Make it sing OR: Advice to a friend turning 30

So a friend asked me for some thoughts because she’s turning 30 this month. This Monday’s five minutes is dedicated to her.

. . .

Most beautiful Carol!

Three decades brimming. Woo hoo! Here’s hoping for another six or seven. (But that you never get so old that you have to wear nappies.)

When you asked me for ‘advice, encouragement or anything you think you would have liked someone to tell you when you turned 30,’ I kind of panicked. Because you are wise beyond your years. Your life is glow-in-the-dark glory. Like your name, Carol Joy, you’re a song that gets gloriously stuck in our hearts and has us humming rhythm and wonder in solemn dusty places where people shush and glare. And it’s exactly because you’re the kind of person who seeks out wisdom that you hardly need me to share any with you.

But – well – some thoughts, anyway.

Murray and I divide our budget into three categories: Give, Save and Live. We manage our money in that order. And I’m thinking maybe that’s how we should manage all of life? Like, maybe to make it sing – this complex, exquisite, difficult thing called life – we need to give before we save before we live.


Give your heart. (At some point it will break, whether you give it or not. So, like, you might as well give it?)

Give your time. Give up your sleep. Give hugs. Give chocolate. Give counsel based on timeless truth and discernment in the moment.

Give money. Don’t let your own grocery budget exceed your tithe. There are people starving on this continent.

Give people your books, your clothes, your personal space. Give them likes on Facebook and your undivided attention.

Give yourself over to the plans of Jesus, King and Friend. Give your best self to the world. Give your talents, your insight, your creativity, your energy and your sense of humour. No matter how you are received.

When you least feel like it? Give.


Save on pain by making wise choices. ‘Wisdom shouts in the streets.’ (Proverbs 1:20) Position yourself to listen.

Save yourself. Sex is totally worth waiting for.

Save the reference number when phoning government departments.

Save memories. Savour them. Hold moments just a little longer in the present before they are consigned to the past. Once a day stop to watch the world coming at you. What does it taste like?

Save money.

Sometimes, save your opinion. Wisdom is a by-product of humility.

If people are coming over and you haven’t done the dishes? Save time by putting them in the oven. (The dishes, not the people.)

Save energy by planning for congruency and simplicity.

Save some of your stories for the man who will see and know all of you.

Don’t worry too much about saving face. Trust God.

Always save space for pudding.


Live knowing that you are beloved of God. Live knowing that you don’t have to be defensive, because you are defended. Live knowing that you don’t have to carry burdens, because you are carried. Live in confidence, and in Christ, and content – because ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.’ (John Piper)

Live as if you’re doing everything second time round. Like you’ve practised and you’re determined that this time you’re going to get it right. A gazillion small intentional well-lived moments make up a life that counts in history and eternity.

You can blow this part of the budget. Spend!

Spend yourself on the work God has called you to. Few things beat the satisfaction of a job well done.

Spend money to bless people in your home. God will provide.

Spend time trying to understand people so that you can translate your intentions into their reality. Spend yourself for the sake of community.

Spend time alone. And with old people. And outside. (Even in Cape Town, in winter.)

Spend your life bravely. Sing your song. The best is yet to be. ‘The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.’ (Proverbs 4:18)

Happy birthday, and sending you so much love,


. . .

What do you wish someone had told you when you turned 10, or 16, or 21, or 50? It would make my day (and maybe Carol’s) if you left a comment.

Thanks for reading. I’d love you to share the #5minutes4freedom journey with me on facebook or twitter. You can also sign up to get these posts by email.


  1. Dee, you are like a magical wand – wielding words straight from where all the power is, God. Thank you for this. I can’t think of anything to add or take away from it – perfect. At a spritely 23, this is the kind of thing needed before I hit 30. Thank you.


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