12.31.2015

Resolutions of 2015 & 2016

Well, it's that time of year again.  Crazy how quickly it has flown by.  Are you ready for 2016?  What are some of your plans to celebrate?  Do you have any resolutions for this next year?

Here was my goal list for 2015:

  • learn Russian
  • try to get published
  • support a ministry outreach monthly
  • work - and hopefully complete - my non-fiction manuscript
  • do a sugar free diet one month
  • keep a consistent Blessings journal
  • read the Bible through in a year

  • And this is my status of the resolutions, as this year draws to a close:

    - I have begun taking Russian classes, but have not fully mastered the language.
    - I was asked to be the co-founder and production manager of Brave Magazine, and was also published on Thought Catalog
    - With the change of jobs (and pay check amounts), I was not able to commit to supporting a ministry outreach every month.  But I did volunteer a few times, and sort of count that as my tithe.
    - Alas, my non-fiction manuscript is still in the works...
    - I did a sugar and chocolate free diet for...ALMOST one month.
    - I was pretty consistent with my Blessings journal.  I plan to do better this coming year, though.
    - I did not read my Bible through in a year.  Instead, I took book by book and read them over and over again for one month each.


    My 2016 resolutions are as follows:

  • become more consistent in daily prayer
  • be brave and actually, legitimately, move somewhere
  • take more spontaneous road trip getaways
  • yoga (my family bought me a purple yoga mat for Christmas so I have NO excuses)
  • finish 'I Cannot Fathom'
  • try getting my poetry published
  • ---

    Happy New Year, peeps!  May this next one be filled with many incredible journeys and memories.


    P.S.  I'm in Peru, as you're reading this... :)

    12.28.2015

    And I'm Off! [Yet Again]


    As you read this, I will either be still sitting (uncomfortable) in a plane...or I will have already landed in Lima, Peru.  For the third time in two years.
    It all depends on what time zone you're in.

    Pretty crazy that I'm actually going back.  It's been exactly one year since I last saw my beautiful home in Peru.  As I write this, I'm still not even sure I fully realize that it's ACTUALLY happening.  This is actually taking place.  Again.  For the third time.  God is allowing me the privilege to get on a plane and fly 5,000 miles away to see my precious Peruvian family again.  Just...wow.

    This year has been full of many trials and errors.  This year has been full of pain and tears.  This year has had many incredible, seemingly impossible occurrences.  This year has been gloriously brutal...
    And I'm ready for God to take me into the next year.  I really am.  I need a fresh start.  I need a fresh start with life.  With Him.  I've gotten too distracted.  I've let other things take precedence when He should always be my main focus.  And I'm just...exhausted.

    While in Peru, this is my prayer.  It's one of my favorite songs by Bethel Music.  And has been extremely life-changing for me the last few months.

    'Spirit of the living God, come fall afresh on me
    Come awake me from my sleep
    Blow through the caverns of my heart
    Pour in me to overflow.'

    Please keep me and my team in your prayers.  Pray specifically for protection, strength, and unity.

    I'll see you all in a couple weeks!

    12.24.2015

    Feliz Navidad To You & Yours


    I am writing this whilst being snuggled up in one of my favorite blankets, sitting cross-legged in Mama's rocking chair.  The beautifully lit Christmas tree is to my left, and one of my little sisters is getting the Charlie Brown Christmas movie up and ready on the family TV to my right.  My Dad is on the phone with my grandparents in Peru.  My brother is on his way to the family's house to spend Christmas Eve night/Christmas Day morning with us.

    I might go to a friend's house later to watch Christmas movies late into the night.  We'll see.
    I bought The Holiday last week.  Still haven't seen the whole thing.  I'd like to though.  Maybe tonight.  Or tomorrow.

    I went to my church's Christmas service tonight.  My Pastor read the Nativity story, we had communion, then everyone in the church stood in a circle around the sanctuary.  We each had a candle and my Pastor began the lighting chain.  He lit his candle, said what he was thankful for this year, and passed the flame to the person's candle to his right.  It went all the way around the room.  When my candle was lit, I said 'I am thankful for God's forgiveness and that His love never fails.'  That was the only thing I could think to say, honestly.  This year just emits those truths.

    And I am so so very thankful for Him.

    Tomorrow morning, we'll all get up early, open gifts, make and eat homemade cinnamon rolls (with cream cheese frosting!), and just spend the day together.  Mama has a delicious clam chowder dinner planned.
    Saturday, I open at work, get off by 12 noon, then head to my aunt's for a huge family reunion/get-together.
    And Sunday...oh my gosh, Sunday, peeps, I'll be headed back to Peru.  For the third time.  I can't even begin to tell you how amazing and in shock and wonderful and exciting it is to know that I get to go back to my home there.  Which reminds me, I need to squeeze 'finish packing' into this weekend.

    Oh and did you see the full moon tonight?!  It's the first one that has happened on Christmas in 40 years.

    Well, I'm going to go make myself a cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream.  And I'll probably grab a piece of pie while I'm at it.

    Merry Christmas, lovelies.  You are wonderful and bless me tons!

    ---

    Comment what you and your family are doing for Christmas!

    12.21.2015

    8 Reasons Why To Date Someone With High Standards AND Low Maintenance


    To start things off, who wants a boyfriend or girlfriend who is constantly nagging you, asking where you're going, who you're with, what you're doing, what you're going to do, why you didn't invite them to the movie, etc.?

    Yeah, nobody.

    BUT...

    Who wants a boyfriend or girlfriend who made you pursue them because their standards were so high because they want to date someone they trust and because they trust you, you won't constantly be receiving nagging texts and phone calls?

    Yeah, me.  For sure.  Right here.

    So basically, individuals with high standards but who require low maintenance are the best people to date.  (Me, for example.  Just kidding.)

    Here are a few more reasons you should date one of us:

    1)  We base our relationship on the passion, not the feelings.
    Feelings can change with the wind.  Passion is life-long.  We don't care about symbols, Facebook relationship statuses, public displays of affection, or how often you say 'I love you' in front of others. We just need to see, sense, and know that the connection we have is real and genuine.

    2)  We care about what matters, and know how to get over what doesn't.
    We won't bicker over who does the dishes or cleans the toilet or vacuums the bedroom (just so long as you're carrying your weight, you know?).  But we won't let important relationship based matters slide by unnoticed.  Besides, little arguments about insignificant things usually mean that there are deeper underlying problems going on.

    3)  We don't need extravagant gifts or elaborate dates.  Just make them thoughtful.
    Honestly, I would rather be told to change into whatever I wanted to wear, be given a single rose, order my favorite take out food, and watch a favorite movie in a fort made of pillows in our living room...than dress up for a fancy dinner downtown.  Sure, there are special occasions for that.  But how much cheaper would it be to just stay home and snuggle?  It's thoughtful too, when the man remembers what I like or prefer and actually DOES it.

