Success–Peace, Joy, Love

Four years ago, on New Year’s Eve, I ended the year with my best friends, Allie and Holly, and their family and other friends. We danced, “drank,” and were merry. We played games and enjoyed the end of the year like we had no cares in the world.
The next morning, they left for a winter retreat with their Christian college group, Cru. Then, I went back to sleep and woke up later to find a text message asking me how the girls were doing. The night before, one of their friends was attacked and killed at the park.
My Facebook feed and local news were flooded with stories about a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, twenty-four-year-old girl who had been ruthlessly murdered while the rest of the world was celebrating a fresh start in life. She was a gentle and quiet spirit. She was full of life and joy. And she longed to help give life to others, but had her life taken from her instead.
I didn’t know it then, but a year and a half earlier, Lauren Bump affected my life the very first day I met Allie and Holly. At youth group, where I met the girls, we had a discussion called “Roses and Thorns.” During this discussion, you share with the group the good and bad things in life that you want to praise the Lord for and pray to Him.
Exactly four years ago, on January 6, 2014, after I read about Lauren Bump, I wrote a blog post about her. At twenty years old, I needed an outlet to express my feelings about an unimaginable situation. Death is already hard enough to understand. It’s especially hard to understand when the dearly departed is so young. I was overwhelmed by the flood of emotions felt after learning someone took the life of a twenty-four-year-old girl. Now, I need to do the same thing. I need to write a post to grasp my feelings on the subject.
I’ve stated before that I am an empath. When I say that, I mean it a thousand percent. When I feel something, the feeling never quite goes away. In 2014, when I felt the impact of Lauren’s life and death, it didn’t come and go. It came and never left. In recent months, I have been heavily reminded of the life and death of Lauren Bump. Why now? Because, on December 22nd, 2017, I turned twenty-four—the same age Lauren was when she was killed. I came to that realization while I was talking to Allie and Holly’s mom recently. This year, I am as old as Lauren was. Unless—God forbid—something happens to me, by the time her birthday comes around again, I will have officially lived longer than she did. That is an unsettling and even kind of frightening thought.
Lauren was and still is an incredibly inspiring young woman. Four years later, even though I never knew her in person, I still often think about Lauren Bump. Not only when I pass on the tradition of asking people what their roses and thorns are, but also just in everyday life. Sometimes, I think about her quote, “Seek peace, keep a joyful heart, and in all things, do with love.” I often think about my original post about her, Live Like Lauren. And wonder if I have lived the way I said I would.
“I will live a life and speak words that encourage and inspire other people, especially younger girls and young women who are my age, to live for God, to live life to the fullest, and to love themselves as much as they love others! I will live in such a way that no one can know me without also coming face to face with God. I will live a life that continues to inspire and encourage people long after I’m gone!”
My last blog post of 2017 was about how I had a rough year. I’ve felt unsuccessful and just beaten down at every turn. As I read through my previous posts about Lauren before writing this post, I also read her last blog post, “Success.” God has been reminding me about Lauren a lot lately. He’s allowed me to go through a very rough year. Now, He led me to Lauren’s blog post where she spoke about a rough patch in her own life that eventually led to the success she was seeing in her final year. How funny is it that God works in such methodical ways, even when it doesn’t seem like it?
The beautiful thing about success is it doesn’t need life to prosper. Lauren’s life has continued to be successful even after her time on earth was up. In her blog post she wrote, “When people look at me and my life, I don’t care what people think of me. I care about what they think of my God. My goal in life is to love God and love people. My grades, my schooling, my accomplishments, contribute nothing to a truly successful life. Those are temporary things that will not have any value when my life on earth is over and I approach the Pearly Gates.”
I spent much of 2017 feeling like my life hasn’t been successful. I have credit card debt, I don’t work a job that I love, and I am single beyond belief. None of that matters though, not when I get to Heaven. So, why does it all matter so much now? It shouldn’t. That’s not to say I shouldn’t pay off my credit cards, look and hope for a job I love, or continue to pray for God’s will on my love life—or currently lack thereof. It’s simply to say that in comparison to Heaven, nothing in this world matters. What does matter is how I handle it! Do I seek peace in my financial storm? Am I joyful, even when my situation isn’t happy? Do I love everyone no matter if I’m single or taken?
After reading Lauren’s post about success and her own dry season, I have to wonder if that’s why God has allowed/is allowing me to walk through my current dry season? Am I missing the bigger picture? Am I trying too hard to be successful in the eyes of the world or even just in my own eyes? The answer is yes. While I genuinely don’t care most of the time what the world thinks of me, I sure care a whole lot about what I think of me. You see, I had a plan and I don’t think I’ve quite let go of it yet.
I was going to grow up to graduate from high school with honors and a boyfriend. I was going to go to college at the University of Texas in Austin. Then I would get married, have babies, and live happily ever after. That was the dream. Reality is a little different. I graduated high school a year behind. I didn’t go to college. I’m still single and I live with my sister in an apartment next to our childhood neighborhood. Reality is also that God knew I wouldn’t be ready for “the real world” in 2012 when I was “supposed to” graduate—I’m barely ready now. He knew that I didn’t need the added stress of unnecessary school and homework brought on by a college education I didn’t need to be a writer. He knew that what I really needed was the college experience without the stress. So, He gave me best friends who attended college at UT and let me regularly visit them for “field trips” and other outings that “normal” Christian college-aged kids got. He also knew that even now, I wouldn’t be ready to fall in love. My heart has been broken and twisted in a lot of ways throughout my twenty-four years and it’s still not quite ready to let one of God’s men in yet to love it. That’s okay. God knows me, He knows my heart, and He knows what plan is best for me to be successful in life on earth and in Heaven.
So, now, as I write this blog post, thinking about Lauren and success, I’m reminded that success is objective and it’s different for everyone. For Lauren, success was best obtained through spreading light, love, and hope after death. For me, success is best obtained by walking with the Lord as I live a completely nontraditional life. I’m a twenty-four-year-old virgin who is “forever single” and currently unemployed after not going to college. That may not seem successful, but right now, it’s the life God has called me to and I’m going to use this life for His glory. I’m going to remember His beloved children. I’m going use my talents to write and speak, and I’m going to grow closer to Him by starting every morning with Him in the Word.
Now, I finally know what my 2018 goals are. My goals are to rest in the Lord and know He is God and let go of the grip I have on the last threads of my plan. I will continue to try to live out the goal I set for myself in 2014. And I will continue to #LiveLikeLauren as I “Seek peace, keep a joyful heart, and in all things, do with love.”

