2015’s Testimony


I’m quickly realizing that 2015 was one of my most documented years (other than my months of study abroad, where every meal was documented). So in looking back at what happened, the pictures say much of it best.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and there are over 100 in here, so I’ll let them speak for the most part. They convey the spirit of 2015 well, but there’s a lot that wasn’t documented because it couldn’t be.

Like the month I didn’t have a phone. I was off the grid for a while. And you won’t see pictures of the classes I took or meetings I had. You won’t see pictures of hours and hours spent at a study carrel in the library or sitting on my favorite couch homeworking. Or when I was trying to do homework and getting distracted.

You won’t see pictures of heartfelt conversations or prayers said or sermons heard  or books read or tasks completed. Those may have been the most significant moments.

Life is not lived on camera, even if you’re on reality tv. At least, not the best life. The flies on the walls of our lives have a better view. They see discouragement before it turns into hope and fear before it resolves to courage and happiness before disillusionment.

The pictures do help though. It’s pieces of a year. Here’s the abridged version of my 2015!

February: Liesel helped me dye my hair bright red. Did I know it would be that bright? No.

I took my first business trips to St. Louis for a sales conference (where I realized I’m not really a sales person) and for a fashion revolution celebration.

Spent a lot of time with these cuties, eating ice cream, playing in the sunshine, being silly.

Watched some of the coolest people play music: Switchfoot, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Needtobreathe, Ben Rector, Judah & the Lion. Brooke passed out on me at one of those concerts, and it was super scary but we learned an important lesson about hydration on super hot days when you’ve been standing outside for 6 hours.

Two of my friends married each other! And some high school friends and I got to witness the blessed event.

And there were friends. So many, doing so many things. Eating (often), holding the Genovian flag, seeing Broadway shows, painting, asking Siri if she has a personal relationship with Jesus, making soup, walking a long way in the snow to get to church, holding a stuffed platypus.

There were holidays; we celebrated them together.

I lived in a house in the fall. You already know about that.

I hung out with my parents more than before. Dad and I went to a food truck fair, Mom and I worked at Art2Heart together, there was mini golf, there were car trips.

There were some personal accomplishments, like working full-time (represented by the branded cookies), writing a memoir, finishing that darn to-do list, helping change my own car battery (let’s be real, I didn’t do much of it, but I watched), and graduated.

There were Twins games! I saw them win like once, and Tori Hunter got real mad at one of them. A sight to behold.

I got to spend quality time with my sissy. She visited me twice in Chicago (once when I was phoneless), and once we rode the Megabus together… not something we’re going to do again. There’s nothing like sisterhood.

I visited family, and they visited me! It was a year of reconnecting and discovering that I am master of my own time as an adult and am capable of purchasing plane tickets.

And there we have it. A year for the books, 12 months of life wrapped up.

And that’s not all of it, because there’s always more than what we see. Probably more happened than I could even remember.

You could apply most adjectives to this year and find they stick in some way or another.

Now, onward to 2016, where the path in unknown, but the Partner is certain.

Overgrown


Age has to do with development or length of existence, according to Webster’s. It refers to how long you’ve been around and your capacity to act like it. Like when people say, “That guy’s 20 years old, but he acts like a 15-year-old.”

My cousins and I went to the pool today. I had to get a guest pass since I’m not part of their homeowner’s association, so we went over to the Member Services desk. Hailey gave her card to prove that she’s a legitimate member.

Then the lady behind the desk asked me how old I am.

I was surprised because that’s not something people ask much anymore. I guess I’m getting old enough that people abide by the “never ask a lady her age” maxim. They’ll usually just say something like, “Oh are you in college now? Those are the best years of your life!” (a rather depressing sentiment that I’m planning to prove untrue).

“21.” I replied, sure it was just a field they had to fill in for the pass. Or maybe wanting to know how much to charge me. I’ve been signing forms without a parent/guardian signature, filling out my own health records, and being my own spokesperson for a few years now, so I hardly thought she wanted to know to make sure I wasn’t a minor.

She looked like she thought she hadn’t heard me right, so I repeated the number, a little louder. I swallow syllables sometimes.

She shook her head. “I thought you were just a tall 16-year-old. You probably get that a lot.”

NO, NO, MA’AM, I DO NOT GET THAT A LOT. I’M AN ADULT.

I small-laughed (you know, like you do when you’d rather not laugh but feel like it’s the most socially appropriate response to the situation). “It’s probably because I’m not wearing makeup.”

