20 in Tennessee

Today is my last day as a teenager. Tomorrow I turn 20 and for some reason when I woke up this morning my life “flashed before my eyes” for lack of better words. Not in a way that I’m lying on my death bed, but instead to see how far I’ve come in 20 years on this earth. The growth and the strength, the tears and laughs.

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I posted 2 years ago today that “you should be here” by Cole Swindell was playing and on the eve of my 18th birthday it really hit me hard that my dad wasn’t gonna be here to celebrate with me. Reading the post I felt the same emotions I did two years ago…

Even in just the 2 years since that post I’ve changed so much. Done with high school, half done with college with a degree, found someone to spend the rest of my life with.

The more life goes on and moves on the memories of my dad get more and more distant. To find pictures that I feel should be recent are now 8 years old. I’m no longer the pre-teen where my only worry was if I got to hunt that weekend. Now I’m an adult working through school, gaining experience in my career field, and engaged ready to start a life with my best friend. Each of these milestones has been bittersweet…because they all have one thing in common…he’s not here to see it…

I do know I couldn’t do it without my support team that’s there for every one of these moments. And no matter what God always finds a way to remind me my dad is there in that moment, in my heart, sharing every moment with me still.

My 19th year was actually one of the easier ones since I lost my dad, and I honestly feel an easier road ahead for my 20’s. There will be getting married to my best friend, finding a place to start our life together, finishing school and graduating with 3 degrees, getting a job, buying a house, having kids…so much to happen in the next 10 years that I can’t wait for.

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My 20th birthday will be spent on the mountains of Tennessee, with 53 others who love the Lord and never fail to lift my up. Even if it’s a tough pill to swallow that I’ll no longer be a teen and that again my dad will miss it, it’s just another thing on the list that he has and will miss in my life.

The next 10 years of my life will easily be the years that make my life what it is. Marriage, graduate school, house, career, kids. Converge (spring break with the church like now) a year ago changed my life in more than one way. I came out a new person. The things I had been fighting since my dad died were resolved, I confronted my pain, I decided it wasn’t how I was going to live my life anymore. I see now as I look back on the last year God has prepared me to walk into my 20’s with a better mindset, less pain, and ready to create a life with someone else. In a way it feels I’m leaving my childhood pain and suffering behind, and getting ready to start a new stage of my life.

It’s been a long road to get me to where I am now. The last 10 years of my life have been a roller coaster. But one thing has remained constant and that is my God. There through the good, there through the bad, and even the times that I pushed him away.

This birthday will be one for the books as I’m lucky enough to spend it in gorgeous Tennessee, but it also is the start of what I expect to be the best 10 years of my life.

Lean on your support system, Lean on God. This may be your time of heartache or God preparing you for your new chapter. Don’t take a single moment for granted, because the clock doesn’t stop for anyone.

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