Holy smokes. 2013, you have come and you have gone. I never really let you in that much, considering there were countless occasions that I wrote 2012 or 2014 in my journal this year. Whoops, sorry about that. It may have been that whole "you were one of the craziest years of my life" yet. Or maybe it was that so much changed this year, not even the year felt constant.
Because that was 2013 for ya: the year of change and the year of grace.
So much happened.
I finished my senior year of college. And welp, my career as a student as well. I pulled it together to make it through one last semester. Writing papers, studying, and learning all that my little brain could take in.
I relished in the nature of my "future self being jealous of now self" while still in college where the responsibilities and expenses were limited.
I saw some of the most wonderful Young Life teammates placed at East and I fell in love with the baby teammies. They gave me energy to lead our team and they provided some much needed laughter.
I became accustomed to making pancakes 500 at a time and welcoming 100 people into my home, because isn't that the best way to eat pancakes... in mass quantities & with best friends.
I got my heart broken in that weird kind of way where it hurts longer than you thought it ever could and it shows you that you have more tears than you thought. But then too, I learned that time really does make things better and at some point the broken heart did not feel so broken anymore.
I stayed up too late on the third floor of the McMansion and I delighted in the wee hours of the evening that roommates sat on the couch in my room and we talked about life.
I graduated from the university that stole my heart as a little girl. I wore that Carolina blue cap and gown, sat in a stadium I loved, sang the alma mater (#gotohellduke), and turned that tassel.
I watched my Young Life girls take the SAT and prepare for their senior year of high school and I saw just how much they had grown and how much the Lord had done in their lives.
I traveled to Chicago to go to the Art Institute because sometimes peace and hope is found in hours walking around an art museum.
I spent weeks in exhaustion. Like mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion. And I learned that being a Christian is hard. Really hard. When Jesus said "pick up your cross and follow me," He really did mean it. Somedays I prayed that He would ask me to pick flowers, instead, and follow Him because I thought I would be better at that, but turns out that on the other side of exhaustion there is grace upon grace upon grace.
I fell in love with writing for my blog and it became a space to breathe and space that gave me life, so I wrote a lot. But then one day, it got harder and it felt more like work so I had to take a little more of a break than I would have wanted.
I found joy in tables that were delicately decorated, covered with delicious food, and surrounded with people I love. Through the year the people have changed... from McMansion, to Bible study ladies, to family, to nine other interns, and to a Colorado family.
I spent a month of the summer in the mitten on a Young Life rental property. The days were full, but God did a mighty work in my heart that month as bitterness began to melt away and as hope was being found in the cross.
I lived at home for two months in the summer and I learned to drink less than mediocre coffee and how to fight for my relationship with Jesus.
I screamed at my brother more than I wish to admit, but then I too had to see that sometimes giving grace can be harder than you would ever wish or expect.
I hopped on a plane with a week's notice to go to Minnesota for a week to work at Castaway Club. I spent nights beside a beautiful lake tearing down lies that were painted in my inner dwelling and I prayed for Truth to replace those lies.
I struggled to be a good long-distance best friend. Best friendships can be hard and sometimes they take a lot of work and somedays I fell short, but my best friend gave me grace each and every time.
I prayed and prayed for things to stop changing. I prayed that I could stay in the McMansion forever and that I would never have to move to Colorado. And then I read things like this: "Jesus says, Follow me. I'm going to take you to places that will make you say 'Why in the world are you taking me there?' Even then, I WANT YOU TO TRUST ME" (Tim Keller). Welp, okay, Colorado, I'm comin' for ya.
I went to the Taylor Swift concert, bashed boys, and dressed like a hipster because sometimes that is just good for the soul.
I finally decided to pack at some point at the end of August and I put all of my belongings in sweet Fonda and drove across the county. At some points I am sure that I would have turned around if it had not been for Anna following me all the way to Denver.
I met the nine strangers (well really only seven were complete strangers) who would become my housemates for the next year. And I was thankful because I was sure my heart did not have room for any more people, but somehow it expanded and the ten of us became a family.
I was terrified of Colorado, but in the Lord's most perfect provision, He has held me safe and He has covered me with His grace in an entirely new place.
I started leading Young Life again, but this time in a valley in Colorado; and I really never thought that I would enjoy it again, but I have been surprised ten-fold and I have fallen in love with a school with only 350 students in the middle of nowhere Colorado. Who. Would. Have. Thought?
I had my love for Young Life camping reaffirmed in all the best ways as I live and work my days at Crooked Creek Ranch.
I have had my fair share of difficult conversations this year. Those conversations that I try so desperately to avoid, but then somehow they just happen. And they have made me thankful for relationships that show me how to ask for forgiveness and how to give grace.
I picked up a new sense of fashion filled with large sweaters, fleece-lined leggings, large a** boots, down vests, chunky scarves, and wool socks. And people in Grand County are still shocked we live there... but turns out we are just a small part of what is "Fashion Forward Fraser".
I learned to ski (and am still learning) in one of the most beautiful places. My first day I ran into a tree and a Frenchman. It's really only gone up from there, but how it could it really have gone down?
I fell in love with a small mountain town just west of Denver called Fraser. I delight in it's valley, the county it is in, and all of the people that are here. I never thought I could love a small town like this, but I guess 2013 was full of falling in love with things I never thought I would.
I returned home to North Carolina for the holidays, in need of rest and room to breathe. I delighted in all that home has to offer, but too I realized that I have a whole new life in Colorado. A life that includes people I love, acquaintances I am excited to get to know, places that I like to get breakfast, a ministry I am ecstatic about, and a church I love to be a part of. A whole new life. Who knew?
I stumbled and still am stumbling through this whole post-grad life thing. But it is happening and it tough some days and other days it is really good. Here is to the ups and to the downs.
Whoa, 2013. You were good and you were hard. But you showed me the meaning of grace. You showed me that grace is never deserved; it is always undeserved, and that is why it is called grace. And you showed me that I need grace every single day. Grace to accept to change, grace to see beyond the situation, grace to forgive others, grace to forgive myself, grace to love those around me, and grace to open my eyes.
Thank You, Jesus, for never withholding grace from me this year. And may Your grace go before me in all that is 2014. Amen.