Journey in a year.


As promised, I went through nearly all of my blog posts from the year to pick our my personal favorites to share with you.  (actually, as I write this, I’m only on July… so no promises that I’ll make it all the way through.)

It was good food for thought to read through these posts, to see how I’ve grown, to see what’s still the same.  I picked out one from every month of the year to highlight.  Take a read of some if you have a chance:

January:  “Fail”

February: “Obligatory Valentines”

March: “Really, Truly Real.”

April: “Promises, Promises.”

May: “Graduation Eve jaunt into the future.”

June: “Just in case you’re wondering what my perfect day would look like.”

honorable mention for June: the fictional tales of people on vacation, one of which is recorded here: “their stories: the cupcake place” and here: “my story: Bro-Am”.

July: “Another Friday.” 

August: “An encounter with lovely.”

September: “Future Olympic Champion, ready made.”

honorable mention for September: “Post Office Lovin.”

October: “Dear Doppelgänger” (actually my top post, views-wise, for 2012! not giving up hope that she’ll read it someday.)

November: “How to get rid of a telemarketer.”

Thanks for sticking with me on this journey through 2012.  What are your 2012 highlights?

 

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2012 in review.


It’s been an incredible year here at Journey to Who I Want to Be.

And I say that like it’s a big production.  We all know it’s really just me and Matilda here, which makes one live person.  One of my favorites parts of being on WordPress is that the “monkeys” (I have no idea why they call it that) at WordPress prepare a year-end report about each blog.  There’s a small excerpt from it below, and you can click the link to see the rest.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 12 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

The big numbers are all very exciting.  It’s incredible to me how effectively the internet can bring people from all over the world together.  You have something in common with people in 52 countries of the world – this blog here.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading.  And not just for reading, but for your kind words as well.  Many of you have told me how much you enjoy reading my posts, and each time it affirms my calling.  I’m so thankful to you.

WordPress put together a list of the top 5 most popular posts, but for tomorrow, I’m going to give you my top 5 favorite posts – the ones that were most exciting to write, the ones that hold the most meaning to me.

In the meantime, I’m curious.  Do you have any favorites?  Comment with a link if you do.

And thank you again, all you wonderful readers.

Certainties for 2013.


This entire past week has felt like a series of Saturdays, partly because I’ve been home so much with my family, and my dad has been home all week.
Life is good; I can’t complain.
I’ve been looking ahead at my calendar, and I discovered something that I thought might be pertinent.
2013 is coming in three days.
Has anyone told you about that?  Did you know that this was going to happen? I’ve barely gotten over the shock that it wasn’t 2011 anymore. This year has flown by so fast that I hardly feel like it’s fair to change it already.
In the face of the unknown, it helps to think of what I know for certain. (provided that the world continues to revolve for the entire 12 months)
1) Jesus is coming to 2013 with me (and you).
2) I’ll turn 19 this year. And eat red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting that day.
3) You’ll have a birthday too. And you can come to Chicago/Minneapolis and we can eat your favorite cake if you’d like.
4) There will be sunny days, rainy days, cloudy days, snowy days, and days when I don’t like the weather.
5) I’ll probably cry at some point this year, but I’m sure I’ll smile and laugh much more.
6) God will continually show me His incredible love with the people He’s placed in my life.
7) There will still be great need for us to show God’s love to the world.
And, last but not least:
Number 8) I will still be blogging!
Happy official Saturday, everyone. What’s certain for you in 2013?

Mistaken identity.


Dear Pope Benedict XVI,

I was mistaken about you.

Actually, I just didn’t know anything about you.  I knew you were the head of the Catholic church, but since I’m slightly ignorant of all things Catholic, I didn’t know that you were actually serious about it.

That sounds pretty dumb now that I put it in writing.  I suppose all the years of learning about the corrupt popes of earlier times made me think that perhaps the position was one of a figurehead now.  I assumed that you would be the type of Christian leader who takes the popular stance on the hard issues and excuses immorality to avoid getting flack.

I’m happy to say that I was dead wrong.

