Fairy Tales

Because one person can change your life without even knowing it

Every once in a while, one person comes into your life and changes it in more ways than you ever could have imagined.

And that person may have no clue that he or she did.

About two years ago, the pain of a broken heart that still isn’t fully healed began. Maybe I should have seen it coming; maybe there was no way for me to know. Either way, it happened, and it hurt. A lot.

Best.day.ever.

Right around that same time, though, this tiny human entered the world—sweet Olivia, the precious little girl who made me an aunt for the very first time. As soon as I saw her and held that angelic little body in my arms, I was smitten. Little did I know, this little girl would walk alongside me through a dark season that was filled with more crying than just her baby tears.

From the day she was born, I committed to be a big part of her life, and I certainly wanted her as part of mine. I went over to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s house at least once a week to spend time with her, and that hour or so each week was more dear to me than I’ll ever be able to explain fully.

Unfortunately, Olivia suffered from colic, which is such a horrible condition that’s quite common for many infants. It causes them to cry and cry and cry with no apparent cause or ways to calm down. I could sometimes get her to stop for a little bit, but it pained me to see her turning so red and crying so much. I know I’m not a parent, so I don’t know the complete pain it causes people with kids to see their own children hurt, but I know that it caused me enough pain to know that it’s got to be absolutely unbearable.

I mean, seriously. How cute is she?!

When homeboy hurt me, I cried more than I usually do. You know who was always there for me? That sweet little baby girl. She listened to me, she let me cry, she cried with me, and she reminded me that there are so many other people in my life who value me and who mean the world to me. Whether she knew it or not, she reminded me that, even when one guy makes me feel like I’m not good enough and not pretty enough and not worth enough of his time and energy, I am still enough. She made me feel loved when I felt completely unloveable.

I know that God brought her into this world in His exact time and with His exact purpose—Olivia is going to continue to change people’s lives for the better, and I’m absolutely certain of that. I met her right when I needed someone to walk with me through my heartache, and she’s continued to walk with me through that pain since the day she entered this world. Even though I live thousands of miles away, I still FaceTime with her every week and get to spend as much time as possible with her when I’m in town visiting my family.

There were lots of pics with my homegirls that day, but I promise that they were both happy. We’re still working on our photo opp faces.

Now Olivia has an adorable little sister, Evie, and she’s also been such an added blessing to everyone who meets her. There’s something about being an aunt that’s more special than froyo, and I don’t really know how to put it in the best words (even though words are supposed to be my thing). I honestly might not ever have kids, and that’s fine, but being an aunt brings me enough joy to fill all of the oceans. I think part of the reason for that is because of the way Olivia changed my life in ways she doesn’t yet understand.

But I don’t think that you have to be an aunt or uncle for something like that to happen. We often meet people who touch us and change us in incredible ways, and it’s not necessarily always because of anything significant that they did—it’s simply because they let us be who we are and reminded us that we are loved just as we are.

And you could also be that person to someone else.

You never know what storms other people are facing. There are so many different reasons people hurt—broken hearts, deaths of loved ones, lost jobs, financial hardships, broken friendships or family relationships, illnesses, uncomfortable or anxiety-causing situations at work or school—and we don’t always know what’s going on in each other’s lives. That’s just one more reason why it’s so important to show each other love when the world around us continues to fill itself with lies and hate.

For far too many years, I believed lies about who I was and what I wasn’t—too talkative, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not dateable, unloveable, unaccepted, rejected, too broken, too much of a mess. While I definitely don’t have it all together, I have much more confidence in who I am, and I don’t focus as much on what I’m not. That’s not important. What’s important is that I continue to live and love boldly so that those around me can see Jesus and know that they are sufficient in Him.

She truly makes this world a better place.

Olivia helped to remind me of that, and she didn’t even have to use any words to do so.

Maybe you’re doing really well in life right now and are fortunate enough not to be going through any tough times or hardships. Or maybe you’re in a rough patch full of more tears than all of your years combined and feel like you’ve been forgotten. Or maybe you’re even somewhere in the middle and have a lot of great things going for you but also have been struggling at times.

