4.03.2017

21 Things I Have Learned In 21 Years


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

3.25.2017

When I Don't Have It Altogether


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

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

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

And that makes me even more frustrated.

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

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

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

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

You aren't alone.

God is good.

Stay the course.

3.20.2017

I Don't Know What To Title This


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

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

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

It scares me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.10.2017

Come To Him Broken


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

But I don't think that's accurate.

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

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

Come to Him broken.

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

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

Come to Him broken.

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

Come to Him broken.

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

3.05.2017

The Righteous In This City


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.11.2017

Response To Readers: Learning To Trust Again, episode 1

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

2.10.2017

She Chose

She didn't lose him.  She let him go.

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

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

But because it was what was best for her.

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

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

She didn't want things to end.

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

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

And she was forced to choose.

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

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

She didn't forget him.

She didn't hate him.  She never could.

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

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

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

And it was the right thing to do.

And it was going to be okay.

2.09.2017

What If We Had Been Warned?

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

Life will hold painful moments for us.  

Life is sad sometimes. 

I get it.  

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

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

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

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

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

What if we had been warned?

2.08.2017

6 Things I Learned After Moving Out


I didn't move out of my family's home until I was 20.  It wasn't an act of rebellion or because I hated my family/parents and wanted to get away from them.  It was just simply the right time.

I first moved in with two roommates in a house about five minutes from my family (see? I wasn't running away).  Then moved in with an uncle for about six months.  Then, most recently, moved to a townhouse, in which I live in the private bottom level of.

Moving out and being independent has taught me many lessons.  A few of which I shall now share.

1)  I miss my family.  Like, a lot.
I grew up in a family of 9.  There was always some sort of noise, voices, chores being done, laughter, cleaning, etc.  The only time there was peace and quite was at night, after everyone was tucked in bed.  Since moving out, it's nothing but quiet at my house.  I crave the times I get to go visit my family, and it physically aches whenever I drive away from them, from the home I grew up in, from all the hugs and kisses I get when I am there.  Moving out has taught me even more to cherish my family and the times I get to spend with them.

2)  Home-cooked meals are life.
Living on my own has definitely taught me that eating out and grabbing something here and there isn't always the best option.  Cuz, holy crap, will it cut into the budget.  I do love cooking, though, so grocery shopping is life-saving, and making meals that last me a couple days are the best.  But, going home and eating an amazing meal cooked by Mama...well, there's nothing better than that.

3)  Budgeting is key.
Keeping track of every nickel and dime, asking myself "Do I need or want this?" at the store, making sure I keep receipts, write down how much I spend each day... This has all been something I've forced myself to do when I moved out, and it has saved me a lot of pretty pennies.

4)  Don't become complacent.
One of the millennials worst traits is being apathetic and complacent.  "I'm bored af" is a commonly used phrase.  And one I never use.  Why?  Because the moment I start feeling lazy is the moment I can find something to do, some way to make this world better, some time to do something new, to do something that matters.  Living alone, working hard, coming home to a quiet house can sometimes just make me wanna go plop on my bed and watch Netflix for the rest of the day.  But I know that isn't profitable, and it's not gonna get me ahead in life.  I'm not saying that Netflix and chill is never a good idea.  But just don't make it a habit.

5)  Adulting.
You really aren't an adult until you move out and can live a year without calling your parents up for money.  Let's just say that. #responsibility

6)  You learn lessons.
Okay so I've screwed up on certain things when it comes to being independent and making my own choices and choosing where to live and work.  But hey, life is about making mistakes and learning from them.  Moving out has given me the opportunity to learn knowledge and skill on my own.  And it really has been good for me.

2.06.2017

Heartbreak Healing

"How long does it normally take to get over a heartbreak?"

I received this question on my ask.fm recently and
dear soul, let me tell you.
There is no deadline, no normality, no certain period of time that is exceptional for healing from a heartbreak.
Every human is different.
Every heart gets hurt differently.
Every healing depends on so much of what occurred.
There is no way to be able to say how long it should or will take you to recover from something that affected you so deeply.

You see, healing from a lost love is no easy task.  It's not something you can make yourself do.  You can't "get" a new heart.

