Two days from today I will turn 70 years old. SEVENTY. If I were reading those words about anyone else, I'd be thinking, "Mercy! She's/He's getting on up there." So, having those words apply to me is sobering, startling even. How can this be? In my mind, I'm barely more than 45. Where have the years gone? Where have the DECADES gone?
On May 17, 1950, I was born to a couple who had been married only 11 months. My dad was an educator in Limestone County, and mom was twenty. So young. They were heavily involved in church and started taking me at least 3 times a week when I was 6 weeks old. I understand now that the 1950s represented a much simpler time, even with the unrest of the growing Civil Rights Movement in the south.
Little did I know -- how much my formative years would be impacted by living next door to my grandparents, gaining a brother and sister, and being surrounded by such a tight-knit, music-loving, laughter-filled group of relatives.
On May 17, 1960 (10 years old), I was in the 5th grade at Athens Elementary School, my dad worked at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, I had been taking piano lessons for 3 years, and we had just moved into what my mother thought of as her dream house -- ranch-style, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a basement. I accepted Jesus as my Savior and was baptized when I was 8 years old.
Little did I know -- that before that year was over we would move to Troy, Alabama, 7 hours away from Athens (because it took much longer to drive the distance then than it does now) where my dad would work at the Alabama Baptist Children's Home, and we would live on the campus surrounded by 200 children and their houseparents.
On May 17, 1970 (age 20), I was a junior at Samford University majoring in music and studying piano with Dr. Betty Sue Shepherd, someone I idolized. I was the organist for First Baptist Church of Trussville, AL and loved every minute of the single, college girl life.
My parents had moved to Decatur, Alabama so dad could start the North Alabama campus of the Children's Home.
Little did I know -- that by the end of that year I would be married to Steve Pearson, living in a trailer, be practically penniless, and we'd both be finishing our degrees at Auburn University.
On May 17, 1980 (age 30), Steve and I had three children, ages 7, 3 and 2. He had a growing veterinary practice in Hartselle, Alabama, and I taught dozens of piano students every week. I was the pianist at First Baptist in Hartselle, and Steve was a deacon. We had a close group of friends at church who also had young children, and we socialized with them often.
Little did I know -- that during the next decade I would go back to school for another degree, my mother would die suddenly, we would build a house at Cedar Cove in Hartselle and thoroughly enjoy our children and their friends who ate a LOT of groceries! :)
On May 17, 1990 (age 40), our children were smack-dab in the middle of their teen years. I was a junior high chorus teacher and elementary music teacher in Hartselle. Steve and I spent a lot of our "spare" time chaperoning youth events and mission trips. We also took family vacations to Minnesota, Sanibel Island, Washington, DC and Hawaii.
Little did I know -- that before the end of the Millenium, I would become the organist at Central Baptist in Decatur, all three children would have graduated from high school, two would be out of college and all three would be married. Steve and I started going on international mission trips in 1990 and went to Brazil, Guatemala, South Korea and Kenya.
On May 17, 2000 (age 50), I was teaching at Danville Elementary School, and we were expecting our first grandchild. We splurged on a fabulous birthday trip to New York City where we shopped on 5th Avenue, watched the Yankees play the Red Sox, worshiped at Brooklyn Tabernacle, and had a fabulous meal at Windows on the World (at the top of the World Trade Center).
Little did I know -- that during the next decade, 9/11 would happen, we would be called to the mission field, sell his practice, our home and most of our "worldly goods" and move to Ecuador to serve as missionaries for 4 years. Our family grew with the births of Allie, Luke, Nathan, Seth, Margaret, Megan, Penelope and Rosemary, and we started our annual Cousins Camp.
Pictured from left to right: Nathan, Seth, Allie, Maggie, Penelope, Luke and Rosie (Megan didn't make the trip for Matt's graduation)
On May 17, 2010 (age 60), I was 2 weeks away from retiring as a public school music teacher, and we were in the middle of building a house in Athens, Alabama. Our son Matt received his Ph.D. degree from Mid-America Seminary on May 16, so we celebrated with a big barbecue lunch the next day in Memphis.
Little did I know -- that during the next decade I would start yet another career as a travel writer and blogger, that Steve would retire, then start working part-time, that we would build yet ANOTHER house and move back to Hartselle, and that we would happily add Birti, Samuel, Bethany, Silas, Enoch and Beatrix to our tribe.
With all 14 grands on Thanksgiving Day, 2019.
Now, here comes May 17, 2020. We are emerging from a global pandemic and our 15th grandchild is on the way. We plan to gather for a big picnic in the front yard on Saturday and enjoy lots of laughter, doing our best to avoid passing coronavirus germs to each other. As I look back over the 7 decades of my life, I can easily see NOW how events have stacked up to make me the person I am today. Common threads run through each one. Family. Church. Work. Music. Travel. North Alabama. LOVE.
As I've started previous years or decades, I had no idea what hurdles/blessings/challenges/highs/lows were ahead, and the same is true for today. I don't know what God's plan is for my next hour, much less for my next decade. From a purely statistical perspective, the years from 70 to 80, then 80 to 90 and beyond will likely include losses -- family members, physical abilities, etc. If I'm not careful, I could start to dwell on those. But, with 15 grandchildren, a much happier approach is to anticipate all of the milestones in their lives -- boyfriends/girlfriends, graduations, engagements, proms, weddings, and GREAT grandbabies!! I am truly grateful for each day I've been granted, and I am purposefully looking forward.
I started this blog with a phrase from Psalm 37 -- "I was young, and now I am old." There are many nuggets of wisdom in that entire Psalm, so I recommend that you read it all. Here are some that I am holding onto today: "Trust in the Lord and do good," "Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart," "Commit your way to the Lord," "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him," "Hope in the Lord."
"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." Psalm 37:25
I have two questions for you. 1) What decade are you in? 2) Are you open and ready for God's plan to unfold in your life?
By the way, today is the 5th Anniversary of the beginning of ThereGoesConnie.com.