Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thirty Years

“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’”
-Acts 17: 26-28

On July 6, I hit a big milestone.  I turned THIRTY!! 
As many people feel on “big” birthdays (the ones where you realize you are getting older), this birthday's approaching was slightly intimidating. 

How am I already 30 years old?  I still feel like an awkward teenager most of the time!   I’ve now traded in the big, light, fun birthdays of youth: becoming a teenager at 13, obtaining my driver’s license at sweet 16, turning 18 in time to vote in the 2000 presidential election, and then the big 21st birthday two days after returning from studying abroad with two of my best friends.  Now, 40 is next!  Then 50, 60, etc!  Yikes!

All joking aside, after awakening in the wee, still dark hours of the morning on my 30th birthday, I realized what carried true weight was not so much turning 30 but leaving an entire decade, my 20’s… in the past… in the rearview mirror.  And I had to stop and reflect on what the 20’s held for me, certainly my most significant and life-changing decade yet:

*Meeting and falling in love with my future husband
*Graduating from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Foreign Affairs
*Getting married, October 22, 2005  
*Moving to Virginia Beach, November 2005
*Moving to our first home in Virginia Beach, Summer 2007
*Graduating from Regent University with a Master’s degree in Counseling
*Giving birth to our first children, twins Warren and John, January 2009
*Grieving the loss and also celebrating the life in heaven of our son Warren, February 2009
*Fighting for John with countless therapies, trips, programs, specialist visits, etc.
*Giving birth to our third son, Daniel, June 2011 (despite being discouraged against future pregnancies due to genetic uncertainties)
*Moving to Atlanta
*Rich relationships and church community throughout this decade

Looking back yielded two conclusions:

1) Despite the pain and hardship, I am incredibly grateful for my 30 years and everything my childhood and 20’s have held.  I still cannot answer all the “why” questions that burn deep within my heart, but I can continue to believe in God’s goodness and express my sincere gratitude for how He has used both the joys and tragedies to shape me.  I am grateful I’ve experienced God’s grace and love through my husband. I am grateful for experiencing the love of our Heavenly Father by becoming a parent myself.  And I am grateful for the pain that came along with having my children.  Would I choose to forego the pain itself and my children’s suffering? Absolutely.  However, the pain was and has been used to expand my heart more than I ever dreamed possible.  A heart that didn’t know it could feel so much – especially love.  My boys and the pain of their situation taught me this from day one.  To cherish each minute we have with those we love (cliché but true). To be grateful for the precious gifts we’ve been given, especially our children, and not to take them for granted.

2) I am grateful to say farewell to my 20’s, and I'm 100% ready to embrace my 30’s!  A decade full of promise, faith lessons, and certainly challenges and blessings.  Sometimes it is simply nice to have a fresh start, a new season, and a way to mark a break with the past.  

The season of my 20’s is in the past, yet it has shaped who (and more importantly Whose) I am as I enter my 30’s... Informing where the Lord wants to take me next as I strive to live in the “now” of each day.  (I am still struggling with this one!  Let’s pray for each other!)

Where is the Lord taking you?  How has he used your past, both the joys and trials, to shape you?  What can you release to the past and what can you carry with you into your next season?  

"I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope  when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;  
therefore, I will hope in him!”
-Lamentations 3:20-24


  1. Here's to a bright new decade for you and your beautiful family! I know you'll continue to inspire everyone around you.

  2. Happy birthday to a beautiful wife, mother, woman

  3. Happy birthday sweet Mary Elizabeth! Loved the post. Thinking of you & thankful for who you are. Your boys look so cute in those beach pictures. Miss you!