January 12, 2010 | 142 comments

Today is my thirty-third birthday, and I’d like to ask for a gift! I’d love to get some advice, tips and/or wisdom from people who have already been here. So I ask of those of you who are older than 33: If you could go back in time and have a short chat with your 33-year-old self, what would you say? What do you wish you understood at 33 that you understand now?


  1. Sarah

    Happy Birthday!

  2. Debbie

    Oh My…I would say that 10 or even 5 years from now what ever was consuming you(worry…lack of sleep,budget things,ect) NONE of it will be important at all…BECAUSE really everything just keeps getting better and better!!
    P.S. I'm 60

  3. Francie

    Happy Birthday, Jen! I'm actually 43 now. No words of advice here, heck I'm still trying to find my way along. Sad, I know…. I guess if I were to offer something it would be to pick your battles. Being a control freak myself, that's something I struggle with on a daily basis. Please keep me in your prayers. πŸ™‚

    Anyway… Hope you have a fabulous birthday!

  4. Kate Wicker @ Momopoly

    I'm not quite there yet, so no great wisdom to impart, but I did want to wish you a very, happy birthday.

    God bless!

  5. Sue

    I'm not 33 yet, but I will tell you what I tell all of my friends who turn 33 (or 22, or 44, or 55, etc) – congratulations on joining the My Age is Divisible by Eleven Club! My husband will be joining in a couple of weeks, I need to make him a membership card. πŸ™‚ Dorky, I know, but I hope it makes you laugh. Happy Birthday!

  6. TresAngelas

    I'd say, "Dude, the winning Powerball number is 6-24-9-16-3."


    What I'd really say is, "Your baby girl will be a teenager before you know it. Don't waste a dang second. Have fun. Take pictures."

    "Also, it's ridiculously easy to take your spouse for granted. You think you don't, but you do. Knock it off, NOW."

    "And another thing, max out your 401K contributions. Yeah, I know you can't afford it; do it anyway. Oh, and get out of equities whenever the S&P 500 breakes 1500. Seriously."

  7. Jamie

    If I could go back to my 33rd birthday and give myself some advice?? Stay away from the Tequila and the nachos with the jalapeΓ±os. BOY!! That was a rough night!!

  8. Amy

    I'm just 3 years past that so I don't really know what to say. For me the real turning point was 30 when I realized that I could be my own person and didn't have to conform to what other people expected and that it was ok to make mistakes.
    I decorated cakes for my kids birthdays for the first time–my oldest were turning 15 so it was a long time coming. LOL

    Another thing is that time speeds up each year so keep a record–like you're doing with your blog. You'll thank your young self later on. πŸ™‚

  9. Sarah

    Happy Birthday! I love that you ask this…I am always asking my mom and my aunts the same question. I'm 40…Debbie is right…put the worry to rest. In my 30's I really began to realize that although being a mom was such hard work, that these were going to be the best "mom" years of my life…that I would always look forlornly at these years when my children were little and the decisions were easy and I kept the world at bay. I think in my 30's I began to realize that having a toddler in the house was just the BEST EVER. I wish I would have had 5 more kids…I did have problems with pregnancy loss in my late 30's and I lost some really good years in my early 30's being overwhelmed by the silly little things of parenting instead of appreciating the fun of it all. I LOVED my 30's..especially the early ones. Really really find joy in parenting…the older they get the harder it is, I think…the job gets more serious at least.
    Love your blog.

  10. Randy

    33 is a while ago. My first daughter was just born. Now we have 6 and our oldest is preparing for high school.

    What would I say? Just to enjoy life as it comes. There is a ton of growing to do. A bunch of stages to pass through. Just enjoy the stage you are at. Don't look forward to when I my kids finally start doing this or when I finally master that. You will get there and those times will have their own challenges. We need to make the most of today.

  11. Anonymous

    I love that, Sue, seeing as how I'm a member of the club at 55. Jen, I would say say that with hindsight you'll be able to see ways that God was working in your life that are invisible to you now, and that He wastes nothing. I would say to myself at 33, be at peace because the Lord Jesus whom you love is here, even here. Birthday blessings!

  12. Kim

    Happy birthday!

  13. Susan L

    I'm now 47 and I remember me at 33. I probably wouldn't have listened (lol) but this is what I would tell myself.

    Totally enjoy your children, your husband, your parents, and all of your extended family. Eventually they might not be there. (my father just passed away last November).

    Don't sweat the small stuff.

    Keep your eyes focused on Our Lord. Don't talk negatively about others. Learn humility.

    And one more thing I was able to achieve in the past year which was a biggie for me:
    Make peace with difficult family members. If they are difficult, then let it slide off like water off a duck's back because we really never know what's going on inside. In other words, look kindly on them and forgive.

    And most of all: pray pray pray.

    Jennifer, your blog has been an incredible blessing to me. I truly hope that God showers you with many blessings and graces. Thank you for doing all of this.

    Sue from Buffalo

  14. Susan L

    And silly me, forgot to say…



  15. kathy

    Happy birthday! Early January is just the best time for a birthday…but I turned 25 on the 8th, so I have no 33 advice. But I'll happily take the same kind of advice for 25 year olds!

  16. sara

    Happy birthday.

    I'd tell myself not to completely believe any one about anything: your mom may have regrets about the way she did things, the latest guru is probably at least a little bit wrong, and the clever and eloquent blogger may change her mind in a couple of years. Search the Scriptures and pray and put everything to the test.

  17. Michael

    When I was 33, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with a man who was 93. He and I worked on a "degree team" for the Knights of Columbus. This offered us some degree of familiarity and a few hours of down time to spend together once every few months. He was a kind man and would enterain all of us "young folk" with stories (the 60 year olds were "young folk" to him).

    Once I had the opportunity to sit in a quiet space, just the two of us. I had been experiencing some worry over some life situation (honestly, I don't remember what). I explained to him that when I was in my teens, I would look back on the things I had done as a child and just cringe. In my twenties, I was looking back on the things I did as a teen and was mortified. Now, in my early thirties, I would look back at my twenties and realize what an idiot I had been. I asked him, being in his nineth decade, if he encountered this when he was my age and, if so, when did he stop looking at his younger self as a fool. He smiled and asked me what made me think that he ever stopped.

    He had given me and our group a number of gifts of wisdom, but this was, in my opinion, the greatest. What he told me is that no matter how much experience you accumulate and no matter how much wisdom you gain, you will always have the mistakes of your past behind you. The trick is to leave the mistake there and carry the lesson with you and to do that, you need to learn to forgive your younger, foolish self.

  18. Jamie

    Happy Birthday, Jen! I, too, am 33, so my advice is limited. Today all that is running through my head is the lyrics to Let It Be by the Beatles. How's that for wisdom?

  19. Duggan Family

    Hey, today is also my 33rd birthday! I hope you have a great one. I can't wait to read all the wisdom others are inspired to share. Take the day off–just kidding! With four little ones underfoot, it's a bit hard to do that. For me too!

  20. Michelle

    Hmmm, 3 years ago I would have told myself to work harder at getting out of debt. You are probably smart enough not to have any debt…but, if you do have any…pay it off if you can. I wish I had. But we're on our way now…so better late than never.

