2016.

this year has been something else. possibly the hardest year yet. or maybe i just haven’t had enough perspective yet. either way i have learned so many things. some for the first time, others for the fortieth. whatever the case, this year, these lessons have brought a perspective that was needed for a moment of time or even for a month or three or twelve. i have been reminded that it is through failure and fear that we learn the greatest things. so here’s to remembering never to run from either, but to embrace them, know them, and let them change me.

  1. you can hold on as tight as you want to people, but you will never be able to change them
  2. bitterness hurts you more than it will ever hurt anyone else
  3. being spontaneous is always a good option
  4. catch phrase isn’t real until you’re throwing it half way across the room
  5. it’s okay for your dreams to change
  6. you should never have to justify your dreams to people
  7. friendships are the greatest and hardest thing in this world
  8. loving people doesn’t always look like the world tells us it does
  9. there is only so much time in each day, so just love the people you can the best you can
  10. true laughter is harder to come by than i ever knew
  11. there is always redemption, always
  12. the best conversations happen on the kitchen floor
  13. when you have the option of staying up late, however unwise it is, always say yes
  14. you can get used to watching people die
  15. you can never get used to standing beside families as they grieve their loved ones
  16. complaining is useless, thankfulness is satisfying
  17. expectations are the root of so much pain
  18. people lie
  19. i am predjudiced, privileged and am so ignorant to the systemic racism that shapes me
  20. i may be that, but i can also choose to do something about it
  21. buzzfeed quizzes are right ninety percent of the time
  22. seagulls are still the worst
  23. jesus is so much better than everything else
  24. apart from him there is literally no real true deep joy
  25. doing the same thing but hoping for different results is futile
  26. believing in yourself is okay
  27. it’s okay to be young
  28. family is so much more than blood
  29. honesty is worth humiliation
  30. letters are still the greatest form of written communication
  31. grief is inescapable, it is painful, it is powerful
  32. yet all the grief in the world will never bring back the ones we love
  33. people don’t need to be in your life long to change you
  34. printed pictures really do make the memories sweeter
  35. you don’t have to be doing something fancy to wear lipstick
  36. avoiding pain only leads to more pain
  37. friendship means different things to everyone
  38. loyalty and honesty may just be the most underrated characteristics
  39. to live in shame is to deny the reality that Jesus died for it all
  40. it’s easy to hide the deepest parts of your heart, even from those you love most
  41. when people say tattoos are addictive they’re not lying
  42. weddings are still my favourite
  43. or anything that involves dancing through the middle of the night is my favourite
  44. there are over 7 billion people on this planet, i am only one
  45. i matter while at the same time i am so insignificant
  46. climate change is real and we’re slowly killing the one thing we physically need
  47. the best kinds of parties are the ones that end with no voice because HSM, hello
  48. you can want something for a long time and then in a day realize you were wrong
  49. the iphone camera timer is the best function
  50. prayer changes things
  51. the death penalty is the worst
  52. life changes even when you wish it wouldn’t, and people, people too
  53. sometimes you just need to stand in the rain and cry
  54. don’t pressure people to love you more than they do
  55. creamed honey and peanut butter makes waking up the happiest thing
  56. team jess forever
  57. home can mean a hundred different things
  58. it is possible to want something so badly that your body actually aches
  59. sometimes what looks like indifference is actually love
  60. everything can change but God actually never will

so 2016, you’ve been so many things. joy-filled, painful, freeing. part of me wants to hold you close, because i may be the most nostalgic person this earth has seen. but, probably for the better, time has this uncanny ability of pulling you ahead even if you don’t think you want to go. so 2017, here i come, and watch out, because i’m feeling good about you. three things i know already – there will be laughter, there will certainly be tears, and my goodness, God will be good through it all.

friends, thank you for being the greatest. you have my love now until the end of time.

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FAMILY.

_PH10998As the end of this season wrapped up, Coach reminded us that there would be tears. Either way, win or lose, the tears would come. They came after our last game, and they definitely came again this weekend as we said our official goodbyes to our graduating teammates, also known as some of my best friends. So here’s to seven people who have surely changed my life. These words will never be enough, but I will do my best.

