30 Things I Did Before Turning 30

Today I turn 30! As mentioned in my previous post, for the past couple of months (yes, I like to plan blog posts super far in advance) I have been reflecting on all the things I have been able to do before turning 30. After I made this list I was talking to a friend and realized I failed to mention moving across the world by myself and starting my career as an international school teacher, oops. Well, it’s not on the list, but I did it. I also hiked up a black ash volcano in Nicaragua and went to a mud festival on a beach in South Korea… but wait! I am getting ahead of myself. Without furthur intro, here’s my list of 30 things I did before turning 30:

1. Learned how to use a hammer. And then hammered. Real nails into real wood. I even built things. Like tree forts (or mostly held the boards while my brothers built them).
2. Shared a room with one or two sisters until I was 17.


(oldest sister didn’t make it into this collage, mer— sorry Amie! I am also sorry about that one time I punched you in the eye when I was sleep talking and we shared a room)

3. Played the clarinet for eight years. (Marching band—drum major— BAND GEEK and proud of it.)
4. Willingly wore a fake warted nose and chin and turned green to play the Wicked Witch of the West in my high school’s production of the Wizard of Oz. (I will find a pic of this and add it later!)
5. Took a German friend (exchange student in high school) dumpster diving. The one and only time I’ve ever done it.
6. Made it on the news during college when I was voluntold to race in the soapbox derby races for my dorm building and ended up being the only female driver. Made it to the semi-finals (fist pump). Never saw the news story (phew).
7. Worked in the food industry (from fast food burgers to serving fish and then waitressing at a chain of family owned bbq joints) off and on for 8 years. To this day when I eat out I thank the Lord I am not a waitress anymore. I am also super kind to servers.
8. Learned how to ride a horse at my aunt’s during summer visits.
9. Went to Disney World with my family (minus oldest sister) and grandparents. That’s a dozen people with half of them being under 15 years old, and no one got lost. Miracles do happen.
10. Flew to Texas at 14 years old to go on a mission trip to Mexico. Lost my glasses and my parents never made me feel bad about it (which I realized JUST NOW while writing this, thanks mom and dad!).
11. Earned a Bachelors degree from Western Michigan University and a Masters in Education from Simpson University.
12. Studied abroad in South Africa, making lifelong friends and memories that I still bring up (“This one time, in South Africa…”).


13. Volunteered (ing): adopted a highway with my youth group, taught English at a Bible camp in Nicaragua, and continue to tutor Han Wool in English, watching him grow from a boy of 10 to a young man of 16. *sniffle *sniffle.

my boy, he is actually reading English now! slowly but surely :)

14. Found myself a guest at traditional Zulu wedding (where I helped carry food to the reception on my head) and a traditional Korean one (where I watched the groom carry the bride on his back).

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15. Ate crocodile. It tasted like chicken, really tough chicken.
16. Bungee jumped in South Africa.
17. Climbed up one of Drakensberg’s Mountains’ peaks. Had the best white bread with shredded cheese sandwich of my life at the top.

18. Went on an African safari. That herd of elephants that almost stampeded us was scaaary.
19. Climbed the Great Wall of China.


20. Biked across the Golden Gate Bridge.
21. Earned my black belt in taekwondo.


22. Learned how to take a good picture.

DSC_0208-2 DSC_9969

DSC_0911    DSC_0814

23. Learned to continually say “I am sorry” and meaning it. Still* learning how to show constant forgiveness and be a better daughter, sister, friend, and teacher.

24. Took a 3 week road trip with my parents and youngest brother out west with the Grand Canyon as our main destination, but pleasantly surprised by Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, oh and let’s not forget Mushroom Rock State Park. One of my favorite memories from that trip I blogged about here.

a spectacular view

light beam   horseshoe bend canyonthe sign

25. Went “lobster diving” in the North Sea off the Norwegian coast, but it wasn’t lobster season so we caught crabs instead. Which we cooked and ate for dinner. Best. Crab. Ever.


26. Trained teachers in Nepal and then a few years later in Myanmar, sharing knowledge I took for granted, learning to thank God for the education I have been able to get and the resources I have in my profession.
27. Read through the Bible front to back twice, almost made it through a third time, and currently reading it chronologically.
28. Had the honor of standing as a bridesmaid in 12 weddings. Extremely appreciative for the lasting friendships I have in my life. (I gathered all the pictures of me with each bride and then left them in a folder on my work computer, you better believe I will be adding them later!)

29. Wrote six issues for re.write magazine. Representing six people I had the honor of writing about, and getting to know on a deeper level than some of my own family.
30. Traveled around the USA and to Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, England, Norway, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Nepal, Germany, France, Netherlands, Singapore, and Myanmar.

I love how hard it was for me to write only 30, what a wonderfully blessed life. My next project should be finding my favorite photo from every place I have been able to travel to. My aim is to hit 31 countries before I turn 31, but I don’t think I will make it… maybe 33 before 33? I like to make goals.


5 thoughts on “30 Things I Did Before Turning 30

  1. This is a fantastic list!! You can also add: swimming at the infinity pool at MBS hotel!, having 2 blogs, and many more… 😉
    You are extremely well traveled, successful, and loved! 🙂

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