Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Strangeness of Growing Older

You know that moment when you find out that one of the more mature members of the cast on a show you watch was born just one year before you were born, and that feeling of surreal shock it gives you, because he seemed so much older than you still feel on the inside? Or that moment you sit outside the banquet hall where your husband’s high school reunion is being held, and he says, “This can’t be the right place - it’s all old people going in that door,” and you think for a moment, blink a couple of times, and say, “You know, I think we are the old people now,” and you both sort of psych yourselves up to either go in that door or leave and not look back? Or when you try to wrap your brain around the fact that U2 and all the other ‘80s music groups that you’ve loved are ‘Golden Oldies’ to your kids in the same way that your parents’ beloved ‘60s music was to you? Or when you are reminded that 1990 really isn’t 10 years ago, not by a long shot, even though it really, truly feels like it? Or when you realize that BOTH of your sons are taller than you, and have been for a while now, and their voices have that deeper man-quality about them all of a sudden and they all of a sudden need to shave? Or when you realize your oldest son only has 2 more years of high school left, and his brother is right there at his heels ready to start high school next fall, and you try really hard not to do the math for remaining years that will take your breath away if you think too long about it regarding their little sister, and you feel like it’s only been a few blinks since they were little and cute and cuddly and barely walking and you felt so overwhelmed with being a mom to ‘littles’ and you were frustrated with all the older moms who kept telling you to ‘cherish every moment’ because it goes so quickly? 

And now here I am, living that moment, living that season of life. I no longer have ‘littles’ and all the types of frustrations that filled the mommy blogs and MOPS discussions back then, (and which complaining - which it very often was, honestly, I found annoying even at the time - I wasn’t all that into ‘mommy blogs’ and parenting magazines that focused on superficial things that in the long run weren’t actually the most important concerns). No, now I have the, in my opinion, more difficult, but so rewarding, time of older kids, being an older mom when I don’t think it’s nearly as cute or wise or funny or kind to blog about the things my kids say and do. Now I’m much more careful about what I share about them, because they really are their own people. And I should have been more careful, back then, too. But that’s for another blog post, another day. It’s not really what I had in mind to write about today, but I did read a good post regarding that here, that is worth reading and thinking about.

Those older moms who always wistfully told us to cherish every moment? I understand them a little better now. People are not kidding when they tell you that time flies. It does. Oh, how it does. And as I’m in this season of being an older mom with kids who are getting older and on the verge of flying from the nest in just a blink of time, it seems, I find myself wondering and pondering. Have I taught them enough? I know I’ve failed in many ways, as we all do, none of us are perfect parents. But I know they’ve heard the Gospel along the way, often, maybe not as often as I wish now looking back as it could have been, but often and in various ways and discussions and watching us live life in light of the Bible truth we know and the Savior we love. My prayer is that, in spite of our imperfect and learning-along-the-way parenting, please, God, would You draw my children to You every day? May the faith we’ve taught be more than just their parents’ faith, may they know and love Jesus and repent and trust Him for life?

I didn’t actually set out to write a blog about being a mom, though. What I was really thinking about was how strange this whole thing of getting older is. Inside, I still feel like I did when I was in my late 20’s, though I am so thankful to be able to look back with tears of gratitude that I’m not actually the same person I was then. God has graciously taught me so much along the way and through the years of reading His Word and listening to men who preach it faithfully. I saw a quote the other day, and I don’t remember it word-for-word, but it was something about how you may read the Bible and forget exactly what you’ve read when you get up that morning, but over a lifetime, faithful, daily reading of the Word will ultimately shape your thinking. I can bear witness to that. I may not be able to pinpoint exact moments of Bible reading or exact sermons heard, but a lifetime spent thinking about them and filling my mind with them has shaped me, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. I am so grateful. I look back at the prideful little thing I was back in my youth, and I’m so thankful for things along the way that God has used to gently humble me and change how I think and then how I act. I have a long way to go and much to learn, but by His grace, what a wonderful Savior Jesus is to be so very patient with His own!

Growing older is a strange thing. It’s amazing how when you’re young, it seems like you have all this time to do things, but how quickly you are all of a sudden nearing the end of your son’s high school years and you’re not in your 20’s anymore and time just seems to have drifted, sifted away while you weren’t looking because you were so busy in the very dailyness of it all.  All the adults I knew as a kid, I thought they were so put together and knew so much. And they did, but now that I’m that adult, I realize how insecure, scared, young they must have felt deep down inside sometimes, too. It’s a humbling thing to realize you are now the adult that the marketers target as you hear ‘your’ music playing in the grocery store, and as you realize politicians and CEOs and doctors and lawyers and important people, as far as making society run goes, not to mention pastors and elders at church, are your age…….and younger. It’s a weird thing to be the mom who your kids think knows everything, when you know how much you don’t know. We are that generation now. Sometimes that’s an overwhelming thought. But it also makes me appreciate my own parents so much more. They were here once, too, feeling these same strange feelings I’m feeling, and they did it well. I’m thankful for their example, and their love and support. Most importantly, I am extremely thankful for the example of a Christian home, and for the many, many, many faith filled discussions as we rose up, as we sat, and as we walked along the way. What my parents learned from the Bible, they shared with us, and that is a true legacy. I hope I’m doing the same well with my own children.

