Today is my 29th birthday. I am just 1 year shy of reaching a whole new decade. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think 30 is old by any means. It’s just that I remember being 20. I remember being 18 and feeling like 30 was so far away…that I’d never be a grown up. Truly, I never thought I was going to live to be even 18. When I was 14 years old I lost a very dear friend. She died in a motorcycle accident and it was at that moment that I realized that life here on earth is temporary. My body is not immortal. No matter how old or young I am, there’s never a guarantee of tomorrow. I remember the night before leaving for a long weekend leadership conference in 8th grade that I spent the entire evening crying and in a panic because I was just sure that I was going to die while I was there or on my way. It sure didn’t help that a little girl I babysat told me I was going to die in a car. Where that came from, I don’t know, but in my young Christian mind I believed that she, as a child, was privy to information I didn’t know and was just revealing some prophecy to me. Needless to say, I survived the weekend.
As I continued to watch friends pass away over the next years I became even more keenly aware that my best friend’s death was not anything extraordinary. Death, I realized, was one of the only things we all have in common. We will all die someday. No matter who you are, where you live, how old you are, how much money you have, your educational background, or what kind of car you drive…You will die. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you will die someday. And I, at the age of 14, knew this. I spent a few years being absolutely convinced that I was not going to make it to graduation. Once graduation came, though, I just couldn’t believe I’d make it to college. Surely I was going to die that summer. But the first day of school came and went. Then I wasn’t going to live to get married…or have babies…and now I just don’t think that death is imminent and I try not to spend too much time wondering about which milestone I will or will not live to see.
Now that it is my birthday, though, I’ve gotten a chance to reflect on the last 29 years. Why am I here? Why was I born? As someone who believes in God, I believe that He created me out of His own image because He loves and delights in me. I believe that God has a plan for my life. He has plans to “prosper and not to harm [me,] plans to give [me] a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) I believe that God had a special plan in mind for me before I was born. I believe He knew me and “knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13). I believe this for all people. I believe that God created each and every single human being on this earth for a purpose. It is our choice, then, to go forward with that purpose in our hearts and minds, or to go forward with our own purposes and desires. We can either live to glorify God and find joy in Him as we do. Or we can live to glorify ourselves or whatever else it is that we love so much.
So what is my purpose? I don’t mean some kind of broad purpose like being created to glorify God or to show others kindness or something like that. I want specifics. Who is it that God created me to be? Who is Kristin?
Well, first and foremost, I believe wholeheartedly and passionately, as I said, that God had a plan for me and my soul. When I was born my parents didn’t know what to name me. Had I been a boy, I would have been named Timothy. But I wasn’t Timothy…and it wasn’t particularly popular at the time to name a girl with a boy’s name. Nowadays, anything goes! But I digress. So I wasn’t Timothy. The names Molly and Danielle were both thrown out there and rejected. The only name they could agree on was Kristin. So I was named Kristin Renee. I’ve always felt like this was a pretty boring name. So clearly, a boring name warrants a boring life without any special purpose or plan, right? Nope. God had other thoughts for me. My name, unbeknownst to my parents, means “Christian reborn.” Now, if you’re not a Christian you may not understand the significance. You may not understand why, when I first learned this, that it took my breath away and gave me hope. In John 3, Jesus says that we must be “born again.” This was an awfully confusing concept, but what he meant was that we needed to die to ourselves…our sinful nature and its desire to glorify the self…and start a new life as a new person who loves God and loves others and lives to fulfill that end. A new life. A new start. Reborn.
So I was named “Christian Reborn.” God knew this. I didn’t. My mom didn’t. My dad didn’t. But God did. God had that plan for me from before I was born. He knew I wasn’t a Danielle or a Molly. He had other Danielles and Mollys in mind and great plans for their lives. So I am here. Here to live a life reborn. Here to run a race with my back toward the past and my eyes on the prize. I am here to live each and every day with the mindset of: God, what would you have me do today? Who would you have me meet? Who needs your love the most right now? Who is hurting? What would you teach me? How can I glorify you?
