September 6, 1997…my 10th birthday. I remember the excitement building up to that day. I was going to be double digits, and I was allowed to get my ears pierced (which is still a special memory to this day)! On my actual birthday, I believe I spent the day at Six Flags (my first time being there) with people from our church. It was a fantastic start to a new decade. Flash forward 10 years and it was September 6, 2007. I had just started my junior year of college and was adjusting to a new dorm, harder classes, and being a room leader for the first time. I don’t think it really set in that I was starting a new decade then (I think I was anticipating turning 21 more). And now, here I am, with September 6, 2017, just in front of me…the big 3-0. To be honest, most of the time, I feel like I’ve already turned 30. That’s probably because I’ve been celebrating all summer long with my friends who also turned 30 this summer. But at the same time in the back of my mind, I knew I was still in my twenties. Now that’s about to change. I know a lot of people don’t really celebrate or focus too much on birthdays, but I do think they’re worth celebrating, especially the milestone ones. They give us time for reflection.
When I was 10, if you would have asked me what I thought my life would look like when I turned 30, I’m not exactly sure what I would have said, but I can pretty much guarantee that it would not match where I’m at right now. And that’s totally okay, because life is a mystery and an adventure and only God knows our future. As I look back on the last 30 years, I see His hand throughout my life, and I’m overwhelmed at how He has led and guided me, even to the point where I’m at today! Finishing up my ministry in Mexico in May (and my ministry of being a missionary teacher), moving back to Pennsylvania, moving into my own place and starting a full-time teaching job teaching my favorite grade, God knew I needed this stability in my life as I entered my 30s. It’s been a busy adjustment, but it’s also been a wonderful adjustment. This past summer was filled with so many more memories! Going to New England with my friend Bethany for our 5th annual spring vacation, going back to Uganda to visit my African friends and students, as well as missionary friends, visiting my 7th continent (Asia) where I spent an awesome day in Dubai, moving into my own place in July, teaching at VBS, spending some time in my beloved mountains, visiting Carrie and her family in Ohio with Nikki, and preparing and starting a new teaching job have made this summer to be unforgettable. I celebrated the end of my twenties the best I could. 😉 And it was God Who gave me the strength and the opportunity to do these things. I love being back in the classroom and being a “normal” 4th grade teacher. What a privilege it is to teach in a Christian school and to have the opportunity to hopefully make a difference in these kids’ lives!
God has also reminded me over and over again to be thankful for the family and friends He has given me, because He’s given me so much. As I enter my 30s, I want to invest more time into making memories with people that I know and love, while also getting to know more people. There is never a shortage on people to love and reach out to. I also want to grow in my walk with the Lord, specifically in my prayer life. Too many times I worry and stress out before stopping to pray and just give things to the Lord. I want to pray more fervently and specifically.
I don’t know what my thirties will bring…they might bring a new stage of life (yes, I’m referring to marriage ;)), or they might not. Undoubtedly, there will be joyous times and there will be painful times, because that is life. My thirties will also bring more adventures. They might look like different adventures than the ones I had in my twenties, but there will be adventures nonetheless. The most important thing I know and believe as I enter my thirties, is that my God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus will still be there. No matter what. It is a comforting and peaceful thought. “Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)” is a song that I literally just heard within the past few days, and it has been a source of encouragement, especially as I transition into this new phase of life. “In You I rest, In You I found I hope, In You I trust, You never let me go. I place my life within Your hands alone. Be still, my soul.” No matter what you’re facing today, my friend, you can rest in the Lord. Ask Him to help your soul be still. Friends and family, thank you for reading, encouraging, and praying for me through the years. Here’s to more journeys to come in my fun and fabulous thirties! 🙂