Today, I am 37.  How woefully late thirties of me.  Last year I wrote 36 Birthday Pearls.  This year I decided to repost & add one new pearl of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way.

37 birthday pearls

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 are 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’ve never hurt more or done anything harder than the consistent choice to love Dave the way he deserves day after day after day for almost 14 years…and to face myself when I don’t.  Enter in slowly.  Respect the power of covenant.

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?  Everything from lunch with a friend to staying married while unhappy?  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, 37 so far, He’s never failed me yet.

I don’t know much, y’all. But I do know these few things. Here’s to another year!

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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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  • Tyra Babington

    Happy Birthday! I’m from Detroit (Live in Indy now). I’m 37. One life lesson I’m taking more seriously with each passing day is to watch my tongue and carefully consider each of my spoken words. So hard sometimes but in all cases the right thing for me. ( sorry so short, typing on a tiny phone)

  • Jenn Peterson

    Happy Birthday sweet friend!!! I am 38 and I live just outside Chicago, love the list!! I think what I learned this year goes along with ,my word for the year new, I learned a new deeper identity in Christ. Kinda still grasping for the words to explain it all. But love you and so glad we are friends.

  • Natalie Hart

    Happy Birthday! I’m from Toronto (live in MI now). I just turned 46. Your list is great. The thing I’d add is to use your imagination for good. My way of doing that is, as I catch myself getting annoyed with someone’s behavior (whether a stranger or a loved one), I imagine what might lead them to behave that way. That, in turn, gets my compassion muscle going, which lessens my irritability and my sureness that “I’d never do that.” Because I would and I’d probably cut myself some slack because I’d know my backstory. So I use my imagination to make up backstories for everyone around me. Hope you have a great day, Grace!

  • Bethany Bohlen

    Happy birthday, Grace! Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with the rest of us; your posts always challenge me to grow and give me a little more life than I had before reading. I’m 22, originally from Woodland, California but now live in / am in love with Kalamazoo. My primary lesson this year has been to deal with my own failures head-on, do what I can to make my wrongs right, and do my best to grow from them instead of beating myself over the head with them.

  • Julie Longacre

    Julie from Wooster, Ohio chiming in here at 41 and a half. This last year I’ve been thinking more about resting & Sabbath. God has been inviting me into a new wave of dependence on Him and the Spirit’s intervention in my life. Love you, Grace!

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      OH HOW I LOVE YOU TOO, JULIE!!!!

  • Libby Parker

    I’m Libby and I live in Kansas. I just turned 30 this year and the thing I’ve learned the most is that we’re all just humans. We’re all just human people. Some humans are running a country and some humans are flying planes and some humans are making cheese sandwiches for little ones but we’re all on the same playing field.

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Yes!! WE ARE JUST humans, and sinful and normal and sort of crazy. love it!

  • Brooke

    Brooke; 33; from Columbus, Ohio. Biggest learn this year…I’m going to make mistakes. In my 20′s, I don’t think I would have admitted this to myself. But now, as a working woman, wife, and mom of a toddler, I have to release the idea of perfection and give myself a little grace to err.

  • Wendy

    I’m Wendy, 50, and I’m from the UK. Thank you for your blog! This year has been so full of loss (of different kinds) but I have learnt so much about God’s grace, which has been beautiful to experience.

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Thanks so much Wendy for stopping in all the way from the UK! =) Loss often brings a greater understanding of God’s grace. man, I hate that!

  • RenaBurgess

    I’m 36.9 years old and living in South Louisiana. My biggest lesson this year is that I’m not in control (and I’m mostly okay with that).

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      it’s still so tough though, eh? I hate not being in control! sigh! =)

      • http://renaburgess.com/ Rena Burgess

        Yeah. It sucks. I’ve accepted it, but I don’t really like it!

  • Christina

    Happy birthday! I’m 31 years old, and I’m from Michigan. This was a huge year of learning for me as I became a foster mom. I think the biggest lesson was that all my pride built on thinking I wasn’t as selfish and judgmental as other people… dead wrong. I need some Jesus in those areas.

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Wow, that’s certainly an intersting challenge. We need Jesus in lots of areas. all of them actually. =)

  • ShaniqueE

    Happy birthday Grace! I’m 25 and I live in New Jersey (from Barbados). My biggest lesson from this year has been learning to pick my battles. Not everything warrants an argument, or even deserves a response! I really really enjoyed your birthday pearls! I think you might have inspired me to do something similar for my birthday in 3.5 weeks (yikes!)

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Yeah! Good for you! Happy Birthday to you too!!!

  • Stephsco

    I just hit 35 (sigh). Love your list! I’m going to add a lighter one here: life is too short to wear ugly shoes. They don’t have to be uncomfortable heels, but just say no to scrappy, ugly, boring shoes. Payless or Prada, whatever!

