~ written on December 15, 2012 ~
Here I sit, right smack in the middle of my birthday. I’m not 30 anymore, but I don’t really know if I’ve been born yet 31 years ago.
Still yet, by the end of today, I will most certainly be 31 years old.
An easy age.
Doesn’t hurt a bit to turn 31.
Which is kind of nice because, rather than spending any time bemoaning my ever-increasing age, I have had plenty of time to contemplate what has taken place this past year, as well as mull over any changes I might like to make in the year to come…
My 30th year has perhaps been the best year I’ve ever had, and not for the typical things one might be thankful for – health, financial blessings, ease – on the contrary, looking back, I am surprised by how many challenges we have faced as a family.
But true to His Word, God has used each one of them for our good:
surgeries. My sweet Miss Sunday’s index finger saga was as hellish an ordeal as I’ve ever experienced, and I will never, ever forget holding her in my lap while the doctor manually reset her finger. Every cry she made (for a complete hour) reverberated through my body, slicing at my heart and leaving me more helpless than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.
Likewise, I grew up by dog-years when Mr. Gore had back surgery early in the Spring. I am still recovering from our drive home from the hospital, mentally cursing at car after car that zoomed past us on the interstate, but his recovery period was one of the most sanctifying times I’ve ever experienced, and strangely enough, I still find myself thanking God for that time of togetherness as a family and personal growth as an individual, for I don’t think I honestly understood until then what “hard work” meant. If you could have seen me dragging our garbage holders (I don’t even know what they are called!) out to the road that first Monday, you might have thought I was a duchess (wearing frumpy pajamas) who woke up to find that all of her servants had abandoned the manor during the night (I’m pretty sure my pinkies were sticking up in the air), but by the end of his long recovery, I was relishing my newfound strength and work ethic, one that continues to develop in this girl who was previously, to be frank, quite lazy.
financial changes. Oh, the paradox of Christianity, that causes you to see with ever-changing vision what is important, countering the lies of culture over and over and over again. God has been extremely faithful to this single-salary family in the past year, but He continues to wake us up to a new worldview where 10% is just the beginning of our giving and where consumerism grows less tasteful by the day. And while this has been extremely freeing, it has brought with it a share of difficulties, especially for me. Like a dog that returns to its vomit, I have a longtime love affair with the beautiful things this world has to offer; I might walk away from the lies one day only to return to them tenfold the next. But guess what? We drive 2 cars from the 90’s, we have one old-fashioned cell phone, we cut off our satellite, those metal springs are still poking me every night through my seat on the couch, and…we are as happy as clams (on most days). And as challenging as these denials have been for me (among others), I thirst for more. Like I said…paradox.
death. We have lost a great-grandparent, two grandparents, and too many beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord. With each passing, I realize afresh that we are not made for this world with all of its sadness and separation, for there is nothing more final and sobering than seeing the body of one you held so dear being lowered into the ground. But there is hope in this sadness, for if we were not made for this world, and if mortality brings so crushing a blow, then I am quite confident that I should start living more intentionally for the world to come. The forever world. Where the things that are real and life-giving last for eternity…
Which leads me to my short list of wishes for the coming year.
~ Wish 1 ~
I long to continue returning to the things that we were created for. As I steadily grow in my faith, I am learning to discern the difference between those things that are fulfilling and those things that leave ashes in my mouth (I call them “ashy”).
Thus, my foremost goal in the year to come is to train myself to engage in the fulfilling rather than the ashy, even when everything within me is shouting “Choose the ashy!!”
What fulfills my redeemed heart? Studying the Bible. Spending time with my family. Biblically fellowshipping with the body of Christ (spurring each other on, confessing our sins to one another, praying together, discipling one another, submitting to one another). Giving my children my undivided attention. “Going forth and multiplying” with my husband. Making food with my hands. Digging in the dirt and growing things. Keeping a tidy and functional home for my family. Feeding my mind with good books. Being quiet and allowing the Spirit to talk to me.
Life, when lived in such a manner is a continual feast.
And which activities persistently leave ashes in my mouth? Overindulgent internet consumption. Overindulgent television consumption. Choosing television or other selfish pursuits over “going forth and multiplying”. Ignoring my family to pursue my own ashy desires. Making nonstop wishlists of things I want rather than tending to the things I have (for instance, cleaning up our filthy yard would beautify our home WAY more than ordering the latest trinket from Anthropologie). Overspending. Overeating. Being lazy. Being ridiculous. People-pleasing. Whining. Being jealous of others. Getting uptight about politics.
All that to say, I so want to choose the fulfilling, even when I don’t want to, and I know this won’t happen by osmosis; therefore, I am praying for grace and power and wisdom and growth, the likes of which I have never known.
~ Wish 2 ~
I would love to have a robot or something that would floss my teeth for me.
But speaking of the world to come (remember? I mentioned it in the mile-long intro to this post?), I’m excited to go to a place where flossing is not required or probably even suggested.
~ Wish 3 ~
I want to better understand and employ the unfathomable tool of prayer. I just paused in this writing to tiptoe upstairs and check on my children (it is now almost midnight – I think I’m definitely 31 now!). Seeing first that each one was breathing, I took a moment to look at their little sleeping faces, my heart a painful mixture of love and gratitude and, in the light of yesterday’s horrible tragedy, overwhelming fear. A prayer that began as “Oh, God they are so precious…” quickly turned to one of desperation that they would never be faced with harm or terror. But even as I prayed, my spirit was quickly moved to have faith and to trust in God’s plan for us and to reevaluate what our purpose on this earth is, and as I tiptoed back downstairs, I had to marvel at the unspoken exchange that took place in my mind. Those outside of Christianity would call me crazy for actually believing that my progression of thought was anything more than a one-sided conversation, but…I know better. Mostly because I know that the natural Mrs. Gore would never find faith through her fear – that’s simply not how I roll; when left to myself, I can get to the worst-case scenario in less than a second. So if God can move me and teach me in a 1-minute random “conversation”, imagine what He would do if I would take those conversations more seriously. Set time aside for them. Start my day with them. Pursue Him, even a fraction of the way He pursues me.
~ Wish 4 ~
Nay, this is more than a wish; this is a soon-to-be reality. I shall write a children’s book about some teensy little mice and I can’t talk about the plot out loud without crying. Promise you’ll buy a copy when it is published? In the year 2032?
~ Wish 5 ~
Well, I really must be getting old, because the only wish I can come up with at this incredibly late hour is that I wish to go to bed and put an end to this terrifically wordy blog post! But before I stop, I do want to put in an extra plug for Wishes 1 and 3…I really, really want those to come true.
And Wish 2 would also be lovely, although…I am a bit afraid of robots. I don’t think I’d want one touching my teeth.
Guess that means I’ll never be a flosser.
What I am, however, until I close my eyes in sleep, is the Birthday Girl…
and a very happy one I am, at that.