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.

12.18.2015

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.

11.14.2015

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.

11.06.2015

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.

9.05.2015

10 Tips For Guys [About Girls]


1)  Learn about her, study her, try to understand her
Newsflash: although you never fully will

2) Pursue her
This means toughing it out, guys.  Of course I'm not saying to stay with her when she emotionally and verbally abuses you.  But pursue her.  Once she agrees to be your girlfriend it doesn't mean she's yours, end of story.  She's THE girl you need to dedicate and commit to.  Pursue her.  If you got her flowers and chocolates before you were dating (to see if she'd even notice you), get her flowers and chocolates WHILE dating.  Nothing should stop.  In fact, it should increase.

3) If a girl pushes you away at one of the first signs of affection you show her, be patient.  
It's a girl's natural defense to be suspicious of kindness because of how we've been treated by some guys, and we know that most guys want more than just a friendship.
I know it's not fair.  I know it's not your fault.  I know you aren't like those other guys.  But a good man can prove this by helping her heal and learn to trust again.  Again: be patient.  I promise it will pay off.

4)  Give her space.  
If you don't, she will ask for it.  And when she does, it doesn't mean she doesn't like you anymore, doesn't want you anymore.  She simply wants space.  Give it to her.  It's extremely important in a relationship.  Why?  Because sometimes it's when you're without the person you love that you realize just how much you love them.  And also, you're not ALWAYS going to get along.  And when this is the case, it means you need to retract a little and study from a distance.
If she's being short (or shorter than usual) in texts, ask her ONCE if she's upset with you.  If she says no, ask if there's anything you can do.  If she says no, LEAVE HER ALONE.  That's all you can do.  If she expects more, it's on her.  SHE needs to communicate.

5)  We know when you are or aren't paying attention to us.  
If she asks, 'are you listening?', it's because she thinks you aren't.  Stop whatever you're doing and pay attention.  Oh and when you're on the phone with us, we know whether you're whispering to someone else or on your computer or watching a movie.  Even if you're pretending you aren't.

6) She has a lot of guy friends...so what?
But wait, she chose you.  And if you don't trust her, you shouldn't be with her.  A healthy relationship requires trust between the two individuals.  She could talk to as many guys as she wants (guys are human, right? just like you.....) but you can trust that she loves you and only you.  End of story.

7)  If she suddenly stops talking to you...
It's probably because you said or did something that made her realize you want more than a relationship.  I had a random Instagram follower message me on Facebook one time.  He was full of compliments for me and then asked 'Do you want to be friends?'  I'm sorry...WHAT?   Who asks that?  Kids in second grade.  He kept nagging me, asking me if/when we could hang out, what kind of flowers I liked, etc.  Just no.  Chill.  

8)  She doesn't need you.
She is her own person.  She has her own life.  She doesn't need you.  If she chooses to be with you, it's because that's a decision she made on her own.  She looked at her life, loved it, and decided that she wants you to be a part of it.  She doesn't need you to complete or fulfill her.  She's complete on her own.  And she knows it.

9) If you're not feeling it, end it.
Seriously, I can't stress this enough.  If you're with a girl but you're just not sure about moving further in your relationship, call it off NOW.  The sooner, the better.  It'll hurt her, but it'll hurt less now than later.  Save her MORE heartache by saying goodbye sooner.

10)  If she likes you, you'll know.
She's the one who'll try for you.  She'll go the extra mile.  She'll be patient.  She'll put in an effort.  You pursue her, she encourages you to keep pursuing her.  She won't ask you to be more than you can be, but she will have high standards and challenge you to be a better version of YOU.  But even then, she'll love you just for who you are.

Guys, just know that the right girl will love you with a love that doesn't ask to be returned, but she trusts that you love her the same.  Her love will not demand, will not beg, will not be jealous, will rejoice in the truth.  Date the girl who wants you with a passion.  Date the girl who does not need you but wants to love you the way only she can.  And it'll be the kind of love that, I promise, is well worth waiting for.

8.29.2015

God’s Sovereignty In Your Singleness




A friend of mine texted me the other day and asked “Why do you think I’m almost 23 and still single, Raquel?”  
I've also had single girls email me and ask "Why does this always happen to me?  I like a guy, we start talking, but then he leaves.  Why am I not enough??"

Gosh, how do you respond to something like that? 

First of all, I really wish I could tell you a-b-and-c of why this 'always happens to you'.  But I don't know.  I don't know God's plan for you.  

But [secondly], I do know that you are enough.  You are so much more than you even think you are.  And you're 'enough' for the perfect plan He has for you.  AND the person He has waiting for you too. - who, by the way, might just be experiencing the same feelings that you are right now.  

It's easy to think of ourselves as 'the problem'.  We're quick to blame ourselves for still being single and that we ourselves are the reason everything turns out wrong.  Even then, even when it feels like everyone is discarding you along the road, you know Who you can trust.  You know that God's timing is perfect - even though it's really, really, really hard to believe that sometimes.  And to wait.  (Honestly, the waiting part is probably the suckiest...)

