Lessons learned: The ugly truth about breaking up...

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How do you start over?

I don’t see many articles or books talking about starting over after you have spent any significant about of time or energy into a relationship. Or maybe you had a short-lived physical relationship that has left you empty. Either way, if you have experienced any loss in a relationship, no one seems to talk about it that often. Its something you press through and get over it or “sweep under the rug”. Truth be told, we all know that moving on from someone you gave your heart or body to is not easy. It takes time, energy, healing, and renewing of your mind.

Songs, places, things people may do, can easily trigger a memory or thought about that person who was once special to you. You may spend months venting, laying in your bed, eating ice cream, drinking wine, crying, stalking their social media accounts, and replaying your last conversation; all in an attempt to forget or justify why things did not work out. You may think: Was I not pretty enough? Bold enough? Was I too emotional? Was I not skinny enough? Did I have too much baggage? Was my personality too overwhelming? Maybe, I shouldn’t have said that? Have we really grown apart? Are we truly going separate ways? Was this a mistake? I still love them but we are better off separated rather than together. I miss him but they are not good for me. I am lonely without them but I cannot tell anyone that because they will think I am crazy. I miss his smile and laugh, I miss their adventurous spirit. Is it really over? Are we really done? We have done this before, maybe we will get back together?

No. It's really over.

Now it’s time for you to move on. How do you move on? Where do you even start? Good question, after a break-up, I have asked myself that often. Where do I even begin? This question is especially hard for me when I have scarified who I am to fit in, to be the person he wanted me to be. Oftentimes, I have felt like guys aren’t too attracted to a driven, focused, and confident woman; they are intimidated by me. This has caused me to shrink back and trade my confidence for fear and insecurities and when he is gone, I am left with fear and insecurities. Now, I must choose to climb out of this hole and start again or wallow in fear and insecurities. It’s a simple choice but a painful one too. I must deal with the deeper issue. What makes me compromise myself for someone who cannot understand or accept me for who I am? Why did I let them in? I should have said hit the door in the first place but I didn’t and now I am left picking up the pieces, again. When will I get it? When will I be okay with being who I am and who I am called to be unapologetically? I think we must all ask ourselves those questions. Ask yourself why you keep dating the same type of guy and end up hurt all over again? Why do you settle? And no I'm not talking about waiting for elusive perfect man, I'm talking about in your gut, you know if you should be with a person or not, when you ignore that feeling and stay with the person anyway, usually it ends eventually. What hole do you need someone to fill so much that you ignore the signs telling you to stop, turn around, don't go any further. Do you think you are not worth love and belonging? Do you think you will never meet a man who loves you and loves Jesus (Not the type of church guy who is trying to "stay pure" but has no boundaries and is interested solely in your body. That's a whole different topic). Have you messed up so much that you think you are not worthy? Not "pure" enough? Your tainted now, huh?

I have spent a lot of time worrying about the wrong things and looking for the wrong things. When will I [you] be okay with saying, “It was nice to meet you, I think you are a great guy, but not the guy for me.” Instead of worrying about hurting someone’s feelings, be honest and let it burn. This will save everyone involved the time, energy, emotional headache and heartache. Ladies, let’s remember, guys have feelings too, don't lead them on. 

We pick ourselves up and move on when we refuse to stay stuck. Sometimes, you should not turn back to that relationship and need to move forward. Sometimes, the timing is wrong and maybe things will work out in the future. Whatever the case, fight for yourself and refuse to allow pain to consume your heart and mind. If you feel you cannot fight, call a friend who will hold your arms up and fight with you. Find someone who will pray with you and seek God on your behalf. Find a friend who refuses to watch you sink and believes the best about you. Encourage yourself until that sense of loss and hopelessness is gone. 

Joyce Meyer said it best in her book The Confident Woman:You make a decision to let go and go on. You learn form your mistakes. You gather up the fragments and give them to Jesus, and he will make sure that nothing is wasted (John 6:12). You refuse to think about what you have lost, but instead you inventory what you have left and begin using it. Not only can you recover, but you can also be used to help other people recover. Be a living example of a confident woman who always recovers from set backs no matter how difficult or frequent they are. Don’t ever say, “I just cannot go on.” Instead say, “I can do whatever I need to do through Christ who strengthens me. I will never quit, because God is on my side.Do not give up and loose heart. You are not alone. Pain will not last a lifetime. You can move on one step at a time. Start reminding yourself of who you are in Christ and how much he loves you. Regain your love for yourself. Do things to bless others in your community; I always feel better giving to others rather than being focused on myself. Learn from your mistakes and learn who you are so that you don’t fall into the same situation as you did last time. Learn to love yourself and know who you are for YOU (and no one else). Do not make the choice to discover who you are so you can “feel” whole and enter a relationship. When you know who you are, you are not easily shaken or coerced. The real man for you will not try to quench who you are to boost his own self-esteem.

Tweet by @ChristineCaine: The more secure you are in Christ the more secure people around you become. Insecurity breeds insecurity, comparison & competition. Be secure! If the man pursing you is competing with you, let him go. A confident man will not compete with the woman he is in a relationship with. This goes for women too. If you are competing with your man, ask yourself why.

I am learning that true joy is not in being pursued or having a boyfriend, true joy comes when you live your life devoted to Christ. Being devoted to Christ does not mean you will not make mistakes, it simply means, you want to live your life for him. Living for Christ does not make you exempt from hurt and pain, life happens. Take heart and know He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). Trusting that God’s love really does cover a multitude of sin. Trusting that your sin is as far as the east is from the west. Believe that you can help other people who feel: lost, lonely, afraid, unseen, and unheard. You matter and your story matters.Spread the love people. Our life is far from over. It is just beginning.xoxo

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P.S.

Let me just say, there are some outstanding men out there and mommas/fathers who are raising their sons right. So just because you had a bad break up doesn't mean all guys are bad or that all guys are the same. Let's face it, we all have to grow up and sometimes guys make stupid mistakes. If you break up with "so-and-so" let him go and start the process of forgiving him. Your bitterness is not hindering him from moving on. Hopefully, he too, will learn from his mistakes and decide to make a change.

