Oh my twenties, what a beautiful decade! Undoubtedly this is because a few months before turnning 20, I resolved in my mind, once for all to turn my back on the world and follow Jesus. No more back and forth, one foot in-one foot out, no more lukewarm, half hearted, divided, hypocritical Christ follower. I let Jesus fully have all of me, and I set out to love Jesus with ALL my heart, ALL my mind, ALL my soul and ALL my strength. By God's gracious mercy, kindness, and faithfulness, a decade later His Spirit in me still has me pursuing Him! In the last last decade I've seen many come and go as Christ's followers and many proclaim to want to follow Jesus. However, as every althlete knows, it's not quite how you begin a race but how you finish! And that's why although it's been an amazing decade following Jesus, I must continue to run; with perseverance the race marked out for me; All the decades of my life, to the very end!
I want to recap some of what I remember in my twenties and all God did, then look forward to what I am trusting God with/for as I begin my Thriving Thirties:
I told Jesus I was all in, all His...a few months later..."you have high grade squamous cells on your cervix. It's basically stage 3 and stage 4 would be cancer. " I thought WHAT?! I'm 20! I was home alone when I got the call. I cried, I prayed, I cried out to God whom I knew I could hold onto for the ride. My loving God! God with me! My Comforter!
Immediately, and through the days of fear and during my surgical procedure, God's Holy Spirit reminded me of Psalm 56:3-4 "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise- in God I trust and am not afraid..." This was the theme of my heart during this time. What else did I have and where else could I really go besides The Rock- Jesus! I was undoubtedly surrounded by many loving people, and those who prayed and fasted for me. But, our hope and comfort cannot be in man, but God alone.
After several months of testing and retesting and waiting, all came back clear! Praise God!
A couple months later I had to have two abnormal moles removed. I thought, "you've got to be kidding! I'm 20!" You see, when we profess with our mouths we want to follow Jesus, it seems he allows testing of these words from our mouths. For He desires us to make no hasty words from our lips!
Those moles were cut out, one came back fine the other abnormal but it was completely removed. These were the first two of what has been 9 removals, 2 with deeper excisions last summer and I'll need to have 2 more removed 4 days from now. This is a journey I'm still on and trusting God through. But the peace of God is ruling in my heart- today.
Now it hasn't all been "bad" or trials:
I began a college ministry with handful of others and was able to have 4 full years of seeking and growing in Christ and telling others about Jesus. My 5 1/2 years of college bought me back the year and a half I wasted on myself and the world when I began college. How kind of God to redeem those years!
After 3 full years at Drake, having completed 1 full year of the pharmacy program, and with all A's (ok- one B in POETRY!), I decided to switch majors, and switch colleges. I decided on Grand View College in Des Moines- down the way from Drake. I thought, "there are many women coming around from GV and no one there to disciple them. Plus, I wouldn't mind being a nurse." A handful of others decided on GV that next fall as well. After not so wisely "telling" my parents I was transferring schools and switching majors, I was in! My not so thrilled parents eventually came around! Sorry mom and dad!
At GV, as a team, we thrived and failed, saw many comes to know Christ and saw many sadly walk away from Christ. People we loved and gave our hearts and lives to came and went. Some are still thriving and some are still turning their backs on the One True God. Still others are thriving at other Christ-loving churches! Praise God! There were many smiles and laughs, much crying and praying, late nights and early mornings, and many friendships formed and several failed. All in Him all for Him! Praise God!
At the close of my GV years a brother in Christ in the church, who was serving Jesus at a different college in the Des Moines area, approached me saying he'd been praying about me for a year...praying about marrying me! What?! I was 90% "no" initially, then my heart changed fast! 6 months later we were engaged, 5 months later married! Wow! What a great man I married!! It will have been 6 wonderful years in May! It's such a joy loving and serving Jesus with a like-minded man. He's a great leader in Christ, lover of people, and servant in the Kingdom!