You're never going to forget them.  Your brain doesn't function that way.  I wish it did.  I truly do.  But you're always going to remember the color of her eyes.  You're always going to remember the way your fingers locked with his.  You're always going to have the memories hit you whenever you hear a certain sound, catch a scent of their perfume, drive by that one place you parked and made out for a few hours.  You'll miss their hugs on lonely nights, their laughter during summer days, their lips on your neck and hands.  The nights will come, and sometimes random moments throughout your day, when you will feel literal physical pain at just the mention of their name.
All the feelings will rush back.
And you'll have to suppress them just to be able to breathe again.
And yes, suppress.  Not forget.  Because you're never going to fully get over them.
You're going to miss them with every fiber of your being.

People will tell you to just "fall out of love", to "just forget them", to "move on".  And you could try to do all those things.  Honestly, you probably will fall out of love, you will be able to move on one day.
But you'll never forget them.
And you won't be in love with them, but darling, you will always love them.  A piece of your heart will always be theirs.  You will always have fond memories of times together.

And how does this answer your question?

How does this help?

Because even though all of this will happen at one point in your path of healing, you're going to be okay.

You'll get through it, I promise.

You won't be in love with them, but you'll still love them.  You'll care for them - maybe even moreso than you ever did.  But in a way that says "We were each other's once, but that was in another lifetime.  And now, we've gone our separate ways, but we'll always have our memories."

And damn it, maybe you'll find someone else.

Promise me something though?

Promise me that you won't give up on love.

If someone comes along and makes you feel things you have never felt before, or makes you feel a way you haven't felt since "they" exited your life... Darling, please.  Please don't let them go.

Never stop hoping for love.  Never stop hoping that someone else is just around the corner from you.

Never stop thinking you won't fully heal.

Time heals all wounds.  It really does.  Give yourself that much.  And know that there's no set end time.  No formula to follow.  No pattern to memorize.

Live.  Love.  Heal.  Repeat.

2.03.2017

Loneliness Is Lethal


Since moving to a new area, one of my main priorities was to find a home church to plug in to.  Back when I lived in Washington for six months, I had found a good, solid young adult group that I visited every Sunday evening for a fellowship dinner, worship service, and sermon.  I was sometimes asked to lead worship too.  I loved being a part of that group.  And felt encouraged after every time I went.

After moving, though, I am now about an hour away from said group, and I was eager to find a new church to transfer my roots to.

During the time I had been looking for an apartment, I joined a Facebook group in which Christians all over the state, posted ads - either looking for roommates or offering places to live.  One couple contacted me about an apartment they were moving out of, and asked if I would be interested.  I was but the rent was a little high and it wasn't in the area I was looking to be.  Regardless, we stayed friends on Facebook and I noticed the husband post things about a church in downtown Portland.  Turns out he was the pastor of it, and after I commented on one of his posts, he reached out to me, inviting me to join them one Sunday.

It was a couple weeks before I was able to but when I did, wow was I blessed.  Not only did I feel that God had led me to this church through mysterious ways (looking for an apartment + meeting the pastor through a Facebook housing page + him reaching out to me + the church is only twenty minutes away) but the message was so, so good.  And one of the points the pastor touched on was how loneliness is lethal.

"Loneliness is as unhealthy for the human body as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.  But to the spiritual soul, loneliness is lethal."

We, as humans, are not meant to do this thing called "life" all alone.  We were created with a need for relationships and security.  And we, as Christians, aren't meant to fight by ourselves.  The enemy knows how lethal loneliness is.  And he'll always try to get us at our weakest points.  He'll try to make us think that we've failed, that we're worthless, that nobody loves us, that God doesn't care about us.  And when you're lonely, sometimes you start listening to his lies.  You're just too tired and weak from fighting, and because there's no one else there to speak truth into your life, you tend to give up.

This is why, in whatever way possible, you need to connect yourself to believers who will encourage you and pray with/for you.  You need that support system.  Everyone does.  Search for a place to call "home".  Church isn't just about going once a week, sitting in a pew and listening to a sermon.  Church is about family; about fellowshipping with siblings in Christ.  And you can't gain personal relationships with people when you're sitting in rows.  You need to connect, to talk, to get together during the week, to gain trust, to feel like you have a safe environment to share your struggles and get counseling and encouragement.

Seek and you shall find.  God will always honor His children who strive for a closer walk with Him.  And He will always provide in times in need.  He loves us and wants us to continue in His joy.  And loneliness definitely isn't included in that.

