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.

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


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

FOMO is real, people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Yourself Receive Compliments


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

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

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

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

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

Letting people remind you that you’re enough.

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

Letting people remind you that you matter.

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

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

And so are you.

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

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

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

The Christian Dating Cliche: Guard Your Heart

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I call it a cliche, but it’s a rule to live by: Guard your heart.

When I was 15 years old, I found myself heartbroken for the second time in a year. Out of nowhere, the guy I had been dating (who I thought was so different than my ex-boyfriend) dumped me. He said God was calling him to do it.

Listen, I’m Christian, but I do not think a good way to break up with people is to claim that “God said so.” That is not loving. That is a cop-out. If God is really calling you to break up with someone, then give that person the reason why that may be. For example, it might be that the soon-to-be-ex wants to raise children with different values or has a different lifestyle. Even the cliche “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” is better than the “God told me to” line.

The same boy who used that line on me also told me over and over that he thought God was telling him that I was “the one.” OK, dude. I think he was confusing what he wanted with what God was saying to him. Just saying.  

Anyway, I was heartbroken. Crushed. I couldn’t get out of bed. It had taken me months to snap out of my last heartbreak, and I couldn’t face the inevitable road of pain that I knew I was about to walk down again.

My mother, being wise, called me out of school and drove me right down to our church offices to speak with the high school pastor. I’m really thankful for the heartfelt talk he gave me. It really did help—not so much with the pain, but I think he saved my faith. I could have easily turned sour and cynical toward the church and God. After all, did God really tell that boy to dump me? Why would He let me get hurt again?

Ladies, regardless of your religion, it is important to guard your heart and your faith. People lie. People make mistakes. People say things without thinking. I’m sure that boy didn’t mean to hurt me. Honestly, for all I know, maybe he was—VERY WRONGLY—flirting to convert, and he thought he was actually doing a very nice thing by getting me more involved in church. Maybe it was some weird test I didn’t pass.

It doesn’t matter why he said what he said. I should never have allowed myself to be that caught up in someone that my entire world would be shattered by a breakup.

Breakups are hard, and they hurt. As Lorelai Gilmore would suggest, they require wallowing, but they should not derail your entire life—at least not at 15 years old or after only a few months of dating.

Guard your heart. Be sure that you don’t allow your boyfriend to become your world. Keep time for friends and family. Don’t text 24/7 (as tempting as that might be). Schedule phone calls, or have a cut-off time for text conversations.

Most of all, value yourself. You are far more than a relationship. You are more than some boy’s words.




 

Your Reflection in the Mirror Isn’t Your Identity


Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought to yourself “
UGH!”?

I know that I have.

I remember the first time that I saw the movie Princess Diaries and the thought that I sometimes felt like I could relate to Mia Thermopolis. Big hair that can’t be easily tamed is real, girl. One morning before school, she looks in the mirror and says “as always, this is as good as it’s going to get.”

I feel your pain, sister.

That was often my mindset—well, except for the fact that I always wanted my reaction to my reflection to be better. I wanted to be prettier. I wanted my hair to look less frizzy and more beautiful. I wanted boys to like me and actually pursue me. I wanted to feel like I was worthy.

Here’s what I didn’t understand, though: I was already worthy just as I was.

It’s not necessarily always an easy truth to accept, although it should be. I feel like it should be pretty simple—my worth is not found in what I look like or how many guys are interested in me; it’s found in who I am in Christ. I could have the frizziest hair in the entire world (and that’s probably sometimes fairly accurate) and still be just as valuable as the days when it’s actually presentable. The point is that it’s not what you see in the mirror that determines who you are—it’s what’s in your heart.

I’m sure that you’ve heard the expression “it’s what on the inside that counts,” and you might roll your eyes and think that people usually only say that about other people they think aren’t very attractive or when they’re trying to make sure that others don’t develop shallow mindsets. Sure, it’s a trite expression, but it carries such tremendous truth. It truly is what’s inside your heart that makes you beautiful.

But, of course, we women typically want to look attractive. Here’s my suggestion to you: Stop focusing on all of your flaws, and start embracing what makes you uniquely you. When you look in the mirror, don’t focus on the zit in the smack-dab middle of your forehead. Instead, compliment yourself on your remarkably captivating eyes or your contagious smile.

Rather than looking in the mirror and telling yourself that “this is as good as it’s going to get,” remind yourself that you are full of beauty and worth every bit of love there is in this world—you are enough, now and always.

But What Do You Want?


When you’re in a relationship, whether it’s fairly new or one you’ve been in for a while, it’s easy to get caught up in what your significant other wants and forget about what
you want.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship—or if you’re in one currently—think about a time when you did something simply because it’s what your boyfriend wanted to do. More likely than not, you can come up with at least one example, and that makes perfect sense. Relationships involve compromising and also sucking it up sometimes and taking part in activities that you may have no desire to do (e.g., seeing a Star Wars movie when you absolutely hate Star Wars).

It becomes a problem, though, when you’re constantly the one having to sacrifice your wants and happiness to accommodate the other person.

