So, obviously since it's the end of the year it's kinda naturally the time where everyone looks back and figures out the year.. and tries to make decisions for the next year.. So, my big question is:
Who were you a year ago?
What was going on?
What were you worried about, thinking about, stressing about?
What had your attention and focus?
What changed your life this year?
So, who was I a year ago?
Well, a year ago I "rang in the New Year" with Ash and Megan in Chicago.. it was one of my favorite New Years memories EVER! :) I was getting ready to go to Africa for the first time. I was a little worried about the dynamics of the trip, but SO excited that I was getting to go. I was stressing about my financial situation, both normally and with going to Africa.
My friend Lisa and I had dozens of talks about direction and God's path for us.. I needed her and God knew that :) (She also went to Africa with me:)
I was feeling "stuck" like I was in a situation I couldn't get out of.. and had no plan or vision for how I was going to get out of it. Which is weird because I LOVED my family, living at home with them. I LOVED working with our teens and being super involved in our church, and I really liked the time I was getting with my extended family working with them and getting to know them... But, at the exact same time, I felt like I had graduated and taken the easy route, moved home to work for family, so I felt restless. I knew I had this desire and passion inside me but I didn't know what it meant. I had a desire to do hard things with my life, but felt like currently I was doing the easiest well traveled path. Almost as though I was MADE for more, but had no way of attaining it. I felt blind and like I was in a heavy fog and couldn't see God working in my personal journey.
I was operating on the concept that it didn't matter how I felt... I KNEW God's call to us is to, "Love Him, Love others" so I was doing everything I could to do that, regardless of how I felt. But, even still I felt a little like I didn't have a direction.
I went to Africa for the first time. I LOVED IT!.. But, I was also frustrated at my/our lack of ability to DO more while we were there. I met two amazing missionaries that I love dearly, and I got to have some pretty amazing talks with them, and just really connect. I treasured that time with them :) I accidentally was put in the middle of a lion pride and got stalked by a crocodile... It was a GOOD trip, wonderful next step, although at the time I wasn't sure what to say about it.
February - April
After Africa, I became insanely involved all over the place. Looking back I'm not sure how I had time for ANYTHING... I got involved with a local martial arts school and taught karate a couple nights a week, I joined Compassionate Life Foundation as a board member, and became increasingly more involved with the youth group as other leaders became too busy or had other situations come up, I helped with the youth vision team, and joined the youth leaders small group, as well as help get the 18-30's group started at my church... Not to mention the random little things like doing a dance for church, interviewing/informing the congregation about my trip to Africa, chaperoning youth events for my best friend who is a youth leader at another church etc..etc.. When I think about it I had things planned every single day and every single evening for each week, and I had roughly one night a week where I could fit friends in for hang out time. Whoa! I was seriously trying to do my part to make a difference, and I've always felt more like I was "on my game" when I was too busy to think!
Most of the after work things stayed the same, but in terms of work, Labor Day consumed my life because of working for Covenant Cemetery Services and as odd as it sounds "Labor day is like Christmas for cemeteries" because it is INSANELY busy.. we will see 80% of our people that weekend alone. So, things have to be perfect and together, and if we want to do any sort of survey or coupons for stones, memorials, shepherd's hooks etc..etc.. that has to be in place before the end of the month. And, then there's the marathon weekend that feels like it kills you every time. This also marked my one year with Covenant Cemetery Services, and a dramatic shift in location...
