My Mennonite, farming, 'older' parents were the main characters in my life aside from myself and would shape and influence the person I am today. Growing up with an older generation way of life I believe is the reason I'm so drawn to history, things of old, cultural practices and often feel like I'm born into the wrong era. My life at home was quite old fashioned in a sense and yet my school life taught me all the ways of keeping up with the times. Today I'm often drawn to older people, the carved lines in their faces and wisdom shared leave me thankful and pondering how their stories were written.
In school I loved history throughout the ages, the science of time, and I even admit to enjoying creating time lines in class. So naturally all my albums of scrap booking are done in sequential order. I find myself often going back, looking through the pages and taking note of the big and small moments in my life and the changes the evoked. The pictures bring out the color and antics of my growing up years. Not a childhood of a lot of extra curricular school activities, no video games or i pods or cartoons in the morning. I sat on my Dad's lap every morning at breakfast and rode my trike around the stalls of the dairy barn. My mom let me roll my own little buns on miniature pans and I tugged on her busy phone cord alot. My weeks spent playing barbies and picking rain worms off the driveway with my niece and our bright little pails. oh yeah and we made a lot of pretend pea soup with the little pods from the caragana bushes in the spring. Saturday night baths, the Polka Party, Catechism verses rehearsed and listening to Pap practicing out of the Gesang Buch for Sunday morning. Sundays were spent in our little country church, Mom's roast chicken dinner, eagerly waiting for my folks to get up from afternoon naps, and either getting company or finding somewhere to go after the chores were done. My school life came fairly easy to me, it was long bus rides and many books read, dedicated to my academics, poured out my creativity and imagination and trying to fit in with all the non Mennonite kids. I never did fit in very well but came out of Grade 12 still true to my roots and going back to where I'd come from. I was a pretty happy kid growing up in this very condensed version of childhood. There was so much more and many levels of deeper struggles I was surrounded by too. Of course those would be the details I'd be hesitant to share but essentially it's those tough things that would shape me into a teenage girl trying to find myself and my purpose. On the inside so restrained by shyness, insecurities and socially awkward; yet confident and outgoing most with those who knew me best.
It is in this part of myself where the Devil taunts me and I fight the opposition. As a teenage girl I longed to find confidence in my faith, who I was and to be at peace with the way He planned my being. I was tempted by the partying phase of life in efforts to let alcohol boost my confidence and bravado, yet it always ended as such an empty facade and I was back to looking at myself in the mirror. I tried to be socially outgoing through my friends but as everyone moves on into adulthood and the circle breaks I was back to sorting out those old fears. Through the passing of my dad and a budding relationship that turned to marriage I found focus on my faith again. Marriage gave me purpose. Having a handsome strong husband gave me strength and often his presence fueled my confidence in crowds and that kept me going till I got back home, and the mask comes off. I'd let the little things evolve into big worries. The insecurities turning into pride and selfishness. Trying so hard to be a people pleaser but running myself down. Travelling through periods of fixing my eyes on Jesus only to fall carelessly away to soon. Struggling to fix my own roots of faith and not just riding along rules and traditions that I thought were required to please Jesus. It seems crazy that the toughest battle one has with opposition is mostly fought within oneself.
Motherhood gave me a sense of new direction. With it has come great love encompassed in my heart, self sacrifice and stewardship, discovering common ground with all mothers and an entirely new testing and refining of my faith. Being a mommy isn't an easy road, I still struggle with inadequacies and insecurities in my role as a parent. I still struggle with accepting that I am in a place in life where most of my time and self is for my kids when I selfishly want my time and independence. That totally resurfaced for me on my birthday weekend. I spent my days running after a busy boy and struggled with envying those around who were laughing, visiting and relaxed around all the family events we had going on. I'm ashamed of the moments I resented what i had to do. I'm ashamed that despite the birthday prayers and blessings I chose to have pity party with myself rather that choosing joy in the moment for what it was. I'm ashamed to have written my name on the rededicating list and to have forgotten so soon of my intentions. I'm ashamed that I still let the Devil rehash all those old insecurities a loud. Tired of forcing myself to be what I'm not, that it's okay to be that slightly introverted person who doesn't find large crowds easy to be around. To know that there are groups of people who love me for how I am and I can let down the pretend mask I sometimes wear. To reveal that the true me is very human. I am who I am by the influence of my upbringing, even though I am loyal to my roots and history, God is calling me to let go of some of the traits I've inherited and cling too. He wants my roots to be planted according to what He is revealing to me specifically. That may not be being well versed in the gift of connecting verbally with people, that I don't need to be in the center of a crowd to play a part in His work, that confidence won't come from my own self indulgence and aspirations but simply being assured that He is working His plan through me whatever it me be, and right now that is giving myself to my family. On my birthday morning our Pastor challenge us to rededication and refocus through the book of Nehemiah, and that rededication can't fully happen without full confession of our sin. Chapter nine versus 35 and 36 speak of the blessings we receive from God often makes us forget him. Rather than focusing on being thankful for the blessings we choose to rely on being secured by the blessings. Going away from the crowd on the weekend and seeking God out on my own, in my silence where I most often find Him, I was affirmed in the realization that I am blessed to live this story, to be this unique, strange me. After the craziness of trying to feel secure through everybody else God reveals that His blessings come to me in often simple, understated ways. After the craziness of the weekend I saw my birthday blessings through:
-celebrating the ninety five years of longevity of my Grospap whose life story is in the final chapters with an eternal home as the epilogue.
-enjoying heartwarming common ground and conversation of family who I was unfamiliar with, they took time to encourage my writing and share some of their story of the past with me. I get choked up when I think of this man and his wife seeking me out, for through the words of older men I often regain that feeling of my father's presence and the love he had for me. I give thanks to God that He puts those men in my path to speak to that little girl heart that is still inside of me.
-little girls and a dear friend calling me with early morning birthday wishes, Sunday school prayers and understanding women, special tokens of love from family all around, facebook greetings, sharing birthdays and special bond with a cousin.
-my hubby remembering my birthday, much to his surprise and mine, and watching the kids for a couple of hours the next for that me time I desired. With him I'm so thankful to walking this road of life as we contiually learn to lean on Jesus, not depending on fullfillment of each other but having God fullfill us together through His ways. I love this man who despite my shortcomings encourages me always to try again and be open to the changes I often fight.
-my mother's arms of love and service, honored to be a part of her story, praying her final chapters will be lived with learning to lean on Him more and more, doing that together with her.
-the absolute trust and love in me in the eyes of my children. The realization that the more I let Jesus tell the story through me the more of Him my little ones will see in me.
So how could I ever doubt the blessings that are so obvious now after some soul searching. Sometimes it takes a little refocusing and trust God with the story He is writing about me, finding full confidence that despite how or when the climax and conclusion may be I will wait upon the Lord and my strength shall be renewed, I will mount up with wings as eagles;run and not be weary; walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 My humanness may fail me again and again but God never will.