My advice would be to start looking in your community for faith-based outreaches and places you can plug in to and get to know believers in your specific area.  It might be hard at first, but start visiting some churches, and then inquire about any groups they may have.  Either Bible studies, or adult groups, or action groups, anything that would surround you with believers who will befriend you and make you feel welcome.  If there's absolutely nothing in your area (which I will find a little hard to believe) or you've tried out places but don't feel like it's where God wants you to be, try reaching out to online Christian communities, and maybe even meeting up with people in person you meet through that.  Everything is available at our fingertips nowadays, including Facebook groups and Twitter accounts that are aimed specifically to different Christian age groups.

Seek and you shall find.  Pray that He'll provide the best place for you to get involved in.  And He will.  I promise.

"For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great Name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself."
- 1 Samuel 12:22

2.01.2017

I Taught You What Love Is


One of the deepest and most agonizing questions someone could ask themselves is "Why was I not good enough?"

When I did all I could do, when I said all I could say, when I loved with all I had in me...but in the end, it must not have been enough.  I wasn't enough.

Or so you thought.

See, the thing about being vulnerable and loving someone and investing in their life is that you are giving them every open door to hurting you.  Like Augustus said in The Fault In Our Stars - "You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world.  But you do have a say in who hurts you."  Loving someone and trusting them to not rip my heart out from the seams is an act of faith that takes all the courage in the world to muster.

But when it all crashed in a myriad of shootings stars that dispersed, one of the first questions that came to mind was a simple one word:

"Why?"

It can be asked in many different forms.  A cry, a scream, a gut-wrenching sob, or merely a whisper.  I think I may have asked it in all of those ways.

And over time, I've missed you.  I've missed how you loved me, how you made me feel, the things we used to do together, the connection that we had.  But what you may not know is that I've realized something.  It took many sleepless nights, long, arduous thought processes, furrowed brows, and quiet tears to unravel all the knots of confusion and pain.  And I finally realized that: how you loved me was so much of a reflection of everything I was, everything I gave to you, and everything I am.

Looking back now, I must've been so blind because I see now that it was I who taught you.  I taught you how to feel again.  I was the example you needed in your life to make you see and understand that there is such a thing as unconditional love, and there is such a thing as faithfulness, and there is such a thing as a woman who wants to be with you and only you.  And that woman was me.

I wondered "Why?" for so long after, but now I no longer ask that.  Because I know I was enough.  In fact, I was too much.  It scared you.  I scared you.  The strength, peace, love and beauty I felt when I was with you, I thought it was because of you.  But it wasn't.  I thought I enamored you and loved you in ways you never knew existed because you couldn't take your eyes off of me.  I made you feel alive again.  I taught you what love is.  But you didn't know how to accept it.  And then I thought I was the problem.  I thought I wasn't enough.

But I know now that I was already these things.  Long before I met you.  And I continued to be all of this, even after you left.

Because the person I am when I'm around you isn't because of you.  It's because of my love for you.  And even if you aren't around to see it, I'm still strong, and beautiful, and full of love.  And I always will be.

I started writing this for my audience, in an attempt to encourage the recent heartbreaks that I know of, but not even halfway through, I realized that I was writing this for myself.  About myself.
And the tears were freeing.

1.31.2017

6 Things You Should Never Change About Yourself To Be In A Relationship


Being in a relationship is all about being selfless and learning to love each other the way you need to be loved.  Being in a relationship also means giving up things for the other person - such as bad or unhealthy habits and not hanging out one on one with an opposite sex friend who used to have feelings for you.

But there are definitely some things you should never change about yourself - for a significant other or for anyone.

Here are my top 6.

---

1)  Your beliefs
I think the biggest part of anyone's life is their spirituality.  Our souls are immortal.  They will go on even after our bodies decay.  Your relationship with God and your convictions regarding morals and "how to live life" are foundational for your future.  If someone comes along and wants you to change all that for them, I'd consider that a red flag.

2)  Your Hobbies
Okay, so obviously, if you're doing unhealthy things - like going to strip clubs, or smoking/drinking excessively, or have an online dating app that you like to swipe through - you're probably gonna have to change that up a bit.  But what I mean by "things you enjoy doing", I'm referring more to healthy and productive pastimes like reading, or gardening, or hiking.  These are hobbies that a significant other shouldn't be able to come into your life and say "Don't do that anymore" for no rhyme or reason.  Uh, no, ma'am.

