I can't help it; I am a reflective soul.
I pick apart and analyze in order to understand myself better to grow spiritually, mentally, and physically.
I look back and learn, and I for sure am always setting goals to keep moving forward.
It's who I am.
The truth is that I do it year round, but I especially do this during mile marker places.... like birthdays. And today is my birthday.
I am not writing that so people will say "Happy Birthday!" I am sharing that simply because it has caused me to pause and reflect.
To be grateful.
To have more open eyes and a better listening soul.
To see God more deeply.
I have spent some time looking back over the last year and standing in awe at how much God has done in my life, as well as evaluating the more painful moments and how those have also propelled me into a better woman.
And of course I have also put some thought into what goals I have for my upcoming 34th year of life. Not everyone wants to listen to me talk about these things, so my blog is a great place to think it out, share it, use it to shape my thoughts. Today, I share some of the highlights and lessons learned from the last year of my life.
- Let Go. In the last year, that has become a powerful theme for me. I have always held tightly to people, to words, to experiences, to desires, to hopes, to dreams, even to fears. And over the last year, God has really been teaching me to let go. It's been severely painful at times, but amazingly beautiful as well. I have let go of friendships, hardships, hurts, fears and even some dreams. But in letting go, I have found revived paths and new friends. I have seen prayers answered in unexpected ways and I have also learned to let go of some desires, too. I am still being molded by letting go. I still don't always do it superbly well. But it continues to teach me.
- Friendships. In the last year, I learned to let go of some friendships, which was/is a struggle for me. In the process of some friendships shifting, as I took time to reflect the last couple of days, I can see how God replaced those with even more beautiful people. People come and go. Some are for seasons, some are for life. I am thankful for some of the new people who have entered my life this year: Paula, James, Michael, Eric, Paola, Tia, Aaron, Meghan, Tammy, Sharon, Cheri.
- I started back to my dream of obtaining my college degree for Spanish, so I can become a translator! I thought that had died, but God certainly revived it and has made the path clear for it. Being in school again is a challenge, but it's well worth it. It's teaching me great lessons in and of itself, and I can't wait to see what the next year will hold with classes and growth.
- Running and fitness took on a new level. You would not know by looking at me- if anything, I have put on a little more thickness (aka... weight) but it's been a beautiful year for me. I got to run several really cool races and I discovered TRX, which has grown into something I really love. I am stronger than I was a year ago, even if it does not show in my body, I feel it. My passion for fitness has grown and is providing new avenues of ministry and friendships. I ran a race in the worst conditions ever-sleet, snow, hail and rain and finished strong. I ran on an island in Michigan (who knew Michigan had an island just outside Detroit??). I added up to having run in 5 states now. A small chunk out of my goal of 50, but progress towards the goal nonetheless.
- New places: I got to visit Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Pennsylvania this year. I ran a race in 3 of those places. I ate some incredible food and certainly found some cool coffee shops. I document all of this through photos, which is a fun way to remember experiences.
- Colombia. I could write and write about those experiences, and you can find many of them in my archives in February/March. Colombia allowed me the opportunity to taste, see, feel, and hear God in a whole new light. I found healing from hurts and hope for the future. I rediscovered myself a little and learned new things about myself. When I was at my birthday this time last year, I had ideas about Colombia, but it was not in the full force works yet. I had absolutely no idea just how much God was going to use that trip in my life to propel me forward on a whole new journey of a path He originally had for me. Obedience is beautiful.
-Prayer took on a whole new life and meaning for me.
- My kids are growing into teenagers, which brings on new parenting moments every.single.day. But I love the conversations and moments we have.
-Michael and I have weathered some storms and chased some rainbows. Growth is painful at times, but beautiful. He has become the number one salesman for his company, while I am the quiet cheerleader of those endeavors. Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.
- The battle of depression became more of a struggle, but at the same time, has given me a new platform to see God's strength when I have none. People do not often understand it and talking about it makes many uncomfortable. But it is part of my story... part of His story... and I want to be used in spite of the battle. Every day I choose to wake up and fight it. God is in the midst of all of those moments. They hurt and I don't like them, but He is the light and the healing.
- This year I got to Paddle Board for the first time and Zip line for the first time. I also did TRX for the first time, and I am sure some other things I can't quite remember. It's FUN to do new experiences!
Year 33 of life is now in my history book. I had some amazing experiences. I can't wait to see what year 34 will hold in store for me. Tomorrow I will share some goals for the next year.
I close by sharing some fun highlights from today's birthday:
- Michael bought me a birthday card, as usual. But when I opened it, I was pleasantly surprised to find he'd bought me a Spanish birthday card! So sweet. I loved it. He had no idea what it said, but he knew I would like it.
- Birthday work lunch. Laughs and chatter. Good times.
- The surprise gifts I got in the mail from my long distance friends.
- An incredibly special card from my older brother.
- A special gift from a special friend who knows my journey very well. A bracelet that says "She believed she could, so she did." Beautiful. Even more so because of how it captures my journey. Accompanied with a Snoopy birthday card... it's special when a friend remembers that Snoopy is sentimental to me.
- Sweet special conversations with my kids. Surprise family dinner. Molten lava cake.
I am a sucker for birthdays. My mom instilled that in me, I think. Since all of my siblings and I were born in July, mom always made a big deal out of each of ours. I think I carry that on and have a special feeling for birthdays. I will never make a big deal out of my own to others, but I cannot end this day without reflecting on how special those few made it be for me.
Today was one of my furiously happy days!