Because sometimes you really do need to check your heart

I didn’t know that a comedian’s words that were meant to be a joke could have such a strong impact in my life.

Especially when they relate to me being so single.

Every week, my dear friend Amanda and I go on a walk on the boardwalk and talk about all things life. Last week, we made a whole afternoon/evening of it by also putting together her wedding invitations. On our way to the beach, we made a pitstop at Joanne’s to get some more ribbon, and there were huge bubble wands on sale for 75 cents right by the checkout area—and I’m a sucker for things like that.

I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a random photographer so much. Also, you can sort of see the bubbles in the air.

As we were walking and chatting and letting the bubbles soar through the Pacific air, we got on the topic of my heart and how it feels when I’m surrounded by couples. Honestly, at this point, I’ve gotten used to it—but I’ve never really checked my heart.

I love John Crist. He’s absolutely hilarious (you should follow him on the Insta if you don’t already). He has a bit he does in which he makes fun of something by saying “check your heart.” For instance, he might say something like “when the self-checkout at the grocery store skips an item, but you just bag it and keep going—check your heart” or “ever skipped church to watch a football game—check your heart.” (It’s funnier when he does it. I promise.)

While his stuff is just for fun, I’ve actually been thinking a lot lately about checking my heart from time to time. I mean, it’s a rather important part of me, after all. So when Amanda and I were talking about my heart in terms of being single in the midst of couples, I was thankful to have people in my life who care about me enough to ask those types of questions.

The truth is that I like being able to spend time with couples and families, even when I’m the only one there who is flying solo. It makes me feel included and loved in spite of my status. I think it would hurt more if I knew that people had purposely not included me because I would be the only person not part of a couple.

One of my former coworkers and his family were in town over the weekend, and he invited me to a get-together with his family and friends. It was another one of those situations in which I was somewhat of an outsider, but I didn’t feel like an outsider at all—I felt like I was part of the family.

And I love that family feeling.

I might be biased, but I think it’s a good idea not to forget about the single people in your life. Everyone is different, so maybe someone you invite won’t show up to something where it will be mostly couples and families, but at least the invite is there to show that he or she is always welcome. It’s important for those single people to know that they are enough as they are.

Perhaps one day I will take a picture on a ferry with the guy who’s my guy. Until then, this is what you get.

I was recently having a conversation with someone I had just met, and he asked me why I’m single. That’s always a tough question that I’m never quite sure how to answer. I still don’t know, other than that it’s not part of the Lord’s plan for me right now. Yes, I would love to love and be loved by the person who is meant to be my lobster forever, but that’s not where I am in life right now—and that’s OK.

Because being single can actually be a very powerful thing.

I’ve been given so many opportunities lately to love others and to invest in people God has placed in my life. Yes, I could certainly still do this if I weren’t single, but it definitely feels special to me right now because it reminds me that the Lord is always looking out for me. Even when I’m as single as can be, He’s going to make sure that I never feel alone, and He’s going to find ways to show me that He makes me capable of so much more than I could ever imagine and that He’s given me certain passions and dreams for specific reasons.

If you’re single, I hope you that you let yourself feel comfortable being surrounded by couples and families, and I hope that you let them invite you in and love you as you are. Check your heart, and be honest with yourself and those who care about you.

And know that, whether you’re single or dating or engaged or married or whatever, you are enough.

When the guy at Sprouts thinks you’re hitting on him

I don’t think I’ve ever been rejected without actually being interested in someone first.

Until now.

I was in Sprouts the other day, and I was trying to process what had been a really rough afternoon. I’m not going to go into a great deal of detail about it right now, but my current work situation has not been good. At all. I was hoping that the rest of the evening would not involve any instances that would make me feel just blah.

But it turns out that my wish for a Pollyanna ending to the day would have to wait.

I was getting some gummy bears out of the bin things there, and some fella was in the same area. He made a comment along the lines of “that’s a lot of candy for someone your size” (to quote Kelly Kapoor and Dr. Mindy Lahiri, “how dare you?”), and I told him that I am just really passionate about gummies. But then I felt the need to promote the Sprouts gummy bears. People, if you haven’t tried them, please do so soon. Then I also recommended that he try the penguin gummies at Trader Joe’s because their tummies are filled with a gooey center. I made sure to remind him, though, that the golden bag of HARIBO bears always win in the end.

Let me get one thing clear here that you might already know about me: I love talking to people. I tend to strike up conversations with strangers on the regular, no matter where I am and with whom I’m talking. I just really like people.

Apparently this one thought I liked him a bit too much.

“Thanks for letting me know. But before this conversation goes any further, you seem sweet and cute in your own little way, but I just wanna say that I’m not really looking for anything right now.”