If you believe that God is sovereign, you are acknowledging His sovereignty over EVERYTHING.  You can't say 'Okay, God, You're sovereign over my day-to-day activities, my meals, my friends...but not my singleness.  Cuz being single sucks and I want to have a boyfriend/girlfriend already.'  That's not how it works, peeps.  He's either sovereign over everything or nothing.  

Is God sovereign in your singleness?  Have you entrusted that part of your life to His care?  Have you given up trying to find the right one on your own and trusted that He will help you find the right one in His perfect timing?

I know it's hard.  Being single can be really difficult.  For me, it was pretty darn fabulous once I got past the pity-party stage.  Seriously.  Single life rocks.  (You're probably sneering at me right now.  I can almost see it.)  But I promise that once you give over your life - your WHOLE life - to God and trust that everything will fall into place according to HIS timeline (sorry, not yours), you'll have a whole different outlook.  On everything.  

Nothing is wrong with you.  
You are not the problem.  
You're single because you're meant to be single right now.  
And when that guy or girl comes along, you'll know.
How?  Because they won't be perfect, but they'll be perfect for you.

7.30.2015

6 Questions You Should Ask [Someone] About Your Significant Other


Ask someone?  Why would you need to ask someone else about YOUR relationship with your boyfriend/girlfriend?

Good question.

And the answer is simply this:
A family member or close friend who knows YOU well, can give honest insight into your dating life.  Insight that you may not have because they can see it from a neutral, outside perspective.

---

1)  Do you think we go well together?
Do we balance each other out well?  Do our personalities and lifestyles clash or mix?

2)  Do you see anything about our relationship that is unhealthy or could potentially lead to something unhealthy in the future?
Do you see us communicating well?  Have we laid down good physical boundaries?  Do we spend quality time together?

3)  Do you see me being myself around this person?
Am I comfortable with them?  Or am I acting in a way that would try to impress them or thinking that they'd like me more if I did this or said that?

4)  Do you see me showing my boyfriend/girlfriend the love, care and respect that they deserve?
Am I being selfish in any certain areas?  Am I accommodating this person or genuinely interested in being more for them/doing more for them/being healthily selfless for them?

5)  Do you see him/her taking from me or adding to my life?
Do I thrive or whither when I am around them?  Over the amount of time that we've been together, have you noticed a positive or negative change in me?

6)  How is my relationship affecting my friendship with you?
Does he/she encourage my friendship with you or do you feel that he/she takes up an unreasonable amount of time and attention in my life?


6.11.2015

54 Reasons I Will [Not] Date You


Many of these CAN have exceptions, but for the most part, they don't.

Like... 99% of them don't.

---

I will not date you if you...


1.  Whine.  About anything.  Whining is not funny.  It's not cute.

2.  Talk too much about yourself and never ask me questions.

3.  Can't cook.  (And I'm not necessarily talking about all out gourmet chef style here - although I wouldn't complain about that - but just being able to follow a recipe and make it well.)

4.  Don't want to have babies.

5.  Do drugs.

6.  Or smoke.

7.  Or can't control your drinking habits.

8.  Gamble.

9.  Have no other hobbies besides playing video games.

10.  Argue.  (Especially with no valid reason.)

11.  Compare me to your ex-girlfriends.

12.  Act like sex is gross.

13.  Are "fine with where you're at in life".

14.  Can't take the role of leadership.

15.  Are utterly obsessed with immature things, to a point of I-theme-stuff-after-this.

16.  All you can talk about are cars.

17.  Ask me for nudes.

18.  Ignore me. (Whether you're one mile away or 8,000 miles away, whether you're home alone or hanging out with friends, if I can't count on you prioritizing me/us if I need you or we need to talk, then a relationship won't work.)

19.  Have bad grammar.

20.  Abbreviate a lot when you're texting.

21.  Won't/don't want to meet my family.

22.  Don't care about your family.

23.  Or don't want me to meet them.

24.  Say that you could live without music.

25.  Can't at least try to like some of the things I do.  (Or at least appreciate and be happy for me when I find joy in things.  Because I will do the same for you.)

26.  Picky about food.

27.  Get uncomfortable when talking about periods.

28.  Can't handle the sight of blood.

29.  Don't care about eating healthy.

30.  Don't want to travel.

31.  Are constantly on your phone.

32.  Are still in contact with your ex-girlfriends.

33.  Are constantly ogling girls in public.

34.  Don't realize your shortcomings and areas you need to work on. (I'm not saying you have to become a better person for me, but just know where you need to change for the better.)

