My sister’s wedding is this Saturday. In preparation for the big day, My twin and I had a sister date last night and got our nails done. I’m not in the habit of getting my nails done. I’m too cheap to pay for that service but this seemed like an appropriate occasion to get my nails polished. The lady who did my nails was excited to hear that we are twins. However, almost as soon as she expressed her excitement, the statement about our size difference came out of her mouth. “You’re twins! But you’re bigger than she is?” Yes, I am, and I have spent my whole life being asked why that is the case. Well, there is a God who created me in my mother’s womb and before time began determined how I would be formed. I did not tell her that but just smiled and nodded. God did not ask me how I would feel about being the bigger twin. I trust that he knew what he was doing when he set my growth chart into motion. I trust that there is a reason for why he made me the way he did (haven’t figured out why yet but trusting that there is a reason).
Matthew 6:27 tells me that worrying can not add a single inch to my height. I say, “Praise God, because I don’t need any more inches.” I am 5’11” and with the right shoes I might as well be 6’. The notion that worrying could make one taller is absurd. Of course, a person has little control over how tall they will be. This statement points out how ridiculous it is to worry about things that you can’t control. Its unproductive. What does it accomplish? Nothing!
As I think about this, I realize that worry also shows a lack of trust. Sometimes, it feels like there ae bigger things that God would be concerned about other than the areas of my life that I don’t understand. Things like the job that I have right now even though I’m educated in the Bible and Early Childhood Education or my living situation when I’d rather be in Washington. These are details of my life. The God who created me must also care about these details. It mattered enough to him and his plan for me to include how tall I would be. It seems like a small detail but having spent my whole life with my sister and my height being a topic for conversation from even strangers, leads me to think that it is important God and there is a reason. Likewise, the different directions that our lives are taking right now are also part of the plan that the God who created me has for me. So, worrying about this stuff will prove to be unproductive. It’s not always easy to do but I am going to trust that God is working in my life. I’m here for his service and I am certainly god created me with plan for my life and he knows every aspect of my life.
“Be Brave! Choose Joy!” Those are the words that are written inside of a red baseball cap that my good friend from Washington gave me as going away gift. In smaller print she also wrote “You are braver and stronger than you think.” On the outside of the hat it says, “Washington” with a pine tree in place of the “t” in the word. I love this hat. I wear it all the time and am convinced that it is one accessory that goes with everything. I tell me sister that I am going to wear it with my bridesmaid dress at her wedding. She just gives me a look that communicates her lack of belief in that statement. Oh! But I’m serious (maybe)! This hat is my crown and constant reminder to be brave and to choose joy. Joy is my favorite word but lately in this season of my life it seems hard to have joy when I do not like so many of the things that are happening in my life. But I made my choices. Was it not me that decided to move to Washington and me that decided to move back. It is also me that is choosing to move back into my parent’s house. All these decisions I took my time making and committed them to prayer. Sometimes we do things not because they are easy but because they are the right thing to do. I can find joy in my choices by knowing that I am doing the right thing.
However, doing the right thing does not always take away the pain that the reality of the situation brings. This weekend especially was difficult. I completed moving all my things and my furniture over to my parent’s house. My sister’s soon to be husband was so good and used his truck to move my stuff. I told him that in exchange for his help that I will not live with the two of them after they are married. He appreciates that. After everything was moved, I looked at my empty room and said goodbye to the life I knew with my sissy. A life that we shared in that house for many years together. Goodbyes are hard. I do not like the way this feels. Be brave and choose joy! I remind myself of that.
Though my choices were made due to things that were out of my control, my choices were my own. My attitude should not be one of bitterness or self-pity. Moving forward, I want to be brave even though I do not know how long this season will be or what is instore for me. I want to have joy in my grief even though goodbyes are hard I know that my joy comes from God and He is with me. I’m waiting and asking that His hand moves in life. He has been faithful and will continue to be. I know this. In that there is joy and in Him I am brave.
I’m currently reading Billy Graham’s autobiography. I’m impressed by how sure he was of his calling to be an evangelist and how God used events and people in his life to live out this calling. I’m amazed and encouraged by how Billy Graham was used by God in a great way, probably in a bigger way than he ever expected or could have imagined himself. Reading his story reminds me that God is faithful in my life. He is working even when I can’t see. At church the other Sunday the pastor said a quote that hit home for me, “Sometimes the teacher doesn’t talk during the test.” Lately I feel stuck in my life. I can’t see what God is doing. It feels like a test and I just want God to say something. However, in little ways such as Billy Grahams autobiography I am reminded that there is a bigger plan. The way that life looks today does not mean that it will be that way tomorrow. Life can change so quickly.
