Tag Archives: Religion

26 to 26: Birthday.

Today the countdown ends.

Today is my birthday.

I always feel like birthdays are supposed to be a big deal, like maybe some insanely life-altering moment is just around the corner. But birthdays are just that—days. Normal days filled with normal hours and ordinary minutes and common seconds. They tick away just like average Fridays.

I’m not sure what I was thinking today would be like when I started all of this. I guess that I imagined that I would wake up to a kick in the stomach and a neon “26” looming over my bed. I guess that I thought that life would feel different or time would feel different and really none of that is true.

In reality, I took a nap and carried grudges and brushed my teeth, all like a normal day.

Yet today has been a time of reflection on this journey that I created for myself. I have learned a lot along my path to 26, seeking out and uncovering lessons in the cracks and crevices of the daily grind.

I have felt full and empty; lonely and cared for; hopeful and disheartened. I have laughed and cried and regretted words spoken and actions taken.

It has all been an adventure for me. At different times, this journey of “26 to 26” has felt like both a burden and a privilege. It has forced me to express my feelings and confront some of my fears. It has forced me to cultivate writing as a discipline.

As I bring this series to a close, I am thankful that God does not finish with us until the day we finish this race set before us. I am thankful that life leads us down roads and alley ways lined with lessons in grace and forgiveness and selflessness and humility. I am thankful to be walking down those roads. Even now. Even when they seem too hard, too narrow.

Today I had breakfast with some of my lovely lady friends (the best!), snuggled with my pup while catching up on The Walking Dead (too cute!), noshed on a delicious (gluten free & vegan!) chocolate raspberry cupcake from Esselon Café (drool!), at a dinner of Riceworks chips (glamorous & health conscious!), and finished the day out with a massage (yesssssss!)

It was quiet and lovely.

As I look upon today and the last 26 days, I feel full. Full of so many things: memories, gratitude, dreams, love. I feel nourished in a way, like in leaking words into the blogosphere there’s been some fullness attained, some vision realized.

I want to thank all of you (aka my gramma, Auntie Chris, & Aunt Vicki) who have read along, learned along with me. I am so grateful to have had you all there, cheering me on, nodding your heads in support. I love you for more reasons that just you reading my silly blog.

Another year older, another day wiser. Here’s to making 26 count for the Kingdom!

Cheers!

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26 to 26: Life isn’t always peachy.

I wish that there was one area of my life that I felt good about right now.

I wish saying that aloud didn’t sound so terribly miserable and ungrateful.

I wish I knew what I meant by good.

good  [goo d]

adjective, bet·ter, best.

1. morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man.

2. satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree: a good teacher; good health.

3. of high quality; excellent.

4. right; proper; fit: It is good that you are here. His credentials are good.

It’s just that things feel hard right now—working, teaching, trusting, feeling. Living feels a lot like heavy lifting on these long, cold days.

I am the heavy lifting and the lifter. It’s the responsibilities and obligations and fears and apathy that are multiplying the weight.

The truth is that life is not always satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree. Satisfactory. Life does not always feel satisfying. I wish that every day felt like a cool glass of water quenching my thirst on a hot August day but some days feel like sipping sand to quench an insatiable thirst.

Good is not an objective unit of measurement. Good changes with the day, with the seasons. Just because something doesn’t feel good, doesn’t mean that it is automatically bad.

You have to stop letting the memory of yesterday interfere with your living of today.

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26 to 26: A Weekend in Maine

My roommate moved out at the end of August and, with that, seemingly opened the floodgates of change in my life. Good, messy, hard, chapter-turning change.

And she also just up and got engaged married.

Emilia and I made the trek up to visit her in central Maine this weekend. We knew that she’d be in the area for Thanksgiving but we also knew that the likelihood of us getting any one-on-one time with her was just about 0%.

We left early on Saturday morning and arrived just after 10. We spent the entirety of our time together in our pajamas, drinking coffee, laughing, sharing, and listening all huddled around her parents’ wood stove. It was beautiful…and wonderfully warm!

Friends! Coffee! Yoga pants! No showers! It’s the perfect weekend!

Don’t worry. I’m learning things all of the time and this weekend was no different. Here are some old, and one beautifully new, lessons I’m (re)learning:

Now after planning to be gone for the weekend, at nearly 26, I should have been responsible and done my dishes before I left. However, I am irresponsible and I hate doing dishes so I did not. That means that the soup pot from the beef stew I made last Thursday just sat around alllllllllll weekend.

Heck, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s still sitting around. I don’t want to open the lid and disturb whatever smelly, nasty stuff is going on in that thing.

#1: Do the dishes, Alyssa.

While we’re on a similar vein of “things you do that make you an idiot, Alyssa” I should probably address these food allergies that I have. My body hates…no. That is not a strong enough word to describe it. My body detests, loathes eggs, milk, and wheat.

What to guess what I had to eat in Maine?

Oh, don’t worry. Just a big, ole’ turkey sandwich on soft, chewy bread (wheat) slathered with mayonnaise (eggs) and American cheese (milk).

Oh, don’t worry. My intestines are still feeling the wrath of that sandwich.

I should know by now to plan ahead and pack my own food. I should know by now how disgusting I’ll feel and how my stomach will reward me by torturing me during my all too short little vacation with my friends.

#2: Don’t eat the crap you’re not supposed to, Alyssa.

This last one is something that Miranda said, that she taught me.

