7 Lessons I Learned from 2017

2017 was quite a year. 7 Lessons I Learned from 2017

People say the years go by so fast, but 2017 was pretty slow for me. I can definitely say that 13-year-old me on January 1, 2017 is incredibly different from the 14-year-old me on December 31, 2017.

Reflecting on the past year, I’ve narrowed down the seven biggest lessons I’ve learned. I drafted this entire post in a half hour (which never happens, I go super slowly) and ended up writing a lot of personal stuff. Needless to say, a lot of editing was needed: I’ve been working on this post for almost a week. So, here’s what came out.

1. Having a Relationship with Jesus Goes Beyond Believing

I’ve grown up in church all my life. My family is Christian, the songs on the radio we hear are Christians, the kids shows we watched were Christian. I prayed the salvation prayer (I confess I’ve sinned, I believe Jesus died and resurrected, and surrender my life Him) when I was old enough to understand it. However, I never really felt close to God.

This year, something clicked. I went through pain that caused me to turn to God and I started to pray and ask God to guide me. Summer gave me more revelations, and one day I was sitting in service reflecting over the past and I was filled with joy. It was unexplainable, but it was the happiest I’ve ever been.

Since then, I’ve been working towards a better relationship with God — spending time with Him outside of church and letting Him guide my life — which has radically changed me.

2. People Actually Care

I’ve had bad experiences with people. I care about people and love too much and worry about others (though I’ll never tell you), but that never ends well. I guess I’ve always felt like the low-priority friend that you only talk to when there’s no one else.

Not always, but sometimes, there have been people that notice I’m alone. I remember last year I was telling my youth pastor in a lighthearted way that I generally I couldn’t think of anything good about myself. That’s a whole other story, but one of my friends overheard and after that went out of her way to compliment me and make me smile. I’m also used to being excluded from my group of friends, but one of my friends notices and she knows exactly what to say to make me feel okay again.

Of course, there’s a flip side to this — hurting people by avoiding them because you think they don’t like you — but I think that’s something I’ll talk more about in 2019. I’m still learning about that.

3. Learn as Much as Possible

There is so much out there that’s available to help you learn. The Internet is a great place to find resources for pretty much everything you can imagine (like music, writing, studying…). In the middle of the summer, I basically came to the realization my writing was terrible. Instead of quitting, I decided to learn as much as I could and not only did this help my writing, it made me more confident.

Seriously, the best thing you can do if you want to learn something is to go all out and soak in all the knowledge.

4. Slow Down and Enjoy the Journey

This is another writing-related lesson, but it applies to all areas of life as well. I’m hoping to expand on this more in the future, but I’ve had a problem with rushing myself. Gotta win NaNo. Gotta finish the book. Gotta get published before everyone else. Not only was this counterproductive, but it drained me and took all the fun out of my writing.

Slow down. Take your time while reading books ’cause you only can see them for the first time once. Don’t rush word counts and stats. Followers mean nothing in five years once the media platform crumbles. While traveling, don’t run around to see everything, chill where you’re at.

Life is a journey, and if I can’t see that, it’s not going to be a fun one.

5. If it Moves Too Fast, That’s a Warning Sign

Y’all, I’m fourteen and giving boy advice. But seriously, this was a tough thing for me recently. I won’t go into the whole story for the sake of privacy for everyone involved, but I’ve learned that things moving quickly with a guy might seem good at first, but in my experience, it’ll crash and burn.

Take it slow for now. Life is ahead of us.

6. There’s Nothing Wrong With Taking Care of Yourself

There’s a quote circling around the internet: “Isn’t it sad that it’s more socially acceptable to hate your body than to love it?”

Even when I was in good times and not completely hating myself, I was reluctant to take care of myself because “I didn’t deserve it” or “people are going to think I’m selfish” or “I’m going to get fat” — I don’t even remember what other excuses I had but I was reluctant and it’s harmful, but I’m getting better at it.

Not eating drains you of your energy, both physically and mentally. Not having enough water gives you headaches and is bad for your health. Bad hygiene makes you feel gross. Negative thoughts lead to self-harm and hatred. Not connecting with other people spikes loneliness. It’s a terrible cycle.

Take care of yourself, because I love you, because God loves you; because you love you (and I’m not talking about vanity and pride — I’m talking about respect for yourself and treating your body like a temple).
It’s such a hard concept, believing we’re loved. But we are, even if we don’t understand why.

7. Start Small

The best way to do things is to take them one piece at a time. Looking at writing an entire blog post is intimidating for me. However, creating an outline for a blog post is not. Then I move onto filling it out point by point, etc. This goes for bigger things too. Rome wasn’t built in a day, growth doesn’t come quickly.

This was a big year. I got braces, dyed and cut my hair, was in a choir or five, started this website, participated in Camp NaNo (twice!),  started 10th grade, took a photography class, and a lot more. I can’t wait to see what events and lessons 2018 has in store for me.

Speaking of 2018, I’ve created a short survey for what you guys want to see on S&S in 2018. It’ll only take a few minutes, so I’d love if you filled it out here!

What did you learn about life in 2017? What was your favorite part of the year? What are you most excited for in 2018?


Awesome and Unique Christian New Year’s Resolution Ideas

A popular idea for Christians this time of year is to pledge to follow a One-Year Bible reading plan/book. This sounded like a great idea! But when I tried it? The results were not so great.

