January 10, 2011 | 108 comments

I turn 34 on Wednesday, and I would like to ask for a gift! I’d like to gain the wisdom of people who have already been down this path. We did this last year, and it was so wonderful that I wanted to do it again this year. So I ask:

If you are older than 34, what would you do differently if you could go back to this age? If you could have a chat with your 34-year-old self, what would you say?

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. (And if you commented last year, feel free to comment again now! Let us know anything new you’ve learned in the past year.)


  1. Sue

    Happy Birthday!!! Today (1/10) is my 40th birthday!

    I think I would tell my 34 year old self that the elementary years fly by even faster than the baby/toddler years, and to make sure I am paying attention! My oldest kids are now in middle school, and I can hardly believe it. I am trying hard not to panic about the fact that I have so few years left before they are young adults, and to enjoy every single day!

    I am praying for your leg situation. Please do keep us updated!

  2. Dawn

    My 34th year was the hardest of my entire life. I developed a chronic pain disorder, lost a child, and had an adoption fail. What I would do differently is accept that sometimes, you can do everything right and still find yourself in profound suffering. When our adoption failed I was devastated. We had had to find our adopted son a new family because the agency did not tell us he had severe special needs, which we could not meet. We ended up with our life savings destroyed and went into debt to get him help and find him a new family. Our biological children were traumatized and had to go through therapy for nearly a year afterward. I was also very confused: How could we do something as loving and altruistic as adopt a child but have it go so wrong?

    It took me a long time to realize that sometimes, you are right in the middle of God’s will and your life will seem to fall apart anyway. I say “seem” because that year changed the entire course of our lives. The debt prompted us to sell our house and seek a new job in Alaska. So now we live in Alaska in a house that fits us so much better. Our family is so much closer and my children are much healthier emotionally. The therapist for our adopted son recommended a therapist for me, and I resolved issues that have plagued me for 20 years. Resolving the underlying stress issues improved my health enormously and I am now doing so much better. I wish I had understood that lesson–that God may use suffering to bring about a greater good in our life. It isn’t always about moving and starting over, but sometimes it is about helping us grow in humility and holiness. And in trust.

  3. Judy @ Learning To Let Go

    My husband and I just celebrated our 46th anniversary, and so my thoughts right now are on the marriage bond more than the mother-child bond. I would say, keep a sense of humour and be sure to laugh at yourselves as much as possible. When I was 34, I was experiencing some of the most stressful times in our marriage, partly because I was staying home with the children and we didn’t have much money. (The kids tell us now that they had no idea at the time that we were poor. Interesting.) So…trust your spouse. Thank God for him. You may well be together for many years, so don’t neglect to put energy into treasuring your relationship. It doesn’t require ‘date nights’ necessarily, but a commitment to never stop communicating your hearts to each other, even through tough times.

    And of course you know this, but the children benefit from a strong bond between husband and wife. At this age, the children are demanding your energy, but don’t be railroaded–nurture your marriage!

  4. Leila

    Okay, this is going to sound so darn practical, but it took me twenty years and eight kids to figure it out.

    Type up a list of detailed instructions for cleaning each room of the house. I mean, list everything! List supplies needed, from the number of rags to the type of cleaner, then step by step instructions. It may take time to type up all the instructions for each of the rooms, but that’s okay. Take your time. It’s taken us (Dean and me) over a month to type it all up.

    Even though your kids are still too young to clean to those specifications, it will help YOU tremendously now. But most importantly, this sets the stage for your children to step right in later. Trust me, you will need them to do that!! If you have a step-by-step list of instructions for every room and bathroom, and even every chore, then they will have NO EXCUSE when it comes time to clean.

    Well, that’s it. You asked what I would do if I could go back ten years (I’m almost 44), and that’s the main thing! Not too spiritual, it seems. Although really, it is virtue-building on so many levels….

    Happy Birthday, you spring chicken, you!

  5. Jean

    When I was 34, I was single and was immersed in my career goals. I wish I would have been more focused on family, faith, and the things that really matter in life. My priorities were disordered.

  6. Magnificat

    It was 7 years ago.
    Nothing important changed in my life in the meantime, and I’m not very delighted by that fact. Although, the only thing I would change is not to live in aura of “waiting for the miracle”, ’cause it only brings deep, very deep dissappointments.
    Living day by day in the presence of God is the only way to feel spiritual joy and contentment. Therese of Lisieux knew that in her twenties. I’m still learning :-(((

  7. Theresa in Alberta

    I am 48 & 1/2 years old….If I was 34 I would put Christ FIRST in my life!!!! I would get rid of the cable feed on the TV and only allow my kids to watch non violent videos. AND I would “divorce” myself from any TOXIC relationships. I would try to nuture my children better and play those silly childish games that are so important to children.
    Have a very Happy Birthday !!

  8. Theresa in Alberta

    p.s. “Divorce” as in toxic friends or family members who are NOT my husband πŸ˜‰

  9. Mary

    You have some wonderful advice in these comments. I am 57. I would tell my 34 year old self to accept where God put me and trust in joyful hope for the future, but live for the moment. There is joy in the moment if I can step outside myself and find it. Things didn’t go as I had planned at 34 and all my efforst couldn’t change them. I had to accept that what happened was God’s perfect plan for my life and not some messed up mistake that it seemed to me. It was wonderful and I just didn’t know it.

  10. Julia at LotsaLaundry

    1. Figure out what makes each of your children feel special. Write it down. Make sure you do that thing frequently.

    2. Nourish your marriage.

    3. Try to find the balance between nourishing and indulging yourself. (That’s a ten-year project!)

    4. Live your priorities.

  11. Evelyn

    I was just in the baby-steps stages of leaving an abusive marriage at 34. Obviously you’re in a very different situation, but the principle of what saved me applies: Let God love you. Don’t feel bad that you sometimes need “crutches” to get through hard times; instead be grateful that God sends them. They are manifestations of His grace.

  12. Suzette

    When I was 34 I had a 5 year old + 3 year old and I feel like I wished a lot of time away. I know it sounds so cliche, but I wish I had lived more in the moment. I have copious photos from that time, but I think I was more about the photo and less about the actual moment. I had also converted to Catholicism but I really wasn’t doing anymore than attending Mass. I wish I had started traditions like Family Rosary, soup kitchen volunteering, etc. I am now 10 years older and it is very difficult to institute things like that with a 15 + 13 year old. Happy Birthday! Your blog is a blessing!!

  13. Tina

    I’m 42, mom of 9 yr old triplets and an almost-8-yr old who was born when I was 34. I’m loving the 40’s more than any other decade. I’m comfortable with me. I’m learning how to say “yes”–for years it was no because I was too nervous or, well, too busy with four under 2 yrs old. My advice? Say yes more often–or, as much as you can with as many little ones as you have. Saying yes brings interesting things into your life.

