Advice Even a Professional Public Speaker Needed: Accept Praise

Accept praise. Microphone with blurred out background.

When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to be a big-time political news commentator. This was mostly in part due to my love of writing and my exposure to Dana Perino on my mom’s news shows that were always on 24/7.

Dana Perino at a speaking engagement. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Regardless of your political leanings, Dana—former White House press secretary—is a practical angel in the world of politics. When seeing her on TV, I was always so drawn to her ability to speak intelligently, debate firmly when necessary, but ultimately still come off so likable and kind, even to those she disagreed with. I saw myself in her—mostly in her naiveness at times to the rowdy humor her co-hosts took part in.

While I have switched gears in my career path—hey, you never know, maybe someday I’ll switch back—I still very much admire Perino, and I recently finished her book And the Good News Is…

Within its pages, Perino shares her favorite memories from childhood on her grandparents’ ranch to how she started her career, met her husband, and took a leap for love and shares stories of her time working in the Bush administration and her life now working on a daily news program.

While Perino shares many important insights for young women—and young men—throughout her book, there was one story in particular that stood out to me.

Perino was at a press awards dinner standing in as acting press secretary. As such, she was seated at the head table and recognized by the emcee. She said this of the encounter:

“I kind of half stood, barely looked up, and gave a little nod. I felt shy and like I didn’t really belong there, anyway—I was only the acting press secretary.”

This passage caught my attention because sometimes it feels like our emotions are completely unique. Sometimes I think there can’t be another human being alive that would react as strangely or awkwardly as I do to praise. Yet there it was, smack in the last chapter of a book by an extremely accomplished woman—a recognizable emotion I thought no one like her would ever have. She works in the spotlight for a living, after all!

Luckily for Perino, former United States Senator from Virginia John Warner gave her some advice later that evening. He reminded her that she did indeed belong at the event—she worked hard to get there—and in the future, she should allow the crowd to applaud her and thank them with a smile and wave.

“They want to be happy for you,” Perino quotes him as saying. “Let them have a moment.”

What a concept. I can’t even stand when people sing Happy Birthday to me because I feel too strange in the spotlight. I get in my head, Oh, don’t smile, I think, Don’t look too happy. Don’t let people think you’re reveling in the spotlight. Don’t let them think you like attention.

Where on earth do these thoughts come from? Of course, I should smile! My family and loved ones—or a random waitstaff at a really bad chain restaurant—are celebrating the fact that I exist! Is that not something to be happy about?

The only day I’ve ever really allowed myself to enjoy the spotlight was my wedding day. I remember walking down the aisle toward my future husband and taking a moment to look in the crowd of people I was passing. They were all smiling warmly at me. I should have been HORRIFIED. But not that time; I smiled and waved back. Even at that moment when a million other thoughts were going through my head, I still had time to think, this is weird. This is weird that I’m smiling back.

Ladies, I beg of you, do not do this to yourselves. There is a huge difference between hogging the spotlight and allowing yourself to enjoy it when you deserve it. Smile when people wish you a happy birthday. Say “thank you” when you are given praise at work; don’t offer some silly reason for why you succeeded instead.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be humble, but there’s a difference between being prideful and being proud of something you accomplished.

Let the achievements of your life be celebrated because whatever table you’ve worked your way up to, you deserve to be there.


Tyler’s Boldheart Story — How Rape Led to Redemption

From when I was a young age, God was talked about and prayed to often in my home. But He was not the cornerstone of my family’s foundation. I grew up Catholic. Sunday after Sunday, I loved to gain knowledge about God when I attended mass with my dad. However, I did not gain the spiritual disciplines of walking in relationship with Him, nor did I hear or come to understand the heart of the Gospel until years later.

Meet Tyler, a beautiful boldheart!

This surface-level knowledge about God made it easy to slip into walking in the ways of the world instead of committing my life to Him. From eighth grade into high school, I found validation in flirting my way into popularity, dedicating my time to partying, consuming myself with perfectionism, and priding myself on my independence. This all changed the summer before my junior year of high school. The best way to describe how the Lord graciously sobered me from all of those false outlets of pursuing a “satisfying” life was that He flipped my heart, much like a pancake. After one night of partying, I woke up and heard the Lord call me to life with Him. He put in my heart to attend a nondenominational church that I went to once before in the eighth grade when a friend invited me to a service similar to the Porch (a worship night for men and women in their 20s and 30s at a church in Dallas) but for eighth graders.

Shortly after I started attending this church regularly, I heard the Gospel for the first time, and it fell softly on my heart. I accepted that I am a sinner, and I need Jesus. No matter how I might try to tally up my works to prove otherwise, it was about Jesus dying for my sins and receiving His gift of grace to redeem me from those sins. I was secure in eternal life with God and began experiencing true life and joy by abiding in Him.

