I knew my 27th year was going to be big, (after all I planned it) I just didn't know how BIG! While it wasn't what I planned, I couldn't have planned it any better, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. The only thing I can say about it is that I have been blessed beyond measure by Him, and to Him be all the glory!
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I thought my big plans of nannying in Massachusetts, hearing Elizabeth Gilbert speak, seeing Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith in concert, online dating, going to New Zealand and Guatemala, and graduating with my Masters Degree were going to be big deals in 2008/2009, but instead He knows the plans He has for me.
Let's start with my job, i.e. the best job opportunity in the world for me! I signed on in September 2008 for a yearlong nanny position with a wonderful family, great kids, and options for planning activities, housing and health insurance included, with parents who love their children and are supportive of school and time off for me. The children and parents both have great boundaries and respect for my space and time. I love Matthew and Aliya like my own niece and nephew and miss them when I’m away. I often think, at times such as skiing with Matt, at the American Girl store with Aliya, camping in Maine with them or sitting by the pool watching them swim "is this really what I get paid to do?" I appreciate the children, my time with them and my position. Not only is it my job, but practice for when/if I have a family of my own. In December 2008, I negotiated the year long nanny contract to include: a 4 month extension until December 2009, with a promise to help fill my position when I leave, and they would pay for one master’s course. It was a win-win situation, especially in this economy, to be blessed with a great position I LOVE and more job security for the future. He knows the plans He has for me.
I knew I needed a church community when I moved to Massachusetts, so I did my research before moving. I found a few close to my new home and made plans to check them out ASAP. Now, when I say church, I mean I knew I needed to go to the church and hear His word and grow in my faith. I didn’t think beyond that or have any more expectations. I church shopped for 2 weeks and met a couple who referred me to another church, which had a young adult group starting called Bridge. That group Bridge is now my church, in the community sense of church as God intended. I have since spent immeasurable amounts of time within this group, and with the individuals I now call my friends. We have been worshiping Him, hearing His word, studying His word, camping, at the beach, at the pool, started a book club, playing games, chatting in person and on Facebook for hours on end, bowling, eating, giving and receiving advice, planning and executing events, and all while nurturing my relationship with Him. He knows the plans He has for me.
I was afforded the opportunity to go Guatemala in December, but due to snowy weather it was rescheduled to February. If we had gone in December, Safe Passage would have been closed. I would not have been able to see the sites, the children or the organization during its normal daily activities. I got a tour of the facilities, met the children, saw the dump where they work and the atmosphere of what 6 weeks of service might look like down there. I was overcome and speechless by what I saw. I came to the realization that I didn’t want to go there alone and work with the kids, but instead needed to do service alongside others I knew and I would work better with the adult programming at Safe Passage. That was 6 months ago and I haven’t revisited it yet. He knows the plans He has for me.
The spring 2009 New Zealand trip I had anticipated with my friend Sarah was canceled due to a change of plans. It wasn’t very long after that while chatting with one of my best friends Jaimee, that my Aruba vacation was booked. $600 for 7 days/7 nights at the Marriott and a flight was exception ably cheap and the opportunity was taken! I spent time with Jaimee, which is not easily attained with both of our busy lives, met and enjoyed some of her nurse friends, played hard, relaxed a bit and had one happy week on “One Happy Island’. Although I had New Zealand, with a pit stop in Sydney, Australia in mind, He knows the plans He has for me.
I didn’t graduate in the spring of 2009, as I have one more class left. I was going to go to South Africa with a cultural leadership study abroad program, but have since changed my mind. I was excited to get a chance to go to Africa and jumped at the opportunity. However, the time has come to apply and my feelings have changed. When I think of Africa, I think of my Somali students back during my VISTA post. I want to go where they lived and serve the people there. While it would still be a wonderful opportunity, I am not nearly as excited about it and think I will hold out, save my money and graduate in the spring of 2010 alongside one of my best friends, Allison. Also, I might just be in Peru joining my sister and brother-in-law to bring home a couple new nieces early next spring, so I must save for that! He knows the plans He has for me.
