When I was in school I used to look at the 30 something moms and think “That’s the kind of grown-up I want to be”
The mom kind.
The smiling kind.
The comfy casual kind.
The always nice kind.
I’d like to think that my 8 year old dreams for my 30 year old self have come true. Parts of these 3 decades have been amazing, some have been terrible, but one thing has been consistent: I’ve learned from the lessons life has thrown at me.
Not everyone can say that, and I want to share a few of them with you.....they’re simple, really. You ready?
1. Pray- it doesn’t have to be fancy, just talk...He wants to meet you where you are. Find a verse you connect with and pray it over your day
2. Appreciate your mom - Ignore the little things that get under your skin, because I’m sure that
when they’re gone, you’ll wish you could feel that aggravation again. Listen to her repetitive words of advice, you need to memorize them now and look back on them when she’s not there to answer your questions anymore
3.Ask for forgiveness and learn how to give it - You will find way more happiness, a lot sooner if you learn these...unforgiveness is like sitting in a waiting room indefinitely with no care and no healing...when it’s right on the other side of the door.
4. Be a loyal friend - friends are closer than family sometimes, treasure them, take care of them when you can, and love them with no bounds. They will be a rock, a place of safety someday...and if you’re lucky they’ll be the belly laughs that make the best abs!
5. The first year of being a parent is the hardest - i hate to say it, it just is. Everything is foreign and new and you’re doing it all on no sleep. Don’t let the idea that “a baby fixes everything” deceive you. And remember that even these days are limited. The new normal will one day come, you’ll sleep again, and life will seem better. Hang in there mama!!
6. Don’t wait for someone to make a move - invite your friends to dinner! Schedule a coffee date with someone you look up to. Plan birthday parties for the people in your life. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Some of the best memories and I’ve made have been due to the fact that I reached out and made a plan.
7. Grieving is natural and there’s a place for it - if you hold it all in, you won’t ever heal from it. Fevers have to be broken and let out, and so do tears and anger.
8. Share with others - when you’re young you’re taught to “share your toys”.. your stuff. When you grow up, learn how to share your “stuff”...the icky, messy parts of yourself. People care, they just don’t always know what you need until you let them in.
9. Celebrate everything that makes you happy - E V E R Y T H I N G. Don’t let the good moments go unnoticed, they are GIFTS from God and deserve to be noted. One way I try to teach this to my children is by celebrating ALL of their achievements and new moments in their lives. First day back to school is always a big one- they’re about to go learn and make new friends and do it all without me! It’s a big deal, and instead of feed their nerves, I try my best to make it exciting.
10. Don’t be a quitter- Life is hard, all of it. school, relationships, jobs...don’t give up. Work through it, learn from it, and keep going! You’ll feel so dang proud of yourself when you reach the finish line!
11. If you’re dating and asking “is he really into me?” ...find someone who doesn’t make you question that. Even if it takes a long time- this aduting thing will be less heartbreaking if you make smart choices from a young age. It’s hard, I know. Boys are cute and charming...just don’t get too caught up in the wrong one. There REALLY is a MR. RIGHT out there, y’all will have hard times, sure...but it’s worth the wait.
12. Learn how to bargain shop- savings, bills, budgeting, bills, groceries, bills bills bills...where does the fun come in? Learning to bargain shop for everything from electricity to your socks is worth every penny! Just because your favorite brand has a sale, doesn’t mean you need to shop it! Shop a cheaper brand and learn to get more of the same quality for LESS money!
13. Empathize with people who are hurting or angry ... even if you caused them to feel that way- Sometimes when we’ve hurt someone, we’re embarrassed. So we ignore it until the problem seems to fade away, and on your end maybe it does. But what about their end? Ask questions, hurt with those who hurt, hug them, invite them out with you and imagine yourself in their shoes before you add too much commentary or advice.
14. Sex is a precious gift. Don’t just give it away- I don’t know what to add here, just don’t give it away. Marriage is worth waiting for, even if your partner has a different past.
15. It’s ok to put your foot down when it comes to your heart- stand up for what you need without being bratty. Ask for things, without being entitled. Don’t let someone control you or push you around, and always remember that you are WORTH love, respect, and kindness. Live as though you expect those things, but also give them generously to those around you.
16. Take a lot of pictures!- What more can I add? Be THAT mom, THAT friend, THAT wife...the memories are gifts and so worth capturing! I loooooove looking at old photos and recalling the memory that goes along with it! Your children will love doing that with you one day too!
17. Find a good church community- when i started going to the church I’ve been with for almost 5 years now, I had postpartum depression. After attending only 3-4 Sundays, we were invited to a Christmas party where the pastor’s wife pulled me into her bedroom by myself (with a house full of guests and food and games to host) and prayed a long, beautiful prayer over me. I think i had met her once and now she’s one of my best friends. We’ve stood in a circle of people and had hands in all sorts of places lifting us up in prayer...This is the kind of people you want to surround yourself with. This is the kind of community YOU want to be to others.
18. Learn new hobbies/skills- as you get older your interests will start to change, you might even feel confused about who you are becoming. Just embrace it, go with it, and learn new things as they become important to you. I’ve always been crafty, and I used to LOVE scrapbooking. I was very dedicated to it and one day I just didn’t feel like doing it. I never wanted to again after that...and at first I felt kind of lost creatively. “What do I do now? Read? Watch TV?”...and then I noticed the desire to decorate my new home had become a huge interest, but the budget not so much. So I took to learning how to make home decor! I did that for YEARS, and one day...I was over it...now I’m learning how to blog and letter. It’s never ending. Don’t give up on your passion, but be open to letting go of things and bringing new ones in.
