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.

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.

Trust Life’s Unexpected Turns

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There will come a time in your life when something unexpected happens that changes the route your life was previously on. In fact, odds are that this will happen multiple times.

When I was a freshman in college, I had plans to be a big-time political news commentator. I had big opinions, and I wanted them to be heard—I wanted to make a difference. I was thrilled when I began chasing that dream by writing a political column for the school paper.

It only took a year for this dream to be squashed. It was a year of tears and isolation as I realized that people who share big opinions are not looked on kindly by people with opposing opinions.

Then I was told that I would not be needed back as a political commentator for the next school year. I was crushed. My dream began to unravel at the seams. Was I not a good writer? Was it my content? Was it my beliefs? My confidence spiraled.

Though this unexpected event crushed me, it was actually a blessing in disguise. That year writing publicly about politics was actually a horrible experience for me, a perpetual people pleaser. Knowing that half of the school population disliked me for my opinions was my worst nightmare.

Throughout the year, there had been other red flags that this was not a lifestyle I wanted to pursue. Not being invited back to the paper was the final kick I needed to realize that being in the spotlight was not for me. I didn’t need to grow a thicker skin. I needed to find a new career.

Since then, things have definitely improved. I found a better calling in public relations and marketing fields. I still get to write, I’ve been able to work on political campaigns, and best of all, I don’t have to cringe when opening my inbox wondering if I’ve received any hate mail.

Recently, my husband and I moved from California to Nebraska. That was another huge life change that was rather unexpected. I had no plans to leave our shiny new Southern California apartment. I had no plans to leave my first real full-time job. I had no plans to leave my family (whom we had just finally moved near).

But life happened, and just a little more than a year after starting the life of my dreams, we packed everything up and moved halfway across the country.

At first, I just wasn’t sure what God’s plan was other than us saving some money. But, only six months into our new lives, I’ve realized that this is once again a blessing in disguise.

Moving gave us the ability to buy a home (something we wouldn’t have been able to do in California for years and years), flex my creative writing skills, fall in love and raise an adorable Border Collie puppy, and I just found an amazing new job that is exactly the type of place I’ve wanted to work since I decided to move into the public relations field.

Listen, there will be times in your life when you will think, “Come on, God—what are You doing?” Those are usually the times when you will grow the most and become the person you need to be for the next season of your life—a season that might just be better than the previous.

Embrace those unexpected turns or roadblocks in your life. They will probably lead you somewhere you never considered going before—somewhere you might be glad you found.

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?

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.

Facing Rejection Like a Champ

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I know it’s trashy, but I live for my weekly viewing of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, or—the king of them all—Bachelor in Paradise.

Maybe it’s because I live a boring and drama-free life compared to the people who go on these shows, but sometimes after a stressful week, nothing can make you feel better about your own life than watching guys or girls (depending on whether it’s a bachelor or bachelorette time of year) lose their minds over a love interest they barely know.

I find the most common thought I have (or statement yelled at the TV) while viewing is “why are you crying? It’s OK!”

Especially early on in the seasons, it’s a little silly when contestants start crying when they aren’t chosen to continue on to the next week of dates.

The thing is, these contestants aren’t crying because they are brokenhearted over losing a chance with the bachelor or bachelorette; they’re crying because they’re facing rejection.

Rejection is a tricky emotion. It can manipulate you into thinking you care about something you really don’t. It can trick you into thinking you have feelings for someone you don’t.

This happened to me as a teen. I was not happy in a relationship, but once I was the one facing rejection, I did everything in my power to get the guy back because I thought those feelings of rejection were something that they weren’t.

Just because those feelings of sadness aren’t real feelings for a person or for something in your life (maybe it’s a job offer or not being included by a friend), that doesn’t mean those feelings of rejection don’t hurt. They hurt a lot! That’s why it’s all so confusing.

The pain is still very real and has to be dealt with. The key to accepting rejection in a healthier and less painful way is to change your perspective.

The reason people cry when they’re rejected on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is because they compare themselves to all of those other candidates who were chosen to continue on. They think they don’t stack up compared to them. Perhaps the girls are prettier or funnier. Perhaps the guys are more attractive or have more appealing careers.

This way of thinking is toxic and completely the wrong way to look at it—that’s why I end up yelling at the TV, “Why are you crying?!”

It’s not because I think they shouldn’t be sad; of course they should be. It’s extremely disappointing to be sent home, but they usually start spouting off a bunch of self-deprecating, pity-me comments about how they don’t understand what the remaining contestants have that they don’t.

That’s the thing—it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what those candidates might have that the person crying in the back seat of the limo doesn’t.

What should matter is that it wasn’t a love connection. Those remaining people just click a little better with whoever is handing out the roses that season. They are by no means better people than the ones being sent home (well, most of the time!); they just are better matches.

It’s the same with being rejected after a job interview. Whoever got the job isn’t better than you; that person just fits better with the position you both were vying for.

