32 Years and Counting

Today is my – make that “our” – 32nd wedding anniversary. He surprised me by sending a bouquet of roses and baby’s breath. He broadcasted “Happy Anniversary!” over our Google Home – he’s in PA and I’m in VA, but he still wished me a beautiful day.

He’s on the road right now, headed home for the weekend. I have white wine chilling so we can clink our glasses to 32 years of marriage.ūü•ā

It hasn’t always been easy. There were tough times: the job he lost when the entire department was downsized; my several years of depression, including the lowest pit I’ve ever experienced.

Fun times, too: lots of camping and vacations; laughter around the family dinner table with the kids – at all different ages of their lives; driving the convertible with the top down (that’s a recent fun pastime!) and exploring back country roads (we’ve been doing that since before we were married).

There are some details about our wedding day I remember, and lots of memories are prompted by photos. I remember noticing that the candles next to the Unity Candle weren’t lit, and not hearing a word the pastor said as I worried what we would do (the pastor was prepared with a lighter, and he calmly came over to the candles and lit them so we could proceed with the ceremony). I recall my dress falling off my shoulders as we walked down the aisle together as husband and wife. I remember my uncle rushing away from the reception when an emergency came from down the road – someone had fallen off a low bridge, I think. I remember asking the photographer to take a picture of our rings, our hands together.

Other details are a blur. But the memory of the day itself is warm and full of promise and expectation.

And now, 32 years later, I realize I had no idea what was coming. None of the details match what I imagined that day. How could they? Who knows what the future will bring?

That goes for the next 32 years. Who knows what we’ll experience – what joys and tears and celebrations and struggles?

All I do know is … I’m grateful to God for this wonderful man I married all those years ago. And I look forward to the remaining adventures of our lives together, side by side.

Passion

I’ve been thinking about passion lately. Not the kind I have for my husband, though thinking of that is goodūüėČ. No, I mean the kind of passion that motivates me, sparks me, keeps me awake at night in anticipation and planning.

I recently realized that there’s a big difference between liking my job and being passionate about it.

I had a job that I was passionate about for many years: my job at the Children’s Museum of La Crosse. I admit, though, after 11+ years, I was ready for the change that inevitably came because of our move from the state. I was ready to not be working. As much as I enjoyed the kids and field trips and exhibits, and I loved my co-workers, I was ready for a break. I could tell, towards the end of my tenure there, that my enthusiasm had waned a little. I suppose that’s normal.

I worked as a receptionist/administrative assistant for a year and a half, and I really enjoyed that job. It was rewarding to be the first face/voice for folks contacting the church, and typing out the prayers for the bulletin greatly enriched my life personally. There, too, I loved the people I worked with.

I like the job I have now, particularly lately, as I have some administrative responsibilities. I like working with my student and family, and subbing with other students keeps it fresh and new. And I like my coworkers, here, too. I like the job, but it’s not my passion.

For a while, I felt like I could only stay in the job if I was passionate about it. But I’m realizing that it’s enough to like it, to be good at it, to enjoy the encounters as they occur. And it’s okay that I find my passion other than in my work.

My passion – the spark in my life – is this peer-led support group for folks with mental illness, and their loved ones. Our Fresh Hope group starts in January, and we’re in the final phase of preparing for our first meeting. It’s exciting! For me, it feels like a burden that God has placed on my heart is finally taking flight. Like the dream He gave me is coming true. And while I feel inadequate for the job, I realize that I will be totally dependent on God’s power for any good thing that will result. Therefore, I’m expecting great things!

I have other passions. My kids, of course, and everything about them and their lives. Having deep friendships – that’s a passion, though a bit elusive still. I’m passionate about Jesus, and the way He’s worked in my life to enable me to share those lessons with others.

I’m not passionate about activities – not about exercising or reading or cooking or even knitting or blogging, though I enjoy those last two. My passion is about people, relationships, and connections.

When I think about the things that truly make me happy, they’re all about being with people. People I love. People I care about. People I’ve walked through life with. The people I work with at my job and where I volunteer, the folks who will come to the Fresh Hope group, the Fresh Hope Facilitator team, my family – these are my passions.

Jobs are good. Passions are life-giving. I’m fortunate to have both!

What do I want to be when I grow up?

As I’ve said before, I’m in a holding pattern right now.

We just moved here 9 months ago, and I’m¬†still getting established in life, routine, church, work, etc. I still feel “new” here. Relationships are slow to come by, and feeling at home takes time, at least a year, based on my earlier relocation experiences. Finding a church base¬†takes time too, and we’re in that process right now. But finding ministry¬†where I can¬†serve takes even longer, as I’m discovering every week.

So as I wait, I wonder. What do I want to do with my life? Or rather, what does God want me to do with my life?

I’m in the second half. I’m a relatively new empty-ester, and now is the time, if ever, to reinvent myself. Or at a minimum, to discover something to do with my life that gives it meaning over these next 20+ years.

Yikes, that’s a long time!

So many folks I know go to work in a new environment once their children have left the nest.  So, since this is where I find myself: where do I want to work? What kind of impact do I hope to have on coworkers, clients, the folks who God places in my life?

Am I doing what He wants me to do right now? I’m praying that I am able to minister to folks/families in my current job as a brain trainer ¬†(like a tutor, but for cognitive skills, not school subjects). I pray every day for my students, for our sessions, that God will use me in my current job and situation, and that I will be open to where He wants me to be eventually – here, or in another job.

What would I like that to be? What skills has He given me to use? How might it be different from ministry? Is there a difference between work and ministry for me? If so, what does that look like? What job? What ministry?

How do I not look too far ahead and simply trust Him for the outcome?