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.

Falling for Someone You Shouldn’t

Couple share a moment. Falling for someone you shouldn't.It’s cliche, but we’ve all had some version of this ominous thought pass through our minds, “Oh, but I can change him.”

Darling, don’t fall for this trap. It will never end well. It will fail in the same way it would if a guy thought he could change you.

It’s funny how everyone naturally changes with time. That’s one of the reasons people file for divorce: because people change.

But odds are you’re not going to see the change you want to see. If there’s a trait you need that you’re not seeing in a guy, walk away. That trait will not magically appear just because you care for him—even if he cares for you back.

This is a very personal story for me. It may seem silly, but it defined my faith. I was better for walking away. I share it with you now because I hope you’ll be able to do the same if the situation arises.

After dating two people who were clearly not right for me, I desperately searched for a new crush. I was that 15-year-old girl. I had to be crushing on someone.

I found someone I thought was a better fit for me to like. Christian. Nice. Straight-A student. The issue was that I decided he was the type of guy I needed to like. I didn’t actually fall for him; I barely knew him.

While I, in vain, was trying to make that work, actual real feelings began to creep up for a friend—the way they do. Always unexpected, it seems, and at the oddest of times.

I was torn. The friend wasn’t Christian. He had a slightly inappropriate sense of humor (I was miss goody-two-shoes. I was the girl whom people came up to and said things like, “Taylor Swift said ‘douchebag’ on SNL last night! Are you heartbroken?”). He wasn’t anything like the type of guy I thought I’d like. But he was funny, and we had slowly become great friends over that school year.

A chance arose with the guy I thought I should be with, but I turned it down. I finally had learned that you can’t force yourself to like someone. Plus, it was a little too much like dating myself. I think we both knew that it wasn’t quite right. I made the right decision to walk away.

But that’s where my good decisions stopped. I’m all for romance and falling in love (hello, I got married at 21 years old, after all), but you have to be careful about whom you fall for.

I spent about a year and a half crushing on this guy friend who, though he was wonderful, at the very core of it, did not share the one belief that defined me: my faith.

I tried to get him to go to church with me. He went once or twice. It wasn’t for him. I ignored it. I was in too deep. I couldn’t just turn my feelings off. The thought passed through my head: he’ll change.

Beyond the main issue of having completely different belief systems was the issue that he kind of led me on for that year. He confessed he liked me to friends but did nothing. I spent night after night tossing and turning, completely sick wondering what I was doing wrong.

I tried so hard to impress him. Why didn’t he think I was funny? He would say it in a teasing way, but I can so clearly still hear him saying or see him giving me looks that said, “that wasn’t really clever.”

I was constantly not measuring up.

Ladies, when you’re with the right person, you never feel like you don’t measure up. Once again, Taylor Swift said it best, “I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ’cause he never did.”

The right guy will think you’re funny. Unless, you know, that’s not your thing. But the right guy will think you’re perfect just as you are.

Anyway, back to the story. After a year of heartache, the guy finally asked me out. I was over the moon. He apologized for taking so long. He said everything I needed to hear. It was a big gesture to make up for everything. It was an episode of The O.C. come to life.

That night, I felt kind of empty. I had texted him, and he had taken his usual extremely long time to respond, and something inside me fractured a little bit: nothing was going to change.

I couldn’t outright even think the thought, but I instinctively knew that dating him wasn’t going to be any different than being friends with him. Nothing would change. I would still constantly just be chasing him, wondering why I’m not enough.

We went on one date. A date I’d been waiting for forever. I should have been so blissfully happy, but I felt kind of sick the whole time. Something was off. Something was wrong. I felt awkward. For the first time ever since I’d known him, I didn’t want to be there with him. I was so torn apart over what I was feeling.

I came home and cried in my room—the way teens do. I knew what was wrong. Besides all of the little things, it had finally hit me that, if this was real, I was now dating someone who could possibly never share my beliefs. There was no future there—not the one I wanted.

I prayed the hardest thing I ever had in my life at that point. I asked God that, if this boy wasn’t the one for me, He would just take care of it. I told Him that I couldn’t really handle another heartbreak, another breakup. I asked, if this boy wasn’t the one for me, that nothing would happen. We just wouldn’t continue on. We wouldn’t hurt each other, and nothing more would come of it.

I’m still in shock about this because it really doesn’t make sense, but nothing ever happened after that. And I mean nothing. We never discussed a second date. We never have actually acknowledged that we ever went on one at all.

The really bizarre thing is that we were in the same friend group. We still hung out regularly. It seems impossible that we never had any sort of discussion about it, but clearly God had heard my prayer.

I was heartbroken for a long time. I was angry. But, with time, I realized that God had answered my prayer. How could I be mad about that?

I know this is kind of silly and overdramatic. It wasn’t like the guy was on drugs or a heavy drinker or something. But, for me, I had fallen for someone I shouldn’t have. I got in over my head, and I suffered for it.

Beyond just needing a guy that was Christian, we clearly were not meant for each other. With the right person, it’s easy. There isn’t a year of pain or wondering why you aren’t enough.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, pray about it. Get out of it. You deserve so much more, and really, so does he.

I’m still friends with the guy, and I have so much respect for him and truly wish him the best. I was clearly not the right girl for him, either. The girl that’s right for him will be funny to him. He’ll want to text her back. And I hope he finds her.

Shortly after all of this, I had those unexpected feelings pop up again—well, they’d actually been there for a while, just under the surface—for a different friend. With him, things were easy. There was no year of suffering or questioning if I was witty enough for him. And that’s how I knew he would be my husband, but that’s a story for another time.

