just for fun

Birthday Bucket List (30 Things to Do before I’m 30!)

yeah-pexels-1200It’s the last year of my 20s. One year from today, I will be the big 3-0. And while I have no concern about this upcoming milestone, now is the perfect time to write a one-year bucket list. I might as well be intentional about how I spend my time in my last year of this decade. So here we go.

Here are 30 things to do before I’m 30:

  1. Blog more. A lot more. 30 new posts (after this one!) seems like a good goal. So I’m shooting for it! I’m putting more emphasis on my blog as I’m leaving my work in the Christian media space. I want to make sure that I am sharing my faith through my writing here since I will no longer be working in an extension of ministry daily. God placed a desire on my heart to encourage other parents and families through the chaos and that’s what I plan to do here.
  2. Try a live video. I’ve said for years that I’m a writer not a speaker, but it’s time to get over this fear.
  3. Try 5 new restaurants. 
  4. See 1 new movie in theaters (Frozen 2, anyone?!)
  5. Take a friend out to dinner.  
  6. Have friends over for dinner.
  7. Speaking of dinner, actually, really cook. And learn to like it. Jen Hatmaker talks about doing this in Of Mess and Moxie so I’m pretty sure I can do this too (or maybe it was in For the Love, but whatever – read them both!).
  8. Run. 100 miles seems reasonable. Considering I have 3 half marathons on the books in the next year, I should really run MORE than that. But I know myself well enough to know that I love racing, not training.
  9. Prove myself in my NEW JOB! A good measure of this would be to learn a ton and earn a bonus.
  10. Read (or let’s be honest, listen to on Audible) a Dave Ramsey book.
  11. Finish reading Gone with the Wind. I read this once in middle school and loved it, but it’s time to get through this beautiful 1,000 page mammoth once again (and understand it this time).
  12. Finishing listening to the Harry Potter series with Dustin. We stopped in the middle of The Prisoner of Azkaban when our library rental ran out. It’s a bummer you can’t renew audiobooks.
  13. Finish my baby shower thank you notes. That’s right guys. They still aren’t done. I’m so, so sorry. But I am still so grateful for the thoughtful people who showered us with love and gifts before Emmanuella was born. I hope they know that without notes.
  14. Write our Compassion kids four times. 
  15. Teach Emmanuella to pray before meals.
  16. Visit the National Zoo. 
  17. Have a family picnic at the park.
  18. Bike on the Capital Trail.
  19. Travel to a new city. This is kind of cheating because we already have a trip to Charleston planned, but yay! I can’t wait!
  20. Go to a new winery.
  21. Go apple picking. Carter Mountain is so close. Why have we never done this?
  22. Turn the junk room into a game room. Make it a space that the whole family can enjoy.
  23. Lead a small group. Cheating again because this is already planned for spring, but it’s exciting. While Dustin and I have hosted small groups and facilitated discussions, we’ve never chosen our own curriculum, written discussion questions, and made it happen. We’re excited to see how the Lord moves within our small group community this year!
  24. Read a devotional with Dustin. We pray together nightly (and what a difference this makes in our relationship!) but what if we read a devotional as well? I hope God moves us forward in our marriage with this additional practice.
  25. Make a craft. Preferably more than just one!
  26. Paint our front door. BC Crimson is the color!
  27. Host another BC summer reunion.
  28. Visit the beach. I’m not sure if we’ll make it to the Outer Banks (my favorite place in the world) again in the next 12 months but we can at least go to the beach in Charleston!
  29. Take Emmanuella to three new places.
  30. Throw a party!

I expect that 29 will be an exciting year full of new challenges and fun family experiences. I’ll check in next year to tell you how I did on this list!

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just for fun

28 Things I’ve Learned about Life for My 28th Birthday

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I’ve always been a big fan of birthdays. It’s my own personal holiday; what’s not to like? I’m 28 years old today (or at least I will be at 10:16 p.m.) and as a writer, feel like there is no better way mark this occasion than sharing what I’ve learned (and am still learning) from 28 trips around the sun.

Note: I am still working on many of these issues myself. At 28, I consider myself a work in progress. Maybe I’ll nail this list by 29. 😉

Another note: I have to credit my dear friend Rachel Dawson for this idea. Check out her blog. It’s pretty awesome. 