Lessons Learned: Relationships

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So many times, I write things and then erase it, over and over. I do this all the time. Are my true feelings at this moment too raw? Maybe I should wait to talk about this...The story goes on and on. People tell me all the time, I loved your blog but do you realize that you told your business to everyone? The answer is yes. You see, I struggle with perfectionism and trying to put together for everyone, in fact, countless people have told me that they assume I am just a goody goody and do no wrong. This is of course very far from the truth. So I really started to blog last year because it helped me stay real, honest, and vulnerable. I convey my feelings best when I can write them out.Well I'm here to tell you all a story; a story that began with a kind gentleman asking me out on a date. At first, I was inclined to tell him no. I was about to move to Austin, he was in Houston, really there was no reason for me to even give him a chance. I met him at work and he FB messaged me to ask me on a date. I almost said no. In fact, that was my first reaction. However, some friends and my mom suggested I give him a chance, so I did. Our first date was dinner and church. I planned on going to church to say "see you later" to my people before I moved to Austin and I wasn't going to stop that for a date. So he was either coming or missing out on a date, he decided to come. At the end of the service and the pastor does the altar call, he decides he wants to go up there and rededicate his life to Christ and he asked if I would walk with him. (Let me pause the story here: Can I just tell you that my pride was in the way? I was thinking, "OMG all my people are going to think I've backslid and I'm trying to get my life right.") After swallowing my pride and realizing how shallow I was, I made my way up to the front with him. At the altar I was thinking "this is so my life, only I would have a first date that ends in a persons salvation." Nonetheless, I was happy for him. He asked me out on several dates and we talked a lot and became friends.Throughout this time I was extremely nervous. I didn't want to miss God. In previous relationships, I was desperate. This guy showed up at a time where I was really content personally. I didn't want anyone to mess up this "place" that I worked so hard to settle into. I decided that I needed to learn how to trust God with my emotions and heart and follow peace. There are several things I did differently when dating this time. I made my boundaries crystal clear and did not budge on them. We did not kiss and he did not sleep over at my apartment. We were purely getting to know one another. I did not feel the need to rush into all of that.If you know me, then you know; I don't want a boyfriend so bad that I desperately want to spend all this time and energy getting to know someone for kicks and giggles. I work full time, help out at church, and I'm in grad school. I am busy all the time.So back to my story...I had a blast getting to know him and dating him was fun. He was such a gentleman and possessed an incredible servants heart. I appreciated and admired that. In spite of all the fun and getting doted on and feeling special, I was by no means; ready to fall into his arms. I told myself, I was going to guard my heart and emotions ("guarding your heart" looks differently for everyone...that's a whole different blog I will write later).I fiercely protected my heart and really sought God on how to honor him with this relationship. Every step of the way I asked God to keep my eyes open and don't let me miss a thing. At the beginning of this year I was doing the Daniel fast. I needed God’s insight and direction on this guy. Things we're going seemingly well but I had a few reservations and I just wanted to really seek God about it so I chose to fast and pray.After several long and hard conversations, it was evident that we were running in two different directions. The Holy Spirit made it clear to me that this was something I did not need to continue to put my time and energy into. Once I got that answer, I went to Houston the next day to meet with him. I prayed that God would show him, I wasn't the person for him. We met up and talked and I said, "I think we should part ways" and he said, "I agree". I thanked him for being a gentleman and closed a chapter. You don't have to make someone "bad" just because they aren't for you. Our conversation was seamless and graceful. I felt such a peace from God. I felt confident because followed God’s leading for myself. None of my family or friends had to tell me what to do. I asked for insight and God gave it to me. (No God did not talk to me audibly, but he showed me though our conversations what I needed to hear and that our paths were not lining up).The reason I am so encouraged by all of this is because I don’t think dating is wrong. I’ve learned more from dating than all the books and purity conferences ever taught me. Everyone has to have their own experience and must chose to learn from it. A purity ring won’t keep me from having sex that is my choice. We all have a choice. There's no 10 steps to contentment plan, 12 ways to get a man in a year, nor a book on 10 ways to wait well, that will give you what you want. I am not a big fan of books with “steps” to _________(fill in the blank); everything works differently for different people. Not everyone has the same convictions. Not everyone will date the same way and that is okay! For me, I was able to learn how to date someone and leave my baggage behind. Oftentimes, I find myself overcoming an issue and I put it behind me and the minute it reintroduces itself in a different form, I am running back to pick up that old hurt, pain and fear. This time I said no more! I had to learn how to take risks and trust that God had my back.This relationship was short lived only 6 weeks of my time. (Guys, this is a big deal). The fact that I'm at a place to hear the Holy Spirit and obey quickly is so much progress. Before I wanted a relationship so bad that I would drag it out. Last year, I grew so much personally. I truly left the "old me" behind. I've learned how to obey quickly because it hurts more when you wait it out. Relationships take time and energy to cultivate. If you are investing your time in someone you have reservations about; get out of that relationship. It's not worth your time. I realized that having healthy boundaries was a safety net for me. I did not compromise. I did not give anything away. This was the healthiest I have been personally while dating someone. I valued myself. I felt beautiful. More than anything I am still a virgin (by the grace of God, it’s a miracle). I love my body and myself far too much to be disrespected because a man thinks I am beautiful. Its great to feel flattered and wanted but if a man is using his words to get in my pants, then he can hit the door.We all know getting physical causes us women to get attached. I’ve learned the hard way and don’t want to repeat that lesson ever again. In order for me to stay healthy and not fall apart, I kept my "cards" close and focused on a his character, which I knew would reveal itself, in spite of words spoken. Character will shine through, every “right” word spoken. Focus on character and how he responds to his family, the people he is around, and see him when he gets angry. Its not worth it to compromise, simply so you won't feel alone. I am so happy single, I would hate to be married and miserable because I was rushing. I will take contentment over turmoil in the home, ANY DAY!I learned so much. SO MUCH. It was a great dating experience because I allowed myself to overcome fear and all of the “what-ifs”. While life has it twists and turns, and making hard choices is not easy, I am encouraged. I danced unashamed in my kitchen today to a song that said, “Sometimes you gotta tell your soul to sing, even when you don’t fell a thing, that’s when you gotta sing, louder, louder!” I needed to sing louder this morning. Making hard decisions can be painful. Just remember to get up and dance, even if you are crying still. Letting depression settle over you will lead you to a dark cave. Trust me I’ve found myself slipping into that vortex. It can be hard to get out sometimes. Hard to find any footing and you feel like you are falling into an endless abyss with no way out. I get it.Be you, be bold, and beautiful, and brave. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Your character and how you carry yourself speak louder than words.Gentleman, be strong, courageous, and encouraged. There are women who know good men still exist. Everyone wants to love and be loved, this is fact; it doesn’t have to be romantic love, it can be platonic. Everyone wants to be accepted and wanted.Note: No, I haven't kissed dating goodbye. I have not pledged to never kiss again till I'm married. I plan on being intentional. I plan to take my time.Elizabeth Elliot said it best: “I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts. It is easy to talk oneself into a decision that has no permanence-easier sometimes than to wait patiently.”signature-wordpress

