Theology and Life, Writing Miscellany

Ten Things I Learned in the Last Ten Years

One of my favorite pictures from 2010

Since it’s the beginning of a new decade (and I’ll join everyone else by saying HOW CAN IT BE 2020 ALREADY?), it seemed like the right time for a little bit of reflection. I have been loving What I Learned-type lists (a la Emily P. Freeman and Modern Mrs. Darcy), so I figured that might be a good way to take stock. I’d love for you to join me in the comments!

At the beginning of 2010, we had two kids, ages 4 and 2, had just finished our first full year living in Georgia, and were six months into the process of adopting our daughter. So in the past decade, we added three children, completed two adoptions, sold and bought two houses, moved three times, joined a new church and began serving in leadership there, began homeschooling, traveled out of the country several times, wrote a novel, and grew. so. much. A lot has changed in the past decade.

And here we are now!
  1. The Bible is about God, not about us, and all of it points to Jesus. I would have told you this was true ten years ago, but I didn’t fully understand it. Everything in the Bible is there to tell us who God is and what He has done. We often make it about us, when really, we only see ourselves accurately when we see ourselves in light of who God is and who He made us to be. And every story, every person, every lesson in the Bible points forward or backward to Jesus–His story is the center of history.
  2. Every season of parenting has its own challenges and blessings, and I want to be fully present for them all. I started last decade with two toddlers, and this year, I have a teenager, a preteen, two elementary age kids, and a preschooler. SO much is different. I miss a lot about those sweet, chaotic, exhausting little years, but there is a lot that I don’t miss (potty training!). And right now, there’s a lot that is hard, and a lot that is good with the stage of life we are in. I just don’t want to miss any of it.
  3. I really like coffee. There’s something about a cup of coffee that makes the day better. Or tea, in a pinch. Poor Jeremy–he was so happy when he married me that I was not a coffee drinker. Baby number five (and when she was born, my other kids were 2, 4, 6, and 8) pushed me over the edge, and I’m okay with that.
  4. Homeschooling is really hard, but I’m really glad we are doing it. It takes a lot of planning, energy, thought, and effort, and some days it feels like too much. But it gives us so much time together that we will never regret. So many opportunities to really know our kids, to disciple them, and to help them flourish. And so many chances for me to grow in Christlikeness as I die to self and repent daily. Of course, this isn’t the only way for these things to happen in a family, but I’m thankful that it is happening in ours.
  5. Kindness and courtesy are more important to the health and happiness of a marriage than you think. Looking out for each other, serving each other, being honest, repenting and forgiving–these are foundational. And marriage truly can just get better every year. We are fifteen years in now, and happier than we were on our wedding day, and we are thankful that God has helped us grow in love.
  6. I love keeping track of what books I read each month! It’s so nerdy and so fun. 2020 is my fourth year doing this. And it’s also my fourth year of making sure I finish at least one non-fiction book per month. No misses yet! I was in the bad habit of starting non-fiction and not finishing it. Thankfully, I’m much better at that now.
  7. Being part of a church is so important in the life of a believer. The Church is how God is working out His plans on earth, and we are blessed to get to be a part of His Body. It’s not always easy–all of us are sinners, all of us mess up, and people do get hurt. But it’s worth it to be part of what He’s doing, and to be part of a community of people now that we will spend eternity with. Church is a gift and a necessity. We’re not meant to do life alone as solo-Christians. If you aren’t part of a church that loves Jesus and preaches the Bible, I can help you find one.
  8. Writing is my blue flame. I love it. It’s like playing in the best possible way. It fills me up and brings me joy, and I can misquote Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire and say, “I feel God’s pleasure when I write.” And I’ve loved playing with poetry, micro-memoir, fiction, creative non-fiction, Bible studies, and more. So much fun.
  9. I’d rather have a simple house with trees all over the yard than the fanciest house on the block that has no trees. We moved last year, and finding a house with trees was as important to me as finding one with enough bedrooms. Seriously. Love them.
  10. What we think determines how we act. It’s so important to think Biblically and rightly, and we can change our attitudes and actions way more than we think we can, just by learning to tell ourselves the truth. We must preach the Gospel to ourselves, telling ourselves the truth about who God is and what He has done. Then we can cut out the lies we tell ourselves and chop down the idols our hearts want to serve.

Your turn! From the silly to the serious, what have you learned in the last ten years?

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