Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday....

…To me! Today is the big day. The Big Three-Oh. Yep, I’m turning 30. I’m not afraid of it. I’d much rather be where I am right now than the awkwardness of the early and mid twenties. You know, right out of college and entering the adult world: No longer a kid but feel like you are just pretending to be mature and knowledgeable enough to hold your own in the grown up world. No fun.

I can really say that now is the most joy-filled time of my life thus far. I feel rather sorry for the people who tell you that the high school years or the college years are the best part of life. I find the security of a happy marriage, the peace of knowing myself and my gifts, the joy of working with purpose toward decided goals, and the freedom of being an adult with my own family to be way more fun than the insecurity, pressure, and unsettledness of my teens. No way, man. I’d choose to be thirty any day over that.

Our culture worships youth. Beauty is defined as smooth skin, dark hair, and a firm body. The old are cast aside as irrelevant, a burden. We fear the first wrinkles and gray hairs. We spend godless amounts of money on beauty treatments, gym memberships, and hair dyes, desperately afraid of growing old. Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t enjoy the fact that I have begun to spend more time than I would like plucking the gray hairs from my head, one by one. But I am reminding myself – “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” (Proverbs16:31). :) And focusing on the fact that with years and experience come wisdom and compassion. So bring it on! I’m ready for thirty. And I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me in the next decade.

Here is a fun list that I've been working on for a while. Enjoy!

30 Things That I Have Learned in My First 30 Years:

1) Who you marry is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. Being married to someone who listens, who is gentle, who encourages me, who is insightful, who shares my faith, who I respect, and who is my BEST FRIEND makes a huge difference in my life every single day.

2) It takes a lot of work to be a good listener. It is worth it.

3) Growing up in a home where your parents love you and love each other is not something to be taken for granted.

4) Life does not consist of the abundance of my possessions. I am much happier living on little (by American standards) and having much to give away.

5) “You have been made rich in every way SO THAT you can be generous on every occasion. And your generosity will results in thanksgiving to God.” (II Cor 9:11)

6) Treasure old friendships. It takes a really long time to replace them.

7) I MUST have time alone to think, pray, and be quiet. If I don’t, no one will want to be around me. College was really hard because of this…

8) It makes so much more sense to put things away immediately: throw the junk mail in the trash as soon as I walk in the door, put the dishes directly in the dish washer, hang up my clothes when I take them off. I save myself so much work when I live this way.

9) I am so much happier when my home is in order. It is entirely worth the effort to keep it that way every day. I wish I always followed through with that…

10) Being scared is not a good reason to not do something that you want to do.

11) Doing a good job of something and getting DONE is better than aiming for perfection and never finishing.

12) Life is so much less stressful when I plan well.

13) Life is way too short to spend it watching TV.

14) “I can do no great things, only small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

15) We are all selfish by nature. Left to ourselves, everything we do is selfishly motivated. All we want to know when we listen to the news or to the conversation of another is how something affects us. We are interested in other people because we think it will benefit us or make us feel good. Yucky, but true. Only through Jesus can we get outside our all-important selves and care about a hurting world.

16) “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” (II Cor 12:9)

17) Having kids is not about personal fulfillment. It is a great blessing and lots of fun. It’s also hard. I have realized that what it’s really all about is offering my life as a living sacrificing, an act of worship (Romans 12:1) as I daily pour myself into molding the next generation to adore and serve our Creator.

18) Being outside puts things into perspective. When I have scurried around all day, my restless mind always racing, nothing calms me more than sitting outside under the night sky. I remember how small I and my problems are and just how big my God is.

19) When it’s chocolate I cave, chocolate I must have. Nothing else will do. :)

20) When I have a complaint against my husband and I take it first to God in prayer, God usually responds by opening my eyes to something about MYSELF that needs to change.

21) “We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary. But what is unseen is eternal.” (II Cor 4:16-18)

22) Being healthy is a much better goal than being “skinny.” Healthy is a goal that can be achieved. Skinny can never be fully attained. Healthy makes me feel good and has great long term benefits. Skinny makes me self-obsessed and self-harming. I thank the Lord that I have a husband who loves me “healthy.” :)

23) People are paying attention to what you say way less than you think that they are. However, they will remember how well you listen to them. If you want to make a good impression, put others first and listen.

24) Travel opens your eyes in a way that nothing else can. It has made me realize that the world is much bigger than my backyard. Seeing such different customs, languages, and foods reminds me how small my little corner of the world is. And how big God is. He knows and loves all of them. My favorite bumper sticker that I’ve ever seen says: “God bless all nations. No exceptions.”

25) I would much rather spend an afternoon with one or two friends talking at a coffee shop or going for a walk than going to a party. I may be 30, but crowds still scare me.

26) There are so many hurting, lonely people in the world. It’s easy to forget when you surround yourself all the time with people who have families and an abundance of possessions. That’s why we have to get outside our circles of comfort and get our hands dirty. Spend time at the rescue mission, reach out to refugees, go on a mission trip… God’s heart is with the brokenhearted. Be like him.

27) I am much happier when I pour myself out to serve others than when I focus on meeting my own needs.

28) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard yoru hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-8)

29) Three books that have changed my heart and mind: Tramp for the Lord (Corrie Ten Boom), The Heavenly Man (Brother Yun), The Treasure Principle (Randy Alcorn) (26)

30) “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:9)

God bless!


Rachel said...

Thanks for this post, Sarah! It's amazing how God uses life and parenthood to teach his daughters many of the same lessons. I agree with you about 30 being so much better than the early 20s. I actually think I agree with everything you said. I look forward with you and your family to your newest addition! Thanks for sharing :)

Jeni said...

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Amy @ Literacy Launchpad said...

These are great. What a neat way to celebrate and reflect on 30 years. Definitely something to be happy about!

Gillian said...

Happy Birthday, Sarah! This was a thought-provoking post--full of wisdom. And ENJOY the thirties--they absolutely can be WONDERFUL years!!~ as are any lived in our Jesus!~~ May the next ten be full of the wonder and the beauty of the Lord. An take it from a girl turning 40 in about a week--you "ain't old yet" and won't be for SO long!!! Blessings over your beautiful life!
Love, Gillian Tucker