Wait, what? Complete misunderstanding, bud.

I said the first thing that popped into my head that wasn’t insulting: “Good to know. But I’m not really looking for anything right now but good gummy bears.”

I’ve been rejected before, but at least I usually made efforts in those instances. All I had to do for this homeboy to kick me to a curb I had no intentions of encountering was make mere conversation about one of the best candy options out there. Really, guy?

Oh. Hey, ocean. I heart you.

If this had happened years ago, I think I would have been more bothered by his immediate response to turn me down, especially with the whole “cute in your own little way” comment. That didn’t really get to me, though—I was more disturbed by the fact that I couldn’t even have a conversation with a guy without him thinking that I was hitting on him. I suppose I should appreciate his honesty, but perhaps he should have waited to make sure I was actually interested in him before telling me that I’m not the one who can capture his heart.

(By the way, I will say that this fella was attractive, but I wasn’t attracted to him. Trust me, it makes sense.)

I know that my level of singleness hasn’t changed since I was in the womb—and that can be a bit defeating at times, especially as everyone around me continues to get married and start families—but that is certainly no reason to get upset about yet another guy not wanting to pursue me. I mean, I need someone who is actually going to care a little bit more about my love for gummy bears, anyway. He’s not that guy.

It made me think about someone I thought was that guy, though.

For a while, he cared about the things I liked, and he cared about what I thought about him. He cared about me (or so I thought), and I cared about what he thought about me. I don’t like caring what people think, though I know we often care about what the people we care about think of us (that was a mouthful). However, there’s a difference between caring and letting those opinions change your own opinions of yourself or help to define who you are in any way.

When the guy I actually had feelings for suddenly didn’t seem to care about me anymore, I immediately wondered what was wrong with me. I don’t particularly like admitting that, because I don’t particularly like that one person had so much influence on the way I saw myself. I am enough as I am, and no one’s opinion of me or treatment of me can change that at all.

Ever.

The water was cold, but we actually (sort of) got in it.

When my friend Hannah and I were on our way home from Laguna Beach on Saturday, we were singing Disney songs at the top of our lungs in her car. I’m not even close to being a good singer, but that didn’t stop me from singing as if I’m actually Mariah’s soul sister. Hannah doesn’t care about that, though, and that’s the way it should be. We should be comfortable being ourselves at all times—whether we’re on excursions with our friends or in a room full of people we don’t know yet. I don’t have to win my friends’ hearts, and I don’t need to try to win any guy’s heart, either.

He should want me to have it for free.

I hope you never let someone else’s words or actions toward you make you feel like you’re not enough. No matter what anyone else thinks, you’re worthy of love and capable of love. Please don’t forget that.

And please don’t let that determine how many gummy bears you get at Sprouts.

Because paper towels can be shower towels

I really appreciate good life reminders from unexpected sources.

You know, like ‘90s romcoms and gyms without towels.

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately and how it’s such a constant in life—which is kinda funny if you think about it. One of the things that it most consistent in life is the thing that ruins consistency.

Two of my gal pals and I were watching You’ve Got Mail the other night (call us basic—whatevs), and there’s a line in there when Kathleen Kelly admits that she needs to close her bookstore that stuck out: “Closing the store is the brave thing to do. You are daring to imagine that you could have a life doing something else.” (P.S. I’m sorry that I forgot to mention the spoiler alert, but if you haven’t seen that movie by now, that’s another discussion in itself that we need to have.)

I had never really thought of it that way. I think that because I grew up playing sports, and one of my favorite things to do now is play and watch them, I’ve always thought of quitting something or giving something up as failing and everything that’s the opposite of brave. Yet here Birdie is telling the world that sometimes admitting defeat and moving on is brave.

I guess being brave looks different for everyone.

Just calling Taylor Swift so that we can write a song about my broken heart.

I’ve mentioned probably more times than anyone cares to hear that I went through a pretty rough heartache not too long ago, and the healing process took (and maybe even is still taking) way longer than I wanted or expected. But there was this huge part of my heart that wanted him to be the guy for me. It crushed me even to think that he wasn’t, and it made me feel like I would never find anyone like him.

For me, being brave meant finally admitting that it was a good thing to find someone not like him. Sure, he had a lot of the qualities I love in a person, but the bottom line is that he didn’t love me or even care about me the way my forever person will. Being brave meant closing the door to that book store, so to speak, and daring to imagine that someone else will captivate me more than he ever did and make me feel things that he never did.

