Best Nine (Extreme Selfish and Extended Edition)
This will be rambling and lengthy. Come along all the way if you can make it, or leave me halfway if you must - no hard feelings, I just wanted the first blog of 2018 to be a monument. I have copied the "best nine" concept from Instagram and pasted it onto a media platform where I might expound upon it in greater capacity. There will be more than nine pictures. (And likely more than nine experiences, if we're really honest.)
2017 was such an incredible year for me. It was also incredibly hard, but you know what's funny? No element of hardship sticks out in my mind whatsoever. I just remember He was there, He held my hand, and it was wonderful. He took care of my every need down to the most minute detail. I mean, I needed a driving instructor that I could trust, and He provided that. (We haven't talked about my ridiculous and groundless fears regarding driving, but we will.) I needed a personal trainer I was willing to be vulnerable with, and He provided that. I needed a car. Done. I needed a new laptop. Provided. I needed my mentor and my person still present in my daily life. Got it. (The last of which is forever and ever the best part of 2017. In fact. Let's just begin with that as a bonus.)
While we're taking a pause at the start for "honorable mentions" lets just include these as well:
Preambles aside, let's get down to it. The nine major events of 2017.
Blog and Domain
At the beginning of the year, I purchased a domain. My word for the year was "invested." It was my goal to become more intentional, to do just that - invest in my writing, to put my money where my mouth was. So I bought the domain. Brianna Oliver crafted the website, streamlined my branding, designed my business cards and updated my head shots. On this new, professional, and perfectly presentable platform I published a pitiful thirteen blogs total. (Guess what my goals for 2018 include...)
Y'all. This was remarkable. Not for the reasons one might suspect. Yes, it was an honor to be chosen, and yes it was an incredible opportunity. It was just also a situation where I was nauseous, nervous, and possibly neurotic. So many questions: Do I want to stand up in the arena and be visible and videoed from every conceivable angle? Will anyone even be awake? (In that vein: Shout out to my MKs, Fusion, and all my loves from Lancaster, Ohio for dragging yourselves out of bed and being present.) WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS? (I never actually figured out what to do with my hands. I was also holding a paper I did not need.)
The best thing about this experience was this: I was sitting in my Youth Room at church when I wrote the monologue. I sat down and wrote it just like it was, from start to finish, without stopping and I really felt that it was for NAYC17. I felt it enough that I actually applied for NATS, which I would for sure never have done otherwise. I didn't make it. I was not on the list. I would not be presenting this monologue at Youth Congress. My pride was a small casualty, but my spirit was understandably confused. Did I comprehend the voice of the Lord at all? I was so sure of what I'd heard. I let it go and moved on. After all, what other choice did I have? When I arrived home from my trip to Scotland there was a voicemail on my phone from L.J. Harry. The monologue was for NAYC after all.
There is no way I could ever tell what this moment meant to me. I have been reading Ann's work for a long time. I have been changed as a person and challenged as a writer by her words, her heart, and her love for God and His people. Meeting her was a dream come true. It was an event I never imagined would actually occur, and one of those things that was built so far up in my mind that I thought the reality could not possibly compare. My hopes were surpassed.
Ann Voskamp people. New York Times Bestselling Author (my favorite) and beautiful, authentic, human being. Look her up.
I didn't want to go to Scotland. I was so completely confident it was the right thing to do, and so honored at the opportunity, but I did not want to go. By the end of it, of course, I didn't want to leave. We couldn't talk about the actual reason for our visit on social media at the time so had you viewed my Instagram feed it looked as if I was spending the majority of my time drinking milkshakes and chasing pigeons. Ya know? I did a lot of that. We were blessed with the most delicious days where sunlight stretched on forever. There was teaching - of course. Love given for sure. Hopefully there was even some wisdom imparted. But there were also long rambling walks through a new city, hot tea, excellent coffee, fish and chips, bus rides, gorgeous scenery, impressive architecture, and giggles. Giggles without end. Giggles galore. In this place I experienced what the phrase "high on life" truly must mean.
I did teach one Bible study, and it was, in fact, quite a spiritual trip. However, my mission in Liverpool was not missions. Someone's best friend took it upon herself to marry a real life prince. As princes do, he tends to live in Europe.
Barak and I went to Greece to represent MK Ministries and to take care of the MK's present for the EME Regional Retreat. Preparing to go, and getting there, was one of the most stressful situations of my life to date. (Special thanks to the Poitras clan, Kaeli, and Amanda for providing oxygen when my own breath was coming up short.) Once we got there though? How do I put this... I got a facial once. The entire experience in beautiful Thessaloniki was like getting a facial at the most luxurious spa with the most pleasant and skilled attendants imaginable. Even the part of it which was work was wonderful.
New York, New York
Women Ministering to Women
Sis. Jess Marquez allowed me to preach my first conference. What an honor and a privilege. It was such a powerful, anointed, spirit fused event that changed my life in forever kinds of ways. It also happened to be held in New York City, which I was not complaining about.
Urshan college cataloging
At this point you are probably thinking (especially if this is your first time surviving a blog post - which would be unfortunate. They are not all like this, I promise.) "Does this woman even have a job?" She does. I have an AMAZING job in a BEAUTIFUL building in a GORGEOUS, spacious office which allows me to travel when needed but also is in an area I am SUPER passionate about.
I catalog books. Which are used as resources to fuel the minds and academic endeavors of the future of Pentecost. As far as jobs go I am only completely in love with it. NBD.
This is the goodness of God, that when I am not cataloging books I am editing, contributing to, or writing them. This year there were two which fell into that last category.
These are just the highlights. They barely scratch the surface. 2017 brought me so much to be grateful for. "He's done so much for me I cannot tell it all." Nor, to be fair, would you want me to.