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.

Pay it Forward
I could have also titled this lesson “Our Year With Amber.” We were blessed as we started out our marriage to get off the ground financially by spending a year and a half living in Scott’s grandma’s basement for $100 a month. This blessing gave us the ability to pay my way through seminary without taking out additional student loans while also saving significantly for when we did move out. A little over a year ago, we had the opportunity to pay this forward when we invited Amber to come live with us for a year, nearly rent-free, to get herself off the ground and on her own, to figure out where she was headed. It was an opportunity to pay it forward, but it was also an opportunity for us to use our own resources as a tool for discipleship and the Gospel. It was a year of joys, challenges, learning and growth for all of us. I am thankful for opportunities like these to really give forward, and I pray that we will continue to be open to God’s leading toward such opportunities.

Make Marriage a Priority
I am blessed beyond belief to be married to my best friend, to share adventures and routines, and to enjoy life together on a daily basis. After dating for eight years, it would have been really easy to slip into the routines of life once we (finally) got married in 2009. Thankfully, we have found ways to make our marriage a priority over the past five years. Date nights, shared hobbies, supporting each other in our careers, working together on managing money and household chores, building traditions, sharing meals, attending church, and uninterrupted time together have become hallmarks of our marriage. We aren’t perfect by any means, but we certainly are blessed. Marriage takes work, but it is worth every second.

Change is Good
…but don’t just change for the sake of change itself. I love change–shaking things up, making things news, and trying something new. These things are all healthy, when they are thought through. In my early 20s I would have been all over any change–new cities, new routines, new programs, new worship styles, new churches–and if I’m honest with myself, in the case of most of those changes, the change itself would have been reason enough for me. I have learned, though, that while change is good and change is healthy, change simply for the sake of change itself is not. Good and lasting change needs to be thought through, bought into, and reasoned out. Sometimes the timeline needs to be stretched to make a change happen well. Sometimes the change doesn’t need to happen. So, make changes that need to be made, but make them in ways that are healthy, wise, and lasting.

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