21 Things Before 21

I am officially a 20-year-old, woohoo! Happy (belated) birthday to me. Even though I do not feel any different, I know I am old because almost all of my presents were things that I asked for to use in my apartment (pretty exciting though). So in the spirit of birthdays, I decided to make a list of 21 things I want to do before I turn 21 next May 26th. Here we go, in no particular order.

1. Hike Old Rag mountain in Virginia

Something I have always wanted to do – I love hiking, and this is a tough but very rewarding hike close to my school.

2. Book a photo shoot or sell a framed photograph

So as is going to become apparent, I am really starting to launch my photography, and so I want to be selling it by this time next year.

3. Make an exercise plan and stick to it for at least a month

I am notoriously bad at getting out to exercise. I absolutely despise it, I can’t ever make it fun to me. BUT I always feel better after I exercise, so I am going to try to make it a regular part of my day, even if it is only for 10 minutes.

4. Blog at least once a week

This one is actually more of a summer goal, but I am going to try to keep up with it during the school year. It lets me unwind and process all of my crazy thoughts.

5. Match my photos to unique frames and get them into local coffee shops or galleries

Something I am going to try and do is going to thrift stores more. In my experience, it has never been a waste of time or money. They also have a ton of really cheap picture frames, so I can easily frame my pictures myself and then get them into local shops.

6. Explore my passion to help end human trafficking

God has really put this on my heart recently, and I have no idea to do with it. I think that is how God works a lot, He gives us these little inklings, and then we do His work here on Earth.

7. Volunteer at an ACS event

I need to do more to experience all sides of medicine, including cancer, which I never ever see myself going into. Plus the ACS always needs people to help out, so it definitely won’t be a wasted experience.

8. Make a meal for a needy family at church

In the bulletin at church, there is always a place to sign up to make a meal for a couple different families. Some just suffered a loss, and some are battling disease. No matter what, I know that I can use my passion for cooking to help out a family in need.

9. Along the same vein, make an effort to go to church every Sunday

Again, this is never ever ever a bad use of my time. No more lame excuses.

10. Build deeper relationships with the girls in my small group

This should be something I am already doing, but again, I am terrible about actually branching out and asking someone to coffee or lunch. I love these girls and I want to grow deeper with each one of them.

11. Create a website for my photography

This is two-fold: I want to learn how to create a website and I want to make one for my photography. Hopefully this will help me with number 2 😉

12. Get certified in medical Spanish translation

You know…I took 7 years of Spanish, including a semester in medical Spanish. If I take a test, I can become officially certified and put that on my resumé. Which, ya know, can be important when applying to medical school.

13. Read at least half the books on my “To Read” list

The list just grows and grows and grows, but hardly does anything ever get crossed off. Well, not anymore.

14. Go paddle-boarding and be able to do it without falling

Not entirely sure this one will happen…

15. Visit a state that is not Maryland, Virginia or Delaware

I have so many things I want to see and taste and experience, and the best time to do it is in college while all my friends are in one place.

16. Get published – either writing, photography or research

Hopefully this happens in research, but it would be equally cool to see some of my writings or pictures in some sort of publication.

17. Drive in the middle of the night to watch the sunrise over the Shenandoah mountains

This will probably happen more than once. I love sunrises.

18. Go to a concert or two

I am hopefully going to the Outcry Tour concert in July, but I would love to see Miranda Lambert. Or really anyone. 

19. Pull an all-nighter

I somehow made it through 2 years in college without having to do this. But I think I need to experience this at least once, right? Right.

20. Take a spontaneous weekend trip

Number 20 should really read “Be spontaneous”. I am so so bad at that. 

And finally…21. Slow down and appreciate life

This season of life is precious, and I spend so much time waiting and wishing for some event in the future. Above all, I want to slow down and actually enjoy college, because once I am out, I will have a hard road ahead of me.

The Crown of Life

Wow, it has been quite a while since I was on here. Lots has happened, but instead of writing the whole long update, I am going to talk about something I read this morning. That seems to fit with the theme of the blog, anyways. (P.S. – I promise to keep up with the blog more this summer. I need to do something other than watching Friends on Netflix.)

So today was a typical, uneventful day. I woke up in the morning and ate some eggs and drank some tea, just like every other day. Then I sat down for my quiet time, thinking it would be just like every other quiet time. But that thought gave me pause – quiet time in no way should be “ordinary” or “normal”. So instead of diving right into my well-worn bible, I sat still and prayed that God would guide my time in His word and give me something to read about that I have been needing to hear. And instead of opening up to the chapter in Romans I am currently studying, He led me to read James 1.

Preface: I love James, but I have only ever read through it, not dove deep into the meaning and application behind its words. I started reading, with my tea steaming to the left of me and my journal on the right, pen poised and ready for writing. But as I started reading, I felt the world melt away. I felt His presence come into the room, sweep me up, and whisper, “Come, let me teach you something.”

I might’ve read that chapter 7 times before I wrote anything down. Wow, what powerful stuff. For everyone that doesn’t have a bible handy, let me recap. James wrote this beautiful letter to the first Christians living on the outskirts of Palestine. By verse 2, he has dove right in and is giving hope to all those enduring trials and temptations – which may be one of the most encouraging things to hear as a Christian today, because I don’t know anyone that isn’t struggling with something. One of my favorite verses from the passage was verse 12, where James says:

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

The crown of life. Sure, we have to endure trials and fight off Satan’s temptations, but we get to spend eternity with the one true King. That is pretty awesome. He then moves on to talk about the difference between listening and doing. Another one of the many verses I highlighted was verse 22, where James says:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

You can’t get much more clear than that, friends. Listening to God doesn’t mean anything if you turn around and completely ignore what he says. Now, I know what you’re thinking – it is much easier said than done. Of course it is! Life is hard and full of suffering and moments of self doubt and failing organic chemistry. But the beauty is that from all this, we get to learn and grow closer to God and our eternal future.

I am going to post this, and things will go back to normal for a while. I’ll be tempted to eat the entire tub of icing in the fridge, and I’ll want to watch trashy TV shows instead of doing something productive or intentional with my time. The difference is that now I have some fuel to help me wage my war – the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.