Whatever season of life you’re in right now, I hope that you know that you are valued, you are loved, and you matter. I hope that you have someone like Olivia come along and remind you of that, and I hope that you can be an Olivia to someone else, as well.

Because the more love we show to others to let them know that we care for them—their hurts, their celebrations, and simply their existences—the better this world will be.

When you realize that you’re not inadequate

I think we can all agree that being an adult is sometimes (or a lot of the time) tough.

Especially when you have to acknowledge self-improvements that you need to make.

I used to race a lot—like a lot. I think there was one year when I ran at least one road race a month, and three or four of those races were half marathons. I developed a love for running long ago, and there was something about racing that caused me anxiety in a good way but also helped grow my confidence in a number of ways, as well.

Then 2017 happened.

This will always be one of my all-time favorite racing memories—and all of my people were there for it (even sweet Olivia was there in Katie’s tummy).

At the end of 2016, I started to have weird (and pretty much constant) internal pain and frequently had blood in my urine (sorry if that’s TMI for you). I had been training for the half marathon that I ran every December in Dallas, and I was excited for it because I felt more confident than ever going into it. But around Thanksgiving that year, that pain I’d been having escalated. I ran the eight-mile Turkey Trot and didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, and a large reason for that was because I was in so much pain.

When I woke up the morning of the half marathon, I could barely walk and knew the race was out of the question. I later went to multiple doctors, and months went on before it was finally determined that I needed to have kidney surgery. I had a total of three kidney surgeries in 2017, which meant that racing was, to quote John Crist, a “for sure no.” There were quite a few periods of time that year when I was thankful if I was even able to run—it’s certainly not easy or pleasant when you have a stent in you.

It’s been a tough journey since then, and it’s not like those surgeries ended all of my issues with kidney stones. Though I’ve been able to train much more than I did last year, I haven’t been racing at all, and I’m honestly nervous about getting back out there.

Amanda has become one of my best friends, and I love that she always speaks truth and asks me how my heart is.

My dear friend Amanda and I were talking about this the other day and why I feel such a need to do well when I race. Aside from just being a competitive person, why is it so important for me to feel accomplished when I cross the finish line? We talked about it for a bit, and it definitely runs deeper than simply wanting to win or achieve my goals. (By the way, Amanda is freaking amazing, and if you ever need a life coach or counselor/sage, she’s your girl.)

I started thinking about this more later that day, and it became pretty clear: In the past, I let winning races or running fast times make me feel like I was enough. There are more than a few areas of my life in which I don’t always feel like I’m adequate—I had a really rough time in college and trying to figure out where I belonged; I’ve had multiple careers and don’t always feel like I’m excelling in them; I’m 33 and am just now in the process of getting a passport (meaning, I’ve never even left the country); I’ve never been in a relationship, which certainly makes me feel like a failure in more ways than one; and so many other things. But when I crossed those finish lines and had accomplished what I set out to accomplish, I was good enough. When I didn’t, I wasn’t.

My friends, those were lies.

It’s great to have goals and passions and to pursue those goals and passions, but it’s also good to realize that you aren’t going to hit the bullseye every single time you aim for it. One day last week, I cut a tag out the side of the inside of my dress because it was really bothering my leg. But when I cut it, it was even pokier and worse. So I cut it where it was threaded in, and the next thing I knew, there was a hole in the side of my dress. I don’t have an emergency sewing kit (and, even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to use it), so I stapled my dress. I also spilled a large amount of water—not once but twice—all down the front of that same dress on that very same day. And those were the good things that happened that day. Obviously, I was killin’ it in life. But I survived the day, and I wasn’t less of a person because of it, just like I won’t be less of a person if I run a race and am slower than I want to be.

