Monday, February 9, 2015

20 Things I Wish I'd Learned Before I Hit 20

When I was in high school, my parents, older siblings, and cousins would give me advice and I would blow it off and think they couldn't possibly understand. But looking back, I couldn't have been more wrong. I find myself talking to younger girls about things that they face, giving the same advice that I once heard and blew off. The whole time I'm talking about my past experiences and trying to help them I'm thinking, LISTEN! WHY DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?!
There are so many things I wish I would've known in my teenage years, so many things I wish I could make teenagers believe now. 

1. Eat the burger. 
I think we (girls mostly) get so caught up in not only watching our weight, but in other people watching what we eat. I don't think you should ever let yourself be unsatisfied in what you eat, especially when you're paying for your meal. If you want a salad, eat a salad. If you want steak, get steak. If you want a burger, eat the burger! 

2. Keep your online life clean. 
In this age of social media, everyone
checks your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Everyone includes family, friends, future employers, and anyone you meet ever. What's on your account will leave a lasting impression about you. Keep it clean and watch what other people put on it. 

3. Your wardrobe should say a little bit about you. 
Whether you love animal prints, neon colors, or fur, your clothes should reflect that. Don't buy the newest fad just because your BFF has one just like it. Personally, I like more modest, neutral clothing. But hey, if you like to step out with a bang, you do your #ootd thang! 

4. Siblings will be your best life-long friends. 
I really wish I'd learned this sooner. But your brothers and sisters will always love you no matter what, even if they don't act like it. Keep them in your life, and give them reason to keep you in their's. 

5. Dad scares off the boys for a reason.
To be honest, this wasn't too much of an issue for me. But my dad is an intimidating looking guy, a teddy bear really though. Let's just say he scared off a good bit of not-so-good-news guys that were interested in my sister. We're all thankful for that. Dads look out for their little girls, it's their job. Let them do their job.

6. Mom may not be perfect, but she has your best interest at heart. 
My mom and I haven't always had the best relationship, but I'm so glad we're where we are now. I love my mom and should have listened to her when she told me that the boy that I was so in love with when I was fifteen wouldn't matter a year later, or that my happiness was most important, or to chose my friends more wisely. Moms know what's best for their kids, listen! 

7. Relationships do not define you. 
It doesn't matter how many followers you have, how many texts you get a day, or how many boyfriends/girlfriends you have. What matters are the memories and connections that you make. Don't base your happiness on how many people you think are your friends. 

8. High school is a bump in the road. 
While high school should be taken seriously because it's what colleges look at when considering you, it won't really matter after you graduate. It's fun when you're in clubs and pageants and running for homecoming queen, but that stuff shouldn't be taken too seriously. I'm not knocking having fun high school, but high school shouldn't define you either. Everyone I knew, myself included, were members of clubs, I competed in the high school pageant, and some of my best friends ran for homecoming queen. Those are great memories to have, but once you're graduated, the events themselves and the stress they caused you won't mean anything. 

9. You should have at least one friend that you can tell anything to. 
There should be one person in your life that you can go to about anything. Once you find that person, or people if you're lucky, KEEP THEM. Let them know often that you trust them and that they can trust you. People like that are hard to find. 

10. Never do something just to impress someone else. 
Do things that not only better you, but bring God glory. No one else. That simple. 

11. It is okay if not everyone likes you. 
You can be the sweetest peach on earth and there's going to be someone out there that just doesn't like peaches. You can't please everyone. This is something that I struggle with to this day. Remember #10, it's not about other people. It's about you and God. 

12. It is okay to say no. 
I struggle with this one as well. Especially when I think it's something that is good. 
You should always say no if it's bad or could bring you harm. But sometimes we feel obligated to say yes to every favor. More often than not we barely have time for these favors. That's okay! It is okay to say no! 

13. Always keep your boundaries. 
Stand your ground. Always. There is a lot of regret in knowing that you did something you didn't want to do all because you couldn't say anything. 

14. Stand up for yourself. Always. 
It is perfectly acceptable to tell someone if they're hurting you in some way. In the long run, you'll earn respect and keep your dignity. 

15. Learn when to walk away. 
There are going to be plenty of times when you need to throw in the towel. Some things just aren't worth the pain. And that's okay. It doesn't make you weak. It takes a lot of courage and strength to know when you've had enough, and even more to admit it. So when that time comes, and you get the chance to walk away, do it tactfully and keep your head up. 

