The day before my 16th birthday, I wrote this little note. At the time I wrote this, I had no idea that the Lord would use it to encourage me countless times throughout this year. Whenever I look at it, I’m reminded of the way I felt that day- nervous, yet excited to see Gods plan for my life.

Whenever I find myself discouraged, I look back at this note, and I remember that the same God who held my heart and future then, continues to hold it now. Thank you, Jesus!

Tomorrow I’m turning 16. As 16 is a pretty big milestone, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflecting on the years behind me as well as the years ahead of me. These last 16 years have been filled with laughter, sorrow, happiness, hardships, and so much joy.

It really does feel like it was yesterday that I was turning 6, all dressed up like a princess, prancing around the house with my ballerina necklace on without a single care in the world. It’s strange to think that in the last 10 years I’ve traded my princess shoes for real high heels, clip on earrings for pierced ears, and instead of learning to ride a bike, I’m learning how to drive a car.

While part of me is sad that I’m faced with the reality that I’m growing up, I can’t help but look back on everything I’ve learned over the last few years and be anything but grateful.

I am grateful for my mom, who shows me the kind of woman and mom I hope to be some day. I’m grateful for my older sister and my girl friends, who have provided me with countless hours of laughter, late night talks, and fun. I’m grateful for the wonderful families I babysit for, and for the joy they bring to my life. I’m thankful for Louis, for being the protective big brother I’ve always wanted, and for loving me like his own sister. I’m thankful for jellybeans, orange juice, nail polish, and clothes. And I’m thankful for my adorable little puppy, who reminds me that most accidents in life can be easily cleaned up. (with carpet cleaner and a little elbow grease, that is. 🙂

But more than that, I’m grateful for the tough life lessons I’ve learned along the way that have made me who I am today. It hasn’t been easy to come to the realization that earthly love is rotten and imperfect, and that some of the people you love the most will let you down in big ways. It hasn’t been easy to take criticism from the world about my appearance, or my work ethic, or my grades. But the hardest thing of all has been realizing the depth of my own sin, and the damaging effects it has on those around me.

Yet through the countless times I’ve wrestled with God, and even with myself, I’m always taken back to what I’ve know to be true since I was a 6 year old, carefree little girl, and that is that God is good. When earthly love fails me, He loves me perfectly. When I feel lonely, He is there. He truly has been my shelter, especially during the most difficult times of my life. He has been my protecter, provider, comforter, and my friend. He defines who I am, not my report card or my ACT score. And despite my yucky, sinful heart, He loves me. And that leaves me feeling overwhelmed, undeserving, and in awe of the God I serve.

Something I haven’t realized before is that God is using each person and each experience in my life to write my story. It is through each moment in my life, good and bad, that He shapes me and makes me more like Him. It is with that truth that I approach the coming years of my life in anticipation of how He will use me, trusting that He will carry me, and thankful that I get to be a small part of His big plan.

A big thank you to all my friends and family, who fill my life with so much joy! 🙂