My cousin Tia walked 60 miles for a 3Day Breast Cancer walk in Philadelphia in October 2008. Our Aunt Barb died of breast cancer in the 1970s so we never met her, but she was so very special to her brothers, our fathers. After raising some support and awareness for her, and then hearing about her experience, I decided I too wanted to embrace this opportunity to raise support and awareness for the cause. Thus my 3 Day journey began. I started walking in March with Joy, a Bridge friend I met in January 2 weeks after she got married and moved here from South Carolina. My employers bought me a double stroller to push the kids in while we walked at the mall. 42 very special people sponsored me as I raised $2300 towards the cause. My father was my biggest fan and supporter and it felt great to honor his sister in that way. I surprised myself by walking 20 miles the first day and I have to say, I was proud of me! My mother came and walked with me, my four sisters, brother by law and cousin came to cheer me on Sunday, and some of my Bridge friends, including Joy, came to the finish line and closing ceremonies. I ended up walking 50 of the 60 miles due to blisters, but I finished and will be doing it next year with my father on the crew, and maybe even as a part of the San Diego walk! He knows the plans He has for me.
I was given 2 weeks paid vacation at the end of August when my employers take their vacation. When I found out I decided I too must take a vacation. Where will I go? Well my friend Katie lives in Los Angeles and had said I could come for a visit. I wrote her with the dates I wanted to come and booked the tickets the next day. I spent 5 days in Los Angeles with Katie, who was the best hostess ever! We crammed in so much in those 5 days that I have wanted to see forever and had such an amazing time. He knows the plans He has for me.
The summer of 2009 should probably have its own song in the soundtrack of my life, much like Brian Adam’s summer of ’69. While music and falling in love aren’t the topics of my summer of ’09 song, it has been some of the best days of my life. I went camping on my Mimi’s 100 acres and with my Bridge friends, had numerous cookouts with family and friends, spent time at pools, lakes, and oceans (Atlantic and Pacific), walked in the 3Day, had my 10 year high school reunion, saw Blue Man Group, went to Los Angeles and most importantly, I did this all while being single. I dated me and filled my single scrapbook with all things Tarsha! He knows the plans He has for me.
I planned my year; I filled it with adventures, destinations, and some dating experiences too. He had bigger opportunities and obstacles for me though. I grow and learn so much from each of the experiences. I prayed for patience and He’s coming through for me. I think He needs to hurry up sometimes, but given my plans verses His plans for this past year, I’m going to practice this patience thing a bit longer! For He knows the plans He has for me!
You are an amazingly beautiful and wonderful designer! You know my needs and wants when I cannot even identify them. You know my future and that of my friends and family too. I am so thankful that my parents made God a part of my life and that my faith is in you. Thank you God for all of the opportunities I have been given in this past year alone. Thank you for the awesome people you have placed in my life and the not so awesome ones you placed there for me to learn from. Thank you for keeping me healthy and able to walk in the 3Day when others weren’t afforded the chance. Thank you for providing me with the people and funds to participate and the support along the way that kept me going. Thank you for this wonderful job you gave me that is preparing me to be a mother and allowing me to work through all my fears around it. Thank you for the grace you have bestowed upon me as I make some of the same mistakes over and over and over again. I am a work in progress and long to get it right, but I stumble and you lift me up. Did I mention I feel like I don’t deserve this? I am abundantly blessed Lord and I know you deserve all the glory. This life isn’t about me and I long to serve you anywhere anytime. Thank you for the happiness and the smile I wake up with each day and the people I get to share it with. I know how very lucky I am to be blessed with my health, my socioeconomic status, my family, friends, and even my skin color. I am trying not to take these for granted Lord, and I am asking you now to keep me focused and centered on you and your will for my life. Please be with my friends and family that don’t know you like I do, that they might come to and be eternally grateful.
In Jesus name,
P.S. You know I’m serious about going anyplace anytime to serve your people. I know you have plans for me better than I can imagine.