Former NFL wide receiver Eric Boles was a guest speaker at my church over the weekend, and he always brings a good word. If everyone spoke about life in sports analogies like he does, I think that I would understand a lot more. I mean, the guy said that “yesterday’s home runs do not win today’s games.” That’s gold, people. He also said something else that really stuck. He was talking about when a quarterback is looking to throw to his receiver while the opposing team is charging at him and trying to distract his focus. Some quarterbacks will just heave it out there with the faith that their receivers will be where they’re supposed to and make the catches. If they wait too long to throw the ball, though, things might get ugly—and painful. Then he let his next words sink in: Don’t hold onto the ball too long.

Just like quarterbacks, sometimes we just have to let go with the faith that what will happen next will be better than holding on.

This is how I felt about using paper towels after my shower at the gym.

One day last week, I went running at the beach and then had somewhere to be but didn’t have enough time to drive back to my apartment. However, there was an LA Fitness in the area, and I convinced the guy at the front desk to let me borrow a shower without paying a guest fee or being forced to talk to anyone about a membership just to get a day pass. What I didn’t realize until I got into the locker room, though, is that this LA Fitness didn’t have any towels. None. Zero. Zip. So I did what any reasonable person would do: I used a bunch of paper towels to dry myself off.

In situations like that one, I’m pretty good at adapting. Sure, I would have much rather had an actual towel and not felt like I’m a walking sitcom in many regards, but I didn’t think twice about taking a new path and didn’t dwell on the no-towel issue. I had faith in those paper towels to get the job done.

Why can’t it be that easy when other things don’t go the way we wish?

It can be tough to believe that there’s something else out there for you when you’ve always believed your life was supposed to go a certain way. Whether it’s with your career or a relationship or where you live or whatever—sometimes there are moments when you simply have to face the facts that what you’ve been planning might not be what God has planned for you. It might hurt your heart to say goodbye, but it also can make even more room in your heart for something that brings it more joy than you ever could have imagined.

And whether it gets you a Super Bowl win or not, launching that ball into the air just might be the brave thing to do.

When beach volleyball reminds you to be brave

More and more each day, I discover just how imperfect I actually am, and it can be rather humbling (and sometimes upsetting).

Especially when sports are involved.

I played volleyball in middle school so that I didn’t have to be in the offseason class during our athletic period. I didn’t pursue it in high school because, well, it was pretty clear that I didn’t have much of a future in it.

When I was a senior in high school, though, my friends and I played in a sand volleyball tournament as part of a fundraiser event. I’m pretty sure that was the last time I played any form of volleyball, and that was 15 years ago. (Side note: I AM OLD. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!)

I probably just soared in the air and spiked one really hard.

I’m mentoring a college volleyball player who is taking part in an internship out here this summer, and all of the young women in the internship program and the leaders of the organization play volleyball at the beach on Sunday afternoons. Sure, beach volleyball is slightly different than the indoor game they’re used to, but they’re college athletes, so they’re very skilled and seemed to adjust pretty easily. I was one of two people there who wasn’t formerly or isn’t currently a competitive volleyball player or coach.

So that was special.

I sat and chatted with another gal while most everyone else warmed up. I was definitely impressed with what I was seeing, and I suddenly felt very inadequate. My abilities on those sandy courts didn’t quite match up with theirs—I would have felt much more comfortable if we were playing basketball or going running, instead. But we weren’t. We were there to play volleyball, so that was the reality I faced.

They play two-on-two drills the whole time in which the winners stay on the court, so it’s pretty obvious when you’re the one who messes up. I finally decided that it was time for me to jump in there. I mean, why not? It’s better to get out there and try the tough things than to sit on the sidelines and watch others enjoy life without you. No, I hadn’t warmed up, but I figured that I did that 15 years ago, so I should be good.

You know what happened? I had a really great time. I also discovered that Kerri Walsh Jennings and I don’t have much in common. That’s fine, though. Visors aren’t my thing.

This is something I’m more comfortable doing—cruising on my bike with my people.

I think that there are many intimidating situations in life when you can just ask yourself a simple question: Why not? And if the answer isn’t an actual death of or harm to you or anyone else, then it’s probably OK to go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? Embarrassment? People will forget. Decreased self-esteem? Getting out there and being brave should help with that. Banishment from all of society? Not likely. Whether you flop or fly, it won’t change who you are as a person at all.

Please remind me of this when I find another fella who strikes my fancy.

It can be downright scary sometimes to let someone know how you feel or to show even a slight amount of interest when you have zero idea of how homeboy will feel in return. But I guess it’s kind of like stepping onto the sand volleyball court when you feel like you don’t really belong there—it’s all about taking chances and letting yourself be brave when you get the opportunity. You might get rejected, and you might find yourself spending yet another weekend evening with no one but the fellas on TNT’s Inside the NBA or the fictional characters in your favorite Netflix or Hulu show, but even those realities don’t change who you are.

