Dear Erin, Happy 50th Birthday.

Dear Erin,

Ours is a rich history.
Back in the day, nobody but you could consume as many ice cream sandwiches in one sitting as me.
And those terrifyingly exhilarating tandem rides we took down Terry Trail were about as thrilling as a roller coaster.
The waves slapped unrelentingly against the shore, all those hours we sat on driftwood daydreaming together aloud about our futures and the boys who would share them.
It’s been different in real than we imagined.Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 4.01.01 PM
Our lives.
Our futures.
Each of us took our own unique path and it shaped us.
I love our annual reunions. Recounting stories.
Our stories of becoming.
Now here we are on the cusp of 50.
Yes, 50. That really will be the number that matches our age in August.

We were fifteen when our lives intersected.
Extroverted, gregarious, uninhibited, confidently insecure, high energy,
you breathed life and laughter into my soul.
You still do.
I remember the day after death struck me a blow. My faith hit a wall and my tool kit for coping was missing key components.
We were seniors in high school and I was broken, fragile and depressed.
After every class, a surprise waited for me in my locker—cards, candy, even a flower. You sat with me in the dark so I didn’t feel as alone. Thank you.

Now we’re, turning 50 and it’s unnerving you—bearing down hard, leaving you fragile with panic breathing down your neck.
Let’s sit together again across the miles.
We’ll pretend we’re back on the beach musing, wondering and imagining…
Gifting each other with love and trust and hope because that’s what friends are for.High School Friends 1

I’ll be honest, sometimes I look in the mirror and am tempted to cry. Who is this person with wiry gray hair and saggy, wrinkly skin? My hands with bulging veins, they look like my mothers.DSCF2782
And my weight….. I don’t even want to go there.
I ache when I change position and move stiffly.
My teeth are starting to chip.
My screening mammograms are abnormal.
I’m entirely reliant on reading glasses.
I have almost constant brain fog.
And my memory is going to pot too.
Sometimes, I behave like a toddler unable to control her frustration when she doesn’t get her way. I just can’t make my body cooperate.
Truth be told, aging tests my mettle.

Other times, I take a deep breath and inhale the sweet aroma of growing older, the rich and lovely facets of personhood that can’t be secured through any other means than life experience. These are the jewels of aging.
And I am learning to lean into those common graces. To open my hand and take the One who will walk with me until He carries me straight into His presence where all of the fallout of the brokenness we face today and tomorrow will be transformed into His image.
We will be made new.DSCF3578

In the meantime, like Ann Voskamp, we can count out gifts, past, present and future…

We have a wealth of experience and with it, wisdom to share, mentoring to offer.
We’ve invested in people and boast a long resume of beautiful relationships.
Some of our friendships have gone the distance. Others have been blips on our radar screen but both recipients got our lavish affection.
Our marriages have been stamped by commitment, pruned by hardships and refined by longsuffering.
We have practiced forgiving and being forgiven.
We invest in the future through mothering and hopefully someday grandmothering.
We’ve ventured out into society with kingdom focused contributions of time, treasure and talent.
We’ve watch trends come and go in cyclical rhythms and the pressure to conform has assauged.
Our hope no longer lies in political solutions offered by miscreant candidates. We aren’t surprised by anything, especially after this election cycle.
We’ve delighted in the advances that make our lives more comfortable and connected.
We’ve travelled to faraway places and have indelible images of God’s creative artistry in this world and it’s population imprinted on our souls.
We’ve consumed the American dream with all of its extravagant bounty– lovely homes, good food, every need met plus a regular trip through the Starbucks drive through as a bonus.
We’ve weathered so many storms that like the Velveteen Rabbit, we’re starting to look shabby on the outside while our insides are becoming beautifully real.DSCF4771

There’s a lot that I don’t know.
The older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know.
But this I do know– that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies they never come to an end. They are new every morning.
That means they are new every day that we are 49 and they are new every day after we turn 50.

Our eyes may have diminishing clarity but our spiritual vision is growing sharper.
We can look back and see the faithfulness of God, day after day, His fresh mercies enough, even abundant for our need.
And we can look forward with confidence because of our past, confidence in the God who’s never left us, who’s carried us in His arms, close to His heart. We can anticipate when He’ll take our broken bodies and fragmented emotions and perfect them in His presence.
And we can live in today with gratitude for all that has been and all that will be.
And one of the best gifts of all is that we can do it together.
Happy Birthday to us!

Love You, Dolly

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