    4)  We are best in a relationship when we are most comfortable being around you.
    This goes hand-in-hand with the last point.  It would mean more to us if you told us how hot and gorgeous we look with shower hair, no makeup and oversized clothes, than when we make an effort to actually look attractive and that's the ONLY time you compliment us.  Quality, not quantity.  Genuine, not fake.  Often, not rare.

    5)  We don't nag.  But if we see something wrong, we will be blunt and tell you straight up.  
    If we continue doing this, it isn't considered nagging.  It's considered 'Wake the heck up and see that this is a real issue!'

    6)  We don't expect you to never make us mad, we don't expect you to always do the dirty work, we don't expect perfection.  
    We just ask that you're considerate of our feelings, fair, and act accordingly.

    7)  We are level-headed, think with our brains, know what we deserve
    ...and likewise, what you deserve too.

    8)  We are extremely loyal and trusting.
    If you gain our affection, it means we trust you.  And if we trust you, it means you've reached our high standards.
    Don't screw this up.  We don't have to tell you every single name and background of every single person in group we're going to see a movie with - even if the majority of them are guys.  And girls, he doesn't need to explain to you about the girl who commented 'Hey hottie' on his profile picture.  You're dating an attractive person!!  They are going to get noticed!  This isn't a competition.
    They're with you.
    If you truly trust them, then get over it.
    If you don't, then get out.

    12.19.2015

    Punctuation | a poem


    All sentences end
    Each with a different mark
    A punctuation
    Declaring the kind of sentence it was

    All lives end
    Each in a different way
    Abruptly
    Slowly
    With pain
    With joy
    With or without a word
    But always a type of punctuation

    What sort of punctuation is at the end of my life?

    Will my last breath be one of salvation
    Or of declaration
    Or a question perhaps?
    Will I slip out of this life and into the next
    Not knowing why my first one was lived
    Or if I had lived it well?
    Will it end instead in an exclamation of joy
    Power
    Thankfulness
    Utter ecstasy?
    Will it end with a trail of unspoken thoughts
    Wishing
    Regretting
    That they had never been spoken?

    Will it end in such a way
    That people will look at that end mark and think
    'She lived her life well
    She has nothing to regret...'

    12.18.2015

    Here's The Thing About Being a Writer


    Being a writer isn't as romantic as some people may think it is.

    We're not always perched comfortably on a window seat, in a cute outfit, drinking a cup of coffee and our hair is done perfectly.  That's just not reality.

    Being a writer is about nitty gritty hours of the night, staying up late to finish something you've been working on all day.

    Being a writer is about commitment and sticking to what you've been trying to write even if your brain think tank is on empty and you're frustrated.  And there may be tears too.

    Being a writer entails erasers and the 'delete' button.  We write, we edit, we criticize our thoughts on paper.  It happens.  But don't let the editing be longer than the writing.  And don't always allow yourself to reword things.  Sometimes, the best way to say it is the first time you do.

    Being a writer means you need to accept the fact that you will get rejection and criticism.  And that's okay.  You will NEVER always have fans.  You will have haters too.  And that's actually a good thing.  Why?  Because it means that you're a unique individual with your own way of thinking and your own way of writing and some people just don't like it.  Or as Winston Churchill once said: "You have enemies?  Good.  It means you've stood up for something sometime in your life."  And in this case, it's yourself.  Your thoughts.  Your writing.  And that's a wonderful thing to stand up for.

    The thing about being a writer is that every experience in life affects you and your writer's heart.  You keep everything locked up inside until a time when you feel you need to, you must write about it.
    Every person, circumstance, place, smell, feel, taste, conversation, song... Everything is held in your thought case, your memory jar.  And someday, you'll go back and sift through them all.  And you will write.  Some will be difficult to pen, others will come easily and freely because you need closure, you need to let your voice be heard, you need to get a message across.

    Don't ever apologize for your words.  Think before you speak, ponder before you write.  But when you finally do, never say 'sorry'.  Because why are you apologizing for something your heart wants to say?  Speak and write freely.  Being a writer is about inscribing your heart onto a piece of paper and making something that was only felt in your brain, able to be read and felt by the world.

    So be warned, human souls.  For whenever you come in contact with a wielder of words, you will most likely end up being a victim or a hero in one of their proses.  And if I were you, I would choose the latter.

    12.10.2015

    15 Struggles Every Tall Girl Deals With


    1)  Finding the right pair of jeans
    Something long enough, but that fits our waist well too.

    2)  "Gosh, you're tall."  
    Really?  I didn't notice.

    3)  "Are you gonna get any taller?"
    I just don't really see the reasoning behind this question...

    4)  "Do you like being this tall?"
    Sometimes, yes.  Sometimes, no.

    5)  "Do you play basketball?"
    Just because we're tall doesn't mean we're into sports - most specifically, basketball.

    6)  Cute dresses on other girls are cute shirts on us
    It's true tho.

    7)  Getting yelled at when we wear high heels
    "You're tall enough already.  Why are you wearing heels?"  Because I freaking feel like it.

    8)  Shaving our legs takes longer... (no pun intended)
    For reals.

    9)  Needing to duck, squat, or bend over in photos so your head doesn't get cropped off
    The struggle is real.

    10)  When in public bathrooms, being careful not looking over the sides or the doors because they're usually short enough for us to see over.
    Oh my gosh, some public bathrooms are made for midgets.

    11)  Being taller than 99% of the guys we know.
    And this especially sucks if you've vowed to not date/marry a guy who's shorter than you.

    12)  Having to 'slow down' when walking with our friends
    Cuz, you know, their short legs can't keep up with our long strides.

    13)  Hugs.  Sometimes.
    Enough said.

    14)  Having to crouch in some showers just so we can get under the shower head.
    This sucks #1 - because everyone loves showers, and #2 - because everyone wants to enjoy standing under extremely hot water...but this proves a bit difficult when you're a tall girl.

    15)  Baths.
    Out of the question.

    11.26.2015

    Everyday Blessings // 40


    >> this mug I received to review for an Etsy shop (giving one away on my Instagram btw)
    >> being supported in my decisions
    >> getting purple highlights in my hair
    >> making a new friend
    >> house-sitting
    >> reuniting with the band and working on the set list for our upcoming show
    >> sleepovers
    >> New Girl
    >> frost in the morning
    >> getting my first professional manicure
    >> cozy beds with cozy comforters
    >> everything being set for Peru (you have no idea how excited I am to leave...)
    >> new boots
    >> late night cheese, grapes and bread snacks
    >> Bollywood movies
    >> serene mornings alone
    >> experimenting with new drinks at work
    >> planning road trips
    >> reconnecting with a best friend
    >> new eyeshadow from e.l.f.
    >> my sister finding a favorite lip gloss that I thought I had lost
    >> running into customers outside of work
    >> the Peanuts movie
    >> playing violin again
    >> chocolate, peanut and almond granola bars

    ---

    Happy Thanksgiving, peeps!  I pray your holiday is blessed and you are surrounded by the ones you know and love.
    And you can bet your whole turkey dinner that Christmas music is beginning TOMORROW.

