Walk Away from Those Holiday Blues

The holidays can be tough for many people, especially when you feel like you’re completely alone in the world and are constantly surrounded by reminders of family traditions and people in love—things that might be lacking in your current stage of life.

For some, the holidays are a time to relax, celebrate, and enjoy precious moments with family members and loved ones. For others, though, it can be a season of painful memories and perpetual feelings of loneliness. Even in your darkest times, though, there are still many reasons to be thankful and many ways to try to cheer yourself up, even if it’s just a little bit.

Holiday movies: Either commit hardcore, or avoid them altogether.
Sometimes, holiday movies can make you feel better. The Grinch (the one with Jim Carrey) and Home Alone (also Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, but stop after that one) are always great options of feel-good movies with a little bit of laughter tacked on there, too. And who can count out Christmas Vacation? That’s a classic for sure. If you’re feeling way too single, it might be best to steer clear of movies like The Holiday or essentially any Hallmark or Netflix Christmas romance flick. While they are the perfect amount of cheesy goodness, they also might tug at some heart strings that you don’t want to mess with right now.

Treat yo’ self.
Go get a pedicure or manicure or even a nice massage at a spa. You deserve to pamper yourself every once in a while, and a good time to do so is when you’re feeling down. Or take yourself on a date to dinner and a movie (follow the guidelines above regarding holiday movies, though). Another option is to treat yourself to a nice carriage ride to look at Christmas lights (if that’s an option in your area). Sure, it might remind you that you’re the only one in the carriage, but it’s also a good way to declare to yourself that you are worth a carriage ride, regardless of your relationship status, and you are strong and independent enough to take that adventure on your own.

Plan a trip or short getaway.
Depending on what your financial situation is, a short break from the ordinary could be just what you need. Whether you take an actual vacation and go someplace far away or just venture to a town closer to where you live, stepping outside of your day-to-day world is therapeutic and often healing for your heart and soul.

Send Christmas cards to those who are dear to your heart.
I love when people send me Christmas cards. It reminds me that people care about me and thought about me when they were putting together their lists. Years ago, I decided that my lack of husband and children wasn’t going to stop me from being a part of such a fun holiday tradition. Each year, I try to find something new and creative to do to put on a card, and then I print them out at CVS or Walgreens and mail them to all of my people. It’s now one of my favorite annual traditions! My life is mine to live, and I’m not going to let anything get in the way of that.

While these activities won’t make all of your problems go away, they might help just a little and soften the pain of what can truly be a difficult season for many people. Just remember that, even though it doesn’t always feel like it around this time of year, you are valued and loved, and you matter more than you realize. You are special, and you are a gift.

Be brave enough to believe that and live in that truth each and every day.

Worry and Anxiety: You’re Not Alone

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I am a perpetual worrier. My anxiety about the mere possibility of bad things happening can be completely overwhelming to the point where I can lose sleep. Oftentimes, I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my phone before bed because I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts.

The thoughts are usually ridiculous. They typically trail into the what-ifs of losing people I love or those horrible awkward flashbacks we all have of some embarrassing moments from junior high or high school. The latter I can live with. It’s the first that haunts me.

I don’t know where these thoughts come from, but I’m sure there are others out there who suffer from the same worries.

The thing is, we waste so much time worrying that we ruin peaceful and joyful moments. While I’m laying in bed worrying, I’m missing the sounds of my puppy fast asleep making her little “woof” noises during the midst of a dream. I’m missing the fact that my husband lovingly has his arm around me.

We all have things we don’t want to lose, but if we worry too much about losing them, we’re missing the present.

I don’t have an answer for how to eradicate your anxieties completely. I find the best thing for me is to find something more pressing to think about or to pray. Prayer is really the only way I think we can completely overcome such intruding thoughts.

And it’s important to know that everyone has fears. Everyone worries. You’re not alone, and it’s OK to talk about it. Sometimes we need to.

So pray, be honest about what you’re feeling, and know that you’re not alone.

 

Your Dreams Aren’t Silly


When I was a little girl, I had quite a few lofty dreams of what my future looked like, and although not all of them panned out like I hoped they would (it turns out that you actually have to have some glimmer of talent to put on Taylor Swift-esque performances), I never let my hopeful childish heart stop dreaming them.

