I can’t escape 2011 without squeezing in a few last words ; ) Here’s my “Top 11″…from songs to Bible verses to favorite memories, these are the threads that wove their way into my life this year:
- Chapstick (the blue medicated kind): Okay, so I’m not starting out too deep, but this stuff is seriously the best I’ve discovered. I was a Burt’s Bees girl for years, but found it stopped working and had to make a switch. After reading reviews, I decided to try this. Somehow the medicated kind works better than regular, so go blue.
- “Strong Enough” by Matthew West: If ever there was a year to feel weak, this was it…although, I’m finding that every year holds challenges too big for me to handle. From summer camp to pre-wedding prep (my friend’s, not mine…promise I wouldn’t leave you in the dark!), this song kept me sane. Thank you, Mr. West, for reminding me time and time again- “Well maybe, maybe that’s the point, to reach the point of giving up…”
- The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias: Mom kept mentioning this title to me on multiple occasions, and I was reluctant to pick it up for some reason. As soon as I did, I could hardly put it down. Naomi’s eloquent writing inspired me to expand my vision and see a glimpse of beautiful in the midst of brokenness. I emailed to see if she was hiring or looking for interns…still no word back. What girl wouldn’t want to travel the world and help those who truly need it? Bucket list, God?
- SheSpeaks: In my younger years (okay, so I’m only 22, but 16 feels like a long time ago!), Mom and I used to spend almost every single weekend together. Whether it was pageant shopping, dance competitions, nail appointments- you name it, we were there…together. In college, I definitely missed those special times. This past July, we packed our bags and hit the, uh, airport, for some quality girl time at a conference for Christian writing, speaking, and ministry. I laughed and cried and loved almost every minute…except for the smelly airport part (hehe). The Proverbs 31 ministry poured into my life in a way I will never be able to repay. Thank you, Jesus, for such a special weekend.
- Grace: “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10) The theme of grace was brought up time and time again this year, and it’s a theme that I pray never loses its meaning or prominence in my life. God continued to teach me what grace truly means, though I’ll never fully comprehend its breadth. The idea that He deliberately pours out blessing, regardless of my faith, or lack of it, amazes me. The hard thing about grace is that it’s too good to put into words, so all this babbling I’m doing right now isn’t doing “grace” any kind of service. The books Redeeming Love and One Thousand Gifts probably say it a bit better than I can myself. You should definitely check them out if you haven’t already! “Caught up in grace like an avalanche, nothing compares to this love, love, love, burning in my heart…” (also a favorite song of 2011)
- Dunkin’ Donuts Caramel Coffee: Iced for summer, hot for fall and winter. Either way, I’m a happy girl! Just enough sweet with a caffeine kick, and I’ve got my study/work mode in full swing. What can I say, I’m hookeDD ; )
- Ending every sentence with “…because I’m broke”: This mainly happened toward the end of this year. My friend Krista and I realized that many of our attempts to do something grand were quickly slammed with a dose of realism. “We should go parasailing!!” “That would be awesome, but I can’t…because I’m broke.” “Why don’t we ever go shopping together?” “….because I’m broke.” “Can you imagine going to the airport and picking the cheapest random flight to just GO!” “I can’t…because I’m broke.” We had many laughs over our new catch phrase, and I explained that God was trying to teach us how to live on a little to learn contentment. “Broke” or not, I know God has filled my cup to overflow, so no complaining- only giggles!
- Pinterest: Yes, I said I would never join, but I did. I’ll admit, my first few weeks, I fell under the “addict” category, but now I check it 2-3 times weekly for inspiration points. For those of you who haven’t started pinning, check out my “confession post” here for a quick summary.
- College graduation: Not quite the cap and gown completion I anticipated, but I did make it through 3 1/2 years of higher education at Nova Southeastern University. The school only offers one ceremony per academic year, so I’ll be walking in May. It’s supposed to feel epic, but it hasn’t quite “hit me”…besides the whole trying to figure out what to do with my life thing. Minor details ; )
- The United Nations: This gang barely made it into 2011, but I’m so glad they did! The second half of the semester, a group of people who lived on my floor (CLC 5th floor) started Tuesday night dinners, since some of them claimed they ate Ramen Noodles every night. (Come to find out, I’m a little too gullible, but hey, I love to cook, so it all worked out!) The first night we discovered that almost everyone in the room was from a different country- Nigeria, France, Norway, Haiti, Canada, Cuba, Lake Placid (just kidding). But, seriously, we were like the UN for Nova! We managed to fit in all sorts of memories before the semester came to a close. In fact, those are some of my favorites at NSU. And now I have contacts for my overseas expeditions ; ).
- Wilderness Camp: It led me to every kind of emotion on the chart, and I’m not one for being emotional. It stretched me in ways I never imagined and humbled me in a way I’ve never known. And, I still can’t believe God allowed me to lead a discipleship camp for 17 middle and high school students. I realized that in the faces of those being discipled, I saw God’s glory. It was altogether captivating and motivating. I learned more about ministry and discipleship in one week than I’ve probably learned my whole life. Once again- thank you, Jesus, for such a time as this.
And, there you have it- my 11 for 2011. This year flew, and I hear the older I get, the faster they go! I’m begging that I don’t forget to stop and reflect and remember. From the big to the little, the extraordinary to the mundane, may every moment be one of learning and growing and loving to the full.
I’m sad to leave behind 2011. I almost don’t want to let it go, especially now that I’ve recounted what made it so special, but I know my God. And if He sticks to His character (which He always does), 2012 is gonna be even better. Let the good times roll :)