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.

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.

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.

Find Your Courage, and Keep It

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I was never that girl who always had a boyfriend, and part of that is because I was never that girl who told guys how she felt.

I was the girl who held it all in but told her friends and posted hopelessly romantic Taylor Swift lyrics on Tumblr, hoping he would notice even though he was not on Tumblr. I put it out in the universe, OK? That should have been enough.

But it is, of course, not enough. If you go about your dating life this way, your crushes will at most only ever hear rumors or have suspicions that you like them. Or, even worst, your crush will be endlessly pestered by your friends—trust me, you do not want this.

Sure, if this were a rom-com (Did you all see To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before yet? It is a perfect film. PERFECT.), the boy in question would still make a move, but life isn’t quite a rom-com, and I don’t want you to live the way I did.

If you have feelings for someone, just tell him. Make your life easy. Why spend time pining over guys if they can just tell you upfront to move on? Why spend time pining if you could be together right now if his feelings are the same?

I know it’s scary. I know you don’t want to hurt. But, at a certain point, you have to make a decision either to move on or to make a move. Do not waste time sitting on the sidelines hoping someone will finally make the call to put you in the game.

I had one moment of bravery in high school. I was sitting in my last class for the day, and I suddenly decided that enough was enough. I knew the guy I liked had feelings for me, but he had done nothing about it. He hadn’t asked me out. He hadn’t confessed that he liked me. I felt like I was being strung along. and it was time to do something about it.

The bell rang, and I burst out of class, speed walking through the halls. I was going to find him. I was going to confess that I liked him. I was going to tell him that I knew he liked me and that he needed to do something about it, or I was done. I was out. Out!

Unfortunately, this one single moment of bravery was abruptly snuffed out. I ran into a friend in the hall, and as I speed walked past him, he knew something was up. He slow jogged along with me and pestered me about what my rush was. I confidently told him what I was about to do.

I don’t recall what he said that made me stop my crazed run through the hall—I’m sure just about anything would have worked since it took so much just to get my courage up to that point.

I sadly listened to my friend as he talked me out of my brave act, and I went on pining and moping for another few months. That friend was genuinely trying to look out for me, but that confrontation and confession was something I needed to do. It was something I would have been proud to do.

Ladies, take control of your lives. Yes, it’s scary when feelings are on the line, but how much better would it be if you could either have those feelings returned or get the answer you need to find someone who is a good fit for you?

Be brave.

And once you have that courage, don’t let anyone take it away from you.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

Seeing as how we shared a quote from Chip Gaines on our social media pages last week, it may come as no surprise to you that I am a huge fan of the Gaines family.

A few years ago, I had no idea who Chip and Joanna Gaines were. I saw their photos all over magazines in line at the grocery store, but all I knew was that they were on HGTV. I was a little surprised that a couple on that channel was of interest to news tabloids (though today it’s not surprising at all), but other than that, I thought nothing of them.

Then I became aware that they were under attack for the church they attended. After that I began to pay a little more attention to them; as a Christian myself, it’s always interesting to see how others—especially those in the spotlight—handle those types of situations.

At some point last year, I became completely enamored with this joyful and delightful couple. I loved watching their show. I loved Joanna’s Target line. It was beyond just liking their style or products. I grew to respect them as people. I loved that they involved their kids in their work. I loved that they worked hard as a family. I loved that Chip was always bringing animals home. I loved that they lived on a farm. I began to think that maybe my own similar dreams were possible.

After reading their books, The Magnolia Story and Capital Gaines (OK, I lied—I am still in the middle of the latter), I respected Chip and Joanna even more upon learning about how they’ve reached the level of success they have today.

I think, in the back of our minds, we can sometimes make excuses for why some people are successful—as if to make excuses for why we aren’t or why we can’t reach that same level of success. We think, “Oh, well that’s because they had money to begin with” or “Well, they knew people in the industry.”

