28 Things I’ve Learned in 28 Years


Once upon a time, way back in November, I had a birthday. I turned 28, but I was sick that day, and so not much happened besides staying in bed and reading an entire book. (Thank you again, Elliott!) I had planned, though, to post a list of “28 things I’ve learned in 28 years” that day, as inspired by my friend and blogger Mary.

Months later, and now it’s January. However, it’s sort of nice to edit and add to this list at the beginning of a brand new year. Lessons learned, wisdom gleaned, and advice taken to heart are all a part of growing older, and they are inspiration to take some of them even more to heart in 2015.

Out of all of these bits and pieces of learning, though, I do see the outline of a girl/woman who is unique and distinct, who has learned some of what works for her and what doesn’t, who has learned what she wants to give her whole life to and what she loves most of all.

I know we’re all like that, a beautiful mosaic combining our grandparents’ wisdom and our parents’ support and our spouse’s love and our children’s lives and our God’s mercy. What little bits of life have you learned? I’d love to learn from you!

So anyway… without further ado, here are 28 things I’ve learned in 28 years.

1. Take time to read. (You knew I’d say this!) It’s life-sustaining to make others’ stories part of our own.

2. If possible, let your children grow up with animals, including with animals that have babies. Raising dozens of birds and rabbits, having a dog and cat, and being around horses were all rich gifts to my childhood. These animals helped me see the world and even myself as part of a natural cycle of birth, life, and death in a way that is healthy, messy, and realistic.

3. When you and your friends’ husbands are out of town, have a friend and her kids over for dinner. Make something simple, pour a little wine, and let the kids play. At the end of the night you’ll both definitely be tired, but you’ll also be refreshed.

4. Keep an eye out for cute used clothes for your friends’ babies. There is something profoundly sweet about getting a little consignment or hand-me-down outfit in the mail that says, “I think your child is beautiful, too!”

5. Learn what matters to your husband — really good curry, toys put away at night, your natural hair when you skip the blow dryer — and make it matter to you too.

6. A spoon of Nutella straight out of the jar is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

7. Find your favorite crowd-pleasing, affordable wine and keep a good stash.

8. After three years in Italy of washing dishes by hand, I found the perfect dish soap. It smells incredible and leaves my dishes as well as my hands clean and happy. I buy it in bulk on Amazon.

9. When your husband tells you something, listen the first time. Often men don’t talk too much, and they feel respected and loved when you listen and remember.

10. If you don’t have a TV, you don’t miss much.

11. Try to only bring things into your home that your whole family will love: toys, food, books, furniture, cleaning products, etc. It keeps it simple.

12. On a hot summer afternoon, a can of sparkling flavored water can taste so, so good!

13. Make annual goals, not resolutions. You have the whole year to work on them, and they give you a way to track your progress.

14. “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise.” Or at least makes him or her a better parent!

15. Take care of your computer. Let it sleep and restart it regularly. Do the updates it tells you to do. Back it up onto an external hard drive or something similar. Keep it clean and tidy inside and out. You’ll both be so much happier.

16. I’ve tried many, many tools and products to keep my floor clean and the only thing that has worked is just cleaning it more often.

17. Go to the library with a list of good children’s books, like Scholastic’s 100 Greatest Books for Kids or Sonlight’s Read-Aloud book lists. Let your kids grab some things off the shelves, but try to choose a few of the classics each visit, too. There’s a reason they’ve stood the test of time. A few books might even make you cry!

18. (This one is tongue in cheek and with a twinkle in my eye, not meant to offend anyone.) After two babies, my opinion is that cloth diapers weren’t worth it for us due to the cost of electricity and water required to get them clean. Also no one should have to have that much contact with anyone’s poop! (And I’m a nurse!)

19. If someone you know dies, please please please say something to his or her family. Send a card, send an email, send a Facebook message, say something in person. Even if you only work up your courage years later, it doesn’t matter. That acknowledgment and that love means more than you can ever possibly imagine.

20. Try to always keep at least a quarter tank of gas in your car.

21. Buy a pretty notepad, stick it on your fridge, and keep a running grocery list all week. Better yet, make a grocery list and meal plan at the same time!

22. They make alarm clocks that turn green at the time you want your child to get up. They are wonderful.

23. Set up automatic monthly withdrawals from your bank or credit card to support your missionary friends or ministries you love. You’ll probably never miss the extra $50, but your choice to give and live with less will change the world.

24. Hospitality is an art, but it’s also a way of life. Make it your way of life right now and worry about the art later. There are lonely friends and family out there who would love a meal at your table.

25. Make your prayers more about praising God for what he’s already done and less about asking for things. Practice this by choosing one verse and making your whole prayer about adoring, confessing, thanking, and asking God all from the context of that one verse.

26. Our children are watching us. I started running sporadically in the morning and now Lena loves running and putting on her sneakers and “exhersizing.” I am still amazed that such a little, positive choice on my behalf can quite possibly have a significant, positive impact on her whole life.

27. Learn what genre of books you like and don’t be ashamed about it. Just dive in and read. Good books lead to more good books, and some reading leads to lots of reading. You just have to find your own delightfully slippery slope.

28. Speak gently. Be kind. So incredibly difficult, and yet so supremely important.
What about you? What are some snippets of wisdom or lessons you’ve learned in your years of life? We’d all love to hear them!
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27 Responses to 28 Things I’ve Learned in 28 Years

  1. Courtney Lynn Harris January 12, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    Oh, Becca. These are just beautiful and so, so good. I think the one I’ll remember most is about listening when your man talks– so good. Thanks so much for sharing the wisdom of your 28 years with us!

