When I was 16 years old a Christian singing group called Morning Star came through my hometown for a few days of Vacation Bible School and concerts. There was a guy named George who was 23 and, I’m telling you, I thought he was the bomb! Well, at that time the phrase, “You’re the bomb” hadn’t yet been coined, but I thought he was so cute! Picture a 1990’s Tom Cruise dressed as your high school English teacher and that’s what George was. Back then 23 seemed so old! I had visions of him pursuing and us running off to create our own morning star. *ahem* I never saw him again.
Somehow I have raced past my own 23 and am almost done my 30th year. How did that happen?
Every year in between Christmas and New Years Eve I reflect on the year – the good, the bad, the unexpected and the chosen. As my final blog for the year, I wanted to share some of the moments that stick out for me from 2011. In true Lani style, it will be vulnerable in hopes of stirring you, my reader, to some sort of action in your own life.
On my 30th birthday in February it rained. Yes, that would be a night to go down in history where we couldn’t go sledding because of rain.
This year I learned more about following my instincts and trust that feeling in my gut when something doesn’t seem right. Rather than toss it aside as being too much of ‘something’, it is actually wisdom trying to rise up.
I had the honor to journey with five brides and grooms on their wedding day as their photographer. I cuddled a few newborn babies and captured their freshness. Directing kids in country fields to smile sweetly and prodding lovebirds to kiss while an old man is off peeing in the bush down yonder …. Yes, that was my “night job”.
At my day job in PR, I tackled opportunities to learn new skills like shooting and editing videos. I must say, that could be a side revisited in the future.
I was reminded that I am nothing without Jesus and His Word really is my breath, my step, and my light to walk boldly aright on my own path.
I watched my sister fall in love. My brother has met a wonderful girl. And my Mom and Dad got new rings for each other for Christmas. Tears. I love my family.
I have got to experience more of English, Italian and Czech culture.
I watched countless movies and walked out of at least one, and the one that sticks with me the most right now is… drum roll … Marley and Me. I know, I know, the dog dies. How could that be the one that sticks? Well, aside from the fact that I was bawling near the end, perhaps because it was watched most recently. Or perhaps because it reminded me that I really do want to raise a family of my own someday – a family that sticks together through all the changes of life. That yes, I really do still want that Golden Retriever some day. That perhaps I too tend to be like Owen Wilson’s character and often want something I don’t have. And if you know me at all, you know that I am a hopeful romantic that will choose a romantic comedy or deep drama over an action film any day, don’t even ask. 😉
But today, this day, I see myself living exactly the life I chose. A life sold out to God and His purpose for me, whatever that looks like. A life that I hope welcomes the right people in and says, “Sorry, not for me.” to the wrong ones. A life that tries, risks, laughs and rests. A life that seeks to embrace each moment, whether it stings or pulses with joy. A life that for a season is away from those closest to me so that I can return home with fresh vision and begin a new chapter. And while that is really hard some days (for me and them), I did choose this.
This year, my 30th, I got out of debt (mortgage aside). I quit my job. Sold my car. Purged my closet. Changed my mind about a few things that needed to be changed. Said good-bye to familiarity in the hopes of what could be. I have learned that no matter how many experiences or new things come into my life, contentment is a choice.
I read a blog by Justin and Mary Marantz (American photographers) this week about following your dream that really sums up, well, my year.
“You may have to go all the way across the country to remember that you wanted to be home. The dream itself might change. The list you keep may grow. But remember why you got started in the first place. And just keep coming back to that. Because no matter how far off it feels right now, one day very soon you may just blink….open your eyes. And realize you have everything you ever wanted staring you in the face. And trust me, you don’t want to miss that.
And so, I blink.
As the closing of the book of 2011 draws nigh, I can look around me and see that my dream is actually my reality. Has my dream changed from five years ago? Yes, it has. But the core of it – to create and contribute – has not. I hope in 2012 I can add on to both of those “c’s” to create and contribute multiples times more.
I am beyond thankful for the experiences, places and people that have graced this year with their touch. To the people who helped me get the answers to my questions, thank you. To the people who pushed me to ask the questions in the first place, thank you. And to the people who cheered me on in search of it all, thank you.
Now before this sounds like an Oscar speech and the music starts to tune me out, I have to get out the words, “Thank you Jesus!” Thank You for the life I get to live. Thank you for choosing me for this one. I hope I do You proud.
Let’s rock 2012.