What I love about the “Magnolia story,” if you will, is how honest the Gaines are about what it took to get where they are. This couple took risks to see their dreams come to fruition, and it worked because they weren’t fearful of failure. They saw failure as a learning opportunity and never as something to be ashamed of.

Taking risks is something I’ve always feared because, ultimately, I didn’t see failure as acceptable. To fail, in my mind, was to be not good enough or to have not worked hard enough.

Chip and Joanna have given me an amazing gift. They’ve helped me understand that sometimes failure is out of our control, and there are times when it’s actually necessary to experience failure in order to learn the life lessons needed to accomplish greater feats.

Whatever your dream is in this life, go for it. Do not be afraid of failure. Keep running after it until it’s in your grasp. Do not let fear intimidate you or cause you to second-guess your abilities. Life is far too short not to achieve all you can.

Chip and Joanna worked hard to make their dreams and goals a reality. You can, too.


What are your dreams? What risks are necessary to make those dreams come true?

Not Killing People with Kindness


Most of us have probably heard the expression “just kill them with kindness,” but I don’t really like that expression, mainly because of the word “kill.” I think I would prefer it to be something like “just show people love, no matter what.”

It’s highly possible that I’m overthinking a small expression that’s probably simply supposed to mean killing the meanness until it becomes ineffective or causes mean people actually to be nice, but I like to spin it to make it more positive—I mean, if you’re going to claim to be kind, go all the way in.

I think genuine kindness isn’t shown as often as it should be, and the only people who can change that are people. If someone is trailing you on the way into a building, it doesn’t take much time (maybe two or three seconds) to hold the door so that it doesn’t slam in the individual’s face. I promise it won’t make you any later than you already are or any more on time than you were going to be. Two or three seconds don’t have that much impact on tardiness.

But they have heavy impact on how you can make others feel.

There are a tremendous amount of opportunities in every single minute of every single day to show people kindness. Yes, it does become more difficult when others are rude or downright evil toward you or someone you truly care about, but that doesn’t make it necessary for you to act the same way. This is when the whole “loving people no matter what” comes into play.

Don’t try to kill a person with kindness—try to love him or her with it, instead.

There have been instances in my life in which I’ve been treated badly, and I can’t say that I’ve always responded in the best ways possible. Let’s be real here, shall we? Being nice is really challenging at times. It’s much easier to throw every ounce of kindness you think you might have out the window and say what’s really on your mind.

What I’ve learned, though, is that when you let your heart be transformed by love, those mean thoughts won’t last very long, and you’ll realize that the mean things that people say to you often have nothing to do with you at all. The mistreatment that you receive is likely the result of someone else going through something trying and painful, and you just happen to be getting the brunt of it all. No, that doesn’t make it justifiable, but perhaps it might give you a bit more empathy to extend love and grace rather than fire back with quick-witted and spiteful remarks.

They might be great burns that seem pretty clever, but they could also do more damage to a person who’s already in need of more love than you’ll ever know.

I faced a recent situation that gave me enough time for a choice: I could say what I was thinking (which certainly didn’t have kindness written all over it), or I could show that person the same amount of grace and mercy that God shows me every single day. Thankfully, I chose the latter, and I didn’t say what was on my mind—I said what was on my heart, instead.

I walked away feeling better than I would have if I had said something on an equal level as the other person, and I can only hope that the other person did, as well. As Cady Heron said during her epic mathletes moment, “calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier, calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter, and ruining Regina George’s life didn’t make [Cady] any happier.”

It doesn’t make you weak or cowardly not to fire back insults at someone or be mean to someone who’s mean to you. It’s brave to show love when it’s easier to show hate. It’s brave to love someone who seems almost unlovable. It’s brave to let love take over your heart and do the talking for you.

So don’t worry about killing people with kindness—just love them, and the kindness will come naturally.

Finding Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

As I write this, the Holy Fire in Southern California is blazing away not far from my parents’ backyard.

I hope, hope, hope, and pray that by the time this is published the fire is mostly contained or completely extinguished.

