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I recently suffered, oops, celebrated another birthday. In the past, you could have heard the party, the laughter, the glee and squeals of delight for blocks around as I woke up and raced down the stairs like a kid at Christmas, just itching to get to the pile of cards and presents that I knew my adorable family would have waiting under a crepe-paper-festooned light fixture, piled upon the breakfast table, just for me! I LOVED celebrating my birthday!!!

But not this year. I'm not sure if it is being over fifty (OK- just barely over fifty!), or my circumstances, or... I hate to say it... perhaps maturity? UGH! That word-- an unhappy prospect! And yet I have longed to be "all growed up" my whole life.

This is what one of my favorite scriptures tells me about maturity:

"Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” John 21:18

I am learning that with maturity comes many things: going perhaps where I don't really want to go; doing things I don't really want to do; giving up things I would rather hold on to; pressing in to things that I find difficult, but necessary; embracing things and serving people I would not choose to embrace or serve; you know...dying.

Dying to self out of love for Christ.

But what a gift we get! If we can truly do this... this one thing... we are promised so much more than just pleasing ourselves. We are promised to be filled and blessed by Jesus Christ Himself, and that is truly what brings us happiness.

Each day I am given many choices. Some days I’m better than others in choosing between self and God. And to be honest, occasionally, in the middle of the action of following through with my choice to choose God, it HURTS! I do not always get the warm fuzzy feelings of satisfaction that I think might come with doing the "right thing". [ The Churchy word for that is "consolation."]

BUT, I must console myself with God's Word in those moments. I must continue to press on, to press in, and sometimes to just PRESS! (This is why surrounding myself with Godly people is so important. We can encourage one another to keep up the good fight and to run the race with the finish in mind.) And when my last day is lived, and I have climbed the mountain of His Holy Hill, I will be able to look back over the valley of my life and see how far I have come-- how far We have come together-- and be happy I chose to walk the path with Him.

It has taken me quite a while to really learn this. Fifty-one birthday candles were sacrificed this year to remind me of the brevity of my time here on earth, and when they were blown out...poof! The celebration was over. My prayer is that the serving up of my life will be a tasty offering to God and leave a sticky-sweet smudge on the souls of all who knew me. And as I seek to love God more by loving and serving others, by pressing in to Him and all He has called me to do in this life, I pray that I will remember again and again... my life, was never really mine to begin with.

Ugh... boy, am I ever starting to sound mature!

Dear Lord,

Thank You for the gift of our lives. May I live each day well and in service to You and to others. Help me to remember that my life is really not mine at all, but Yours. As I learn to live it to please You, that is when true happiness will begin. Please give me the grace to press into You and to live "my" days well.

I ask this in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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