(This post was originally published on my personal blog, Of Postcards & Ink, between 2015-2016.)
As I prepare to turn the page and watch the last twenty-one years of my life drift into the past, I’ve found myself pausing – eyes bright and heart full – and feeling a thousand waves of thankfulness crashing down on my shores. I don’t want to rush into the next chapter without soaking in the perfect stillness and stunningly ordained fullness that God has graciously filled the last twenty-one years – this grand adventure – with. I want it to overwhelm me. I want to feel the pain and loss and hardship, the laughter and opportunity and relationship; the way that my mind, heart and body have shifted through every season and how I’ve grown and been stretched with every change in the weather. As I’ve wandered down through the endless library of moments and people that line the aisles of my memory, it’s here that I’ve found an all-encompassing gratitude that leaves me full to burst.
And as I reflect on all of the threads that have woven together in this 21-year old patchwork blanket of moments of joy, growth and bittersweet change, I can’t help but feel as though my birthday is as much a celebration of you as it is a celebration of me.
So, here’s to you, precious friends – here’s to the joy, light and wonder that you bring to my life.
Some of you, I’ve had the privilege of knowing for most of my life. Others, I’ve only crossed paths with in the last few years or even months. Whether they be memories rooted in childhood adventures, primary school excursions, high school lunchtimes, university shenanigans, church fellowship or something in between, thank you for walking through so many different seasons of life with me and for sharing your lives and the depths of your heart with me. To be surrounded by such beautiful, kind, creative, caring and talented souls is a blessing I thank God for every day. Friends in Sydney, thank you for being the reason that my year in Paris was tinged with an acute sense of incompleteness. Thank you for brunch, art galleries and road trips. Thank you for being what makes this city home, for encouraging me to find a home in new and beautiful places and for many of you, thank you for reminding me to yearn the most deeply for the home that will never perish, spoil or fade.
Miri et Mélanie, merci pour votre amour, votre sagesse et votre générosité. Je suis tellement reconnaissante pour nos rencontres qui m’ont beaucoup appris, touchée et encouragée. Merci d’avoir partagé vos vies avec moi pendant l’année qu’on vient de passer ensemble. Merci de m’avoir aidée à me sentir chez moi à Paris et d’avoir fixé vos yeux avec moi sur le royaume eternel de Dieu – où on peut se sentir chez nous toujours, peu importe où on se trouve dans ce monde. Je vois très clairement les manières dont Dieu vous transforme afin que vous soyez si belles pour lui. Vous êtes enormement gentilles et douées. Merci de m’avoir montrée le pouvoir universel de l’Evangile et la beauté des amitiés qui sont enracinés en Christ.
Lelina, thank you for your kind, gentle and generous spirit. The late night phone calls, endless MSN chats, afternoons spent rolling down grassy hills, weekly breakfasts/catch ups, moments of laughing-to-the-point-of-falling-out-of-our-chairs-in-class and everything in between. You are beautiful and such a delight and I’m so thankful to God for how He has made you to be a creative, caring and loving friend to so many. There are an incredible number of things that we share and also a few that put us on different wavelengths, and I can’t help but reflect of what a joy it is that God has woven and is continuing to weave those golden threads together.
Iris, thank you for being a kindred spirit and a woman who is so intelligent, humble and eager to listen. Thank you for traversing half the globe and battling twenty-four hours of turbulence and plane sickness to spend four weeks with me in a corner of the world that I had come to call home. For speaking the truth in love and for being a shoulder to lean on, and a friend to cry, laugh and celebrate with. Thank you for the small joys of being able to indulge in good food and good coffee together, and for the big joys of sharing in hours of conversation that feel like minutes and that are so refreshingly good for the soul. Thank you for creating with me a safe and precious space for us to be honest and vulnerable, sharing our joys and struggles with each other every day. There are so many milestones and moments worth their weight in gold that we’ve walked through together over the last few years, and in your friendship and love, God has truly outdone Himself. Thank you for your affectionate and compassionate heart.