  14. Sue from Buffalo

    I’m loving these comments.

    I think that I would tell myself to not worry about trying to prove myself to myself. Go to Eucharistic Adoration more and pour your heart out to him. But you know, it really took me years to understand and accept that he was really listening. Sometimes it takes time and experiencing life to have all this stuff take meaning. (Does this make sense?) You can know something intellectually but it takes life experiences to understand things in your heart.

  15. Maggie Dee

    My yougest turned 5 that year. I would have kept her home to homeschool or at the very least pulled her out of her current class/teacher. I would have listened more and talked less, and I would have converted to the Catholic faith when my husband wanted to way back then instead of being so stubborn.

  16. lisa

    I had 5 children under 6 by the time I hit 34, and I was a bit overwhelmed (to say the least). A friend at the time told me that someday, not every chore would rest in my hands, but would be handled by my children when they became older. On some days that was a kind of mantra for me to get me through. Lo and behold, I have 5 children between the ages of 7 and 13 now (not to mention 2 toddlers and a baby), and with 8 children, my home is easier to run now than it was with fewer children because I have children who are capable and willing to help (usually!) That is what I would tell myself on those days when things just seemed overwhelming and so disordered, (because as you know, there can’t be a regular daily routine when kids are numerous and little…too many variables): They will get older, they will help and we will have a great time together! (Then you enter into the time when one of your own children can babysit the others, and OH JOY! What a sense of freedom for you and independence for that child). Happy Birthday and enjoy the time with them while they are all little – get them ready for being bigger!

  17. Sarah Webber

    34 was just last year for me, so I don’t have a lot of perspective yet. But one of the themes at our church recently was a distillation of John Wesley’s most popular saying: Do No Harm. Do Good. Stay in Love with God. And I’d say that covers it well. Love God. Love your family. Trust that when sorrows and struggles come, God will be with you on your way.

  18. Margo

    When I was 34 I was still not quite sure of who I was or who I wanted to be. I was afraid to assert myself and often found myself acquiescing to the demands of others rather than to voice my own opinions and share my own perspective on things. I didn’t feel that I deserved to have my own opinions and insights and therefore allowed other people to constantly take control. Now that I am in my early 40s I see life differently and though I am still a worrier, I don’t worry about things in the same way I did when I was 34. Life is easier in many ways. If I could go back in time to age 34 I would tell myself to stay right where I was. Because it was through that learning curve era that I evolved into the person I am today.

    Happy Birthday!

  19. Shiela

    I am 43 and will turn 44 this year. It happens in the blink of an eye. 34 seems like yesterday. If I could go back, not that I want to…and that is good news…I would tell myself to have faith and know that it will all work out. I would tell myself to have faith in all things, big and little. So, on your birthday, my gift to you is really a list of gifts for you to give.

    Be generous with the things you need the most. If you are struggling to pay bills, make a donation to a worthy cause. If you never seem to have enough time, then give it away freely to a friend or family member. If you feel your faith wavering, then take a big leap of faith. In our house, that usually means we have another baby. πŸ˜‰ If you have no patience, give whatever you have left to your husband. All of it will come back to you in spades. Happy Birthday!!

  20. Cathleen

    1. Floss
    2. Eat fewer sweets
    3. Walk more
    4. BTW…that voice in your head that tells you that you’re not good enough, you’re stupid/fat/ugly, etc…is NOT GOD. Slam a mental door on those negative thoughts and don’t entertain them. Then you’ll begin to understand that you are worthy of love simply because you are a beloved child of God. Only then can you begin to truly trust and accept the love offered by your family and friends.
    5. Life becomes unmanageable when you ignore your daily devotional time. Don’t skip it.
    7. The Blessed Mother is waiting for you. Your devotion to her will change your life. What are you waiting for?
    8. Floss some more.

    • Shiela

      Love the floss advice! I second that.

    • Sue from Buffalo

      I printed this one off. It’s a keeper.
      (make mental note to myself: floss. πŸ˜‰

    • Christine

      Cathleen.. WONDERFUL advice – I re-posted on my Facebook. Thanks!

    • Veronica

      Cathleen, since I have read your comments to this post, I can not get #7 out of my mind! I felt as if you were talking to me. I am a stay at home mother of 3, ages 10,7 and 4 1/2, and I have the opportunity to go to Fatima very soon. I would be gone for 8 days. Everything has fallen into place… it was my mother’s idea and she wants me to go, so she is taking care of the cost. My friend is able to travel with me (my husband’s only condition was that one of my girl friends goes along) and my mom and mother- in- law are willing to pitch in with the kids and help my husband. My only concern is the kids. I don’t leave my children often, and I am not sure I can leave them this time because of the length of time. You can see why your words about the Blessed Mother hit me, especially since I always refer to her as the Blessed Mother, and rarely any other title. If you have wisdom to share with me in this regard, I would be most grateful.

      • Cheryl

        Veronica, definitely go. Most people don’t have the opportunity to go to a place like Fatima. It sounds though our Lord has put things in place, resources, people around you so that you can take this opportunity. Just as a strong marriage is key to a strong family unit, so too a strong personal faith is key to a strong person. 8 days is only 2 % of the year. You’re there for your children the rest of the year. Go to Fatima, spend time under the mantle of our Blessed Mother, and come back to your family renewed in your vocation as wife and mother. God bless you.

        • Veronica

          Cheryl, I only received your reply today. I missed it in my inbox; sorry, I did not intend to put you off! πŸ™‚

          I wanted to let you know that I am going to Fatima. I will be leaving in a few weeks. Although I could never imagine leaving my husband and kids for this length of time, I feel certain that I am supposed to go. I am putting my trust in Our Lord and the Blessed Mother that all will be well both here with my family and with our travels. If you think of it, please say a prayer for us! Thank you for your encouraging words!

  21. Robert

    I would make make major life-decisions more slowly, with more prayer, with more emphasis on reason and faith and God’s will than on my feelings and personal preferences. I would also try to see how the littler decisions may be related to the major decisions, and try to avoid making the littler ones from the basis of feelings and personal preferences. It would be a way of preparing a path, on a daily basis, that is more God and faith and reason oriented.

    Sometimes, we get stuck on a path to a bad major decision by a habit of making poor little daily decisions. Then we have a hard time getting out of it and back on a good path.

    Happy birthday and God bless.

    • ~ Nona

      Terrific advice, Robert. Just terrific.


  22. BettyDuffy

    I’d say give it up–as in worrying about what a person my age is supposed to be doing or looking like or feeling. Live differently and embrace it.

