Manifesto For My 32nd Year

Today is my birthday, and while I’ve always loved my birthday, today feels different. Today I feel more overwhelmed with gratitude than I ever remember being on this day. As calls, texts, Facebook posts have come through with well wishes and celebration I have stopped and reflected on the individuals sending such thoughtful messages. So many memories, so much joy, so many miles of life traveled with the people God has allowed me the privilege of knowing. More than I can say, I am thankful.

My 31st year was an unexpected one. A year ago I felt the word “dauntless” would be an important one, but I couldn’t have anticipated the adventures or the sorrow that would require the need for resolute courage. My 31st year has passed, and it was filled with wonderful journeys across the US, new career adventures, bigger dreams, deeper love, greater appreciation of rest and stillness, the grief of tremendous loss, and a keen awareness of my own humanity and frailty.

Through these last 365 days I see that God was in the heights and the depths. He was with me when I was a bundle of nerves 37,000 feet in the air (I’m learning to love flying, but the year didn’t start off that way). He was with me when I was curled up on my bathroom floor crying big, ugly tears during one of the hardest seasons of my life. He was with me when I was with crowds, and with me when I was hidden from them. He was with me when I felt like who He made me to be, and when I felt so broken, frail, and far from that woman.

In the wake of the lessons I learned during year 31, here is my manifesto for 32:

Breathe deep and live slow.

I am 32 and I’m only moving forward. I’ve heard that the years go faster, and I want to appreciate the now. I want to take more mental snapshots of the beautiful, ordinary moments. I want to delight in the mundane as well as the exceptional.

Dig Into Real Community

I’ve moved more than 10 times in the last 14 years. I’m conditioned to start over when I feel that I am no longer “new and shiny.” When my imperfections start to show, I want to run. 31 taught me to have more grit, to dig in, and to trust that there are people who really do want to love me and stay with me, even when I’m broken.

Rest more.

31 pressed on my wounded soul’s belief that my value comes from what I can produce; that I am only as valuable insofar as I contribute. I am a terrible rester, which means I run on fumes… a lot. And that is not how God designed any of us to live, nor is it the truth. I want to stop more often. Be still on a regular basis. Breathe deep. Rest, and continue allowing Him to speak the Truth: that my value comes from the reality that I am His.

See and love people. 

I love humans. A simple moment with a barista this morning ignited my soul. There was nothing spectacular about our conversation; no earth-shattering moment, so to speak. But there was kindness, and a genuine sense that we saw each other with dignity, worth, and value.

I want to take the brief moments I have with people throughout the day and speak life, hope, value, worth, and joy into them. Whether it’s looking someone in the eyes and sincerely asking how they’re doing, whether it’s taking the time to hear a person’s story and pray with them, whether it’s a sincere thank you to the barista handing me my dark roast coffee…people matter. Period.

Delight in my husband.

Oh that man is gifted at loving me. Thank you, Jesus. It takes a strong man to hold fast to my restless ocean of a heart. Adam, you have all of my affection, and I want to delight in being your wife.

Play more.

My obsessive need to clean my house can wait. My kids can’t. They’re growing far too fast and I am powerless to stop it. I will never regret giving them my full attention. I will most certainly regret not doing so.

Honor my health.

I’m generally healthy. I run, I drink water, eat vegetables… But I’m not as flexible as I once was, my right knee crunches, and I can do all of five push ups (which is an improvement. A month ago I could do 1. Yah me). For 32, I want to run farther, grow stronger, stretch more, and remember to take my blasted multivitamins. Oh, and I should probably deny my sweet tooth more often too…

Taste my words & own my thoughts.

My tongue is often too fast, and my mind is often too weak. I want to grow in slowing down before I speak; in tasting my words before I let them fly. I want to speak more grace, and less judgement. I want to speak more hope and less criticism.

I want to think the Truth to myself too. I want to grow in strengthening my mind, filtering my self-talk through what God has declared about me and over me.

Fix my eyes.

I want my eyes to be laser focused on Jesus. I want to intentionally look for Him in the moments of my days. I want to obey. I want to look for hope in the hopeless places, and have eyes to see and ears to hear where God is moving in the hard moments, and delight in the beautiful. I want to keep my eyes on who I’m running for.

And so…here’s to a new trip around the sun. Here’s the 32. Cheers.

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Silly Putty And The Power of God

Did you ever play with Silly Putty when you were younger? The pinkish-beige putty that came in a red egg-shaped container? I always had high hopes that it would be like Play-Doh…soft, malleable. But Silly Putty is the black sheep of the putty family, and really no fun to mold at all. The most fun I had with Silly Putty was pressing it against the comic strips of newspapers to see it reprint on the the thick gummy goo.

The last month or so I have felt like most everything has been hard. It’s been a season of one-thing-after-another problems, stresses, and disappointments. I’ve felt like I’ve been trying to push forward, but I find myself tangled up in circumstantial Silly Putty.

Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re right there with me now. Solidarity, sister (or brother, as it may be).

I’ve been trying to process it all. My head feels like it’s spinning from some of the issues that have come up, some relational, some financial, some small but weighty in light of all of the other mess.

It’s those moments of loss, heartache, and disappointment that we are faced with the choice to hold onto what we believed when things were going well, or to forfeit belief and attempt to “go it alone.” It’s the hard seasons that make the difference in who we become as people of faith.

Do we really believe that God is good when life is hard?

Do we really believe that God is our rock and refuge when everything else falls apart?

Do we really believe that He is with us, that He hears us, that He has our best interest at heart?

Habakkuk reached this place. As his nation faced impending invasion and tremendous loss He had a choice to get angry with God, or cry out to Him. He chose the latter when he declared:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Habakkuk 3:17

This morning I wrote my own little version. It went something like this:

“Though I forgot to prep the coffee pot, and my morning cup is empty.

Though our well holding tank has rusted out and needs replacing.

Though the baby is screaming, and I didn’t sleep last night.

Though the mini-van engine has gone kaput.

Though I can’t get caught up on chores to save my life.

Though a loved one said such hurtful words.

Though the blueprint of what I think my life should look like is far from what my life actually looks like.

I will rejoice in who God is. I will trust in His love for me, and that my security is found in Him alone.”

There are seasons in all of our lives when everything falls apart. The end is far from view, and we march on through what feels like endless Silly Putty. These are the times when God teaches us where our security truly lies. When everything starts crumbling, He is our steady foundation. When we are afraid of catastrophe, He is our fortress and hiding place. He doesn’t change even when our circumstances do. So while we can’t celebrate the brokenness, we can celebrate who He is in the middle of it all.

Psalm 46 is such a powerful chapter that calls for our rest in the middle of Silly Putty moments (worse, actually). You most likely are familiar with the verse that says, “Be still and know that I am God.” But what’s so powerful about that verse is that it’s a commandment in the middle of global catastrophe! The images used in the whole Psalm are ridiculously scary! (Did you see 90’s movie Deep Impact? Yeah…legit Armageddon stuff. Walls of water, mountains crumbling, and the like).

It’s right smack in the middle of chaos and catastrophe that God declares, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Drop. The. Mic.

Wherever you are. Whatever you are dealing with. Whatever chaos is surrounding you. Stop today and consider the bigness of God. Consider His promises that He never changes, and that He is very present with you (even when you can’t see, feel, or hear Him).

Take this moment right now and consider that in the middle of your Silly Putty He is powerfully moving. He is rock steady.

Be encouraged, dear friend. The story isn’t over. Our God is mighty, and the floods of life do not threaten or intimidate His position or authority.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley