I just submitted my final paper for my final class this semester, so basically best. night. ever.
Also, I can now write without someone giving me a topic, deadline, or word limit, so again...basically the best night ever.
Yesterday I turned 27. I felt celebrated and loved and everything about my normal day seemed to just have a special spin on it. Or maybe it was the fact that my co-workers decorated my office to look like a circus tent that made me feel like I was spinning. Either way...a lot of people thought I was crazy for going into work on my birthday. Like, since it's my birthday, I should have a day off. And we all know it would be spent at the beach. And I got about as much work done as if I had been at the beach, because all day long people were bringing me lasagna and cookies and balloons and diet coke and my phone was ringing and Facebook dinging and AHH! The kind of chaos I love. (Sidenote: I split a hole in the thigh of my jeans today...I don't think it was a coincidence).
So with all the busyness, instead of using the day to prepare a deeply theological exegesis of an imperative scriptural truth for my Wednesday night youth group teaching, I decided last night I would share with my students 27 things I've learned (27th bday, 27 things, get it?). Turning another year older really had me contemplating on life...I guess the wisdom of age got to me.
What wasn't wise was thinking I could preach a 27 point sermon in ten minutes.
There were a lot of life lessons I wanted them to know, like...
-use your manners
-drink lots of water
-smile a lot
-save your money
-selfies are dumb
-never stop playing dress up
...but I realized I could probably go a little deeper than that. So I came up with my list of 27 truths I wanted to speak into their lives.
I thought it would make a great blog post. Then I got to writing, and I realized it was actually 27 great blogposts. So I'm not going to commit to blogging every day for the the 27 days, but I can pretty much promise that my next 27 posts will be comprised of the aforementioned list, and they'll be pretty short and to the point.
So, in no particular order...
#1: Use your words.
We all know I'm obsessed with a what makes a good story. I love story lines and conflict resolution and character development. I love when a story captivates me. Words are what we use to tell good stories in books...and in life. I love that people brought me cookies and cake all day, but my favorite gifts were Katie and Sarah's words on Facebook, Heather's text, a message from my sister, and a box of letters from my friends and students that my thoughtful roommate put together. These words recalling memories and stories of things past - those things that usually make me cry - these are the presents that mean the most to me.
Now that I think about it, all year God has been blessing me with words. In August, a new, more mature friend in ministry felt compelled to come over to me during prayer time at a conference and speak what God was telling her - words of affirmation I needed in life, a message of hope and trusting God's plan for the future. A month later, I got a Facebook message from my 5th grade best friend, along the lines of..."I just wanted to say I think it's awesome how you put your everything into your kids...I know I've never seen you with your kids, but something tells me your making huge differences." It's crazy - we haven't seen or talked to each other in almost ten years! But she felt prompted to use her words to encourage me. Then again this winter, cousin Jenny, out of nowhere, gave into those "gentle whispers" she was feeling from the Spirit, and from Montana sent me a care package and encouraging card. Words...encouragement...amazing!
The point is this: your words hold incredible power. You can use them to tear people down...or you can use them as an unstoppable tool to build people up. So do that. Write warm fuzzies, send an encouraging message. Use your words.
PS...words weren't the only gift I was thankful for!! If you were one of the people who gave me gift cards or food or birthday blessings or just celebrated with me, thank you from the bottom of my heart!! Your gifts were all so thoughtful. I felt loved in so many ways yesterday :)
PSS...shoutout to my #reallybuddy Jo Mill with Little Sarah, KT, and Jordan...they used their words to write and perform a rap for me, so basically my life couldn't get much better...unless there was a dance to accompany it. But we'll talk about dancing in #6 :)