Here’s to healing.

You apologized again, didn’t you? But why did you apologize? You didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, as you replay the argument in your head, you realize he’s the one that started it. Not you. So why are you apologizing? Oh, well. He probably got mad because of something you said. That’s probably why he was ignoring you in the middle of your argument, too. He claims it’s because he doesn’t want to lash out at you, but you know in your gut it’s because he’s merely avoiding the conflict as you sit on your couch consumed by it. So obviously since you can’t seem to let it go, and he seems to be fine avoiding it, it MUST be your fault.

What about that boundary you crossed? Oh, shoot, you’re right. He didn’t make boundaries with you so you were left to control them on your own with no accountability. So obviously, it’s your fault for feeling like utter shit when you cross them, compromising yourself yet again. But isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? You’re his girlfriend, and he needs to be pleased, too. It’s not all about you. Why are you making it about you? This is normal human behavior. It’s normal to compromise yourself and what’s important to you for someone else, isn’t it? I mean, he loves you, right? I’m sure he does. He totally does. He tells you that all the time. That’s why when you get home from his house you lay on your bed crying because you’re having yet another meltdown from feeling dirty after crossing another boundary. You thought you wanted to, and in the moment you did, but now that you’ve done it you don’t feel like you can take it back. So you don’t. And you continue to feel like crap until it becomes so normal that you become numb to the discomfort, so maybe you start enjoying whatever is happening ever so slightly. But really, you’re not.

So…you stopped talking about that thing that’s super important to you, huh? Obviously he doesn’t care about it too much because his eyes glaze over when you talk about it. Even though your mom points that out, you defend him yet again because he loves you and he wants to hear about the things you care about. Right? I mean, you care enough about the things that are important to him to learn about them and try to become knowledgable about them so you can have discussions about it. But really, you don’t enjoy it; you just enjoy making him happy. Gosh, don’t you wish he would return the favor? Yeah…you do…but it’s okay. You can just talk about something else.

When did you start to compromise the things that are important to you to make him happy? You don’t remember, do you? Because it happened so gradually and it felt so out of your hands that you just let it happen. You found yourself being willing to compromise your life-long dreams to have that super fun marriage with the white picket fence and the fun weekends. Except once you step far enough back to look at the big picture, you realize that you wouldn’t be living with the white picket fence; you would be living with the ratty, messy yard and the lock on the door that feels impossible to open. You would be living with the crippling debt and the constant arguing about whether or not you’re gonna go to church that weekend. You realize that you’ll have a really fun life, but it wouldn’t be substantial or fulfilling. So you decide that it’s time to let go.

So you finally broke up with him, huh? Do you feel free? Do you feel relieved? Probably not yet…but look at you. You’re finally putting yourself first. You realize that your faith and your dreams are far too important to put on hold for someone that wouldn’t do the same for you. You finally realize that you are worth the important conversations and you are worth the boundaries. You are worth the arguments and the staying. You realize that it isn’t normal to go through your day wondering what you’re going to apologize for next. You realize that it’s okay to recognize when things aren’t your fault, and it’s okay to sit in the discomfort of an argument.

You realize that you are worth so much more than compromising yourself for someone else who will NEVER return the favor.

You realize that you are valuable, and that you deserve to be treated like you have value.

You realize it isn’t normal to be begging your boyfriend to fight with you just so you can have one honest conversation that doesn’t feel like you’re barking commands at him.

Congratulations, my dear girl. You’ve finally walked out of an emotionally abusive relationship. The next steps won’t be easy, and the healing takes a long time. But give yourself grace. Every tedious, gross, emotional step of the healing process is so worth it. And one day, you’ll wake up and you’ll realize that you’re free. You don’t have to live under his shadow anymore because you have your own. You’re finally you again, apart from him, and that is the most freeing feeling you will ever experience. Here’s to healing, to grace, and to loving the sound of your steps walking away from the things not meant for you.

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Thoughts…

Hey friends.

Long time, no chat. It’s the middle of week 3 of my last year of school, and I’ve just got some things on my mind I thought I would share with you (feel free to send me some advice // responses to these things)!

Wow. My last year of college. How CRAZY is that?? In the midst of this season, I find myself going a million miles an hour in a million different directions with a million things on my mind. Taking time to just sit, rest, and be is extremely difficult for me; even when I do take the time, it’s distracted rest. So, I’m in the process of learning how to slow down and take time for myself.

