Yesterday I celebrated my "platinum" birthday, as my mom calls it. Although technically I should have turned 8 or 88 for that to be true, it's still fun to have a birthday on the luckiest day of the Chinese calendar that also collides with the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. I wish I had a fantastic story to tell about the day--about how I won the lottery or published a book or went to a Coldplay concert and met the band backstage. Although none of those things happened, I still have to say that 08.08.08 concludes an entire year of unexpected oohs and ahs and blessings that I don't deserve, and I am humbled by it.

Not only have I fulfilled a dream of living abroad, but in a month I'll have completed a Masters degree. Although I don't know exactly where I'll be working next year, I already have freelance work with the London book publishing company I worked for on internship. I've hopped on planes, trains and automobiles to see Europe and made memories of Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, England and France with friends and family. I'm more confident as a traveler. I've established a life-long commitment to Mac products (I have to include that one for Jonathan). I love curry and almond croissants and English beer. My eyes have been opened to different cultures and people, my perspective on social and political society has expanded, and my appreciation of my country has grown. Because I've spent a year away from my closest friends and family, I'm reminded how much I rely on them and how blessed I am to have them in my life. My faith has been challenged--especially it's relevance strengthened in a world that believes it's irrelevant. I've been astounded how much my marriage has matured and how I've never loved Jonathan more; how our removal from the known has hacked away at the shell of our younger, selfish selves and exposed our deeper capacity to love and communicate that love. Overall, I'm thankful for a greater understanding of my place in this world among people, places and ideas, and of the limited time I have to spend here, and how each moment and each relationship counts and should be handled with care.

So here's to my family who have molded me; here's to the friends who have affirmed me; above all, here's to the Creator who breathed life into you and me and the beautiful world we live in. May you always know how deep and wide and high His love is.

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