Note: There should be some sort of warning bell when you hit those ‘milestone’ ages so you can be mentally prepared for when they come. Because it always seems like a horrible surprise (from what I have heard). Even though this is the first of them, I’m sure.


I wish I knew when this happened. I’m 20. No one told me this was coming up so fast. How is it that I blinked and come so swiftly to 2 decades on this earth?

When. Did. This. Happen.

I realize I am not *that* old. But what the heck! Why is it that I remember things clearly from 10 years ago. Why. Why?

This has me messed up.

However, in the 20 years I will have spent on this earth, there is a lot that I have learned from all that I have been through. Here are a few stories that have led to some lessons learned that I hope make you laugh. Because they certainly do tickle me pink.

At age 7(?) I went to Dinosaur Provincial Park where I climbed a small ‘cliff’ of sorts. I followed my father’s lead in how to descend properly which is done by bounding not running. So, away I bounded. And away I tripped on a large rock. Away I slid for what felt like miles. Into into a massive patch(?) of cactus. My right arm completely covered(?) and punctured in cactus needles. My left arm being lightly decorated. Where I learned a trick that if cut the cactus in half and rub the cactus milk over the needles, it makes it much easier to remove them.

At age 8(?), while camping with extended family, my sisters and I went to a park. There were 2 large yellow slides that started close together, and split off as they went down. My older sister got the idea that I ‘could fit between the crack at the top of the slides.’ Taking her word for it and as a challenge, and being about the size of a toothpick, I slipped between the slides. It was too good to be true. Success was on the horizon. Then against all odds, my head got stuck. I dangled between the slides in complete and utter distress, a grandma sat comfortably and unmoving on a bench in front of the slides watching the chaos unfold, my younger sister pulling on my legs, my older sister pushing on my head. For what felt like minutes and was really seconds, I was free from the grip of the yellow slides. Then 2 minutes later a fire truck drove by. Couldn’t tell you what I learned. Possibly if it seems too good to be true, it very well could be too good.

In the same camping trip, after a leisurely game of mini golf, which my sisters and I watched because it wasn’t free, I picked up my blue rain coat, slung it into the elbow of my left arm where I was greeted by an angry, aggressive hornet who met we with a nasty bite. I was left with a wound that closely resembled a volcano.

There are more stories to be told, however, this is the gold.

Through everything I have been through and every season of my life there are things that I have learnt. Since I am on 20 years, I thought it would be appropriate to remind myself and let you in on 20 lessons and some things I have learnt. Going through and loosely lining up with a year of my life, here is a list of 20 things I have learned in 20 years:

  1. It takes years to build independence, but it starts with the support and help from others
  2. It takes a lot of falling to learn how to walk and now you can walk on your own
  3. Allow others to open their gifts to see what they have received, even if it takes longer than it took you to open yours
  4. Without complaint take joyfully of what is given to you
  5. Speak up and be loud, or wait patiently until people are ready to listen. And if they don’t listen, yell. If they still don’t listen, don’t be offended, or worse, stop speaking. You will be heard
  6. Great joy can still come out of great loss and storytelling keeps them and the joy alive
  7. Take your time and be patient because in rushing you can get hurt, so allow others to go at their pace and you at your own
  8. Not everything you hear should be shared, and not everything you are told is true
  9. Fixing things properly the right way the first time, rather than taking short cuts, saves a lot of time, effort and frustration in the end
  10. Sometimes loss is left not understood and leaves you incredibly angry, confused and greatly and deeply hurt, but greatly and fully loved
  11. Beautiful things can be made from trash
  12. Words hold a lot of power
  13. Have a tentative plan to stay focussed on the end goal, but stay openminded to what might change. Sometimes the change is better than anything you could have ever had planned
  14. Surround yourself with loving and supportive people and still love those who see differently than you. Keep them around for difference in perspective
  15. You may not have all that you need, so use what you have in the mean time and make the most of it
  16. Loss hardly gets any easier, but drawing close to Jesus takes the pain away
  17. There’s a lot to new beginnings and sometimes through loss brings new opportunity
  18. It’s not your job or responsibility to fix others, however it is your responsibility to love others more than you think or believe they deserve. And to always forgive (and to remember that forgiveness is not a one time thing)
  19. Saying no to others and yes to God may disappoint your peers, mentors, or coaches, but it will take you on the greatest adventure of your life. So spit fear and disappointment in the face
  20. There’s so much more to do while waiting, so don’t get passive in waiting for the next phase to come. God is always faithful. All of His promises are “yes and amen” (2 Cor. 1:20), so remember that ‘the best is yet to come’ (1 Cor. 2:9) and be still and know that he is God (Psalms 46:10)
  21. And as a bonus, and learnt long ago and too late for those reading now, but if you sit up straight you’ll grow real tall

