Forty-five. Why Mid-life Is Not What I Feared

Today I’m forty-five. Not forty, not fifty, but halfway in between.MP900178613

Half of my life is completed, if I live until ninety, by the grace of God.

For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Ten years ago, for my thirty-fifth birthday, I borrowed a friend’s convertible and went out on the town with a few friends. It was the year I went from being a stay-at-home-mom to a first year high school teacher. The year I discovered I was a person in addition to being a mom and wife. The year I received as much from my students as I gave to them, if not more. The year I fell in love with the art of teaching, with pouring into the lives of people, and believing the best in the human spirit.

Thirty-five was good.

Mountain in Italy
The view on top of a mountain in Sicily overlooking our village.

In the last ten years, I’ve been from mountain tops to valleys, from joy to pain, from captivity to freedom. As I reflect on forty-five, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be at this moment in time {except, perhaps, on a mountaintop in Italy}.

At forty-five, here are some lessons I’ve learned:

  • Doing the unthinkable is do-able. I never thought I’d go to my father’s village in Sicily within my lifetime. But they said they were going and I said, “I’m going, too.”  It was a trip of a lifetime, the best of the best of times in my life.
  • Making your dreams part of your life is do-able. I never thought I would own a convertible {which I did for a short time}, run a half-marathon, write professionally, or work part-time at a job I love. These things didn’t just “happen,” they took time, commitment, determination, and thinking outside the box {except for the convertible.}  But I dared to think “why not” instead of “that won’t work.”

    The convertible that cost as much as our lawn mower. It was nice while it lasted.
  • Thinking “why not?” instead of “that won’t work” shatters the limits we put on life experiences.  My internal dialog naturally says, “Don’t tell me ‘no’ unless there’s a good reason.”  This probably got me in trouble as a child, but it’s how I think.  I’ve learned there are possibilities to things that don’t look do-able or practical.  This has proven true not only in building a house and raising children, but also in problems in life.  It’s tempting to see only the possibilities right in front of us instead of every available option. I prefer the every option available route, and it’s proven life-altering. So, if there’s a way, I usually try to find it.
  • It’s never too late to try or learn something newI started teaching late in life, after I raised my little ones.  It was still possible to enter a career semi-late.  I went back to school full time  at 40 to choose another career that fit our season of life better.  It’s never too late to learn something entirely new or to say, “I think I can do this.” 
  • Living intentionally makes all the differenceI’ve learned my limits. I can’t do it all, so I intentionally choose what I do.  A statement by Chuck Swindoll impacted me over fifteen years ago when I was driving down a country road:    Only two things are eternal, – God’s word and people. This statement continues to shape my life when I’m tempted to invest time and energy  into something that pulls from what’s most important for my season of life.  It’s my plumb-line.
  • When in doubt, give graceI wasn’t always a grace-filled person. But as I’ve received grace and have seen the change in makes in others when they receive grace, I’ve decided there’s greater good in giving grace.  That’s the power of the God we serve.  Grace is the greatest gift He gives, and we have the opportunity to extend it to ourselves and others.  I’ve seen it change lives. 

My list could go on.  But it’s my birthday and I have things to do today on my day off, like dig in the dirt and sit and do nothing.  So I’m off to do nothing.  I hope each day you can grab a quiet moment with the Lord, receive His grace, and enjoy the gift of life He gives us each day.

photo (88)-001

Here’s something from my garden to you, for a pick-me-up for your day today.

In His love,

Brenda

18 comments

  1. Brenda,

    Happy Be-lated Birthday to you and also happy Mother’s Day! I love to read your blogs when I can find the time. I love how positive and up-lifting you make me fill! I have been where you have been and can relate to so many of your” journeys” in life! I wish I could think outside of the box a little more than I do! Grace is something that I think all of us could use a bit more of and also give as well! I also wish I had your great talent of writing!! I have lots of stories but when I try to write them down I fail to get the true feelings and emotions to come out in the stories! You are so awesome at that!! ( So is your daughter by the way!) I am truly blessed to know you and your family!

  2. Brenda – I am a HUGE fan of your blog. Your faith and love for your family shine through. Your blog makes me realize a stronger faith will build a stronger family. Because of my fandom – I have nominated you for a Liebster award. It might not be in your league, but I wanted to let you know you are appreciated. http://wp.me/p2bJzA-YB

    • Lynette,

      Thank you so much! What an honor and also what words of encouragement you have given here. I’m humbled that my attempts to walk honestly before others is an encouragement in faith – that is my hope and desire! Thank you again and your words are VERY much needed and appreciated!

  3. First of all…Happy Birthday!!! I am years ahead of you in age, but your wisdom today is something I needed very much. Thanks for sharing as I turn a new page in my story of life and move into new areas I never thought I would be. They weren’t even in my dreams…but then God can take our ashes and turn them into beauty. Thanks for sharing your life journey…I have been blessed.

  4. Happy Birthday, dear friend! Love the post. Life is full of risks if we are willing to take them. 🙂

  5. Loved this Brenda! It’s always a blessing to hear what God teaches others in their journey with Him and the advice they can give to those who go after them. 🙂 thank you for this. Be blessed! And happy birthday!

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