3)  Your relationship with your family and lifelong friends.
Any significant other that comes between you and your family needs to go.  They don't have any right to come into your life and either make you choose them over your family, or in any way, shape or form, pull you away from your family.  Your family has been there since the day you were born, and they'll be there till you die.  A significant other has no place in trying to "change" that.

4)  Your dreams
Of course once you are serious about being with someone, you kind of have to align your dreams/goals/careers with theirs, as far as how compatible you will be with them.  But they should never have to ask you to give up on something you've been working hard for, looking forward to, all to just be with them.

5)  Your style
I can echo what I said in point number 2 here, regarding if it's not healthy or respectful to your significant other than give it some thought to change.  But if your SO is telling you to throw out your whole wardrobe and only wear what they buy for you because they want to change your whole style and fashion sense, um, excuse me, who are they?  The way you dress represents you as a person (remember that!), and if they can't be with you or at least respect and admire you for the fashion sense you have, imagine what else they're going to try changing about you.

6)  Your standards
In today's day and age, you need to be picky.  I'm gonna say it again.  In today's society, and with the extremely disappointing ratio of decent potential boyfriends/girlfriends out there, you need to be choosy, have standards, and stick to those standards.  Of course there are some that can be discussed, such as if you'd never date a smoker, but he recently quit smoking a few months ago.  I mean, that's not a huge deal.  But if you have a standard for dating someone who shares your views and convictions spiritually, then you don't budge on that.  No amount of excuses will ever cut the cake there.  Go back to point number 1 for my reasoning.

---

Relationships are tricky.  And committing to be in one with an individual human soul is scary and wonderful at the same time.  This article just touched on 6 main points I find the most important.  Comment below any you would add to this list!

P.S.  And even if you don't change all these things for someone else, and the relationship still doesn't work out, remember there's nothing wrong with you.  Sometimes things just don't work out and that's that.  And it's okay.  You're okay.  Life is still beautiful.

1.28.2017

Made For Magnificence


Everywhere you look, the world subtly - and sometimes not so subtly - tells us that we are defined by others' opinions of us.  Our popularity is ranked by how many Facebook or Instagram likes we receive on a daily basis.  And if we are well-liked, we'll have hundreds of followers on social medias.
The internet and magazines are constantly nagging us with ads on weight loss, skin care, hair product, and the latest beauty secrets.  Because of all these, we think we are made up of numbers - price tags, scale pounds, grades, likes on social medias.

But are we really?  

Is this who you want to be known as?  Is this the legacy you want to leave behind - someone who believed that something immortal could define who they were as an eternal soul?  We allow things to have such a hold on our lives, on our hearts, when in reality, we're the ones who are in control of who and what defines us.

You know what I think?
I think we're made up of love, of memories, of pain.  What defines us is what happens in our lives, the moments we learn, the moments we feel, the moments we will never forget, not even in a million years.

We're made of late nights with friends, or random mini roadmaps, taking a sip of your favorite drink on a brisk autumn evening or a stifling summer's day, watching a sunset from a rooftop, buying a pair of jeans that fit just right, the art we love, warm blankets in a cold room, the way music makes us feel or that moment when you look into the eyes of someone you love and know without a doubt that they love you back.

We're defined by what we allow to define us.  

The words we speak, the actions we follow through with.

We're lit on fire by flames that ignite many different blazes but we're all affected the same way.

This thing called life that we're trying to survive... Why can't we all just realize that we're in this fight together?  Everyone has struggles, everyone is being told they're defined by numbers.  But we need to rally together.  We need to acknowledge the brainwashing of today's culture and say no to being put into a box and labeled as a certain someone, a certain thing.

Because we're more than that.

You are more than that.

Underneath all the layers of skin that clothes your body, you are a living and breathing soul that was intricately designed by the breath - not the fingers - of the Creator of the galaxies.  You are special because He says you are.  You are defined as who He says you are.  Your label is not one of a mere product of earth, but of a handmade piece of art that He carefully and masterfully designed to be so breathtakingly beautiful.

We are more than numbers.  We are more than what they tell us we are.

We are magnificent.

1.27.2017

Investing Or Removing

There's a difference between someone not wanting to invest in your life, and you removing them from your life.