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January 5, 2017 – A Little Stressful, But Mostly Good

Today, I woke up and colored in my “The Selection” coloring book for about half an hour. Then, I read the Elite and took turns reading the Guard and the Favorite as well to match the scenes together! 😁 I read 202 total pages! 😁 Reading is so soothing! 📚📖 To be a part of another world, especially after dealing with so much stress in my own world for a year, is just so magical! 🧜🏼‍♀️🧜🏼‍♂️🧚🏼‍♀️🧚🏼‍♂️🦄

A minor problem of the day is that I got a second-degree burn from putting pizza in the oven. 🍕 🔥 On the bright side, the pizza was AMAZING! So, at least there’s that! 😁 I also tried some hard apple cider mom gave me and it was good, but weird… like a mix of apple juice and apple soda… 🤷🏼‍♀️🍏🍎

Unfortunately, our stupid cable/internet box isn’t working, so I have to wait between 1 and 4 tomorrow for an AT&T Guy to come by. 😒 It could take up to FOUR HOURS for him to fix! 😭 When the first guy to set it up, it only took an hour or so, so I’m hoping he comes closer to wait and leaves quickly! It’s not like I have to leave the house, but I don’t like people, especially strangers. 📺💻

Anyway, I’m really trying to get myself on a schedule of going to bed no later than midnight. That obviously didn’t happen tonight, but at least it’s only 1am tonight and not 2 or 3 like the past couple of nights!