My First Thirty Years

I can't help but think of Tim McGraw whenever I hear that someone's turning 30.  I've always loved the song, My Next Thirty Years, even if I was a mere sixteen when it debuted in July of 2000.  Of course, being an old soul (from birth, I think), the responsible "next" thirty years always resonated more with me.  As I sit here on this milestone birthday reflecting, I don't want to make a list of things I want to change from the last three decades to the next.  If my first thirty years have taught me anything, it's to expect the unexpected.  And, so, that's what I'm going to do.  That makes my song a lot more boring, but, hey, it's concise, and it covers my bases.

Why am I expecting the unexpected?

Because I was born and raised a legalist.  I had rigid expectations of myself and others.  I had a plan that would not be altered, no matter the price.  I determined at the age of 10 that I would be my high school valedictorian, by golly, and nothing was going to get in my way.  (Seriously, who does that?)  I aspired to attend college where I would play field hockey for a D-3 school, live singly, establish my career, live in a semi-urban environment with eventually a husband and maybe two kids.  I would continue to work outside of the home.  I would make oodles of money, but not be above sending my kids to public school. 

Doesn't always work out the way we plan.

It all began changing when I accepted a scholarship to Mercer University, a private, (at the time) Southern-Baptist university where the majority of the students were from Georgia and had never even heard of the sport of field hockey (and certainly made fun of me for the way I pronounced it - apparently "hockey" doesn't sound like "hack-y" - dead giveaway that I wasn't "from around here").  It was never a school that was even on my radar.  It was the first, true step of faith I'd taken in my life.  When I walked around that campus for the first time, I knew I was "home."

Two weeks before I turned 18, my parents and I packed up my belongings and moved to Macon, Georgia, a city 800 miles from the only home I had ever known, a city where I didn't know a soul.  Speaking as a parent now, I look back on that day, and I wonder how my mom and dad did it.  I admire them for their faith in me, for trusting that I would make the right decisions, for having the gumption to drive away.  It's entirely different from the perspective of a 17-year old girl fresh out of high school with an inflated sense of self and nothing to stop her from achieving her goals.  Within the next two weeks, I turned 18, made my first "C" on a test in my life (Calculus II), and called my dad crying hysterically from a pay phone with the news that I hated it and I wanted to come home.  He convinced me to stick it out for the semester.

I'm so glad he did.

Within the first year, I met my husband-to-be, made great friends, learned what it meant to be a "student" for the first time in my life, experienced some pride-crushing grades and lessons in humility (which I obviously needed in the worst way), and made both excellent and stupid choices as I suspect many young women in my position would.

In just two years, on my 20th birthday, I was a married woman, 9 months pregnant, packing up Sam's and my first apartment in preparation for the move into our first house.  Let me just tell you, this was not part of my plan as outlined above.  I like to think Someone had something better in mind for me.

In the next ten years, I continued to make plans.

I determined to graduate with my engineering degree, get a job as a civil engineer, pass my licensing exam to become a Professional Engineer, have another kid, balance life as a work-out-of-the-home mom, among other things.

I accomplished all of those things.

In those same ten years, things I said I'd "never" do came to fruition as well.

Due to the "economic downturn of 2008" I lost my job (albeit not until November 2010) and became a dreaded-to-me stay-at-home-mom.  I sat for my PE license in October 2010, found out in January 2011 that I passed, and have yet to use the designation professionally (and don't have any imminent plans to do so either).  I sit here today, on my 30th birthday, 26+ weeks pregnant with my fifth child.  I'm a homeschooling mom of multiple grade levels who voluntarily pulled my children out of the public schools that I championed for so long.

Never say never.  Expect the unexpected.  Don't pin your lives on things that ultimately don't matter.  Turns out, God's plans are a lot more exciting than my own.  And make a far better story, in my opinion. 

I don't need to write a song for my next thirty years.  I think I'll just default to the classic, old hymn:
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.
In my next thirty years, I want to trust and obey.  I can make plans, but I can also rest easy in knowing that God has already made plans for me.  And life makes a lot more sense when I conform my will to His.

Besides, His plans kind of rock.