    Happy birthday!!!

  21. Kathleen

    Happy birthday!

    I liked Kate's comment, one thing I learned the hard way is to pick your battles. And hug those little ones…all the time. Puberty comes too fast.

  22. LauraAnne

    33 was just last year, for me. But what a year it was!

    I would tell myself that it'll be hard, but you'll get through it and be the stronger for it in the end.

    I'd tell myself to be easier on myself. There is only so much one person can do, and that it is ok to not do everything perfectly. That it is okay to ask for help and that it is a sign of strength of accept that help.

    (yes, it really was that kind of year.)

  23. Jenny

    I turned 39 last week. I still had Ben with me when I was 33, so I would say: don't sweat the small stuff, just love on your kids and enjoy every moment.

  24. Elizabeth K.

    Keep a journal or something like it! I just turned 39, and I have to say that my thirties flew by so fast, and I literally have very little memory of them without recourse to journals, daybooks, etc.. I wish I had more of them! I also value them because they help me see how I've changed–and where I'm exactly the same (whiny, exasperating) girl I've always been :).

  25. David M

    Be ready for when God invites you to take a plunge that you weren't expecting, ready for, or even contemplating. It will be fine. And, happy birthday!
    -= David =-

  26. An Huynh

    Although I'm in my twenties and have a lot to learn before giving anyone advice… as a subscriber and regular reader I wanted to wish you a *Happy Birthday!*

    Your blog is a *blessing* to have available to read and I can't even begin to tell you how much I've learned and grown from reading your posts….

    May God Bless You!

  27. Nona

    Three pieces of advice, in no particular order, come immediately to mind:

    1. Build social capital, i.e., maintain your networks with friends, business associates, etc., etc.

    One good approach: hold two parties a year, one for friends who know who you "really" are and another party to keep in touch with people you've met and known in the business world. Years from now, people in the first group may be there to help you in a health or family emergency; people in the second may be able to hire your children for summer jobs, internship positions, or recommend your children (or even you!)to others.

    To make the whole thing easier on you, hold both parties the same weekend. That way, you only have to clean the house thoroughly once. Maybe hold the business friends party on Saturday evening; the party for people who really know you on Sunday afternoon (when the house is no longer as pristine as you managed to make it for the first gathering.)

    2. Build financial capital.

    Be it ever so small, put aside money in retirement accounts. The sums compound tax-free for years and thus can become quite a considerable amount 33 years from today. Money, especially its lack and/or if you "feel" there is not enough, is a stressor in old age.

    3. Pray with your children and teach them to pray morning and evening.

    The family rosary, with prayers said for specific intentions, will mean more to your children as they grow older. Later, when they are away (college, travel, etc.) they will know that their parents and remaining siblings are praying daily for their intentions. That's powerful.

  28. George @ Convert Journal

    That is a very wise birthday question!

    I think you are already on the right path. Advice? Never stop seeking the truth, always fight the dark side and thank the Lord for the stream of blessings He has given you.

    I am a bit older than you (marrying after college when you were still in the terrible 2's!). It has taken me until now to join the Church (next month actually).

    Thank you for sharing your story and all the work you put into that. Your blog was the main inspiration for me to also blog on my conversion experience.

  29. Anonymous

    I think the best advice I ever got was from a priest: Don't look with envy upon others….you never know what burdens they may be carrying. That really helps me keep things in perspective and appreciate what I have. Also, cut out the worrying. I don't know how much time I've wasted with needless worrying over the years.

    Happy Birthday!

    Jen G

  30. Anonymous

    I will turn 55 this week, so I think I am the old lady here; at least so far. When I was 33, my four children were between the ages of 7 and 12. Here's what I wish I could go back and tell myself – it doesn't matter what kind of grades they receive, or where they end up going to college. Focus on teaching them the most important lesson of all, that God is in charge. All we have to do is allow him to lead us. Jen, I think you are spiritually more mature than I am already, so you probably don't need to hear that advice. But I wish I had heard it, and lived by it back then. Happy Birthday!

  31. Jim

    I would say quit wasting time…finish school…glorify God…become fishers of men and stop being so selfish.

  32. TaraS

    Happy Birthday!!

  33. sarah

    Happy birthday! I would say to a younger me, get over yourself. I would remind myself that time passes amazingly fast so enjoy every moment. And this is going to sound strange – and probably awful to someone with several children – but I would say sweat the small stuff. It is in the little things that seeds for the big things start to grow. Negative things, like bad manners, and positive things, like the connection that comes from five minutes of reading together.

    I hope you have a beautiful day.

  34. Anonymous

    Happy Birthday!

    What I would tell myself is 'take better care of your body.' I can't believe, 20 + years on, how much time I have spent/lost because of not paying attention to a body that needs rest, sleep, moderate exercise, lots of water, etc.

    I'm not a total laggard on this, but when I look back, I can see many things I just took for granted and used to the max – and when you hit that max, you don't get a new body!

    So, be good to yourself. When you have little kids and lots of stuff to do, you might think "I don't have time." But, it catches up with you, believe me. Every 'selfish' moment you spend being good to yourself now is an investment in selfless moments over the next decades.

    Enjoy life!

  35. deb

    Happy Birthday,
    and I'd tell my just turned 47 year old self would give my 33 year old self a hug , tell her everything really will work out, laugh with your kids more, read instead of obsessing over housework, say prayers of gratitude instead of requests.

  36. Multiple Mom T

    I would tell myself:
    1. The babies will sleep and eventually you, too, will sleep again through the night.
    2. The 30's are a good decade, but the 40's ROCK (I'm 41).
    3. Don't frown so much. It makes that line between your eyes really deep.

  37. Maggie Dee

    I would also echo the stop worrying comments. I spent way too much time worrying over things that never happened.
    I also wish I woud have spent more time with my kids. It's true, they grow up so fast! When I was 33 and my kids were throwing temper tantrums I would think "Thank God" to that comment. But now…as I see my oldest maturing into a young adult I look back wistfully to all the lost opportunities I had to spend time with him because I was too focused on unimportant things.

    Happy Birthday!

  38. Me In Life

    I have not made it there yet, soon, but not yet. So just an advice free happy birthday from me!

  39. Anonymous

    Happy Birthday!

    Advice to my 33 year old self– listen more. A LOT more. Take more deep breaths and truly enjoy the moments you get with your children and family.

    Oh, and don't fixate on the fact you're as old as God now… πŸ™‚

  40. Laughing Lioness

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer! My advice would be this: sympathize with your husband and children's hearts. Don't stress and fret about appearances, invest in matters of the heart with the people God has given you to steward.
    Don't take your fertility for granted.
    Learn contemtment in plenty and in little (cause you'll most likely have both in abundance).
    We've had a year of loss (house burned and my sister died) and a friend whose dh died in her arms said this to me: cry and rant and grieve and let God know how upset you are but always keep your eyes on Christ. No matter what the year brings, and I pray it brings you closer to all God has for you, keep your eyes on Him.
    Be Blessed! Lisa, at the grand old age of 47

  41. Smoochagator

    Happy Birthday, Jen! I will be 31 in just a couple of weeks, so I think I'll read through the advice in the comments. I hope you have a lovely day and an astoundingly blessed year!