While I’m trying my best to be as present as I can be, my mind is often consumed and occupied with thoughts of post-grad (not to mention the 43892578329 things on my current to-do list). I’m excited to jump into the real world and the workplace, but I’m also quite terrified. Much of this season has been filled with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. I’m doing my best to lean into who the Lord is calling me to be in this season to prepare me for the next, but man it’s hard.

I have a lot of responsibility this year. I’m Editor-in-Chief of ZU Magazine, our on-campus, student-led magazine, which is SO much fun. However, it is a lot of responsibility that I’m not so sure I’m capable of handling, but I’m doing my best. Beyond that, I’m a high school youth leader for my church, and I love every second of it. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding…getting to love on young people is such a blessing and never a space I thought I would find myself in, and they are teaching me so much. God is good, and I’m so glad He called me into that space. They have stolen my heart and challenge me every day.

My classes are ridiculously hard, but I’m managing as best I can. (Sense a theme yet?) This semester is really unique and so cool because I’m truly seeing my knowledge of political science and journalism come together, and I’m really enjoying that experience. It’s also very challenging because my political science professors are not quiet about their opinions of the media in general, so I feel like I have to defend my craft quite often…but much of this season of life is learning to advocate and stand up for myself and the things I love!

I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t scared for the future. I have less than 8 months until graduation, but I feel like that isn’t enough time. It will fly by, and I don’t feel ready for what comes next…but I also feel more ready than I’ve ever been. I’m trying to enjoy every moment, but also prepare myself as much as I can. I’m so excited to step into who God has called me to be, in the field He has called me to…but man, oh man is it TERRIFYING! I’m not quite sure where my confidence will come from or how I’ll achieve my goals…but I do know that I’m called to something great and I can’t wait to see it unfold.

Thank you for listening to (err…reading, I guess) my little ramblings. I would love to hear from all of you! Advice, suggestions, prayers, money (ha ha just kidding). Seriously, though, I value your feedback and opinions and words so much, and you have all been one of the biggest parts of my journey. Thank you for stickin’ with me these last four years. Here’s to my last year of college and to the rest of my life.

I love you all.

Break My Heart

There’s a really popular worship song called Hosannah. In the bridge it says “Break my heart for what breaks yours…everything I am for your kingdom’s cause…”

This has been the theme of my spiritual life for the last year or so. I didn’t necessarily ask for it…but most of the time the Lord calls us to things we may not ask for. However, in the midst of this difficult theme, I have had some of the most rewarding conversations, realizations, and revelations.

A few years back, when I was a senior in high school, I was angry. I was filled with so much bitterness and hatred and hurt that I became angry, hard-hearted, and cold. I wanted very little to do with God and even less to do with His people. I became less liked in my social circle, and many people at my school were afraid of who I’d become. It wasn’t until I let the Lord back in and asked Him about my anger that He finally broke down my walls and snapped off my chains.

From that point on, I had to re-learn how to hurt and feel my emotions in a healthy way. It was hard. It was painful…but it was rewarding. Out of that experience came a beautiful heart that is soft and willing to break for the Lord.

I have always struggled with the bit of edge that seems to come with my personality. However, I am an advocate. I love my friends and I love those around me. I love the broken and I love the sick. I love the orphans and the misfits and the people that the rest of the world seems to shy away from loving.

I don’t do this because of me, though. I do this because this is what the Lord has called me to. He has called me to listen and learn. He has called me to be broken-hearted for the brokenness of the world.

When my friends are hurting, or when I encounter a new person who is hurting or has a difficult story, I feel it. My heart chips and snaps, my stomach turns, and my insides twist. I feel it. The burning sensation in my chest and the weight that gets pushed on my lungs is a sign: I am hearing this story for a reason. I am here to show love and mercy and grace. I am here to listen and be an advocate. I am here to point this person to the One who redeems all sins and heals all wounds.

Even though it’s painful, I will continue to allow my heart to break for what breaks the Lord’s heart. Not because I want the glory, because I don’t…but because if I don’t allow my heart to break for what breaks Him, the world will continue to be broken and unchanged.

God is good, even in the midst of our broken circumstances, and He is always in reach…even on our heaviest nights.

Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Dear Daddy, Love Princess

Dear Daddy,

Happy Father’s Day! You deserve the world. I hope you always feel loved and appreciated, not just on Father’s Day.

Daddy, you are one of my best friends. Our relationship…our life…has been quite unorthodox. You were gone a lot while I was growing up. There were a lot of missed birthdays and Christmases, Fourth of July parties and Easter services at church. But regardless of how often you were gone or how many things you missed…I never felt unloved by you. I ALWAYS knew how much you loved me. I always knew how much you cared about me and how much you valued me and our relationship.

