Tomorrow, I turn thirty four. So today, it only seemed fitting to look back over the past year and reflect on a few things that I learned while being thirty three years old.
1. I learned that my children’s joy, somehow magically translates to my joy too. Whey they are happy, it makes me, as a mom happy. And I guess it should be mentioned that the opposite is true as well… their hurts are my hurts and their sorrows mine too. But it’s a beautiful connection that parents and children have, and for that I am thankful.
2. I’ve learned that there are many good people in the world and that sometimes miracles happen. Last May, we hosted a Blood Marrow Donor Drive for a wonderful woman in our church, Toni Peterson. Many people signed up to be donors and God saw fit to find a match for Toni, who a year later, is doing beautifully. I know that life doesn’t always work out the ways that we think it should, but in this case, it did and it was awesome to see God working good.
3. I learned that our nine (at the time) year old son could dream something big and make it happen. He and his friends did a Lunch Room Lemonade Stand last year to raise money for world hunger. They ended up with $140 over four days of selling lemonade for .25 a cup, go figure. I was doubtful that they would even get permission for it but our son taught me that if you set your mind to something, and work hard, great things can come of it.
4. I learned that the fourth missions trip that you take in just under 12 years of ministry might be the most challenging one, but it also might be the most rewarding one. Our missions trip to Costa Rica was amazing and hard and beautiful. And as we’re looking to go back again this year (which is unprecedented since we usually go every three years) I realize that God was working great things into the hearts of our team that would carry on longer than the trip itself.
5. I learned that when you see your husband running down Montauk Highway cheering for the World Cup and America, when you’re thirty three, it’s not embarrassing. It’s just fun. And funny. But mostly just fun.
6. I learned that you can get a non-dog pet for your kids that they will love. Phew.
7. I learned that I could take two days and paint our daughter’s room purple and even though it would be a lot of work, in the end, it would be so worthwhile.
8. I learned that we could say goodbye to one of our most loved and dearest Pastors. When Pastor Charley retired last September, it was sad to see him and his wife go. But it’s been so hopeful to see how God’s provided for Eastport Bible Church. Six months later, and we are doing well… growing, learning and enjoying this time of newness. It’s good to know that sometimes changes are sad, but they are okay too. And that what’s most important is continuing to do God’s great work in our church and our community.
9. I learned that Giant Angry Birds 2.0 was awesome. Also, seeing Christian dressed up in a morph suit was pretty cool too.
10. At thirty three, I learned that parenting kids who are ten and eight isn’t easy. This past year, we’ve had our share of joys but also our share of tougher times. But I’ve also learned that when you stick with it, good things will come. I’ve learned that putting in the hours to parent well and loving our kids through everything, eventually pays off.
11. I’ve learned that after eleven years of youth ministry, we are still loving where God has us. We still have a passion to love students and share Christ with them and it’s been a great journey to be on.
12. At thirty three, I got to fly out and witness the birth of my newest nephew (I have seventeen nieces and nephews between Jer’s family and mine). It was amazing and such a joy to have this special time with my sisters.
13. At thirty three, I discovered Essential Oils. And I’m a believer. I love that they are natural and pure and that they really do work well. I’ve cured any number of ailments with them and don’t hesitate to go and Google whatever problem may come up plus Young Living Essential Oils. Lately, I’ve taken to trying to help cure my friends’ ailments which either makes me weird, or just someone who wants to share something good that I’ve found :).
14. I’ve learned that even though I grew up in Michigan, off the lakeshore and had my share of snow, at thirty three, it’s gotten to me. We had a lot of it these past few months. And it’s a tad depressing at times. And I’d say it’s fine because it’s over, but today is the first day of Spring, and they are calling for 3-5 inches tonight. Sigh.
15. I learned that I continue to love going to the gym. I just do. It’s been so good for my health and stress and anxiety. I’ve taken new classes and found new routines with friends and I love it and think that I always will.
16. I learned that if you build it, they will come. Our Hangtime program started up last fall and this past week, we had 52 students join us. And it was so awesome. In my thirty third year of life, God blessed me with being able to work with some amazing kids. Every week I get to tell them how God created them, how He loves them and how He has a great plan for their life. And I can’t think of anything better I could ever teach.
17. And finally, in my thirty third year, I learned that I have more and love for the incredible husband that God has blessed we with. I learned that the years get more and more amazing. I learned that almost twelve years of marriage is never easy, but it’s always worth the effort. I learned that I absolutely love this man and am so excited to see the great things that this next year will have in store for us.
And that would be my Ode to Thirty Three. It was a great year, it was a full year. It was an incredibly blessed year.