If you reach a point in your relationship when you feel drained from consistently having to set your preferences to the side in order to make the other person happy, then it might be time to reconsider whether or not he is the right person for you. For me, I know that I want to be with someone who cares about me enough to want to experience my interests with me and who also wants to invite me along to his own hobbies and interests—someone who honors and respects me enough to acknowledge that relationships are about more than one person. He shouldn’t be constantly catering to what I want to do, and he shouldn’t expect me constantly to cater to what he wants to do.

It has to work both ways for the relationship actually to thrive.

This isn’t exclusive only to romantic relationships, though. It can certainly become the case in friendships, but there should still be that same general understanding. Friends should respect that, while they aren’t going to have every single thing in common with one another, they can still enjoy time together by sharing experiences and memories by partaking in each other’s hobbies and interests. My sister doesn’t like big crowds (like, at all), yet she’s come with me to multiple concerts and sporting events because she knows that I enjoy those things, and she enjoys spending time with me.

But compromises like that can’t be one-sided. I’ve gone places with her (like going to see a musical starring her middle school students on a Friday night), as well, because my sister is my favorite person, and I like sharing moments with her—even if those moments take me places that I might not have necessarily gone without her.

When you’re on your own, sure, it’s much simpler to do what you want when you want. I guess that’s one of the perks of being single. When you finally meet the person who makes your heart beat faster, though, you need to accept the fact that sometimes you will find yourself in situations and places you don’t necessarily want to be (I’m looking at you, State Fair). Just make sure that your choices aren’t always taking the back seat.

Because sometimes it’s OK to ask yourself a question that must be posed once in a while: “But what do I want?”

How to Embrace the Single Life

Life can start to feel a little lonely when the majority of your friends start dating, getting engaged, and then walking down the aisle toward the men who make them swoon. But just because your friends are all becoming one half of couples doesn’t mean that you have to feel left out and sorry for yourself.

Being in a season (or what seems like a lifetime) of singleness can actually be a true blessing, whether or not it seems like it at the time. There is an entire world out there for you to explore and a countless amount of people you can meet along the way.

While the list below definitely doesn’t include every benefit to flying solo, it hopefully provides some encouragement and a reminder that you certainly don’t have to be in a relationship with someone to have a good time—even at events that are full of mostly couples.

You don’t have to consult with anyone.
You can pretty much do whatever you want when you want to, and you don’t have to coordinate your plans around those of a significant other. Decide last minute that you want to go on a quick weekend getaway or road trip? Go for it. Craving Chinese food tonight? Get it, girl. Your schedule is your schedule, and you don’t have to double-check with someone else to make sure that you’re still getting in that QT with your man. Sure, it will be nice eventually to be able to share your experiences with someone else, but for now, embrace the time you have to maintain a lifestyle that goes with the flow of what you’re feeling and what you want to do.

You save a lot of money on holidays.
One thing that I’ve always appreciated about being single is the fact that I don’t have to worry about what to get someone on Valentine’s Day and all of the other gift-giving holidays. I’m sure that I will love getting presents for my main squeeze when I actually have one (except for on Valentine’s Day because I will never celebrate that one), but my wallet and I are currently very appreciative in this solitary season.

You can still dance.
The dance floor was created to be filled with people busting out their greatest (and not-so-great) moves. Even when those slow songs come on, don’t feel like you have to use those ballads as excuses to go to the bathroom, stand in the corner, or pretend that you need a break or that you have something in your shoe. You can dance all by yourself during slow songs—I do it all of the time, even at wedding receptions. It’s freeing. Get out there and twirl, girl. Hopefully one day you’ll have someone to sway with you and spin you around the dance floor during the slower songs, but until then, let yourself enjoy the songs that you want to enjoy.

You develop a unique independence.
Being single allows you to become much more self-sufficient, especially when you actually do many of your life activities alone and not always in groups or with your friends. It’s good when you can learn and practice some basic skills—cooking (or, in my case, being able to use a microwave most efficiently), changing a tire, putting together furniture, seeing a movie by yourself, eating out alone, managing your finances—without the help of anyone else. Those things will make you that much more ready when you finally do stumble upon the man you’ve been hoping and praying for all along.

You learn more about yourself.
The more you know about yourself, the better you’re able to let yourself be known by someone else. A season of singleness is a great time to discover even more of your preferences and tendencies as well as what exactly you want in a relationship and what types of qualities you want in a guy.

You learn to love yourself for the person you are.
Yes, you can still love yourself when you’re in love with someone, but being single allows you to invest in yourself more than you ever have before. It’s a really good time to develop more of an appreciation for the qualities that make you you. I spent far too many years thinking that I was single because there was something wrong with me, but that was a lie that I shouldn’t have let myself believe. The things that make me the woman I am are not bad things, and someone will appreciate them someday and love me for all of my quirks and in spite of my faults.

We all have different timelines, and just because you aren’t on the same page as your friends might be in terms of relationships and experience doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you or that you can’t enjoy life as a single woman. You already have so much going for you, and you can continue to pursue your own passions without worrying about what you don’t have in life.

You’ll find the right person when you’re supposed to, but don’t miss out on all of the wonderful opportunities in front of you because you’re too busy squinting far off into the future.

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?

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