February began and I took a deep breath. The calendar filled and we were off. It began with a gathering of women who opened their repentant hearts to God asking big questions. This was the genesis of IF. God used this weekend to help form more of His desire in my heart to gather with women in community. Dreams were formed and inflamed.

Then the next week, our family opened our home to two young men from Uganda for several days. Frank and Brian came with a group called Empower African Children, and their stories of war and loss captured our hearts. For the first time ever, I fell in love with the African people and their land. Frank’s smile and bright, dancing eyes are etched forever in my mind, and Brian’s haunting, hopeful story is one I will not soon forget. They gave us more than we gave them.

The month continued with a speedy 24 hour trip to Omaha to celebrate my niece’s wedding on Valentine’s Day weekend. It was a sweet celebration, and I was thankful to be a part of it all, remembering the joys of new love and the hope of marriage promises shared.

Then, the Big Day came. Turning 40 is a milestone that, quite honestly, I’ve dreaded for years, but suddenly it arrived like Christmas, and I greeted it with hope and a smile. I have a million reasons to be thankful, I reminded myself. I’m past the turmoil of the 20s, the craziness of the 30s and now I’ve gained wisdom and experience that will prove helpful for the 40s. Or at least this is what I’m trying to reason as I figure out what to do with my ever graying hair.

Finally, the month is ending with a trip to San Diego to attend Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference. As people have asked what this conference is about, I am tempted to respond smartly saying, “It’s a Mid-Life Crisis Conference for those of us who need focus, clarity, and meaning in our lives. Want to join me?” I know that’s not exactly true, but it’s a little funny telling people you are going to a conference about planning your life story. Sometimes people look at me like I’ve grown two heads.

So that’s where I’m at. I feel a bit like I’ve been on a treadmill this month, soaking in all it has to offer. My biggest takeaway? I’m remembering what Frank and Brian taught me in the form of an old African proverb. Life will change and the tunes will change from happy to sad, from slow to fast. Change will come, and it will be good and hard and hopeful and heartbreaking all over. Yes, change comes for all. What’s more important, it seems, is giving ourselves the permission to follow the new tempo of the dance and lean into the new rhythms of life as they come, trusting that the Lord of the Dance is still in control. Even when we turn 40.africa-1