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Middle of Life Grown Up Lessons

soil and plant

I think I might almost be a grown up.  At least, I’m heading that way. I’m 45 years old, and some might think that it’s about time. But, for me, it’s been a process. And I absolutely love it, and sometimes I hate it. It’s hard, and it’s messy. But I love that I’m here, and I love that I’m learning things about myself that maybe I, personally, would not have been able to learn in my twenties. Some of my growth required time and experiences that I wasn’t looking for earlier, and some lessons I actually didn’t even know existed until now.

I get excited when I get to share what I’ve learned and what I’m learning, because, honestly, growth is not really an age thing. We’ve all seen younger people who seem to be wise beyond their years, and we’ve also seen older people who are still demanding their own way and who act like three year olds in old people bodies…it’s not pretty, but it’s a real thing. So I think growth and grown up-hood is not only a thing of grace, but it also has to do with our openness to receiving the gifts given to us. It’s having eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart that’s open to new possibilities.

Lesson #1:  We all have core value because we are made in the image of God…we are God’s image bearers. That’s incredible. However, we all have core hurts that some of us live out of. And after continually walking in those core hurts, it’s hard to know and feel our own core value and virtually impossible to see other people’s value if we can’t even see our own. We are valuable, and we are worth it.

Lesson #2:  Feelings are not bad. In fact, they are helpful in how we figure out why we do the things we do. We have to be able to feel and to realize what we’re feeling, and only then, can we move towards healing and growth.

Lesson #3:  In order to know and love others well, we have to know ourselves. We have to be compassionate with ourselves before we can be compassionate with others. Jesus said, “Love God; love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Lesson #4:  Boundaries are vital. Everyone has a “yard,” and we get to decide who comes in and out of our yards.  While boundaries don’t initially make things easier, they make things healthier, and eventually, things do get easier with use.

Lesson #5:  We all have a voice. And finding and using our voice is important.  We have to be able to use it for ourselves before we are able to use it for others.

Lessons #6:  We are all unique individuals who have different gifts, and when we grace people with our particular gift, those around us are enriched and encouraged. No one’s gift is better than anyone else’s, so we don’t have to compete and compare.

Lesson #7:  I no longer have to put people in boxes labeled: good box and bad box. If I am establishing appropriate boundaries (Lesson 4) and seeing other people’s core value (Lesson 1), then I no longer have to make people the bad guy and me the good guy. People are just people.

Lesson #8:  You only know what you know. This seems like a very obvious kind of statement. But if we really believe that about ourselves and others, we can begin to not only show people grace, but we can cut ourselves some slack, as well.

Lesson #9:  You are not alone. We are all in this together.  Your story may have different details than mine, but our stories are connected. We don’t have to do this alone.

Lessons #10:  Life is hard. It just is. There is always going to be stuff that we would rather not go through. But as I get older, I ask myself, “What am I supposed to be learning from this?” I want to look for the beauty in everything, but especially in the struggle.

Lesson #11:  Everything is connected. If you start looking for the connections, you start seeing them everywhere.

Lesson #12:  “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am” is not just a nice principle or a cute Bible verse, it’s a real, life-giving mystery. And that’s the “following Jesus” kind of church that anyone anywhere can be a part of.

Lesson #13:  Questions are good. I have a couple friends who ask questions well, and I’m learning from them. If we’re willing to ask, there will always be someone there to answer.

Lesson #14:  Things are not happening to me; they are happening for me. When hard things come my way, instead of asking “Why me?” I now ask “How do I get to grow up in this?” If I look at the world through this lens, I no longer have to be a victim. It’s the difference between knowing that God is for me, not against me.

Lesson #15:  I absolutely have to have solitude and silence and wide open spaces. I cannot breathe well without these.

I don’t usually do lists, but I thought this might be a not-so-Kim-kind-of-way to look at how I’m becoming a grown up. A lot of these lessons overlap because everything is connected, of course (Lesson 11). These lessons have not been easy, and I hope to share stories in future blogs about how these lessons came to be.

