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?


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


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.



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."


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.


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.


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...


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.


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!