At a leaders retreat I went to at the beginning of this year, one of the most gifted pastors I have ever sat under, Kim Moran, was speaking on Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the storm. She gave these take away points:

  • God determines the destination not the details
  • God ignores the problem not the person
  • God invites the calm not the chaos

As she went through each point I couldn’t help but feel as if she was talking straight to me. For the past 6 months I had been so frustrated and was feeling so lost and just mad at everything and everyone because, just as she said, God determines the destination not the details. Even now, every so often I find myself frustrated with where I am and feel as if my world is spinning. That there is so much chaos because I am set on figuring out the details and trying to trace God’s next move in what He’s going to do and where he’s going to take me. But it’s pretty useless to even try and bother, really. That’s when life gets chaotic and I feel like I’ve been forgotten. It’s because I focus so much on my plans and on where I want to go. Where I think God should take me. What I think he should be doing and then wait in anticipation expecting and thinking that I know where I’m going. Then my plans get seemingly curved. And it seems like God has thrown me a curve ball and I get upset or get disappointed thinking that God has let me down. But as I have learned, my plans only go as far as tentative. God has much greater plans for me. And He can never and will never let me down.

Even as we may have our own goal, our ultimate goal is to serve God in all that he has called us to, to love others to our greatest ability and to serve others in the best  way they need.

This is what I want to learn in 20. I want to learn to surrender. I want to learn to fully trust in God’s plan and in his ways. The life I chose to walk out with God is not my plan. These aren’t my dreams. They’re His.

Kim, when she was speaking, pointed out that if we knew every detail of God’s plan for our lives, would we still say yesIf we knew of every hardship, the amount of valleys we would go through, even in comparison to each and every “high” we would have, would we still say yes? Would still say yes? The response I would love to say is ‘heck ya I’d still say yes’ but that’s hardly a realistic response. I can guarantee, even through everything I have walked through, if I had known it would happen, I probably would have walked away. Even though it is just the beginning.

That’s where I’m beyond thankful for the everlasting and eternal hope I have. That no matter what I walk through from now and going forward is that God has so much more in store for me. Greater than any plan or dream I have. Which really gets me excited. The fact that I can dream as big as I want and it will never be a big enough dream.

I don’t just want to leave this at what I have learned because there is obviously so much more to learn. So here are some things I want to learn in year 20:

  • to know what it means and what it looks like to love radically and unconditionally
  • to daily seek and take the opportunities to live ‘uncomfortably’
  • to seek out opportunities to grow and be challenged
  • to know everything comes with timing, so become productive and proactive in waiting, so to plan and set short term goals
  • to trust and to walk fully in God’s timing
  • to know and walk in grace and patience freely towards everyone
  • be more encouraging and uplifting towards others
  • learn to walk in faith boldly, courageously and confidently
  • laugh unapologetically
  • to build more long lasting deep relationships

In the midst of every detail, problem and within all of the chaos, I expect 20 to be quite the wild ride of trust.

So 20. Let’s go.


With much love and thanks,





2 thoughts on “T W E N T Y

  1. Hi Marissa! Just finished reading this and it was oh-so-good! I laughed at your stories and thought to myself that you have had a rich, happy and loving childhood. Your “lessons learned” are full of wisdom and insight. I don’t know many 20-year olds that have that depth. Life certainly is a journey and you embrace it fully. Keep writing. Keep pressing in. Keep doing what you are doing. God richly rewards those who seek His face.
    Blessings Marissa!!


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