Don’t try to force things. The right match will all fall together oh so easily and perfectly.

It won’t be someone you’ve decided you should like. It won’t be someone who leaves you hanging.

It’ll be perfect (in a perfectly imperfect way—John Legend knows).

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.

 

Don’t Waste Your Time Waiting


I don’t know about you, but I’m usually not a fan of waiting for things to happen.

Unfortunately, though, waiting is a part of life that we have to deal with on a regular basis—we wait for food at restaurants when we’re reaching the point of hangry, we wait to hear back from colleges or potential employers after we’ve submitted applications and résumés, we wait for replies to emails and texts when we need answers, and we wait for lights to turn green as we rush off to the various places we need to be.

Sometimes waiting is natural, and we don’t really think much about it because we have so many other things going on at the same time. In other situations, though, we become less active in our waiting and essentially spend too much time waiting—not so much in anticipation but often in worry that what we’re waiting for might not happen—wasting precious moments that we could actually be enjoying.

And this seems to be especially true when it comes to guys.

What is it about waiting for a reply to a text message that gets our heads spinning and our hearts pining? Those letters that form words on a screen suddenly become so essential to our very beings, and we wait very impatiently, wondering whether those guys have read the texts and are waiting the standard 10-minute minimum (or is that just a girl thing?) before replying, haven’t even seen them yet, or (the worst one possible) already read our carefully crafted texts and simply haven’t cared enough to respond.

It’s so non-dramatically emotionally draining.

To be perfectly honest, I should probably be embarrassed by how much time I’ve spent wondering what some guy I think is really special is going to say back to me, only later to realize that he really wasn’t as wonderful as I had hoped and imagined, and his replies were essentially a waste of my eye strength. For instance, I once texted a guy to see if he wanted to go watch a football game on a Friday night with me because I thought that would be something fun. I sent the text and then waited. And waited. And waited. And then the panic set in.

Why hasn’t he responded yet?
Did I try too hard to be funny but was stupid, instead?
Should I not have sent it?
I need to go crawl into a hole and hide forever.

Like I said, none of this is dramatic at all.

You know what that fella I fancied so much said back to me? That he had to stay home and do chores. On a Friday night. As a 26-year-old who lives alone and can do chores whenever he wants.

Talk about a complete waste of time waiting on that one.

We wait and wait and worry about the silliest things sometimes when we really could simply enjoy the things right in front of us so much more than we already do. Rather than agonizing over a mere text I had sent and what the guy would say back, I could have just sent it and not worried about it so that I could channel my energy toward more important matters—you know, like if I was more in the mood for a chicken sandwich or a cheeseburger for dinner.

Whether we like it or not, we are going to have to wait at different times in our lives. But waiting doesn’t have to be such a huge world-stopping thing. Seek to enjoy those moments or long periods when you’re waiting, especially if you know what you’re waiting for is worth every single second.

Just make sure you don’t miss out on the wonderful things happening right before you because you’re too busy waiting during your times of waiting.

 

When was a time you had to wait on something and spent too much time just waiting?

Have you ever been a victim of the dreaded waiting-for-a-text-from-a-crush situation?

We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

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.

The Dangers of a Pinterest Life

Pinterest image collage.

I first discovered Pinterest sometime in my senior year of high school. I remember first signing up and having to wait for access (fantastic marketing—exclusivity definitely made me more curious) during its beta stage.

I didn’t use it much until the following year: my freshman year of college. Freshman year was not easy for me. While it was a magical time in some senses (falling in love with my now husband, newfound freedom, Taylor Swift’s Red album release, etc.), I struggled a lot that year. I was homesick, felt alienated and isolated from my peers, and was dreaming of an escape.

I spent most of that year dreaming of five years in the future. A future where I was finished with college, finished with the people I so greatly differed from, and no longer had to say goodbye to Nicholas at the end of the day (Wouldn’t it Be Nice by The Beach Boys was my mantra).

Pinterest became my escape. I had a “Future Home” board, “Future Apartment” board, the “Clothes-I-Want-to-Buy” board, and—of course—the “Someday Wedding” board.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to have these boards—heck, I still use all of those boards (except the wedding one of course). The issue arose when I spent too much time dreaming, wanting, and wishing away the present, and Pinterest provided an easy outlet to take me from daydreaming to actually wasting hours and hours planning my “perfect” future life.

The danger of Pinterest arises when we start to spend time in constant want and eventually start to consider those wants needs. I want a winery wedding under a big oak tree. I want a breakfast nook in my house. I need to have that dress. I need to redecorate my room/apartment.

Pinterest can lure us into lives of dissatisfaction if we aren’t careful. Harmless pins of someday wants can quickly become all-encompassing thoughts. Constant pinning of future desires can rob you of your present and rob you of your contentedness.

Pinterest is a fantastic tool and one of my favorite social media sites (You can even follow Tower318 on Pinterest for inspirational and motivational quotes!), but anytime I start to fall back into my old habits of living in the future or suddenly needing a bunch of new things I pinned from there, then I know it’s time to take a break.

I spent too much time at 18 dreaming away that year, when instead I could have been making healthier changes to better enjoy that time. Take it from me, and don’t miss out on your now. Dreams and plans for the future are very important, but don’t get so lost in those dreams that you forget to live in the present or find yourself thinking, “I’ll finally be happy when [blank] occurs.”

Live in the now, and enjoy every day. Work toward the future daily, but don’t think you’ll only find happiness once you’re there. Take a step back from desiring that perfect life you’ve designed on Pinterest; enjoy where you are now.

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