You just have to take one look at my hair to see how much of a mess I am. But that’s just part of my story.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter how many races I’ve won. It doesn’t matter how successful I’ve been in my career. It doesn’t matter how many dresses I’ve ripped holes in trying to cut out tags. It doesn’t matter how many staples I’ve used trying to patch them back up. It doesn’t matter how many dates I’ve had (or, in my case, haven’t had). It doesn’t matter how many guys have looked my way. None of those things holds value in my worth. I can’t let deferred hopes or unattained goals make me feel like I’m not good enough.

Because I am enough—just as I am. I was made in the image of Christ, and I don’t have to be someone else or put a bunch of W’s in the win column. I don’t have to pursue this type of perfection that I’m never going to obtain. I’m going to lose. I’m going to rip clothes. I’m going to have my heart broken. It’s just part of life.

But it doesn’t change my worth.

At the Brett Eldredge concert at the OC Fair, there was a sign that said “TEXAS-SIZED,” so I obviously had to take a picture in front of it.

I might be in love with Brett Eldredge. I’ve always loved his music, but I recently saw him in concert, and I fell hard for him. He has a song called “Somethin’ I’m Good At,” and he mentions a ton of things that aren’t really parts of his skillset, but he is able to love well and put a smile on the face of the girl in the song who has captured his heart. I’d like to be like that—if I fail at all other things in this world, I would like to be able to love people well. I won’t always be capable of doing everything I want in life, but I can always show love to others. We all can. People need love, and they need to know that they are enough.

And so do you.

Because your heart is stronger than what people think of you

More and more in life, I’m starting to realize that people try to define who we are for us.

And more and more in life, I’m trying to remind others just how not OK that is.

I was at the grocery store one day last week, and there was a man in front of me who was very loud. That’s not necessarily always a bad thing—it was simply drawing attention to him, though. So, naturally, I started listening to what he was saying.

He was telling the cashier (don’t get me started on this store not having self-checkout) how he is filled with joy. I thought that was good to hear, but then my positive attitude toward this man was quickly diminished.

He went on to say that he’s not from around here (join the club, bro) and that everyone in this area is “so nasty.” (Umm, excuse me?) He said that, at his church back home, everyone is filled with joy, and you’ll never see someone not praising Jesus for life. Then he kept going on about how he carries joy with him everywhere, but the “people around here don’t know what joy is—they’re nasty.”

Sir, I think you need to get to know people before deciding you know them.

I was about to say something when he turned to me and said, “See, she doesn’t have joy. Nasty!”

Mr. Joy, you don’t know my heart.

He turned and bolted out the door before I could even say a thing to him. It’s probably for the best—I’m not sure I had a ton of nice things to say in that moment.

You can judge me, but you can’t define who I am. I’m enough in Christ. The end.

I wasn’t upset about the fact that the man called me nasty—he can think whatever he wants about me—but I didn’t like that he was going around calling an entire county nasty simply because not everyone here lives their lives the exact same way he does. I don’t want to judge him for his words or actions, but I do pray that he realizes how powerful love is and how people need love more than they need to be called nasty. There are some tremendous people with beautiful hearts here and everywhere throughout the entire world, and there are also people who might be a little more rough around the edges. Let’s not judge them; let’s love them, instead.

The next day at work, some of my coworkers were having a conversation and joking around, and one of the guys said that it’s pretty bad if you’re older than 30 and still not married, “especially if you’re a woman.”

Say what?

I was not able to remain silent in this moment, so I invited myself into their convo. He didn’t realize that I was listening (or that I was older than 30), so then he started trying to backtrack and win me over by saying that I look younger than 30.

First of all, thank you for saying that. Second, let’s talk about what you just said.

Mr. Chatty Coworker, you don’t know my heart.

It’s challenging enough sometimes knowing myself that I’m in my 30s and haven’t been in an actual relationship, so I don’t really need people reminding me and claiming that it’s basically pathetic to be my age and still this single. I go through seasons of being OK with it and seasons of feeling lonely. I feel like I just transitioned out of that lonely one into one that’s more comfortable, so maybe the enemy was trying to make me feel discontent again—who knows?