  23. Nicole C

    I love this! I turn 33 on 2/2, and might steal this idea! Looking forward to reading more comments!

  24. Christian

    I’m 53 and wouldn’t be 34 again for all the Tea in China. All I’d say is if your life at 34 isn’t more substantial than at 24 you need to change something fast.

    Get married.
    Stay married.
    Have children.

  25. Jen G

    This seems to be a theme in your comment box, but I would say don’t think about the past or the future….live in the moment in the presence of God. You’ll have much more peace of mind that way. I’m still learning to do this; it’s taking me a while to totally get to that place! Also, if you tend to be passive/aggressive (as I am!) then be careful that you’re not being passive/aggressive with God. You can say “No” through your action as well as vocally.

  26. Caryn

    I am not 34. I am 32. I have 4 children spaced similarly to you. Oldest is 6 and youngest is 18 months. I hope that by the time I am 34, I learn to be more accepting of God’s plan and more loving of the person God made me to be.

  27. 'Becca

    I’d say, “Those women you’ve been doing volunteer work with for a few years and thought were your friends, who recently have been attacking you, talking about you behind your back, and failing to do things they promised to do–they’re not going to get any better. GET OUT NOW and give more time to your real friends, your family, and taking better care of yourself.” Instead I spent two more years working much too hard with them and being constantly on edge and doubting myself every time they were nasty to me. Live and learn….

    I don’t know if you are in any situation like that where you are pouring too much time and effort into a friendship that’s gone wrong, but if you have any that you think MIGHT be in that category, please stop and consider whether you are harming yourself by trying too hard. Sometimes working hard to fix a friendship, to make yourself acceptable to the friend, and to make the friend treat you properly, is really a form of PRIDE AND FAILURE TO TRUST GOD, and it’s better to admit defeat, back off and stop begging the person to love you, rest in the love of Jesus, and trust Jesus to take care of that person.

    I have to comment on the advice about flossing: Evaluate whether you are flossing enough based on your dental health, family history, and cumulative experience with flossing. I learned last Lent that it doesn’t do anything good for me, physically or spiritually. My brother recently told me that his dentist advised him to floss LESS. Maybe we just have a different kind of gums in our family? I’m sure it’s good advice for most people; just use your discernment. πŸ™‚

    Happy birthday!!! I’m so glad your medical situation isn’t dire, and I hope the pain goes away soon. Meanwhile, don’t forget to ask for help. You’ve taught me so much about that.

  28. PMLJ

    Happy Birthday! May God grant you many more years in health & happiness! I’m recently 41 & would remind my 34-year old self to remember to show MERCY as mercy has been shown to me.

  29. Headless Mom

    Like you, I was up to my eyeballs with little children at 34. I would tell my self to get out more often. Yes, it’s easier to stay at home, but getting out of the house will make you feel so so so so much better. Fresh air, conversation, it all leads to a better mommy. Also? Find blogging. (But you’ve already done that, haven’t you?)

    Happy Birthday!

  30. C

    My almost 44 year old self would tell my 34 year old self –

    Forget about what “everyone else” is doing
    Don’t assume what “everyone else” is thinking
    Give up your 10 year plans and to-do lists and expectations….
    Because God has something better planned that you had not dared to dream of!

    Also, work on humility, because as you get older, this one is needed more and more!

    Happy birthday! Hope to meet you in person at the Behold conference!

  31. Jill

    I would tell myself to worry less about what other people’s lives look like compared to mine, and focus more on the little moments of the kids’ everyday lives. I would tell them “I’d love to” or “It would be my pleasure” more when they asked me to do things for them (even if it was playing Candyland for the millionth time). I would take time out of every day to look in the eyes of each of my 5 children and tell them that I love them, and that God does, too. I would pray with them every day. I would beat myself up less about the things that didn’t get done during the day. Not everyone is organized and energetic. I’d embrace my natural introvert and remind myself that I did what I could during the day. I’d spend less time thinking about the things that didn’t get done and focus on the gifts God has given me. I would take more pictures and journal more. Most of all, I’d be more thankful for the opportunities God gives me to focus on Him instead of listening to the lies of the evil one.

    • IntrovertMommyof5

      Jill, I teared up when I read your comment. I am only 30, and I have 5 kids ages 7 down to 6 months. I have a bad habit of focusing on how other families are doing so much better than ours. Mainly because I was a straight A student, and those other families were, in my eyes “losers” in high school. (I know, horrible of me!) So reading your comment reminds me that I should be humble and thankful for Gods gifts. No more comparing myself!!! =)

  32. Sarah

    Don’t be afraid to be completely vulnerable and honest. That’s the main thing I would tell myself.

  33. Jill

    I would buy less and throw away more.

    • Joan

      GREAT ADVICE… and eat more chocolate, of course.

    • Catherine Post

      Yes, and put the funds that you used to fritter on stuff you bought, into an IRA. One day you will think you were so smart… πŸ˜‰

  34. Michael

    I am a member of the Knights of Columbus. We’re a men’s Catholic service fraternity.

    As part of our membership process, we have what are called “degree ceremonies”. These are basic introductions to various parts of the organization. You start with the first degree and work your way up to the fourth degree.

    Each degree has a team that performs the ceremony. When I was in my early thirties I was on such a team. We would travel around the state of Minnesota and put on these ceremonies for the councils around the state. This involved a large number of day trips. We would drive four to five hours out to a place, put on the ceremony and then return. During these trips we would play cards and chat.

    One member of my team was a wonderful man in his late eighties. On one trip I had the opportunity to sit next to him and we talked for hours. I had been at a place in my life where I was looking back at some of the stupid mistakes I had made in my mid-twenties. I had been kicking myself over these decisions and wondered when I was going to “grow up”. I told my octogenarian friend of my anger at myself and asked him the following:

    “When I was in my teens, I looked back on my younger childhood and though myself an idiot. When I was in my early twenties, I would look back at my teens and shake my head at the mistakes I made and stupid things I did. Now I am in my thirties and I look back on my twenties and wonder what I was thinking most days. You, being in your eighties, can you tell me when, at what age, you stop looking back at your previous decade and thinking you were an idoit.”

    He didn’t take a moment to respond, “when I hit that age, kid, I’ll let you know.”

    The lesson I took from this is that we always are making mistakes and, hopefully, learning from them. And we can’t beat ourselves up for what we were, but we have to take responsibility for what we are becoming.

  35. Paul, Just This Guy, You Know?

    At 34, I had just gotten married for the second time, to my now-wife-of-15-years.

    If I could choose one thing to do differently, we would start having kids MUCH sooner! I’m 48 now, and she’s 41, and we’ve pretty much resolved that the 4 awesome children we have is all our age and health will permit.

