One gift that Dave's death has left me, is to not take much of life too seriously. There are occasions when an apt amount of seriousness is required, but Picture Day, is not one of them . . . anymore. I took a few extra minutes last night to arrange cute outfits for picture day, but as it turns out, zero out of three of my children are wearing what everyone agreed to wear last night. Spencer was determined to wear plaid with stripes and I forgot to check for bed head until he was exiting the van. Leah was dancing with becoming undone before I agreed to let her wear orange fluorescent tights with her soft pink shoes and jacket. In addition to the jarring contrast of her color tones, if you are wondering why a usual bow-less Leah is walking around with a big bow in her hair today, it is there for the sole purpose of covering up the yogurt that was crusted in her bangs from yesterday. And, if you know anything about Ethiopian hair, you can guess that three minutes is not enough time to tame that mane. I'm sure the pictures will reveal the chaos of our morning, but not in a bad way. Had I cared, even a little too much, it could have had disastrous results, but I don't. Maybe I'm still just way too thrilled that they are in school each and every day to worry about how they look, even on Picture Day.
Or maybe it is that I am one year older and wiser, as of September 8th. I officially have to start checking the 40's box on the meet and greet folder in the pew each Sunday morning, now. The funny thing is, that since I feel like I'm 65, due to being a widow and still feeling partially crippled from my back, 40 feels pretty young. Some people take to the skies and head to places like NYC or Napa Valley for their 40th. Me? I went for an impromptu twirl around the dance floor at the Ritz . . . Colorado Springs. And I couldn't have been happier in that moment. My two best friends from college had flown in, and those friends who happened to be available for a late night at the Ritz also found themselves where no husband would want their wives to be found. Just kidding. Seriously kidding!!! It's not that bad - at least not from 9-11pm. It was an interesting feeling to be thanking Jesus for his faithfulness with true sincerity, while I was reciting every last word of Salt 'N' Pepa's "Shoop," while on the dance floor. I'm not sure that when Paul was writing to the Thessalonians, saying, "pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus," that this is what he had in mind. Or did he? I know that it does not mean that everything is beneficial, but I loved even being able to bring my gratitude to Jesus in the middle of the Ritz for my 40 Birthday. I love that Jesus!
With the turning of a new decade range, I have thought a lot about time lately. I seriously can NOT imagine living another 40 years. I always thought that I would live to 103, based on a song that Jimminy Cricket used to sing in these educational videos I watched in elementary school. Now, doubling my age seems quite impossible. I still feel so delicate and vulnerable. Maybe I just feel like my back could never last another 40 years. I don't know, but it seems impossible. It kinda feels like the glory days are gone and done with. It feels like an endless stream of hard is what is awaiting me in future years, separated by brief interludes of relief. But I don't want to feel this way. I want to feel like there is still some glory in the days ahead.
I love the phrase Sarah Young wrote. "You accept the way things are without losing hope for a better future." And even more than that encouraging little phrase there is Paul. Bible Paul and one really cool verse that gives me a big bouquet of hope. It's a verse that is quite easily skimmed over. It is that last verse in the book of Acts. It reads, "For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ-with all boldness and without hindrance!" I would bet that in the preceding years, Paul never even dreamt that he would get a stretch of time without "hinderance." After all, his life had become just one hinderance after another for quite some time. He was beaten with rods multiple times, was stoned a few times, shipwrecked more than once, was starving, sleepless, hated, and thrown into prison, just to name a few. That is why that last verse in Acts is so huge. If you know what Paul had to endure, it really lights up the fact that he was able to live unhindered, at least for a while. So, when I am feeling like life will be nothing, but an uphill battle, full of hinderances and hard, I remember Paul and his rental house and my hope meter rises.