    How did you celebrate your Thanksgiving?

    11.24.2015

    Staggering, Stumbling and Beauty In the Deformities


    I am exhausted.

    The last couple of weeks have been very emotionally trying.  One after the other, circumstances happened that threw my world in a loop.  Things I thought I had gotten over, resurfaced and hit me full on.  I continually had to fight back tears of hurt, anger, frustration and confusion.  I still am, honestly.  And I'm exhausted.  I'm really, really tired.  Of a lot of things.  Of a lot of people.  Of a lot of thoughts and feelings.

    While business was slow at work, I perched myself on the counter and looked outside.  My eye caught movement at the used car lot, next door to the coffee stand I work at.  A couple was checking out a car and their young son was nearby.  His legs were crooked and misshaped.  He was walking with two canes attached to either arm.  And stumbling with each step as he forced his legs to move towards his parents.

    The first thought that came to my head was 'What a beautiful little boy.'
    The second was 'This is what we are like in our striving walk towards God.'

    I saw myself in that little boy.  I saw my emotions represented by the way he was staggering and stumbling, trying so hard to walk with confidence, unswerving.

    Yet how often is that the way we walk?  

    That little boy was a beautiful picture of life itself.  And he reminded me of how deformed I am.  Maybe not outwardly, but inwardly, I am a mess.  I am a distorted, twisted, mangled mass of heart and emotions and feelings and passions.  And sometimes it's overwhelming to try to figure it all out, you know?  I'm exhausted with trying to untangle it all and push forward without constantly staggering and stumbling.

    But that's when I have to remind myself that I am not supposed to be the strong one.

    I can try as many times as I want to, but I will never succeed.
    I'm finite.
    I'm human.
    I'm flawed.
    But oh praise be that I serve a God whose strength is made manifest IN my weakness.  And through His strong, yet gentle hands, He is shaping me into something beautiful.

    "He makes everything beautiful in His time."
    - Eccelesiastes 3:11

    11.18.2015

    40 Things I Should Have Said To Certain People...But Never Did

    This is an open letter, addressed to the myriad of people who I should have said these things to...


    Here is my apology.  My confession.  My thoughts.  My regrets.  My honesty.

    Me.

    ---

    1.  "I don't regret giving that gift to you.  It's a part of me that I am happy you have."

    2.  "I saw your text.  I just chose not to respond."

    3.  "I still have that ring you gave me."

    4.  "I wish we had never stopped talking for that whole year."

    5.  "You are the reason I am the writer I am today.  You are the inspiration behind so many of my poems."

    6.  "Every time I hear 'You Make Me Smile', I think of you."

    7.  "Singing and playing piano with you was something I looked forward to every week."

    8.  "I never liked her, but I gave her a chance.  For you.  Because she made you happy and your happiness matters so much to me."

    9.  "No, I don't like your dogs.  I've already kicked one when you weren't looking.  So please keep them away from me."

    10.  "I expected more from you than this."

    11.  "I said all those things because I knew it was what you wanted to hear.  And I was afraid to say any different because I knew you wouldn't be happy with me if I was honest."

    12.  "You were drunk, okay?  Even if you don't admit it."

    13.  "I have every right to ask that he not use language around me."

    14.  "I freaked out when you added me on Snapchat.  I couldn't believe you would even notice me, let alone want to talk."

    15.  "I know you don't like me.  And frankly, I don't give a dang."

    16.  "I used to have the biggest crush on you."

    17.  "To this day, I still won't admit that I'm jealous of you and your perfect little life."

    18.  "I used to look up to you so much but you treated me like an inferior that one time we talked and since then, you're nothing more than a piece of dust in my past."

    19.  "Honestly, you're still single because you just don't freaking try."

    20.  "Stop talking about cars.  I really don't want to hear about cars anymore.  Cars aren't really my topic and I'm getting tired of you droning on and on about cars."

    21.  "You two are really cute together but I honestly don't see it working out."

    22.  "I will never forgive you for spraying that gecko repellent in my eyes."

    23.  "You need to get out of your comfort zone, start hanging out with the right people, and maybe then you'll get ambition for real dreams and goals instead of being so lukewarm and stuck in your own little world right now."

    24.  "I'm sorry I never officially introduced myself to you."

    25.  "I will never regret saying 'No' when you asked to hold my hand."

    26.  "I will never be able to thank you enough for letting me be that little girl who always hugged you, mimicked you, was your little shadow.  I didn't understand how that probably annoyed the heck out of you until I reached your [then] age and had to deal with the same thing.  Yet you never ever pushed me away.  Thank you."

    27.  "Don't accuse me of drama.  You're the high school teenager, not me."

    28.  "Why did we ever let distance get in the way?"

    29.  "Yes, I deleted you on Facebook.  I just didn't like seeing how you pretended that you had a perfect little life when I know, in reality, you don't."

    30.  "You are so so so beautiful."

    31.  "Teach me how to write."

    32.  "You're one of my heroes."

    33.  "I still have the journal I wrote in about you."

    34.  "My sisters asked me who I thought was the best-looking guy I've ever known.  And your face was the first one that came to mind."

    35.  "You really do have a beautiful beard."

    36.  "I'm sorry I was so insensitive to your situation.  I've gone through the same now, and can actually relate.  It sucks."

    37.  "Oh my gosh, stop talking to me, please.  Why?  Because all you ever say is about how you're lonely and are trying to date this or that girl.  Not interested, buddy."

    38.  "I really thought you'd be the type of friend to stick with me even if our mutual acquaintances drifted apart.  Guess I was wrong."

    39.  "I know the person you can become.  You're just afraid of how God will wreck you in the process of getting you to that sold-out point of your life."

    40.  "Thank you for your hugs."

    11.14.2015

    How To Face Your Heartache

    Heartache isn't something you are able to rush and get over with quickly.

    Just like each of us have different levels of pain tolerance, we each heal at different paces.

    And the deeper the love, the more the painful it will be.

    Everything hurts right now because you felt something real.  The numbness will set in.  Don't let it overtake you, though.  Don't let the numbness of your heart and body's self-preservation mode take over your brain.  Just allow it to make the pain dull, instead of sharp.  It will still be painful...and this is because the relationship or crush or experience was something more to you than just the physically-attracted aspect of it.  You were going out on a limb to answer the call of your natural human heart to care for another person.  And that's something you should never feel guilty for or regretful of.  To love is part of being a human.  And so is pain.