    But if we’d started earlier, we could have had three more!

  36. Craig

    Jennifer, I’d say (though I was so prideful I doubt I would have listened):

    Humility is brother to Love, and love is the only thing.

    See with better eyes, find the beauty in the severity.

    Stay on the narrow, the narrow is impressively wide.

    You cannot be β€œthere” without being β€œhere” first. You are now, where you are now. Good. Move ahead. But each step must have the name of God impressed deeply on it or the steps, even if they lead to success, lead only to disaster.

    You are young. You are old. You will die – and you will live.

    Remember it’s not who you are but whose you are, and that God disciplines those he loves – and he loves you boundlessly.

    May God bless and keep you and yours

  37. Mary Ostyn

    1. Daily devotion time!
    2. Daily walk! (Take a different kid with you every day!)
    3. Monthly date night with your hubby!
    4. Monthly coffee with a friend!

    • Lisa Schmidt

      I really like this advice, Mary! I turned 34 in June, too, and I’m going to ‘borrow’ this one! (Although living in Iowa, I’ll have to get creative on where to take those daily walks between November-April!) πŸ™‚

      • Joel Schmidt

        My 34th year included marrying the commenter above, best thing I ever did by far! What would 41-year-old me say to 34-year-old me? “Congratulations, you got something right…finally!”

  38. Jeff Schmitz

    I would tell myself, “Start your business NOW”

  39. Kris, in New England

    34 was nearly 14 years ago for me. My beloved father had passed away 2 years prior to my 34th birthday, my boss was sexually harrassing me, my marriage was unstable and, no surprise, I was about to enter the world of a nervous breakdown.

    If I could talk to that person from this 14-years-on perspective, it would be very specific.

    Trust your intuition. I knew somewhere deep inside that my boss was a pig and worse; and yet my fear of the unknown caused me to remain working for him far longer than I should have.

    It damaged my marriage; the entire experience nearly cost me everything, including my sanity.

    No job is that important; I eventually quit w/out having a job to go to simply because my fragile sanity was slipping into full-blown psychosis. Institutionalization was not too far away.

    My life changed so much after that; I could have spared myself and my husband so much pain and anguish if I had just trusted my intuition. It was a hard-earned lesson and one that, even all these years later, I have not forgotten.

    Since then whenever I don’t trust my intuition about anything – big or small – it goes awry. Even simple things turn into major revelations about my intuition.

  40. Paul Ambro

    I’m 40 now and 34 seems so much younger. πŸ™‚
    I would play more with my kids when they were little. Also take on those exercise challenges I’m starting now like running a 1/2 marathon.

  41. Sally

    I would love more and judge less. My life has been wrapped up in a self-protective form of scrutinizing others’ reactions to me, when I should have been more concerned about my reaction to them. “Them” includes husbands and children.

    When you love others on purpose with body language, facial expressions, and actions, your whole life is free.

  42. Jackie

    I just turned 64 and at the end of the month my wonderful husband and I will celebrate 44 years of marriage. We have 4 grown children, two great sons-in-law, and a new daughter-in-law, and our youngest daughter is getting married this year. We have four delightful grandchildren! I would not change lives with anyone! If I could go back and relive my life, I would slow down and listen to my children more and enjoy them. I’d bake more cookies with them and not stress about the mess. When I was 34, our children were 2, 7, 10, and 13. I remember being tired most of the time, and frustrated because I could not keep up with being the model homemaker, and flustered because of all the running I did to keep up with the various activities of my active family. Now I realize that the “stuff” I worried about then wasn’t that important. I thank God each day because He gave me a spouse who kept me centered on what was important! We have asked our grown children what they remember most about their childhood, and they tell us that it was the times when we had family night – (almost weekly!), and the family traditions we celebrated – May crownings (I still have the silk flower crown we used!), evening prayers with Dad always ending it with “God bless everyone!” They remember family games, learning how to do their own laundry, and special days with Dad – he made a point of taking them out individually and spending time with them.
    So – my advice – enjoy your family, make memories, play together, pray together, and don’t stress over the small stuff.
    My prayers are with you and your family.

  43. matt l

    i’m not much older than 34, so i’ll try to be humble ;-). I’d love to to back to myself two years ago and tell myself that god doesn’t are about all the things that i was *supposed* to have accomplished by this age. Rather, god cares that I love my wife, family, and world as christ loved us all.

  44. Marquis

    I would tell my 34 year old self:
    Become a Catholic.
    Get a degree.
    Go to a monastery.
    Love, Serve, Live.
    Forget the past.
    Forgive everything.

  45. Christine

    Hello Christine,
    You are going to have a baby at the age of 42…do not worry about it. You will be so blessed by this little girl.

    ENJOY you little ones because they change so much and time goes by so so fast.

    give more.

  46. Rosemary

    God and family are important. Love them.

  47. Jennifer

    At the age of 34 I had never been married- had not met anyone who was not selfless in order to marry. Which was just the same, because I probably would not have understood what it meant to be selfless. During the age of 34, my twin sister and I were living together. She was a widow and lost her entire fortune of finances, home, etc. My twin sister was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and had to undergo an single mastectomy. It was a very difficult time- We had no family support whatsoever. We did managed with support of friends- which are always those angels which God places in our lives.

    Today, my sister is doing well. I am now married- just 4 yrs now. However, I have learned a lot. It’s been a rough initial couple of years- but my husband and I have both learned many lessons. Mostly the lesson of the fact we are “the face of God” and to be Jesus-like to each other.

    Reading these stories and reflections are truly inspiring- God Bless everyone! Special intention prayer for Jennifer Fulwiler. Hope you are feeling better.

  48. Ruth Ann

    I turned 34 in 1980. My daughter and only child had been born 5 months before that. So I was in the initial stages of motherhood and loving it. My husband and I were also dealing with the fact that our daughter was born with complex cyanotic congenital heart disease. So, we knew there were major surgeries down the road for her. Looking back I count 5 major surgeries and innumerable “procedures” of various sorts. In between all of that, though, life was normal.

    My advice to anyone facing health problems with their children is don’t make too big a deal about it with the child. When it’s time for the big stuff, doctor visits, surgeries, etc., just say matter of factly, “Hey, today were going to see doctor so and so. It’s time for ___________. If there are questions from your child just answer them forthrightly, honestly, and keep it short. If you don’t know the answer just say, I guess we’ll have to ask the doctor. When it’s over resume life as usual. Don’t lower your expectations for your child. Don’t spoil your child. But love, love, love. And remember discipline is part of love. It need not be harsh.

    My daughter was married last May. She is happy and so are we, my husband and I.

    Keep God at the center of your life.