For some of these lessons, I’m at the very beginning, while others I’m somewhere in the middle, and other lessons have been long and hard, and I’ve had to endure way more than I cared to. But I have a good Friend who has walked beside me and continues to walk with me on this amazing journey. And I’m grateful for the lessons He’s teaching me on a daily basis and for the friends He’s given to walk with me along the way.


The Gift of Stories

After almost three years away from publishing anything that other people can see, I’m kind of at a loss as to where to begin. A lot has happened in that time. I never stopped writing though. I journal my thoughts, frustrations, and prayers most mornings.  I have things to say, and I have this longing once again to put it “out there.” I don’t even know if I want people to read my stuff anymore. I don’t know if my insecurity in my writing ability and my vulnerability can handle people’s criticisms or even validation at this point. And yet, I still have stuff to say. I still have stories to share, and I’ve seen that in my openness and honesty about where I am that others gain strength and courage and are able to open up and share their stories and their innate desire to be known and loved.

It takes courage to share honestly the stuff that all of us are going through. And sometimes, it takes years to awaken to our own stories and tell others, but in the process of sharing, we find healing and more courage and more strength. I think that’s why I’m back. Not for validation or approval or criticism, but I want you to know that you have a story to share, a story that the people closest to you need to hear, a story that helps us all share in becoming more human, more real, more honest about where we are in this messy journey. We are all struggling with the same stuff. We all need community, and we all need to be able to share ourselves with the people who love us and want us to grow into the people God created us to be. We need friends to be able to hear our stories, cheer us on, encourage us, and love us, and we need to do the same for them. No judgment, no advice, no competition, just listening and openness and love. I think it’s amazing when I’m able to sit with a friend with nothing on the agenda and the day stretched out before us with no plans other than to sit and hang and rabbit trail. I honestly think that’s why I like camping so much. It’s sitting around a campfire with no agenda and no time issues, where you don’t have to be anywhere or do anything. Just enjoy each other’s stories and the time it takes to share them.

Our stories are powerful because they reveal who we are and who we are becoming, and they are ours alone. But not to keep hidden. They’re meant for us to give away. And every once in a while, our stories help others find their way, and sometimes as we’re telling them, they help us find our own way. So I’m back to share my story, the one that some need to hear. But more importantly, the one I need to tell.


Redemption of 2012

What started as a really rough year with much isolation and whining and wilderness wandering turned into something beyond my wildest dreams, something that God is now using for His glory. He took a year that looked like it was bound for disaster and turned it into something beautiful and redeemed it for Himself.

This year, 2012, has been taken back from the enemy. The enemy was out to destroy me and my family, but God in His mercy and kindness set me on a high place and turned my heart, my very life back to Him.

Just when it looked like defeat was sure to happen, when life looked the bleakest and most desperate, when the battle was sure to be lost, my Abba stepped in and drew me back to Himself. And I’ve been clinging to Him ever since.

Psalm 9 describes where I am these days.

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart,
I’m writing the book on your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
I’m singing your song, High God.

The day my enemies turned tail and ran,
they stumbled on you and fell on their faces.
You took over and set everything right;
when I needed you, you were there, taking charge.

And my enemies weren’t actual people or Satan even, although he was probably part of it, but my biggest enemies were mostly my sin and my self. These fears, these doubts, these insecurities that I struggle with haven’t completely vanished, but they’re on their way out. Jesus is showing me daily the things I need to repent of, the things I have to be honest with Him, myself, and others about and confess these things, and they don’t have the same hold on me. They’re being defeated daily.

And not only that, He’s redeeming relationships and transforming people before my very eyes. How can I not shout His praise?

Jesus says that if you try to hang on to the life that you have, then you’ll lose out in the end. But if you lose your life for His sake, you actually find life. It certainly goes contrary to what we think. But it’s true.

