Twenty years old.
I think I spent a lot of high school growing up fast, but the last year I’ve felt my true age more than ever. I’m not an old soul in a young body. I never have been. More so a young soul with a big job to do. I’ve been putting off writing a blog post for my newsletter like this, but yesterday was the perfect push to make it happen.
The truth is I have no idea where I’ll be in 10 years, 5 years, or next year. My goals have swayed, my vision has shifted into guidelines, and my concept of the future has been altered by my faith. The Lord has taken me to places I couldn’t have dreamed. He has given and taken. He never ceases to surprise me by gifts and mercies. love I don’t deserve. joys he never promised I would have, but simply gives. I don’t want to come up with a detailed plan. I’m done trying to plan my biggest dream, because his is beyond what I could muster up.
Ephesians 3 is clear,
“14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
I know his glory isn’t my fleshly desires. By accepting christ, laying my sins at the cross, and pursuing his plans, happiness is not promised, joy and gifts are not my reward on earth. But we are in it for the long run. for his mighty plan and his victory. his glory, for the kingdom. All I dream is that this year, next year, in five years, in 10 years, I want my table full. full of friends, family, and strangers.
Reading apostle Paul’s letters to the churches makes me nostalgic over memories that aren’t mine. There was fierce struggle, the good fight was daily just like it is now. There were hidden churches, there were joyful believers celebrating in low voices around tables. They leaned on each other as family and community. They had abandoned all. He wrote to encourage and challenge.
I think about the good fight I’m fighting with my brothers and sisters. The tearful phone calls, the hours of prayer, the long travels to just be with each other, the challenging conversations, the times of worship, the times of communion and fellowship. I love when I glance around and we are together and laughing. “We” is vague because I experience this “together” in different homes, states, and countries. As my birthday has passed and this new year is around the corner, all I’m praying for is that in 2018 my table is full. Even if it’s full in a different way than I imagine, may it be full.
God blessed last night, as the table was full.
At 11:00am, my best friend Ginny arrived to my new home. We greeted each other with squeals and hugs because we’ve become accustomed to not seeing each other for months due to distance. She is joining MTR (Memphis Teacher Residency) next year, and I’m proud of her. At about 12:30pm, my friend El arrived with “hazelnut spread” and a container of parsnips with carrots. She brought stories and updates from her first semester at school in New York City. We laughed over subway experiences and conversed about art, work, and community. Quickly our little group grew as Tiana, my friend who is studying dance in university, arrived; then Olivia Grace, a music major; Kelly and Vincent, friends I’ve known through Avenue Coffee; and more and more. The day continued with grinding loads of coffee. I had mentioned that you could bring your presents to wrap so we could all be together, and many of them did. So out came boxes and bows. My mom and her best friend Megan, my art and science teacher from HS, stopped by. My sister arrived with 18 boxes to stuff and package for my clients. It was a full experience.
As dinner grew near, food was arriving with each person. It was two sets of incredible mac + cheese, blt bites of some sort, bananas, fried chicken, parsnips + carrots, and veggie chili. We slayed that mac + cheese. Nothing left.
I was in the kitchen for maybe 20 minutes when I rounded the corner into my room, and dear Lord, there were so many people all together sitting on the floor, chairs, and bed. It was a full room, barely room to walk. People I didn’t recognize came and introduced themselves, new friends brought other friends. My heart swelled. This is what I’m about. I’m about the sharing food and having conversations. I love when I hear people learning about another lifestyle and culture. I’m all about hearing a friend from one part of my life introduce themselves to a friend from another part of life. Even baby Liam made a showing with Jo and Peter, my freakin’ people. I didn’t want this to end. As every bit of mac + cheese was scraped from the casserole dishes, it was time for music.
Mary Mad, as her friends lovingly call her, brought out her guitar to start us off. She is a student at MS State and a dear friend to one of my dear friends. So of course, we are tight. <3 She played and we all joined in as she finished off with Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”. Next, Jackie, my Zimbabwe queen. She brought her drums and spontaneously (under much squealing on my part) started hyping up the room with her beats. We even morphed a beat into jingle bells and it was so fun. Wyly began setting up his piano, and swept us away. My favorite of his last night was an original called Memphis Nights. SHAMELESS PLUG: https://open.spotify.com/track/22l9CHlqXrDL0zp8J985Gx . Olivia Grace brought out some Mariah Carey with Wyly killin’ it on the keys. After many a request, out came ice cream and cookies. We gathered together in my room again to grow quiet for John Black to play a “rough draft” of his music. He drove home to get his amp and guitar just for it, and everyone had no complaints as he kept playing.
Gosh, so much joy that night. This friend family I had left nothing for me to do, as they gathered plates, cups, moved furniture back into place, cleaned mugs. The house was back to normal in a few short bustling minutes! I was driven to Gibson’s by Sara Beth to finish off the night.
I came home, heart full, room empty. I won’t ever forget how full it was. And I hope it will always finds its way back to that state.