    • Robin

      When I turned 34, my twins were about to turn 3 and my daughter was about to be born. Twenty-three years later, I would say to that young woman, “You are going about this exactly right; you are reveling in your children and your family, and when you quit working part-time in six months, it will be the right decision for all of you. Continue to be joyfully present to every moment that you can manage, because life is going to bring you more sorrow than you can imagine. Love as heedlessly and extravagantly as you can, because you will need to draw on every ounce of strength that grows only out of love. Both the best and the worst await you twenty years hence; for now, live into the present.”

  49. ewk

    I second the FLOSS suggestion πŸ˜‰ Never enough of that – teeth DO affect our overall health.

    It truly dawned on me JUST yesterday, and I am 46 — that God LOVES me. I have known in my head but never really in my heart… We were heading to church and this guy pulls his car over to the right of ours in a lane that is really just for one car…but he wanted to turn and not wait. My husband glanced over and just shook his head, I (surprisingly) did not call the man a name or even think of something within. But really thought — “Well that is no surprise…” and just had a revelation of that what he was doing was exactly what we all do. Let our pride and ego rule — be stubborn babies (he was a senior citizen) misbehave, do our own thing…REALLY, no surprise. It is EXACTLY what I had just done as we got ready for church. I had an argument with my husband, handled something with a child in a not so admirable fashion (I could go on…) I really THEN understood HE loves me despite all those things, just as he loves that man…and that I was going to church (yay!) and would ask for forgiveness. I would really try to do better, to sink into God’s love — tell my husband and family I was sorry. I really have beat myself up for YEARS of not feeling worthy or thinking I could never be a saint…and letting myself go to the depths of misbehavior (in front of my children!!) because I have not accepted I am NOT perfect, but being perfected — a journey that will last until…? (not getting into theology ;-)) Ugh — this sounds odd, but I will work it out someday to be able to share more eloquently…

    SO have yourself a blessed birthday – Live each day fully, rest in and on God. You are in my thoughts and prayers, dear Jennifer.

  50. Vicki R.

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer! I am 38 years old & this is a great way to introduce my 39th year in about a month’s time!!

    My topics of conversation with my 34-year-old self would be about standing up for myself, contentment and sleep. I was about 6 months pregnant with my first child, had only been married about 1.5 years and had been sick from the 7th week of the pregnancy. I was unhappy with the size of our home, of which we were paying a $1200 mortgage & it was about 1500 sq ft. (I know, I could still slap myself today!).

    I would tell myself that “giiiiirrrrrlllll, you got it GOOD!” Yes, you’re puking your guts out more than any human should ever have to. Yes, you’re getting very little sleep now because that baby boy is wedged in the wrong position. But it’s ALL good.

    I would tell myself – above and beyond anything else – that I AM MY OWN ADVOCATE when it comes to my healthcare. I would talk about the importance of asking questions of my doctor until I was satisfied with the answer, and not to assume that just because they went to nursing school means that a nurse has the right to not really listen to you.

    I would give myself at least one book related to babies and sleep. I would recommend setting up a support system of other mothers for the first year of my baby’s life outside the womb, knowing that I’ll try to look like I know what I’m doing, but that I’ll be so freaking sleep-deprived that I’ll be suffering emotionally & physically.

    Finally, I would tell my 34-year-old self that my children will not learn about God just because they come from a family that believes in God or goes to a church that believes and teaches about God. My children will learn most about God because of what we, they’re parents, consistently and proactively teach them and live out for them.

    Sorry to ramble – guess I have a lot to tell myself!! πŸ™‚

  51. Susan

    Live and love every moment to its fullest. That means if you are on the deck of a cruise ship, think about how wonderful it is that you are surrounded by people who’s goal in life is to take care of you. If you’re on the floor of your bathroom cleaning up after a sick child, remember that this is only temporary and that one day soon, even this will be a precious memory. If you take time to really live out everything God gives you to its fullest, you will find yourself with a life full of memories and lacking most regret.

    Happy Birthday, Jen. We thank God for you and your blog.

  52. Kathryn

    I would tell my 34 year old self the following 34 things:

    1. Try to read the Bible every morning and every night
    2. Write down Bible verses in a journal and around the house (chalkboards, fridge, etc.)
    3. Turn the TV off
    4. Turn the worship music on
    5. Play WITH my kids rather than watch them play. And play hard, but pray harder.
    6. Stop worrying- not only is it a waste of time but it is an insult to God
    7. Thank God for closed doors because it means He has something better up ahead
    8. Share the Gospel and God’s love with others without any hesitation
    9. Nurture my marriage day in and day out
    10. Keep up with my kids’ hearts even when they roll their eyes/act like I’m annoying them
    11. Stay in touch with family members and old friends
    12. Recognize the devil for who he is and learn to sidestep his sneaky attacks
    13. LOVE THE UNLOVABLE, UNLOVED, AND UNLOVELY- just as Christ does.
    14. Document the little things of my kids’ lives
    15. Disconnect the car radio (use drives for conversation or prayer)
    16. Be more of an intentional mother
    17. Save up money to travel to the poor nations of the world and serve them as a family
    18. A little red lipstick can do a lot
    19. What the grandmothers in the supermarket say is true, “it goes too fast”
    20. Take more risks and get out of my comfort zone
    21. It is most important to love when it is hardest to do so
    22. It is okay to make mistakes and to be imperfect, in fact it is the only way to be
    23. Every single solitary moment that I am alive is a pure gift
    24. Advice (including this list that I am sharing with you) is just advice, nothing more, trust your OWN intuition and the nudges that YOU receive from the Holy Spirit
    25. My children come through me but they are not of me. Do not limit them out of fear. Let them serve God in any way that they feel called to do so, even if that means in a way that I consider to be “dangerous” or “unsafe”. They are in the palm of God’s hand.
    26. Don’t ever, ever, ever, EVER, give up.
    27. Life is hard, but hard is good.
    28. Do not ever not do something if it is out of fear
    29. Head knowledge is easy to come by, but heart knowledge is not. Be patient with God as he gives you wisdom in His own timing.
    30. People will dislike me, lie about me, misunderstand me, misrepresent me, and mistreat me. Do not find fault in them for doing so, forgive them. I am not here to prove anything to them or to myself, I am here to know, love, and serve God- that’s it.
    31. The Christian life is a lifelong battle and a joyous high all at once
    32. I will never have it all figured out, but God does…and that’s all that matters.
    33. Jesus is a healer but we are all broken in one way or another, don’t ever look at others and perceive them as 100% whole and centered. No one has ever fully “arrived” in God because He is a teacher of infinite wisdom and love.
    34. Pray now for God to convict you of your own sin. It is better to find out sooner than later.