35.  Think that the birth process is gross or weird.

36.  Can't have an intelligent and edifying conversation.

37.  Don't have phone etiquette.

38.  Don't treat all women equally and with respect, no matter where they're from, their lifestyle or their occupation.

39.  Don't have a good relationship with the women in your family.

40.  Cuss a lot.

41.  Don't drive responsibly.

42.  Don't have style.  (A nice fashion sense, okay?  At least know how to put on a tie.)

43.  Talk obsessively about your workout schedule.

44.  Don't have a career in mind or that you aren't currently pursuing.

45.  Constantly complain about your job.  (If you don't like it, get another one.)

46.  Care more about the opinions of people on social medias, than in reality.

47.  Don't give me space.  Yes.  S p a c e.

48.  Are some whacked out control freak who will question my every reason for not replying to your text within ten minutes of you sending it to me.  (I've had this before.  No thanks.)

49.  Constantly beg for compliments.  (Whether verbally or the I'm-going-to-be-silent-until-you-say-something-nice-about-me)

50.  Don't have a healthy measure of self-confidence and self-esteem.

51.  If you are clingy.

52.  If you act like we're already dating and tell me that I can or can't do this and that.

53.  If you don't love Jesus, you ain't even in my sights.

54.  If you don't trust me.

    6.09.2015

    Yes, I'm Judging You






    judge [juhj]

    verb (used with object), judged, judging.
    • to pass legal judgement on; pass sentence on (a person)
    • to hear evidence or legal arguments in (a case) in order to pass judgement
    • to form a judgment or opinion of; decide upon critically
    • to decide or settle authoritatively

    "Judge not so that you not be judged.  For with the judgement you pronounce, you also will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?"

    - Matthew 7:1-3

    ---


    Church denominations are constantly at each other's throat.  People always say how they feel the church 'judges' them.  And out of the 2,590,316 Facebook discussions I've seen between Christians, only 2 of them were decent and civil and mature.



    Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.  But maybe not.

    My point is, I'm tired of the constant negativity that I see in and between church members.  And also, I hear so much from unbelievers that professing Christians are always so judgmental of/towards them

    And it's really starting to tick me off.


    The church should be the safest place to discuss anything.  Christians should be the safest people to talk to about things.  We should be setting an example to, not only unbelievers, but fellow Christian siblings. 

    As believers, we are called to confront fellow believers – and if they are in the wrong, they should desire and accept our admonishment because we're doing it out of a loving and caring brotherly love.  That is biblical.  Otherwise, I don’t know what you’re doing. 
    An unbeliever, on the other hand, is not someone we should confront in the same manner that we do a sibling in Christ.  
    I was accused recently of ‘not admonishing’ others as I ‘should’.  And this was in reference to non-Christians.  No, I should not be timid to share the truth with an unbeliever, but we're not called to force Christianity down people's throats either.  What kind of an example is that?  If someone says they feel like they’re being judged, maybe you should reexamine HOW you’re presenting your case to them.  And yes, I know Jesus didn’t beat around the bush.  There are plenty of strong verses in the Bible ('brood of vipers', 'hypocrites', etc.)  But are you Jesus?  No?  Then shut up.  
    Jesus was the perfect God-man.  He judged according to God's standards - followers of Him and unbelievers alike.  But we are not Him.  We can only pass judgement on our siblings because we and they both know God's Word.  Unbelievers don't.  They need to know the truth, yes, and be told the error of their ways, that they are sinning against a holy and righteous God (and heck, even make them uncomfortable!) but we are God’s messengers to spread the Gospel and His Word, not to 'judge' them.  

    We are called to love others, even as Christ loved the ones who hated Him.  So often I think Christians are all about telling people what's right and what's wrong, what God says is good and bad, and I believe that as His children, we should.  But tactfully, gently, and graciously.  Tell them the truth out of love for their souls because you know the truth and reality of heaven and hell.


    You wouldn't like it if an atheist came up to you and started telling you all the reasons they thought you were wrong, would you?  See, to them that's what Christians do when they come and try to totally wreck what was once their solid, peaceful little world.  

    This post isn't about right or wrong.  It's about MY view on what I believe is right or wrong, speaking from what I understand biblically.  I want non-Christians to be able to look at me and say, 'She is a Christian.  A very strong Christian.  She knows what she believes and she'll be honest with people about it, but I feel like I can approach her about what I think and believe because I know we can have a calm discussion about our differences, and be able to present our views without biting each other's throats.'  

    Get a grip, professing Christians.  Is the example you're setting when presenting your views and standards, Christ-like and gracious?  Or are you just being a hypocrite and priding yourself on knowing what you think is the Gospel?

    5.21.2015

    When You're A Christian, But Not A Virgin


    I have had many girls come to me because they 'don't have anyone else to talk to' and 'don't know how to get over this feeling [of dejection and shame]'.  Why do they feel this way?  Because they had sex before marriage.  And are now suffering from knowing that that was wrong.

    Many of these girls are Christians.  Many of them were Christians at the time of their wrong decision.  And I will not try to sugar-coat the truth or try to make these girls not feel that they did wrong.  The truth is that it was wrong.  It was a mistake that they chose to do.  It was a sin because it went against God's command to keep the marriage bed (sex) pure until after a covenant of marital commitment had been established (Hebrews 13:4).  And I won't exclude girls who claim they were 'forced' to have sex because their boyfriend 'wouldn't stop bothering them about it'.  You girls have a choice.  You are your own person.  You can walk away.  You can say no.

