TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAYYYY!!!!
Ok before I start this blog post (which btw is gunna be looong but pretty rockin' awesome), I just want to say one quick thing...
ALL BIRTHDAYS ARE IMPORTANT
No matter who you are, how old you are, and even if there is no one else who cares about your birthday, YOU SHOULD. It's the day you were brought into this world for crying out loud!!! (literally) The day that started it all. That day is when everything became possible! Every dream job, every best friend, every beach trip, every photo, every opportunity and chance and achievement, all the food in the world was officially at your fingertips if you really wanted it! Everything around you stopped to drool over this adorable new baby human coming to bless planet earth. But it doesn't stop there. Whether you are 5, 20, or 78, your birthday is VERY important.
*stepping off soap box*
In honor of my 20 years of life lived, I have created a list of 20 things I learned that really stuck with me throughout those years, a few are silly (but still important) and some are super serious, but I hope you can take something from the things I've caught on to over the years. :) So here it goes:
20 Things I've Learned In 20 Years Of Life
- Life doesn't get better until you better yourself. - You can't control people, but you can control yourself. Instead of praying that people and circumstances will change, ask God what areas you kinda suck in. Accept it. Then change it. Every day, do what you can to build yourself into a better person. Day by day, that's how it's done. As you grow and build and change, you will be stronger, and the small, stupid things in life won't phase you anymore.
- Everything starts with you. - You will never accomplish what you set out to if you don't get out and begin. Begin. Begin. Begin. You may not have enough money, be in the right place, have the right experience, have anyone supporting you, but that doesn't mean you can't. It won't all come to you in a day, it takes long days, days that you would rather sit at home and relax, days that you aren't feeling well, days that are just really, really bad. And as you work through that beginning process, things start lining up, opportunities arise, and if you are moving according to His will, God's favor will flow through everything you do.
- People are going to let you down no matter what. - Even the best people. Your family and friends. Your church family, your coaches, your mentors, your spouse, your kids, etc etc etc...Everybody makes mistakes (everybody has those days) (please tell me you got that reference). But seriously though. Sometimes people get selfish and greedy and rude and forgetful and guess what so do you so cut em some slack. Don't let them keep doing the same things, trampling over you till your heart's in a million pieces, but don't freak out when they act out of their flesh and not their spirit every once in a while.
- Nice boys are not always good men. - A very good friend of mine once told me, "Just because he's a good guy, doesn't mean he's the right guy." That is gold right there. Solid gold. He may be cute, funny, and polite. He may read his Bible and say that his faith is important to him. But does he live it? Every day, striving to serve the Lord, striving to be a leader, striving to keep chivalry alive and respected. Does he not only talk like a man of God, but also live like a man of God? Doing the right thing when it's the unpopular way to go, not backing down when his faith is being tested, being bold when asked what he believes, and most importantly treating you with the highest respect, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness that you deserve. And guys, same goes for you and the ladies you are interested in. I'm begging you, please don't settle.
- Lowering your standards because of other people's "advice" is a mistake. - WARNING: If you ever hear the words "your standards are just too high, you're going to scare them all away and you will never find anyone that meets your criteria" - RUN. Far away and do not look back. If I had a dollar for every time I heard that or anything similar, I'd have enough cash to bribe the government into making it illegal to say that phrase. Too extreme? I think not. I am really ticked at myself at the amount of times I listened to someone when they told me that and then got my heart broken. Now that I've learned those people don't have a clue what they're talking about, I'm doing better than ever! Haven't been on a single date in my life and that's exciting!!! Imagine how handsome and cool and godly and PUUUURE my future hubby is gunna be cause I didn't lower my standards and settle for average. I ain't in no rush. I'll meet him when I meet him, and he's gunna feel so special knowing I waited, not just in the physical, but everything else too. I'm honestly so happy right now, and it's funny how looking back at when I lowered my standards, I was always disappointed, but when I kept them high and how they should be according to God's Word, I've received so much more and so much better than I could have ever expected.
- You need people. - A mentor. Someone that is older and has more life experience. Someone that will listen and sympathize, but will tell you when things are lookin’ funky and need to change. They will push you to do the right thing and encourage you along the way. They will walk the journey with you, and make sure you know you are never alone. They will watch you make mistakes and pick you back up even when they warned you a million times not to make that mistake. They give and expect nothing in return. They speak the truth, not just what you want to hear. You need them. They are your life-line. They are your anchor. They are God-sent.