It doesn’t make the rejection sting less or make it any less disappointing, but it can keep you from losing your confidence or being too hard on yourself if you think of rejection as more of a two-way street.

Even if you are going through a time in your life when you feel like you’re facing rejection in the dating world, in your career, or amongst your friends or family, think of it as a saving grace.

Chances are that, if you’re being rejected from something, it probably isn’t a good fit, and that rejection is saving you from a possibly miserable situation dating someone you wouldn’t be happy with, working in a job you’d hate, or spending time with someone you maybe shouldn’t.

Rejection never means someone is better than you. We all have different flaws and strengths. Rejection just means someone may be a better fit than you for that particular situation.

It means you probably have something way better out there waiting for you. And isn’t that worth celebrating?

 

Some Advice for College Freshmen

My Post (34).jpgAs we close out our Fourth of July celebrations and the end of summer looms closer, many of you will be about to head off to college.

College is an amazing—but sometimes horrifying—time to grow and figure out who you want to be in this life. As someone who didn’t enjoy or take advantage of her time in college, here are some pieces of advice so that you, hopefully, won’t make the same mistakes I did.

You don’t have to be BFFs with your roommates.

I moved into a triple dorm room during my freshman year. I was so excited. Two automatic friends instead of just one, right?

Unfortunately, in my case, the other two girls became best friends, and I felt odd for not fitting in. I wish I would have realized at the time that it was completely OK. You cannot get along or be best friends with everyone. You do not have to be BFFs with your roommates. There is nothing wrong with you if you don’t click with them. Just be nice and courteous; that’s all that really matters.

Join clubs, and find your people.

You may get lucky and find your new friend group right in your dorm building, but even if so, college is the time to get involved and discover your interests.

Go to your campus’ club showcase, and sign up for a few clubs that match your general interests. Try them out, and then narrow it down to one ot two that really excite you. This is also a great way to figure out what you may want to do career-wise.

Be a little silly.

College is the last stop before adulthood responsibilities set in. Sure, there’s a lot you still have to be responsible for in college—definitely more so than when you’re in high school—but paying rent sure is less stressful when you don’t have student loans to pay!

Make sure that, in between studying and internships, you remember to have some fun. You won’t always have hour breaks in the middle of your day or Fridays off.

You will fail, but don’t give up.

During your freshmen year of college, you will probably end up failing in some way. Classes are harder than they were in high school (or at least they should be), professors aren’t quite as accessible (especially if you attend a large university), and it may be hard to be without your family and friends from back home.

Don’t give up when you mess up. Learn from those mistakes, and keep going. Some mistakes may even cause you to rethink your major. Give it time before you make any drastic changes. Easy roads are not necessarily better.

Spend Wisely!

Money, money, money. If you’re moving away for college, my No. 1 piece of advice to you is to start saving now. Shop as cheaply as you can, and try to avoid unnecessary entertainment or eating out costs. Come up with a reward system so that you don’t miss out on something you really want, while still putting money away for the next year. You’ll thank yourself later.

Don’t compare.

When you’re in classes with people all competing for similar career goals, it becomes easy to compare yourself to your classmates’ progress. Comparison is never a good idea, but it can be especially harmful if you fall into that trap during your freshman year. You don’t want it to become a habit.

Everyone will have different career successes and majors. Don’t compare. You’re each on your own special path to reach your goals.

Stick to your beliefs and convictions.

College campuses are a bit tricky today. There will inevitably be some unpopular opinions that won’t be “cool” or even seen as acceptable to have. You might completely agree with the majority, or you could be in the minority.

Wherever you lie, I challenge you to research your own beliefs and convictions if you begin to have doubts. We should always strive to become more knowledgeable about what we believe and what the alternatives may be, but don’t change just because people tell you you’re wrong. You’re better and stronger than that. Look into the issue for yourself. Do the research. Present your case. Come to your own conclusions.

Make up your own mind. Don’t follow just to follow.

Stay in touch with your people back home.  

Lastly, stay in touch with your friends and loved ones back home or who have left on their own college adventures. You’re going to miss them a lot—especially in your first year. Send handwritten notes and sweet texts, and call or FaceTime whenever you can.

After all, they miss you, too.

10 Ways You’ll Know You’ve Found “the One”

10 ways you'll know you've found the one. Couple on the beach.Everybody’s version of “the one” is different. Your right person won’t be the same as another’s, but these tips can help you know what to look for in a partner.

1. Conversation comes easy.

When you find the right person, conversation is easy—it’s not just a chick flick trope! Sure, it might be awkward at first (like all first dates and initial moments with crushes can be), but when you find the right person, you’ll have just enough things in common for the conversation to naturally flow. It doesn’t feel forced like it can when you’re with someone who’s wrong for you.

