4.03.2017

21 Things I Have Learned In 21 Years


I've learned that...
no matter what happens, life goes on and tomorrow is a new day.

I've learned that...
making a "living" is not the same as making a "life".

I've learned that...
I do get second chances.  From God, from others.  And for that, I am extremely blessed.

I've learned that...
even when I've had pains, I don't have to be one.

I've learned that...
people won't always appreciate, respect, care for or trust me, but that shouldn't change the way I treat them because if it does, then I'm stooping to their level.

I've learned that...
the best company I can keep is just me and God.

I've learned that...
letting go of someone who has constantly manipulated my heart and caused me hurt and grief, is one of the most freeing things I could ever do.

I've learned that...
every day is an opportunity to give to others what you have received, and to love on them.  A hug, a cup of coffee, a smile, a compliment.  It doesn't have to be anything extravagant.  After all, it's the little things in life that matter the most.

I've learned that...
people will forget what I said and what I did, but they will never forget how I made them feel.

I've learned that...
sleep really is necessary and if I'm not getting the rest my body needs, my brain will start working in weird ways and stuff will get messy.

I've learned that...
goals are essential, dreams are a must, and striving forward towards them is all about discipline and determination.

I've learned that...
it doesn't matter when I reach a goal, but that I did it to the best of my ability and with the best intentions.

I've learned that...
money isn't everything.  I need it to survive, but I don't need it to live.

I've learned that...
I'd rather be broke and tired with a night full of memories, than rich and well-rested yet lonely.

I've learned that...
memories are made without even realizing they're being made.  So live life well, minute by minute, cuz I never know what I'll remember or not.

I've learned that...
just because I love someone with everything I have in me doesn't mean they will return that love.  But this doesn't mean that I should be afraid of ever loving again.

I've learned that...
people don't have control over the way I react or how I allow them to affect me.  If there's tension or drama, stay clear of it.  If I'm in the middle of it, don't let it get to me.  Rise above it.  Be mature.  Stay calm.

I've learned that...
regardless of the relationship I have with my parents, I will always miss being away from them and they will always be there for me when I need them.  More importantly too, they will always love me.

I've learned that...
God and family really are everything.  Other people may come and go but these two are forever, so I need to invest in those relationships because whenever I hit rock bottom, they will be all I have.

I've learned that...
nothing will ruin my life more than thinking I should have my life together already.

I've learned that...
I still have a lot to learn.

---

P.S. I meant to post this on my birthday, which was Saturday, April 1, but I was partying all weekend so heyyyy.

3.25.2017

When I Don't Have It Altogether


I'm just trying to figure stuff out, you know?  But I don't know how to.  And it frustrates me because I'm the type of person who likes to have goals, likes to have a plan, likes to have a step-by-step process outlined for accomplishing things in life.  I don't have an ounce of patience, which is definitely something I need to work on.  And maybe that's what God is teaching me right now because wow, is it hard...

Have you ever felt like you're just trying to catch up?  You're trying to get the bills paid, you're trying to make ends meet, you're trying to make the right decisions, you're trying not to fall flat on your face.  This is what my life has consisted of lately.  But I never feel like I fulfill my goals.  I feel like I'm falling short of it.  Like I'm standing on my tippy-toes, stretching as far as I possibly can, but it's just out of reach.  And I don't know what "it" is exactly.  Maybe it's just getting to a level of feeling like my feet are under me and I actually have control of my life for once.  Yeah, I think that's it.
But I never get there.  And it frustrates me to no end.  I feel unhappy.  I feel unfulfilled.  And I've heard a lot of people say that "There's a void in your life that only God can fill", but I know this isn't that void.  Because my relationship with my Jesus is healthy, it's strong, we're in constant communion.  I talk to Him all day, every day.  I spend hours of time in His Word.  I eagerly look forward to Sunday mornings to be able to go to church.  I'm not saying all these because it "makes me a good Christian".  I'm stating facts about my spiritual life to show that no, I'm not lacking in that.  So what is this empty feeling I have?  Why do I have it?  What does it mean?

