Last week I turned 26 years old. Which is strange because I feel like just last week I was celebrating my Golden Birthday, 25 on April 25th. Turning 25 was fun, it still felt young, it was my first birthday being married and my twin sister, Whitney, was here with us celebrating.
Turning 26 was very different. A week before my birthday I received an early morning phone call from one of my best friends to tell me her sister had died in a car accident. Four days later was the funeral of Nancy-Jane David, who felt like a little sister to me in high school. I haven’t shared any of this on my social media platforms out of respect for her family but they have since shared and will continue to. We had all been together just three weeks before at Georgia’s bridal shower. I had not seen Nancy-Jane in a year or two and one of my main takeaways from that shower was NJ. She was stunning. She was smart. She had everything in life to look forward to. She told me about her plans to continue grad-school in New York City. I encouraged her to do so and we laughed about a few memories we had from when I lived there. I remember in recapping the excitement of the shower with my mom and gramma, my need to express to them how amazing Nancy-Jane was and how happy I was to see her thriving. What a beauty! Inside and out.
Ever since I heard the news I have not stopped praying or thinking about Nancy’s family, my second family in high school. And as my birthday rolled around, I felt it to be completely unfair. How can I grow another year older when someone we have loved so much will never be 26? This felt and still feels heavy on me. It’s not something I can fully express.
Luke organized a surprise dinner party for me with some of our friends in Malibu and as I expressed my gratitude for them, I told them what I had been thinking all day. “This year, perhaps more than ever, I am thankful to grow older, because I recognize not everyone gets to be 26. I cherish today in their honor.”
I feel almost an urgency to write the below. I want to be able to remember what God has been teaching me, to see and recall how He is moving in my life and in the lives of others. We will not know this side of heaven why some of us live to be 21 and others 105, but I do know this, I will see Nancy-Jane again in glory thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Georgia so eloquently has said, “All is well NJ.”
26 LESSONS I LEARNED BY 26
- Life is short and meant to be cherished.
- You should definitely move across the country a few days after your honeymoon.
- My mom and mother in law won’t necessarily agree with this first lesson (I love you both!), so I am here to explain briefly. One of the most exciting and challenging things Luke and I did in our first year of marriage was move me across the country. The “leave and cleave” move that law school required allowed us to create our own family unit and bound us together early on.
- My husband, Luke, is a renaissance man. During my 25th year of life and our 1st year of marriage he sang and led worship at a funeral and then 2 weeks later, he did so again at a wedding. All while studying for the California Bar Exam.
- A growing family is a huge blessing.
- I never thought much about my husband’s family before I got married, I think when I did think about marriage I thought solely about my husband and kind of obsessed over him (and how tall he would be). I could have never dreamed up the family I would gain through marriage. I have the most incredible mother and father in law and gained three little sisters. I like to say little even though the oldest is just a year or two behind me. We also gained a brother this year through my twin sister. She married an amazing man named Jeff who has quickly become one of Luke’s best friends.
- Holidays change as you get older but it’s always for the better.
- A big takeaway from this past year was thinking back on holidays and how they change with a growing family. Don’t be worried. It’s fun to have new traditions and people to share them with.
- Distance makes the heart grow fonder.
- This lesson I have learned by living far away from family, specifically my mom and sister. Living on the opposite coast of Whitney, I call her at breakfast and she is eating lunch!
- Focus and invest in the friendships that lift you up and encourage you.
- Different life stages require different friendships.
- Tame your tongue.
- I could try to fully explain this lesson but instead I’ll share this link.
- Prayer is powerful.
- Comparison is the thief of joy.
- Choosing to be grateful can cancel out anxiety, frustration, worry and fear.
- Her success is not your failure.
- Delegation and communication are the two key components of a strong operating startup.
- Face to face communication (especially in conflict) is always best.
- Document moments but don’t let that take you away from being present.
- Traveling is the perfect way to broaden your horizons and can give inspiration that helps you dream bigger. See more here.
- Mom knows best. *These are in no specific order, or this one would be higher up!
- A healthy lifestyle is a moment to moment choice.
- Balance is a continual journey never a destination.
- Don’t forget to give yourself grace.
- As much as you work and play be sure to rest.
- Dogs really are man’s best friends.
- Beach walks can be healing.
- Show up.
- The best is yet to be!