My girl loves cake. We had her last birthday party at the park near our home. The kids played on the playground and ate hot dogs and then it was time for Lydia’s favorite part… the cake. Unfortunately, the rain decided to show up at the party right as she was blowing out her candles. We were under a gazebo, but this was the type of rain that comes in sheets and blows from side to side. We decided to move the party to our house, and everyone started scrambling for their cars. But not Lydia. In the middle of all the chaos and rain, there she was sitting at the picnic table eating bite after bite of chocolate cake, her mouth covered in chocolate frosting and a giant smile.
My Bible study girls and I are going through Priscilla Shirer’s Gideon study, and last week she had us write down five ordinary tasks we perform on a daily basis. Later on, we were instructed to go back and write beside each ordinary task what that task indicates about God’s faithfulness and kindness to us. When I went back to write down the blessings associated, I teared up. Those mundane, ordinary tasks indicated God’s answer to specific prayers I’ve prayed over the past five years. Shirer writes, “Don’t despise the very things that signify your seat under the umbrella of God’s goodness each day.”
Today, I am celebrating 29 years, and I always try to take time on my birthday to think back on the year before. This past year has been crazy and at times, I thought I might be losing it (those who know me best will tell you I lost it a long time ago ;)) but this year has changed me in a million ways, both big and small. Since my last birthday, we heard, “It’s a girl!” and welcomed our blue-eyed Charlotte to the world. My transition to parenting two was a lot harder than the transition with our first child, and those first few months I felt like I was always two steps behind and ten minutes late. (Now, I’m just one step behind and 9.5 minutes late… progress, right?) Three months after Charlotte was born, God provided the opportunity for me to leave my staff position and be a stay-at-home mom. I was excited and anxious about the change. Excited to be home with my girls and have them as my sole focus but anxious because the staff team had become an extended family. I love them dearly and knew I would miss the daily interaction with them and knowing all the inner workings of what God was doing through our church. But I knew the timing was right, and the team I love so much was extremely encouraging and threw me a surprise going-away party I will never forget with my very favorite, carrot cake.
And then in early spring I got honest with myself about some dreams God had placed on my heart, dreams I was ignoring, dreams I had pushed aside and buried, blaming a lack of time but knowing it was really fear and insecurity that kept them buried. I started writing again, and it terrified me in the best possible way. For a recovering perfectionist, I have found healing in writing and sharing my imperfections and inadequacies and receiving love and grace and encouragement from readers. I’m learning about the power of vulnerability and the strength it provides to relationships. I’m learning that courage isn’t the absence of fear, but, rather, it’s doing what I know I’ve been called to do even when I’m afraid. I’m learning that the mayhem of this season of life isn’t something to fix. It’s simply a daily indication of God’s faithfulness and kindness to me.
As I embark on 29, I want to remember what matters most. I want to learn and grow and stretch and, yes, even fail. My prayer for 29 is that God will disturb and disrupt me, and, to be quite honest, that prayer terrifies me. I want to speak or write one truly honest thing every month, one paragraph, one sentence, one chapter where I show my true self, vulnerable and exposed, and I pray it will give others the courage to do the same. I want to see my weaknesses be the platform for God’s splendor. I want to treasure the right here, right now. I don’t want the storms and the rain to distract me from the chocolate cake sitting right in front of me. Thank you, God, for 29.