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      ahahahahhahhahaha i love this one!!!

  • Sarah

    I’m Sarah. 35 from Australia. This year I’ve learnt that “I can, actually”. I can say goodbye, stay kind, and do things even if I couldn’t in the past.

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Yeah, we CAN change. Good one. Thanks for stopping in from Australia!!

  • Laurie

    Happy birthday, Grace! I’m 25 and from Michigan. A lesson I’ve learned/learning is that “burnout is not giving too much of yourself, it’s about trying to give what you do not possess”

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Mmmm. THAT’S GOOD!!!!!!

  • Amanda Cofer

    Happy Birthday! I’m Amanda, a 27 year old from Arkansas! I think the most valuable lesson that I’ve learned this year (and, if I’m honest, I re-learn it EVERY year, as a confrontation-hating introvert) is that the only way to change something is to verbalize it! Talking through conflict is a good thing! I just have to keep reminding myself of it :)

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Ahhh yes, a good but hard truth… one that I don’t particularly love actually. =)

  • mongupp

    Happy Birthday Grace!
    I’m 38, from Australia, living in Canada. I’ve learned that NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus My Lord!

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Nothing at all!!!!!!

  • Mark Wenzel

    I am a native of Milwaukee WI, 52 years old….really? And I have learned this year that there are a whole mess of young people who love the Lord and are engaging faith in an exciting way…their way, not satisfied with just accepting what was preached at them and shoved down their throat without discussion. And the stars of this movement are the women. You have rocked my world.

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Awesome! Thanks so much, Mark. What a great honor. Amen!

  • jodylouise

    Loved this! I’m 37 too, and in spite of the growing sags, I love the stability that comes with age. I’ve learned this year to relish my reality and not get distracted by wishing for something other than the gifts that are (even if they’re sagging :)

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Ahhhh the sags… fact of life, eh? =)

  • OBEHI JANICE

    Hey Grace! I am 26 and from Massachusetts. I’ve learned to trust the Holy Spirit this year.

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      That’s a great one, Obehi!

  • Emily L.

    I am 25 and from California. One life lesson I learned this year is that God always provides for me, and when I can hold that truth in my heart I walk in gratitude and am free to love more generously and with less judgment. Sounds obvious but I can get away from it without even thinking!

    Also, I came across your blog via your writing for Beau’s blog Release the Ape. I know Beau from his days as IV staff at SDSU. I really appreciate your writing and will try to lurk less this year :)

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Hi Emily, thanks for stopping in! Love Beau & RTA! That’s a great lesson! I try to live by that as well. Thanks for stopping in!

  • http://shaylafavor.wordpress.com/ Shayla

    Awesome Post! I am 32 for about two more weeks and from Ohio!

    Life Lessons from 2013: This is only the beginning AND I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Hello, Shayla! Thanks for making my birthday better! =) Love your lesson!

  • Rachel

    Thanks for sharing your pearls. I’m about to turn 36, living in CT — a wife, mom of 2 kids, and a lurker of many blogs over at A Deeper Story, where I found you. I feel drawn to your blog; you seem like a strong person who speaks how you feel without fear which is something I admire! As someone who tends to live through a filter of “what will you think of me if I do/say this?”, there are times I’m not even sure what I truly feel about anything. This year I’m trying to be more transparent, and I’m learning it’s ok to have doubts and to talk about them. Your words are helpful, so thanks for writing. Happy Birthday!

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      RAchel, forgive me for taking a whopping 22 days to respond! I’m a little behind! =) Anyway, yes I too have filter problems. ha!! but I do love to “work it through” here in my little space. Thank you so much for coming through & I pray my words continue to be a blessing for you!!! xoxox

  • Mia

    I’m late to the party, but happy belated birthday, Grace! I’m 26 years old and I live on the central coast of California.

    This past year has been painful in a lot of ways, and I’ve delayed processing through that pain because most of the time I’m too busy or tired to deal (married and raising an almost two year old little boy- you understand). So I suppose the one thing I’ve learned is that in the midst of all the crap, I’m ok. Even if my kid kept me up all night, even if I have no desire to be married and tied down anymore, even if my life is about 1000 miles from where I think it should be, I’m ok. The sky is not falling. A decent chunk of sleep, concealer, and a Coke can work wonders. God has not abandoned me yet, and I don’t think he’s gonna anytime soon.

    Here’s to a wonderful year for all of us.

    • https://gracesandra.com/ Grace Biskie

      Mia, NEVER to late to a party…always, just on time. =) Oh, on the busyness factor, I totally understand! the sky is not falling is a good lesson for me to learn as well…I’m a worrier & a crier –BAD combo. LOL. sleep is also, VERY needed for my sanity! Thanks for commenting! here here to a wonderful year! oxoxoxoxo

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