Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why 30 Doesn't Make Me Feel Like a Scaredy Cat Anymore

The great-looking crew at my 90s-themed birthday party.  An awesome way to celebrate 30; with friends! photo by Katie Friesen

(This is a continuation of the last post I published.  You can read about why I was scared of 30 here for more context.)

My friend, Wendy, sent me a message the day after my 30th birthday...when I was still feeling like my heart started racing and I wanted to curl up in the fetal position anytime anyone mentioned my new age.  Her email helped me to cut the drama and start thinking of the things I could be looking forward to in my thirties rather than looking backwards at how removed I was from my supposed "youth."

I reprinted, with her permission, most of her letter here (her letter in responses in black) and I hope that it encourages you as well, no matter what stage of life you are in.  (And, if you happen to be in your twenties or younger, maybe you can remind me of all of this the next time you simultaneously make fun of my decade-change.  Hint, hint.)

She greeted me in her letter and started listing out some things I could rejoice in.  Way to go, Wendy!:

"For one, you are no longer considered inexperienced and too juvenile to know anything, like most people in their twenties are considered to be. (It doesn't matter how smart you are in your 20's, you just don't have the experience!)"

...finally, maybe my family and others will stop second-guessing me when I make major decisions?  That would be awesome.  At first reading, I was a little surprised at the way she referenced people in their 20s, but then I remembered all the times when I got a funny look or a "Are you suuuure about that?" from well-meaning people.  So, I guess Aalijah was wrong when she sang "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" (how 90s is that?! I am still thinking of the 90s ever since my rockin' party. It is a problem I have of late.)

"I think another wonderful thing about the 30's is that you begin to care less about what people think of you and you can start to relax and have more fun. This seems to increase every year until you die, hahaha, but it really is a fun part of growing older!!" 

...well, maybe there is hope for me yet.  I have a compulsion to over-analyze what others think about what I am doing and if they are pleased with me or maybe growing older every year with help me kick the habit?  I really hope so.  If not, I might grow an ulcer sometime soon.  Then I'll really feel old.  Whomp whomp whomp.

"Another great thing is that people begin to take you a little more seriously and listen to what you have to say. (That experience thing)"

...this is one of the most exciting things to process.  Right now, we're in a position with work and family life where we are interacting with so many people who are either young in age or young in their faith.  I want to share things that I have learned through trial and error and through mistakes of my own, and having a little favor in the area of authority might help the wisdom I share not go through someone's ear and out their other.  Seeing people succeed gets me excited! 

"You are a very beautiful woman and don't feel you have lost any beauty from one year to another, you have many years to go of being absolutely lovely, do NOT listen to the lie that you are somehow losing it or whatever. You can start feeling that way in another couple of decades, but not this one! The 30's are a time when the baby fat falls off our faces and many women look their best, there are many actresses that are absolutely stunning in their 30's, don't you think?", Wendy.  You just made my whole year!  Being pregnant for the fourth time can kind of do a number on one's self-esteem.  Thanks for lifting it up!

"Another reason to be joyful for the 30's is your family, the joy of watching your children mature and grow up, children who adore you & a husband who loves you so much, these are precious gifts."

...for some reason, I have been forgetting the reality that in order for my kids to grow up and for my marriage to continue to mature, that I have to "grow up" and mature as well.  The two go hand in hand.  For the things she mentioned above (children maturing and bringing joy, a husband who continues to walk in great love), there is definitely the factor of hard work that has to be figured in. But, thankfully, in the midst of our busy lives, whining, squabbles and "training opportunities"...I can remember that the fruit is starting to pop up, and that more and more will come if we all persevere in God's ways.

 "I know you know these things already but it is always good to be reminded again, because when we feel sad it is hard to remember!
Finally, as you know time goes faster as we grow older, and if you can imagine it, your older self is laughing at you for feeling old already! You will never again be this young, so enjoy it!!

Much love to you, Alina,

...yes, I need to consider my season of life as not how "old" I feel, but how young I am in light of my life ahead.  There is so much that I don't know yet, and so much that I have yet to experience, enjoy and learn from.  Thanks for that reminder, friend!

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." 
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why I Was Afraid of 30

Last Saturday, I turned 30.


3 - 0.

I feel like an alien, if that is melodramatic enough.

I guess it is because for a decade (a decade!) I have identified with being in my 20's.  Being in my 20's felt like a safe place to be.  What is safe about a number, anyway?  I know it is all in my's why I was afraid of "30"...

30 sounded "old." This isn't the first thought anyone turning 30 has ever had in the history of man...but when I encounter anyone younger than me who is inquiring of my age...I can imagine the response: "Oh! So, you're old, then."  No.  I am, a good cheese or wine. What?

