Monday, December 26, 2011

smiling because it happened

As the year draws to a close, I suppose it is time for that inevitable blogpost about the end of this year and the beginning of the next. So I find myself here, wishing I could do it in some brilliant, perfect and concise way. I don't really know where to begin to talk about the year just passed, that is about to end.

I could tell you that I brought in the great two thousand and eleven with my best friend, and spent most of that first month in depression and listened to Coldplay's Fix You countless times. I tried to convince myself that I am not beautiful and I thank God for so many people in my life who are convinced of the opposite and weren't afraid to tell me so.

I could tell you that February brought with it some fresh changes of perspective and I was a little more up than down. Youth group started again and I loved the people there, but nowhere near as much as I should have and still I suffered from a terrible amount of self-inflicted loneliness. I planned and hosted a Valentine's party for all my little sisters in Christ at our church and was definitely more blessed by it than they could possibly have been.

I could tell you in March I finished reading the Harry Potter series and it was one of the most brilliant and satisfactory and completely soul-ripping-apart endings I have ever read. So beautiful. I cried myself to sleep more times than I wish to remember. In retrospect, those awful days and nights taught me so much about God, and life, and myself, but I sure wasn't thinking about how good they were for me at the time. The Wisconsin MacDonalds came to visit, and it was one of the most peaceful, laughter-filled, blessed weekends I have ever experienced. My relatives are incredible.

I could tell you that April brought with it gentle showers of healing, and I discovered and read the amazing book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, and it basically revolutionized my thinking. I started counting blessings and found my life to be so much more beautiful than I had ever realized before. Our choir had its amazing end of the year concert and God spoke to me that night in a way I will never forget. I love Mrs. Berger and Dr. Dailey and all my lovely choir peeps. I went to the musical theatre performance I had so desperately wanted to be involved in and laughed and cried and generally had one of the most enjoyable nights of my life. I'm so glad I get to be involved this year, even if it's not the same.

I could tell you in May I was still counting gifts and still finding the beauty in life. I had a princess tea party for my sister and her friends. I turned sixteen and it was possibly the most low-key birthday party I've ever had, but it was fun anyway. And two days before I turned sixteen, my dear, dear youth group leaders, Jon and Lindsay, told us he'd just gotten a job promotion and they were moving back to California in June. I had known them only just barely over a year but they were some of the most beautiful, amazing people I've ever met and my heart broke that day and I honestly didn't know anything could hurt that much.

I could tell you that then in June I said goodbye to those two dear people. Then I spent a week at a conference with my best friend in all the world and learned a lot and stored up a lot of love. I got to meet Michael Card who is my hero and such a kindred spirit. I learned so much from him. My cousin Seth came to visit and we spent an amazing few days with him. I discovered just how enjoyable a walk at 3:00 a.m. can be and remembered again how awesome my cousin is. I read A Sacred Sorrow by my hero, Michael Card. Definitely one of my favourite books, ever. I spent a week in Peru with a team from my church that soon became some of my favourite people in the world, and it was one of the most incredible weeks I have ever experienced. Words don't come close. At all. But you can read my journal here.

I could tell you that July brought me back from Peru, full of love and peace and joy, horribly homesick for Peru and changed for better and for good. I taught 4th and 5th graders for a week of VBS at a local christian school, and missed Peru an intense amount. It was tough to be home. We went to see the last Harry Potter movie. It didn't exactly do the book justice, but it was great just the same. Church became my favourite place to be, and it's only gotten better. I spent a week of being a drama/art camp counsellor, for a lot of little boys and it was crazy and fun and I loved it.

I could tell you that August took me to see one of my life-long friends in Pennsylvania, and our friendship was renewed in a beautiful and unexpected way and God is good, so good. I said too many goodbyes and tried to ready myself for a new school year that I desperately didn't want and I was pressured to make some decisions I did not want to make and I pessimistically prepared myself for another year of depression and loneliness and general melancholiness. Then I went to see my very best friend and we spent a ridiculously crazy and fun weekend getting up early to see the sunrise at the beach and loving each other and making food and playing games and it started and ended with amazingly fun car rides with my brothers who also happen to be some of my dearest friends. I have never known a weekend as healing and refreshing and altogether lovely as that and I have never thanked God enough for it. Isaiah left for his last year of college the day after we got back and my heart broke again as I realized our family would never be the same again with Josiah leaving for university as well, all too soon. The weekend following, I discovered how thankful I am that my God is more stubborn than I am, and He broke me in the gentlest of ways in another beautiful weekend, and I knew love like I had never known before and I am not the same since.

I could tell you that September was possibly the loveliest and happiest month of my year. Youth group started, and though it wasn't the same without Jon and Lindsay, it was beautiful still. Choir and musical theatre continued in full force and I loved it. Some hard things happened, and mostly a lot of good things happened. I added two new brothers to my life and I love them dearly. Merely honorary ones, but boy are they wonderful ones.

I could tell you that October was another beautiful month, me still realizing and discovering how loved I am, but it contained great sadness too, and as always, my love was deepened through the aching. Josiah left for Wales and I broke completely and it is funny how the pain changes you–such a severe mercy. We went to a Celtic Thunder concert and it was fabulous, obviously.

I could tell you that November held in store such a variation of days and moods and emotions and I have never ridden an actual roller coaster, but these metaphorical ones are pretty rough rides. And after two months of almost perfect happiness, I slipped back into melancholiness and began to write again, more than I did in September and October. I got a new camera, thanks to the amazing Uncle Bill, and have had such a grand time with it since it arrived. I celebrated the saddest and sweetest Thanksgiving of my life; made a new friend, renewed old friendships, missed Josiah, and it was one of the most memorable weekends I've ever known.

I could tell you that December feels in some ways like the most intense month I've ever experienced, but that might partly be because I am not quite finished with it. Our choir had its Christmas concert and it was a lovely, lovely night. I did a lot of Dicken's Caroling with choir peeps and we had our youth group Christmas party and it was beautiful, and we had our choir Christmas party and it was beautiful, and we did another two concerts and the second one was one of the most beautiful nights of my life, seriously. We had a low-key but peaceful and happy Christmas, missing Josiah an unreal amount, but pressing on with joy anyway.

I could tell you all that and maybe it does do the year some justice, but maybe it doesn't. I don't know. It has been the shortest year I have ever known, and in a lot of ways, the hardest by far. But who I am at the end of it all is proof that God knows what He's doing. Everything that happened to me, every single little thing, happened for a reason and no matter how much things hurt, no matter how often He lets me be broken in two, still He is good, still it was for the best, and the best part about it all? That the best is yet to come. And no matter how often I am scared silly about my future, about how short my time is here, how soon I will be leaving home, still I am excited and giddy to see what is to come. It was a good year, folks. A great year. The best year of my life so far. Here's to next year being even better in all the unimaginable ways God has in store, and here is something you should know that is for sure: Jesus is constant. And His worth, His presence, and His attention are what matters most. May you each learn that in a new way this next year.

And God bless us, everyone!