10 Things I've Learned Since Turning 40

40

I was 16 years old and we just moved into a new city which meant I was the new kid in high school. I remember thinking,

Will these people like me?

Who can I be friends with?

Am I cool enough?

Pretty enough?

I just wanted to be accepted.

Blogging has been like that for me. Wondering if my words make sense or will they even like what I’m writing? I just wanted to be accepted.

The last blog post that I wrote was March 17 and I’ve learned a lot since then, actually these last 12 months, as they have been some of the hardest I’ve endured. I hope you allow me the time to share my thoughts along this journey.

1.  Trust Him – I’m talking the dig your heels in the ground, I’m not moving kind of trust. The kind of trust that says I can’t figure this out, I don’t know what to do or where to go but I trust You. There are lots of resources out there that discuss finding your purpose in life. It seems every day there is a new book out with the same substance just a different title. I see more and more people going around and around in circles yet almost stuck because they thought their life calling or life work was to do this or that, yet they circle back instead wondering if it was this instead. This year I found myself understanding two things: 1) by the time I figure out what to do in life, I’ll be too old by the time I figure it out. 2) rather than trying to figure it out, just enjoy the journey.

2.  40 Makes You Intentional – I turned 40 last August and got an overwhelming feeling of taking this second part of my life and making it more intentional. All four of our kids will be teenagers come July 30th and am in this season of my life with the understanding that these moments with them will be few and far between. Our oldest will graduate in a few years and will be applying to the Air Force Academy (ya’ll pray he gets in :-) ), another wants to be a teacher and another wants to go into the medical field, and the other…well, let’s just say he’s still figuring it out. But, turning 40 is no biggie unless you want to know that your veins become a little more distinctive, what used to be every six weeks is now every four weeks to color those gray hairs or that it takes your body a lot longer to heal when you twist your ankle bad enough that you thought you broke it and ended up in the ER. Yet my 40’s will be “on purpose”.

3.  The Church Doesn’t Raise Your Kids, You Do – This may be one of the most controversial statements I make in this blog post, so please give me some grace. Here is what I have learned from my experience. We have four incredible teenagers that love God with all their heart. They know who to put their trust in, they know what Faith looks like, and they know who their Healer and Provider is. Why, because they learned it at home. They see firsthand what that looks like. They see it through their parent’s eyes, their parents walk and they become the fruit of that. Our kids are the first generation in our family that comes from a Christian home since they were born and I am thankful for the church enhancing that. They taught them the stories of Mary and Joseph, Isaac and Jacob, Joseph and the best lesson of all…Jesus. But where our kids learn the hard stuff - is in our homes. They learn what waiting on God looks like when you think you have no more patience or when God understands you more then you understand yourself. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children as parents is an understanding that they are who God says they are.

4.  Get Out of the Way – Without sounding to “Christianese”….just get out of the way of what God is trying to do in your life. I struggled with this, not only the last twelve months, but my whole life!! I’m a planner. I need to know what we are doing, when we are doing it and how we are getting there. Point blank. If the directions are laid out, then that is what we are going to follow. Well, I have news for you…God’s not like that. So stop trying to change His mind.

5.  Joy Makes Life Better – Those of us raised in church have heard at one point or another – "The Joy of the Lord is your Strength" in Nehemiah 8:10 but what the first part of that verse says in the Amplified version – “And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy is truly a choice. You have a choice to be happy or be depressed, you have a choice to be around those that encourage and inspire you or wallow in self-pity alone. Joy looks better, tastes better and makes life better.

choose joy

6.  Be a Student of the Word – I remember I was in my late 20’s – early 30’s and our Pastor’s wife in Denver was speaking at a women’s conference and she said something that is so profound to me now at 40 that I didn’t understand back then. She said, “Until I am so full of the Word, there are not enough books published to fill me with what His Word can instead.” I get this now. Trust me I’m not against writing books or reading them. But I don’t ever want them to take the place of His Word.

7.  Don’t Worry About What People Think – We see everyday someone puts a picture on Instagram and gets 47 likes and you put yours up and it may get 3 or you want to try a new venture but you are worried if your friends will accept it or think you’re crazy for trying. Here is a secret – Silence the Voices. The voices of fear or failure. The voices that say – I guess you’re not popular enough or people just don’t like you. Now’s the time to show the world what you got!

8.  Losing a Parent is Hard – This month it will be a year since I lost my father. I’ve talked here about my struggles but I want to focus on the experience itself. Losing a loved one is hard, but a parent is one of the toughest. As a kid you think your dad is invincible. Nothing can stop him. That he can fight anyone or anything because he’s the strongest man you know. You think they will live forever and then they are gone. Don’t be left with a bunch of I wishes. Cherish every moment with them as Father’s Day comes near. Tell them everything on your heart because you never know when you will have that chance again.

9.  You Are Not Defined by Your Past – Your past doesn’t define who you are. I will share my testimony with you in the next few weeks. Some things a lot of you don’t know. Your past is your story and how ugly it may look…it’s beautiful to God. Because - What the enemy meant for evil, God will turn it over for good! (Genesis 50:20) Let Him begin to use your story and He will walk with you towards your future.

10.  Your Purpose is like Seasons – I almost feel that Purpose should have an S on the end because our purposes in life constantly change. Maybe you’re in a season where you are raising toddlers and having the time of your life being a mom – Purpose. Maybe you just got a job offer that requires you to move to a new location – Purpose. Or maybe you’re raising teenagers and soaking in these last few years – Purpose. Yet each one of these is for a season. We just have to be careful of not missing the enjoyment of the season we are in because we are focused on the season we want to be in. You can’t have Summer unless you have Rain and you can’t have Rain unless you have Summer.

Those high school years were some of the greatest times I had at my new school. Where else would I have learned how to go ice blocking on a golf course and getting shot at with a paint ball gun or cow tipping at night with my friends? Where I went to football games, had pizza or went out for hamburgers for lunch but only with my new high school friends. I was accepted, they liked me. I guess I was cool.

Now if I could just figure this blogging thing out.