29 Is SO Far From 30
May I just tell you, friend, that the title of this post is loaded. For those of us who have turned our age from one decade to the next, we get it. Leaving teenage years to turn twenty doesn’t count, by the way. That’s something you want to do. I am fairly sure that is the last time most people get excited about entering the next decade. Except maybe turning 100..then you get to have your face on a Smucker’s jelly jar on the Today show. That would be cool. But, sheesh, that is a long way away.
This dread, if you will, was no different for yours truly. And the two celebrations couldn’t have been more different.
I decided, at the wise age of twenty-nine that I wanted to throw myself a birthday party. It sounds selfish, but I had thrown quite a few for my kiddos at this point and I just decided “Hey, how come kids are the only ones who are allowed to have cool parties? I mean, I don’t want people to bring me a gift, I just want to hang out with my friends, play games and have fun.” So, we did.
I busted out my delightful Cricut scrapbooking talents and whipped up a super cute invite, she said humbly. I was a little proud of myself for its cuteness and it had all my favorite colors. I picked about five couple friends that I wanted to be with and invited them to my last twenty-something party. The planning was half the fun. I planned the menu to be fairly easy to prepare and yummy to eat. I chose quite a few heavy appetizers that I knew my pals loved, my favorite desserts, and some yummy snacky goodness. It took a few trips to the store to remember it all, but overall, I was turning into quite the savvy party planner.
The day of the event, I woke up early and prepped some food. I showered, got cute (I had lost all my baby Benjamin weight and was feeling kinda hot!), and my date (aka, husband) and I began the commute. I had planned to host this event at my parents’ house (which was actually my grandparents’ house before them) because it was a lot bigger and more party friendly. Plus, it had a different colored shag carpet in every room. C’mon people, that is just plain cool.
We got to the house, finished making all the food and then set up the entertaining area. I had decided to spare the budget by not buying balloons or pin the tail on the middle aged donkey. Wise choice. My friends were warned though, games would be played. I am borderline obsessed with love playing games. I love Catch Phrase. I love the former drinking game for some, but now just as fun sober, “I Never” game. I love charades and Pictionary and Cranium and just about anything that gets a group of people together. Fun is had by all. And, even better, people’s walls tend to come down. I’m all about that because I have no walls…so this levels the playing field.
We had a blast! Everybody came. We spent hours just hanging out, chatting and catching up, laughing our heads off, stuffing our faces, and of course, playing game after game. A few of my friends didn’t obey the clearly stated “No gifts, please” rule, but those ladies are big on giving, so I should have known better! (I love you! You know who you are!:) Overall, it was a fantastic party – one I will never forget! I mean seriously, look how cute we were…
Fast forward one year and things were…let’s just say, quite a bit different. I knew that twenty-ten was creeping up on me day by day, but I was more concerned with the monster child growing big inside my belly. This little darling was not being kind to Mama and had already caused all types of drama. Little did we know that would be prophetic! J I was on modified bed rest and couldn’t walk far without quite a bit of pain. I’ll spare you the specific details. You’re welcome.
My friends will remember that I was rockin’ the automated hover round everywhere I went those days. Yep, me and the elderly, we rocked that puppy! So, I was huge and miserable and turning twenty-ten. Awesome.
I didn’t plan a party this time because I wasn’t feeling much like partying like a rock star in the hover round. My birthday fell on a Sunday that year and so I spent the majority of the morning at my job, at the time, at our awesome church. I had just worked two services, stayed for a while after to make sure all was well and I was pretty much done. My kids were done. Ryan was done. It was time to go.
Then, my boss, our children’s pastor, said he needed to talk with me for a few minutes. I love Pastor Scott. He is the man. He loves Jesus, loves his job and is a phenomenal leader. But, he, like me, was gifted with the talent of words. I knew this would be no short meeting. So, we stood and chatted about a few things. Then, a few more. Then some more. Ok, Scott, now I can’t feel my feet.
Finally, three days later we were done and he and I and our co-worker that we’d been “meeting” with all went through the foyer to leave. Ryan and the kids were beyond ready to go, and so was I. Um, can someone say buffet time for Mama! Can I get a witness? Then, I hear “Hey Caroline, one more quick thing, follow me.”