Dickson, thank you for how every moment spent with you is spent getting a glimpse of the deep love, steadfast grace and eternal hope that I ultimately know in Christ. Thank you for being my safe place, my best friend and my favourite adventurer. For the sunrises and sunsets, for the late night drives back to Kellyville, for the beauty that you find in the little things and the way you dream with, lead and inspire me. Thank you for your endless support and for how you cheer me on, allowing me to grow and stretch into the strong, gracious and wise woman that God has redeemed me to be. For always listening to my heart, for fighting for my happiness and for gently ushering me back into the light when I find myself lost in anxious chasms of sadness and darkness. For how much you love Jesus and for how that enables you to hold my hand steady through the joyful and painful seasons alike; for sitting on the phone with me for hours the night that the shootings took place a few kilometres away from my apartment in Paris – a night where I felt scared and so very far from home – and for reminding me of God’s eternal promises and peace. Your strength, wisdom, generosity and patience as a man of God are so much more than I deserve. Thank you for loving me, my family and those around you so fiercely and for taking such good care of my heart.
Calvin & Chloe, thank you for the laughter and joy that growing up together has brought to my twenty-one years of life. You are both so kind, loving, quirky, wise and wonderfully funny. Thank you for never batting an eyelid whenever I stroll into your rooms – unsummoned and without warning – and ask for a hug or a chat. Thank you for how we can recite and recount almost every single episode of Arthur ever aired, for how we somehow always managed to divide snacks that came in even numbers between the three of us, and for the inside jokes and silly moments that abounded on family holidays. Thank you for how you encourage me in your words, prayers, stories and quirks, and for the incredible privilege that it is to see God at work in your lives. Being your sister is a blessing I hope I never lose sight of.
Mum, thank you for the big things and the little things. Thank you for your words of wisdom, your sense of humour and for how you show me every day what it means to walk closely with Christ, to be fiercely intelligent and loving, to never stop learning and to seek God’s kingdom before all else. Thank you for the love of reading and creating that you’ve instilled and encouraged in me, and for every single late night bedside chat that we’ve shared. Thank you for your endless care for me, your persistent prayers and for always knowing what to say to soothe my anxious and worried heart. Your strength, your endless talents and your steadfast resilience inspire me each and every day. Thank you for your fun text messages, cosy hugs and for making sure that I had a tax file number ready to go at the ripe age of three (#accountantschild). Most of all, thank you for always being a calm, steady and comforting voice, reminding me of God’s deep goodness and care for me, through even the roughest of storms.
Dad, thank you for your strength, your generosity and for some of the most comforting hugs in the world. For letting me fall asleep on your chest at the age of five and wrap my arms around your waist at the age of twelve, squeezing as hard as I could with as much strength as I could muster. Thank you for being the best swing-pusher and for shamelessly running and weaving in between the crowds of adults on the church lawn while playing Tip with me and my friends every Sunday all those years ago. Thank you for always encouraging me to do my best and never more, for showing me what it means to work hard and faithfully, and for showing me grace, patience and unconditional love, even in the moments where I’ve failed you and I’ve hurt you. To have an earthly father so kind, selfless and self-sacrificial is a blessing and undeserved joy that I know could only have come from the Heavenly Father whom we share.
And above all – thank you, Jesus. Thank you that in You, I can know the mighty God, the Creator of this universe, as my Father, Lord and Friend. Thank you for saving me – in my most broken and unlovable state – from death and sin, and giving me a life that is spent walking in Your light and being renewed by Your Spirit to be more like You each and every day. Thank you for showing me that the greatest wonder really isn’t in myself or my self-satisfaction, but in my self-forgetfulness. Thank you for creating in me a deep yearning for a magnificent joy that comes from something and someone beyond myself. You’ve drawn me to You, called me by name before the world began and pursued me with Your perfect love and goodness. Thank you for the inexplicable joy and privilege of being called Yours.
Photographs taken by Jonathan Tan