After getting married we desired children right away. However, 15 LONG months later still nothing! I thought, "God, is this going to be my lot. I will be the woman who cannot concieve, like several women in the bible?" Yet the word brought me great hope; Sara, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth and others; all barren for some time, then God gave them children, divine children HE had a plan for!! These months of waiting were long, bitter at times, faith filled at others, and not without many tears and even wailing! Poor new husband to a heavy-hearted yet pressing on wife! He was gracious and kind, patient and hope filled...always saying, "I think we'll have children." Me, "but you cannot promise me that!" Steve, "no. But I think we will. I love you."
We finally conceived, but 10 weeks later, no heartbeat on ultrasound. I had a surgical procedure to remove the baby because I was so so sick and not miscarrying the baby on my own. Sad sad day that still brings tears to eyes! The baby a mother, father and God will never forget!
6 weeks later we conceived Ethan Riley. He was born 3 weeks early and spent the first week of his life in the NICU. Not the way a longing mother's heart wants to start her motherhood journey. But we clung to and trusted the God who knows everything and has all the days ordained for us before even one comes to be.
Ethan came home and thrived. The very wonderful and humbling mommy journey began!!
2 years later Samuel Wesley entered the world, and in less then 8 weeks we'll meet our first baby girl. How kind of the Lord to fill our womb! Hopefully with many more as He sees fit!
Because of Steve getting a job as a police officer, being one of 14 or 15 (I think) people chosen out of hundreds....despite only having an associates degree and doing construction, we knew this was/is God's will. I quit my job after Ethan was born and have the privilege and difficult task of being a stay at home mom. I'm just day by day clinging to and seeking the God of help and wisdom to lead me on this journey with each little soul he's given me to love and teach about Him.
We will teach them all the ways of the Lord and talk about them when we "sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up," (Deuteronomy 11:19).
Most wonderfully and eternally, in the last decade I've seen, what truly appears with fruit, my Mom, Dad, 2 brothers and their wives put their faith in Christ and begin to walk with Him. A family that told me to be quiet, not talk about Jesus, and not to open my Bible with them, has now had a change of heart. They talk about Jesus, they open their own bibles, they read and study and tell others about Christ. They are a part of or have been a part of great Bible believing, Christ centered churches, and connected in small groups with other Christians. They're all growing and changing, bearing fruit unto salvation! Praise God!
Did I mention 2 cousins have gotten saved too! And a wonderful Aunt's life has changed dramatically and she's married a wonderful godly man about a year ago!
So many many wonderful things I've been able to see the Lord do in the last decade. Imagine all the things I haven't seen....but someday will!!
It's been a decade of learning to walk with Jesus, being his disciple! Running with many other men and women! Growing, changing, being strong, being weak, falling hard yet rising again. All because "He who began a good work in me will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus," (Philippians 1:6).
And NOW...the next decade on the horizon! My Thriving Thirties!!!!
No "dirty thirties" here!
What am I trusting God for/with in my 30's?
Perhaps I'll see or begin to see my children's salvations in my 30's! Their hearts be filled with the Holy Spirit and fruit born unto the understanding of salvation. Perhaps they'll begin to seek God on their own, and walk with Him!
I am trusting God to grow and change and thrive in Him. To be more like Him at the end of my 30's then the beginning!
To continue to see His word prove true, time and time again!
To gain wisdom with each of my children and life decisions along the way!
To grow in my relationship with my husband... Grow in honoring him and submitting to him; being an honorable wife and one of noble character
The 20's were great but as Paul writes in Philippians 3, "not that I have obtained all this...but I press on to know Him..I forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead."
Decades of faith are made one faithful day at a time. This I now see. And I'm commited to that, to Jesus.
Someone once said, "what you sow in your 20's, you'll reap in your 40's." I've taken this to heart. And Lord willing I'll get to see my fruit-full 40's, faith-filled 50's, Spirit-filled 60's, and more decades of faith.
Because decades of faith and following Jesus are made one day at a time, Lord give me strength of heart to choose today and every day hereafter to seek You in your word and prayer and to worship You in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24).
Now today I will spend some of the day rembering all God has done and His faithfulness in the last decade and I will spend part of the last day of my 20's getting an hour massage at a spa! Haha
33rd week of pregnancy, 3rd child, turning 30 (tomorrow), I should get 3-fold pampering... Massage, pedicure, manicure... Hahaha. Not today! I've 3 men in my life to love!
Praise God for 30!
Praise God for 30!