I said a little while ago that I quite literally had almost nothing to do before heading back to school, and thus could devote plenty of time to writing here. Boy do I need to put my foot in my mouth…
Anyway, I’m about to head to a New Year’s Party at a friend’s, so I have to make this quick:
I spent part of yesterday and today reviewing the year, partly through even little acts like cleaning out my wallet of old receipts, but mainly through this blog. I went back and skimmed or read through everything I posted this year, starting in January all the way until now.
All I can say is… man, what a journey.
I couldn’t possibly condense everything that happened this year into a list of even the most important things (and there are so many other things, great and small, that I failed to record here), but suffice to say that it has been one incredible tapestry of grace. God is good, and I learned a lot about that this year. Sometimes I’m tempted to wonder if I ever lived before this year.
I apologize for being so informal, but I have to get going.
Wishing you all a 2013 full of blessing, joy, growth, and drawing closer to Him,
* * * * *
Once again, I must make a meal of my words. After declaring with such certainty that this past year had been so full of adventure, joy, challenge, growth and a plethora of other things that I couldn’t possibly boil it down to a mere list, I saw a friend do this on Facebook and
caved in was inspired to do the same.
Here it is:
50 Awesome Things I(?) Did in 2012
1. Created a Facebook and kept it.
2. Became shorter than both my brothers, older and younger. (Maybe I should reconsider having this one here…)
3. Graduated from high school. Twice. (Sort of.)
4. Finished Chinese school forever — a beautiful thing, I assure you.
5. Almost got my black belt (still one requirement to go).
6. Took Marine Bio with Mrs. Ellis, where Finding Nemo was quoted at least twice every class.
7. Did mock trial for the first time.
8. Partook of my first Shakespearean play! Discovered I evidently have a knack for acting drunk…
9. Took part in my 5th and final HST troupe show; even got to choreograph my own number!
10. Crafted, completed and performed a martial arts demonstration that drew from 7 different styles of martial arts, learned a ton.
11. Caused my first car accident – and experienced God’s grace in a way unlike anything I’ve ever known before.
12. Pulled an excessively elaborate but immensely entertaining senior prank with my graduating class, mostly involving caution tape, bubble wrap, glow sticks, army men, and a LOT of streamers.
13. Spent a week in Paris with six females who are very capable at shopping.
14. Attended Momentum 2012; came back a different person.
15. Enjoyed a surprise 18th birthday party, complete with a violent but thoroughly enjoyable water battle to the death.
16. Played the most ridiculously fun game of gravel conceivable, on the most awe-inspiring playground ever constructed by man.
17. Learned how to juggle (now I REALLY need to practice).
18. Got a laptop.
19. Completed my first semester at a college that now lies very close to my heart.
20. Developed an obsession with historical primary sources and everyday quotes of hilarity.
21. Learned how to swing dance!
22. Developed a laugh reflex to the words “vocation” and “studly.”
23. Learned U.S. History from a professor who made me enjoy, understand, and appreciate it for the first time.
24. Dressed like a Bolshevik and danced like a cossack. Got shot for my pains.
25. Kidnapped a professor and held him for ransom (in tandem with the rest of my class), ending in an incredibly epic battle fought within a gazebo.
26. Forged many new friendships with like-minded yet wonderfully different people from all over the country (or beyond) – some of which have reached a depth I’d never known before, and that I hope and believe will last a lifetime.
27. Developed a new appreciation and love for the friends I’ve known for many years, and discovered how rewarding staying in touch can be.
28. Learned it’s okay to ask people for prayer requests; in fact, it’s an incredible privilege.
29. Played a newspaper boy, a cat-calling baseball player, and a dead man in my first Eden Troupe show. Learned that life is beautiful, in ways you often don’t expect…
30. Had a blast on my first political campaigning trip in St. Louis, MO, with my very Southern, music-loving team.
31. Visited several amazing churches. Got left at one of them… Learned that Baptist churches always have food. Always.
32. Dove deeper into the Word than ever before… and felt more distant from the Word than ever before (which seems also to be a blessing in an odd way).