We’ve had some difficult things happen in our extended family recently, a heart-breaking loss, that has me thinking even more about mortality, and how fleeting this life is, and what a gift each day is. How important it is to know Jesus and love Him and live in His light every day. We have today, but we really do not know about tomorrow. Only He knows the days of our lives, before there ever was one of them, and I want to live the days He has given me well. One of the great comforts of this life is knowing that Jesus knows my days, before there ever was a one of them, and I belong to Him. He knows every day, and He is ever interceding for His own. I don’t want to fear growing older, and all the strangeness that brings, and I also don’t want to presume upon tomorrow. I want to trust Him with even the uncertainty of these days. He is Lord. May my life be a reflection of Him.

Psalm 139:16
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” 

James 4:13-17
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ - yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” 

Monday, March 09, 2015

Status Update, March 2015

Seeing as I haven’t posted anything here since the end of December, Happy (not so )New (anymore) Year, blog world! My blogging ability seems to have waned along with my mood this winter. Winter in Cleveland has been quite an experience for this former Florida girl. I thought I liked a little winter, and I do like A LITTLE winter. Snow is great and pretty and fun when you only get a couple of big snows and then it melts away soon after. Though people jokingly warned me about winter here, I do not think I was prepared for quite so MUCH winter. I think you can’t be prepared for it until you experience it, and when you experience it you will either love it or hate it. Guess which side I landed on along with my many falls on icy sidewalks? I told someone recently that I think Cleveland winter has done its work and turned me into a bona fide snow Grinch. We haven’t seen grass or sidewalk or driveway since November (brief respite in an unusually snow-free December which lulled me into blissful unpreparedness) and January, oh, January, when we began to get mounds of snow and ice and more snow and gray, gray, gray, dismally gray skies for MONTHS. I’ve been truly fighting a bit of the winter blues, what with winter in general and some other things along the way that I don’t want to write about, and my energy for writing was completely sapped. So, if anyone even bothers to check here anymore, I’m sorry for the blog silence, but maybe, just maybe I can start getting my head above the gray clouds again now, with the hope of spring around the corner.

Driving here is not fun on a good day, in the winter it’s been….interesting. Throw in the mix that the last time we had the oil changed in my car (the one 4-wheel-drive vehicle we own) they put the wrong size cap on and it slowly lost all its oil without us realizing it, resulting in one day the car just not driving at all and the bad news that the engine was completely fried, and, well, it’s been a frustrating winter. Now, three weeks and quite and expense (but not a new car payment!) later, I have my car back with a new engine. Thankful, I am.

I know I shouldn’t complain and be so low in the winter. I know people who are facing real hurts and struggles, for whom I’m praying daily, and my griping about winter in Cleveland is pretty lame, which only makes me feel even more guilty about the confusing fog of blues into which I descended over the past few months. But my fog was real for me, and I’ve been praying through it, and God is good all the time, even when my feelings and emotions lack zeal. How extremely thankful I am that my standing with God and salvation are not based in my feelings and strength, but in my gracious Savior Jesus, who never wavers and who is ever interceding for His own.

Some great news today is, as I said on my Facebook wall just now: The sun is shining! The snow is melting! It’s a glorious 46 degrees and for the first time since November it feels LOVELY outside without a coat! No coat! No need for hat, scarf, OR gloves! The air doesn’t hurt my face! And I can see pavement on the sidewalks! No more ice skating to school! There are even a few spots of, what’s that stuff called again? Oh yes, grass! Dare I say the long, gray misery of winter may be coming to a close at last? AND I hear birds. Birds! I’d almost forgotten how very much I love to hear birds singing. It’s a lonely world when the birds go silent. So long, winter!

I will say that one very bright spot in our year here in Cleveland has been the church we get to join with while we’re here. The prayer, music, and Bible teaching are so rich, and I have been greatly encouraged by this body of believers and their commitment to worshiping Jesus well. I think this encouragement has done much to keep the blues at bay. 

So, not a very serious post, but hopefully one to get me back to blogging again. I hope. If you’re interested, I have found a couple of books that are helping me learn how to pray well, and they’ve been a blessing to me alongside reading my Bible. One is The Valley of Vision, and the other is Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration by Barbara R. Duguid and Wayne Duguid Houk. 

Happy (almost) spring!