Not So Ordinary Dreamers- Ryan Cirkles

I decided to interview a few of my friends about who they are and their dreams. My first dreamer that I will be featuring is a great friend, Ryan Cirkles. ryan blogWhat were your childhood dreams for your adult life?It would be easier to give a list of things I didn’t dream of becoming.  In my formative years I cycled through desires of being a professional in just about every part of the sports world.  My formative years would prove to be inadequate in their production, leaving me far too small to continue in this path.  Adolescence would see me delve into passions including, but not limited to, roller coaster design, the culinary arts, and crime scene detective.Now that you are an adult, are you childhood dreams close to your life now? What do you do professionally? Or are you a Student?I’m not sure my life could be further from what I dreamed.  I am not a star in any sense.  You won’t see me on ESPN any time soon.  I don’t solve crimes. (At least, not as my day job.  I’m pretty impressive when it comes to detective shows on Netflix).Am I bummed?  Not a bit.  Life has a way of leading you to something that matters.  When I truly surrendered to Jesus as Lord, He showed me that a life given to others was far more satisfying.  He would know.  I’m in full-time ministry and plan to be, in some capacity, for the rest of my life.What are you passionate about?I love seeing people encounter the heart of the Father God.  My entire life my dreams, my focus, and my perspective - changed when I first heard the words, “I believe in you.”  That love cannot be stopped.  A person shown that love is empowered beyond rational thought.The love of the Father says, “Nothing you can do can change what I know about you and nothing I know about you can change what I still see in you.” I will give my life to propagate this love to every person, place, or space that I have the privilege of knowing.Are there any particular causes or issues you desire to or currently advocate for?I want all people to come to know the Father’s love.  I believe that one of the most effective ways is for people to know the love of A father.  I long to see all spiritual and natural orphans find a family.  In whatever way I can, whether through prayer, finances, taking part in adoption personally, or as Jesus opens opportunities for personal involvement in these areas, I will give my life to adoption because I believe it is the Father’s plan.Is it hard to keep believing in your dream when you don't see any results?A dream, unfortunately, is ultimately birthed out of a desired end.  It can take us a while to realize that the real enjoyment is in the means to that end. Those means take a lot of trust.  In our minds we don’t see results, but the only result that we would recognize is the finished product.God drops a dream into a person’s heart.  He shows us a glimpse.  He uploads his passion and compassion for this idea, project, or Kingdom reality into us.  He shows us the end, but we assume that this sneak peak IS the dream.  In reality, He’s building and accomplishing the dream in us daily.  He holds the blueprints.  We only saw the artist’s rendering of the finished copy.This is why we write down the end goal.  We make the vision plain.  We write every note that he whispers about that dream as time goes by.  We’ll see as we look back at these steps and moments that there was NEVER a time that He wasn’t working on our behalf.  We’ll learn that, just as it was His dream to begin with, it was His dream to work in us, not ours to build alone.ryan c blogDescribe the moment you knew without a shadow of a doubt that this (whatever your "this" is)  was what you were born to do.God had really been taking me on a journey through the idea and identity of sonship in my first year as a student at Texas Bible Institute.  He had so affirmed me as His son.  I knew that He would always be everything I would need. I felt safe.  I was taken care of.  I could not step out of His love.  I could not change what Jesus had done. I was at an event, surrounded by 2 or 3 young men that I had really grown to love and believe in.  We were worshiping and as I looked at them I believe I heard the Holy Spirit speak clearly, “You will make copies.”  I would love to say that in an act of great obedience that I high-tailed it to the nearest Kinko’s, but my fervor was still growing.This was a good thing because, as it turned out, God wasn’t wanting me to make copies in a literal since.  He began to show me that this identity I’d grown so strong in was His heart for everyone.  He wanted me to duplicate this in others.  I would give them the truth of sonship and, as a result, I would learn to be a Father.What does it mean for you to intentionally live your life for Christ?Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.(Philippians 3:1-3 NLT)”It is important to note, when you have decided to surrender your life to Christ, that your life is no longer of earthly import. This should not cause sorrow.  It is not that a person’s life no longer matters.  On the contrary, the effect of that life has increased in innumerable measure.  That life has been ridden of vane, shallow meaning and has been opened to eternal purpose.  How does this relate to daily life?“14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us.[c] Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.[d] 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.(2 Corinthians 5:14-16 NLT)”Christ has been revealed to me.  Everything has changed.  I know that there is more now.  It is my job to allow the Holy Spirit to continually point all I do and every person I see to Jesus.  Everything is now spiritual in some context.  This isn’t an extra burden to add to our mental checklist.  It isn’t our responsibility. It is the privilege that Jesus Himself invites us into.  It is His work.  He asks us to join in and see miracles on a DAILY basis, “not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit.(Zechariah 4:6)_____________________________________________________________________

ryan CirklesRyan has been faithfully serving in church ministry for 12 years. Ryan is a worship leader and operations manager at Believers World Outreach Church in Katy, Texas, as well as an aspiring Netflix sleuth, citing BBC’s Sherlock as the bulk of his experience in the field.  He has dedicated his life to seeing people come to know the love of the Father God that he has so gratefully received himself. He also has a strong desire to visit Iceland.  Who wouldn’t?

Follow Ryan on Twitter and Instagram: @cirkles

Everyone has dreams. What are yours? Comment below!

Chivalry isn't dead, I just don't know how to respond to it.

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I've found that since our culture has changed and we have said that "chivalry is dead" sometimes we as women don't know how to accept genuine kindness from a man without thinking he has ulterior motives. I mean, I struggle with letting a man open the door before I shove it open internally stating, "I am woman, my hands aren't broken, I can get the door, thank you." When I am with my guy friends I have to remind myself to let them be kind. I have been wondering what my issue is? Why is it so hard for me to accept genuine kindness from a man? These are the questions I ask myself.

[small rant about my own personal immaturity]

Let's face it. All the christian purity conferences ruined me. They talked about how a man should be intentional and how we shouldn't date around. They talked about the importance of friendship before a relationship, all great things but if the context isn't taught correctly, then we have to "re-teach" ourselves about fostering healthy relationships. I found it was hard to have a meaningful friendship with the opposite sex without assuming that maybe-possibly-kind of-there could-be-or-may-never-be-something-romantic there. I eventually got annoyed that mentally my guy friends move to potential husband candidates because we were "building a friendship " I mean, how was I supposed to know their intentions otherwise since they were never verbalized but subtly expressed in moments? Most likely we would be friends,scope each other out, "pray about it" and live in a gray area for a while before any action or no action at all was taken. I misunderstood a guy flirting for a guy being truly interested. Let's face it. People flirt all the time. Thus, this stupid confusing way of being a Christian and honoring the Lord through vague friendships with the opposite sex [and wondering if there was something more because the only glimpse of a deeper relationship was occasional flirting] became really confusing and weird. This is when I had to put my brothers advice to the test (My brother told me, "If a guy didn't tell you he likes you, then never assume that he does."). Guys weren't being forthright about their intentions. They were playing games. I didn't understand why some guys wouldn't open their mouth and say "hey I like you, I would love to get to know you better, can we go out sometime?" I understand it's hard and guys don't want to be rejected. Just a hint men, if you ask a girl out on a date, most likely she will say yes.

But back to men and chivalry.

For example: if a guy friend buys you a gift, that doesn't mean he likes you. It simply means he is being nice. My brother gave me the best advice ever. "If a guy didn't tell you he likes you, then never assume that he does."If a guy buys your dinner while out with friends or if you two are just hanging out, you don't need to go pray and ask God if that is your husband. He was just being nice.The problem we (I) have is that we can't accept genuine kindness from a man without assuming that he has bad intentions toward us. Some men are kind and honest. Some men want to be friends only. Some men want to be more than our friend and those men will pursue us. We need to learn to trust more and worry less. 

Trust me, I struggle with this. I have had guy friends show me genuine chivalry by opening my car door, paying for dinner, driving out to see me, and they only looked at me as a friend. Guess what people? Because I did not have a healthy view of chivalry there were times that I thought my guy friends must have liked me. However, I took my brother's advice and remembered not to make assumptions about a guy's feelings towards me in a romantic way. Can I just tell you that none of these guys ever told me they liked me. They were just interested in treating me well and being my friend. The sad thing is, I'm not used to any men besides my family being a gentleman. So when a man is kind, caring, and thoughtful, I assume they want something from me. In my stubbornness, I can project the vibe that I am not grateful for their kindness towards me, when 85% of the time I am truly thankful and humbled by genuine kindness.

I think in our fear of being betrayed or allowing ourselves to be smooth talked by a guy, we start in the defense every time. We assume that a man who approaches us has other intentions. We assume that.

This perspective that they are "all the same" is dangerous. Just because a guy is kind to you doesn't mean he likes you. Or if he is interested in you it doesn't mean that he is trying to manipulate you by being kind.  It can simply mean he is being kind. My guy friends have told me how hard it is to be a gentlemen to women nowadays because we can be so abrasive. I think we need to be more mindful of how we treat men because the very man we are sitting around praying for (or complaining about) could be right in front of us.

