Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Roaring 40's

If you're looking for this week's Hodgepodge questions you'll find them in the post before this one. 

I know technically that term 'roaring' is linked with the 20's, but I'm talking age today not world culture, so The Roaring 40's it is. My roaring 40's.

A while back (two years if you're counting) I asked a question in my weekly Hodgepodge wanting people to describe their 20's in a single sentence. I enjoyed reading their answers so much so that I eventually wrote an entire post reflecting on my 20's some three decades out (you'll find it here), and later two posts about my 30's (here and here). My plan was to hit all the decades, but you know what they say about plans.

Since I've officially entered the year of a 'big birthday' I wanted to come back to the decades I missed and revisit them in the form of a blog post or two.  Today that means The Roaring 40's. Like your 20s only better because there's less striving and more seizing the day.

I've written bits and pieces about this decade over the course of my blog's life, but these reflection posts are more about life lessons learned, and how a particular season looks in the rear view mirror.

My 40's started with hubs planning a fun birthday surprise, a weekend away in a cute little B & B on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He even managed to sneak my mom into town to stay with our girls which meant so much to me. I wrote about it in great detail in a post linked here so I'm not going to say more about that now.

What I will say is people freak out a little bit when this birthday approaches, but when my 40th rolled around I felt great. Vibrant, relevant, mentally sharp, and looking towards the future with anticipation and delight. I was physically healthy, and also really happy in marriage, motherhood, and the wider world as I knew it. Of all the decades this one holds a tender place in my heart.

My girls were in grades 5 and 7 when I entered my 40's and were university students when the decade drew to a close. In between there was a whole lotta life lived. A lot a lot. On a grand global scale we had 9-11, war in the desert, the housing crisis, and economic collapse. On a personal level there were job changes, an overseas move, middle school-high school-college for the kids, and so many new people, places, and experiences shared it would be impossible to list them all here.

What I see when I look back at any decade is how God orchestrated the events of one season to make me ready for the next and this one was no exception. I started my 40's living in a sweet little town beside the bay, a place we all loved and where my family of four had become comfortably comfortable. Maybe even a teensy bit complacent? I don't mean complacent in the sense we weren't busy working-going-doing, but more life is good and let's not look for ways to rock the boat k?

Except what if the boat is meant to be rocked now and then?
What if it's better, stronger and more sea-worthy if it's rocked from time to time?

There's nothing wrong with living a comfortable life, but I know me and sometimes when I get too comfortable with something I hold on with a tightly clenched fist. Two tighly clenched fists. And God is always teaching me to cling tightly to just one thing-Him. I finally figured that out in my 40's, but it took being catapulted from the ordinary every day familiar into something new and different before it stuck.

I've written probably more than anyone wants to read about moving overseas as a 43 year old grown woman who had been perfectly fine thank you very much, right where she was, only to discover she still had some growing to do and a new home and country were just the place to do it. We traded life in America for life across the pond at what I can see now was absolutely perfect timing, although for young teenagers it maybe didn't feel like it.

My 40-something self had a heap of anxiety percolating on the inside too, but I went with what has worked for moms since the dawn of time. I slapped a smile on my face and repeated my oft repeated mantra -every little thing is gonna be alright.

And it was.

One of the miracles of parenting is that we moms and dads learn a lot of life's most important lessons as we walk beside our tweens and teens, and I had one of each when we hopped the pond. 'Cept we didn't call them tweens back then.

We did talk a lot about the new millennium but had no idea they'd be dubbed with that moniker some twenty years later. Sorry kids!

I spent most of my 40's in the UK and traveled extensively while I was there. My kids even more so, and hubs most of all, but more than the traveling it was the everyday living that changed us in ways that mattered and lasted.

I think I need ten years to write about ten years, but since we don't have that kind of time I'll wrap it up with a few priceless (to me) treasures unearthed in my 40's that I've carried in my pocket ever since-

There is great value in periodically examining the direction of my life and deciding if a course correction is needed. Am I doing what God created me to do, or am I living from habit?

I am capable of learning and doing hard things, things outside my imaginary comfort zone.

God's timing is providential and perfect and sometimes we might need a little bit of hindsight to see just how true that really is.

I can trust Him with my kids. Really trust Him. This has served me well every year since as my daughters have spread their wings and flown in ways my 40-something self could not have imagined or predicted.

It's a small big world and it is beautiful.

'If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139:9-10

Wherever I roam there He is.


  1. Such timeless life lessons, Joyce. Yes, so many times they are only seen in retrospect, but to trust the Lord through them is perhaps the greatest lesson. Thank you for taking us back to this time with your family.

  2. I love birthdays. I enjoy them all. A professional speaker told me one time never to dread a birthday because it is always a good day when you wake up on this side of the dirt.

  3. So good to look back (if we don't stay there) and see how far God has brought us. It really makes for a peace in whatever our present situation is. Love those verses from Psalms...

  4. I am facing 69 this year (not until December!) and am already dreading 70. How can that be?!! I enjoyed reading about your 4th decade, Joyce. Yours was one for the history books, for sure! Moving to England with your girls was braver than I might have been in a similar situation. You are right that we just need to have faith and trust in our God. He is always in control!!

  5. Wow, you look fantastic in all those pics and much younger than 40! Your girls are beautiful.

  6. You still look fantastic and your daughters are so gorgeous!!! What you summed up there at the end are things for me to ponder at this late stage in my life.

  7. I loved reading about your 40's. It would have been scary for me to move but what a fabulous adventure that was for you and your family. I look back and think that would have been good for me to experience. I'm so glad you can see how God works in your life. Our God is an awesome God!