I was 18.  I had come home for my first holiday from the University of Georgia and honestly, was itching to get back to Athens.  You remember that feeling?  Like home is cool and all, but life is continuing without you somewhere else. I think all college kids feel that way.

I remember the only pressing social event was wanting to see my high school friends.  My church friends were a given on Sunday, my family was in the house.  But the people I graduated with were the ones I had to carve out time for.

And ten years later, its that same crowd that gets my Friday night.  All 30 of them.  Oh private school, you are so tiny.

Yep, my 10 Year Reunion is tonight.  I know its weird to have it this close to a holiday [trust me, one of the classmates sent me a strongly-worded email expressing the same feeling], but almost half of our class lives out of town and their parents are still here, so it made sense.  And about 20 out of the 30 are coming.

And by the way, the event planner? She lives in Nashville so she picked a date that would kill two Marietta birds with one stone (Thanksgiving and reunion).  Sue me her.

I would post pictures from my senior year, maybe do some sort of photoshop magic to put Annie 1998 by Annie 2008, but sadly, you wouldn’t know the difference.  Seriously, we were watching Christmas 1997 on video yesterday, and my own Mother said, “Weird. You look exactly the same.”

Yeah, I know.  Same haircut [but a variety of colors throughout the years], same frog eyes, same pant size, probably honestly some of the same pants.

Cause I’m nothing if not trendy thrifty.

I’m excited about tonight.  Cause while the outside may look exactly the same, the inside is drastically different. Though I’ve been a Christian since I was five, these last ten years have been different. My walk with God has become my own. And it has completely changed me.

My face may say 18, but my heart knows 28. I have seen my fair share of challenges and heartache, but I’ve also seen MORE than my fair share of blessing. The biggest difference, I think, is that my confidence level, once hovering at an abysmal 2 is honestly around an 8 now.  And that has NOT.ONE.THING. to do with me or what I look like [same, remember?], but EVERY.THING. to do with what God has painstakingly done in me the last 10 years (especially thanks to my time at the Wesley Foundation at UGA).  Don’t hear me saying that it’s always easy, that lies don’t creep in or, let’s be honest, MARCH in and live for a while.  But where 1998 saw more defeats than victories in my mind, 2008 has about 1/3 of the battles and rare defeats.

Lamentations 3:22

“Because of the Lord’s GREAT LOVE we are not consumed; for His compassions never fail.”

I’m not nervous about tonight because what these old friends think about me does not change one bit of who I am.  I’m glad to see them, but they don’t decide my worth. I will eat dinner with them tonight, then leave and drive over to a party where tons of my lifelong friends will be.

And at both places, I’ll be proud to be Annie.

So tonight, I don’t celebrate how far I’ve come since the last time I saw these friends.  I celebrate the One who has been with me all along.  The One who will continue to walk with me tomorrow and the next day and the next day and….