I’m turning 35. I live with my parents.

965154_10151383892161573_1762578868_oI’m not living the life I envisioned for myself years ago. As I turn 35, I imagine that my younger self would have a Grand Canyon-sized panic attack if I were told that I’d be living with my parents in my mid-30’s.

Hi. My name is Natalie. I am turning 35 today, and I live with my parents.

And believe it or not, that’s not a bad thing. While there was once a major stigma attached to being an adult and living at home, I’ve found that most people’s reactions are, “You live at home? Sweet! Way to pay some stuff off.” I actually know quite a few 30-somethings who live at home these days.

It all started in October of 2012 when my lease was up at my apartment here in Fort Wayne, Ind. Since graduating from IU in 2004, I had lived in three apartments in LaGrange, Georgia, and two apartments in Fort Wayne. I wasn’t sure what my next step in life would be, so my parents suggested I watch their house for them while they spent the winter in Florida. Something was tugging at my heart saying, “Don’t get locked in to a lease.” So I gave in to that feeling, put my belongings in storage, and agreed to stay at my mom and dad’s house for the winter.

970446_10151513086436573_1019058821_nIt turned out to be a good move. It was in March of 2013 that I decided to move to Uganda to teach high school English. I jumped ahead of God a little bit in deciding I would probably be there for many, many years, so I sold everything. All my furniture, pots and pans, etc. etc. All that was left was me and the suitcases I took to Uganda.

I often wonder if God chuckled when I sold everything. He knew I’d only be in Uganda for one year. I didn’t realize it until I spent most of my year oversees being sick, and had to return to the US for better medical care.

So there I was in 2014,. Back from Uganda, seeing every doctor and specialist in town who would try to solve my mysterious illness, my medical bills growing larger and larger, and I had no furniture to put in a place of my own even if I could afford my own apartment. It made sense: move back in with mom and dad.

I decided I would spend another winter in my parents’ house and find my own place in the spring. But the medical bills were outrageous. I still had no furniture. Mom and dad were awesome enough to suggest I stay through just one more winter.

My medical bills are nearly paid off. I’m making major dents in my other debts. Although I’d love to have my own place with my own furniture and belongings again, it’s kind of irresponsible of me to do so when I have this opportunity in front of me.

I’m incredibly lucky that my parents allow me to stay at their home for a very low cost. And they don’t really even spend just the winters in Florida anymore, it’s turned into fall and spring as well. They’re pretty much only home in the summer and for a little bit around the holidays.

For me, this all goes back to selling everything and moving to Uganda. Would I do things differently? Not a chance.

I’m 35. I live at home. I’m paying things off. I’m saving money. I’m building myself back up to where it makes good financial sense for me to get my own place again. I’m not a failure because I’m living at home. My circumstances have brought me here, and I’m making intelligent financial decisions. 12109054_10153064174206573_3760829934399799715_n

I can’t say what 35 has in store for me. Maybe the time will come to start buying furniture and get my own place. Maybe something completely unexpected will happen that I can’t even imagine right now. All I know is that I’m resting peacefully in God’s hands, and His plans for me are better than any others.

35 Insights as I Turn 35

12118615_10153044632656573_2102188589518850252_nbOn October 22, I turn 35 years old. In those 35 years, I have learned a lot: some funny things, some serious things, some amazing things. So here are 35 insights/bits of advice I have come to know in my life so far:

  1. Life without God is difficult. Life with God is still difficult, but it is way, way better. I prefer to live with hope, and Christ gives me the hope and peace that I need to live a fulfilled life.
  2. If a guy tells you he’s bad news, he is.
  3. Friends will come and go. They aren’t all meant to last forever.
  4. Trends can be fun, but wear what you want.
  5. Sometimes it’s OK to be a mess.
  6. Christians are a tough group to deal with. But they are not God. Love God for who HE is, not His people.
  7. If someone doesn’t like you, that’s their problem.
  8. Don’t find a decent guy and try to change him into what you really want. Find one you love just the way he is.
  9. Church can be frustrating, but you need it to feed your soul.
  10. Nothing feels better than helping someone else. Try it.
  11. A handful of amazing friends is way better than tons of mediocre friends.
  12. Spend time with your family as often as possible.
  13. Get rid of the toxic people. I repeat: GET RID OF THE TOXIC PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE.
  14. Travel. Even if it’s to a nearby city you’ve never been to, travel. If you have the funds to do so internationally, even better.
  15. We have it good here in America. We have it really good.
  16. Never be embarrassed. Learn to laugh at yourself.
  17. Fly first class at least once.
  18. Don’t cut your own bangs.
  19. Worrying about being popular when you’re a teenager is useless. And it’s totally ridiculous when you’re an adult.
  20. A friend can break your heart just as badly as someone of the opposite sex. And you still have to let it go and move on.
  21. The only person who will never let you down is God.
  22. Don’t lie to your parents. Eventually, they will find out.
  23. Don’t do anything just to be cool. Do it because you want to.
  24. Be friends with people who have beliefs other than yours.
  25. If it’s time to grow up, grow up. But “growing up” is different to everyone.
  26. Sponsor a child. Adopt. Be a “big” for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Tutor. Do SOMETHING for a child who isn’t biologically yours.
  27. Don’t get/use a credit card unless you can pay it off right away.
  28. Listen to the advice of your parents. They are usually right.
  29. The average-looking guys from high school will end up being the most successful and the best looking.
  30. You will only find a good guy when you stop giving the wrong ones all the attention.
  31. You cannot substitute cornstarch for flour.
  32. Pray.
  33. Don’t give up on finding a job you love, or at least one you don’t hate.
  34. Stand up for yourself. You are not a doormat.
  35. Be thankful to face another birthday. There are many in the world who won’t make it to whatever age you’ve reached.