DEAR FUTURE ME {27th BIRTHDAY MUSINGS}

Dear Future Me,

I’m not sure when I’ve ever felt so much like an adult and a ten-year-old at the same time. Throw in some eighty-year-old vibes for good measure, and you’ve got a little glimpse into what my life is currently composed of. But, before I get into that, let me give you a little snapshot of where I am so you can look back and feel all the nostalgia.

It’s 9:29 Monday morning, the weather is incredibly hot so my AC is nosily chugging away, trying to combat the heat. I’m sitting long-ways on the couch, with my Spotify liked playlist (with 1,985 songs) serenading me – specifically with the song Love Story by Taylor Swift, the only Taylor Swift song I ever listen to. I just finished my coffee (which I ran over to my adopted parent’s camper to make because I still haven’t perfected the measurements in my own coffee maker and I wanted to make sure the coffee was good this morning), and I’m chugging away at water from my clear bottle with a deep purple lid because the sun pouring through the window onto my back is making me thirsty.

On my table, I have three plates of freshly baked white chocolate craisin cookies, and I deposited a bag of caramel popcorn on the bench seat when I came in from saying hey to my adopted parents when the arrived here a few minutes ago. Other than that my darling camper is clean with everything in order. The pantry is over-stocked, water jugs all full, cupboards organized, and the diffuser is puffing out the scent of lemongrass.

This year my life took a turn that I dreamed and prayed about for years, but was never really sure if it would work out. At the end of May, I moved to Kentucky to work at the Creation Museum for the summer. A summer that was delightfully full, scary, rewarding, exciting, and stuffed with one of the biggest learning curves I’ve ever experienced.

And, now here’s the crazy part. The summer’s over, and I’m still here.

See, Future Me, after I got settled in here, I realized it was exactly where I was supposed to be. From the four plants next to my sink to the routine of hauling in my drinking water to carrying around a stuffed animal at work to making friends with my co-workers… Well, everything felt right. Like smiling at guests at the Museum and cooking meals for my friends and dancing through the gardens was exactly what this season of my life was meant for.

And, although I haven’t told anyone online, and I haven’t even gotten around to telling everyone back in Ohio, this is now my life. Today is the transition – today I’m going from being a Seasonal Generalist to a Full-time SET Member. I’m going from being a blue shirt to a Red Shirt. It’s exciting and terrifying and thrilling all at once. It’s the answer to many prayers, countless conversations, dozens of my coworkers helping me and giving me advice, and me flinging myself so far outside my comfort zone that I spent weeks of restless nights.

It also means I’m committed to staying here.

Future Me, who knows where you are now, and what kind of commitments you’ve made. But Current Me? Well, this commitment to the Creation Museum is the first time I’ve ever agreed to anything that lasts more than a couple of months, and it’s crazy. I just spent a couple of weeks with my family and whenever I had a chance I went through my belongings at home, deciding what I did and didn’t need. See, since the plan is for me to live in a camper long-term, that means I can start downsizing my stuff. Because stuff is far less important to me now than it used to be. I’ve learned a lot this year, and knowing what is and isn’t helpful in my life is one of the key lessons I’ll carry into the new year with me.

Like unnecessary words bog down a story, unnecessary items and choices do the same to my life. Wearing a uniform each day has helped me see the blessing that a lack of choices can be, and so I’ve begun streamlining the rest of my life so less of my time is spent on making choices, and more time is spent doing, being, and enjoying.

I keep watching the clock as I clack away on the keyboard – it’s now 10:14 and I’m about to pack my lunch, gather up my cookies, and slip Homer on. See, Future Me, this is where the ten-year-old side of me pops up. I literally wear a stuffed animal to work. They’re called Huggers and they are cute little animals with arms like slap bracelets. They hug onto my wrist and fill me with happiness. And, since we sell them at the bookstore, I’m allowed to wear them as I go about my tasks. For my birthday Sarah made Homer a red shirt to match my new uniform, and I can’t even tell you the amount of joy I felt when I opened the shirt.

And I guess that’s how I’ll close this letter to you. With the story of Homer. Because you see, joy is really important to me. I feel an immense amount of it bubble over on a daily basis. It’s a childlike wonder that takes over and makes me want to hug the world. It’s a delight that makes me smile and stay at work late so I can organize the stuffed animals. It’s a deeply entrenched part of who I am.

Please, please don’t lose that. I understand that you’re growing up. That budgets, interviews, and scary situations are pushing and pulling at you. One day you’ll probably be too proper to dance through life barefoot with a stuffed animal on your arm. And that’s okay – I don’t expect you to always be so random and crazy. But please, please don’t lose your delight and wonder and joy. Find ways to keep those alive in your life.

Dear Future Me, God created you this way for a reason. Your parents named you Lydia Joy for a reason. You’ve been blessed. Share that blessing, carry that blessing with you, and remember that joy doesn’t depend on what’s going on around you, but rather what’s going on inside you.

Now… Well, it’s time to head into work and hope that the cookies make up for the huge amount of ignorance you feel as you begin a new year and a new position.

