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 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.

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.

Don’t Miss Out Because You’re Afraid to Miss Out


There are so many things that happen in our world today that it can certainly be easy to feel like you’re missing out on some pretty incredible events and activities.

FOMO is real, people.

But one of the big problems with being afraid that you’re missing out on the people and places where you are not is that it ends up causing you to miss out on the moments that you could experience with the people and in the places where you actually are.

When I first moved to California more than a year ago, it was a really difficult transition for me. I had lived in Dallas for my entire life up until that point (not counting the years when I was at college at Texas A&M University), and I knew exactly zero people in my new city. It was a sad realization to me that I had just left behind all of my friends and family and more memories than I could count.

I scrolled through Instagram way too often, each time feeling more and more disheartened by all of the fun my friends back in Texas were having without me. My heart ached to be there with them and experience all of the joy and merriment that they seemed to be having. I wanted to remember what that felt like, even though I probably rarely acknowledged those emotions when I was in the midst of it all.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that, by longing for the people and moments that weren’t in my life at the time, I was neglecting to notice all of the new memories that I could be creating right where I was. There were—and still are—so many places to go and people to meet where I am now, and it was silly for me to sit around sulking about what I wasn’t doing.

Don’t worry about where you aren’t—instead, focus on where you are.

I often find myself succumbing to FOMO not only in tangible moments of my life but also in the seasons in which I find myself. For me, singleness has been somewhat of an ongoing era (as in, it never ends), and there have definitely been times when I haven’t been content with that status. Rather than embrace the lot in life I currently have, I often look at other people who are happily married or dating or whatever, and I long to have that time of companionship. If I’m being perfectly honest, it actually physically hurts my heart to think that I might never find it.

But if I spend so much time letting my mind wander to what is not, then I’m missing out on some pretty incredible opportunities that God has given me to use this time of singleness for His purposes. I may not be in love, but I can still love others well. I may not be in a relationship, but I can still build relationships with the individuals placed in my life. I may not have one hand to hold, but I can still join hands with others as we strive toward common causes. I may not have certain prayers answered as I wish, but I can still boldly pray on the behalf of myself and on behalf of others with the faith that He has everything under control.

Don’t worry so much about missing out on life—otherwise you’ll actually miss out on life.

Sometimes You Have to Do Things on Your Own

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I’ve been very fortunate to always have people in my life whom I can count on in moments of panic or desperation. Usually these type of moments arrive when an emergency light turns on in my car, as was the case last week.

The events of the week were a big wake-up call for me. First came the car emergency light, and a day later I woke up so sick that doing anything other than lying down resulted in feeling faint and getting sick to my stomach.

In both cases, for the first time in a while, I was on my own. When the car emergency light came on, I was on my morning drive to work. When I called my husband for help, he didn’t answer because he, too, was driving.

I tried calling my dad (a low move on my part because he lives in a time zone two hours behind mine), but he had his phone off because it was, you know, not even 6 a.m. his time.

I had to figure it out for myself—and I did. When my husband and dad both returned my calls later, it felt good to tell them that I had taken care of the situation (with some help from kind people at a tire shop).

The very next morning, I faced the same challenge. My husband had left the evening before on a business trip, so it was just the dog and me. I woke up feeling unbelievably dizzy—so dizzy that I could hardly sit up in bed. I had to call in to work because I couldn’t imagine driving with the world spinning as it was.

As the day went on, it became clear that I needed to get to the doctor’s office. The problem was that I couldn’t drive, and all of the people whom I would normally call were out of town or states and states away.

I’m not going to lie: I broke down in tears and threw myself a pity party for quite a bit. But then I finally got my act together, called an Uber, and got myself down to the doctor’s office.

While it was a horrible two days of feeling rather alone, it was a lesson I needed. It was a reminder that I can successfully do things on my own—even when I think I can’t.

Sometimes we just need that reminder that, even when there’s no one around us, there’s an inner strength that can be called upon.

We need other people in our lives. We need love. We need care. But we also need to be able to rely on ourselves. We need to know that we’ll be OK even if there’s no help to be found.

Don’t let times like this bring you down—let them, instead, remind you of how strong you are.

 

Let Yourself Receive Compliments


I’m not exactly sure why, but sometimes it’s difficult for us to hear good things about ourselves—it’s as if compliments are only meant to be given and not received.

