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26 LESSONS IN 26 YEARS


1. Take the leap outside of your comfort zone.
Growth happens OUTSIDE of your comfort zone. When you fully immerse yourself into something unknown you are given a new opportunity to discover something exciting and maybe even a new passion in life. You won't know unless you try. So go after that one thing that you keep holding yourself back from. 

2. There is no definitive path to navigate through life. 
I had a distinct plan for my life after I graduated high school. Go to college followed by grad school and settle down with someone who I knew deep down was not the one for me. Begin having children in my early 20's and make a house a home with my little family. Grow our family on the foundation of loving Jesus Christ. Guess what...I ended the relationship, I graduated college with two degrees after transferring schools, I did not attend grad school, I rented an apartment for a while then moved back in with my mom, I am 26 years young without a husband or children and I am now pursuing travel physical therapy with my puppy. Talk about a complete turn of plans!! It took me a long time to accept that my path is not wrong nor is there a "correct" path to take. Everyone has a story written for them by God, He has our journey mapped out and we do not need to worry or feel pressured but rather, love Him and love others. That is my new plan.

3. Pray + Love + Be Kind.
Pray your way through the good and bad times, love those you meet (even the mean ones, God will handle them later), and always remember how far a simple act of kindness can go.

4. Adopt a puppy.
Fun fact: the longest I have ever gone without having a dog in my life was 3 months as I was transitioning to my first apartment and returning from an international mission trip. I am definitely what one would label "a dog person" complete with my obsession with puppies and my unashamed dog voice. Once life was somewhat settled I adopted a shepherd mix puppy from a rescue organization called Tails of Hope in Cincinnati, OH. He is my little fur baby that I am completely obsessed with. So, do a good deed and adopt from a rescue shelter.

5. Read, read, and read some more. 
I grew up a reader and continue to enjoy it. You can usually find me with a book in hand at nighttime reading myself to sleep. I am an old soul. The more I read as a young adult the more I am reminded of just how important it really is and how far it can bring you in your education, everyday life, and for me personally, my writing skills.

6. Write what's on your heart.
My blog's main purpose is to encourage others. To use my hills and valleys to help those who may relate, even if it is just one reader. The other focus of my blog is to keep it raw, real, and vulnerable. To be honest, I struggle with that sometimes because I think to myself "I am here to encourage others, not fill the space with a sad post or share that I am having a rough day," however I remind myself that there is no such thing as perfection and everyone has rough days. 

7. The past is the past.
Life goes on. The pages will keep turning. Whatever you are currently struggling with, I am here to say that I promise times will get better. Loss, heartbreak, grief, hardships will all mend with time and while the scar of those adversities may be present, you are given the opportunity to come back a completely renewed person with a newfound strength that you may never have known was inside you. Use it for the greater good, embrace the good and bad days that will follow.

8. Volunteer.
You know what I find more beautiful than anything? Someone willing to put themselves in a situation that may be outside of their comfort zone or in a situation where they share what they have knowing they will not receive anything tangible in return. Being the hands and feet of Jesus..."Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10. LOVE THIS VERSE. God blessed each and every person with an extraordinary gift that is different from person to person. What an amazing God we serve. Use your gift to encourage your family, friends, community, or abroad.

9. Believe in something greater than yourself.
I cannot express to you how fulfilling and encouraging it is to believe in something greater than yourself. For me, I believe that God sent his only son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins and my job here on earth is to Love God and Love others. It gives me a deeper purpose and a desire to continue spreading the joy that I have in my heart. When hard times hit I can dig deep into my heart and soul to find that even little bit of joy that is left and be full of the love of Jesus Christ. For some it may not be your faith or maybe you are on the fence about pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ and strengthening that foundation. My prayer is that you find that something that overfills your heart with love to discover your purpose in life.

10. Don't be afraid to say "no."
I continue to struggle with this one because simply put, I am a people pleaser. I would much rather see that you are content, that you are given the advantage point even if it causes a little more stress in my life. It is just how I am. However, I am learning that I cannot do it all and that my well-being is just as important because how can I be a light to others if my overall well-being is in a constant struggle? Pursue the things that you enjoy doing, move forward on your own path, grow into the person you are called to be and be conscious of others' opinions but do not let them change you and your passions.

11. Accept that there will be tough days. 
I have had my fair share of hardships in my short 26 years. Perfection does not exist. There is no such thing as a perfect life, family, relationship, etc. Instead we serve a God who formed our hearts, He sees our imperfections and continues to love us through those. We will have days that are rough, morning alarms that are difficult to wake up to and begin the day, days at work in which we feel inadequate, or days when we just feel discouraged. It happens. So when those days arise, say a little prayer or share your difficult situation with a trustworthy friend and ask for some encouragement to tackle the day. 

