I took another trip round the sun.
Last week, I turned 31. Everyone says the 30s are the best years of your life. For me, it has been the biggest growing year of my life- spiritually, emotionally and professionally. I feel like I’m learning so much about who I am, what I can handle and what I want for my life. It’s been fun and hard work. It’s been happy and sad. It’s been amazing and disappointing. It’s definitely been a year of extremes and I’m happy for a fresh start as I move officially into my 30s.
I always like to reflect when it’s my birthday. What did the past year entail? What was good? What was not so good? What did circumstances and experiences teach me about life, love and God? How did I change? How did I grow?
Those are all still questions I’m answering and mulling over and writing about in my journal. I started this blog 3 years ago on my birthday. I’ve shared about so many good times had and also about one of the hardest seasons of my life.
Not surprising, I learned more about myself in the hard times than the good.
I learned that I am resilient. I can be strong and forgiving. I also learned that I can be weak. I can be mean and bitter. I learned that being the latter does no good for anyone…especially me. I learned that no matter what happens to me, I’m never alone in this world. God is always guiding me. My family and friends are just a phone call away. I learned the power of prayer is undeniable. I learned having a community of people lifting you up in prayer during a hard time can be the most remarkable thing. I learned life can get messed up and broken but restoration and forgiveness are beautiful things.
I definitely don’t have it all figured out, and I know that I never will. But seeing glimpses of renewal in the everyday experiences give me hope for the future:
I spent time in El Salvador meeting some of the most incredible people who materially have so little but spiritually are overflowing. I spent a week laughing harder than I had in so long. I made friends for life.
I spent a weekend in the nation’s capital walking the grounds where so many of our country’s leaders have spent time. I spent a rainy day remembering the Holocaust and feeling very thankful to live in a free country. I walked all over downtown Washington DC and then I ran my fastest race to date along the Potomac River.
I made a last minute hair appointment and decided it was time for a change.
I also: moved, changed jobs, started a business and ran another marathon. I got rid of half my clothes, lost 10 inches of hair and gained 10 lbs of winter. :)
The day before my birthday, a co-worker from the tax office passed away. He had been battling cancer and heart issues for some time. He would read this blog and send me an email or post on Facebook.
About a month before he died, he sent me an email to tell me he was in a rehab center and his cancer was going to take him ‘sometime this year.’ He said he always enjoyed me at the tax office and he hopes that I ‘have a great life and marry that guy you like.’
It was a goodbye email.
After a couple days of mulling over a response, I told him that I hope he lives for many more years, but if he doesn’t, that he enjoys every minute and I was so happy he was at peace. He responded with this:
I have really enjoyed your writing. I think you should pursue writing a book our something it would be enjoyable. I have always thought that you were really smart and have always hope that you could fulfill all those dreams you have "coffee shop,writer,etc"…. No one knows when one will go, that's in God's hands. I have had a good life with nothing to complain about. I wish you the very best and really hope you find all the happiness you are looking for.’
I met Steve’s wife, Diane, just a couple days ago at his visitation here in Des Moines (he was living in Chicago near his kids when he passed). I introduced myself and she shook both of my hands and said ‘Oh I’ve heard so much about you.’ She told us Steve was a great husband, father and grandfather. That he lived a full life and he was ready when his time came.
I saved Steve’s final email. I read it often. It is a constant reminder to me that we only get one shot at this life and we MUST make the best of it. And leave the rest to God.
This past year held so many experiences. Some I’ll never forget and some I wish were different. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade a second of it. God has such an amazing plan for me. I can feel it in my bones. I’m going to live life with no regrets. The one I imagined I would have. All the while, I will seek His face every step of the way.
Steve , just like I promised you in my email- I WILL write that book and I WILL make sure you are in it.
This post is for you.