Each year, we reach new milestones in our lives. Whether it be getting a new job, publishing a book, having a child, getting married, or becoming a year older, no matter what your milestone for this year might be, big or small, it is significant.

Birthdays are a joy to some and a fear to others. When we’re young, we love becoming older and even wish we could skip a whole decade of our lives so we can become the adults we’ve always wanted to be (13 Going on 30, anyone?); however, when we finally do become adults, we wish for the clocks to reverse so we can enjoy our childhood years again. For me, I love getting older, and I hope that will never change. Each year, I learn something new about myself and am stretched beyond what I thought was my limit. It’s so exciting to look back on what I’ve gone through and see where I’ve grown, what I’ve learned, and also the blessings that have come into my life.

My 21st year was one of the best! It was the year all my tilling paid off, and I began to see the fruit of my labor grow. All my life, I’ve been trying to find my place in this world. I’ve always been on the outside looking in, but after turning 21, I learned the benefit of being on the outside and became comfortable with who I am and where God is leading me.

I have had so many incredible opportunities this year! From traveling to Africa for the trip of a lifetime to working with Holocaust Survivors, this year was anything but boring or eventless.

I could talk for hours and days about my time in Africa. It was an experience that changed my life and one that I will never forget. For a month, I volunteered with Marine Dynamics, Dyer Island Cruises, and APSS (African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary) assisting with their shark cage diving and whale watching tours, along with working with the rescued penguins and seabirds from Dyer Island.

Being in the same water as the Great White shark was a serene feeling. The entire world seemed to be put on mute as these majestic creatures surfaced from the depths of the ocean and showed their faces. You could feel their power and presence in the seconds that they were with us. In a blink of an eye, they would be gone, but for that precious moment, awe would surround you and fill you with a thrill that would energize your innermost being. 

Having whales come to the side of the boat was also incredible. In the movies, they look huge; but until you see them in person, you have no idea about the magnitude and magnificence that is the whale. And penguins, if you think toddlers are picky, try feeding an African Penguin! If there was only one thing I learned while in Gansbaai, South Africa, it was the incredibility of God’s creation (read more here)!

Whale watching!

Meeting new people is always the highlight of my year. You never know when you’re going to meet a person who is going to influence your life forever. I have made so many new friends this year, and though we all live far away, our time together is extra special and memorable. Word of advice, “Never take your friends for granted because one day they could be gone.”

This was from my last trip on the boats before leaving Africa 🙁

God ignited my being in so many ways this year. He gave me the courage to share my words with the world, begin writing a book that I plan to finish this coming year, and become a part of multiple launch teams for authors with incredible talents who inspire thousands of people through their words each day. It’s also been a joy to host guests from around the world and get to know each person that has come into my life.

We hosted author Margaret McMullen and her husband, Patrick, at our home to share about her latest book, Where the Angels Lived!

My work with Helping Hand Coalition has also been a pivotal point. All the skills I’ve been learning and mastering over the years was building me up for this moment. I am challenged with each project I become a part of, and each survivor I meet holds a place in my heart. I will never forget my time with them or the stories they share with me, and can’t wait for the events I will attend this coming year. I know that this is only the beginning, and I can’t wait to hear what I’m going to be asked to do next!

Chatting to a lovely survivor at a Shalom House event

Twenty-one has been my favorite year, but I have a feeling that there is something bigger awaiting me as I become twenty-two. As I celebrated my birthday this year, I felt the Lord telling me that this last year was preparation for what is to come in the next 366 days (2020 is a leap year, ya’ll!). I get chills just thinking about what God has up His sleeves! There is so much I have yet to experience that I’m jumping in my seat in anticipation for this year to begin!

So, why am I writing all of this? It’s not to brag or say, “Look at how awesome my life is,” because these are only the highlights, I had plenty of horrible days, as well. The purpose of this post is to thank you all for your support, and also inspire you to live the lives you’ve been called to live. Too many of us get stuck in following the status quo, and it’s time for that change. We all want to succeed, but does success always have to be measured in money or college degrees? Life is all about taking risks and following the leading of the Spirit. My prayer as I write these words is that you will not stop searching for your calling and never settle on a life that is what others believe is right for you! Life is too short and wonderful to spend it dreading the alarm clock waking you up at the beginning of the week.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pumped at the start of each new day. I look forward to the beginning of a new week and I love the work I’m doing. The key is not to do just one thing. I have so many jobs that make each day a mystery, though they can also be stressful. The day after my birthday, I found myself in a survivor’s home listening to her tell the story of her life, and then, in the evening, I was at the vet clinic assisting with a minor operation.

If you’re not enjoying life or living it to the fullest, please pray for the Lord to open new doors, or open your eyes to the path He’s trying to show you. We are all scared to fail, but unless we take risks, we’ll never know what awesome opportunities await us!

I’m currently reading a book called The Lemonade Life, which is all about tapping into your full potential and living a life filled with happiness and fulfillment; and as I’m reading, I’m becoming very thankful that my parents raised me to live a lemonade life (Leading life on your terms, with purpose and possibility) rather than a lemon life (Settling for something less than your full potential).A quote from the book that has resonated with me was, “Accepting failure doesn’t mean giving into failure…It happened. It’s done. The way you reposition determines your next chapter.” If you’re feeling discouraged or you’ve fallen and don’t think you can get back up, remember that James Dyson failed 5,126 times before he invented the first bagless vacuum! We will all fail at one point in our lives, but it’s what we do with that failure that determines our destiny! Never give up and always be open to living a life that follows the Spirit of the Lord rather than the crowd. You won’t regret it! There are so many opportunities to find your passions, don’t lose your spark when people tell you that your dreams are a fairytale!

Wise words on Dream Catcher

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