Birthday Hopes

I have been thinking about life as a chapter book, with plot twists and secondary stories, and chapters.  Some chapters we can predict, and others take us to places we never imagined.  I started a new chapter this week, one that hinges on a number and a milestone birthday.  My daily life hasn’t changed, but my thoughts have.  At first I dreaded it, then accepted it, and now I’m going to embrace it.  Today, I have a few birthday hopes to record.

Most of my dread stemmed from the feeling that I hadn’t accomplished what I expected.  But along with that, however, were challenges that forced growth in other, unanticipated areas.  That story brought me to my knees and to God, changed me at the core, and still tutors me.  In short, my forties were, hands down, the hardest decade of my life so far.  Motherhood has been both my undoing and my making, and the theme continues at a higher crescendo now than ever before.  So of course it wasn’t what I expected.  I’m sure my fifties won’t be, either.  But here I am, ready to make it the best 10 years of my life.

My birthday hopes:

  1. Accept full responsibility for my thoughts and feelings, and learn to create the life experience I wish to have by controlling those two things.
  2. More fully translate my faith in Jesus Christ into moments of tension, dismay, fear, weakness, doubt, disappointment, and uncertainty.  Let the perfect plan and the perfect sacrifice of my Savior inform all my responses to life’s challenges.
  3. Tell my story in artful ways that feed my soul.  I have missed working on projects like She Listened , Living a Prayer , and Through Tears She Saw More Clearly .  My heart needs more of this, so I will create time for it AND encourage others to do the same.
  4. Be a better resource, a better helper.  In this space, that means contribute more that others can use.  Watch for the first of quarterly free patterns coming this fall.
  5. Write, write, write.  Work on family history projects I’m passionate about.  Find a way to record all the thoughts swirling around in my head and heart and put them here.
  6. Accentuate the positive.  Assume the best about people.  Look for the good.
  7. Cultivate a daily pattern of living that is in harmony with my life’s mission and which constantly moves me toward the future I envision.

There was a time, nearly ten years ago, when I didn’t know if I would ever feel truly happy again.  In that season I bought a small bleeding heart plant from a local nursery because the sight of it resonated with my pain.  At the end of the summer, I planted it in the only available spot I had – a “bit of earth” where nothing else had ever come back a second year.  Not promising.  And yet, the next spring, it was back.  It’s been back every year since, and is now a large and thriving part of that flowerbed.  This spring it was heavy laden with perfect little hearts, and I was overcome.  I paused to observe it every day, knowing it was a quiet, perfect gift from a God who loves me.

On Sunday I shared my birthday with two of my daughters.  One of them returned home at the end of June from serving an 18 month full-time mission in Guam – half a world away!  Another daughter is preparing to do the same thing in upstate New York, beginning in August. My gift was hearing them share thoughts and feelings, seeing evidence of the amazing women they’ve become.  I’ll never forget it.  My heart was full of life, love, happiness, in spite of the dark and hard things we worry about.  It was a day that reminds me to look forward in faith no matter how hard a moment, or day or month or year, may be.

So I’m taking all these memories, challenges, and perfect moments with me.  They make me who I am.  And I’m going to use them to become more ME, the girl I’m meant to be, to live well, serve fully, and carry my birthday hopes into the future.  Most of all, I want to be an encourager.  I want to bless lives.

Thanks for coming along!

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