Thank you for standing up for what the Bible teaches, for using your immense influence and power to speak truth.  Thanks for getting a twitter so that anyone can hear from you.

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 12.17.13 PM Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 12.16.50 PM

Thanks for proving me wrong.  It’s nice to be surprised by character sometimes, since most people in the public eye don’t surprise us with anything good.

Happy New Year, Pontifex.

Snowy silence.


I’m still in the phase where winter is okay by me.  It’s cold, yes, and tonight as my friends and I walked to our cars in the cold, we complained a little.  Or I guess I should say that we “commented” on how cold it was.  It wasn’t really complaining.  We just kept ourselves in our own little huddles of self and coat til we got to our cars.

And the snow was falling steadily all evening long.

It’s been a few weeks since the last big snow, so the coating we had on the ground was starting to look a little dingy.  We needed a couple inches to clean everything up again, to renew it.

Nights when it snows are some of the most silent that I know of.  I mean, sometimes there are sirens of the people going to take care of the car wrecks and people honking at others who have forgotten how to drive in snow and therefore do dangerous things.  But it’s almost like the snow absorbs the noise of the night.  All the animals are hibernating or have migrated, so there’s no noise there.  It’s just peaceful silence.

I forget about silence sometimes.  I forget that it’s a good thing.  I forget that it can exist since my world is so noisy.

Noise wakes me up in the morning.  Coffeemakers are noisy, but necessary.  I listen to music all the time, since I love it, but I forget that sometimes silence sounds better and renews more.  I can mute the sounds on Matilda, but even as I type or click, there’s noise.  Click click click click.  taptaptap.  Click click click click clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick.

Before I know it, the noise has taken my day.  Even if it hasn’t been a particularly busy day, the noise has occupied the whole thing.

The silence during a snow recalls me to Psalm 46:10.  Be still, and know that I am God.  Be still.  Breathe in, watch the glittery snowflakes cover over the slushy brown stuff on the ground.  Know that He is God, that He renews, that He brings life.

Glittery snowfall, silent snowfall.  Slowly renewing what has been defiled, bringing a silent night to a noisy world.

Remember the post a while back when I said I was going to figure out what the purpose of winter was?  Well, maybe it’s so that we get quiet.  Maybe it’s to give us a change of scenery – more inside than out.  Maybe to give a little silence, to offer beautiful snowy nights.  Maybe.

Astounding.


Sometimes I come across a long-forgotten word that needs to be re-added to my vocabulary.  It’s like a reunion with an old friend.  Today, that word is “astounding.”

Astound, def: “shock or greatly surprise” (dictionary.com to the rescue)

synonyms: astonish – amaze – flabbergast – surprise – stupefy

As in:

The most astounding part of Christmas day was when my parents surprised me with a new guitar that I thought I wouldn’t be getting  until after Christmas.

Or:

But actually, the most astounding part of Christmas is in its history, in the story of the first Christmas when God came to earth in the form of a baby born in a stable.

The images that come to mind here of people who are astounded are of frozen, wide-eyed people with gaping mouths and slack jaws.  Sometimes hands are in the air in astonishment.  I think this word is on a whole nuther level from “surprise.”  You surprise someone by sticking a chocolate chip cookie and a note in their lunchbox.  You astonish them by showing up in the lunchroom with President Obama, who just dropped by on Air Force One to say “Happy Birthday, Billy.”

I don’t see this word used that often, except in book and movie reviews, oddly enough.  And perhaps that’s a look at my life, maybe yours too.  I’m not astonished very often.  I mean, I’m not some rough and tough, seen-it-all 18 year old (that’s on oxymoron right there).  I do jump when people come up behind me without my knowledge.  And I do jump when things happen suddenly in a movie.

But that’s surprise.  I picture astonishment as a moment outside of time, where you pause – whether because something is just so extraordinary that you can’t help it or because you stop for the purpose of noticing – and allow yourself to be astonished.  Maybe it’s about taking the time to be amazed.

I’m going to look for something astounding today.  Let me know if you happen across anything.

 

Frigid Christmas.