Well, to be honest, I don't know.

And that makes me even more frustrated.

I was telling a friend about this.  Well, more like blubbering it because I was so emotionally distraught and just plain worn out that I was crying while talking.  He reminded me that God has a plan for all of this.  And I was like "Yeah, well it's hard and it hurts and I don't like it.  I'll never understand why and how something beautiful can come from something so painful.  But I guess that's what makes Him such a Miracle Worker."

He's up to something.  And I'm gonna have to wait and see the reason behind all of this waiting and learning and listening and crying.

In the end, I know it'll be worth it.  I have to just keep reminding myself of that.

Maybe you're going through something similar.  Maybe God is testing you, like He's testing me, and having us work out our faith through patience and trust.  It's hard.  I know exactly what you're feeling.  Trust me.  And in my experience, it's always encouraging to know that I'm not the only one feeling this way, so I pray it's the same for you.

You aren't alone.

God is good.

Stay the course.

3.20.2017

I Don't Know What To Title This


Have you ever had a passion, a hobby, something you loved doing so much, and one day you couldn't anymore?  For some reason, your brain just wasn't letting you, your hands weren't cooperating, your attention span was zilch, and nothing creative came to mind?

That's what it's been like with me and writing lately.

I'm a writer.  Writing is part of who I am.  It's in my blood.  It's an outlet.  It's a passion.  But lately, I've felt like I just couldn't.  I don't know why.  Why would I not be able to do something I love?  I've felt burnt out and not creative whatsoever.  I feel like nothing new has come to mind to write about.  Every time I've sat down to attempt at compiling sentences, nothing came to mind, my fingers didn't move, my brain was just one big blank.  Why can't I do one of the things I love the most?

It scares me.

I was telling all of this to a fellow writer friend of mine and he answered,
"Writing will always come and go throughout life.  Love is hard.  In every way."

I liked how he used "writing" and "love" as synonyms.  They do go hand in hand, so I guess it makes sense.  At least from my viewpoint.
I love to write.  And I write because I love it.  But they are both exasperating - these two.  They can both be so difficult sometimes.  And in those moments, you don't feel like doing either, but you know you should because...well, because it's part of who you are, I guess.

Being scared of something doesn't mean you shouldn't try though.  If it's something you want, if it's something you're passionate about, if it's something you love, then what is stopping you from at least taking a step forward in that direction?  If it doesn't work out, if nothing comes of it, at least you know you tried.

It's better than doing nothing and just wishing things would happen, right?

I guess I'm writing this all to myself.  I got done ranting to my friend and was so frustrated with myself for whining that I knew I needed to write to myself to get a move on and take a dose of my own medicine.

But I hope some part of this helps you.  Maybe you're going through the same thing.  Maybe you're experiencing the same difficulties.  But gosh, I hope you just try...

3.10.2017

Come To Him Broken


So often, I think we feel unworthy to come to God with our problems.  We think He's too busy for us, to hear about our petty needs, to forgive us over and over again.  We have this mentality that we need to look pretty, have our lives together, seek Him in a peaceful state of mind, in a room with candles and on our knees in prayer.

But I don't think that's accurate.

I think that life is messy.  And we're messy.  And we're broken.  And sometimes, all we can come to Him as is lost, hurting, confused, and guilty individuals.  Sometimes we don't know how to pray, but we know how to scream and cry and yell and beat our fists into the air.  We know what "to be hurt" means.  And when words fail us, and frivolous prayers escape our thoughts, we can only come before Him tired and dirty and broken.

I think we have a hard time accepting the fact that we can come to Him like that because we know how awesome and holy He is and it scares us to even consider coming to Him in such a state of chaos.  But if we understand His holiness and sovereignty, then why can't we understand His grace and love too?  If He loved us so much that before we even knew Him, He sent His Son to die in our place, then how much more does He love us now and want us to draw near His throne of grace?

