For my 30th birthday, due here in about 2 hours and 20 minutes, I’ve compiled a timeline of sorts: thirty major personal events, good and bad and completely neutral, from my 30 years of life. Presented to you here in chronological order.

1) 1981: Born in Kansas, joining the family of Mom, Dad, and big brother Jeremiah.

2) 1984: My baby brother, Josh, was born. And I think this was the year we moved to the tiny town I would call home for the next 20 years.

3) 1990: Skipping ahead to 3rd grade, when I transferred from Catholic school to public school, a decision I had initially resisted. But I loved my new friends, who introduced me to The Babysitters’ Club and New Kids on the Block.

4) 1991: Without a clue as to what was happening, I and a small group of my classmates were led to the basement of the school and told we would learn to play an instrument. I chose the violin. And that naive decision was instrumental (ha) in the shaping of my identity through jr. high and high school.

5) 1993+: My (first) country music stage. I proudly sported T-shirts from the concerts I attended, and my mom kept me home from school one day so that I could have Billy Dean autograph my jean shorts.

6) 1993: I finally convinced my mom to let me have bangs. And contacts. That was a big year. Also in sixth grade, I adored my teacher, and for the next 7 years, was certain I too would be a sixth-grade teacher.

7) 1996-1997: Freshman year of high school. The year I received my only B throughout my entire high school career, in — you’ll never guess — P.E. The teacher was a punk.

8.) 1996 (I think): Started working part-time at the nursing home, which helped shape my love for the elderly and probably my character and outlook on life.

9) 1997: In the wee hours of a February morning, my dad came into my room to tell me that my brother Jeremiah had been in a car accident. After a day or two in the hospital, he died as a result of it. I, as well as my family, have never been the same, and I don’t think I realize, even now, all the ways his death has affected me. We weren’t close, but I did love him, and I always looked forward to the day when we would have families of our own and grow close again. Now I have lived almost as much of my life without him as I did with him.

10) 1997: Shortly after Jeremiah died, I went on my first ski trip with our high school youth group. A very poignant spiritual high in the very raw aftermath of family tragedy.

11) 1997-1998: My first of two years on the high school dance team. I really can’t dance well, and I hated the early-morning practices, but I loved the performances and the shiny outfits!

12) 1998: My first missions trip, to Monterrey, Mexico, ignited a love for missions and for experiencing other cultures.

13) 1999: A second trip to Monterrey, the time I held a teeny-tiny Mexican baby and knew I wanted to be a mother.

14) 1999: I became really close with my friend Cassie during our senior year. I had known her since preschool. We both grew up with only brothers, so we adopted each other as sisters. After a few years in college of chatting only occasionally, we’ve had weekly phone dates for the past 4 years. I think she’s pretty fantastic.

15) 2000: High school graduation, which seemed at the time like the most important and wonderful day of my life.

16) 2000-2001: Attended a missions school and spent two separate months in foreign countries. I formed some powerful and lifelong friendships that year — a year of personal struggles and identity questions and seeking God like I never had before — and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

17) 2001: Enrolled as a sophomore at John Brown University. Met a tall and handsome Kansas boy named Jeff.

18) 2002: Jeff asked me to be his girlfriend in January. I was totally smitten from the start.

19) 2002: Spent my junior year as an RA in the girls’ dorm, a role I had wanted to fill since the first day I started dreaming of attending JBU.

20) 2003: A whirlwind summer. I started out with 10 days in Thailand, flew home for a friend’s wedding, worked the summer at a family camp near Branson, then…

21) 2003: …said “Yes!” when Jeff proposed to me in the backyard of my childhood home.

22) 2003: Became Mrs. Reimer on December 27. My favorite day of my whole life.

23) 2004: Graduated from JBU. Then spent the latter half of the summer packing for Canada.

24) 2004: Moved to Vancouver, BC, for Jeff to attend grad school. Pretty quickly met a group of girls who would journey with me through the unknowns of living in a foreign country, being newly married, and working to support our scholar husbands. Those girls remain some of my dearest friends, and we all dream of someday living across town from each other again, rather than across the country.

