there's something about a cup of coffee in a starbucks that brings about an air of reflection to my world. i have crazy sensory memory, so this might have something to do with it. but coffee is a symbol of comfort to me. it is the addiction i refuse to kick, the pick-me-up of my life, and, for all intents and purposes, i consider it my basic human right. most mornings i can't properly function if i don't have some to start my day. it awakens me, it reposes me, it inspires me. today it definitely inspires me. the inspiration i feel in my soul is as real and potable as the coffee in my cup as i type. my heart feels so much joy on what has happened, and so much excitement on what is to come. i am inspired by the future, but i cannot even think about moving forward without reflection on my past.

the last half of 2010 was the stuff of dreams. and just like always, God put me exactly where he wanted me. per my usual routine, i kicked and screamed the whole way. but he put me exactly where he wanted me; where i needed to be. i don't usually say bold statements that carry a lot of weight because i am scared to write checks i can't cash. but i am certain that there are two things true about me today that i know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, are two of the most intentional things to happen to me in my life: 1) working in student life, and 2) being jared's girlfriend.

working in student life feels like the culmination of a year and a half of whining. i shouldn't have been rewarded for all of my complaining, because it was a LOT of complaining. i mean, i basically cried to everyone within earshot. i stopped strangers on the street to tell them about how hard it is to graduate college with the roar of a lion and end up working as a bartender for a year and a half. b-o-o h-o-o. i didn't have all the friends i used to have, because they were all busy in their new 9-to-5, world-changing jobs, and i was just getting really good at my tonic-to-vodka ratio. and the friends that didn't have paychecks from world changers, inc., were planning weddings because they had met the man of their dreams and they were busy living out their"i don't know, it just happened" kind of stories. so i complained about that, too. but singledom was good for me. or something. (?)

and then i got a phone call. and now i work at UNT. and working in student life feels like i am doing what i was always supposed to do. it's like a body figuring out how it's supposed to function. like a baby discovering its toes for the first time. every day i get to make students laugh, and i get to brighten their day. in between the worst test in the world and the DTR convo they don't feel prepared for, i get to sit down with them and talk it out over a tootsie pop. because really, there is nothing that a tootsie pop cannot soothe. i promise. working in student life is hectic. it is ever-changing, fast paced, and the prime breeding ground for people to feel underpaid and overworked. but i do not feel those things. because i have students who come into my office because they need to be poured into and loved on, and i get to give them a tootsie pop and help them out. and the look on their faces during "aha" moments like that is like a big, wet, kiss on my soul. and the warmth of that kiss gets me through the longest of staff meetings and the appointment with disgruntled residents. i get to meet people where they are at, and serve them where they are at. i end every day with an ache in the arch of my foot because of how hard i work. but i grin so, so wide. this is the good life.

i do not know where i will work next. but the next year excites me. i am excited to do all of this again, with more experience under my belt. i am motivated to be even more organized in the job i do. i am committed to being more strategic in my approach to developing and leading the flock that God has entrusted to me. consistency is the most tangible way to love people, and that is my aim; to love them.

being jared's girlfriend feels like i am on a tv show and someone is about to come out from behind a curtain to tell me that it all really is too good to be true. i know that everyone says things like this when they fall in love, but i guarantee that no one has ever felt this way about another individual. there is absolutely no way that two people have felt these feelings before. we are pioneers on this thing called love, and i really am starting to feel sorry for all of the millions of other people in the world who think they are in love. because they are not. i have been purposely placed into this humble position of privilege in jared's life. i feel like my world is now in HD or technicolor or some other form of amazing that i never even knew existed. i am grateful to every girl thus far who has said goodbye to jared because now he is mine. they were out-of-their-minds-nutso, and now he is mine. so i shake their hands and smile all day because i have someone to drink slurpies with, to dream with, to laugh with, and to kiss whenever i want. #winning.

i do not know what is next for jared and i. it's a fun ride, though. and what i do know is that this is the only beginning of our relationships that we will ever have; it will never be this new, this awkward, this sappy, this surreal. so i relish every single moment with this incredible man. and i am excited for things to come.

so, thank you 2010. you started off pretty shittastic, but turned out to be a page-turner in the chronicles of rachel. thank you for your trials, your difficult roommates, your awkward transitions, your new jobs, your leap of faith, and your adventure. you were a good year, overall. but i am excited about 2011. and what is behind me, albeit incredible, is nothing in comparison to what lies ahead. i am left with humble excitement, knowing that i am following Jesus as he takes me through all of this. the best is yet to come, and i can hardly believe it.