Happy Easter, Happy April Fools Day, oh and yes…happy birthday to me and my very good friend Nancy!  60 and 40…when we first met I was 47 and she was 27.  I much preferred 47.  But 60 it is.  60.

As I have rolled into my 60th year of living it has caused me to turn back the clock and remember what my life was like in my 40s…and 30s…and even into my 20s….the years when I was still young.

I have incredible memories from my college days …and I remember lying in bed wondering what my future would bring.

I don’t remember what the carpet looked like in the master bedroom of our first home – but I know we put some in and  felt like we couldn’t afford it.

I remember some wallpaper that was in the dining room – but it is gone now and has no impact on my life.

I remember when my husband started his own business thinking we would for sure go broke – and we were for awhile and it didn’t hurt us.

I remember when my son was  born premature and had to stay in the hospital for two months before coming home…and then I remember it happening all over again the exact same way when my second son was born.  I remember how tired and worried I was…and I remember the kindnesses that people demonstrated to us and how the Lord sustained us and gave us strength to endure.

I remember when my husband’s brother died at 29 years old…and I remember being amazed as I watched my husband grow deeper in his faith and trusted the Lord still.

I remember having a miscarriage and accepting that we would have only two children…and I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with a little girl.

I have read prayers written in my old journals when I was praying about some terrible horrible situation that was going on in my life – and I cannot for the life of me even remember what happened.

I remember thinking that being a stay-at-home mom was the hardest job in the world – and now I look back and think how blessed I was to hang out all day long with my favorite people in the world.

I remember wanting to knock my sons heads together because they were being naughty – and today I enjoy telling stories of their many escapades and it makes me laugh.

I remember being broken hearted when my children didn’t make the Team – and I remember what great friends they made on the other Team.

I remember wishing we had more money, a better vehicle, and could take fancy vacations – and I remember the 5 of us piled in our conversion van driving for 25+ hours talking, sleeping, laughing, and watching movies as we drove to our vacation destination.

I remember rocking my babies in the middle of many long nights and feeling like I might fall apart – and I remember almost falling apart when we left each of them at college and drove away without them.

On this 60th birthday I remember that I was born to a man who rejected me as his daughter…and then I am reminded that I am a daughter of the King and I am worthy in His sight.  His great love empowers, equips, and enables me to to live above my circumstances. His love endures forever.

When you are young…you will concern yourself with many things that don’t really matter.  At some point,  you will also most likely have a devastating break-up, work at a job that you don’t like, struggle with prioritizing your time, experience conflict in your marriage, experience a major life challenge, feel insecure, feel guilty, feel anxious, exhausted, frustrated and sometimes hopeless. You will face situations that will have no easy answers. You might wonder if you will ever find contentment. You will have some dreams that you may never realize.

But you are young…you are still young.

Your challenges and difficulties are part of the process. This season of your life is designed to grow you up. Growth doesn’t come with ease, it comes through facing difficulties and overcoming challenges.  It comes from reaching, and stretching, and learning to rely on the Lord.

When you are young…you possess a kind of beauty that comes with youth.  But as you grow older you begin to realize that there is a particular beauty that comes with maturity and increased wisdom.  There is a certain contentment that comes through fulfilling your God-given purposes and learning to trust the Lord fully.  There is beauty that comes from living out the hard things.  Some of the most beautiful women I know have been through the most challenging circumstances.

Ladies – those of you who are sitting right in the middle of the best years of your life – these are the days that God has given you to…

learn humility

learn when to let go

learn perseverance

learn to work it out

figure out your faith

learn how to get along

learn when to set boundaries

discover what your passion is

grow in your relationship with the Lord

find the work that God has planned for you

learn to experience peace in in the middle of the storm

learn the importance of doing the right thing…even when it is hard

be willing to make appropriate changes in your life

learn to stop blaming and complaining

learn to trust God’s sovereignty

learn to be accountable

 learn to be grateful

learn how to love

learn to forgive

learn life’s lessons

grow to be strong

grow in character

grow in wisdom

grow in faith

grow in beauty

There is a danger of frittering away our life as it passes by in a blurrrrrr….so hang on tight.  Hang tight to the Lord and live your life.   Don’t try to escape the hard things.  Press through.  What you are living today will become your tomorrow.  Prioritize your time and give yourself to the most important things.

And then you will discover joy…

*** My dear friend Nancy has journeyed through what would crush most of us.  Approximately 6 years ago her beloved husband died suddenly from heart complications when her twin sons were just turning 2 years old.  She walked through the hard things…she hung onto the Lord…and she chose joy.  And now she is engaged to an incredible man and is beginning again.

I am so happy for you, Nance!  I love celebrating our day together and I love YOU.  Happy birthday to my April Fools buddy!

Until next time,