Sadly, I have to say that most days I wake up with questions and prayers that sound a lot more like, “What are you going to do for me today, God?” I forget that God tells us to delight ourselves in Him and that He will give us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4) He doesn’t mean that He will answer our prayers when we ask for a million dollars or a new Jaguar. He says, “If you fix your eyes on me…find your joy in me…live your life through me…walk alongside me, your heart will change. Your heart will become more and more like mine.” See, sometimes we get it backwards. We think he is saying, “If you fix your eyes on me…find your joy in me…live your life through me…walk alongside me, then my heart will change. My heart will soften to your desires and I will start to bless you financially and otherwise. Your life will be perfect. Your children will be perfect. Your marriage will be perfect. No more struggles. No more trials.” It’s funny how we do this. We wish He would do that. But Jesus says just the opposite. In John 16 Jesus says flat out that we will have trials. He also says that if the world rejected Him, the Son of God, doer of miracles, lover of all people, then why on earth would we think they won’t reject us? No. Being reborn doesn’t promise a life of happiness and bliss. It does promise, though, that God will walk it with you and give you the strength, joy, and peace we need along the way.
But I forget these things, you know. I forget that it isn’t about me. I forget that, even on my birthday, my life isn’t about me. It isn’t about what I want, when I want it, how I want it, who I want to spend it with… It isn’t about that. God has other plans. And today was just that.
I woke up this morning and knew I had a short list of things that I needed to get done. My plan was to accomplish my tasks and then enjoy the afternoon reading a book or watching Murder She Wrote episodes on Netflix (I love Angela Lansbury…LOVE). My plans were soon thwarted by my big man saying that he felt freezing…and felt like his heart was beating really fast…then his tummy hurt…then he was laying on the bathroom floor throwing up. Now, Big Man has something called CVS (Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome). His is really really mild compared to what most others experience. Essentially, he wakes up every 2-3 months, throws up for a while, and is fine for the rest of the day. Maybe tired, but fine. He isn’t contagious. He has had this for a few years now and is a pro. He can pretty much take care of himself. In fact, he could probably take better care of me when I’m sick. He is such a trooper. He made me nervous, though, because he said his heart was beating so fast. I was concerned and called the on-call nurse. She told me to bring him to the ER for an EKG just to be safe. So, I loaded up Big Man and Middle Man in the van, dropped of Middle Man at school, and took Big Man to the ER. We spent about an hour and a half there to hear that he was just fine. While we were there I decided to tell Big Man a story to take his mind off of the pulse monitor on his thumb and the beeping machines. I told him the story about how daddy and I met to the day he was born. I loved telling him of the joy I experienced when I first held him, and I just hoped that he could hear how much I love him…even when he is sick. That when I found out I was pregnant with him, I forever was willing to give myself to him how he needed and do what was best for him.
Once we were discharged I rushed home to drop off Big Man and pick up Little Man (so daddy could concentrate more on work) and rush to a nearby hospital to drop off some lab work. I had been planning to do this right after bringing Middle Man to school, but it was pushed back, of course, due to our eventful morning. It was imperative to me that I got this sample in to this lab, though. I’ve been having some unusual-for-me symptoms over the last couple of months and this particular test is going to rule out some pretty nasty things that would change everything. I needed to get that in. I only had so much time, though, because Middle Man would be done with school in just one short hour and I’d have to pick him up. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it…But I did.
So I picked up Middle Man in the pouring rain and brought my men home for lunch. I made frozen chicken nuggets, because it was simple, and we sat and ate chicken nuggets and honey for lunch. Not a super extravagant lunch for a birthday, but it fit the bill of EASY and made the kids happy. After that I rushed to make the beds (we wash all blankets and the sheets after Emery’s episodes), pick up toys, change diapers, do dishes, and get the two boys down for a nap. Then Big Man wanted to play Nintendo. So I played Nintendo. I read about 10 pages of my book and didn’t watch any Murder She Wrote.
My day didn’t go as planned. Not even close. But, it reminded me of one of the greatest plans God had for me the day I was born. Big Man, Middle Man, and Little Man. I am their mommy. What better way to celebrate the day I was born than to use that day to help, love, and cherish the lives I was allowed to bring into this world. What a gift. It may not be how I planned. It may not have been fun. But it was a reminder to me, on my birthday, of why I am here in the first place. It isn’t about me.