I don't know that I've ever written a birthday post before, but this last year held some memorable landmarks, silly realizations, and tremendous growth. It feels like the right time to pause and document.
Don't worry, I won't make you sit through a list of 38 things. I don't think. I'm not quite sure where this list will end, but if you'll stick with me, you'll learn some things I took away from my 38th year:
1. I can keep houseplants alive. I love the green and life plants add to a home, I've just never been able to keep them looking lovely until this year. I currently have seven, and I'm happy to report all are happy and healthy. We won't talk about the succulent I managed to kill over the winter. Who kills a succulent? A very talented person, that's who.
2. Never fail, I lie awake all night the first night (and sometimes the second) I'm away from home on a trip. I didn't actually discover this cruel reality this last year, but I was reminded of it five or so times. The worst. No lavender, no sleep aide, no anything helps. Boo. Reading makes me fall asleep every time, but for some reason I don't think of it when I have insomnia. I'll try my best to remember for next time.
3. The theme of the books I've read this last year have followed a pattern. Quiet, whitespace, and breathing room. I only read non-fiction. It's this weird thing. I've tried fiction countless times, but I just can't do it anymore. Maybe when my brain can relax and I don't need as much "help", fiction will become my friend again like when I was a child or young adult.
4. Sad, but true. I've watched less movies and shows this year of life than any other. Life as we know it leaves Jeremy and I feeling like we're 80. We're pooped. He commutes 2.5 hours every work day, and I'm taking care of the masses and completing my work when he's gone. We love a good movie, so I'm hoping this next year will be the year of the movie night comeback.
5. I've learned to make our home one I really love. One we really love. Thanks to reading The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I've gotten rid of things we own that don't spark joy (Kondo) and have learned "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." (Smith) Such good reads. I've gotten rid of half our books (lots and lots) and have created spaces we truly feel cozy living in with little clutter. That is, if you don't count the perpetual clean laundry pile in the family room that always needs folding. Ten peoples' laundry. Can you even?
6. I love old things and old people. There's a story to be told if we'll listen.
7. Being outside makes me come alive. Again, I didn't just learn that, but it's been especially true this year.
8. God uses heartbreak to teach His truth and show enormous love. I didn't know it as much until my 38th year.
9. I learned to never give up hope. Right at the moment you're not expecting it, God just might blow your mind with a breakthrough.
10. Last year for my birthday, all I wanted was a Bible commentary. I'm talking a 6-inch thick book of amazingness. It's the most favorite book I own. Duh. Except the Bible. Isn't it strange how we feel compelled to clarify when it probably isn't necessary? The struggle is real.
11. Cosmos. I learned I'm crazy about these simple flowers. They're in the daisy family, no wonder!
12. Eating completely sugar, gluten, dairy, and white flour-free for months at a time makes me feel incredible. Abruptly stopping eating said way and binging on sugar, gluten, diary, and white flour makes me feel terrible. Ask me how I know.
13. A winter with no snow and an abundance of ice is a prison.
14. Beginning a bullet journal is one of the best things I did for myself. Go here and watch the video. Trust me.
15. Unconditional love has been a recurring theme. I learned I have much work to do.
16. Organizing our books in rainbow color order makes me so happy.
17. Air-drying my clothes that are allergic to the dryer makes me feel like Ma Ingalls.
18. Being in a canoe on a lake helps me breathe again.
19. Marriage takes a lot of hard work, but with that hard work comes the most rewarding of prizes. Happy 16th anniversary to us!
20. Don't ever believe the voices that tell you you're a bad friend, bad wife, or bad mother. The voice of God is never condemning.
21. A pure white quilt makes a bedroom feel like a haven.
22. I own fifteen dresses. Some days I like to be fancy.
23. Our children will not always make us happy. But for sure, they will make us depend more on God, make us better, make us feel important and a little crazy. Children bring so many gifts.
24. Talking into a microphone to nobody with a dear friend is one of my favorite things. Have you listened to The Masterpiece Mom podcast? We love hearing more than nobody is listening in real life once we hit publish on our conversations.
25. God speaks to me in unique ways. I've always known this. But my 38th year was the year of hearts. Though it started well beyond this last year, I see hearts everywhere. The amount I see grows as the days pass. They speak love and care and foreknowledge straight from God to me. Just today I saw one in a cluster of raindrops on a rock, one in a stump, one in the middle of a Cheerio, and one in a child's slobber mark on a throw pillow. Nice. Happy Birthday to me.
26. Certain pens give me the willies and I love writing with pen to paper. Today I wrote with a pen that had a rollerball that was way too fast. I could hardly deal. Pens shouldn't be allowed to fly off into the next word before you've even thought of it. Just wrong. Click to behold my current favorite pen. Also, I will make a list of nonsense just for the opportunity to write on paper. A lost art. I will never stop writing things down. Never. See #14.
27. I think I've exacerbated my back and neck problems by checking email and social media on my phone in the morning while laying in bed. Ouch. What's wrong with me.
28. I will forever be tempted by a Carmello candy bar.
29. Taking Gallup's Clifton Strengths Finder test online helped me see my top 5 strengths. They are as follows: Strategic, Positivity, Activator, Belief, and Communication. This is exactly me. I loved reading more about these strengths. It has helped me more fully understand God's purposeful design for me. It makes so much sense.
30. When a child is pushing all the buttons, if I speak calmly and pray simultaneously, it helps convince me that I am calm. Try it, you'll like it. You'll like yourself afterwards too.
31. I have wonderful people in my life. So, so wonderful.
We're almost to 38, so I'm gonna go for it.
32. Your Promises by Elevation Worship has been my go-to song. When I was unbelievably nervous and about to die while driving to speak at an event at my home church, God used it to speak His truth to me. When I've been deeply saddened, it's brought great comfort. When I've at all doubted the glimpses of my future God's shown me, this keeps my eyes on Jesus. Fun fact: Jeremy and I get to visit this church a whopping 4,300 miles away on a Sunday very, very soon.
33. After our sweet dog Annabelle died last summer we got guinea pigs. I had no idea how much I would love them as pets. Now I have my own, her name is Apple. I'm seven all over again.
34. I really like knowing how people are doing rather than what they're doing. There's a big difference.
35. I'm the right person for the job because God says so. When I feel weak in my roles, this keeps me motivated.
36. 2015 is a bad year for the air conditioning to go out in Larry, our van. Hottest summer I've ever remembered. Awesome and horrific all at the same time.
37. Oh man, I'm petering out. Just two more... Oh! I learned the definition of the greek word hubris means: pride in the sense of putting yourself in the center of the universe. Ouch. That's what we want to avoid. "One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time." I'm reading A Circle of Quite by Madeleine L'Engle right now. There's some real insight there.
38. We made it. In my 38th year, I learned so much. But mostly I learned more of who my Savior is. More of His character and goodness. I'm forever His.