I feel odd writing out ’24’. I feel like I am not experienced enough or qualified enough to say I am that old. I feel like I still get questioned by adults and am not quite respected yet as more than a “bless your heart, you’re putting in good effort” kind of young adult. And I get it, if you’re any bit older than me, you’re likely saying, “Oh hush, you’re so young still.” But, with all due respect, yes I know I am young, but if I am old enough to be developing wrinkles on my forehead from my expressiveness, then I think I can say I am older than I once was.
(Darn it for being expressive.)
Today I turn 24 years old. That really hits my gut. I am now “mid-twenties”, going on 3 years out of college, and I was a freshman in high school 10 years ago. THAT freaks me out. Turning 24 means I had my first broken heart a decade ago, Taylor Swift’s first album came out over a decade ago (yeah, let that simmer for a bit), and I have been in Dallas 6 years. I was literally at Orientation + Registration for college this time 6 years ago.
Last year I wrote about turning 23. I was warned it would be a hard year, because 23 seems to be the cursed year for many, and in some respects it certainly lived up to all the precautionary warnings I received. When I turned 23, it felt like standing on the edge of a storm right before it hits. You can see in the near distance the lightning, the swirling clouds trying to assemble themselves into something destructive, and you are left standing just waiting for the sirens. I could feel I was on the cusp of something. I knew that the way life looked then wasn’t how it would be in one year, and I not only prepared for it, but I begged for it. God just gave me the knowledge that I was about to experience a lot of life altering change. The kind of change that knocks you over, disorients you, and when you finally get up to keep running the race with scrapes and bruises all over your face, you limply attempt to feel your way to the finish line.
If I defined age 23 as anything it would be “year of change”. A week after turning 23 my entire life + career took a turn for SO MUCH BETTER, but it was still a tough season none the less. Both mine and Paul’s lives were teetering on “the perfect plan” panning out in time before rent was due in August. Add into that mix that after months of Paul interviewing for various churches, I was now job-less, and we turned one offer down to go to a church plant that hadn’t even promised a job to Paul yet. We actually signed a lease for an apartment 30 miles away for a job we hadn’t actually received an offer for yet because we believed that much in it. I have never had to pray more to trust that God knew what was happening. It was a time of figuring out what I would do with my life, a time of fearing if we would be able to eat dinner that night, a time of questioning where we were supposed to move and be as a couple for the next 5,10 15 years. A time of life filled with the terrible, vague line escorted by no answers, “We will just figure it out.” As he always does though, the Lord knew exactly what we needed, he always provided, and one year later Paul and I are thriving in careers, a church, a new city that feel as though they were tailor made for us. Life is so good. It is so sweet. It is not perfect, we aren’t rolling in money per se, we have had to be a one car family after Angie died to be able to pay off debt, we fight just the same as we always have, we don’t eat extravagant meals cooked by me every night (though I do wish I was a clever chef), we bicker over who is taking the dog out tonight, and we have had to accept some hard realities about life in general.
I promise, we are not perfect. We don’t have this life or marriage thing nailed.
BUT, we have also learned this past year how much God loves us. We have seen firsthand what it looks like to receive his favor, his love, his hope, his grace, his passion, his goodness, his fulfillment of prophecy, that his word is true, and his utter perfection.
This year, I stand on the edge of something beautiful with a new sense of expectation. I cannot quite see it yet, but I feel it. I stand on the edge, like a child on the edge of the pool who was told not to get in yet, but they keep dipping their toes in with their goofy arm floaties on when mom and dad aren’t looking. I am so ready to cannon ball into whatever adventures are in store for myself and Paul this year. 24- Don’t let me down. I will try no to be hasty in my thinking, but I think you are going to pretty bad-a.
So, cheers to 24! I cannot WAIT to see what this year brings. I am expectant and excited. As 23 rolls out and 24 rolls in (actually, as I write, I think it’s this very minute), I reflect on things I learned in year 23 and write things I hope to master in the coming year.
Here’s 24 things for 24:
1. Rest is a good thing- This is of utmost importance
2. It isn’t worth fighting over the small things (They weren’t kidding when they said “pick your battles wisely.”)
3. Ice cream is always a good idea for dinner (eat it while you can, right?)
4. Things always do pan out (I promise)
5. Take more daring leaps- you won’t regret it
6. Moving to a city for a job and nobody you know can be thrilling
7. Just take the dog out- again, not worth fighting over
8. Prep your meals on Sunday night
9. Cook more extravagant meals
10. Take the dog to the groomer every 6 weeks or the groomer will still hate you
11. Trade any future cars in BEFORE they die
12. On that note- RIP Angie
13. Be intentional with friendships, because it only gets harder to make time
14. Sometimes spending money on things that are not “necessities” is necessary- Treat yo-self
15. Know when you are spreading yourself too thin, you are not only harming yourself but also letting others down
16. Call your mom + dad
17. Go home as often as you can- home grows up and changes, too, you know (soak it in)
18. Relationships change, but have those select few that never do
19. Date nights are and always will be priority
20. Choose him first over all else
21. Be a better listener- life isn’t about proving why you’re right
22. Dare to pursue the “crazy dream”
23. Turn your passion into a career
24. EAT MORE CAKE
Y’all. I love you. I mean, I really do. I pray for you, I thank god that, for some reason I still don’t quite understand, people care to read what I write. Whether it’s out of pity because I took the time to do it, or you actually do enjoy it, I am so grateful. I am grateful for all of you in my life, the community you surround me with, and the love I feel from you on a constant basis.
Photos by Cottonwood Road Photography for The Cake by Hannah