Blessings!

Lydia

Dear Future Me {25th Birthday Musings}

Dear Future Me,

Knowing you, one day you’ll be reading this in the far distant future, being amused by your former self – and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, that’s kinda the purpose of this letter: To freeze this moment in time so you can look back on it and remember. Also, I wanna tell you some important things that you could possibly forget as the years slid by in the excited frenzy of life.

But first, a snapshot of what’s going on at this exact moment so you can look back from years and picture it perfectly.

It’s 8:53 on a nice and calm, Saturday morning. This isn’t my actual birthday – no that was a week ago, but we were in Florida visiting the family and then traveling home, so we’re celebrating today. (Although, of course, we also celebrated last Saturday, but you know me, carrying on with celebrations and all.) This week was a wonderful and busy one with arriving home Sunday late afternoon, having stuff going on all day Monday, and then working at Chapman’s Coffee Shop for the next four days. Since I knew I had today off I allowed myself to indulge in staying up until one this morning reading a book.

I’m sitting at my desk in a clean office, although there are a few stacks of papers that need to be gone through. (Always papers to go through.) I also, for some odd reason, have a pair of sparkly socks sitting on my desk. I used them just a moment ago to erase my whiteboard, cause you know me, I can’t work at a messy desk. (Are you still like that?) I also have a salt lamp some pictures, a pad of paper, and six containers of glitter on my desk, but all those are to be expected, right? In the stuffed animal category I have a cute little elephant and skunk residing on my desk, because how could I write without those critters? I’m drinking decaf (although my caffeine intake recently has been exorbitant compared to normal), and eating a delicious Lindor white chocolate truffle Kaitlyn so sweetly sent me for my birthday.

Whimsy is hanging out in his cage. All three of my windows are open. The trees and field are beautifully autumn. Yesterday I transitioned my closet from summer clothes to winter clothes and rediscovered in the process how many of my clothes are either dark blue or red. (Maybe that means I have a certain style after all? I always figured my style was along the lines of “Whatever is fastest and easiest to wear.”) And, amazingly enough, I’m listening to JJ Heller. Remember how her music used to stress me out? I suppose wonders never cease.

Alexa, Zach, and Aubrey are planning on coming for brunch, along with Sarah and her family who are making a special cake that we are all looking forward to. I’ve wanted to make homemade noodles for a long time, so I’m planning on diving into that project this afternoon with Sarah, and perhaps some of my sisters. I’m hoping my adopted parents can come for supper, but we haven’t worked out all those logicists yet.

Does that make you, future self, feel nostalgic? But enough of the snapshot of life, now onto what else I had to say.

As I write this I’ve officially passed that threshold of being a quarter of a century old. Which in reality isn’t old, but it feels like a commemorative-worthy event. I have such a long list of things I’ve gotten to do, places I’ve been, mistakes I’ve made, successes I’ve seen, dreams I’ve realized, problems I’ve solved, and people I love. I feel like I’ve fit a lot of life into my days, but I also feel like I’ve lived a fair amount of days.

Do you know what though? I have currently only lived a grand total of 9,138 days.

That’s not very many. See, if I live to be a hundred years old, that means I have a grand total of 36,524 days – only 27,386 days left. Each day matters. Each day is important. Each day that slips by is one I’ll never get back – time I’ll never be able to redeem.

Psalm 90:12 says So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. 

I want to apply my heart to wisdom. I want to learn, grow, become who I’m supposed to be. I want to live, love, serve, see, change, become, grow, need, and be needed. I want to do big things – be the hands and feet of Christ to those who I’m around. I also want to do whimsical things – dance in the rain and sleep under the stars. I want to do huge things – become a bestselling author and be a successful, encouraging blogger. I want to do little things – play skip-bo with my little brother and read books to my nieces and nephews. I want to do balanced things – sleeping when I need to, running half marathons, hanging out with people. I want to do adventuresome things – RV across the USA, travel the world, own a skunk. I want to do creative things – creating, exploring, discovering, tasting, growing, and learning. I want to do rememberable things – going out of my way to help people, writing unforgettable books, making up new recipes. I want to do challenging things – regularly choosing to step out of my comfort zone and make the right choices. I want to do faith-filled things – following God even when it doesn’t make sense to me. I want to do still things – listening to God, enjoying the moments, being content.

Dear Future Me, this is what I want to be able to look back and nod at. To know that I was able to stay on track, to take the time to simply be. The time to run full steam ahead. The time to become who God wanted me to be.

So much of life up until this point has been growing my roots down deep, and I’m so thankful for that. I hope to always continue to grow my roots deep and deeper. Yet at the same point, I want to be ready now for whenever the time for the next phase of life comes. Not that I want to give this one up because it’s beautiful. But sometimes change can be beautiful as well. No matter if it’s when I’m twenty-five and getting a new job, or if it’s when I’m fifty and my first child is getting married.

This is my life – your life – live it, grow it, redeem it.

Sincerely,

Lydia Howe