What 35 means to me.

on July 7, 2015 in Nash-livin', PCOS with 53 comments by

What 35 Means To Me

Yesterday, I went to Starbucks and got my free drink. It was a total treat. I went for venti soy chai instead of grande, because nothing says HAPPY BIRTHDAY like a massive Starbucks drink that costs me zero dollars.

The sweet guy at the drive-thru window said, “it’s your birthday tomorrow? I’m guessing you’ll be 20?” with a flirty little grin on his face.

“That’s cute,” I said, with an equally flirty grin on my face because WHY NOT. “35 actually,” I told him, “and I’m pretty excited about it.”

And I am. I really am.

To be clear, this is absolutely NOT the life I thought I’d have at 35. I thought I’d be a wife and a mom. I thought I’d be on my 12th year teaching school or staying home with my kids or working at a church. I thought I’d live in my hometown. I thought I’d be an expert at cooking dinner every night and a professional at laundry. I thought there would be planned vacations with his family and “what school should the kiddos attend?” conversations.

And I still want all of that.

But the life I have at 35? The one that looks nothing like the life I thought I’d have?


I can’t believe I feel that way, honestly. But I do. Here’s why.

  • I have a great family.
  • I have friends that I’ve known for over 20 years that still enjoy my company.
  • I have friends from Nashville, TN that feel like family.
  • I have friends in Edinburgh, Scotland that feel like family.
  • I have friends in Marietta, GA that feel like family.
  • I have some handsome single men floating around my life and one of them may decide to marry me someday. Or date me. Or buy me a venti soy chai. Whatever.
  • There are lots of handsome single men on this planet that I do not know. That’s good to remember, you know, when you feel like you know everyone.
  • I have a job that challenges me and makes me feel alive and allows me to make friends in cities across America.
  • I get to work with a team of amazing people who believe in the ministry God has called me to do.
  • I have sweet online friends (LIKE YOU!) who have been on this journey with me for years and years.
  • I love where I live. I totally love this town. Nashville has been a gift to me from the day I moved here, almost SEVEN years ago.
  • And I love this little house where I live that we call Broke Lamp Manor.
  • I am healthier mentally that I’ve ever been before thanks to lots of prayer and two years of counseling.
  • My body and my heart and my mind are on the same team and it makes me love my body more than I ever have. I’m getting healthier every day and I’m so so happy about it.
  • I have PCOS and 35 is the year when doctors start using the term “high risk pregnancy,” but I have a God that doesn’t get stressed about stats. His timing is the right timing. He knows.
  • I love my church in Nashville and I love my home church in Marietta.
  • In the last six months, God has been more real and present and vocal in my life than ever before and I could just weep with gratefulness.
  • I did a bellyflop in front of hundreds of people last week because at 35, I really love being Annie. Which, as most of you know, hasn’t always been the case. So this loving who I am thing is really rad.

So here’s what 35 means to me.

It means all day today, I will celebrate the life I have. Not the one I’m missing out on or the one I’m waiting for, but the one I have. It means I wouldn’t trade what I do have for what I wished for. And I will celebrate how God made me. Not who I wish I was or the things I would change, but who I am. Today.

I want my life. It isn’t perfect by any means- there is hard and pain and disappointment and etc. But I’m excited to have MY life, the ups and the downs. I’m grateful for how God created me different from any other person and gave me a life that is so much weirder and better than I could have known to dream up.

I have hopes and plans and unanswered prayers that we may see come to life this year… but until then?

We celebrate.

Thank you, each of you, for being a part of what makes my life so joyful. I am so grateful.

And thanks to God, who has always been abundantly loving and extremely kind to me.

Here’s to 35- the best year yet. <3

Psalm 118:24 (MSG)

This is the very day God acted—

let’s celebrate and be festive! 




