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.

How I got Interrupted.

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I have been at an critical place in my young adult life. This book review will be a filled with my journey and how Jen Hatmaker’s books wrecked me.

I had spent a month in Rwanda in 2010 and a month in Thailand in 2011. Seeing the love for Christ people had overseas shook me. Their approach to engaging their community and their humility taught me how apathetic and bored I was with church as I knew it to be, yet while overseas I came alive. I loved the way they worshipped God. There was sincerity in it. In America we can just fake it and we get so wrapped up in our appearance that the whole idea of being real with our questions, doubts and concerns is so foreign. Its like we are all waiting for that outspoken person to name the elephant in the room. As if we are all on the edge of our seats, waiting for someone to ask, is this it? Is this what church is about? Can church be really simple like it is for the Rwandan people and the Thai people? These were some of my questions back then and they have lingered in my mind for years.

I have never come home from another country and not cried at least for a week because I am just so broken by all that I have experienced and I wonder what I am missing. I’ve never decided to dig deeper into those questions or really ask God those hard questions because I didn’t know where to start and lets be real- I felt crazy for having those questions. I was raised in church, ministry was my life but somehow it felt like I was missing the main point.

So lets fast-forward to April 2014 when things really changed. I read 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I had been following her blog for a year so naturally when my best friend says she has been crying and reading this book and I have to get it, I bought it the same day. She said oh you will love it. (Jenna and I are like hippie-Jesus loving free spirits that believe anything is possible. We used to sit in the children’s book section in the local bookstore and dream. Yep, we would let our imaginations go where only they could and believe that God could/would do something amazing. ) I had never read anything by an author that openly shared her wrestles and questions with life and church culture, as I knew it to be. As far as I knew, I only talked with a few friends in hopes that I wouldn’t be shunned for my thoughts on the “stuff” we do in church that has nothing to do with souls and Jesus. Most of what I was involved in was all about self-promotion and using that man made platform to build the kingdom. That is what I grew up seeing. In Jen’s book 7 she really digs deep into her transforming journey of letting go of excess and the pursuit of “stuff stuff stuff, more more more” and looking into how her family could change the course of their lives by pouring their finances and resources into things that actually matter. But really, 7 is just the sequel to her book Interrupted. Interrupted is the book I want to talk to you about.

I just gave you a super long intro but I really wanted to set the stage for this book. Reading 7 and interrupted led to the most impactful permutation in my young adult life.

 I will cover a few key areas that wrecked me while reading interrupted.

One major area I wrestled with was the churches responsibility to care for the hurting and broken. I knew that an occasional food drive was not really going to address the needs of the community. It had to start with us the church (the individuals). Jen explains it this way: “We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we are not convinced it will be properly managed. We can’t project our advantaged perspective onto struggling people and expect results available only to the privileged. Must we be wise? Absolutely but doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission.”

I found myself on the cusp of ignoring the needs of the community, forgetting the life transforming moments overseas, and settling into my own world oblivious to the needs of those around me and depending on others to see the need and meet it, not me. The real question is why not me? Why not you? Why aren’t we engaging in our community. This simple wrestle is what Jen’s beautifully documents. It’s her journey from ministry and life as she knew it to God brining her husband and family into a “new thing” and ministry via community and building relationships and out of those relationships people coming to Christ. Allowing people to belong before expecting them to behave. Her journey is raw, exciting, and thought provoking. You really can’t read this book without asking yourself, what am I all about? When was the last time I spent time with my neighbor or served the poor not because I was looking to be thanked, but because I was purely interested in their world and serving them because they are human. They have life. They are family. Somehow, life became all about us and we won’t reach out to others if it is an inconvenience or if the people around us don’t look and act like us. Where did we adapt that attitude? Where did I adapt that attitude?

 Jen talks about movement and going when you feel God is leading you into a new thing

Jen states, “When we feel we are supposed to do something radical we can expect it to be misunderstood.” I am not sure what that looks like for you. Maybe its moving to a new city, going back to college, getting a new job, restoring broken relationships. Whatever the case maybe, Jen mentions, “part of the task is going without knowing…if you go wherever God says and when, expect to be misunderstood. And go anyway” Oftentimes, we are waiting on the approval from too many people to just leap when we know in our gut that is what we are supposed to do. No one said leaping would be easy. No one said the next steps would be painted in the sky but wouldn’t we spoil everything if we knew it all? Most of the time we don’t need all the details.

 Interrupted describes a crossroad that many people, including myself, are at. Are you ready for a radical life-transforming adventure? If you are, maybe your heart is open to allowing God to interrupt life and church, as you know it. Interrupted gives you the permission to wrestle and the permission to evaluate your world. You can’t get through this book without feeling, inspired, challenged, and broken for the least. You also can’t read this book and expect to stay stagnant and not call into question life as you know it. If I assume correctly, we have all been challenged to allow God to interrupt our life but maybe fear, doubt, or worry have kept us from fully diving in. Either way, we must do it. We must make a conscious effort to be all in.

