One week from today I turn 30. THIRTY!
My 20’s encompassed a range of experiences – expected and unexpected. 20 and 21 were college years; 22 brought my first teaching job in Guatemala; at 23 I started working for Young Life in Hinsdale and at 25 that journey took me to Guatemala. At 27 I got married and at 28 I started teaching full time.
My twenties brought me nieces and nephews, whose smiles and silly dance moves on Skype warm my heart and whose childlike faith and perspective remind me what’s most important – “Aunt Annette, he tells people about Jesus. We should definitely share our bran muffins with him.”
My twenties offered the opportunity to walk with some pretty amazing middle school and high school kids both in Hinsdale and in Guatemala. I feel privileged to have shared life and faith journeys with them and pray daily that God continues to guide them as they now enter the heart of their twenties.
During my twenties, I played college basketball, rec league soccer, ultimate frisbee, ran two marathons and countless half marathons. I learned what it means to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
My twenties brought me Joel. Joel’s love, perspective, and contemplative insight invite me to think deeply and ask beautiful questions. His laugh is a gift and together, we make a pretty great team.
In my twenties I experienced the grandeur and beauty of this creation as I explored Guatemala, the US, Brazil, and other amazing places. I found myself standing in awe of the diversity of creation and what it has to offer.
My twenties redefined “home.” I will always consider 3894 E 40th street home, but learned that home is a space created by traditions, stories, and grace. Home can be a 10×10 corrugated metal shack, a mansion in the suburbs, or the sweet first apartment we shared overlooking the streets of Guatemala City.
My twenties brought me to Guatemala. This beautiful, scarred, hopeful place that is full of contradiction and hope. Here I’ve learned to see grace, feel love, and smell hope in the darkest, most unexpected places. Here I’ve learned to advocate for the least and lost and to know what I stand for regardless the consequences.
Here I experienced my greatest heartache.
I knew kids who died young, who landed in jail and will never see freedom again. I know children who’ve lost their fathers to senseless violence and girls who’ve lost their innocence to violent aggressors. I saw my purpose in moving to Guatemala shift as the organization that had served this population so sincerely, so relationally, move in a different direction.
Looking forward to my thirties, THIRTIES, I look forward to how the stories that have been written in my twenties will continue to develop. I look forward to redemption, to restoration, to growth, to challenge, to more joy and more heartache. I look forward to traveling, to adventuring, to reading and writing, to baking, to discovering, to teaching, to learning, to family, to relationships.
*Cheers* to the last week of a remarkable decade finding beauty in affliction and joy where it’s least expected. And now, I photo walk through a large chunk of my 20’s.