Friday, November 14, 2014

Plan B is for blessings

Today is a "milestone" birthday for me...35.

My parents' 35th birthday is one I remember well. They decided to have a big party at our machine shed. We roasted a pig, there were kegs, I think they rented port-a-pottys (memory's getting fuzzy at this age), family and friends drove hours, and later after we kids were tucked in bed - the adults took a hayride that has lived in infamy and will go down in Orient legend.
...and I was in 6th grade. When my parents were my age, they had an almost 12-year old, and an 8 year old.

Yesterday, I asked my students this question during roll call: "What do you hope to have achieved by the time you are 35?" To a 20, 21, or even 22-year-old this seems light years away. The answers predominantly were be married or have a family. Some were 'have a job where I am far enough away from family, but can still visit them;' 'be successful enough that I can own my apartment in NYC;' 'own a house;' 'have started building my own house.'

If I thought of my own list at that age, it would have been hauntingly similar: be married and be a mom.

...and yet, here I sit at 35 and I have 'accomplished' only one of those 2 things.
...and yet, here I sit at 35, and I have accomplished far more things than that 20-year-old could have even imagined.
...and yet, here I sit and my arms feel empty, as though something is missing.

So, as I drove into work this morning listening to my "Meditation podcast" on the Laudate app, meditating on this morning's Scripture, the recurring theme I heard was "open my eyes."

And, I asked God to open my eyes to the blessings.

This is what I saw: the sun rising upon the Tucson mountains as I drove east; the clouds swirling around the peaks of the Catalinas as I drove north; the mountains cradling this city, which has become my home and place of a blessing to me.

I saw my phone with "happy birthday" messages from my mom, my mother-in-love, a friend from the past 25 years, and a friend I met through Dan five years ago.

As I walked, into my office, I saw this:

I thought, "I am so blessed to work with people who care about me." Then, I saw my 'Jessica' sign, and I thought, "I am so blessed to have worked with students who cared about me and recognized the value of my life in theirs - that they made me this amazing sign and threw me a going away party, 4 years ago."

...and my heart felt full.

Then, I saw Facebook messages from friends from all aspects of my life: from Orient, high school,  4-H, ISU, TRIO & MAEOPP colleagues, Cornerstone, Dan's friends that have become mine, my former students, my current students/alumni, Dan's students, Dan's family, my family, my soon-to-be family.

...and 20-year-old Jessica could never have imagined how blessed she could be at age 35.

She never could have conceptualized that sometimes you don't get your expectations - you get far, far more.

35-year-old Jessica has gained wisdom. 35-year-old Jessica has gained perspective. 35-year-old Jessica is grateful for each of those people who has taken a few moments to remember and celebrate her birthday. As I "like" each post, I whisper a thank you to each person and a special blessing for you in this year.

The blessings in life are those unexpected graces; the things you couldn't have planned on.

If you think my arms are empty, you should see my heart. It's overflowing with blessing and grace.


Elizabeth O'Donnell said...

Beautiful reflection Jessica. And you are a blessing to us! :)

PJ Colando said...

God blessed Earth when He gave us you IMHO