2. You won’t want to play games.

I didn’t necessarily “play games” when I was single, but when I was with the wrong person, I tended to find myself wanting to see how far I could push the envelope on certain things. What happens if I don’t text him back right away? Will he be concerned? What happens if I tell him he doesn’t text me enough? Will he step up? These are thoughts I did not want to see played out when I began dating my now-husband. I didn’t want to push any boundaries, and I didn’t want to see how far I could push before he pulled away—because I didn’t want to risk him pulling away. Maybe I just matured, but I think, really, he was just the first person I knew I couldn’t risk losing. With the others, I wanted to see if I could lose them in order to see if they were the one, but when I met the one, it wasn’t even worth the risk to check.

3. You can hang out doing separate things and still be totally happy.

At the beginning of a relationship, it’s normal to want to do everything together, but a relationship becomes really strong when you can be completely comfortable in silence or doing separate things. Sometimes it’s nice just to know the other person is in the same room as you—even if he’s playing video games, and you’re catching up on The Bachelorette.

4. You may have separate interests, but you still support one another.

You don’t have to have the same passions—though I do think having the same values and belief systems is incredibly important—but love means you support one another’s passions. You don’t have to be in the same clubs or in the same professions, but you still root for each other and care about each other’s accomplishments and failures in these areas.

5. You have fun together doing absolutely nothing.

It’s easy to see why people on shows like The Bachelor fall in love so easily when they’re off on grand adventures, but you know you’ve found the one when you can have fun with him doing mundane tasks like grocery shopping or even doing absolutely nothing. That’s true love.

6. You feel like you are enough as you are.

When you’re with the right person, you never question if you’re enough for him. Sure, you want to better yourself, but the way he treats you assures you that you are all he needs in a partner. You’re confident in that. You’re safe in that.

7. All of your future plans include him.

When you’ve found the one, all of your future plans slowly start to change as you add him into the equation. Eventually, you can’t picture a future without him.

8. Hard times aren’t all that bad.

When you’re with the right person, hard times won’t drive you apart but, instead, strengthen you. You can lean on each other, and in the words of Taylor Swift, you can trust that he’s going to be there even “when it’s hard, or it’s wrong, or you’re making mistakes.”

9. You want to be a better person.

As mentioned in No. 6, the right person makes you a better person. You work on improving your not-so-nice traits. You try to be the best partner you can be. This includes always looking for ways to serve the other person. It could be simple tasks like taking over one of his chores when he’s having a rough day or sacrificing time to go see a band he likes (and you maybe don’t) perform.

10. You love with understanding and forgiveness.

Nobody is perfect. Even “the one” will not be perfect—he’s a human being, after all. You know you’re with the right person when you can see past those imperfections, when you love unconditionally, and when you know forgiveness comes before being right.

 

Having It All: Career, Love, and Family

Having it all: career, love, and family. Girl in field.Women are under extraordinary pressure today to “have it all.” To have the dream job, to raise not only well-behaved but also gifted children, to keep the house in order, and to keep up their appearances.

Some women believe “having it all” is possible; some do not. In reality, the definition of “having it all” needs to change.

We are not cookie-cutter personalities. All women do not have the same dream. Some are ambitious and want to rise to the top in their careers. Others dream of being homemakers—which is never something other women should criticize. Others want something in the middle.

Yet, today—and this happens to young men, too—young women seem to be funneled into the same path: College. Career. Marriage. Family. If you stray from this path, there is a societal pressure and mindset that you have failed.

The thing is, society’s standard does not equate to a happy life. In fact, meeting that standard is practically impossible even if you have a personality type that would thrive in that lifestyle!

There are only so many hours in a day, and the reality is that you cannot “have it all” in the way society has defined it.

I’ll never forget the quiet realization that fell over my global communications class during a Q&A with some successful guest journalists several years ago. These were the type of journalists who are out there living the dream. They traveled to far off places, spoke with amazing people, and really experienced life on a global scale.

We were all off in daydreams picturing romanticized views of their lifestyles when someone asked how it affected their relationships back home.

A girl sitting behind me scoffed loudly at the question. She was the career type. She thought the question was immature and inappropriate.

The girl who asked the question was smart, though. She was clearly not completely career-focused. She wanted to know if this type of journalism was something she could actually do and be happy with.

As it turns out, everyone’s romanticized view of the job was quickly shattered; one journalist shared she was single and had never married, and two others shared they had both been divorced—though they had found love with one another.

Our teacher, also a traveling journalist, confirmed the same: she had trouble making relationships work as well because of her job.  

For these journalists, their careers took priority. They no doubt have amazing lives, amazing stories, and success, but because of how much they have to travel, they have had to sacrifice relationships and marriages.

The students were rather quiet as they considered if that’s something they could do.

There is no right or wrong answer for what you choose to pursue in your life, but you have to be honest with yourself. What does your “having it all” look like? What will you have to sacrifice to get there?

Your “all” does not need to look like someone else’s. If you want to be a stay-at-home mom, do it. If you don’t want kids, that’s OK, too. If you want a meaningful career and a family, you’ll find a way to balance it.

We can’t be everything. So just be who you want to be.

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