Wednesday, October 24, 2012

almost there

I'm a little restless this evening for several different reasons, so I thought I'd take this time to just share some highlights and thoughts from the past year. So this is guaranteed to be long and rambling, punctuated with Instagram :) Ready for it?

My Eighteenth Year in short choppy sentences since that's the kind of mood I'm in and it's getting late and I really should be going to bed relatively soon but I'm not so yeah.

1. October 26, 2011. Saw my first Broadway production, and visited the Wachters to boot. The US touring cast of Les Miserables. Life changed.

2. November 12-23, 2011. Caught pneumonia and was on my back for eight days. Rumor has that it was a result of a severe shock, I personally think it was virus. And I would know.

3. December 7, 2011. Our sweet "puppy" Caspian died suddenly at age 2. It still hurts my heart to think of the pain and confusion of his last day, and that late emotional night of goodbyes. *shudder*

4. February 18 and 25, 2012. Participated in a piano competition and music festival. Enjoyed both, though was slightly stressed the month leading up to it. But I got a Double Superior at Festival and thought it a fitting way to round of my highschool piano "career".

5. February 25, 2012. Saw Oliver! at Covenant and now I don't think I'll ever see/listen to another cast that I could possibly like more. Spoiled. For. Life.

6. February 15-May 20, 2012. Auditioned for and participated in my first Black Box play in 12 years. The Sound of Music. Loved singing, loved acting, loved the casts, loved the show.

7. March 4, 2012. Another recital for piano. This time as part of the scholarship program. Probably one of the more fun days in that whole month.

8. March 14, 2012. We (as in all the girls, Mama, and a friend) went up to the American Girl Store in D.C. for my little sister's birthday. I felt like a little person again, enjoying the carefree "girl" things in life, and watching my sister drink it all in.

9. March 27, 2012. One year since Tommy went on to heaven.

10. April 29, 2012. Final Chorus-Sing-In as a piano student. Another wonderful evening with lots of memories made.

11. May 4-20, 2012. Absolutely insane tech week as I was in two casts and had twice as much rehearsal time, plus two wildly wonderful show weekends. AHHHH!

12. May 17, 2012. Final piano recital - my eleventh. Emotional evening, but I thoroughly enjoyed the real companionship and fellowship with my friends and family and just thanked God for my teacher and my friends as we've kept each other plugging ahead for so long.

13. May 22, 2012. Met my two dear blogging friends Elizabeth Rose and Bree Holloway IN PERSON with their family in tow. Unforgettable.

14. May 25, 2012. Senior recital for one of my oldest friends. End of decade, start of an age.

15. June 10-September 23, 2012. Bye Bye Birdie rehearsals start. Summer musical. Back to the 1950s in all their glory.

16. July 7-26, 2012. Three week mission trip to Granada, Nicaragua to live with/serve with/for missionary friends. Incredible time of spiritual growth, as well as awareness for third-world countries and thankfulness for my life. I miss it. My heart is longing to go back, my mind says wait.

17. July 27-29, 2012. Final swim championship as a swimmer. Dropped a significant amount of time in every stroke, had a grand old time, and ended the season the recipient of the Umbdenstock Award - the highest award our swim team gives out in year. Everytime I look at it I can't really take it all that it stands for, and just say, "Thank you God."

18. August 2, 2012. My cousin/big sister had a baby. Who has my name. So I feel like an aunt. Even though I'm not. Anyway. MILESTONE!

19. August 3-5, 2012. Trip to Saluda, NC to visit my grandmother where I saw a Broadway-quality (with Broadway actors to boot) production of Guys and Dolls. Best night ever.

20. September 6-23, 2012. Birdie tech week and show weekends. They were wonderful, everything I could ask for and more. The cast bonding was one-of-a-kind, and I really came away feeling like part of a team. I miss them all so much. Some of my happiest summer memories were from those two weeks.