    • priest's wife

      I like these a lot!

  53. Catherine

    Dear Jennifer, Happy Birthday!!! Your gift of writing is such a blessing to us all! And I love the comments from everyone! You are doing exactly what I wished I would have done at 34. Being open to new life and having God at the center of your life. My husband & I did not find the Catholic Church until I was 38 years old and my DH was 51 (just after 9/11). My beautiful daughter was already 20 years old and in college. I wish my husband & I had found the Church so much sooner, and would have at least had the chance to have many more children. God bless you and your family.

  54. Kathryn

    If I could have a chat with my 34-year-old self I would say…

    – Stop acting like Jesus is somewhere far away up in the sky, and start realizing that He is right here with you…right next to you…in this very room! Thinking this way will help you to serve Him better.

    – You know that feeling that you get when you feel like you’re better/wiser than someone else because of something they say or do? I know you despise that and you feel guilty for getting that feeling, but use that feeling as an opportunity to ask God for humility because you are seriously in need of it.

    – Break any of your habits that do not lead you or your family to the Lord. Habits can start to control us and when we feel controlled by anything or anyone other than God then we become people we don’t want to be.

    – Plant a garden.

    – Seek Godly role models for your children. Sometimes parents are not enough.

    – Paint more often. Create and design. It is good for your soul.

    – Others’ hearts are in God’s hands. It is not your responsibility or capability to change them, but it IS your privledge to show God’s love to them.

    – Stop placing expectations on others (and yourself) and then getting disappointed when they (or you) do not meet them. That is the road to misery.

    – Try something new…often.

    – Feeling embaressed/ashamed is a sign that you care about what others think of you. Fear God, not man!

    – Rainbows follow thunderstorms

  55. Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith

    My birthday will be Wednesday, I will be 46. I am a mother of two little girls ages 3 and 5. My advice, yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not here yet, trust in God and live in the present.

  56. Ed

    – PRAY more ..

    A) Formal, disciplined prayer (even if you don’t feel anything). So setting aside specific time on knees – thanking God, asking for forgiveness, reading and contemplating scripture, listening to God, , praying for others (including strangers and enemies), guidance for the day ahead. And so on.
    B)Informal prayer (not a replacement for formal prayer). Pray to God when you’re on the bus, walking whatever. You don’t have to be on your knees for this. You can be sitting down in a chair, swimming in the sea, lying down in bed (as long as you’ve done formal prayer on your knees). This prayer should be more informal, spontaneous, trying new ways out of allowing yourself to open up to God. After formal prayer at night, i love to then switch into informal prayer. Thinking about God, randomly (have fun / be creative). Saying things like “I love you Lord”. Things like that. Going to sleep thinking of Christ / The Trinity mixed with thoughts about how magic people and life, in all its ways, are thanks to God.
    C) Try and reach a point in your prayer where you just let yourself go – trying to connect with God, spiritually, in love

    Prayer should be challenging, disciplined and tough. But it, should, also, i believe, be fun, creative, magical.
    So that we build up a relationship with God in which we never take our relationship with Him for granted. Where we offer Him the respect as Our Creator and Saviour. But at time, God is, also, our best friend. He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him.
    Another way of looking at it. We have a relationship with Christ of the Cross (sharing in Jesus’ suffering). And then we have another type of relationship: relationship with Christ of the Transfiguration, the Christ of Miracles, the Christ Who Rose from death three days later.
    All the time, getting closer to God, spiritually, ultimately, in love, trust and humility.

    God Bless everyone for 2011

  57. Pam

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer!

    I think I’d tell my 34-year-old self two things:

    He’s only 11 once. Stop expecting so much and enjoy him more.
    Read your Bible cover-to-cover. It will only take a few minutes a day.

    Still, nearly 15 years later, I need to hear that advice. I think I’ll go read my Bible and then chat with my son.

  58. Allison Welch

    Happy Birthday Jennifer! I would do exactly what you’re doing. I would be more open to accepting new life. Sometimes I wonder if I missed some blessings… Children are such a gift from God! I hope you have an amazing birthday.

  59. tgz

    Last month I turned 34! Go ahead and continue πŸ™‚

  60. Mellie B

    Ah. I’d say, “Be patient. Don’t be so anxious for the future.”

    I’d spend more time with my children, get more involved in what they were reading and studying in school. Would have had my conservative turn in time to spare my children a regrettable leaning towards socialism that I have never supported — even in my more liberal days.

    I’d have returned to Church much earlier. Prayed more. Spent time, money, intellectual and artistic curiosity much more wisely.

    Even a thimbleful of Wisdom and Discernment would have been a boon — back then as now.

    Spared myself and my loved ones many serious missteps and errors.

  61. Lucy

    Since I’m only 36, 34 wasn’t that long ago, but what I would tell myself two years ago is this: get rid of everything you don’t need and lots of the stuff you think you need! Stuff takes energy to care for and you don’t have that energy! I was two years out from a heart attack (with already having a heart defect) and I still don’t have the energy to deal with it.

    I would also tell myself – figure out who YOU are. Not who you wish you were, not who other people think you are, not who you think you’re supposed to be. So many mistakes I’ve made because my ideals were in direct conflict with my reality. I wanted to have a big family. Really? With my heart? I’d tell myself to be grateful, really truly grateful, that you have a husband who loves you and three beautiful children and family and friends. Most people with my heart defect don’t have some of those things, especially children.

    I’d also tell myself (I still need to tell myself this) that even though you’re an introvert, be open to people (including your children and husband and brothers and inlaws). Love them as if you were an extrovert. You will never regret the time you invest in people, even though it’s hard and you spend the rest of the day staring at the wall in a stupor of tiredness.

    Have a heart without exits. Always forgive. Never resent. Pray all the time. I would tell myself to establish a real rule of prayer, but also to cultivate the habit of inner prayer. Man, I’d tell myself a lot! The thing is, my 36 year old self needs to hear all these things, too!

    Happy Birthday! You give me hope that my introverted, tired self can still affect, if not the whole world, at least someone’s whole world. πŸ™‚

  62. Sarah Oldham

    keep exercise a healthful priority . . . 41 is a hard age to learn that lesson. I’m not “lost” to disease yet, but it’s harder to get motivated when you’ve been making excuses so long. I wish I’d made it a priority. Do it with the kids, if you worry about time away from them. OH, and DO enjoy your birthday. Every year can be beautiful!

  63. John Mahaffy

    I think I’d have saved a lot of time had I realized that believing in God was a whole lot easier than figuring out Zen. And boy, if only someone had said, “What — you think Jesus made some kind of mistake (that men had to correct) when He began the Church? If so, then He must not have been God.” So simple, really . . . but, like most converts I’ve ever heard of, I had to cautiously feel and carefully reason my way home. So many years wasted!