    I am not writing this to rub salt on your open wound.  I am not writing this to tell you 'everything's going to be okay'.  I'm writing this to you because you need to hear it.

    (Disclaimer to the haters:  This article is specifically addressed to girls who chose to have sex, not to girls who were raped or sexually abused.) 

    So what's the story?  A Christian girl with Christian standards, biblical morals, life-long dreams, and goals to stay 'pure until marriage' suddenly finds herself on the opposite side of the spectrum and...not a virgin anymore.

    To quote one girl who emailed me with her pain and struggle as a non-virgin Christian:

    "It's been, I think, six months now since I've done it and I regret so much.  I thought if I do it once, he would be satisfied and it would help our unhealthy relationship become better.  But it didn't really.  Since that day, it has really taken over my life.  It's like a drug and I crave for it...  I'm not the good godly girl I was before, and I guess I became a rebel.  I don't know what to do."

    She went on to say that her 'uncontrollable behavior' and 'acting so irresponsibly' has been a continuous cycle, and that she has had to keep this a secret from her family and church.  Her choice has made her feel a need to put distance between them and herself.

    "I guess I just wanted to feel something.  To feel loved and wanted."

    Don't we all?

    "I want to go back to God but I'm so ashamed and confused because if I go back to who I was, I would have to marry a Christian guy... but what if the truth is revealed?  I am so used to my worldly and 'satisfying' but destructive lifestyle now and I don't know if I want to change."

    Can you hear her through those words?  The pain, confusion, torment and fight is real.

    No, I've never had sex.  Yes, I'm still a virgin.  Then how can I relate to her?

    Simply because I am a human too.

    I am a woman, with God-designed womanly passions and desires built into my heart, mind and body.  And most of all, because I know what it's like to want to be loved.

    It's taken me a while to know exactly how to write this article.  I needed time to think about how I wanted to say what I wanted to say.  And how I could be honest and brutal, yet encouraging and loving all at the same time.

    To fix a problem, you must first know what the problem is and how it began.

    Sin is a big issue, right?  As believers, we are called to stay clear from anything evil and anything that goes against what God has specifically said 'No' to.  (And if it's not clear, then we just need to use our own common sense and convictions.)

    Sex is something He has made clear.

    "Marriage should be honored by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous."
    - Hebrews 13:4

    This isn't me talking, people.  This is God.

    Something else He has also made clear is this:

    "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
    - 1 John 1:9


    News flash: NOT being a virgin does NOT keep you from living freely in the grace of God.


    Many girls I've talked to say that they don't think 'God can forgive' them or that 'God will forgive' them.  Those are all future tense.  No.  He already has.  How?  Because He knows your life story, and He knew what would take place before it even crossed your mind.  When He first began forming you in your mother's womb, He knew your future.  Your story was already written.  He knew you would have sex by the time you were this age, in this place, with this person.  Does that make Him love you any less?

    No.

    He won't turn you away when you come to Him with your hurt and shame.  If you ask Him to forgive you, you ARE forgiven.  Any shame and guilt you still feel afterwards is satan and the evil forces in this world trying to make you continually feel unworthy of His acceptance and love.  And you are unworthy.  But that is the beauty of grace.  His grace that can wash away any sin, any shame, any guilt.  Before His eyes, by the blood of His own Son, you are made clean.  Always remember that.  He made you, He called His creation 'good', and even then, He knew you would fall short.

    He still loves you.  And nothing will change that so long as you admit your wrongs and ask Him for  forgiveness and grace.

    And I pray that you do.  I pray that you choose to walk closely and honor Him from now on with your body.  It's so hard.  I know, personally, how difficult it is to stay focused on the LORD and not be drawn to physical temptations.  But if I can do it, so can you.  We aren't alone in this struggle.  And it's good to admit that it is a struggle.  We're human.  We mess up.  We will continue to mess up.  But that doesn't mean God loves us any less.  Or that He won't come through in the end.

    Because He always does.


    ---

    This post was originally published by Raquel on Brave.


    3.27.2015

    5 Ways To Not Destroy Your [Future] Marriage



    I recently read an article, shared on Facebook, called ‘5 ways you are unknowingly destroying your husband and killing your marriage’.  It received a lot of views and gained popularity by leaps and bounds.  Author Katelynn Carmen had great points in her article.  I was inspired to write a post, on the same topic, but relatable for singles instead of specifically to married women.  

    Because, believe it or not, we are impacting our future marriage even now.

