Category Archives: 40

3 Things I Learned From Playing Tennis

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3 Things I Learned From Playing Tennis

Tennis takes a significant level of athleticism. Getting back into the sport after a long hiatus is a whole different ballgame. Literally. Tennis-after-40 or tennis-after-having-babies or tennis-after-knee-and-shoulder-surgeries? Not as pretty as tennis-at-17.

I’ve never been known as the athletic type. I do my best to stay active enough to play with my kids, but I am not graceful on my feet or with equipment or while moving fast. God placed me on this earth for some purpose, of that I am certain, but it does not involve games with things flying at me. Keep your eye on the ball, make contact, follow through? Not my love language.

But, at the invitation of a close friend, a trusted friend, I joined the beginner tennis clinic at my local club. I had not played much since high school and found picking up the racket brought back many teenage insecurities. Since this is tennis-after-40, however, it was high time I squelched those unkind voices and just played.

Turns out, I love it. After the first few (very ugly) lessons, I caught my groove and could happily play for an hour or two. The other students and I chased one another’s rouge hits across the court, all the while laughing at our mistakes and learning a few lessons about women, specifically women-over-40 (give or take).

1. We are excellent cheerleaders. With each pong! of a solid hit, for every match won (our own or our opponent’s), at all the successful serves, there is always a “great job” or “nice hit” from the other gals in the group. Isn’t this what women do best? When we set aside the crazy mom-petition drive to prove ourselves, we shine at the opportunity to support one another. When we realize the other women in the room have our backs, we can accomplish anything.

2. We apologize too much. “Sorry!” “My bad” “Oh, that was my fault.” Yep. I heard (and said) it all way too much. And guess which group didn’t say it? Across the board, I didn’t hear the guys apologize like the gals. Sorry ladies, but we need to cut the crap. Mistakes are part of life. A ball hit to the wrong side of the court, a serve into the net? Just pick up the next ball and try again. I’m sure there’s a life lesson in this, but obviously I haven’t learned it enough to preach it. Sorry.

3. We struggle to be assertive without being, ya know, bitchy.  Sharing the court while playing doubles can be tricky. It takes clear, quick communication to be sure you don’t bump into your partner or miss the ball. “Yell ‘Got it!’,” our coach instructed when my partner and I politely defered to one another and lost the point. We kindly apologized to the coach and each other before offering encouragement for the next shot. So many of us were taught that to be assertive is harsh and unladylike. Rather, to be commanding, to speak your mind, to stand your ground all takes confidence, not rudeness.  And confidence is quite possibly the most beautiful asset, the most ladylike attribute a woman can wear, on or off the courts.

Thanks to a racket and zippy little yellow ball, I found a great workout, lovely friends, and a few more things to love about being woman who is “over-the-hill.” Ha!

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More than a Number

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I wanted it to be more than a statistic. More than the ugly number that states 1 out of every 3 ends this way. The odds surrounding the survival of my baby were dizzying. Every third known pregnancy ends in miscarriage. Half of all pregnancies don’t survive, even though most women never even know they are expecting. At age 40, my chances for a live birth are even lower. We knew the odds going in, yet we tried anyway. We prayed, talked, and sought answers for months before even attempting.

Four years ago, my husband and I walked out of the silence and shame of infertility into the hope-filled world of reproductive therapy. Our first child had come to us so easily, we never expected to face several years of “trying,” only to have the doctors confirm the heartbreak: we were unable to conceive again naturally. In fact, the doctors aren’t sure how I was ever able to conceive our first child. Together with this husband of mine, whom God gave to me in perfect union, this man who in every way completes my heart, we were unable of creating life in my womb. Medically flawed. The knowledge that our union could not produce that which it was designed to created compatibility insecurities and stress. Yet, no amount of “you just need to relax” suggestions were going to fix this problem. Weekend get-aways weren’t quite the same for us. Sex is a wonderful thing in a marriage, a really wonderful gift. But prescripted sex every other day for months on end – even with a spouse who keeps you coming back for more – can begin to lose its luster.

With the new truth facing us, we could have counted our daughter as our miracle and moved on to raising an only child. But we felt pulled to try anyway. We prayed over the controversies surrounding In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), the process of introducing a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm in a dish, waiting for it to develop into a live embryo, then transferring it into her womb. As Christians, this science-driven method of creating life can raise questions. Yet we believe that God’s desire for us is life and relationships. If our family was to be blessed with another child, God would still be in control of the conception, no matter what method we used. And so we pursued. To be honest, I was terrified and ready to quit before we began. If it weren’t for my husband’s bravery, my first visit to the reproductive endocrinologist would have been my last.

