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I love learning.
That’s probably why I’d stay in school as a student full-time forever if I could.
Learning doesn’t happen only in a classroom. As a former homeschooling mom, I know this firsthand.
Lessons I Learned
We can learn so many things from life. Life lessons are sometimes the hardest to learn, but more often than not, they are the most important to learn as well.
This year, 2023, has been hard.
Things actually started going awry during the summer of 2022.
My sister’s baby had to have open heart surgery. (He’s had 3 now, and he’s such an amazing fighter. I’ll tell his story another day.)
My dad fell and broke his femur. He had surgery to place a rod and 5 screws in his leg. (He’s still in physical therapy for it.)
My brother was diagnosed with cancer. (He went through treatments and beat it!)
There are so many other things that have happened in 2023; life was working overtime to teach me things.
After going through these things and surviving, I can tell you the lessons I learned from all of it.
Lessons I Learned #1: Family Sticks Together
In all of the situations I listed above, you can see that my family has been put through the fire this year.
Through it all, we have stuck together.
No matter how tired, frustrated, sick, or hurt we are, we do whatever is needed for one another.
Lessons I Learned #2: Running a Business is Hard
At the end of 2022, I started an Etsy shop. After putting up 2-3 listings, I let it sit there. I didn’t do anything else to it. I decided I didn’t have time. The reality was that it was harder to do than I expected, so I didn’t want to try.
One day, I was watching YouTube and saw a video with tricks for how to make listing items on Etsy faster and easier.
I created 6-8 shirt designs and decided to give it another try. Right now, I have about 60 listings in my store. My goal is to have 150 by June.
Putting up listings is all that is required.
I have to create designs, research trends, decide on colors, and find keywords that will help other people find my store.
Then I have to create marketing posts to get the word out.
I didn’t think I would be an overnight success, but I guess I thought Etsy would be easier. However, I’m not giving up.
I am setting realistic goals and plan to do what I need to so that I accomplish them.
Goals for Etsy (for Accountability)
- 150 listings by May 31
- Create marketing posts/videos for social media
- Upload marketing posts/videos weekly
- Begin getting weekly sales
Lessons I Learned #3: I Can’t Do Everything at Once
Something you should know about me is that I have ADHD.
I didn’t know this until I was in college. I was 22 when I found out, and I chose not to take medication because I had already come up with all my coping mechanisms–though I didn’t know that’s what they were.
I see things differently than others, sometimes.
I also tend to want to try 100 things at once.
Right now, my life is pretty busy.
Other than the Etsy shop, I have this blog. I also have a Facebook page and an Instagram account. Both of those are linked to the blog. I also post regularly on Pinterest. I’m working to build a YouTube channel. Oh yeah! I’m writing a book, too.
I have goals, plans, and dreams for all of these things. However, working on all of them at one time is extremely difficult. It’s also distracting.
If you look back through my blog posts, you will see that I posted the other day, but before that, I hadn’t posted since September.
This year, 2023, has taught me that I can’t necessarily do everything all at once.
Will I continue to work on all of these projects? Yes!
Can I give 100% to all of them at once? Not a chance!
I have to set goals, have a plan, and work consistently to get things done for each thing. I have to use my time management skills to get it all done.
Lessons I Learned #4: You Find Out Who Your Friends Are
With everything we had going on as a family this year, we learned who our friends were.
They say “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” This year, we have needed so much help, and our friends have jumped in.
For example, in May, my sister’s baby, Brycen, was facing his 3rd open-heart surgery. Things weren’t going well at the hospital. There were a few times that we weren’t sure he would leave the hospital.
One of our family friends sent me a message: “Leslie, I think we need to have a prayer vigil tonight for Brycen.”
“Tonight? Are you sure?”
“Yes. It has to be tonight.”
She went to work. I started sending messages and making phone calls. Within 4 hours, we had everything lined up: location, speakers, songs, and live video for Facebook.
There were about 50 people who showed up at the church that night to sing, praise, pray, and worship.
There were another 50+ who watched online because they couldn’t make it in person.
Another example is from October. A different friend has a contact who does a cornhole fundraiser every year. She submitted my sister’s family as the beneficiaries this year. Then, on the day of the tournament, about 20 friends and family came out to join the cornhole group (the people who play in the tournament every year).
We had a blast! It was amazing to see all those people, most of whom didn’t know Brycen or my sister’s family, come together to support them. We made so many new friends that day because of one friend reaching out for my sister’s family.
Lessons I Learned #5: God Never Stops Working
This is a lesson I learn every year, even though I should NOT be surprised by it.
In May, when Brycen was facing his surgery, there was a time when the doctors were trying to say he may be brain-dead.
We know God has big plans for Brycen’s life. This wasn’t acceptable. We, as family and friends–and several churches around the world, prayed. It was only a matter of time before the lines on the brain scan were jumping when Lisa (my sister) spoke to him. Just a couple of days later, Brycen had heart surgery #3!
That’s only one of the things God has done this year, but that was a big one.
Stranded a Mile from Home
A smaller, yet just as important example, is from just this past weekend.
Tony (my husband) and I were headed out to the store Friday evening.
About a mile from home, our minivan started making a noise.
It sounded like a squirrel was stuck in the engine of our van and trying to get out.
We pulled into a well-lit parking lot and started looking.
The serpentine belt had come loose and was hitting the engine.
I called my mom to let her know what was going on. Tony called the mechanic to see if they would be able to look at it the following morning if we had it towed there. Then, as we were getting ready to call the tow truck, a Ford F150 pulled up beside us.
The young man inside couldn’t have been more than 20-21 years old. He opened his door and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help you?”
I said, “Only if you know how to put a belt back on a vehicle.”
“I can do that. I work on engines all day.” He jumped out of the truck and grabbed his phone as a flashlight.
God had put us in the right parking lot at the right time to get this fixed. This guy, who is not much older than my daughter, fixed the belt for us.
He told us to take the van Saturday morning to get it checked.
When Tony took it, the guy there said, “I don’t see anything wrong with it. We can change some things out if you want, but I think you’re good to drive it.”
I’m gonna say that again for the people in the back: GOD IS ALWAYS ON TIME!
Every day, I try to learn something new. I never want to stop learning.
This year, God has taught me so many things that I never would have tried to learn.
I can’t wait to see what He teaches me in 2024.
What have you learned in 2023? Leave a comment with one of your lessons.