I lost my life this year, the one I was trying to cling to and hold onto so desperately. But the one I got in return, the real life, this abundant one, the one that the psalmist describes…nothing compares to it. This new life now serves (most days) in His strength and His beauty.

So in 2013…come and die…the kingdom of God is here.



She Didn’t Even Hesitate

I don’t think Jesus calls us to live a comfortable life. I think He calls us to live the life He lived, an obedient life, one full of service and sacrifice. And Mary’s life was sacrificial and obedient from the beginning.

In one short meeting, the angel Gabriel told Mary that she, who had kept herself from being with a man before marriage, was going to have a baby. And her only question was, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

Denise Levertov says it best when she writes this about Mary,

                    She did not cry, ‘I cannot, I am not worthy,’

Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’

She did not submit with gritted teeth,

Raging, coerced.

Bravest of all humans,

Consent illumined her.

Mary clearly did not have a victim status. She did not rage and fling things across the room and worry about how everyone would think she’d already had already been unfaithful to Joseph. She did not seem to worry that there would be women whispering behind her back. She also did not seem to worry that Joseph would be angry and would think she’d been fooling around on him. As a young teenage, Jewish peasant girl, the repercussions of being pregnant out-of-wedlock were huge.

But Mary’s  immediate response, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”  And God graced her with Himself, because that’s what He does. And somehow, Mary saw beyond her confusion and her fear and realized how blessed she would be to carry her own Savior…Consent truly illumined her.

Many times, I think we have this unrealistic view of Jesus’ birth, and we sing cute little songs like the “Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy” while dancing around the room. Every Christmas we listen to Andrew Peterson’s CD “Behold the Lamb of God.” On it is a song entitled, “Labor of Love.” The song is a vivid picture of Mary giving birth. It’s not the cleaned up version of Mary having Jesus, but a rather authentic one, where there is pain and blood and neediness…but there is also God.

So, this Christmas season, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth, I’m also thanking Abba for that teenage girl and her brave response to an angel over 2,000 years ago, to give birth to Emmanuel…God with us…the Kingdom of God is truly here.






I cannot believe where God has brought me. I cannot believe He’s using me. I don’t bring gifts and talents to the table. I don’t sing, lead, counsel, yet in my weakness He’s strong. I’m humbled and beyond grateful that God IS. And I just can’t even fathom this at times. In my wildest dreams, I had no idea that this, this community life centered solely on Jesus is what it’s all about. I mean, people say these words, but I’ve never really seen it walked out.

All around me, every day I see His kingdom breaking open and shaking loose. It’s beyond exciting. Last night at midnight after spending the entire day with people who desire Him and are seeking Him, I had this crazy desire to gallop around my yard shouting praise to His name. I’m serious.  But I imagined myself twisting an ankle in the dark, so I settled for the three hours of sleep I got and awoke to think and pray and laugh and sigh and cry and hardly contain myself over the things, kingdom things, that are happening in front of my very eyes.

As a former teacher of fourth and fifth grade students, many times I watched the light bulb click on in some of my students’ eyes as they grasped what a verb was or learned how to do long division. But this, this is way better than long division or English. This is a shot of pure joy to watch people in my community latch on to Jesus and not because of anything I did or said. It’s Him; it’s all Him. He is doing this work in us and through us. And I’m able to share in this…His kingdom stuff, and I’m overjoyed. If words could jump off the page in praise and joy, my own would be flying at every person reading this.

Jesus is real. And as we lay our stuff down in front of each other and ask for prayer and seek a Father who loves and understands us, I see some beginning to hold hands open to the things He has, and words cannot describe this. I’m beginning to see why His disciples laid down their lives for Him. Unspeakable, indescribable joy to be His.

I’ve never really been driven to do stuff, like have a career. I enjoyed teaching, but it wasn’t like it was my purpose in life. Teaching was available, so I just kind of fell into it. I enjoyed my students. But if you asked me what my dreams were, I couldn’t really answer that. I knew I wanted to have a family which is a calling in itself and one of the most important things,  but I didn’t have other dreams, as such.

