Around my birthday I always spend a lot of time reflecting on the past year – what I learned, what I did or didn’t do, where I traveled – and I try to make sense of it all. This year, I compiled a list of the 27 things I know for sure. These 27 things are based on 27 years of relationships – good and bad. They’re based on rejection, on tests from God, on mistakes.  They’re based on travels across this country, and across others. They are based on heartache, on being let down, on being used. They’re based on love and on marriage. They’re based on appreciation, gratitude and loss. And most of all, they’re based on this thing called the human experience. Enjoy.

  1. God is in control at all times in all areas of our lives. Even in the hardest, roughest patches – he’s there working beneath the surface. Remember that.
  2. Everyone you know will let you down at some point. This is part of the human experience. Love them anyway.
  3. Some friends move on with their lives and forget you & your relationship with them. Know when to give up on a one-sided friendship.
  4. Your parents are much cooler than they were 10 years ago. Spend time with them. And enjoy it. You never know when you won’t be able to anymore.
  5. Staying in has become much more fun then going out.
  6. Be your own friend first and appreciate who God created you to be. Don’t ever be ashamed of the beautiful creation that is you.
  7. Most people are out for themselves. And they will take advantage of overly nice, helpful, ignorant people. Don’t be in either of these categories.
  8. Communicate openly in every single relationship you have. Nothing good comes from holding things in.
  9. Rejection is one of the hardest things to work through. Sometimes it feels like the wave of rejection will literally kill you. Get back up. One foot in front of the other. And come out stronger.
  10. It’s ok to be selfish once in awhile.
  11. Find something to be passionate about. Passion is the taste bud of life.
  12. Know and understand that there are very real reasons to explain why you do things the way you do them. Explore what makes you tick.
  13. If people aren’t adding to your life, they are taking away from it. Draw lines and boundaries where they need to be.
  14. Don’t compare everyone’s Facebook highlight reel with the crap you’re going through behind the scenes. Chances are, the people on Facebook are going through the same crap, they just aren’t posting about it.
  15. To humble yourself, travel the world.
  16. Confidence is sexy.
  17. There is no better way to connect with our creator then spending time outdoors.
  18. Know what you’re putting in and on your body. We pump tons of chemicals through ourselves with what we eat, drink and put on.
  19. Sometimes, you’re the problem.
  20. Once you upload something to the Internet, it’s there. Forever. No matter how many times you delete it.
  21. Your body doesn’t work the way it used to. You can’t crush an entire pizza and have no weight gain anymore. You can’t try a new workout without being sore for days. That time has passed.
  22. Say No.
  23. Nothing just happens. There is always a Divine force at work.
  24. Spend time with people who have less than you do. You’ll learn much more from them than anything you would learn from people in your own social class.
  25. Each season has its own splendor. Instead of wishing you were in a past season or wishing the next season would hurry up, just stop. Find the beauty in the place you’re at right now.
  26. Love is the most beautiful emotion that God has blessed us with. Don’t give up on it, it always finds you when the moment is right.
  27. Embrace getting a year older, knowing that God has blessed you with more wisdom, more courage and more experience than the year before.