Social Butterfly–Beauty and Brokenness

Aren’t butterflies beautiful? They come in all different colors and sizes. They’re friendly and curious little creatures that fly where the wind takes them. Often, we use them as examples of beauty. They are also used as examples of nervousness and excitement. I feel like I can relate to a butterfly fairly well. In high school, my friends literally called me the social butterfly. I knew at least one girl from nearly every volleyball and basketball team we played against. In fact, one of my best friends was from another school. I was always friendly and happy and floating from one beautiful flower–aka friend–to another, making sure they had all the support they needed to grow. Then, I flew into the proverbial windshield of life.

My junior year of high school was a tumultuous one at best. My whole life, I had been the bubbly fluttering happy girl floating from flower to flower wanting to be friends with everyone. For a long time, it was because I really did just want to be friends with everyone. In 5th grade, it started to be because I wanted to be loved by everyone. In high school, it was because I didn’t feel loved by anyone. I guess I thought if I was surrounded by as many other butterflies migrating around me as possible, then I’d never feel alone. Silly me. The more people I reached out to and tried to befriend, the more alone I felt. Add on that “all” of my friends had boyfriends while I was “forever alone” and I was miserable. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Like there was something wrong with me. Why didn’t anyone love me? Did I have a lopsided broken wing that I couldn’t see or something? I don’t know, but I was alone or at least I felt that way.

I was going to a private Christian school and I grew up going to church every week and spent a few years in Awana. I knew what the Bible said. I was never alone. Even if everyone else did, God would never leave me nor forsake me. I knew that, but I guess I didn’t believe it, and I certainly didn’t feel it. I know the heart–aka emotions–is deceptive, but feelings–at least for me–are more real than anything else in the world. I’m a very sensitive person. I feel everything. I feel my emotions and somehow I feel the emotions of others around me–even fictional others which is weird to say, but it’s true. You’ve heard of second-hand embarrassment? I feel secondhand everything. So, when I do–or don’t–feel something, it sort of consumes me. That or I block out all the feelings with facts and that’s not healthy either. I’m working on finding a balance between sense and sensibility, but it’s a long, hard battle. A battle I realized I had to fight in high school when I was the social butterfly who felt like a bug on a windshield.

I grew up singing the song. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I knew it. In my head, I knew it, but in my heart I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t good enough to be loved by a perfect God and I wasn’t bad enough to be saved by a merciful Saviour. I had been saved. I knew and accepted and believed God’s beloved sacrifice when I was six years old. I remembered the scene almost flawlessly and knew without a doubt I had been saved from the fire of hell. What I wasn’t sure about, what I felt like I shouldn’t/wouldn’t be saved from was the darkness of life. I knew I was flawed and broken. I knew I had done a “good job” of not falling into the pits that many others around me had. I didn’t know that we really are all equal in the sight of the Lord. I never consciously believed I was better than anyone else, just better than what my evil nature could have asked me to do. I practically lived at my church. I was there every Sunday for church and was serving weekly. I was there Monday through Friday for Christian school and memorized every verse–about 20 or so every 2 weeks–they asked me to. I was reading my Bible semi-regularly. I was doing all the things a “good little church girl” should be doing. I wasn’t sleeping around, or even kissing anyone. I wasn’t partying, drinking, or smoking. I never snuck out or went anywhere against my parents’ will. I wasn’t doing anything a “good little church girl” shouldn’t be doing. The things I was struggling with were “minor.” I was self-harming, but it wasn’t visible. It wasn’t “as bad as other girls.” I had sort of attempted the behaviors of eating disorders, but hadn’t gone farther than unhealthy thoughts toward food rather than actions. I was depressed and wondering if anyone would miss me if I wasn’t around, but I wasn’t suicidal. All these church girl checkboxes and “minor” issues made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for God’s love, but wasn’t bad enough that I had any right to say I was struggling. And that’s why I felt like I was so unloved.