Regardless, I can’t let people’s words and opinions of me change what I think or say about myself. And I hope that you won’t let other people’s words and opinions of you change what you think or say about yourself. They cannot define who you are—unless you let them.

We don’t know what everyone else is struggling with or what storms they might be facing in their lives. Instead of judging others or assuming you know them, perhaps give them a little grace, or even take the time to get to know them. You might find that your attitude toward a person can change when you actually take time to learn more about him or her with a heart perspective.

We’re not all going to live our lives the same way, and that’s a good thing. People don’t have to express joy the same way you do. People don’t have to have the same relationship timelines that you do. People don’t have to spend the same amount of time at their jobs or in their hobbies as you do. People don’t have to like all of the same movies or foods or pastimes or whatever as you.

And you don’t have to be like everyone else, either. It’s important to be genuine, to be real. People can’t know the real you and your heart if you aren’t being who you actually are. If they judge you for being you, then so be it. Your identity shouldn’t be the result of what someone else thinks it should be. That goes for all types of relationships—with strangers who know nothing about you, with family members who know everything about you, with your friends who are your ride-or-die lifers, with acquaintances, with people you might look at as enemies, and with the person whom you love or are dating.

Be authentically you—it’s harder for people to know your heart if you don’t truly know it yourself.

When your heart needs a reminder

I think it’s important to be open and genuine, and sometimes that involves sharing your heart and being vulnerable when you might not want to.

Right now is one of those times for me.

I’m not going to lie—sometimes it’s really tough being single when you’re an adult. Even if it’s not necessarily true, it seems like every other human being around you is in a relationship and has his or her person to do life with and make memories together. And plenty of people you don’t even ask have their opinions regarding what you should or shouldn’t do to make sure that you don’t spend the rest of your life singing the catchy Farmers Only jingle.

It can be such a special status at times.

This hat is the greatest purchase I’ve made in a long time.

I’ve shared before that, while I’ve never actually had a boyfriend or even been in a relationship (or on what I consider to be a real date), I’ve had my heart broken. And I feel like I’m currently going through a never-ending heartache that I can’t seem to escape, no matter what I do. Unfortunately, there’s no timetable for mending a broken heart—we’re all so different, and we all handle our pain in different ways.

For me, I’ve always tried to deal with emotional pain the same way I deal with physical pain: I ignore it. I do this for as long as possible, and then I usually reach a point when I have to face the fact that the pain is actually there, and there’s no way to pretend it’s not there anymore—I simply have to acknowledge it.

It’s been almost two years since my heart was ripped out of my chest, thrown to the ground, smashed into thousands of tiny little pieces, and then stomped all over by the guy who walked away from it. I thought that I would be over it by now, and I honestly thought more recently that I was. But one day last week reminded me that I was once again just masking pain that was still prevalent. It still hurts, and I still miss him, which makes me feel foolish and pathetic.

But I also know that I’m neither foolish nor pathetic—I’m simply a girl who cares about a boy who doesn’t care about her. It’s not exactly the classic romance tale, but it’s my current reality.

One evening last week, I went to a panel discussion at a church that’s somewhat connected with mine, and the topic was about dating in today’s society. It was kind of difficult to take advice from the married couples up there (especially the ones who had been married for 20 years and more), and I wish they would have had more than one single person to share some insight, but I ended up having a rather enlightening moment on my own in the midst of it all.

As I was listening to some of the couples share their stories of how they met, I began to feel alone and a little sad. I haven’t cried in a while, and I have a feeling the waterworks are coming soon. (Part of that not acknowledging my emotional pain thing that I do means that I ignore moments when I want to cry, so I end up bottling up a crap-ton of emotions, and they typically come pouring out all at once when I least expect them to.) I did the only thing that ever makes sense to me when everything around me makes zero sense: I started praying.