At first, I was excited to read the entirety of God’s Word. He has so much to say to us; it’s certainly something to get excited about! However, with the loads of chapters issued a day from all across the Bible, instead of feeling excited I ended up thinking “Is this over yet? How long is the lineage of whoever-it-is-we’re-talking-about-now gonna go on? Yeah, we get it, praise the Lord.”

I read the words, but in attempt to hurry and get it done I wasn’t learning anything, meditating, or growing closer to God. This year, I’ve decided to come up with ideas that are more productive and share them with others who feel the same way.

Spend (At Least) 7 Minutes With God Every Day

Joshua 1:8: Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

At my church, they give out pamphlets called 7 Minutes With God. It guides you through seven minutes of prayer and Bible reading. Why seven minutes? It’s an easy time to start with, because it’s not hard to carve out and it’s pretty easy to wake up just a few minutes earlier. Then, “the seven minutes will become so good you’ll want to add more”. That sounds pretty lit to me.

Start Bible Journaling

Artsy Bible Journaling

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There are special Bibles you can buy that give you extra room in the margins to draw. The basic concept is for artists to use their talents to sketch what they’ve learned on each page. If you don’t like the idea of drawing in a Bible, you can get a separate notebook. I’m not planning on trying this, but I thought I’d share for any of my artistic readers.

Track Your Thoughts and Stories

A common resolution is to keep a daily diary, so why not try a “Bible diary”? This is something I’ve started to do lately, and my goal is to get in the habit of doing this every day. Basically, you read a Bible verse(s) and jot down your thoughts about it, write your prayers, rant about your day to God, or anything else you can think of! I like writing things down because it forces me to turn my feelings into words, gives me something to look back on, and it feels “official” for whatever reason. 😛

Be Bolder in Sharing Your Faith

Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Being godly around worldly friends is hard. Talking to strangers about Jesus is hard. But in the long run, I have to remind myself what’s most important: feeling humiliated for a moment and ruining temporary things, or doing your best to share the amazing gift of God’s love with everyone you can?

Pray Without Ceasing

Now there's a familiar voice.
visit my Jesus pinterest board. It’s a mix between memes and stuff that’s actually cool and inspiring.

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

A lot of times when I’m stressed out, I realize it’s because I haven’t been spending time with God. Praying gives me a certain peace to know that it’s going to be okay in the end — so what’s the issue in doing it more? Pray. Pray every day. Pray when you’re stressed. Pray when you hear of someone in need. My overall goal for 2018 is to simply be with God more, and talking right to Him is my favorite way to do that.

I hope you guys got some ideas from reading this! If you have any thoughts, share them down below — I adore talking to you all.

What are your resolutions this year? Are you a fan of resolutions, or do you skip them all together? Do you like Bible reading plans? Do you prefer to avoid planning and just wing it?

Four Ways You Can Waste Time Productively

Most days, you can find me procrastinating everything. Correction: all days. In addition my quite unhealthy procrastination habit there have been many Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings spent waiting doing nothing at my younger brothers’ baseball/football practice/game. So, I figured I should find a way to use this wasted time productively, use those as excuses to procrastinate, and share them with you all. Seriously tho teaching others is scientifically proven to be the best method to teach yourself but we’re going to pretend I already knew all this.

1. Make Lists

This might be a me thing, but making lists is super encouraging! Having everything you need to get done right in front of you simplifies it and it’s SO. SATISFYING. I like to use Wunderlist and 30/30 to digitally write them, or you can be all fancy and use paper if you’re good at drawing and want to do cool doodle-y things. Unlike me – I can barely draw stick figures.

2. Pinterest

“Pinterest isn’t productive! It’s a black hole of destruction!” Well, it’s productive now because I say so. Especially if you’re a writer or blogger, there are tons of things on Pinterest for you to do aside from looking at memes. Yup. Judging you. For example: creating boards for your WIP, sharing your blog posts, and researching things. You guys take it from here that’s all I ever do.

3. Do Something With Your Hands

When all you want to do is watch TV and you proceed to watch it for twelve hours or whatever unreasonable hour,  you’re left unmotivated and tired. If you can handle the split focus, try doing something creative while watching. Simple artistic tasks such as knitting (join the #oldladysquad!) or making ATCs will put you in a productive mindset while letting you relax.

4. Learn Something Not Required of You

Learning for a grade is stressful. Learning simply because you wanna is powerful. Khan Academy is a great place to watch educational videos, and it has an app so you can download for offline watching. Their rewards system is also pretty awesome. You don’t get anything cool, but watching your “energy points” stack up makes it feel official. Reading a non-fiction book is also a nice way to relax and learn something new. Other options include going back to point two and Pinteresting your life away, getting ahead in homework even when it’s not due yet and/or debating the necessity of the Oxford comma. (See what I did there?)

Something I’ve learned recently is that if you can’t do something and keep trying to force yourself to do it, you’re only going to waste time because you’ve spent hours and haven’t completed anything. Instead, reach for a smaller goal you know you can accomplish or is just plain fun to make you feel productive, then come tackle the big scary monster.

What methods do you use to procrastinate? What methods do you use to procrastinate well? Do you procrastinate or do you get stuff done? I think I’m procrastinating the end of this post by using the word “procrastinate” over and over.