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You know how Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk when he becomes angry, well I somehow seem to transform into Laney Boggs from ‘She’s All That’ (remember her- super nerdy and awkward) when it comes to the first date.

I definitely don’t consider myself an awkward person, but there is something about a first date that makes me forget that I know how to put complete sentences together, that I know how to communicate without talking nerd, and that I know how to be myself. I don’t know if its nerves, or just me being awkward. Either way, dating is not my thing.

Do I open the door? Does he? Does he pay for dinner? Do I? What do we talk about? What do we do when those awkward silences arise? (because we all know that those awkward silences will find there way into the date one way or another)

And while I simply cannot stand the awkwardness of the first date and the initial getting to know one another- I think there is beauty in it. There is a sweet spot in new relationships that we all wish we could stay in. You know what I am talking about, right? That time when you’re both on your best behavior; when the dates are no longer awkward but are actually extremely fun; when you still haven’t had a disagreement, and when it seems that the romantic possibilities are endless. That stage in the relationship looks so desirable (especially in the romcom movies and my favorite tv drama’s), but eventually things change.

All of the sudden the deep, intimate conversations start happening and you’re a little too close to where you can no longer hide behind your best foot forward any longer. You step out of that sparkly phase and into reality. The reality that not every hair will always be perfectly in place, or that you enjoy sitting around in sweatpants drinking wine out of a mug (that may just be me). Or how about that you have times when you cannot explain why you are emotional, you just are. The reality that you aren’t actually perfect. Its that time when you actually see the other person for who they are (flaws and all). Scary, huh?

It’s one thing if you are rejected because you didn’t try hard enough on the first date or because you wore some crazy outfit on your first date. But if you’re rejected after this point, it tends to hurt much worse. Because you feel rejected for things out of your control, things that are part of who you are. And if you are willing to work past the fear of rejection- something beautiful does sit on the other side (like most things that are utterly terrifying). Think about that moment when that person looks back you, just inches away, when you don’t have every hair in place or are not in a perky mood. They see you for who you are, and they can begin to love you for who you are. Not for who you are pretending to be, but for you. Messy hair and all.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that to find that place (that kind of soul warming connection), I had to be willing to be vulnerable. I know that’s a scary word! I did nor have a good relationship with that word. I had allowed vulnerability to hold me back from so many great things over the years. Being vulnerable is hard, it’s messy, and its most definitely scary. “Vulnerability is that moment when you’re left wide open to the possibility of the sting, hands limp, defenses down. And that is a scary place to be”.

Whether it’s what filter to use on Instagram or how to angle the camera perfectly- we strive for perfection. We live in a world where we are constantly trying to hide our flaws; hiding them beneath perfect lighting and the most artsy selfie. Unfortunately, we will find no satisfaction in that quest for perfection. And there is no courage in that quest; no positive outcome.

We cannot be fully loved if we are not fully known, which leaves us with a very difficult decision. We can either hide and protect ourselves, or we can go with something a bit more daring. I had always chosen the first, even though it ensured that I wouldn’t be loved, it also ensured that I wouldn’t be hurt. But living that way is lonely.

Instead, you can choose (like I have since I learned this hard lesson) to live another way. You can choose to live in the moment, to allow those vulnerable moments to not cause us to run for the hills. We can choose to have to have the courage to be imperfect and to be authentic. To let go of who we think we should be and allow people to really see who we are (even in those places we prefer to keep hidden). It’s only then that we can really be known, and only then that we can be loved in the way that our soul so deeply desires.

Vulnerability is being able to choose hope. To choose the daring hope that someone will see you for who you are, know you for everything you are, and choose to love you because of what they see. Not for the performance or act you play, not for your perfectly curled hair or for your excellent choice of wardrobe, but for you.

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Words From A Single Woman.

When I was a little girl I loved to dream, especially when it came to love and the man who would one day capture my heart. As I continued to grow up I continued to fall more and more in love with the idea of love. I would sit on the swing in the back yard on those warm New York evenings, listening to music, staring up at the beautiful sky, and dreaming of my future. I would dream of a man who would see me, love me, protect me, and fully accept me (flaws and all). I think this was every young girls story. Unfortunately, somewhere between real life and heartbreak, many of us got a bit jaded. And after years of waiting for Mr. Right, it’s easy to give up. Whether it was a heart shattering breakup or years of (what seems like) wasted time with Mr. Wrongs; it felt easier to give up on the idea of love than to risk what could come from it.

It feels so easy to have a sense of hopelessness when it comes to our own personal love story and to assume that love is only a fairytale (something we read about or see in movies). We forget where love originated and what real, true love looks like. And without noticing it we can quickly become impatient while waiting on God to write our love story that we decide to settle.