God knows my heart, and I began unloading it in a prayer of brokenness, asking Him what I was supposed to do. I hate the online stuff—it’s not part of my story, and I know it. But I’m hurting, and I’m still sad about [homeboy’s name]. God, if I’m supposed to be single forever, can you please take away this desire in my heart? And, regardless, can you please take away my feelings for him? Am I ever going to meet my person? What do I do, Lord?

And then I heard this quiet, calming voice that has spoken truth to me so many times: Don’t you trust me? I’ve never let you down.

Talk about a sucker punch to the gut. This big and powerful God who has the entire world in His hands—the One who called me out to California and has provided for me in more ways than I could ever have imagined—truly cares about me and has a plan that is more perfect than anything that I could ever create. He’s never failed me, and He won’t start now. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to walk into the elevator at work tomorrow and meet the man of my dreams, but it does mean that, whether or not I do ended up falling in love with the one guy who picks me out of every other girl in the world, He’s got big plans for me.

God also gave me a Saturday morning run with my sweet cousin Rachel, who was in town last week. I’ve always looked up to her, and she’s always listened to my heart and provided encouragement. I hope you’re able to meet her one day. She’s freaking amazing.

And I do trust Him.

We sang two songs in church Sunday that both had lines about God never failing us and never letting us down. I think it was His way of reminding me (along with countless others who needed to hear it) that He is who He says He is, and He’s taking care of the things that cause me worry and anxiety—He’s funny like that.

I don’t know what you’re going through in life. Maybe you’re like me and wish that you could find love in a world that seems to be more challenging for the single folks every day. I hope that you don’t lose hope. I hope that you keep pressing on through the storms of heartache that try to knock you down. I hope that you know that you are worthy and enough with or without someone else standing by your side.

And I hope that you know that you are loved by the One who will love you more than anyone else in the entire world ever could.

Because life isn’t one big game of capture the flag

There are moments in life when you realize that what you’re trying to find might cause you to lose focus of the wonderful things all around you.

Even during a game of capture the flag.

On Saturday night, the FCA volleyball interns I’ve been working with all summer invited me to play capture the flag with a big group of people. It’s one of those games that I really like but don’t ever play, so I was looking forward to it. Plus, those girls are all so fun and have such beautiful hearts, and you just feel better when you’re around them.

I’ve been pumping iron and stuff.

We played at one of the local college campuses, so there was a lot of ground to cover to try to find the other’s team’s flag. Most of us weren’t super familiar with the campus, and it became even more challenging once it got dark. I wandered off on my own to try to be a hero for my team, and I made the mistake of leaving my phone with one of the girls who wasn’t playing.

As it turns out, I’m still slightly directionally challenged and rely on Google Maps for way too much in life.

I started running because I wanted to make up as much ground as possible in my quest for the other team’s flag. After a while of searching all throughout the other side of the campus, though, I had to stop looking so much for the flag and start looking for the right way to get back to home base, instead. By this time, the sun had gone to sleep long ago, and I couldn’t see much. Somehow I ended up on the main streets and way on the outskirts of campus. I had zero clue where I was, I didn’t recognize any of the street signs, and there were no landmarks in sight to give me the slightest inkling of navigation help.

I had gotten so caught up in not being able to find the flag that I had gotten completely lost in the entire process.

Thankfully, I stopped some guy who suddenly appeared on the street (he appeared to be safe, and I’m confident in my abilities to kick someone’s a$* when necessary) and had him consult the Google so that I could find the right direction to run. I eventually made it to where I needed to be, but it was a much longer process than I had originally hoped or ever intended.

You know, kind of like my dating life.

I think trying to date in this day and age can be quite similar to a game of capture the flag—you search and search so hard for something that sometimes feels like it’s impossible to find. People keep telling you that “the right guy is out there” and that you just need to be patient and do more of this and more of that to find him. But it’s easy to get so frustrated during that searching that you end up feeling lost and almost hopeless at times.