The dreaming wasn’t limited to my career aspirations, though—I also wanted a husband. And I still do. Let me be clear: I don’t just want a husband to have a husband. I want to build a life with a man who loves me for me and wants to spend the rest of his forever with me.

For some reason, as we continue to get older, the dreamer mindset we once had as little kids can start to disappear. Those hopes that you had when you were 7 years old don’t seem as possible when you’re 17 and even less so when you’re 27. But why should our hopes and passions fade just because they haven’t necessarily come true in the timeline that we wanted them to? Sure, I’m not going down the path to become a successful musician, and I never will, but had I truly desired that (clearly it didn’t turn out to be a huge passion of mine), then that’s a dream that I should make sure doesn’t stay just a dream forever.

When I was in the second grade, I published my first book. Granted, it was only published in my elementary school’s library, but still. It was a big deal to me. I mean, the pages were laminated. That’s huge, people! There was a ceremony for it and everything, and I won the Author of the Year award for my grade level. Each year after that, I published another book for the library, and the dream of becoming a writer started to stir up in my heart.

Roughly 26 years later, I still have that same dream. Yes, I’m a writer for my profession, but it’s not in line with what that little second-grader did way back in the ‘90s. My heart longs to write books and speak at conferences and events—I’m not there yet, though. And this is one dream that I’m not going to give up on in the way that we often do with things that seem out of our reach for too long. I believe in my heart that I have this passion for a reason, and God is going to use it. It’s not just a silly dream—it’s a dream that’s fueled by hope and trust and perseverance.

It’s the same with my desire to fall in love and be loved by a man forever. I recently started a book about praying for your future husband, and it’s allowed me to believe with my whole heart that it truly is possible that I will find that guy someday, and we will live our own version of a fairytale that only God could have written. I now remind myself every day that it’s also not just a silly dream—it’s a dream that can be fueled by hope and trust and perseverance.

You have the dreams you have for a reason. Don’t label them silly and forget about them forever. Don’t let chances pass you by because you’re afraid or think that you’re not capable. You are capable, and you are worth the fight to pursue those dreams.

Keep dreaming, sister. You’ve got this.

Don’t Put People on Pedestals

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I’ve had a tendency my entire life to put people—usually celebrities—on pedestals. Most notably, I did this with Taylor Swift as a teenager—and, to be honest, I still do. I still find myself making excuses or defending actions I probably wouldn’t agree with if it weren’t her doing it.

I tend to do this with people whom I see are standing out from the crowd and, in my opinion, are serving as positive role models. The problem is that I then hold these celebrities to standards they can’t possibly live up to, and then I’m disappointed when they let me down.

I found myself going down the same familiar path this weekend. My husband and I saw Twenty One Pilots perform last week, and we’ve been listening to them non-stop ever since. I’ve always liked their music, but outside of having their songs on my Spotify playlists and what friends who liked the band had shared, I didn’t know much about the band itself.

As I researched more about Twenty One Pilots, I found myself falling into my familiar traps. God forbid I found something I didn’t agree with or something I was uncertain about in their lyrics or in a quote from an interview with the band members.

I put these poor celebrities on pedestals that they cannot always stay on. I hold them to standards that they can’t possibly meet. They’re just people, and people make mistakes. People have different backstories and different ways of thinking.

I cannot expect an artist only to release songs that I relate to or that have messages I agree with. I cannot expect Taylor Swift never to change as a person and continue writing fairytale country songs. I cannot expect that Twenty One Pilots’ religious references in their works won’t include doubts or misgivings—shouldn’t we, instead, applaud them for being honest about something most Christians feel at one time or another?

I do this with the people in my life, too. My entire life, I’ve held myself to strict standards, and when other people fail to meet my standards, I can be judgmental. That’s not fair. That’s not right.

For one thing, I can’t even meet my own standards, so how can others? Human beings are flawed, and the more quickly we learn to love and embrace others even when they let us down, the less disappointment we have to live with in our lives.