Don’t let fears hold you back from letting yourself enjoy some of the more exciting moments in life, whether they involve sports or opening your heart to someone. To quote the great Hilary Duff, “if you lose a moment, you might lose a lot. So, why not? Why not?”

You’re worth the risk to take a chance and see what happens.



Do you usually take chances, or are you more hesitant?

Because you deserve to give yourself some grace

The great Taylor Swift said something to me (well, and the entire crowd at her concert in Pasadena) the other night that was a great reminder of something I needed to hear: Being vulnerable and real about who we are is a good thing.

For me, that means accepting my failures and not necessarily looking at all of them as failures.

If you know me or have read anything I’ve written on here, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I make a lot of mistakes. Sure, that’s true for many of us, but I feel like I mess up with a lot of silly things way more often than anyone should. Needless to say, I’m very flawed.

And apparently I’m not getting rid of that trend anytime soon.

I’ve had my RAV4 for almost nine years now, and I thought I knew what I was doing driving it. I mean, I used to have a bus license, and I’ve been driving by myself now for almost 18 years, so I was pretty sure I had it all down.

Sadly, I was mistaken.

It turns out that, for almost nine years, I wasn’t using the correct lights at night. I thought that if you clicked the lights two turns forward, you were using the brights. So I always just clicked the turner once forward. Sometimes my friends would make comments like “Are you sure your lights are on?” when they were with me in the car, but I assured them that they just looked dim but were actually on.

I was recently in a rental car and trying to figure out how to turn on the lights, so I pulled the manual out of the glove compartment, and it said something about turning the thing twice for normal lights and then pushing the lights lever forward to turn on the brights. When I turned on those lights, some lights that had been off in my brain for almost nine years finally turned on, and I had an epiphany: OMG, what if my car works the same way?

You probably already knew the answer to that one.

Sure enough, I tested it out the next time I was in my car, and then I checked my car’s own manual. Yep, I’d been driving at night without my actual lights FOR ALMOST NINE YEARS. To answer the question you might be wondering, I have no idea how I was never pulled over for this.

But I felt like such a fool.

I lost cornhole, but I got a nice sunset, so I guess you could say that’s a win for life.

Last Friday, I went to a bonfire with some friends, and four of us were in a pretty intense game of cornhole. If you don’t know this about me already, I should tell you that I’m rather competitive—and that might be an understatement. The game came down to a final toss that I had to throw. If I got the bag in the hole, we’d tie it up and move on to a tiebreaker. Anything less would result in a crushing defeat. There were already two bags on the board that were slightly blocking the hole, so that complicated my tactics. I got ready and focused mentally, and then I launched it into the air.

You know when the basketball leaves your hands, and you know it’s going in the hoop, and it’s such a beautiful feeling? Yeah, I had the opposite of that feeling. I botched it. We lost.

And I felt like such a failure.

I don’t know why I’m so hard on myself sometimes, but it’s something I’ve been trying to work on. I love people, and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better over the years about giving people grace and loving them in spite of their faults and mistakes, but it’s more of a struggle for me to show that same grace and love to myself. I don’t really care if other people think I’m flawed or weird or bad at something or whatever, but I have a lot of trouble when I feel like I’ve messed up big time and disappointed myself.

To be honest, I think that’s one of the big reasons why I’ve struggled so much in the past with feeling rejected by guys. I constantly wondered if there was something wrong with me that made me not appealing to them, and over time, that became more of a me thing than a them thing—if all of them weren’t interested, then that must mean there was something about me that was off or not enough (which is a lie I hope none of you let enter your head).

And that made me feel like a complete disappointment to myself.

What I’ve learned, though, is that my flaws are part of who I am. And your flaws are part of who you are. Sure, there are some real flaws that definitely need to be addressed and overcome, but many of the “flaws” we see in ourselves aren’t actually flaws to anyone but ourselves. I’m not a car expert. I’m not a cornhole champ. I’m not the girl who turns all of the heads and gets all of the guys.

But I’m me, and that’s good enough for me.

Are you hard on yourself, too? Or are you good at giving yourself grace?

When faith trumps fear

I got a tattoo the other day, this one in my handwriting, that says a mantra that I try to live by in every aspect of my life.

“Be brave.”

I’m not going to lie—when I first moved out to California, I was certain that it was a one-year thing and that I would move back to Dallas as soon as my lease was up. I longed for the familiarity of Texas and all of my people, and I thought where I was in California was merely going to be a brief stint in my life that I could simply chalk up as “one of those adventures I just had to have.”

And God probably smiled down at me knowingly, thinking that it wouldn’t be too long before I realized that, once again, His plan was different—and better.