    1)    Respect.
    Ladies, learn to respect men.
    Men, learn to respect women.
    This is something that is so lacking in today's culture.  And I'm sure you would all agree with me.  The fact is, some women feel that 'respecting a man' is like 'submitting to him'.  But I don't think this is exactly the same.  I may respect a lot of the guys in my life, but that doesn't mean I'll submit to them, do what they tell/ask me to, and trust them to make decisions for me.  No.  I respect them because they have proven themselves as gentlemen, as someone worthy of respect.  I am so blessed to say I know a few men like that.  I will, however, respect the man I submit under.  But in the marriage context, whether I find my husband 'worthy' of my respect or not, I am commanded to honor and obey him (as long as what he wants me to do does not go against Scripture).  Your father and brother(s) are good guys to practice with, by the way.
    And guys, you need to learn to respect women - whether they are ladies or not.  You need to learn to respect and treat women well now before you even think about dating one.  
    Respecting your spouse will be one of the greatest keys to a good marriage.  I have seen this truth time and time again in the many couples I know, including my parents.  You cannot truly love without respecting that person as well.  And of course you'll have your up and down days with the spouse.  But learning to respect them, no matter what, is essential.  Even now.

    2)    Submission.
    This one is more for the ladies.  And one that tends to get overlooked very often, especially by single women.  I get the whole hulaballoo about how 'submission' means to 'submit under one's authority; the act of being under a superior force; having a submissive conduct or attitude'.  That doesn't sit very well with many women.  And it's because some of us, as humans, don't want to be 'under' anyone's authority.  Especially a man's.  We aren't weaklings.  We can do things on our own.  We can make our own decisions.  But being 'submissive' isn't about owning up to any of those.  Let's look at what a wife called to be?  A helpmate.  An encouragement to her husband.  The strength behind him.  Right?  And what greater strength must a woman have than to trust and submit to her husband's decisions and support him no matter what?  To submit isn't about being weak.  It's about having the strength it takes to be the solid rock of foundation and assurance, the encouragement and help to push forward.  Practice being this encouragement with the men in authority over you - namely, your father.
    And guys, learn now that your wife isn't submitting to you because she's the weaker sex.  But because she trusts you and is giving her all to you to care for, and to lead.  I don't know what more of a manly responsibility you want than that.  It's a pretty scary thought, honestly.  By marrying a woman, you are accepting full responsibility to care, cherish, and honor her - body, soul and spirit.  Think you can do that?  Learn to.  Even now.

    3)    Budget.
    This is sooo important, people.  Learn to budget and save money BEFORE you are married so you won't go into horrible debt the first year you're married, and you won't have problems saving and budgeting once you have double expenses...or start a family.  That's about all I have to say for this.  But for reals.  Learn to budget.  Even now.

    4)   Household skills.
    'When I have my own house, I'll do my own laundry.'
    'Organizing is such a waste of time.'
    'I don't need to make my bed.  I'm just gonna sleep in it again tonight.'
    Oh just you wait until you're married and your while-single-habits get on your spouses' nerves.  Better nip those in the bud now, peeps.  Oh and cooking!!  Guys AND girls should both learn this skill.  Ladies, because you'll need to know how to feed your husband a hearty meal, and maybe someday children too.  And gents, one of the biggest turn-ons to women is seeing a man in the kitchen, cooking up a fancy meal.  (Especially like in those Kraft commercials...hint hint.)  It's attractive, okay?  Learn to be skilled and handy around the house.  Even now.

    5)    Patience.
    No matter how 'in love' you think you'll be, or how many kisses and flowers your marriage is going to be filled with, patience is a virtue that will never got out of style and will always be needed.  Patience is useful in all stages of life.  And as a single person, you can focus on cultivating it with your parents, your siblings, your coworkers, your boss, your church family, etc.  I have talked to many couples about the best foundations to a healthy marriage, and 'patience' was always on their list.  Practice patience.  Even now.

    What are some other qualities you would suggest that singles hone before being in a relationship?



    This post was originally published by Raquel on Brave.



    3.24.2015

    6 Steps To Finding The Man of Your Dreams


    It's possible, girlies.  Not necessarily 'easy', but maybe you could give it a try. 
    Here are six simple steps...
    Ready? 

    Step 1:  Realize.
    Realize that there is no such thing as 'the perfect man' (TPM from here on out), but there is such a thing as the man of your dreams.  So many girls have bought into this idea that TPM exists, and that they should be on the lookout for him.
    Well, he doesn't exist.  And the sooner you realize this, the better off you'll be.

    Step 2:  Admit.
    The only kind of man you should be praying for is the perfect man for you.  If it is in God's design that you marry, God has made the perfect match for you.  Learn to admit that this man may not meet up to all of your expectations or what you consider to be 'perfect', but if he is the one for you, he will be the perfect man for you to marry.

    Step 3:  Have.
    Have high standards, not impossible standards.  I think that much of the time, there can be an insane amount of pressure on men to live up to a godly girl's standards.  Girls should have high standards, no doubt about it.  So should guys.  But not all Christian individuals are going to be so 'good' that every requirement will be checked off of said lists.  That's unrealistic and, frankly, hypocritical.  How would you like to know that a guy is comparing your character and personality traits to what he considers 'the perfect girl'?  
    You'd think it's unfair.  People are flawed.  We fail at things.  Including you, and including him.  But if you both are matching each other's characters to Biblical standards, then neither one of you can justifiably complain.


