They Say It’s My Birthday

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

Today I am 33.

And it’s stupid hot outside, so I’m hiding in the house, next to the air conditioner, shades drawn. There’s a small rectangle between the top of the couch and the bottom of the blinds that allows me to peek out on a scorching, quiet world. Nobody is out-and-about. The rose bushes climbing up the trellis look a little sad. The dogs alternate between panting and snoozing.

It’s August.

I feel kind of sorry for making my mom go into labor during such a miserable time of year (as if I had any control over that). I was supposed to show up at the end of the month or even in early September. But I was in a rush, three weeks early. Bald-headed and a little over five pounds. My dad tells me that I came into the world with my eyes wide open, which I like to think was a sign of the curiosity and hunger for understanding that remains with me.

I’ve reached yet another transitional season of adulthood. I’m not young and stupid, but I’m also not old and wise. I know enough to know better, but not enough to always foresee the oncoming bend in the road. People begin to seek my advice on serious issues like faith and relationships, which is completely frightening. Most scary of all, I’m old enough to have been married long enough to start being looked upon as an example for other, younger wives.

Yikes.

I can’t help but take that seriously.

Today I wonder what kind of advice I can really offer to anyone. The better part of wisdom is knowing just how much you don’t know. Despite all my reading, all my studying – I know very little. But perhaps it’s not about the quantity of knowledge, but rather the quality of knowledge.

With that in mind, I move to pondering what I might wish to say if this were my last birthday. Yeah, yeah. Some of you find that morbid. Hike up your big kid britches. We’re all going to shed this leaky tent; some of us are forced to face that fact sooner than we’d prefer. I am painfully aware on a daily basis that this skin-suit is going to stop working one day. I have no delusions of immortality, none that are beyond the life eternal promised in Christ Jesus.

On this day, then, I want to leave you with some of the truest words I know, the best pieces of wisdom that will light the way through any darkness:

…what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. …

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. …

How can a young man cleanse his way?

By taking heed according to Your word.

With my whole heart I have sought You;

Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!

Your word I have hidden in my heart,

That I might not sin against You.

Blessed are You, O Lord!

Teach me Your statutes.

With my lips I have declared

All the judgments of Your mouth.

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,

As much as in all riches.

I will meditate on Your precepts,

And contemplate Your ways.

I will delight myself in Your statutes;

I will not forget Your word. …

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. …

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

– Hebrews 11:32-12:3; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; 1 John 2:15-17; Psalm 119:9-16; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Matthew 28:20b (NKJV)

Look to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus. Follow Jesus. Rest in Jesus.

Now, instead of singing happy birthday to me, go and sing to Him.

Signature

Linking up with Suzanne EllerHolley Gerth and  Susan Mead.

31 Things

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

It’s my birthday!

And I haven’t slept in four nights.

So nothing deep for you here today. Just a list, presented in an order of no significance whatsoever.

31 of My Favorite Things That Should Probably Be Your Favorite Things (Unless You’re a Man, in Which Case Some of These will Not Apply)

1. Sleeping late on a rainy day.

2. Towels straight from the dryer.

3. Iced coffee. Okay, not really coffee. More like chocolate lactose-free milk with like a half-shot of coffee. (I never said I was mature).

4. Watching a movie you’ve seen so many times you can turn the sound off and quote the whole thing.

5. Family dinner every Sunday night.

6. Friends. Even as they come and go. Even when years pass and you suddenly reconnect. I know some of the best people and am genuinely blessed.