When I think about what I am called to do, I know what I feel like I was made to do and that is teach small children and somehow use my Bible and Theology degree. However, I gave that up when I moved back to Nevada from Washington. Its not like I can’t return to it. My issue is that I am a single adult that needs to be able to provide for myself. A job in a preschool, though its what I am passionate about is not very sustainable to live on. My current job is a great job and provides me with things such as health insurance, retirement, and other benefits but is far from what I feel called to do. I trust that this is just a season and that God will provide me with a job that is a perfect fit for me and all the aspects of my life.
Pondering these things causes me to wonder if there is a lack of trust on my part by choosing to stay where I’m at because it provides for my needs. Have I forgotten that it is God who takes care of me? It is also God who made me and gave me my passion for teaching young children. Am I not being a good steward by setting that those things aside at this time? But I moved back to help my family and this job was a means to do that. What then is my ministry to be? What I am passionate about or my family. I feel called to one vocation but at them same time I feel called to honor my family and help them. Daily I am trying to serve God in all that I do while I wait for him to move in my life. I pray that it would be like this for long. He knows where I’m at today and where I will be tomorrow.
I don’t like what is happening. I came to the realization the other day as I was talking to a friend about my moving plans, that I’ll be living for the first time in my old room without my sister. I’m moving back in with my parents and depending on the day, depends on how I feel about it. I grew up in that house, in that room since the time we moved in when I was 2 until I moved out at 21. That whole time I shared the space with Alona, my twinny! That was our room! I don’t want to live that space without her! I have started moving boxes over. It was weird looking in the empty closet and thinking about what I am going to fill it with. I remember when the shelves held boxes of Barbies and dress-ups. The walls of the room had pink strips and a doll board at the ceiling that my mom painted. The walls are now a beige color. The carpet is new. No longer is the carpet that we played on and held wedding ceremonies for our Barbies there. My sister gets to live in a house with her husband and I am returning to this space. This empty space that is very familiar but at the same time has changed.
I don’t understand what is happening. A year ago I graduated with my bachelors and I was living in Washington. I pursued Bible college not knowing what life at the end of it would be like or what God would have me do with my degree. This is not what I thought would be my reality. I trust that God is working even though I do not see it. I trust that my current state will not be forever. I hope that I do not have to wait long. I’m praying that God helps me do my best in every area of my life. I want to encourage others and glorify God.
Honestly, sometimes I feel like I am being punished! Did I expect some kind of reward or grand opportunity when I finished school, and this just isn’t measuring up to that? Maybe! I sometimes think that I can be proud of the fact that I paid my way through school without debt, graduated with honors, and am the only one in my whole family that has a four-year degree. But I did not do this on my own. By the grace of God that was accomplished, and it will be through his grace that I use my degree. He has a plan. This is not a punishment. It is just another part of his plan.
I love aquatic creatures! Alona and I back in 2012 acquired a pet turtle that we named Earl. Earl is a very entertaining little guy. He used to swim up to the glass walls of his tank and keep swimming with his head pushing up against the glass as though he was going somewhere. I would think he was stupid. Where did he think he was going? It would also make me laugh when he would get startled. For example, if I walked by the tank he would jump off his dock and into the water. “Earl, I’m not going to eat you. I promise!”
My sister and I had often said that we thought he needed a wife. So, while I was in Washington Alona bought Pearl. Pearl and Earl are the cutest little married couple. Earl loves the heat lamp and sits on the dock so that he can be under it. He is a heat lamp hog and his poor little wife never gets a turn. However, she is resourceful. She just climbs up on top of Earl and sits on his back to “sun bathe”.
We have always considered Earl to be more my turtle than Alona’s mainly because I had always wanted one. When Alona came home with him we decided he was both of ours but really, he’s mine. When Alona bought Pearl, it was clear that we each had our own. With me moving back into my parents house I realized that I don’t get to keep Earl. (I wouldn’t want to separate him from his wife anyways.) My mom does not like the turtles, so its not an option for me to keep him. Fortunately, I do get visitation rights. I joke that with this separation I get shared custody with the turtles.
