Monday, June 23, 2014

goodbye 20, hello 21.

At the end of this week I will get to celebrate the 21 years that I've been able to live so far, and the excitement of the new one to come. The highly anticipated 21st birthday :)

In South Africa there is a culture of adulthood that comes with a 21st birthday. You become a man or a woman when you turn 21. Now, in America I felt that I became an adult at 18 (especially with that whole moving-to-another-country-on-my-own-thing), but I ended up having another 3 more years before anyone would even think of calling me an adult. Boo.


And I'm going to claim 21 as my entrance into adulthood.....all sophisticated and wise, and stuff like that.

As I was thinking about the excitement of another birthday, I couldn't help but reflect back on all that I've learned in the past 20 something years of my life and all that I wish I had known when I was younger. So, to celebrate this beautiful thing called life, I've written a list of 20 things I've learned over the years: things that I never want to forget and things I had wished I'd known earlier.

Also, please enjoy some random pictures of Paris, mainly Notre Dame :)

1. Chocolate is wonderful. It is scientifically proven to help you study, and it helps with any type of heart break. Eat it and don't be ashamed.

2. Stop being lazy and do what is expected of you. You have responsibilities. If you don't do them, you're only making life harder on yourself. So do them in a timely and productive manner.

3. No matter what happens to you in life, there is always a way to make it work for your good. Seriously, the worst of the worst can make you feel like the world is over, but I promise you that you can have victory over it and make it your crown. There is good in everything, and you have the opportunity to welcome it.

4. Be brave. If you're afraid of doing something, close your eyes, focus your attention, and embrace the beautifully terrifying and unknown opportunities before you. There is always a reward in facing your fears.

5. Enjoy the moment you are in. Don't rush ahead and think about what is happening next, or tomorrow, or worrying about that one thing, but rather work on enjoying the moment that you are in. Take in your surroundings, the smells, the colours, the mannerism of the people you love. Enjoy this moment. Have fun.

6. Learn how to be semi-organised, even if it isn't your natural tendency. Or at least get into the habit of putting things where they go. This really will help you to be more productive, and minimise your stress.

7. Real life happens outside of Instagram and Facebook. I know, it's crazy to think about, but it's not necessary for the world to see moments of your life for them to be valuable, memorable, or desirable. The amount of likes doesn't determine the significance or excitement of you or your life.

8. Get out of your comfort zone. Learn how to talk to all types of people... the old, the young, the shy, the loud, the awkward, and.....the painfully awkward. Talk to them. Build relationships. It helps you in the long run, I promise.

9. Learn to say no. Learn how to know when it is the right time to say no, and when you're just being selfish and should actually say yes. It's a tricky thing to figure out, but you can do it.

10. It's okay to cry. Our society has put a negative connotation on emotions, but the reality is some people are emotionally wired. Embrace your emotions, wallow in them for a bit, and then allow them to turn into compassion. If you are lonely, think about other people who experience the same thing. If you are angry because of an injustice, use that to motivate you. Allow your emotions to help you empathise with others.

11. Take vitamins and drink water everyday. For real. Also, get outside and walk or something. Hello exercise!

12. Realise that a busy schedule and full social life does not always make you happy. Spending time on your own is so fulfilling. Learn about who you are without trying to find yourself in the midst of other peoples opinion of you.

13. Please please please never forget that you are whole and more than enough on your own. With Christ in your heart and the satisfaction of knowing Him, you do not need anything else to complete you. No reputation, no group of friends, no husband/wife, no beauty, no wardrobe, no job, no amount of money. Nothing. His grace is more than sufficient. 

14. Be open minded and learn. Learn about the world and the people in it. Seek to better understand people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions. Make friends with them. Help them. Allow them to help you.

15. Pay attention in that high school foreign language class. Seriously. Actually, just pay attention in all of the classes you ever take. Knowledge is power.

16. Do what you desire. Learn about yourself and the dreams and talents you have. Grow your strengths. Dream of changing the world in your own way, and don't stop until you accomplish it. You have opportunities all around you, take them.