My favorite memory of you being gone was writing letters back and forth. Each letter contained a quiz so you could always stay up to date on getting to know your growing girl. I loved having my daddy as my pen pal, and every envelope, without fail, was s.w.a.k. You have always made me feel special and like the most loved daddy’s girl on the planet, even from the other side of the world.

When you retired from the Marine Corps, I was entirely unsure about what our relationship would look like. Many of my friends (since I was in high school at that point) had their dads around their whole lives, so they were already ultra close with their dads. But we didn’t have that. Not yet. You worked relentlessly to build and rebuild our relationship where your deployments had broken it. You were so persistent about our daddy-daughter dates, our ice cream outings, and making sure that even when I felt weird about it, I could talk to you about any and everything. 7 years later, and I can confidently say that you are one of my favorite people to talk to.

You are my biggest fan. My number one supporter. My confidant. My hero. You never doubt me or my abilities. You always pick up the broken pieces of my heart and make sure that they are carefully placed back without a trace of injury.  You work tirelessly to provide for our family and you never skip a beat in doing so. You have never EVER made me feel uncared for. No matter where you were in the world, I always knew that my daddy would come home to me because we had to be taken care of.

You have set the highest bar–the highest standard–for how my future husband must be. Seeing the way you have cared for and loved momma unconditionally my whole life is so inspiring. You have never let me doubt myself or deem myself unworthy of respect or love. You have the most selfless heart of anyone I’ve ever met, and your kindness exceeds all expectations. You have taught me the value of stories, the value of life, and of love. You have taken the time to make sure I understand where my worth lies and how I should be treated. You take the time to get to know those around you at every chance you get. You have taught me what being a true friend looks like.

Daddy, You are the reason I believe in myself. You are the reason I keep pursuing my dreams and my education. You are the reason I know I’m going to change the world…because I watch you do it every day.

Happy Father’s Day, daddy. I love you with all my heart and I’m so thankful and so BLESSED that I get to call you my dad.

Love,
Princess

Called

For my whole life, when I thought about being a journalist, I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be known and recognized. I wanted to influence people and bring about profound change in the journalism industry, and I wanted my name attached to it.

But today I was thinking…that’s not what I’m called to do.

I have spent the greater part of the last 11 years wanting to be a journalist. A hard hitting, print (online) news reporter. I have wanted to be in the crossfire of war, the pits of the White House, and the smallest nooks and crannies of the world, shedding light on the corners of the earth that no other journalist dare touch.

Do I still want to do that? Possibly. Probably. But I don’t know. I don’t know if journalism is truly what I want to do or what I’m called to. Recognizing that is a scary thought for me. When you spend your entire life planning on one particular career path, then your mindset and interests start to change, you have a slight identity crisis.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize: no matter what I’m doing–be it journalism, communications, marketing, graphic design, teaching…you name it…as long as I’m serving the Lord and bringing glory to His name and shedding love on His people, I am fulfilling my calling. I don’t need to be known by the world because I am known by Him. I don’t need to be recognized for my works because He deserves all the recognition. I don’t want my entire life placed on display for the whole world to ridicule and watch. I don’t want the pressure of millions of eyes watching my every move.

I want to serve the Lord and fulfill the calling He has placed on my life–whatever that is, wherever it takes me, and whoever it leads me to be.

…He is still G O O D

It’s so easy to praise God when life is going well or when His answer is “yes.” But what about when His answer is “no” or when things seem to be falling apart right in front of us? Is He still good?

YES. 

Staying true not only to who we are, but who God has called us to be, who we want to be, is so difficult sometimes. When there’s something in front of us that we want so badly, but we know it wouldn’t be good for us and we know that God calls us to something better…do we still rejoice and say “God, you are good” or do we hold on to the things no longer meant for us? I’ll be honest, it’s so much easier to hold on. It is incredibly difficult to relinquish what we think is best for us and to hand it over to God.

if not 2.jpg
Photo Courtesy of Pinterest 🙂

This quote above is so simple, yet so profound. “And if not, He is still good. I’m in a season of life where I’m not really sure what the Lord is up to…but I know that whatever it is, it will be so much better than what I could ask or imagine.

I didn’t graduate this year. I am doing a fifth year at APU and that was a really difficult thing to come to terms with. I still don’t have a boyfriend, and contrary to previous times in my life, I’m not quite sure what I want to do after graduation. I’m living with new people in the fall, and my best friend is going abroad. The next 12 months are filled with so many uncertainties…but every time the answer is “no,” my response will continue to be “He is still good.”