_PH11765Tay. Thank you for showing me what it means to laugh. You allowed me to enjoy life a little bit more each day. From adventures in North Bay, to dance parties in Florida, to our everyday life at Mac, the memories we have made never cease to remind me how great it is to be alive. You have taught me that a smile really can change a life, because yours has changed mine. Seriously Tay, never underestimate the impact you have on people. You are so special, never forget it.

_PH14387Oh Mir, where do I even begin. From the moment I arrived at Mac you have been by my side. You have taught me how to be a better volleyball player, but so much more importantly, you have taught me what it means to be a friend. You are fiercely loyal and that type of friendship is all too uncommon. It is in the craziest of times over the last four years that you have listened when I needed it, loved me when I was foolish, and made me laugh when it was the last thing I thought I could do. I will miss you more than you know.

_PH11285Lo, you are something special. You radiate light everywhere you go. You have the uncanny ability to remind people that they are alive for a reason, that giving up is not an option because they were made for something beautiful. Thank you for teaching me that being brave means being honest and that loving people is a choice we make. You my dear love well, that is a fact. And so is this, you are loved more than you can ever fathom.

_PH12305Khira, you are my Brooke Davis. You love life with an extraordinary passion, and you love people just a little bit more than that. You are trustworthy beyond belief. You are the first one to drop everything if someone says they need you. You are brave. Thank you for loving me for me, and trusting me with so much of your heart. It is no coincidence that we both ended up here together. Here is to a lifetime of heart to hearts, late night OTH marathons and the craziest of adventures. You, Jack and I. Always.

_PH11554Stephen. You have taught me a thousand and one things over the last four years. For one, I now know that messing with your order of wings is never a good idea. But seriously, you have showed me what it means to love something with everything you have. You taught me what it means to laugh even when life is hard. You have continually reminded me that family is one of the craziest, most wonderful gifts we get in life. Thank you for always listening to my never-ending life rants. You are one incredible athlete, but an even better friend.

_PH15084Al, for four years I have witnessed you play this game we all love, I have seen you work tirelessly to achieve your academic dreams, but most of all I have watched you change lives. You have this crazy ability to make people feel significant, that they are something extraordinary. So now, please know that you are the most extraordinary of us all. This next season of your life is going to be crazy good, I know it.

_PH18277.jpgNate, there is not much left to say. You are an incredible coach. You instill confidence in your players. Each and every day you fight for your athletes to be better; and through it all you are patient and kind. Thank you. Not only are you an unbelievable coach, but you have become a true friend. You listen better than anyone I have ever met, and the encouragement you give is legitimately life changing. I have said it before but thank you, for showing us what family looks like and for demonstrating what it means to follow your dreams alongside the ones you love most. I am forever grateful.

There are no words to articulate how thankful I am for this community. I walked into McMaster four years ago without an idea of what volleyball would bring me. The truth is, it has brought me a family. Nate reminded us this weekend that the best part about family is that it is not defined by distance or time. This is family y’all, and that is never going to change.

 

 

*All images are taken by Michael P. Hall, the best photographer out there. THANK YOU MPH, you rock. See more of his images here: https://michaelphall.wordpress.com/ 

Let Us Enter the Promised Land. Together.

It is time for the Church to stand up. Because “race was God’s idea, he made us different on purpose, and our differences are part of the story of redemption. So a race issue is a Gospel issue.” [Propaganda, Relevant Magazine] Let us not be complacent. Let us not push this aside. This is a fight we MUST be a part of. Because my dear friends – this is injustice. So let us weep with those who weep. Let us rejoice together when victories come [Romans 12:15]. And let us long to understand this great inequality from those who experience it. From those who have lived and are living it. Let us walk alongside [in this moment] the Black community who is crying out for justice.

Almost 47 years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he saw the Promised Land. He knew the day would come when racial injustice would be no longer. He stood on that mountaintop and saw the glory of the Lord. I think that many people believed that – although King himself was not present – we reached the Promised Land. We found the days when race was simply a fact, rather than a gauge on how the system [and other human beings] treated you. Negative. We are still stuck on the mountaintop, looking at what could be. And then what could be starts to mix with reality and all of a sudden we [as outsiders] believe that racial inequality has been erased. Wrong. Again. So let us come down off the mountaintop. Let us look this injustice in the eye and say our goodbyes for the final time. Let us cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. Together.