January 27th. On this day in history in…
- 1343: Pope Clement VI issued the papal bull Unigenitus to justify the use of indulgences. Almost 200 years later, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses protested the indulgences and started the Protestant Reformation.
- 1606: the trial of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, began. In case you forgot who they were, “remember, remember the 5th of November,” and you might figure it out. 😉
- 1756: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria. In five years, he would be giving concerts for European royalty, thereby becoming an eighteenth-century child pop star. Move over, Bieber.
- 1785: The University of Georgia was founded, becoming the first public university in the United States. (For all my Atlanta friends, GO DAWGS!)
- 1832: Lewis Carroll was born. He would later go on to demonstrate the correlation between illegal substances and a successful writing career. (Don’t worry; I’m not following his lead.)
- 1888: The National Geographic Society was founded in Washington, D.C.
- 1945: The Red Army liberated the inmates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
- 1989: I was born.*
*Side note: I actually have two birthdays. You see, I was born at 6:35 a.m. on January 27th. But because of the time difference, I was born at 11:35 p.m. on January 26th in Central Standard Time. So though I was born once, I have two birth dates. January 27th is my German (and “official”) birthday, but January 26th is my “American birthday.” Cool, huh? 🙂
Yes, I realize that my birthday isn’t quite as significant as the historical events and figures mentioned above. But since it’s my birthday, please humor me. Because it’s my birthday, I would like to keep with a semi-longstanding (since my 22nd birthday) tradition and make a list of the life lessons gleaned from my 23rd year. Here goes…
- Avoid driving anywhere in Atlanta between the hours of 7-10 a.m., 4-8 p.m., and any time in between.
- Don’t lean against a gas stove. Especially near the “on” switch.
- Coffee is not a meal replacement.
- When spray-painting something, make sure that you are an adequate distance from any important, non-sprayable surfaces…. Like concrete.
- Calamity is the test of integrity.
- Expect technology to fail you, especially if you need to print something right before class.
- The bus waits for no one.
- Quality umbrellas are worth the investment.
- If possible, never get pink eye.
- My Savior is real, and He lives!
- People actually live in Branson.
- Coming up with 7 new tweets each day isn’t as easy as it looks.
- Grace really IS amazing.
- Hydrate or die-drate!
- God has no five-second rule.
- Back up the files on your computer.
- Alabama is in the central time zone.
- Foam parties are fun… until you can’t breathe. #killerbubbles
- Life is short and precious.
- While being early is good, being an hour and a half early can be bad. Especially at outdoor summer weddings in Texas.
- Running frantically through the airport to catch a flight isn’t fun.
- Parking isn’t free. Or even cheap.
- Velcro and rayon don’t mix.
And the bonus one… In everything, give thanks.
23 was a big year. It had many highs, like spending two weeks in Israel, living on an “Island” with 70 of my best friends, hanging out in a teepee all summer, moving to Atlanta, starting graduate school, and meeting all kinds of incredible people along the way. And many lows: unmet expectations, long days, homesickness, goodbyes, and lives ended too soon. My heart rejoiced and broke over and again, but in the midst of everything, I learned to give thanks. In the good, the bad, and the annoyingly mediocre, we have so much to be thankful for. Thankfulness opens our hearts to His working, and in thankfulness we enter into His presence. The more we thank God, the more we see Him for who He is.
Sometimes this is easy, and other times it’s hard. Life isn’t perfect, and we don’t feel like being thankful. But though we can’t control our circumstances or even our feelings, we can control our response. Though being thankful isn’t always easy, it’s always worth it.
Out of all 23 life lessons, this one left the greatest impact on me. You see, the more I gave thanks, the more natural it became. Even on the harder days—the ones with pink eye, fender benders, missed buses and bad news—God helped me to thank Him. And then the coolest thing happened: as I gave Him thanks, He gave me joy—joy that not even the roughest circumstances could shake.
I have no idea what 24 holds for me. It could be the best year of my life or the most challenging year yet. But no matter what happens, I know that God is faithful, and by His grace, I will keep giving Him thanks from now until my next birthday–the German AND American one. 😉