I am not saying this with a “holier than thou” attitude. I’m saying this because it’s so hard to say and so hard to remember. I’m saying this to encourage both you and myself. Holding on to the hope of the Lord is so much easier said than done, and letting go of what we want is so difficult. Turning down the job offer that has a raise, moving to that new place, or maybe letting that guy or girl walk away can be so devastating.

But He is still good.

When finances suck…He is still good.
When someone passes away…He is still good.
When we don’t get what we want…He is still good.
When anxiety is running rampant and keeping your lungs tied up in rubber bands…He is still good.
When depression feels crippling and getting out of bed seems impossible…He is still good.

I will repeat this over and over until I believe it. I will repeat this over and over until the day I die because if I don’t, I will stop believing that God is good, and He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He is the greatest Love I’ve ever had, the strongest Protector, the mightiest Fighter, and the best Friend.

Every time I think the Lord has walked away from me, He proves to me that He never left. Every time I think that it’s time for me to take control of my own life, He shows me why that’s a really bad idea. Every time I think I have no breath left in me, He fills my lungs with the most refreshing air I’ve ever taken in. Every time I want the answer to be yes when it should be no, He shows me that His power is far more significant than my need to understand.

And if not, He is still good

I want to be

I want to be the Pinterest girl: picture perfect, classy clothing, admirable attributes, absolutely artsy, and heavenly hipster.

I want to be the girl who can take perfect pictures, both of herself and others.

I want to be the girl who wakes up every morning and feels confident in her own skin.

I want to be the girl with pretty handwriting and polaroid cameras.

I want to be the girl who’s headed for marriage, and seems to have the most perfect fiancé.

I want to be the girl who is kind and soft-mannered.

I want to be the girl who is shorter than 5’8-1/2″ and small in stature.

I want to be the girl with the perfectly straight teeth and face-framing hair style.

I want to be the girl who can braid hair flawlessly and look pretty in a messy bun with no makeup on.

I want to be her

and her

and her.

But more than all of those things…I want to be enough. I want all of my flaws, imperfections, quirks, sass, height, clumsiness, and mess to be enough.

I want to be a priority. God always makes me one.

I want to be accepted. God accepts me as I am.

I want to be beautiful. God sees me as extravagant.

I want to be loved. God loves me more than the earth He created.

I want to be whole. God picks up every broken piece that ever fell on the floor and puts it into a new configuration.

The great thing about God, is that we are always enough for Him. No mistake, no oversight, no over or under step, no crime, no scheme, no sin…will ever make us less than enough for Him. He looks at us and sees nothing short of perfection, even in our imperfections.

The best thing about God, is that when we feel like we are nothing, He chooses us to be His everything.

I want to be the girl who is exactly where she’s supposed to be: rooted in Christ, clinging the promises of His love.

I want to be the girl who is wholly loved by God, and therefore can wholly love His people.

I want to be the girl who doesn’t have to have it all together because let’s be honest: nobody really does.

I want to be the girl who looks at her life and laughs at the mess.

I want to be the girl who is authentic.

I want to be the girl who is vulnerable and allows others to be, too.

I want to be the girl who rocks the wardrobe she has, because she is beautiful from the inside.

I want to be the girl who sticks her tongue out at the camera because taking life too seriously creates frown lines.

I want to be me.

 

 

The Adventurous Heart

Have you ever considered that it’s possible to be homesick for places you’ve never been, and long for people you’ve never met?

I never considered that concept until recently. I was scrolling through Pinterest, looking at all of the wonderful places around the world that I hope to someday visit. Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, the Mid East, and so many more. As I was watching these pins roll by on my screen, I felt an ache in my chest. I long for the adventures that I’ve yet to have, and the places I’ve yet to go…the people I’ve yet to meet.

I don’t know where the Lord will take me, but I know that He will take my wild, adventurous heart on a fantastic journey of discovery and wonder.  I know that He will take me to places I never thought imaginable. It’s difficult for me to stay here and stay in school and just be patient for the adventures that I crave so deeply.

Adventure
Photo Courtesy: Pinterest

I want to learn about the cultures that surround me. I want to know the people and talk to them. I want to tell the stories that others deem unworthy of hearing. I want to walk in the footsteps of those different than me. I want to eat food I’ve never seen, and hear languages I’ve never heard. I want to take beautiful pictures of ordinary things, and capture the true beauty of every culture and personality that I come in contact with.

I just want to see something…something different than the warm beaches and bustling USA metropolitan areas. I want to go somewhere different and experience different smells and sights. I want to come home a changed woman because of the things I’ve seen, and I want to appreciate my home even more in light of the things I learn. I want to learn what it means to walk in the shoes of those different from me.

