I'm 30 today - officially already 30 since I was born at 6:12am. Chris woke me up at 12:01am to tell me Happy Birthday. I vaguely remember that. 30. I've done a lot of reflecting (stop laughing Chris ... he always laughs when I use this word) lately about approaching 30. I mean, age is just a number, right?! I'm glad I'm not turning 20 again, but 30 ... it just sounds so ... old and mature. I feel like I am still that 21 year old ... just in a 30 year old body. How can I already be 30? How can I be entering into a new decade? How can it be time to "bury" my 20s? So many amazing things happened in my 20s. I became so much of who I am in my 20s. I graduated college, worked my first full-time job, got married to my best friend, had my 2 boys, moved to a few different states .... How could my 30s possibly top that? I'm not sad today about turning 30, but I do think milestone birthdays just make you start to think of where you've been, how far you've come, where you still want to go, along with all the exciting things yet to come, which enters in the reflection :-)
My bible study just started a new book a couple of weeks ago called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It's a must read. Period. I am only on chapter 4, but it has already caused me to view life with a different outlook. I would consider myself a pretty optimistic, glass half full person, BUT this book just has reminded me to be grateful in all things. The author of the book, Ann, was given a dare a while back from a friend to list 1,000 things she was thankful for. 1,000 things. As Ann points out, when you spend your time looking around for the things you are thankful for, you are focused on being thankful and not as much on the negativity that so often creeps into our attitudes and lives. She talks about how at first the dare part just kept her going - and how happy it was making her by listing things on her notepad throughout the day that she was thankful for, but that what really kept her going is Philippians 4:11, "I have LEARNED how to be content with whatever I have." She emphasized the LEARNED ... and that is the secret to living joy in all situations.
BUT, instead of just quoting the whole book in this blog post, I encourage you to buy your $9 copy on Amazon and start reading today. It will change your life and your outlook ... and start your LIST. I've been starting my list of 1,000 things, and I thought it would be appropriate to list 30 of the things I am most thankful for in the past 30 years of my life. So, here it goes (and I'll be sure to let you know when I reach 1,000 on my list)...
In no particular order .... 30 Things of Thanks:
1. My personal relationship with Jesus. This truly shapes my life. I'm thankful that I grew up in a Christian home. I am thankful for the forgiveness and grace that comes with having this personal relationship. I'm thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made for me.
2. Being married to Chris, my best friend, the person I love more than anything - and thankful that I have been best friends with him for almost 20 of the 30 years of my life. It's amazing how my love for him grows on a daily basis.
3. Jake and Cole. It's too vague just to mention their names. I could list 30+ things I am thankful for just when it comes to Jake and Cole (and Chris, for that matter). There are no 2 living people, though, that have made me want to be a better person and the best that I can be than these 2 boys. They make me want to have a better relationship with Christ, with Chris, with family and friends .... I want to be the best I can be for them.
4. Mount Ararat ... and the foundation that this church helped establish in me while I was growing up ... and all those that invested in me and my relationship with Christ.
5. Coffee shops, especially Starbucks!
6. Technology, and the ability that it gives me to communicate with family and friends.
7. Sunshine ... and sunny days!!
8. 5 senses (see, hear, taste, touch, smell) - and in particular how just being at the beach makes me fully aware and thankful for these 5 sense. I love it!
9. Mom and Dad .... they fed God's word to me, but also LET ME make mistakes and learn from them. As a parent now, I can understand how you are going to want to protect your children from everything, but I'm thankful they allowed me to grow and learn and be me.
10. Jul ... thankful for her love without conditions - and for her friendship throughout the past 26 years :-)
11. I am thankful for supportive and loving in-laws (to include sisters-in-law) ... and thankful for the relationship I share with them - and all the memories of the past almost 20 years!
12. My strong will ... it may have been hard to parent (and I'm learning that on my parenting end now), but it can be such an important quality.
13. God's provision of people in my life over the past 30 years .... whether while growing up, good friends I made at college, the precious friends I have made throughout our different moves. God is faithful and always provides the right friends in my life at the right time.
14. OUR COUNTRY .... and in particular the men and women that have fought and continue to fight to keep us safe. I make no apologies for this. The sacrifices are extraordinary, and I could write a chapter blog on how thankful I am to be an American.
15. Extended family .... blessed with amazing aunts, uncles, cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins 100th removed. Love them all - and am thankful for each individual one of them!
16. Sweatpants. No explanation needed. I have to talk myself INTO putting normal clothes on. There is just something about the relaxing feel of sweatpants (guess I gave the explanation anyway).
17. The adventures of this military lifestyle (the experiences, the people, the places, etc.)
18. My warm bed at night.
19. Laughter ... and the stories and/or sites that normally bring about the laughter.
20. The comfortableness of my life (house, car, hot water, heat, washing machine, dishwasher .... the things so often taken for granted).
21. My days of playing basketball ... there was nothing quite like the feeling of competition, sweat, the work out, the discipline....
22. The ability to capture a memory through a picture.
24. The epidural .... enough said. I would do PR for the epidural if I could :-)
25. That I have the privilege of being a stay at home Mom.
26. The good and the bad experiences that have helped mold me into the 30 year old that I am today.
27. Fresh starts each day.
28. Love - the ability to love and be loved. It's so precious.
29. The wind .... especially when it's blowing through my hair on a sunny day and my car windows are rolled down while I'm driving.
30. Music, and in particular country music. There are so many times that I hear songs that express exactly how I feel and what I want to say.
Age IS just a number, and I have so much to be thankful for over the past 30 years. Here's to the closing of my 20s and the beginning of my 30s .... and all the new things that I will have to be thankful for once I reach the next decade. If I were you, I'd start your list of 1,000 things today .... Just start with 1 and go from there....
And what I am MOST THANKFUL about over the past 30 years of life .... this right here :-)