Despite what our childhood dreams taught us, we learn that love doesn’t always look like a fairytale. We learn that real-life love will probably never look like a Christmas Hallmark  movie (like the one I just finished watching). But that doesn’t mean it won’t be beautiful, epic, and so worth the wait. Our desire for that type of love and companionship was placed in our heart when our Creator created us.

If we can fully understand that Christ is pursuing us and that He loves us unconditionally, I don’t think we would continue searching for a man to validate us; we would  know that our identity is in Christ. We won’t have to waste our time dating men who know nothing about pursuing the heart of a woman. We won’t allow a mans acceptance or lack thereof to define us. Our identity is in Christ and we don’t need just any man who looks good or is fun to hang out with, but a godly man who knows how to pursue our heart in a unique way.

A godly woman desires the type of man who sees her for who she is and embraces every part of her, both the beautiful and the ugly; a man who has gone through the hard work of pursuing God’s heart first in search of hers; a man who understands partnership and is brave enough to partner with her. A man who can lead from a place of strength and purity.

Women- that is the type of man you should be looking for.

And it is just as important that a godly woman be the type of woman that a man desires to pursue. One who is simply confident in what she knows she needs, she is realistic in her expectations; she respects her body and her worth, and she is filled with grace, humility, and strength. She fears the Lord, and has a spirit of love flowing through her.

I have known many ladies over the years who are borderline desperate when it comes to the dating scene. They are so consumed with finding a man that it becomes their life quest.They begin to place their identity in their relationship status instead of being a woman worth pursuing. By stepping back and allowing a man to be the pursuer, you are showing your faith in God by giving up control of something you want to hold onto so tightly. It’s just like being blindfolded- you are trusting God and you have no idea what the outcome will be. You don’t know if your heart will end up broken or blessed. (scary, i know!) BUT, the right kind of woman will be able to take the risk and entrust her heart fully to God.

There is nothing more beautiful than a woman who is brave, strong, and emboldened because of who Christ is in her. Not in her own strength and bravery, but in Gods.

Hold out for the one who pursues you, he will be worth it!

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I Miss Reading Books (social media has taken over my nightly ritual)

I absolutely love to read. I always have. However, for the past few years,  my book reading has drastically declined. I use to fall asleep reading and would wake up with my face plastered in the pages, but now I get smacked in the face when my iPhone falls on my face. I dose off while scrolling through the latest Instagram posts and Snapchat videos.

Lately I have been so exhausted. And the fact that I am just a single lady with no children, I don’t even have an excuse to be so tired. But I think I am tired because my life feels like an endless roller coaster. Just one twist and turn after another. I keep wondering why I am so tired and why I have quit reading and if those things are connected.

I miss reading. I miss the browsing through Barnes and Nobles to find a new book, and being able to take those quiet moments away from social media. I would definitely say that I regret how I have chosen to use my time. Caring more about the latest Hollywood breakups, the latest trips my friends have taken, and staring at YouTube videos for hours more than giving my brain the much needed rest that it needs. The rest I get with the turning of the next page.

The truth is, that I am exhausted because I am taking no time to exhale. And Jesus did not intend for me to live this way. I am pretty sure this isn’t the abundant life talked about in John 10:10. I don’t think Jesus is necessarily anti-Instagram or a hater of social media, but I do think that He is against us wearing ourselves out to the point of exhaustion. I do think He is a big fan of rest and quiet.

I have had to put a limit on my phone usage before bed, and decided to grab a few books to put on my night stand. This makes me feel more obligated to read and not stare at my phone for hours. I think when we notice something that needs to be changed, its our job to make a plan to correct it. I had to ask Jesus to make new the broken places in my life and give me the courage to face whatever things that I am not willing to face. Time to get back into reading, spending quiet time with the Lord, and not staring at my phone for the latest updates.

So….here’s to a healthier heart and a much more rested mind.

An Endless Quest for Perfection

It is so easy (especially for women because we are super emotional) to believe that in order to be loved, we have to be perfect. I am certainly guilty of this. I believed this lie for years upon years. Have you ever set out on a quest to find perfection? If so, you’re most likely still on that journey…because you will never find it. Its an endless quest, which I figured out the hard way.

In high school I wanted to be perfect. Everything from my eyebrows, to my personality, to my weight was under scrutiny. I always strived to be the smartest, the most organized, the most well-liked, the one with the best smile, and the most athletic. I honestly thought that if I could just get it all right and all at the same time, that I would be worthy of love. That if all my ducks were in a row that somebody would actually love me.

