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    Thirty by 30: Installment Ten

    May 9, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    Wow. To think I made it. Today, I finish the list. Tomorrow, I turn 30. Life is good. For me, because I don’t have to cook dinner on my birthday. For you, because I am finally finished with the list that seems unending.

    A few people have asked me if it bothers me to turn 30, and I have to say that my answer is no. I think I always expected to fear getting “older” {I thought 30 was old until I got close enough to look it in the eye}, but really, the whole process has felt quite natural to me.

    I feel thirty.

    There were a lot of things I expected to do in my twenties that I didn’t do, of course. But I can’t say I regret this. God took Si and I on a detour in which we learned much more than we could have imagined, and became people we never expected to be. And that is okay.

    If I have learned anything, it is to be comfortable with His plan.

    My twenties were about letting go of what I wanted and embracing what He had for me instead. And learning to delight in it.

    And delight I do. We have three beautiful, giggly little ones, after all. As long as they do exactly as I ask, there is no reason not to delight in them.

    I joke! Don’t worry. I’m not quite that kind of mother.

    So I think that I look forward to my thirties, and wonder what He has for us to learn, experience.

    Mostly, I wonder what a list at forty would look like. He he.

    So…the grand finale:

    1. You can’t save everybody. I learned this from a friend I had in college who spent the majority of her summer working among the poor in India. She talked about the swarms of street children and how, if she gave a piece of bread to one, she was instantly surrounded by at least ten more. She told me of her struggles that summer, for she didn’t come close to having the resources to help all the children she met.

      So she chose a few. And she ministered to them as best she could.

      I think about that sometimes when we’ve received four letters from four different nonprofits asking for money so they can help people in need. Each letter screams of the hurt in this world, and if you really sit and think about it, you can be totally overwhelmed by it.

      Some lessons I have learned which correspond to this one include the idea that just about everyone wants a cut of your husband’s hard-earned money and giving money isn’t the only way to help others.

      I’ve learned to have a bit of tunnel vision, I think you could say. I can’t help everyone out there who needs it. Frankly, if I tried, it would mean the neglect of our family, our home, our children’s education. And we just don’t have the money to give to every nonprofit that asks.

      But I can make a meal. We can reach out and help with the individual financial needs of those we meet. {After all, one of the benefits of not being able to itemize your tax deductions is that you don’t worry about whether some action will benefit your taxes or not.}

      We can do the little things. And really, if everyone did the little things, there would be far fewer big things needing to be done.

    2. Choose reading material wisely. I think that the less time a person has, the more important it is to screen out bad or pointless reading material. But time is only one reason to do this. In adulthood, our books are often our teachers. What are those books teaching?

      I’m not saying that I never read a dissenting opinion. I do. In fact, I would say I often do.

      But I am careful what I am becoming. Reading an endless stream of steamy romance novels would, of course, result in me becoming a certain sort of person. A certain sort of wife. Because I can see this lesson in such an extreme, I have learned to apply it to all I am learning.

      In fact, one question I ask myself when adding a book to my neverending book list is what kind of person I really want to be. The Bible tells us that the supply of books is endless. I cannot read them all, even if I devoted all my time to the task. So I look at a book as a chance to enlarge, to learn, to grow, and to understand.

      Since the book impacts my soul, what I read is important. And I don’t just mean whether or not it contains vulgarity or blasphemy. I also mean that it must be well-written. Beautiful. True. Good. God obviously enjoys making things beautiful, and a true artist will reflect the imago dei in that regard.

      And when time is in short supply, like when I’ve just had a newborn, I usually stick to reading my Bible and one book that encourages me where I need it {usually parenting or educating the children}.

    3. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. I already sort of mentioned this when I summed up my twenties above. When I mapped out what I thought my twenties would look like, there was a lot of travel, a small bit of luxury, and very few, if any, children. I was very wordly in this regard, and I see that now.

      And this is why I am most grateful to my Lord.

      He took my selfishness to task by giving me a son. Voddie Baucham once said that he and his wife had their first child ten months after their wedding because they are what you call efficient. I wish I could say that I welcomed my child with open arms, but I just wasn’t that kind of person at the time.

      I had plans. And God was, in my opinion, messing them up.

      Our son is the best thing that ever happened to us, Si and I often say. It was he who challenged us to grow up. It was he who showed us that though we claimed to be Christians, we didn’t have a biblical view of children, or of family, or even marriage.

      We had aspects of biblical belief, but not an all-encompassing theology that we actually lived out from day to day.

      God knows exactly what he is doing. And He teaches each of us this in our own way. I see now what I would have been without His gracious intervention, and I am grateful. I am glad that God’s plans were different than mine.

      And I am also glad for the places where our plans matched up, so to speak. I always prayed for a kind, loving, God-fearing, handsome husband. With blue eyes. He he he.

      Now I know that, while I am making plans for my thirties, I need to be open to God’s purpose. And I can’t help but have a bit of anticipation, when I really think about it. I wonder what He has for us. And I rest in knowing I can trust Him.

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  • Reply Brandy May 10, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Thank you all for the birthday wishes. It is turning out wonderful so far. 🙂

    Jenn, thanks for commenting! We go to TN every-other-year or so since Si’s mom lives outside Nashville. We love to visit–it is so beautiful there! I will pray for you as you make your educational decisions. 🙂

  • Reply Jenn May 10, 2008 at 5:06 am

    Brandy – Hello! We’ve never met, and (to be honest) I can’t even remember how I initially found your blog. However, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your “afterthoughts.” My children are 4 and 2, and I’m considering homeschooling. Your kindergarden debrief posts were very helpful to me, and I have loved your “thirty lessons” posts, as I am just over a year away from 30 myself and have been pondering many of the same lessons you discussed. I just wanted to tell you that you’re a blessing to this Tennessee girl you’ve never met. Happy Birthday!

  • Reply Rahime May 9, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Happy almost-birthday!!

  • Reply Ellen May 9, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Well said. My 20’s have certainly been about learning to let go of my plans as well. =) Wish we lived close; I’d bring you a cupcake with a candle on it. =) Happy Birthday!

  • Reply rebecca May 9, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Happy Birthday tomorrow!

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