  64. Christina

    Six and a half years ago, I turned 34, and after reading what has been offered to you thus far, I only have one suggestion above and beyond completing St. Louis de Montfort’s “Total Consecration” (if you haven’t already)…

    1. Learn to play ice hockey. If you don’t have time for a whole game, at least spend a few hours on the ice wearing *hockey* skates.

    That’s it.

    Joyeux anniversaire! Tanti auguri!

  65. Maria

    When I was 34, I had 3 little kids and would have two more after that. I’d realize that all kids act the same. Sometimes they’re little angels and other times they embarrass the living daylights out of you. It’s ok. They’re normal and you’re not a bad parents.

    Take some time every day to look at something in your life like you’re looking through the lens of a camera. Or actually shoot a couple of photos. Then stop, even if it’s just for a second, and marvel at the little blessings in life. Picking up my camera was an excellent lesson in contentment for me.

    Relax. Do what’s important to you and your husband. My husband never cared if the house wasn’t picked up, but he really liked me to make dinner. Do what works for you!

    Love God. Let Him love you.

  66. Kara

    I’ll be 36 this year, and this is what I wish I had known when I was 34. Your metabolism and your skin will tank when you hit 35. So eat well, get plenty of exercise and accept that Retinol-A will now be an integral part of your nightly routine (the sooner, the better). I say this as someone who rarely wears make-up and almost never checks herself in the mirror before I leave the house…

    Happy Birthday!

  67. Christine

    Jennifer, at 34 I was so preoccupied with what others thought of me – how miserable I was! It doesn’t matter what others think – just continue your current path… you’re pleasing God & you will always be rewarded for that!

  68. Jennifer

    1. Don’t compare the inside of your house to the outside of your neighbor’s house.

    2. Practice self discipline and keep your weight under control.

    3. Trust in God.

    4. Accept where you are financially.

    5. Go outside every single day.

    • priest's wife

      I really like your first piece of advice!

  69. Susan

    I had three children under four, and a fourth on the way when I was 34. Here’s what I wish I had known 10 years ago:

    1. It’s ok not to love this period of your life. You can still be a good mother and wife to your husband during these physically difficult years.

    2. Don’t be such an ideologue that you miss the forest from the trees. Sometimes teachers, coaches, in-laws and parents have good advice about your children. Listen to them!

    3. Little boys need other little boys to play with.

  70. Luisa

    When I turned 34 I thought I would be “smarter” and took charge of my life. I got away from God and decided to solve my problems by divorcing.
    BIG mistake to think we can be better without God. If I could go back those nine years I would just leave my family and my own life in God’s hands. I would not worry. Worry has not won anything for me, yet God has always provided and solved my life in the best ways possible.
    God has a great sense of humor and lets us try our ways, then kindly He reaches for us when we’ve learned the hard way.

  71. carmen sophia

    Happy Birthday Jen.
    I turned 54 today. For the past 8 yrs I have been unemployed and for the past 2- homeless. It has been one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. If I could speak to my 34 yr old self, I would say, learn to trust God more. I can trust him to see to it that I get into the shelter on nights when I need to be there. I can trust him to watch over me on the nights when he needs me to be somewhere else, to give up my spot there because someone else has a greater need or when he needs me to practice some mortification because (in addition to myself) I have brothers and sisters somewhere out there in need. I can trust him to love me, to be there beside me in whatever circumstances I find myself. I am loved. And I can trust in him. I do what I can about my circumstances, after that, I have to trust and surrender control. I can’t see what is in my best interest. God can. I just have to step back as quickly as I can manage and recognize that any particular moment is in God’s hands and accept that maybe he’s asking for something or making me an offer that will be to his glory and my edification in ways I am not ready to understand. Anyway, that’s what I wish I’d understood then. (the O.C.D.S. will be keeping you in their prayers this month for your pregnancy and health issues)

  72. Victor

    Happy Birthday Jen! I’m not 34 yet, so I’d be breaking the rules and make everybody feel old by posting anything further.

  73. Kathleen Miller

    If I could go back 29 years to when I was 34, I would find an attractive box half the size of a shoebox and put it on the kitchen counter next to the phone. During the 3 minutes it takes to microwave a cup of tea, I would write down milestones or anecdotes or observations about my children on phone-message paper, date them, and toss them into the box. I have time NOW to write the “baby books” I didn’t have time to compile then. But I’ve forgotten the many things I was absolutely sure I would remember.

    Over the years I would have saved a lot of money and emotional wheelspinning if I genuinely determined to “pay the price” to keep my weight healthy and stable.

    If I could go back, I would congratulate my old self on being on the right track, assure her that God has a hand on her life, and remind her that the judgment of strangers is quite irrelevant to her children and herself. If there had been a time machine, I would also recommend FlyLady.
    Happy Birthday!

  74. priest's wife

    I’ll be 40 (!) in July

    My advice to myself 5 years ago would be things I am struggling with now-

    exercise a half hour a day, plan meals, clean & organize (only because I feel so peaceful when things are nice), find a babysitter- you should be alone with your husband more than just every Lord of the Rings movie

    By the way- Happy Birthday!

  75. Teresa

    Happy Birthday Jennifer! Here is your requested present…just live in the present. As tired as you may feel, just try to listen to your kiddies while looking in their eyes. God is there looking back at you. Just smile and be aware of all you have to be thankful for. Peace and Love to you

  76. Ellie

    What wonderful comments ….

    …. At 34 I was newly pregnant with what would turn out to be my third living child. I was trying to extricate myself from an abusive relationship (I was successful). Then 9/11 happened … And the world changed.

    I would tell myself …. You know those few things you really really want? (fill in the blank here) Do them. Try. Do it. Trust God and go for it, because one day, a day which will come far sooner than you can know, your breath will be taken away by a brain tumor and disability, and then? Then those things just might not be possible. Ever. I would tell myself to Love. To love with all my might and to hold out my hand to God and walk forward in faith, with courage.

    Love God. Love oneanother. Have faith. And pursue your dreams (another baby, an organic garden, your first art showing, that cute guy at coffee hour, whathaveyou) because it can all turn on a dime and then, then your dreams have to change, and you’ll be working to discern God’s will for you on this astonishing new path. And I would tell myself that it will be alright. That God’s is immeasurable, and his mercy. I would tell myself not to be afraid, and that in the end? It’s beautiful.

    • Ellie

      Forgive typos! I meant to say …. That Gid’s love is immeasurable, there at the end.

  77. Melanie

    Happy Birthday, Jen!

    I will turn 34 on January 22 so I don’t have any wisdom to share.