I refused to tell anyone about what I was dealing with, so when they didn’t see it on their own I felt unseen, unloved, and like I wasn’t struggling as much as I was. When I prayed, I didn’t pray about the root of the problem. I didn’t address the real issues. I just wanted it all to go away. I literally prayed for God to take away my free will in these things and make me “good enough.” I felt like if I was asking for it, then that should still be considered free will and that God should accept it. He didn’t. Surprise surprise. When He didn’t, I think a part of me resented Him for not taking it away. Some part of me definitely felt unloved. If He loved me, then why wouldn’t He take the pain away? Why wouldn’t He take the feeling of inadequacy away? And if the people I loved loved me then why couldn’t they see I wasn’t the bubbly and happy butterfly I pretended to be? Why couldn’t they see my wings had been clipped and I was no longer flying? Why? Why? Why?

To be honest, I still don’t know the answers to any of those questions. I can guess that for my people, it was because I was hiding and most people aren’t good at seeing through facades. Most people don’t know to look for a mask or how to look past it. Most people believe what you tell them. I told people I was happy. I told people I didn’t have a worry in the world. I told people I was fine. And with God. I don’t think it’s that He wouldn’t take the hurting away. I think He was just waiting for me to be honest with Him. He knows everything, but He doesn’t force anything. He wants true love and honesty. He doesn’t want robotic obedience. He gave us free will for His and our own good. Who wants to be loved because the lover is forced to love them? Not us and certainly not God. Who wants to be forced to love someone? Forced love produces things like Lord Voldemort. Forced honesty produces broken hearts, anger, and bitterness like with Caroline Forbes, Elena Gilbert, Rebekah Mikaelson, and Stefan Salvatore. Who wants that? Not I and now I’m grateful God didn’t force anything. Now, I know God was trying to love me and doing what He could to help me out of the pit.

At the end of the day, God can do anything with or without our willingness, but that’s almost never if ever how He works. He wants us to be willing which is probably why the one thing that finally pushed me to really be willing to come out of the dark was a documentary about one of my favorite singers. I have always and probably always will be a fangirl. In large part because I am so sensitive to every form of feeling, I really get into anything and everything I love and God uses that to help me understand lessons He has for me. So, when I saw my favorite singer was struggling with things I was struggling with and ended up in a rehab center for it–and other things–I was shocked into action. It pushed me to be honest with God. And it was when I was honest with God that I really started to feel how much He loved me.

In the following year, God would use this singer and another band to show me how much He really cared for me. When someone really loves you, they take notice of the things that you love and the things that make you you. God took the things I loved and used them to help me find His Light and Love. As He walked me through the dark and into the Light, He led me to believe I could be honest with my friends and family about things I had been dealing with. As I did, I learned that they did love me, even if I hadn’t felt it. The reactions to my confessions were so full of genuine love I couldn’t believe I had ever doubted their love for me. Then, I started meeting new friends who I knew loved me from the beginning. Friends that are still loving me today. Friends who have helped me find my wings again.

Earlier this year, a friend from church gave me a purple butterfly from her wedding decorations. Around the same time, a coworker gave me a green butterfly charm engraved with “You are a blessing.” With the little green butterfly came a little card reading, “A butterfly is so beautiful, graceful and elegant… symbolizing… Faith and embraces the journey along the way…” – A.S. Waldrop

I hadn’t thought about being a butterfly in years. I had forgotten that I used to be the butterfly. That my coach/teacher in high school had gone around the room saying the things she loved about each of us girls and had almost forgotten me because I was a social butterfly fluttering around the room, loving on each girl after we had previously discussed the things we would change about our lives if we could. I took pride in that description, even if at the time I hadn’t always believed it was true. Now, as I look at these butterflies on a regular basis I’m reminded that I am a butterfly. God allows me to feel so deeply about anything and everything because it gives me a unique ability to love everyone in the way that they need to be loved. It gives me the wind I need beneath my wings to be able to fly from flower to flower and spread beauty wherever I go. Not because I’m something special and unique–though I like to believe I am–but because He is. What is the primary job of a butterfly? To spread pollen from plant to plant to help them grow. In this world, God is the pollen, people are the flowers, and I am the butterfly. Beautiful or not, I’m not the most important part of this story. I’m just a carrier. In this transfer of growth, pollen is the most important thing, because it feeds the butterfly and the flower. The pollen is what allows life and  beauty to exist. Then the flowers are the second most important thing. They are the reason butterflies do what they do. Both are beautiful, but beautiful in their own way.