21. September 22, 2012. Driver's License. Long awaited, two-and-a-half years in the making. Totally worth it.

21. September 24-October 1, 2012. BOSTON! Self-explanatory. To visit afore-mentioned cousin/big sister and her husband and cousin/niece.

22. October 6, 2012. Family Foundation Gala to hear Rick Santorum. Traveled with parents, sister and four church friends. Inspirational and refreshing and fun. Except for the Battle Hymn.

23. October 14-20, 2012. A crazy week of re-connecting with our friends/long-lost siblings who we hadn't see in three years. I seriously have the best twin sister and six-foot kid brother EVER.

And that brings me to tonight. The night before my eighteenth birthday. I'm just sitting here, snuggled up in my bed, remembering back to the night of the 24th last year. And NONE of what I'd mentioned above had happened yet. Some of them were probable, some were ideas, some not even thought of. But they've all happened, they make up my year, and have changed or influenced or confused or uplifted or encouraged me in some different way. And that is a blessing. I've done more artsy projects this year than I could've imagined, sung to my heart's content, and traveled to a foreign country - not to mention three solo flights. I just feel so blessed to be ME.

Speaking of blessings...this has been a year of spiritual growth and development. Starting with my baptism the week before my 17th birthday (a day going down in our church's history for the most baptisms in one day - seven, all from one family :D), I have begun to decidedly and completely claim the faith of my parents as my own. Whether it be in witnessing, or in the workplace, or at the pool, or online, or in my personal time with the Lord, I have grasped our beliefs and prayed for the wisdom and guidance to apply them to every aspect of my life. Recently I've been meditating on the work of the Holy Spirit Who is in me right this minute, guiding and sanctifying me. But also wrestling with the idea that the Spirit can only fill me as much as I am emptied. If I hold on to the sin of my old self, then I'm missing out on fully experiencing the power of God. Convicting, yes?

My prayer for this year is that I will be like the wise man in Psalm 1. As I step out more and more on my own into the world, and face the struggles that face the followers of Christ in this age, I want to be firmly rooted and strong in the Word of God.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lordand on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. - Psalm 1, ESV

And before I go, I want to close this post with some letters. Some "Dear 'blank,'"s that have been stewing in my mind for a couple days now. These pertain to the past six months in particular, and have these experiences have defined my eighteen-year-old self. Here's a peek at my heart this evening:

Dear Dad, you're a trooper. I just realized this week what this must be like for you - watching me drive off alone and remembering when you drove me on my first car ride home from the hospital back in 1994. Watching me grow up - dealing with work, school, friends, church, commitments, politics...trying to discern when to give me and advice and when to let me learn "the hard way." And it's not like I've made it super easy, black and white, textbook. But overall I think you've done a great job. Honestly. You've raised me well. I may not say it everyday, but I think it. I love you. Thank you.

Dear Mama. I don't know what to say. I'm eighteen. I'm done with high school. I have a job. I can drive. I can sing, play piano, and act. I can read. I can write. I know my American history. I even know Geometry. And that's because you gave up having your days all to yourself to keep me home and teach this all to me. Because you love me more than I'll ever know. I am who I am because of the decisions you made twelve years ago. And now that I'm older, you are more than my teacher and my dear are my friend. I love you. Thank you.

Dear Maddie, you're not a real outwardly emotional person so I'm not going to get all gushy here. It'll just make it awkward. But I just wanted to tell you that you are the best sister I've ever had. I cannot imagine life without you and even though we have our moments (sometimes rather big moments) I would not trade the past sixteen years of companionship for anything. You rock. Thank you.

Hey you. You know who you so I'll leave it at that. Thank you for being honest with me. I know it wasn't easy for you, and I know how it felt for me to hear it. But you changed me, and for that I'm grateful. It took you for me to realize that I wasn't just someone everyone hung out with because they had to, because they tolerated me. You really cared, and still do. I'm sorry things didn't quite turn out....but God knows what He's doing. You're awesome, and God has a special and unique plan for you, never forget that. Your friendship means a lot to me. Thank you.