For years I tried to be perfect, but sadly I always came up short. So I pushed harder and harder, downloaded yet another productivity app, hit the gym, and believed that all I needed to do was push myself just a little more. Honestly, it was so exhausting to live that way. I remember one day in college just completely falling apart. It was too much pressure to carry and was just so overwhelming. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

You want to know what happens when the pressure gets too much to handle? Well, in my case, I was an extreme basketcase (and I am not exaggerating). I sat on my college bunk bed crying to one of my quadmates. And when I say I was crying- it was not the cute kind of crying. It was the ugly cry, gasping for air type of cry. I had to come face to face with my imperfection and it was terrifying. While I sat there in a puddle of tears, I realized that perfection was (and is) not a requirement for love. It’s not a requirement from God, and it isn’t a requirement from other people. Somewhere in my life I must have told myself that in order to be loved I needed to be perfect, and I carried that with me for years (allowing it to dictate my choices, my relationships, and the way that I viewed myself).

The truth is, we don’t want perfection from one another and we certainly don’t need it. Nobody is perfect (even those people who truly, 100% think that that are). I had to learn to accept my flaws and my quirkiness- the parts of me that made me who I was. Its those off-kilter things that make us special and lovable. God knows us intimately. He knows our flaws, the number of hairs on our head, the mistakes we will make along the way, and the endless number of times that we will strive to be perfect. So let go of that need to be in control and be ‘perfect’, because it will drain you. Don’t put all that pressure and stress on yourself (its not fair).

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that we should continue to grow, and change. But perfection has never been part of the equation, and has never been a prerequisite for love. We are not perfect, AND we are so loved (its a crazy, life-giving truth). I encourage you to take a hold of it and truly believe it. Since we are human beings, we tend  to measure love by human standards. Unfortunately, when we do that it can be really hard to imagine what it means to be loved unconditionally by our Father. His love is a love with no earthly match, but an example of the way we should aspire to be.

Just Some Jibber Jabber About Friendship and the Amazingness of it All.

Sadly, I was one of those people who scrolls through Instagram photos of coffee shop hangouts, vacations, and dinner parties wondering what it will take in order to have those types of friendships. I wanted my #squad to be the ones who go on fun adventures together to different states, different countries, try new and exciting things together. They just always seemed so ‘cool’, so elaborate…..and so not me! There was a part of me, when I saw those photos, that felt like maybe I missed the boat on deep friendships. It was definitely my own fault I felt that way, I was an expert at keeping people at arms length. I honestly should have won an award or something for it. Anyway, there was always a part of me that longed for deeper friendships (like the ones I watched in movies, or stalked on Facebook, or saw on Instagram)

Over the last year I have been working on being more intentional in my friendships; something I wanted desperately to do, but was afraid to do for sooooooo long. I can get so comfortable binge watching Netflix or Hallmark, going weeks without reaching out to my long-distance friends (using the excuse I am too busy), hibernating in the house, or drowning myself in work.

But, I realized that those deep, life-giving friendships are so empowering. It is so important to have people there beside us spurring us forward and helping us along the way. One of the most comforting feelings is when you have genuine friendships where you know you can be yourself (you can even ugly cry and they don’t run away). I honestly only have a handful of friendships like this, but I wouldn’t change those for anything. Being able to open up, be vulnerable, and spending true quality time together helps bring us closer to the kind of friendship our heart craves. I am so grateful for those friends who continue to stretch me, who I spend quality time with, and who are willing to work through the hardships of friendships instead of giving up. I love my best friendships because we get into each others lives and onto each others teams. And I have learned that kind of friendship and connection will change everything.

Lets be honest…we all want those friendships that give us the audacity to believe we really can do what we were created to do, and that we really are good enough. Its those friendships that push us to be the best versions of ourselves; the version the world so desperately needs. We want, nix that, we need friendships that make us feel good about ourselves, ones that are intentional, ones where we can be ourselves and they celebrate you for it.

It does break my heart to see how we sometimes treat friendships now a days. We talk to each other, but we don’t REALLY talk to each other. We never say the things that we need to say, the thing that we need someone to know about us, or the thing we need help with. Too often we are afraid of rejection and over time we have been taught that it is not safe to open up like that to others. So, we keep ourselves in our own little bubble- we keep our emotions locked up, and we put our best foot forward.

 Proverbs 27:17 “as iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend”. I love that verse and it defines the best friendships I have in my life.

Friendship isn’t easy and it takes work. It truly does break my heart how we as women sometimes treat each other. It’s not a occasional problem either, it’s a widespread issue. Women don’t know how to be friends with each other. I do hope we can start moving in the direction of being more intentional and real in our friendships. Move towards best friendship and away from keeping people at arms length. Because we need these kinds of friends in our lives.

Best friends change everything.

Why I’m Trying To Get Better At Spending Time With God (because I stink at it)

I honestly thought I was great at spending intentional and intimate time with God…that was until recently.

So, there was a time when I could say that I was seriously good at spending time with God. It wasn’t that I was particularly skilled at it, or even disciplined. It wasn’t me trying to win the ‘Most Devoted Christian of the Year’ award, or me trying to prove to all my church friends that I could roll with the holy crowd.