17. Evaluate your beliefs. What do you truly believe? Do you believe that because you've been told to believe it, or is it your personal conviction? Find where you stand and stand strong.

18. Continually challenge yourself to be teachable and to grow.

19. You will never be liked by everyone. Please learn that and accept that it doesn't demean your worth or value. Not everyone will understand you. People will be difficult. Maybe you'll be difficult. Conflicts will arise, but you are you and and you are beautifully imperfect, perfected by a God who is absolutely flawless.

If there is one thing that I really don't want to forget, it is that life is short. I may not have a life full of many years, but I have today, and I want to take today as a gift and live it intentionally.

"I just try to live every day as if I've deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinarily, ordinary life." - About Time

20. Please please please never forget that life is short, and you only have a small amount of time to impact the people around you. Love everyone you come into contact with and reflect the heart of God in all that you do. Never get too busy to remember that you have a purpose here, and that is to know God and make Him known to the world.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

For you, Fathers.

The way he sang to me in the car, windows down, sea water in our hair and a kiss of sun on our skin...."will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?... I can only imagine."I still remember my first Valentine's day with my Daddy, he spoiled me, taking me out as his Valentine. Something in me flourished knowing my father loved me. The laughter, the weekends away camping, the trips to Sampson Island in the canoe and the days at the beach and endless slurpees from 7 - Eleven. The fishing trips. The smiling. The love. The brokenness of a man, cracked and faulted, filled with the love of a Saviour.

The heart of God was reflected through my Daddy.

The way we would make oatmeal cookies together with Norah Jones singing in the background and have dinner every Wednesday night. He watched me sing my little heart out each week to Shania Twain, back when my dreams were being formed and my young heart was still unaware of the pain the world could offer. The mornings spent at the Christmas Tree Farm, or teaching me how to make the best scrambled eggs ever, or sharing the stories he brought home from the war. I still remember the Sunday mornings in mass, holding his hand as we said the Our Father, excitedly anticipating the squeeze he would give my hand once we finished. The time. The consistency. The love and joy. My hero.

The heart of God was reflected to me through my grandfather, my G-Daddy.

The way we would sneak out of the house late at night to go get ice cream, or run errands together because it meant we got to spend time with one another. Getting picked up from school meant games, and embarrassing me, and doing that thing when he would open the door for me and then drive about 10 feet away, giggling at himself and waiting for me to finally catch up, only to do it again. And then after the 5th time I'd locked my keys in my car, he still came. I remember the dinner table and his prayers, the endless theological discussions that sparked a desire in my heart to know more of God. I remember the early days of my adoption, and the tender heart, patience and compassion that Ernie had with me.

The heart of God was reflected through the man who adopted me, my Dad-o.

I remember endless men in my life who have reflected the heart of God, from a man dancing around his living room with his daughter in his arms, to my Pastor leading our church and loving his family.

Fathers, you reflect the heart of God. Thank you.

I also remember the times when I felt fatherless. When there was no earthly father in sight, or he was miles and miles away, an ocean in between me and the men who loved me. That is when I was introduced to the Ultimate Father.

The way He introduced Himself to me, knocking so gently at my heart, and yet with a force and power that could not be denied or ignored. The way I learned more about Him, spending endless nights reading with Him, about Him, asking questions and soaking in more and more. I remember the way He grew me, and spoke to me, and helped me to better love Him for all that He is. I can still feel the way He comforted me when I felt fatherless and broken and useless. And despite the fact that He is the God of the Universe, we have special moments together. He makes me laugh and He shows me He loves me by telling me His secrets, affirming He has plans for me, and displays His glory to me through the beauty of His sunsets. He has healed me, loved lavishly, and made me His daughter. He is my constant. He is my joy and laughter. He is my adopted Father who took me in as His own, His ultimate pleasure.

The heart of a father is the epitome of strength and love.

The heart of God is so beautiful and perfect, gentle and strong and constant.

Happy Father's Day!