I'm the sentimental sort. I tend to obsess over the details - over stories and pictures and keepsakes from the past. I also have a need to process all the major milestones in my life through writing, and my birthday this year is no different. In fact, turning thirty has been something I've wanted to celebrate loudly.

I've successfully done that I think, in a few different ways.

All of which have led me to remember my history - the victories, the struggles, the awkwardness, and the terrible haircuts. 

More so, these days leading up to my thirtieth birthday have brought me to think about the things I've learned and now, want to share. So, here goes. 

01 Apologize first. Confession brings about breakthrough and healing. 

02 Listen. Really listen. Not just with your head, but with your heart. Not to just the things said, but also unsaid. These tend to be the most important, but we miss out when we don't engage with all of ourselves.

03 It's hardly ever about you. It might feel that way, but more often than not, someone else is reacting from their own hard places. If we take ourselves out of the picture, then we can focus on the real problem at hand. 

04 Prayer changes things. Heals people. Ushers in peace. Laying hands on another person and praying, actually praying, does make a difference. There's no time to be shy about it. 

05 Everyone will disappoint you. God won't. This isn't cynicism. This is a fact of life. One that reminds us that our salvation doesn't belong in the hands of our friends, or husbands, or audiences - but in Jesus, and Jesus alone. 

06 Even on the darkest of days, there's always hope lurking - the question is whether or not you'll attempt to look for it. And, because God is good, even when we aren't looking, He'll direct it our way anyways. He sees us and He loves us. We all matter to Him. 

07 Marriage isn't a walk in the park. But, neither is life. There's something special about committing yourself to doing the hard things side by side with your best friend and hand in hand with someone who is all in. It changes you and often, for the better. It might be hard, but marriage is worth it.

08 Life is found in the margins - Saturdays at home, breakfast at the table and in the chaos of screaming children. It's in the dirty dishes and laundry and in conversations over cups of coffee and glasses of wine. It's in unchecked goals and unfinished sentences. It's messy, and it's beautiful.  

09 Do the work. That's where growth happens. Stagnation only breeds doubt and hesitancy. Sometimes, even when we don't know where we are going we have to take small steps in some direction, any direction. Our movement will make sense of our direction.

10 Having a baby isn't excruciatingly painful - but watching them grow and letting them go, is.

11 Your enemy is often a mirror into your soul - they'll reflect the worst about you, and the best too. Look closely. 

12  Naps are everything. Take more of them.

13 You are not defined by your past, or your parent's past, or your parent's parent's past. 

14 Words are life. Be careful what you say, and what you think. 

15 Not all arguments are worth having. In fact, most aren't.

16 Really meaning it when you ask someone how they are doing can literally change someone's life. Or save it. Press beyond the responses of fine and good - it makes all the difference. 

17 We were sinners, before Christ. IN CHRIST, we are made new, righteous, and renamed. We are saints. If we were to live from who we actually are instead of who we used to be, we could change the world. 

18 Most of our prisons are self-made. We are never made victim, we accept the bid to play the part. By changing our role, we can also change our story. 

19 God's grace goes beyond a single moment or circumstance; it's not a token economy - its the air we breathe; daily and always accessible. 

20 Guilt only begets more guilt and it creates distance in relationship. Conviction though, is entirely different - it is personal and comes from a place of love and truth. One is a quick ramp onto the highway of bondage, the other a gateway to freedom. 

21 Gratitude is the best gift given and received. 

22 Our worth or purpose has nothing to do with our title - be it mom, sister, daughter, wife, graduate, cashier, or career woman. It is whose we are and from where in our hearts we do the things of life that defines us. 

23 Children bring out the very best of us and expose the worst. They help prioritize the meaningful and filter out the trivial. Being around them is essential to life. Make time for them. 

24 Clarity can easily be brought about with a good puffy-eyed, mascara smearing, totally irrational cry. Embrace those moments and then move on. 

25 The people you surround yourself with can make you, or they can break you. Choose wisely.

26 Conviction lacks gumption without action. 

27 You are your own responsibility. Stop relying on other people to take responsibility for you. Do what needs to be done. And get over yourself. 

28 It's totally possible to meet your future husband at Wal-mart at midnight. Opportunities are everywhere. Keep your eyes open. 

29 Things like mascara, a good pair of jeans and expensive face wash can make a girl feel really good. Investing in your self- whether mentally, emotionally, or physically- results in a longer and happier life. 

30 Life moves fast. Time will always move forward. Lessons will be learned and things have a way of always coming full circle. It's easy to get consumed and discouraged with the present moment - but ultimately, it's just a head game. We get to decide what kind of lives we lead. It's all about our hearts and all about our perspective.

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose. Here's looking at you thirty.