March 11, 1992.
27 years later.
One year ago I made a list of 26 things I never wanted to forget about my 25th year of life. It was a fun way to remind myself of all the ways God revealed Himself throughout my year! I wanted to do the same for my 26th year, which turned out to be one of my favorite years to date. A year hidden with the Lord in so many ways, away from the crowds and voices of approval I feasted on the year prior. It was a first for me, honestly. In the quiet I wrestled with Him and asked a lot of questions. In the quiet I felt loved more than I ever have before. This year was special.
I hate to say “here are all the lessons I learned” and then jump to the next year. I don’t believe I have a God who just teaches lessons. That would be terrible, actually. I guess you could say this year I knew more. I didn’t gain copious amounts of knowledge or become overwhelmingly confident in where I was heading next in my career. I didn’t meet a man and know he was the one I would marry. None of this came to be. In fact, I feel like my human “knowing” became less and less.
I knew more this year because I was with God more than ever before. For a long time God was someone I admired. Someone I liked. Now He is the only one I can’t live without. I cried a lot this year, both in sweet times and difficult times, and in the midst of it all felt that thing we call “the peace that passes understanding.” Over and over again I laughed as tears were falling down my face, and I stopped apologizing for it. I also had extravagant amounts of fun and adventure this year, a reminder we have a God who is extravagant in the way He loves.
I don’t want to settle for anything less than His best for me, but it doesn’t mean I don’t entertain the thought every single day of my life. Lately I’ve felt a holy discontentment for the things He doesn’t want for me, and I’m asking Him to keep this alive and well this year. To be less attracted to the mediocre realities in front of me and more attracted to His mystery. This is my hope for 27.
Twenty seven years on earth, twenty seven things I want to remember when I look back on my 26th year:
1. For the first time in my life, I began to very, very intentionally pray for specifics in my life. I saw God move mountains in ways that SIDE SWEPT me. He showed up in my life in crazy ways because my eyes and heart were simply open. Prayer has always been connected to performance for me. I’m grateful the true definition of prayer is starting to make it’s way into my life.
2. My little brother got engaged to his girlfriend, Morgan! They kept the whole thing a secret for almost a month so they could tell me in-person when I arrived home for Christmas. They are the sweetest. I’m so excited to finally have a sister!
3. I began volunteering for Big Brothers, Big Sisters last summer. My little sister, Andrienna, is a sassy, intelligent and amazingly loving 10-year-old. She brings out every ounce of impatience in me. One time she walked to the bathroom in the middle of the Mary Poppins movie and set off the security alarm. I was immediately embarrassed and wanted to scold her, until she ran down the movie theater hallway crying and jumped into my arms. She’s my buddy.
4. I visited Southern California last March for the first time since living there for a summer back in 2012. I loved being back in SoCal, and honestly, it felt like coming home in a way I wasn’t expecting. My mom was born in Huntington Beach so it’s all in the blood! There aren’t many moments in life that come with a perfectly tied bow, but this trip felt like a full circle moment with God. His faithfulness was on glorious display the entire trip. My life has changed so much since I lived in California. He has always stayed the same.
5. Witnessed some of my closest pals— Marietta, Alyssa, and Kacky— get married this past year. Each wedding was so uniquely them.
6. Nashville, you still give me all the warm and fuzzy feelings of being home.
7. I completed my first 18-month season of counseling back in December 2018. The morning of my last session, I woke up to flowers on my kitchen counter from my parents. I’ll never forget it.
8. I saw Tori Kelly at the Ryman last November and her a cappella version of “It Is Well” crushed my soul into a thousand tiny pieces.
9. The concept of time has felt weight-y this year. Someone said to me, “I want to be a young mom so I don’t want to have kids after 32.” I understand the thought but honestly the comment freaked me out. The fear in my own heart eventually pointed me back to what God says about time and how I need to daily die to my own timeline for my life.
10. I went on a weekend roadtrip to Asheville, NC in the fall with my co-workers Liz, Rachel, and Kenzie. I have to say Asheville has become one my favorite Southern cities. We hiked to a gorgeous waterfall, wore matching pajamas at our cabin, ate homemade donuts at Hole (everyone go there if you visit Asheville), sang 80s and 90s hits for hours, watched the sunrise over the mountains, and drank champagne at the coolest little bookstore.
