Turning 30 & The Decade that Was

I turn the big 3-0 tomorrow. And with this milestone has come a certain amount of reflection on what all has occurred in my twenties. What have I done? What have I learned? Highlights? Lowlights? Regrets? So I figured I would share with you the highlights of the past ten years.

  • I turned 20 while attending Biola University, making amazing friendships.
  • Studied the Bible in depth as a Bible major.
  • Travelled to Greece and Italy on a three-week study program with Torrey (highlights including Corinth, swimming in the Mediterranean, Rome, Athens, and a lot of beautiful artwork).
  • Moving into my first apartment with some guys.
  • Watching Placido Domingo sing the lead in an opera on September 10, 2001.
  • Waking up to the horrors of 9/11.
  • Taking road trips with friends during Torrey Bible Conference and Missions Conference.
  • February 3, 2002 – hearing the Holy Spirit’s not so gentle nudging that I was to go to China on a two-week short term mission’s trip.
  • Living through the pain of a family member fighting bi-polar.
  • Feeling called to go back that Summer in which the whole trip was paid for without having to raise any support thanks to the generosity of people from the first trip.
  • Not being able to sleep during one of my last weeks in China, and finally listening the Holy Spirit and feeling called to return after I graduate from Biola to serve as youth pastor for MKs.
  • Watching my older sister, Beth, get married to James Shank (August 24, 2002).
  • Applying and being accepted to go to China through the EFCM/EFCA-IM/ReachGlobal.
  • Graduating from Biola University summa cum laude in May 23, 2003.
  • God providing my support in miraculous ways that summer so that I could leave on September 7, 2003.
  • Hitting the ground running once I got to China.
  • Remodeling two youth centers.
  • Being mentored by Tom Kimber, who has taught me A LOT about love.
  • Celebrating Christmas in China with my family.
  • Having an amazing community in China who loved me a ton and who I loved a ton!
  • Travelling to Thailand, which including scuba diving in Phuket.
  • Finding and setting up my own apartment in China, including paint colors, picking out furniture, decorating, designing my kitchen, buying a piano. This apartment was my first real home.
  • Travelling to Lhasa, Tibet with Mr. C.
  • Losing 4 grandparents in a period of 2 years, all while living in China.
  • Grieving as a school when Mr. C. suddenly passed away.
  • Leading village trips in which the Holy Spirit always surprised me in how He worked, including a powerful foot washing ceremony.
  • Having the privilege of being the best man in Erik and Mary Youngdale’s wedding, who by the way just had their first son!
  • Having my best friend Tyler Hoad visit me in China.
  • Establishing some great guy friends while in China.
  • Teaching world religions and introduction to Christian Thought to seniors at the school I worked at.
  • Having my first serious relationship while in China, which taught me a lot about myself. Very painful, but looking back I don’t think I would change it.
  • Making the very difficult decision to move back to America.
  • Being honest about my struggles with sin.
  • Being accepted to ISF.
  • Realizing that there is more to Christianity than just head knowledge and that for too long I had neglected my heart/emotions.
  • Readjusting to life back in America, which was a lot harder than adjusting to life in China.
  • The birth of three amazing nephews and niece – Matthew, Zachary, Eliana.
  • Buying my first car without the help of my parents – Ford Focus.
  • Starting classes in ISF. After the first day of classes, I went home and cried, realizing that I was not going back to China.
  • Prayer projects from ISF which forced me to deal with a lot of my shit.
  • My first 48 hour solitude retreat.
  • Developing a relationship with my Grandpa for the first time through food. I love you Grandpa!
  • Drinking a little too much when I would make dinner for Grandpa (note: cheese and 6 bottles of wine for dinner for three people can lead to a not so fun night, that is once you stop.).
  • Discovering my love for food/cooking.
  • Being able to visit China and realizing that China was no longer my home.
  • My Feasting Retreat in a beautiful beach house in Redondo Beach.
  • Developing community at ISF and with others, especially Tyler Hoad.
  • Visiting Notre Dame and watching a football game live in South Bend.
  • Personal therapy.
  • Deciding to take the leap and start culinary school sooner rather than later.
  • Wrecking my Ford Focus on November 1, 2008.
  • Dining at Palate Food + Wine for my birthday, which lead me to ultimately getting a job at the restaurant.
  • Dropping out of culinary school to work full time at Palate.
  • Quitting Palate to work at Forest Home.
  • Making a list of what I would love in a home in Forest Falls, and God providing such a place.
  • Growing in confidence in my cooking ability.
  • Saying “YES” to a blind-date from the Costillos whom I had not spoken with in like two years.
  • Throwing out recipes and experimenting with a cheesecake.
  • Falling in love with Claire Allan.
  • My first kiss.
  • My Three-Week Retreat in January.
  • Experiencing Jesus’ love for me in deeply profound ways.
  • Asking Claire to marry me on March 13, 2010.
  • Planning a wedding.
  • Graduating from Talbot with High Honors.
  • Finding a new home with Claire, complete with fruit trees.
  • Getting married on August 21, 2010.
  • Honeymoon in Breckenridge, CO.

And this list is just but a snapshot of the past ten years.

As I look over the list, I see a lot of surprises – events, people, places that I could never have dreamed or planned for that matter. There are also events of great joy and great sadness. It would be easy to just remember the great times, and try and forget the times of deep pain, like losing grandparents, feeling very unloved, moving, saying too many good-byes. But I have come to realize, especially on my three-week, that those events all served a purpose in shaping and molding me to be the man I am today. A man more fully aware of God’s love for me than ever before and from that place being able to love others, especially Claire.

I have no clue what lies ahead in the next ten years, but I have some dreams and hopes, but if this past decade is any indication, I would be wise to hold them loosely, as Jesus has a way of surprising.

But the best thing: realizing that I am no longer alone. I got Jesus. I got the love of my life, Claire. And frankly that is more than enough.


5 thoughts on “Turning 30 & The Decade that Was

  1. I cannot begin to express the profound and awesome joy it was and is to have experienced this stuff with you..! As you enter 30, do so with BOLDNESS and FEARLESSNESS! You, sir, are a valiantly powerful warrior, worthy of the fantastic calling of ministry with Claire to the world around you! I love you dearly.

  2. If God can do all of that in your 20s, just imagine what your 30s will have in store. Many more blessings, a hundred fold, dear Andrew, as you enter this new decade!

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