Jen’s approach is fun, relatable, and humble. While reading her book you feel as if you on a coffee date catching up on months of time that has passed and you just get to listen to this deep transformation that has taken place in her life. Through this story you leave inspired to love better, be more informed about your community, and allow God to interrupt you. Truth is, if I cam so consumed with serving God the way I want to, whose kingdom am I really building-his kingdom or my own? Comfortable Christianity won't cut it anymore.

I have never been in a place of such humility and brokenness until recently. I have never felt more vibrant, awake, and passionate about His kingdom before. I have layed my service schedule down and I have decided to follow his lead. I’ve been inspired, challenged, and interrupted.

Get the book, you won’t regret it.

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ABOUT JEN HATMAKER:

Jen Hatmaker is the author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and A Modern Girl's Bible Study series. With a heart for her generation, she speaks at conferences around the country. Jen resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Brandon, and their five children. To learn more about Jen and follow her blog, go to www.jenhatmaker.com.

Lose myself

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I was reminded of the song "lose myself by Lauryn Hill" as I read Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted (The expanded version is coming out soon. Get it. You won't be sorry). In cooperate America, its very clear that in order to gain "success" you have to climb your way to the top. One of the higher up's in my department put it this way," You have to play the game." I left that conversation even more confident that I was not made for the game nor did I want to play it. If playing the game was just for money, a title, pomp and circumstance; then I would not "succeed" in corporate America. I attended a meeting with someone and I left in tears. I was completely wrecked because everything I've been told to fight for in my career is not what I am passionate about. Trust me, I have tried to picture myself at a big desk at a great company climbing the ladder and after a few months, I am once again convinced, that is not the life for me; however, it is the life for some people and if you are that person, by all means please run in your lane, and succeed. As much as I detest this concept of fighting your way to the top it is not just in corporate America; I've seen this "race to the top" in church and even Christian organizations.

Fighting your way to the top in church may be guised with a seemingly well meaning intention but we all know the truth. Working your way to the "top" of the church world may equate to joining the "ranks" of: Priscila Shrier, Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Robert Madu, Chad Veach, Bob Goff, etc. The list could go on. We've all had our moments of admiration and awe that turn into a selfish desire to solely and maybe subconsciously pursue that platform. Those people are in their God-given lane and we can't mimic that. In church we see a pattern: you work the system of who you know -->Gain a position-->Get recognition-Its a tiring game. Luke talks about this is Chapter 14 verse 11 "If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” The Amplified Bible states it this way, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled (ranked below others who are honored or rewarded), and he who humbles himself (keeps a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly) will be exalted (elevated in rank)." Even still, Jesus is not saying, try to be seemingly "humble" so you will be elevated. If that is what we think he is saying, we (I) have missed the point.

I think Jen describes it best:

"I hate the top. I hate who I have to be to live there. I hate the biblical two step I have to perform to justify top-dwelling. I hate the posturing up there...I detest the fear that haunts every decision. It's a ridiculous game where everyone is either scratching your back or stabbing you in the back. Depending on whether your rung is above or below theirs. The self-congratulatory blustering up there is abhorrent. I'm so over it.Okay maybe it would be more true to say I want to be so over it. I'm trying to be over it."

When, I read these words, it was like someone articulated my feelings over the past few years. You don't want to play the game, in fact you are trying to get over it, because you are so done. Desperately done. The fact still remains that we are human and have a flesh. I have realized that I need to be "done" daily. I am so susceptible to the game. I've even found myself playing at times. Only to be reminded of who I am and how far I've allowed myself to drift from the truth. The line Jen stated that brings it all home is this: "In order for God's kingdom to come, my kingdom had to go." I can't tell you how many times I have prayed anxious prayers to the Lord crying out for "more of Him and less of me" and I've spent years earnestly soaking in more of me. Can I tell you, people, "I'm trying to be over it." So today I chose to be done and tomorrow I will do the same and so forth. Even when I chose the right mindset, I may slip and I may fall but I am starting somewhere.

I've spent a lot of time missing the main point. I don't have time to miss the point anymore. I want to keep the main thing the main thing. My scripture for this year has been Micah 6:8. It is hanging on my cork board at work. The minute I feel myself wandering from that and seeking success or fame and a following, I am missing it. I must draw myself back to square one: this is all about His kingdom.  I just get to be apart of it. How wonderful that he let's me be apart. Literally he is letting me in on what he is doing.