7. This:

8. Hand-crafted, unique furniture. (If it’s made by your husband, so much the better).

9. Pizza. (Again, never said I was mature).

10. Sweatpants.

11. But also high heels.

12. Just never together.

13. This:

14. Bacon. Except I can’t eat it anymore. This is especially sad.

15. Big ol’ surgery scars. Rock that.

16. Curly hair. Technically this is also a hate, as any woman with curly hair knows. But when it’s good, it’s real good.

17. Red lipstick.

18. The deep sigh of a dog sleeping by your feet.

19. Books. The smell, the feel, the look. (Ebooks do not count. I can’t even).

20. Using the words “cray” and “bae” in order to drive other people up the wall.

21. Bible study. If you think the Bible is boring or weird or outdated, it’s because you’ve never dug into it.

22. Ladies nights filled with chick flicks, chocolate and facials.

23. Dancing.

24. Meyers-Briggs personality profiles. Fascinating.

25. Volunteering at the women’s shelter.

26. Bizarre reference questions. You just don’t even know the kinds of things people will ask librarians.

27. This:

28. Social media. I sometimes hate it. I’ll disappear for awhile. But it’s mostly fun.

29. The written word. I don’t know where I’d be without it.

30. The sound of fallen leaves crunching under your feet in October.

31. Good music. In every genre, but especially stuff like this:

Bonus 32 (You Know, to Grow On)

All of you who read this blog. It’s a strange thing, the writing life. Many of us who tap the keys are quite shy. There’s a reason we type instead of talk. Often hitting “publish” brings up a whole set of fears and neuroses. We wonder how you, out there in the vague vastness of internetdom, will take the words we labor over. We wonder if you will understand. We hope to somehow speak to you, to journey with you, to entertain you. We try to give expression to things too big to feel, too deep to understand. We want to encourage you to keep on going when things are tough and dark.

Without you, we only talk to ourselves.

Thank you, dear one. For reading, for commenting, for all the birthday messages you’ve sent. I appreciate your presence. I enjoy our interactions. I am so grateful that you would take the time to come here, click and scroll.

Now go crank up the music, mow down on some pizza and enjoy this Monday!

My journey to faith. (15)

28 on 28

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Gentle Reader,

Beginning next week we dive into what are commonly referred to as the Five Solas. Today, however, we take a break from meatier fare. It’s my birthday! Today I officially enter that quick slide toward 30 – and I’m okay with that. The few fine lines and the many white hairs that have graced me aren’t bothersome. While I do have a lasting affection for Peter Pan and have worked at maintaining childlike aspects, growing older is pretty nice. I’m glad that I’m here to see another year. Thus, the following list of 28 things that I have come to embrace over the course of 28 years:

1. Jesus loves me. This I know. Psalm 139.

2. I love Him more today than I did yesterday.

3. Learning doesn’t have to be fun. Some of the most lasting lessons are the hard ones.

4. Curly hair is a good thing.

5. So are brown eyes.

6. Sleeping next to my husband is entertaining.

7. I’m not perfect.

8. My family isn’t perfect.

9. My friends aren’t perfect.

10. Babies are hilarious.

11. I am attracted to neurotic dogs.

12. It’s important to find beauty in each day.

13. It’s also important to laugh.

14. And to shrug off mistakes.

15. “Mary Poppins” is still my favorite movie.

16. I really need to go back to London.

17. Soft sweatpants and tank tops are essential.

18. It’s time to start writing that book. The one I keep dreaming about but have been too afraid to begin.

19. My husband is amazing.

20. I have no desire to do anything crafty. Other people can knit, sew, cook, etc. I am happy to purchase the fruit of their labors!

21. Nail polish contributes greatly to my happiness.

22. Going to counseling was one of the best decisions I ever made.

23. I can’t do all the things that other people can do. I can’t pretend to have the energy to run here, there and everywhere. I can only do what God made me to do. That’s enough.

24. People who truly love you don’t expect you to please them all the time. Those who do have this expectation don’t really want to be pleased.

25. I am hyper-organized. This calms me.

26. Chocolate.

27. I don’t have to be everyone’s best friend.

28. Books.

and a bonus:

29. Drink lots of water, take vitamins, establish a sleep schedule. In other words, taking care of myself means that I can help take care of other people. God never asked me or anyone else to play the martyr game.

May you have a blessed day, dear reader! Feel free to share some things about yourself in a comment. I would love to get to know you better.

My journey to faith. (15)