June - August
Beginning of June, I shifted the way I worked for "The Company" as we all called it ;) and I went to part time, moved to Ohio and work for Camp Carl as a boat driver. haha That to me is one of the more random things I've done. I still offered my knowledge and services to the company... But, even though I LOVED working with family I was seriously doubting my abilities. I fought so desperately hard for everything, and was then told I didn't understand, didn't get it, was too young to understand etc..etc.. I began to believe it and it began to seriously effect my view of what I was able to do and what I was GOOD at. So, I went back to camp on a fluke e-mail that spiraled into a job offer. There was also a good chance I would be able to get a full time job in the fall, and since I love camp so much and I love the people I worked with I was PUMPED to say the least! I "went home" to camp and loved the ability to work hard, be outside ALL day long, soak up the sun (seriously I was the darkest I've ever been), meet new people, love on old friends, reconnect with myself, and get to know and laugh with hundreds upon hundreds of kids... I got to read a lot, laugh a lot, hang out with friends from college who I desperately love and missed like crazy! I learned to wake board.. almost broke my ankle.. wiped out on roller blades... and had THE most "American" 4th of July ever. I got to work with people who showered me with love and affection all the time! It was a GOOD summer :)
However, God and I did a lot of arguing throughout the entire summer.. I wanted direction NOW and didn't want to wait anymore. God told me to be patient. I was not thrilled with that answer and complained to him constantly. He essentially laughed at me and told me his answer was final. :) I still argued (man am I stubborn). I think he seriously made me wait until THE LAST MINUTE.. cause I found out the weekend before our last two weeks that things were not going to work out and I was not going to be able to stay in Ohio... So, out of "spite" I applied for about 20 jobs online over the weekend all over the world. I felt very "HA! See, I can do something fun and exciting cause I'm able to!".. (not sure why I felt this way though... or even WHO I felt this way towards lol).. But, none of them replied, and if they did it was "thanks but no." And, then I get a random e-mail from a non-profit in VA asking me to apply for the job cause I look like I have the qualifications for it. So, I did. Set up a phone interview for a couple days later... began wrapping up camp.. Drove home, flew to VA, interviewed again, flew home, got the job, accepted the job... went camping, moved Megan to Mass., packed and moved to VA.
The first month was one of the... weirdest, loneliest, scariest, exciting, "green house" time with God that I've ever had. The first week was scary and lonely cause I seriously KNEW NO ONE. I couldn't get anywhere, and I couldn't understand the "real southerners" without reading their lips.. lol I had to adjust quickly to not being in the same environment, I never got touched (which seems like an odd statement, but I'm a touch person.. sooo...).. It was so incredibly good though, I got really acquainted with myself. I went from not thrilled about my 45min-hour drive to and from work to treasuring it and finding that time I covet almost more than any other time of my day... I get MY God time, Him alone is what I get while I drive to and from work.. It's great :) Then I found a Sunday school class, a small group, a roomie, moved again (only 2 miles though), found another small group, met a million people that are now my friends, figured/figuring my way around town now, did a couple service projects, got connected with a girl who introduced me/convinced me to go to Ghana, met the rest of the team, God said "Go" so I trusted Him and made plans to go. I prayed for about a month prior that God would really break my heart and I would FEEL Him. And I went.
November (Post-Thanksgiving) - Now
I went to Ghana, learned more things about love, service, submissiveness, support, faith, trust, and comfort zones than I have ever before. I saw practical examples of what I desire most, and was able to have my "aha!" moment in multiple areas God's been patiently trying to teach me. My life is completely different. I felt like finally dozens of pieces of my puzzle have all come together and I'm beginning to see the picture and it's beginning to make sense to me now. I feel God differently now than I did before. I see His plan, feel His heart, and desire Him more than I have ever that I can remember. Things that I struggled with have begun to take a back seat cause it's not important compared to my purpose and my mission. I've realized how truly, totally, and completely blessed I am. I have parents who everyone should know (and love clearly) :) I have a family that is one of the most supportive and loving families I know. I have friends who are pushing me to grow towards God like never before. I sincerely see the world differently now. Which is what I prayed for. :) I am content, I mean truly content, joyful, happy, and peaceful. I am not where I want to be because now I know what I want.. but I also know I'm where I'm supposed to be.. And that gives me contentment but also keeps my drive and passion alive and pushing.
So, a year.. Wow so much has happened. It seems like a whirlwind, and I am so thankful for God working on me even when I objected loudly. I am grateful for the dozens of times He told me "no" "not yet" and "be patient"... especially when it came to guys :) I am excited about this next year.. cause it's possibilities are ENDLESS!! I can't wait :)