Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: with joy and gladness

Do you remember a few years ago when I turned 23? A group of lovely ladies contributed advice over the weeks leading up to my birthday. These posts were so full of gems that I would like to recycle them and share once again with you, even though there is no particular birthday coming up. I've turned back to them time and time again to re-read, so I hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane!

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Dear Sarah,


So youʼre going to be 23. It seems like a long time ago since I was that young...in fact it is a long time ago, 35 years to be exact. Well I remember the day. January 21, a cold and snowy day. The family was over for the usual celebrations. We were crowded into a small apartment...a two bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor of an old apartment building. Itʼs still there, that apartment building, near the top of St. George Street hill, tucked in beside what used to be Valleyview Homes. 

view from the apartment building, winter's almost over!
Crowded with the usual celebrants, parents, siblings and three little ones of my own. Corey, my oldest had yet to turn 3. Jonathan, not yet walking at 14 months, and a 2 month old. Arie was home though I donʼt remember if he had the full day off. He worked many hours during the time that we lived in the apartment, oftentimes as many as 24 hrs in a row. It was during his stint in the CID department. It was during my birthday party that I was devastated by the news that Piet Koomans, a good friend, was fighting for his life at Victoria Hospital. He had broken both his legs in a work related accident. Bone marrow had seeped into his bloodstream and clogged up his lungs. He lived, but in a vegetative state for many years.



That winter was long and hard, weather wise - most days I could not even look outside for the thick layer of frost covering the windows. I suppose some would say it was long and hard for me too; 3 little ones, Arie hardly home from work, building a house out in the country (doing as much work as we could ourselves to save money we didnʼt have.)

We had no washer and dryer in the apartment. Disposable diapers were mostly unheard of, cloth diapers it was - for a newborn, a toddler, and a little one that was not dry at night yet. Needless to say that meant loads of wash! It was quite a routine - have the diapers rinsed out and rest of laundry ready by the apartment door, make sure the kids were either asleep, or well fed and safely occupied, a mad dash down 3 flights of stairs (no elevator!), run into the laundry room, insert quarter, add laundry and soap, mad dash up three flights of stairs, rush into apartment and make sure everything was still okay. 20 minutes later...a repeat performance to transfer the clean wash into the dryers. 45 minutes later another repeat performance to collect the fresh smelling dry laundry. Without going in to all the details of diaper changes, bottle feeding, cooking and cleaning suffice it to say it was a busy time.



Busy - yes, hard - sometimes, bad - no! I have fond memories of that time. Of all the days spent there one evening neither Arie nor I will ever forget. Arie was working late again but was finally on his way home. I had managed to get the kids all asleep and had the toys picked up- a feat in itself! When Arie came in, a dinner of pepper steak and stir fried veggies was just ready. We both sat on the living room floor at an old coffee table and enjoyed each otherʼs company, good food and some quiet time.



It does not take much to be happy. Itʼs the little things in life that give us joy and happiness. Do not discount the little things! Never forget in the busy-ness of life, wherever and however that may be, to take delight in the moment of time that God has granted you.



So often, we girls, and I am guilty of it too, though less than before, tend to idealize life. When our life does not match up to our dreams we can feel unfulfilled, cheated perhaps, unsatisfied and grumpy. Our ultimate fulfillment comes in and from God alone. He alone can make us truly satisfied, and will give us that peace that passes understanding. Do not dream your life away, it is idolatry and harmful for your soul. God graciously hit me between the eyes so to speak some years ago with Deuteronomy 28:46... "all these curses will come upon you because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything." He delights in blessing us, and will as He promised, in Christ Jesus.

May you be blessed, Sarah, on this your 23rd birthday as you delight in serving Him for all that he had given you - with joy and gladness.

With lots of love,
“Aunt” Helen

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I can't remember a day where I didn't have an "Aunt" Helen and an "Uncle" Arie. Aunt Helen was my first Sunday School teacher. I have fond memories of sitting around her in class, listening to the Bible story unfold before us. Aunt Helen has been blessed with a wonderful gift of story-telling and I'm very thankful she shared a bit of her story here today!

(As an aside, I use the same book she used all those years ago, to teach "my" kids.)

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