What do you do when life doesn’t care about your plans? When the dreams you were counting on become their own algebraic equation you can’t solve? When your birthday comes and goes and in the place of a career goal, you’re just trying to figure out if you should eat ‘Chipotle’ or ‘In N Out’ for lunch?

A few days ago, I turned 26. I am no longer in my early twenties. I am closer to 30 than I am to 20. And if I’m honest, my life is not where I thought it would be at 26-but-may-as-well-be-30. I thought I would be married and well on my way to taking over the world… For Jesus, duh.

And yet, I’m so thankful I’m not where I planned to be. I’m so thankful that God didn’t give me my plan. Because where I think He is taking me is way better than I could have ever dreamed or imagined.

So today, I want to share with you 26 things I have learned on my way to being close to 30. Ok fine, 26.

1. Say yes to God. Figure out the “how” later

I wrote a book. If you didn’t know, now you do.

But before I could get all Beyonce on the writing world, I felt God speak to me during the writing process. It wasn’t audible, but an impression I got that I couldn’t shake. He said, “Elyse you’re not the first person I asked to write this book, but you’re one who said yes.”

God is not looking for someone who has it all together, someone who is qualified, someone who has all the answers. He’s just looking for a “yes.”

Be the one who says yes.

2. Vegemite on toast cures most things.

Sick? Heartbroken? Bored? Angry? Vegemite. Seriously, always Vegemite. But Americans, please don’t try this one unless there is an Australian present.

3. Keeping secrets will only make you sick.

Over the years I held onto secrets way too long, and just for the record, more than 24 hours is way too long. I don’t do that anymore. And the freedom I feel is second-to-none.

I know the voice in your head is telling you that you can “handle” your secret, but you were never meant to carry the weight of your mistakes or someone else’s alone. Speak up. Your secret has been hidden long enough.

4. Bad company corrupts good character.

It’s biblical. Who you choose to hang out with on a Saturday night tells me what kind of night you’re going to have. How do I know? Because I’ve been there.

5. Grace is a real thing.

My mum said to me the other day, “Elyse, no one chooses their path to knowing what grace is. It’s not an easy one. It’s messy. But when you experience the revelation of grace, you won't lose it.”

My mum is so smart.

6. Writing clearly about the chaos brings clarity.

I over-think. I feel too deeply. I love too easily. It’s a recipe for a full head and a confused heart most of the time. But then I start to write. And when I write with #nofilter, I get clarity, find healing and uncover revelation. And you can too.

Write the letter you wish you could send. Start the sentence you don’t know how to finish. Write what you’re thinking. Even if the sentences don’t make sense and the page is blurry from tears, write. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you read.

7. There is always time for Chipotle.

After all, Chipotle is my life.

8. The spotlight will require sacrifice.

I’ve learned that not every thought needs to be tweeted. Not every picture needs to be posted and not every breakup needs to be broadcasted. We all know that social media isn’t real, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a platform. If we want a life in the spotlight, we need to be prepared to make the sacrifice. Good enough just might not be good enough anymore.

9. Don’t go on dates with people you have to put a filter on to your friends.

The truth cannot be twisted. If you have to tell your friends he’s ‘between jobs’ when he’s not even looking for one, rethink dinner. If you have to pretend that she doesn’t own pants when she just refuses to wear them, you may be on a dangerous slippery slope. Tell the truth to the ones who love you, they may just save you from a landslide heartbreak.

10. Texting when you’re lonely only leads to awkward conversations later.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve partaken in my fair share of ‘flexts’… You don’t know what flexts are? They’re flirty texts. OK I just made it up, but can we pretend it’s a word? I’ve also had to have just as many awkward “we’re just friends” conversations.

If you are texting late at night with that guy or that girl, do it because you are generally interested in them, not because you are watching The Bachelor and feeling lonely. Deal?

11. Adulting is hard sometimes.

When you’re a kid, and you do something wrong, your parents punish you by putting you in the naughty corner. When you’re an adult, there is no naughty corner. You get to make decisions for yourself. You bear the consequences for yourself. That makes ‘adulting’ messy and painful. And that’s just the truth.

12. You have to say no eventually.

I really want you to like me. No, really. The fear that you might not makes me say ‘yes’ more times than I say ‘no’ -- to events, to favors, to dates and to projects. But I’ve learned that eventually the ‘yes’ will catch up with me! Learn to say no sometimes, especially to going out on the town, for the third night in a row. It’s good for you.

13. Being single is not a disease to be cured.

And to anyone that asks when you’re finally going to settle down? Slap them. Slap them real good. They probably need it.

14. More followers does not equal more feels, just more filters.

15. Fail. Learn. Repeat.

I’ve learned most of these 26 things, not through sermons or blogs, but through fails. Epic, epic fails. Failures that made me cry and feel bad. And that’s ok. No one said messing up is fun. It’s not. Falling flat on your face sucks. But you know what’s worse? Getting to 30 and not having anything else added to this list.

16. Laugh. A lot.

Your workplace is probably hilarious. Your family is probably a sitcom waiting to happen. If you are looking for it, life is pretty funny most of the time.

17. Life plans must go.

For example, when I was 8, my life plan was to be Judge Judy. I’m so glad I’m not. So life’s not how you thought it would be? Join the club! Embrace it.

18. Turn off your phone.

Instagram will still be there. Social media probably won’t actually notice. Engage in conversation with your friends. Look your family in the eye. Experience a moment without Periscoping it. You’ll feel like you’ve had a vacation.

19. Nice guys are the best.

You'll see.

20. Adding YOLO at the end of a decision doesn’t justify it.

It usually just means your head will be sore the next morning. Remember, fun isn’t fun unless it’s fun in the morning.

21. People change.

And there’s nothing you can do about it. Some will walk out, and you’ll be thankful. Some will walk out, and it will feel like you just stepped on a piece of Lego. Try not to hold it against them; we’re all just trying to figure this whole life thing out.

22. Don’t starve yourself, unless you’re doing the 40-Hour Famine.

Your body knows what you need. Fuel it. Don’t deprive it. If you want the burger? Eat the burger.

23. Find your crew and hold on tight.

Every few weeks my friends Ryan and Nikki have “family dinner” at their house. We eat dinner, tell stories and hang out. Sometimes when I beg, they’ll break out the guitar and sing. The night itself doesn’t have bells and whistles, just my best friends and a lot of love. It’s nothing overly special, but to me? I’ll never forget these nights.

After all, doing nothing with people who mean the most to you will make you realize what life is all about.

24. Time heals.

Heartbreak, well it breaks. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but you won’t always feel this broken. Stay strong. Chin up, buttercup. Time and Jesus heal a lot of things.

25. Take the selfie. Ignore the haters.

“I don’t understand why we don’t entirely, one thousand percent promote the selfie. What’s wrong with thinking you are absolutely worth being looked at and absolutely worth being seen? Let’s not encourage a culture where we’re told to be unhappy with ourselves. If a girl feels pretty, let her.”  – Brittany Ghabriel.

My friend wrote this on her Instagram and I couldn’t agree more.

Feel beautiful? Document it.

26. You’re doing better than you think, little one. Celebrate it.


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