  42. T. Paine

    One thing I have learned over the years is that when facing a major issue in life which is causing a lot of stress and worry, I try to sit down and evaluate my options in resolving or getting through the issue by writing down the foreseeable pro's and con's for each possible decision I might make regarding it.

    Then, of course choose the path that makes the most sense.

    Lastly, when so worried, I ask myself, "Is this something that is going to matter to me in a year from now (or in five years from now depending on the situation)?" That often helps me to put things in a more proper perspective.

    Happy Birthday to you!

  43. SursumCorda

    I was 33 in 1985, had two young children, and had just moved 1000 miles away from family, friends, and the only social culture I knew. Here are a few of the things I wish I could have told myself — though I'm not that good at taking advice, so I don't know if I would have listened.

    Have more kids. There were some good reasons why we didn't, but a very bad reason was buying into the "you can't afford it and neither can the world" mentality. If you haven't lived through it, I don't think you can fathom how much pressure there was in those days to have no more than two children.

    Expect much more from your children than society does, on every level. From the day they are born, your children can learn more, do more, and behave better than you will be told is possible. Don't limit them by your low expectations.

    Homeschool. Homeschool. Homeschool. From the beginning, and never look back. This is one of the best decisions we ever made, and I wish we had never subjected our children to the "school mindset." But when I was 33, school was "the way things are done," and I never questioned it till years later.

    "Bloom where you are planted." Make the most of your present situation, because you never know when it will change.

    Keep a journal, take pictures (and label them!), make recordings.
    When you videotape your children's performances, be sure to include their friends as well. You may not care, but your children will!

    Talk with older family members about their childhoods and their life stories, and get everything you can from them about your ancestors and family history. Make sure their pictures are labelled!

    Take care of yourself. When you have young children at home, it's very easy (and seems virtuous) to shortchange yourself when it comes to sleep, exercise, education, and the care of your soul. Make yourself make time for these things. Enlist the aid of your spouse — I don't mean to tell you what to do, but to make sure you get the time to do it. Your children will thank you later.

    If you are too busy to get organized, you are too busy not to get organized. Make the time (and again, get your spouse to help). There is no moment better than now; that mythical time "when I have time" will never come. Never give up; experiment with different systems till you find one that works for you. Be prepared to alter it as needed, however, when your circumstances alter.

    I don't know if any of these apply to you, but that's what I would tell my own 33-year-old self.

    Happy Birthday!

  44. Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side

    This is a wonderful present to give yourself. And you are so wise to ask for it. I've really enjoyed the comments and think you've already gotten so much great advice.

    I'm 46 now, but when I was 33 I spent so much time wishing it all away. My oldest two were 2 and 4 (I didn't even have my third daughter yet), and I was pretty miserable most of the time. I wish I had just known to relax and enjoy them, even though the days were hard. I wish I hadn't spent so much time being unhappy and learned to just be content.

    I'd have to disagree with the person who said it gets harder when the kids are teenagers. I am having the time of my life with three teens (almost) in my house. As long as you do the hard stuff of discipline when they are little, you will benefit big time when they are older.

    Happy birthday!!

  45. JKK

    Happy Birthday!
    I'm 37. Wife of 15+ yrs. Mom of 2.
    – SEASONS: You're entering a new season in life. This season may take a few years. This is a season of transformation.
    – HEAL: you learned some coping mechanisms in childhood that helped you cope but now hold you back. Do the inner-work so you can heal.
    – PASS THE TEST: patterns repeat in your life for a reason. These are tests. You will need to deal w. your emotional issues – every one of them – or the same stuff will keep appearing. Deal w. your issues so you can pass the test.
    – DREAMS: you abandoned some dreams in your 20s. you mistakenly believed you could be someone you're not or do something you're not wired for… THOSE DREAMS AREN'T DEAD… the desire to do what you were born to do is coming back stronger than ever. The passion came from God. It is tied to your purpose.
    – IT'S NOT TOO LATE: your "real life" is just beginning

  46. samcarter

    "The baby will eventually sleep through the night."

  47. Julie D.

    Relax more about things not working out according to your own plans. You can't control everything, or even many things.

    Oh well, better late than never. Right?

  48. becomewhatyouare

    Happy birthday! Today is our youngest child's birthday, too. He's 4 now.

    I'm going on 45 now. (huh?!) What I would tell my 33 yo self is:

    The kids really, really, really do grow up much faster than you think. Relish every moment. Even the frustrating ones are often hilarious looking back. (my oldest is now married and expecting his first child! how did that happen!???)

    The other thing is:

    the day's worries and troubles are sufficient for today, so don't "borrow trouble. Oh, and they are usually much smaller than they appear.

    Hope it's a wonderful day for you. God bless you.

  49. JMB

    I'm 43, so this is what I would say to my 33 year old self:

    1. It really doesn't matter how nicely your kids are dressed. Nobody remembers what your kids looked like after you gave up control of their outfits. And its a lot cheaper just to allow your son to wear basketball shorts to school all year long in third grade than to constantly buy him pants that he outgrows.

    2. karate lessons are really expensive and nobody really sticks with it for the long term. Well, a few kids do (which is great) but before you sign on the dotted line and shell out all that dough, try to envision 10 more years of the payments. Better off blowing some cash on rec soccer, basketball, or baseball.

    3. All kids learn how to read eventually, and potty train and how to get in and out of their seatbelts. It never will be as physically exhausting as this stage of your life.

    4. You will enjoy your teens!

    5. Don't listen to any friend who says "Just you wait" to you.

  50. antonina31

    I do not know if I count, since my 33rd birthday was only a month ago, but… I do want to share one thing I've realized in the past month or so. I'm older. My body is older. I don't feel older in my mind (33 does not even sound old to me!), so I think my body should do what it did five years ago. It doesn't. That's okay. πŸ™‚ Happy Birthday, Jen!!!

  51. Joy at Joy in This Journey

    Happy birthday! I'm finishing up 33 — will be 34 next month. What I learned this year is that no matter how awful life gets, no matter how dark and dreadful, there's hope. God is in the dark awfulness and He is at work. Sometimes it takes hard work and far longer than we want it to, but He will make good out of it.

  52. MoiraElizabeth

    1. Have you're kids say "yes mommy" when you ask them to do something. Then either they do it and you are happy (and proud of them) or they don't and you can call them on it (they already committed!).
    2. Make sure to get in your "Good Morning Hug" from the little ones. You can't ever get back those cute little hugs once they are 10, or 14.
    3.Use the 1,2,3 system to solve disputes (it takes a little work, but the effort it takes care of is so worth it!): 1. Say "Joey, can I have my ball back please?" or whatever, nicely, like this < you then give them the way to say it>. 2. "If Joey doesn't listen when you say it nicely, come tell me." 3. I WILL take care of it! -You then follow up with whatever is appropriate…if Joey took it, he needs to give it back…if Joey had it and the other child wants it, "Joey how about you play with it for 5min. and then we'll give___ a turn…The overall effect is that you spend less time hollering "SPEAK NICELY TO EACH OTHER!"
    4.When the kids are getting cranky/fussy and you can tell that if you let if go on for 3 more minutes, they are all going to lose it – either give them a snack or read their favorite book or take them outside (even if it is an effort). They will be diverted from whatever they've been feeling;)
    5. Kiss your husband lots! -Duh!:)
    Jen, Happy Birthday!!!!

