48 Things I’ve Learned About Faith, Marriage, Parenting, and Writing

48 Life Lessons

The other day I walked by a mirror and caught an unflattering view of myself. I stopped to lift the sides of my face and smooth out the lines around my jaw, but my temporary facelift was only that…temporary. This is probably normal, considering I’m inching closer to 50, but I’m still surprised at how quickly I got here. I see young moms wrestling with toddlers and nap times and it seems like that was me only yesterday. I’m now at the age where all the clichés are true. Time does fly and babies don’t keep.  

I’ve always thought birthdays that end with a 9 are the hardest. It’s usually the last year of the decade that we spend fretting about the next year’s front number change. Thankfully, I’ve got another year before that happens, so while I’m in the safe zone, I hope you’ll indulge me as I reflect on some of the lessons I’ve learned in my 48 trips around the sun. Are you ready? Forty-eight is a big number, so thanks for hanging with me.

48 Lessons on Faith, Marriage, Parenting, and Writing

  1. I said this when I turned 45, but it still deserves the top slot: Jesus is more beautiful to me with every passing year. Nothing compares to him!
  2. I’m seeing connections I’ve never seen before between the Old Testament and the New and it blows my mind. All his promises are yes and amen in Christ! (i.e. Jer 31:31 and 2 Cor 3:3-6; Isa 65:17 and 2 Cor 5:17; and Lev 26:11-12 and 2 Cor 6:16, to name a few.) 
  3. Don’t freak out when jobs come and go. These surprising events aren’t a surprise to God. Consider closed doors as a mercy and an opportunity to pivot into something new.
  4. Some of the biggest and best pivots in my life have come from doors slamming shut. Even when it seems like nothing is changing (or that everything has changed), Jesus is always at work.
  5. It takes courage to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Do this often and you’ll stay young at heart.
  6. Try not to be boring (both in real life and print). I like to do this by cussing in front of my kids every once in a while. I love the shock value. (Not a boring tip, right?)
  7. Speaking of kids, there’s coming a day when you won’t need to drive your kids everywhere they need to go. This is valuable discipleship time together. Don’t wish it away.
  8. If you wait to write until you feel like it, you’ll rarely do it. Half the work is showing up and doing it even when you don’t feel like it.
  9. Johann Sebastian Bach would put J.J. at the top of his compositions which was Latin for Jesu Juva, Jesus help me. This is often my prayer when I write.
  10. Journaling has many benefits, not the least of which is keeping a record of God’s faithfulness. This can be a serious faith-lift in the future when you write down what God did for you today. 
  11. Investing in a nice coffee maker can pay rich dividends in your spiritual life. Nothing sets the mood for a quiet time quite like a nice cup of coffee next to an open Bible.
  12. Include your kids in establishing a quiet time routine with the Lord. We’re still doing this together.
  13. Never stop moving, even when you’re slowing down.
  14. A stand-up desk and a walking pad have helped me stay active even while working. By the time I post this article, I will have walked several slow miles writing it. 
  15. Demonstrate humility by being quick to ask for forgiveness from your children and spouse (see #6 above).
  16. I recently heard that butter is in the Bible 11 times, olive oil over 160 times, and seed oils 0 times. This motivated me to clean out my pantry and start reading more labels.
  17. Being in a community group is a great way to make gospel-centered and multi-generational friendships.
  18. Fair warning: whenever it’s community group night, you probably won’t feel like going.
  19. When you make community a priority, even at the expense of your desires and comfort, 9.75 times out of 10, you will be blessed.
  20. Withhold giving your kids phones as long as you can, and then try to hold out longer. I love that technology connects me to them when they’re away, but I’m not convinced that the benefits outweigh the costs. 
  21. No matter how great your parental controls are, when you hand over this device, you will lose some measure of control over what they see and do online. 
  22. It’s important to model good media usage for your kids. Let them see you leave your phone at home, not check it while you drive, and be present when they are talking to you! (I’m working on this!)
  23. A family group chat is a fun way to keep communication open within the family, especially when older siblings are away at college.  Sharing memes and videos is our love language. 
  24. When you’ve been wronged or sinned against you have two options. You can either confront the person in love or cover it in grace. If you can’t cover it in grace, you must confront it in love. Covering or confronting helps us keep no record of wrongs.
  25. I never thought I’d become a morning person, but I am now. This shows that you are malleable. You can change!