Let men be gentleman and let's learn to accept their kindness without proving that we can do it all on our own. Men know we can open the door or carry our own suitcase but if they want to display kindness, let them be men. There are still good men out there.

xoxo

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24

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I've wholeheartedly been looking forward to turning 24 for many years now. I always felt like it would be a significant year for me. In my mind, 24 represented independence and change. After 23, the hardest year of my young adult life thus far, I was ready to move into a new season. Despite the challenges I faced this past year, it has been the year of birthing a dream: the launching of HHope. I made new friends. Grew personally. Moved to a new city. Learned more about myself. I made mistakes and learned from them.IMG_1185.JPGI am finally confident in who I am and who God has called me to be. I know who I am and I'm not changing for people or popular opinion.I discovered a deeper passion for advocacy and politics. Sometimes I wonder where this passion came from but truth be told, I know this is a God given passion. I plan to get more active in my community and local organizations. Plug in where you can be apart of change locally.I have learned that impatience does not yield a good return. I've spent so much money on car repairs that could have been avoided if I was paying attention and not being anxious. Anxiousness in dating, my life, or the "next big thing" robbed me of contentment. It left me seeking after the next "big thing". The next "potential" relationship. Finally, I got the memo and stopped worrying about what I wanted but didn't see happening and decided it was time to learn how to enjoy my life.

IMG_1184-0.JPGI've cruised into 24 wiser because I had women of prayer pouring into my life and taking me under their wing. My mom cheering me on constantly. My dad and brother reminded me of my worth. I have the most amazing girlfriends who have laughed, prayed, and held me accountable. I am forever grateful for the people surrounding me. I choose my friends wisely because those are the people who influence you the most.24: I am believing that this is a year of new beginnings.Restoration.Answered Prayers. HHope growing and expanding. This is my year to launch out, do new things and not allow myself to my crippled by fear. Last year my scripture was Micah 6:8 and it wrecked me daily. I still strive to live that scripture out in my personal life. My scripture for this year is 1 John 4:18. "There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection]. (‭1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭18‬ AMP)"

IMG_1293.JPGThank you dear reader friends for the birthday wishes and for your support. You all are the best!How will this next year be significant for you? What are you believing for?Feel free to comment below!XoxoFaitth B

Say Goodnight & Go: Farewell HTX

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"Why am I feeling drawn to this place?" I just came to visit friends. Yet every time I visit my heart is being pulled in a million directions. "What am I supposed to do?" These are my thoughts as I woke up July 6th. I head to church with my friends and cry all during worship, later that evening as I drive to whole foods, and I called my older brother crying. I cried all day (I feel so lame saying how much I cried but whatever...). It was evident that my heart was being moved. I did not want to address these feelings. A looming sense of loss covered me like a blanket. I sat on the roof of whole foods looking upon a city with a lot of questions and prayers. After eating my ice cream and reading some of a book, I left whole foods and headed home. I headed home knowing that I was going to move to this city. As scary as the moment was, I also felt a deep sense of peace.

This past year has been hard yet so beautiful for me. In spite of that, I realize how much growth needed to take place in my heart and life in order to be prepared for what God has for me in this next season.

On September 15th, I found a note in my journal from June 2011 that said "I think I am supposed to move to Austin but I am not sure when." I forgot all about that note and moved on with my life and moved to Houston. I began working for Arrow Child and Family Ministries. A year and a half later, I resigned, and started my job at MD Anderson. It was at MD Anderson that I realized I did not have a passion for corporate america. I have a passion for families and adoption. I am a social worker. That's my thing. I needed to return to doing something I was passionate about.

Thirty minutes after finding that journal entry on September 15th, I was emailed a job posting by a friend at my old company. Immediately applied for a case management position in the Austin area. Five minutes later they called to set up a phone interview. A few days later, I got the job and gave my two weeks notice, just like that.

I walked away from everything comfortable.

Everything that was set up for me.

I walked away from a successful career in corporate america.

None of this was in my plan and trust me I am a planner. My room may look like a nightmare most days but my plans are laid out and my binders are organized. This is the first time in my life I have needed to exercise radical obedience. What an adventure it has already been and I haven't moved yet.

So here I am, completely humbled.

Not even trying to figure anything out anymore.

I am going.

Houston I have about 7 more days to soak you up.

Since I am not far, this is merely see you later. Not goodbye.

xoxo

signature-wordpress P.S.HHope will still carry on in Houston. I will be working towards establishing HHope in Austin.

I thought I was over you.

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Somedays your words leave me crying at night.

Sometimes I question who I am because of all the negative words you have whispered.

Somedays I am brave.

Somedays I feel like I can't speak over a whisper.

Sometimes I wonder if I am beautiful, you told me that I wasn't.

When I start to feel strength and confidence you come again and whisper what I am not.

I thought I was over you.

I thought I overcame this.

I thought I was smarter than this.

I know better than to believe you.

Yet, I subtly I begin agreeing with you, over and over again.

I accept the criticism and sometimes I believe it.

My agreement with small lies attacking my destiny has hindered my creativity.

It has hindered my love for music and writing.

It has left me feeling empty at times.

It has caused me to feel depressed before; Yes, I let you do this to me.

I let you in.

Why did I do that?

You have only caused me pain.

You constantly fight to kill my dreams.

You remind me that I am not worth fighting for.

You remind me of who I am not. 

I've become my own worst critic.

Today is a new day.

Today is the day I say no more.

I will fight your whispers and lies.

I will fight.

With tears in my eyes.

I will fight.

I will love.

I will dream.

I will challenge others to dream.

I will be honest.

I will show up.

I will be authentic.

I may struggle and I may fall.

I will get up every single time.

I will say the best about myself.

I will believe the best about myself.

Because I am worth loving and being loved. 

I am worthy of love and belonging.

I am.

I know I am.

It is time I believed it.

It's time I see what other people see in me.

It's about time I stop believing you for good this time.

 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8-9

Xoxo-FB

The Great Divide: How Do We Build A Bridge?

 

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I have spent the past two weeks pretty angry and disappointed. I would be lying if I told you the things going on in Ferguson did not affect me in someway. I have read a lot of blog posts coming from different angles, I have researched and watched lectures from professionals on the subject of racial reconciliation, and I have had open conversations with some of my Caucasian friends. I have prayed and cried about this situation in Ferguson and the national issue of racism. Wether we like to admit it or not, racism still exists. Not all white people are racist, it would be very ignorant to make such a broad assumption and accusation.

 Privilege refers to the idea that in human society, some groups benefit from unearned, largely-unacknowledged advantages that increase their power relative to that of others, thereby perpetuating social inequality

Some, Caucasian people may not have viewed themselves privileged or that they are afforded certain opportunities based on the color of their skin. Honestly, what I have gathered from conversations with my white friends, is that sometimes they don't think about being a "White privileged american". When you are a majority you may not have the needs of the minority on the forefront of your mind.

My parents did not teach me to fear white people, some of my closest friends are white. I did not begin to feel a little fear until Ferguson happened. Seeing all the hate out there and passive aggressive racism caused me to wonder who was around me that thought of me that way because of my color? Were there people in my life that harbored hate like that? People that felt I was an exception to "those black people" when in fact the "those people" are MY people. I became suspicious of white people-waiting for someone to change on me. I got concerned for my older brother who is over 6 ft. tall and a broad built black male. He has a heart of gold but people wouldn't be able to tell that if they looked at him. They could think he is a thug instead of a successful college graduate. What if he wears a hoddie or a big shirt on his days off work? Will they suspect him of mischief?

I get that people who are not minorities may not understand this perspective. I am not asking for understanding as much as I am pleading for you to listen. That is it.

I could focus on dissecting all of the hateful postings and blogs I have seen but that would be counter productive because hateful people are everywhere and I encounter them everyday. That will not go away. I had to let myself research and come to a place of peace and balance about the situation in Ferguson along with the killings of other unarmed black men, as well as, the issue of institutionalized racism. There are a lot of moving parts in this discussion and I may elaborate more in a different post.