As I finished up high school, God was evidently clear in calling me to attend Texas Christian University for college. I spent three years at TCU, where I continued to walk and grow in my relationship with the Lord. I was then led out of state for the fall semester of my senior year to pursue a dream internship.

The day before my internship ended, I was raped by a coworker. I remember calling my best friend the next day to confide in her. Terrified to even verbalize the word “rape,” I vividly remember fighting through tears, and before I told her what happened, out came the words.

“Please still love me.”

I didn’t realize it then, but those words were absolutely reflective of the lies I immediately bought from the enemy: that I was unlovable, tainted beyond repair, marked with unredeemable shame, and forever shackled by what happened.

I was scared. I was confused. I did not see how what happened could be used by God. Plus, a huge way God showed me His protection through my wandering years of high school was by preserving my virginity, and here it was taken by abuse, which only led to more confusion. I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it. So I covered it up. I lied through my physical bruises and suppressed my emotional ones. I thought I couldn’t be loved by God because of the sin done against me, and I further believed that I was undeserving of God’s love because I responded to what happened by turning to sin as a way to cope.

I ventured back to TCU to wrap up my last semester of college, where I sought out alcohol as a means to escape reality. I jumped into a toxic relationship that I used as an excuse to Heisman my relationship with God. I shut down all feelings by slipping into a state of numbness, learning how to carry myself “well enough” without anyone recognizing that something was off.

It wasn’t until the Lord started knocking on my heart, rather loudly, that this stance of Heismaning God softened into falling to my knees. As I transitioned into adulthood and started work in Dallas, I was still pursuing everything this world had to offer as a distraction. I wasn’t ready to heal, but it was obvious that I no longer had a choice. The more I pursued the world, the more I found myself committing to my church and the Porch. I couldn’t help but finally have an open heart to hearing and seeing God’s pursuit of me through people, conversations, circumstances, church, community, and His word.

I had enough. I was tired of being haunted by what happened. I had no other option than to follow Him into a radical healing journey that would literally save my life and bring me to a place of experiencing God-given joy. Not only was I able to confess and be freed from the sin that had been done against me, but I was able to accept His gift of grace for the sin I pursued in coping with what happened.

Better yet, God has been gracious enough to reveal the purpose of how He is using my story for His glory and His Kingdom. Genesis 50:20 rings true—God does not just save a person; He saves a person to save people. The Lord has been gracious enough to open the doors for conversations and platforms to share my testimony so that I can, in turn, walk with other women who have similar stories.

I would not trade my story for anything, because it is marked with God’s grace, mercy, and overwhelming love that has only shown me more of who He is. And guess what? God has firmly refuted the lie I bought into that I couldn’t be loved by Him. I get to freely receive His unconditional and sacrificial love each and every day because He is a Healer, He is the Prince of Peace, the Ultimate Counselor, and a Mighty Protector.

Simply put, now I look back on my story and how God is actively using it, and all I see is love—His love for me, my love for Him, and the love He puts in me to love on His people.


Friendships and Growing Up

Friendship. Two girls at the beach.When I was in high school, I had a really fantastic group of friends. I felt so safe and comfortable with them, and the knowledge that we would all go our separate ways for college was really hard for me to come to terms with. Everyone told me we would lose touch.

People grow apart, that’s true, but I don’t think it’s something that has to occur. Friendships (like relationships) require a lot of work and effort. If you acknowledge and understand that every single one of your friends will change—and if you decide to love all of them no matter what—those friendships can adapt without growing apart.

You will naturally change as time goes on, too. You will meet new people, and you’ll find different friends who better fit with the stage of life you’re in. But, there is something so special about having people in your life who you’ve grown up with and who knew you during vital milestones in your life.

My friends from high school have all gone different directions in their lives. Some are working full time, some are in graduate school, some are still figuring out what they want to do in their lives. Some are single, some are dating, some are married. Our lives are all at different stages. Because of that, things are very different, but I think we’re all pretty good at understanding that we can change and still care about one another.

We might not think the same things are funny anymore. We might not have the same views. We might not like the same movies anymore or enjoy our old favorite hang out spots. But still, we can come together and reminisce and share about our new lives.

Many more changes will come as the years go by, but no matter how much my dear friends change (and how much I change), I will choose to love them. Love, like friendship, is very much a choice.

As your friends change, choose to embrace them and enjoy getting to know who they are now. It may at first hurt if the changes seem to be going a different direction than your own life or the lives you guys dreamed of during younger days, but it’s so much better to understand and support their new goals—unless it’s something that can harm them (but more on that at a later time).