I finally had to accept that Taylor Swift and I, while perhaps at one time similar, are living very different lives. I have to accept that sometimes my friends and I will not see eye to eye. I have to accept that things are not always—in fact, most likely are not—going to go the way I think they should.

And that’s actually quite great. Because I certainly do not have enough answers to be able to dictate how my life or the people in it should behave.

Don’t put people—celebrities or not—on pedestals. No one is perfect. No one will always meet your expectations.

Just love people.

Don’t Run Away


Life is filled with a number of wonderful memories and joy that we can’t contain, but it’s also full of pain and tough times that feel like they’ll never end.

And when those struggles hit, don’t let them cause you to give up hope or run away.

Quitting often seems like the best solution—it’s usually pretty easy and feels like stepping away from our troubles completely will simply make them disappear. Let me be the one to break this to you: That’s false. Your problems don’t vanish or stay behind when you run away from them. That actually tends to make things worse.

When I was in college, I had trouble figuring out where I belonged. I started out at one school and felt overwhelmed and out of place the first semester (which are actually normal feelings for a college freshman), and I missed parts of my life that I had left behind. Rather than let myself get used to the transition, I ran away. I went to a different college for my second semester and hated it. So, naturally, I ran away again—back to the first college I went to.

After my sophomore year, the school dropped my major, so I left. Again. I went to the same college where my brother was, and I lasted a semester before deciding that I didn’t fit in there and needed to leave. Once again, I ran away. This time, I transferred to the school where my sister was and endured what ended up being one of the most difficult five months of my life. I figured there was no point in sticking around at a place that made me miserable, so I transferred back to the school I had attended the previous semester and stayed there for my entire senior year. (Yes, the fact that I still graduated in four years is an actual miracle.)

What I realized—many years later, of course—was that the problem wasn’t the schools I went to or the people I met at those schools. I ran from all of those things, and I still wasn’t happy. In fact, I was in a bit of a depression for my junior and senior years of college. The problem was that I wasn’t facing the actual problem—the struggles I was facing in my heart. I didn’t feel like I was enough, and I was having trouble feeling like I belonged anywhere. Although I was going to church and pouring myself into Christian organizations, I felt more like I was just going through the motions and not actually making concerted efforts to grow in my faith.

I wasn’t finding my identity in Christ and didn’t know my worth in Him. In fact, I wasn’t finding my identity anywhere—and I certainly didn’t feel any worth.

I know that I’ve gone on the path that I have for a reason, and there’s no use thinking about what might have been, but I think I would have enjoyed my college experience a lot more if I’d had more hope in who I was and who I was meant to be.

My friends, I hope that you never find yourself in a place like this. I hope that you know that you are valued, you are loved, and you matter. Don’t let any person or situation make you believe any less. And don’t run away from the things that scare you or are difficult for you to face.

Be brave in those moments of anxiety and fear, and stand firmly, knowing that you are enough, and you are worth the fight.

Prioritizing the Important Things in Life

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As a perpetual people pleaser, I sometimes fall victim to prioritizing what other people need from me rather than the things I need to prioritize.

For example, Friday morning, it snowed here in Omaha—like really, really snowed. As a Southern Californian native, I’ve never in my life driven while it was snowing. I drove on snow when we first moved to Omaha at the tail end of winter last year, but never did I drive during a snowfall.

At first, the snow seemed harmless, magical even, as I began my morning commute into the office. As I continued on, though, I heard the local radio station reporting multiple crashes and repeatedly urging people to drive carefully.

The snow began to fall harder, and before I knew it, the roads were no longer clear, and the car in front of me was swerving back and forth. Soon after, I found my own car behaving the same. At one point, I couldn’t even stop in time for a red light. I made the decision to stop trying to brake and, instead, to quickly slide through it.

By the time I got to work, I was 10 minutes late and shaking. I was terrified of what just happened. I apologized to my coworker and my boss for being late and sat down at my desk. I wondered how my husband had done on his way to work. I texted him and didn’t hear anything back. I began to worry.

He finally called me, and for several seconds, I hesitated to answer. I was worried it would look bad to be late to work and then answer a personal call. Luckily, my common sense kicked in, and I took the call. He had made it safe but had spun out at one point and had multiple close calls.

