It’s my 26th birthday (!!!) and I thought I’d share a list of little lessons I’ve learned over this past year. Here’s to a whole new year of growing, learning, and choosing joy!
Here I am, in the middle. Here I am, wanting, needing, and desperately seeking changes. I don't have the right answer. I'm just starting small.
It is a beautiful day in Richmond and there's a magic in the air that comes with spring around here. Sunshine, warm weather, flowers blooming...YES. This past week has been a good one. I don't have words on my heart to write today, and I'm giving myself a little extra grace and saying that's okay. Instead, I just have pictures of things that brought me joy this week.
Go on an adventure this weekend. Go somewhere new and find wonder in the world around you. Happy weekend, friends!
It had been a rainy day. A dreary day. The kind of rain that just lingers for long hours, falling from a heavy, dense and gloomy sky. Late afternoon came, although nothing but the clock would tell you that, the sun masked by layer on layer of murky clouds.
The rain slowed to a mist, a few drops here and there, the clouds glided away to the next town, and shy rays of light started to break through. A glorious, bright and clear rainbow cut through the clouds like an effervescent path to glory. And on the other side of the sky, if you swiveled your eyes around 180 degrees, there it was.
A masterpiece was on display. It wasn't framed behind glass with ropes holding back pushy crowds. It wasn't locked up in a museum's special exhibit. It was spread across the sky, and I was sitting in the middle of the parking lot on wet asphalt to watch it.
Glorious. Radiant. Breathtaking. Not even those words contain it or come close. Those colors don't have names. That sunset couldn't be captured in a photo. The immensity doesn't translate through a screen.
That type of beauty could only come after the rain, after all the rain had fallen from the sky and all the darkness had consumed the day, after the clouds had hung heavy and full of the weight of the rain, the storm.
It was worth it. A million stormy days in a row would be worth it to see the sky light up like that, to see every second bring a new burst of gold, new streak of pink, new shadow of purple. I couldn't look away. I was mesmerized, captivated. I was in awe that such beauty came on such a gray day.
Then bursting forth, in glorious day... Amen to that.
Glory comes after gloom. Beauty comes from brokenness. Light comes after loss.
The storms, the rain, the hurt, the darkness, those aren't the end of the story. Hold on, hold tight, wait it out. Wait for the masterpiece that will blow you away. Wait for the next scene, the one you can't quite imagine or foresee. Wait on the Lord and know He is the author of a story of glory in your life.
Graduation was May 4. Today is June 4. I graduated college one month ago. What?!
Since I had a major knee surgery just a few days after graduation, I didn't immediately go into a new job or internship or jet off on some awesome adventure. Because of my surgery (and the countless hours on the couch that followed), I've had a lot of time to think and reflect and pray and just meditate on God's word and what He's been teaching me. (A lot of time to watch Netflix too...but that's beside the point.)
Here are a few things I've learned in the past month:
1. I'm powerless on my own. Yes, I learned this in a very real and physical sense, as I was literally unable to move or walk or stand or do just about anything on my own. In the hospital after surgery, I could hardly feed myself, stay awake for a five minute conversation, sit up in bed, go to the bathroom, anything. I was completely dependent on the awesome hospital staff and my incredible parents. I was weak, I was unable, I was powerless. I learned a lot from this. I learned how to be thankful for the attentiveness and compassion of those who were constantly serving me and helping me. I learned humility in a whole new sense. I learned to be grateful for the little victories. I was reminded of how, on my own, I can do nothing and be nothing of any significance. I need Christ, I need His strength, I need to rely solely and fully on Him as my Rock every day.
2. I am deeply loved. I'm a huge fan of love languages. Mine's gift-giving, closely followed by words of affirmation. In the past month, I've received so many letters and cards from so many relatives and friends and small group girls, and it has made my heart so happy and full. I received flowers from my grandma and one of my girls, and they've been lasting reminders of how loved I am by so many incredible people around this country. My mom's love language is acts of service, and she has poured out more love through serving me after my surgery than I can ever thank her for. I felt so loved by her as she showered me in her love language. My best friends have been so great about checking in on me and encouraging me and reminding me I'm strong and not alone and that I am loved.
3. God will provide. He has provided hours in the day to get all my classwork done for my Maymester courses, He has provided opportunities for me to meet with people who helped me discern more of my calling, He has provided incredible relationships with people I never expected to be close with, He has provided encouragement in so many ways, He has provided ways for me to make money this summer as I start to try to figure out what's next for me, He has provided community for me at church and in the college ministry, He has provided. Abundantly. Constantly. Perfectly.
4. Be thankful for the little things. There have been a lot of big changes in my life in this past month, and a lot of big uncertainties. But throughout all of it, I've been staying focused on the little things, and seeing God in them constantly. My knee is a big mess, but every day, there are little successes that I've held on to and been proud of, and they've given me strength to keep fighting and pushing onward. It has changed my attitude over time to be one full of joy and hope and thankfulness. God is so big, so mighty, so incredibly powerful and sovereign, and He has been wrapping me up in love and light and so, so many beautiful, wonderful little things.
5. Community is everywhere. I left JMU knowing community would be what I missed the most. I lived in a great community in my house, I had an incredible small group that I was a part of, and a wonderful small group I was blessed to help lead. I was a part of a massively awesome chapter of IV. I had a community of God-loving women at work. I was surrounded, everywhere I went and in everything I did, by strong communities of believers. In the past few weeks, I've seen community start to form and blossom here in Richmond. I've connected with so many people at Hope (who knew a huge knee brace and some crutches could be such a great conversation starter!), and found people I know I'll grow closer to this summer. I've reconnected with old friends, and gotten to know totally new people that have come to be so meaningful and important to me. Community isn't just at JMU. Community is in people. Community is the body of Christ coming together, and that happens everywhere.
It's been a month since I said goodbye to my time as a student at JMU, and almost a month since my knee surgery, and I'm so thankful and so blessed that I've had this month to learn and grow and just deeply rest in who God is. I'm thankful for the lessons I've been learning, and the ways in which my heart has been growing. I'm thankful for being forced to slow down and appreciate every little thing, every person in my life, every tiny victory and new step (literally). I have no clue whatsoever what adventures are ahead, but I'm savoring this time of rest and slowness and growth before God opens up new doors.
What's God been showing you this summer so far? I'd love to hear, and I'd love to be praying for you and for what's ahead in these hot and humid months!