That's what I am today.
And since this is the last time I will be able to turn something that has a 3 at the beginning of it, I feel it's important enough to document the moment.
As I reflect over this last year, I am grateful. It's been a beautiful year....with many happy moments. I contrast it to a couple years ago when I was turning 37, my friend Sandra asked me at my birthday dinner what I was looking forward to in the coming year. I looked at her with a blank stare. I could think of nothing...
And so dear Sandra with her kind heart tried to help me think of something that might be good about the coming year... Gosh I love her.
BUT this year, turning 39, I am not at all in that place....and I am grateful. When I look at the coming year, I can think of several things I'm excited for. I can think of paths that I'd like to take. Journeys I'd like to pursue. Dreams I'd like to chase. Places I'd like to see. And I am hopeful. Hopeful for what may be.
And honestly - with the passing of time I now tell myself that I'm either getting closer to seeing some dreams come true in this life or I'm getting closer to going home to be with Jesus....both are big huge wins. I guess I'm just happy I'm moving forward in life and not going backward. This is a good thing.
I was talking to my sister yesterday and reminiscing about something we did awhile back. She realized it had been 10 years since the event and it seemed like so long ago to her...and not quite so long ago to me...
I looked at her life ...she's had 4 babies in those 10 years...and I basically said, "Well maybe it's because nothing has happened in my life in those 10 years."
And we laughed because the contrast in her life and mine these past 10 years couldn't be more diverse. She's had these beautiful 4 babies come into our lives and change our family in such beautiful ways....
....and I'm still here. Living in the same place and practically wearing the same clothes for pete's sake...And it seems like nothing has happened.
But I stop.
Because that is not actually true.
There are some AMAZING things that have happened these last 10 years of my life.
In the last 10 years...
I've traveled to Africa and seen the Rift Valley and been woken up by a donkey and met Beatrice and spoke to people in a church and a school and watched giraffes look both ways before crossing the highway
... and I've lived with a warthog for a couple of days on the Masa Mara Reserve.
I've had people with AIDS sing to welcome me and adorn me with a handmade necklace. I watched a little boy orphaned because of his parents' death from the disease and I've been humbled and realized I am not as lost as I feel.
I've hiked in the rainforest of Tanzania and the desert and the moorland with 19 porters and guides. I've gone 8 days without a shower and been surprised at how bad life smells when that happens. I've sat on a chair in the nighttime of Africa on a mountain above the clouds and watched the sun set with my dear friend Stacy and a guy named Ed from Canada.
I've stood in the middle of the night under that same African sky and been taken aback by the beauty of the stars above me while everyone else was asleep. I've been nauseous at 19,341 feet and I've summited Kilimanjaro.
I've rode in a rickshaw with Pastor Shinde and my friend Cindy to a slum in Mumbai and went to a school in another slum where I ate a vegetarian McDonalds "burger" with peas in the patty. I stood before young girls who filed into a room - girls who've been rescued from brothels in India where they were raped night after night - and struggled to not break down and weep before them because of the horrors they have known...
I traveled to Equador and met Melanie - a girl I sponsored through Compassion International - humbled at how they saw me as family...and amazed by such beautiful work being done by this organization.
And coming home due to exhaustion and flight circumstances I had a near mental breakdown in the Miami airport and am pretty sure my name is on a wanted list there - I will pay extra money and take longer trips to avoid that airport the rest of my life...
I've seen the coast of Italy with the painted buildings of the picturesque town called Vernazza, and saw the Eiffel tower and rode on a train with my mom, and almost missed a train with my mom, and ate crepes in Paris and saw the Louvre and rode on a boat through this romantic city.
I body boarded on Napili Bay for hours with Lauren on Maui and drank Mai Tai's at the Luau on the beach and drove the road to Hana and saw these beautiful pools on the way there that are truly one of the most breathtaking sights I've even seen in my life.
Riding bikes in Nova Scotia on Prince Edward Island made me feel like Anne of Green Gables. I nearly drove into a barn scaring my mom to high heavens and I "clinked" some of the best mussels (on the planet apparently) with my friend Kristie before swallowing them down whole. I saw the most beautiful field of yellow flowers and watched a gal do an Irish Jig while I watched her wishing I could do the same.
And while I'm at it...I did take Irish Dance lessons for a bit in these last 10 years.
I visited the Monahans in Sicily with Mom, Sandra, and Matt and ate gelato and saw cathedrals, and realized I absolutely love gnocchi and pistachio. I drank wine and ate sun-dried tomatoes while looking over a vineyard. After missing our flight in Rome, mom and I did a whirlwind tour of that amazing city and walked it til our legs nearly fell off.
I've mixed concrete for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans by hand in wheelbarrows in the July heat....and wondered why we didn't just pay a concrete mixer truck to come do it?
I've prayed with and tutored gals living in India over the internet who've been rescued from sex-trafficking - seeing their smiling faces and marveling at their excitement to spend time with me and thankful they are in a safe house.
I've been humbled, amazed and blown away by the stories of men and women who are recovering from addiction here in Cincinnati through City Gospel Mission. I have been honored to be accepted and counted as friends by these brave souls who've given up nearly everything for the desire to be healed.
I hiked the Inca Trail with my friend Lindsey and ate meals in the mountains with my British teammates and marveled at how they held their silverware...and how it really made a lot of sense to do it that way.
I've laughed so hard with girlfriends under the twinkle lights in my backyard, I could scarcely bear it.
I've been a first hand witness to a miracle of God - seeing a sweet niece who wasn't expected to live, do just that. She is beautiful beyond words.
SO...it might not be babies...but I cannot say...absolutely cannot say...
that nothing has happened in my life in the last 10 years.
I guess what I'm saying is this...
There's more than one way for life to be beautiful....for me...AND for you. What unexpected beauty have you known? Acknowledge it. Cherish it. Live it.