Thursday’s Child

Monday’s child is fair of face;
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe;
Thursday’s child has far to go…

 

Five Ooooooohhh….

On the occasion of my my 50th birthday (today), I headed out before sunrise into a gray, foggy, drizzling rain for a brisk walk.  At 34-degrees, I am not certain which was more brisk: my walking or the air?  I started for my current favorite path, leaving my own neighborhood to weave in and out of curved streets past a high school and large soaked fields of heavily-seeding prairie grass. 

Within minutes I had quit noticing how icy cold it felt and how loud passing cars’ tires sounded unfurling wet dirt as they motored by.  I’d quit noticing the cloud of my own breath and became mildly amused at little boys madly peddling their bikes, heads down so their thick glasses wouldn’t get wet, nearly running into me, in an effort, I can only assume, to get extra credit.  Why else would they need to arrive an hour and a half early?

I found my pace.  I got warm.  I decided to mourn my youth.

thursdays_ep 

I was born on a Thursday in 1959.  I am 50 now. {I have to pause at that to let it sink in} 50.   I am either at the beginning of the end or in the middle, depending on how committed I feel to living to 100.  I like the idea of it.  I like thinking that in my late 60s and 70s I could hold my grandbebe’s children.  I like imagining that in my 90s I could hold Gavin’s grandbebes (my very own great-greats) and say, “See?  Now do you understand what you did to me?  Do you see how you changed my world forever and why I have chosen to stay so long?”  As if that is really a choice I get to make.

I was born on a Thursday 50 years ago.  And I never liked that little rhyme, “Thursday’s child has far to go…”  What the heck is that?  Why couldn’t I have a fair face or be full of grace?  Why couldn’t I be loving and giving like Friday’s children?  From the time I learned to read, “having far to go” has felt like some thick,  prophetic canopy of responsibility over me, an assignment I can never quite finish, a goal line that keeps moving. 

Regrets, I’ve had (quite) a few, (actually)…

Are you like me?  Do you sometimes wonder, “What if…”  What if I had done something different here or at that point in my life?  Would it have changed everything?  Would it have changed anything?  I mean George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life) hated his life, temporarily at least, and got to see that if he hadn’t ever been born, so many other people’s lives would have had painful consequences.  But it wasn’t even about the possibility of his never-having-existed-at-all that made the real difference for his family and the entire town.  It was about how he interacted with them and how he lived his life that made the difference.  He wanted to shake the dust of his “crummy little town” off his feet and see the world, but he didn’t.  He stayed and he worked and he made people’s lives better and that is why, when he faced grave peril, they rallied around him and he could see the true value of his life.

So, as I  mourn my lost youth early on a rainy day, I realize I do have regrets, but not the big-decision kind. 

The choices and decisions I have made, however ill-conceived or foolishly-seen at the time that have brought me to the blessed life I lead, I can’t regret those.  I sit in the middle of a life portrait of a huge, growing family of loud and loving people, with spiritual children and family, in peace with man, under the favor-covering of a gracious God.  I am loved and challenged.   Adventure is always just ahead, almost inconceivable in light of the devastation and despair of just a few short years ago.  God has blessed my broken road and my errors in judgment and the times I just plain screwed everything up.  I can’t regret the big disasters or mistakes that brought me here, to this room in which I sit and mourn my passing youth.

But I do regret having lived most of my life in the fear of man.  I have handed over too much power to people’s opinions and like Proverbs so graphically states, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare,” (Proverbs 29.25 NIV), or as Mary Jean has explained it: the equivalent of a tightening noose around your neck.  “…but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe,” the passage finishes.  The Message says it well, too, “The fear of human opinion disables…”  So true.

And now?  I hate that I thought trying to please everybody and their dog should have consumed so much of my life.  I regret that I put so much effort into being whatever 450 people or 57 people, or even just one thought a pastor’s wife should be,  that I didn’t help the opinionated grow by being who God called me to be, even created me to be.  I am sad that I put the power to rule me into the hands of illegitimate authority-figures and that I lived a dumbed-down version of myself, thoroughly distrusting the person God knit together in the secret places when He gave me a brain and a strong will with the ability to impact life like no one else.  And I was so afraid to be that woman that the very people who created boxes for me, the ones I lived to please,  were truly the ones who missed out.  I wish I could have seen this along the way, and understood. 

You can never go wrong, when some one calls you on something or even wrongly accuses you-taking that to the altar before God and asking Him to expose in you what they say they have seen.  But then, you let Him deal with whatever it is in you and you leave that place and you let broken, hurting and hurtful people off the hook.  Too many times I received and carried what God never intended for me to carry and I held offense close like a martyr, daring God to fault me because: I am doing what everyone wants.  I behaving as required here. Obedience through gritted teeth.

Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, not small, but valuable. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.”  ~Kathleen Kelly, as played by Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, one of my all-time favorite movies

Regrets?  I wish I’d dressed like I wanted and laughed more.  I wish I would have enjoyed the beauty of my youth and not hidden nor distrusted my sensuality and taken more days off (or any days off, actually).  I wish I had played with the kids more and done less church-y events.   There are some haircuts I wish I hadn’t gotten, but some jewelry I wish I had (“costly array” be darned).  I wish they had charged me with being a resourceful, vibrant, smart, creative, business-tycoon Proverbs 31 woman when Dave got ordained instead of being told I was to be “grave, serious and plain.”  I regret the times I didn’t like the season of life I was in and kept reaching toward the future instead of understanding the gift of the present (the present is a gift!).  I wish I’d realized sooner how much I love to write and that just because I did love it didn’t mean it was a waste of my time.  I should have laughed more and oh, how I wish I could dance.  It was a sin, I was told, but I believe in dancing.  If you can dance, I hope you dance!

Nore Ephron gives some good advice.  Really good.

neck-copy neck

I wholeheartedly concur.  Seriously.

The phone rings off the hook with good wishes.

I realized during my morning (mourning) walk that I ended up going further than I had planned, longer than I had intended.  I had taken streets I’d never been on and faced hills I wouldn’t have chosen.  The way home was directly into the 7-10mph northeasterly winds.   And if my walk this morning was some sort of metaphor for my life, if in this state of melancholy I assigned it the task of defining something transcendent, I realized that in my brave twenties and strong thirties I may not even have ventured out on a day like this.  The twenty-something Jeanie would have counted on a million good mornings ahead, shrugging  it off thoughtlessly for easier times.  The thirty-something me would have found other ways to be productive and fruitful, making every second count without braving these particular elements.

I’m 50 now.  There is actually sort of a regal magnificence in it.  Yes, I will miss and do the inevitable mourning over my youth and the innocence and physical attributes that went with it, but I won’t miss the neuroses that came along with it, too.  As wisdom and compassion grow in my heart and the less I care what people think of me, I care more about people, I think more about them

When I study my reflection closely, I see the asphyxiating, tangled brown vines of past decades, thick and tall for the life they once represented.  But within them is a flourishing tree, glistening and leafy-green, fairly humming with life in association with innumerable hearts and passions and people and interests.  This is no nursery-new seedling.  There are no small stakes and lines holding it in place.  The seasons of the soul and life itself have driven thirsty roots deep into compacted soil until  the equations and mystery of chlorophyll and ganglia are in full-effect.  The infinite, expanding explosion of a God-given life reaches every direction, stretching as far as possible, growing stronger, thicker, higher, deeper as each day passes.  Time to prune the vines and let them fall as a testament to what has given this tree the strength it now possesses.

Every breath I inhale {Happy} is a remembrance of a blessed and good life.  Every exhale {Birthday} is a preparation, a rehearsal for the end, which is one day closer today than yesterday.  Which is what makes this kind of melancholia so ridiculous, isn’t it?  It is just a day.

I never know which way I’m bound, I’m Thursday’s child
I’ll always be blamed for what I was named
But still I’m not ashamed, I am Thursday’s child ~ Eartha Kitt’s “Thursday’s Child”

Wow.  This may be the longest blog I have ever written.  If you stuck through it with me, you are a most indulgent and loving person and I am lucky to know you.  And if I don’t, we should meet so I can thank-you and tell you in more concise terms that being 50?  So far, so good.  I’ll live to one day mourn the passing of this decade. {smile}

Blessings….Jeanie who is 50

NOTE TO SELF:  Geesh.  Have mercy on readers.

P.S. Can you believe there is a P.S.???  This is my 700th blog post!

20 thoughts on “Thursday’s Child

  1. What a blessing you are to everyone who knows you well – and even to those of us who don’t. You are such a gifted writer! Happy Birthday – 50 isn’t so bad – you’ll see. Blessings and love. Sheryl

  2. Wow, honey!
    I am sitting here with tears, like usual.
    And this is your, what number blog post?
    I don’t even know where to begin and don’t know if I can. You gave me so much to process but I will say that you are my sexy 50 year old woman and it takes this many years for us to realize who we are really. You are better and wiser than you’ve ever been in so many ways. I love you. Happy Birthday.
    My blog post for you will pale in comparison.
    xxoo
    me

  3. i am from england and have followed your blog from time to time. i found it via your you tube partridge family tribute from your family which was great. the phrase that stood out for me in this post was god has blessed my broken road. it reminds me of the song by rascal flatts called bless the broken road . you probably know the song , but if you don,t give it a listen on you tube, it will bless you. you do write so well. all the best.

  4. Momma,
    You are so thoughtful in your writing and so thoughtful on this day, your 50th birthday. I hope I can be more like you as I grow up. Thank you for all you have taught me, you teach me, and what you will teach me for your years to come. You are a beautiful, vibrant, sassy, hard-working, full of good advice, Mom. I love you, Happy Birthday!
    ps. I think you should do a photo shoot with Ellie! 50 and adorable!;)

  5. HAPPY HAPPY Birthday, to an amazing woman! I never have, and I probably never will, think of your age. You are incredible, beautiful inside and out, artistic, generous (look at all those cakes and decorations you do for others!), and you have a wonderful family that I am so blessed to know. Thank you for the person you are, and the gifts you rain down on everyone around you. You are so much fun! I hope this is a wonderful day/weekend for you and your loves.

