Lessons learned: what I would tell 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) 

I thought it would be fun to revisit those today and to add on 3 more things that I’ve learned since then. All text in BLUE is what I’ve added/edited from the original post. Hope you enjoy!

30 Things I’ve learned before turning Thirty! + 3 more as I turn 33

*~30 and 33~*
  If I could have
written myself a letter fifteen 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 will
make 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 so
much 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 want
to 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.
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 styles, 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.
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!
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. I’m past the baby wipes phase, thank you sweet Jesus.
    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
     22- Having someone find value and worth in your children is far better than if they say the same thing about yourself! Don’t know that I agree with this in its entirety. Yes, I want people to love my children but if I start letting people’s opinions of them influence the way they see me or the way I see myself, I have let their position in my life get out of place.
    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. If Christ was, shouldn’t we be?
     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!
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.I’ve finally gotten this one under control and it feels G-O-O-D.
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 more
energy. 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
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.
My thirties have ABSOLUTELY been better than all the years before. God has been doing a new work in my heart and I cannot WAIT to see what the next year ahead will hold for me!

If you’re reading this and you are a part of my life, THANK YOU. Thanks for the beauty that you bring and the support that you give. I love you all!

Pictures of me at 30:

Life is so very good, and beautiful and I don’t want to miss one second of it. Praising God today for 33 years and praying that with each new day I’m given I will be a blessing to those around me and to always point towards HIM!
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