Today I turn 34 years old. I am almost in disbelief, in my mind I am certain I am still only 23. My body, my mind, my life tell me otherwise though. Things are changing, my life is shifting, my body is aching. Year 33 was good to me, so good. Welcoming into the world sweet Malia along side my best friend has forever changed me. She brought into focus who I am meant to be and what I was meant to do. She also helped to display front and center my selfishness, how up to that point I had lived 33 years of my life for no one other than myself. She has shown me a tiny glimpse of God's great love, mercy and grace for me.
The last year of my life has been by far the most fulfilling and the most difficult of my life. There have been times when I felt so alone, wanting so badly to have that big family you see in Christmas movies where they become the village that is needed to raise a child. That just didn't seem to be our reality, our reality was we were in this on our own. Or so I thought. God slowing started placing a community of people around us who loved on us and loved on our daughter, this community showed us that we are not alone in these uncharted waters. We had friends and friends' parents offering to watch Malia while we went on dates. We had my 23 year old sister-in-law who made a point every single day, from the day she was born, to see Malia. We had neighbors who would come by just to make sure we were ok. I had girlfriends who would sit and listen for hours about all the changes my body, my marriage and my mind were going through. I had a friend with 2 of her own children who would watch Malia without question anytime I asked or even better she would go to Happy Hour with little to no notice. I had amazing bosses who allowed me to only work just 2 days a week. We had a church who taught us the true meaning of community. We found such love and support over the past year. For those of you who were a part of loving us and our daughter I sincerely thank you. This is the greatest and hardest thing I have ever done and I literally don't know if I could have survived this past year without you.
All this reflecting on the past year has me thinking about what 34 will look like. After a year that felt like such a whirlwind I am in need of some structure and intentionality. As I started praying God sent me to Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge to you live a life worthy of the calling you have received. That is my guardrail for 34, a life worthy of the calling I have received. What is my calling? To love God, to love others and to glorify Him. That's it. Here are my thoughts on how this will play out. I will warn you now, 34 is not messing around!
1. I will focus on what I have.
Not what I want, not what I think I need, not on the relationships I wish I had. God has provided me with exactly what I need. He has placed in my life the friends, family and resources to live the life He has called me to. 34 will invest in those things, 34 will not chase after people who do not make an effort to be in our lives, 34 will give back to the amazing people who have poured into our lives. 34 will be looking for others that God places in our lives to extend His love, grace and mercy. 34 does not desire a larger house, a better car, more things, more money, a different job, more trips (although Cabo does sound nice!), 34 is making a choice to bloom where she is planted. This isn't to say that God doesn't want big things for Aaron and my life, but I have come to realize the "big things" are not things at all. They are people, they are relationships, they are family, they are community. Those are the things 34 desires. 34 is letting go of the past and incredibly hopeful for the future.
2. I will be intentional with my time.
As much as I love social media and being connected to others, I have found that it often does the exact opposite of connect. I find myself feeling like there is no reason to reach out to others because it appears that I already know what is happening in their life based on what they post on Faceook or Instagram. We all know this is not true. You probably never knew how alone I felt at times during the past year, how would you? I only post pictures of a happy, smiling baby and full of life mama. That is definitely our reality some days but there are still times I struggle to get out of bed and hopefully take a shower.
Because I want to actually know what is going on in your life I am going to limit my time on social media (literally, 30 minutes a day max and only 10 minutes at a time). 34 is going to use that time instead to get on the floor with my daughter, to read to her, to call a friend, to meet for coffee, to walk our often forgotten about dogs, to really understand what is going on in the lives of those I love. Time is our most valuable resource, we cannot create any more of it. I am tired of letting time pass me by, tired of doing things that are not helping me live out what He has called me to do. He has called me to love and I believe He has asked me to use my time for doing just that. My daughter, my husband, my family, my friends, my community, my church deserve my undivided and non-distracted attention. 34 is putting the phone down (unless it's to CALL and talk to someone I love), 34 is keeping the TV turned off and 34 is disconnecting in order to truly connect and tune into my life.
3. I will live for today.
A very close friend's father was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. It has been an extremely difficult and heartbreaking time for her entire family and those who love them. I have been blown away though at the love that this family has for not only each other but for the Lord. Her father has said repeatedly, "No matter what happens I just want to glorify the Lord.". Can you imagine? Not knowing what lies ahead, being fearful for your life and your only request is that this somehow glorifies God. What perspective, what wisdom and faith this family has. My friend has said that her mom has just a couple priorities each day; thanking God for giving them another day together and just loving on each other. That is it, how simple life becomes when we we realize tomorrow isn't promised. I want my life to become that simple, because really I don't know what tomorrow has in store. I just have faith that it is all in God's hands. 34 is going to live for today, thanking God that He has given me one more opportunity to wake up next to my best friend, one more kiss from my daughter, one more chance to love on those who love on me, one more day to go out and love on other's who have never experienced His grace and mercy.
4. I will rejoice in the Lord, always.
I am so grateful for this life that God has blessed me with. He has so abundantly provided that at times I wonder how I could I ever be anything other that joyful. So 34 is joyful. 34 knows she is not alone, ever. 34 is walking in contentment and thanksgiving.
As I said earlier, 34 is not messing around. Have a blessed day!