    'But why?' you may ask.

    Ah but why not?

    Sure, life may be easier to face while being closed off to love.  It might not be as dangerous.  It might not lead to as much pain.  It would certainly be less complicated and flexible.  But it would also, most definitely, be less colorful, less full, and not as...alive.  Love and pain are companions.  You can't have one without the other.  Either love ends and you feel pain, or love continues for the rest of your life and pain will happen because people are human and humans are stupid and crap happens.  So love can either be an island prison or a blessing to have the opportunity to love someone so much that it hurts.

    You feel pain because you truly felt love.  I know this may be the worst possible thing to hear right now but - be thankful for it.  Be thankful that you can feel, that you did feel.  Remember how that love made you feel.  And remember that you, yes you, are capable of falling in love again.  Not right now.  Maybe not even soon.  But it is possible.  And the more suffering you experience from this heartache, the more you will cherish your next love.

    You will have moments of sobbing.  You will have times of teary-eyes that are quickly blinked away. Or you will have break-downs in store aisles as memories flood you and their presence is so real and so tangible.  You will have moments of tranquil outside appearances but on the inside, your heart is crumbling like an old abandoned castle.  Memories will haunt you and their ghost will suddenly appear right before your eyes.  Don't try to ignore it.  Don't push it away.  Face it.  You don't have to forget them or erase them entirely from your memory.  You cared about them enough to love them.  The only thing that has changed is how, not why.


    "Just embrace the fact that you are going to hurt for a while, that you loved someone courageously and it did not work out, that you cannot regret anything or question anything because all you did was in love and there's nothing wrong with that."

    Every day you will have something new to face.  And every day you will react differently.  You will ponder on it differently.  You will be in an endless spiral, facing a problem on day #32 that you thought you already dealt with on day #8.  And that's okay.  Don't try to plan out your healing process.  Don't try to even understand it.  Let yourself feel.  Let yourself heal.  In your own time and pace.

    Heartache is scary.  It's as if you had it altogether one moment and the next, everything is in ashes.  Your mind and heart are two completely different things, but they are both a wreck of emotions.  You can't think of anything or anyone else except that one person.  Your mind will tell your heart to stop thinking about them, to get over it, to move on.  But your heart won't be able to listen.  You need to separate the two from each other.  Let your heart heal on its own and decide when it is time, when it can be whole again.  And let your brain calm down and be a guide instead of a commander.  You're a wreck of emotions.  And that's okay.  It takes time to heal.  Pain doesn't dissipate overnight.  It's a process.  And the agony you go through will only succeed in making you more alive, more sensitive, more keen to life and the beauties it holds.  It will make you more real than you've ever been before, because you, as a whole, have experienced a new part of life.  People who don't experience heartache will never know the happiness that rests outside of their little bubble.  They will be happy, but they won't have anything to compare it to.  Whereas you, knowing what happiness is and isn't, will understand, once you find it again, just how powerful true love is.

    11.13.2015

    You ARE Forgiven

    It's rough dealing with remorse and regrets.  And sometimes, they still hang over me, like a dark cloud filled with bitter raindrops full of guilt.

    But the LORD spoke to me and has shown me that He is big enough to redeem any and every wrong I have committed.  He told me to stop asking for forgiveness, because the first time I did was enough for Him.  Either Christ is enough to wash me clean or He isn't.  By me continually asking Him to forgive my sins was a sign that I didn't fully trust that He can and did.

    The truth is - He has already washed me clean.  In His eyes, I am blameless, pure, and holy.  I claim that truth in my life.  I receive His forgiveness.  I choose Him and His love because He first chose me.  No one can do that for me.  I have to make the choice to believe.  Either I do or I don't.

    He knows.  He understands.  He was there.  He is here.  He knew everything that was going to take place before it happened.  He saw it coming.  And He already has a plan for it in my life, in your life. He will give you strength to completely let go of memories and pain from the past when you release them into His loving hands.  He will pour out His peace and calmness over you - to the point of overflowing.  In this rough time, He will open your ears to the little love whispers that He wants you to hear.  And through this pain, He will connect you to Himself more fully.

    Let Him show you the light and beauty of His hand at work in your life.
    Allow Him to comfort you and give you joy.
    He is your Refuge.
    He loves us even in the midst of our messy, sticky lives.

    And He has forgiven you.

    Before the foundation of this world was laid, He knew every step you would take, every path you would choose, every mistake you would make.  And He forgave you.
    Your sin was laid at the foot of His cross the moment you were saved.
    And every sin is washed away by His amazing grace.

    11.10.2015

    God Kept Me Awake Till 3am



    When my best friend asked me why I was still awake, I texted back: 'I guess Jesus just wanted me to stay up late to worship Him.'

    I've really missed Him, honestly.  I wasn't very close to Him this last year.  I thought I was.  I kept telling myself that it was just some unknown, weird phase.  But I was in denial.  And the thing that was distracting me the most was something I didn't want to let go of.  But when I did, I knew it was the right thing to do because through that process, the LORD has brought me closer to Himself.

    I had meant to get in bed and fall right to sleep (I had an exhausting day), but I went on YouTube instead.  I don't even remember what I was initially looking up, but I got sidetracked and began watching worship session videos from Bethel Music.  Next thing I knew, it was 3am.  The time just flew by as I was so engrossed in worshipping my God through the worship videos I was watching.  It was so incredible!

    One of the songs I was worshipping with is a favorite by Amanda Cook, sung by Steffany Gretzinger -

    Pull me a little closer
    Take me a little deeper
    I wanna know Your heart
    I wanna know Your heart
    Cuz Your love is so much sweeter
    Than anything I've tasted
    I wanna know Your heart...

    And oh how that resonates with my soul.

    He has been taking me to whole new levels of knowing WHAT His heart, His peace, His love and His grace feel like in my life right now.

    When I look back on all that He has brought me through, all He has protected me from, all that He's allowed me to experience to teach me certain lessons... The one thought I linger on is of how far I've come - ONLY by His careful and loving hands.  And how close to me He has stayed all this time.  He has never let me go.  Never once let me fall into something deeper than His grace.  His mercy is so powerful.  His love unrelenting.  He has pursued and pursued and pursued my heart.  My sinful human heart that He only sees as beautiful and clean by the blood of His Son.  And no matter how often I fall short, no matter how often I screw up, He still welcomes me to sit at His feet.

    My soul thirsts to know Him more.  

    I look ahead with such hope, knowing that whatever He has planned for me, whatever He has written for my life, will be such a beautiful and grand story because He is the perfect Author of all things - all things that work out for MY good.  And for His glory.  What a thought!

