on turning 29.
I am officially less than a year from turning 30.
The countdown clock began a little less than a week ago when I turned 29 on a relatively quiet Thursday because the truth is that it's hard to celebrate your birthday on your birthday when it's in the middle of the week.
I suppose my thought process on the whole thing could change drastically at any point over the next 350+ days, but I'm not all that concerned about turning 30. It's a milestone, to be sure. After all, most of us get plenty of birthdays, but the number of decades we can claim are much smaller.
Twenty-eight was a pretty crazy year.
I've said that about pretty much every year since I turned 25, but it may be more true about 28 than it's ever been before.
Just a few days after I turned 28, I added two new tattoos to my collection. This caused some concerns about whether or not I was going through some sort of early mid-life crisis or belated rebellious stage, since I'd also pierced my nose a few days before I turned 28. It wasn't that I was having an early mid-life crisis or a belated rebellious streak, but rather that, as an adult in my late 20s, I was finally settling comfortably into who I was and who I wanted to be, apart from, and perhaps in spite of, the expectations I'd lived under for so long.
After a February visit to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and absurdly adorable nephew in Florida, I made a decision that surprised even me — I was going to spend much of the latter half of 2017 living in Florida with said sister, brother-in-law, and absurdly adorable nephew.
Most of the next several months continued as they otherwise would have. I worked at my temp job through its completion date, I went to church, I read books (though rather haphazardly), I went on adventures with friends, I celebrated my baby sister's college graduation, and I prepped for an international trip.
By the time July rolled around, things had actually been relatively quiet, all things considered, for a few months.
On June 30, I completed my last day at my temp job. On July 1, I got on a bus and headed to New York City for a few days of shenanigans with one of my favorite people in the world and kicked off six months of adventure. On July 5th, I launched a business. On July 8th, I left the country for the first time in a decade and experienced a 35-hour delay in getting home. On July 25th, that lovely date exactly halfway between 28 and 29, I arrived in Florida for a length of time I didn't even know at the time.
This isn't the first time Jesus took me away from the known and the familiar to allow me to do things and learn things about myself I never could've done or learned without that removal from comfort and routine.
I visited the beach. A lot. I fell even more head over heels in love with my amazing little nephew. I explored New Orleans by myself. I made some wonderful new friends in places I never expected to. I went on a road trip to New England where I got stuck on a mountain and had to be saved by search and rescue, went dog sledding, explored extravagant mansions, and knocked out six of my remaining seven states. (The goal is to hit the final one before I hit the big 3-0.) I watched the business I'd begun building finally start to gain traction. I wrestled with decisions about where to go and what to do next, before ultimately packing my bags and returning to Virginia. I spent a white Christmas in Michigan with my family and saw my nephew's complete and utter delight as he experienced snow for the first time. I settled into a new normal of actually working from home full-time. And the week before I turned 29, I went back to a counselor for the first time in five years because sometimes that's where life leads you.
A little less than 6 months before I turned 25, I joined a social experiment that has led to some incredible experiences and friendships.
This July will be the 5th anniversary of that social experiment, and by way of inquiry and reflection, the founder of a rather special sub-group of people from that experiment asked us all the other day to give an update. What's different? What's the same? How has life shifted and evolved and changed over the last five years?
When I started my update, at first glance it might seem like not much had changed.
Though the experiment officially started in July of 2013, my mind jumped back to January of 2014. I was, as I am now, living in my parents basement. But just days after turning 25, I accepted a job offer that set me on a course that I believe ultimately led me to where I am today.
Like many people, I love to reflect on the previous year when the new year and my birthday rolls around. With my birthday coming just a few weeks after the new year starts, they often feel enmeshed, and I view my birthday as the opportunity to look at goals and plans with a bit more calm and groundedness than happens at the start of a new calendar year.
But even more than look back over a single year, I love to look back over multiple years. Yes, a lot can change in a single year, but so much more can change in two or five or ten.
Like every year, I have no idea what 29 will mean for and bring into my life. Clearly, I did not expect most of what 28 brought.
I will continue to pray three prayers I've prayed since the year I turned 25 — for work I love, stability in my career and living situation, and for my forever person to enter my life.
As crazy as it sounds, it's look like at least one, very possibly two, of those prayers will be answered in the affirmative this year. (I'll let you sort out which two those are.) It's even possible all three could be answered. I truthfully don't know and at this point, I've stopped trying to guess the things the Lord will bring into my life and the curve balls He may or may not throw because I'll never be able to predict them.
So yes, there's a lot I don't know. But what I do know is this — God is good. He is trustworthy and steadfast and faithful and loves you and me so very much. No matter what happens in my life or your life this year, those things will all remain true, for there is nothing that could ever change them.