  1. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 5:31 AM  |  reply

    Happy birthday, Annie! It’s been a blessing watching you go through seasons in your life and having you come out on this, your 35th birthday, with a list of all you are thankful for. This journey God has you on is one that only you can live. You are a blessing to so many. Thank you for taking the time to pour into young women with your books, speaking engagements and through your social media outlets. And that belly flop? I laughed out loud when you posted it on instagram. I wish I had been there to cheer you on!
    I pray your day will be so jam-packed full of His blessings and love for you that you won’t know what hit you! Hugs from afar.

  2. Debbie
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 5:55 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday Annie! Wowsa…homered on this one! Celebrating YOU today!

  3. Londa
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 6:08 AM  |  reply

    I always have and still do think you are nothing short of AMAZING! So grateful to know you and how knowing you has impacted my life. Countless people are saying that same thing today. Happy 35th, my friend!!!!

  4. margaret kirkland
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 6:28 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday, Annie!!! Love you muchly and celebrate your life! God did real good!!!

  5. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 6:29 AM  |  reply

    Happiest of Birthday’s to you, Sweet Sister! Praying your day is filled with more blessings than your day can hold! God blessyou!!!

  6. Trillia
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 6:50 AM  |  reply

    I love this, Annie!! Celebrating the life you have today too. Your genuine care and love pours out of you each time I get the pleasure of seeing you. Thank you for that…for being you. Happy birthday!

  7. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 7:16 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday! I really liked this post — you are an inspiration to me and all women to own our lives. ❤️

  8. Katelin
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 7:18 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday! I love this post and the reminder to be grateful for today…I hope your day is wonderful!

  9. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 7:28 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday. I agree I appreciate who I am and what I have more in my ate thirties than ever before. I have a lot to thank God for.

  10. Megan
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 7:38 AM  |  reply

    Love this so much. <3 I've missed your words on the blog, though you have a very good excuse and I'm looking forward to book four. Happy Birthday Annie! I hope this year is the best one yet.

  11. Kasie
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 7:57 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday, Annie! Ready to read about all the amazing things God has planned for you this year! Go Dawgs!

  12. Heather
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 7:58 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday Annie! Thanks for being real. Your honesty about both the ups and the downs is always appreciated. May God bless you and make you a blessing to others in the years ahead!

  13. Valerie
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 8:06 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday Annie! I just “discovered” you on IG so I’m still getting to know you but you seem like my kind of girl. Many blessings in your new year, it’s great to be you and 35!

  14. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 8:15 AM  |  reply

    GREAT read and reminder! My birthday is quickly approaching and I’ll be facing the big 3-1. Though life hasn’t quite panned out the way I had planned, I’m always reminded that I’m exactly where God wants me to be. Love these praises! Happy Birthday beautiful girl!

  15. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 8:42 AM  |  reply

    Attitude is everything… & yours SHINES lady! Happy Birthday – & may this be the best year of your life!

  16. Jesi
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 9:00 AM  |  reply

    This is beautiful – full of joy, embracing where God has you in the midst of acknowledging life hasn’t been quite what you expected but trusting God has you EXACTLY where He wants you. Precious beautiful thoughts. Here’s to the beautiful year ahead of you!

  17. Mongupp
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 9:01 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday Annie! You are an encouragement to me!

  18. Kate
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 9:21 AM  |  reply

    This is exactly how I felt when I turned 30 this year. Thank you for sharing and encouraging!

  19. Lauren
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 9:23 AM  |  reply

    That’ll preach! I’m also turning 35 this year and feel all my sentiments echoed here. This life IS “so much weirder and better” than what I assumed would happen. Happy birthday and thank you.

  20. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 9:35 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday Annie! I love this and so encouraged by you 🙂 I have been struggling with my upcoming 30th bday bc my life is upside down & opposite of what i dreamed. This makes me want to spend the next few weeks figuring out & listing what is good about my life. Thank you <3

  21. Merideth
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 9:43 AM  |  reply

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNIE!!!! I love your words in this post. I have to say you are handling your birthday better than I did mine this year. I turn 40 next year and hope that I have your attitude about it. Thanks for being inspiring and encouraging. I agree with Margaret that God did awesome when he made you. You are such a blessing! Love you girl!