Dear Kate, last week was such a blessing. More than you know. It's a rare thing to find a friend who views life through the same lens as yourself. We may not have exactly the same goals or strengths, but we are both striving to be worthy of the calling to which we have been called - both as individuals and together as sisters in Christ. You are one of the greatest blessings in my life...not sure I can even call you a friend. You really are my sister. Oh, we have so much fun, Kate. I miss you already. Thank you for all you are and all you've been to be. Steadying me when I go over the top, but still going along for the ride. You're wonderful and I love you dearly. Thank you.

Dear Hannah, I'm not sure you realize how much I look up to you, how high I hold you. At Bible study we went around the room and shared some about the heroes/heroines in our lives. I talked about you. I admire your spirit, your enthusiasm, your godly example of parenting with your three children, you and Mr. Chip's example of a godly marriage, your patience and endurance through the trials that have come up in your life, your love for me. Hannah, you are a treasure to me in more ways that I can name. God has blessed me above and beyond. Thank you.

Honestly, my friends, I could go on. There are more stories to tell, more experiences to share, more dear ones in my life to recognize and I plan to in the next week as well. But it's late and if I want to enjoy my day tomorrow, I should turn in. I go to sleep contemplative, listening to the words of this classic praise song, which gives voice to the true desire of my heart:

I will worship, with all of my heart

I will praise you, with all of my strength
I will seek you, all of my days
I will follow, all of your ways

I will bow down, and I'll hail you as king
I will serve you, I will give you everything
I will lift up my eyes to your throne
I will trust you, I will trust you alone

I will give you, all my worship
I will give you, all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise
You are worthy of my praise


  1. A beautiful post, Jo, and really encouraging. Happy 18th Birthday! May the Lord Jesus richly bless you this new year and every new year of your life.

    And just that you may know, I have been keeping up with your blog often, just don't comment all too often :(.

    But God bless you!

    In His love,

  2. Awww. . .happy birthday, girly! I know I'm a terrible comment-er and friend, but I've really come to love and appreciate you as a bloggy friend. (like I always say, some of my closest friends have been made through blogging!) I hope to meet someday. :)

    Many, many blessings on your birthday. Eat lots of chocolate and boss people around (it's your day, after all! ;) ) And keep showing Jesus. I know I don't need to tell you--but make Him the center of your life. Don't stop pursuing, keep pressing for the Mark. You are a beautiful young lady and an inspiration! ::hugs::

  3. Happy Birthday, Jo!
    You probably don't know how fun it has been for me to get to know you this past year. Thanks!
    It sounds like a fun year, with a lot to remember. I hope your next year is twice as blessed, and has, to quote I-know-not-who, "just enough clouds to make your sunsets beautiful."
    Have a terrific day!


    ~ The 14th-Assistant Kitchen Maid

  4. Wow!! Looks like you've had an awesome, God blessed year. I can't wait to see what God's got planned for your next're nineteenth year. By the way, I hope you like being an adult now. 'Cause if you don't...well...I'm doomed to suffer the same fate in six months and I would certainly hate for it to be an unhappy one. ;)

    Anyway...Happy birthday, Jo!!! Hope you have a great day!

    God bless,

  5. Happy Birthday sis, you should've given me a thank you........but when you read my card tonight................................good luck :)

    Love you forever, yes forever and a day, till these walls shall crumble to ruin, and molder and dust away.

  6. And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while, 'cause girl you're amazing. Just the way you are.
    Happy Birthday Jo dear!

  7. Happy bday Liza! Really enjoyed seeing all God is doing in your life---may this year bear His blessing and kindness as well :)
    love Mrs Messimer

  8. Has anyone ever told you that you can write? You can.

    This is a beautiful post. One of the things that I love about you is that while you're crazy and fun and perpetually singing, the person you are goes so much deeper than that. There are very few people I know (none our age) who have that ability to wholeheartedly throw themselves into ridiculous fun (like over and prince of wales)and also think and feel so deeply.

    Happy birthday, sister! I can't imagine what my life would have been like without you.