She said, “At some point, I made a choice…to love him. I made a decision that was for richer or poorer, sickness or health.”

I guess I’ve never thought about it that way—loving being a choice. I suppose that it’s because I’ve always just loved the people who loved me first. I suppose that maybe it’s because I have a romanticized idea of falling, stumbling into love.

I suppose that I’m probably completely wrong.

Love is a choice. It’s the best choice. It’s a hard choice.

It’s a choice that has to be made on the good days and the bad days, on the wedding days, birthdays, and death days. It’s a choice that you just have to keep choosing.

Love is a choice, a resolution.

#3: Choose love. Every day. Choose it with your family and your coworkers and your friends and your enemies. Make the life-changing choice to love because of and despite of.

 

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26 to 26: I need Jesus.

credit: pasotrepaso

credit: pasotrepaso

It hit me in the shower this morning—steam rising, mist splashing in the tiny stall—trying to scrub off feelings of sin and failure.

This is the gospel: me falling on my face.

That’s it.

I can’t get up tomorrow and hope to be stronger or wiser or less filled with sin. It is in me. It stitches me together and pulls me tight.

And yet, this is grace: unbinding the stitches—one by one—and piecing me back into wholeness.

This is mercy: that in my tripping and falling, I am lifted to my feet.

This is love: that in my darkest darkness, my most grotesque sin, Christ died for me.

It is timeless Truth to be repeated with ceaseless thanks:

I need Jesus.

 

May I learn it and feel it and deepen in this understanding each day. The gospel is for me today and tomorrow, at 26 and at 96.

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26 to 26: Sixteen things I loved at sixteen.

Today marks a measly 16 days until my 26th birthday.

Sixteen was such a great time. Life was fun and exciting. I was just getting my license, illegally driving my best friends around. I was dating my first (and only…COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH) boyfriend for a whopping three months. I was buying clothes from the Salvation Army, wearing aviators before they were cool again, and finally growing into my personality. I was also sweating a lot…that’s definitely an over-share but it’s definitely the truth.

I loved being sixteen and still feel so fondly about the things remind me of that time. This post is an ode to you, sixteenth year of my life, and all the things that made you so great.

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Chuck Taylors.

Mine were pink but mostly gray from extreme over-use.

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Taking Back Sunday.

Their album, Tell All Your Friends, pretty much was the anthem of my sixteenth year. Yeah, I’m that cool.

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The only thing better than TBS was their lead singer, Adam Lazarra. 

Adam, I have always and will always love you.

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The Format.

Before Nate was in Fun, he was in The Format. I liked him before he was cool. #hipster

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Cowboy Coffee at the Lady Killigrew Cafe.

A perfect post-youth group pickmeupandmakemestayuplate beverage.

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BYOT (Bring Your Own Tube)

This is something that you didn’t even know existed. This was a camp reunion before camp reunions were cool…and before any of us had our licenses. Basically, this was just a big ole’ slumber party.

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Bradley Hathaway.

I discovered Bradley’s poetry at that time I began to uncover my love for words. He’s still doing his thing but now he’s telling stories through music.and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

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The Ghetto Max.

My 1992 Nissan Maxima (which looked nothing like this). Leather seats. Sunroof. A/C. The numbers outside the doors unlocking thing.

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Aviators.

Before everyone was wearing them, I bought some at a gas station. My affinity for big sunglasses persists to this day.

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Little Kid’s Jewlery.

If it was plastic and cheesy, I probably owned it. Bonus points if I found it somewhere.

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Livejournal.

Before blogging was really a thing, I had a Livejournal. The things that I posted are just down right embarassing. And hilarious.

(Mine is still active and the last post alludes to Ashley Parker Angel…from O-Town…yeah, just Google it.)

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My Extreme Teen Bible.

Did I read it a lot? Nope. Was it filled with trinkets from camp? Yup. Did the paperback binding tear away completely almost immediately? You know it. But it was my first REAL Bible and I had purchased it with my own money.

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Thrift Store T-Shirts.

Nothing screams I’m so alternative like a good, pre-loved t-shirt.

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Emo Hair.

I’m pretty sure that I had at least three variations of this haircut.

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My nose ring.

My dad made me sign an agreement that this would be my final body modification. HAHAHAHAHHA. THAT’S NOT BINDING THERE WAS NO LAWYER PRESENT!

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Old Graveyards.

Don’t ask me why. I didn’t actually like them. They scared the crap out of me but the person who drove us all around loved them. I spent more time in them that I would have liked.

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Pine Brook Camp & Cabin Six.

Summers were always (and still are) meant for camp. Dang, look at those highlights.

Thanks, Sixteen. Now I feel even more self-concious.

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26 to 26: Finish the things you start

Finish the things that you start.

It’s the things that you finish, not the things that you begin, that will define you, shape you, strengthen you.

The beautiful, lasting things are the laborious ones.

Don’t give up.

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26 to 26: Rest

It’s okay to rest. I mean, rest is good.

Sometimes rest is hard. Sometimes rest means facing the facts and looking at yourself, really looking at yourself. Sometimes rest means quieting yourself from to-do lists and overbooked schedules to listen. Rest is hard when you just want to run.

But sometimes, rest comes easy. Like today.

Like a day when you woke up at 4:30 am and spent 5 hours in the car and then proceeded to spend six hours awkwardly chatting with strangers and sitting through a lecture on youth ministry in the church even when you don’t work in a church or often in youth ministry.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to rest. It is good to rest. It is gift to rest.

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