  22. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 9:55 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday, Annie! xoxo

  23. Larissa
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 10:01 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday! I love this reflection on your birthday! It gives me encouragement, as I face a season that I didn’t expect as well. Thanks for sharing your life with us, and your honesty.

  24. annie
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 10:07 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday. I love this post. You have encouraged me so..and I’ve passed your posts on to several of my friends throughout the years. I just turned 34 and I feel like we have similar lives. (I like to think we would be dear friends if our paths were to cross) Thank you for this perspective, thank you for your vulnerability in sharing your life, thank you for being willing to open up discussions on things that are not necessarily easy or comfortable to talk about. You are a gem. I hope you have the happiest of birthdays. Many blessings to you!

  25. Andrea B.
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 11:12 AM  |  reply

    This is simply fantastic Annie.

  26. Lindsay
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 11:30 AM  |  reply

    Happy happy joy joy! Have a great day, Annie! I hope 35 is your best year yet, and is filled-to-the-brim with all sorts of loveliness. 🙂

  27. Chelsea Butler
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 11:51 AM  |  reply

    Hey Annie! Happy Birthday! I will be 30 on the 14th and let me tell you my life is so not what I pictured it to be. It’s actually better. Like you I may not have everything I want out of life but I have a God who loves me. He is constantly working on me to help me understand him better and love myself more. It’s an amazing journey and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Thank you for the work you do and God bless you sister!

  28. Kristin
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 12:09 PM  |  reply

    Hi Annie,
    Great blog! Wondering how you stay physically healthy? I too am (almost) 35.


  29. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 1:16 PM  |  reply

    I love this so much. I’ve followed your blog since right before you moved to Nashville, and it’s been wonderful to see how God has moved in your life in mighty ways.

  30. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 2:31 PM  |  reply

    I love this post so much! Happy Birthday, Annie! Your words continue to bless me.

  31. KR
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 3:30 PM  |  reply

    LOVE this post and am so happy for you. I will meet you one day, I promise! And I will sit in that 4th chair and buy you a Soy Choi Lite or whatever you want that day. You are an inspiration and just fun. LOVE it when you have a new blog post for us. The picture is beautiful. You look as confident as this post shows. HAPPY BIRTHDAY and may this be the best year of your life. Philippians 1:3

  32. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 3:46 PM  |  reply

    Thanks for sharing Annie, happy birthday!

  33. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 8:23 PM  |  reply

    I see more and more why Emily Freeman thinks we’d be friends. Your “what I thought my life would be” is identical to mine except I just turned 44 so my peers are doing college visits with their kids. I haven’t given up hope of my dream. I have begged the Lord to take it away. Hope is still there.

    All that the same time, I have to live life where I am. Just today I blogged for the first time in two months simply expressing gratitude for the friends He has given me. I’m so stinkin’ fortunate!

    Happy happy birthday, Annie. The best is yet to come!

  34. posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 8:23 PM  |  reply

    Oh, yeah, PCOS too.

  35. Sarah F.
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 9:55 PM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday, Annie! Your words so often lend wisdom and encouragement precisely when I need a reminder to trust in God’s goodness and His plan for my life. I hope you’re having an incredible time celebrating your 35th, and may you be blessed abundantly!

  36. Ruth Ann
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 10:46 PM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday! What a strong post this is! I can relate to so much of it. Especially friends in Atlanta and not trading what I have for what I thought I’d have.
    Love it!
    Thank you!

  37. Sarah
    posted on Jul 07, 2015 at 10:47 PM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday, Annie! I have just recently “discovered” your ministry and writing. Thank you for speaking the words God has given you to encourage others…me included! Your post today resonated with me as I am nearing a milestone birthday. 🙂 I may be referring back to this post on that particular birthday. It sounds like you will be having a lovely birthday. God bless!