The way people meet and fall in love has changed in so many ways than how it used to happen years ago, but that’s just part of the society in which we live now. One of my friends had mentioned someone she had heard of recently, which resulted in me meeting with a matchmaker one day last week. Think of the movie Hitch, and it’s a similar concept. It actually sounded pretty interesting and maybe even effective, but then she told me what the costs were for either a three-month contract or a six-month contract, and I had the same reaction that Elle Woods had when Vivian Kensington introduced herself as Warner’s fiancée.

I’m sorry. I just hallucinated. What?

Needless to say, I won’t be part of the next Albert Brennaman/Allegra Cole success story. I’m still trying to have high hopes for my dream of meeting someone unexpectedly and out of the blue, like me being hit in the face with a football or frisbee at a park or beach, and the guy runs over to check to make sure that I’m OK, and sparks fly.

A girl can dream.

Perhaps one day I’ll surprise you with a picture of me with a fella at the beach. Until then, here’s a selfie.

I don’t know how I’ll meet someone, but I do know that I don’t want to be so caught up in trying to find him that I get completely lost. There’s so much life to live, and there’s so much love to give others. I want my focus to remain on being thankful for those things and those people already in my life and pursue them. It turns out that life isn’t one big game of capture the flag—there are so many people in this world who need love and need to know that they are valued. Do I want to fall in love with my person and be loved unconditionally by him? Absolutely. But I can’t stop my life entirely to go searching for that one flag that might not be ready for me to find yet.

I had prayed for a miracle when I was lost during that game of capture the flag, and God sent me someone to help when there was literally no other human walking around in sight. And I know that, if it’s part of His plan for me not to be single forever and to forget about the guy I wish were still a part of my life, He’ll send me someone when it seems like there’s literally no one out there for me (which it feels like much of the time).

Whatever it is you’re seeking in life—whether it’s a relationship or new job or place to live or a multitude of other things—I hope that you eventually are able to capture it. But I also hope that you are still able to appreciate and enjoy what you already have in your life and show your people how much you care for them.

Because, unlike flags that are tough to find, you don’t have to go searching very far to let them know that they’re loved.

When running into the water is brave

I know I’ve mentioned this more than once, but I don’t like to be cold.

Like, at all.

There’s been a recent heat wave here in Southern California, and we’ve hit some temperatures that I thought I left behind in Texas. I’ve been used to upper 70s as the highs for months now, but last weekend gave us some of those lovely triple-digit temps that make you feel like you’re melting.

Not cool, bro. (I hope you appreciate what I did there.)

OK, fine. Let’s be brave and go into the Pacific.

My forever friend Maddie came to visit me over the weekend, and we did what any typical gals in their early 30s (or probably any age, really) would do on such a warm Saturday: We went to the beach. Now, I typically don’t like to get in the water in the Pacific Ocean—it’s rather chilly, after all. Maddie went ahead and tested it out, and even though the day was beyond warm, her reaction was enough to let me know that getting in the water was essentially the same as diving into the Arctic when you’re covered in ice cubes. But for some weird reason, I got up and walked toward the water, anyway. I figured putting my feet in there would cool me off enough.

Mads was still in there (she had obviously lost her mind for a moment), and she was urging me to come in farther. I got until the water was almost to my knees, and I yelled out that I was being brave. Then Maddie said something that I wasn’t expecting.

“That’s not what brave looks like—just run!”

I don’t really like to be challenged on my boldness, so I took off running straight into the water. I’ll admit that I didn’t go super far (mainly because I didn’t want to wash my hair—judge me on my shallowness and laziness all you want), but I did go much farther than I had originally planned. I didn’t like the feeling of being so cold, but I guess it did end up feeling a bit refreshing as I walked back to my towel.

There’s a whole world out there waiting for us to be brave.

The truth is that Maddie was right—being brave doesn’t look like standing in one place, shaking, and not moving forward at all. It’s not brave to pretend like you’re being brave. Instead, it’s brave to take chances and to run after the things that you need to without sitting there and thinking about all of the things that could go wrong or make you feel uncomfortable.

In fact, being brave is hardly ever about being comfortable.

