the time traveler self

Last week I got to spend at least an hour sitting on my neighbor and friend’s couch talking about life. She is a beautiful soul full of wisdom and several years ahead of me on the marriage and child raising journey. The older I get and the longer we share our street, the more I appreciate my Sheila. Our time together is sparse aside from a wave and smile and the occasional chat under one of our big shade trees. But time with my friend, talking of years gone by, made me think. If I could be a time traveler and go back in time to visit the younger but still adult Kim, sit over a Diet Coke and chips and salsa with me and give her some advice and encouragement, I’d probably say something like this.

21 year old Kim: You are about to marry the love of your life. That high school friend you loved dearly but never looked at as a possible dating partner, much less someone you will fall head over heals in love with and marry. Right now all your thoughts are lofty dreams and fairytale plans of how wonderful life will be. And it will be wonderful. But not in the wonderful way you think. But don’t let me burst your bubble. Everyone needs to dream. Right now just focus on the commitment before you, on the amazing changes being married will bring to your life. Enjoy the next few years before the babies come. Work hard to build trust with Travis, encourage him in his role as the head of your home. Play together. Never stop laughing and tickling and being silly. Those are truly the things that will see you through the searing pain that will come but don’t think about that just yet. Focus on Jesus. Build your faith. Memorize scripture and lots of it. You will need it and rely on it in times to come when you simply have no words to pray, when hope seems distant and you need the comforting promises of God’s word to envelope you in a big, loving embrace. So rest in this new life. Savor every moment.

26 year old Kim: Oh how life has changed in the past five years! See? I told you those 3 1/2 years before babies came would be vital. Look how they cemented your communication, your love, your commitment to each other. There is a reason God gave you those years with just the two of you and I promise, you will look back on those moments many times in the future and give thanks for that solid, God given foundation. You will need it. But right now, your heart hurts. For loss of your parents marriage, for loss of your mom’s health. It’s hard. I know and I’m so sorry. But as your are learning now, God is still good even in the midst of pain. Even in the ugly of frequent tears, unbridled anger, casting blame and trying to navigate this new world of disappointment and loss. Your heavenly Father is never going to leave you or forsake you. Keep holding on to those promises. You need them. Those babies keep growing in the midst of the life your mom is losing. But the joy of those precious innocent faces will continue to bring brightness to her life, smiles and giggles to her heart. These years are so beautiful and blessed but so dark and painful all at the same time. But God sees. And that sweet husband of yours, he is an angel. Oh trust me. He loves you unselfishly, and when you hurt, he hurts even more for you. You will get through this. Your mom is going to die and you will be there to see her last breath and feel the beauty of her running into the arms of Jesus. And those babies you have the privilege of raising? They need you. Enjoy every moment because someday, when you get to the place I came from today, so many of those moments will be forgotten. But the mark you are leaving on their lives, the imprint you are placing on their hearts and in their souls? Those will last forever. Some days are so hard and you will fall into a heap crying when Travis comes home because it’s been a hard day and you got absolutely nothing done except change what seemed like five hundred diapers, pulled a kid off the table and the dresser and the top of the couch over and over, did unending laundry loads but still didn’t make a dent, tried to negotiate with a toddler who refused to eat everything you set in front of him then wouldn’t take a nap when you needed some peace and quiet to rejuvenate your soul. And you were still in your pajamas with your hair sticking out in eighty directions when Travis walked in the door after work. Don’t forget to thank him for all the hard work he does outside the house to provide for everything you get to experience inside the home. Being a police officer is hard. Praise him. Don’t ever stop praising him. He needs to be respected and loved and doted on too. So tuck some of your energy away for him; don’t be completely drained and spent by the time he gets home. You both need it.

