Now that I’m 36 | 36 things I’ve learned

In the months and days leading up to my birthday last week God kind of showed up in splendour like a King. Took hold of me like a Shepherd. Challenged and channelled. Convicted and encouraged. Lots of it isn’t just for me. So I’m sharing some of it here for you.

I want to honour (alphabetically) the peeps whose words or lives God has used (whether they’ve known it or not): Samantha-Leigh Bester, Cheryl Bleeker, Jack Ferreira, Pam Ferreira, Natalie Fulton, Julian Hewitt, C. S. Lewis, Paul Mowat, John Piper, Nicky Potgieter, Stella Prozesky, Cameron Reyburn, Murray Reyburn, Scott Reyburn, Margie Smith, Andy Stanley, Kirsty Stokker, Shirley Stokker. And others.

  1. Life experience doesn’t give you wisdom. Evaluated life experience gives you wisdom.
  2. Big dreams grow slowly like big trees. They give shade for generations.
  3. Truth can’t be your reactionary status. Truth is truth. Let it be the plumb line. Not the pendulum, swinging too far left or right. So like, don’t compensate for someone’s weaknesses by doing the opposite thing. Just do the right thing – the true thing.
  4. ‘A person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.’ (Romans 2:29)
  5. When people face tragedy, just sit with them in the dust. No words. (Job 2:13) (It was after this that Job’s mates got it wrong.)
  6. Adam and Eve plunged all of history into cataclysmic depravity. Still, God made them clothes (Genesis 3:21). That’s the relentless love of a Father.
  7. The posture of a godly life is a paradox. Walk upright in the confidence that you are a child of the King, clothed in righteousness. And bow low. Bow very very low. ‘Rejoice with trembling.’ (Psalm 2:11)
  8. Get outside every single day. Breathe. Look at the sky.
  9. ‘Every week I go to church to meet with God. And every week, he is there.’ (Anon.)
  10. Be a hero: someone with clarity and the irresistible urge to act. Do the right thing in the right way at the right time. Don’t let our culture which resists absolutes and praises pragmatism cloud that clarity. (from Heroes)
  11. Move from rest into work, not the other way around.
  12. How big is your God?
  13. Harvest the strengths of every generation in a family.
  14. When you’re overwhelmed, ask: What is true?
  15. If you pray for nothing else, pray for wisdom and courage. Then do the next right thing.
  16. There’s a wondrous, mysterious link between moral purity and clarity of vision. ‘God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.’ (Matthew 5:8)
  17. The whole Sabbath idea. It’s all over Scripture. Always attached to blessing and honour. Try it?
  18. What labels have others stuck onto you? Only the manufacturer, purchaser or owner of something can label it. Jesus made you, bought you, owns you. His are the only labels that can stick. Beloved. Redeemed. (From You’ll be glad you did)
  19. Honour old people even when they’re annoying. One day you’ll hope for the same respect. Also, they’ve walked this planet a long time.
  20. You’re either living for your glory or God’s. To check which one you’re leaning into, check your criticism. Do you hold real or imaginary tirades against anyone who doesn’t think / live / drive / work like you? Fault-finding shows it’s all about you.
  21. ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.’ (Proverbs 4:18)
  22. There’s a chicken-egg thing with wisdom and humility. Wisdom leads to humility which opens our eyes to wisdom which humbles us. And so on.
  23. He knows before you even ask. He has made a way even though you might not see it. (Psalm 77:19, Isaiah 65:24)
  24. ‘Who and what you listen to determines what you do.’ (Andy Stanley) Who do you need to tune out? Or in? When you’re in any kind of alliance with someone they have a voice in your life and can leverage a certain influence.
  25. God created communication. He speaks all the time. Wisdom is shouting in the streets (Proverbs 1). Position yourself to listen. Be still.
  26. ‘Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
  27. Pray with your spouse. Out loud. Often.
  28. When our car broke down in the Karoo a couple weeks ago, we waited for hours with two kids and a dog and tons of stuff on a pavement in Graaff-Reinet for a rental car coming from Port Elizabeth. You get the idea. Cameron asked, ‘Mom, are we wasting our time or spending our time?’ I realised the answer depended entirely on what I decided to do with my attitude.
  29. No matter the role or the task, big or small, you are not supposed to be up to it. You are supposed to give God your everything – which amounts to very little. He strengthens and equips and provides – and is glorified.
  30. In difficult relationships, trust God to protect and establish you.
  31. Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?
  32. Don’t let your fear of not mattering much keep you from what matters most.
  33. Much of life is about translating your intentions into someone else’s reality (and vice versa).
  34. Try not to gossip or complain for 24 hours. Super difficult.
  35. Gratitude is to fear what rock is to scissors. Every time.
  36. ‘There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.’ (C.S. Lewis)

As always, I’d love to hear from you.


  1. hey my friend – powerful stuff – some really challenging ones to think about and be encouraged by and especially loved this:

    ‘Mom, are we wasting our time or spending our time?’ I realised the answer depended entirely on what I decided to do with my attitude.

    Glad to be a fellow sojourner on a different journey headed in the same direction…

    keep on, strength in Him for 37

    love brett fish


  2. Dee,
    I am so blessed to have the privilege to know you, to be able to read your profound wisdom and to continue to know that the 10 years (all bar a few months) I was able to live, breathe, love and work in South Africa, were times that are enabling me to be blessed by your writing and all that makes you as a person. You are so inspirational. God has gifted you in such a glorious way. May you continue to be blessed of God in all of your work and ways.


  3. Thank you for your inspirational words. number 15 is something i really needed to read today (along with the referenced post). Where I am at the moment, I really need to just do the next right thing, take things one moment at a time and slowly get back on track. Thank you.


  4. Wow! So much food for thought and so many reminders and encouragement to give it all to God, listen, pray and give Him the glory! Thank you, I so appreciate your insight and wisdom. God bless you and yours in this coming year Daleen


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