Friendship, like any relationship, is a two-way street. Even if you love your friend through change and growth, if your friend doesn’t make time for you, then, unfortunately, it may be time for you to move on. Still, keep in touch when possible, but utilize your time on others who have the same love and respect for you!

And remember, friendships need constant love to thrive! Are there any old friends you can reach out to today? You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

There’s a word that you learn quite early on in life and become all too familiar with but then don’t necessarily use enough when you get older:

It can be a difficult word to say at times. Your friends want you to do something that maybe you don’t want to, and you might find yourself unable to utter this one little syllable that’s only two letters long. It’s so simple yet, for some reason, can’t seem to escape from your mouth.

“No” isn’t always a popular word, especially when you’re a teenager. (Depending on your personality, it might also not be very common in your vocabulary when you’re an adult, either.) What I’ve learned over the years—and sometimes the hard way—is that “no” is sometimes the best thing you can say, and you don’t even need to add on an explanation with it.

Want a drink?

Take a hit of this.

Come on, it’s just sex.

Those are only a few stereotypical examples, but they exist for a reason. You aren’t required to be who other people want you to be. You can be the you you want to be—and you can so “no” to the things that you know will keep you from authentically being her.

And you don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Sometimes I think toddlers have the right idea. They don’t seem to care at all what other people think of them, and they march to the beats of their own drums. You try telling a little tot to do something he or she doesn’t want to do, and it’s very likely you’ll get one response: no. There’s no reasoning as to why or any excuses offered—just that simple word that carries so much emphatic power.

I remember when I was a senior in high school and at a party, and a guy came up to me with a drink and said something along the lines of “I just want to see you take one sip—just one—so that I can say that I saw you drink before we graduate.” I kind of laughed and then said that word “no” and walked away to go chat with some of my friends.

It felt good.

The choices you make are yours. They’re not your friends’, they’re not your boyfriend’s, and they’re certainly not some guy’s who just really wants to see you take a sip of alcohol.

This word “no” is especially important to remember when it comes to your body. There’s a lot of pressure in this world for individuals to have sex before they’re really ready. There’s no mandatory timeline saying that you can’t be a virgin when you graduate high school or college or when you turn 30 or 50, for that matter. Don’t do something just because someone else wants you to or because you’re afraid to go against the majority.

Be bold enough to say “no” and walk away fearlessly and confidently.

Life’s Seasons: Patience in the Hard Times, Joy in the Good Times

Life's seasons. Enjoy the good times, and persevere through the bad times.

It doesn’t take many years on earth before you start to realize that life has its ups and downs. It never stays up, and it never stays down. Sometimes it feels like the downs last longer, but the highs always seem to circle back around. Sometimes it can change day by day.

The hard seasons of life, while they can be heartbreaking and anxiety-filled, are the times we truly grow and develop. They’re the times when we have the choice to become better—better at friendships, better at our jobs, better with our families, and so on.

Maybe you’ve had a falling out with a friend. Maybe you’ve had your heart broken. Maybe there’s nothing specific you can pinpoint as being wrong, but you’re living in a fog. The best thing to do in these seasons is to find little ways to cheer yourself up and to better yourself. Get outside, and enjoy the sunshine. Read a good a book. Start exercising, or mix up your current exercise routine.

If you focus on new goals during the rough times, you’ll find the season ends much more quickly as you become more content and find new motivations and joys in life. Oftentimes, we can get too bogged down in sadness or focus too much on whatever event occurred that has led us into complacency. By adding new activities to your day (like exercise or even just getting out of the house), you break your old daily pattern and set yourself up for future success.

In contrast, it seems sometimes, in the seasons of joy, we can rob ourselves of enjoying that time by worrying when it will end. You know that feeling when you’re really happy, but you start to feel nagging anxiety about what’s about to go wrong? Surely you can’t be allowed to be this happy?

It’s a hard habit to break—and one I myself struggle with—but once you’re aware you’re doing it, you can try to bury those thoughts and focus instead on the present. Why spend time worrying about when something bad will happen? Why spend the joyful times miserable, too?

We can’t control everything in our lives, but we can control how we handle misfortune and times of crisis. We can control if we choose to enjoy the good times or worry when they’ll come to an end.

Enjoy the good, and persevere through the bad. You’ll be a better and happier person for it.

Mr. Right & Love: Finding Your Rick O’Connell

My Post (20)I still remember sitting in class at 16 years old and being told that I was far too concerned with getting married for my age. I had been telling a cute story our pastor had shared at church about him and his wife (she was one of the church’s worship leaders—does it get cuter than that?), and I wistfully shared that I couldn’t wait to be married like them.

