Stillness & Silence

In 2019, I learned the importance of rest. In 2020, I’m learning the importance of stillness & silence. I’m a worrier by nature. I like things to be safe & secure. I don’t like change or new things. Everywhere I go I have a place where I sit or stand & a person I sit or stand next to. At grocery stores I always park in the same one or two rows & I typically go at about the same time every time—when there are the fewest people. I thrive in routine & predictablity. 2020 has clearly thrown a wrench in my survival. Except, in 2019 I learned the importance of rest. From 2017-2019, God was preparing for 2020. 2017-2018 was a long succession of fairly minor inconveniences one after another feeling like one big pile of ick! 💩 2019 was a year of learning to rest so the little things wouldn’t turn into a big thing. Now, 2020 is a year of personal growth. A lot of things have happened for all of us & I haven’t freaked out. 2017 & 2018 me would’ve freaked out. Early 2019 me would’ve freaked out too! 2020 me has almost freaked out a few times, but then I rest & I’m okay. So, now I’m practicing not only rest, but also stillness & silence. As a Christian, in the stillness & silence I hear God. As an introvert, in the stillness & silence I recharge. As an Enneagram 6, in the the stillness & silence I feel safe. There’s no noise or chaos in stillness & silence. There are no people in the stillness & silence. God whispers in the stillness & silence. And let me tell you, there’s been a lot of personal growth in the stillness & quiet. And this is still a new practice for me! This is where I get to practice stillness & silence in the morning. I’ve also been practicing during the day. I’ve kept my phone put away while waiting in line or at a stoplight (we all do it) & I drive in silence sometimes. How are you practicing stillness & silence? How could you if you’re not already? 😊

#Anxiety #Hope #Fear #Faith #Depression #Joy #Enneagram6w5 #Enneagram6w7 #INFJ #Hufflepuff #6w5 #6w7 #Enneagram #Identity #ThisIsMe #ChooseBrave #BeCourageous #stillness #silence #quiet #quiettime #devotional #devotionaltime #peace #stayingstrong #100DaystoBrave #MyUtmostForHisHighest

Irrational Fear

Irrational Fear – Unreasonable Fear

Panic – Sudden Unreasonable terror

Technically speaking, I’m not afraid of heights. As a child, I was known to climb as high as I possibly could in any tree the adults around me would let me climb. Sometimes, my brother, sister, and I would climb to the top of our roof or treehouse and try to jump off without getting caught. So, no, I’m not afraid of heights. I am, however, afraid of falling or more specifically failing. I can’t go on rollercoasters because I’m afraid I’ll fall to my death. And sometimes, I can’t even climb stairs without a sudden panic overwhelming me for fear that I’ll manage to fall and hurt/kill myself. It’s irrational. I know. But as with my arachnophobia the logic of knowing it COULD happen is often far more convincing than the logic of knowing the odds of the bad thing not happening are in my favor.

I stood at the top of this 3-story rickety staircase for what felt like 5 minutes trying to slow my breathing and calm down enough to go back down the steps I had just climbed up. I wish I could say this doesn’t happen often, but it does. This happens all the time, not always with staircases, but often with life in general. I’m irrationally afraid of falling and failing. I regularly experience moments of rapid heartbeats & shallow breathing because of an irrational anxiety I can’t seem to shake.

Are you like this? Do you have irrational fears? It’s okay. You’ll get through it. Take a deep breath and remember 2 Timothy 1:7. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”‬ ‭(NIV)‬‬

Dear Younger Me–A Decade in Review

On Sunday, I will be 26. In 2 weeks, it will be 2020. The end of a decade and what a decade it has been! So many things have happened to me I’ve been through so many emotionally draining things this decade. So many fabulous things and so many treacherous things. I have a feeling, from knowing people and from watching people, this decade has been intense for a lot of people. I’m going to write a letter to “younger me” and it’ll be a little personal, but I want it to be for everyone. So, here we go.

Dear younger me,
I’m proud of you. You are strong. So much stronger than you ever knew you could be. Of course, that is because of God in you, but you have to accept and embrace it, so do that. In the future, accept and embrace God’s strength in you.
I want to thank you for the things you’ve taught me. I want to thank you for hanging on and for trying. I want to thank you for being you. You tried so hard not to be you, to be different, to be who people wanted you to be, but you couldn’t. You couldn’t be anyone but you and I thank you for that. The things you hated so much about yourself this past decade have become your favorite things about yourself today. So, thank you.

Dear 16-year-old me,
This is the year you’ve started going to “normal” school again. You’re learning to be insecure. You used to believe in yourself. You used to love yourself. You used to not care what others thought. 4 years ago, you slowly started to care, but it didn’t really hit you until this year. I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry you felt the need to please people. That you felt like you had to be different than yourself and more like others.
If I could go back and tell you anything, then I would tell you to be yourself. I would tell you to believe in yourself. I would tell you that your friends, at least the real ones, will love you as you are. I know you’re afraid. I know you crave relationships. That you worry about them not loving you because they laugh at the things that make you who you are. That is wrong. It sucks and it hurts, but believe it or not, it’s their way of loving you. It’s totally unhealthy and ultimately unChristlike, but they are human. This is how they love you. Please love you, too.

Dear 17-year-old me,
I’m sorry life hurts so much. I’m sorry I expected perfection from you. Maybe if I had listened to Hannah Montana, then you wouldn’t have felt so much pressure to perform. Maybe you would have loved yourself. Maybe you would have remembered the beauty of being that 12-year-old girl who spun around the gym not caring what anyone thought of you. Maybe… maybe… maybe… I’m sorry for all that, but I’m more sorry that I wouldn’t change a thing. Your brokenness brought me closer to God. Your brokenness taught me to really appreciate those in my life who love me despite my crazy. Your brokenness taught me that brokenness is okay. What isn’t okay is wallowing in your brokenness instead of taking it to the Lord. Your brokenness taught me that, so thanks!

Dear 18-year-old me,
Thank you for being unashamedly obsessed with BarlowGirl and Demi Lovato. Thank you for surrendering your hurts and desires to God the day you turned 18. Thank you for letting Him use Demi and the Barlows to drag you from your pit of darkness and lead you to healing. Thank you for taking a chance and accepting Caitlyn’s invitation to a new church. You have no idea how much the Lord is going to use this church to heal you, grow you, and show you who He is. Jehovah Jireh. Jehovah Rapha. Jehovah Shalom.

Dear 19-year-old me,

I’m sorry I let you experience your first real heartbreak. I don’t know if I could have done anything to prevent it, because “the heart wants what it wants.” But I do know I could have softened the blow if I had been more honest about what I was thinking and feeling. In 6 years, your best friend will say you probably weren’t ready to handle it. You’ll deny it at first, but then you’ll realize it’s true. You’ll need a relatable movie, a lot of prayer, and a social media break before you’re ready to handle those feelings. Still, honesty is the best policy. You lied to yourself about your feelings and that’s what made it so hard.

P.S. Thanks for showing me that it’s okay to admit you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. You knew you couldn’t handle the stress of Physics and Trigonometry, so you confessed and let it go. Thanks for that. You’ll feel guilty for that decision for a little while, but eventually, you’ll learn it was the right decision.

Dear 20-year-old me,
Last year, you got your heart broken. This year, your parents got divorced. A younger you would have expected you to give up love. After all, you are a hopeless romantic who has been forever single. You fell for someone who definitely wasn’t the one, but you tried to convince yourself he could be. And your parents divorced after fighting your whole life. Love doesn’t seem so glamorous or even realistic these days. Just you wait. Would you believe me if I told you you’ll be single and turning 26 and actually be okay with it? It’s okay. I can hear you laughing. I’m not surprised. I’m more surprised that I’m not only okay with being single, but also, believe it or not, might actually want to stay this way. Anyway, thanks for being a hopeful romantic instead of a hopeless romantic. Rose-colored glasses look way better on you than jade anyway.

Dear 21-year-old me,
You did it! You moved out on your own! You got a “grownup” job and you’re totally rocking it! You’re kind of going through a weird culture shock as you encounter non-Christian society for the first time, but you’re kind of also rocking that. Everyone everywhere will immediately know you’re the church kid and they’ll love you for it. Occasionally, you’ll be treated like a child for it, but it’s cool. Mostly it’s because you’re so… innocent compared to everyone else. Trust me, you’d rather be childlike and innocent than fit in with the crowd. A lot of your coworkers will even respect and admire you for your beliefs. You’ll feel proud about that, so way to go!

