26 years old. PARTAY. But really, my birthday was stellar. I worked from home and made my own strawberry cake that turned out pretttttttty yummy if I do say so myself. I met new and old friends at a brewery where we had 2 for 1 beers, munched on a way too ridiculously beautiful cheeseboard, all while listening to bluegrass in the background. And the night ended with a few of us on the basketball court playing knockout until the birthday girl won. YEP, I had my birthday diva moment… but really I would have had 20 more if it meant we would play Knockout ALLLLL NIGHHHHT!
Speaking of birthdays…. was year 25 a roller coaster or what?! I mean this seriously, THANK YOU to all of my incredible friends and family who encouraged and prayed and supported me through it all. If there is one thing that has been so consistent in my life, it is the huge blessing of having incredible company that surrounds me. So THANK YOU & I heart you. So as y’all know, this last year has been one heck of a rollercoaster and has brought a ton of change in my life. Before moving on to year 26, I wanted to capture what this year did for me as a whole because I think it may be one of the most impactful yet.
I’ll be really honest, last time at this year I was lost. I loved my life, my job, and the amazing friends that accompanied it, but at the end of the day I would come home and feel like a part of me was missing, almost as if I wasn’t the person who I used to know. I had a few conversations with friends about how I had allowed myself to grow too comfortable with my life in Fayetteville, and how fear and perceptions had moved in and become the ruler of my life. Many days, it felt like everyone’s lives were moving forward, yet I was at a standstill. Around this time is when I started praying Anything, what I referred to in an old blog post. “Jesus, Anything and I will do it. Just use me, right now in this phase of life. Show me the gifts and talents I have buried, and restore me to the person you created me to be.” And as many of you know, God called me to that and a hard, yet amazing year began.
In August I started the study called Mended by Angie Smith and the idea of “being mended” became my prayer for months and months. I listed all the areas of my life that I felt needed mending most and asked God to use my brokenness to piece me together again. “Lord I care entirely too much what people think of me. Break me, and piece me to know that you call me Worthy.” “Father I am bound to failures and past sin. Break me, and let grace be the glue that fills every crack.” “Jesus I am lonely amongst all my friends getting married. Break me, give me a new perspective, and fill me with your overwhelming presence.” These were only a few of the prayers that I wrote that day, asking Jesus to do anything and everything to take my broken pieces and turn those dark places into light.
And month, by month, after giving over my shattered self, I began to see where Jesus was mending me, restoring me back to who He created, and reminding me of the talents that I hadn’t used in so long. He did it through scripture and studies. He did it through adventure and writing. And of course, he did it through my friends and family. This happened in so many ways, but one of the most impactful conversations to come out of this season was from my sister. She called me one day in January, about half way through all of the crazy, and said, “Hannah, I’ve been thinking… a lot of people couldn’t move or start over, but God gave YOU the personality to thrive in a situation exactly like this. So no matter where you go, you will be fine because YOU were made for it.”
I have always known that the times I feel happiest and most like myself are when I am with the people I love OR I am out of my box and pushed to make connections. Like the weeks spent at camp, whether it was when I was 8 at Kanakuk or 20 at Young Life, I thrived running around with new friends, relishing in the freedom of honesty over perfection, all while letting your guard down to allow someone new into your life. But never have I realized that the gift and joy of connecting with others is what makes me feel like myself, the purpose God designed me especially for. And never had it been more clear that this was the gift I had buried in the sand long ago, the talent God was asking me to dig on up.
Nearly a year after all of this first began and man does God move mountains. I like to joke that my “quarter life crisis” is actually what gave me life back, but truly I think it did. Year 25 was rough with many lessons, but it was so. so. so. good. It took me on amazing adventures I had been too anxious to book; grew a deeper friendship and understanding in my relationship with my fun-loving mother; gave me the courage to make important life decisions; restored my confidence and joy; taught me to have greater patience and to celebrate more often; and lastly, granted me a chance to take all of this and go live my life again.
And so here I sit in my home in Nashville, after having such a full week of feeling celebrated and loved by new and old friends in this city, and it only makes sense that I got here. God used my Anything, He used my shattered pieces and desperate heart, He used my helpless and pleading prayers, and He used it all to display His glory while perfectly refining parts of me. Nothing has ever been more sure and constant in my life than the great faithfulness of our God. I am so thankful for the hard season Jesus took me through this past year, but I am sooooo pumped to leave it behind and focus on where He has me now. And seriously, what a freaking dream He placed me in. There isn’t a better place to use and display the gift he has granted me than in this city and with these people.
Nashville, you beautiful city and the fun and friendly people you house, I love you already.
If the first days of year 26 is any indication, this year is going to be freaking knocked out of the park. Let’s do this.
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down and he will bind us up.” Hosea 6:1
“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Matthew 25: 14-30: The Parable of the Talents