    We serve such an awesome God.  He is mighty to behold.

    This morning, while reading my devotions, I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and these words flowed from my heart.

    Great is Thy grace
    O Maker of my soul
    Forever You are true.
    When You are absent,
    Troubles assail me.
    But when You are near,
    My life is overfilled with blessings.

    Great is Thy mercy
    Savior of my heart
    You conquered death
    So I may be free
    To live with You forever
    In the home You have made for me
    In eternity.

    Great is Your love
    Hero of my life
    In Your wounds I find forgiveness
    You banish all the fear
    That tries to take me captive
    You make the guilt cease
    That my mind can't seem to forget
    In Your presence,
    I find my rest.

    I behold the glory of the One and only
    Your goodness crashes over me in mighty waves
    And I am lost in the wonder
    I have never been so free...

    11.06.2015

    How I Taught Myself What To Write About

    [source] This is literally me every day ^

    So I was thinking about Taylor Swift the other day.

    (Not a normal subject for me to ponder on, I assure you.)

    I realized how I used to often criticize her inspiration for her songs and how immature it seemed to me that she dated guys, broke up with them, and then wrote about her ex and their past relationship.  Now, granted, I don't agree with her lifestyle, her dating pattern or the guys she chooses to 'make mistakes' with, but I have a whole new view on her inspiration.

    Her inspiration for music is based on her experiences.  Her experiences based on people.  And the people are ones divinely put in her path.
    I think that is fascinating.

    Each of us write for different reasons.  Some of us went to school to be journalists.  Some of us write professionally, for work.  And then, there are some of us who have been writing since we were youngsters.
    I write because my heart won't beat for me unless I write the letters it taps to me in Morse code.  I write because writing is a part of living for me.  Growing up, my room, desk and bed were always occupied by papers and journals.  I would overfill notebooks with who knows what.  I wrote about everything I did, everything I saw, everyone I met.

    Each of us will have different experiences than the next person.  We will have different adventures, different heartaches, different loves lost, different occurrences and events.  And though they are different, they can be similar in some way, somehow.  Because we all feel.  We all have emotions.  And these can be similar, even if the situation they occur in is different.

    When we share our episodes of life with the world - whether through music or dance or writing (just to name a few) - we are unknowingly helping and encouraging individuals who may be needing to know that they're not alone.  That they aren't the only ones who are experiencing these emotions and feelings and frustrations.

    So I encourage YOU to share your heart.  As a writer, being able to put my thoughts to words and words on paper is one of the most rewarding things to do.  When I am frustrated about something, I write about it.  When I am feeling emotions for and about someone, I write about it.  When I wish I could visit this place or go on that adventure, I write about it.  Nothing that happens to me is fully processed by my brain until I write it down.  Read it over.  Think about it.  Sometimes I don't necessarily want to write about certain things.  But then I get in an argument with my brain and my organized, logical-thinking left side usually wins.  Because I need to write things down, even when it's hard, even when it hurts.  Because I need to record, process and accept the truth of my own words.
    I have learned to say whatever it is that I'm thinking - even if I have to use metaphors and stupid cliche phrases to just get. it. out.
    And yes, even if I have to stay up till 2 a.m. to finish writing it.

    I have learned to never bite my tongue when it comes to speaking what I feel and what I truly think.  I am not controlled by other humans.  I don't care what they think.  I care about what One God thinks of me.  I have a voice, I have an opinion, I have emotions.  And little by little, I am learning to take my own medicine and write...for others.  I want to write and share my experiences, my chapters of this crazy story called life, because I want to be able to encourage and bless and inspire.  And if something I write is important enough to me to write, then I shouldn't apologize for it.

    Just don't stop.  Write.  Wherever you are, amidst whatever you're doing.  If a thought comes to your head, write it down before you forget.  My phone is FULL of notes of random thoughts and ideas that I have throughout my day.  I've been known to write on bookmakers, receipts, scraps of paper, napkins, and even on my hands.

    Don't be afraid of your brain.  Don't be afraid of yourself and what you're thinking or feeling.  Express it through words.  Write it down.  And don't ever apologize.  Life is a crazy thing.  Sometimes it's pretty scary too.  Familiarize yourself with your heart and who you are deep down in your soul.  Make that open passage between who you are and your brain.  Be at peace with raw emotion.  Don't beat yourself up about memories.  Good and bad ones will stay with you for the rest of your life.  And that's okay.  Learn how to face them.  Writing about them is a good way to do this.

    Teach yourself what to write about.
    Find your style, your little nook, and write until your fingers ache but your brain is free.

    11.04.2015

    The 5 Steps To Ordering Your Drink [As Told By A Barista]

    A fellow barista and I decided to write this quirky post about the 5 suggested steps when ordering your drink.


    1) Always say the size first
    Either in ounces or measurements (large, medium or small).

    2) Next, if it's hot or cold
    If cold - specify iced or blended
    If hot - specify if you want a cup sleeve and/or straw

    3) Specify how many shots

    If you don't care, then don't worry about this one.  Most coffee shops do two shots.

    4)  The actual drink you're ordering

    Plus any flavors!

    5) If you want whipped cream

    This applies to hot or cold drinks.

    Altogether now:
    I'd like a 20 ounce iced, double-shot caramel macchiato with extra vanilla and whipped cream.

    ---

    Am I missing anything?  Fellow baristas, comment away!

    10.30.2015

    6 Struggles Girls With High Standards [For Herself] Can Relate To


    1)  You sometimes think you don't need any help and are tough enough to handle a situation.
    It takes a lot for us to admit that we need help.  We're strong individuals, who have confidence, and people know this (and even compliment us on it!).  So when we actually have to ask for help, in our minds, it's as if we're getting on our knees, crying and begging for assistance.  Not cool.

    2)  You are constantly raising the bar, not only for yourself, but for others as well.
    We don't settle and we can't stand it when other people do.

    3)  To you, 'good' can be - and usually is - the opposite of perfect.
    Basically, when something is 'good', it's just a settlement, not a goal that was reached.  And this is hardcore FAILURE in our eyes.

    4)  You sometimes forget that pain is part of life.
    But when we embrace it, it's like the reality of it absorbs into our flesh and we become stronger because we admitted to a weakness.

    5)  You absolutely hate the word 'bored'.
    One of our biggest pet peeves is when people are complacent and are constantly complaining about how their lives 'aren't exciting enough'.  Or when you ask them what they're up to and they respond with, 'Nothing.  I'm bored.'  WELL THEN GET UP AND DO SOMETHING.

    6)  You sometimes find it difficult to not point out how people can do and be better.
    We see potential everywhere.  This can be a strength and a weakness because, for example, we are more often than not very optimistic creatures...but we also give way too many chances.  There needs to be a healthy balance of encouragement but no, you can't walk all over me when I do encourage you.

