When I turned 40, I felt like life was clipping along at a rather high rate of speed. So much of my life was beyond my control, dictated by other forces. I had two teenagers, I was homeschooling two children, and the younger of the two was just beginning to be suspected of dyslexia with its added load of chaos. I had a presence at two schools, and I think that began the second year of really trying to get TeenMOPS rolling, which was a monster of an undertaking. I wanted to be available in my daily life to breathe grace into the lives of friends, neighbors and acquaintances, but I didn’t seem to have the ownership of my time to even stop and take cookies to a neighbor moving out, telling her I’d miss her. This was bad, and I didn’t want to continue in the fast lane the rest of my life. I needed something to change; maybe me to change.
Not a flattering photo, but of me in Texas, 40 years old, re-evaluating my life.
From this was born my 50 Before 50. I wanted to set in print, where it could take on form and potentially life, some of my true priorities. The expressions of those priorities made sense at the time, and I have achieved some in every category, albeit allowing for some flexibility of interpretation:
a closer relationship to God When I became a group leader for Bible Study Fellowship, I took that over a Kay Arthur Bible study (#31). With the required homiletics, I felt it was just as rigorous, and I know I learned just as much from my time in God’s Word. As a Day Women’s Group leader, I also attended a BSF retreat with my group, and I counted that as a women’s retreat (#27). It certainly achieved the spiritual and relational goals intended. I haven’t memorized the verses, though (#32), which makes me kind of sad, because I invested time trying not to lose the ones I already have instead, and haven’t been completely successful at that.
a closer relationship to my family I am unsure how successful this one has been, but I ticked things off the list nonetheless. I did develop a habit of celebrating even the little victories of my children (#41), thus becoming a more positive, less critical parent. More could be done, though. And some of the items intended to build memories to savor in the future were done with family members, so also serving this goal. I attended my first opera (#24) with my older daughter, which became one of several we enjoyed our experience together so much. I made tiramasu (#8) with my husband, and it was fun together. But Stoney and I never did succeed in making time together for another dance class (#13), I never made time to take the girls to the Hill Country to stay in the Barn(#12), and Theo and I never made it to Mount Rushmore (#40) even after we moved to Kansas, when it would have been much closer to do so. I doubt I’ll squeeze that one in now.
improvements in my own character I’ve thrown out a lot of things I’m not using, and even simplified enough to trim things I was, but didn’t need to (#5). I got up enough courage to donate platelets (#35) and repeated several times more. I maintained a strength and weights program until my injury late this spring (#39), and I ran a 5K (#10), but I had lots of improvement goals that haven’t been met.
goals I need to help my kids achieve Well, I graduated the first three kids from high school, so that’s something (#s16, 36 &37). You might say it should have been on their goal lists, but getting kids through school requires a lot of coaching from parents! And I’m still on track to graduate a child from college (#17), this coming August in fact.
have fun and make memories That’s what most of the rest of the list was for. Some I achieved; many I didn’t. I think the most important ones have been checked off, though.
I just recently turned 47. Now, with time running out, I look over my list and wonder not only if these things are achievable now (any whales in this part of the Atlantic?), but are they even desirable now? My list doesn’t really show it, but these last seven years have been transforming; I am not the woman I was that short time ago. I thought God had already brought me through so much, changed me so much, but I could not have guessed how much more he had in store. My priorities haven’t changed, but are these remaining goals how I still want to achieve them? I’m definitely getting older, and my perspective of what is important is changing. Probably my physical abilities, too! Do these goals still make sense?
In France at 47.
I’m thinking…no. Especially not in the light of my current circumstances! Most years of my remaining fourth decade are going to be spent right here in Europe. I need an addendum to my list! I’ll be prayerfully considering what I don’t want to leave France without doing, keeping in mind my priorities, and adding a priority: serve others more than myself. And I am willing to hear suggestions as well. When I get my addendum, I’ll add it to the 50 page and link it.