  6. Happy Birthday! Your words sure make me ponder on the changes I want to make. You are blessed!!! All four of my children were born on Thursday’s…what’s that gonna mean???

  7. Happy Birthday my friend!!! I know the year we met was a year of regret for you but I thank God everyday for that year! I’m so blessed to have you as a friend and I look forward to the next 50 years as your friend. XXOO

  8. How cool to have your 700th on your 50th?!? I hope you have SUCH a great, unforgettable, AWESOME birthday! …Filled with happy surprises, fond memories, and the people you love BEST! Kisses & Blessigns, Amy Jo

  9. A Happy Birthday to you!
    A Happy Birthday to you!
    Every day of the year, may you feel Jesus near.
    A Happy Birthday to you!
    A Happy Birthday to you!
    The best that you’ve ever had.

    And once again, somewhere in the middle of the day, I see the date, and realize…it’s Jeanie’s birthday! And this year it is a milestone for us both. 50. Well, I’m not fifty yet. I have a couple weeks left. Every year on this day, I remember the morning of your 16th. We all sat on the stairs of JFK and sang “Happy Birthday sweet 16” to you when you came in the front door. I’ve often thought it sad that that was the only part of the song we knew. We’ve lost touch a few times, but I’ve never forgotten the impact you had on my life. Apparently, I was just a practice run. Now you are impacting so many lives. And not just your amazing and ever-growing family. The World Wide Web allows everyone to read all about what you have to say. You say it so well. Not really surprising. You always had a way with words. Well, here’s to the next 50. We will tally up the grandbebe’s each year, (my #4 is trying to get out soon) and wait patiently for the greats. Please keep writing, you are a blessing to the entire world.

  10. Blessings to you on this wonderful day! I’m so thankful God chose this day 50 years ago to have His faithful servant (you!) born into this world. I pray you feel His love in even greater measure as you travel the journey of your next 50 years! Thank you for blessing my life with your wisdom, beauty, laughter, encouragement, honesty, etc… And with your blog, great black dress, cute hair, and cute shoes!

  11. Thank you for allowing me into your life. I am amazed by you. Seriously. You are too talented of a writer to be just blogging. By the time you are 60, I better be seeing your name in lights. The world needs to hear you.

    Happy, happy birthday. You are treasured and loved.

  12. 50, resourceful, vibrant, smart, creative, beautiful and enjoyed….that’s you. You are His joy, Jeanie. Happy Birthday to you!

  13. 50, vibrant, resourceful, smart, creative, beautiful and enjoyed….that’s you. You are His joy, Jeanie. Happy Birthday to you!

  14. 50 is one of the neatest trail-markers anyone can pass…I think! I believe it is the true beginning of a season in life that should be called “our prime!” And it is only the beginning: I say that because as I have studied human nature it seems more clear to me now that we never really begin to see the value of wisdom gained until we get here…(since I am almost there- I include myself). I used to look at Dad when he was 35-36 and think…I’ll never be that old, but what I found was I knew almost nothing then…I have been moving into my prime for the past few years and it is showing not only in what comes about in my life but mostly in how I am much better suited to handle it. I cannot imagine trying to survive [certain-life-crap] like I have now when I was 20 or even 30…can anyone say ‘suicide?’

    Happy “prime-day” sister! I plan to have you a gift for this one…and not to be a year late like last time. J
    Love you…cherish you…proud to follow you through life!!

  15. I am sorry to be a day late in wishing you the happiest of birthdays as you celebrated the past 50 and ushered in a new decade. You are such a blessing to me personally. Thank you openly sharing of yourself, I have so much to gain from your amazing insight! And yea to 700!! Reading your blog is a highlight to my days!

  16. You forgot to mention you are 25 times older than Gemma! Besides. isn’t 50 the new 30? I’m sure you had a wonderful. Belated Happy Birthday.

  17. On your birthday I thought – She probably won’t blog in honor of herself, so I didn’t come check it out. Doggone it! What the heck was I thinking? Of course you would blog! -Not to honor yourself, but to share with the rest of us your unique perspective and profound insight about getting to this place in your life. As Dave said, you’ve given us so much to process. I think I shall have to read it again. But, from what I got so far, my heart is stirred. Memories are triggered. I am challenged and encouraged. I’m glad we have shared the same road. You certainly ARE a resourceful, vibrant, smart, creative, business-tycoon Proverbs 31 woman and who you are reminds me of what I am to shoot for! I always did try to learn from what went down with you first! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, big sister. Happy Birthday. I love ya! Tami

  18. I hope that by 50 I have accomplished the fabulous things you have. You are an amazing human being, Jeanie Rhoades… the kind of human being that inspires others to be more than they think they can be. You love deeply, you live richly, you give freely, you write passionately. You ARE who I want to be when I grow up.

    Happy Birthday from one blessed to know you–one who is grateful that God put you on this earth for 50 years of adventures that have molded the person that you are, one who is grateful for the 50 more you have planned.

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