    My birthday present to myself will be to read through this great advice! You have great readers.

  78. Ouiz

    At 34, I was the mother of 3 children 3 years old and under. I was stressed out with all the work involved in taking care of little ones. If I could go back, I would tell myself that playing with the kids is something I *DO* have time for.

    I would also tell myself that I need to take time to exercise, because it’s a heck of a lot harder at 43!

  79. Catherine Post

    Jen, Happy (early) Birthday!!

    I am 57 now, so 34 was…well, it was awhile back. LOL.

    The first thing that comes to mind, if I could speak to my 34 year old self, is this: You have no idea what a wonderful time of life you are in, at this age. Take notice of the ENERGY that you have, even though you may be dragging at the end of the day. It is possible to work or do stuff for 12+ hours at age 34 ~ know that this is a Gift, and that you will notice it dwindle a bit as time goes on. You do not realize it now, but in future you will realize that you had great resilience and stamina at 34. Now that the secret is out, enjoy it!!

    I would advise you to take a look in the mirror. See how beautiful you REALLY are, how pretty, how nice your hair is, its color; how smooth and nice your skin is. Know that, as you age, you will look back on 34 as the age at which you really looked your best. There are few, if any, signs of aging. You will realize that you were really pretty at 34. That glow of youth is still there, along with the energy. 34 is a cheery time of life! Be glad, and know that this is where you are in the life-cycle.

    Lastly are 2 more items that I see as being related: KNOW that your current focus on little ones is going to pay off BIG TIME, for you and Joe and your family; and that you will come to understand this, and be ever-so-grateful for it, as you age. No career on Earth can give you this level & depth of satisfaction as you age. You will see why, as a Mother, you are one of the Most Important People on Earth. And you will be grateful that God chose YOU. And finally, I would say to you at 34: Let go of whatever you need to let go of, at this time of life; in favor of whatever is really in front of your nose, on your plate, your ‘calling’, as it were. Women CAN and DO have it all; we just cannot have it ALL AT ONE TIME! Don’t sweat it – you have time!!

    Go fer it, Jen! Enjoy!!

  80. Heather

    I would tell myself that your plans are shallow and your worries unnecessary. God has blessed you in ways you could not have imagined. You will experience love and loss, challenges and success and you will find joy you never knew existed. Do not fear and let God lead.

  81. Amy

    The same thing I would do if I could relive any year or period of my life–hold my tongue (and keyboard) a great deal more.

    I find it interesting when celebrities are interviewed and when asked if they have any regrets in life, they answer “No! I have no regrets!” I cannot understand that attitude. I have many regrets. Every time I have made an unkind comment. Every time I was snippy or rude. Every time I raised my voice. Every time my words or actions have hurt someone. I don’t wallow in regret, certainly, but if I had a chance to “do-over” those moments, in a clear-headed state of mind, knowing what I know today, I would take that opportunity and correct those mistakes.

    I also would have given up my God quest then and there, saving myself years of frustration, despair, and mental instability. Obviously, Christianity has had the opposite effect on you and many others, which is wonderful, but for me, the years I was trying to believe were the worst of my life. Now that I have accepted the fact that I just don’t believe it, I am experiencing peace which I have never known before. To each her own.

    Finally, I would be kinder to my 34 year-old self. I would appreciate my body and its state of health and stop worrying so much about weight. I would spend more time outside in the sunshine and fresh air. I would relax more. Stop worrying so much about getting from point A to point B that I miss the wonderfulness right in front of me. Focus more on the present than the past or future.

    Basically all of the things I am finally learning to do as a 41 year-old! My wish for your 34th year:

    May you be safe.
    May you be calm.
    May you be healthy.
    May you live with ease.

  82. Amy

    Oh, and happy birthday!

  83. Lee

    I would absolutely meditate on these words every day – several times a day …


    Now that I am nearly 59, I am coming to know these truths about life. I have taken the last two years to go to Adoration one day a week – Wednesday, in the middle of the day and sit, sit with Our Precious Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist and let Him love me. I have poured out my joy to Him, my sadness, my tears, my hopes, my fears, my dreams, my desires and He talks to me. He tells me He delights in me and He adores me.

    He is my all – and when I am right with God, I am right with all of His Creation – I can look at others and say – HE ADORES THEM! HE DELIGHTS IN THEM … and the world is a better place.

    Do not be afraid to grow in Christ – to be dependent upon Him. He loves you so – and it is just wonderful, wonderful, wonderful to be alive and know Him.

    Happy and blessed birthday – may you rejoice in every minute of the day and may you come to know Christ so intimately that everything in your life encompasses His peace and His joy.

  84. Kate Wicker

    No words of wisdom to offer from this 31-year-old, but I just wanted to wish you a very happy birthday!

  85. Erin

    Wow! Happy Birthday, Jennifer!

    When I was 34, I was single, searching for someone. I am now married and will be 44 next month.

    What I would tell 34 self is to seek God with ALL my heart. Although I was seeking God at the time, I didn’t realize, like I do now, that growing in personal holiness and seeking deeper union with Jesus is the single most important thing a person could do in this life. In many ways, I was just beginning my faith journey.

    AS someone else stated and I have only in the last few years come to know, Jesus is always with us in every single moment. He is the only one I have to please, not anyone in the world. I’m called to show God’s love to them, but not to live my life to please anyone, but God.

    I would scream, “Stop running away” and meet Jesus in that place in the depths of your soul where He is waiting for you so that He can transform you into the person He created you to be. It is SO MUCH better than the vision you have for yourself.

  86. Judy

    Happy Birthday, Jennifer! May God bless YOUR 34th year.
    Seeing as I traveled that road some time ago…hmmm….yikes…more than a decade ago…I would say to myself at 34:

    “Self, (in the words of Francis De Sales), do not try to be anything other than what you are and try to be that perfectly”.

    And also, “Self, don’t look to others for your own validation or to approve of your lifestyle, appearance, personality, or decisions in life…look only to your Father in heaven; for His is the only opinion that truly matters”.

    And perhaps, “Self, cherish each and every single moment with these babies…for the days are long….but the years are oooohhhhh so short”.

    And finally, “Self, learn to “BE” a lot more rather than “DO”…just “BE” and give thanks for it”.

  87. Lisa

    I am 44. What was I doing ten years ago….hmmm…..I can’t recall. You know what? It just keeps getting better. Every single day.

  88. Judy

    In the words of Francis De Sales, “Do not try to be anything other than what you are; and try to be that perfectly”.

    I’d also say, “Do not look to others to find validation or approval for yourself…but look only unto your Father in Heaven”.

    And….cherish those moments with your babies…they are fleeting…the days are long but the years are sooooooooooooo short.

    Find joy in the simple things.


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