Success–Peace, Joy, Love

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

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! ❤