    10.23.2015

    Everyday Blessings // 39


    >> having encouraging conversations with customers
    >> submitting a manuscript
    >> planning a surprise party for one of my sister's birthdays (above pic is from that day)
    >> writing my Christmas wishlist
    >> cherry pop tarts
    >> my newest movie poster (Jurassic World, because Chris Pratt)
    >> new jeans from American Eagle that fit perfectly
    >> unplanned movie nights with a bestie
    >> discovering new rap artists (and absolutely loving them)
    >> White Chocolate Blackberry mocha
    >> starting a new Bible study
    >> buying my ticket to Peru!!
    >> inspiration
    >> girl nights
    >> fresh, clean towels
    >> ordering pizza at my work
    >> scratching things off my bucket list
    >> Young Living essential oils
    >> a new blog design is in the works!
    >> Green Tea London Fog
    >> daily encouraging verses from dear friends
    >> the relief of admitting to not being okay
    >> making new memories
    >> three fundraisers planned for the Peru trip
    >> starting a new book
    >> actually having time to read
    >> this autumn weather
    >> today is day #39 of my sabbatical

    ---

    How has your October been so far?  Anything you're looking forward to in these last couple of weeks?

    10.19.2015

    October Skies


    Autumn is in full swing upon us
    The wind flirts with the trees
    Making them blush different shades of
    Yellow, oranges and reds
    The Master Artist boasts of His splendor
    As He strokes the skies with His perfect brush
    Painting them all sorts of brilliant colors
    The evening air is crisp
    Making me thankful I work in a warm coffee shop
    I wrap my fingers around my pumpkin spice latte
    And bury my nose in my scarf
    Autumn is in full swing upon us
    And the October skies are gloriously radiating
    The colors of my heart.

    10.14.2015

    This Is the Kind of Man You Want


    I will never forget the time I met a lady in Seattle.  The meeting was completely unplanned by me, but divinely planned by Someone else.

    Our conversation was about her daughter's recent engagement.  She was very emotional about it, as it was her oldest daughter and they had a very close relationship.  While talking about her daughter and soon to be son-in-law's love story, the mother paused, looked me in the eye and said,

    'The biggest mistake you can ever make is to marry someone who doesn't love Jesus.  Don't even give a man like that your attention.  The first thing you need to love about him is how much he loves the LORD.'

    I've repeated that to myself over the years.  And it has proven true in many different scenarios.

    There's a large difference between a Christian guy and a man of God.  And you should look for, pay attention to, the latter...

    Fall in love with a man who loves Jesus above all else.  Fall in love with a man who is desperately in love with his Savior before he even knows of your existence.  Fall in love with a man who is not ashamed of the Gospel, not ashamed of his love for the LORD, not ashamed to make a public display regarding his love for the truth and for salvation.

    Fall in love with a man who knows that God is the best foundation for a relationship - because not only is He the strongest, but He is also the Author of all love stories and your relationship should be a testimony of His grace and forgiveness.

    And how will his relationship with God affect you?

    He will treat you as the daughter of God that you are.  He will respect you.  He will pursue you.  He will treasure you.  He will worship God with you.  He will pray with you and for you.  He will walk beside you during the best and worst moments of your life.  He will be honest with you.  He will take the leadership role in the relationship.  He will help you in keeping your purity, maintaining your standards, sticking to your boundaries.

    He will not lead you astray.  He will not pressure you.  He will not control you.  He will not challenge your standards and boundaries.  He will not force you into doing anything.  He will not seek to pleasure himself.  He will never interfere with your relationship with God.

    And if you and he are both actively seeking the LORD as individuals, your relationship will blossom and flourish with your pursuit of His will for you and your lives - together or not.

    And as difficult as this sounds, you want a man who will pursue God so fully and so whole-heartedly that if he is distracted from His Savior or his calling in life, and you are that distraction, he may need to put you to the side for a bit.  He will choose to loosen his grip on the woman he loves for the God he loves.  If you are a woman after God's own heart and want a man who pursues the same, you will honor and love this characteristic of him.

    What really matters is that he loves the LORD.
    And he will love you the best through the love he receives from God.

    And that is something you will never regret.

    10.12.2015

    Choosing Who To Love


    Sometimes hate is what we receive in exchange for our effort to love.  It seems unfair, doesn't it?  The love in our hearts should be - deserves to be! - returned with the same kind of love.  Right?

    But that doesn't always happen.

    And when it doesn't, we feel heart-broken, unappreciated, and hurt.

    Sometimes we choose people to love.  And by doing so, we think that if we love them, they will love us and everything will work out just fine and dandy.  But when that love isn't reciprocated, we feel discouraged.  

    Love is much more than just a feeling. It's a choice. 

    Sometimes we choose to love the person who is not concerned with loving us the way God would have them.  When this happens, and we continually try to love them, we are headed for heart-break every time.  We think that by accepting their demeaning behavior towards us, yet still doing what's right, then it's okay to take their blows.  We think that if we keep loving and forgiving them like Jesus does, then their behavior towards us will just magically change.  

    But are we called to have faith in people?  No.  Sure, it'd be great if through our love, God touches someone's heart and life and they have a miraculous turn-around.  But our hope shouldn't be in that.  And the only way to end a cycle of being unappreciated and beaten down is if we walk away. 

    If that person really wants you to stick around, they will do everything in their power to make you stay.  But if not, you're not losing much.

    God knows our hearts, though.  Regardless of how we try to show our heart's love to others and they don't understand and see it, God does.  He knows all the love that we have for others.  And all the love that we've given.  He has every bit of it measured and poured into a treasure chest.  Your treasure chest - in heaven!  And in due time, you will reap what you have sown.  Those who have done wrong against you, or hated you instead of loved you, will receive what they deserve as well.  According to God's will.  He is the reigning King of this world.  He is the only One with the power to deal out consequences and rewards or punishments.

    Don't grow weary of showing love.  Love is the greatest of them all.  Without it, this world would be a much darker place.

    10.05.2015

    5 Reasons Social Media Is Not A Healthy Habit



    1)  Social media causes us to be selfish.
    Even if we don't realize it at first, we are always more interested in how WE appear, how WE look to others, how others perceive US, and always needing to look OUR best.  Am I right?

    2)  Social media causes us to be prideful.
    Yes, you love how many likes you get on that Facebook post.  And you love the fact that you gained two followers today on Instagram.  And it's cool to see that over 50 people have seen your snap story.  You feel popular.  You feel liked.  You feel good.