Come to Him broken.

He knows life is difficult.  He knows life is pain.  He understands, He can relate, He is all seeing.  And if the Creator of the universe can understand that, then He can understand our confusion and passion and anger and the cries of our hearts.

Don't hold back.  Don't stay away.  Come to Him as you are.  And if that means in a shattered state, holding your heart in your hands, then so be it.  Don't let fear and guilt and worry about being and looking presentable keep you away from His loving and open arms.

Come to Him broken.

And what a joy and thrill it is to know that He is all-accepting?  That He is all-forgiving?  And nothing you can do will make Him love you less.  He is full of grace and forgiveness.  He has compassion on our weaknesses.  And in the midst of life's cruel tsunamis of suffering and agony, He remains the steadfast lighthouse of constant guidance and love.

Come to Him broken.

He specializes in putting back together pieces and making something even more beautiful than before.

3.05.2017

The Righteous In This City


"Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?...Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five?...Suppose forty are found there?...Suppose thirty?...Suppose twenty?...Oh may the LORD not be angry, and I shall speak only this once: suppose ten are found there?  

And He said, 'I will not destroy it on account of the ten.'"

Throughout a passage of 9 verses in Genesis chapter 18, this exchange takes place between the LORD and Abraham.  I always found it fascinating that, in a city of an estimated half a million, God said He would not destroy it for the sake of but ten righteous.

In a crash course on my church's foundational beliefs, the teacher spoke of community and the need to be "like redwoods, and not like tumbleweed".  Why?  Because Redwoods' roots grow deep into the ground and intertwine with each other causing such strong stability that they are able to grow up to 350+ feet tall.  Tumbleweed, on the other hand, have no roots; they blow to and fro by any amount of breeze, and look ugly and dead.  Having community and fellowship causes strong bonds through which the unity can be spread through the culture and in whatever place believers are planted in.

A thought struck me when I heard this.  It was the passage from Genesis that I quoted above, but also this -
How different would we live if we thought to ourselves: "Am I the righteous one in this city, in this neighborhood, on this street?  Am I the one God planted here to reach out to others?"

Are we the reasons He is showing mercy to this country?  To this world?  

God doesn't have to let us wake up every morning.  He doesn't have to let our lungs breathe for us.  He doesn't have to let us live.  Yet He does.  Why?  Because He has a plan and purpose for each of us, in whatever state of life we're in, wherever we are living.

Our Father will always have a remnant.  He loves His children and wants to bless us here on earth, until He calls us home.  But while we're here, how are we showing our true colors?  How are we showing others that we are His?  How are we practicing our righteousness?

If God chose to destroy certain cities today, like He did Sodom and Gomorrah, would yours be left standing?

2.11.2017

Response To Readers: Learning To Trust Again, episode 1

This is the first installment in my "Response To Readers" series.

---

"I've had a very painful past with my father leaving our family for another woman when I was just a little girl.  Because of that, I have a very hard time trusting people and feeling secure.  I recently started seeing someone.  He has given me no reason not to trust him, but I can't help but wonder when he's going to leave or when will he want someone else.  And I hurt his feelings by feeling this way.  He understands my past, but it still hurt.  
How do I stop having trust issues when he has been nothing but trustworthy?"

This was probably one of the most heart-breaking questions I've received.  "Trust" is such a big part of life and I've never been in any sort of situation to experience such betrayal and pain as this girl had.

I sat here, staring at my laptop, for a good ten minutes, wondering just how I was going to reply to her.  I seriously had no idea how to say everything I was thinking - and if what I was thinking was even a good answer.  I feel inadequate to be answering such a deep, painful question.

