Friday was my 30th birthday. I was showered with love, affection and, yes, gifts! from many of my friends and family members. Amongst the sweetest things I received were handmade cards from my children and mother, and a homemade dinner and dessert from my husband. Trever made me a linguine dish with shrimp, asparagus and colored peppers (yum!) and fresh sourdough bread (my favorite). Then he made my "cake" of choice- brownies from scratch, topped with vanilla ice cream rolled in toasted coconut, sliced strawberries, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. It was fantastic.
Riley's card included a poem he wrote, in which he imitates Dr. Seuss. It's adorable. Dylan's card is kind of a panorama- it has 5 pictures all taped together, in various colors, and topped with titles like "in the sky", "in the night", "under the ground" etc., all with pictures to match the themes. Libby and Josiah colored and/or drew me pictures. Josiah's was a picture of "The itsy bitsy spider who went up the mountain side." :)
My mother's card included several pictures of me from different points in my childhood- birth, 3 years old, kindergarten, 2nd grade (AWFUL picture, by the way!!), 8th grade, etc. There are also several of me as an adult, at various times in my life. The best part of her card though, was the part she wrote. It moved me to tears. Literally. I will treasure all these things in my heart (and in my filing cabinet) forever.
Other neat surprises included my father sending me roses and chocolate, my grandmother sending flowers, my sweet sister buying me a cute little manicure kit, purple shea socks and lotion (which I love), my aunt making me and Libby matching batik print skirts, 3 boxes of See's candies from Mike, and $60 from my mom and John, of which I used every cent on buying books I have been pining after. (Trever also bought me a book I had been waiting for- it was supposed to be released September 22nd, but it came out a few days early apparently, and I was able to get it on my birthday!)
I was also showered with phone calls (and sweet voicemails from those who weren't able to get through), cards, and kind wishes in the form of many e-mails and facebook messages. I feel very loved.
This birthday, being a milestone of sorts, has caused me to take time to contemplate the next years of my life, and think over the last several as well. Even a quick perusal of my journals over the last years shows me the areas in my life I have struggled with for years, those which I am the most determined to be victorious over. Some of these themes include: Self denial, discipline, faithfulness, lack of consistent prayer, and what I like to call "sins of the mouth", which include any yelling, idle talk (can we say PHONE CALLS!!), sarcasm, gossip, unkind words, and any foul language- be they "real" cuss words, or those I have substituted in their place to ease my conscience.
Several of the books I have read over the last year, to include the Bible (of course), have encouraged me in my journey through the sometimes painful process of sanctification. I think the hardest thing I struggle with is discouragement, the feeling that I will never change, that I am making no progress, or that inner struggle with myself where one part of me is at war with the other... Reading the lovely little book Stepping Heavenward was a great source of encouragement and help for me. I could so easily identify with the character in the book through out her life. The entire book is about one woman's journey in sanctification, from the age of 16 (when the book, which is written in a diary-style setting, begins) until the end of her life. All her adventures in between, from schooling and courting to marriage and motherhood, are included, as well as the (sometimes painfully slow) process by which she eventually yields up area after area of her life and self to Christ. It is rare to find a book that deals so well with the practical aspects of sanctification, and for one as self-introspective as I tend to be, it was delightfully relevant and very edifying.
I am now reading More Love To Thee, which is a compilation of the life and letters of Elizabeth Prentiss, who is the author of the above mentioned book. It is a thick one, containing over 500 pages,with very small print, so I read only a few pages a day. It continues to fortify my soul.
Three verses and one mighty passage of scripture have been on my heart as I have meditated over the last several years and have pondered what is to come. So, as I close up this entry, I will leave you with these...
Psalms 90 verses 10 and 12:
"The days of our years are threescore and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is there strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
This says to me, in a nutshell, we are not meant to live forever. I am asking the Lord to help me "number my days", because I want my time here to count for Him. I don't know how much longer the Lord will let me live, but I do know that every day I am here is for a purpose. Being in the center of His will, growing in holiness and sanctification, and most of all, in LOVE, are my great and lofty goals for the next years of my life, should the Lord tarry.
Lastly, the passage I mentioned. Can you guess? 1 Corinthians 13. The great love chapter of the Bible. I spent a part of yesterday meditating on this passage and came to the conclusion that #1 My love rarely resembles the love described in the passage and #2 That only God can give us this kind of love, both toward Himself and toward others. So I am asking Him to give me more of this love. If you find a few moments (and I know they can be hard to come by) look over this chapter for yourself. Even if you have read it a hundred times. Ask Him to show you something new. It is a passage we would all do well to think on regularly.
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity [love]." (1 Cor. 13:13)
Love to you all from my (newly 30 year old) heart.