    3)  Social media distracts us.
    It's a common sight to see people on their phones - whether while walking, eating, or visiting.  Why?  Is whatever is on your phone more important than investing in reality?  When we're bored, stressed or want to get our minds off of our own lives, we just tend to default to our social medias.  We want to distract ourselves from whatever is worrying us.  We find relief in watching, and scrolling through, others' lives.  And without even realizing it, we get our minds off our own problems by taking advantage of them...not on God's always ready, always willing, and always loving ears and arms.  Social media is so accessible and instant, and we use this as an excuse to not talk to God.  How horrible is that?


    4)  Social media causes us to compare ourselves to others.
    And when (not 'if') we find ourselves lacking in certain things, we beat ourselves up and strive to a standard of perfection that is worldly, not godly.

    She's way prettier than I am.
    She always posts the best pictures.
    How can she always look so perfect?
    He eats way healthier than I do.
    He's always getting to travel.
    Why can't I look that good in the morning?
    My room is never that neat.

    5)  Social media becomes our identity.
    Separating your online identity from reality can be a bit of challenge sometimes.  Even when people try to be 'the same online as they are in person', this isn't always the case.  The more likes you get, the more important you feel.  We post pictures on Instagram in hopes that our followers will like and comment on them, and through that, we feed our ego and remind ourselves that 'Hey, it's okay.  Our followers like us.'  But how often do we turn to God for our worth and value?  Do we not go to Him for evaluation and identity anymore?  It's difficult to not base our significance on how many likes we get on our photos and posts or when our blogs don't receive as much attention as we thought it would or wish it did, when social media is the outlet for personal glory.

    ---

    I am not saying that social media is evil and we should delete all our accounts and apps.  Social media can be - and is - very useful and convenient, but I believe must be used in moderation.  I still have my blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, but am currently taking a sabbatical so have chosen to take a rest from using my social medias.  They were causing to be distractions for me and each of these 5 points could apply to my life in regards to them.

    We can long for our popularity on social media to grow so that we can feel all sorts of good about ourselves, but the truth is, the hole in our heart that seeks fulfillment and value is a piece of our lives that only God can truly filly and satisfy.

    10.03.2015

    Everyday Blessings // 38


    >> spontaneous 5-hour road trip
    >> reuniting with a friend I haven't seen in over a year
    >> visiting Ashland shop, restaurants and cafes
    >> giving leftover lunch food to a homeless hippy
    >> putting finishing touches on my poetry collection manuscript
    >> spending over $20 on loose leaf tea (so happy!!)
    >> getting to see another one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon - Crater Lake
    >> leading worship at a church
    >> hour long chats with a friend I haven't talked to in a long time
    >> getting my friend hooked on 'Sherlock'
    >> being greeted by all my family when I finally got back home
    >> still planning my Peru trip
    >> journaling
    >> continuing my sabbatical (one month to go!)
    >> accountability partners - having one and being one
    >> cool nights, warm pajamas, hot tea, and cozy bed

    ---

    Can you believe it's October already??  What are you looking forward to this month?  What was one of your favorite memories of September?

    9.30.2015

    God Used a Break-Up For My Good


    As you've most likely read, I have 'almost' dated three guys in the past two years.  None of them worked out, for various reasons.  After the third dude fell through, I embraced my singleness whole-heartedly.  And was determined that the next guy I got to know/started dating was the one I was going to marry.  I was tired of this whole Find Your Future Spouse game.  I was going to diligently pray and seek God's direction with this future guy.  And just have a better overall experience with him.

    At the beginning of this year, on January 30, I met a guy and instantly felt a connection.  We both did.  And over the next couple of months, our title quickly changed from 'friendship' to a 'dating relationship'.  It was fast.  No doubt about that.  But we both were at peace with moving forward.  We had prayed about it, our closest friends all supported us, we had same goals and visions for our lives.  So far, there were green lights on our path.
    I was happy.  Here was a guy who loved the LORD, who I thought was extremely attractive, we both had a love - and felt called to - music ministry, his family loved me, our friends loved us together (even strangers loved us and thought we were a beautiful couple)...  Things seemed to be in our favor.

    To quote a fellow blogger who wrote a very similar post:
    "Before I began dating my now ex-boyfriend, I did what I said I would and prayed about it.  A lot.  I prayed what I imagined were typical dating prayers, ones that consisted of me asking doors to either be opened or closed with this man, for us to be on the same page about dating or not, etc.  And every time, it seemed, another door would be opened and another feeling confirmed.  I definitely held onto the idea that if God was leading me into this relationship, it was going to be the relationship.  I mean, He knew my heart, right?...He knew I had worked hard to know myself and know God and know what it means to be in a healthy couple.  If I was so keenly trying to follow His guidance, He would reward me for that.  Wouldn't He?"

    This is exactly how I felt.

    Sure, I knew that I may not be ready for marriage quite yet.  And sure, I knew that not all relationships worked out.  And sure, this all happened so fast and unplanned.  But God was in control and it was all gonna turn out all right. And besides, my boyfriend 'knew in his heart' that God wanted us to get married, that I was the woman he'd been waiting for, and we were meant to be together forever.

    But seven and a half months later, I found myself calling things off with my boyfriend.  Putting my foot down and finally saying 'No' to things about him that I was not willing to put up with in a life-long commitment.  Finally realizing that the certain issues he had in his life and I had in my life were complications that, if we ended up getting married, were just the stage for failure in the future.  I didn't want that.  I didn't want that for myself or for him.

    What happened?  Where did it go wrong?  Why had it ended if I was so sure, so at peace, so positive that God had led me into it?  Or was it some sort of trick?  A test?  Did I fail?

    Was it all a waste?

    The time, the emotions, the driving, the money, the letters, the phone calls, the gifts, the words, the pictures, the songs, the promises...  Was it all for nothing if it brought me to this sort of ending?

    How could something I feel was so right for me, end up being so wrong?

    This was a question I asked myself for the first week after our break-up. And it's a question that God has so gently and graciously answered.

    It was right for me, though.  It was part of His perfect plan for me.
    To care so deeply for this guy?  To feel myself falling in love with him, only for that affection to be cut off?  To walk away from a guy who was so sure that we would get married someday?
    Because I believe in a sovereign God who loves me more than I can imagine, I trust that yes, this whole relationship - from beginning to end - was exactly what was right for me.