31 year old Kim: This age is the hardest for me to meet face to face. Don’t feel bad. I’m so glad to see you. But it’s hard because I have a perspective you don’t have yet. You love being a stay at home mom to your four babies. You know what a privilege it is to be home with them. But your heart has started to fill with pride. Trust me on this one. I wish I could stop it before it happened but I can’t. So instead I’m going to tell you this because you know we are blunt so why not be blunt now? You think you are all that. But you don’t see it. In your mind you do it all “right”. You stay home with your kids, you go to women’s Bible study every week, you started a weekly play group, you keep your kids on a schedule, you discipline them to teach them character and right and wrong. But in all that, no matter how good of a mom you are as you do everything so right in your mind, you’ve allowed Satan to fill you with pride. And boy is that dangerous. Because you are going to hurt people with your condescending spirit even though you don’t mean to. You are going to be hurt by the words of others because of how you arrogantly present yourself. Oh this makes me so sad, Kim. Because I know your heart. You truly want good for everyone. You are not mean spirited and would give the shirt off your back to anyone. You are selfless and giving. But even in all that goodness in you, you still have a sin nature. Learn now how to let the Holy Spirit lead you. Ask for forgiveness. You will and in that you will learn a very important, needed gift of the Spirit – humility. Thank God for His faithfulness in your life and rest now while you can. Because these next few years are painful. They will change you in ways you never imagined. Those lofty dreams and fairy tale plans? Let them go and enjoy the life God is giving you today. Learn to live in the now and stop thinking about what is to come. It’s a hard skill to grasp but you will need it desperately. And those sisters of yours? You love each other so much. They are your best friends and that will never change. Keep investing in them. Keep them as a daily part of your life. When the rubber hits the road, they are the ones who will never forsake you. That Lucht bond is tight. You’ve endured a lot together already and there will be more to come. Bless those sisters and be blessed by them too. They are God’s gift to you. Relish those beautiful women.

35 year old Kim: I am already in tears because my heart so hurts for you and Travis right now. I wish I could get you to see the big picture. To see the next couple of years that are coming and how God is going to use your hurt, your pain and loneliness and complete emptiness for Him. He is changing you and even though you still can’t see the results of this period, you have learned God is always good. He always provides and you will never go without – emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, spiritually. He is going to place angels on your path who will love you and care for you. After the shooting and the months to come when God calls Travis to leave the police department, you will find God with a depth you have never experienced before. You’ve already endured numerous hospitalizations, diagnosis, unanswered questions, disappointment and loss and grief with Ryan. Oh those early years are so very hard with sweet Ryan. Your life will never be the same because these circumstances and life events will be a part of you forever just like losing your mom was. But don’t just focus on the pain, on the negative, on all that went wrong and didn’t fit into your life plan. Enjoy God’s blessings. Because they have come and will continue to come. God will use people you don’t know to bless you in many ways. Thank Him for each one and don’t ever take His gifts for granted. You have people praying for you, stopping by with food and hugs and prayers. Your mailbox gives you the gift of words and Bible verses and encouragement when you are weary. I still don’t know what God is going to do with the events of your life but He is using you exactly how He wants. Just be a willing vessel. Keep a servant’s heart. Read the Word but do more than that. Really soak it in. Live it. Pray with your kids. Don’t stop teaching them it’s OK to mess up and ask for forgiveness. They understand pain in ways they shouldn’t at their young ages. Remember God is intentional in His plans. And He has amazing plans for them as well. Their love for Jesus will keep growing and you will be humbled by their faith. By now you know in the depths of your heart there isn’t anything this world can throw at you that you can’t walk through because you have unwavering faith and know the goodness of God. Your husband is still amazing. Oh yes, you drive each other crazy at times but that commitment and love and friendship is priceless. Embrace it. God is so good. Keep laughing, keep dreaming, keep trusting the big picture. Life is full of ups and downs.

And today: I still don’t understand God’s plan. And maybe that’s how He keeps me fully trusting Him. Because He knows if He gave me even just a tiny little piece of control over the circumstances of my life, I’d run with it. Have a heyday. But I’d make a mess. An ugly mess. Because I have no idea how God wants to use me. Or why. Or when. I’m learning to enjoy the beauty of today in spite of loss, disappointment, goodbyes, tough blows and unexpected change. But that’s life. We all have those times. Joy and contentment come when we learn to focus on all the good, on all the blessing, on all the love. Because there is so much of it all. I don’t ever want to stop laughing, stop living, stop dancing and exploring and cherishing every minute. God has handed me four beautiful souls whom I get to invest in every day, a husband whom I love beyond words, family who are so simply amazing and I can’t find the words to express my love for each of them, amazing friends and opportunities to grow. I am excited to see what God has in store for my future. Oh I know there will be lots of hurt, plenty of pain. That’s to be expected but it doesn’t and can’t define me. Because life here is about glorifying God. About leading others to Him. About being His light in this dark world. And I’m just here to do my part, whatever that looks like. It’s all about perspective and learning to be grateful no matter what life throws my way. At the end of the day, I relish what my heart knows so well…that I’m not home yet. Just as Building 429 sings so well ~

“Where I Belong”

Sometimes it feels like I’m watching from the outside
Sometimes it feels like I’m breathing but am I alive
I won’t keep searching for answers that aren’t here to find

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

So when the walls come falling down on me
And when I’m lost in the current of a raging sea
I have this blessed assurance holding me.

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

When the earth shakes I wanna be found in You
When the lights fade I wanna be found in You

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

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