Dear 22-year-old me,
Your life is going to be really emotional for the next three years. You’re going to go on so many rollercoasters your head will spin, you’ll feel sick to your stomach, and you’ll feel crazy. 22 is supposed to be the fun year. That’s how Taylor Swift makes it sound, but she’s sort of wrong. I mean, 23 and 24 will be way worse, but 22 is the beginning. You’ll unexpectedly say goodbye to a couple of friendships at 22 and it’ll suck, but you’ll grow. 22 is the beginning of learning how to be okay with not being okay. I know you think you learned that at 18 and 20, but apparently not, cause girl, you’ve got a lot of learning to do. Just take a deep breath and get ready for the ride, because you’re gonna hate it but you’ll be stuck for quite a while.

Dear 23-year-old me,
You taught me patience. It’ll take you 8 months to move into your apartment and from there it will all hit the fan and you’ll run for cover. Except there won’t be anywhere to run, so you’ll kind of just… fall apart. Seriously, you’re going to find yourself sitting on the bathroom floor crying over a picture frame that won’t stay on the wall. That’ll be your tipping point. You’ll curse Eve for eating the apple, you’ll cry over that darn frame, then you’ll go sit in the living room eating fruity pebbles. You’ll laugh hysterically at yourself for being so pathetic and then you’ll cry several more times, because, well, life. You won’t break though. You’ll bend beyond your wildest imagination, but you won’t break, so I’m proud of you. Way to go! You never gave in to the pressure of all the pressure. Whoo!

Dear 24-year-old me,
You seriously quit your job. Then, you finally finished writing the Mask; Her Aid and published it! It’ll feel like the start of something new and beautiful, but it won’t be. You’ll find yourself crying a lot again. You’ll almost be evicted from your apartment. You and Savannah will fight so much and so intensely it’ll surprise you when you get along better after a few months. You’ll find joy in driving around making deliveries for food services, but it won’t pay enough. You’ll have to find a new job. Eventually, you’ll finally become a bus driver like Papa has recommended since you were 21. You’ll move in with the Mathers and studying to be a bus driver will be beyond stressful. How the heck did you end up working 2 jobs that involve driving? You hate driving! The Lord works in mysterious ways though.

Dear 25-year-old me,
Okay, so technically you’re still 25. Your birthday isn’t for another 4 days. That means 4 more days of falling or flying at 25. Anything can change in a matter of days, but let’s just pretend you’re 26, okay? 25 is going to be an interesting year for you. You thought 24 would break you again. A few times, you came so close to letting it. You even crashed and burned at the beginning of 2019 when you took on too much at one time. Seriously, you worked 12-hour shifts at Rhodes, Saturdays at the thrift store, and Sundays in youth. Are you crazy? If God needs rest, then so do you! Thankfully, this form of crashing and burning was only as bad as no longer doing youth or the thrift store. It could have been worse though. You thought it would be, but then you accepted the importance of rest. You took God up on His commandment of Sabbath. You won’t do anything on Saturdays and you’ll be okay with not always working between routes. You won’t use social media on Saturdays and you won’t obsess on Sundays. You’ll even take a social media break during the month leading up to 26. It’ll be weird, but you’ll use that time to “Live Fearless” and “…Be Brave.” You’ll also finally start working out every day. You do Zumba every morning, choreography a lot of afternoons, and concerts most evenings. It’ll be great! Best of all, you’ll learn to forgive. You’ll forgive those who have hurt you and you’ll learn to forgive yourself for hurting others. You’ll be obsessed with the Vampire Diaries and Victorious, and you’ll be friends with Shelby Gail again. Life will even be peaceful when you finally realize that accepting your anxiety and trust issues is the first step in overcoming them. I’m so proud of you for that! You’re sort of still in the process of all that going into 26, but you’ve already accomplished so much! Way to go!

And because you’re still you, you’ll ask your Shelby’s how you’ve changed since meeting them. Both will essentially say the same thing. You’re more confident and more willing to accept the unknown. So after all that mess of 16 to 26, you’ll actually be grateful for the crazy. It was hard and you’ll wish you can change things, but you never would even if you could. You learned so much in your teens and early 20’s that you’re really excited about the things you’ll learn in your late 20’s and early 30’s. Until the next decade, please keep calm and let God. Love you!

Love,
Me ❤

To anyone reading this. I hope you can learn to be brave and trusting. I hope you can accept your brokenness, repent from your sins–like my bitterness and anger–, and that you’ll trust God in the unknowns and comfort zones. Life is hard enough. We don’t need to add to it with perfectionism, fear, anger, bitterness, distrust, and all the other ickiness of brokenness and sin. From least to greatest: Love yourself. Love others. Love God.

 

P.S. It’s okay to be lame, so like… I hope you were able to read this letter to yourself with 2020 vision! 😉 😛 (I just cringed at my own poor “joke.” It’s so lame, but I couldn’t not do it. oh, well)

Popcorn, Panic, and Peace

I’m a socially anxious introvert, while not my identity in and of itself, that is part of who I am. Not only a I drained by social interactions, but social interactions also almost paralyze me with anxiety sometimes. I’m also someone who feels incredibly anxious if I perceive something may be unsafe or uncomfortable. In my head, I usually know most of these anxious moments are overly dramatic and that I need to calm down and just do the thing. Sometimes, I just can’t. Sometimes no matter how illogical I know I’m being, I find myself locked up in fear unable to do anything until something changes. Most people seem to be annoyed by this. Most people react with short replies and irritable answers. Then, there are people who get it and if they don’t get it, they at least realize I can’t seem to help it, so they help me. They’re patient with me. They encourage me. Sometimes they do the thing so I don’t have to.

I’ve been planning to write this post for quite a while now because about six months ago, I walked around Boerne with two of my favorite people and had a moment like this. It was absolutely ridiculous. We were in a popcorn or treat store and I was looking at all the popcorn flavors. Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks and I adore green apple flavoring. They happened to have a green apple flavored popcorn. I was both disgusted and intrigued. Could green apple popcorn be good? I wanted to know how much it cost, but felt paralyzed by the thought of asking, so I asked my friend to ask for me. She laughed a little and graciously asked for me. The popcorn was more expensive than I would have liked for something I just wanted to try, so I was bummed. Then, my other friend noticed a tray of little cups of popcorn and took it upon herself to ask if they were samples. She didn’t even ask for herself. She asked for me before I could even think about it. When the cashier said they were samples, my friend gestured for me to take one so I did. (And, FYI, I personally thought the green apple popcorn was amazing! Haha. Still didn’t buy it because I didn’t have extra money to spend, but it was really yummy! Ooh! Maybe I’ll go buy some soon! Now, I really want some! 🙈)

I don’t only have social anxiety. As I said, I also have safety anxiety. If something doesn’t feel safe, even if it logically is, I start to panic. Last Wednesday before Thanksgiving break, I busted a window in the bus I was driving because I turned too closely to a tree branch. Our mechanics fixed it very quickly, so I was able to drive it again that afternoon. Before I went out to drive it, I worried about the broken shards of glass that fell into the floor. Our head mechanic, Jason, personally went out to inspect the bus for me. He didn’t have to. I could have and would have done it, but he’s gotten to know me well enough that he knows I’ve got a bit of an anxiety problem. Instead of sighing or saying something along the lines of, “calm down,” he personally helped me know I was safe. And that’s not the only time he or the rest of the mechanics have gone out of their well to assure me I was safe and secure and ready to go. They, especially Jason, regularly go the extra mile to help me and I know it’s because they know I feel better with their expert opinion versus my own.

The reason this is important to me is because some of the other people I work with, especially two of my managers, seem to act like my questions and concerns are a problem. Sure, maybe they are. Maybe my worries are ridiculous sometimes. Actually, there’s no maybe, sometimes my anxiety is ridiculous. Like I said though, I can’t seem to always control it. Sometimes I have to be shown that my worry is silly and not just told. More importantly, I need to know I’m not seen as foolish for my worries. In fact, that’s the best way for me to quickly overcome the anxiety and face it less often. All I need a lot of the time is to know or at least feel like my worries are understood.

That’s why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to give advice to anyone reading this who has anxiety or who knows someone with anxiety. In 2019, I’ve been learning countless ways to handle my anxiety. One way is to accept it. If I accept my anxiety, then it becomes less of a problem and more of a question. If it’s a question, then there’s an answer to find and I can find that answer. If others accept my anxiety, then they can help me either my doing something or by showing me that I’m not alone. Even if they don’t understand, then at least they sympathize. They acknowledge that I’m not intentionally being difficult. And when I know that, my anxiety feels easier to overcome. I think thats probably true for others too. When they accept their mental blocks and when their people accept their mental blocks, then those blocks become easier to move. And then there is peace on earth or at least in our own little worlds.