It’s the little things that are getting to me. I guess the big things I expected but as things like the turtles come up I realize that I was not prepared for those changes. Yes, I knew moving back that it was short term. Then as we move forward with the wedding and the move things that I didn’t think of happen. They are small losses. But a loss is a loss and it causes your heart to some measure grief. I get a little sad when I think about no longer lounging on the couch and watching Earl butt his head against the glass. Other things about these changes makes me sad too like no longer having spontaneous sister movie nights where I insist on putting my feet across Alona’s lap (I tell her it’s out of affection but she doesn’t buy it). Its not like these things will never take place again, its just going to be different. I am trying to prepare my heart for my “new normal” that hasn’t happened yet. Part of preparing my heart for this is bringing the things that weigh on my heart to the Lord. I am encouraged as I remember that he sees me and knows my heart. He is with me in this season as well!
As I am preparing to move out of my place that I have shared with my sister for the last seven years (minus the year I spent in Washington), it feels like her and I are getting a divorce. Our relationship is one of deep closeness and shared experiences, starting from the day we were born (actually, starting from before we born)! We shared the womb together. She and I probably kicked each other while we were in there. Having a twin is like having a built-in-buddy. You experience all the “firsts” together, first day of school, learning to drive, graduation and many more. Now, my built-in-buddy is getting a hubby!
There is something very important that her soon to be husband needs to know. Sister Day!! This is a very important day that takes place more than once in a year’s time. When we were kids we often would decide that it was “Sister Day” and not let our brother play with us. Naturally he couldn’t, he is a brother and it was sister day! He would tell mom that we wouldn’t let him play with us. In our defense, we would tell mom that he can’t because it’s Sister Day. So, even though she will be married Sister Day must still be observed. I’m thinking 300 days out of the year should be set aside just for that.
My built-in-buddy and I will always be sisters but there is a change in our relationship that is taking place. She is getting a new buddy called a hubby. They will get to share the rest of their lives and experience many “first” together. I do not like the way these changes feel. It feels like my life is ending. I know that is not true. I did not realize how hard her getting married was going to be on me. Our relationship looks different these days as someone else has taken a very special roll in her life. I’m happy for her but at the same time it is hard. I love her!
My word for this season is “adjusting”. I constantly have to adjust to the many changes that are taking place but that’s so true in many areas of life. I have faith that God sees me and knows where I am at. The way my life looks today is not how it will always look. There is a plan! This is just part of it.
One learns a lot about sacrifice when they have children. I do not have children of my own but I was a live-in-nanny in Washington for over a year. I should have started blogging during that time. The two little girls that I cared for gave me plenty of material! Things like pink tooth paste on the toilet seat and drawings on my car windows when it was foggy were normal parts of my life. Or being stalked! I would take a shower and as soon as I turned off the water, they would knock on the door assuming that I was ready for them. “Wait! Let me actually get out of the shower and put on my robe!!” Space was something I came to value (if I didn’t before, I definitely do now!). When you give up your life for someone else, that is a sacrifice. As a nanny, living in their home, my schedule worked around theirs. It was a sacrifice. It came with joy and sorrow. Sometimes the sacrifices we make in life are painful but in this case I made sacrifices out of love for those girls.
The hard sacrifice came when I decided to move back to Nevada. My dad was going through more cancer treatment than was expected. My twin sister was losing platelets rapidly and the doctors couldn’t figure out way. On top of that my sister got engaged! That was a bright spot in all of this. I could not be away any longer. It was extremely hard to be away and be able to fully be a support to them. I loved my life in Washington, my job, the girls, and of course the trees, waterfalls, and the seemingly endless places to hike. But my family needed me home.
The health of my family has improved some since I have been back these last 5 months. However, dad now needs to have rotator cuff surgery. This will take place the week after my sister’s wedding! Aside from that, right now life is all about the wedding. As my sister counts down the days to her wedding, I count down the days to the end of my life or at least that is how it feels. I get to move again when she gets married. When I moved back, I moved in with her. However, when she gets married her husband moves in. Heaven knows that I don’t want to live with the two of them! So, she gets the house and the husband and I’m moving in with mom and dad. The universe doesn’t make sense! This seems to be a season of constant transitions that I am struggling to keep up with.
Sacrifice can be very hard. Moving back to Nevada was hard. Preparing to move in with my parents feels even harder. I made these sacrifices because it what was right not because it was easy. I have grief over these transitions but not regret. They are producing growth in my life. As things change around me, I’m changing too. I’m growing into more of the “Alina” that God wants me to be. That is my prayer!