I’ve grown to love where I am and love the community I’ve become a part of there. I’ve gotten involved in quite a bit, and it’s definitely helped me to get to know people and build relationships. Besides, you can’t really beat being able to go to the ocean pretty much whenever you want. I honestly think this place has helped to heal my soul and the broken heart that seemed like it would never end.

Just look at her. I CAN’T EVEN.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things I miss about the world I left last fall. My second precious niece was recently born, and I was thrilled to take a trip back to Texas to meet sweet Evelyn (“Evie”) and spend some time with my family. Before I go any further, let me rave about HOW FREAKING ADORABLE SHE IS! This isn’t a biased opinion by any means. She is seriously tied for cutest human alive (with my other niece, Olivia, of course).

As soon as I landed, I went over to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s house (they had just gotten home from the hospital), and they let me spend time over there every single day I was in town. I usually FaceTime with my brother and Olivia once a week, but it was so nice actually to be with them and read with Olivia and play games and practice saying words and give her snuggles and go to the park and do all of the things that aunts can do. I was also so grateful to be able to hold little Evie and talk to her as if she actually knows everything I’m saying.

There’s something about being an aunt that brings joy to a person’s heart. I remember when Olivia was a baby, I used to go over there once a week to hang out with her, and I would talk to her about everything going on in my life. It was during a time when that aforementioned heartache was just beginning, and she helped me through so much pain. She listened, she sympathized (at least I’m going to say that’s what it was), she cried for me (we’ll also say that’s why she was crying and not because of colic), she let me cry, and she was just there for me. She’s my little best friend, and I was so scared that moving so many miles away would change that.

Even though being back in my old middle school is always weird, I’d go anywhere with this gem.

I was also afraid that being so far away from my sister (my adult best friend) would challenge our relationship, but it hasn’t. I stayed with her and her husband while I was in town, and that walking heart of a woman let me borrow her car for the entire time I was there, no questions about it. I was able to spend so much time with her going to dinner, watching Mulan and She’s All That and The Office while relaxing on her sofa, cheering on her soccer team that she coaches (she’s the best middle school girls coach around), and watching the play version of Legally Blonde performed by a bunch of eighth-grade students. My sister is the best.

The truth is, though, that distance doesn’t have to ruin a relationship—at all. And even though it hurts to be so far from certain people, I know that I’m right where I need to be.

I love seeing Olivia interact with my brother, and I’m sure Evie will be the same. Olivia lights up whenever she sees him, says “daddy” or “dada” as often as possible, clings to him at times, and trusts him more than anything. And he loves her more than life itself. That man would move mountains for that little girl, and his love is genuine and obvious. I was sitting and watching them together the other day, and I couldn’t help but wonder why I don’t always have that childlike faith and trust in God, the Father whose love is so much greater than any human’s could ever be. Instead, I tend to think that my own ways and plans are better and would suit my life perfectly.

And I’m usually wrong.

Homies 4 lyfe

More so lately, it’s become truly apparent just how much I needed to be exactly where I am in California at this exact time. Whether it’s because I need certain surroundings or people in my life or they need me, it’s all part of a plan that I couldn’t have put together more perfectly if I had plotted it for years. He had this in store for me and knew all along what’s best, and I honestly wish that I had been more trusting. It’s something I’m working on currently.

My life might not look anything like I thought it would years ago, but that’s because it’s not supposed to. Sure, I’m still the most single person you’ll ever meet, but that’s because God has something or someone else in store for me, and I simply have to trust Him as much as Olivia trusts my brother. I have to believe that He wants the best for me because He loves me more than life itself. He would move mountains for me, and His love is genuine and obvious—even when I don’t always act like I know that’s true.

Right now, I post pictures with my friends, my nieces, my sister, my other family members, sometimes even strangers, and I often post pictures by myself. There will hopefully be a day that I become minorly annoying by posting pictures with the man I’ve been praying for all along. Until then, I’m going to let my faith and my heart grow in ways I’ve never imagined, trusting like I’ve never trusted.

And, for me, maybe that’s part of what being brave is all about.

Because it’s OK to be a virgin

I’m 33 years old, and I’m a virgin.

There, I said it.

I know that sounds like an old age to be that inexperienced, but it’s true, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. And the older I get, the more thankful I am that some of the relationships I wished had happened didn’t actually happen because I’m pretty sure they would have ended quickly, anyway, when the guys I had crushes on realized that I wasn’t going to have sex with them.

Hashtag single and hanging out at a tree

It’s kind of weird being a virgin today, especially as an adult. My purity is something I value and protect, and if I ever actually lasso in a husband, I hope he will appreciate it.