I thought about it later, the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt and jean shorts and carrying a pink crossbody bag. That was probably it. I usually want to read into things like that, to assign motive. You just don’t want to take me seriously. Or I’m not wearing club attire, so you assume I’m juvenile? My mom is typically that one to back me down from that. “She’s just a bad judge of age,” she’d say. “It’s a compliment. You’ll be glad to look younger than you are when you’re 40.”

It took me a few minutes to shake that off (watch this to see what happens in my mind while I do that). Am I gangly? Is that it? You’re just an overgrown teenager. No, I’m not. She just doesn’t know. She doesn’t know me. We didn’t have a conversation. She’s not demeaning my intelligence. She just thinks I look younger. That’s all. 

But eventually, I got there. I filed it away in the “Things You Will Appreciate Later” file and made a mental note to keep moisturizing well.

Firsts.


There are a lot of “firsts” in growing up. First steps, first words, first night with a dry diaper, first day of kindergarten (and yes, there is a lot of time in between the dry diaper and kindergarten), first friend, first enemy, first crush, first sports team, first softball to the face, first experience with cliques, first time wearing makeup, first heartbreak, first leadership experience, first letter from a prospective college, first diploma, first time living away from home…

And then you have your first business trip. I don’t know that everyone takes their first prior to their twenty-first birthday, but some do. Like me.

Does everyone laugh at the absurdity of their position at each of these forays into adulthood? Haha, look at me, driving down the highway in St. Louis on a business trip. Heehee, I’m going to a sales training where the instructor will wear a suit and use lots of acronyms… and even funnier, I’ll actually understand and benefit from what he says.

Does anyone else just slap the steering wheel of their boss’s car, which they are borrowing for the weekend, chuckle, and say, “God, what are we doing?”

Especially when you’ve gotten yourself successfully around the city for the first half of the day, but then your phone dies, and that’s actually when you needed that handy dandy navigation feature, and it’s dead now. No, really, God, what are we doing? And where am I?

My roommate started taking people’s blood pressure this week and got a big bag full of practice needles (*shudder*) and catheters and other fun, medical-y things. She’s taking a big foray into adulthood, too. And in a couple years, we and all our friends will have degrees.

Today, I got up at six for the second day in a row. Sign number one that this is an adult weekend. I parallel parked successfully and rejoiced at my abilities. But then I’d driven around so much looking for a parking spot that I couldn’t remember where the coffee shop was that I was actually going.

Eventually, I found my way to the mocha and mocha almond fudge ice cream (new favorite…. If you’re ever in St. Louis, Coffee Cartel has good stuff) and to some emailing and web content creating.

Another adult-y thing: adults have business cards. This is something I’m going to get. If I’m going on business trips, I’m gonna get the cards. I’m not sure what they’re going to say, but I’m getting business cards.

At the end of a long day, which ended with dinner with my friend and boss at Red Robin, where we both forgot to get the petite burgers and ended up a lot more stuffed than we intended to be, I’m left feeling grateful. I have jobs, and the one I’m traveling for is meaningful and allows me to grow. And God just threw it at me without warning or any qualification.

He’s bringing me into the places He wants me to be, the places that will help me to grow and to serve. I guess we could say I’m becoming – which will probably be a constant in my life. I doubt I’ll ever have become. Here’s to growth!

Oh, and just so you know, I totally brought the stuffed bunny with me.

Journals and black coffee.


I always thought that I was a cream and sugar kind of girl, that I drank tan coffee, not the really dark brown stuff. Today, however, out of necessity (necessity being that I had no cream or even milk in my fridge) I drank my coffee black. Just a bit of sugar.

Finding that I rather liked it was a relief. It made me feel less fruity. Whenever I drink coffee with people who know my addiction and how much I adore the caffeinated substance – and scorn people who think that caramel macchiatos and campfire mochas are coffee – and they see me put cream and sugar in my coffee, I feel like a fake. I can see the confusion on their faces. They thought of me as a hardened coffee drinker, the biker chick of warm beverages. Then here I am, pouring half-n-half (which doesn’t actually exist in Austria) into my cup until it gets to the perfect shade of tan.

So I’m relieved to find that I’m not limited in my coffee drinking abilities. Heck, maybe some day I’ll be able to drink it without sugar, too – and like it.

We’ll see, I suppose.

While I discovered that I can drink coffee sans cream, I wrote the last page in my journal. March 31st, and I’m finishing up a journal. I couldn’t have planned that if I tried. This journal, now that it has retired, will be marked as the first journal where I could be honest. I don’t know about you, but I found it difficult to be honest in my journals after I read Anne Frank’s diary. They published them, and she wrote so well and about such honest things but without sounding stupid. I was quite sure that I would sound stupid in honesty.

