It’s that time of year again—time for Steffi to have another birthday! And in keeping with tradition, I’ve compiled a list of 24 things I learned during my 24th year. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Polish makes German look easy.
- I should never buy Nutella. Ever.
- “No” is not a 4-letter word.
- Walking down 35 flights of stairs without stopping WILL, in fact, turn your legs to Jell-O.
- If God wants you to do something that seems impossible, He will provide a way to make it happen.
- The Christian family is smaller than you think, and hospitality makes it even smaller. (Thank you, Cookes, and the wonderful people at First Trinity Lutheran in Pittsburgh, PA!)
- Life doesn’t always turn out the way you would have planned. But though your plans may fail, God will never fail you.
- Snail mail is still the best form of communication.
- I love, love, LOVE my church.
- 8 kg is not very much weight. Especially when your empty carry-on suitcase weighs 5.3 kg on its own.
- Pinky promises are worth keeping. (Thanks, Mirek!) 🙂
- We are all works in progress.
- Contact lenses don’t come in strengths lower than .75
- Insurance companies are not forgiving, so always read (and reread!) the fine print.
- Americans don’t qualify for “student discounts” on European public transit.
- No matter how long it’s been or how far apart you live, real friends let you pick up exactly where you left off. (Love you, Anne-So!) 🙂
- Pep talks to my gastrointestinal system will not cure its gluten intolerance.
- Always have a Plan B and be fully prepared to use it—because you will probably need to.
- If you are proctoring a quiz about the map of Europe in 1648 and the classroom you’re in happens to have a map of Europe in 1648 on display, make sure you cover it up/hide it before the quiz.
- Never book a 6 a.m. flight if you can avoid it.
- I can go 3 weeks without drinking coffee.
- If you see a person walking down the street in a rabbit costume with a top hat and a bow tie at 1 in the morning, you aren’t crazy. It’s probably just the Furry Fandom convention. (If it’s not, then you might actually be crazy.)
- Done poorly, parallel parking can result in a flat tire.
- …………………. (pause)………………………………………..
January birthdays have their pros and cons. The con side includes things like the inability to have a pool party or that school might be cancelled for a snow day (… Oh wait, most people would consider that a pro, right?) But January birthdays also have their perks. In addition to getting more presents because your parents can shop at the after-Christmas sales (cha-ching!), they also give some extra time to reflect and think about one’s life. So while the rest of the non-January-birthday world had to come up with sappy and meaningful things to say by New Year’s Day, I had an entire extra month to think of something really good. 😉 So here goes:
24. In Christ alone, my hope is found.
24 was full of adventures— finishing surviving my first year of grad school, spending 6 weeks by myself in a strange city, attempting to learn a nearly impossible Slavic language, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, taking risks and learning from failure. 24 was wonderful, awful, emotional, lonely, challenging, joyful, surprising, rewarding and so much more. Perhaps more than any other year, 24 forced me to dig down deep and really ask myself tough questions about who God is, what He is doing in the world, and where I fit into His larger plan. And while I haven’t necessarily “arrived” at the answers yet (do we ever fully get there?), the process of searching has been incredibly gratifying. His Word holds true: the more we seek Him, the more we find Him—and are found in Him.
Which then brings me to my last and final lesson as shown above: in Christ alone, my hope is found. Compared with Him, nothing else matters; He is the only One who can fill my life with hope and joy and meaning. He is my Light, my Strength, my Song. He guides me as I go and illuminates my way. He holds me up when I fall and keeps me going when I feel too weak to carry on. And He fills me to overflowing so I can’t help but sing to Him in praise. My Cornerstone, my solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm. Even when everything else around me crumbles, and nothing feels stable anymore, He remains faithful, and I can trust Him. No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. Through Him, I can have peace with my past, confidence for my future, and real, true, abundant life in the present. From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. From my entrance into the world 25 years ago until the moment He calls me home, He holds my life securely in His sovereign, nail-scarred hands. I can trust that He is guiding me, He is shaping me, and He will fulfill His purpose for me.
And so I repeat: in Christ alone, my hope is found. May this 25th year be full of adventures, of challenges, and of learning to trust Him more and more. 🙂