A few years ago, I had a gun pulled on me. In the months of fear that followed, I wasn’t frightened by the fact that someone could have killed me (he easily could have shot me but didn’t) but by the idea that what I think he really wanted to do was rape me.

And, to me, that was scarier than dying.

As you might know, I struggle with kidney stone issues and had to have three surgeries last year. When I experienced my first kidney stone trauma a few years ago (it was actually a month before the gun situation), before the doctor and nurses did the CT scan to know what it was, they thought that my pain had something to do with a possible pregnancy. I kept telling them that there was zero chance that I was pregnant and finally had to say (or probably yell) something along the lines of “unless another messiah is coming, there’s no chance that I’m pregnant!”

They all exchanged some uncomfortable looks and finally stopped doing painful tests that were unnecessary.

A little later, one of the nurses was giving me some pain meds in the IV, and this was our delightful conversation.

Nurse: So, you’re really a virgin?
Me (in too much pain to care about much of anything): Yes, I’m not a liar.
Nurse: It’s just hard to believe—that’s all.
Me: Why?
Nurse: We don’t see many women your age in here who are—or at least not ones who scream it out loud at male doctors.

So I guess I did yell it.

I recently volunteered at the Brave Conference, and I hope the young women who attended know that they’re enough and that it’s OK to wait to have sex.

I know that not every girl or woman is going to make the same decision I’ve made, and I don’t judge anyone for living differently than I do, but I’m going to stick to the promise I made myself so many years ago to wait until I marry the man I was always meant to be with to have sex. And if I never fall in love and make those vows, then I guess I’ll die a virgin, as well.

The other night, I was at a swanky bar with a couple of friends, and some guy I had never seen before in my life came up from behind and hugged me. First of all, NO. Don’t touch me. Then he asked me if I’m a real redhead and told me that there’s only one way to find out. That was his cue to leave. It took a few minutes to get him away from us, but he finally left. If he had stayed any longer, I was probably going to punch him in the face. I’m sure there are still some good guys out there, but it’s moments like those that I’m thankful that I still have something that a guy like him hasn’t taken from me.

I know that we all have different beliefs, and as I said before, I’m not judging anyone for anything, nor do I think that I’m better than anyone for the choices I’ve made. But I do want people to know that it’s OK to wait. It’s OK to live your life differently than others. It’s OK to follow your own path, even if it seems to take you a lot longer to get somewhere.

I’m not sure if it’s my fate in life to be single forever, but I really do hope to fall in love with a man who loves me back and shows me that love as often as he can. I hope to create memories together and support each other’s dreams. I hope to hold hands and dance and laugh until our abs hurt. I hope to know in my heart that he’s the man I’ve been hoping for and is the reason why I had to go through broken hearts and crushed hopes—because he’s the one the Lord has been leading me to all along.

And he will be worth the wait.

When going to a concert by yourself is normal

I love seeing other people passionately pursue their hopes and dreams.

Especially when they’re doing so in the name of love.

Santa Barbara is gorgeous, especially when standing on the wharf.

Last week, I drove up to Santa Barbara to go to the Kelsea Ballerini concert by myself. My friend was originally supposed to go with me, but life happens, and she wasn’t able to. I’ve gone to concerts by myself, so it wasn’t that big of a deal—and at least I knew beforehand that I was going solo (I’ve been stood up at two different concerts)—but I still might have had a small pity party for myself. I mean, it was slightly depressing to see most people there with their friends or boyfriends or moms or dads or even grandparents (I sat next to Joyce, who was there with her husband and their two granddaughters).

The concert was at a pretty small venue, and my seat was a lot closer than I thought. Right after the opening act, the security guys were talking in a little huddle, and then a woman and her daughter, who was in a wheelchair, were relocated to the aisle right next to me because they couldn’t see a thing from where their seats were. The mom, Sarah, had made a sign for her daughter, Shelby, to hold saying that it was Shelby’s first concert and that she loves Kelsea. Sarah kept raising the sign during each song, hoping and hoping more strongly that Kelsea would see it.

At one point, KB was about to sing a somewhat slower song and was talking to the crowd a bit, even acknowledging some of the signs. Sarah was jumping up and down, and those of us around her were trying to get the singer’s attention, too. We were off to the side, so she didn’t see us. But then one of the security guys saw what was going on and let Sarah wheel Shelby to the front row. She took it even a step further and wheeled her all the way to right in front of Kelsea and started talking to her. Kelsea ignored the music behind her and listened intently to Sarah as Shelby met her hero.

