20 lessons at age 20


1. Don’t buy cheap coffee. Or maybe for you it’s sweet tea, or cherry cobbler, or chicken biscuits. But whatever your thing is, don’t settle for mediocre. Sometimes (just sometimes) the experience is more important than the price.
2. Take time to know people. Not just what they look like. Not just who they were two years ago or ten years ago. Who they are–who they are at the depth of their soul, loves, ambitions, fears, and dreams.
3. You can go places and not break the credit card. I have been on some awesome adventures in the past few years without spending every dime in my piggy bank. Sometimes travel means just getting in your car with a good friend and driving until you run out of gas, or camping on a site half an hour from your house.
4. You can’t fight for every cause. Some things are worth fighting an eternity for, and other things are worth fighting five minutes for. You can’t defend every heartache in the world, so choose your battles wisely.
5. The unexpected things are often the best things. Just because something is not “the best” or “the greatest” does not mean it is not worthwhile. The most beautiful gifts I have found in life have come from people or things hidden away in the least likely of places.
6. Don’t follow your heart. Probably the worst popular advice you will ever get. Follow God–and then follow advice, your logic, dreams, ambitions, and instincts.
7. The gospel provides solutions to every problem. It’s easy to pretend like God doesn’t care about certain topics so I  can do whatever I want with them. It’s easy to pretend like the message of the cross can be twisted to fit today’s issues, instead of accepting it as ultimate truth. But in the end, we all have to make the choice.
8. Don’t just exist. This expression is vague, and had me confused for a long time. What does it mean to live rather than exist? Now I believe it means living to the fullest, taking every moment for what it is worth, and not spending too much time in the past or the future.
9. Say what you need to say. A little twist on Sara Bareilles’ song–I’m not really an advocate of spewing words out just because you can. But I have learned (at least a bit better) that hiding what you really want and believe only hurts people–including yourself.
10. It’s okay to not be okay. I’ve heard this one before on websites about depression. Sometimes it needs to be repeated though….it’s alright to be broken, hurting, confused, conflicted, not fine. It’s okay to not have it all together.
11. Similarly, it’s okay to receive help. We all want to be the one to lend a hand and throw out the life preserver. However, everyone’s deepest need is to be saved by God, and sometimes His help comes through other people. Don’t be afraid to receive it.
12. Being yourself doesn’t always mean doing the opposite of what you’re told. It doesn’t mean going with the flow, but it doesn’t mean fighting the flow with all your guts either.
13. Romantic love is beautiful, but it isn’t everything. There are so many other parts to life, so much else to explore, and other relationships to experience. And when romantic love becomes everything, the rest of life starts to fall apart.
14. Legacy is in the little things. I used to think that I had to do something legendary to have a legacy. It’s funny though, because while the details of historic battles and great discoveries remain in history books, they are still just facts. Legacy is so much more interpersonal and small-scale than that…and so much greater.
15. Starting from scratch isn’t the end, it’s probably the beginning. I thought that having to start from scratch in my life (at least that’s what it felt like) was the worst thing that ever happened to me. In some ways it was, but it taught me to appreciate life and to discover what I really wanted and believed. It was like finding a rose at the top of a thorny stalk.
16. Try things out. If you want to make pottery, go take a pottery class. If you want to start exercising, join a gym or start running with a friend. If you want to go abroad, start putting dollars in a jar. Life escapes way to fast to waste time never going for anything.
17. Just because dreams don’t turn out as expected doesn’t mean they don’t come true. No one gets their dream hand-packaged just the way they imagined. There are always unexpected pitfalls and unexpected mountaintops. There also is confusion along the way….but just because a dream doesn’t fit my mental picture doesn’t mean it isn’t worth working toward.
18. Pray lots. Even when God feels far away, even when you know you’ve sinned, even when you don’t feel like He can forgive you. It is surprising how He has given me grace, and sometimes exactly what I prayed for, even when I didn’t believe that He could.
19. Take some time to unplug. You’ve heard it before. But isn’t it liberating sometimes to just turn the phone off, put the computer away, and go for a walk? Doesn’t that sound refreshing?
20. Never give up hope. God always has a plan….hold on to that in the blackness. There is always hope…don’t lose sight of it in the storm, even if the only flicker of light is as far away as the stars.



  1. I wish I’d have had a tenth of the wisdom you’ve shown here when I was your age. This is good stuff. Your #1 made me smile. When we were young and dumb and starting out, our budget priorities went like this: bills, diapers, baby food and formula, food for us, and coffee (cheapest we could find). We soon shuffled our list to put decent coffee ahead of food. A good cuppa coffee made the corn king hot dogs and wallace & owens generic canned food endurable, enjoyable even, back in the trailer days. https://tidalwavelet.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/a-tale-from-the-trailer-days/

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