Becoming a 30-Something

30th birthday.pngI’m turning 30 years old this week.

I know the expectation is that I should be freaking out about this, feeling like my biological clock is ticking and that life is going too fast. But I feel strangely calm about this milestone birthday.

Maybe it’s because my best friend Ashley turned 30 back in November, and I have already started thinking of myself as 30 by extension.

Maybe it’s because, rather than being single, I am in a happy relationship with a wonderful man who continues to make comments alluding to commitment. I think there’s a future there.

Or maybe it’s because there are so many other new, good things in my life (like an upcoming career change) that have 30 feeling more like an exciting fresh start than the beginning of a downhill slope.

Earlier this week, I was thinking about the fact that Jesus began his public ministry at age 30. He certainly did miracles and taught in the synagogue prior to his 30th birthday, but up until that point, he kept his ministry more private and was in a season of preparation for what was to come.

My mind followed that train of thought to mulling over the past decade and how many trials I’ve faced. I’ve been praying for years that God would use the pain for good; that He would put me in a place where I consistently live out my true created purpose. And here, right at my 30th birthday, I am on the brink of a major career change, where I get to stand in front of young adults every day and be a positive role model, hopefully impacting them for eternity.

Might this be what I’ve been praying for? Might this be the beginning of my own public ministry of sorts, with everything up to now being a season of preparation? I hope so.

If 30 is the year I start to see God really moving in my life to impact others, then I say bring on the next decade! I’m ready to be a 30-something.

Authentically Aurora

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Fostering Hope for Foster Kids

Foster BabysitterPart of the human condition is to long for what we don’t have. Every season of life, we reach for the next or dwell on the past. Single people want to be married. Married couples sometimes wish they were still single. Students wish they were finished with school and out in the “real world”. Those of us working in the corporate realm sometimes long for the freedom of being back at university.

When I was in high school, everything I did was striving toward the goal of getting into West Point. I was the captain of my soccer team, president of my Girl Scout troop, an officer of the National Charity League, member of both student council and National Honor Society, as well as a straight-A student.

I was not the kid whose parents pushed them to work harder, study more and get better grades. I actually got grounded from reading. My parents insisted that I start getting Bs and Cs and that I go out and play more. They had the wisdom I did not at that age; that life is short, and if we are always straining for the next season without enjoying the present, what kind of life is that?

Now instead of feeling perpetually angry and frustrated because I dislike my job, feel unappreciated at work and am pushing 30 with no true marriage prospects in sight, I want to enjoy this season of singleness. There is so much I can do in this chapter of life where I have freedom from spousal responsibility. My parents are still in good health. I have no husband, no children and no pets. I am freer than I will ever be. The world is my oyster.

Last Sunday, I went to an information session on being certified to be a babysitter for foster kids. Did you know that foster parents can only hire certified babysitters to watch their foster children? God has placed within me a longing to build people up and inspire them to be who they were created to be. I am excited about the possibility of learning the unique passions and talents of the foster kids I babysit and then bringing a corresponding project for us to work on together.

I could bring my guitar and write songs with kids interested in music. I could bring my spare SLR camera and teach artistic kids about the light triangle and the effects of adjusting aperture settings. I could bring model airplane sets or a book of logic puzzles. The possibilities are endless. Each activity would be tailored to the needs and interests of each individual foster child.

I would love to spark to flame the inner potential of these kids so many others have overlooked. My heart longs to heal the hurting and uplift the downtrodden; to encourage those without hope and speak truth into those plagued by insecurity. God has placed within me a desire to, in the words of Frederick Buechner, help others find “the place where [their] deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Authentically Aurora

Deploy Joy

Poetry Slam

There’s a reason for every season
And a rhyme for every time of life
Our days seem so often filled with strife
But if we could learn to live
Learn to give
And just appreciate life’s beautiful mistakes
Without aching for change and shaking things up
Isn’t it enough
What we’ve got here and now
Gotta rest into the test of learning to be content
Instead of moving faster to the next chapter
Revel in the endeavor
Of finding little ways that today can deploy joy
Fight for light, and you just might
Discover hope

Authentically Aurora

P.S. Thanks to Paul for the style inspiration!

Life, Punctuated

Sidewalk exclamation point

In the sidewalk on the way from my office’s parking garage to the building, there are two holes in the concrete, one more elongated than the other, such that they look like an exclamation point. Having worked for the same company for nearly seven years now, I can honestly say that I have walked past this punctuation mark literally hundreds of times, but its meaning to me is ever changing.

Over the years, walking in and out of the office in various moods and seasons of life, this little exclamation point has meant so many different things to me. When I first started working straight out of college, it was a symbol of exuberance and excitement. My first real job!

During later years, it was an exclamation of frustration. Why is everything so difficult?! Other times, it represented outbursts of anger or bitterness – toward people, life situations or even myself. Sometimes, in more recent years, these two little holes in the sidewalk have been a cry out to God from the depths of a broken heart.

With an intensity like mine, regardless of my current emotion, that emotion is always felt – and expressed – with an exclamation point. I don’t do anything halfway. Every thought and feeling is punctuated with a depth and intensity that can only be represented by an exclamation point.

And so, in my mind, I have adopted this little marking in the sidewalk. It has been my constant companion these many years, always appearing the same to passersby but transforming in meaning for those with eyes to see.

Authentically Aurora

Silver Lining of Seasonal Sickness

Four SeasonsI get sick every year at the season change.

When the blazing heat of summer fades to the coolness of fall, and again when the freezing winter temperatures warm to the sunny sixties of spring, I can count on getting a head cold.

What others tout as the best weeks of the year, I consistently dread as two of the bitterest weeks in the world of weather, mostly because they are two of the bitterest weeks in the world of Aurora’s immune system.

Sure enough, we had a shockingly beautiful weekend here where I live – sunny and sixty-five with a light breeze. So, naturally, I woke up on Sunday morning with a sore throat and a headache. I can just feel the head cold coming on, despite the gallons of water and green tea I’ve drunk all day, the 800 mg of vitamin C I’ve pushed and the steroid nasal spray I’ve snorted.

I’ve become an all-out druggie in the hopes of kicking this virus before it takes hold, but today at the office, I discovered that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to stay sick for a few days after all.

I get rebuked all the time for not spending more time at the water cooler socializing with my coworkers. In my end-of-year reviews, I am always told that I need to actually care what Sharon planted in her garden this weekend or how Donald’s football team did in their playoff game.

Even if listening to Gertrude’s twenty-minute dissertation on quilting techniques makes me want to claw my eyes out, I have been coached to at least pretend to take interest in my colleagues’ lives outside of work. Apparently productivity and efficiency mean nothing in the face of warm fuzzies and verbal petting.

Anyway, today when good ol’ Hank asked me about my weekend and I mentioned off hand that I spent all day Sunday feeling like I was coming down with a cold, he suddenly had to run off to a meeting. Surprised, I shrugged to myself, only to find (groan!) the ever-chatty Kathleen walking into the coffee area. She went on and on about her daughter’s work in Japan until I coughed and then suddenly *poof!* she was gone, too.

So I have discovered the silver lining to my seasonal sickness: I can play nicely with the other children, listening attentively to all of their adventurous tales of mediocrity for a full five seconds before coughing abruptly and watching them scurry away from me, fearful for their lives (or perhaps just their health).

It’s a win-win situation: They stay healthy, and I get to wander the hallways of the office in peace. Victory is mine.

Authentically Aurora