Sitting on my desk is a photograph that, for me, encapsulates 1993. In the kitchen of our old home in San Marcos, Texas, John is on his knees playing with four-year-old Jordan and 18-month-old Jacob. John has pulled the backs of their t-shirts over the tops of their heads. Jordan’s fading chicken pox marks are visible on his little belly, and his face wears a delighted grin. Jacob’s chubby cheeks are curved up in an uncertain smile as he reaches to push his shirt away. John has an arm around each of them, looking down and being silly. They were my world in 1993.
I vaguely remember the first World Trade Center bombing that year. I remember the Waco standoff between the FBI and David Koresh’s group of followers, and I remember Bill Clinton. But I couldn’t tell you many more of 1993’s events. My world was wrapped up in my home, my husband, and my children.
Twenty plus years have passed. I look back with a bit of embarrassment about some of the things I said and did and thought. Things that seemed so important then are now less earth-shattering. I see some improvements I’ve made and I see many that I am still working on. Each year that passes proves that life must be a journey of continual growth: in faith, knowledge, and well-doing (2 Pet. 3:17-18, Eph. 4:14-16). I hope and pray that I was receptive to the wise women around me who wanted to help me along. I still need those wise women!
Now, if I could communicate with the 25-year-old me, what would I want her to know?
You married the most amazing man (and he will just keep getting better and better!) Moving to Dripping Springs is a good decision. The internet is about to change, improve, and complicate your life all at the same time. You’re going to have another little boy in a few years (I know you want a little girl, but boys are the BEST and God knows what He is doing!) Don’t use credit cards. Don’t despair: there will again come a day when you can grocery shop without little tagalongs. Go give Meemaw one more hug and let her see the boys again – she won’t be around much longer. Laugh with Grandma some more: Alzheimer’s disease is a thief. And here are a few more things I’d like to remind you of:
- Your spiritual life is in your own hands. I know you’re reading Bible stories to the boys. You’re busy preparing them for Bible class; making sure they have their little Bibles and are dressed like their Daddy. I know they climb around on your lap during worship services, needing tissues and discipline and Cheerios. I know it’s nearly impossible to hear what is being said from the pulpit. But you need to take more time to feed yourself spiritually. Yes, you have laundry and projects to finish – but they will still be there after you sit down to absorb lasting truths from His word. The boys are young, but truthfully you are still young in your own spiritual growth, and you should desire to grow just as they are growing (1 Pet. 2:2).
Don’t be afraid to teach Ladies Bible classes. Face your fear of being separated from the boys and go with John on some mission trips. Pack them up and take them along when it’s possible – yes, they might not sleep, they might get out of their routine, and it might not be easy, but you will all grow spiritually as a family!
- Marriage is great. But where you are right now is sometimes difficult. Your time and attention is divided. You are busy with things that won’t seem to wait. And in your marriage relationship, you have the power to defuse silly disagreements.You can make the choiceto be too sensitive and then to become angry over trivial things. It might escalate into an argument, and then into several days of disharmony. I know that isn’t what you want! “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” (Prov. 15:1). “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense,” (Prov. 19:11). God wants harmony, compassion, kindness, humility, forgiveness and love in His body (Eph. 4:2-3, Col. 3:8-15) and He wants those characteristics to exist between you and John. The devil would like nothing more than to come between you – don’t give him a foothold!
Make sure you continue to grow as a couple. Before long, the boys will start leaving home and beginning their own families and it’ll be just you and John again. You’ll miss your boys so much that you’ll ache, but you’ll be so thankful that your best friend is still by your side and you will still enjoy life!
- Every day with your boys is important. You’re teaching them Bible facts: the books of the Bible, the apostles, the periods of Old Testament history. Those are great, but I’d have to say it is even more important to teach and modelfor them the attitudes that God wants us to have. They may be able to recognize and refute error, but if they don’t have love it is worthless (1 Cor. 13:1-7). They may become powerful speakers and preach the truth, yet if they are harsh and critical, and unable to see their own faults, they will also be judged harshly (Matt. 7:1-5). I hope you’ll spend more time modeling godly attitudes.
You think those little boys belong to you, but they really don’t. The Lord has only entrusted them to your care for a little while. Walk carefully with them (Eph. 5:15-16). You’re tired of hearing people say “Enjoy every moment, it goes by so fast!” But I’m here to tell you that it’s the truth. They won’t always want to sit on your lap or be rocked to sleep. And very soon the day comes when your turn is over and they want a different hand to hold. But don’t worry! Those little girls that you and John have been praying for are being taught to love and honor God. They have become amazing women who bring you so much joy and love and friendship. God is so good!
- Take care of your body. I know you love to cook and bake and feed John and the boys. You love to make them happy with food. But you’ve put on some weight and it’s beginning to affect your self-esteem and other areas of your life. You’re missing out on things and you don’t even know it. You won’t always be able to get around as easily as you do now. There’s still no magic weight loss pill in 2013. You need to learn to eat appropriately and be more active. Of course, you are still valuable to God – He sees your heart, not your appearance (1 Sam. 16:7). But I know you, and your self-confidence will be affected and your work will suffer. Make a few changes now and you won’t regret it.
Count your blessings, Carla! They are many. Deepen your relationship with the Lord. Strengthen your relationships. Don’t be so critical. Develop your talents. Let go of old hurts. Be more of a servant. Say “I’m sorry” more often. And be thankful!