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!

Kitchen Cabinets & Malunion Fractures – A Look at 2018 & 2019

A year or so ago when I moved into my apartment, my best friend came over and unwittingly gave me a visual representation of what friendship should be. My sister and I had a random mirror standing in the living room and it was super dirty and smudged from previously being in storage. My best friend couldn’t stand looking at it and I hadn’t really felt like cleaning it, so she grabbed some Windex and cleaned the mirror. Then, maybe the same day or during a different visit, I pulled a pan or something from my kitchen cabinet and she noticed it was a chaotic mess. Again, I didn’t feel like organizing it, so I just left it that way. Again, because she didn’t like it that way, she decided to organize my kitchen cabinet, so it actually made sense when I grabbed things out of it. A few times after that, she organized a few of my other things too. It seems silly, but today I realized while listening to a podcast about anxiety that those moments were incredibly significant moments in my life because they represent something so much more important.

The podcast I was listening to is called “Directionally Challenged with Candice King and Kayla Ewell.” This podcast episode was about anxiety and it started with the question, “What does anxiety mean to you?” I thought about it and I didn’t have a chance to answer it for myself before Candice answered with the best definition I’ve ever heard. She said something like, “It’s quicksand. I get stuck and the more I struggle or try to get out the worse it gets.” Later on, she and Kayla and their guest talked about their toolboxes to get out of the quicksand. You have to have self-compassion, you have to find creative outlets, you have to find your own ways of coping, and you have to let other people help you out. While they were talking about letting other people help you out of your anxiety and or depression, something they said made me think of the mirror and the cabinet and how like real life those moments were.

2018 was a year of major anxiety for me. I faced depression and was tempted with self-harm far more than I ever would have expected to be after coming away from that in 2012 and these feelings really piled on the anxiety as I dealt with familial drama, financial drama, and kind of just life in general. Through these struggles I learned about all the tools God has given me to fight my personal battle. In order to learn about these tools though, I had to go through a long, hard battle.

For me, 2018 was a year of breaking and healing. It was a spiritual version of something in the medical world called a malunion fracture. A malunion fracture is when a broken bone grows back together without properly healing. To my uneducated knowledge, this most often happens when someone either doesn’t know they’ve been hurt, or they don’t realize they’ve been hurt as badly as they have been. For the malunion fracture to heal properly, the doctor may have to rebreak the bone and then reset it. That’s what God had to do for me this year. I had a few malunion fractures in my heart and God had to allow my heart to be rebroken so that I could heal properly. I didn’t know about these malunion fractures though until they were rebroken.

A few years ago, I really thought that God and I had tackled the bulk of my struggles with anxiety and that it wasn’t much of a struggle for me anymore. 2018 taught me I was wrong. Anxiety, depression, and self-harm are probably going to be things that I battle with for my whole life. There will be times when it’s not as bad and I’ll get stronger every time, but I’ll likely deal with these things forever and that’s okay. There are going to be times in my life when malunion fractures come up in my life and anxiety will occur because I have to deal with them. It will be hard and I probably won’t like the process but I will be necessary for me to heal and grow in my relationships with people and with God.

And here’s the thing about anxiety that I think a lot of Christians feel even more anxiety over. In and of itself, anxiety is not a sin. Anxiety is an emotion that tells me when I need to slow down and focus more on God than others or things. Sin only comes into play when I let my anxiety control me instead of choosing to let God control my anxiety. I can choose to dwell on my anxiety and let it take me to dark places or I can choose to use my anxiety to draw me closer to God and the healthy relationships He has provided for me.

That’s where my best friend cleaning my mirror and organizing my kitchen cabinet comes into the picture. Yes, she did that in a literal sense, but all throughout this year she and a few other friends have done that in a metaphorical sense as well. They’ve loved me, they’ve cared about me, and they’ve celebrated me. In doing so, they’ve helped me see my spiritual and emotional reflections better and they’ve helped me to organize the clutter of my mental cabinets.

In 2018, I was reminded what my actual identity looks like. I was reminded that it’s okay and important to rearrange things in my life and to get rid of things that negatively affect my mental health. Through my dearest friends who have chatted with me and loved me, I’ve seen what godly and healthy relationships are supposed to look like. Because of that, I’ve learned which relationships I need to just get rid of all together and which relationships I need to push to the back of my “cabinet” and not use quite as often, if ever. While doing that, God worked on my malunion fractures and reset them so that now as I head into a new year they are truly healed and ready for whatever God may have for me in the next chapter of my life.

Normally at the end/beginning of the year I give a brief recap of the year before and then set out my goals for the coming new year. This year I can’t really recap 2018 because I didn’t accomplish any of my goals. I’m going into 2019 a few pounds heavier than I went into 2018 instead of leaving 2018 twenty-five to fifty pounds lighter. I didn’t read very many books or finish any television series’. I didn’t read my Bible every day and I didn’t journal every day (though I did do a lot better at both this year than I normally do. I journaled almost every day and read my Bible or a Bible plan on average a couple times a week.) I didn’t create something new every day and I didn’t really change my eating habits very much. But all of that is okay. I don’t feel sad or discouraged by not meeting any of these goals because I can honestly say I’m leaving 2018 feeling a lot lighter than I felt during the rest of the year, because I’ve finally realized that with God I can control my anxiety. I’ve realized that asking for prayer and help is okay and so, so important. I’ve also realized that if my friendship fears were grounded in any amount of truth, then I wouldn’t have the same best friends after six years of them knowing me.

So, as I leave 2018 and head into 2019, I’m not making any plans or setting any goals. I’ll continue and start a few new practices like journaling, creating more, sleeping to the light sound of worship music in the background, tracking my daily stress levels, and keeping track of what I do and don’t eat or how I do or don’t exercise, but I’m not setting any goals. I’m just going to read my Bible, worship the Lord in song and written word, and let my friends help me when I don’t know how to help myself. Because no matter what happens in 2019 and no matter how often I feel anxious or worried, I won’t let it consume me. I will live in peace with the Lord and know that “no matter what my future holds, I know Who holds my future.”

24: Crazy (Fear)ce

24. 2018. Both the same year in my world. Both a year of constantly feeling fearful, crazy, and or fierce all at the same time or one after the other. Life is unpredictable and everchanging. I like to know things and stay where I am. 24 didn’t tell me anything until after it happened and rarely let me stay in the same place doing the same thing for longer than a few moments at a time. 24 was a year of drama. Family drama. Financial drama. Apartment drama. Just drama. I spent a lot of time praying and texting my best friend for support and prayers, and sometimes texting my other best friends and blogging for some sort of comprehension into my crazy life. I wrote a lot of songs about feeling fearful, crazy, and fierce. I listened to the same 15 to 30 songs over and over and over again without really listening to much else. And I may or may not have broken down a lot this year. Seriously, I didn’t even fangirl much this year. That’s how crazy it’s been.

To be honest, as I look back on this year, it’s probably been emotionally on par with my junior year of high school. When I was a junior in high school, I found myself struggling with depression and self-harm pretty much every single day. At 24, I felt myself on the edge of fighting the same battle almost every day as well. 24 was different though. Junior year was a year of brokenness that I gave into. As I broke, I gave in and grew weak. I focused on my depression, I lived in a constant state of anxiety, and I physically harmed myself regularly just to feel something different than the ache in my soul. 24 was a year of brokenness that I fought. When I felt depressed and anxious or was tempted to give in to the destructive addiction that is self-harm, I found other ways to cope. I reached out to my best friend, I wrote music and or blog posts, I listened to one or both of my main playlists, “Be Still” and “Fierce,” and or I let myself fangirl a little harder over old fandoms just so I could focus on something other than life’s craziness.

24 took me on a rollercoaster full of twists and turns that turned my finances, my family, and my feelings upside down and all around. Every day, often multiple times a day, I looked for a rainbow or sunshine or even just a glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel. Every night I felt like I was just getting closer and closer to eternal darkness. Every once in a while though, I saw a small ray of sunshine as the storm clouds just barely parted just enough for me to remember darkness can never last forever. New friends left their sparkle in my life, old friends reminded me who and Whose I am, and kids and teens reminded me to have faith and look for beauty.