What I really want to discuss is the racial divide in the church. I know I am about to discuss a "hush hush" matter but more of us need to talk about it. People must understand that the history of African-American culture is rooted in oppression. Although we would like to think that we have made a lot of progress, we have to an extent, there is still a lot to be done. We must be willing to openly talk about race and racial issues in order to really move forward. There is an elephant in the room- like it or not and until we stop passing over it or walking by it silently, we will not see change. We will be back in this spot in a few years.The comments I have seen on the internet let me know that racism is not dead, in fact, it just took on a new form. Nowadays, talking about race makes people tense and everyone comes to the table with their own inhibitions and preconceived ideas of what the other person plans to say. So instead of having hard conversations and breaking down racial divide, we don't at all. A lack of communication makes the divide grow and before we know it we have accepted passive aggressive racism. I believe the African-American community wants people to listen.

Matt Chandler says this best: "What is so deceptive about white privilege is that it is different from blatant racism or bias. A privileged person’s heart may be free from racist thoughts or biased attitudes, but may still fail to see how the very privilege afforded to him or her shapes how he or she interprets and understands the situations and circumstances of people without privilege."

We have allowed the media to feed into a racial divide. We would all be gravely missing the point if it was not evident that we need to have racial reconciliation in the church. It needs to happen. When was the last time you looked around your church and wondered why everyone else looked like you? This goes both ways, for predominately black churches and white churches. "Ninety percent of African-American Christians worship in all-black churches. Ninety percent of white American Christians worship in all-white churches," said Chris Rice, coauthor of More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel. "…Years since the incredible victories of the civil rights movement, we continue to live in the trajectory of racial fragmentation. The biggest problem is that we don't see that as a problem." I think the shooting of Michael Brown brought up deeper seething issues about race. Any group that experiences systemic oppression for a time will come to a point to where they can tolerate it no more. It takes work on all sides to dismantle institutionalized racism. If you are content with your multicultural workshops at your job, fine, but it goes far beyond that. We must be willing to talk and learn about one another in order to break down barriers.

Linda Brown (AP Photo)

Tell me this, if you have no black friends ( I am not talking about people you are associated with and hang out with every now and then) then where do you get your ideas and perceptions about black people? Do you make them up? Are they from the media? We cannot grow and move forward without having hard conversations and uniting together to see change. There are several people uniting to see change happen and guess what? They are not all black. People of all races are uniting together to see change happen. I have noticed that it is much harder to organize change and promote change in the church. Why is this true? I did not experience real overt racism until I went to a CHRISTIAN college. It was evident that some people at my school only knew about black people from TV or the people they saw in the hall at school. Why are the Christians who support racial reconciliation and recognize that we have some real deep racial wounds and issues to deal with, harshly critized by the Christian comminuty? Do you have to be a liberal to agree that human life matters? To believe that something must be done about the clear racial divides in our nation? Are we denying that "white flight" and racism still exist? Researchers will tell you that it still exists. What needs to be said for people to WAKE UP and STAND UP and say NO MORE? If I read the Bible correctly, as Christians, we are brothers and sisters in Christ right? If we are, maybe we should start acting like it. Also, the fact that every Christian who speaks out about racism and Mike Brown, has to give a laundry list of disclaimers so that some of their Christian friends will know that they "believe in the police" & "don't agree with looting", so they don't have to deal with a backlash of comments, is awful. As a Christian and African-American seeing posts from some of my Caucasian brothers and sisters is disheartening. We don't have to agree for you to show compassion on a mourning community and parents that had to bury their son too soon. I get everyone has their beliefs but dismissing people's pain and justifying a teen being shot over 6 times, because of an alleged theft, even though he reached a point of surrender, is cruel. I am posing a lot of questions because I don't have all the answers.  I want us to think about these issues together.

How can we unite together as a church? How can we break the walls of racial segregation in our local church? Let's start opening up this conversation. Honestly until we are able to have healthy productive conversations where neither side is predicting what the other will say, maybe we can move forward. Until we come to the table and lay our swords and daggers down, nothing will change. Remember the church has always been in the thick of controversy. This situation should not be any different. I want to work with others that desire to see change in our communities and churches. I want us to unite together instead of focusing on tearing each other apart. I have found that social media makes it way to easy to let our typed our words be used as daggers to hurt one another. Can we try for once to evaluate our typed words as well as the ones spoken? They are just as powerful. I believe we will have to account for them too.

 (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

There are several things the African-American community is doing to actively better our communities around the U.S. and I pray these initiatives last and we see true change in my generation and the ones behind me. Despite having disadvantages that does not condone crime nor does it give people the right to murder over petty crime. This is a pivotal time for the African-American's to see change in their communities and push for a well-balanced local government. What Antonio French is doing with #HealSTL and registering young people to vote is huge. I hope this situation has encouraged young people to find their voice and to understand that their voice matters and their lives matter. I hope this situation has awakened black youth and that they realize their true value to society. I believe in black youth. 

Here is what I plan to do:

  • Join with other churches who will assist in providing relief and aid to the community/churches of Ferguson
  • Join a local organization that focuses on the empowerment/education of African-Americans in the community
  • Mentor African American Youth
  • Join in conversation with churches and individuals about racial reconciliation and be apart of building a bridge
  • Keep the conversation going: Silence will not bring about change

Growing up I did not focus on racial differences. I was taught to love people, all people. Even when injustice occurred around me, I was taught to stand strong. I love different cultures. My friends are very diverse. I love having friends of different cultures. There is so much I learn from our open conversations. If more people were open to talking, less hatred would exist today. Until you are open to talking to me about my culture and heritage in a kind manner, please do not expect me to be happy when I see comments that are clearly racist. It is hurtful and disappointing. I have cried enough over the senseless and hateful comments people have made about the black community. So I plead with you, come to the table ready to listen. I too am coming to the table with an open heart and an open mind.

I love being Black. I love my natural hair. I love my community. I am educated and I have a successful career. I vote and pay my taxes. I think we have some work and growing to do as a people but I will play a part in changing the narrative that has been written for African-American's in the US. If you are reading this and you are working to bring reconciliation amongst your church, let's talk together. I do not have all the answers but I want to hear from other people and church leaders actively seeking to unite their congregations.

Before leaving this blog post please watch this video:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNhcY6fTyBM&w=560&h=315]

 

Resources and articles I found helpful:

White Brother Shot Black Man

Kristen Howerton

Gospel Coalition

Matt Chandler 

Jennie Allen- To My White People

How To Deal With Racist Reactions to Ferguson

IS IT “GOODBYE EVANGELICALISM” OR “WE JOIN YOU IN YOUR SUFFERING”?'

A Cop's take on Ferguson

 

I Didn't Run Away

In jr. high I had a conflict with this girl at church. There was so much drama surrounding it. I hated it. I hated facing my "giants" as my mom would call it. If an issue has occurred with someone, I would rather go away, take some time off, or not see them anymore. My mom used to let me sneak away for little trips to get away until she realized I was avoiding the people that hurt me. So she stopped letting me run away and taught me to stand firm. This was so hard for me. Didn't she understand that I had been wronged and I did not want to see these people EVER again? She understood alright, she knew if I let fear take root in my heart, I would not be able to face bigger "giants" in the years to come. 

Fast forward to now, I have had a huge giant to face. As much as I've tried to hold my feelings and emotions at bay- they were real and very raw. I tried to avoid any and all confrontation. I can handle confrontation if I have to but I never go looking for it, especially when it relates to me. I am a lover of people, if you are in my family or my close friend, I am loyal to the death. That is just who I am. I passionately love people. This is a great character trait but it also makes me really vulnerable to being hurt. No one really enjoy's feeling pain. It sucks. 

I had two options: show up and stay present or drop out all together. I decided to show up, even though I was dragging my feet to the starting line, I made it with tears in my eyes. I started running with tears falling and decided to lift others up along the way. As I reached the finish line, I was able to look back and see that I faced my "GIANTS" and I faced them with kindness, love, and generosity. I did it because while I was running, others were running with me and cheering me on. I did not retreat to my bedroom at home or read a book- my people would not allow me to do that. I showed up ready to face my fears. Ready to forgive those who hurt me and love them. 

I was able to do it. This was such a huge moment for me. It was a win in my book. It meant that I conquered another area where I was fearful. I learned what keeps me from addressing my fears is me. I can be my own worst enemy. So now instead of believing that I cannot keep going or that I need to avoid pain at all cost, I keep showing up to the starting line. If I start with dry eyes or with tears, I will start. If I finish with my feet hurting, body in pain, or my breathing heavy, I will still finish. I won't let my pain keep me from showing up and living my life. I will keep running and I will not stop.

Lastly, this past week I had the honor of leading an amazing group of girls at Lakewood Youth Summer Camp 2014. It was such an amazing experience. Our dance parties were intense and full of fun. I've never danced that hard for Jesus before. It was a marking week for me and I am so glad I went. Getting to baptize my life group girls was such an amazing experience for me. I will forever remember that moment. 

Moral of the story here: Don't let pain keep you silent, still, or stagnant. Keep moving. You will be glad you did.

 

 

Our Friendship-Their Parenting

As a kid my brother and I were close but when we were little we always told on each other. My parents grew tired of it. They told us to stop telling on each other and to work it out.

"Work it out" those three words led the bond of a lifetime. We were not going to talk or incriminate each other anymore. In fact, we became confidants. We did everything together. We created our own world where we were spies we called it "kids" (Don't ask me why...I was like 6 when we created that name). Since I followed after everything my brother did, when he was done with something that meant I had to be done too. 

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Examples:

  • He was "too old" to watch Barney and that meant I was too.
  • He didn't want to play "kids" anymore after years of imaginary adventures as kid spies (Let me tell you, the moment he broke this news to be I was devastated. I tried playing kids by myself and making it sound fun in hopes that he would join me again but he was done. Kids was no fun playing alone so after a short time, I was done too).
  • If he didn't like something, then I didn't either.

Move in the teenage stage, coupled with hormonal changes and this is when Dr. Phil, I mean my counselor mom, had to step in. She had to help us understand each other. Miscommunication happened more frequently and I was trying to figure out what I liked and how to formulate my own opinions (so I thought). This is also the phase where I was discovering my style and quite often embarrassed him with my clothing choices.

IMG_3667If it wasn't for my parents, especially my mom, then my brother and I would not be best friends. Sadly, for them, they created a force to be reckoned with. We are each other's advocates and greatest defense attorney. If I need something, he will take care of it and vice versa. We have only had maybe 1 major argument and that's it. The rest have been disagreements- my mom taught us how to be civil and we followed through on that most of the time. The fact is, when you have a brother like mine, it's hard to be mad. First of all, it takes a lot for me to be angry- I have to be deeply hurt. Second of all, when you are trying to keep an angry face and be agitated and your brother does something outrageously goofy to make you laugh, you just can't stay mad anymore.

That is our life. My brother and I have had our "rubber meets the road" moments and our "Come to Jesus" talks but thanks to our parents, we get each other. We understand and know each other every well.

My parents valued the health of our relationship so much, that they facilitated a bond so strong that sometimes (most of the time) I would rather go to my brother about an issue first. Instead of them being mad and jealous that I wanted to go to him first, they encouraged it. My mom taught me as a little girl to listen to whatever my brother said, and if he was wrong, she would deal with him. So then I became a faithful follower and dedicated little sister. My first and only fight was when I was 8 years old, finishing off a little boy who got in a fight with my brother. Instead of running to get help like I should have, I jumped in and said "no one messes with my brother!" We definitely got a lecture but not spanking, which meant we weren't in that much trouble.

I followed my brother to college. I would love to say that I didn't follow him and I made this grand decision on my own but truth be told, he was there, and I wanted to be with him. I always dreamed of us being in college together. That was a fun year and a half. We had been separated for about 3 years and I missed my brother terribly. We embarked on the adventure of our adult friendship and it was so much fun. We did so much together.

IMG_3701I know people think we are weird and that I love my brother too much or maybe that I am obsessed (I am not). I love our friendship. It the kind where no matter what disagreements we may have, we are blood. We are family. Having a family member as your best friend is such a a gift. One day it will just be me and him when our parents aren't on this earth anymore.

In case you didn't know it, my brother is one cool guy. He has such a pastors heart (He will be a pastor one day), he serves others, and lovespeople well. He is the superstar in this family people. He is the most level-headed, most always cool, calm, and collected. Don't be fooled by his humorous nature and ability to hold a conversation with anyone- he is more introverted than me. In fact I have zero introverted personality traits. I am the outgoing, loud, boisterous, emotional, dramatic, passionate, free-spirited dreamer. I am the typical youngest child- the baby. My parents somehow managed to correct me without crushing me, believe in me without building me up too much, and they have tried to keep me as level headed as possible.

Mom and Dad, hat's off to you for fostering and nourishing the greatest friendship I've ever known.

Thank you MJ for teaching me to persevere and never settle. You are a Godly man, you love your girlfriend well and inspire me to wait for an honorable man with character like you, and thank you for making me laugh constantly. My life is better with you in it.

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Myron Brooks Jr. aka MJ

You are one cool guy.

(Sorry ladies, he's been spoken for by Falon KM)

XOXO

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Jumping In

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My mom is not a hoarder by any means. In fact as a child, if something was missing I knew my mom threw it away. If it was't being used it was gone- just like that. We always had to clean out our closet and give our clothes away before we could get any new ones.

As a young adult, I have loved keeping my stuff. I enjoy all my furniture and all of the things I have bought that really make my room cosy. Ever since I took my shoes off, I decided that I really don't need all this stuff. So after thinking that I would sell the furniture in my room, I just gave it away. I put it out there on facebook and within 15 minutes everything was spoken for. I gave away my desk, dressers, vanity and couch. I've never been more happy to have an empty room. There is something fulfilling about letting go.

Truth is, I have a roof over my head, food, clothing, a car, a job, electronic devices, family and friends, etc. I really don't need anything else. One day I may replace my desk and dresser but I hope I never get attached to my stuff because I want to be ready to give my things away at a moments notice. It's just stuff.

I find so much joy in letting go of my selfish ways. I love that my room is not cluttered with stuff and I thought to myself, "Why didn't I do this sooner?!"

I was talking to my friend Jenna about this friday night and we both agreed that we would much rather give our stuff away than grow attached to it. We then started talking about missions and how we can do anything while on the mission field. We became friends while on a mission trip to Rwanda and we spent nearly a month together. Baby wipes were a necessity for "showering" purposes, bucket showers with cold water was the norm, using the restroom in a little stall with just a concrete hole in the ground, eating unidentifiable food, messy hair, no electricity= priceless. This thrill and joy from traveling to a different country and learning from people who live so simply, is irreplaceable. After each missions trip I swear I will get rid of more stuff and I usually spend the first week crying because I want to go back. That lasts for a little while and then I am back into the swing of getting more and more stuff-until recently...I wanted to clean things out. I wanted to jump into a life of selflessness.

I like to think the physical aspect of cleaning out my room represents the spiritual aspect of God cleaning out my heart. I can look back on this past year and see so many areas where my heart and mind have been cluttered.

I am truly understanding the concept of "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21" and "Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will fatten your purses in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no rips or holes in them. Your treasures there will never disappear; no thief can steal them; no moth can destroy them. Luke 12:33"

I never want to forget why God placed me on this earth. I want to pour my life out to others. It's easier said than done at times. I believe, when you show up willing, He does the rest.

You want to know a secret? It's always more fun to give than to receive.

Living a life of faith and trust in Jesus is an adventure.

I'm Jumping in with reckless abandon.

xoxo

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I love orphans.

orphansI was a case manager for a year and a half and I got to to work with children in foster care. Before earning a degree in social work, I was very ignorant about the foster care system. I did not know if orphanages still existed in the US or if children were just in foster homes-until I started my job and I met some of the faces that make up "foster care."

Children in foster care are judged before anyone even meets them. They are probably "bad" or have a lot of "issues." Potential adoptive parents want young children to complete their family. If you are 7 years old you better pray hard because most likely you will be passed over for a baby because you are far too old to "mold" and "shape". Thus they are left in the system, growing more emotionally closed and starting to question everyone and everything. They are used to being let down and people giving promises they cannot keep. They shuffle from home to home- trying to learn new rules each time. Have you ever been to a sleepover as a child but you couldn't sleep well because you were out of your home environment? Children in foster care have to adjust to new homes and wonder if they will be safe. They may not sleep well. They may wet the bed, make failing grades, or be disrespectful.

I was really apathetic towards children in foster care until I saw their faces and learned their names. 

Every time a child ran up to me for a hug or refused to let me leave, my heart melted each time. These children are worthy of love and belonging. Unfortunately the older they are the longer they will permanently bounce from home to home in the foster care system until they age out at 18. By that time many of them are homeless, pregnant, or facing jail time. I can only imagine how they would have turned out if someone took a chance to love them. Loving foster children is risky, especially the older ones, but I believe it is worth it. Did you know that girls in foster care are more likely to become teen mothers or pregnant before age 25?

The teen who taught me the most was one of my greatest challenges at first. She would not talk to me much. She kind of mumbled as she talked. I tried not to pry since they have to talk to several adults about their feelings and it can be overwhelming. So I tried building a rapport with her. I did not see the results of this rapport until a year later. She finally opened up to me. I knew there was something special about her and I wanted to remain involved in her life regardless of where my career led me. She had endured a lot of pain and hurt. She had trouble opening up to people and connecting with adults because one minute they would want her forever and the next they were done. She has a lot of fears and hesitations about being loved. She doesn't understand true self-sacrificing, unconditional, and selfless love, yet. I am hoping she will be able to see past all of her hurt and pain to see how much love is really surrounding her.

In spite of all this, she has marked my life forever. I think of her all the time. Just thinking about her hurt, pain, and life brings tears to my eyes. There is nothing I can say or do to take away her pain. She is just one of many. She is not a number. She has a name and real life.

Watching a family adopt their 16year old son was so powerful. He was so excited to belong to a family legally but to them he was already family and this just made it official. The concept of leaving the old behind and changing your name is so symbolic to me. National adoption day is my favorite. These adoption moments bring me to tears because these kids are so worthy of love and having a family.

There are well over 6000+ children/teens waiting for good homes. These children are not in an orphanage, they are in foster homes in your own backyard- longing for permanency. You would be surprised how fast some parents relinquish their rights and decide to leave their child in foster care. It's heartbreaking.

The most fulfilling work I've ever done was serve these legends. Remember for every number there is a name and a face-these are precious little lives. I hope your heart can be opened to adoption. It's a beautiful, tough, rewarding, and life-changing journey.

Get out there people. Open your homes. Love a child or teen.

If you are scared of being in it alone, you won't be! There are so many support groups that meet in person and online. You will have support.

You will not regret it.

If you don't feel called to adopt then help someone else financially.

Do your part.

You can learn more about adoption through All In Orphan Care and Arrow Child and Family Ministries.

XOXO

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I Thought I knew What I Was Doing.

photo 1As a young adult, we have grand plans for our life and where we see ourselves or we don't have any plans at all and we are just seeing where life takes us. Regardless, either way presents some challenges. Most likely our plans have changed about 203938473 times (okay, I'm exaggerating but you get the point) by now. Maybe it is just me with all the plans that keep changing? I don't know but its too much pressure to try and figure out every single inch of my life. Its stressful. I give up.So now I have adopted the idea that the more I take time to learn about the heart of Jesus and who he is- the more things change, I change, and my plans change. After getting my degree in Social Work and learning about social injustice and what that really means, I have had an undeniable passion to advocate for people. Going overseas just confirmed that passion even more. Being in America confused that passion. I was tired of church as I knew it to be. I came back to America with this insatiable desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus, literally. In college and beyond I was searching for a church that had that same desire to serve others and really live life with people in the community. Outside of a few clothing drives here and there- things were looking pretty bleak and my focus changed from the community back to me. I had a life to figure out, duh- what else was a twenty something supposed to be doing?I was thinking about myself all too much until April 2014 and God interrupted my life. Yes, He did. He completely diverted my attention and reminded me of the main reason I was placed on this earth- to LOVE people. So while I am sitting in frustration, worry, doubt, and fear; I began to realize why I had no peace. How can I truly serve others when I am only thinking about myself?I read a few books that wrecked me during my Solitude time and that was the beginning of the end for me. By the time June rolled around, I was helpless to the realization that life as I knew it was being altered. Then one Saturday morning I took my shoes off and everything changed. I was more fulfilled walking into my apartment with no shoes than I was before I gave them away. Then all the sudden Matthew 25:34-40 comes alive. You see this pattern, friends? The past few months have been like a domino effect.So instead of running for the hills and becoming self-absorbed again, I am embracing this steady wrecking of my heart or being sweetly broken (as some people say). When this happens I get really weepy. I can't help it. I am emotional a very emotional human being. So today I woke up fighting back tears, I cried during worship at church, I cried while driving to the store, etc. You get my point. Some deep shifting is happening in my heart and instead of trying to figure it out; I am just letting it happen.I have found that when this wrecking happens the best thing I can do is be still. So that is what I took time to do today. Sit, eat gelato, read, and pray. If you are being wrecked like me and your plans are changing- let's start a support group. I promise to keep you entertained, listen often, and make you laugh.I'll leave you all with a quote from Brene Brown because she is awesome.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”― Brené Brown
 
 
 
Lets stick together and stay authentic,
XOXO

 signature-wordpressP.S.Did I mention I went to Austin this weekend?  I love that place. 

What Defines me?

 I've read plenty of books dating and read too many blogs on dating, dressing modest, and purity rings. There are so many perspectives and for a young Christian woman and these opinions can be overwhelming. The one thing I have rested on is that loving Jesus gives me fulfillment.

When I get anxious about being single I have realized one thing:

My feelings are fleeting and cannot be trusted. 

Some days I feel like I can change the worldSome days I wonder why I am singleSomedays I compare my life with othersSome days I feel disconnected from some of my peersSomedays I am full of passion and drive

What I am learning is, my feelings will change and somedays betray me and somedays tear me away from my destiny. If I buy into the lie that my dreams or goals can't happen unless I am married then I what am I really living for? Who am I living for-my imaginary husband?