  26. Let your kids see you struggle in your faith. Our pruning shows them that we never outgrow being disciplined.
  27. If this is true of you, be sure to verbalize to your kids and others that you are trusting God even when his ways are unknown and mysterious. 
  28. Be intentional about asking your spouse and your children, “What has God been teaching you lately?” This is a great conversation starter, and you’ll often be surprised at their answers. 
  29. When God provides, be sure to share your praise and gratitude to God in front of (and with) your kids. This is how faith is caught as much as it is taught.
  30. I think the greatest joy a Christian parent can have is to say like John, “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
  31. As my kids get older, my role as Mom changes with them. But I will never outgrow my role as the primary pray-er for them. This is one of the great privileges of my life! 
  32. Having a holy leisure mindset is a refreshing approach to your quiet time. A ‘quiet time’ feels like a checkbox on your to-do list, but when you think of it as holy leisure, it can become your soul’s delight.
  33. Holy leisure is the opposite of laziness. The more we enjoy something the more we go after it. The more holy leisure we experience the more energy we put into obtaining more of it. Holy leisure = pursuit! 
  34. About 18 months ago, I realized everything I wanted in my writing career was on the other side of letting go of fear.
  35. As I’ve chosen to do some new things, even while afraid, I’ve been amazed at the doors that have opened.
  36. Some of those doors include an online writing community which led to co-founding of a writing mentorship program, and an in-person writing retreat.
  37. My community requires that I find and schedule new teachings every week. At first, I seriously doubted I could do this, but God’s calling never lacks for his supply. Over a year in and going strong!
  38. As much as I’d like to be a passenger in these endeavors, I often find myself in the driver’s seat. I guess that you don’t have to feel like a leader to be one.
  39. Most people appreciate it when you say, “Will you teach me what you know?” We gain more by giving than receiving. 
  40. If God allows you to teach, treat it with great care and responsibility. You will probably gain more in your study and preparation than anyone you teach.
  41. Marry someone who not only listens to your crazy ideas but encourages you to go after them!
  42. Marry a good cook! (I sure have!)
  43. If a vacation is in the budget, plan your trips around places that encourage God-sized awe (I don’t think Disneyland counts.).
  44. Studies show that the more we engage with awe, the happier we’ll be. This is nothing new for the Christian who can look into the heavens and say, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him” (Psalm 8:3-4).
  45. I’ve wrestled over what’s happening in our country. Who doesn’t want to leave a better future to their children? But a quote from Hudson Taylor reminded me of my true home, “Kingdoms may perish, but the Church of Christ will never perish.” 
  46. Similarly, Psalm 2 offers another perspective check. The kings of the earth set themselves against the Lord seeking to break free from his bonds, but the Lord’s response is to laugh at them. (Psalm 2:1-4). To say that God is in control is a perspective-shifting truth!
  47. Getting older helps you realize how important it is to steward your time. I think that no matter how busy we are, we make time for the things and people who are important to us.
  48. Spurgeon said, “If you have the heart to pray you’ll find the time. It’s not so much a matter of time but a matter of heart.” I would add: If you don’t have a heart for it, make time for it, and eventually, your heart will catch up.

So this is 48

I may feel too young to be covering gray, complaining of back pain, and noticing new wrinkles, but there’s more to love in this season than to lament. I think of David who said in Psalm 16:6, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” 

No detail of our lives is overlooked by God. He sets the boundaries around our lives, families, careers, and homes. But the One who draws the lines that define our lives, also draws the smile lines, furrowed brows, and crow’s feet too. They’re lines that remind us of his good gifts, his sustaining power, and his matchless grace. I’m thankful to be turning 48 today. Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.


P.S. Here’s a recent picture of my people. I’m so thankful for my life with them!

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3 Responses

  1. Love this!! You are a saint, mom. I love you and I’m so thankful for the example you have set for me. May God continue to bless you and show you the abundant goodness he has stored for those who fear him (Ps 31: 19)!

  2. Happy birthday daughter. Don’t think of it as 48 yearly trips – maybe 576 months. Lotsa time back there. Much more to come. However your wisdom is showing. ❤️

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