The Beauty of Aging

This week I turned another year older.  I’m now dangerously approaching my mid-thirties.  I’m beginning to see, with some disbelief, signs that my youthful body is slowly fading.

One morning, as I was getting ready to leave the house, I quickly put on some makeup to cover up the tired mom look.  I tried to cover up the tired mom look.  Effort always counts for something.  Just as I was about turn to off the bathroom light, I noticed the three wrinkles on my forehead when my brow furrows hadn’t unfurrowed.    Wait a minute.  This has never happened to me before.  Are those wrinkles there to stay?  Forever?  I’m not ready for this!

Fortunately, I was able to remedy the wrinkle situation by smoothing more foundation into the creases.  I’m pretty sure I applied the makeup in the furrowing position, hence the perma-furrow.  Everything was back to normal again.  But still, a little unsettling.

I always thought I’d be okay with aging.  I still think I’m okay with aging.  I don’t plan to dye my hair when it begins to turn gray.  I’ve long been aware of the proverb that speaks of the “crown of splendor” that comes with graying hair.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
    it is attained in the way of righteousness.

 Proverbs 16:31

 A crown of splendor.  That is pretty lovely.

But on Monday, under the unforgiving bright lights in the Old Navy change room, there it was.  I could see it.  On top of my head, a white hair.  There were probably more in sight, but I chose not to search for them. I already understood what was happening to me.

I am getting older.

It isn’t just happening to me either.  I see it on Facebook.  The friends I knew 10-15 years ago.  The women I went to high school and university with?  They are aging too.  I’m starting to see the wrinkles around their eyes I didn’t see when I knew them so many years ago.

But what I’ve noticed most, when paging through the pictures of women my age with their kids on their laps or the places they’ve traveled in the background, is their loveliness.  They are more beautiful than I remembered them to be.  I see angular faces with eyes that sparkle, smiles that cause creases in their skin, reflecting the joy in the people around them.

And to my surprise, when I walk by a mirror or pause to see my reflection for a minute, I am stunned to see that I’m looking beautiful too.  My face has slimmed down, my cheekbones are a bit more defined, my eyes are clear, my long hair has developed a wave.  Hmm.

Yes, it is true, these women and I look a bit more weathered.  The mothers in the group don’t quite have the bodies we once had in the pre-kid era.  But we’ve been places and have had some life experiences not known to the teenage girl. We’ve experienced hardship and loss.  We’ve known joy and love we never could have imagined.

This is where the beauty comes from.  It isn’t from the perfect, flawless skin or from the slim, fit bodies the media tries to convince us we need to be beautiful.  The loveliness we possess is a natural beauty that only comes from living life, coming through the hard times and finding joy in the everyday experiences.

The beauty of our spirit will never fade.   As our bodies continue to age and lose it’s youthful appearance, we can be assured God will continue to work on our inner beauty, refining us into who he made us to be.  It is this beauty we can hold on to.

It only gets better from here, ladies.

Getting ready to bake on my 34th birthday.

Getting ready to bake on my 34th birthday.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

1 Peter 3:3-4


When the Future Gets Cancelled

P1120425Looking back at my high school year book, I notice my “FP” (future prediction) hasn’t come true (yet).  Beside my graduation picture, my FP says, “singing missionary in Africa.”  Believe it or not, I still have that dream.  Maybe not a “singing missionary”, but I’ve always had the dream to live and work in Africa, bringing love and encouragement to those who may not know about Jesus.

I also noticed my “KF”(known for) includes “her domestic abilities.”  Well, those abilities sure are coming in handy now.  Being domestic at home is what I’m known for today. Yet, I still have big dreams of doing big things away from home.

This has been a hard week.  A very hard week.  Illness hit our house with a vengeance.  Having a large family means it takes a long time for illness to filter its way through every member of the family.  I’ve had to religiously document when medications are dispensed and for whom or I won’t even remember who is sick that day.

I don’t quite know how to describe what happened here this week.  All I know is that it was a struggle for me to stay positive.  My attitude of “I’ve got this” started to take a nose dive.  I told a friend over Facebook on Wednesday that I had baby snot in my hair.  I don’t know how it got there, but once I glanced in the mirror at the glistening nasal mucus on my already greasy hair, I knew I had reached an all time low.

If I go on and on and describe some of the things that happened, I fear I’d be entering into “complaining” territory and I don’t want to do that.  What I can say is I went to bed at 9:00pm several nights in a row, falling into bed with complete exhaustion.  Waking up in the morning, I still felt tired and I had to do another taxing day all over again.

I was waiting for the end of the round of sickness so I could write a nice blog post about the tough time I had and how it resolved.  Well, I realize now that that resolution may never come.  The illness is still here and I’m still tired and house bound.  I continue to cancel visits with friends and social events.  I continue to feel disappointment every time I send an email saying, “I can’t do it, the kids are sick.”

I guess this really is a true picture of what life is like.  We can’t always find the silver lining in every situation.  We might never know why a loved one had to die or why we never got to take that career path we thought we were supposed to go down.

I wonder if these detours on the road, the change in direction, is God gently guiding us on the path he wants us to take.

I’ve often been a bit confused by Proverbs 3:6, “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”   I have to tell you, I don’t feel like my path is very straight.  But I do know in these hard times, the times when my appointments on the calendar are crossed off because I have to deal with ceaseless crying and runny noses, I have to rely on him for understanding and I can begin to see a new course ahead with God in the lead.

Now that I’m in my thirties and I have had some life experiences under my belt, I’m realizing that life is very unpredictable.  While making life plans in high school seemed very important at the time, I realize now life isn’t something you can plan and package with nice paper and a pretty bow.  We often desperately try to organize our lives so things all make sense.  We like to keep lists, pin boards on Pinterest, place appointments on calendars, plan vacations in advance, and hold dreams that we hope to one day fulfill.  When life takes a slight turn or even a drastic bend, we struggle with understanding what went wrong in our plan.

I’ll never forget the time I look at my mom’s calendar the week after she died.  She had written appointments and special P1070049edgecelebrations and trips she had always wanted to make onto the next year’s dates.   It felt so disconcerting knowing she would never fulfill those plans.

As for my FP?  I don’t know what my future holds.  Being at home gives me an opportunity to dream about the possibilities of things I could do in the outside world.  Sometimes I think of an idea and spend an hour researching how I could make it happen.  But every time I think of a brilliant idea of what I’d like to do in my future, I feel God reeling me back to my family here at home.

Having sick kids orders me to stay home.  I guess I’m getting the message I need to be here right now.  As much as I’d like to be out saving the world by singing in Africa, I’m here, serving my family and most importantly, my God.