So, yes. I am a butterfly. I am beautiful and strong and I finally have my wings again. I am only one beautiful but small creature in a field of flowers–hundreds or more of differently beautiful creatures. And, like a butterfly, my fluttering wings are either anxious or excited–there’s not much in between.

What are you? What is God showing you in your struggles? Are you a butterfly like me? Are you a flower? An owl? A unicorn? A tree? A book? Everything in this world has significance. Everything matters. Everything can an example of who we are in Christ. While life isn’t about us. It is important to find our identities. To find how God wants to use us and to embrace that. God is using me as a butterfly to spread His beauty to others. How is God using you?

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God Doesn’t Make Wrong Turns (Part Two)

After Spring Break 2019, I wrote a blog post talking about how I went to a different town with my best friend for the day and we missed our turn, but I trusted her anyway. A few months later, we learned that while she did miss her turn, she wasn’t actually going the wrong way. If we had kept going instead of turning around, then we still would have made it to our destination. When our other friend and I told her that, she joked, “So even when I’m wrong, I’m still right.” And once again, I felt the Holy Spirit whispering to my soul, “That was about Me and it was for you.”

God Doesn’t Make Wrong Turns (Part One) was about trusting God the same way that I trusted Shelby. I thought she missed her turn, but I didn’t say anything, because I trusted she knew where she was going. This post is about trusting God when He takes me in a different direction than I expected.

When Shelby and I were going to Boerne, we took what would have been the shortest and fastest route. I usually try to do that. I try to take the shortest and fastest route to get anywhere both literally and metaphorically. I usually don’t want to take longer than I have to. Every once in a while though, I decide I want to take the scenic route instead. A month or so after Shelby and I went to Boerne, I had to go back & I decided to take the scenic route. That’s when I realized Shelby and I could have stayed on the “wrong” route and still would have made it to our destination the month before. Me taking that scenic route began a lesson in my life that I’d heard a thousand times but hadn’t applied until now. “Even when I’m wrong, I’m still right.” Shelby was joking when she said that. She’s human and she’s wrong sometimes, but God is perfect and never wrong. So, even when I think He’s wrong, He’s still right.

We all walk different journeys in life. We all have different roads maps. But we all have the same destination. Whatever our roadmaps are, our destination is God. Every Christian road leads to Him. And we think we know how to get to Him. Most of us want to take the shortest and fastest route to Him. Some of us may be able to take the short and fast route, but most of us are called to take the scenic route. We plan on the short route and we beg God to turn around when He doesn’t take the turn, but we’re usually called to take the long and scenic route. Why? I think it’s because it’s more beautiful and it’s different every time we take it.

The shorter route to Boerne goes through a town called Grey Forest and Grey Forrest is gorgeous. As gorgeous as it is, it looks the same pretty much every time I drive through. The longer route to Boerne takes a highway through the hill country. It’s always different. Various wildlife run on and along the highway. There are a bunch of ranches and farms along the route with horses, cows, goats, and even some exotic animals. And there are a few bodies of water. Bodies of water never look the same. The whole route is beautiful and looks different each time. Since realizing that, I’ve purposely taken that route every time I’ve had to go to Boerne and I need to keep that same mentality in life.

The shortest and fastest route in life might be beautiful like Grey Forrest, but it’s quiet and still. Sometimes that’s great and needed in life. Most of the time our life needs the longer and scenic route like highway 16. Things need to be moving and changing, because that’s when we see the beauty of God and His creation and His story. Yeah, Grey Forrest is a beautiful image of how unchanging and peaceful God is. But the long route is a reminder that God creates beautiful things. It’s a reminder that He has a plan, even when it takes more time to unfold than we think it will. When given the choice on which route to take, neither route is wrong. God’s okay with us choosing the short and calm route when given the opportunity. And sometimes He’ll only give us that option. Other times He’ll only give us the long route. We have to be okay with that. We have to recognize that God wants us to see something along the route before we get to the destination. And, in m experience, those are the most beautiful moments. Now, if only I could remember that when I’m begging to take the short route and He’a telling me to take the long route! Because even when I think He’s wrong, He’s still right!

No Spoilers; No Skipping Ahead

I’m an obsessive person. We all know that. Sometimes, my obsessive tendencies seem like too much, and you know what, maybe they are. What people don’t see is that I’m not just obsessing over silly things. I’m also learning about God and life. Even when I obsess over things that don’t really have anything to do with spirituality, I’m almost never closer to God than when I am obsessed. I learn more about God, my relationship with Him, and life in general when I’m obsessing over silly things than at any other time.