I just want to go. I crave adventure and all that comes with going to a new place. I crave the sights and sounds of new places and even newer people. One day, I will go to all of the places I dream of, and I will tell those stories and capture those photos.

One day, I won’t be homesick for the places I’ve never seen, or long for the people I’ve never met, because I will be there with them. I will be home at last.

The Memory of the Fallen

Memorial Day, previously known as “Decoration Day,” was established to commemorate and recognize those who lost their lives during the Civil War. Originally, it only occurred on May 30th, but was eventually declared a federal holiday and was to be celebrated on the last Monday of May. This enabled there to be a three-day weekend for federal employees.

For many of us, Memorial Day means BBQ’s, sleeping in, being at the beach, and being with loved ones. However, that’s not what was intended to become of Memorial Day. There is a filter on Snapchat that’s decorated in red, white, and blue, and decoratively spells out “Happy Memorial Day!” But I need to ask the question…what is so happy about Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is about remembering those who have given their lives so we can be free. Freedom is not free, folks. It comes at the highest price. It comes at the cost of a six-year-old boy that will never see his best friend again. It comes at the cost of a now single mom who lost her life partner. It comes at the cost of a little girl who lost her hero, her prince. Freedom comes at the cost of thousands upon thousands of men and women that will never see their families, friends, puppies, or homes ever again.

Memorial Day is not just another federal holiday. It’s not just another day off of work. It goes so much deeper than that. It is a day of remembrance…a day to step back, and take a look at our lives and realize how free we really are. Even more than that, to realize that without the bravery of our troops, we wouldn’t be free. We are able to do the things that we do on a daily basis, without much hindrance, because of the sacrifices of our troops and the ultimate sacrifices that they and their families have made.

I saw so many people this Memorial Day not showing any reverence for those who have given their lives. That is where it becomes a problem. I am by no means shaming the family BBQ’s and beach days, but it’s what we take the time to do in those moments that matters. If we went through every Memorial Day not giving even a moment to remember those who have died for us, then they died in vain. It is important to recognize and appreciate what they have done for us, and what so many more after them will continue to do.

May we continue to pass the importance of this day to future generations, so the legacy and sacrifices of these brave men and women would never be forgotten.

Seasons

I want to talk about seasons. No, not Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall…but seasons of life. Things that happen and things we go through.

Just like the seasons on a calendar year, some seasons of life are warm and full of happiness, while others are cold and dreary, and seem to drag on forever. I have been through both types of seasons–the ones that make you so excited to get up in the morning and see what the day has to offer; the ones that are so good, even Monday’s can’t kill your vibe. I have also been through the ones that make getting up seem more and more difficult every day; the ones that make you want to sit in the darkness of your room and not even pull open the blinds, let alone go out and engage in human interaction.

Sometimes, there’s even the one really weird season where you feel fine and you feel like you want to go out and tackle even the worst Monday’s, but you simultaneously feel empty and numb, but also heartbroken and in pain. I think those seasons are the worst. They make you feel incapable. They make you feel weak. They make you feel afraid.

I want to ask you a question. In general, and especially in these weird seasons of life…

Damn

The first time I saw this photo, it hit me really hard for some reason…and I haven’t been able to get it off my mind since then. When I saw it pop up on my Pinterest a few months ago, I just thought “Damn. That’s a tough question.”

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

If I weren’t afraid…I would be able to face my heartache head on, without trying to distract myself with Netflix and coffee and Reese’s Pieces.
If I weren’t afraid…I wouldn’t worry about the possibility of running into my ex every time I leave my house.
If I weren’t afraid…I would go to more concerts.
If I weren’t afraid…I would take more pride in the work I do both as a writer and a photographer.
If I weren’t afraid…I could be unapologetically myself all the time, not just when the confidence hits me.
If I weren’t afraid…I wouldn’t take months at a time to write one blog post because it overwhelms me to try and wrap my mind around my ideas.
If I weren’t afraid…I wouldn’t be worried about irrational things.

If I weren’t afraid…I would constantly walk in the confidence that the Lord has me in His hands, and is holding my every moment.

Think about this question, and then do something about it. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to be confident and strong. I want to be powerful. I want to be joyful and happy and tackle all the Monday’s like they’re my favorite day of the year.

Seasons of life…they’re messy, they’re uncontrollable, and they’re overwhelming. Sometimes, like the season I’m in right now, they’re exhausting and they seem never ending. But how would we handle them…if we weren’t afraid?