In the months that followed, I obeyed the doctor’s instructions perfectly, injecting myself daily on schedule, sitting for repeated blood tests and sonograms, and generally feeling like a science experiment. My body helpfully produced a large number of high quality eggs which resulted in a fair number of living embryos. Babies. After our process was complete, and several weeks later we learned I was indeed pregnant, we were able to cryopreserve just two remaining embryos. Two future babies. Frozen in time.

Fast forward a few years to our now family of four. Two beautiful daughters fill our lives and hearts with joy. Is it selfish to desire another child? With two healthy children, each a miracle in her own right, how much more can we ask of God and science to produce for us? Yet we do so greatly desire a larger family. We spent months debating the pros and cons of “trying again,” something that can provide fun recreational intimacy for most couples. For us, we knew it meant it different level of intimacy – weeks of intramuscular shots, more tests, and this time, the anxiety of thawing our embryo with hopes it would survive long enough to be implanted in my womb. After many conversations and tears, we embraced the idea together and set out for a new round of IVF, completely committed to the life we were going to bring into the world.

And yet we didn’t. My pregnancy, the embryo we fell in love with, the idea of another child in our family, failed. Only a couple weeks into it, I suppose I could count myself among the millions of women who never realize a life is growing within and just move on. Except with me, with anyone facing infertility, it’s different. If I was going to subject myself to the pain and raw exposure of the process, I had needed to fully wrap my mind and heart around this child, to be prepared long before it could grow in my womb. As much as I loved my first two babies in utero, this child was mine. Then it was gone. My pregnancy and I are nothing more than a statistic, 1 in 3 women who suffer miscarriage.

I have joined a sisterhood, a sad sorority no woman wants to pledge. Our song is hope.


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The Unwrapping Continues

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I knew what I wanted for my 40th birthday a year in advance. Several months before my celebration, I was elated to receive the gift I had asked of family and friends, and embraced it with wonder and joy. Together, many of the people closest to me sent me on a mission trip to Honduras. What I gained through that gift was so much more than an experience or a cool trip, but a new perspective on life, a view of the world beyond my own.

So now, on the eve of the “big 4-0,” I’m left remembering where I was a year ago, emotionally and spiritually. I had never traveled to a third world country, never faced immeasurable poverty up close and personal. I had never wrapped my arms around an orphan. I was celebrating my 39th, never thinking I would soon be attacked by fire-ants while playing frisbee, cook rice and beans for dozens of hungry children, and fall in love with an unwanted, abandoned child.

When I received the gift, I slowly, carefully peered inside. Throughout the months following, I’ve checked back inside from time to time, toying with and chatting about the memories, but keeping it all locked where it is safe. It’s only now, that the real value is beginning to show.

My husband is taking his own journey and traveling to Honduras next month! I am thrilled to share the places, smells, sights, and faces with my partner in life. I know what he will experience, and I can’t wait to hear about it from his perspective. (I’m guessing fewer tears and less hugging.) Most of all, I am excited for him, for the impact these children will have on his heart, for the love and compassion I know he will feel for the nationals.

When I landed in Honduras, I immediately realized the second 40 years of my life would be very different than the first 40. The first proof of that is finally coming to fruition. My crazy college boyfriend, my adventurous backpacking-across-Europe pal, my stuffy business-suit-wearing husband … he’s going on a mission trip. And that is the greatest gift of all!

H is for Honduras and Home

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In great contrast to observations from my first six hours in Honduras, I humbly submit observations from my first two days back home:

Ten days sounded like a long time to be away. Now it feels like a joke compared to the long life I have been given and opportunities I have to make an impact in the world.

My emotions waver between numb and raw.

Everyone told me my heart would be changed forever. What they neglected to mention is that I would cry for days on end.

Every child I see here is already fulfilled and seems to be lacking nothing. They aren’t longing for a hug, smile, or kind word.

When asked about my trip, “It was amazing” hardly seems a fitting response, but I don’t know how to reply without telling everything.

I feel angry and bitter, but I don’t know why.

Fresh water from the tap never tasted so good!

My children missed me and I missed them, but none of us felt empty or alone. Praise God for filling our hearts and time until we were together again.

The next forty years of my life are going to be lived a lot different than the first forty!

We (He) did it!

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We did it!! With the generous commitment of some amazing friends and family, we raised every single dollar for my trip to Honduras!!

Deposit $200 Paid
Flight $540 Paid
Participation $950 Paid
Immunizations $300 Paid

Well, by “we” I really mean He. Because, as excited as I am about ME having the courage to go and YOU offering your love, support, and prayers, none of this – not one tiny molecule of an idea of this – would be possible without God setting the stage, choosing the participants, and making it happen.