    Because of this situation, I have learned much.  Maybe one day I'll be able to write about it in more detail, but for right now, I want to be sure I clarify three things:

    1)  I feel like there's some unspoken law that if two Christian people are dating with the intention of getting married, but it ends in a break-up, they weren't truly following the LORD's leading and should never have dated in the first place.  While this can be - and is - true in some cases (though extremely rare), I believe with all my heart that God does purposely lead us into temporary seasons of life.  Just like a job, a living situation, or a friendship.  I worked as the reporter for a local newspaper for 6 months then got let go.  Why?  Because the company wanted to downsize and needed reporters with 4-year journalism degrees.  Was it a mistake that I had gotten the job in the first place?  Was I not following God's leading in accepting that position?  No.  It was the perfect job for me, in the perfect time, in the perfect place in my life.  And when God wanted me to get a different job (another dream job #baristalife), He allowed the reporter job door to close and moved me to the next season of life, the next step, the next chapter.  The same goes for relationships.  He teaches us individual things through each one.  I was in this relationship for as long as I felt God leading me into it.  And then, over the course of a couple weeks, diligently prayed that He would make it clear to me whether or not I should continue in it.  And He said no.

    2)  I learned so much through this relationship.  Lessons I needed to learn and only could have learned by going through this.  And you know how people always say that 'one day you'll look back and understand'?  Well that is so true.  I can testify to that in many different life circumstances.  This is no exception.  I look back and see how I would've done things differently.  I look back and see where I went wrong.  I look back and understand the things about myself that I needed to realize.  And I am so thankful for all that I have learned.

    3)  I hate the term 'break-up'.  It makes me think of a stick that someone breaks in half.  It's horrible to think of a relationship being broken like that.  Both parties would feel hurt, used, and incomplete.  And sadly, this is how many of the people I know have felt after breaking up with their boyfriend or girlfriend.  I want to clarify that I don't necessarily consider this a 'break-up' (even though that's the most used and easiest phrase to refer to it as).  It was more of a 'calling off of a relationship'.  It was something that needed to happen for both our sakes.  I have only cried once - the first day - not for myself, but for him.  Because I know him, I care for him, and I knew that he was experiencing much pain.  It was the right thing to do, though.  I know that with my whole heart.  We both understand that God has better things in store for us.  We weren't right for each other.  Even though we wanted to believe that we were.  We wanted to make things work.  We tried.  We really did.  But the last couple of months were the hardest for us.  There was endless conflict, arguments, feelings being hurt, asking for forgiveness...and then it happening all over again.  It was a continual cycle that I didn't see ending any time soon because the root of the problems were all issues that we had - and still have to - deal with personally.  In our own hearts.  Between us and God.  They were aspects that couldn't be changed through just being worked on or loved through.  And unfortunately, these were traits that neither of us could have known would be such horrible issues before going into the relationship.  We are both great people.  He is someone whom I will never regret meeting, never regret caring for, and never regret investing in.  And I know he thinks the same of me.

    ---

    I would like to end this article with proclaiming that my God is faithful.  He is good.  He loves me so incredibly much and I have felt His presence so genuinely close in these last few weeks.  I have asked His forgiveness in the failures and shortcomings that I am guilty of in this relationship, and I have also thanked Him so so much for protecting me as much as He did - and continues to.  He knows the desires of my heart.  And in due season, He will bless me because I have trusted in Him.  What a beautiful thought.

    ---

    This is the chorus to a song I recently wrote:

    "Through it all
    Faithful You remain
    Through the good times and bad
    Still I see Your hand
    You've brought me this far
    I trust in Your plan
    Never let me wander
    Never let me fear
    You will see me through till the end."

    9.24.2015

    And so began a sabbatical

    Two weeks ago, as I was driving back from meeting with my accountability partner and my pastor, the radio was playing a local Christian music station.  I never listen to Christian music (on the radio) but I remembered that I had been browsing local channels, and I guess it had landed on this particular one.  Chris and Conrad's version of 'Lead Me To the Cross' was playing at the time, and it's one of those modern worship songs that I didn't mind too much so I was singing along.  And I made it my prayer.  

    'Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out.  Bring me to my knees, LORD.  I lay me down.  Rid me of myself, I belong to You...'

    Suddenly, I sensed the LORD asking me:

    'What makes you happy?'

    Well, of course I promptly started listing things in life that make me happy.

    'Where do you go for self-identity?'

    I hesitated. I SHOULD go to Him for this...but instead, I started listing several people and places that I go to for fulfillment and meaning.

    'What if I asked you to give all of those to Me?'

    ......Now wait a second.  For how long?  What would this entail?  Can I really do this?

    I determined that if I thought on it for too long, it obviously was too hard for me to decide what was more important  - these earthly mortal things or my relationship with the immortal God.

    After saying 'yes' to His request, and deciding on a sabbatical (a time of rest and refocus), I went to Ross to find a journal. I wanted to keep an account of my time refocusing on my Jesus.

    I was gonna be picky about it though. 

    I was like 'Okay, God, if You want me to do this, let my journal be the ultimate confirmation. Let it be everything I want.'
    My requirements?  Spiral bound, daily planner with areas large enough to make notes, and a Scripture verse on the front.  I found this one... 


    And, also, I am kind of OCD about starting things, making plans, etc. I either have to start at the beginning of a week or month. And how many daily planners that you know start in the middle of the year? For example, September. Well this journal did.

    It gets better, though.

    After purchasing this new journal, I drove home, got ready for bed and checked my phone only to see that a friend (who I hadn't talked to in months) had texted me.  
    'Hey what's new?' he asked.
    'Not a whole lot.  The biggest news is that I am going to embark on a sabbatical.  I know the LORD is calling me to one.'
    'Oh did you get that idea from Matt Chandler?'
    Well, uh, no, I hadn't, but...I love Matt Chandler.  AND I had literally finished reading one of his books ('To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain') just a couple days prior.
    'Matt Chandler took a sabbatical?  For how long?'
    'Two months.'
    Immediately I thought back to how my pastor had encouraged that I take a rest from certain social medias and had suggested a two-month time.  Well it didn't take me long to figure out that two months seemed to be what the LORD was calling me to do.

    So on September 14, I began my sabbatical.  I am taking a rest from social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) and secular music.  I am using the time that I had spent before on these earthly distractions to refocus on the LORD and my relationship with Him.  The last few months have been ridiculously distracting (I will be writing about why soon.  Pray for me as I try to find words to explain, though)...and I have wandered farther from Him than I ever thought I would.  It hurts me to say that.  But it's true.  God has missed me.  I have felt that so strongly.  And I have missed Him.  This space between us just isn't right.  And I am so thankful that He is willing to work on our relationship as much as more than I do.  


    He is so faithful.

    ---

    I have never done a sabbatical before so I'm learning a bunch of new things about 'how to'.  I know that each one is personal and each one has personal standards depending on the person needing to take this time of rest and refocus.  But I'd love to hear if any of you have taken/are taking one and what some of your ideas are for working on your relationship with the LORD free from distractions.  Comment below!

    ---

    'I'm more than you dreamed
    More than you understand
    Your days and your times
    Were destined for our dance
    I catch all your tears
    Burn your name on My heart
    Be still and trust My plan
    I'm more than you think I am.'
    - song by Danny Gokey