25 Lessons in 25 Years

It’s hard to believe that I’m celebrating the 8th of October for the 25th time. Needless to say, the day is here and I’ve learned a lot in my quarter of a century! Here’s a glimpse into some of life’s best lessons thusfar: 1. God is the author of your story, you just have to surrender the pen. Let go and let God; literally. Over the years, I have had to let go of my pride and surrender the pen and allow God to do what He does best: write a beautiful story. He wrote the greatest love story ever told, so why not allow Him to author my own book? All of the details from A to Z spelled out in my chapters of my romance, family, career, healing, testimonies, gifts, trials and even successes. All we have to do is release the need for being in control and allow Jesus to take the wheel of our own lives. When we do this, He creates a masterpiece of a perfect novel about who we are in Him, during our time on Earth.

2. Travel the world. Speaking of Earth, some of the best memories I have are from stepping out and seeing the world. Whether it was a solo trip to a neighboring city, a mission trip to the Caribbean or studying abroad in Europe, traveling is the one thing you can spend money on and get rich. Every city, every town, every country has history written inside of its walls, its streets and its people. History and culture is something you can read about in a book, but it isn't until you truly experience it that you understand its value and importance. Book the flight, catch that train and wander around some of the best places our globe has to offer. 3. SPEAK UP! Life’s too short to hold your tongue and not to speak your truth. Say what you need to say and stand up for what you believe in. 4. Be a Fruit Loop in a world of Cheerios. Who says you can’t be a pop of color in a world full of beige? To me living a life full of color means dancing to the beat of your own drum, and never allowing anyone or anything to stop your shine! Be bold, be a splash of color others lives.

5. Live life au naturale. Be your natural, authentic self. You can't go through life conforming to the culture of today's world. Everyone else is already taken, so simply be you, unapologetically! 6. Be present. The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed me to slow down in more ways than one, including my relationships. What does it mean to be present? It simply signifies slowing down to live in the moment. Take time to soak in your surroundings and enjoy the conversations of the now. Work towards the future, but take a breather to enjoy where you are. Oh, and friend, whatever you do, don’t look back. Behold, a new thing is being done right in front of your eyes. Enjoy the present that God has you in, that's why it's called a gift. 7. Enjoy your own company. During my freshman year of college, I would take walks through downtown CoMO (Columbia, MO), the home of my alma mater, The University of Missouri. During my Friday strolls, I’d pop my head into the Yellow Dog Bookshop and check out weekly picks from the NY Times, soak in all of the cuteness at Poppy and would even treat myself to something off of the clearance rack at Glik’s. Every week, I would look forward to those afternoon walks through Downtown Columbia before all of the college kids hit the scene to party. It was through these Friday walks and lunches by myself that I truly began to enjoy spending time with me. No matter how old you are, make sure you take time to spend with yourself. Whether you’re a 40-year-old mom with kids and a husband, or a 16-year-old with a new car and newfound freedom, take the time out to discover what makes you happy. 8. Be direct. Whew! This is an area I’ve grown in and a construction site that’s still getting worked on every single day. As bold and direct as my thoughts and words often are, I still hold people’s feelings in high regard. An empath at heart, I often sugarcoat my own personal feelings to make sure someone else is comfortable, and while that is a considerate quality of mine, more often than not, it’s just better to be upfront and say what’s on your heart. Be direct. Speak with your chest. Say what you mean and mean what you say. But I’m a work in progress…. Aren’t we all? 9. Enjoy your quirks. Quirky. Corny. Weird. Cheesy. At some point in our lives, we’ve all heard those words. (Well, maybe not all of us, but I know I definitely have). Despite what others may think of you, enjoy who you are. Celebrate the unique attributes that you might have. Welcome those wacky personality traits. Appreciate who you are for who you are. The good, the bad, the ugly and yes, even the quirky. 10. Save, save save. Growing up, my dad would always say to me, “Chelsea, you always save your money, and spend everyone else’s.” As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a spender, with a saver’s mentality. I was taught to save your money and work hard for the things you want and this thought process has carried over into my young adult life. From the time I was 16, until I turned 21, I had saved up enough money to travel abroad and see the world. From 21 until 23, I saved as much as I could, while still taking care of my financial obligations while treating myself every now and then. It taught me not only the cost of things, but the value of them as well. 11. … but also, BUY THE SHOES. While saving is important, one quote I always live by is “buy the shoes.” Yes, I literally mean BUY THE SHOES. Life is too short to regret a pair of shoes you didn’t buy, or more metaphorically, taking the chances you didn’t get to take. Live in the moment, take the chances and enjoy the opportunities that life brings you, especially if it has a heel and comes in a pair.