12. Use your trials to encourage others.
As we all know, hardships happen and man do some of them have a way of knocking us down to our lowest point. But do you know what is amazing? We ALL experience those low points whether it be once in a lifetime or like most, multiple times. How you handle those hardships are what define you and who you are. Say a prayer and calm your overwhelmed heart to reach a point of clarity. Ask yourself, "Okay God, they say you give the toughest battles to your toughest soldiers, lead me, guide me in this storm. How can I use this storm to lead others to You?"

13. Find the humility to laugh at yourself.
No one likes a prideful person. People gravitate towards humbleness. When you have the power to embrace your embarrassing moments and laugh it off it shows confidence and a sense of boldness. Not to mention, laughing is good for the soul. Putting others before yourself is a beautiful way of surrendering and coming out a stronger person because of it. 

14. Never forget where you came from. 
We all know that one person, Someone who lost themselves in earthly things that in the end will have absolutely on value. Always remember the experiences and the people that helped build you into the person you are today. Remember whose you are and you will always stay grounded. 

15. Go on solo adventures.
One of my favorite things to do is take a little day trip on a free day which always ends up being a Saturday. I am totally the type of person to enjoy solo or group adventures. I am more than comfortable enough to sit at a coffee shop or a restaurant by myself with my laptop in tow and latte in hand without feeling uncomfortable. I always come back to my reality after these adventures feeling refreshed, restored and rejuvenated. Some day trips that I have taken include Lake Michigan, all local coffee shops, outdoor outings with my puppy, venturing around the city, or even something as simple as a drive with my range of music from 80's rock to worship to 90's country and everything in between.

16. Make the most of every little thing.
I have always felt this way as far back as I can remember. I've always been the girl that stops to appreciate something that is overlooked by most everyone. These small details in life are what make up the biggest moments. As they say, it's about the journey not the destination. Enjoy it while you're here!

17. You are created in the image of God. 
We all have our downfalls and our insecurities. We are human after all. He formed us in the beauty of His love and grace and He laid out our path before we were even born. Amazing! Embrace what we consider are imperfections and hand it to God because in His eyes we are one of a kind and so dearly loved. 

18. Take a technology detox.
On a mission to Chile we had the opportunity to spend a few days up in the mountains. When I say up in the mountains I mean way up in the mountains. Zero cell phone service staying in cabins and swinging off of manmade rope swings into a nearby river. (It was absolutely incredible.) We were forced to put our phones down and truly experience what was around us. Have face to face conversations, explore nature in a whole new light. I strongly encourage you to take a technology detox every once in a while. It does good for the soul.

19. Show your appreciation.
Never forget the power of a simple Thank You! These are two words that are so easily forgotten, yet so important in our daily lives. 

20. Life is short.
I experienced tragic loss at a very young age ad learned this lesson right away. I admit, I sometimes underestimate just how short life is at times but the older I get the more I realize how important it is to do the things you love and to pursue your passions because that is the only way to truly get the most out of this life. 

21. Get outside and get some sunshine.
I am definitely a "weather affects my mood" type of person. In the Indiana winter months when I feel cabin fever at its worst, I find that simply going outside and taking in fresh air (even if it is freezing) instantly lifts my mood. Now, if you have the option to sunbathe I definitely suggest that as well. :)

22. It's okay to be single.
Is this one a rough concept or what? Being single is not easy, it can feel lonesome and discouraging. On a personal note, I have been single for about five years. I have been on plenty of first dates that I quickly ended (I am selective), I have been pursued by men that I valued as friendships and I have seen many friends new and old get married to the love of their life and begin their life adventures together. All that being said, I find it extremely encouraging when I see single women pursuing their heart's deepest desires, pursuing their faith wholeheartedly, excelling at their careers and finding peace and patience in the season of waiting. Remember Jeremiah 31:3 "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued by faithfulness to you." We are loved by an amazing God, single/married/widowed whatever your situation may be. And He is faithful through each and every one of our seasons.

23. Take every opportunity to experience the beauty around you.
The world is a big place, take a moment to look around your own community, get to know the people you pass by everyday, and if you have the opportunity to explore new towns, or continents...DO IT. I promise you won't regret it.

24. Your inner circle says a lot about you - choose wisely.
People come and go over the years. You will soon discover who your core group of people consists of and I suggest that you hold onto them. The ones who build you up when you're down and celebrate the good times right along with you. The ones who encourage you to be the best person you can be. 

25. See the good in everyone, but be wise enough to realize not everyone is for you.
This one is hard for me. I am the type to see the good in everyone. I have a hard time realizing that not all intentions are meant for "good." Continue to see the good in everyone but let your wisdom sneak in to validate the situation. 

26. Matthew 7:3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
This one is a biggie. Why judge someone else for who they are when you yourself will never be perfect? We all make mistakes. Let's leave the judging up to the Big Man upstairs. He will take care of it, I promise. Just love everyone in the meantime. 

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