    I took the liberty of giving advice even though I'm not 33 yet…However, as the oldest of six, and a nanny several times over, I thought you might like these kid-related helps – it took me a while to figure them out, but I am very grateful to know them!

  53. Lacey

    Happy Birthday! I'm not quite your age yet but one piece of advice I go by for crappy days or when something stupid happens (that seems really major at the time) is:

    "Is this going to matter to me when I am 80 years old?"

    9 out of 10 times, NO! πŸ™‚

  54. Elizabeth

    Feliz Cumple Anos Jen!

    As a 38 year old my advice to myself would be:

    1. Get out of DEBT now rather than later
    2. Should have another baby now rather than later.

    I have no regrets about how I was living my life at the ripe age of 33. My life now with 4 kids and a great husband is truly God's blessings on me. But for sure some things would have been easier if the debt was gone sooner. Having more children is always an open possiblity so we have what we are meant to have so far. My life is full, my marriage is solid, our kids are great.

    Life is still quite good!

  55. Kelly

    Happy Birthday!!! When I turned 33, I had just had our second child and had yet to find the Lord (THAT would happen just 1 year later). I guess what I would most like to have known (other than God) is that even when life is bumpy, it does get smoother again. Learn to let go of the unimportant things. Heck, learn what's truly important πŸ™‚

  56. Monique in TX

    Happy Birthday!

    Looking back at mid-thirties from nearly 47, I can recommend–in addition to what has already been mentioned–a good sunscreen, comfortable/supportive shoes, and exercise. It's best to start the upkeep before things fall apart! : -)


  57. Kat from Austin

    Here's what I wish I knew when I was 13, 23, and 33 – Don't worry about what other people think about you. It limits your creativity and your potential. If you haven't encountered any criticism then you aren't really doing or standing for anything. Vanilla is boring. Be rainbow shebert!

  58. Angie @ Many Little Blessings

    Happy Birthday! πŸ™‚ I just turned 33 about two weeks ago.

  59. Colleen

    Happy Happy Birthday!! No advice from me, as I'm MUCH younger than you (30) πŸ˜‰

  60. ~liz

    first of all…happy birthday! πŸ™‚

    secondly, i'm only 36 (37 in march!)…but i would tell myself that it just gets better. the baby stages grow into toddlers who grow into little children with curious imaginations and can carry on fabulous conversations. yes, there are harder bits to getting older as a mother of young children (i was just 33 when all of my three boys were born)…the tantrums grow into arguments and talking back, etc. but the apologies and kisses and cuddles are still there. the times to "make it right again" remain.
    i've yet to make it to the next level in ages (my oldest is only 6!), but i'm eager to watch my boys grow into young men, and pray them through these years as we figure it out together.
    yes…life just gets better and better with age. i can't wait until my 40th!!!

  61. The Praying Mom

    Happy birthday!!

  62. Jenee

    Happy Birthday, Jen!

    You, my dear, are wise beyond your years! Your blog has been such an inspiration to me as I find my way in my faith (I'm in RCIA now).

    I'll be 36 this year – the best advice I have to offer is:

    Don't worry about what others think of you. Make your own way and keep God by your side and everything else will fall into place.

    I hope you have a lovely birthday πŸ™‚

  63. Carrien

    That settles it. I have decided that you and I must somehow meet one day because we could be BFF's. I'm using the fact that our birthdays are only 19 days apart as the clincher in that argument. It's very convincing, I know. πŸ™‚

    Happy birthday! What a good idea to ask for advice.

  64. Marian

    At age 39.84 (and I'll carry that out until 39.999999, thank you), I'm no fount of sagacity, but there are some things that I've learned quite profoundly in the past two, extremely difficult, years. (I "knew" them before at some level and I'll forever be learning how to truly walk in them, but you know what I mean.)

    Only God's opinion matters, only God is perfect, only God knows. Don't waste time in comparison, perfectionism, other people's opinions on you or your life, or judgment of others. When it comes to other people's lives, YOU DON'T KNOW. No matter what you think you see from the outside, or how applicable you believe your framework to be in judging their situation, you don't know. Grace, love and truth are all that matters, and those guided in application by the Holy Spirit.

    Also,just generally, in every stage of life and parenthood, there are little things that are lovely that will never be again when that stage is over. Recognize them; treasure them; don't hurry and worry through to the next phase.

    Happy birthday!

  65. SimpleDad

    First, Happy Birthday! My poor advice would be simply enjoy the time you have. At this time in your life you are focused so much on the future that we forget the today! Enjoy each moment with your children and loved one, 40 will be here soon enough.

  66. itchingfootnotes

    Happy birthday!

    I am one day shy of being four years older than you.

  67. Laura

    Happy Birthday! Wow, 11 years ago for me. I was into my conversion only a few short years at age 33 and most of what I've learned since then has come through time and experience.

    I guess if I could go back and tell myself something it would be that you REALLY CAN trust God. He will take care of you. You can depend on Him in all things.

    But then again, without more wisdom and age, would I really listen to my own advice? Hard to say.

    I'd also tell myself to be more patient! Really, time goes by fast enough, there is no need to rush it along by trying to wish for or hurry up something in the future. Unfortunately this is something that my 44 year old self is still trying to learn.

    You are already on such an incredible faith journey. I pray that you can learn quickly what you need to from each of the "exercises" that God sees fit to put you through. May God Bless you this year!

  68. Amber

    Happy birthday!

    I'm 33 too, so I can't really answer your question. But your other commenters have done a great job!

  69. Anonymous

    Happy Birthday!

    What I wish I'd known: that the feelings/emotions that you have now will pass but the decisions you make (and their consequences, good and bad) are much more permanent.

  70. Nichole

    Happy Birthday! That was 3 years ago for me. If I could go back I would remind myself to appreciate what I have and stop thinking that one more thing or situational change will make me happier. And if there is something really important that needs to be done, just do it and stop procrastinating! I am a master procrastinator:) Oh, and I would catch my depression before putting on 40 pounds. It's so awesome that because I'm not depressed anymore, I almost forgot about it:)

  71. Melanie B

    Happy Birthday, Jen!

    I'm only two years past 33 myself and don't think I have any advice. I don't feel much wiser now than I did then.

  72. Stefanie

    "Embrace your Church…don't be so smug in your abandonment of Her…be a grown-up Catholic, not a just-confirmed-at-13 one."

    Oh, and happy birthday, Jen!

  73. Ruth Ann

    I'm 30 years older than you are, Jennifer. Here's my wisdom. Live each year of your life to the full, using your God-given gifts and insights, doing good and avoiding evil, loving God above all else. When you look back, you will be grateful for ALL.

  74. Sister Lynn

    Dear Jennifer,

    Happy Birthday!

    I turned 33 five years ago, one month before my final profession as a consecrated celibate nun.

