Somebody really loves you.

  So friends.... I gotta get some thoughts off my chest. And tonight, you are the perfect ones to share my heart with. Earlier today, I was at Costco. You know, just running some Saturday errands with my mama (by the way, something FAB happened on our way there... that story's coming in the next post.) There I was, walking around on that concrete floor, perusing those blessed aisles full of bulk amazing-ness, drooling over the marked-down Ugg boots, trying not to eat every sample in sight, and secretly wishing I could just up and buy the 10-foot tall Nutcracker statue that stood staring at me in the Holiday decor section (even though, let's face it: I have no place to put it... let alone the fact that I sure as heck don't have 150 bucks to spend on a ginormous Christmas statue.) 

There I was - huge flatscreen TV's on my left, giant Nutcrackers and light-up trees leering at me on the right, when she walked up to me. She was frantic, running - in fact. And I was a little taken off guard. This middle aged, brown-haired woman in high heels and a leopard print dress basically ambushed me. She grabbed my arm, and asked (before she could catch a breath) "Hi!! How old are you????" 

"Uhh.." I muttered, a little surprised by the whole scene. She must be a reader of my blog! I thought, wishfully (oh, us bloggers!) Or maybe someone who knows me from the church I grew up in? I answered, "I'm 25...." And she sighed, "OH NO! I was SURE you were younger!! You look so much younger! You're not 17?!?!? MAN! BUMMER!" 

"Um, no.. I'm not 17! Sorry!" I answered, slightly puzzled. But a little too shocked to think to ask her why on earth she was so desperately interested in my age. She went on to compliment me extravagantly with embarrassingly nice comments - telling me how pretty she thought I was. It was flattering and nice. But then - she quickly walked away! I turned to my mom and said, "Umm what was that about?" And then we both remembered - she was the talent scout lady. The one whose face, for the past 5 years, had been hanging on a  billboard at the local mall - advertising for her LA based agency who were "always looking for young talent", specifically interested in starring in Disney Channel shows. We laughed it off, and moved on with our day.

But for some reason, the whole interaction stuck with me. I couldn't shake it. The wheels in my head started turning..."Ohhh MY GOSH, I AM SO OLD." I thought. In retrospect, I don't think the interaction with the talent scout lady is what brought these thoughts to the surface. If I were to be completely honest with you, I think the feelings were in my heart and mind long before the Costco trip, and were just fueled into flame by the odd interaction.... they were already there, you see. Because, my birthday is nearly here. And honestly, the thought of passing that 25 mark and jumping to 26? It kinda scares me. Hitting the 2nd half of the "20's" decade is a little overwhelming to me. And maybe it's just my drama-queen nature, but it's been on my mind. And this afternoon, the swirl of thoughts in my head went something like this: 

"Erin.... you should have been a pageant girl! Or an actress! Or a model! What were you thinking! Choosing to be in ministry instead! You should have pursued a different career. Oh my word, I missed out. What if I chose the wrong college and took the wrong classes and chose the wrong after-school jobs and..." blah, blah, blah. What ifs. Questions. All these regrets flying through my head. Well, not really regrets in the most serious sense of the word, but just thoughts. You know what I mean? Those questions you ask yourself about choices you made in the past? Choices you can't change, ones that directed your life to where it is today. Not bad choices. But choices, nevertheless. And as we all know, when you say "Yes" to one thing, you are inevitably saying "No" to a thousand other options. And as I enter this second half of my twenties, retrospect has been on my heart. And I don't think that's always a bad thing. Considering, praying through choices, asking God for direction, looking at where you've been and where you're going - all good things. And as I grow older (and hopefully a little wiser) I want to always consider, always question what I am doing. Because our choices have consequences on our lives and futures and I believe it's healthy to "take stock" often. But honestly, I began to question. And worry, a little. Worry about the future, where I am headed. Wondering about my past and the choices I made that got me here today. 

But, as my thoughts swirled and the day progressed, I realized something afresh - no, I did not choose to model or pursue a music career or my doctorate in medicine or compete for Miss California. I did not choose to drive myself down to Hollywood studios and audition for roles in Disney TV shows (not that I would have "made it" anyway! And let's face it, I'm glad I'm wasn't a character on Hannah Montana.) I did choose to spend my time learning hospitality and Biblical womanhood from some of the wisest ladies in the world. I did choose to work in youth group and on the worship team at church. And yeah, I did waste some time. I did choose a few jobs I probably shouldn't have. I did do some things I wish I hadn't. But at the end of the day? I have to trust the Lord. He has my days and my life in His hands. He is ultimately in control. He is the One I trust. And worry has no place in a life that is surrendered to Him.

Peace filled my heart at the end of the afternoon. As I remembered how wonderful it is to belong to Jesus, who covers over our sins, mistakes, and all of our choices with His grace. And I was reminded of this in a crazy, sweet way. On my last stop of the day, at the grocery store, I ordered a tea at the in-store Starbucks. As I waited in line, an old man came up beside me. Smiling and wearing a flannel jacket, he leaned toward me and said, "You've got a large Louis Vuitton handbag there." Startled, I smiled - awkwardly (clearly, today was  "awkward interactions with strangers" day.)  He said it again, "That's quite the Louis Vuitton bag....." I just smiled, confused - as he continued, "Somebody must love you alot." 
 "Uhh yes.." I stammered (wondering how an elderly man knew the brand of my purse) and he said it again,

"Yep....somebody must reaaallllly love you."

I just nodded. And said, "Yes, someone does really love me." I decided to just go ahead and agree. And no - this older man wasn't right in his judgement - my handbag was not given to me by a rich, admiring man who is head over heels in love with me. In fact, I bought it for myself a couple years ago when I happily found it, heavily marked down at a consignment sale. But this sweet old man didn't know that. (Okay, maybe he wasn't sweet. Maybe he was just a creeper hitting on a girl 1/4 his age. And I've gotta be honest with you, in one hand he held a crinkled up newspaper, and in the other - a single can of tuna. Yes, you read it right - a can of tuna. I didn't want to ask.) 

Yet, after I walked away from the strange encounter, I realized - he is right.

Somebody does love me alot.

And at the risk of sounding totally corny (heck, who am I kidding - I am corny!) .... somebody loves YOU TOO.

So I sipped my tea and smiled tonight. Because I am loved. With a crazy, extravagant  overwhelming, beautiful love. And I am happy. 

Not because I made all the perfect life choices in the past. Not because everything is peachy and ideal today. Not because I was or was not cast as a model on TV or because I have a handsome man showering me with designer clothing and handbags (although, that wouldn't hurt ;) Simply because I am extravagantly loved by God. 

And the truth of that is beautiful enough to outshine any regrets we have about our past or fears we have about our future. Somebody loves you and me. Not because of what we've done or how smart or pretty or sweet we are. But because He made us and we belong to HIM. 

How beautiful is that? 

So, my friend - thank you for listening to my random stories of the day.
All of that to say, I just want to remind you of this - the real reason I shared all that with you:

Somebody loves you.

He really loves you.

Whether you are 16, or turning 26 like me...
or maybe you're turning 46.. or 60.

We are loved. 

Let's embrace the One who loves us.

Bravely embracing the future.
Because He is gracious.
And He loves us like crazy.

Goodnight, my loves.
I am thankful to remember He loves me.
And He loves you.