    As a friend of mine said, "If there is one thing that life has taught me, it's that human standards lead to human plans, and human plans lead to problems."

    Step 4:  Know.
    Morals are good.  Standards are good.  But until a girl genuinely knows what makes a true Christian man, she will keep looking in all the wrong places.  To search for a man of God isn't about looking for a guy who has an attractive face, a nice body, and oh!  He loves Jesus.  What makes a man godly, husband-material is not 'he needs to be perfect like Him' (because this is impossible for any human being), but 'he is striving towards that godliness' - regardless of if he can reach it or not.  Is he choosing to be holy as He is holy? Or is he simply comfortable with where he's at and deciding not to even try to be a superhero because duh, no one can possibly achieve that status?
    Guys are afraid of showing weakness.  Many have admitted this to me.  They want to be known as strong, protective, and manly men.  But what they need to realize is that brokenness isn't always identified as giving up.  And what you, as a woman, need to know to search for in a man is that he understands the beauty and essence of being broken that actually shows and proves his faith.

    Step 5:  Desire.
    You should desire a man who must reach a point where he admits that he can't do life on his own, and by giving himself up, he is willing to let Christ take over.
    You should desire a man who will challenge you, not one who will let you get away with everything.
    You should desire a man who may not always tell you that you're beautiful, but who will make you feel like a million bucks just by the way he looks at you.
    You should desire a man who tries to follow God with all his heart instead of trying to hold stuff together on his own strength.
    You should desire a man who admits to failure, works at improving, and actually does change.
    You should desire a man who you know will raise your children to the glory of God, and who you will always be able to point to as an example to your sons and daughters as a man of God.
    You should desire a man who will come home from work smelling like hard labor and want to take you into his arms and kiss the heck out of you even if he's filthy dirty and even if you haven't showered all day, not one who will only love you when you are 'presentable'.  (I guess that's a perfect man status but whatever.)

    Step 6:  Strive.
    Girls complain about there not being 'enough godly men out there', but where are all the godly women?  Why not start looking at improving your own character and qualities, instead of complaining about no perfect men being available?  I'm sure TPM doesn't like whiners.  Are you striving to be the kind of woman TPM you want is looking for?

    The man of your dreams shouldn't be a perfect man.  He should be human, imperfect, characteristically flawed.  Why?  Because that is a good and godly man.  A man who isn't easy, who will challenge you, admonish you, and will relate in the struggle of life.  This kind of man is one who does not do things to be nice, but because he lives by a godly moral code.  He will not do the easy or convenient thing.  He will do the right thing.

    That is the man you should dream of marrying one day.

    And what a blessing of a man he will be.

    ---

    "Can I say something to the young ladies?  I'm trying to pick my words carefully here.  Your husband, whoever he is, single ladies, will have an unbelievable amount of influence over your sons and daughters in regards to spiritual things.  If you want your children to love Jesus deeply, hold out for a man who is godly.  And let me tell you this: I am well aware that godly men are rare.  Lots of neat Christian boys, not a lot of godly men.  And we're working our tails off for you to try to develop some into that.  But don't settle, because it's better that you're lonely now than for you to be married and lonely later.  Are you tracking with me?  It is better that you be lonely now than for you to get married to a man who will teach your kids everything but the way of Jesus."
    - Matt Chandler


    This post was originally published by Raquel on Brave.



    3.13.2015

    5 Facts About Honesty


    Even from a very young age, something my Dad always told me was, 'No one is going to know what you're feeling unless you tell them'.  

    Growing up, this reality has rang true in countless circumstances.  And it's a fact that I take to heart.

    Below are five things about honesty that I have realized and learned to appreciate...


    1) Honesty is a beautiful thing.
    I don't know about you but I don't like getting lied to.  Or when someone doesn't want to tell me the truth because they're 'afraid it might hurt me'.  If I know you're confronting me about something out of love, I will always accept your admonitions.  I may not like what you have to say, but if I get upset, that's on me.  Proverbs 27:6 says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend..."  Christ Himself spoke truth regardless of if it was easy on the ears or not.  In fact, the truth should make us uncomfortable because it shows us how in need we are of Him.  The other day, a good friend of mine told me that I should pray that God would help me show more grace to others.  It fascinated me that my friend told me this because a) I know I can be harsh and judgmental sometimes but no one has ever confronted me about it, and b) my friend was telling me out of love.  I didn't feel any sort of animosity against them.  I was appreciative.

    2) Honesty has become very rare in today's society.
    Nobody wants to be judged.  We're all about 'trying to make everyone feel good about themselves'.  But the only times I've seen people confronting other individuals is when they're putting them down, instead of confronting them out of love and for concern on the person's lifestyle.

    3) Honesty will never grow old.
    Seriously, good things don't go out of style.