    I would tell myself not to worry that its hard but it is so worth it.

    I would tell myself that Jesus cannot be outdone in generosity and that I have gotten back from Him more than I have given up. That there will be a time when I won't be lonely – that I will know deep and lasting friendships.

    I would tell myself to cherish the ones I love because they will be gone too soon.

    I would tell myself – pray, pray, pray.

    Hope you have a wonderful day!

    Sister Lynn

  75. Martha

    Happy Birthday, Jen!
    Your blog is such a blessing. I turned 65 in December (does that make me Venerable??!! LOL) I would tell my 30 year old self to be less of an activity driven Martha and to be more of Mary who sat at Our Lord's feet. I was single all during my 30s and didn't marry until I was 48 — and yes, my "forties rocked."

  76. tootie

    Happy Birthday!! Hope you have a wonderful day!

  77. Sandy C.

    Happy Birthday! I'm turning the big 5-0 in three weeks so I will share.

    If I could tell my 33 year old self one thing it would be this: SLOW DOWN AND BREATHE IN EVERY MOMENT. Enjoy your kids in the baby/toddler/preschool stage. It will be over too soon. (I know it wouldn't have helped me one bit to have heard that when my kids were 5 and 3 and I was busy working and still trying to figure out how to be a mom.) Also, no matter what you (my 33 year old self) think of your weight, hair, face and body, enjoy it. It doesn't get any better as the years go by. πŸ˜‰ (Well, I do like my hair better now. LOL.)

    And cling to God. Eternity is the real goal and all that matters.

  78. Blondie

    This may be totally shallow but here goes (I will be 40 in June, btw)…

    You will – amazingly and shockingly – have a second baby at 36…lose at least 10 more pounds (I lost 40 pounds when I was 33).

    Happy birthday!!

  79. Anonymous

    First of all, I can't believe you are only 33! You have packed a lot of living in 33 years. I don't have any other advice than, keep the Faith. God Bless you and Thank God for you and all you do for us out here in cyberspace-Peace, Regina

  80. Amy

    Happy birthday!! I just turned forty recently, and the one thing I would tell my 33 year old self is that life gets better as you get older. Forty has been like magic for me so far–I'm so much more accepting of myself, so much less worried about the things that have consumed me up to this point, so much more at peace.

    The other thing I would tell myself is, "Don't worry, be happy!"

    Enjoy your day!

  81. Love2Learn Mom

    Happy Birthday!

    I would say, don't assume that you know what to expect in the future.

    I'm still surprised and a little sad (though I can't complain much with my beautiful gang of six kids!) that my youngest – who just turned six – was born when I was 33.

    I am grateful that my husband and I really enjoyed the babyhood stage with each child even more than the last, so we have no regrets about plugging through it begrudgingly or anything like that.

    I'm frequently amazed at the gift that each unique child is and we would happily welcome more babies into our home, but God has a plan and I'm sure that it is good. πŸ™‚

  82. Piecefulafternoon

    Scrunch every little second of joy out of every day – remember the little things – play with the kids more – laugh more – enjoy enjoy enjoy – those are the things that count – and hug the kids and say I love you a zillion times a day – and rejoice in the happiness of having kids!!!!! Look into their faces every single day and tell them you love them!!!!

  83. Elizabeth

    So much love to you, friend, on your birthday! Can you believe we are almost *exactly* two months apart in age? Hee hee.

  84. Roxane B. Salonen

    Jennifer, Happy Birthday To You! When I saw "33" I thought sure it was going to be a post about Jesus' years on earth. πŸ™‚ So, I'm 41 and probably should have some sound advice to offer, but it's all escaping me at the moment. (That's one effect of being "old.") With my youngest going into full-time kindergarten next year, and my oldest heading into high school, I've finally discovered it's true what they say about it going fast. Really and truly, someday you will not be wiping bottoms. You probably won't miss that, but there are other things you will miss, so during the moments in which you have perspective, love up all the people in your life while you can. (We all need this reminder, no matter our age…)

  85. Christine

    LOVE YOUR BLOG! I could link you everyday!

    I am almost 42…really? How the heck can I be almost 42….I BLINKED! That's what happened. I kid you not…you will blink and be older. The time goes by so fast and those babies grow up.

    To my 33yr old self…one day you will be almost 42 and blessed with another child. My 33yr old selfish self would say NO WAY!

    My 42yr old self is thankful not to have ever closed that door in my life.

    All the other stuff is good too. Take care of yourself. Save money. Avoid bad debt. Love those around you. Cherish your faith.


  86. MemeGRL

    Happy birthday!
    I would tell my 33 year old self the same thing I keep trying to remind my 41 year old self: There is a purpose to all this, even if you can't see it right now. Give it to Him to use for good.
    That's sounding like more of a downer than I meant a birthday wish to be, but with almost another decade of watching God's hand, I still need reminding and am still gloriously surprised every time. I need to work on the appreciation without the surprise. But that's my issue, not yours! Thanks for the interesting question.

  87. Susan M

    Happy Birthday Jen. My advice: real love really does conquer all.

    May God, who you remind us so often, is love, bless you today and always.


  88. kimberly

    First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Second, thanks for asking this question because … third … thanks to everyone for posting such wonderful comments. I've learned a lot from reading what y'all have learned. God bless you Jennifer!

  89. Agnes Regina


  90. Stephanie

    Happy Birthday!

    I turn 30 on Saturday. Yay me! I'm so excited. So being younger I do not have any original advice of my own, but I can pass on the very best piece of advice that my husband and I received when we were newlyweds.

    "Defending myself never helps to heal your heart."

    May the Lord continue to bless you.

  91. La gallina

    Happy Birthday. My husband and I have an even better marriage now than we did at 33. (We're both 41.) We were crazy about each other back then, but time has only brought us closer.

  92. Mary

    Happy Birthday!! I will celebrate the tenth anniversary of my 33rd birthday later this year. If I could go back in time and chat with my 33 year old self, here is what I would say:
    *RELAX, BREATHE and be IN the MOMENT. The dishes and laundry will wait but playing in the rain with your children will not. Neither will reading Fox in Sox 50 more times. These are the things they remember when they go off to college.
    *Spend time with your hubby. This relationship is the most important one to maintain outside of your relationship with God. Kids will grow up and leave, Husbands will hopefully stay.
    *It is OK to say "no" to activities that take you out of the house. The children do not need to be involved in twelve different activities. One per child will do. Time together as a family is much more important. Again, this is what they will remember when they go to college.
    *Be kind to yourself. Get away occasionally to walk the aisle of the book store alone or hike a trail. This time will rejuvenate and refresh you. This is key for being the best wife and mommy you can be. Don't feel guilty, Just Do IT!
    Have a wonderful birthday! May God continue to bless you and your family.

  93. KimP

    I would say, "Life is about to get SO much better. At 33 you think you know so much, but in 10 or 15 years you are going understand so much more. What bothers you now won't matter later. It will all pass. Your relationships will get better, more intimate, or they will end. Your friends become old friends and are so much dearer. Your health will be more important to you than what you weigh. Your kids will need you less for their physical needs, but will need you more for their emotional needs. You will be able to sleep in some mornings! You will love life more than you do now, and you will love God more than you do now. Have fun!"

