Feels like I've done a lot of reminiscing the last couple of weeks about what I was 'doing' a year ago. I'm definitely a 'date' person - I can remember things that are so random because of the date, but the year might be a different story. I think I get this trait from my mom because she is a walking archive of information...our own little Cliff Claven :)
When I think about this time last year, I have to admit, I get a little sentimental for a number of reasons. First of all, my friends threw the best going away party for me ever... I sat and looked around the room at all of the faces that I have grown to love and thought of the endless memories that we had created together. A sense of sadness swept over me knowing that I was pushing aside these friendships to do something for myself - and I felt very selfish about it. I mean, what would these people do without me?!?
I have always been close to all of the action - meeting up for drinks or dinner with friends after work, being able to run home for the weekend to see my folks, having my brother and his family close by so I could spend a Sunday afternoon with them. I was leaving all of this behind for what? I have never felt more loved and appreciated than I did when I was with my friends and family and that feeling will never go away. Things change and people change... but we'll still have each other no matter the distance or time change!
The day before I drove away is so vivid to me... I was in my hometown saying my last good-byes to my family and friends and sharing a lot of tears. I drove back to DM and at the time, I was living with Chad and April and had finished loading the car and sat down for a minute to take it all in....the three of us were sitting in the living room and April told me that they had 'lied' to me. My stomach turned and my heart sunk - I had no idea what was going on, but she smiled and told me that I was the first person to know that they were expecting! She had found out a few days earlier that she was pregnant... we hugged, we cried, we laughed at ourselves for hugging and crying :) (I think I had asked if she were pregnant earlier, but that's when she told me 'no' - liar!) At that moment, I realized how many events I was going to be missing by being so far away... and it ripped me apart.
After a sleepless night, I was up and ready to go at 7:30am - more hugs, more crying with Chad and April - and that was it. I backed out of the driveway looking at my childhood friend and my second brother while tears streamed down my face as April and Maverick were waving good-bye to me.
Luckily, I had to pick up my co-pilot, Ryan, and I knew I needed to get straightened up before I got to his place! He met me out front with his tiny little duffle bag, looked at me and said, "Rough morning, huh?" No make up could hide crying eyes!
And away we went... 10 hours of driving the first day, 10 hours the second day, and 4 hours the third day... I was so wiped out from being behind the wheel that I was ready to turn around and head back to Iowa!
We saw some of the most gorgeous scenery in Utah and Nevada, marveled at how high gas prices were climbing the further west we drove, wondered about these little secluded towns along the way and how people survive and what do they do for fun...we had great conversations and counted down the hours until we got here!
What a difference a year makes. I feel like I have been put through the wringer here, but in a good way. It hasn't exactly been an 'easy' year, but some things aren't supposed to be easy from this short conclusion that I'm coming to. I can't even begin to tell you all of the things that I am learning about myself... what I'm like separated from the groups I had always been a part of, how my emotions have changed and evolved, how I've seen what a strong person I've become, and the weaknesses that I still need to work on in the upcoming year. God has been refining me in countless ways - ways that I didn't even know needed refined in the first place!
What is ironic about my thought process is that I assumed I was coming out here to make a difference in somebody else's life... Like, God was going to use me as a tool to help someone and I was eager to see what I was going to get out of it... well, joke's on me... He's ripped me apart from the inside out and taken all of these ugly things that I thought were 'cured' and has me working some more on them...it's humbling to say the least.
I realize now that I wouldn't have been able to go through so much of this 'stuff' if I were still living in my old surroundings.. I wouldn't have listened to God and would continue to think that I was 'perfect' and didn't need anything to change about me. I liked me then, but I like me a little bit more now....
There really isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my family and friends and wonder what they're doing. I miss my mom's hugs, the smell of my dad's cologne, watching my brother playing with his kids, my sister in laws homemade egg rolls, and the uniqueness of each friend that I have... I couldn't have done any of this without your support, motivational talks, and prayers... thank you!
I have met wonderful people here, I've seen a ton of new things, experienced life on a whole new level, and I'm looking forward to the next year and what's in store for me! God is so good to me and like the saying goes, everything happens for a reason....My reasons are becoming more prominent and each day I'm thankful to wake up knowing that God's got my six - (Apes, that one's for you!)
Happy Anniversary to me - I made it a whole year! =)