    4) Honesty is helpful.
    People are all about ‘dropping hints’ and being ‘discreet’.  There are times for that, I guess.  But not about important things, okay?  There’s a difference between dropping hints for someone to guess a surprise, or dropping hints because you’re trying to ‘tell’ someone you’re interested in them.
    I’ve seen a few things on Facebook, or heard them in person, where people suggest to ‘drop hints’.  Especially girls.  Many girls I know encourage each other in this.  “If you like a guy, you should drop him a hint.”  Uh, no.  For two reasons.  First of all, if you’re old enough to even understand what it means to be attracted and interested in a guy, then you’re old enough to speak your mind and use your mouth to be honest and say what you want to say. (cue the song by Sara Bareilles)  Secondly, guys don’t always get the hints.  Actually, 99% of the time they don’t.  Why?  Because they are very honest, straight-to-the-point creatures.  (Or at least most of them are.)  They’re honest.  They expect others to be honest with them. 
    But it shouldn’t just be limited to genders.  We all need to learn to be honest.  Dropping hints isn’t going to help anything.  How is giving a hint any easier than just coming straight out and saying what needs to be said?  What does giving a hint do that face to face honesty can’t or doesn’t?  

    5) Honesty is brave.
    Being honest is taking a stand for what you believe, think or feel and not being afraid of how people may perceive or criticize you.  You should be sensitive to others' opinions, yes.  Just as they should be to yours.  But boldness is part of honesty.  And both are commands from God.  He calls us to be bold (Ephesians 3:11-12), and He calls us to tell the truth (Ephesians 4:25).  He also gives us the power to do both.

    "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind."
     2 Timothy 1:7

    If people were honest, life would be simpler.  And I’m not talking about the honest sort that say blunt, sometimes hurtful things.  But just plain honesty in any and every little thing.  Friendships.  Romance.  Work.  Talking about life.  Yourself.


    What are your thoughts on this?  What are some other facts about honesty that you have seen proven in your life?

    3.11.2015

    Are you a fire, or just another flame?


    Apathy is a sickening trait.

    I don't know about you, but I am tired of seeing so many people (peers especially), not doing anything.

    Individuals would rather spend time playing video and computer games, than doing something life-impacting.
    They would rather spend money on makeup, clothes and food, than contributing to a ministry or organization to help others.
    They would rather spend hours online, than enjoying the outdoors or reading a good book or doing more educational activities.

    I hate seeing status updates on Facebook or tweets on Twitter saying 'I'm bored' or 'I don't know what to do'.  That only tells me that people aren't taking advantage of all the useful things they can do in their lives.  So much of our lives revolve around technology.  Computers, video games, movies, texting.  If you stripped all that away from the average teenager, you’d have a pretty sad kid.  Not to mention bored to death, socially awkward, and completely ‘cut off from the world’.

    What does that tell you about our priorities?

    Internet really is a blessing, but we can abuse our usage of it.  The same with phones/texting, video games, TV/movies.  Examine your motives for using these conveniences.  See if maybe you could cut out a chunk of your time and spend it doing something permanently life-changing.  

    This culture has contaminated the minds of young adults to think that they are incapable of achieving big goals, and reaching high expectations.  And what do my peers do about this?  They blindly follow after the 'easy stuff', not wanting to work themselves into doing something that (the world has taught them) isn't really something 'important at their age'.  Or something that 'they just can't do'.

    Let's face it, folks, some young adults can't even carry a decent conversation with another human being.  Instead, they're in their own little world thumbing away on their cell phone, oblivious to the goings-on around them.  

    When will my generation realize what they are truly capable of?  And that life isn't about texting, social medias and movies.  Although there is nothing 'wrong' with those activities.  They need to be used with extreme discernment.

    Or how about partying, drinking, sex and drugs?  Sure, those things can all make you feel good, help you pass the time.  But do you know how blessed you are to live in a country that has so many incredible things at your fingertips - that kids in other places could only wish to be near such conveniences - and you're missing the point of impacting this world for a mere passing pleasure?


    Life is so much more.

    And thank God, little by little, I believe that more of us are realizing this truth.  It may not always seem like it.  It's not like I count one less teenager on their phone every time I go to a public place.  But I feel an undercurrent of young adults who are slowly testing their wings, trying to see if they really can fly.

    We need to encourage each other in our dreams and goals.  
    Encourage the guy who's too timid to try to become a jet pilot and is instead, hiding in his room, playing a video game where he is flying a plane.
    Encourage the girl who wants to become a singer, but is instead, not using her voice and just lip-syncing to a karaoke machine.  

    Stop being the world's puppets!  Realize that there are people who believe in you.  And ultimately, you have a greater Person who actually made you and created you for more than this.  Let Him take you down a whole new road, to a whole new world.  He will plant people along the way to provide encouragement, opportunities and help.

    What are you doing to stir others into not being apathetic?

    Are you a fire, or just another flame?



