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)

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!

God Doesn’t Miss Turns (Part 1)

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,

“This is the way, walk in it…”

Isaiah 30:21 (ESV)



You know those moments in life that seem super insignificant but are actually really important to your growth as a human being and also as a Christian? Yeah, I had one of those moments last month during Spring Break 2019.

Let me start with a brief geography lesson to make sense of what I’m going to write. There are approximately 1500 cities in Texas. For the most part, people mainly know about Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. When mentioned to outsiders, most of the other towns are clumped together with their nearest big city. Three of San Antonio’s small towns are Helotes, Bandera, and Boerne (pronounced Burn-ee). I live in Helotes which is west of San Antonio. Bandera Road, aka Highway 16, cuts straight through San Antonio and Helotes, while leading northwest into Bandera City (and county). If you turn north on Scenic Loop from Bandera Road, then you’ll drive toward Boerne.

Last month, my best friend, Shelby, and I planned a day trip to Boerne during Spring Break. I had been there a few times, but almost exclusively for volleyball and basketball games and tournaments in high school over six years ago. I was familiar with where it was, but not entirely sure of exactly how to get there without a gps. As usual, Shelby was the driver for our trip. While we drove down Bandera Road, I noticed she kept driving northwest toward Bandera instead of turning north on Scenic Loop toward where I thought Boerne was. It seemed odd, but like I said, I wasn’t totally familiar with getting to Boerne, so I didn’t say anything. I figured I was wrong and thought, “Eh, she knows what she’s doing.” Except, I wasn’t wrong and she had missed the turn. She realized this five or so minutes later at about the same time I realized we definitely were headed toward Bandera and not toward Boerne. When she admitted we went the wrong way, I laughed it off and admitted I thought she had, but didn’t say anything because I trusted her. She took the first turnaround she could and we were back on the right path toward Boerne. All was well until it wasn’t.

Almost immediately after Shelby turned around, I noticed something incredibly flawed about my thinking. I was so quick to trust Shelby even when my concern about going the wrong way was valid, and I’m so often even quicker to doubt God when my concern about going the wrong way is always so invalid. Shelby is human. She can be and was wrong. Our conversation had distracted her and she missed the turn for where we were going, but I still trusted her without any doubt in my mind. God is perfect. He is never wrong. He always takes me exactly where I need to be, but I often feel doubt, if not front and center, then almost always at the back of my mind. How could this be? How could I trust a God-made human, and doubt God Himself? Needless to say, I was feeling super convicted and have continued to think about that moment regularly since the second Shelby turned around.

I think the reason for my faith in Shelby’s driving versus my doubt in God’s planning is because I can see Shelby. I can audibly hear her voice. She is present in a very real and very tangible way, while God isn’t always, or really ever, like that. I can’t physically see God. I can’t audibly hear His voice. He isn’t physically and tangibly here beside me. And yet, I know, even if I don’t always act like I believe it, that God is very real and always here. So, how can I remember this when I feel concerned that He missed His turn and we’re now going in the wrong direction? I have to remember God never misses a turn.

The fact that I was with Shelby when she missed her turn to Boerne is proof enough that this is true. If God hasn’t always taken me where I’ve needed to be, then I wouldn’t have been sitting in the passenger seat of Shelby’s blue Ford Escape to miss a turn in the first place. I spent a long time praying for God to give me a friend like Shelby and not two months after I journaled my prayers, God sent me to Compass Church where He not only gave me Shelby as a best friend, but also gave me countless other people to pour love, life, and laughter into my soul. God led me to Compass at exactly the right time and He always sends me to the right place at exactly right time because God doesn’t miss turns.

So, now as I sit here writing this post in between worrying about about if and how I’ll have enough money to pay my bills during summer break when bus drivers like myself don’t work, that’s what I have to remember. God doesn’t miss turns. He is always going the right way and when I’m sitting in His passenger seat trusting He knows where He’s going, I’ll never have to worry.