  94. MB

    Happy Birthday!
    45 here and mom to nine, ages 2-24.
    At 33 I was still thinking I needed to be in control, and that all my kids had to look and act perfect, becuase the world always watches a large family (6 kids then) with a critical eye.

    Now that I am a homeschooler, a "new mom" over 40, and mom to nine-well, I finally realize that the only opinions that count are my family's, and more importantly, God's. So what if the world, which loves reality television, plastic surgery, and having the "choice" to abort one's own child-so what if that world thinks we are strange. Why would that opinion matter?

    Since I have been a mom at 20, and a mom again at 43, I always say that I may have had more energy at 20, but now I know better how to spend that energy.

    Worrying about what other people think is wasted energy.

    And worrying itself never made a thing better.

    Anyway-you appear to have more maturity than I ever did at 33. Congratulations on your "coming home" to motherhood, the church, and the fulfillment of all that God has created you to be.

  95. Judith

    Happy Birthday! I'm thanking God for you today!

    Looking back, I'd tell my 33 year old self:
    to spend more time with God (go deeper in Word and prayer); to cling more to my husband (remember I'm a wife and not just a mom); to think more clearly about the implications of my career choices for my future; to not be so hard on myself for not being the perfect wife/mother/daughter/pastor .
    But I don't know if I would have listened! LOL

  96. Sarah - Kala

    I'd tell my 33yoself: Don't let anyone or anything steal your joy!!

    I'll be 41 this year – make the most of your life by really being present in each moment. Don't be afraid to live out loud and with the great joy Christ has given you. And forgive the bad junk and move on as quickly as you can. You should never dwell on the forgiven things.

  97. Dorian Speed

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer! I hope you enjoyed your previous year of life, which was your last chance to be "a number raised to the fifth power" years old. I know – hindsight is 20/20.

    As far as advice, I have heard that Victoria, Texas is really lovely this time of year. πŸ˜‰

  98. Jean M. Heimann

    Happy Birthday! I would say, enjoy every moment of your life and take extra special care of all the gifts that God has given you. Your health, your home, your family could be gone tomorrow.

    Focus on what's important to you in your life — not the things in your life, but the people, and love them with all your heart. Continue to grow in your love for Him and in developing that close personal relationship with Him and in opening up your heart to His will.

    Have a beautiful and blessed birthday!

  99. graciax452

    Happy Birthday!

  100. Christopher Lake

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer (a bit late but nonetheless)! πŸ™‚

    I'm "only" 36 now (though I often feel much older, in many ways), but if I could go back to 33, I would say to myself, "Read more widely than just the theological tradition to which you currently assent." I will explain. For almost five years now, I have been a happy, convinced Reformed Protestant– specifically, of the Calvinist theological tradition. Even though it is often (too often) wrongly understood by many and even caricatured, there is so much that is good and right about Calvinism– an emphasis on the sovereignty, majesty, power, and grandeur of God, a passionate love for His holiness, a right concern for holy living, as His people, etc.

    However, for most of my time in the Reformed Calvinist tradition, I have read little other, in terms of Christian theology and devotional literature, *than* Calvinistic books. In the last four months or so, I have begun to read more widely (as I once did, years ago) within Christianity– C.S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft, and many others. I haven't rejected the basic things that I believe about God and His ways with us, but my understanding has been enriched– though I'm not a Catholic, one might say that my thinking is becoming more Thomistic (Aquinas also being very strong on the doctrines of God's sovereignty and grace himself)!. I am glad for the enrichment of reading more widely within Christianity.

    I would also strongly advise my 33-year-old self (if I could go back) not to give up his apartment in D.C. and move across the country for a relationship (already engaged at the time) that didn't ultimately lead to marriage… but we have our plans, and God has His, and He does work all things for good for those love Him, who are called according to His purpose! Happy Birthday again! πŸ™‚

  101. DanaSr

    Happy Birthday Jen!

    At 33 (I am now 56) I had been married (very happily) for 12 years and had three children, 4,8,10. In addition to agreeing 100% with Sandy C., I'd add that you will, if honest, have many regrets in the years ahead but time spent with family and friends will not be one of them.

    Faith, Hope and Love; now and always – God bless you

  102. Spinning Out of Control

    I would tell my 33 year old self some very basic things. #1 Breath in every second of your children. They grow up so incredibly fast. #2If it's a problem you can throw money at, it's not a problem. #3 Forget about the future! All you really absolutely have is today. As Jesus said, ""Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day."

    Just know that the things you thought were important when you're 33, aren't important anymore at 43. We change with each decade.

    Happy Birthday πŸ™‚

  103. Tereza Crump aka MyTreasuredCreations

    WOW! that is a great question to ask…shows you are a wise woman. πŸ™‚ I am 39 years old… so maybe I don't have a lot of advice to give, but I would say don't worry about your body. Be thankful for it, and whatever it looks like. As women, I think we spend way too much time stressing over how big our thighs are, how unruly our hair is, how big our behind is and blah blah blah. There is so much we could be doing with that wasted time. The other thing I would say is to enjoy the people in your life more, smile more, don't waste opportunities to share the Father's love with anyone that crosses your path. Let go and let God. Don't worry, but be thankful. Enjoy Jesus everyday.

    and Happy Birthday!!!

  104. Karyn

    I'm only 34 but 33 was the year I started going to church (somehow I thought it being "Jesus's year" made it more important). So my only advice right now is to surround yourself with inspiration (as your blog is to me). Happy birthday!

  105. Just Words On A Page

    I would say "Get yourself back in school and finish your education even if you are not going to go find a job after you are finished."

    I would also say "Go write that book you have been talking about for ten years and never did a thing about.

    " I would say in five years if it's not going to be a big deal don't worry about it now."

    Happy Birthday!

  106. Anonymous

    I would say:
    Don't worry so much about the minutiae of your children's sleep patterns. Even if one of them is clinically defined as The Worst Sleeper Ever, you won't remember it ten years from now.

  107. Leila

    Happy birthday!

    I started blogging to tell my 20-year-old self (or any clueless girl out there) a few things!

    When I was 30 I thought I knew everything!

    Now that I'm almost 50 I KNOW I know everything πŸ˜‰ JK LOL as my almost 13 DD says.

  108. Maraiya

    I'm not sure if you will even read this far down.

    33 – I used to go around telling people, "Did you know that's how old Jesus was when he died?" On my SIL's 33rd birthday she responded, "I know. It's my year of miracles." I adopted that and made 33 my year of miracles and make some goals based on that.

    In hindsight, I wish my CDO personality hadn't taken over – I made a list of 33 miracles but I never did really pray over them.

    My advice – use your year of miracles. Pray over what your miracles should be and work with God to create those miracles.

    Happy 33. I loved my year. (I'm 34.) πŸ˜‰

  109. 'Becca

    Happy birthday!!

    Enjoy your health and day-to-day well-being as it is now; it may change any time. My mom told me when I was about 20 that "the prime of life" is from 30 to 35, and now that I'm 36 I'm inclined to agree! Not that I have any serious health problems now (except for one that's been with me a long time), but stiff muscles and digestive problems and other day-to-day annoyances that make me "feel old" are much more part of my life than they used to be.