And it’s God’s kindness that after 41 years, I realize I am walking in exactly what God has called me to with my family and also with other people. And I cannot even express the utter peace and joy and overwhelming desire I have to walk with others toward Jesus. This is it. This is my calling, to walk this out with Jeff, with my children, with women, with families.

Jesus said, come and die. I get it…following Him is worth my one wild and crazy life.

Do you feel the darkness tremble
When all the saints join in one song
And all the streams flow as one river
To wash away our brokenness

And here we see that, God, You’re moving
A time of jubilee is coming
When young and old return to Jesus
Fling wide, you heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord

-Matt Redman


act two: on the other side of this wild ride

Last year, my story was the age-old story of walking around and around the wilderness, like the children of Israel, bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t leave but trying my best to get out, sort of.  I couldn’t stop wallowing around in my own brokenness and believing the lie that Jesus wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t release the idols that I had begun to think were part of me. And I was thirsty but refused to come to the well. And then, I couldn’t even find it anymore and complained that it had been moved. I felt numb and unable to pray or really even care.

But, enough with the clichés about where I was…

This is act two of my continuing story, and this is the story of freedom and grace. This is a story of the love of God and His marvelous work. This is a story of being set free.

I can’t tell exactly when this happened.  I can’t give a prescribed treatment of how this all started or how to get here. It’s not like I did something. I certainly didn’t earn my way here.  It’s God who led me back to the well. And I can’t get enough. I think God just started breaking me apart little by little. And because of His great love, I slowly began to lean in again.

I’ve been in this spot before. I’ve tasted His goodness. I’ve had my hands open to what He has. But this time, I realized I had people to lean in with. And I think that’s what made the difference. I have this little bitty community covenanting with me to love and good works. Other believers are so very, very important to what we our called to do. We need each other so desperately in the Body of Christ, and yet we don’t act like we do. We’re called to encourage each other daily so that we won’t succumb to the enemy’s lies and sin’s hardness. And as long as I’m grounded in the things of God, others can lean in too, because He cannot be shaken.

For we have received the good news just as they did; but the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith. (Hebrews 4:2)

So, the  isolation that I assigned and resigned myself to for the last year was not a God-thing. It was my own selfishness, refusing to reach to God and to others for help. I was the one who was needy and struggling, and I was disobedient  and threw a whopping big pity party. I believed the lies. But, I believe, everything can be redeemed.

A month ago, I got on my face, and I repented of my sin of isolation and lack of trust. I trust God, and I’m in process of letting go of everything but Him. It’s uncomfortable at times, but He is making all things new and absolutely beautiful. I’m so thankful for this God, my Abba,  who loves me this much to draw me back  to Himself and to His people.

Go in peace to love and to serve…And take to the world this love, this hope and faith; Take to the world this rare, relentless grace; Go, and go far; Take light deep in the dark; Believe what’s true; He uses all, even you. May the bread on your tongue Leave a trail of crumbs To lead the hungry back to the place that you are from.  -Derek Webb

But we can’t give away what we don’t even possess. So, I’m here. Ready to receive once again from His hands what He has…no matter what. It’s His burden, His yoke, and I’m having the time of my life walking in that, but this time I’m not walking this thing out alone…welcome to act 2.


Kids, Diapers, and Stand-Out Moments

When you have really little kids, older moms like to say, “Enjoy them while they’re young, because you’re going to blink, and blah, blah, blah,” and I know I smiled sweetly and rolled my eyes, but in my brain I was thinking, “Are you crazy? I would give anything to have my kids grow up faster so I can have ten minutes in the bathroom to myself without someone beating down the door.”

Come to think of it, they still beat on my door while I’m in the bathroom. That really hasn’t changed all that much. But there are definitely some things that have changed; some things that made me giddy and had me jumping up and down.