16. Know when to keep quiet. 
There are some things that just won't need your two cents. If you don't have a little bit of knowledge about the subject at hand, it may be best to not say anything about it. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. 

17. No one likes a complainer. 
There is next to nothing more annoying than listening to someone complain about everything. (Disclaimer: there is a difference between complaining and confiding). Don't complain about your hair or how much your parents nag you. People will listen to you but won't want to. 

18. If you love them, tell them. 
You may not always get a second chance to tell someone you love them. So if you know you love them, tell them as often as possible. More importantly, show them! Do everything in love. Always. You never know when you can't prove it anymore. 

19. Class is always in style. 
When you're angry, happy, sad, whatever you're feeling, show it with grace. Do what you need to do tactfully. If you must give someone a piece of your mind, do it with a smile. Throw in a little bless your heart as well. 

20. When in doubt, smile. 
When you have no idea what is going on, just smile and wave. You'll look sweeter and no one will know that you're confused. Keep a gentle smile on your face as often as possible. Smile at everyone that you pass. You never know who's day you might make. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Walk By Faith

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to Revolution in Columbia, SC as a youth leader with an awesome group of kids. I used to attend conferences like these when I was in youth groups myself, but this was a totally different experience for me. There was something so touching and peaceful in being in an auditorium of nearly 2,000 teenagers so lost in God that nothing else mattered.
    The speaker, Jonathan McKee, used Mark 2:1-12 in one of his lessons: 
     A few days later, when Jesus again 
     entered Capernaum, the people heard  
     that he had come home. They 
     gathered in such large numbers that 
     there was no room left, not even
     outside the door, and he preached the 
     word to them. Some men came, 
     bringing to him a paralyzed man,
     carried by four of them. Since they
     could not get him to Jesus because of 
     the crowd, they made an opening in 
     the roof above Jesus by digging 
     through it and then lowering the mat
     the man was lying on. When Jesus 
     saw their faith, he said to the 
     paralyzed man, "Son, your sins are 
     Now some teachers of the law were 
     sitting there, thinking to themselves, 
     "Why does this fellow talk like that? 
     He's blaspheming! Who can forgive     
     sins but God alone?" 
     Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit
     that this was what they were thinking 
     in their hearts, and he said to them, 
     "Why are you thinking these things?
     Which is easier: to say to this 
     paralyzed man, 'Your sins are 
     forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take 
     your mat and walk'? But I want you to
     know that the Son of Man has 
     authority on earth to forgive sins."
     So he said to the man, "I tell you, get 
     up, take your mat and go home." 
     He got up, took his mat and walked 
     out in full view of them all. This 
     amazed everyone and they praised 
     God, saying, "We have never seen 
     anything like this!"
                                 Mark 2:1-12 (NIV)

     I remember hearing this story over and over in Sunday School and whenever the many miracles performed by Jesus was discussed. However, I never heard the whole story. Maybe I just didn't listen until now, but I don't ever remember hearin that he didn't heal the man right away. I guess it just goes to show that we never stop learning. 
I love when we can learn so many different lessons from one story. So, coming from a twenty year old, here's what I learned:
1. Sometimes all it takes is faith. These men knew that Jesus was going to be there, so they went knowing that their friend could possibly walk after seeing Jesus. Most people would turn around and go home after they saw such a large crowd, not these guys. They carried this grown man on a roof, dug a hole in this roof, and lowered him to Jesus. Woah, that's commitment. 

2. God knows what we need, even when we don't. Seeing their faith, Jesus forgives the paralyzed man's sins. If I went to see Jesus thinking that all I needed to be happy and live my life was the ability to walk, I might be pretty shocked when he tells me I'm forgiven, but I still can't walk. But all we really need is his grace, which he always gives freely. 

3. God always knows what were thinking. 
Uh oh. Always? Yes, always. No one said anything out loud about Jesus forgiving sins, they thought it, to themselves. But Jesus quickly taught them that he is the Son of Man and had that authority to do so. Maybe we should be more careful of where we let our mind go. 

4. God really wants us happy, too. He could have just let the man go without healing him physically, but he knew what the man really wanted, so he was able to get up, take his mat and go home. 

These are the things we love about our Savior. He loves us unconditionally and wants what is best for us. That's the God we serve, and what a mighty God he is.