  38. Jean
    posted on Jul 08, 2015 at 4:09 AM  |  reply

    Happy belated birthday Annie, am sure God’s not done shocking you with his amazing grand plan for your life! Many many more to you girl..!!!

  39. Kelly Evans
    posted on Jul 08, 2015 at 8:04 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday Annie!! I love love love your writing and am excited to also be turning 35 this year along with you! Praying great things for both of us!

  40. Debb
    posted on Jul 08, 2015 at 8:17 AM  |  reply

    Thanks Annie 🙂 So encouraging.

  41. Michele Brooks
    posted on Jul 08, 2015 at 2:20 PM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday! You are amazing!

  42. Amy
    posted on Jul 08, 2015 at 7:48 PM  |  reply

    Thanks for this, Annie. My 32 looks nothing like I ever expected it would. But it’s the only 32 I’ve got, right? Let’s live! So encouraging to hear from a friend going through similar things (uh, we talked for 2 minutes at one of your book signings a while back – that totally counts, right?).

    Happy Birthday!

  43. Melissa
    posted on Jul 09, 2015 at 2:47 PM  |  reply

    I’m so glad you are loving being Annie these days…because I love Annie too! And that belly flop video? A-mazing. My daughter is only 5 months old, a little young for your books yet, but they’ll be on the shelf waiting for her. Or the Kindle…kids these days 😉

    Happy Birthday!

  44. posted on Jul 11, 2015 at 8:27 AM  |  reply

    Annie, I am turning 35 next month and plan to celebrate with my first tattoo! Got some purple hair this week too Happy 35th to you!

  45. posted on Jul 12, 2015 at 7:03 PM  |  reply

    Happy birthday, Annie! 🙂 What a delightful post on gratitude!

    I’m wishing you all the best in life! Always keep in mind Jeremiah 29:11.

    By the way, your professional photo looks gorgeous! 🙂

    Who was your photographer?

  46. posted on Jul 15, 2015 at 8:30 AM  |  reply

    What a fabulous post, lady! Cheers to being 35!

  47. posted on Jul 19, 2015 at 11:34 PM  |  reply

    […] hasn’t gone how she expected (or wanted), either. I highly doubt she planned to write about being 35 and single. But she did. She continuously opens her story up so that others can see that they aren’t […]

  48. posted on Jul 27, 2015 at 7:22 PM  |  reply

    Just happened upon your blog for the first time… goodness, you are awesome! Your joy pretty much oozes over the Internet—counting your blessings is always a win-win. Thanks for sharing the happy 🙂

  49. Marisa
    posted on Jul 28, 2015 at 9:41 PM  |  reply

    Hi, Annie. There was a time in my life when I refused to let myself hope that I might someday be a wife and mother–it all seemed so impossible. I love that you’re all about being strong and honest and owning your desires. And of course God is giving you His best and you are in this adventure life with Him and He’s in the driver’s seat. But since you mentioned it, I just wanted to encourage you that at 35 I was single, too. And at 41 I’m married with a 2-year-old. Hugs!

  50. posted on Jul 30, 2015 at 10:04 AM  |  reply

    Amen, Amen, Amen. I love this!
    Wishing you a happy, healthy, joyful life filled with an overflow of God’s blessings!
    Thanks for sharing.
    PS I’m 35 too=)

  51. Barb
    posted on Aug 24, 2015 at 9:36 AM  |  reply

    Love this and that bellyflop was AMAHZING! Love you and yes, HERE’S TO 35!!!!!!

  52. posted on Nov 02, 2015 at 12:48 AM  |  reply

    Wow– I did a Google search for “life with PCOS” after receiving the diagnosis this week, and this blog post popped up! After reading around for a while, I’ve found a new blog to add to my list of favorites! Thanks for your fun and honest writing. God bless you!

  53. posted on Jul 04, 2017 at 6:54 AM  |  reply

    Happy Birthday Annie

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