- Having the right mindset and perspective is everything. - This is where knowing God comes in real handy. Why are they acting like this? Why am I acting like this? Why didn't I get that job? Why does no one care? What is going on?!?!?! These are questions I often find myself asking when I haven't been asking God what He thinks. Everyday. When you spend time with God, talking to Him, listening to Him, memorizing His Word, you begin to think like Him and see people and circumstances the way He does. Then it's easier to step back and realize what's really going on or why that person said that to you or treated you that way, etc. Things are never what they seem, ever. Get your mindset and perspective in tune with God's, and THEN AND ONLY THEN, react.
- You are important. - I know I talked about this in the beginning, but I really mean it. Idk how many times I've given up on something, sold myself short (5"3' to be exact), or just didn't even try cause I felt less than, not worthy enough, and not important enough. PLEASE HEAR ME LOUD AND CLEAR I DONT CARE WHAT ANYONE SAYS OR DOESNT SAY ABOUT YOU. YOU ARE VALUABLE. Ignore all the haters. As T-Swizzle would say, "Shake it off!!!" (can't believe I just used a Taylor Swift reference.......) But honestly, all those people telling you that you aren't good enough, you don't play well, you aren't smart enough, you're not worthy of their time, yada yada yada...they're idiots!!!!! Don't say that to their face cause that's rude but remember that!!! You are so so so so so important!!!! Why else would the Creator of the entire universe and everything in it make you?? Because HE WANTS YOU and He knows that THE WORLD NEEDS YOU. If God didn't think you were good enough, He wouldn't have made you, but He did because YOU. ARE. IMPORTANT.
- People don't need lectures, they need love. - I'll just get right to the point. Stop thinking you are better than everyone else. If someone doesn't believe the same way you do or doesn't live the same lifestyle, it's not your job to change them, it's the Holy Spirit's job. "Say it louder for the people in the back!" IT'S NOT YOURE JOB TO CHANGE THEM, ITS THE HOLY SPIRITS JOB. When you immediately start telling someone everything you think they are doing wrong, they will shut you down right away. But if you show them that you really love and care about them, then you will spend time with them, listen to them, be a living example, and then they will see that you genuinely care for them and they can trust you. That's where a mentor/mentee situation comes about and you can help sweep out the stuff thats not so great, and fill that void with the goods, like godly advice, truth from God's Word, and just day-to-day encouragement. And who knows, maybe you're the one that needs changing...?
- Your present is the battlefield of your past. - You made a big mistake. You learned from it and are striving to do better. Every single moment is a chance that the devil will take to try and pull you back into whatever it is that was poisoning your past. You have to fight. Hard. To make sure it doesn't become a problem again. You have to learn the devil's tactics. What is he using to tempt you? What is it that makes you tick, or get depressed, or lash out? Talk to God, figure it out, and be aware in every moment so that you can fight the schemes of the enemy and take hold of your future instead of your past.
- Listen to the people who have proven they are trustworthy. - This might be your parents, your pastor, youth pastor, your closest friends, teachers, mentors, coaches, etc. Have they been there through thick and thin? Have they proven to be godly people with a true love for you? Do they display God's character in their everyday life? Then listen to what they have to say. Thankfully, this is one point that I learned pretty early on. You may not like what they have to say. You may not want to hear it. You may not be happy when they tell you that there are things you need to change in your life, or bad habits you need to break, or sins you need to defeat. They are there to help you win spiritual battles, not make you feel comfortable in your sin or circumstances. They don't wallow in your pain with you, but they pull you up out of it, even when you might not want to get out. God has placed them in your life to be an example and to speak truth into you. Listen to them. They know what they are talking about. And your life will be a lot easier if you take their advice.
- Don't act like you know everything unless it's your faith. - Have you ever been telling a really cool story and right in the middle of it, somebody just cuts you off with some stupid correction like "no! it wasn't 2 o'clock, it was 2:15!!!" or something stupid like that and then other people start chiming in with their opinion, "are you kidding?! It was 2:13, get it right!!" and it just goes on forever....honestly people cooooome oooooon....no one knows everything, yet everybody acts like they do. I'll say it again, no one really does. Nobody. But there is one thing that you should be a know-it-all about, and that's your faith. You need to be so deeply rooted into God's Word that you know that you know that you know (yes I meant to say that three times) that what you speak, what you believe, and what you do is straight up TRUTH. No matter the accusations or lies spewed, you know that you are right when it comes to spiritual topics. And only because you have found it in God's Word and heard it from the Holy Spirit.
- Your character should be seen before your image. - I want people to see the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman in me before they see my outfit or how well my makeup is done etc. If you know me at all, you know that fashion is a part of my soul. So this can be a tough one. But honestly it just comes down to deciding, ok is this taking up all my time, focus, and energy? Is it influencing me in ways that will lead me down a bad path? Or am I using it as a blessing from the Lord and an accessory to the godly characteristics I have built up in my life?