24 did leave me often feeling depressed and anxious. It often had me so worried and stressed that I didn’t even finish one tv series in the whole 365 days of the year, I barely watched any movies, and I only read a few books. My fangirl game for 24 was majorly lacking. That may seem silly, but when you’re known as the fangirl, it says a lot. Even still, 24 taught me that I am so much stronger than I used to be, so much stronger than I ever thought I could be. If you had told me my junior year that life would get better and I would get stronger, then I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me senior year that if I ever fell into a state of darkness again, then I’d be strong enough not to give in, then I also wouldn’t have believed you. Heck, even if you had told me at 23 or 24 that I’d be strong enough to fight through darkness that could rival my junior year, then I for sure wouldn’t have believed you. Here I am though. I’m 25 and I made it through the darkness of 24 without giving in and while fighting for my life at every turn. I cried out to Jesus and gave my darkness to Him. I learned to cope in a healthy way by praying and asking for prayer. I even let myself feel the hurt and the pain and the darkness whenever necessary. I grew a lot at 24. I learned a lot too.

24 taught me that Mosaic MSC is right. Jesus does make the darkness tremble. 24 taught me there is strength in vulnerability and weakness. 24 taught me that even in fear and anxiety I am brave and strong. 24 taught me that reaching out for help, even simply asking for prayer or an ear to listen is not weakness, but strength. 24 taught me that when I let God work for me, He never gives me more than “I” can handle. 24 also taught me that family isn’t who you’re related to by blood but who you’re related to by His blood. Without music and without my church family, I wouldn’t have made it through 24 without majorly crashing and burning. With music and my church family, I was able to tuck my wings in as they carried me through the trenches and flew for me.

As I head into 25 and 2019, I’m not going to set any New Year’s goals. Instead, I’m just going to rest and rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of 24. I’m going to keep track of the things I do in 2019. I’m going to keep track of how I feel at the end of every day at 25. And, I’m going to enjoy life as it happens. Whether good or bad, I’m going to thank God for every day and remember that even on my worst days, He and His people are with me.

When Fear Creeps In

Since April 30, 2018, my only job has been as a delivery driver for the apps UberEats and Doordash. This has been great, because I’ve been able to work whenever I want and get paid whenever I want. Three weeks ago, I started a new job. That new job will be paying me nearly five dollars more an hour than I average as a delivery driver, but it will only be paying me once every two weeks. For the first pay period, I have to wait four weeks to get paid. That’s not good for someone who has been behind on bills and now doesn’t have time to work all day for a job that pays immediately if need be. Needless to say, on top of the endless stress I’ve been feeling essentially nonstop for the past two years (some from my own doing and some not), I’ve been feeling even more stress. I’m already behind on bills and now it seems like I won’t ever be able to catch up because of this waiting period until I get paid. In between the moments of unbearable stress I’ve been feeling the past two years, God has really been showing, or at least trying to show me (I don’t always listen very well), how to handle stress in a healthy way. But more than that, He’s been asking me to trust Him. That’s hard. I’m a person who likes to know things. I like to know the when, where, and how of everything in my life. I haven’t done much knowing in the past two years. Everything’s kind of just been a constant progression of “I know something you don’t know” in terms of the when, where, and how of things happening. Today, God quickly reminded me of the ways in which I can combat against stress.

  1. Be Real with God– In the past couple of days, a few relatively minor issues have arisen and I’ve been really annoyed with God about them. They’ve been things completely out of my or anyone else’s control. I’ve been trying so hard to stay positive and believe that the Lord will provide for my every need. But, as I said, my stress plate has been overloaded lately, so every small issue threatens to topple it over. In those moments, I can feel myself reaching my breaking point, so I cry out to God in frustration. He’s okay with that. I think He even wants it. Most of the time, I’m usually crying something like, “God, why are you allowing this to happen? I’m trying so hard to be positive and get back on track, but every time I’m almost there, there’s a setback and I can’t handle it.” I think it’s healthy to cry out in frustration to the Lord. I think He even wants us to. If we can’t cry out to Him, then who can we cry out to? We just have to remember where the line of respect is and remember to, with His help, reign it in after a little while.
  2. Be Grateful. Normally, about halfway through my frustrated crying, God reminds me of His blessings in my life. At first, I push back in frustration and He gives me time to get over my frustration. Then, He’s kind of like, “Okay, Brittany. You’ve had your time to express your frustration. I’m okay with that, but now it’s time to focus on the positive.” So, I reluctantly release my frustrations to Him and let Him remind me of all the things and people I have to be grateful for. In that moment, after surrendering my frustration and claiming my blessings, I feel so much better than I did in the fear-driven frustrations of before. Today, for example, He let me complain to Him and then He reminded me of something I hadn’t quite realized yet. I get paid this Friday. Then, I’ll have a week off from my new job for Thanksgiving break and will be able to make deliveries all day, every day for a week. This will be convenient because that’s the week all my bills will be due and I’ll be a little short with my coming paycheck. He also reminded me that Black Friday will probably be an exceptionally busy day as people will be shopping all day and won’t want to leave their shopping to eat, so I’ll be able to go to them. And, of course, He reminded me of my Ebenezer Stones. Those are the ways He’s provided me every time I’ve needed Him to in the past. He has always been faithful and He always will be.
  3. Be humble. Fear, at least for me, almost always accompanies a need. Most often, I’m afraid when I think a need won’t be met. In those moments, I have to be humble. I not only have to be willing to humble myself before the Lord in prayer by asking for His provision. I also may have to humble myself and ask others for help. Sometimes, that may be as simple as asking them to pray for me. Other times, that may be asking them for tangible help. Will you take care of me when I have my wisdom teeth removed or when I sprain my ankle? Will you help me fix the A/C in my car? Will you help me move all my things from my old living place to my new living place? Or even, will you lend me some money for gas? Right now, that’s the hardest thing for me to ask because I’m the main reason I’m in a financial bind.
  4. Be in community. I like to be alone more than I like to be with people, but there are people I will more readily sacrifice my alone time for than others. Those are the people who fill me when I’m in dire need of a spiritual recharge. More times than not, that spiritual recharge is needed when I’ve been living in or fighting off fear for one reason or another. In the past several months, fear has been telling me that I need to spend every waking moment working so I can pay my bills. God has been telling me to rest, not only by myself, but most importantly with His people. The past two months, I’ve been in the tightest of financial binds I’ve ever been in. It seems logical that I should spend every waking moment working until I get out of this bind. It’s not practical though. When I found myself in a dark abyss of depression in high school, it was because I was burning myself out trying to climb out of what felt like binds at the time. When I finally came out of that abyss, it was because of fellowship. Now, I have to continue to remember that. I may not be able to say yes to every social event, but when it’s a spiritual social gathering or a one on one spiritual gathering, those are the times when I know I have to say yes. These past three weeks as I’ve been waiting for a paycheck, I’ve been more stressed than I think I’ve been in a long time. Logic says I should be making deliveries whenever I’m not at my nine to five job. Practicality and health say that’s foolish. So, last weekend I spent 36 hours with my best friend at a women’s event. Then, after church the next day, I went to lunch with another friend and had dinner with my family. Today, a week later, I spent about an hour and a half after church with another friend and then had dinner with my family again. These were prime money-making hours, but that doesn’t matter if I’m spiritually burnt out. So, even though it pained me, in the beginning, to do so, I took time off and I fellowshipped. By the end of each social event, I felt recharged and ready to take on the world. If I hadn’t spent time with these darling friends of mine, then I can guarantee you I’d be writing a different post right now.

These are only four simple steps to take when overcoming fear and they pretty much encompass any other step you may need to take, but they’re not easy. Fear is a liar and a thief. Fear doesn’t want to hear our honesty. Fear is a thief of gratitude. And fear, at it’s core, is selfish. Fear is also often accompanied by misery and misery only loves company when the company is also miserable. When the company saps up your fear and gives you peace, misery wants nothing to do with it. So, next time you’re feeling afraid, try these steps. Be real with God. Be grateful. Be humble. And be in fellowship.

Safe. Sunshine. Seen.

I’m not enough. I’m all alone. I’m too much. No one cares. These are just a few of the thoughts that have run through my head at any given time. As a teenager, they were constantly on repeat. Now, I don’t hear these thoughts quite as often, but they’re still there at the back of mind. They’re waiting to attack when I’m at my most vulnerable and insecure. As a teenager, I was always the one trying to be a safe place for people. I always felt like I had to be the sunshine girl. I was the one who always cared and saw others. I never felt like I was on the receiving end. I didn’t feel like I had a safe place. I didn’t feel like anyone was my sunshine girl. I never felt cared for or seen. Then, I started going to Compass Church. It’s been over six years now and I’m still constantly being reminded by Compass Church members that I am enough. I’m not alone. I’m not too much. And I am cared for. I have a safe place. I have a sunshine girl. And I have someone who cares for and sees me.