Could you imagine if he had called me after he spun out? What if he had been stuck off the freeway and needed help, and I hadn’t answered because it would “look bad”?

My people-pleasing trait had gone too far this time. Yes, it’s important to be professional at work, but mine and my husband’s safety is far more important.

Work is a huge priority in my life, but if I were to write a list of my ideal priorities, it would look like this:

1. God
2. Nicholas and loved ones
3. Work

But I think, in reality, I can let it look like this:

1. Other people’s opinion/happiness with me
2. God
3. Nicholas and loved ones

Don’t let your list look like my second one. It breaks my heart that I hesitated to take my husband’s call when we had both experienced dangerous commutes to work, and he or our dog (whom he drops off at dog daycare on his commute) could have been in harm.

Make sure your priority list doesn’t get away from you. Life’s too short for that.

Some Doors Need to Close


Letting go certainly isn’t always easy, no matter how simple Elsa makes it seem.

There are definitive moments and situations in our lives in which I think we know that we need to let go of certain things—or certain people—but, for whatever our reasons are, we cling so tightly to them that it’s as if we’ll never let go. Whether it’s fear or uncertainty or the thought of having to endure pain that we don’t think our hearts can handle, we simply can’t walk away from what we’ve known and become comfortable with for so long.

The truth is, though, that some doors in our lives truly do need to close completely in order for us to be able to press forward to what is waiting for us ahead.

I’ll be one of the first people to admit that it’s sometimes difficult for me to let a door I really want to stay open close all of the way. There was a guy in my life a couple of years ago who caused me more pain than I knew my heart was capable of bearing, and if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m still not completely over him or mended from that pain. It hurts thinking about him and thinking about everything that happened (and didn’t happen). For far too long, I tried to hold on to something that wasn’t there—I tried to keep the door cracked open, even just slightly.

But then I let it close, and I walked through a brighter one that allowed me to be where I am today.

Had I not let him go and let that door finally shut, I don’t know if I ever would have moved to California. I don’t know if I would have taken that leap of faith to pack up my entire life and driven across the country to a place where I knew zero people. You know what, though? It was hands down the best decision I’ve ever made. I know that God called me out here with purpose and intention, and I know that I needed to go through everything that I did in order to get here.

God wasn’t putting me through heartache in order to cause me pain—He was leading me through a dark time so that I would walk boldly through a new door full of unexpected opportunities and more joy and love in my heart than I ever thought possible.

Yes, change is scary. No, it’s not easy to let go. But I want you to believe this one thing right here and now: YOU CAN DO THE HARD THINGS. You can turn and walk away from something you don’t need in your life. You can let go of what you know you shouldn’t be holding on to any longer. You can endure the pain that you’ll feel when one of the chapters in your life finally ends.

And you can boldly march through that new door that is full of unexpected opportunities and more joy and love in your heart than you ever thought possible.

It’s not always easy to slam a door completely closed, especially if your heart still wants it open, even just a little. But, if it’s not meant to stay open, I truly believe that God will continue to change your heart until you’re able to let it close completely. He will continue to mend your heart and prepare it for what He has in store for you.

And it will be so much more wonderful than you could ever imagine.

Sometimes Unfortunate Events Make Way for Better Ones

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This isn’t always true, but sometimes after time has passed, you’ll look back on something not so great that happened and see that it made way for something better to occur.

This can usually be seen with job losses, breakups, and even smaller day-to-day things, such as canceled plans.

That job loss is horrible at the time, but it may be the push you need to look for something better. A breakup may crush you, but it may be the only way you would have left a bad situation. Canceled plans may disappoint you, but they may make you available for something better or for a night in that you desperately need.

When I was a senior in high school, I was a little short on cash, and I really wanted to go to homecoming—it was our last one, afterall. Tickets got more and more expensive the closer it got to the dance, so during the early bird sale, I asked my friends if we were going to go, and everyone decided against it. I made it clear that I was not willing to pay full price later.

Well, the week before the dance, one of our friends ended up being nominated for homecoming court. Suddenly, just like that, everyone was going. Of course, that made complete sense; they had a new reason to attend the dance to support our friend.