25) 2007: Charlie Auden entered our world and changed everything about who we were and what the heck we thought we were doing with our lives. He is one of the best gifts I have ever received.

26) 2007: We moved to the western suburbs of Chicago for what we thought would be the rest of our lives. Or at least many years. Jeff worked for a small publisher, editing books by day and reading books for fun all evening.

27) 2008: I got my first freelance project from a local publisher, and I’ve spent many naptimes and late nights hunched over a manuscript ever since.

28) 2009: On Mother’s Day, Jeff announced that it might be time to move home to Kansas.

29) 2009: Lillian Christine joined our family, fulfilling and exceeding all of my hopes for a daughter. She’s a joy and a sassy-pants, and sometimes my heart wants to burst just watching her prance around the living room.

30) 2009: Moved to Kansas. Eventually bought a house (2010). I love our crazy life here, near our families and alongside other people in this same life stage. We’re grateful for the friendships we have here and for the roots we’re putting down in Kansas soil.

Well, I haven’t been writing this whole time, but now it’s 2 1/2 hours after I started this post, which means it’s September 29th. Happy 30th to me! I am blessed indeed.


13 responses to “Thirty

  1. Happy Birthday, friend! What a fun way to celebrate.

  2. Happy 30th Jess! Blessings to you in your next 30 years – and beyond!!

  3. Happy Birthday, Jess! It was interesting to read about your life. I LOVE the fact that you have spent some time in Monterrey. I have been on five different mission trips to that city, and I LOVE that city and the people. I am deeply saddened by all of the drug violence that has taken place.

  4. Happy birthday, sister! We are privileged to have you as part of our family.

  5. Happy Birthday Jess! So many things i didn’t know about you-thanks for sharing! I share in your struggle with loosing a brother at a young age-it defintely changes and shapes a family! :o) Have a GREAT day!

  6. I think YOU are pretty fantastic! Sounds like there is some mutual admiration. 🙂 And I love that there is a friend in my life who knows so many of my own – unwritten – 30 pieces of information. I will be celebrating your birthday and your friendship here in Arizona!! Probably will eat a whole cake.

    • Might I request that you consume one of those monster cupcakes? You’ll have a tummyache for days, but at least I’ll feel sufficiently celebrated! Ha!

  7. Happy birthday, dear daughter-in-love. Celebrating YOU today while also celebrating the life of our grandma. Thanks for so generously sharing your special day with us on your THIRTIETH. Loved reading about the highlights and low lights (?) you wrote about. God has shaped you into a wonderful, godly daughter, wife, and mom and we couldn’t love you more!

  8. I think my favorite was #5. The whole picture in my mind of staying home to get jean shorts autographed cracked me up. Do you still have them? Perhaps you should frame them for some home decor?? yes? please? I don’t even know who Billy Dean is, I’m just excited about autographed jean shorts!

  9. Happiest of birthdays to you, Jess!! What a special milestone and a great way to celebrate it by looking back at all these key moments in your life. I loved being taken on the journey … some for tears and some for joy, but all so important in shaping who you are today! You are beautiful and I hope you felt loved today on your birthday! Big hugs!

  10. Hey, it was fun reading these and taking a journey back in time when we went to high school together. It seems so long ago now! Hey, I remember you changing from Blogger to WordPress at some point. Was it difficult to transition and could you keep your Blogger posts?

    • Hey Bethany! Thanks for your comment. Before wordpress, I used xanga to blog. My xanga stuff is still online; I didn’t attempt to bring those posts over to my new wordpress home, though. So I’m afraid I’m not much help! I haven’t regretted switching, though. WordPress has been good and easy to use, and it didn’t take long at all to learn my way around and get comfortable posting.

  11. Okay, I am about a month late in reading this but it was worth the read! I got teary upon reading many of the entries. I’m not going to lie though, it was creepy that you got led to the school basement to play musical instruments! Happy 30th (belated), I am so blessed to be a part of your life and part of #24 on your list 🙂

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