I have a safe place. Without God I have nothing. I have no safety. No peace. No joy. No identity. No anything. With God, I can have tangible reminders that I am safe. I can have peace. Joy is attainable. And my identity is only found in Him and who He created me to be. My best friend, Shelby, is almost always that tangible reminder for me. She is almost always available when I’m feeling lost, when I’m feeling afraid, when I’m feeling depressed, and really at any time. Six years ago, I met her and she very quickly, but slowly became a place of safety for me. First she was someone I could share my song lyrics with, aka my journal entries. Next, she became a close friend who put in as much effort in our friendship as I did, if not more. Then, she became my best friend. And now she’s the safest place I know in this world other than God. When I need eminded that everything is going to be okay, she’s there with God’s promises. When I just need to vent so I don’t go crazy, she listens. When a topic comes up at church or elsewhere that gets me feeling some kind of way because of personal issues, she’s there and she knows. She doesn’t poke or prod. She just knows. She may ask something like, “How are you feeling,” but then she’ll leave it at that unless I turn it into a conversation. That’s all I needed as a teenager. Someone to ask, “How are you?” and mean it. Someone who knew how I was doing even if I didn’t say anything. I always speak so highly of Shelby and it’s literally just because she’s there and she cares. She’s the kind of safe place I needed as a teenager and it’s the type of safe place I’m so grateful to have now.

“I could be your sunshine girl.” That is a line from the song, Sunshine Girl, by Christian singer, Britt Nicole. This song was one of my anthems in high school, partially because I wanted to be this girl, but also because I needed this girl. The idea of the song is that this girl is whoever you need her to be. She’s there for you no matter what. I wanted to be and have that, but when I listened to it, I mostly just wanted that sunshine girl. I wanted to have someone in my life who could make me smile no matter what because she’s just a bright, shining light in this world. In recent months, I have met one particular sunshine girl named Ana. I don’t know much about Ana, but I do know she is a ray of hope and sunshine wherever she goes. Maybe that comes from a heartbreaking backstory. Maybe she’s always been that way. I don’t know, but whatever she has or hasn’t been through seems to have brought her to a place of ultimate joy and gratitude that shines through whenever I see her.

This past weekend, she was setting up for and promoting a Christmas event our church does for women every year called, Sparkle. By the end of the setup, the table was so silvery and shiny you could practically see your reflection in the decorations. And yet, Ana was still more sparkly. I sat and chatted with her until church started. For that whole fifteen to thirty minutes she continued to shine brighter than the sparkly decorations. And anyone who spoke with her, whether signing up for the event or not, left with a bright smile on their faces too, because Ana is a genuine sunshine girl. Even a second of speaking with her leaves me feeling happy and bright too! For that reason alone, I am so grateful to know this lovely sunshine girl. Even without knowing much about her, she has made my life infinitely more blessed just by being in it.

I have someone who cares for and sees me. I’m an introvert. Contrary to how I often come across, I prefer to keep to myself and observe rather than participate. Every once in a while, an extrovert comes along and tries to change that. This time around, that extrovert is Tamra. Tamra is a ball of energy so wonderfully intense that if I got to speak with her every morning, then I’d never need caffeine again. We met one weekend at a youth day by the river. Her son is in the youth group at church where I volunteer, so she and her husband came to help chaperone. While there, we chatted and got to know each other. Since then, I’ve learned that her spirit animal is probably a golden retriever or something. Every time she sees me, she gets excited, comes up to me, and starts talking to me. If there’s something going on, then she urges me to join in until I do. And I absolutely love it. Just like the golden retriever friend, she immediately sees me, comes to me, and makes sure I’m taken care of. We haven’t known each other very long, and yet I know that if I need anything, then she’s there for me. There’s just something so wonderfully genuine about her that I can’t help but know that she sees me and she cares about me.

In hindsight, I can see that pretty much everyone I knew as a teenager cared about me and loved me. I can see that if I had tried to open up to them, then most of them would have been receptive. I can see that if I had given them a chance, then at least some of them could have been my sunshine girl when I couldn’t be. I can also see that if I hadn’t tried so hard to hide, then more people might have seen me. I didn’t have clear vision then though, so I can’t say that for sure. Now, I can see clearly and I know that if nothing and no one else, then I have at least three very important people in my life. I have Shelby who is my human safe place when I need someone to just be there. I have Ana who is the truest sunshine girl I’ve ever met. Someone to remind to be joyful no matter what. And I have Tamra, someone who sees me and cares for me, even when I don’t want to be seen or cared for. Most of the people at our church would be more than willing and ready to be a safe place, a source of sunshine, or someone to see and care for me. I’d just have to ask them. Shelby, Ana, and Tamra are different though. I don’t have to ask them. They just are and I am so incredibly grateful for that.

Let us all strive to be a safe place for others. Let us all live like Britt Nicole’s sunshine girl, there and ready to be whoever others need us to be in times of joy or sorrow. And let us be open and ready to see and care for those around us.

2018 – A New Year with New Goals

A new day. A new week. A new year. We are at a great advantage this January 1, 2018. It’s a Monday, the first day of the week. It’s the first day of the month. It’s even the first day of the year. If there were ever a perfect day for a fresh start, then today would be that day. It’s no secret that I need a fresh start after the year I had in 2017. It was long, stressful, and painful. I grew, I changed, and I was physically broken. Today, I put all that behind me and claim 2018 as my year! This is going to be a good year! I can feel it! I don’t know how it’s going to be good. I don’t know what good things are going to happen. As someone who is recently unemployed, I don’t even know if or where I’m going to work. I’m starting this year with a completely clean slate and I am truly grateful for this fresh opportunity. With a fresh start, I have a chance to make and meet new goals!
In 2018, my goals are:
• To create at least one new thing every day for the entire year.
• To journal at least a brief recap of every day in 2018.
• To start every day with at least a brief workout and Bible study.
• To finally finish writing, and maybe even publish, at least one book this year.
• To walk with Sadie Robertson in her goal to live whole-heartedly.
• To read more.
• To enjoy life more.
• To rest.
• To stay caught up with my shows.
• To take at least one picture with my best friend every month.
• To get at least 8 hours of sleep every single night
I will create at least one new thing every day for the entire year. It can be a new song, a new scene for Malachi Gregory, a new vlog, a new blog post, or maybe a scripture doodle. If you’d like to follow along on this journey with me, then I will be creating a new page to keep track of all the things I create.
I will journal at least a brief recap of every day in 2018. At the end of every year, I like to look back on all the things I’ve done and then write a recap post. It’s a good way to renew my perspective of the past year and make goals for the coming year. Writing a recap post also gives me closure for the year so that I can go into the new year with a clean slate. To keep everything in one place, I will be creating a page for this, if you’d like to keep track of my life with me.
I will start every day with at least a brief workout and Bible study. While I am more confident these days than I have ever been before, I’m still not who I want to be. I am completely out of shape physically. Part of that is because I injured my back in 2017 and I was more or less immobile for six months. I was out of shape long before hurting myself though. I’ve been the same height since I was fifteen. From fifteen to nineteen or twenty, I was always within the same healthy five-pound weight range. That five-pound weight range was right in the middle of the healthiest weight I should be at. It wasn’t too skinny and it wasn’t overweight. Since then, I have gained about fifty pounds and I’m not happy about it. So, if I can lose at least one pound every week this year, then I will be back where I want to be physically. That’s my goal for the year.
My day is almost always smoother if I start my day in the Bible. I do currently walk with the Lord every day. I pray through the good and bad of the day and I try to listen to worship music at least once a day. That’s not always enough though. God wants me to hear directly from Him and the only way to do that is by reading His Word. So, I’m renewing my goal of reading the Bible every day this year, even if it’s only the daily word from the Bible app.
I will finally finish writing, and hopefully publish, at least one book this year. I have been working on writing two different books since 2012. One is an untitled Dystopian novel with a plot and characters that have changed at least a dozen times. The other is a nonfiction book titled, “The Mask; Her Aid.” I plan to accomplish this goal by writing for at least eight hours of every day that I’m not working. For now, I’m not employed, so that may be weeks or months of writing eight hours a day. When I am working, that will be at least eight to sixteen hours a week on my days off. I think, I may make an exception for Sundays, as that is the day of rest, but I haven’t decided yet.
I will walk with Sadie Robertson in her goal to live whole-heartedly. Sadie Robertson posted a New Year Encouragement video on her YouTube channel challenging her viewers to walk with her as she plans to live whole-heartedly in 2018. She shared that synonyms for whole-hearted are committed, positive, devoted, dedicated, unshakeable, total, and unqualified. One of my favorite quotes is that “God doesn’t call the qualified, He calls the qualified.” I’m not qualified to be a writer. I didn’t go to college, so a lot of people seem to think I don’t have the education or experience needed to be a writer. That doesn’t matter though. God has called me to be a writer, so I will be a writer.
I will read more. In 2017, I didn’t read much. I listened to the Jane Austen audiobooks, so at least there’s that. Otherwise, I only started “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Selection,” and barely finished reading “The Magician’s Nephew.” I love reading, at least enough to reread my favorite books, but I didn’t even do that in 2017. My goal this year is to reread all my favorite books and to read a few new series’.
• The Selection
• The Hunger Games
• Twilight
• Under the Never Sky
• Divergent
• Harry Potter
• The Last Song
• A Walk to Remember
• The Shunning
• Love Comes Softly
• Descendants
• Nancy Drew
• Ever After High and Monster’s High (New)
• A mermaid series I can never remember the name of that my best friend told me to read. (New)
I will enjoy life and rest more. I will also sleep at least 8 hours a night. I have a tendency to stress about anything that doesn’t seem to be going right. I need to stop doing that. I have never faced something that God hasn’t taken care of for me. Therefore, I have no reason to stress about anything. I told my former roommate “I’m not stressing. 2017 was a big ball of stress and 2018 is going to be a soft bed of rest!” That’s my motto for the year! I will rest in the Lord and know He is God. A lot of my stress comes when I’m tired and or hungry. That’s normally when I haven’t slept at least 8 hours. Thus, my goal is to get enough sleep every night.
I will stay caught up with my shows this year. It’s a silly goal, but it’s my goal nonetheless. Every year, I fall behind on my favorite shows, Heartland and Dancing with the Stars. Falling behind always stresses me out, because it means I have to watch several episodes at a time to catch up. This year, I will not fall more than one episode behind on either of these shows or any new shows that I decide to watch.
I will take at least one picture with my best friend every month. This is just a fun goal that she joked about and I decided to make it an actual goal. I see her at least once a week, so it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish.
Finally, I will finish the shows I’ve started (and still want to watch) in the past.
1. Merlin
2. Sabrina the Teenage Witch
3. Boy Meets World (I’ve Never watched it in order) and Girl Meets World
4. Friends
5. How I Met Your Mother
6. Stranger Things
7. Fuller House
8. Liv and Maddie
9. Austin and Ally