    2.24.2015

    What I wish I could tell you... | letter to a young girl


    Dear girl,

    You may not have reached that age yet, where people begin calling you a 'teenager'.  But you will.  And you'll experience changes that you may not have been expecting.  And what's that thing people keep talking about?  'Emotions'?  Yeah, those took a while for me to grasp too.  They're like feelings...but not.  They're hard to understand and decipher, those emotions.  They're what you're thinking and feeling all wrapped into one.  Confusing?  Yes.  Difficult?  Yes.  Able to explain?  No.  I wish I could tell you that you'll figure them out in no time, and get the hang of how to deal with them, but truth is, I'm almost 20 years old and I'm still piecing my own together.

    I wish I could tell you to always be open and vulnerable.  I wish I could tell you to trust and respect people.  But the truth is, darling, we live in a messed up world, and most of the people who you'll trust are going to end up showing you that you couldn't or shouldn't have.  And don't even get me started on respect.  Just so you know, there are very few people I respect.  I wish I could tell you that you could control what people thought of you, and that they will always see and love the best you.  I wish I could tell you that people will always encourage your womanhood and your strength, and not separate the two.

    I wish I could tell you that you'll never suffer from being self-conscious, or having insecurity, or comparing yourself to other girls.  Or that your life will always go as smoothly as the next person's [seems] to be.  I wish I could tell you that you will succeed at every goal you set and every dream you have will come true.  I wish I could tell you that stepping out of your comfort zone will always be one of the best choices you make and that you'll never embarrass yourself and that no one will ever laugh at you.  I wish I could tell you that being a people-pleaser is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it isn't.  Because the way people want to be pleased isn't always right.  Even if it is popular.

    And by the way, good communication is one of the most important keys to life.

    I really want to tell you that being alone is far different than being lonely.  You may not believe that, but it's the truth.  Being alone is very significant in everyone's life.  It's a time to learn more about yourself in a way that no one could teach you.

    Don't be afraid of making mistakes, of doing things by yourself, of figuring things out on your own.  But also, never be afraid to ask for help.  Asking doesn't mean you're ignorant; it means you want to gain more wisdom.

    I wish I could tell you that the first guy who says he likes you is 'the one'.  And that he will respect you and always be there for you.  I wish I could tell you that his intentions are honorable and that he will truly love you.  I wish I could promise that he will never hurt you - physically or emotionally - and that he will give you space when you need it, a hug when you need one, or a kiss on the forehead.  Don't ever, ever settle for a guy who is 'good enough'.  Know your value, dear girl.  If someone isn't willing to treat you as a daughter of the Most High, they're not worth your time of day.

    I wish I could tell you that all guys are men, that there are beautiful sunsets every night, that you'll always have a stable job and whenever you're having one of those lonely days, there will always be someone to hold you.  I wish I could tell you that you will always see the beauty of the world, but honestly, sometimes, you'll need to really look for it.  I wish I could tell you that you'll always have a reason to laugh, always have a reason to smile.  But sometimes, you just need to find those reasons on your own.

    I wish I could tell you that everyone will understand what honesty is and always be honest with you.  I wish I could tell you that you will have a lifelong friend(s) from childhood.  And they will never leave your side, never ignore you, never give you stupid immature silent treatments where you two don't talk for days.  I wish I could tell you that you'll have always more friends that build you up, rather than tear you down.  I wish I could tell you that drama won't ever happen and you'll never have horrible arguments with your friends that leave you not talking for days on end.  Seek out good friends.  Seek out friends who will build you up, encourage you, make you stronger on your OWN.  And yes, there will be times when you have to be the mature one in the friendship.  Either way, everyone is in your life for a reason, to teach you something.  Learn from them - the things you should and shouldn't do.

    I wish I could tell you that you'll never face temptations and never see any bad pictures and never hear evil thoughts expressed out loud.

    I wish I could tell you that you and your parents are always going to get along, that they'll never overwhelm you with rules, that you'll always be close to them, and that you'll always want to obey their advice and requirements.  I wish I could tell you that all your siblings will be your best friends, that you'll never have fights with any of them, and that you'll always want to be around them.

    But you might not.

    Sweet one, I may be wrong about some of these.  I really hope I am.  If some of these prove to be the opposite in your life, I am so happy for you.  And you should count yourself as blessed.

    But there will be times when you just need to wipe the tears off your face and be your own little hero. And moments where you need to choose whether to be happy or let the sadness seep into you.

    And in the end, those will be the moments you will look back on and see just how strong of a human you really are.  That you are absolutely and without question, a beautiful and unique human soul.  Showing your own strength can and will encourage others to be strong on their own.  Don't let your past keep hold of you.  It shouldn't dictate your future, but it should be part of who you will become.  You have the choice whether you learn from your lessons and move on, or let the lesson keep twisting its knife in your heart, telling you that you're a failure.
    Remember to fight for what matters.  Always tell the truth.  One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is forgive - even if the person never asks for it, or never acknowledges that they were in the wrong.

    Your life has a purpose.  You have much to accomplish.  Don't let others stop you.  And don't ever say you 'can't'.  That word shouldn't even be in your vocabulary.  Because a person who doesn't first believe in themselves, won't believe in others, and their plans won't succeed.

    God allows everything to happen to allow something else to happen.