Years ago, I had feelings for a guy who was my good friend. In my head, I thought about all of the things that I could say to him and imagined what it would be like finally to get it all out of my heart. But I never said a word to him. Not one single word. I stood there, just like I did on that shoreline, and I let myself think that I was right where I should be and that I shouldn’t go any farther out into the water. I can tell you right now that I wish that I had run toward him and told him about everything I was feeling for him. I wish that I had let myself be completely uncomfortable and had poured my heart out. I wish that I didn’t worry about the equivalent of washing my hair or feeling cold.

I wish that I had simply dove into the rushing cold waters without thinking with my head but, instead, with my heart.

I chased down a group of teenage girls for this pic. I knew at least one of them would be a talented photographer.

I can’t make those wishes come true now, but I can certainly change the way I take on the waters that scare me in the present and in the future. I can think more with my heart and not so much with the overly worried voices in my mind. I don’t want to fear those cold waves—I want to run toward them without hesitation. I want to know not only what it looks like to be brave but also what it feels like to be brave in every aspect of my life.

Yes, there are going to be plenty of times in our lives when we’re faced with the decision to stand exactly where we are and stay comfortable or not only step out of those comfort zones but take off running from them as fast as we can. I hope that I’m able to choose that second option—and I hope that you are, too.

We were never meant to stand on the shoreline and watch the world and all of its opportunities pass us by as the waves crash at our feet.

Because it takes more than time to heal a heart

The great Selena Gomez once said that “the heart wants what it wants.”

And then sometimes the heart wants what it needs.

When I moved out to California last September, I had no idea how much I would come to love this place and all of the people in it. It took a little while, but it slowly and quickly (it’s weird to explain) became rather apparent that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

In the fall of 2017, I wasn’t having the best year. I had just had my third kidney surgery of the year after months and months of constant pain and discomfort, and to top it off, I was still trying to get through the worst broken heart I’ve ever had. To be perfectly honest, that heart thing was actually a lot worse than all of the kidney stuff.

When I realized that God was calling me to California, I was reluctant at first. I didn’t want to leave my people and the city I’d known and loved for my entire life. It felt comfortable and safe. When I finally accepted that this is what He wanted me to do, I tried to get excited for a new adventure. It all happened so quickly, and I didn’t have much time to get really sentimental about much. Shortly after I moved out here, though, I had plenty of time for that—and I gave in.

These girls are proof that the next generation is full of greatness.

I eventually told myself that God probably just brought me out here to heal my heart, and I would be able to return to Dallas in a year or less. While I do think that God knew exactly what He was doing bringing me out here—and perhaps healing really was part of it—that mindset that I had limited the scope of just how capable He is and how much more He wanted to give me.

People often say that “time heals all wounds,” and I’m sure that time has something to do with it, but I think that there are so many more factors that can help you forget about all of the pain that ensues when you’ve been hurt badly by someone you thought cared about you. When things like that happen, I think that God puts certain people in your life to help remind you that you are worth so much more than someone’s feelings (or lack thereof) for you.

We’re both thankful that “Jurassic World” isn’t a reality.

I lead a group of high school girls at my church, and last Friday night was a “red carpet” event that a few of them had planned together. They came up with the idea themselves and then spent months putting it together to make sure that everything went smoothly and was a nice welcome for the upcoming freshmen. I AM STILL SO FREAKING PROUD OF THEM! The entire night was a blast, and it brought so much joy to my heart to see how excited and happy they were. Toward the end of the night, I looked around the room and thought to myself “yeah, I’m going to be alright.”

That’s not to say that I won’t ever think about homeboy or won’t feel twinges of hurt if a memory pops into my heart, but it does mean that I’ve got plenty in my life to find joy in to help drown out any pain still lingering.

Celine has always reminded me that my heart will go on.

If you’re a living, breathing human, you’re likely going to face some type of heartache in life. If you don’t, well, you probably won’t ever have Nicholas Sparks write a novel reflecting your life. When it happens, know that there’s no specific timeline for how long it takes to heal—it’s different for everyone, and it may take you way longer than you thought it would. But, during that time, it’s important to let those people who would fight for you be there for you and let you cry or throw rocks or be goofy or do whatever when you need to—and who will do those things right alongside you just to make sure you’re doing what you need to heal. Those gems are keepers for sure.