It’s hard to me to imagine the stable in Bethlehem minus the snow.  But I’m pretty sure that the Mediterranean (yep, just looked it up on wikipedia. no shame in that) climate would make that highly unlikely.  Good for Mary.  A stable would be enough of a discomfort while having a baby, without frigid temperatures and frozen precipitation.

This morning, I was going to keep reading in Psalms as I have been, but when I initially opened my Bible, it was to Esther chapter 3.  I normally would keep flipping til I got to my ribbon bookmark, but today I was drawn to that story.  Quick recap: Esther is Jewish.  Esther becomes the queen of Persia when King Xerxes decides to marry her (she’s gorgeous, apparently).  Haman is a highly ranked palace official, and Mordecai is Esther’s cousin-turned-adoptive-father who also “sits at the king’s gates” by occupation.

Since Mordecai is Jewish and worships God alone, he won’t bow to Haman.  Haman gets mad and decides to kill all the Jews. (little overreaction, huh?)  So he sets up a decree with the King.  Mordecai hears about this and convinces Esther that she needs to intervene.  So – long story short – Esther risks her life to convince the King to issue a decree that reverses the Jews’ fate.  Then Haman is killed instead of all of the Jews. (Questions?  read the book of Esther.)

There was a point to telling you all of that.  I promise.

That was a story of redemption.  It was a story of God using Esther to save His chosen people from destruction.  He used royalty and decrees to save His people from being killed – and to give them an opportunity to clear out the Amalekites (it’s in the story, not the recap).

What a stark contrast to the biggest redemption plan of them all!  Queen Esther, Baby Jesus… born in a cattle stall… to an unwed couple… with shepherds as the first visitors (apparently a lot of shepherds in that day were ex-cons, also very low in the social ladder)… and almost as soon as He is born, Herod tried to kill Him.

It’s a humble beginning for Jesus. Every human element in this story is about as humble as it can be.  Young girl, with really nothing to recommend her to be Jesus’ mother other than the fact that she was obedient when asked.  An undoubtedly dingy and smelly stable where animals witnessed the birth.  No room in the inn for the King of the world.  Shepherds come with nothing to offer – and the wise men come late since they had such a long distance to travel.

The angels are really the only thing to jazz this event up.  They’re definitely not a human element, and they serve to guide the lowly shepherds to meet the baby.

I bet that totally changed the shepherds’ lives.  Talk about an encounter with God.

Why come so humbly?  Just to shake things up?  I suppose if He’d come as people expected, as a king with power and an army, anyone could recognize that He was Lord.  If he comes as a baby and is known for preaching the kingdom of God and living it out as he gets older and begins his ministry, it takes a real seeker to acknowledge Him as Lord.  Maybe that’s not God’s reasoning.  All I know is that it shows great love for the God of the universe to step down from the throne in the perfectness of Heaven to be born in a stable.

What wondrous love is this.

 

multivitamins and soup.


I ate soup for dinner this evening.  Either I didn’t microwave it long enough or I waited too long to consume it.  Thus, it was a little bit lukewarm, but I had already put my crackers in it.  I needed to eat it as it was since microwaving would have made the crackers all soggy and gross.

It wasn’t terrible to swallow.  There was just a bit of regret that went along with it, a little bit of unpleasantness, knowing that it could have been better.

Sometimes I have to swallow other things that aren’t too pleasant either.  Sometimes it’s my pride.  There are far more opportunities to do this than I actually take.  Swallowing pride means that you have to swallow a couple of other things along with it, on occasion.  Sometimes you have to swallow your desire to make people understand you and your motivation (and if you’re an INFJ like me, that’s pretty hard since one of our deepest desires is to be understood).  Sometimes you have to swallow your desire to give someone a piece of your mind in addition to acknowledging that they’re at least they’re partly right.

Pride is a kind of chunky, misshapen thing to swallow.  It takes effort.  It doesn’t happen on accident.  But maybe it acts kind of like a multivitamin, and not the gummy bear, chewy kinds that actually taste good.  It’s one of those bulky ones that are dry and hard to get all the way down your throat.  And sometimes it gets stuck in your esophagus so you have to eat crackers and drink three gallons of water before you feel normal again. (disclaimer: don’t actually drink 3 gallons of water at once.  bad idea.)

