Hi all! I feel like it’s been years since writing last, even though it’s only been a few days. I hope your Thanksgiving break was fun, fantastic and food-filled (how’d you like that alliteration?!). And hopefully, you had some good quality Monopoly-playing, Harry Potter-watching, quality time with the fam!

Since I’m out of state, I didn’t get to go home, but I stayed at my great aunt and uncle’s house in Redlands and then drove up to Apple Valley to have Thanksgiving dinner with my other aunt and uncle, their children, and my cousin, Maggie (who is actually a senior political science major at Biola right now)! My aunt made 4 pies. 4 PIES! Needless to say, I was happy.

And since I wrote you last, I also turned 20! The big 2-0, as people call it. And it was the best birthday yet! I have never felt more loved on a birthday. Even though my immediate family is split up between three states and two countries, (my mom lives in Texas, my dad lives in Bulgaria, my sister, Eva, lives in NorCal, and my sister, Ivy, lives in Oregon –– if you were wondering) and so I didn’t get to spend it with them. My Biola family filled in the gaps and made it such a special, memorable day.

I have been feeling so incredibly thankful for the community of people that God has placed me in during this season in my life. And so, in step with the holidays, I wanted to take this time and reflect on the blessing that my friends have been to me surrounding my birthday.

First off, my roommate, Kimberly (whom you all met in my first post), threw me a surprise party! A SURPRISE PARTY. I had mentioned to her once that I always wanted to have a surprise party, and she actually remembered. I was supposed to have a one-on-one dinner with her at the Cheesecake Factory the night before my birthday, but then she surprised me by inviting a dozen of my closest friends.

The next day, I got to go to the Getty, which is an art museum in Los Angeles. Okay, if you know anything about me, you know I love, love, love art –– photography, painting, doodles in the margins of a notebook, “happy clouds” painted along with Bob Ross. You name it. So to be able to stroll around in a massive art museum, spend my afternoon with Degas and Renoir, and take my time in the photography exhibit (all with my best friend, Danielle)... you could do little else to make me happier.

Then we took a brief detour to visit Danielle’s sick dog, Chewbacca, at the vet (random, I know). I didn’t think I would be spending part of my 20th birthday in a dog hospital. But hey, life is unpredictable, and that’s what makes it beautiful! After, we raced through Walmart to pick up ingredients to make enchiladas –– my favorite! Then a few of my friends and I made some mean enchiladas and watched Pride and Prejudice in the dorm lobby.

The amount of love and appreciation that I felt from all of my friends, their meaningful gifts, heartfelt cards, surprise home baked cookies, and bunches of sunflowers (also my favorite) was too overwhelming. I am SO, SO, SO incredibly grateful for the community of people that God has surrounded me with here at Biola. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I feel so privileged to have this amazing group of people in my life, and –– if any of you are reading this –– thank you for allowing me to do life alongside you during this fun, confusing, stretching, beautiful time we call college. It’s better because you’re in it, and I’m better for knowing you.

And for all of you reading, I am positive that God has some rad friends in store for you as you transition into the next season in your life, wherever that may be. I am sure of that. I am praying for all of you as finals comes around. Keep going, you can do it! Cheesy Lifetime Christmas movies and copious amounts of hot chocolate are just around the corner!