When they came back to their spot, Shelby was over-the-moon excited! Sarah had mentioned to me before that her daughter often gets overlooked, but Sarah did everything she could that night to make sure that wasn’t the case. After the next song, Kelsea Ballerini gave sweet Shelby the jacket she wore for that number and then said over the microphone that she wanted them to stay after the show so that she could talk to them more. Shelby was clearly having the best night of her life, and Sarah was in tears. Many people around us were crying, as well. She is a mom who fights for her daughter and does everything she can to make her feel loved and valued.

It was absolutely one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.

I love seeing love in action. I loved seeing Sarah love her daughter big enough to get an award-winning performer’s attention in the middle of her concert. I loved seeing Kelsea Ballerini love big enough to stop in the middle of her show and make a 13-year-old girl’s hopes come true. I love being reminded of how big God loves me by taking away my feelings of being alone by letting me witness such big love in such an unexpected place.

I needed a pre-concert pic on the wharf, of course.

That’s the thing about big love—it’s real, and it’s powerful. It wouldn’t stand you up at a concert. It wouldn’t commit to going with you to one of your best friend’s wedding and then bail on you. It wouldn’t commit to going with you to your sister’s wedding and then bail on you. It doesn’t make you feel inadequate. Big, real love fights for you and lets you know that you’re enough.

Because, friend, you are enough.

I know that I may not have had things work out as I wished they would when it comes to the guys I’ve had feelings for, but I also know that I have a God who is on my side and who fights for me. Did I recently have a guy basically say “hard pass” when he found out I don’t drink? Sure. Is my heart still not completely mended from the guy who shattered it a while back after making me believe he really cared for me? Absolutely. And did the guy who gave me my first kiss years ago eventually make me cry? You bet he did.

But none of those things means there’s something wrong with me.

The nonprofit organization my friend Ashley and I are working on is meant to spark boldness in young women to walk with confidence, and I need to model that every day, too—especially when it comes to how I view myself in terms of being able to be loved.

I hope that you fight for love. I hope that you see big love in action. I hope that you let yourself love in big ways.

And I hope that you always remember that you are worth fighting for and worthy of big love.

Because dating should be as easy as friendship

Being an adult certainly isn’t the easiest assignment in the world.

If you have a friend like Amanda, keep her. End of story.

Especially when the word “dating” is thrown out there.

I live the life of a single girl—a very single girl—so I’ve grown accustomed to going to places alone and having solo adventures. At the same time, though, I’ve also made some wonderful friends since I moved to Cali, and I get excited when I have others along for the journey with me.

My sweet friend Amanda and I recently went on a beach boardwalk walk (one of my new favorite pastimes) together and were talking about all things life. One thing we discussed was how making friends as an adult is kind of like dating. It’s a lot easier to make friends when you’re in school—you’re placed in this huge atmosphere that really isn’t that huge, you’re around the same people all of the time, and you’re thrown into a lot of the same activities together, so the friendships happen pretty naturally.

When you’re a grownup, though, it’s different. You have to make conscience efforts, and you actually have to ask people for their numbers and find time in your busy schedules to make the hanging out part of the friendships actually happen. After you spend time together once, one of you has to make the suggestion that you should get together again soon, or maybe that relationship doesn’t actually become anything more than a mere acquaintance thing.

For me, adult friendships aren’t difficult, because I’m pretty shameless (cue Garth Brooks). I ask people to coffee all of the time, and I hate coffee. I’ve even straight up used the phrase “we should be friends” on more than one occasion. I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed about that, but I’m not because I’ve actually made friends that way. I love people, and I love spending time with them. I love knowing them and being known.

Why, then, is it so hard for me to do this when it comes to actual dating?

For some reason, I’m more hesitant about being honest with a guy I’d like to spend time with than I am with a stranger whom I don’t want to be a stranger anymore. Sure, I’ve gotten a little better, but there’s still the fear and anxiety of being rejected and feeling like I’m not enough.

Friend, whether it’s dating or friendship, you are enough.

Maybe this should be my new tactic to get guys to ask me out.

I certainly have to remind myself of this often. I’ve mentioned before (probably more times than you’d ever want to hear) that it can be tough to live your life solo while almost everyone around you is either dating, engaged, or married while you’re sitting on the sidelines wondering if anyone will ever actually want to take you on a real date. One thing I’ve always valued about true friendship is that it’s genuine, and you know that the other person wants to spend time with you, too—you’re both pursuing each other, in a sense. With dating, though, it seems like it’s much more of a guessing game than any friendship ever is.

Sure, there are some friendships that become one-sided, and you eventually move on and realize that perhaps those individuals were only in your life for different seasons. So I guess that’s one way dating relationships are pretty similar, because all of those certainly don’t last forever. Though I don’t really like saying this, many of the friendships that I’ve lost along the way haven’t caused me a ton of emotional pain. While I might have been sad for a bit, I knew that growing apart is sometimes just a part of life.

