39 Birthday Pearls

39 Birthday Pearls December 31, 2015

Today, I am 39.  How woefully late thirties of me.  Each year I add one new pearl of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way. I started this post when I turned 36 & many things have changed. I should probably re-edit this when I, Lord willing, turn 40. But for now…

           (last years image)

1. People are hurting, err on the side of kindness.  If they aren’t now, they will be soon.  So many of us, so often in misery taken out by life’s brutal curve balls.  Your kindness can make all the difference in the world.  Be kind.  Be kind.  Be kind.

When you tweet, when you blog, when you visit family, when you come home to a cranky spouse, when you change a diaper, when you are in traffic, when you are on your period, when your cat pisses on your shirt, when you have no words for the exasperation you are feeling….no matter what, be kind.  Play nice.

2.   Always have hope, preferably in Jesus.  Beg, borrow or steal if you have to, but maintain a steady supply.  Or, like me, you could get it tatted on your hand for a handy -pun intended- constant reminder.

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3. It is no one’s job but your own to inspire yourself to grow as a human being.  Overall growth as a life goal is implied.

4. Just because you’re a good writer, a clean house-keeper, an “A” student, a loving wife, a long-suffering husband, a conventionally pretty or handsome person, a hard worker, a middle-class person, a wonderful speaker/teacher/trainer/blogger, or _____ or ______ or _____ it does not make you better than anyone else.  As soon as you possibly can, get over yourself and value others no matter what they have or don’t.

5. Jesus is legit.  2 legit 2 quit.  Sorry.  I could. not. resist the Hammer.  As I was saying, in Jesus, I have found life to the full!  He is worth getting to know.

6.  The Bible is an amazing book that is majorly confusing and deserves a lot of time and attention to understand well.  Study it often, study it through study guides.  Better yet, study it with others.

7.  Everyone -all 7 billion of us- are racist (sexist/ageist, etc.)  Embrace that you will always find a reason to assume you’re better than someone else.  Explore the reasons why you choose to live in that ignorance and try as best you can to believe the truth.  The alternative is the choice to live in superficial ignorance & privilege.  All 7 billion of us mugs are blight with sinful pride  showing up most often in racism, ethnic tension & wars.  Own it in yourself first.  Acknowledge it.  Be better than it.

8. Read.  Read. Read.

9. Live to your full potential.  Your motives for doing so will likely always be a mix of selfish ambition and selfless service to others.

10.  Decide to embrace tension.  Life is too complex to force into simplicity.  A life worth living is rife with tension.  For example, see #9.

11. Be vulnerable with at least 1 person, but shoot for 3-5.  An inner circle is vitally important.  Additionally, get a mentor.  And if you can swing it, a counselor & a Spiritual Director too.

12. Marriage is the hardest fracking thing you will likely ever do besides parenting.  I’d never been hurt more, hurt anyone as much, or done anything harder.  Enter in with respect.

13. God absolutely loves poor people, ugly people, sick people, displaced people, emotionally abused people, mentally-ill people, train-wrecks, immigrants & even homophobes.  You should to.  Your love should be tangible.  If you are wealthy enough to read this post from your own private computer or smartphone, one tangible way to love the downtrodden must be financial in addition to whatever non-financial acts of service you feel called to.  Even if you are on food stamps, you should be financially giving to the poor.  There is hardly an excuse I could tolerate if you live in a 1st world country and are not in some way financially serving the poor.  The poor will always be with us, so please don’t give me any “I don’t have any resources or opportunity” tomfoolery.

14. God cares more about what you do with your coins than your loins.  See #6.

15.  Dream big, but don’t step on others trying to achieve it.  See #1.

16.  Seek wisdom often.  Read Proverbs 31 daily reading the chapter number that corresponds with the date of the month.  Warning: after 17 times through the book, you’ll need a break.

17.  If you live in America, when you pass an African-American man look him directly in his eyes and say hello or smile.  You have no idea how many people find it easier to fear and stereotype them rather than give my brothers the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings.  See #1.

18. Children are the most vulnerable population on our planet and they deserve respect, love and honor.  In my humble opinion, this includes children who are not yet born.  All children deserve to be protected.  Loved.  Cherished.  Respected.  See #1.

19. You’re not likely to flourish without taking some risks.

20.  When in an airport, go out of your way to help those traveling with small children through the security line or boarding the plane.  Especially weary Mom’s traveling alone with children, the car seat, the stroller & the diaper bag.  If you have a free hand, there is no excuse people.  None.  Trust me, they want your help.   See #1.

21.  In general, don’t ever pass up an opportunity to help someone physically in your presence.  See #1.

22.  Whether it will take 5 min.’s or 5 years decide that you will, one day, forgive those who have deeply wounded you.  That includes yourself.  On both fronts.

23.  Give grace to the humble, rebuke to the proud.  There is a time and place for everything under the sun.  Rebuke, though harder to give out, is absolutely necessary and quite effective when given in love.

24. Don’t allow passive aggressive folks to go unchecked.  Shockingly, they respond well and often change.  If you allow a passive aggressive person to continue to carry out their crazy and affect your life, that’s on you, Playah.

25. Great leaders, great people, great change agents ALWAYS have accountability.  Never eva, eva, eva let yourself get to a place where no one can put you in your place when you act like a crazy, hot, wild mess.  Even the best fall down sometimes.

26.  Try not to assume what major aspects of life are going to be like: marriage, parenting, the pursuit of wealth, dream jobs, health, etc.  Instead, plan for the worse, hope for the best.

27.  How you treat those who can do nothing for you says a lot about your character.

28.  Have character & seek integrity.  If you are in need of either, ask God for it.

29.  When floundering in life, start with your physical health.  It is the one thing you can control in small ways each day which will improve your mood, give you the satisfaction of meeting goals, teach you discipline, endurance & restore pride in yourself when all else is lost.