Right now, I’m obsessed with The Vampire Diaries and its whole universe. I am not a casual fan. I don’t do casual anything. When I’m into something, I am fully invested and fully committed. I’ve been wanting to watch TVD pretty much since it came out. When it came out I was in high school and my parents’ had conservative rules about what I could and couldn’t watch. TVD was not on the list of approved shows. Then, as I got older, I still wanted to watch it, but I couldn’t because streaming wasn’t a huge thing yet. Finally, when Netflix was all the rage and TVD was on Netflix, I didn’t have the time or energy to invest in it. Then, The Originals spin-off became a thing and I knew I’d have to watch that too. When TVD ended in 2017, I knew I’d finally be able to join the fandom soon, because I wouldn’t have to commit to an open-ended fandom. I still didn’t have time though, because I was a working adult already committed to other fandoms. Finally, last year, I was able to start watching TVD. Then, I met and fell in love with the Originals characters and knew I would for sure have to watch the Originals. And recently, the new spin-off Legacies came out. Now, of course, I have to watch that too. The thought is a little overwhelming, but I’ve got this! For the first time ever—unless you include Heartland, which is still putting out new episodes—I’ve decided to slowly binge my new obsession instead of taking it all in at once. I’m still watching it every day, but I’m taking my time, re-watching old episodes, and just enjoying the process. Because I’m watching it now and not when I originally wanted to, I’ve had a spiritual epiphany that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And the epiphany is all based on the idea of not skipping ahead and just enjoying the process.
I’m a very intense fangirl. I have rules. One of my rules is that if I’m going to get involved in a fandom, then I have to commit to the whole fandom. When I do commit to the whole fandom, I have to watch or read everything in order. I can’t watch new Avengers or X-men movies if I haven’t watched all the ones before it. I can’t watch new episodes of the Arrow-verse unless I’ve watched every episode of all the shows—Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, etc.—in order. When I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I had to watch every episode of Angel between every episode of Buffy. Star Wars is a little more complicated, but the same rules apply. When I watch it, I have to watch it in chronological order. I came to the fandom late and when I did, we watched it in the order that my dad played it starting with The Phantom Menace. Now, I’m like 3 movies behind because I also have to watch all the movies every time there’s a new movie if it’s been more than a year since I watched them all. It’s this whole ordeal and I think it drives my best friend a tiny bit mad because she thinks it’s silly. She’ll recommend a book or something to me and say something like, “There are other books too, but they aren’t really connected, so you don’t have to read them.” Yes, yes, I do. If it’s the same series, then I have to read them! And I can’t skip ahead!
Now, as I’m watching TVD, I’ve learned in TVD season 7 and The Originals season 4, there are a handful of crossover episodes. That means I have to watch the first 3 seasons of The Originals, before continuing past season 6 of TVD. Except, I’m not ready to watch the Originals yet, because that means I have to say goodbye to a TVD character I love and I’m just not ready for that. I thought about skipping ahead, but I can’t. Because it breaks all my rules and it’s cheating. I have to watch it all the way I’m supposed to. I can’t just skip ahead because I don’t like what’s happening or because I know of a spoiler that I know I’m gonna love so I just wanna get there already.
Anyway, I say all the above to say that God has really convicted me. I have all these rules about order and not skipping ahead while reading books and watching TV Shows, but in life I’m not willing to be just as patient. In life, I wanna skip the boring scenes or the scenes that hurt—which are my favorite scenes in books and shows—and skip ahead to the happy scenes. I wanna know all the spoilers about my life so I can know what’s gonna happen next. And that’s just wrong. How I could I be so adamant about hating spoilers and not skipping around in TV and books, but be so ready to do just that in life?
I learned from watching Pretty Little Liars that I can’t always trust writers to put the best story out there. I can’t trust them to answer all my questions and put a pretty red bow on everything in the end so that I’m happy and satisfied with everything that happens. Yet, even after PLL I refuse to jump ahead on shows and books that already finished with endings that are easily accessible. Why then, with the Perfect Author writing my story, do I fail to trust He will answer all my questions, tie up all the loose ends with pretty red bows, and leave me happy and satisfied with how things play out? Why, when I’ve seen over and over again that He will, do I question whether He’ll bring in and take out all the right characters at the right times? Why do I question if His plot and setting are right? Why do I feel like I’ll enjoy the story more if I can cheat and read all the spoilers?
The Vampire Diaries is 10 years old. I’ve seen spoilers and know how to find them. I could jump ahead and get to the parts I want to see instead of trudging through the stuff I don’t care about, but I refuse to. Why? I know the story won’t be as beautiful and special if I don’t enjoy it in its entirety. If I want the beauty, the I have to watch everything unfold as it’s supposed to happen. Now, I realize that if I’m going to have that mentality with a silly TV show, then I also need to have that mentality with life. Just like TVD has already been written, so has my life. Just like Julie Plec knew before it aired what was going to happen with her TVD characters, God knows what’s going to happen with me. Just like I trust that Julie, the cast, and the crew, made TVD the best it could be, I have to trust God has done the same for my story. And just like I enjoyed the mystery of PLL and not knowing what was going to happen next even when it was frustrating, I have to enjoy the mystery of my life and not knowing what’s going to happen, even when it’s frustrating. ‘Cause here’s the thing. I’m not the author of my story. Heck, I’m not even the star of my story. At best, I’m like the ever-present but supporting character. God is the Author and star of my story. That means I need to trust Him and stop trying to skip ahead because it’s hard or boring. If I did that, then I wouldn’t be able to truly appreciate the happy and beautiful scenes. So, please pray with me as I try to remember that truth during this time and future times in my life when I just wanna get to “the good stuff” already. And, if you’re like me, then you’re totally welcome to join me on my journey to love life as it unfolds instead of always looking for spoilers!

Jonas Brothers – Happiness Begins (Music Review)

The Jonas Brothers album is here! It’s 2019 and there is a new Jonas Brothers album out now! No, this isn’t a dream! This is the beginning of our revisited teenage happiness! It’s been quite a while since I wrote a music review, but of course I have to for the Jonas Brothers! First things first. I’ve gotta say, I am so happy that the album isn’t labeled explicit! I do not curse, but I pick up everything, so I can’t listen to cursing or I’ll start using the same words and I don’t want to. I was worried that they might sing explicit songs since both Nick and Joe’s separate projects had explicit music. But now I don’t have to worry! Okay, now onto the actual music.
Sucker – How fitting is it that this was their first single and the first track on the album? We’re all suckers for the Jonas Brothers. If we weren’t, then I wouldn’t be writing this at midnight as I listen to Happiness Begins for the first time. And you wouldn’t be reading this post. I’ve gotta be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Joe’s solo album and I’m not much of a fan of DNCE. So, I was nervous about the new Jonas Brothers music. How could they take Nick’s sound, Joe’s sound, and make it a Jonas Brothers’ sound? Well, they have! And I’m loving it so far! Sucker was stuck in my head after the first time I heard it and it’s pretty much been stuck in my head since! I can’t think of any qualms I have with this song!
Cool – This is such a bop! I love it! If you don’t feel more confident about yourself and life after listening to this song, then I’m sad for you. It’s such a chill and simple song, yet it’s uplifting and encouraging. I can’t remember most of the lyrics, but that’s okay. All I need is “Lately, I’ve been feeling so cool. Top to the bottom so cool! Every little thing that I do. I’m feeling so cool!” Like, come on! That gotta get you feeling cool and confident!
Only Human – To be honest, my sort of innocent mind can’t quite figure out if this song is actually about dancing or if it’s about sex. Based on the day and age and some of the lines, I’d say it’s about sex. Either way, it doesn’t matter. That’s why I like this song. I’m someone that thinks physical relationships should be private and personal. So, I love when a song is just subtle enough you have to listen to the lyrics to catch what they’re actually saying. Nonetheless, it’s definitely got dance vibes and I’m diggin’ it.
I Believe – This is a beautiful song. I’m a sucker (no pun intended) for a good love song about the one who changed you and this is it. Why wait when you know you’ve got the one? Why not get married in a Vegas casino with an Elvis impersonator marrying you? Why not have a bunch of weddings (for cultural reason in this case) to show your lover how much you love them? Why not? Whose place is it to say you’re moving too fast?
Used to Be – I’m also a sucker for a good post-breakup song! Haunting songs, “used to be” songs, “I want you to be happy” songs, “the one who got away” songs. Whatever. I love them all. Not breakup songs. Post-breakup songs. Songs like this one. It seems to me this is the type of song that says, “Yeah, I miss you. You could’ve been the one, but it’s over now. I’ve moved on. You should too.”
Every Single Time – Ah, the classic “you’re bad for me, but I love you” song! Oh, such a good line “you think it’s only physical. No, no, no.” I mean, it’s nothing profound or anything. I just love when people acknowledge there’s nothing physical about this physical relationship. It’s all about emotions and the actions we pursue because of them. That’s why you can’t shake them from your mind. Even though they’re awful to you, you keep going back.
Don’t Throw It Away – Sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and reevaluate. Dating is about finding the right person and being the right person. Sometimes you need space to be the right person. So, she’s walked away. He’s putting her things away. He’s giving her time and space, whatever she needs. All he asks is that she doesn’t throw it away, that she thinks of him, and comes back to what they have together.