    Read some good fiction. It has more to teach you about humanity than most nonfiction.

    Mark your calendar 4 months ahead for your 33 1/3 birthday, the time to celebrate long-playing records! If you own a turntable, have a party where everyone brings you a record. (Surely Austin has a used-record store.) If not, borrow a turntable and have people bring records for the occasion.

  110. Anonymous

    I am in my 70's and I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog Jen. It gives me hope for the future!
    As far as what I would change:
    When I was 33 it was 1970 and I had 3 little boys 18mos apart. I wish I had breast fed them. At that time all we had was Dr. Spock recommending us to feed them with the bottle every 4 hrs.
    Secondly, I wish I had taught them its ok to say "no" – to stand up for themselves. I preached peace and forgiveness to keep my sanity.
    Thirdly, I would respect their differences and not force all of them to participate in sports, etc. You young women have a lot going for you with all the information available on the web, blogs, TV, etc. I salute you for being willing to have more than 2 children. God bless you! Keep up the good work!

  111. Anonymous

    enjoy it! ( said in a french accent!)

  112. Anonymous

    I'm not 33 yet either, but here's my advice: Your house will someday be clean again, but your babies will never be babies again.

    That may be a sanity preserver (whew, these kids will grow up and stop peeing on the couch!) or a cause for wistfulness (we'll never have these precious moments again so we must seize the day), but either way, it's worth keeping in mind.

  113. Kelly

    My dear , read the blog -Meditation from the Cardinal Nest – by Ruth !
    At January 7 post ,you will see one amazing story about one amazing sister .She`s looking for founds to feed some hungryes childrens .
    I just thinking how i can realy help !??
    I pray that Joy For All will minister to it's visitors
    and will encourage and bless everyone in some way.
    We can identify with the disciples. At times, we have
    a tendency to focus on the things that are going on around us instead of the One that is in control of all things. When that happens, reality may seem overwhelming, and the problems appear unsolvable. However, we must realize to be fearful
    is to lack faith in God and in His provision for us. True faith focuses on God, not on the things that are happening.
    Psalm 139:11-12
    If I say, surely the darkness shall fall on me,
    Even the night shall be light about me.
    Indeed, the darkness shall not hide
    from You, but the night shines as the day,
    the darkness and the light are both
    a like to You.
    Happy Bithday !!!!!!!!!!
    in Jesus love >> Kelly

  114. Anonymous

    I'm 49 now. If I could talk to my 33 year old self I would tell her to get out of debt now and STAY out of debt — because you have more choices in life if you are not shackled by interest payments.

    I would also tell her to get disciplined about diet and exerecise now, while her 30-something body still cooperates. After I turned 40, my body began to HANG ON to weight and, since that had never been an issue in my life, I had never had reason to develop willpower about diet and exercise.

  115. mummates

    Jennifer,when confrontations arise, always leave the door open for reconciliation. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Far better to have a spirit of generosity than one of suspicion. Never harbour resentment. Have a forgiving heart. Let your cheerfulness everyday add a sparkle to someone's day. I am seventy six. Happy birthday !

  116. Tienne

    Happy Birthday Jen! As a fellow 33er, I have no advice, but am eagerly reading these comments! Great idea. πŸ™‚

  117. Robyn/Ginkgo100

    My gosh, I had NO IDEA you were so old. I won't be your age for three more weeks! You ancient codger!

    No advice here, because my brain has shut down for the day. Perhaps tomorrow some wisdom will dawn on me!

  118. Gema


    Your article made me remember the line from a popular song, "I'd give a million tomorrows for just one yesterday."
    I am 75 years old now and looking back I would say to myself when I was 33 years old, "Diana, try every now and then in your busy, often hectic life to think of the words to this song; Because when you are 75 years old the day that you are living right now could be the day that you would select to be the day that you would give a million tomorrows for just that one day yesterday.

    Diana Hanna

  119. Headless Mom

    Happy birthday! Only 33? Such a baby-and I say that in the nicest way possible, really.

    Advice? I had my babies at 31 and 33 and I would tell myself to get out of the house more often. Really. I know it's a hassle sometimes but even going to the park and getting some fresh air helps. I stayed inside too much and secluded myself. Don't do that!

  120. Stan

    Wow. What would I say to the me of 15 years ago? Love and appreciate what you have (lost my mom and in-laws by 43). I pray for them always and take great comfort in prayer but I miss them and can't believe some of the stupid ways I acted. Also, friends who are now divorced that resulted in no more talks by the fence or Summer crab dinners in the backyard. Now, don't get sad just trying to say that no matter how old you are make certain that you live in the moment and thank God for everything you have – HIM.

    Happy Birthday!

  121. Tami Boesiger

    Life will get easier as the kids get older. Don't get so frustrated now.

  122. Dawn Farias

    Happy Birthday! I'm also 33.

  123. Anonymous


    I'm a 51-yr old SAHM in our last year of homeschooling. (16 consecutive years with all boys).

    The decision to homeschool them was the biggest defining factor in the quality of our family's life and the character of our boys. While it is by no means easy, it produces a rich closeness and protection for your children that you will never regret. This, coupled with weekly church atendance and involvement, have been the two pillars that have guided my decisions as a mom.

    My DH and I made the decison nervously, wondering if we'd mess up our kids by taking them out of the mainstream, but it was an unfounded concern. I thank God with all my heart that we homeschooled and were given the grace to be faithful to Him. It meant giving up some personal "dreams" I had about pursuing a career that would have limited my time for the kids. If you have to set personal advancement aside for a time, do it without worrying. God knows the ways He will use you, and it will be in His time.

    3 quick pieces of advice:

    1.Stop worrying about money, clothing, food, your weight, what people think about you, and politics (that's a big one for this former news junkie).

    2. More is accomplished by prayer than I realized back then.

    3. God is smarter and far more active in our life than most of us realize.

  124. Potamiaena

    Be kind to yourself. Love who you are and know God created you that way! Spend time every day growing in your spiritual life (a little every day adds up)

    Thanks for YOU Jen, and your great blog.

  125. elizabethe

    I'm only 4 years older than 33, but as an incorrigible slacker and excuse maker I would tell that self to stop making excuses and to stop wasting time and to attend carefully and consciously to every task I have before me.

    I would try to explain that just 4 short years later, the problems I keep putting off are still there, only now more annoying and it actually takes more energy to ignore things and put them off than to do them.

    I would also share a semi-vision experience I had in Mass a few weeks ago. I was standing in the back of mass and thinking about the things I have to do but don't want to do when I saw a mental image of Jesus — the mosaic of Jesus holding fire from the back of the Basilica for the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D. C. (which is not where I was at the time)–float up in front of me and I heard a voice saying "whose time are you wasting?"

    It's all God's time. That's what I would share and that's what I want to share with you.

    Thank you so much for your blog. Thank you!!!! And Happy Birthday!!!!!!!