2017, I Will Not Miss You!

2017 was not my year, which especially sucks because January made it seem like I was going to have an awesome year! I even wrote, “In 2015, I quit my job at Chick-fil-a to get a “grownup” job so I could afford a new car and living on my own. In 2016, I discovered I am gluten intolerant and constantly have to make the grownup decision not to eat the thing I’m not supposed to eat. In 2017, so far, I’m just obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it’s very nice not to have to be a grownup too much for now! Sometimes, a girl just needs a break from adulting.” Then, all hell broke loose!

  1. On February 28, after being in the worst pain of my life for a week, I went to the doctor and found out I pulled my sciatic nerve. I didn’t get to do much other than sit and lie down for nearly 6 months!
  2. On March 21, I applied to move into a brand-new apartment complex with my sister. The next day we were approved to move in on June 1st. Then the date was changed to mid-June. Then, sometime in July, August 1, August 15, for sure by mid-September, no wait, now it’s October… Finally, moved in on November 1st! Seriously, the wait was so ridiculous, even my best friend started to get mad for me!
  3. On June 22, I felt led to leave the position at work that I had for 2 ½ years and start a new position. 3 months later, I quit my job altogether and went back to Chick-fil-A on September 29. Then, I quit Chick-fil-A on December 29th and am going into 2018 unemployed. There are few things I hate more than change and the unknown and 2017 was nothing but change and the unknown!
  4. On October 2, the transmission in my car went out, costing $3000. Two months later, on November 30, the battery and alternator on my car went out costing a few more hundred dollars!

But, all was not lost! Even though 2017 often felt like a big pile of crap, a lot of good/great things happened too! The following is a neat list of what my 2017 looked like in between the less than stellar events of the year! Mind you, I cried a lot in 2017, because I’m a stress crier and I don’t know that I’ve ever faced a year as difficult as 2017!

TV Shows I watched

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  2. Angel
  3. Sabrina the Teenage Witch (incomplete)
  4. March 23 – Firefly
  5. March 27 – Dollhouse
  6. June 6 – This Is Us (incomplete)
  7. 9/20 – How I Met Your Mother (incomplete)
  8. 10/12 – Boy Meets World (incomplete)
  9. 10/29 – Stranger Things (incomplete)
  10. 12/18 – Riverdale
  11. 12/22 Fuller House Season 3b (incomplete)

Books I started

  1. January – The Selection Coloring Book
  2. February Jane Austen Books (complete)
  3. 4/11 – Buffy Coloring Book
  4. 12/19 – The Selection

Favorite Quotes

  1. “I want to exude the confidence I feel wearing heels and red lipstick.” – Me
  2. “Washing blue jeans is risky. It’s like, “When I put these on, will they be 1) snug enough that I feel like can take on anything, because, “Man, I look good!” or 2) So snug that I rethink everything I’ve ever eaten in the past 10 years?” – Me
  3. “When artists I like go on tour.
    Me: I WANNA GO!
    5 seconds later: There will be people there. I don’t like people…. staying home it is, then!” – Me
  4. “If shattering glass was an Olympic sport, then I’d take home the gold.” – Me
  5. Spencer Hastings: “Cupcakes. Gluten-free. Dairy-free. Sugar-free. Fat-free. Technically, they might not actually exist.”
  6. Unknown: “Try to live every day like Elle Woods after Warner told her she wasn’t smart enough for Harvard Law School.”
  7. 12/31 – My Sister/roommate: “Basically, all of our interactions are randomly poking each other.”

New Friends (and important interactions with old friends)

  1. Kelli Cates
  2. March 6 – Met Anna-Marie in person!
  3. 3/19 – Holly moved to Indonesia
  4. 8/19 – Five years at Compass and friendship with Allie & Holly
  5. Five years of friendship with Shelby Lilly!
  6. Abby Stewart
  7. Bill
  8. Morgan
  9. Lauren
  10. Ciara and Robert
  11. 11/8 – Facetimed Holly after not seeing her for 7 months
  12. 12/30 – Got to see Allie after a year of not seeing her!

My brother and sister-in-love had a baby!

  1. March 15 – I’m gonna be an aunt!
  2. June 2 – It’s a Boy!
  3. November 7 – Anthony James is born!
  4. December 20 – Aunt Britt and AJ meet!

Celebrity Interactions #AlmostFamous

  1. Julia Ross liked my comment on Sarah Ross’s Instagram (of Everlife)
  2. 3/7- Saw the Duggars at the bank in Ak
  3. 4/5 – Sarah Michelle Gellar liked my tweet!
  4. 5/24 – Freddie Prinze Jr. liked my tweet!
  5. 7/27 – Amber Marshall liked my comment on her Instagram post!
  6. 8/18 – Met Sunny Sweeney after her concert!
  7. Tiffany Alvord liked several of my tweets and tweeted back several times!
  8. Hurricane Harvey Relief and seeing RaeLynn perform live!

Random Milestones

  1. February: Started Writing Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fan Fiction (on hiatus now)
  2. 3/2 – Started cooking raw chicken and meals in general nearly every day!
  3. 4/16 – Combined my blogs to have one.
  4. 4/16 – Started Writing Malachi Gregory
  5. 4/27 – Blogging is my calling
  6. 5/29 – Obsessive Hope is live!
  7. 6/13 – #5 on Reverb Nation Singer Songwriter charts for San Antonio, Tx
  8. 6/21- First Vlog – “At last; It is Very Good”
  9. 6/27- Silly as it may be, I was excited to see it rain on one side of my work building, while the sun shone brightly on the other side.
  10. 8/13 – Isaac, Dinah, and Micah accepted Jesus into their hearts!
  11. 12/7 – It snowed in San Antonio!!