My heart breaks thinking about all of the wildlife being displaced, fighting for their lives. My heart breaks thinking about all of the people who have had to face the question of “What in my home can I not live without?”

My heart breaks for the people who have had to make the hard decision of what precious memories are to be left behind in homes they may not be able to return to. My heart breaks for the people who didn’t even have that option.

I cannot fathom how anybody could commit such an act that could cause so much pain. I cannot fathom how anybody could purposely cause such mayhem and destruction.

For those of you who have had to face tragedy, I cannot possibly know what you have gone through. You are far braver than I am.

We will all inevitably face some tragedy in our lives. We will all lose people we love. We will all go through hardships and trials.

In those times of darkness, it is so vital that we cling to the love in our lives. Think of those who give you purpose. Think of those who need you.

You could lose all of your possessions in a fire, but so long as you have loved ones and people to cling to, you’re going to be OK.

And, if you feel alone, I urge you to find a community to help you as you rebuild your life. Find it in a church or a support group. Find it through volunteer work.

It’s people who can bring us those first flutters of that “everything is going to be alright” feeling. In your darkest times, don’t hide. Don’t push people away. Cling to them. Let them in.

Don’t push hope away.

Be Brave Enough to Pursue Your Dreams


It’s really easy to get comfortable and set in your ways—there’s safety and familiarity in the areas of life that you know well.

But what about those places and situations with which you aren’t familiar but want to be? What about those dreams you have that seem pretty unattainable on many levels—the ones that you put in the back of your heart as dreams that are too big and too lofty ever to happen?

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a lot of different things. At one point, I thought I was going to be an Olympic sprinter. That wasn’t exactly in my DNA or natural talent bank. I now run only long distances, and I’m nowhere near the Olympics. I also considered being a well-known singer or gymnast, but the sounds that my voice produces in song are not ones that would sell records to anyone with ears, and I was essentially asked by my instructor to leave my gymnastics class because I was so awful.

So, no, not all dreams come true. But if I had spent every single day doing sprint workouts on the track or taking voice lessons or ignored my instructors comments and committed to actually being able to complete at least a straight cartwheel, then maybe my story would have involved some different dreams. But, to be perfectly honest, my heart was never fully committed to those pursuits.

There was something about writing, though, that I always loved. The more I wrote, the more I dreamed about writing more. When I was in second grade, I published my first book (granted, it was in my school’s library, but still—I was a published author, and I was proud of it). I used to write songs and poems and stories that only I ever read, but I knew that one day my words would mean something to more people than just my hopeless-romantic teenage self.

I studied journalism in college in hopes of becoming a sports reporter. I had been watching SportsCenter for years and admired the different anchors and sidelines reporters, especially the women. I wanted to do what they did in the written form, and I wanted young women to see my words and know that they were just as capable of chasing and achieving their dreams in what was largely a man’s arena in the world.

During my junior year of college, I took a sports reporting class from a professor who quite apparently was of the mindset that women weren’t as qualified as men when it came to knowing and writing about sports. Up until that point, I had never made less than an A on any type of assignment in any of my journalism classes. I don’t mean this to sound boastful, but it was something I was good at doing. I had been covering sports as a beat reporter for multiple sports since I was in high school, and I knew that I was capable and competent. This professor, however, tried to tell me differently.

I went to his office one afternoon to discuss a grade he had given me on a story, and he essentially told me that I wasn’t any good and that I should consider changing my major and my intended career path. When I became a sports reporter as my first job out of college, I emailed him my first story that I wrote.

Your dreams are your dreams, and nobody can tell you that they’re too big or too small or that they’re anything other than your dreams. You are capable of achieving more than you might even know right now—so let yourself dream big. Sure, not every single hope you have for your future will come true, but the long process of training or working hard or doing whatever you can to accomplish what you desire will grow your character and make you a stronger person just for being brave and having enough faith to try.

Don’t be afraid to go boldly after your dreams—after all, they won’t become realities unless you dare to make them come true.

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