Insert somewhat of a bad word here. Dear ol’ Pastor Scott had no children. He most certainly had never birthed one. He also did not currently have one severely pushing down on his pelvis like I did right at that moment. I rolled my eyes obeyed, and followed him. I’m so darn obedient. J
He was a few steps ahead, so Ryan followed, and I waddled as quickly as I could into our youth room. I turned the corner of what should have been an empty Youth area and was greeted with a hundred faces and a loud “SURPRISE!!” Almost peed my pants here.
Surprise what!?!?! Oh ya, today is February 15th 2009. I am officially twenty-ten!
I had teased for years at how much I looooove surprise parties. Hint, hint. I had helped plan so many for family and friends, they were just awesome! But, I couldn’t get anybody to throw me one. Until now.
I just stood there and looked around the room at all of these wonderful faces I loved. I was shocked! I had kinda hoped Ryan would do something like this. A very small part of me thought something was up a couple days prior – but nothing like this. There were SO many people there. I kept seeing new face after new face that I loved, and thinking Oh hey! I know you! I like you!
I’m not sure exactly what my face looked like at that moment – oh wait – ya I am…
Lovely, isn’t it!? Ya, not so much. 🙂 But, I was one happy girl!
Oh what a difference a year makes!
Twenty-nine – Was all planned out. I picked the day, the time, the people, the food, the invites, the games, even the cute sweater I would wear. I was skinny, I felt cute and was ready to party! I had spent weeks anticipating it, planning it, looking forward to it! It was perfect – after all, it was planned ahead of time by me!
Twenty-ten – I was shocked. I almost peed my pants. I was tired, in pain, and felt more like a beached whale than a birthday girl. And, of course, there were a TON of people there to see me in all my Shamu-ness. I had no idea it was coming. I was unprepared. I had no part in planning it. I was completely taken by surprise in every way. It was still amazing, of course – but it wasn’t at all planned by me!
What a difference a year makes.
What a difference a shoreline makes.
Take Moses and Joshua, for instance. Same scenario, just less birthday cake.
They both followed God to a shoreline, but oh how different their experiences were. Most people know about how God saved Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea. That story gets put up on video screens and Bible story posters in children’s churches everywhere. But, often, people don’t know God parted water once again for His people.
God led the Moses and the Israelites to the shore of the Red Sea. They got there, looked at this vast amount of water and then they glanced behind them. Ex. 14:10 “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them.”
What in the world!? They all must have thought. In front of them, the Red Sea. Behind them, all of a sudden, the entire Egyptian army, 600 chariots strong. Talk about a big “SURPRISE!!” but this one didn’t come with presents, friend.
They pretty much freaked out.
They cried out to God and to Moses and basically said “HELP! Was there not enough room in the cemetery back at Egypt for us, so that you had to lead us out here to be killed by Pharaoh? You should have just left us well enough alone!”
Moses answered these scaredy cats, (Ex. 14:13-14) “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
There must have been much rejoicing at that announcement. Oh good! Today we will be saved. Today we will see the deliverance of the Lord. Let’s do this thing, today! Like, now!
Then there’s good ol’ Joshua.
Here he is, about forty years later leading the next generation of Israelites into the Promised Land. Same song, different verse. Here they are at the border of the very land Moses himself wanted to step foot on, but never did. Joshua is so close. All that really stands in between them now is this Jordan River. Joshua led the people there, to the banks of this mighty river, and they set up camp. That’s right, they lodged there. For three long days, they got to sit there and just stare at this thing that stood between them and their Promised Land. They had plenty of time to anticipate what happened. Plan their own strategies in their heads. Picture it. Plan it. Fear it.
Did you know that Jordan means “to deeply descend”. And this was all happening during the spring time. Snow was melting off of Mt. Horeb and flowing into this usually tame river. So, here they are looking into this ferocious river, now fifty times wider than it usually is, and they are supposed to go across?!
How are we going to do this?
Can’t we wait ‘til this thing has calmed down?
What are we, camping here for the scenery?
Friend, do you ever feel like I do sometimes, that God waits for the rivers I face to be at their deepest, and most ferocious too, before He leads me there!