Total Stats at the End of the Year

  1. Facebook
  • 105 likes
  1. Instagram
  • 112 Followers
  1. obsessivehope.com
  • 221 posts
  • 30 followers
  • 4710 views
  1. Reverb Nation
  • 392 fans
  • 11 – Local Singer/Song Writers
  • 43 – Regional
  1. Twitter
  • 110 Followers
  1. Wattpad
  • 347 Reads in one month
  1. YouTube—Across three platforms
  • 357,359 views
  • 316 subscribers
  • 100 videos
  1. YouTube—Obsessive Girl
  • 530 music/vlog views
  • 254 total subscribers
  • 39 music videos/vlog

At the end of the year, I only remembered any of the good things, because I looked through all of my Facebook posts of the year. While a lot of much worse things could have happened in 2017, and I’m grateful they didn’t, a lot of things could have happened a lot more smoothly too! A lot of things could have, and in my mind, should have not happened at all! Now that it’s 2018, I kind of just want to sit at home and sleep until I run out of money, because 2017 left me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually drained! I need to rest in every sense of the word and I certainly hope 2018 will give me that rest I need!

Happy New Year, everyone! May this year be everything you want it to be as you grab it and claim it as your own!

2018 and the Quarter-Life Crisis

**Disclaimer** Please be advised, I am not making fun of Britney Spears with the above photo. On the contrary, love her or hate her, Britney Spears has made a great comeback in the past ten years. I applaud her for publicly breaking and then coming back much stronger than ever before. While I don’t believe that everything about her is worthy of praise, I do believe her comeback is worthy of admiration.

 

2017 has been a long hard year. While many feel that the year slipped away before their very eyes, for me it dragged on and on. Every day has felt like one step closer to slipping into the deep end of nothingness. Nothing particularly bad has happened, but nothing particularly good has happened either. With every passing month, week, day, and hour, I have felt as if I’m having a quarter-life crisis or something. It seems like I haven’t accomplished anything of worth in my life. It seems like none of my dreams will ever come true. I feel lost and confused and unsure of everything. I mean, for crying out loud, a few weeks ago I sat on my bathroom floor crying because something wouldn’t stay on the wall. Then, I realized I was being ridiculous, so I got up, went to the kitchen, and ate a bowl of fruity pebbles. Why? Because being twenty-something is hard. Adulting period is hard. Still, hard is not impossible. I may be going into 2018 as lost and confused as I’ve been throughout most of 2017, but at least I’m not alone. I have God and I have friends. I have characters from books, movies, and TV shows. I even have characters from my own writing. I’m not alone. I’m not hopeless. I’m not even unaccomplished. So, I’ve decided to write a kudos post as a reminder to myself and as a reminder to anyone reading this that small successes are still successes.

1. Yes, I had to wait five months. Yes, even after moving in there were issues. Yes, actually renting is harder than renting from my roommates’ parents. That being said, I did it! I applied to live in an apartment with my sister. Now, I’m sitting in that apartment as I write this!

2. When I felt like God was calling me to take a new position at work, I took at a moment’s notice. Then, when He used that position to show me how life sucking the job as a whole was, I quit altogether.

3. I started writing a series called, “Malachi Gregory,” and have at least four regular fans! Everyone starts somewhere, right?

4. I go horseback riding on a semi-regular basis now. That’s a dream come true! Gotta count the little victories!m

5. I have over 250 subscribers on YouTube and that’s without consistently uploading!

6. I cook and bake a lot of my own meals!

7. I’m currently caught up on all the TV shows I watch as the air!

8. My siblings love me and like to hang out with me–most of the time!

9. When I’m feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed, I normally go to God right away instead of wallowing in it.

10. When I’m feeling some kind of way about family issues, I not only go to God, but I also share my surface feelings with my best friend instead of bottling them up inside!

And, the list could probably go on for a little while longer, but the point has been made. When life feels murky and deep, we don’t have to get stuck or let ourselves drown! We can and should hold tight to the little life preservers of small successes that God gives us! While this post is written to myself so I can have something to hold onto as 2018 threatens to swallow me up already, it’s also for you! If you’re having a quarter-life crisis, or just need encouragement for a bad day, then write your own kudos list! And feel free to eat a bowl of cereal, buy your favorite candy, or eat icing/ice cream right out of the tub! No one will judge you! We’ve all been there, girl! In fact, I’ve been there at least once a week almost all year! Don’t feel ashamed of where you’re out. If you’re feeling lost, confused, anxious, depressed, stressed, or all of the above, then own it! Take your floods and storms to the Lord and trust that He can handle it even…especially when you can’t!

And so, as I go into 2018 more unsure of what the future holds than ever before, my only goal is this: To rest in the Lord and know He is God.

Happy New Year! I hope to see you a lot more in 2018 as I write and you read more! Just by reading this, thanks for being a ray of sunshine through my storm! ❤

Finding Hope on 12/23/11 at 1:06 A.M. – Five Years Later

Five years ago, on Thursday, December 22, 2011—my eighteenth birthday—my life changed forever. When I went to bed that night, I started crying for one reason or another. I was super stressed for several reasons, but it boiled down to me deciding to write a letter to my future boyfriend after writing about why I wanted one. What I wrote doesn’t really matter though, because I didn’t finish it. Instead, I turned my sheet of paper over and started writing what I call a prayer contract. I poured my heart out to God and vowed to Him that I would stop worrying and “simply worry about being the best, most beautiful and most Godly me, Brittany Alexandria Willis, I can possibly be.” I wrote that at 1:06 a.m. on the 23rd (because it took me a few hours to gather my thoughts and stop crying) that’s why I’ve purposely posted this at 1:06 a.m. on the 23rd of December five years later. I proceeded to write a P.S. “Dear Lord, please fill me with love for myself, You and others, joy in the fact that I am single, peace with my single status, kindness to everyone around me, goodness so that I may succeed in the above goals, faithfulness so that I will remember everything happens in your timing, gentleness so that I won’t be snippy with my non single friends, self-control so I can accomplish these goals, and wisdom to make the right choices in every area of my life!”

Five years later, I’m still single (and that’s something I’ll be discussing with God when I’m done writing this—seriously, I need to write a follow up prayer contract), but that’s really the only thing that is the same about me. I was in very bad and dangerous—like potentially life-threatening—place in my life when I wrote my original prayer contract that I share about here. I was depressed, full of self-hatred, and in desperate need of a large dose of “in your face” love and acceptance. I was a “cutter,” I was always angry, and I wasn’t sure if I or anyone else wanted me to be alive. Then, while I was writing a letter to the prince whom I thought would save me, God spoke to my heart and told me to write a letter to the King who already saved me. I went from hating myself to genuinely loving myself, from resenting my singleness to feeling joy and peace in this walk God has left me in, from angry, frustrated, and resentful toward everyone to being told by several people how much my kindness and love means to them, from self-harm to self-control, from hopeless to reliant on faith, and from selfish to being called wise by some of the older people around me.

It’s been five years though and I am by no means perfect. In fact, in a fleeting moment of weakness brought on by an all too familiar situation, I recently wished I had something to use to harm myself. It was brief, but it was there, and I don’t think the temptation every truly goes away. Not fully. In fact, I still have my bad days (and weeks, sometimes months) when I fear I may slip into old habits. Now, I don’t stress about school; I stress about work. I have moments when I worry about wanting a family, instead of just a boyfriend. Instead of stressing about whether my parents will divorce or work things out, I now sometimes feel resentment toward them and anger toward God (that’s okay, by the way. God can handle our anger. It’s how we handle it that’s important) because they did divorce and that makes me feel some kind of way after I spent so many years crying myself to sleep praying they would stop fighting and fall in love. All those struggles are posts for another time though, because I’m not really writing this to broadcast my insecurities.

I’m writing this so that I can read it again in five years and think about how far God will have brought me then too. I’m also writing this for you, because I know you have struggles and insecurities too; I imagine that’s why you stumbled upon a blog called “D.A.R.E to HOPE” and decided to check it out.

You’re feeling hopeless, or at least you have in the past, and you want to see if you can find hope here. You can, I promise you can, but not necessarily from me. Though, I am here for you, whether you know me or not, and I will lend you a listening heart if you need someone. Even if you come to me for hope though, whatever you find through me, won’t be from me. It will be from God through me! I often find hope through writing, but (below what God reveals through His Word) the truest hope I know has been given to me by God through his daughters and my sisters in Christ. In my biological family, I am the oldest sister, but in the last four years, God has given me a big sister, Shelby Lilly, who has been a source of hope that I never thought I would ever have. Growing up, especially in high school, 98% of the time I didn’t believe in myself and I certainly didn’t love myself. In more ways than I have space to share, Shelby has taught me to believe in myself far more than I ever thought was possible. If it wasn’t for her, then I don’t know where I’d be right now. God might have led me to someone else who could have encouraged and inspired me, but I doubt they’d have done it as effortlessly and gracefully as Shelby does. Besides, if I hadn’t have met Shelby, then it would have been because I hadn’t have made a few other seemingly small moves in the right direction and my whole life really would be different. Other than Shelby, I have several other people who inspire and encourage me, primarily Allie and Holly (who, like Shelby, I’ve probably mentioned in nearly every post on this blog).