God gave me this dream to have a non-profit for teen mothers. I have labored and prayed over this dream for years and I continue to pray over it. One thing I have to check myself on, am I missing the point? Am I missing it? God don't let me miss the point of all of this. Truth is, I have a desire to help one momma at a time. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of doing something and wanting it to be big. When I find myself heading in that direction, I have to hit the breaks. The main thing is loving people, God's people. It's not about me. The dream was never about me. It was about God entrusting me to carry it. To love his people. To serve his people. Do I know what all of this will evolve into? No, I don't. I do know, it's not about a good social media campaign, marketing, or position. I so desperately want to get that concept with all I am. I want to dwell where Jesus is choose to and make my home there.

This weekend a Bishop Matthew, talked about home. How many people are trying to find "home" and a place to belong. Truth is, as Christians, we will never feel fully at home here. More importantly, "God's love is inside of us and his home is in us." So no matter where you go or where God sends you, his home is in us. "I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you (John 14:18-20)."

So instead of me trying to clammer to the top at church, work, or with HHope. I am humbly seeking Christ daily, to learn how to let his love flow through me and draw people home- to Christ. This peace, joy, and love wasn't meant for me to keep it to myself. It was mean to be shared.

I can't ignore the hurting, broken, those in poverty, and the extreme needs all around the world. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (James 1:27). I refuse to befriend apathy and pride. I can't do it anymore. I must make more of an effort to lay "Faitth and all of her agendas" down daily. 

I want to lose myself so I can wake up, be present, and fully engaged in God's kingdom, not my own.

All Son's and Daughters sum up my heart beat:

"Wake up, wake up, wake upwake up all you sleepersStand up, stand upStand up all you dreamersHands up, hands upHands up all believersTake up your cross, carry it on"

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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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Try

imageIts no secret that Colbie Caillat hit the jackpot with her song Try. Women all over the world are embracing the message of her song. I never realized how much I could relate to the words of her song until yesterday after listening to it several times.

Since I was a little girl, I struggled immensely with my self-esteem. I built my worth an value on the opinions of others. I idolized perfectionism because I wanted to be accepted so badly. It got me no where, literally. Once I realized that “fake it to you make it” was such a stupid statement I aimed to learn more about authenticity. My parents divorce put a "stain" on the perfect life I was trying to lead. I was the actress and I had a role to play. I perfected the statement "I'm good" even when I was not. I did not want people to know how "not fine" I was. I spent most of my time trying to be the "best" Christian and the "best" daughter and the "best" friend. I put all of this pressure on myself.  I was on a mission to please everyone- until I realized that I was loosing myself in doing so. For the people that knew me well; they held me in the darkest of nights and made sure I was aware that joy would come in the morning- and it did.

Joy did come. It did not come all at once. It came in waves. With each wave I gained more confidence, hope, and peace. I went back to square one. I am so glad I did because Jesus met me there. I laid down things idolized. I found myself steadily desiring less of what I wanted and more of what God wanted.

To me Jesus meeting me where I am, reminds me of the homecoming of the prodigal son. I believe that moment of acceptance and love embodies each time I run to God with tears in my eyes and a broken heart knowing when I get in his arms everything will be okay.

Living my life based on "works" or "doing the right thing" or "trying" to be perfect did not bring me freedom. In fact, it suffocated me.

Traveling to Mexico, Rwanda, and Thailand allowed me to see his love in the eyes of people all over the world and to remind me that his love is deep and all he wants is genuine love and worship. More than my worship, he wants me to know of his never-ending love.

I am about halfway through the book Carry on Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed (Thank you Alison for telling me about this book) and I am so inspired by Glennon Melton's authentic dialogue. She made a statement in her book that I believe is so true.

"We are often not permitted to tell the truth in everyday life. There is a small set of words and reactions and pleasantries we are allowed to say, like, "I'm fine and you?" But we are not supposed to say much of anything else, especially how we are really doing. We find out early that telling the whole truth makes people uncomfortable and is certainly not ladylike or likely to make us popular, so we learn to lie sweetly so that we can be loved. And when we figure out this system, we are split in two: the public self, who says the right things in order to belong, and the secret self who thinks other things."

I love that powerful truth. She isn't saying go tell random strangers about your whole life but she is addressing our culture of always having to "be okay" for people so we can "save face". The truth is that a lot of people feel like they have to "try" in some area of their life. This goes for men and for women.

Now I am embracing my imperfections. I'm not "trying" anymore. I am not pretending anymore. I am truthfully and unapologetically me. I know I won't please everyone, oh well. I'm staying honest and showing up. Someday's it harder to show up than others but I still show up. I think that is the point. When we get lost in all of our issues we stop showing up because we feel we cannot win. The truth is we can win. Healing from wounds can be so painful but being on the other side is even better than standing still. Truth be told, when you are in pain, you may feel like crying, cursing,praying,worshipping or being silent. I believe everyone needs a friend that will walk though muck and mire with you and make sure you do not sink and that your faith does not fail you. I have some wonderful soul sisters, Abby and Jenna, that have been with me on my mountain top moments and in the valley. They have held my hands up when I was weak and danced with me in victory. Their unconditional love has been water to my soul.

