Uncovering Sacred Flames {and Other Thoughts Upon Turning 34}

photo 1-3

Thanksgiving Day dawns peaceful in our household. We hang around in our PJ’s for hours, all of us reveling in the relaxed pace of our morning, and in Isaac’s thorough enjoyment of the Macy’s Parade. It’s the first year he’s really been old enough to be excited about it.

I preheat the oven, throw in the breakfast casserole I prepared the night before, cut up a few pieces of fruit and toss with some yogurt, and bam — brunch is served.

With our housemate having moved out already {in prep for our impending move to Colorado} and no family visiting, it’s just the 4 of us for breakfast today. And as much as I’m aching and missing my side of our extended family on this, our first Thanksgiving without my Grandma Kiser, Stan and I are drinking in this time with just our little family unit.

Drinking it in, that is, until we find ourselves up to our ears in… well, disobedience.


We spend precious time in the afternoon and evening with Stan’s cousin and some other extended family, and — well, let’s just say the morning’s behavior train is still rollin’.

With an artistic, easily distracted 4-year-old, and a sweet 17-month-old who’s finding her voice and beginning to exert her lion-cub will, let’s just say we for sure have our challenging moments. And sometimes those moments add up to challenging hours. Days at a time, even.

So I wake up this morning, my 34th birthday, and while my husband celebrates and loves on me, our sweet littles don’t quite get the memo that Mom would love a peaceful, easier-than-normal day.

I smily wryly as I type, because lately, even in the chaotic parenting moments, Stan and I are often able to look at each other, shrug, sigh, and move on through the struggles mostly calm. {Mostly being the key word.}

photo 5

photo 3-1

photo 2-2

We are a team, he and I. But this is how this parenting gig goes, we’re learning — try something new, make progress, lose grip on some measure of said progress. Try next new thing, fail epically. Try still another new strategy, and succeed… but only till the next issue crops up.

Parenting our two littles continually puts us on our faces before Jesus, acutely aware of our need for His leadership, His heart, His creativity. Pressing into His commitment to their precious hearts. Leaning into it for dear life, actually, because this stewarding and shaping of little, Jesus-loving people is so not something we can make happen in our own power. Not remotely.

And when we try to do this thing without this humble posture of leaning that we’re learning, we fall flat on our faces every. single. time.

Upon nap time’s arrival, Stan and I plop down exhausted but peaceful at our dining room table, and coffee in hand, I spill my heart all over the table before him. We talk for two solid hours and our conversation winds its way around what it looks like to live whole, integrated lives, embracing the entirety of our humanity as intentionally created and desired by God.

The unzipping of our souls is all at once messy and sweet, painful and profound, and our hearts connect in deep places as we each affirm our desires for the whole of each other — body, soul, and spirit.

I’m reminded of this sacred flame that sometimes gets hidden a bit amidst uncharted parenting territory and the nitty gritty details of life. It requires regular, intentional fanning, a continual rediscovering of the fuel that fed it in the first place.

Seven plus years together, and again on my 34th birthday, I am choosing him. He is choosing me.


I’d told Stan this morning that since our birthday date is planned for Sunday evening, what I’d love to do tonight was just grab a few hours by myself at Starbucks. He wholeheartedly supports my need for space to breathe deep and spill my heart in written word, so I find myself here tonight with a ridiculously amazing peppermint white mocha, and a backpack heavy with books and journal.

photo 2-3

I contemplate turning 34, and what’s turning over and over inside me lately is all the ways I find myself changing.

I contemplate Freedom, my One Word for 2014, and the various unexpected ways it’s manifested itself in my life this year. How it’s been all at once terrifying and exhilarating, this walking out from under fear of man and into all these wide open spaces of becoming.

In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I’ve jotted down a handful of fairly random ways I’m finding my perspectives and thought processes being transformed as I enter my mid-thirties.

1. I wouldn’t trade the seasons of loss and unfulfilled desires for anything. I am in love with the ways Jesus has encountered me in grief, how He’s rearranged my insides and covered my raw wounds with His love.

2. The older I get, the more poetic nuance moves my soul. And the more I’m moved by it regardless of the degree to which my logical mind comprehends it. And the less I *need* to be able to fully understand it in order to allow it to move me. I think those gut-level stirrings, the ones that are just barely beneath my word-wrapping reach, are the more important ones most of the time anyway.

3. I am learning to love paradox almost like I love poetry. The nuances and dichotomies and apparent contradictions of faith and doctrine and life experience that instead of contorting my brain and embittering my heart, are more often nowadays propelling me deeper into His heart, and deeper into friendship with those who see life through lenses less familiar to me. I may find more words for this in the near future, but y’all, this particular thing Jesus is doing inside me — it is utterly rearranging my insides, pressing me to the floor, face-down in repentance, longing for humility. Curiosity. A teachable, pliable heart.

And with this post edging up near 1,000 words, I need to stop for tonight. Thank you for reading, for tracking with the disjointed ebb and flow of my heart as I cross this threshold into 34.

Y’all love me so well, bless me continually, and are the sweetest traveling companions.

