Chapter XXIX

The past month has absolutely flown by, full of fun weekend adventures and getaways. I wanted to take just a minute and reflect on another birthday, the passing of another amazing year. First of all, I am completely overwhelmed with gratitude for each and every one of you. The thoughtful well wishes and birthday messages did not go unnoticed- so THANK YOU! I'll admit I've surprised myself at how quickly I've taken to turning 29, feeling more excited than ever about what's to come. While my twenties have provided me with amazing friendships, unforgettable opportunities, and a passport full of stamps, it also came with a lot of insecurities and uncertainty

A very wise woman who I've come to admire and respect deeply, recently shared this with me and it really hit home. "A number is just what it is. But how you live that number out is what matters most. Make 29 as memorable as you can and enjoy every minute. Happiness always..." With each passing year I'm becoming more sure of the person I was created to be, more confident in my beliefs and choices, and more intentional about the way I spend my time. And in effort to take these wise words to heart, I've identified some things to work on as I transition from one decade to the next.

Know your worth and be proud of what you've accomplished.

I recently found myself questioning my worth at work. I love my job and believe in working hard to ensure a job well done, however, I typically tie little sense of self to my success at work. With that being said, I decided to pursue some pretty exciting professional endeavors. I put together an action plan and went forward confidently, believing that I would be met with support and enthusiasm. Unfortunately that wasn't the case and I walked away from the conversation feeling little support and undervalued in my role. While now a minor setback that has only set me up for an even better opportunity, in that moment I realized how important it is to not allow someone else's doubts determine the direction of your dreams.. Which brings me to my next point.

Fight for what you want and persevere when life pushes back.

I spent several weeks in Tanzania this past June and was once again blown away by the people I met along the way. Despite such adversity, they fight fiercely for what they want, for what they need. An education, a new school, a better way of life; there is nothing that will keep them from doing what it takes to turn their dreams into reality. I have been so fortunate to live in a place of great opportunity, yet how quickly I give up when met with the littlest bit of resistance. I've gotten so used to things coming easy that I've forgotten what it means to persevere. And more importantly, pray. I truly believe that God wants the absolute best for each of us and has plans greater than we could even imagine. Sometimes that means waiting on Him to lead and other times that means persevering ahead in faith and allowing Him to open doors. 

Stay humble and kind.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, or more accurately Tim McGraw's hit single, don't ever assume you have it all figured out. No matter your age there is always an opportunity to learn something new. Listen intently, speak kindly, and question deeply. 

Be intentional about the friends you surround yourself with.

After twenty nine years of varying friendships, I am especially grateful to the people who have played (and continue to play) such key roles in my life

My oldest friends. They understand the intricacies and nuances of my childhood. They watched, and most times walked along side me, as I went through the growing pains of adolescence. I couldn't forget their birthdays or home landline numbers even if I wanted to and I have a very deep appreciation for friendships like that. 

Friends who encourage me. While I have a number of encouraging people in my life, I have one friend in particular who is incredible at infusing positivity into the people and circumstances around her. I am especially grateful to her for the many times she has sensed my self doubt and spoken words of truth, certainty, and hope into my life. 

Friends who keep me accountable.. While not always easy, it's crucial to have someone in your life who can speak openly and honestly to you. A heart of gold that only wants the best for me and can also call me out on my crap.

Friends who challenge me. Whether that means booking flights and traveling to places unknown or seeking adventure in the everyday mundane, I depend greatly on those friends who push me outside of my comfort zone. 

Friends who invest in you. We aren't in middle or high school any more (thankfully), so there is no need to be friends with everyone. Be more intentional with the people who matter most, who value you, and the things most important to you. 

Stop making excuses and take responsibility.

You can no longer blame your indecision, lack of commitment, or general immaturity on being in your twenties. Take a decade's worth of mistakes, hard lessons learned, and own your decisions to build the life you want. No one else is going to do it for your. 

Lastly, I want to brag about my sweet family for a  second, mostly because there are very few people who have had to put up with me for as long as they have. But also because they continue to challenge me, believe in me, and push me towards Christ in my pursuit of what lies ahead. My biggest critics and cheerleaders, I wouldn't be who I am today without you. 

So while I'm a little nostalgic for my younger, twenty-something self I am more ready than ever for the next chapter and forever thankful to those of you who have helped me fill in the pages of the last twenty nine years. How quickly they have turned.



Stephanie Zillmer