So, they got the chance to hear those rushing waters all day, and all night. There was no surprise here, friend. They saw their opponent clearly, for a long time. Three days they had to wait and wonder how their deliverance would come.
So, which do you prefer? You want to walk up to the water, turn your head to see an enemy and be delivered before supper time? Or are you Ok with camping out near your troubles? Having time to watch and wait. Plenty of time to build up faith or build up fear. What do ya think, friend?
Seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it?
The problem is that you and I don’t ever always get to pick which type of problem we will face. We aren’t in control of what type of shoreline we will come up to or how much time we will have to stare that thing down?
As some of you may know, I had the blessing of an opportunity to go to the Mayo clinic about a month ago. Actually, exactly a month ago, today. Ryan and I left our babies and traveled further away than we’d ever been from them, for longer than we’d ever been away from them. It was tough, but it was a blessing. But, it all happened so fast! I found out they accepted me as a patient, they called to tell me when my appointments would be, and we were there all within one week! There was no wait time. No real time to worry, get scared, be anxious about what was about to unfold. And also, there wasn’t really that much pain happening. I mean, I hadn’t signed up for a marathon or anything, but I wasn’t leaking spinal fluid either.
Today, that isn’t so much the case. Today, begins week two of leaking spinal fluid and the pain drama that goes with it. I contacted my doctors at Mayo twelve days ago. When I was there before, they had assured me I could come back to be treated there if this happened again. I was a little surprised at how quickly it happened though. I hadn’t been home from our little Minnesota road trip for two weeks before the symptoms began. I’d just barely unpacked the suitcase for goodness sake.
It has been a bit more difficult to arrange all of the tests and procedures that I need this go ‘round. Hence, the waiting. Last time, there was no waiting. This time, I’ve had plenty of days almost thirteen to stare at this river. Last time, I was Moses and his people – pretty quick deliverance. This time, I’m Joshua and his people just staring my opponent down. For longer than I would like to, to be honest.
This time is harder. I, like the Israelites with Joshua, have more pain this time. I’ve been through more “stuff”. I’m more tired. I’m more weary. But, I’m also more faithful. This, as it turns out, is the big difference.
Did you know that the Red Sea parted overnight? All Moses had to do was obey God and stretch out his hand and the Lord drew back those waters all night long? The Israelites with Moses didn’t even have to wait twenty-four hours before they were walking on dry land! They didn’t have to take one step before they saw the water turn into walls.
The next generation needed a bit more faith. They needed a bit more patience. They had time to anticipate and fear. And, another big difference is that they had to take a step into those raging river waters before anything happened. That’s right, there’s no holding up your hand this time. This time, their leaders had to get their feet wet before they could walk on dry land.
Two shorelines. Two times water was parted. But, two very different stories.
Friend, where are you with this?
Has God allowed you to come to yet another shoreline that you may not have wanted to visit? Maybe you were thinking more like a ski trip this time, Lord? But, here you are, once again facing something difficult. Something that seems insurmountable. Scary. Impossible, even?
Then, friend, I encourage you to do what I am trying so desperately to do, and celebrate! That’s right…get out your party shoes and your cute sweater and get ready! Because if God has led you to something that seems downright impossible – then He is allowing you the chance to take Him at His Word.
Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”
The more raging the waters are in front of you, the more opportunity you have to see God do His thing.
Trust me, I know it ain’t easy. Most of us Me, me, me! would prefer to not only pick which shoreline we visit, but how, when, and where we will decide to cross it.
But, I encourage you to be like Joshua. I encourage myself to be like Joshua. Be faithful. Be willing to let God do something BIG. Like the wise Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer says “We pray for God to do miracles, but then we pray to be kept away from situations where a miracle is needed. That ain’t gonna work.”
Friend, we can do this. Actually, I take that back. We can’t. But, God can.
Let Him plan your party. Give up control.
Trust me, whatever He does will be far better than any ol’ thing you could plan anyway.
Come with me. Let’s face twenty-whatever with GOD as our party planner. The party will be great. The ground will be dry. He will be there. And, friend, so will I! You with me?
Lots of great memories! Thanks for taking me back! 🙂