God-willing, here's to at least thirty more years of the good stuff - the twists, turns, the blessings both planned and unexpected. 


Life Lately

I always wondered how those people with 1,000 kids keep blogging.  Now I wonder even more.  It's not that we've been exceptionally busy doing anything in particular, we've just been doing this thing.


As I am typing this, my four year old walked into my office the bathroom where I have my computer at my vanity, because, let's face it, I'm not doing hair and makeup there, holding the hand of my 17 month old who was supposed to be fast asleep.  Hence the stolen moments for blog posting.  Turns out, I was only able to steal about two of them.

Maybe I should just go with some snapshots of life lately. 

On July 22, we officially started our homeschool year.  It's been my earnest intention to get as much as humanly possible "learned" before Shep5 makes his/her appearance in November.  So far, we haven't lost any steam and we're even ahead of schedule.  As long as the kids are agreeable, I say, let's move.

Oh wait.  Did I say ahead of schedule?  That would be on math, grammar, writing, and Latin.  I won't even mention science.  And we actually just finished last year's history.  But that was such a momentous event, we marked it with a toga party.  Even if it was two weeks into the new school year.  Turns out, 42 chapters of one history book is hard to cover in one year.  But being the finisher that I am, we could not move on until we read and discussed every last page of that book.  And so we did.  I am pretty sure this was their favorite "lesson" of the year - even if the sparkling grape juice, colby jack cheese cubes, Totino's pizza, grapes, and thawed frozen cheesecake weren't exactly authentic Roman cuisine.  They did wear crowns of laurel, make royal scepters, and don togas (just look beyond the Cars print sheets, please).  I even pulled out the good china because, really, when else do I use that stuff?

Probably shouldn't put this one on here, but it cracks me up.  Oh Sarah.  (Really, folks, it's okay.  She was just pre-gaming with a little grape juice.  I repeat it is just grape juice.)

Clearly that was too long for a snapshot - speeding things up...

We've watched Lee Lee blossom right before our very eyes.  She's so much a part of this family I cannot even remember what it was like before her.  That is one loved baby girl.

Nice ponytail, Leah.

This past weekend we took the adventure of all adventures (okay, slight exaggeration there), and we rode a train to the booming metropolis of Plains, Georgia (population 764), famous only for peanuts and Jimmy Carter. 

Don't they look thrilled?
Notice how I placed Abby strategically right in front of me?  Foiled again all of you belly-lookers, you.  Note also that Sarah is totally hoarding the large cup of peanut butter ice cream all for herself.  Leah, of course, just wants to get down.

The next few months promise to be as exciting as ever including such events as a spontaneous trip to the beach in-lieu-of-presents for Sam's and my combined birthday, a milestone birthday for yours truly, our first double-digit kid birthday, our first international trip (to Canada - where I insist on eating poutine at least one time), a stop in Michigan to visit with dear friends that moved away from Georgia over a year ago now (!!!), a new baby (!!!!!!), and I'm sure many, many attempts to keep Leah from eating every marker in our home. 

On the plus side, she seems to only eat them and color on herself with them.  So far our home hasn't sustained any irreparable damage from said marker usage.  Just one bathroom door that came clean with some Clorox wipes.  Although, she did color the back of our lesser used bathroom door...almost as if to see how it would work out in an inconspicuous location.  Maybe she's just testing the waters before she goes for the tv or something.  Oh man, I'm going to have to knock on wood and put that girl on a leash, aren't I?

God willing our next few months (and beyond) will be full of love and laughter.  Always laughter.  If there's one thing we do not lack in this home, it's the ability to laugh heartily.  I am so grateful for a husband to laugh with...all the time, about anything, about everything, about nothing, about a french fry we discovered shoved in our sleeping baby's mouth when we went to retrieve her from her carseat.

And with that, I will take a note from Leah and attempt to catch some zzzz's, however fleeting the ability to sleep is for me these days.  (By the way, if anyone has any helpful remedies for pregnancy-related insomnia, I'm all ears.)

Until I see you again, I encourage you to laugh.  Heartily.  As often as possible.  To the point of obnoxious.  Life is too short to take too seriously. 

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