This new year, I've slowly been disconnecting people from my social medias who I don't talk to and frankly, don't even know.  Weird how they even got onto my friends lists!  It's just dawned on me lately how many people who I don't invest in shouldn't be able to see into my personal life details.
Twitter and Instagram are one thing.  Both of my accounts on those apps are public.  But Facebook and Snapchat... do I want everyone to be seeing what I'm doing, where I am, who I'm with?  It's kind of creepy, if you ask me.  Plus, if I'm not giving them the time of day (not intentionally, of course), then why are they even having access to my life?

Relationships are two way streets - which leads me to another point I have.  If someone isn't willing to invest in you as you are investing in them, it's time to say goodbye.  Plain and simple.  They're basically telling you that you're not worth their time or love.

I recently got a text from someone who I considered very dear to me, saying that "we shouldn't talk anymore" and that it wasn't "anything personal".  No rhyme or reason.  It blindsided me for sure, but I've gotten to a point in my life where I just accept the actions of others without question.  Why?  Because I will never understand the majority of the decisions people make.  We all live different lives, have different opinions, choose different paths, and if I'm not chosen to be in someone's life, cool.  Their loss.

So how did I handle that "friend" texting me that?  I went and removed them from my social medias.  Unfriended, unfollowed, deleted.  Not because I don't love them anymore and don't want to be in their life, but because they chose for me not to be.

I often wonder if I've just become a calloused and hard-hearted b****.  I've been hurt and disappointed so many times.  I sometimes ask myself, "When will it all end?"  I guess I know the answer to that question but regardless, it still gets asked.

I think that, above all, I've simply learned to accept how others behave.  I have also learned to not let it affect me because that is something I do have control over.  To stay healthy, to be safe, one needs to protect oneself from any one or any thing that chooses to be harmful - whether physically or emotionally.  And when someone chooses to not be a personal investor in my life, as I would gladly be in theirs, then they don't earn the right to know me.  I'm not responsible for others actions or how they choose to view me.  I live my life according to my convictions, my thoughts, my opinions, my views.  If someone sees that and doesn't like it, they don't have to be a part of my life.

1.26.2017

Dreams Don't Turn To Dust


What do you do when you run into a brick wall?  Figuratively or literally.

You get hurt.  Maybe a little confused.  You get frustrated.  And possibly defeated too?

We tend to hit a few brick walls throughout our walk of life.  And when our dreams get stopped, we feel crushed and beaten.

You know that saying:  "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger"?

Just because your dreams are crushed, doesn’t mean they didn’t build something.  Inside of you.

I thought of this neat analogy awhile back...
Your dreams are fragile, right?  You care for and nurture them and think about them often.  When you feel it is the right time, you take a step towards them.  If they waver, you stop.  If they blossom, you continue.

But sometimes, even when there’s a slight quiver, we feel that our goal is just beyond our reach.  We keep taking steps toward it, little by little.  And sometimes, they slip through our fingers and we are unable to grasp them.  But from that experience, we learn something.  

Through every experience in life, we are taught something new.  Yes, it may be painful but it makes us grow.  It shapes and adds to the foundation.  The solid foundation of making new dreams and reaching for higher goals. 

So instead of dreams turning to dust, how about dreams turning to bricks, or building blocks, for a solid foundation? 

Dreams that disappear, really only disappear out of our reach because they fell to the ground underneath us.  And we are able to step up onto them and reach higher and higher.

Don’t ever stop dreaming just because one dream failed. 

Don’t ever stop believing that somehow, some way you will reach your goal. 

First of all, with God all things are possible.

Secondly, we learn from our mistakes and our failed dreams.

And thirdly, this life is full of opportunities.  Don’t stop dreaming because one of them failed.  Stop dreaming when you can’t dream anymore. 

(P.S. Bonus points to anyone who catches the two song title references in this post.)

1.16.2017

Some of the Things I Want To Tell You


I want to tell you that the first time I saw you, not only did my heart go wild, but my brain did too.

I want to tell you that I remembered the drink you ordered but I asked you to repeat it just so I could hear your voice again.

I want to tell you that I wished there hadn't been other customers in line behind you because I wanted you to stay as long as possible.

I want to tell you that your eyes captured me.  And I've never met anyone else with the same color as yours were.