  1. Know that time goes so fast. What a cliche, right? But my goodness, it’s true. My baby girl is approaching 5 months old, but I swear I had her last week. Along these lines…
  2. Unplug. I’m learning to unglue my eyes from my phone and cherish what is in front of me. You miss the things happening in real time when you’re looking down at a screen.
  3. Be grateful. Acknowledge your blessings and give thanks for what you have. All the time, not just on Thanksgiving.
  4. Keep in touch with family. Maybe it is something about having a baby, I don’t know. But I am beginning to understand how important it is to keep these connections strong and thriving.
  5. Enjoy having friends who are like family. I am lucky to have a tribe of friends who would drop everything if I needed help. Most of these friends I don’t speak to every day; some live far away and I hardly ever see. But they are my people, and I love them.
  6. Connect with your church. Since close friends and family may be far away, reach out to those in your church for connection. Even better, be part of a genuine small group. They don’t call it a church “family” for nothing.
  7. Make sure that you say “I love you.” To everyone you love. Say it often, but not without meaning behind it.
  8. Speak the love language of those you love. Building up your loved ones in this way is the number one thing they need from you.
  9. Do good. For your community. For your world. When we are so busy that our worldview shrinks to just ourselves, we have a problem. Look at the bigger picture and pitch in where you can.
  10. Speak up. If there is something you want, say so. Don’t expect people to anticipate your needs if you don’t voice them. Bonus tip: This is especially true in marriage.
  11. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to say something when you can’t do it all. Saying “no” is okay too.
  12. Pray. Daily. When Emmanuella was born, Dustin and I started doing this every night. They are simple prayers, nothing flowery or impressive. Sometimes we’re tired at the end of the day, or irritated. We pray anyway. The change this has made in us is incredible and honestly hard to put down in words.
  13. Trust God. If you’re a worrier, this is easier said that done. But I’ve found things have a way of working out in His timing (see Romans 8:28).
  14. Listen to others. If you like to be the life of the party like me, this is harder to do and takes discipline. But there is so much to learn if we train ourselves to be quiet every once in awhile.
  15. Smile at people. You don’t even have to say anything. But at least make eye contact and smile. For some people, it might be the best thing that happens to them all day.
  16. Take care of yourself. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m preaching to myself here as well. I REALLY like French fries and milkshakes (preferably together) and know that I should eat more fresh fruits and veggies than I do (and I’m a vegetarian!). Not surprisingly, when I eat well, I also feel better mentally and am less likely to feel overwhelmed or stressed.
  17. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Beating yourself up doesn’t make a situation any better. Forgiving yourself is important too.
  18. Go outside. More often. There are few things that a walk in fresh air can’t fix. And if it can’t fix it, it will at least clear your head.
  19. Play board games instead of watching Netflix every once in awhile. It’s just as relaxing, but you get to actually engage with people while you do it.  Speaking of which, I asked for Ticket to Ride for my birthday. So whoever wants to come over a play is welcome!
  20. Spend smart. Think about where your money should go. Think about needs vs. wants. Our resources aren’t really ours. Remember this and use them (or give, save, invest, etc.) accordingly.
  21. Purge. If you have something that you don’t need or use, but another person does and would, let it go.
  22. Be generous. Of your money. Of your stuff. Of your time. Giving feels good, y’all. Do it, and frequently.
  23. Make goals and strive to reach them. I’m looking at this list and there are some challenging goals here to reach for. That’s a start.
  24. Set aside time to rest. As a new mom, I’ve learned that rest is such a gift. Our lives are no longer planned within an inch of our lives and I like it. Sometimes it’s okay to just be.
  25. Make time for the important things. Think about priorities. Cuddling my baby is much higher on my list than laundry (which is why the hamper has been constantly overflowing since her birth).
  26. Keep learning. I want to be a lifelong learner. But this doesn’t mean everything I learn has to be found in a book. Learning new skills is just as important.
  27. Don’t get caught up in the “I’ll be happy when” mentality. This is a dangerous trap that leaves you chasing the next thing. You WON’T be happy when you make more money, get married, etc. if you can’t find contentment now.
  28. Celebrate! Both big days like birthdays (!) and little things like accomplishing something on your to-do list. I was once told that my personality type is the kind that comes to a wall and throws a party (instead of strategizing a way to get over the wall or blowing through the wall). This is an accurate way to describe me AND a fun way to live your life.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I have so much more to learn, and hope that this year brings many more life lessons. But see #26. I do aspire to be a lifelong learner.

And with that, let us begin my 29th year on this earth.