Today is my twenty-seventh birthday. In the years I've been alive, I've seen Don't Ask Don't Tell implemented and repealed.
I've seen great leaders rise and fall.
I've seen the landscape of New York City change in an instant, watching from a South Dakota classroom on a Tuesday morning, distanced from the event and yet so very present.
I've seen women as viable candidates for President and become well-respected at the highest levels of government (though that highest office evades us still).
A black man was elected leader of our country - a fantastic milestone that, in some ways, served to highlight how much further we have yet to go in discussions of race.
Women made hard won leaps forward, only to realize how much we're still rehashing and refighting the battles of our mothers (abortion, birth control, the mommy wars).
I've become a person who - though still learning about myself - makes it a priority to be intersectional, intentional, justice-oriented, while still maintaining a biting quick tongue.
And as I look forward to (hopefully) many more years, I have high hopes (and higher standards) for the future my nieces and younger cousins will inherit.
I hope they find a world in which the church encourages healthy development, no matter their gender or sexual identity.
I hope they find a world in which they are able to live and be who they are without fear.
I hope they find a world in which those who abuse are vilified, not the victims.
I hope they find a world in which love and grace reign, not unrealistic standards about what it means to be a man or a woman.
I hope that they find a world in which who they are is not forced into subjugation due to outdated, unbiblical gender roles.
I hope they find a world where they learn with love, faith, and grace.
I hope - on the occasion of my 27th birthday - that the work I do now helps to create a better world for them, a world in which they love and are loved.