Fairy Tales

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.

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.