We have limited time here on earth, but we sure do get a lot of opportunities to spend that time with people. Don’t be afraid to let them love you, and don’t be afraid to love them right back.

Your heart will thank you.

When you live like you won’t fail

I’m not ashamed that I learn a great deal about how to live from little kids—I love their boldness and blind faith.

And now I’m even taking life lessons from their toys.

My friend Amanda and I were playing the pitch-n-catch velcro game the other day, which allows you to catch even some of the worst throws (not that we were throwing any of those, though). You can get pretty confident with your showmanship in that game, and she brought up the analogy of how differently we might live our lives if we went into everything knowing we wouldn’t fail.

Daaaaaaang. Cue deep convo during a game of catch.

I consider myself a confident person, but I can’t say that I go into every situation with complete belief that I’m going to be successful. But why? Sure, it isn’t going to happen all of the time, but why is it so difficult to believe that it will?

When you play a normal game of catch with a baseball and glove, you might drop it, or you might throw one way off target. It’s bound to happen at some point. But is it so wrong to believe that you are going to catch it or throw a perfect ball each time right before the ball goes through the air? When you’re playing the pitch-n-catch game, you don’t even have to worry about any of that. Even when Amanda’s velcro “glove” broke (I clearly don’t know my own strength), the ball still stuck to it.

You can CATCH us in the 2020 Olympics. (You’re welcome.)

It makes me think about the scene in The Sandlot when Smalls first plays with the gang, and Benny tells him to stick his glove up in the air, and Benny would hit the ball into it. Smalls stands out in the outfield with his glove held nervously in the air and quietly says to himself “please catch it.” Would he have been as worried if it were part of the velcro game and if he knew that he wouldn’t fail?

Let’s talk about my lack of dating life now.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I spent far too many years of my life not taking chances because I always assumed that rejection was going to be the only thing I received from the guys I thought were right for me. But what would have been so bad about being brave in those moments? What would have happened if I had believed that the tennis ball would stick to the velcro in those situations? I guess I’ll never know, but I can certainly change the way I let myself think now.

What if, from now on, I believe that I actually have chances with the fellas who catch my eye? I don’t mean this in a conceited way but more in a velcro-game-of-catch way. It doesn’t mean that it will always work out, but it does mean that I will be more comfortable being genuine and vulnerable because I’ll have that no-fail attitude. I think it sounds like a pretty solid plan.

And this is something that we can practice in other areas of our lives, as well. No, we won’t always be successful in every single thing we attempt, but we can change our mindsets going into each one. Besides, striking out doesn’t make you a complete failure—it simply means that you have some adjustments to make the next time you go up to bat. Failures allow us to learn and grow.

When playing the velcro game, every once in a while, a person can launch a horrible throw that is completely out of reach of the person with the other velcro glove, and the perfect toss-catch streak ends. But that doesn’t mean that the person throwing it the next time will think the failure rate is now going to increase. Instead, that comfort of not failing is still there—there’s confidence and belief that the ball will land exactly where it’s supposed to on that velcro.

I don’t know about you, but I want to live more like I’m playing the pitch-n-catch velcro game. I want to go into situations without hesitation or fear of failure.

When I finally step on the starting line again to race, I don’t want to fear failure.
When I go into work at my new job each day, I don’t want to fear failure.
When I send a text or talk in person to a fella I fancy, I don’t want to fear failure.
When I finish writing my book and work to get it published, I don’t want to fear failure.

I want to be as brave as I was throwing that tennis ball at a velcro target in each and every moment of my life. What would my life look like if I were? What would your life look like if you were?

Living like you won’t fail doesn’t make you egotistical; it makes you brave and confidently hopeful.

 

What’s an area of your life in which you wish you wouldn’t worry about failing?

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.