30 feels like the point of no return.  Across the last 10-year span of my life, which started with being mid-way through college, I have lived in a few different countries, conceived four kids (four!), and done a myriad of other "big" things.  But, for some reason, the decade that started with college football games, reckless credit card spending and guy crushes (do I sound "young enough"?)...continued on to where I was technically aged until just one week ago.  29 still didn't sound so removed from 20.  But, when the anniversary of my birth day felt like I could no longer imagine that I was the same girl who went to frat parties and could still fit into a size 2 pair of jeans.  Yikes.

30 just plain snuck up on me.  And now, I can't avoid it.  I loved shocking people here in Thailand with the fact that I was a mommy of four and not yet into my thirties (whereas Thais, like Americans, are getting married and having kids later in life, lately).  I loved answering that I wasn't yet 30.  The faces I got were priceless.  Now, when I say that I am thirty, it is as if their faces say to me: "Oh yeah, that fits." 

Don't worry, I am not still wallowing in a pit of despair with puffy eyes, having a third-of-the-way-through-life-crisis.  It wasn't really until the end of April that I even realized that these thoughts were wafting through my brain.  And, when Saturday came and went, I still didn't even know how to feel. 

But then, I got a truly fabulous email from a friend, W, about all the ways she wanted to encourage me into my thirties rather than to let me stay in a state of nervousness and insecurity.  In my next post...I will share some of the things she had to say. 

How about you?  In the season of life that you are in, what are some of the things you are loving, or hating, about it?  I would love to hear.  Share in the comments below:


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Remembering Uncle David

Uncle David, Treavor, Jeshurun and Huy on the family farm last summer in Illinois

Last week, we got the sad news that a beloved uncle of Treavor's had passed away.  It was so out of the blue, that it still seems a bit unreal.  During our trip to the States last summer, we got to spend a handful of days with Uncle David and his beautiful wife, Lorrie.  We were so thankful for that time, then, and even more thankful for that time, now, as we reflect upon his life. 

Uncle David seemed to always have a smile on his face.  His lightheartedness and humor was refreshing to be around.  He loved sarcasm and telling stories, so our boys loved talking to him anytime they saw him.  They still re-tell stories that Uncle David told us around the farm's dining table last summer.  As soon as they got up, they would race to get on their clothes so they could help him with the chores to do around the farm.  Uncle David was always obliging to let them tag along and get in his way.  He was so thoughtful to invite them to do whatever he was doing; no matter how big, or how dirty, the task.

Uncle David with Huy gathering chicken eggs (they did this every day we were there - their highlight!) Sorry for the blur...

Uncle David loved living life and taking care of the animals on the farm.  Though sometimes donning a tougher exterior, he definitely had a soft side.  For instance, he and his wife, Lorrie, couldn't bear to kill their chickens and roosters to have a chicken dinner.  Instead, some of them had names and even ate with the family cats.  :)  We loved to witness his "softy" side. 

Uncle David talking with one of his fave roosters
The chickens helping themselves to the cat's food! 

During our stay, some cousins came over for a day and Uncle David took them on a "tractor ride" around the property.  They loved it!  He was always thinking of fun things to do with them, and didn't mind a little speed.  :)

Uncle David ready for a ride.
The boys, their cousins, piled in and soaking up the Illinois sunshine.  Let's go!

After spending a few days with Uncle David and Aunt Lorrie, we all couldn't wait to see them again.  Since our visit, the kids have talked numerous times about the farm and helping out Uncle Dave with the chores.

Lorrie and this absolutely beautiful photo from fourlads photography

Now, as we deal with the reality that we'll never see him again on this side of Heaven, it is a little difficult to look at pictures of our visit.  As a couple, Treavor and I have hugged people and said our goodbyes, not realizing that those times would be the last time to embrace our loved ones.  Four years ago, we said our final goodbyes to two grandparents as we left for our move to Thailand.  Within a few years, they had passed into Heaven, and we felt so sad to not be there for our grieving family. 

And now, since travelling to and from the States again, we have suffered the pain of discovering the news that, now, one more beloved grandparent and two uncles have passed while living overseas.  I think we are finding that physical distance doesn't quite make things "easier" to cope with loss.  Instead, the "every day" of here is more effective on keeping our minds off of grief...until we let ourselves (and force ourselves, sometimes) to really process our sadness.

If you would, please take a moment to pray for Treavor's grieving family and for Uncle David's friends who are missing him terribly.  Pray for us, that we would grieve well and take time to let the emotions rise to bring resolution and healing.

And, for yourself, really hug and bless your family...your friends...the people you encounter in your daily life.  None of us know when our last day will come.  Let's live without regrets and love well today!


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