33. Experienced more challenges to my faith than ever before.
34. Grew in my faith more than ever before.
35. Shared in some of the most profound, enlightening, engaging and entertaining conversations of my life (mostly taking place over an ordinary dining commons meal).
36. Rekindled my love for jamming with my myachi – and got a friend infected with it too.
37. Learned and cultivated the ability to talk to perfect strangers about spiritual matters.
38. Became more aware of the issue of human trafficking and involved in the fight against it.
39. Spent more time than ever before on my knees in prayer.
40. Choreographed a routine with a kindred spirit in dance, wrote/directed a skit on Western Civ, helped write a song parody, and sang in another duet – in other words, took on way too much but had loads of fun – taking part in my first Harmonicomedy.
41. Attended a number of dances – including but not limited to a prom, a Christmas Ball and a masquerade – all proving that homeschooled folks are quite capable of having fun.
42. Found a new appreciation for a cappella music, and found no small amount of pleasure in singing it.
43. Enriched my understanding and skill as a musician at least tenfold in my first semester of Chorale. Sang in my first Lessons and Carols.
44. Participated in two White Elephant parties, one being the most fun I’ve ever seen (I don’t remember how or why, except that crayons were involved), the other by far the most unusual… (A plunger and a live lobster. Need I say more?)
45. Went caroling with glow sticks, sign language accompaniment, a full band, a hay ride, and a pickup truck decked out in Christmas lights.
46. Experienced Handel’s Messiah for the first time, in the form of a sing-along concert.
47. Danced more frequently, consciously, subconsciously, publicly, privately and unashamedly than ever before in my life.
48. Kept my blog alive for another year (though admittedly and unintentionally dormant for parts of it…).
49. Made good my graduating class’s long-time motto, “Strong enough to survive the end of the world.” Three times, I believe.
50. Lived more deliberately than I ever have before.
Quite a few of these have some kind of connection, large or small, with another member or two on the list. I apologize for the number of times I had to resort to the phrase “in a new way” or “more than ever before,” but this really was a year unlike, in many ways, all the previous years I’ve lived on this earth.
We use the word “awesome” to describe pretty much everything nowadays. Usually it denotes some kind of exceptionally fun, uniquely enjoyable, or wonderfully memorable experience, which is generally how I used it here. But for a number of the items on my list, the older, original meaning applies too — something inspiring awe, something wonderful and even unbelievable. So much of this past year has put me in awe — once again, in a new way, more than ever before — of the love of God, the creativity of God, the complexity of God, and especially the grace of God.
I received so many good things at His hand this year; far more than I’m even aware of, or could even begin to adequately thank and praise Him for. And I did absolutely nothing to merit receiving most, if not all of these blessings. Even the hardships, which have assuredly been there, are a form of blessing themselves. Through them I’ve grown stronger, learning to rely on Him to sustain me in my weakness. That too, is grace.
Which is why I have a question mark next to “I” in my title. I’m the one who experienced the blessings, and I have no doubt that I had a hand in making at least some of them happen, to the degree that they did. But looking back on all the things that I had no control over that made these things so rich in my life, I can’t conclude it was entirely I who did them either.
There is absolutely no conceivable way that I could have looked ahead at the end of 2011 or the very beginning of 2012, and seen even half of these things happening or the transformations that I would go through. Sure, I’m still me. But I know that because of what God has been doing in me over the past 12 months (and before), I am not the same anymore. So much has changed, and as far as I can tell, it’s for the better. It has been one grace-laden year.
I’m not even going to try to guess what 2013 will bring. But Lord willing, I’ll be able to look back at the end of it and say once again: It’s been an awesome year, full of grace and transforming growth. And I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.
Here’s to grace,