Twenty years ago, June 6th, I donned a white cotton dress and white pumps, put on my white cap and gown and flung a golden cord around my neck. It was about 95 humid and smelly degrees in the carpeted gym that was crowded with people there to witness our milestone - graduation from high school.
That night, I was filled with many emotions. I'd been with the same group of peers since the tender age of four, and I wasn't in a hurry to leave them. We had become family. I also had quite a bit of excitement and nervous anticipation about the next chapter of my life. I'm certain it was the most conflicted I had been, EVER. The FUTURE and my potential to accomplish much was an intoxicating combination. Overwhelmingly, I wanted this: to make a difference.
If I could go back, I wouldn't. I wouldn't inform my seventeen year old self of all the sweet (and bitter) lessons that only the years could teach me. I wouldn't change anything because each of my missteps and hard falls and successes have been woven in now, and are part of my story. And God is going to keep working it together for my good, and His glory.
So off I went, to explore the world, experience life on "my own." And I was determined above all that I was going to make a difference, fight dragons, be a strong woman, experience exotic adventures, be used by God.
And time flew by. Twenty years later, here's what I'm beginning to see:
I'm learning that sometimes making a difference is just about plodding
along, clinging to the hope that God will accomplish the good. I can't do it anyway, because I am completely empty. Not "completely empty" in a
nice shiny sermon illustration kind of way, but in the
sitting-on-the-laundry-room-floor-hiding-and-crying-that-ugly-cry-again kind of way. I'm beginning to see that it's more about how God makes a difference in me and less about my claim to world-changing powers. I need continual overhauls.
Most recently, I'm breaking up with the idea of "control" but that is another post for another day.
My expectations have been my biggest dragon to fight. I have learned that not all calls are glory and spotlight. That the place God uses me is His call, not mine. That call to "full time ministry" I thought I had in high school? It ended up being more about how I wanted people to see me then, and in my imaginary future, and less about how I wanted to be before God. I've been fighting dragons, all right, but not how I thought I would!
Being a strong woman is a noble aspiration. Women have been greatly used by God many times through the Bible and history. In my youth, I rolled my eyes many times at the "delicate flowers" that adorned the pages of novels, or were held up as model Christian women (and OK I still do, a little bit...and sometimes, maybe a lot). But strength is not what I thought it was either. I am strong not because of who I am, or what I have the right to accomplish, or even what I have the grit to endure.I don't have any of those things without Him.
Exotic adventures? I don't even have a passport. Maybe sometime in the NEXT twenty years. 😊 I have had some pretty great domestic adventures, and I'm enjoying the story God is writing! It's much better for me than anything I could have come up with! But to many, I'm sure my life just looks pretty ordinary.
Sometimes, in fact, MOST of the time, being used by God looks very ordinary. Ordinary like going to work and doing the job faithfully. Ordinary like preparing lesson plans. Or doing laundry, or feeding hungry little and big people, again, or smiling at a stranger, or being a friend. Or crying out to God on the laundry room floor asking Him to increase your faith. And watching Him do it.
You know, I changed my mind. I would tell my seventeen year old self something. I would tell her not to underestimate the ordinary. I would tell her that if she continues in it, patient in hope, that the beauty in the ordinary will absolutely take her breath away.
Happy 20th anniversary on my graduation to me, and the entire class of 1997. It's been a really quick, sometimes agonizing, mostly good, really ordinary twenty years.
Wednesday, April 19
Note: We're going against the grain, again, and just last week sent out our second annual non-Christmastime update letter. Maybe we'll start a trend, but this time of year is much more manageable for us to get the letters out. Feel free to email if you'd like to be added to our annual mailing list, but here's the e-version too. 😊
Typically, update letters and photos come at Christmastime, as we celebrate the birth of Christ. This year, ours comes as we celebrate His resurrection! What an exciting time of the year! Christ Is Risen and ALIVE! We celebrate our new life made possible by Jesus, through faith, and because of His grace. And of course, we hope our update letter finds you well, and also rejoicing!
This year has been one of many firsts and new beginnings for us, while many things remained the same. Michael has continued working for Bright Construction, and in his “spare time” is enjoying the opportunity to create cutting boards and trivets (mostly) in the shape of Michigan for our business, Trivet + Board. The growth there has been astounding to us, and we are so grateful for God’s blessing on our venture. We have a full summer/fall show schedule and are excited to see what the future brings!
After homeschooling for 7 years, we put Aaron and Evan in a small Christian school, where they have adjusted and blossomed. We are taking the schooling decisions one year at a time, as always, but are so grateful that God led us to this school for this time in our lives. Evan is 8, and his favorite subject is Art, and he is a prolific writer and illustrator with a collection of his own books. He also keeps us laughing with his creative videos. Both boys have enjoyed playing basketball at the school, and Aaron also played volleyball and is running track this spring. Aaron (10) enjoys Math and Science, as well as Technology classes at school. He’s enjoying time with his friends and has started his own paracord business making and selling paracord bracelets and keychains. It’s great to watch his entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. We are so thankful that both boys continue to grow spiritually and it is neat to watch God soften and change their hearts and mature them. Evan plans to be baptized this May and is very excited about it.
Jenny has been dealing with some health problems and has seen some improvement but it seems like it may be a slow process. God is directing and giving wisdom, and is faithful. She is homeschooling Cadence (5) and tutoring for our local Classical Conversations group, and of course running after Amos, who is an astounding 21 months old. He’s a funny little guy with a BIG personality and growing vocabulary. He loves to play with his siblings and listen to books. Cadey also enjoys listening to stories and learning to read, coloring pictures, art, music, playing outside as much as possible, and anything with glitter, sparkles, and/or rainbows. J She also has a tender heart toward spiritual things and a strong faith even at this early age.
We continue to keep busy as a family with the junior high youth group at church, spending time fixing up our fixer-upper, and art & craft shows (as mentioned). We also have enjoyed taking advantage of some fun local activities as a family this Spring! We’re thankful Jenny’s parents live nearby and anticipate spending more time over there this summer helping renovate their rental property. Dad Forbes is retiring at the end of the school year after 43 years in Christian education! We are so thankful for his faithful service and are looking forward to what God has for him in the coming years. (We are pretty excited to hang out with him more, too!)
This year has been one of many new things, but through the changes and challenges, our GOD remains faithful. He is our Savior and sustainer, and we rest in His trustworthiness and celebrate His provision for our family!
Much Love to you,
Michael & Jenny, Aaron, Evan, Cadence & Amos Muth