I, however, felt hurt and betrayed. I probably could have asked my parents if I could still go, and knowing them, they would have gladly given me the extra cash for the more expensive ticket. But I was—and still am—stubborn. It was the point of the thing.

I was also going through a pretty rough semester. The guy I had liked the year previous—who had also been one of my best friends—was not really speaking to me. I felt ousted from the people who mattered most, and I was terrified of what the end of the year meant: graduation and college. I cried pretty much every day on the way home from school that year.

Not going to homecoming with my friends really hurt on top of everything else I was going through, but had everything gone my way, and had we all bought our tickets when they were cheap, I may not be married to my husband right now. Yep, that’s right! Had I gone to that dance, my husband and I may never have started dating.

You see, when everyone decided to go to the dance at the last minute, I decided to grab a few friends who I knew weren’t into school dances, and I invited them to go to a drive-in movie that homecoming night.

Even in California, sitting in the bed of a pickup truck at night in October requires jackets, hats, and blankets. It was cold!

And on that chilly night, my husband offered to share a blanket with me so that our friend who didn’t bring a blanket could take one of ours.

Had I gone to the dance, had everything worked out, my husband and I would have never shared that blanket, and I would never have started wondering if he liked me, which snowballed into us finally admitting feelings for one another a few months later.

It feels like the end of the world when our friends hurt our feelings or when we begin to feel left out and alone. You may not necessarily meet your future husband due to a friend hurting you, but take heart in knowing that things will get better. I’m a strong believer that things usually turn out how they should.

So when you’re in a particularly hard time, take a deep breath, and know that you might look back at things very differently once you’ve had time away from the situation.

And make the best of those unfortunate times. If you can’t go to homecoming, go see a movie. If you lost your job, enjoy the time off. If you’re facing a breakup, go do all of the things your ex didn’t like to do with you.

Sometimes things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.

You Can Start Fresh on Any Given Day

Today is the start of a new month, and soon we will be transitioning into a new season of when the sun rises and sets, as well, when we leave Daylight Saving Time behind this Sunday.

The start of each month signals the beginning of new possibilities: starting over in various aspects of life, starting a diet, resetting goals and plans to help you achieve them, and a number of other ways to hit the “play” button to get you back on track to where you want to be. While there aren’t necessarily monthly resolutions like people make at the onset of each new year, the first day of the month is often a solid starting point for a new objective.

Making changes in your life doesn’t have to come at the beginning of a new month or year, though—each new day you’re given is a new opportunity for growth and improvement.

You can change your life and your habits at any moment in time. It doesn’t have to be on January 1. It doesn’t have to be on the first day of the month. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be on a Monday to start the week off right. You can go after what you want and pursue your dreams now—there’s no reason to wait.

For me, I know that I’ve sometimes put things off so that I could start them later, when the timing was “better.” Even just the other day, I was thinking about how I needed to actually take my laundry out of the basket and put it away (my clean clothes have been sitting in it since Saturday). But it was late, and I was exhausted and thinking about how I needed to start getting more sleep. I said to myself, “I’ll start being more diligent about taking care of my tidiness and getting more sleep in November.”

But why was I set on waiting? Why wasn’t I committing to make that change right there in that moment?

I think that fear sometimes hold us back. We’re afraid of failing when we try to attain the goals we set out for ourselves. If I still can’t get my messes together and still can’t let my body get the sleep it requires, I’m failing myself. If I set a goal to go to the gym four times a week but only make it one or two, I’ve failed on my mission. If I set a resolution for 2019 to give up sweets (NEVER going to happen) but only make it to January 13 to have a cookie, I’ve already failed for the entire year, and so I have to wait until the next year to make that resolution again.

The truth is, though, that we’re all going to mess up. We all need mulligans every once in a while. And we don’t have to wait until the start of the next year or month or day or even the next hour to make the changes that we need to make in our lives now.

Don’t be afraid to set goals, and don’t be afraid to go after them in full force in this very moment. You don’t know how long you get on this earth, so seize every opportunity that you can.

And be bold enough to believe that you’re capable of achieving what you set out to do, knowing that failure doesn’t mean that you’ve failed forever.

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