I ask myself often, "Can I really trust Jesus and his plan? Can I just do that?" Someday's it is challenging especially when you are sitting at yet another wedding or bridal shower but I have quickly realized that I love my life and I am so blessed. I am right where I need to be and although, it is not where I thought I would be; I am thankful for where I am right now. I am so enriched by the people that make everyday better.

Let's just face it, I am having so much fun.

 You my friend are so dear and have made life so fun.Bachelorette Party for Amy! 

Culture says I should be defined by my relationship status and I beg to differ.

Some of the most precious souls on earth. I love every second with them.Coffee times.

I think that instead of debating whether or not getting married before you're 23 or staying single till 25 is better, we just celebrate each other. Instead of comparing our journey's lets learn from each other. Some people get married early, some people get married late, some people have kids, some people don't, some people stay single because they WANT to. Everyone's path is different. There is no right or wrong.

Life gets tough but one thing I have learned is living in community is life giving. My relationships with my family, my married friends, my single friends, and mentors enriches my life.

Every stage of life is valuable and so priceless.

She is my biggest cheerleader and friend. She believes I can do anything and I believe her.Everyone needs people to laugh with and lay on the grass at Discovery green.The greatest story of redemption and Christ's love is shown through the way Arnie and Jenna Cazares love each other. Getting to be apart of their wedding was such an honor.These two. They keep me laughing. Buddies. Not sure why people confused us for sisters but you all really made college amusing! My favorite engaged couple.My High School lifegroup- these ladies are so fun and keep me on my toes! I love that I can keep it real with you, laugh often, and  you are always a listening ear. <3

Below is the definition of single.
 
sin·gle
adjective
1.only one; not one of several.
 
Here are the synonyms:
alone, companionless, lone, lonely, lonesome, solitary,unaccompanied.
None of that sounds interesting, exciting, or fun.
I think it's time we changed our view of
happiness.
Let's be honest,
life will not be perfect when you get married.
You can't base your happiness on a person.
Learning how to be truly happy with yourself
and who you are is a gift.
Many people are still trying to figure that out.
Sitting on the lawn care-free. Those were the days. College was good to me.

 I love making new friends. This picture is from a few years ago, I just met these people and starting taking pictures with them!Paid for my first all inclusive vacation to Cancun a year ago and as you can tell, I was "soaking up the sun." Can't wait for my next vacay.This guy. I love my Dad.

Enjoy life.

Laugh often.

Dream Big.

Live out those dreams.

And Like My brother says, "Just love Jesus."

Somehow we think that loving Jesus won't be enough because

we want a relationship with someone "in the flesh."

No matter how hard we try

NO ONE 

can fill the God shaped hole we were all born with.

Only God can.

Until we understand that

nothing and no one will satisfy those desires.

 My ACE. Best brother ever.I've gotten to travel the world just a little and I am not done yet. #RwandaDoesn't Logan look lovely? Such a precious wedding. Childhood friends ;)My first time hiking in the wilderness, senior year of college. This is when LizBeth got hitched;) These two keep me laughing with our group text messages and random conversations. I love living life with you two. 

Of course these pictures represent a fraction of the people that enrich my life but they make life fun. These people strengthen me, encourage me, and laugh with me. Guess what, some of them are married, single, dating, or engaged, sharing life with them brings me joy.

So when your feelings try to take over and put you down, remember that every day we GET to enjoy this life we have been given and that is worth living for.

 XOXOImage P.S.I am working on launching Hannah's Hope that non-profit I told you all about. Stay tuned for more details. #KeepDreaming #AwakenTheDreamer

We weren't always this close...

MOTHERS DAY is a day to celebrate these wonderful selfless human beings that raise children who eventually become presidents, doctors, pastors, scientist, architects, athletes, musicians, and daughters that one day become mothers. 

As a child I was closer to my dad than my mom. I thought my mom was not cool. She did not dress cool like the other moms. She was not "hip" like I wanted her to be (real selfish right?!) and I did not understand her. We are already completely opposite personality wise. I could have sworn that God gave me the wrong mother. I was a good kid but once I turned 10 my mom and I had a rough road ahead. I never wanted her to be around my friends. She was not cool enough. I even had the audacity to try (notice I said try because it did not work) and ignore her in public. I remember a season where weren't getting along. I was constantly saying hurtful things and giving her a hard time. It was rough #TheStruggle. There are so many stories I could tell but just know, I had plenty of come to Jesus meetings with my mom during those pre-teen/teen years. She was a force to be reckoned with and Lord knows you do not mess with a black momma.

Thankfully college and distance helped our relationship to really have time to grow and develop. After I graduated from college I needed a roommate to live with in Houston. I desperately wanted to live in the city. So my mom packed up her stuff and moved to the city a few months before me. We had a rough start as "grown" up roommates. Let me tell you, I have been trying for a year to get another roommate but it just doesn't work out. We have become such buddies. My mom has literally become my best friend. I completely understand her now. In fact, I am so humbled that I get to be her daughter. She may have held me up in 300 + prayer meetings growing up but she taught me how to talk to God and listen for his voice. She taught me how to serve others, how to forgive quickly, extend grace, be a lady, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and chase after my dreams. If I tell my mom my biggest dream, she says, "Yes I can see that. Lets get started, lets make it happen!" She is the most incredible human being I have ever met. I wouldn't trade her as a roommate for anything! What fun we have! Movie nights, running together, praying together, laughing together, and watching our favorite shows. Did I mention that she is a counselor? So yes, I get free informal counseling sessions. She is keeping me in line people. She is the best. I want to love and display Jesus to people the way she does to me on a daily basis.

So to all you mommies out there. You are doing a great job. If in moments we kids don't seem to like you, don't worry it will get better. We will learn that you were right about a lot of stuff. We will learn how much we need you and value you. Its a process but trust me, we will get it. You all are the most precious people and I admire each and everyone of you.

 

Happy Mothers Day to all!

 

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Stupid People

Lately, I have feel like I have been surrounded by "grown up" children. I find myself ranting to my mom about the people I am graced to interact with on a daily basis in this season of my life. It's seriously been one of the most stretching seasons of my life (interacting with immature adults). As I am venting and pointing out all of my great qualities, my mom is quick to bring me down to earth. You see, the people very well can be stupid in moments and drive me nuts, but I am no better than them. There is such a fine line between pride and confidence. I find myself walking that tightrope. I am sure if I spent more time praying and less time complaining about these people, they would probably get on my nerves less. It's great to let your feelings out (I do it daily) but I always have to remind myself to change my perspective, put myself in their shoes, and extend the same grace I would like to recieve. That is easier said than done. In the moment, all I can think of is how they are driving me crazy or how I just want them to leave me alone. Pretty much every reason I can think of to be annyoyed and selfish-I find it and nurse it and become friends with it. Which leads me to the problem, I focus too much on why they are stupid and why I am better.Ah, doesn't Jesus demand that we love our neighbor as ourselves. I got smacked in the face today by Galations 5:13 (MSG)...Use your freedom to serve one another in love;that's how freedom grows. Those key words love and freedom. Walking in love=Freedom. If I truly want to stay free and focused. I have to love. It doesn't mean I need to be bff with these people. It just means I need to love people because God loves me and I am a mess somedays, overly emotional, and demanding. He still loves me and pursues my heart. For the people that don't know him, they are missing a huge piece of freedom and unconditional love. If I am just focused on myself then they will never see his love reflected through me.So I vent, I think, and pray. "God help me not to kill these people, instead, help me to love". Its not a one time prayer, for me its a daily prayer. Daily, I am being humbled and honestly I am so thankful because otherwise I would be wrapped up in pride.Image