Today, I've been reflecting on the wild ride that the past year of my life has been. I was in Paris, France this time last year. Exactly one year ago today, I shopped in Les Halles, sipped strong coffee from a small cup at a café on a busy street, and meandered through the Luxembourg Gardens and past La Sorbonne. I hurried through some light rain, trying to find the restaurant that the city guide recommended before I got too wet. When I realized that the restaurant was nowhere to be found, I ducked into a small Italian place across the way. Fortunately for me, they were actually Italian and I had some of the best lasagna and tiramisu that I have ever tasted. Once I could eat no more, I slipped into the now dark streets and followed the light shining up into the night sky until I stood before Le Tour Eiffel. It is so beautiful by night! I took picture after picture that could barely reflect what I wanted to capture. It sparkled and I stared. I walked closer and closer until I was right under it, looking straight up to see what it looked like upside down and inside out. There were lots of people enjoying the sights and it felt good to be a part of a group of people enjoying something wonderful together, even if we weren't actually together and we would leave in the end.
I wasn't thinking about what the next year would be like on that night before my 30th birthday. I was reveling in the fact that I was in Paris, passing myself off as a native French speaker, and feasting my eyes and my stomach on delightful things. But, even if I had tried to imagine how my 30th year would shape up and even if I had been particularly inspired by the enticing French culture all around me, I am confident that I would have underestimated just how amazing this year would be.
I was so exhausted then that I don't know how well my imagination was working. Five years of professional life in Chicago had worn me right out. It had taken the last of my emotional, mental and spiritual resources to leave my job, move back home, and close an entire chapter of my life. I think that this is part of what made my month in France so much like a dream. I was suddenly comfortable, sleeping in the sun, taking time to enjoy lengthy conversations and remembering how to think, feel and breathe.
I think of my birthday month in France as part of my physical rehabilitation and doing a 3 month internship at IHOP-KC as my spiritual and emotional rehabilitation. I hadn't realized that I was offended at God in several areas of my life and that I still had a lot of fears about whether or not He is really good and loving all the time. I wasn't sure if I would ever want to counsel anyone ever again and I didn't know how to think about life after internship. So, I didn't. I spent time in the prayer room. I cried when my heart hurt, I prayed when my desires all came running out, and I threw my arms out over my head and sang at the top of my longs. I took communion, read my Bible, wrote in my journal and on my blog, asked for healing, soaked in God's love and started coming back to life. My heart grew until it could contain a desire to see people get free as they encountered God and to use my gifts toward that end. I received grace to live free of fears and burdens that I had lived with for years. I was surprised by the joy and peace that came to take their place. I started getting excited about going home, building a house of prayer in Rockford and creating a counseling practice according to God's design to set the captives free.
The rest, you've heard about. I have been so richly blessed since I came back to Rockford in December and started giving myself to Him and these pursuits. So, I have decided that if this year is any representation of what I can expect in my 30's, then I am delighted to celebrate this entire decade.
August 1: 3 gifts white
- #221: Wild flowers
- #222: Foam on my cappuccino
- #223: Carpet under my toes at the end of a long day
- #224: Warm oatmeal with strawberries, blueberries and pecans
- #225: Pan fried chicken covered in panko bread crumbs
- #226: Lemon parmesan pasta
- #227: Almond cupcakes from Sugar Jones
- #228: Decaf Nespresso consumed with my cupcake