I am so thankful for you, dear friends.

photo 1-2

P.S. Linking hearts and arms with Lisha and Kelli and friends, as usual.

This entry was posted in Attending to His Presence, Cultivating A Heart of Gratitude, Encountering God in the Messy, Encountering God in the Mundane, Family Moments, Give Me Grace, Grief and Loss, Learning Authenticity, Marriage, misc. walking with Jesus, One Word, Parenting, Presence, Unforced Rhythms. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Uncovering Sacred Flames {and Other Thoughts Upon Turning 34}

  1. Barbie says:

    A beautifully written reflection on the work of God in your life. I am envious of your small gathering, just your family. We had a house full, and while I love the holidays with extended family, sometimes the just the smaller ones are enough. Have a blessed week my friend. I pray your birthday was a wonderful one.
    Barbie recently posted…The Weekend Brew: What Will You Bring The King? (By Mary Geisen)My Profile

  2. Tara says:

    Dana, my friend, you are such a gift. Stan and you are doing the best you can. And Jesus knows and sees that. I am reminded of the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9. It seems to me that Stan and you are doing those things with your little ones. What a great list of things you’ve learned. I loved your one about poetry. Poetry is something I love to do. In many ways, my poems are my prayers to God. I am so thankful for you dear friend! Your presence blesses my life! Love ya!!!
    Tara recently posted…Gift Giving and Receiving (Five Minute Friday)My Profile

  3. Joanne Viola says:

    Dana, beautiful post. This line spoke so deeply >>> “The unzipping of our souls is all at once messy and sweet, painful and profound, and our hearts connect…”. Those moments of being unzipped before one another & our God are truly precious. We had one of those this week, not face to face due to circumstances, but through texting which was even more precious to me as my husband is not one to text. It is in those moments of unzipping & zipping back up that I discover the mystery of marriage, and the greater mystery of our God for once zipped back up, we find ourselves stronger. His Presence & peace fully realized. And the power of love recognized. Grateful to have read this post this morning. Grateful you shared your heart!
    Joanne Viola recently posted…The Random TwoMy Profile

  4. Mary Geisen says:

    Sweet Dana! Happy birthday again and might I add the parenting gig is always an adventure and a time of challenges and pure joy! May you feel God’s loving hand holding yours as you walk forward into this next year. You are an amazing treasure and I pray our paths cross again that we can dig into each other’s stories more deeply. Love you friend!
    Mary Geisen recently posted…What Will You Bring the King?…The Weekend BrewMy Profile

  5. marvia says:

    So much yes to #3. I don’t think there’s a Christ follower on earth who could truthfully deny the paradoxes of living a faith-filled life. The older I get, the more questions I have that don’t have clear answers, so I lean in more. I don’t get the answers I want, but I’m still leaning in and getting a little less uncomfortable. It’s a growth process for me. Thank you for sharing your heart.
    marvia recently posted…When I Need HealingMy Profile

  6. Happy Birthday Dana! I love your observations, You are a beautiful woman, inside and out!

  7. Jane H says:

    Dana, We share the same birthday though I’m more than 20 years older than you. But how I remember the busyness and sometimes crazy days of being a parent to 3 littles. Such a time of joy….most of the time, but sometimes….whoa! I love reading and seeing how the Lord is working in your life as a woman, a wife and a mom. Strong women are born in November….nice to know another one.

  8. Gayl says:

    Happy Birthday, Dana. Your post reminds me of when we were raising our children. How true it is we need Jesus every step of the way. It seemed like whenever we would get into a routine and think that we could now relax, things would change and we’d have something new to figure out. But that’s the way life is. Nothing is stagnant. We and our children continue to grow and learn and we have to be ready to make changes as God teaches us and leads us.
    Gayl recently posted…Taking Time to PauseMy Profile

  9. Jolene says:

    I need to work on that staying mostly calm part in the midst of the chaos that comes with parenting. Especially since both of my daughters have a flair for the dramatic. I am learning that I need to react less and prayer more. Thank you so much for sharing your heart about Thanksgiving and your birthday.
    Jolene recently posted…Multitude Monday 1,000 gifts The Monday after Thanskgiving editionMy Profile

  10. Amber C. says:

    Dana, you’re crossing over to 34 just a month and a half before me – yet another thing that makes me smile with you as one of my traveling companions. Your heart, spilled open and webbing here and there is always this pure, holy beauty to me. I completely feel you on loving the nuance of poetry so much more than I ever did, of not even needing to comprehend it with my mind, it just seeps straight done into my spirit and lodges there. I am so grateful you had this time of connecting, reaffirming each other with Stan and on your own at Starbucks, and – I just love you, sister.
    Amber C. recently posted…The ache of Advent: giving upMy Profile

  11. Natalie says:

    Learning to love paradox. That’s growth. And a beautiful thing to see. I’ve seen the things you write of in my own life as I age and I agree, I–usually–wouldn’t trade the things that brought me to where I am. Happy birthday. I’ve got a near Thanksgiving one, myself.
    Natalie recently posted…AnchorMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge