Milestone Birthdays

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We are days away folks. I am on my last few days here on this earth in my 20s. Most of my peers do not want to admit or acknowledge the fact they too are mere days, months or years away from the 30 milestone, or have already passed it. Don't get me wrong, I too was shy to admit from birthdays 26-29 that I was closer to the 30s than ever before.

Why do the 30s or any other milestone birthday thereafter have such a negative stigma for so many? Is it the realization that life is rushing forward, with or without them? Is it due to the thought of failed attempts at lifelong dreams or the realization that you never even attempted to attain that dream? Or maybe the fact that life has happened and you have come to understand that the innocence of teens and early 20s has left you wishing for a day gone by with little to no responsibility?

I personally am thankful for the growth opportunities my 20s have afforded me. I began this decade on a beloved college university, enjoying living with my best girl friends, studying all things business, and relaxing in the freedom only college days can afford. I end this decade with my best friend as my husband, with a family of five, serving in ministry in the Dallas metroplex, having walked through many trials and joys, and loving the adventure the Lord has for our family.

Too often I have heard peers say something in the tune of, "I wish I would have done this before 30, 40, ______insert the age." As I look back on the past decade I am challenged to not look back wishing I would have "done" but thankful for what the Lord "allowed."

My top blessings the Lord allowed this past decade (plus a few years):

15. Numerous...too many to count really, friends that have either been in our lives for a season or for a lifetime. They have been there to counsel, laugh, cry, challenge, correct and affirm us.
14. Fourteen countries visited between Zac and I either on vacation or on mission trips: Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico, Austria, Hungary, Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Costa Rica, England and Israel.
13. Thirteen nieces & nephews ranging from the ages of 14 to due dates in 2014 that we get the privilege to love on: Leah, Mora, Joseph, Isabella, Molly, Bryce, Bennett, Benjamin, Ellianna, Maren, Ethan, Maeve on the way in January and baby Dilbeck on the way in April.
12. Twelve years of teaching the Bible through a small group setting to young ladies in their teenage years. What a joy it has been to point these ladies to Christ through the Bible!
11. Eleven years of working in the financial industry. I worked part-time for the finance and PR office for the college I attended, worked full-time internal auditing for 3 years while in St. Louis and 5 years for a CPA firm while in Houston.
10. Ten years ago I met this handsome young man on a college mission trip. Low and behold he would become my boyfriend, fiancé, husband and best friend. Love how our story began on a mission trip putting on a youth camp in Europe to share the Gospel to students representing the nations.
9. Nine vacations filled with relaxation and wonderful memories: Jamaica on our honeymoon, Disney World with my family, three times to the Colorado mountains where a family cabin awaits on the Rio Grand River, twice to Jekyll Island with Zac's family, a cruise around the Gulf of Mexico that was supposed to be 3 days but ended up being 6 due to hurricanes, and Maui on a second honeymoon (crazy story of receiving a free stay at a 5 star resort in Maui).
8. Eight wonderful years of the honor of being the partner in marriage to my husband and love Zac. Eight years filled with love, joy, trials, laughter, tears, adventures and unending fun. Zac helps me love Jesus more.
7. Over the past decade we have had seven grandparents loving on us. What a blessing it has been for us to get to receive their wisdom and also for our kids, their great-grandkids, to get to know their great-grandparents. We also lived through the loss of Grandma Hamm and Grandpa Jack this past decade. What a legacy of faith in Jesus each of them has bestowed upon us!
6. Six places I've called home: Kahoka where my parents live, Hannibal during college, Troy for our first years of marriage and ministry, 1 apartment and 1 house in Houston, and now our home in Dallas metro area.
5. Five degrees completed: my Bachelor's at HLGU and MBA from Missouri Baptist University, Zac's Bachelor's at OBU and M.Div and Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
4. Four places of ministry where we have poured out our lives into making Jesus known: Troy First Baptist Church, Houston's First Baptist Church, Prestonwood Baptist Church and most importantly our family.
3. Three girls we have the privilege of being parents to. Yes, I did just say 3 girls! Baby #3 is the luckiest to call Emmalyn and Kaylin her sisters.
2. Two wonderful sets of parents that have not only been the example of marriage and parenting to us, but the best example of God's love here on earth.
1. One God who was the same when I turned 20 as He will be when I turn 30: faithful, holy, forgiving, the atonement for my sins, grace-filled, everlasting, Savior and Lord, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Whatever your next age milestone is, whether 30, 40 or 60, instead of seeing a decade behind you with things you wished you would have done, choose to see the things that the Lord allowed. Maybe your last decade feels "wasted" in the mundane of life. I love these words from Jason Gray's song "Nothing is Wasted:"

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine
Glory will shine