Love Her – “Because when you love her, no matter the fight you know she’s always right and that’s alright… I put my selfish ways in boxes… will never let it get close to bein’ toxic… gotta learn to let the small things go and know it’s always far from perfect… but the hardest parts are always worth it…” Wow! This is what love is about! Selfless love. This might be my new favorite song right now!
Happy When I’m Sad – The lyrics weren’t available for this song… Sounds like there’s a new breakup. His friends don’t know, so they still think he’s happy, but he’s broken. Whatever the song, I like that it’s all upbeat even though they’re singing about being sad. It fits the lyrics well.
Trust – I don’t trust myself when I’m around you. I don’t think I even know me. I’m like the old me when you’re around. That’s all I understood of the lyrics. I can’t judge this song because I can’t understand it. It might be my least favorite song on the album.
Strangers – Why does it feel like these songs are on fast forward? I can’t figure out if he’s talking to someone who is actually a stranger or someone who feels like a stranger. It sounds like it’s a reconnection or something but I don’t know. I can’t understand this song either.
Hesitate – So, in the past he’s been hesitant and cautious. He doesn’t want to be that way anymore. He promises he won’t be. He wants to understand and make things better. He wants to work things out and figure it out. He wants to carry her pain in his heart instead of hers. I like this for the same reason that I like love her. This is selfless love. This growing and changing and loving for her and not for himself.
Rollercoaster – It’s as typical as the title suggests, but it’s still a good and catchy song. Sounds like it’s THE reunion song. I’d assume it’s the boys talking to each other and about their journey. It’s been crazy and sickeningly dizzying at times, but they wouldn’t change a thing. They’d go back every time and they’re sort of going back now.
Comeback – Another beautiful song. If she’ll come to him no matter what then he’ll be there for her no matter. I’m liking the matter, selfless love-type songs on this album!
All in all, I love this album as much as I’ve loved any other Jonas Brothers album. As each one has, these songs have matured with the “boys” as they’ve grown into men. They’ve matured in a tasteful and appropriate way though. I wouldn’t have a problem with my younger siblings listening to this album. And that’s also an important consideration for me. I’m going to like an album, then I’m going to need it to be appropriate for all ears. This album, while mature, is also tasteful. I will definitely be going to Target as soon as possible so I can have a physical copy. And I’ll be adding these tracks to my regularly played list on Amazon Music.

The Desires of My Heart

In January of 2018, I started the finishing touches on my book The Mask; Her Aid. Two months later, I published it in March of 2018. Now, it’s April of 2019 and I’ve spent the last 16 months thinking a lot about dreams and the desires of my heart. One of the reasons it took me so long–five years–to publish my book was because I couldn’t figure out how to write my chapter. When I finally did, it was kind of a wake up call for me. Through my chapter, I realized that a lifelong dream of mine–to have a happy and healthy marriage one day–was greatly motivated by the hurts I’ve received from my parents’ broken marriage. Since realizing that, I’ve thought even more about marriage and relationships than I ever did before and I didn’t even think that was possible! Also, since finishing my book, I’ve thought a lot about my other dreams that involve writing, singing, speaking, and completing things on my bucket list. After publishing my book, my other dreams suddenly didn’t seem so daunting, so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out which of my dreams are actually dreams I want to pursue and which of my dreams are more like hobbies that I have more fun dreaming about then I ever would actually doing them.

The most pressing of my dreams has been the dream to get married and have kids. My Nanny (maternal grandmother) has written proof that I was thinking about marriage and babies at as young of an age as two-and-a-half. In the past year or so, I’ve been wondering if marriage and babies are really something I want because I want them or if they’ve been something I’ve wanted for ulterior reasons. I’m twenty-five and have been single my whole life, even though I was sure I’d be married with kids by now. Instead, I’ve been sitting at home alone while watching most of my friends and two of siblings get married and have kids. It’s never seemed fair to me, but I’ve also never been able bring myself to want love and babies enough to do anything about it. I’ve never tried to get a boyfriend. I’ve never welcomed the advances of the few guys who have been interested. For me, I despise the idea of dating apps and websites. And, I refuse to go out anywhere just so I can meet someone. Why is that? I thought it was because I was giving my desires to Lord and waiting for Him to bring the right man into my life. While that isn’t entirely incorrect, it also hasn’t been the only or primary reason. Now, that I’ve really thought about it and also talked about relationships and the future with a couple friends for the first time in a while, I’ve realized the truth. Sometimes, dreams change. Sometimes, we dream about something and when the circumstances change or our glasses change from pink to jade, or in my case, jade to pink, we realize the dreams we thought we had aren’t the dreams we really have.

Today, marriage and kids aren’t something I don’t want, but they’re also something I genuinely think I can happily live without. I love kids and I love love, but I don’t have to have an up-close and personal experience with them. I work with kids for a living and I know if I had my own, then I’d be happy, but I also know I much prefer being able to give the kids back when they’re crazy or I’m stressed. And, yeah, I’d like to experience love, but I’m also totally content with just reading love stories, listening to love songs, and writing about love triangles. And, I’m even more content having my own room, my own bed, and my own bathroom that I don’t have to share with anyone else! So, if I never get married and have kids, then that’s fine, because unlike I and everyone else has always thought, mostly because I’ve said and talked about it, marriage and babies are no longer my dream or goal. I’m sure they’d make me happy if I got them, but I’m also sure I don’t have to have them and to me, that’s what a dream is. A dream is something you have to have or you won’t be satisfied (outside of being fulfilled and satisfied through Jesus Christ).

In addition to thinking about love and babies, I’ve thought about a lot of my other dreams and goals as well. I’ve thought about what I want to make priorities in my life and what I’m okay with having as hobbies. These thoughts all came to a head a few weeks ago when I was listening to the podcast “Just Between Us” with Bailee Madison and Kaitlin Vilasuso. On this episode, they had former teen heartthrob, Chad Michael Murray, as a guest, and yes, my fangirl heart did skip a few beats and scream in excitement! While on the show, CMM said something so simple, it felt profound.

The girls asked him the typical showbusiness question, “What advice would you give someone starting off in the business, or anywhere really?”

Chad answered, “Dedicate at least two hours of every day into your craft.” He went on to say that it doesn’t have to specifically be doing that thing. It could be studying other people’s work, it could be listening to podcasts for inspiration, or it could be doing the thing. He also encouraged that if you can’t do two hours, then just start with a simple daily goal and build from there.

Since then, I’ve tried my own version of that advice. Because I’m such a passionate and intense person, I have A LOT of things I want to do with my life, so I’ve tried to dedicated at least two hours of every day into anything I want to prioritize. Most days those two hours are broken down into varying time slots for different things.

One of the things I’ve really been wanting to prioritize has been reading. Not only is it fun to do while giving me an escape from the stresses of life, it also has the added bonus of giving me inspiration for my own writing which is a major dream of mine. Now that I’ve published one book, my most daunting dream in life is the finish the three fiction series’ I’ve been writing since high school and continue from there. Most of the time, I write the most for these books when I’ve been spending time reading, because reading opens up the floodgates of my creative mind.

