Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Twenty Nine

When I was younger, I often looked at women past young adulthood and wondered if they longed for the youth that was behind them. I've never felt negative about my own age, and I'm starting to realize that the wise ones don't.
Not that wise women actively resist some sort of temptation to feel bad about aging, but that they truly feel alive, lovely and wonderful in the season they are in. I would have been hesitant to label myself as such in years past, but have finally developed enough of a balance between humility and confidence to say that I do consider myself one of the wise ones-- not wise on my own, but wise enough to embrace my circumstances and let God's sovereignty rule in my life.

It's not always easy in this life to look around and feel like you are doing enough of what you believe life is really about-- dissatisfaction is an easy trap to fall into. Somewhere over the expanse of my twenties, though, God has changed something in my heart. Explicitly at the hands of loss, being without and failure, God has mercifully humbled my heart to a place of knowing that whatever he has given me is enough, and exactly what I need-- knowing it in a way that doesn't pass in one ear and out the other, but really sits in my bones. He has many times, given me no other option but to find joy in the little things-- and in that, showed me that doing so is the highest form of gratitude that there is. It's funny how hungry humility brings about thankfulness for the smallest morsel, and develops eyes that can see hidden beauty.

Hey, little-easily-overlooked-wonderful-thing, I see you and value the beauty you exude.

Just to have a moment like that, with moth, child, forest or random occurrence, is to see the value in every moment. I think, especially in this place and time, we all need that.

So it was with this posture that God ushered me into the twenty-ninth year of my life-- expecting nothing but unexpected goodness in my trials, without criteria, from a God who taught me what good is. Little did I know (as if we ever do) the ridiculous joy that past year would entail. I've not done much to process it because it's been such a whirlwind, so I'll attempt to do that here, as I'm entering my thirtieth year.

Photos were fewer and further between in the joyful chaos that filled August '16 through June '17 in my life. Between Jon and I flying to visit each other every month, family holidays, continuing to pour into my work and maintaining friendships, my usually-reflective nature just honestly had less time to capture moments via photograph! Still, I'm glad for the ones I have. For the sake of entirety, the below are from 6.16 through 6.17.

June and July in hindsight have become symbolic to me of my singleness, both triumphant and poised for transition-- more than I could have known then, but looking back I can see it.  I was so content and full of joy in my own journey, but open to people and new friendships all around, in a way that I never had been in years past. I wouldn't have had my transition into marriage come from any other state of heart, soul and mind.  All creatures are different and individual, but I'll go as far to say that I believe humans are most ready (emotionally, spiritually and mentally) for a committed romantic relationship when they are content and alive right where they are, in singleness.  And oh, how I was! It's been beautiful to see how God has used this to make my transition to marriage just as content and alive.

At the end of August, Jon entered stage right :)  Once we met in early September, it didn't take long for us to realize that this might be serious-- and it was. Still, we both had very full lives and lots of work to do, so between visits and letters, lots of life continued to flow.  This is something I'm so thankful for, to this day. We work so well together because we each know who we are and know whose we are: God's.  For me, this meant many things, but most of all honoring commitments like leading my High School senior girls' small group through the end of the school year-- call it funny, but this is actually what determined our wedding date (literally the weekend after).

I even began to find that being in a relationship with this godly, intelligent, funny and caring man caused my horizons to further expand.  I began reading more to pass time on the plane trips, became aware of the awesome thing that is AirBnb (I know, I am slow), and began taking a couple of my more creative pursuits more seriously because of Jon's encouragement.  In November, we spent Thanksgiving with my family in Chicago.

Christmas put both of us on a plane to North Carolina to spend time with his family, which was full of wonderful moments, including a proposal and a very earnest and excited "yes".  Both then and now, amazement and gratitude are constant emotions-- that God would create such a man for me, and that my dreams and desires for a balanced counterpart weren't in vain after all.  I pray that for every single lady who desires marriage.  My road of singleness was a long one, and I don't ever intend to forget it or the value of that time in my life-- I am a stronger, more mature, capable woman because of that time that God had both Jon and I becoming who he desired us to be to each other.

The new year felt newer to me than almost any has, as my mind bubbled over with all of the beginnings and ends that would take place ahead.  I began planning our wedding, which felt incredibly strange and wonderful simultaneously, and spending as much time with Illinois loved ones as I could-- for I knew I would be moving to Phoenix in the Spring.  So, so much good mixed with the gentle sadness of a closing season has made for such a gratitude-full close my twenty-ninth year of life.  For Jon and I, the Spring was honestly hard. We wanted so much to begin our lives together, so each day was filled with prayer and encouragement, "it'll be here before we know it", and reminding eachother that God's timing in perfect-- and oh, how it is!  In hindsight, I'm so glad that God had us both pretty busy during that time.

And then our wedding day arrived, with my 29th birthday following closely after (on the honeymoon actually).  What a wonderful day it was, but I think I shall have to chronicle that in another post all together-- this thing is ridiculously long as it is!

My 29th year was nothing short of amazing, and really there are so many other moments that I would put here if I had room-- so much good, both the hard and easy kinds.  My thirtieth year brings quite a bit of change with it, but oh what exciting horizons too!  More on that as we go...

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