Countdown to Thirty, Part II

My blog-friend Erin just posted a great recap of her twenties. Like me, she's counting down to the big 3-0. She only has until May; I'm still twentysomething until July.

(Is it bad form to gloat about being in my twenties a little bit longer? I'll refrain.)

Back in September I confessed to thinking about turning thirty more than I thought I would. I don't think I've thought about turning a particular age so much since I turned seventeen; I vividly remember sitting by the water at Sunset Beach in North Carolina being profoundly aware of the ramifications of turning seventeen.

Then as now, I don't harbor negative feelings about my age. I'm just... aware. And was made That Much More Aware yesterday, when I found and hastily plucked my first very real gray hair. I even plucked a not-gray-hair to have a proper rubric against which to judge it. Definitely gray. And wiry.

The fact of the matter is this: I'm really happy right now. I'm in the process of completing a genuinely wonderful first ministry. I'll preach my first sermon in my new congregation on the last Sunday before I turn thirty. I have a daughter I love so much I can hardly articulate how I feel about her (though I'm trying, in that blessed book under contract). I cherish that red-headed husband I've known since I was nineteen. And physically... well, lets just say the arrival of that gym membership at this particular juncture was super serendipitous. I'm stronger and healthier and calmer than I would be if I wasn't spending thirty minutes tearing it up on the Elliptical five days a week, grasping at the shreds of my twentysomething metabolism.

All in all, my twenties have been really good to me. So here's that recap. Don't worry, it's not comprehensive.

At twenty...
Hmm. Not such a great year. Though I did discover Over the Rhine, and wrote a lot of poetry.

At twenty one...
I turned twenty-one in Mexico. The host family I was living with threw me a lovely little dinner party for my friends from the language school.

A couple weeks later I received a letter from Ben: yellow paper, pencil. I knew I would marry him if I went out with him. I went out with him the week I returned to Kent. Three months later, we were engaged.

I lived with Lisa and Andrea in a nondescript apartment adjacent to Kent State. Lisa forgave me for never doing the dishes.

I wrote a manuscript of poetry about the summer in Mexico that has never been and likely never will be published. The best poem has been rejected from Poetry and the Christian Century, though it did become a finalist in a GoodReads poetry competition.

At twenty-two...
I married Ben on my twenty-second birthday. Three weeks later, we packed up his Ford Ranger and drove to California, so I could go to seminary.

I met Lara, Julie, Rosamond, Nadja, Andrea, Christine, Ellen. Among others.

At twenty three...
I spent the summer I turned twenty-three trying to figure out what it meant to have a dual calling as a pastor and writer, thanks to a little help from The Fund for Theological Education. We spent a week at the Fine Arts Work Center with our friends Maj and Paul. That fall, I started working as a ministry intern at FCC Pomona.

At twenty four...
I started this blog. I learned to knit. I graduated from seminary. I was called to be the solo pastor of this little church by the beach, even though we had originally intended to head back to the Midwest.

At twenty five...
We were barely settled into the parsonage when we adopted Deacon, our pit mix. He was at my feet when I wrote my first sermon for this congregation.

At twenty six...
I officiated my first wedding and first funeral in the same twenty-four hour period.

In September, someone asked me if I was pregnant. I wasn't. I went home upset that I was so out of shape that someone would think I was pregnant, and found out that Deacon was sick.

Three weeks later, Deacon was gone.

I lost weight.

After a couple months of being incredibly sad, we decided to go to take a vacation to Europe in February. Eleven mostly fantastic days in France, Switzerland, Germany.

In May, we found out we were having a baby.

At twenty-seven...
I pretty much didn't think about anything but being pregnant. And then I had a baby, and didn't think about anything but having a baby.

I grew tomatoes for the first time, and started baking bread.

At twenty-eight...
Twenty-eight was a particularly difficult and significant year. There was extensive questioning and struggling that ultimately pointed toward reconciliation and a renewed sense of vocation - in a lot of areas of my life.

I opted out of a book project that I really believed in because of a decision I couldn't stomach.

I went to the Collegeville Institute and spent a week learning from Eugene Peterson.

At twenty-nine...
I got a book contract.

I got the job.

Juliette went to bed without Mama-milk one night - of her own volition - and that was that. Couldn't have been a better weaning experience.

I preached, and wrote, and packed, and mothered, and loved, and cooked, and otherwise earned that gray hair and every other gray hair to come.

Thirty, here I come.

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