I can’t really explain why this is a thing. I love encouraging people and telling them all of the qualities they have that make them wonderful. I love seeing smiles dance across their faces when they realize that other people notice those traits about them. Yet, for some reason, I feel weird when I receive compliments.

I struggled for many years thinking that I wasn’t enough—not pretty enough for guys to be interested in me, not talented enough for various activities, not capable enough to achieve certain goals, and simply not enough for anyone or anything. I don’t know if it’s believing those lies for so long that led me to be uncomfortable with compliments, but it’s possibly a root cause.

Here’s something that you should know, though: It’s perfectly OK to let yourself be complimented—it might even actually be healthy.

No, you don’t need to fish for compliments (this is often something many people tend to do when they are feeling insecure), but it is important to be comfortable with letting other people offer you words of affirmation.

Letting people remind you that you’re enough.

Letting people remind you that you are worth more than you know.

Letting people remind you that you matter.

And letting people remind you that they see you for the person you are, and they still love you.

My boss recently told me how great of an asset I am to our team and how thankful he is that I came to work for the company—that I’ve already changed the culture there and provided tremendous value to the work we do. I felt myself start to squirm mentally, but then I decided to accept his words as truth and let them engrain themselves into my own belief. Because I needed to remind myself that I’m enough.

And so are you.

Don’t make excuses or blame your successes and positive characteristics on luck or say they are results of accidents of some sort. Instead, say “thank you,” and believe that the affirmation you’re hearing is full of genuine truth.

Compliments are meant to be given, but that means that people also have to receive them. Every once in a while, let yourself be one of those recipients. You don’t have to become a narcissist (after all, Taylor Swift says that she never trusts one), but you can let yourself be reminded of the good things about you and the positive qualities that you bring to the lives of others.

You are uniquely you for a reason, and there’s nothing wrong with letting the encouragement and uplifting words of others further affirm the remarkable treasure you are.

Don’t Lose Yourself While Trying to Find Yourself


As you’re growing up and learning more about life and how you fit in this world, it can be easy to stray away from your true identity while you’re trying to figure out who you really are.

Sometimes we tend to let other people influence our likes and dislikes. I wish that I could say I’ve never done this, but that would be a lie. When I was in college, I was in that stage in which I was starting to fall for a guy who was one of my good friends, and I suddenly found myself listening mainly to the kind of music he liked and not as much to the country tunes that I actually preferred. Sure, I did actually like the songs he liked, but I then started only listening to those bands and those genres rather than paying attention to what I wanted to hear.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation—suddenly thinking that the things you find interest in aren’t really as great as you once thought they were? That maybe you should learn to like more of the things that the people around you like? If that’s the case, please know that you’re not alone. Sadly, most of us probably do this way more than we would care to admit.

Even when I started off in my first career as a sports reporter, I thought that I had to act or present myself a certain way in order to be accepted and respected, especially because I was a woman in a male-dominated profession. I wish that the younger version of me would have understood that losing my own identity in order to try to be someone I definitely wasn’t was a horrible idea.

When I fell really hard for a guy who broke my heart, I sometimes found myself hesitant to let certain things about me be made known to him simply because I thought that he was looking for something—or someone—completely different. That’s not a healthy way to move toward what you want to be a genuine relationship.

I’m proud of the person I am today, flaws and all, and I’m glad that I don’t have to hide who I am or strive to impress others by changing my likes and dislikes. I don’t like chocolate. I don’t like marinara sauce, so I don’t like most pizzas. I eat Wheat Thins with everything. I put ketchup on almost anything. I would rather watch sports all day than anything else on television. I hate snow. I’m morally opposed to fantasy football. I’m a virgin who has only kissed one guy, so my experience level is near zero. I have an unashamed love for country music. I can’t stand Star Wars.

Ladies, don’t ever try to hide the things that make you you, and don’t try to create an image of you that isn’t actually you. Growing up isn’t always easy, and there will be times in life when you really are trying to figure out who you are and where you belong in this world—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s natural. But don’t soil that time of discovery and the experiences you have along the way with false pretenses that you have to force yourself to feel or believe.

To revert back to those glorious carefree days of childhood, Grandmother Willow said it best in Pocahontas: “Listen with your heart, and you will understand.” Let your heart be what guides you in your journey to discovering who you are.

Because if you lose yourself while you’re trying to learn more about who you are, then you’ll never know or become the real you you’re meant to be.

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