30 Things I’d Tell My 20-year-old Self, Parts 4-6: on humility

30 Things I'd Tell My 20-year-old Self On Humility

This post is part 3 of a 30-day long series of reflections on my life as I approach my 30th birthday. If you’d like to catch up and follow along, you can find part 1 here


As I predicted, I’ve fallen behind in this blog series, so today’s post is a catch up day. It actually works out pretty well, though, because I had a few things I wanted to include in this series that all seemed pretty similar topically, so I’m grouping them all in this post.

I had a Twitter exchange with my friend and fellow blogger Marisa the other day (she makes quite a few appearances in this blog, doesn’t she? Because she’s awesome, that’s why), about the fact that at 20-years-old, listening wasn’t exactly a strength of mine (or hers). In fact, twenty something Rachel pretty much HAD IT ALL figured out, so she thought. I think this arrogance is typical for most college students in their early twenties. It’s part leftovers from teenage narcissism, part big-headedness from being on your own for the first time. Nevertheless, for Marisa and I both, we were guilty of being incapable of listening to others or taking advice.

For this reason, 20-year-old Rachel made some pretty dumb decisions. Some of them were financial with long-term implications (student loans, ugh). Some of them were relational. Some of them were brutal (21 shots on your 21st birthday comes to mind). So, as a result of over abundance of youthful arrogance, here are 3 more things I’d tell my 20-year-old self:

  1. Have the humility to listen. Your friend’s mom who warned you about the future ramifications of borrowing student loans knew more about it than you did. You probably should have listened. Because when you’re almost 30 and you have two small children, you’re going to want to be able to stay at home with them but you’ll be unable to because of your student loan debt. I know you may think it’s crazy now, this idea of being a stay at home mom. But trust me, you’ll want it, and you’ll be unable to do it because of the financial decisions you’re making now.
  2. Be humble enough to say “I don’t know.” Contrary to what you might think, you don’t know it all. In matters of faith, life experience, or subject matter expertise, you are still young and you have much to learn. Be willing to admit when you don’t have an answer to a tough question. It is far more respectable to say you don’t know something and then search for an answer, rather than to open your mouth and verbally vomit uninformed drudgery. There’s no shame in ignorance. There is shame in stubborn stupidity.
  3. Seek mentors who have something to offer and learn from them. You need leaders in your life to invest in your development, emotionally, personally, and professionally. Don’t wait until later in your 20s to begin seeking out these individuals. Pursue intentional relationships with professors, colleagues, and spiritual authorities and submit yourself to their investment in your life. You will gain far more knowledge by living under their influence than by spending hours studying a textbook.

Were you a pig-headed 20-year-old, too? What are some things you would go back and tell yourself?

30 Things Parts 4-6
Things I'd Tell My 20-year-old Self Be Humble
Things I'd Tell My 20-year-old Self Humility
Things I'd Tell My 20-year-old Self Seek Mentors

30 Things I’d Tell My 20-year-old Self, Part 3: embrace the life you have

30 things I'd tell my 20-year-old self: embrace the life you have

This post is part 3 of a 30-day long series of reflections on my life as I approach my 30th birthday. If you’d like to catch up and follow along, you can find part 1 here

Last month, John Piper tweeted the following:

Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.

High school and those first couple of years of college were rough, weren’t they? All the mother/daughter things. Mani/pedis with mom. Moms passing on how to do makeup or style hair. Rushing sororities based on mom’s legacy. Heck, even my favorite character/TV show at that time featured a strong mother/daughter relationship. I certainly grieved this absence in my life. I felt inferior to other girls my age so many times because I didn’t have that kind of mom.

I didn’t talk about that emptiness often. I preferred to put up a brave face. I’d wear my childhood like a sanctimonious badge of honor that somehow made me stronger, wiser, more resilient than other young people who didn’t have half the life experience I did at 20 years old. Yet, behind that bravado was an insecure young woman who desperately wanted to chat with my mom about boys, get our nails done together, go to the salon or to the movies.

So, to 20-year-old Rachel, I want to say: it’s okay to grieve over the loss of that life you hoped would be, but be real about the grief. Don’t hide behind your bravado, burying your insecurities in the dark. Bear them in the light and strip them of their power. Don’t dwell in that grief for too long, either.

Trust God, and embrace the life you’ve been given. It will make you a better wife and mother. When you fight with your husband, your past will help you understand how to make amends, apologize, admit when you’ve been wrong and seek reconciliation. When your children push you to the end of yourself, remembering your mom’s anger will help you find grace in the trenches of parenting. 

So, embrace the life you have. It’s far more than what you hoped would be. 

30 Things I'd Tell My 20-year Old Self | Coffee Stains Blog
30 Things I'm Tell My 20-year-old Self: embrace the life you have

30 Things I’d Tell My 20-year-old Self, part one: keep going


30 things I'd tell my 20-year-old self part one

In exactly 30 days, I’ll be turning 30 years old. I know this milestone can be emotional for some, but I’m okay with it. However, whether it’s because I’m beginning a new decade of life or because “30-something” sounds more significant than “20-something,” this birthday does seem like a turning point.

For this reason, I’ve been giving some thought to the person I am now compared to who I was when I turned 20. As is probably true for most people, I experienced many significant changes and life events in my twenties: I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma with my Bachelor’s degree; I attended a semester of law school and made the Dean’s List; my mom died; I broke up with my high school/college boyfriend; I met my wonderful husband and we got married 6 months later; I had 2 children;  my dad was diagnosed with a terminal lung disease and received a lung transplant; I completed a Master’s degree while living in a hospital; I moved approximately 15 times and lived in 7 different cities/towns (one of which was in a different state 1,200 miles away).  As you can tell, if there were one word to sum up my twenties, it would be this: ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

From these myriad life experiences, I’ve grown over the last decade. I’ve matured emotionally, I’ve gained knowledge. I hope I can claim to be wiser now than I was 10 years ago. If nothing else, I certainly have more stories to tell than I did at 20. Thus, I’d like to share the things I’d tell my 20-year-old self as I’m leaving that decade behind. My goal is to make this a daily series, but since my blogging consistency can be spotty at times, I may have to play catch up every now and then. So, without further ado, here is day one of 30 things I’d tell my 20-year-old self:

Keep Going When the Wheels Fall Off

That friend you met in Spanish class at OU, Marisa, used this phrase in her post this week about what she learned in May, and I think it expresses a common theme for the next decade of your life, Rachel. You’re going to struggle. You’re going to face heartache. You’re going to question God. You’re even going to doubt his existence for a time. You’re going to wonder why and you’re going to rage against all that you believe to be good and true. But while you do that. keep going. The wheels are going to fall off, for sure. You are going to have more than you can handle.

Press on, R. There’s beauty in the messiness that lies ahead. There are blessings to receive. You will meet so many incredible souls. Though you’ll doubt and question God, you will encounter Jesus in a deeper, more profound way that will change the trajectory of your life. You will experience. That is the greatest part that lies ahead. You have much before you. Push even when it hurts, doesn’t make sense, or seems like it’s not worth it. Keep going when the wheels fall off.

30 Things I'd Tell My 20-year-old Self Part One1

Goals for May – how I did and what I learned


Goals for May how I did and what I learned.jpg

Well, even though it’s not the last day of May, I wanted to go ahead and report on how I did for my goals this month. To begin with let’s review my goals:

  1. 21 days of no sugar
  2. Read 5 books
  3. Blog 3x/week
  4. Stay within budget
  5. 15 minutes of physical activity each day

How I Did

Have you ever heard the phrase, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Well, that sums up how things went for my May goals. Since I set these goals without organizing a plan to achieve them, I quickly got off track.

The 15 minutes of physical activity and no sugar goals were abandoned within the first week, honestly. However, I am happy to report that I’m back on the exercise bandwagon, and have been consistently working out the past few days. Our recent family getaway included taking some family photos that were a gut check (literally) about my weight and health. It’s time to get serious, and I’m hoping to stick with it. It helps that I’ve found a YouTube channel with workouts I’m really enjoying. Physical fitness will be a goal for June, so we’ll see if I can stick with it next month.

For the most part, I was able to achieve the blogging goal. I think last week and this week were the only two where I missed the mark, and I’m okay with that.

As I said in my original goals post, I knew the budgeting goal would be a challenge because of the travel we had planned for the month, and that proved to be true. We ended up going over budget in the categories I was hoping to stay under budget in, but I’m pleased with how well we did in spite of the travel. We didn’t exceed our budget by too much, which is remarkable given the extra spending we did this month.

My book goal was pretty lofty for me, so I’m not surprised I didn’t reach it. I’m about to finish my 3rd book of the month, so I’m thinking I should set a goal of 4 books for June to push myself.

What I Learned

As I said before, the primary takeaway I have from my goals for May is that planning is the key to success. This reminds me of a verse in Proverbs, which says something to the effect of “refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed” (Proverbs 15:22 MSG). When I set goals for the future, I need to plan wisely to accomplish them. Accomplishing goals is not just going to happen on its own, and I need to make the effort to succeed or I’ll fail.

The other thing I’ve learned through my goals for May is this: the point is not to be perfect, the point is to try. I’m not trying to beat anyone, this isn’t a competition and I’m okay with failure. What I’m not okay with is simply not trying because of the possibility of missing the mark or failing to achieve. I’m glad I’m setting goals, even if I’m not meeting them. The point is to try, anyway.

Did you set any goals for May? How did you do?

5 Bible Verses to Pray for Your Children

bible verses prayers for children

5 Bible Verses to Pray for Your Children

It’s Friday Five time! On Fridays, I like to share lists of five things about life and/or motherhood. Sometimes it’s fun random stuff, like which fictional characters would be awesome in real life or links + loves from that week. Other times, it’s more meaningful, like today’s post, which is all about prayer.

When you become a parent, your prayer life changes. When you have a newborn, you beg God for just one full night of sleep. When your children become toddlers, you pray for patience and self-control and just one hour of quiet, alone time because their life depends on it. When you’re away from your children, you struggle with fear and worry and you plead for their safety. When you face parenting crises, you fall on your knees for wisdom and grace. Praying gets you through the trenches of parenting, because parenting is hard, but God’s grace abounds in it.

One of my favorite models for prayer is praying scripture back to God. Using this approach has changed my prayers for my children. Using bible verses to guide my prayers allows me to lean into the promises of God and apply them specifically to the lives of my children. Here are 5 bible verses to pray for your children:

  1. Early in life, fill my children with love for you, that they would love you “with all [their] heart and with all [their] soul and with all [their] mind” (Matthew 22:37-40).
  2. Fill them “with the knowledge of [your] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of [you], fully pleasing to [you], bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).
  3. Help them to be thankful, “giv[ing] thanks in all circumstances,” and to be content, for “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Timothy 6:6).
  4. Grant me wisdom and strength to raise my children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
  5. May the “favor of the Lord our God be upon [them] and establish the work of [their] hands” (Psalm 90:17).

What are some of your favorite bible verses to pray for your children?