11. I listened to “As I Am” by H.E.R. at least 200 times. She is pure, stellar talent!
12. Favorite books of 26: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Eternity Is Now In Session by John Ortberg, Rooted by Banning Liebscher, Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
13. My friend Emily and I had a conversation about women in leadership, specifically in the context of the church. With a strong cultural focus on women’s rights in the U.S. right now (which, by the way, I am all for female equality), it’s brought up a lot of questions in my own heart. I certainly don’t have clear answers, but I know the ultimate goal is not to have women in leadership. It’s to have no other name then Jesus at the center of our hearts. My prayer is that both men and women further His kingdom, together, for His glory.
14. If you’re curious from my post last year, then yes, my body is still made up mostly of almond butter.
15. I spent my 26th year as a single lass. This relational status does not hold ultimate weight, which I’m so grateful for, but this article by Paige Benton Brown says what I would like to say about singleness. If this is where the Lord has me now, whether I’m at peace with it or I absolutely hate it, it is His best. In the words of Paige, “I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one.” Praying if marriage is in His plan for me, that I would keep my hands open to it this year without expectation.
16. I began regularly babysitting for a family of three boys and I’ve fallen in love with them as neighbors and friends. The 4 and 2 year old showed up at my door on Valentine’s Day this year wearing bowties holding long stemmed roses and MY HEART WAS NOT OKAY.
17. I spent 4 days in New York City with my college pal, Court, and it was one of the most magical trips of my existence. We walked from the Upper East Side to Brooklyn in one shot, saw Waitress on Broadway, ate soup dumplings and cookies from Milk, etc. Head over heels in love with that city!
18. Last January I met my prior roommate, Paige Goodie, and now my life is exponentially more joyful.
19. I talked about water heaters and small electronics insurance 5 days out of the week. It’s not sexy but it’s real life, and honestly, I’m starting to become a real nerd on it all (and am somewhat enjoying it).
20. I discovered a magical man named Graham Cooke. In one of his podcast episodes, he talks about this concept of God always moving us into the opposite spirit for a greater “instead.” He’s working on our behalf to bring us opportunities for greater joy, greater peace, even greater friendships. I found myself in unexpected friendships this year. I saw Jesus move in crazy who-would-have-ever-thought ways to weave stories together, and now because of His kindness, I get to call them my friends.
21. harbored the biggest crush on Aodhan King from Hillsong United and I had to stop following him on social media when he got a girlfriend LOL. Am I 12 years old? Maybe.
22. Another year in the books with my small group gals. A much wiser woman asked me if I was beginning to believe I, as a leader, was the one saving others. I really think I was starting to believe it. This past semester I apologized and simply worked on providing space for the Holy Spirit to work. I’ve watched women in my group grow in unimaginable ways. At the end of it all, they’re some of my best friends who I trust with my doubts and my questioning. I’m so, so, so grateful.
23. I sat down to lunch this past month with an author and speaker I’ve admired for years. She had just returned to Nashville from Dallas after speaking in front of thousands, and there she was, sitting 3 feet from me. She was meek, kind, and surprisingly quiet. I went in thinking I would ask her a list of questions about women in ministry and get all my questions met. What came out of it instead was a blunt conversation about feeling restless, lonely and, honestly, bored. We talked about what it looks like when the Lord is asking you to leave and when He is asking you to stay.
24. I’ve been friends with Kate since I was 3 years old. In February she asked me to be her maid of honor. How fun is that?!
25. Close to 6 months of prayer went into a decision that birthed out of 26. It caught me by complete surprise. This summer I will begin seminary at Reformed Theological at their Nashville campus.
26. It turns out flooding is a common theme in my life, as it was this year yet again, but time after time it has lead me to new roommates I now call close friends. I’m expectant for this year’s new spot with my roommate, Jess! (On higher ground in a third floor apartment. Praise.)
27. Ephesians 5:8 tells us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” I was once dead, but now I am alive. 26 let in so much of this light and I’ll never forget it. Here’s to living in the light, forevermore.