    • Becca January 12, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

      That’s actually one I really struggle with! I am getting better over the years, but still have so so far to go!

  2. Amanda January 12, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    i like many of these a lot. As a cloth diaperer, I found your inclusion of not to cloth diaper a bit mommy-warish. Also with energy efficient washer/dryers, it is much kinder on the environment to cloth diaper than to throw away all that paper… It’s not why I do it- I do it for the purely selfish huge money savings, but I feel annoyed that you would tell me I’m being environmentally unfriendly for doing so.

    • Becca January 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

      You’re so right, Amanda, and I apologize if I came across that way. I actually meant it to be sort of sarcastic or funny, especially the poop part because I’m a nurse and I guess I felt like after a career of dealing with poop and poop bags… I just was done when it came to my kids’ poop too! For us in Europe for three years, cloth diapering was very expensive because electricity was so SO expensive. So that also played into my comment; I didn’t think of high energy efficient washers and dryers in the States.

      Anyway, thank you for letting me know this didn’t come across right! I’ve edited my comment to reflect that. I am sorry if I offended you, and I respect you very much. Who knows… might give it a third shot with child number three… if we’re lucky enough to have one!

      • Amanda January 12, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

        Thanks Becca! How thoughtful of you to reply personally and even edit your post! I truly enjoy your blog a lot!

        • Becca January 12, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

          Thank you, Amanda, and you’re so welcome!

  3. Alica January 12, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    I loved this, Becca! I would enjoy doing a post like this, but I’d have to come up with 47!!!! things. I’m not sure I’m that wise! :)

    • Becca January 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

      You ARE so wise, Alica! I’d love to read your list of 47 things!

  4. Jenna January 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    what a fantastic list! Just today I was thinking to myself “I really need to get a new grocery list notepad for my fridge. . . ” and look! you have a link to a beautiful one :)

    • Becca January 12, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

      And I am sure you already love Rifle Paper Co, being the lady of taste that you are, Jenna! Glad you liked the list. :)

  5. Karen January 12, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

    I especially like your last one about being kind. I think it is underrated and undervalued. I feel like so many problems would be averted if people practiced kindness towards one another. It is something that I have really been working on the last couple of years (and continue to work on). For me, it ties into #26. I want model kindness for my daughters so that they can be kind.

    • Becca January 12, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

      Amen to that! Love how you tied together 26 and 28. Both so valuable, and both ones that are challenging for me.

  6. Abi January 13, 2015 at 5:15 am #

    You truly have a gift for writing, friend. I so enjoyed reading these snippets of wisdom and am inspired to keep many of them in mind…particularly the one about hospitality. It’s so easy for me to get lost in the daily grind of balancing work outside the home with raising two little ones. It takes effort to open up my home and heart, to give of the after-work time that often seems so fleeting. But in the end it is so worthwhile to share with others, to make them feel welcomed, wanted and loved. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    • Becca January 14, 2015 at 9:01 am #

      Abi, you do so much and your life is so full, and I know that you make others feel abundantly welcome in your home! I have felt welcomed there and in every home you’ve had. You definitely have the gift of hospitality… and of cooking and baking delicious things!

  7. Johanna January 14, 2015 at 5:38 am #

    GREAT list, dear friend! You have already taught me many of these.

    And, keep up the running! Maybe we can go on a Mama-only running date the next time we are in the same city …

    Love you!

    • Becca January 14, 2015 at 9:02 am #

      I recently admitted out loud that I am not a social runner… and it was freeing, but also kind of sad! I wish I liked running with people because it would probably help me be more accountable! I’ll try to keep running, though, and maybe by the time we’re both in D.C. I’ll be ready for that. ;)

      • Johanna January 14, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

        Only recently did I become a social runner (and even then it is occasional), so I totally understand. Maybe we can meet for a post-run coffee and catch our breath together. :)

        • Becca January 14, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

          Sounds like a plan. ;)

  8. Bethany January 14, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    What a fabulous list! :)

    • Becca January 14, 2015 at 9:03 am #

      Thank you, friend!

  9. vicky January 15, 2015 at 6:57 am #

    This was so nice to read this morning. I love #8 because I hand wash my dishes and Mrs. Meyer’s has definitely become my favorite. After years of searching, I can attest this one as a true good one. Also, #16 has been something I’ve learned as of late. It ends up just being easier and less of a waste of money if you just get to it everyday.. or at least try! Can’t tell you how often I exercise #28. It’s difficult in all situations but it’s rewarding. I love this whole list!

    • Becca January 28, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

      So glad you enjoyed it, Vicky, and that I found another Mrs. Meyers lover. I am trying to be better about cleaning my floors lately… but honestly I think I could just really go for a vacuum robot most days!

  10. Autumn January 15, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    ahhhh I love this so much!!

  11. Sarah January 23, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

    All great tips Becca! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Ali January 27, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    Love this list and loved the idea so much that I saved the link in a blog post draft and just made my own list for my 30th birthday this week! (http://agerrans.blogspot.com/2015/01/30-things-ive-learned-in-30-years.html) Thanks for sharing your list and the great idea! Love and appreciate so many of the things you shared.

    • Becca January 28, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

      I love your blog post! Thanks for sharing with all of us. :)

  13. Laurel February 6, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    Kindred spirit…I did the same for my birthday a few weeks ago! :) http://muffindome.com/31-lessons-learned-in-my-31st-year/

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