My first birthday spent here was awful. I had no family here. I fought constantly with my girlfriend. I didn't have friends that understood what was going on in my life. I felt lonely, angry, and distant.
Growing up my birthday was always special. December 13th, the day us kids and my dad would go pick out our Christmas tree. I loved it. It was always a fun day. Playing hide and seek for hours in the cedar trees before looking for the tree. Upon finding the "perfect" tree taking turns cutting it down. My older siblings, dad, and myself carrying it home. Finding out upon getting home that the tree was twice as tall as it needed to be. Mom having hotchocolate for us when we came home. Sitting around the table, laughing, sharing, and loving life. I loved my birthday. I loved the togetherness of my family. I loved how every year it was special cause that's the day we would get our Christmas tree and kick-off The season. I loved how my whole family was always there. The presents were always great, but it was always the family aspect which meant something to me.
Now I was turning 20, knew only a few people, and felt very alone. I know now in hindsight I brought it upon myself. This birthday, this always special day, was nothing like it use to be. I don't really remember what was done for the day. I remember how I felt. I know the sadness and anger inside me was very real. I know part of me hated how I had put myself in this place. I received a card from my family. A happy birthday phone call. A few texts from friends back home. Nothing special though.
Fast forward another 7 years. I am still in Springfield. I stayed for a different girl, who has become the love of my life. I found work. I own a car. My birthdays are better. They are spent with my new family. My wife always makes it special in her own way. There is laughter, love, and a togetherness. I am content, happy, and feel so grateful for how God has worked in and through my life. How He has turned what was one of the stupidest decisions of my life into something great.
"The only constant in life is change." I have found this to be partially true. Life is always changing, always moving, always different than the way we remember it. In the change I have found a constant in Jesus Christ. I turn 27 tomorrow. We won't go out and get a Christmas tree. There may be some hotchocolate at some point. There will be family around me. Ashley and I will go see the premier of the Hobbit tonight. Another year will have been lived. Looking forward, into the year ahead, I know the best is yet to come. I am expectant and excited for where we may be next year at this time. I won't rush this moment though. I won't wish for something different. Live Loved, Live Loud, Live Forgiven.