I want to tell you that it took everything in me to not let the flush rise to my cheeks when our eyes found each other.

I want to tell you that every moment I spent with you after our first meeting was like a perfect scene in a storybook.

I want to tell you that I believe you loved me, but that's what scared you the most.

I want to tell you that I don't hate you for the way you hurt me.

I want to tell you that so many little things remind me of you and bring you to memory.

I want to tell you that there are countless times in my day that I pick up my phone to text or call you, but then remember that you took me out of your life.

And that's okay, I guess.

Because not everyone is meant to stick around forever.  And I guess that's true for you and me and our story.

I also want to tell you - all I know is that we were meant to be together.  Maybe not for the rest of our lives.  But baby, for a time, I'm so glad I could call you mine.

And I titled this only some of the things I want to tell you because if you want to know the rest, maybe that will be enough to make you come back someday.

1.11.2017

A Writer's Daily Battle & Greatest Victory


I've been working on various writing projects for the last three hours.  And the above picture is much prettier than the reality at the moment.  I'm just sitting on my bed, wearing a Blazer v-neck, with an almost empty glass of wine nearby.  My eyes feel bloodshot from staring at this laptop screen for so long.  And my fingers are slightly achy from the constant typing.
But I still feel like I didn't achieve all that I wanted to.
I didn't get as much writing done as I wish I had.
I don't feel like everything I wrote was good.
I want to do better.
I wish I did better.
Sometimes I wonder why I still do it.  Or attempt to, anyway.
Are these words even coherent?  Did I convey my thoughts well?  Did I edit out all of my mistakes?

Should I just not continue?

Honestly, dear readers, the words don't always come easily.  You may think I'm a good writer.  You may picture me in a romantic scene, thinking up whatever words you read and enjoy reading and typing them away without a care in the world.
But, I'll be real with you.
Sometimes, it's painstakingly hard.  First of all, to sort through my thoughts; secondly, to know how to express them with words; and thirdly, to publish them on a public website for every eye to see.

I asked myself almost every day, "Why do you write?"

I always answer the same thing, "Because I couldn't live without being able to."

I do it because I find freedom in this gift of an outlet.
I find freedom in expressing myself with passion and purpose through beautiful, beautiful words.
Language is such a gift.  To have the ability to communicate to someone not just through facial expressions and hand movements but to actually speak and be understood is so wonderful.
And to be able to write and have a reader halfway across the world grasp your meaning and fervor in being vulnerable and revealing your heart, soul and emotions...  Now that's a blessing.

I write because I can't imagine not being able to write something and send it out onto the worldwide web to somehow, magically find someone and touch their soul.  For the heart to resonate with something I wrote, and to maybe later find an email or comment from that someone saying, "Hey, what you said really encouraged me" or "Your words were an inspiration".  Those little notes make it all worth it.  Just to know one person (yes, even the haters <3) read something I scribbled at one o'clock in the morning means the world to me.

Because, honestly, you don't have to.

You didn't have to type in my blog URL into your browser today.  You didn't have to click on the newest link to my blog that popped up in your email, on your dashboard or Facebook timeline.  You didn't have to read all the way until the end of this article.  But wow.  You did.  You're here.

So thank you.

A writer's daily battle may be figuring out what thought to write down first and how to and if we did it well and oh what if it doesn't make sense, etc., etc...
but our greatest victory is knowing one - even just one beautiful human being - chose to read our work.

Then yes, we have done well.

And if you're still reading this, then I have done well.

1.09.2017

Erratic Prose [first of 2017] | edition 6

Well, here I sit in my new home, which I have gotten quite settled into, thankfully.  I'm still learning my way around the new neighborhood, and challenging myself to find my way back home without using my GPS.  So far, I've impressed myself with how directionally talented I have become so hurray for me.

Also, I've been giddy with excitement at all the places I've encountered that are literally minutes away from me, such as - Ross, Nordstrom Rack, Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, and Barnes & Noble.  The other day, I spent 6 (literal) hours in Barnes & Noble.  I walked down aisle after aisle, grabbing books of interest and finally sat in a corner of the store with a nice little pile around me.  I was in paradise.  I also ended up buying 3 books by the end of my time there.  I spent under $20 on them, so I was quite pleased.
A resolution I have for this new year is to make more time to read.  When I was younger, my parents had to pry me away from my books, but now, I find myself geared towards my computer and Netflix rather than to reading.  Going to Barnes & Noble that day really helped me rediscover my love for being nose deep in a good book, and I'm determined that these three I bought won't go unread.  I've been making time to read and journal before going to sleep each night and so far, I enjoy how easily it has fit in to my schedule.

