I realize I haven't posted in a long while, and for that I deeply apologize. But, no matter! I will just go ahead and write the post that I've been dying to write, though it is quite overdue.
I wanted to write a post on my last day of being 15, a long one that recalled all of the blessings God gave me in my fifteenth year, a pleasant goodbye to 15 and a warm welcome to 16. But, as it happened, that did NOT happen. I shall do it now, because my fifteenth year was just too full of blessings to be passed by.
Obviously, the highlight of the year was the Poland Mission trip in the summer of 2011. That was an eye-opening experience, which taught me many, many things, and opened me up to a lot of wonderful and lasting friendships I would not have had if I had decided to stay home. It was an amazing experience, seeing first-hand the deep need for Christ in Poland, and facing the culture in ways that reached beyond my comforts. It was an exposure to really give of myself and step forward with 30-some others to shed the light of the Gospel in the darkest corners of Poznan and Gdansk. It taught me patience, even through the worst of times, even when our evangelizing had to be cut short due to bad weather. I believe that God gave us that drenching rain for a reason, and that was to teach us that blessings can come out of it. I didn't realize it at the time, but God was testing our faith and our patience, seeing if we would persevere through it, and when we did, He poured blessings upon us. By the end of the trip, the sun had peeked its head out of the clouds and was shining upon us boldly and triumphantly, almost a symbol of Christ's victory over sin and death. There is no doubt that God blessed me considerably when He sent me on the mission trip, and that is one aspect of being fifteen that I will never forget.
When I was fifteen, I traveled Europe for the first time in my life. With my dad and sister, we drove through Germany, Belgium, Holland, and France, and crossed over to England by ferry. I saw many great monuments, including the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Brandenburg Gate, the Arc de Triomphe, the Cologne Cathedral, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and several marvelous castles. Those were all man-made structures and they were all brilliant, but nothing can compare to the beauties of God's creation that my eyes fell upon. The white cliffs of Dover, the beautiful countryside of England, Brighton beach, the rippling fields of Holland, the Baltic Sea, gorgeous red sunsets, and yes, even the glistening droplets of rain. I felt blessed beyond anything I could ever deserve.
My fifteenth year was a year of firsts. Walking on cobblestones, climbing the Eiffel Tower, riding the tube in England, a long train ride on a passenger train, flying in a plane, travelling to Europe, seeing God's beauty extended into the far-off and unknown, singing in the streets, speaking in Polish, finishing my first novel, and numerous other things that I can't recall at this moment. It was a beyond amazing year.
I also strengthened friendships with my church friends by enjoying precious time with them. Going to the beach, to parties, to church events, to concerts. It was a year that brought me close to my friends, my family, and God.
Despite all of the hardships I suffered through, all of the sorrows that come with life, all of the trials that presented me with despair and hopelessness, I was blessed. The blessings fell like rain. And now, I know that I can face my sixteenth year with renewed hope. That I can endure through the hardships God gives me. That I can live in the light, and not the darkness.
Thank you, Lord, for my fifteenth year.
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
~1 Peter 5:6-8