A huge THANK YOU to every who contributed, both prayerfully and financially. It has been a treat to hear from friends far and wide, offering loving support and sharing how this opportunity is blessing them as well. I can’t wait to see the next step in this adventure!

DCA to SAP

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One non-refundable ticket purchased. Washington Reagan (DCA) to San Pedro Sula (SAP).
I’m going. I’m going! I AM GOING!!!

This fall, I am traveling to Honduras with a small group from my church! We will serve at Heart to Heart Children’s Village (www.h2hcv.org), a home and school to about 90 children and youth, ages 2-20. The children come from the streets, undernourished, abused, and unloved; H2H changes their lives by raising them in a Christ-centered family atmosphere. It is my heart’s desire to spend time with these children, serve them tirelessly, and pour love upon them, though I have been warned it will be me who receives from their abundant goodness.

Christ called us to go into the world and share His love. I believe that when we serve and care for the “fatherless and the widow” as He commanded us, He is able to minister to us in our own brokenness. You already know I feel called to go. I want you, also, to be present and active in this work if you desire, so I plan to share the journey here, on my blog.

Please join my friends and me in praying for our group as we prepare for and embark on this trip. Let me know if you want to join my prayer team so I can count on you and pray for you, also.

Current/ongoing prayer needs:
– complete healing for my shoulder and knee to be prepared for the physical demands.
– that I am able to raise the balance of the $1,600 financial requirement for the trip. (If you want to participate financially, let me know. It would help tremendously!)
– for one more person to feel called and empowered to join our group. (Is it you?)

I am thankful to all those who will take this journey with me. I truly believe that through this experience of blessing others, God will bless us in ways we never expected!

Celebration on the Horizon

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Some folks turn forty without a second thought. My husband will likely try to get away with such craziness. Not one for public acknowledgement or parties in his honor, he’d rather allow his day to pass quietly, like any other day. I learned years ago that if I want my day celebrated, I need to “manage up” and give him ideas. Which begs the question… What DO I want for my fortieth birthday? How do I want this next year to go down in my personal history?

I’ve thought about the usual suspects: a weekend getaway with my mom and sisters, a cruise with my family, maybe even a return trip to Paris. I’ve explored options outside of my comfort zone like inviting my mom and sisters on a three-day walk for breast cancer. Noble, yes, but not quite “me.” In fact, for all the fun celebrations I dreamed up, none of the ideas felt inspired.

When my oldest sister first tipped “over the hill,” we girls celebrated together with a weekend of shopping, wine, and pampering at the Ritz. It was a time to honor the coming of age for all the women in our family: the birthday girl, our sister and myself, as well as our beloved mother who raised us so gracefully. We four take every opportunity to weave our bond as tightly as possible; being together for this milestone was no exception.

My middle sister marked the occasion more solemnly. She had recently faced a health scare and was as thrilled to celebrate life itself as the four decades behind her. The four of us gathered at a friend’s vacation home for time together, a few tears, and a lot of laughter. The birthday girl then returned home and hosted a joy-filled autumn harvest party with dozens of her family’s closest friends.

Just before my 39th birthday, my mind was preoccupied with what I would do during the coming year to make it special. Something to make me feel more mature, like I found my place in this world, like I was finally a grown-up. That’s when God spoke to me, directly to my heart.

Missions. Go.

At the age of 16, I heard God ask me to serve Him through missions. I felt a tug (pull, yank) on my heart and I answered Him. Yes, I’ll go. When the time is right. But first I needed to finish high school and start college. Then I didn’t want to miss a semester, so my commitment would have to wait. After I graduated from college, I was too busy proving myself to the world to bother with God, much less missionary work. When I finally settled down and found a church home with my new husband, the topic of international missions seemed as foreign to our relationship as the languages I had never learned.

For twenty years, I watched friends go on short- and long-term trips all over the world. Surely they were better prepared than me, holier and more righteous. And perhaps I was mistaken all along. Maybe I had been a sappy, heartsick teenager who just imagined the “still, small voice.”

This time there is no mistaking. Missions. Go.

For my fortieth birthday, I will ask my family to give me the gift of the opportunity, to care for my children, to support my husband as I go. I’ll ask my friends for the gift of prayer as I seek God’s direction for the place and time (please, Lord, not much longer than a week away from my daughters). I will finally fulfill the commitment I made decades ago and admit that forty-year-old me will never feel like a grown-up, I’ll never find my place in this world until I take that first step: Go.