28 Thoughts at 28 Years of Age

By Emily Holladay

Each year, I become more and more sentimental about birthdays. At first, birthdays were just days to celebrate a new milestone – one year closer to driving, adulthood, college, being “legal,” graduating, etc., etc., etc. Now (and with the dawn of Facebook), birthdays are days to reflect on all the memories, relationships, and experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today – a full blown adult in the prime of her life, really and truly living her dream.

The past few life-years have come and gone with a great deal of transition, 26 beginning with my graduation from McAfee and ending in heartbreak. 27 picked me up and led me back home again. Last night, as I walked into 28 surrounded by new friends (who are family), I couldn’t help but think what a gift this year has been, and to look forward to many more years with these people, in this place.

Over the years, I have grown more comfortable with who I am and how I am called to live my life. I’ve found community in three different cities that I proudly call home, and I am continually allowing these people and places to shape me into the person I am becoming. Through it all, it has also been fun to see my own thumb print leaving its mark in their lives as well.

So, while I’m feeling sentimental and ripe with age and wisdom, I decided to share a few of the things I’ve learned over the years. 28 thoughts at 28! Enjoy!

28. Every day is a good day for ice cream.

Sookie says you are welcome to pet her any time.

27. Petting a dog lowers your heart rate. I have factual, FitBit proof to back this one up.

26. There is a difference between spending time alone and spending time with yourself. You should spend more time doing the latter, because that person is really cool.

25. Nothing can replace the excitement of a new pair of shoes or the smell of a new book.

24. Buying a house is not for the faint of heart, but I recommend doing it.

23. There is nothing wrong with going to bed at 8 p.m. on occasion. (Here’s looking at you, Meredith.)

22. Movie theater popcorn and macaroni are still my favorite comfort foods.

21. Buying local never hurt anyone, and in fact, helps a lot of people. Think about skipping Amazon once a month to support a local business.

I miss smiling with these ladies. See what I did there?

20. “Smiling’s my favorite.” – Buddy the Elf

19. There will always be people who inexplicably drop out of your life. When it happens, try to remember what they taught you, rather than the sorrow of being “left behind.”

18. Sometimes, the best words you can hear from a person are, “I miss you.”

17. Some people are just not capable of waking up early every day. These people (me) should not get a job at Starbucks or work in a public school.

15. Doing what you love doesn’t necessarily mean you will feel fulfilled every minute of every day. In fact, you will probably spend most minutes not feeling fulfilled. And sometimes, you will have to remind yourself that this is what you love. Do it anyway.16. New friends are golden too.

14. Try to find a way to encourage someone everyday. You never know how much they need it, and it’s not bad to be known as the person who encourages everyone.

13. Superstition is for sports. Smack talking before the game is like asking for Karma to come and bite you. Plus, it’s so much more rewarding if you wait until afterward.

11. Everyone deserves to be heard. Not everyone is willing to listen. Maybe we should start passing out QTips.
12. Louisville first. Cards forever.

10. High School was a long time ago. No one remembers it like you do. And most people are more gracious in their memories towards you than you are. So, whatever you’re still holding onto, “Let it go! Let it go!”

9. There’s a whole generation growing up with “Let it go” as their theme song for life. Embrace it.

8. Try to have a conversation with an old person and a child every month. You’ll learn a lot from both.

Plus, when you run in the rain, you look like a beast.

7. Take a walk on a sunny day. Go for a run on a rainy day. Either way, spend as much time as you can outside.

6. You are who you believe you are. No one else can shape your identity. Don’t give them the power to.

5. 20% of the people you meet will not like you. You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t spend so much time trying. Because, you know what? 80% of the people you meet think you’re awesome.

4. Most of the people you meet, know, work with, etc., are on your team. Treat them like it.

3. “A person’s a person no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss.

2. Struggles are real. It’s ok to look at the situation you’re in and say, “This sucks.” Just don’t linger there too long. (BTW – good things do not erase pain. Your pain is real and you are allowed to feel it.) Find someone who will scream with you.

1.  There really is no place like home.

Happy 400th Birthday, Baptists!

When I meet people and tell them I am in the ministry, they assume that I am a Catholic priest. My dark complexion and Italian name do not necessarily yell “Baptist,” so when I correct people as to my religious background, they seem taken aback.

For me, being Baptist is a mark of honor. The first Baptist church I ever stepped foot in was the same church in which I made a profession of faith. I was 12 at the time and, after attending the youth group for several months, I felt that familiar tug on my heart to ask Jesus into my life.

It was in the context of Baptist collegiate life that I also heard God’s call to ministry. I studied under Baptist professors who instilled in me a love of the Bible and theology, as well as the Baptist heritage of which they were so fond. Attending a Baptist seminary — one at Mercer University, in fact — was the eventual next step.

Although you may not hear it often in the news, the Baptists, among other denominations in the religious scene, have much to be proud of. This past year marked the 400th birthday of the Baptist movement. Its two founders, Thomas Helwys and John Smyth, established the first First Baptist Churches in Holland and England between the years of 1609 to 1611.

At that time, the Baptists were affiliated with the Mennonites. They had a reputation for being separatists who advocated for literacy, the separation of church and state, and the priesthood of all believers. They were pacifists that avoided public office; they were persecuted often, especially during the reign of King James I.  Yet, many of their founding, core values remained benchmark standards in the Protestant cause, and still do to this day.

The priesthood of believers is one of the values that caught my attention in my youth. Baptists believe that every person is a minister unto God in the service of others. The denomination is a participatory one, so much so that Baptists have always avoided creeds that excluded individuals from roles in leadership and missions.

There are a diverse set of leaders throughout history to prove it — leaders from the likes of liberal Walter Rauschenbusch to conservative, missionary pioneer Lottie Moon. We who call ourselves Baptists stand on the shoulders of giants, that’s for sure.

The Baptist understanding of the separation of church and state also attracted me to the movement. Although it seems that not a few Christians have abandoned this principle in order to push for legislation that discriminates against others, many Baptists know that political power is something not to be wielded lightly.

Baptists are keenly aware that nations that marry the church with the state prove to be oppressive time and again.

This conviction does not mean that Baptists are apolitical. Every person who engages in public policy and dialogue brings to the table an entire worldview, and Baptists are no exception. It is just that Baptists fulfill their civic duty with a sense of critical skepticism and suspicion.

There is a growing animosity toward religious denominations in our culture; we are living in what some have coined a “post-denominational age.” This has surely eroded the influence that Baptists have on culture: The Southern Baptist Convention has noted on more than one occasion that both financial giving and baptisms are down, and many Baptist churches are in steep decline.

With 400 years behind the Baptist movement, however, Christians can rest assured that we Baptists will be around for a long time to come, that is, if the denomination remains true to its past and continues to join God in bringing about His redemptive future.