There are certain times of year that naturally push me to spend a bit more time reflecting than I spend doing. Those times of year tend to coincide with natural transitions–the turn of a new year, the change of seasons, and of course birthdays. This year, as I inch closer and closer to the three-decade milestone, I am finding myself feeling both nostalgic and reflective.

The result is this series of blog posts over the 10 days leading up to my 30th birthday in which I am sharing a total of 30 lessons that I have learned in 30 years of life.

Health Matters, Take Care of Your Body
I don’t know if this is common or not, but I spent a good deal of my late teens and early twenties eating like crap, exercising with no regularity, and generally just not paying attention to my health. As a result, I put on a significant amount of weight, got lazy and lethargic, and generally just didn’t feel good about myself. About a year and a half ago, I got really serious about taking care of my body and getting back into shape. Scott and I worked together, and I lost about 25 lbs while he lost almost 40. It was a journey towards health that we took together, and while it hasn’t been perfect, it has certainly made us more conscious of taking care of ourselves. As I am getting ready to start the next decade of my life, I am keenly aware of the importance of personal health and am committed to continuing this journey.

Establish Routines, Then Be Flexible
I love adventure, and my summers as a youth minister are generally full of adventure–mission trips, camps, vacations and other youth events and trips annually shake up my life, remind me that life is full of whimsey and adventure. And then, each year as summer draws to a close and the crisp air and beauty of fall creeps back into the world, I rediscover the beauty of routine. Regular sleep schedules, consistent office hours, regular dinners at home and together… there is beauty in the routines of life. And, developing patterns and routines help with establishing a healthy work-life balance. So, the truth is, I love routines and I love whimsey. I am learning to appreciate both, and to be flexible even when I have established meaningful routines.

Be Regularly Refined in The Furnace of Solitude
Henri Nouwen is one of my all time favorite spiritual writers. One of my favorite books of his is called The Way of the Heart: Connecting with God through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence. It is a book that I try to read at least once a year. In it, Nouwen says these words:

“Solitude is the furnace in which transformation takes place.”

I have found this reality to be so true for my life. Maybe it’s the introvert in me, or maybe this is a spiritual reality that is difficult for us to understand in our hyper-connected world. Maybe this is just a repeat of other lessons about unplugging, getting away, and recharging. But I have honestly found that, when paired with some post-processing through journaling or conversation with a trusted friend or accountability partner, a couple days of true solitude–out in the woods, no phone, no people, no internet–is one of the most sure-fire ways for me to experience solitude. It’s a discipline that I have come to appreciate almost as much as breathing.

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