the best is yet to come

  and babe, won't it be fine.

{Who doesn't love to hear good old  Mr. Sinatra belt that out
while dining at an Italian restaurant?
Actually, I'm one of the young ones who listen to 
more than a few of his songs on my iTunes...)

  I've been thinking about time lately. How it keeps moving faster, and we don't know what to do about it. Actually, I began thinking about it a couple months ago. On a warm autumn day, I sat with my sweet dad on the porch, watching the two lovable family dogs run free in the grass and leaves in the front yard. The chocolate lab came over to the big Adirondack chair I sat in. I took his face in my hands and pet his little ears, when it struck me - "Ummm Dad?" I asked. "What are all these white hairs on Joshie's face?" Dad smiled, "He's getting old, Erin." Shocked, I looked at his once pure-chocolate colored fur and said, resolved - "No he's not! He's, like, 5!" Dad shook his head and laughed, "No..he's ten. We got these guys about ten years ago, remember? These boys are getting old." He said it laughingly, and as I looked up at him and then down at my dog, I realized - I've been distracted. I've been away at college for years. I've been busy living life on my own. I've been busy working. I've been going a hundred miles an hour, for so long. Suddenly, it hit me - not only have our dogs gotten older...we all have.  Tears came pouring down my face. A total "Marley and Me" moment! (give me a sad dog movie, and I lose it) I sat there that afternoon completely overwhelmed by change. And life. And growing up. And growing old. And I hated it. It was so hard for me to take.
 Since that afternoon, I've found myself getting caught up in the past.
Getting caught up in the "if only's"
Thinking -
"I wish we could go back to that sweet time"
if only...i had majored in something else in college.
if only...that relationship had not ended.
if only...I had been more brave.
if only...I had pursued that one dream.
if only... i had chosen that job.
if only...i had not made that mistake.

Do you ever do that?

   Even today, as I was searching for something in the storage barn on my parent's land, I found some old keepsakes of mine...and oh the flood of memories they brought back! Being a hopeless romantic, a sentimental and emotional heart - I am a Class A keepsake treasurer (dangerously teetering on the edge of hoarder, yet it's confined to the storage barn for now and hasn't taken over any living space as of yet - don't worry, I've got it under control, I really do!) Surprised at how much I carefully saved from my childhood, I couldn't get over the things I stumbled upon. They spoke much of who I was then...

Little girl things.
  As I sifted through dusty boxes full of long untouched childhood treasures, it was almost a weird feeling of - "Oh, I can't touch that. I can't take this. It belongs to her." And then in the very second I began thinking that, I reminded myself - "Uh..her is you." Almost as if I don't know "her" anymore. I am so different now. That little girl is now a woman.

The little girl with all the dreams. The one who smiled and played and laughed alot.

The plans I used to make. Dreams I keep secret...ones I've had in my heart since day one.
Sweet times of innocent play. Unfulfilled hopes.
They were all there - represented in the things filling those boxes.
Memories of playing Barbies for countless hours with my best friend sister.
(and the days of thinking that driving around in a hot pink convertible
with a tan, ripped shirtless man wearing pink flowered shorts was totally normal)

On a side note, what happened to this POOR GIRL!?
I literally gasped when I pulled her out of the box. I think she fell victim t0 a haircut gone wrong! (Either that, or we had about 30 Barbie dolls and 2 Kens, and we were in the process of chopping her hair off and drawing on a beard so she fit the part of the husband...and then realized she could never pass as a Ken and dropped it. Who knows..)

Dozens of journals. Full of hopes, stories, dreams, and mostly...prayers. Oh the faith of a child. I prayed about everything when I was a little girl. Brought tears to my eyes to read.
And convicted my grown-up heart of pride and lack of faith.  
  Walking down "memory lane" can be sweet. A reminder of where we've come from. The good that's happened. The ways we've grown. Changed for the better. The trials we have walked through, faced and conquered. The things accomplished.

  But, in a sense...I've been left feeling a little sentimental and sad. Wishing things didn't change so fast. Longing for happy days in the past. Those moments when you wish you could somehow go back, and redo some things you chose, ways you responded, words you should have spoken.

Yet, the Lord has been teaching me, through these thoughts and memories, that the past is the past. And as wonderful or hard as it may have been for you and me, we have to push forward.

"...Forgetting what is behind
and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me
 heavenward in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 3:13-14 

Jesus has given us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11) Perhaps our childhood dreams have not come true. Perhaps there are unfulfilled promises. Start today, with me - taking each day as a gift, not wasting a moment. For soon, these will be memories too. Doing all we can now, for Christ. And taking risks, stepping out in faith and praying - hoping still for the dreams He placed in our little girl hearts.

Yes,  there is always another bend in the road.
Let's move ahead. Thankful for the past, looking toward the brightness ahead.
Striving to give Him our past...the things that ended, perhaps in a way we find disappointing.
But trusting Him with the things that have happened. And with the things that will happen.

Trusting that we have a future.
There is always hope.
Always something good ahead.
And if not here on this earth,
I know for a fact that we who know Jesus... we have the ultimate HOPE ahead:

 Heaven. Eternity


And if you don't know Him? {email me!}

Oh how wonderful our future is.

So with that in your heart - carpe diem, sistah!

Seize today. Make it count. 
Just go out and love, love, love.

And oh...please dream, too.
Those little girl dreams in your heart that you've almost forgotten.
Go up to the attic or out to to the barn...and dig out your keepsake box.
And laugh & cry with me.

"as for me, I will always have hope.
I will praise You more & more."
-Psalm 71:14