Anyway, the point is, I am here for you. I want you, whoever you are, to know that I am here. I’ve been in your position, or at least a very similar one, and it’s not a pretty place. Let me tell you here and now that you are not a burden and you are not a waste of space. The only pain you are to me (and I may not even know you) or anyone who knows you is the kind that we feel at the thought of you hating yourself, hurting yourself, or worse. Let me also tell you that you are not something I, or anyone who knows you, has to “deal with.” If we really felt that way, then we wouldn’t open our hearts to you and we wouldn’t ask you to open your heart to us. I started this blog for two people—me and you.

“You” is the lonely person on the other side of the computer screen reading my words. “You” is the girl who hates herself and wants to die. “You” is the girl stressed out about school papers, projects, finals, and graduation. “You” is the girl looking for a job, hating her job, and or not caring at all. “You” is the girl who feels like her dreams will never come true. “You” is the girl who hurts herself, doesn’t eat, overeats, works out too much, and or has tried to kill herself. “You” is the girl you think you are and the girl you really are. “You” is the teenage girl I used to be whom I wish I could say all this to right now. “You” is the girl who has read some or all of my other posts and relates to them. “You” is YOU! You are you and you are BE-YOU-TO-FULL, so Be You to the Fullest. That’s when you’ll be beautiful.

So, you, whoever you are and whoever you think you are. Let me tell you who you really are. You are beautiful. You are special. You are loved. You are enough. You are awesome. You are going to accomplish great things. You are going to be exactly who God wants you to be, because He knows what’s best for you and He will use your brokenness to help others. Heaven knows He’s used my brokenness to help others. I know of some of the people He’s used to me to help heal, but I doubt I know all of the people He’s worked through me for. All I know is that even if you don’t know it yet. You are healed. You are powerful. You are strong. You are brave. You are a Woman of Valor (my little sister by choice told me about that, so I’m borrowing it–hope that’s okay?).

Just in case you don’t know what valor is, it’s courage, bravery, fearlessness, boldness, and heroism. You may not feel courageous, brave, fearless, bold, or heroic right now, but trust me. YOU ARE. You’re here right now, aren’t you? You’re reading this post. You’re living and breathing. You’ve lived to fight another day, another hour, another minute, another second. Do you know why? God’s using you. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but He is. He is a timeless God, so even if you’re still struggling in this very moment, you are healed, powerful, strong, brave, and a woman of valor. You’re also being used by God. Someone, somewhere is looking up to you and thinking about how strong and happy you seem to be despite whatever obstacles may be in your way. In fact, I’m inspired by you right now. I may not know who you are, but I know I’m inspired by you, because you are still alive and you’re reading this, which means some part of you is fighting to win and I sincerely hope and pray that you will let that part of you take control and grab hold of God so that you can win!

I know it’s hard. Trust me. I know and I’ve got the scars to prove it. I’ve also got posts and messages to people I’m close with to prove it. It’s not impossible though. You will overcome. You have already. That’s why you’re here reading this now. Believe you are enough of whatever it is you think you’re not enough of and that will be half the battle won. If you think it’s been a long journey so far, take heart, there’s a longer journey ahead of you, but this journey is brighter. It’s no easier than the journey you’ve taken so far, but it sure is worth it! Please believe that! I don’t want to see a world without you, whoever you are, because every time someone dies, whatever the cause, the world gets a little darker. So please, shine bright and believe in yourself!

New Year’s Perspective

The months of November through February are the most cliché months of the whole year. It’s a whole third of the year in which everybody goes through the same old motions as the year before. There’s the festivities of the holidays, cliché Christmastime proposals, New Year’s resolutions that last about two days, and it all wraps up with the ridiculous clichés of Valentine’s Day. So yes, this is a post about the clichés of looking back on the year and thinking, “Wow! I never would have seen my life where it is now” and then setting a resolution to make the coming year even better. My life has changed so much this year, which should not surprise me, because my resolution at the beginning of this year was to embrace change. If there is anything I know, it’s that when you say something like that, God is going to challenge your resolve. In addition to challenging my resolve to embrace change, He also challenged my resolve to accept help from others.

I had to embrace the changes of getting a new car, moving out of my mom’s house, moving in with new roommates, and getting a new job. I also had to embrace the help of others when I went a month without a car, then sprained my ankle, and later got my wisdom teeth out and learned that that is some serious business! I never thought I’d say this, because change used to make me super nervous, like to the point that I would be on the verge on anxiety attacks, but I actually, kind of, almost like change now, because it’s new and exciting. I also never thought I’d say this, but I’m slowly getting to the point where I don’t mind relying on other people. I still sometimes worry about inconveniencing people, but mostly, I just accept that not accepting people’s help is not accepting that they care, which is no good for either them or me.

When I say I make New Year’s resolutions, I don’t make them in the traditional sense. Instead, I look back on the year in the perspective of hindsight and analyze the spiritual and emotional things that went well and the things that could use some work and I resolve to improve my perspective on those things. In 2015, I think I did a pretty good job of embracing change and accepting help, whether I wanted to or not. However, I could use improvement in the area of worrying. I have a horrible habit of worrying about things that are out of my control and about things that I could just as simply change rather than worry about. I also have a habit of speaking the negative phrase “I am an anxious person” over myself. The Bible says in Proverbs that we are what we think in our heart. If I’m constantly saying and thinking that I am an anxious person, then I’m sure as all going to be an anxious person. Therefore, my resolution for the year is to speak positive words over myself. For that reason, my motto of the year in 2016 is going to be “Jehovah Shalom—I will not worry.” For anyone who may not know, “Jehovah Shalom” is translated from Hebrew to mean “The Lord is peace.”

In addition to speaking “Jehovah Shalom—I will not worry” over myself, I need to take a step back and remember that what other people think of me does not matter. I am a passionate, obsessive, and quirky person who gets overly excited about things that many other people don’t really care about, but that’s what makes me who I am and that’s what makes the people who love me love me. Can I be a tad over the top sometimes? Yes, I can be, but again, that’s what makes me who I am! I don’t need other people to tell me that that’s okay, because I know it’s okay and “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” – Dr. Seuss. Besides, my passionate tendencies also help make me a very loyal person and my obsessive tendencies help make me a very good judge of other people’s character. Therefore, I will also continue to remind myself of Dr. Seuss’ quote anytime I start to worry about what other people think.

Anyway, Happy New Year y’all! Be safe and have fun! Good luck and God bless as well on whatever New Year’s resolutions you make me embarking on!

Approval

Approve Reject Buttons Shows Approving Or Rejecting

‘What makes you different, makes you beautiful.’ Backstreet Boys

  There are four typical kinds of people in this world—the self-satisfied, the people pleaser, the servant-hearted, and the perfectionist.

The self-satisfied are the people who don’t really care what other people or even God thinks of them. All they care about is making themselves look good. All they want to do is be successful in their own eyes, regardless of how much they have to hurt other people along the way.

The people pleaser is the person who doesn’t care about how they feel about something, nor do they care what God thinks about something. As long as the people around them approve of how they look, dress, act, and talk, the people pleaser is completely satisfied.

The legalistic are those who strive to please God by going to church every Sunday, following all of the Ten Commandments, and judging those who don’t do those things.

Finally, there is the perfectionist. The perfectionist is the person who strives not only to look good in his/her own eyes, but also in the eyes of others, as well as in the eyes of God.

God has opinion on all of these people. To the self-satisfied He says, “Pride comes before the fall.”* To the people pleaser He quotes Paul, “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” To the legalistic He says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” and to the perfectionist he says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

This is not to say that we are not to try to be acceptable in our own eyes, as well as others eyes. Nor is it to say that we should not go to church and follow the commandments. We should do all of those things, but those things should not be our main focus. When we try to please ourselves, we become arrogant and-or we lose our self-confidence. When we try to please others, we will never be good enough. When we try to follow the rules, without having a relationship with God, we fall short of all of our goals. And, when we try to perfect, we only fail faster.

Often, when we try to be any of the before mentioned people, our efforts only end in depression and sometimes self-hatred, which in more cases than not, will lead to things like addiction, self-harm, eating disorders, and so forth.

However, it is possible to do all of those things without failing IF we do them correctly. In order to do them correctly, you most have faith in God. If we have faith in God, then we can have all the confidence in the world to do anything.