19. God really does speak to you- I didn’t clearly hear the voice of God until I was 23 years old and then again when I was 26. Once the second one happened, I decided to learn more about this and now I hear from God often...in random ways, but my eyes and ears are always on the lookout for Him. Open up your ears and your eyes, set your mind to learning how to hear from him (starts with reading the Bible!) and just don’t ever stop!
20. It’s ok to not have it all together- I really wish someone told me this when I was 20 years old. GOSH. I have fretted way too many times over not “looking the part” whatever that means...I have been so embarrassed of my couches that I didn’t invite people over. So ashamed of my attitude that I didn’t have any fun with my kids for a day. So mad at my husband that we didn’t talk for 24 hours. ITS OK TO BE NOT OK! It’s not ok to wallow in it and let it begin to rule your life. Let it go, people all have their messes. They’re best endured when shared with others.
21. You’re going to yell at your kids- There, now I’ve told you, so when you do it...don’t hate yourself! I don’t say this to give you an "out" or a reason to yell even more without guilt, but I say this because like me, you’re probably over here imagining motherhood in some dreamy cloud...and while some of that bliss is real, there are also really tough parts and you shouldn’t and can’t beat yourself up about it. We have all raised our voices at our children. And we still love them, and they love us. Take a deep breath, say a small prayer, and don’t let that moment ruin your day.
22. Marriage isn’t a fairy tale- It’s hard work. You have to learn a person inside and out over and over and over again until one of you die. It’s not frolics and laughs and sparkles. It’s tears and sweat and prayer and teamwork. Somedays you might not like each other, but that’s ok, you work through it and learn to really LOVE each other. Godly love doesn’t yield a dishonest, disney like relationship. It yields 2 people chasing 1 God together on the same path. Marriage is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work...and I really wish someone had told me that at a younger age.
23. “They grow up fast”- it seems like yesterday I had my first little tiny baby enter our family...she’s 8 now. I can remember so much about each of her phases, and they really did FLY BY! As cliche as it sounds, it’s true...so take it all in! Memorize their smells, their newborn hairline, their baby teeth, even they way they mispronounce words! It’s all going to be gone longer than it was here.
24. Counseling isn’t something to be ashamed of- turning down counseling when you’re having trouble navigating life is like being in the ocean, drowning, and not waving to the lifeguard or calling out for “help” simply because you’re a good swimmer. Counseling, for me, has always been such a great way to establish boundaries and communicate with someone there to mediate. Here’s a picture of our pastors + official marriage counselors. We began meeting with them 3 years ago, every single Wednesday. That turned into every other Wednesday, then once a month, and now we do 2 sessions a year and individual meetings when needed. It’s life changing y’all.
25. Smile at strangers- you never know who’s having a bad day. Your beautiful smile will go along way for the right person.
26. Appreciate your body at every stage. Because when the next stage comes, you’ll miss the last one- for real....i was complaining about C E L L U L I T E when i was 17 years old! I want to stand toe to toe with that me and slap her! "Get outta the gym, go be lazy and carefree! You’ll HAVE to work out 3-5 times a week before you know it and you will literally never have the time to nap or drive around blaring your music just because.” So now I’m trying to appreciate my 30 year old body so that 40 year old me doesn't feel the need to lecture 30 year old me. sheesh. it’s a lot to keep up with!!
me at 17&18:
27. Don’t gossip or lie...it always comes back to bite you in the butt- think about every time you’ve lied or someone has lied to you. How’d that go? Probably really awkward and a lot of pain. Just don’t do it. It’s mean to talk bad about people and lying just creates a deep rooted bad pattern for you and those around you. Just stop. Be the bigger, more mature person...and just be honest! It might be scary to tell the truth, but it’s worth it!
28. Don’t let a boy tell you what to do or think or how to act (unless he is your husband and he’s giving you Godly instruction)- God gave you a big brain full of ideas, thoughts, opinions, and decisions to be made. A boy doesn’t get to make your choices, or change your mind, or call all the shots. When you’re married, and your husband is giving you Godly instruction, that’s a different story. I believe you should listen to him and discuss things openly. But when you’re single, dating, in a relationship with someone- be you! be proud of who God made you to be and don’t settle for someone who makes you suppress the best parts of who you are.
29. Embrace your name- I hated my name growing up. In full it was NiaChel Jonique Rand. The first 2 are of French descent. My mom called me Nia from the get-go though. I’ll never forget in kindergarten a girl made fun of “Nia” and it was the first time I was aware that my name was different. I would soon be known as “Michael Rand”, “Nijel Rand”, several others would come around as I got older and met knew people. “Nia Rand to the store to get some groceries” was a new one that came around in 7th grade from a popular kid named Dustin. Anyway, I’ve grown to love my name and a good friend of mine, Angela, actually wrote a note in my birthday card with the definition of Nia and it happens to be B R I G H T!
God made you who you are and I really believe the meaning behind your name speaks volumes for your life...whether it’s how you act, what you’ve learned to grow in or from, or something that compelled you to make a change.
30. Get yourself a trash can for the car- just, do it! They’re only $1 from dollar tree and you’ll get a zillion days of use out of it plus you’ll save yourself the embarrassment and lots of time too!