So why does it hurt so much more when it’s a guy who is walking out of your life than a friend with whom you might have been even closer? Honestly, I think it comes down to the importance we place on those relationships because of the way they make us feel. It’s nice to feel wanted by someone (and I’m really hoping that I will know how that feels one day) so much that he chooses you over everyone else. Maybe that’s the real difference—your friends probably have many other friends, but your person picks you and only you.

Since moving to California, I’ve been trying not to think about my lack of a dating life (even though I know it’s the main topic of most of my blogs—but it says “flying solo and writing about it,” so you really shouldn’t be shocked about that), especially now that it’s been so long since one homeboy broke my heart so many moons ago back in Texas. Instead, I want to focus on investing my time in others to help them know how valued and loved they are and how much they matter. I want them to know just how much God cares for them and that they are enough in Him.

I’m just sitting here thinking about froyo.

And it’s also something I’m reminding myself of often.

We were meant to have friendships and relationships with others. We were meant to live boldly. We were meant to love people well. And that’s how I want to live my life—even so boldly that I am comfortable enough walking up to a guy I fancy and saying, “Hey. We should go grab froyo or walk the boardwalk together soon.” I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

When you think about it, life really is a lot shorter than we realize. And the older you get, the more quickly it seems to fly by. I hope that you live every day as completely as you can and that you never miss out on an opportunity because you were afraid. I hope that your friendships are many and that your love is bold.

And I hope that you always know that you are enough as you are.

Because ghosting has actually become a thing

There are many things all of us humans could do better in life (besides accurately forecast the weather).

Like treat people well.

I’ve mentioned before how I feel about online dating, though I’m happy for the people who have their success stories from it. One thing that drives me crazy about it is how easy it is for people to dodge those they suddenly realize aren’t what they’re looking for without so much as a “hey, this just isn’t going to work.”

Is that really so difficult to say—especially if you’re not even saying it to a person’s face?

I have a friend who had been chatting with a fella for a while now and was supposed to get together with him recently. But then when it came time for them actually to hang out, he vanished. When she reached out to him to check on their plans, nada. Zilch. Zip. He straight up just didn’t respond, and she didn’t hear from him again.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had friends experience this, whether after meeting someone on a dating app or elsewhere. I realize that these people who do the whole “ghosting” thing, as the hip people call it, usually don’t have deep relationships with the people from whom they suddenly vanish, but it still makes no sense to me why anyone would lead someone on only to stop all communications completely.

And I can’t say that I haven’t fallen victim to this myself.

This is just part of who I am.

I’ve been on the wrong end of a text that never got a response or a hand-written note that was never even acknowledged (that one hurt quite a bit). Oftentimes these situations leave us hurting and wondering what could possibly be so wrong with us that we can’t even get the people we truly care about to give us enough of their time even to respond. Maybe some individuals are forgetful or extremely busy, but you make time for the things you want to make time for in life, and it doesn’t take that long to reply to someone.

I spent more years than I would like to admit thinking that I simply wasn’t good enough for guys—I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or experienced enough or whatever enough for them to think I was worthy of their time. Friends, I hope that you never feel this way. It’s a horrible place to be. I’m confident now that I don’t need to worry about any of that because I was uniquely made as I am for a purpose and on purpose. I have quirks, and I’m never going to look like a supermodel, but there might be someone out there who will be captivated by me for me.

I hope that you’ve never been suddenly ignored by someone you thought really might care about you as much as you care about him, and I hope that you never do that to someone else, either. It might be the easy way for you, but think about how you would feel if it did actually happen to you. Regardless, I truly hope that you know that your worth doesn’t change based on someone else’s words and actions—or lack thereof both.

Being single isn’t always easy, especially with each year that goes by and each friend and family member you watch fall in love, get married, and start life together with someone else. And now with all of those dating apps that are out there, it’s even more challenging at times to meet people organically. Like I’ve said before, my ideal way to find someone is getting hit with a frisbee in a park by the guy who is my person, and he runs over to check on me, and sparks fly (I’ll keep you updated on if that happens).

The more I go through life, the more I appreciate people who are genuine. While it’s not necessarily the best idea to be honest about everything that’s on your mind at all times, I do think it’s important to be sincere in how you treat people and that you match your words with how you actually live your life. And one big part of treating people well and loving them well is not leading them on. Whether you’re afraid to hurt someone’s feelings or are only regarding your own feelings at the time, it’s not a good idea to make someone believe you care when you actually don’t.

Legos and Barbies are toys—people’s hearts are not.