A friend—with good intentions, I’m sure—shared his concern that I would even be thinking about such things. We were 16, after all!

The thing is, it’s perfectly natural for young women (and young men) to dream of their “happily ever afters.” We all do it.

I was always a romantic in the very traditional sense. I was waiting for my Brendan Fraser (circa The Mummy movies) to come sweep me off my feet since I was 8 years old. In that sense, I guess it was only natural that, for most of my teen years, I hoped to soon meet that person who would be by my side, who would fight for me, and who would be just mine.

While all perfectly normal feelings, I wish (and that’s why I’m sharing with you) that I hadn’t looked so hard to find Mr. Right because the result was relationships/crushes with guys I didn’t really have feelings for and being more in love with the idea of love than I was with any guy.

Your time will come. Don’t be so in love with the idea of a boyfriend that you ignore warning signs or settle. Ladies, instead of focusing on what you need to do or who you need be to find Mr. Right, I encourage you to instead focus on what you need to do in order to grow into the woman you want to be.

Don’t worry about what type of girl your crush wants. That type of thinking will drive you crazy and lead you down a path of turmoil. If you have to change something about yourself to get a guy to notice you, he’s probably not right for you.

Instead, worry about what type of person you want to be. Work toward your dreams and goals for your future. That will make you far happier and build up your confidence—both qualities that are way more attractive than attempts to be a different version of yourself for each new guy you’re interested in. The right guy will like you for you.

And, speaking of Mr. Right, instead of worrying about if you’re the type of girl your crush wants, focus instead on if he has the traits you want.

Make a list of qualities your future guy needs to have. My list back in the day would have looked something like this:

  1. Christian
  2. Makes me laugh
  3. Ideally, similar political beliefs
  4. Same family goals
  5. Adventurous/outdoorsy/wants to travel someday

Of course, I spent too much time worrying about if I was an ideal girlfriend or crush than focusing on if the guy was actually anything close to what I wanted. In fact, time and time again, I avoided the fact that some of my crushes weren’t Christian (the first thing on my list, for goodness sake!). Maybe with time, I’d think.

If a guy you like isn’t exhibiting a key trait on your list, do not think you can change him. That is not a position you want to be in. That is not a path to true love or happiness. It is a path for bitterness and pain for both parties.

While dreaming of your future “happily ever after” (more on that in a later post) is perfectly normal and exciting, don’t let it consume your life. Enjoy where you are now. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy your family. Grow into the person you want to be, and everything else will fall into place. You’ll meet your own Brendan Fraser soon enough.

Let’s Chase Our Dreams Together

Somewhere along the way and for some reason none of us may ever know, girls started competing against each other in areas that warrant no competition. Look at the movie Mean Girls for the perfect example: Regina George and the Plastics strive to be better than everyone else and want people to know this by becoming exclusive in everything they do, and they often sabotage situations so that other girls’ emotions are hurt.

Why is it that so many women—both young and old—feel the need to make others feel inferior? Aren’t we really all on the same team?

Take a moment to think about your daily life and the conversations you have. How often do you find yourself thinking or saying things that aren’t so nice about another girl or woman? What is it that makes you think those things and sometimes even share those thoughts with your friends?

Hopefully you’ve heard of the Time’s Up movement with the trending #MeToo from this year. Multitudes of women have come forward in the entertainment industry and are banning together to stand up for what is right—to stand up for each other. Friends, rather than tearing each other apart, we need to be building each other up. Women are truly powerful individuals and capable of such incredible feats, and you are no exception to that, regardless of your age or status.

And, together, we are even more powerful and capable.

Try to remember a time in your life when another girl purposely did something to make you feel lesser. (If that’s never happened to you, you’re one of the lucky ones.) Wasn’t it hurtful? Didn’t you wish that it wasn’t happening to you? The next time you are about to do something or say something that pits you against another young woman, think back to that moment when you were suddenly an unexpected rival of someone, and ask your heart if it’s really what you want to do.

Competition is meant for places like the basketball court and the soccer field, not for living life among your peers.

Ladies, let’s unite. Let’s stop putting each other down—whether it’s behind each other’s backs or to each other’s faces—and let’s start building each other up. Let’s choose love over hate. Let’s stop competing over every single thing, whether it’s boys or fashion or popularity or grades or ranks or possessions or status or whatever, and let’s cheer one another on as we run toward our passions. Let’s support each other’s dreams instead of trying to one-up them. Let’s be friends and not enemies.

After all, to hop on board the train to Cheesetown and take big lessons from High School Musical, we’re all in this together.

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