Oh guess what?  I got a second job!  Yes, I'm still at my beloved Dutch (would never leave there, I promise), but I find my schedule not full enough so I decided to apply at Jamba Juice.  I got the job the day after applying!  I'm super excited about it and can't wait to start next week.  All I need is an evening bartending job and I'll be serving every kind of drink out there, right?;)

I transferred campus locations this week as well.  The one I was going to is about 1/2 hour away from where I moved to.  But now, I'll be going to one within fifteen minutes of me.  Cool fact: I get more of a winter break because the campus I transferred to doesn't start their term till the 23 of this month.  Pretty sweet, huh?

By the way, do any of you use Apple Music?  I recently signed up with it (and got a discount because I'm a student. Yes ma'am.) and have been in love with all the new music I've been able to discover and acquire.  Give me some recommendations?  What are some of your current faves right now?

We got a crazy snow and ice storm this last weekend.  I had to trade a shift with a coworker because I wouldn't have been able to make it to work with the condition of the roads.  Thankfully most of it has melted and I think we're on the path to warmer days.  I'm ready for spring.

---

How has the New Year been for you so far?  Any fun plans for this first month?

1.03.2017

"Christian is not the definition of a perfect me."


It's a new year.

I thought I was ready for it, but once the clock turned midnight on December 31, I felt blindsided by the fact that 2017 was indeed upon us.

And yes, I am not publishing on the first day of our new year, but it's only because I've been very reflective these last few days.  Reflective on myself, my resolutions, who I am as a person, as an individual, as a human on this earth, and most importantly, as a Christian.

2016 was a difficult year for me.  I'm not going to go on a long rampage about why it was so hard and all the bad that occurred in it because 1) I hate complaining and 2) I know God had a reason for everything that transpired.
What I will say, though, is that I learned a lot.  About this world, about people, about who I can trust, about myself.  I learned how forgiving I am, and how often I give people too many chances to stay in my life when in reality, it's unhealthy for myself to allow them to be close to me.  I learned what it means to love and lose someone.  I learned that when I feel like I'm at the end of my rope, He is gonna be there.  Either to catch me when I fall out of pure exhaustion, or to come through at the last minute and be like "Oh hey, I got you."

One of the greatest examples of His provision is the fact that I am writing this, sitting on my new bed in my new home in a completely new town.  After house-hunting for almost 4 months, God provided a perfect little spot for me.  I was commuting 40-60 minutes (one way) to work and now, that time has been cut to more than half.  I am indeed blessed.  And He provided it at the last minute.  Isn't that how He likes to work?

Like I said, 2016 taught me a lot about myself.  And that's something I'll always be learning more about.  My personality, my heart, my emotions.  These are all good things to learn.  It's hard sometimes.  And the more I learn about myself, the more I see my need for a Savior, and how often I fall short of His glory.

The title of this post is a line from a song by one of my favorite rapper's.  I feel that many Christians try to put up a front about their lives and who they are and try to never appear like their life is hanging on by strings, or that they really screwed up in something recently, or how they really don't always want to make time for God.

These are all real struggles.

These are all part of life.

Being a Christian doesn't mean that we're suddenly perfect individuals.  I sin every day.  I do things I regret every day.  I say things I wish I didn't.  I go places I know I shouldn't.  I talk to people I know I shouldn't.  But you know the two things that override all of my mistakes?
The first is that I am trying.  Trying to be a better person, trying to be a better Christian, trying to live a better life.
The second, and ultimately, the most amazing point to all of my struggles and the greatest example of perfection amidst the mess is simply - God's grace.  His grace covers a multitude of sins.  His grace upon grace upon grace upon grace is sufficient.  Nothing can be added to it to make it perfect.  Nothing can be added to it to finally cover my imperfections.

The word "Christian" means Christ-follower.  It's not a definition of a perfect individual.  It's the definition of someone following the perfect One.  And I pray to God that this year I can live a better example of that lifestyle and calling.

God is good.  Welcome, 2017.  I'm ready for you.