i recently turned the big 2-7 …. yes, you read that right. some days i feel like 27 is wicked old, and sometimes i feel like i have a whole life ahead of me. both are true.
but it was a great birthday, all the way around. we celebrated for about two weeks! my family started early- the sunday before- my sister continued it, the guys in my office made the actual day really fun, and my sweet friend julie and i went to new york city for the weekend. and then to top it off, a bunch of friends came over the next wednesday evening and we had a chill bonfire and hangout. its been a really rich year- great friends, lots of growing, awesome experiences, and a deep-seated knowledge that i am loved and that God is working in me and has huge plans for me.
……. now, about new york! so amazing. wish we had been able to spend more time …. we left after work on thursday (the actual birthday) and drove up. we were able to stay with our awesome friend nick’s mom in brooklyn. she is the absolute sweetest!! friday we wandered around brooklyn waiting for nick to get off of work, then we took the subway into manhattan. whoa. it was my first trip to the big apple …. and when we came out of the subway, nick and julie just laughed at me- i’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open for a few hours straight. julie said i didn’t talk for about an hour- i was so busy soaking in sights! we got to catch up with my sweet friend carlos at his office (he heads up the kids with a promise leadership academy at the bowery mission). so good to see him! we have been friends since WOLBI days (and i’m not saying how many years that has been!) we walked around manhattan for a few hours- rode the ferris wheel in the toys r us in times square, ate delicious thai food, and had cheesecake and coffee at junior’s- which is supposedly the best cheesecake in nyc! and it was delicious. saturday julie and i navigated manhattan by ourselves (eek!!)- we hit up chinatown and shopped …. and then we went to see MARY POPPINS ON BROADWAY!!!!! (we were/are very excited and it was amazing!!!!!!!) we got great seats and cheap student tickets (the REAL reason i’m going to be in school forever is that students get discounts on awesome things. haha). then we got to hang out with our awesome friend brian …. known round these parts as tex. he treated us to pinkberry …. which was definitely a treat! yum and yum. and so good to see brian and hear about his past year living in the city.
it was awesome to talk to nick, carlos, and brian about the work they are seeing the lord do in the city- they all work with different churches, but are all reporting some great things. lots of challenges, but a lot of progress and movement as well. we got to go to nick’s church on sunday …. and whoa. <a moment of background: i usually don’t like to visit other churches. i have been very spoiled by the excellent teaching, amazing worship, and the atmosphere in my church (brentwood church) so i can tend to be critical of other churches. and it seems that a lot of the other churches i visit are little southern country churches where the pastor has a twang, terrible grammar, and poor hermeneutics.> walking into salem church on staten island was a sweet thing. its an amazing thing to walk into a church and immediately feel the holy spirit all over it in a tangible way. from the people we met, to the worship, to the preaching of the word …. the holy spirit is up to some amazing things in that church. what a blessing!! i can’t wait to go back …. so much we didn’t get to see in manhattan, and there are some sweet friends i’d love to spend more time with. and i can’t wait to hear about and maybe get to have a small part in what God’s up to there.
wednesday a bunch of my friends came over and we had a bonfire in my backyard. so far, it sounds a lot like last year’s party …. and like last year, there was a cop there! but this time it was by direct invitation and not because of thugs who tried to crash my party and punch a few of my friends in the face. so now i’m that girl who has the kind of parties that cops have to come to. nice. but it was a lot of fun, really relaxing, and i loved having a bunch of friends under my roof at one time.
just some blessings from the year i was 26:
- -great roommates
- -amazing church: God is up to some big things in brentwood church …. love it!
- -getting the bulk of my MAR done. one step closer to being able to teach! and getting it for free!
- -new job. i love the guys i work with- such a challenge! and while sometimes the level of testosterone dictates that i should just go for a walk, they are great and a huge blessing.
- -friendships that sharpen me. maria, julie, my sister, carter, nick, aaron, drew, …. and so many more. these people know my junk and still love me …. enough to call me out and help me change to be more like Christ.
- -my family. i can’t say enough about how amazing my parents and my sister are. my parents are a terrific example of what a godly marriage looks like, and they strike a great balance with me between being my friends and still being my parents. and my sister is the other half of my soul- my best friend.
- -great travels! i’ve been able to go on a recruiting trip for the seminary, visit friends in the VA beach area, and explore nyc a bit. love it! i’m making a list for my 27th year
- -ministry opportunities: i got to lead an awesome small group last year! wonderful ladies, great fellowship, and i got to sharpen my teaching skills. win-win! this year the lord has brought me a few girls to disciple and i love the challenge and fun of those relationships. and there is something awesome in the works for a teaching opportunity at church starting in the spring.
- -the overwhelming amount of grace i’ve seen in my life this year. i’m a dumb girl ….. and i make dumb choices and i do dumb things when left to my own devices. but thankfully the lord knows that and doesn’t leave me to my own devices. i look at the last year and very clearly see the hand of the lord pushing me toward or pulling me away from certain situations. i’m so thankful for his relentless love and tangible presence in my life.
there’s more coming …. i’m percolating some deeper thoughts, but they need to steep some more before hitting the general public. so tune in later …..
but in the mean time, think about this for awhile.
“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” (hosea 6:1)
i am an idolater, and an adulterer. i turn my back on a daily basis on the one who dreamed me into being, who redeemed my life from the pit, and whose hand holds me fast. and that necessitates that he discipline me, even to the point of tearing away from me the things that i try in vain to replace him with. but the beauty of this is that while he is wounding me, he is still holding me …. and his hands are binding the wounds and comforting me in my ensuing brokenness. the wounds leave scars, but they serve as remembrances of his hand on me. we must be broken down before we can be rebuilt. the scars are testimonies of the grace that chases us into sanctification and will eventually make us perfect. bandages are evidence that we are loved. scars are trophies of grace.