Lessons learned upon turning 34- Letter to my 15 year old self

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Several years ago, I had a personal blog called The Road Home. It was
my lifeline when I was staying home with two young children. I wrote a
post called “30 Things” right before my 30th birthday, which was what I
would’ve said to my 15 year old self if given the chance.

(Picture of me as a 15 year old: young and naive)

Since then, I add on new items each year as I turn another year older. Hope you enjoy reading through them.

34 things I’ve learned upon turning thirty four:
If I could have written myself a letter nineteen years ago, these are the things I would have wanted to know.

1- It’s really NOT about YOU. When others do hurtful things, most of the time it’s really not about you. But you know what IS about you? The way you choose to react.

2- You cannot control how others treat you, but you can ALWAYS choose the way you respond.

3- Stop worrying and planning about your future- what to major in, if you willmake the basketball team, if you’ll ever find someone to date and marry. God has got it ALL figured out and is working a plan that is somuch better than any you could imagine! My life verse is Eph 3:19-20 and it is absolutely true time and time again that God can do abundantly, exceedingly more than all we ask OR imagine!

4- Know what you don’t know and don’t be afraid to admit it! Life is all about learning.

5- You don’t have to have it all together, all the time. Life is about feeling safe enough in your own shoes to be able to be transparent with others and not worry about their perceptions or judgments. LOSE THE MASK, sister. Throw it away.

6- If you’re feeling really comfortable where you are, it’s time to move on. The only way to grow and do BIG things is to get out of your comfort zone! Out of your comfort zone? Good- that’s where the magic happens.

7- Love is NOT a feeling. It is a choice, a conscious act. Don’t zip through life simply relying on the emotional high that comes with new love. Find someone and commit to loving them even when you don’t “feel” like it, even when they seem unlovable. Even when it’s the last thing you wantto do. Do it anyway.

8- Postpartum hormones are no joke. When women say they’re struggling and you think ‘whatever, suck it up’, you will soon learn how wrong you are! Instead of judging or talking about it, why not offer to help that new mom?
Give her an hour’s break to run errands or to let her catch a nap.Good news- postpartum depression/anxiety WON’T last forever. I promise.

9- Give more than expected. Even when you don’t want to.

10- STOP. WORRYING. Seriously- stop it!STILL working on this one. It’s a moment by moment choice at times.

11- Parenting is hard work. That mom that you see at the store who has kids running wild and acting crazy that you think is absolutely the worst parenting example ever? You’ll find yourself in that position more than once. I promise. There will be times your kids can drive you to tears, in the middle of a store or even at a cookout with your friends. It gets better. Their behavior really ISN’T a reflection of you or your parenting capabilities, and anyone that judges you based on a cranky toddler’s behavior probably isn’t who you want to be impressing anyway.

12- Seek out mentors. Learn from them. Listen. Accept what they say.

13- Invest yourself by mentoring someone else.

14- Marry your best friend. There will be days that you don’t really like your husband/wife. If you’re relationship is grounded on friendship as well as common values and a true commitment, you’ll be able to stick it out through whatever comes.This will not be easy. It will be worth it.

15- You could be angry at times, even justified. But wouldn’t it be easier to just move on and be happy? Your anger at them is only eating away at yourself. Do yourself a favor and forgive, then move on!

16- Pregnancy affects every single bit of your body, not just the parts you would expect. It’s also the most amazing experience ever. Totally worth every single stretch mark, episode of morning sickness, and swollen ankles!

17- Invest your money in experiences instead of ‘stuff’. When you’re older you won’t sit and think about that beautiful purse you had, but you will remember all the fun you had on your cruise to the Bahamas!

18- It’s all about relationships. Everything. Pour yourself into the lives of those around you. Build relationships and appreciate them! Dive in and be “messy” in your relationships. When you lose the mask and let your guard down, you’ll learn what real community really is.

19- People are going to let you down. They will. Practice grace with them and cut them some slack. I guarantee you will let them down, also.

20- There are two things in life you can never have enough of… baby wipes and band-aids! I would add to that coffee and peanut butter.

21- Most friendships are built around commonality. Shared seasons of life, workplaces, churches, etc. True friendships won’t be built on being in the same stage of life or even location. It will be with someone who loves you even when they don’t ‘feel’ like it, that still believes in you even after you let them down, and someone who truly wants the best for you in life. This is RARE and hard to find. Once you do, hold onto it!

22- Things can be hard AND be holy. Difficulty doesn’t mean you aren’t heading in the right direction. Feeling called but experiencing huge push-back? Keep going.
23-No matter how bad things seem, they always get better. Always. “Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning”.

24- Attending church regularly is ESSENTIAL. Not because this can guarantee salvation or earn you ‘good behavior points’, but because you need to be hearing the Word and you need to be committed to a local body of believers.

25- On that same note, TITHE and watch what happens. The only time in the Bible that we are told to test God was in tithing. We aren’t simply recommended to tithe, we are commanded. Do it and watch God work!

26- You are never going to please everyone. And there will always be someone who doesn’t like you. Make up your mind to be happy, regardless. Don’t change who you are to make yourself more acceptable to others.

27- Our Christian walk isn’t simply about going to church and sitting to be “fed”. It is SO much more! I lived for many, many years before I realized that I had never fully grasped what it meant to be a follower of Christ. It should change EVERYTHING about you and your life. If you’re really walking with Him the way you should, nothing will be the
same. Period.

28- A good night’s sleep and a cup of coffee can make anything seem better. Anything. The season of sleepless nights with little kids will pass. Before you know it, you’ll be able to even sleep til 7 a.m. or later on the weekends!
Hang in there, sweet sister. Better days are coming!

29- Eat right, most of the time. You’ll feel better, look better and have moreenergy. And trust me, even if you think you have cellulite and stretch marks now, you have NO IDEA how good you look compared to what you’ll
look like after having a few kids 😉

30- All of this life is temporary. One day, our ‘job’ on Earth will be over and we will be accountable for everything we have done or said, and for what we have done with the spiritual gifts that God has given to each believer. Make your life count! Don’t worry about being afraid and being unaccepted. This world is NOT our home. Get out there and get
going.

31- It’s really not about what you look like in the first place. Steward your health well as your offering back to God, as an act of worship. We are His tools and can use our health as a means of praise.

32- Dream big. Find what God is planting in your heart and then pray about it. Ask those you trust to pray with you. I’ll say it again- He can do ABUNDANTLY, EXCEEDINGLY MORE than we ask or imagine. Is your dream so big that it scares you? Good. GO FOR IT.

33-Be there for others when it really counts, and sometimes even when it doesn’t. The death of parents, the births of
children- these critical times to support one another. But so are the days when a friend may feel down, burnt out, or lonely. Learn to look for opportunities to speak truth and love and for ways to show up when
it counts and no one else sees it.

34- When God created you, there were no mistakes. You were given an original design by the Maker Himself to be used to impact this world for Him. Others think you’re weird? It’s okay. Others think you’re too much of this or too little of that? Don’t sweat it. Seriously. You are made, shaped, formed, and LOVED. Walk FREE, sister.

The last year has been beautiful, hard, amazing, messy, and incredible. Looking back I can’t believe how much has changed and yet looking forward I’m so excited to watch what God’s going to do next that I can hardly stand it.

He’s so good, friends. We can trust Him.

 

Last day as a 33 year old

 

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