But chunky multivitamins are good for you.  And other people are often glad to see you taking them.  So, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

If there’s any time of the year for it, it’s now.

Receiving.


I’m not sure what’s up with this those post-blogs-while-it’s-barely-still-today thing I’ve got going, but I think it means that I need to start going to bed earlier.  I’ve always been a firm believer that nothing good happens after midnight, but sometimes good things happen after ten pm.  I’ll give you that, you night owls who may be reading.

I spent an evening with one of my dearest friends, decorating at least 200 sugar cookies, catching up on life, playing her guitar, and praying together.  I left feeling so full (partly because I was sent home with two containers full of cookies), mostly because it’s the kind of relationship that refreshes rather than empties.

I want to be a refresher, to be a presence that gives instead of taking.  Then again, there is a place for taking.  I have a hard time doing that sometimes.  It’s hard for me to accept things from people.  I take after my Grandma in this respect.  She comes to visit us and won’t let us wait on her (though we’ve learned to insist).  Oh, you just let me wash the dishes and give you a twenty dollar bill and sit in the back seat of the car where there isn’t any leg room.  Then I’ll go sit in the corner, and you won’t even know I’m here! She’s sweet as can be, the most giving person there is.  But it’s hard to give to her.  Not that she doesn’t appreciate it, not that she doesn’t love the things we do for her, but she feels bad if we go out of our way.

I don’t want to put anyone out for my sake.  But it really does give me joy to put myself out, to go a few extra miles on a dirt road without adequate footwear for someone else.  Not because I’m such a saint or anything, that’s just the way giving works.  So, when I can’t accept other people’s giving to me, I’m really robbing them of the joy of giving.

There’s humility in receiving.  It seems backwards, but it’s true.  It is truly more blessed to give than to receive, but in order to give, someone has to receive, and to receive well, graciously.

There’s another thing for me to work on. Good thing God isn’t finished with me yet.

divinely rolling with the punches.


I believe in divine appointments.  I kind of thought I was making one when I called the salon on Wednesday.  Yes.  12:15 sounds great.  uh-huh.  We’ll see you then.  Thanks so much.

12:15.  Right, so when I dropped Brooke at an intersection in uptown Minneapolis, telling her to go check in (while I successfully parallel parked, amid impatient drivers), I was thinking I’d have a new ‘do within an hour or so.

Instead, I found myself in a movie theater, watching Anna Karenina.  Bunny trail: If you read the book, see the movie.  It was fabulous, and so true to the themes and messages and characters in that brilliant work.  If you didn’t read the book, you probably won’t be able to appreciate the unique staging and some of the nuances of the movie, but I bet you’ll still follow the general storyline all right… and you might even enjoy it.

Back to my story: I thought the appointment was at 12:15.  I think that’s what the lady on the phone said.  I’m like 99% sure that’s what we agreed on.  But, then again, my hearing isn’t super great. I may have heard what I wanted to hear.  Anyways, the salon said, nope, your appointments are at 5:15.  

What are two young gals to do in uptown Minneapolis for five hours?  Answer: shop for spices at Penzey’s, sneak french fries into Anna Karenina, enjoy Anna Karenina, and go to the quirky bookstore while you wait for your appointments.

It wasn’t planned, but it turned out well.  And that’s not even the end of it.

I usually get my hair done by a stylist in Wayzata.  (and by usually, I mean that every two months I head over there, desperate for a trim) She’s fast, thinks I’m sweet, knows my hair at least as well as I do, and we have a good time.  I was looking forward to seeing her when I came home.

But when I found myself in Sophia’s chair, hearing about how she’s living her dream, how she’s grounded in faith and wants the same for her 16 year old son, I think God had a different appointment in mind for me.  Granted, it took double the time that it normally does since she was a little newer to the trade. It was well worth the time spent.

We were late for dinner, and nothing turned out how we planned it today, but it was lovely.  I guess sometimes you just roll with the punches, see a movie, and end up in a different stylist’s chair.


And you have a good day.