34 Thoughts from 34 Years

Baby Ash

Me, on February 12, 1981. (If you think this is the largest three day old you have ever seen, you are right.)

Today, I am 34 years old. This is my first birthday as a mama. Cody and I talked over the oatmeal he made us this morning, marveling at the imagination of God. We could not have dreamed the life we are living. In all the beauty, pain, disappointment, wonder, risk, love, service, friendship and more, to say I am grateful is an understatement. In the spirit of sharing, here are 34 thoughts from 34 years.

1. Muffin Top is a pants problem, not a personal problem. Just buy a bigger size. Unless we are swearing sweating in the gym, let's tackle more important issues together.

2. Go to your court dates and don't drive with a suspended license. Trust me.

3. On that note, pay your parking tickets. We are not "sticking it to the man" by ignoring them, we are "sticking it to ourselves" by inflated late fees.

4. The devil is a bastard. Do not engage in conversation with the enemy of your heart. He is a liar. He will always be a liar. Don't stop to say, "Maybe you're right... maybe I am..." As a rule of thumb, if you would not say the terrible thing you just said to yourself inside your head to anyone else, it's probably the devil talking. Tell him to go back to hell where he came from, because you are fabulous honey.

5. You're doing better than you think you are.

6. Water is a miracle cure. I promise. Look it up and drink more. But not more Dasani or Aquafina, which come from the Detroit River.

7. Save some money. $10.00 is not too small. Start where you are.

8. On that note, pay cash for stuff. House Rule: If we can't pay cash, we can't afford it.

9. What do you love? Writing, filing, creating, singing, dancing, kids, youth, outreach, church, reading, flying, playing, laughing, sharing? Find a way to do it more.

10. Share your story with people who love you.

11. Love people. Ask God to help you discern their glass ceilings and help them break through.

12. I do not have to be right, first, or best to be secure. The praise of man comes and goes. I will not place my security in people, I will place it in Christ. He is my portion and my cup. He holds and maintains my lot. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Surely, I have a good heritage from Him. (Psalm 16:5-6)

13. Inappropriate ecards run the world and Gladys makes me laugh every time. Watch her by clicking this.

14. "I love Jesus, but I drink a little." Gladys

15. We are desperate for encouragement. Text, call, email, sing a voicemail, write a notecard, smile, compliment, and give stuff to as many people as you can.

16. A life giving church is a catalyst to another dimension of purpose, hope, and relationship. It's worth the risk to serve and give and build the local church. It's not perfect, but neither are we, so let's help each other in our crazy and make a difference together.

17. Get out of your box. Read a book by an author you don't agree with. Make friends with someone who doesn't look like you, or is not in your economic bracket. Travel a bit, even if its from Los Angeles to the valley. The world is massive. Get out there gorgeous!

18. Integrity over image. Every single time.

19. Coffee.

20. Chocolate.

21. Wine and Cheese.

22. Friendship. Messy, complicated, beautiful, reciprocal friendship. There is nothing that has changed my life more.

23. My mother was right about everything. I should have listened sooner. (Probably wouldn't have dated so many mopey, punk fools.)

24. Speaking of punk fools, wait for the right one. I am not saying cry in your cornflakes every day (maybe once or twice a week), I am just saying enjoy your life. Go to dinner with your friends, raise money and go on a missions trip, love on some kids, and carry on warrior. You are spectacular. Don't compromise your purpose by settling down with a fool.

25. You're worth more. My friend Harmony runs Treasures and on their website, they have this handy tool called "The Truth about a Treasure". You have immeasurable value friend. Speak these out loud until you believe it.

26. MUSIC. SOUL MUSIC. THERE IS NONE OTHER. IT IS THE SOUND OF HEAVEN. I will misappropriate the context of Philippians 3:15 to make my point: "Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you."

27. Listen. Just stop trying to respond and really listen. Don't we all want to be heard? And isn't that more healing than being told?

28. How do you hear from God? We all learn in different ways. I personally hear him when I am serving others. He speaks to me there, teaches me there, loves me there. I hear him whisper to me through the pain of people. I feel His presence when I am helping. It's okay if you don't learn the way someone else does. Figure out how you hear his voice in your life and allow yourself to know Him and be known by Him.

29. You don't need a reason to help somebody. Go ahead.

30. Preach Jesus with your life. I've learned generosity begets generosity. "Give, but give until it hurts." Mother Teresa

31. The mission is where you are. Stop wishing you were somewhere else. Love the people right in front of you. They've got the same fears and pains you do. Bless them, love them, encourage them, enjoy them, serve them and contentment will be yours.

32. Hey, little mama, it is what it is. Changing some things (and people, for that matter) just isn't worth all that effort. Let it go.

33. When you get hitched, kiss, hug, have sex (Which is challenging post baby. Do your best.), mind your manners and be kind.

34. Open your home and feed people. We're all starving in some way, right? Serve up a night of encouragement, prayer, wisdom, laughter, and love. Order pizza and sit on the floor if you have to, but I think a life wide open is the way to live.


Baby Levi crapped a 42 ounce milkshake in his pants for my birthday. Dad is covered in shrapnel and Mom had to ask the waitress for a wet towel. (Mayday! Mayday!) Happy Birthday to me!