I am just a little belated in posting! (Haha!)
But after 4 wonderful years...
Big brother and me <3. Dress: Lauren James Livingston (from back in the day!) Shoes: Similar
I graduated with my Bachelor of Music! Summa Cum Laude, no less...
The day itself was a roasting bliss. I always prayed that the sun would shine on my graduation day- I'd witnessed a rainy graduation before. That was enough to convince me I was desperate for sunshine. And sunshine we had- it was hot as any southern simile ever described. But I did not mind in the slightest.
I rose that morning and threw on my best pink dress, steamed my gown and spent way too long in my attempt at curling my hair. On my way out the door, my mom handed me a necklace to wear which had belonged to my grandma, and I finished my makeup hurriedly in the car as dad drove me to the building where the graduates would wait before the ceremony. (It just happened to be my beloved music building!)
I said hello and congratulations to friends and made my way to a practice room, to play piano once more before the tassel was turned. I was trying to be all ceremonious about it- and then realized I had things I'd rather do and didn't care. So, I shut the lid to the piano and went out to a table to do my nails while I listened to my security guard friends quiz each other on how to handle *certain* situations. I find them hilarious. Said hello to a professor (and congratulated him on never having to answer so many Annika questions again). Got snacks out of my locker to share with a famished friend. Talked with all the people. Forgot to take grad photos in the other room. And... walked the walk, aka my 30 seconds of glory for that very expensive piece of paper I have spent years of my life working for. But truly, it was sooooo worth it.
College is not for everyone, and it is not for every season. Some people do college early, some later in life, some not at all, and a handful like it so much they become professors and never leave. I am very thankful for my story, but also want to acknowledge that God has a unique plan and path for everyone! I am appreciative of my college experience- but also love to celebrate others who have a story different from mine. So, here's to all of us in our journeys! Hooray!!
Seriously thankful for the wonderful people who helped me through this phase:
+The alumni and others who donated scholarship funds to make college possible.
+The women and families at church who made me meals during the rough times,
welcomed me into their homes, and helped to meet my needs.
+The professors and faculty who answered my countless questions and spent hours
+The parents who were always a phone call away.
+The children I worked with who held such a sweet outlook on learning and helping
+The lovely Ms. Ella, who made chicken fried steak when the world needed chicken
fried steak, and Ms. Anna, who always asked how I was and meant it.
+The mentors that gave sound advice and biblical counsel.
+The friends who were faithful to be present, have fun and give plenty of hugs.
+The God who listened to and answered every prayer in His good and perfect way,
who counseled me in the night, who bore my sorrows and cheered for the victories
+The hippopotamus that I got for Christmas. It is such a good hippo.
I won't pretend that I could scratch the surface- there are so many lovely people that God made and put in my path. We did it- go team!
When a person graduates, it is often the first question in people's minds to wonder... so, what's next? And nextly is always an exciting prospect.
But what about when it's not?
I won't mistake it- this "lately" I've been in- for being anything without its disappointing hopes and deferred dreams. Somehow still, I have not been able to rid the belief that something very good is coming, even in moments where I see no evidence. I've thought I've found the good evidence many times a day, only for soon discovering that it is not my "good" to have, after all. Jobs that did not pan out. Places I did not go. Experiences I did not have. Answers that did not come. Expectations that were not met.
And yet -
"The LORD is my Shepherd; I lack nothing." (Psalm 23:1)
Sometimes God just needs to give me a swift kick into being content where I am. He gave me one a few months ago, in the form of something I heard on Instagram. I historically have not been very "social" online on my own accord, largely for being very busy and enjoying the moving pictures in front of me known as "real life." But real life has been a different sort of busy, with periodic breaks of time for mindlessness (and overthinking, of course). So I hopped on one evening to see what friends were up to and discovered a post that talked about this very sort of unknown I'm in. The frustration, the fears, the disappointment, the questioning- all of it. And the speaker gave a charge- to remember that something healthy is growing underneath it all, resting in the "in-between", and that I should not waste it.
I seem to remember having conversations with myself about this very thing several months ago. There were all sorts of things I wished to do, but always said hastily, "I don't have time!" Well, now I do! I had told myself that if I were given much time (some people call this "unemployed"), that I shouldn't wallow or waste it, but to do all of the things that have been on my heart to do. To "hope and keep busy," as Louisa May Alcott put it. The Lord and His sense of humor...
These "green pastures and quiet waters" I've been in have helped me to refocus, rebuild, and work on areas that needed growth. I have learned so much! And goodness, I still have so much left to learn.
I have enjoyed these months since graduation immensely and hope to treasure this "waiting on the Lord" always as a time of great value and growth. Even the hard moments held purpose. And I have had some fun experiences, too! I have gotten to lead worship in dozens of places, played and sang in a wedding, and built some wonderful friendships amidst all of the travel and change. Things are progressing quickly, and I am eagerly looking forward to what God will do next!