- Be patient with kids. - I know this comes a little easier for me being a full time nanny to four crazy kiddos (which btw are the cutest things you'll ever see in your life just sayin'), but it's something that most people REALLY struggle with. Kids have very limited life experience, but they have the biggest hearts. They are the best at being genuinely happy with everyday life. Sometimes they get loud which annoys adults, so adults yell at them (yelling is also loud btw so you're defeating the purpose). They get yelled at for every little noise and move they make and are expected to understand everything after hearing it one time. Learning is a process, and that's what childhood is all about. Learning about life, and yourself, and other people. They need to be taught things, and the best way that they learn is by example, not by constantly being put down. I have been very blessed to work with a family that firmly believes in discipline but also life lessons. Sitting down, discussing what's going on, and what the consequences will be for good and bad decisions. Communication.
- Treat those younger than you with respect. - No matter what age you are and no matter what age they are, they need respect. I was so blessed to be friends with a group of girls that made it their mission to be there for the underclassmen. Checking up on them, praying for them, listening to them, and just spending time with them. To this day, I still have better friendships with girls that were years younger than me than I do with some that were my age or older. It really encourages them, gives them hope, and makes them feel important and wanted. And to everyone who thinks this is stupid and you're "too cool" to deal with the younger kids and even makes it your goal to put them down - you're not cool. You're just a jerk no one will remember after graduation. (Also, quick side-note: anyone saying millennials are the worst generation, please stop. You're not really making us look bad, you're just making yourself look like a grump. We may not be the VERY best generation, but the majority of us are doing a pretty good job at being successful in life so far.)
- You can't just do whatever you want. - A lot of people don't understand when I tell them that I don't want to do anything outside of God's will. God knows what's best, so why go with my wants and instincts when I could just ask Him and get the best out of life??? God will show you what steps to take, what places to go, who to marry, what job to take, when to avoid things, etc. All you have to do is ask, be patient, and be willing. If you are truly wanting to serve Him and follow His will, then your desires will line up with His, and you won't ever have to worry about letting Him take the steering wheel.
- Coconut oil will change your life. - Here's the silly one, but I'm being totally serious. That stuff will make your hair grow faster, make it shinier and healthier, it'll clear your skin up, take care of razor burn, helps you tan super fast, takes care of tooth aches and tooth decay, takes care of dry skin, its a great deodorant, a great toothpaste, a fantastic make up primer, and it tastes great added to literally anything. COCONUT OIL IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. unless your my friend Sarah, then avoid it at all costs :P
- The amount of time you spend with God should exceed the amount of time you spend doing anything else. - You don't have to literally spend your time with your nose stuck your Bible 24/7 though that would be pretty awesome. But I'm talking about giving Him the majority of your time. The first part of your morning - as simple as reading a quick devotional before scrolling through Instagram, saying a prayer for your day before getting out of bed, or even just listening to worship music while you are getting ready. Being in prayer throughout the day, journaling in your free time, writing scriptures on sticky notes to put on your desk or mirror or whatever to help you memorize them, ministering to other people. Giving the end of your day to the Lord - spending time at the foot of your bed, surrendering everything over to Him once again, listening to worship to get yourself calm and ready for bed, and having some serious prayer time once you lay down to go to sleep. That is my favorite thing - falling asleep just talking to God about anything and everything. It's actually super simple: If you don't make one-on-one time with God a priority, your life is gunna be pretty crappy. But, if you do make it a priority, it will change everything. Your outlook on life will change, you will have true joy, lots of motivation, incredible strength to face any opposition, and most importantly, you will get hungrier and hungrier for the things of God.
- We need to take convictions seriously. - God uses the Holy Spirit to convict us of things that need to change in our lives. It can be through His Word, through our mistakes, and even through the experiences of others. You can't be convicted if you don't know right from wrong. That is where listening to others you trust comes in. If they tell you something needs to change, get in the Word, see if they are right, and then fix it! Once you start learning right from wrong according to God's Word, the Holy Spirit will convict you and you'll feel it in your spirit. That is when obedience comes in to play. God isn't trying to burden you with rules or anything like that, He just wants to protect you. So be aware of when the Holy Spirit convicts you, and don't try to justify anything, just listen and obey.
- God is a good checkers player, - This is actually something that I have really been learning these past few days. God does not move out of turn. If it's your turn to move, He is not going to take His turn. That could mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people. Chew on that one for a bit.