March 11, 1992.
26 years later.
Although it feels completely self-absorbed to be excited about my own birthday, I haven't felt this way about a birthday in years. And I think it's because my birthday doesn't just feel like another year passed by this time around. It feels like a true celebration-- of my community, of who God is to me now, of what it really means to have faith-- beyond myself. An acknowledgement of both God's faithfulness and His grace; He was constantly holding my hand the past 12 months while also fervently working in my heart to let go of the not-so-great. It was a dance, and although one I wasn't always a willing participant, I am so thankful for it now.
So many of us look forward to New Years Eve so we can reset and start fresh. My birthday this year is feeling like all the New Years Eve celebrations combined into one day minus the sparkly dresses and tacky ball drop. There is something so sweet about the love of a Father who desires us to learn and grow from the past, but ultimately, just wants us to be close to Him. That the past is best used as a reminder we are being made into someone new. My 25th year made that feel more real than ever, and for that reason, my birthday has felt like more than just a birthday this year. I think He is using March 11th as a way to say, "Anna, don't you see? I've always been here and I'm not going anywhere."
The picture above was taken by my friend, Brooke, a few months back on a random December afternoon. We had fun running around a beautiful area of Nashville and shooting whatever caught our eye. She ended the shoot taking pictures of me in front of an old historic home in South Nashville. At that point in the day, I was in such a good mood, I didn't mind being the center of attention (as you can see). I think that's why I like the collection of photos from that day so much-- running around outside, being goofy, enjoying time with a close friend-- was the biggest breath of fresh air. Everything else going on in my life didn't matter that day. I don't think it ever really did anyways.
Twenty six years on earth, twenty six things I want to remember when I look back on my 25th year:
1. I want to prioritize my relationship with my parents, no matter my age or stage in life.
2. Both deep grief and deep joy can exist simultaneously (thanks, Tessa).
3. Three moves within one year. Floods, nights in hotels, using my car as a closet, a handful of roommates, etc. but I always had a roof over my head!
4. I stood next to my childhood friend, Kelsey, at her wedding in June. It was one of the most beautiful days I've ever witnessed.
5. I crossed an item off my bucket list when I saw John Mayer live at Bridgestone (and cried through a large portion of it).
6. Nashville, you are still the best.
7. I made it through my first full year of counseling and it was a miracle in the making.
8. I now enjoy (most) country music. It's true. Proof that God works in mysterious ways, y'all!
9. I always thought I was a Type 4 on the Enneagram, but this year showed me I am a total Type 2 with a 3 wing. Three cheers for self awareness!
10. I learned how to play the electric guitar (okay, actually, just one song but whatever).
11. My small group of women from church were a constant in my life. We stuck by one another through thick and thin, meeting every single week to encourage and support one another. They have been teaching me what commitment looks like in such a real way.
12. The arrival of your mid-twenties doesn't mean your friend group is set in stone. I met a handful of new people in Nashville this year I now call good friends!
13. Car payments are... unfortunate.
14. This year I went through the highs of excitement and lows of disappointment and hurt in romantic relationships, and through this, experienced the deep need to surrender to the "No's" and "Not Now's". I saw firsthand the importance of clarity and intentionality when it comes to dating. In all this God really revealed to me what a healthy marriage can look like and how putting Him first in relationships is the best (and only) way to go.
15. As a young girl I wanted to be an architect or marine biologist when I grew up. Now I just want to be Mandy Moore.
16. I entered into multiple conversations about the church and how it has deeply hurt so many people. About how Christianity can bring about feelings of shame for so many. I learned I truly need a supernatural God because I don't have all the answers.
17. I still get vulnerability hangover after I write a post, but every time I write, God reveals something new about Himself to me. I've vowed this year I won't stop writing anytime soon!
18. This entire year the thought of adopting a child someday has been so heavy on my heart. I think I'd love to adopt in the future.
19. After doing Whole 30, I am officially addicted to almond butter. My body is now probably made up of 62% almond butter.
20. Some things you can only learn in the dark. Sometimes it takes coming back to the light to see God was there all along.
21. I still love being around the game of basketball, whether I'm playing or watching. It's been so fun to watch my best friends coach at my alma mater. Becoming a coach is sounding more and more appealing! I'm hoping to look into coaching a middle school team this coming year. You gotta start somewhere, right?
22. Love confronts issues not because they're wrong but because they're killing us. God is going to fight for us to live to the full, even if it hurts in the moment.
23. I thought I enjoyed long distance running. Now that I am training for a half marathon, I am learning that is not the case.
24. Tattoos hurt (sorry, Nana)!
25. God is not only kind and loving, but He is crazy jealous for my heart. He wants me to know Him fully and deeply.
26. I am pursued. I am worthy. I am loved.
25, you were an intense but beautiful year. I am so grateful for the ways God worked the past 12 months, but I am also so excited and relieved to start fresh. There is so much more to me than yesterday.
This is grace.
Thank you to all of you for being a huge part of 25!