On Turning 26

My birthday was yesterday. I turned 26. The only thing I can think is that I’m now half the age my dad was when he died. I’m 26. He was 52 when he died. I scares me to think of the possibility that my life could be half over too. Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t think my life is half over. I have every intention of living to see my 53rd birthday. And my 63rd. And 103rd. But I’d be a liar if I denied the thought has never crossed my mind. 

Sometimes I think about where my dad was at 26 and I’m not 100% sure of the answer. My gut says that he was living in the south – I know that he lived in Florida for a period of time and one of the Carolinas. At 26 my dad wasn’t married yet and I, his first child, hadn’t come along yet. I rest assured in knowing that I’m like my dad in that aspect and it makes me feel better most days. 

However, I don’t want to be like my dad in all aspects. I’ve recently taken up running and it’s becoming my sole goal to get healthier. I still have days when I eat like crap, but the days are few and far between because I know it feels better to eat healthier. There are days when I skip the gym and workout at home instead, and there are days when I’m frustrated and want nothing more than to go for a ran – even though I’m not good. 

It’s not easy – nothing in life is if it’s worth it. That’s why I surround myself with inspiring words – words that motivate me when I need it. I have multiple Pinterest boards devoted to words. One look around my house proves that I love having inspiration everywhere. Some string of words are repeated throughout – I need those words the most. Three that I always find myself going back to “I know what quitting feels like, I want to know what happens when I don’t” and “I hate starting over when I quit” and “genes don’t dictate my body, I do.”

I tend not to make resolutions – I never keep them. Instead, I aim to make lifestyle changes, but when I want to and I never start off thinking of them as changes. It starts off simple “I think I want to snack on fruit more” and slowly evolves to “no, I don’t want chips at the store this week.” It’s s learning process. I’m still learning at 26. 

I’m not going to wish for anything in the coming year. I stopped wishing for things a long time ago. I just want to work everyday to be a better person than I was the day before – and I do work on that. 

God will take care of everything else. I don’t have a worry in the world with Him by my side. Sure, there are numerous things I would love to have happen in my life, and they will, in time, when I’m ready, when God chooses to bless me with them. 

God, Faith, and Accepting Jesus

I’ve always been a firm believer in God. Even before I started going to church, I had a good idea of who He was and how He sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. I remember with extreme clarity how jealous I was that everyone around me was accepting Jesus into their hearts and I continued to refuse. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe, it was that I was a very stubborn fourteen year old and I refused to do what other people wanted me to do. I would accept Jesus, but in my own time and on my own terms. 
I remember the first time I truly felt God was with me. I was upset with my mom for making me wear this awful pink sweater to church, so much so that I refused to get out of the car. I sat in the car throughout Sunday School and church. Then, a knock came on the door. I looked up to see my Sunday School teacher standing there. He had heard I was in the car and he came out to see what was wrong. I immediately felt childish for missing church because of what I was forced to wear – but I was already knee deep and I was too stubborn to quit. 
Perhaps luckily for me, I was about to get my first lesson in becoming in touch with my inner feelings (we’ll discuss the second lesson at a later date). I opened the door and he climbed into the car. He had his Bible with him. As he read verses, he asked me what they meant. When I told him I didn’t know, he’s would shake his head, telling me that he knew that I understood what the Bible was saying. 

He saw right through the facade I was putting up. No, something else was bothering me. Something I didn’t want to talk about. 

We read through several verses and chatted. He looked at me and asked if I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart and soul. I remember the crushing feeling in my heart and soul when I looked at him, tears in my eyes, and said no. 

I was not ready. I refused to give into what everyone wanted of me. I would accept Jesus, but when I wanted to, not when other people wanted me to. For the next several weeks, I would plan each Sunday as the Sunday I would be saved. And each Sunday I would not. It became an inner struggle. I knew what I wanted to do, but the stubborn fourteen year old girl was still trying to figure herself out. I was lost. I was scared. I felt alone. When our Sunday School teacher would ask if we had any prayer requests, every week I said I had an unspoken request. Each week it was the same request – for me to find my way to God. 

The day finally came on May 8, 2005. Sunday School class was dismissed and I waited for everyone else to leave before walking up to my teacher. I looked at him and told him I wanted to be saved. I finally understood what it meant to me and myself. I knew I was ready to make that commitment. I knew I was doing it because I wanted to. I knew it was what I believed. We sat at the table and I accepted Jesus into my heart just before 11:00am that morning. I was filled with such a love and happiness from that point on. 

I knew that I believed that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. I knew that Jesus was sent to save me and that He was the Way and the Truth and the Light. I knew that I would never truly be alone because God was always with me. 

The stubborn fourteen girl had found her way home. Only God knew the struggles she would later face. However, for that moment, I was exactly where I needed to be. 

I would later learn that people had been praying for me – that I would come to accept Jesus. But they also stopped bringing it up to me all the time – it was exactly what I needed but had been too afraid to ask for. Anyone who knew me knew that I would come around to it, in my own time, on my own terms; the best thing they could do was pray and let me work it out – and that’s exactly what they did. 

I would be lying if I said my relationship with God was perfect. I’ve had my struggles throughout the years – struggles I plan to document on this blog, but when the time is right. Some of the struggles come from that same stubbornness that fourteen year old girl had. Some of the struggles come from life throwing curveballs at me. A lot of the struggles came from my dad’s death. 

However, through everything that I’ve ever gone through in life, God has always proven to me that He’s by my side. He’s not going anywhere. He will protect me through any storm I walk through. When you think about it, is there really any greater reassurance in life than to know God is with you everyday? He will always be there, no matter what happens. 

Share Your Voice

Use these pages to guide you, reflect, respond, observe, hope, dream, and most of all create! The best gift I could think of was to encourage you to keep writing. Keep striving and continue to foster your desire to share your voice.

My favorite high school English teacher challenged me to my limits but encouraged me the entire way. Upon high school graduation, she gifted me with a journal and the aforementioned words. She could tell that I had an inner desire to share my voice, thoughts, and ideas with the world. Sometimes I just lacked the direction of knowing the best way to accomplish just that. I still haven’t written anything in that journal. Part of me never felt anything was important enough to write down in such a precious gift. Instead, I turned to various online blogs; blogs I treasure but had no desire to share. Blogs and entries and thoughts that got me through some of the toughest days of my life. 

When I found myself wanting to share my voice with the world, I struggled with knowing if I should open up my old blog and allow people access to it. Part of me felt that it could very well unleash old wounds that have long ago healed and I couldn’t bring myself to do that. However there is, in my opinion, some very good content in it that I’ve shared with a handful of people and want to share with everyone else. The solution become clear – new blog but with occasionally “flashbacks” referencing previous pieces I’ve written. 

I’ve started this first entry several times and it always ended up in the delete folder. I find the first entry of a new blog to be one of the most important – it’s your story, it’s what the blog is about, it’s your voice. 

And that’s the most important thing – this blog is about sharing my voice, my thoughts, my ideas. Even after all these years and all the time that has passed, I still feel at home when I’m writing. It’s the best way of expressing myself that I’ve ever found. There’s always something rolling around in my head: an essay I want to write, something someone said that has inspired me, excerpts from a book I’ll never write. That’s exactly what this blog will be about – all those thoughts and ideas and words in my head that I feel a need to express while I share my voice.