30.  If you need help and support that are currently lacking among friends and family members, go see a Therapist.  There is no shame in getting the help you need.  None.  Also, anti-depressants? YESSSSSSSS.

Me?  I’ve been on & off counseling since 1998.  If I hadn’t been in therapy you may find me today on the side of the road wearin’ my finest hooker gear.  You think I’m kidding? Nope.  Serious as cancer.

31. Don’t rush mourning.  Mourning is necessary.  There are many stages to mourning, each deserves time and space.  Don’t cover over mourning, don’t drink, eat or shop mourning.  Don’t sex, porn or otherwise fritter away precious time to mourn.  In this life, there will be hardship whether it’s for Sandy Hook kids, Michael Jackson or your own personal hell, mourn it on out, babe.  Mourn that ‘ish out!

32. Take a Sabbath, for all that is good in the entire world, claim one day a week to rest.  Take a break from work (yes, even the work you love) & cleaning (yes, even the cleaning that needs to be done).  Do that which is a break from your normal routine and rest.  Not legalistically.  Jesus couldn’t have made it more clear: Sabbath was made for people, not the other way around.

33.  Embrace spiritual disciplines.  Prayer is my favorite.  Fasting is my least.

34.  Every time you see a sunset, a group of ducklings waddling behind their Mama or a beautiful mountainous overhang…audibly thank God.  Acknowledge his artistic expressions, made for us.

35. Choose to be resilient, flexible & consistently optimistic.  The most influential people in all humanity possessed these qualities in abundance.

36. Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” mean “no.”  What if you were forced to follow through on everything you’ve said “yes” to?  Would you think more clearly about what you agreed to if your life depended on your follow through?  If you agreed to it, promised it, than do it.  Also, you may need to say “yes” less often.

37.   Your mistakes don’t define you.  Your tragedies don’t define you.  The power of the human spirit is much more resilient than any of us realize. You can make it through this.  You will make it through us.  My assurance comes only from my deepest core belief that God. loves. us.  Sees us.  Longs to be gracious to us.  Has his eye on us.  I keep pressing on, pressing in…because…each year, 38 so far, He’s never failed me yet.

38. Fight for your life.  I go to ‘Anonymous’ meetings now.  The level of heart, fierceness and tenacity represented in these precious souls is a constant, beautiful and humble reminder of how truly brave it is to face & fight the hardest battles of your life. Never ever, ever, ever give up.

39. You must learn to be at home with yourself, both literally & figuratively. At home, clean up just for you. Cook well even when no one else is coming over. Shave your legs, just for you. Do better for yourself when alone, just for the love of you. Practice feeding, blanketing, soothing & caring for you, for the love of you. Others can and will do it, but true self-care starts & ends with yourself. Be at home with yourself. Heed the wise advice of someone smarter than me: “be who you needed when you were young.”

I don’t know much, but I do know these few things.

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As a birthday present to me, I’d love for you to introduce yourself via the comments! 

1.  Where are you from?

2.  How old are you? 

3.  What is one life lesson you’ve learned in this past year. 

Make my birthday a better one & come out of hiding lurkers! =)


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  • mongupp

    Happy Birthday, Grace! I think u know me by now

  • Happy New Year and Birthday!! I have been following you for awhile and I am so glad to read your posts!!
    I am originally from Houston, but reside in a city outside Charleston, SC now. I am 44 years old and loving every second of it. I have held on to the idea that God is in the details no matter how tiny they may be! You bless me with your transparency and refreshing blog posts! Continue to shine my sister and have a wonderful year!

  • Beth Raps

    I’m from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, I’m 55 and a good lesson I learned this year is I’m not all those little people in my mind saying stuff, I’m much bigger than they are, and to go there and stay there as long as I can in meditation each day.
    Also, this post of yours is amazing and wonderful and I am glad one of us knew it when she was only 39.

  • From Chicago Nwest Suburbs, 67 years old, grandma of 10. This last year I I attended JT retreat (where I heard you speak and really appreciated “meeting” you.) God showed me I can show up, just me, no “title” – no list of accomplishments from my past life and still connect heart to heart with people. I was still me after all the losses I had experienced over the past couple years.

  • Satya Kala Seshagiri

    I am from India currently living in Singapore. A mother of two wonderful children and seeing clarity after many years in Life. This year I have learned that I need to respect myself more and more and love myself than trying to fill up from out. 2016 comes with Newness, Hope, Clarity, Trust, and Positivity. Your post is special for me as I turn 36 in another 21 days. Thanks 🙂

  • Nina

    This was so good!
    Nina Kenny
    Fresno Ca
    51, almost 52
    I’ve learned the power of listening to peoples stories.
    Thank you for your writing. I love your transparency.

  • Molly Fulton

    Lovely post full of truth. I’m from central Virginia, 51 years old, and after a year of pain and mourning I’ve come to the realization that I matter a great deal to some people so maybe I should be kinder to myself. Happy belated birthday!

  • Shauna Viele

    Good morning, happy belated birthday, and Happy New Year!
    I am from Wichita KS, am 55 years old, and the life lesson from this past year is that perseverance helps us deal with waiting, because sometimes God doesn’t necessarily want us to change jobs just yet. Long story, could make my own blog post on that. At least I am still employed!

  • I’m thirty years old and I’m from Mississippi. One thing I learned this year is how much happier I am when I allow myself a smaller, slower lifestyle.

  • Oh and I meant to say, I’ve been reading for awhile and I think maybe one of the earlier versions of this post was one of my first ones to read. I remember loving it and sharing it!