  126. Becky D.

    I'm 43. 33 was one of my tough years right before my real conversion/reawakening in my faith life. By 34 I would have to say God's grace and mercy and love and the wisdom of the Church. Accepting the past and letting God take control of the future. Oh I hope that somewhat answers your question or makes a bit of sense.

  127. Bridget

    Happy Birthday! You share a birthday with my oldest daughter, Kate!

  128. ChloΓ©

    Happy birthday!! Have a blessed day πŸ™‚

  129. Peter and Nancy

    Hmmm . . . I am 40 now, and my 33-year-old self had NO idea that we would be adopting two of our four children, or that I would be volunteering with a ministry that reaches out in Jesus' name to women who work in the sex industry. All that to say — as surprised as you are by your conversion, God probably has a few more surprises us his sleeve!

    Can't wait to keep on reading your blog to find out what those surprises are. :o) Happy Birthday!

  130. mil

    Happy Birthday, Jen! When I was 30 I had 3 children under three, moved to a town where I knew not a soul and thought for the first time ever in my life that God wasn't listening to me. Now, 20 years later I realize that He was listening. He was directing my life I just needed to listen to Him instead of just cry. I learned babies really do grow up, you are not doing diapers or cutting up food forever, and time really does fly. You are further along than I was when I was 33, and I am a cradle Catholic. But God took me where I was, when I was ready and has taken me down a path I would have never imagined but am so grateful for. I now have five children, my oldest is 22, my youngest eleven and I wish I had had more. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thy own understanding."

  131. Monnie

    Happy Birthday! I'm ten years behind you, but have gleaned so much from reading through the comments above. Great idea to ask for advice from those who have been in your shoes already!

  132. Patrick O'Hannigan

    Happy Birthday! I'm about ten years older than you, but you're already wiser than I am. I did want to pass this on, though, because it has helped me: a big part of growing into a life-affirming maturity is a willingness to forgive onself and others.

  133. RueMom

    A belated Happy Birthday!! I'm 61 years old, and I'm sorry to say I FEEL old! Probably because I didn't take good enough care of myself when I was 33! Moral: Take care of your body and your mind NOW!

    But even more important is your spiritual health – and you, my dear, are way ahead of me and most definitely, way ahead of where I was at your age. I wish I had known more women like you when I was 33 with young children. I would have been a better Mother myself I think.

    Oh, my kids turned out great – by the grace of God – but I know I coulda, shoulda, woulda spent more time with them – reading to them, praying with them, teaching them, loving them – if I could do it over. (I tell my sweet step-daughter that I wish she had been a mother before I was – I could have learned so much!)

    Keep doing what you are doing. I have a feeling that you are on the right path. God is blessing you and you in turn are blessing us with your blog and your writings.

    Thanks for being you and sharing who you are with us.

  134. Judy

    One huge thing I wish I had known was that most of the things I blamed my husband for were really my fault. I needed a lot of time and prayer to begin to see this.

    Not that we haven't been happy together–quite the opposite! We're crazy about each other, and just had our 45th anniversary.

    But I had some issues with self-esteem, and was never particularly patient, and…I could go on and on, you get the picture. My husband is very loyal, patient, humble,and tolerant, loathe to argue, just a super guy, but I pushed a lot of my dissatisfaction with myself onto him. Now I can see it plainly; how I wish I had known to look at the situation honestly back then.

  135. Dymphna

    Don't worry about what other people say! Have the guts to raise your kids the way you want to raise them–not the way everyone else says you have too.

  136. eulogos

    I wish I understood what a privilege it was to be home with my children. I wish I understood how wonderful it was to have them all home with me, and to be so important to them. I wish I had the courage to teach them my faith, which I was embarrassed about because I had been brought up with ideas about indoctrination being bad, and I guess I also thought it was so wonderful they would automatically see its truth without my making more of an effort, also I trusted to religious ed classes which were worse than useless.

    I wish I understood many things about my husband and our relationship that I don't even know how to express. That I had been less needful, and less resentful, for one thing. This deserves more space by its importance.

    I wish I had known about the Eastern rite and had started attending an ER parish and taken my kids there. Because the Latin mass at that point was like only at the SSPX and streng verboten,for schismatics only, and the Catholic churches I was going to were a danger to my faith, as well as my children's.

    Mostly, the kids, and how very special and precious that time was with them, that I had valued it more and wasted no time resenting that I wasn't a college professor or a doctor.
    Susan Peterson

  137. eulogos

    Oh, by the way, I am 59 1/2. I was 33 in 1983.
    I had six children and was pregnant with the seventh.
    Oh, and Happy Birthday.
    God grant you many years.
    Susan Peterson

  138. Anonymous

    If I could say anything to my 33-year-old self, I'd say:

    "Have more kids!"


    "Revel in Catholicism!"

    Don't just identify as Catholic. That's too easy. Live Catholic. Breathe Catholic. Eat Catholic. Pray Catholic. Parent Catholic. Decorate Catholic. Sing Catholic. And above all, die Catholic.

  139. Anonymous

    Happy Birthday, Jen..
    I am 60. If I had a do over,
    I would say two things to myself:
    a. You will regret very much not having children.
    b. You will regret that you somehow,
    almost subconsciously, turned your back on God until He got your attention most powerfully when you were 47.

  140. Erica

    When I was 33, I was 50 pounds over weight and still STILL extremely lacking in either the husband or the children I so desperately yearned for, prayed for, yelled rather loudly and cried rather consistently at God about for years and continued to.

    Since then, I surrendered my eating to Jesus and lost the weight, God FINALLY got me to my husband, God FINALLY gave me my kids, and now after two pregnancies I've been reunited with my original 50 pounds. And I've never been happier. So I think I would tell my 33 year old self, "hang in there. All those things you're wishing for and yearning for and praying for are coming. God knows the plans He has for you, and they are plans for wicked amazing mind blowing awesomeness beyond your wildest imagination and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. God has not forgotten you and He really does love you. Really. Hang in there. Stick with your Shepherd, keep with your flock. He's leading you on a good path and he's got you with a good group. Sure, they're all sheep, but … so are you, so, cope."

    Happy Birthday,

  141. Jet

    I've been thinking about this since your b'day—happy belated, btw!
    I would tell myself (8 yrs ago):
    moisturize and wear sunscreen,
    relax and enjoy each child (then 5 and 2) as an individual–each stage, good or bad is only temporary. Love them in as many ways as possible and tell them that they're presents from God.
    The pregnancy that you 1st feared/dreaded then missed so terribly after the m/c was God's way to awaken such a deep yearning that He would give you sons at 37 and another at 41 and the desire for more, believe it or not!
    Pray for your husband and offer up sufferings for his conversion from lukewarm reluctance to being able to share the spiritual journey and even pray together. (Still not there.)

    Yes, you CAN handle more–just pray for grace and ask for the intercession of the Saints; especially, of the Blessed Mother.

    Finally, as someone told me, the days seem to drag but the years fly by.

    Jen, you are much farther in your spiritual development than I was at that time and am now.

    Thanks for your blog. You are so inspirational!

    Caritas, pax et salus,


  1. 34 | Conversion Diary - [...] for a gift! I’d like to gain the wisdom of people who have already been down this path. We…

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