I know life happens. There will always be something to overcome. We will have to press through tough times and seasons. But now I come to the table ready with God's word on my lips because I want to be more prepared than I was before. There will be days where I am weak and I will cry and I will feel tired but this time I will choose to walk in strength. I will not believe my emotions because they cannot be trusted.

Same goes for you. You are much stronger than you think you are. When you feel like the weight of the world is crashing down don't despair. You are only getting stronger. You may hurt now but it won't last forever- joy will come.

True freedom comes from knowing your daddy God is welcoming you home with open arms everyday- no matter what you look like or how much you messed up. Some people make God seem like he is sitting up in heaven waiting to punish us but I feel like he would be singing "You don't have to try, try, try, try" because we are already accepted. We are already loved and everyday he is drawing our hearts to His. He believes in our worth and value and I know He is beckoning us to believe it too.

Choose to show up and be present. This world needs you.

Here is a question we must all ask ourselves:

"When you're all alone, by yourself, do you like you?

Do you like you?"

Colbie Caillat

XOXOsignature-wordpress

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

Solitude

I have just spent 20 days in Solitude. No social media. Now I thought this would be easy, I even tried to journal about my experience daily and I'll include a few entries below.

Day one of solitude and I've probably looked at my phone to click on Instagram or Twitter about 15-20 times already. Giving up Facebook hasn't been that bad since signed off a few days ago but I was still looking at instagram. Pretty much all the pics on instagram are on fb which means I'm not missing anything. So thus, I strip away instagram and twitter along with fb and I am in for 20 solid days of no social media. I may not know what to do with myself. The whole purpose of me doing this is to read and pray and write. And get my head on straight. Whatever that looks like. Who is really "straight" and perfectly together? No one. Absolutely no one. So whatever. I'm trying to get focused.

Its been two hours of me being at home and I feel like my brain is going crazy. I am trying to find something to do. I feel like time is passing by slowly. I sit and read (I am seriously enjoying 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Get the book and read it.). Yep, only 20 minutes has passed. Also, I'm not watching my shows this week so things are quiet in my room, real quiet.

My mom asked me to go run so I conceded with the motivation that I was going to stop at the galleria and get a Cinnabon. Yes. I love Cinnabon and I haven’t had one in a year. So I felt that I could negate my run eat 880 calories unashamedly. At least I ran to get it and ran home to eat it? That probably doesn’t make this any better. Oh well:)

ImageMy cinnabon. 

Even with our little detour, my mom and I still finished our 3 miles in under 30 minutes. She ran while eating ice cream and I ran with my cinnabon. It was quite hilarious & a great memory.--The rest of the 20 days consisted of me reading, praying, and seeking God. Truly letting go of old stuff that has hindered me and recieving healing in areas I didn't know needed healing. It's really freeing to just be honest with yourself but it's also painful. Those 20 days were full of joy, pain, and surrender.On my last day I wrote this:

Its only fitting that at the end of this solitude time away from social media that I finish 7 by Jen Hatmaker and cry. lol This is becoming quite typical of me. My emotions and passion meet and often I am crying happy/sad tears at the same time.

During solitude, I have learned my entitlement to the "best" has led me farther from God because I was the one choosing my will. My vision was so blurred and I couldn't hear God's subtle whispers. I felt like I was doing everything right and yet nothing was going my way. I have served God faithfully and stayed out of "trouble". I would think to myself: "For real God, quit playing, I know I haven't been acting crazy and stuff. Have you forgotten about me?" My actions were "right" but my heart was all wrong. "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9

No amount of perfection will help you to earn what you want. Entitelment doesn't move the hand of God. Any blessing we receive is simply because he loves us. Not because of how good we are. So here I am passionately pursing the heart of God (or so I thought) and nothing is going my way. I thought I deserved what my heat desired in the timing I wanted and the way I wanted. Instead, God is closing doors left and right. I am trying to go back and open them.

I had it all wrong. Not a little wrong but all wrong. I have wrestled with these feelings of entitlement for so long. I have wrestled with feeling left out. I was too focused on everyone else's lane/life and comparing my journey to theirs. This toxic mentality did not bring me closer to the heart of God. It led me further away from him.

In my solitude I was sweetly broken. Humbled. Put in a place to really hear His heart and repent for my selfish behavior. It was so ugly and awful. It's in my ugly and awful moments that I am thankful for his unconditional love. He loves me well and displayed his unconditional love through my family and friends over those 20 days. I am truly blessed to be loved by such an amazing group of people.

Of course I ended my solitude time in His presence at his feet with some amazing women. God met me there.

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