Rather, I  would wake up early every morning for years to spend time with God simply because I loved it. I looked forward to those first quiet moments of the day with just me, Him, and a delicious cup of coffee. I loved the warmth of my coffee and the coziness of a morning conversation with God. I loved reading my Bible and watching the amazing things He was doing in my life. Mostly I just enjoyed spending time with Him, and the way I felt when I was in constant communication with Him. That quiet time with the Lord became a staple in my life. It became a part of who I was, a part of my daily routine, and a part of my identity.  No matter what was happening in my life, I would always start the day by spending some (much needed) time with God. That was, until about a year ago.

When I got promoted at work and started to focus on losing weight, something changed. I don’t know if it was me starting a bigger-girl job, or the fact that I was waking up earlier than I had been to get an early morning workout in. I don’t know if it was a change of routine, or a change of heart, or if I just got lazy. But whatever the cause, I stopped having quiet times.

Every morning when my alarm would go off letting me know it was time for my ‘Date with God’, I had a thousand excuses. I’d argue (with myself) that I had talked to God all day the day before, even though that wasn’t the truth. I’d argue that it hadn’t been that long, or that I’d get back to it as soon as things slowed down— anything to keep me from realizing just how little time I was spending with God each day, and how long it had actually been since it was a part of my life. And sadly, the list of excuses continued to just get longer and longer.

I was talking with some ladies from my church community group a few weeks ago when we were talking about spending time with the Lord in the morning. I definitely added  to the conversation that “quiet times are the best. Starting the day with God changes everything about the day”. I am pretty sure I said it convincingly and enthusiastically. And then in a moment, I was hit over the head with a hefty dose of reality. I couldn’t ignore the truth anymore, or hold onto an old truth.

Today the truth is that I stink at spending time with God. And when I’m honest with myself, that’s been the truth for a very long time. I make excuses upon excuses and find other ‘important’ things to fill that time slot.

After that nice little dose of reality, I decided it was time to make a change. So I am working on getting up earlier, on being more disciplined to spend time with God in the mornings. It’s not a habit, it’s not easy, and I come to the table each day with a thousand excuses, but it’s important. I know the importance of spending that time with the Lord. It’s important to get back into the routine of communicating daily with God and allowing that time with Him to be priority.

Our faith, our joy, our peace- is directly connected to how much time we spend with Him. If we make spending time with Him a necessity each day, we will see change in ourselves and in our lives. Not only will we see our lives overflowing with peace and joy, but others will see it too. I’m working on making fewer excuses and on carving out time every morning. I know, from experience, what can happen when we allow ourselves that intimate, personal time with God. It changes everything (for the better). 

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(lets be honest) none of us actually have it ALL together

We often take for granted what we have! People complain, envy what others have, have jealous hearts, and constantly want more.  God blesses our lives each and every day; through our friends, our family, through situations and circumstances. We don’t deserve these gifts and blessings, but our God shows us compassion. We don’t earn them, He freely gives them. During this season we can get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of everything and take for granted Gods grace. We take for granted all the blessings that He has surrounded us with.
God wants us to live obediently; to guard our hearts and protect those we love. When He blesses us, He is expecting us to take care of the gifts He has blessed us with. He wants us to love and support our family and friends, He wants us to be diligent at our job, and faithful in our promises. He doesn’t want us to get wrapped up in the lies and facades that we have it all together. Cause lets be honest, none of us actually have it all together.
We need to be willing to accept what He has for us and not pursue our own desires. God desires us to reform our actions; to be willing to turn away from our sinful actions and strive to be more like Christ. Those masks that we find ourselves wearing at times will eventually taint our hearts. We will forget our gifts and who we truly are instead of focusing on  the blessings being poured into our lives and into the lives of those around us.
There have definitely been moments when I felt unworthy of love and the blessings He gives (and the Christmas season seems to intensify this feeling). However, my worth is not in who likes me or doesn’t like me. My worth is not in my success or anyone’s opinion. My worth is not in my past mistakes. My worth however comes from the One who created me. When we are able to keep our eyes on the Lord and putting our identity in Him- we find peace, we find grace. Now lets be honest, it is easier to say those words than it is to live those words. Taking the journey from head knowledge to heart believing is not an overnight process. Taking time to reflect on God’s blessings in our lives and blocking out all the noise can bring us back to the feet of our Father. It can refresh and renew our spirit.
One of the best things to help me get through some of the hardest times and help me to refocus on the Lords grace and mercy has been my church community and my friends. Real friends to share life with can give us the strength to overcome the hardships that arise in our lives. They can encourage us, pour truth into our lives, and remind us of Gods unconditional love.