12. Welcome quiet time. Remember how I talked about slowing down? As much as I have enjoyed slowing down, I have fallen in love with my quiet time. It gives me a moment to unplug, destress and cast all of my cares on to the Lord. I journal. I worship. I pray. I sit in silence and hope the Lord speaks to me. This quiet time has been so transformative, since I’ve been intentional in my friendship with God. In this time, I’ve grown in understanding who my heavenly Father is, what His word says, and who I am in Him. 13. Love your flaws. Now this might sound crazy, but I’ve never thought I had any flaws. Correction, I knew I had them, but mama always told me to celebrate who you are, flaws and all, and I never focused on what I had (or didn't have) physically, but rather, I've accepted all of who I am, and loved who God carved me to be. 14. Acknowledge negative feelings and emotions. It wasn’t until 2020, that I truly realized I loathed sitting in negative emotions. I hated feeling them. I abhored being sad, or angry or disappointed. Oftentimes, I would pretend these negative feelings didn’t exist. I would mask them with being bubbly and peppy, pretending that things were sunshine and rainbows 24/7. I didn’t enjoy acknowledging these feelings until I felt them so deeply that it was too late. Truth of the matter is that it’s incredibly important to pause and recognize that you have feelings and emotions, and sometimes they might not be pleasant. Sit in them. Work through them. Pray over them. Hand them over to God. At the end of the day, that’s all you can really do: acknowledge that they're there and heal so you can move forward. 15. Give yourself grace. Oh grace. A word we hear so often, but do not truly understand it. It's something we don’t deserve it; not from God, not from ourselves, but it's necessary to accept and provide to yourself, from God and from others. No one is perfect and the grace is what keeps us all sane. 16. Enjoy your singleness. Whew, chile. *(Now this is a whole series of blog posts, but since we don’t have time for that today, I’ll just say this): Your season of singleness is a gift from God. Some days it feels like the best present in the world, other days you’re questioning why God brings about such a terrible punishment. (Laughing, but very serious.) Allow the opportunity of singleness to birth out your purpose and your calling so when your the season of being single is over, you'll be able to recognize who God has for you, and how you can continue to glorify Him through your relationship and marriage. 17. Heartbreak is inevitable. Oddly enough, I’ve never actually been in a committed relationship. Despite of this, I still know what heartbreak and rejection feels like, and needless to say, it’s inevitable. We’ve all felt it at some point, whether from a family member, friend or significant other have felt the sting of rejection. However, while the pain of a broken heart is unavoidable, so is the growth that comes after the termination of the relationship. That maturation is what makes us better for the next relationship, friendship or mending of the familiar tie. It’s painful, but imperative. Remember, the sunshine always comes after the rain. 18. Don’t hold grudges. It’s not our job to get revenge. It’s not required for us to stay angry, hurt or upset about any situation. Release and free yourself from who or what hurt you. Holding on to something painful thinking it will hurt someone else, never works. Vengeance is mine says the Lord; take solace in the fact that God is going to be working overtime to settle the scales, and you won't even have to life a ginger. 19. Love on your family. Familial relationships can be tough, especially when people have different ideas about how families should act, support and love each other. In the same way we have to learn how to love our significant others, and friends, is the same intentionality we should apply to relationships with people who share our same blood. 20. Read as much as you can!

In 4th grade, I had a bookmark that read: The more you read, the more you know. The more you know, the smarter you grow. The smarter you grow, the stronger your voice, When speaking your mind or making your choice.” These words have been with me since 2004, and have influenced how I approach books, reading and knowledge. Reading is a foundation to all intelligent conversations, and the more knowledge and information you have, the better you can contribute to meaningful conversations in life. Pick up a book, and read. Whether it’s fiction, or nonfiction, I can assure you, there’s at least one nugget in the book you will take with you, and will remember forever. 21. Find your place of worship. Uncle Marv said it best… “go find your place of worship.” Bishop Marvin Sapp is just speaking the truth about scripture and the power of worship, but it's so important for you to get to your own personal place and space of pure, from the heart, make you shed a tear, worship to the God, not for what He has done, but for who He is. “Place of Worship,” is 2007 hit from Marvin Sapp’s “Thirsty” album has been a worship song I return to time and time again. It reminds us of the victory that we can always overcome in every single situation. It presses on our hearts the importance of worship. It speaks to how lovely and beautiful our Lord is, and it certainly reminds us that God is always carrying us through some of the lowest places in our life. 22. “Come Holy Spirit Come!” Growing up, I was afraid of the dark. One night when my dad put me to sleep, He said I just needed to call on the Holy Spirit, and say, “Come, Holy Spirit, Come!” This was the first time I learned about the Holy Spirit, and how He is the sweet, sweet, comforting gift that Jesus left here on Earth after His death and resurrection! I say this phrase, pretty much everyday, when I invite Him into my day, my speech, my actions, even when I lose something! I know when I call on Him, He always comes through!

23. Live out loud! To me, living out loud is to boldly walk in all of who I am, no matter what the world has to say about it. The Bible talks about how followers of God are a peculiar people, who move and groove differently from the rest of the world. I'm proud of my faith, and walking boldly in who God's Word says I am is how I chose to live out loud, and live a live according to my purpose and my calling here on Earth. 24. Have an attitude of “It’s Whatever!” Not just any whatever though… God’s whatever for your life! Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." These are the things God longs for HIs people to set their mind on, meditate and live out in their day to day lives. This verse has been a game-changer in my life over the past two years, and has ultimately represented a renewal in my mind on how I should behave as a Christian. Ponder on this verse and apply it to your life, and see just how God moves in you! 25. We just getting started! I think this one speaks for itself this last lesson speaks for itself! No matter where you are in life, it's the start or something new, even in the midst of something old. (If that went over your head, it's okay. It'll hit you later.) I’m thankful for my first 25 years of life, but oh baby, we JUST getting started! For 25 years, I've experienced God’s goodness and glory, His trials and triumphs for my life, the growth and purification, the pruning and perfecting, I’m can only pray that He will give me another 25, 50, even 75 years here on Earth to continue to bless the world with all that He has planted and instilled in me thus far. I will continue to declare that His goodness and mercy will continue to follow me, all the days of my life, as He molds me into the best version of myself. Cheers to 25 Years!