Plus, it’s a struggle to be vulnerable at any time, even if it’s just with paper.

Going to counseling, however, required that I be honest in my journals. All the swirling thoughts in my head demanded to be written down, in crazy, neurotic form, without censorship. Then they would stop swirling. So, this journal is my first real, honest journal. It’s the one that will not ever be left on my bookshelf, just in case I die an untimely death and someone gets it into their head to read my stuff.

New journal day. New chapter. Blank pages. Black coffee. Goodness, what’s next?

 

The wise fool hits the road.


Sophomore: combo of “Soph,” which means “wise” and “moron,” which… well, we all know what that means. All credit for knowing what that means goes to Mr. Joel Solliday, who told me that at the start of my sophomore year of high school (the year we spelled it ‘sophmore’ on the sign in our hallway for homecoming week… wise fools….), and I’ve never forgotten it.

I’m in my last few minutes of being home, and I wanted you to be a part of this. I’m sitting on my bed for the last time for a couple months. From here on out, I’ll be coming to you live from a corner of the library, my bunk bed in my tiny studio apartment, or one of the many Chicago coffee shops.

I’m so at home. And by that, I mean that my sister is playing the piano (she’s practicing for a wedding tonight), my dad is still packing his bags and showering – meaning that we’ll be leaving late, and I’m tapping out a blog post.

The anxieties that prevailed in the last few days have started to subside as I collect kitchen supplies and finalize my schedule for the semester. But mostly, I’ve been learning that fear doesn’t have a place in my life. Granted, that doesn’t mean that I’ve shown it the door and switched the locks for good. I think it will take a while (if not my entire life) to overcome that. Jesus is greater than all my fears, but that doesn’t mean that I always trust Him. Yes, I do realize how ridiculous that sentence is. I was tempted to change it, but it’s true. Even though I know that God holds my entire life in His hands and walks alongside me, I still fear and still question.

I really am a wise fool. I know a truth that should overcome every anxiety I’ve ever felt and more, but I still cling to the horridness of being afraid at times. I bet you do, too.

In a few minutes, Jesus and I will take Matilda and the newly-healed Pearl and my parents, and we’ll walk out the door and drive to Chicago together. And my parents will move me in to my apartment, and they’ll leave. But Jesus will remain. My parents and sister and friends and the rest of my support system from home will be a phone call away, but Jesus will grasp my hand and never let go.

Oh, for grace to trust Him more.

Let’s hit the road.

#500


In case any of you have forgotten that the symbol before that number isn’t only known as a hashtag, let me remind you: it’s a number sign.  Which makes the title of this post not “hashtag five hundred” but “number five hundred.”  Just wanted to clarify.

Hooray!!!

*throws confetti in air and dances around in it*

We made it to 500!  And that’s not just a fancy way of saying that I made it to 500 posts (it wouldn’t be very fancy if it was).  You read this and like the posts and comment, which encourages me to keep writing.  We did it.  We made it this far.

How far we’ve come!  My first post, just over two years ago, began this journey, this process of becoming, this 500-car-long train of thought.

I thought about starting a campaign to celebrate, like “500 Cookies” where I bake 500 cookies and share them with people or “500 Book Reviews,” but that made me exhausted just thinking about it.  I can’t plan 500 posts in advance – or even 500 days.  Who knows where I’ll be then?

Who knows who I’ll be then?

 

I thought about speculating about what I’ll be like/what I’ll be doing/etc 500 posts from now, but I think I’d rather make goals.  How about 500 goals?  (would you stick around to read them all?) Or maybe, how about 5 goals?

Let’s do that:

Goal #1 – To be a person who sees instead of looking.  To not size a person up by a first impression but to take time to figure out what makes them interesting, because everyone has something interesting about them.

Goal #2 – To have lots of stamps in my passport.  If I’m to fill up the entire thing by the time it expires (which will be ten years from now since I’m renewing the one I got as a minor), I’ll need to stamp it.  This will have the dual purpose of expanding my horizons and achieving my goal of stamping up the whole thing.

Goal #3 – To have my degree and an idea of where I’m headed next

Goal #4 – To be fully present where I am in life, no matter where that may be

Goal #5 – To have blessed many people with cake.

Hold me to those, people.

Also, post coming sometime soon about getting in touch with Ms. Swift. I’m brainstorming about how best to do it and will act when I figure that out.