Somehow 21 years’ worth of the universal measures of time have gone by. I could say it feels like a lifetime… and that would be completely 100% accurate since has literally been a lifetime, my lifetime… the longest length of time I’ve ever known. It truly does feel like a long time has gone by. It seems like an alternate reality or an entirely different world where 5-year-old me lived in a little blue townhouse with my mom, dad, and two sisters and went to kindergarten with my best friends Tessa and Melissa and ate teddy grahams at colorful lunch tables. I believe it’s a huge blessing that my life has felt this full of memories and emotion. I told someone the other day that I feel like I have lived one hundred lives, and it is true- I have lived 20 years brimming with passion, adventure, and love. I feel too lucky. I don’t deserve the bed I wake up in and the trips I’ve been able to go on and the places I’ve seen and the people I’ve gotten to meet. I think the reason I feel like I’ve lived a hundred lives is because I have experienced so much more in my 21 years than many people do in their entire lifetime. Some of the things I’ve experienced I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Other things I wish I could bring everyone in the world along with me to experience such a beautiful ride.

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It’s a scary thing feeling like I’ve lived a full life when it’s still so young. Sometimes I think the best has already happened and it can’t possibly get any better than it is now. Other times I feel that the best is truly, truly yet to come, and I won’t know true happiness until my wildest dreams come true, like Justin and I stepping foot into our home for the first time together or cooking my first meal for him as his wife. If I died tomorrow, I’ll have seen the world, loved on an orphan, told someone about Jesus, captured wedding day bliss, and maybe left the bare bones of the beginning of a legacy… but my only regret would be not having had the chance to marry the love of my life. The day that happens, I think life and time may actually come to a stop – I’ll have had everything I’ve ever wanted, and life will no longer feel real and I might just be walking in a dream for an infinite amount of time. Of course, I’m sure it won’t feel this way forever. I’l find a new dream and latch onto that one probably as fervently as I dream now about marriage. But if that’s the only dream that had never come true, I’ll still have lived such a wonderfully blessed life that I can’t complain about what the Lord has given me in my “now.” Beautiful places etched so deep into my memory that I dream about them after years have passed since I last was there. Moments filled with joy and awe and laughter, around a bonfire with family and friends or on the edge of a cliff at the Grand Canyon. I’m turning 21, and I have lived such a full and beautiful life and He is to be praised.

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Each year I find that my next birthday feels a little closer than the one before the last did. 22 feels as close as next month. 23 will be here in a couple wedding seasons’ worth of time. 25, 27, 29- I can see them all just over that curve of the horizon. And so I remind myself of how short life is in the grand measure of eternity and that there’s really only one reason I am here, one reason for my existance, and that is to glorify the Creator through my life’s work. I have always wanted a life full of purpose and meaning and I knew even as a child that everyone holds the potential to change the world. Just how we are equipped to do it is what’s revealed in time. I’m still figuring out my “how” and putting all the pieces together. I probably always will be. Each season of life brings a new way to love others and impact the world. I hope and pray that I always stay open and receptive to wherever God leads me. I pray that I’ll always have the courage to do what’s right and the humility to share my mistakes in the hope that others don’t make the same. I pray that everyone I encounter in this life feels that much more incredible and able to conquer the world after having a conversation with me. That right there is a HUGE dream. One that I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to perfect despite my imperfections. But it’s the people that accept your apologies and forgive you when you least deserve it that are the most precious examples of the best that life has to offer. True, passionate, painful, bleeding, unconditional love – that’s what this life is all about. We are all born with that truth in our hearts. It’s up to you when to start living it.

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