Here are a of those few stand-out moments for me:

1. A few years back, on a trip I realized there were no more diapers to change. NO ONE WAS IN DIAPERS ANYMORE. I no longer had to try to change a wiggly little kid with a dirty diaper on a van seat, trying to figure out where to put all those used wipes, while trying not to get poop all over the van. And after 11 years of diapers with one year off around year 7, I was ecstatic.

2. But, even though there were no more diapers to change, there was still poop to deal with because there is the butt-wiping that takes place for a good while longer. But the day I woke up and realized I wasn’t wiping anyone else’s behind was a good day, a very good day. It’s the kind of thing that catches you off guard. It just kind of happens, and then you notice you have been freed and the freedom is, I must say, rather crazy good. So much so that you want to start telling everyone you see.

3. A while back, when my in-laws took us out to eat, I noticed I didn’t have to order off the menu for anyone. They all read and can figure out what they want. And not only that,  I’m not cutting stuff up anymore. I noticed Julia picked up her hunk of steak and chowed down. But you know what? She’s happy; I’m happy. She’ll probably eventually learn not to do that.

4. I don’t have to lock cabinets afraid that someone might drink something they’re not supposed to drink or down too many gummy vitamins. I haven’t had to call poison control for some time. That’s always nice.

5. No one has played in the toilet or put things in it that don’t belong, like say, toys or toothbrushes for a good long while. Now, they don’t always flush and since I have four boys, my bathroom is rarely clean and the seat inevitably stays up. But, no toilets have had to be completely taken apart to retrieve toothbrushes.

And, here are some really good things that stand out these days:

1. Talking. We sit around and talk a lot, which I love, since quality time is my thing. We talk about everything. Into the wee hours of the night sometimes. Like last night, my two oldest just didn’t want to go to bed. At 1  o’clock in the morning, they followed Jeff and me into our room, exhausted, but wanting to be around us some more. Very cool.

2. We play games and do puzzles. I have a few kids who really like to play games and connect in that way when connecting is sometimes difficult in other ways.

4. We watch movies that I have loved sharing with my kids, which inevitably evokes more conversation since we have to analyze everything to death.

5. We laugh and joke and have fun. And, yes, sometimes at other people’s expense. For Thanksgiving, we went to see my family. Julia got carsick and threw up. Jeff insisted that her brother Jonah, sitting beside her, hold the trash can while she was vomiting so her hands could be free to hold her hair out of the way. Her brother Jake, sitting in front of her, was holding his ears so he wouldn’t hear her vomiting. And Jesse (biggest brother, sitting as far away from her) and I were laughing, while Jeff continued to drive and insist that Jonah keep holding that trash can. I’m just not sure what Jeremiah was doing because I was laughing too hard at Jake and Jonah to notice. We finally came to a gas station, where we all tumbled out of the car. We all talked and laughed and replayed the whole thing again while Jeff washed the trash can out in nasty, leafy, drainage water. More laughter, of course. And then we all piled back into the van and continued on.  Julia was fine, by the way.

6. We camp. And even though a couple of them aren’t that fond of it, they humor me. And we have a good time. Together. And even though we’re together all the time (due to homeschooling) we’re really together in a tent, out in nature, and it’s great most of the time. Unless you bring one scooter and have four kids who all want to ride that one scooter at the same time, the whole time. Will be camping. Won’t be bringing the scooter.

7. They run around like a bunch of crazy lunatics who are completely out of control. And they’re big; they could knock each other and me down, and it would hurt. A lot. They have no common sense when they get like this, and their hearing becomes impaired (I read this in a magazine somewhere), so I get out of the way and laugh. And say things like, “Watch your brother’s neck” and “Please, don’t drop him on his head.” Even though I know they can’t hear me between my laughing and their lack of sense.

So for any moms out there who still have little ones, they really won’t stay that way long, (blah, blah, blah), hang on and enjoy. And please, by all means, share your stand-out moments.

time flies

June 2019
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