2015. Fresh, new, odd numbered year, welcome. Odd numbers work really well. They stand up, shout, and make people notice. Even numbers are thought provoking. That's my theory anyway. There are so many 'news' in this year already. Maybe not ones I can actually point out, but rather the feeling you get when something good is close by. Or maybe it's the fact that I'll be 21 this year and I'm weirding out. Odd numbers right?!

Lately, I have been pondering hard things. Things about myself, about life, and about everything I have ever believed. The past year and a half were difficult. Much happened and much hurt deep. I walked out of those times broken and bruised.

But the Lord said joy.

Right in the very beginning, He said joy. Hit me hard with it. Opened a door of grace, walked me through it and shouted joy. I went to Haiti. I learned things I could not comprehend, but knew I needed to follow. I came back, and life was still hard and hurt. So I shut down and kept wishing joy could just happen.

But the Lord said open.

Right in the very beginning, He said open. College happened. My worried, stressed out self dreaded other people and wanted to study and quit humanity forever. I wanted to make a name for myself and hide from reality. Ironically absurd, but introverts can understand a bit. Funny thing is, I met people. People who were (guess what?!) hurting too. The socially awkward, talented, weird, happy, cool, amazing people around me became my friends. My heart cracked open a bit.

And the Lord said embrace.

Right in the very beginning, He said embrace. At the start of 2015. I wanted to define this year with a strong, bold word. One that would challenge me and teach me and grow me. I thought of several words, but embrace came in quick and fast and surprised me. I didn't want embrace. It sounded too weak. But I couldn't think of any one more perfect. So I claimed it. There was something freeing in claiming embrace as my own. It lifted up my face and it's taught me to forgive and it's helping me see how joy is an action word and open is a habit and embrace is how you live every moment. And that was all in January.

Sometimes you can't wrap your head around things, but you can open your eyes, embrace opportunities and smile joy. That's what I am finding. That's what the Lord keeps showing me. That's what I've been called to for years. A life of full abandon and laughter and action and joy. That's what I think we're all made for. Those rough spots in the road, the ones that gave us bruises and left scars, they really are a means to lift our heads and open our hearts wider. It's not an instinct, but I want to make it one.

Maybe this is all a month late but it's 2015 and it's a year for brave. For joy. For that feeling in your gut that this is were you should be. For loving people. For crazy, beautiful, wild, courage and laughter, dangerous and free. 2015 and it's a year for living every second with abandon and open and sharing stories and traveling and trusting. For hope. A year for grace and good and conquering fear and the impossible. 2015 and it's a year to embrace.

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