To the girl who submitted this question:
Thank you for trusting me enough to ask it.  I know it's a painful part of your life, and I feel touched that you would ask my advice on it.
Sweetie, even if your father hurt your family by leaving - and continues to hurt you by ignoring your letters and phone calls - your Heavenly Father will never leave you.  I know it's hard to try to grasp the concept of the Creator of the universe being there for you, but it's something that none of us will really understand how and why.
But it's a promise that He gives us in His word.
"I will never leave you or forsake you".
The boyfriend you have in your life right now sounds like someone special.  It sounds like you think a lot of him and that he has become a prominent person in your life.  But if you're still struggling with trust issues, it may be wise to back away from him for a little while.  If he understands your past and has given you no reason to not trust him, then he must respect and care for you a great deal - and will gladly do whatever you feel is best for you at this time.
For you to "stop having trust issues" isn't an overnight thing.  It takes a lot of time, patience and love from the people around you.  If your boyfriend is still hurt with your difficulty on trusting him (even though he knows about your father), that's not your fault.  If he's a good guy, he'll give you the space and time you need.

My biggest suggestion and advice is that you strive to grow closer to God through this time.  Seek God's will for your life.  Trust Him with your life.  He loves you more than any mortal man ever could.  And He cares for you more than your father or boyfriend ever will.

If you still feel insecure about who to trust, and if someone you grow close to will soon just decide they don't like you anymore and not want to be around you, you need to bury yourself even more in God's Word.  And I'm sorry to say that you will encounter people like this.  People will come and go.  It's a part of life.  It's a part of growing up.
But I promise you that the ache and pain of betrayal and denial won't be as sharp if you remember that God is within arm's length from you.

Stay grounded in His Word.  Stay focused on Him.  Rejoice in His love for you.  Trust that He will never leave you...

...

'And they that know Your Name will put their trust in You; for You, LORD, have not forsaken them that seek You.'
- Psalm 9:10

2.10.2017

She Chose

She didn't lose him.  She let him go.

She didn't let him go.  She pushed him away.

She had to walk away, she had to move on.
Not because she didn't care for him anymore or because she was bored of who he was.
Not because she wanted things to end.

But because it was what was best for her.

Staying was hurting her, leaving was painful, trying to love the person he used to be was killing her.

She didn't want to cut him out of her life.

She didn't want things to end.

She did try to make it work.
She never doubted he wanted it to work out too.

But sometimes, life is against us.
And life was against them.

And she was forced to choose.

And she chose, she decided, she walked away with her head held high and her heart torn.

And with every step, she reminded herself that things weren't the same anymore and no matter how much she tried, no matter how much she waited, no matter how much she went back to square one to start all over again, to try again, life was changing.  And she was changing with it.  And he was too.

She didn't forget him.

She didn't hate him.  She never could.

She was just tired of being unhappy and thinking that they would be happy together.
She was tired of asking him why he was hurting her.
Instead, she asked herself why she allowed him to continue causing her pain.

Because, truth is, in another life, she would run back to him in a heartbeat.

But right here, right now, she was walking away.

And it was the right thing to do.

And it was going to be okay.

2.09.2017

What If We Had Been Warned?

It seems that they forget to tell us, as children, that life hurts.

Life will hold painful moments for us.  

Life is sad sometimes. 

I get it.  

Adults don't want to be raising us, telling us all these horribly depressing things.
But I wonder if it's worse to find it out on our own than to be warned...

Would someone take a puff of their first cigarette if they knew what it does to their lungs, slowly, over time, and that smoking a pack a day would result in a shorter life?

Would someone trust a friend with a secret if they knew that you shouldn't trust so easily?

Would someone give themselves, their heart, their body, to someone else, if they knew that not every first love chooses to stick around and not give up on you?

How differently would this life be lived if we were warned of people, places and things?  We learn about them as nouns in school, but why aren't we introduced to their schemes and wily ways too?  Why aren't we warned that life will hurt us, even when we have done nothing to encourage it, to invite the pain, to want to feel the sharp sting of betrayal, of lost love, of anxiety and depression, of self-consciousness, of fear?

What if we had been warned?