my 20's: the story behind the story

I’ve had an eventful decade.

My 20’s are rapidly coming to a close and here’s my just-the-facts-ma’am recap of them:

age 20: Start dating Tom and get engaged to him. Begin attending BBC.

age 21: Become Mrs. Thomas Dodds, move into the house on Portland Ave.  Encourage Tom to start his own business. Start a small group in our home.

age 22: Graduate from Bethel College and begin (and end) my short stint at a pro-life organization.

Become pregnant and give birth to Eliza Grace. Become a mom to a baby girl. Practice life without an income.

age 23: Practice being a wife and mom. Start to see growth in Tom’s business. Say goodbye to my best friend who moves away.

age 24: Become pregnant. Move to the house on Grouse Hollow. Give birth to Seth Thomas. Become a mom to a baby boy.

age 25: Become pregnant for a third time. Keep practicing the wife and mom thing. Say goodbye to Tom’s Grandma Ione, who passed away.

age 26: Give birth to Elianna Faith. Become a mom to a baby girl, for the second time. Start another small group in our home.

age 27: Tom informs me I’m 90% of the way to 30 yrs old. Keep on keepin’ on with the wife and mom gig. Say goodbye to my Grandpa Rodney, who passed away. Live through a massive hail storm that caused damage to our home, narrowly avoid a tornado.

age 28: Become pregnant for the fourth time. Say goodbye to that little one in the summer due to miscarriage. Become pregnant for a fifth time.

age 29: Give birth to Evangeline Joy. Become a mom to a baby girl, for the third  time.

So, there are the facts of the matter. But there is a hidden story that’s missing from these facts. The story behind the story.

There is truth that is missing from these facts. And this truth is the most important part of my 20’s. It’s the true story that shows how God has kept me during this past decade. He really has kept me. He has hidden me in the shadow of His wing.

Here are a few of the ways He’s kept me, the story behind the story:

The Lord kept me through many great friendships, and, what felt like no friendships. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The Lord kept me through years of no income and years of plentiful income. He is my Portion forever.

The Lord kept me through times of depression and times of joy. He is my Strength and the Lifter of my Head.

The Lord kept me through days of birth and days of death. He is the Good Giver and the Wise Taker.

The Lord kept me through doubts and confidence. He is my Comfort who is over all and in all and through all.

The Lord kept me through city life and suburb life. Nothing can separate me from His Love. Where can I hide from His presence?

The Lord kept me through single life and married life. He is the God who grants our participation in His mysterious metaphors.

The Lord kept me through mothering magic and mayhem. He gently leads those who are with young.

Ultimately, the Lord has kept me His own. He has caused me to persevere in every circumstance because He is the Good Shepherd and no one can snatch me out of His hand.  I persevere because of His faithfulness, not my own.

So, I have a great many hopes for my 30’s. I hope that I will be less weak. More steady. Less selfish. More selfless. Less fearful. More bold.

And at the core of my hope is Jesus. I hope in Him, because He is the One “who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.” I put my hope in “the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jude 1:24

So long 20’s.  It was a ride.

10 things I hope to emulate about my mom, on her birthday

Today is my mom’s birthday.  There are lots of things that I love about my mom.  Here are a few things about her that I hope to someday emulate:

1) She is generous and holds onto material things loosely.  More often than not, if you admire something she has, she will give it to you.  Even special, big things.

2) She adopts people, and not just for a season.  My mom included some of my friends like family when I was growing up.  Not that they were just allowed to tag along.  She loved(s) them (probably more than I did at times), and, even now, she holds them very closely in her heart, prays for them and misses them.  She does this with lots of people, more than just my friends.

3) She is feminine, yet very very capable when it comes to all things electronic, fixing things, yard work, handling a chainsaw, and just hard work in general.  

4) She handles large life-changes with determination and grace.  Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after 50 is a pretty big shock to the system, but she has persevered, throwing herself into the new lifestyle, and barely missed a beat.   

5) When she has guests over, she makes them feel like they are doing her a huge favor by being there.  As though, changing the sheets and making the food for them is a big honor for her.  

6) She is the best Nana I know, possibly the best the in the whole world.  She cares about and nurtures her grandkids’ spiritual development.  She babysits tirelessly.  She has a special and distinct relationship with each of her 12 grandkids.  They all feel very loved.  

7) She is in relationships for the long-haul and isn’t afraid of a messy one.  If you’re a hopelessly flawed person, my mom won’t be scared off, she’s in it for the duration.  She gives grace as she’s received it.  

8) She has the right perspective on things.  Things are meant to be used for a purpose.  If they break in the process, no sweat.  It means they were getting used.  She doesn’t protect her things, she protects people.

9) She has never apologized for being first and foremost the manager of her home.  She stayed home when we kids were growing up and she stays home now.  She understands the value in it.  

10) It is her glory to overlook an offense.  This probably happens much more than I know. 

Well, as I read through the list, I know it falls short.  But it is a glimpse of the things I see and hope to be.  And, if you know my mom, you know that, for her, talk is cheap.  So, while she will appreciate this list, she is a woman of action.  So, if I write the list with admiration, but don’t treat her well, it means little.  And she’s right.  That’s another thing I could add to my list. 

Happy Birthday, Mom.