Three other things I’ve wanted to prioritize have been writing and recording music, recording and posting podcast episodes, and regularly posting blog entries. My biggest dream, and the reason why I write, is to inspire and influence other people for the kingdom of God. I know the best way for me to do that is by sharing my story, because when I do, then I can share and show how awesome God is. I shared my story in my book The Mask; Her Aid, but it only shared bits and pieces of my vulnerable past. With my music and podcast, I can continue to transparently share about my broken and beautiful present. When I write songs, I’m at my most vulnerable. My songs are my heart’s cry to the Lord for myself or for others. When I speak, my tongue has free reign to use its full power. When I harness that power and use it through sources like a podcast, then I can share the Light and Love of Jesus Christ with others by being transparent and vulnerable about where I am in the moment. Even if no one else hears it, then at least I know I’ve been honest with myself and with God. As I’ve worked out the kinks in starting a podcast, I’ve realized that I can use it not only to share my story, but also to share my music and as I share my music, I can use my podcast as a way to improve my skills as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. If I never become famous or record an album, then that will be fine, but if I never improve the skills and talents and desires God has given me, then that won’t be fine. So, I plan to use my podcast and my YouTube channel to force myself to improve on singing, songwriting, and playing instruments. Otherwise, I might as well get rid of my instruments and stop singing all together, because I don’t use them when I feel like I’m not improving. The same of my podcast is true of my blog, I can use my words to positively impact the world with the Light and Love of Jesus Christ. That’s why I plan to make weekly posts for each one. Podcasts on Sundays, music on Mondays, and blog posts on Wednesdays!

In the past several months, I’ve worked on checking off dreams from my bucket list by either doing or planning to do the things I’ve wanted for so long to do. As a kid, it was a dream of mine, and still sort of secretly is, to ride dirt bikes and drive a motorcycle. So, I’ve been planning and budgeting for the necessary training and equipment to safely drive and own a motorcycle or dirt bike.

Another dream of mine, for as long as I can remember, has been to own and use a bow and arrow. From Queen Susan the Gentle of Narnia to Princess Mia of The Princess Diaries 2, and from Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games to Oliver Queen as The Green Arrow, I’ve also thought it seemed so cool to shoot a bow and arrows. Last month, I found out it doesn’t cost much to rent equipment and a lane at a range near my house, so I went and did it and it was awesome! I plan to do it every month if not every week until I can afford to buy my own and use it as often as possible!

In middle school, I learned that I love rock climbing when our school went to a place called the Main Event in Austin. Since then, I’ve wanted to join a rock climbing club. I recently found out that I can for so much cheaper than I ever imagined, so I’m saving for that as well.

And, another dream of mine has not only been to be a talented singer, but also to be a talented dancer and actress. If not talented, than at least average. So, I’ve looked up places and prices for lessons and fully intend to take lessons as early as this summer, or whenever I’ve saved the money to do so.

And, finally, a goal of mine for the past few years has been to eat healthy and get in shape so I can wear my old high school t-shirts again. Between pure laziness, various injuries, and the fear of getting hurt again, I’ve spent more time not getting in shape than I’ve spent getting in shape. Then, there’s been the added difficulty of suddenly becoming gluten intolerant a couple years ago and trying to figure out how to navigate my new diet while being low on cash. This year, I’ve finally started eating better, and in only a couple weeks I’m already fitting into half of my old high school shirts again! My waste has shrunk as I’ve been eating healthier and that’s without working out or losing much weight! It’s a dream come true and I haven’t even had to do much to make it happen! I can’t imagine what will happen in the next few weeks and months if I keep up with my new diet and add in some working out once my sprained ankle is completely healed!

Wow! This has been a long post and if you’ve read it all, then I appreciate you so much! I’ve said it all to say that sometimes the desires of our hearts change based on circumstances and revelations, while other times the desires of our hearts stick with us for twenty years and never go away. Sometimes, the desires of our hearts seem too hard to reach until we do reach them and then nothing seems impossible. But most of the time, all the time really, God knows the desires of our hearts and will grant them if they are according to His will! (Psalm 37:4) This means if He hasn’t granted the desires of our hearts, then they’re things we think we want but will one day realize we don’t want, they’re things we’re not quite ready for, or they’re things against God’s will. Whatever the case, we should do our best to be aware that if we’re not getting the desires of our hearts, then there’s a really good reason for it, (or a really bad excuse like laziness) and we need to just let God do His thing so we can live our very best lives without stressing out and blowing up!