm thinking of never coloring my hair again, but a few weeks ago when we were on vacation, I got a facial at the spa. I bought some 'brightening cream' that is supposed to slowly fade the sunspots. And some 'eye balm' that is supposed to tighten the skin around the eyes. Seemed like a good idea at the time? Not sure. I like Christian music, and Disney, and staying up SUPER late so I can be alone, and my favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory. It helps me to laugh.

I’m going through menopause. I had some unexpected grief when it became obvious, because it meant, once and for all, that I would never have a natural child. At the exact same time, I am over the moon with happiness with our little family. I would not change one moment.

I’m finding peace with my body. Not every day. Not every moment. But finding a sponsor and working the 12 steps of Overeaters Anonymous has been a game changer for me. For the first time in my years of ups and downs in pounds and the havoc my weight has played in my physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health, I am on the path to recovery and healing. No more diets for me. No more finding the next program, losing 10 or 20 or 30 lbs. only to find it again and more. For the first time ever, I’m doing the hard work of digging into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of compulsive food behavior, not just trying to treat the symptoms. I’m optimistic.  

The things that give me life today:

*   Music that connects me to memories

*     New truths in scripture that I’ve never discovered before

*     Watching my husband give all he has to his calling

*     Connecting with my daughter

*     Dreaming about future travel

*     Time alone

*     Leading REFIT classes

*     Seeing God at work in the seemingly small

*     Gratitude

*     And, the grand finale, having my family sit down to a meal I cooked from scratch 😉



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