idols

I have been at my gap year program/college thing for a month and a half now ! It’s been pretty amazing overall so far, but it hasn’t been easy. I already have learned so much that has shifted my whole perspective on certain major life choices. I’ve had lots of “ah ha” moments. While this has been awesome to experience this type of clarity, it can also bring with it a sense of regret and shame about my past and the choices I have made. It’s tough because when a good thing is happening, like those “ah ha” moments, it’s still painful and even a little embarrassing sometimes to see the light being shined on the hazy moments that I would do differently now. I made pursuing things and people more important than pursuing God and more important than valuing myself. In the moment, some of the things I was doing didn’t seem so terrible, but I see now where acting impulsive and being too trusting cost me. So the reason I am writing this is to maybe shine some light to help you have some clarity in your life in the areas you may not realize will hurt you later on, so you won’t have to look back and say “crap why did I do that?”  God has a way of making bad things into good things by turning them into lessons that not only personally benefit us, but that can help others who are also struggling.

Okay so let me start off with this: in my blog I have talked about things that I have done that I wish I could take back or do differently but I know that by the grace of God I’m forgiven and truly changed. And one thing I want to make clear is that I will not betray confidences or ever talk down on someone in this blog or to others no matter how much I felt hurt in certain situations. I’m learning to look at it from the perspective that if someone has been placed in my life, there’s a reason for it, whether it’s to stay for the long haul as someone I can trust or just for a season to teach me patience, self control, forgiveness,  or not to obsess over making sure I’m accepted, and this list goes on. I don’t ever mean to sound like I’m pointing fingers at all or playing victim; I only share my part in these friendships/relationships because just like in my last blog post, if we all focused on taking care of our own problems instead of worrying about other people’s motives and issues, there wouldn’t be so much unresolved conflict.

But now on to the point of this post! So the program I am attending this year has a strict rule for all of the participants called “The No Dating Policy”. Now some of you may hear this and have the reaction of “sign me up!” while others are going “no way!”….both are very common reactions when I tell people. It’s actually pretty great and makes day-to-day life a lot less distracting. This policy is also changing the way I view male relationships, I look to them and they look to me for friendship and nothing more. It is such a beautiful thing. There is no pressure, nobody is trying to impress or win over one another, I have the freedom to just be me. Even though I still have a long way to go, I’ve found out a lot about myself since getting here, and some of it is truth that I have been suffocating for years, trying to pretend like it wasn’t there, but just like when you hid your clothes under the bed to make your room look clean during room checks, the clothes will still need to be unpacked and put away at some point, and let’s say just like in real life, I have wayyy too many clothes. 😉

In this post I am going to be vulnerable, so I am asking you to read this without a spirit of judgment. I hope many of you can try to relate. And when I talk about idols, I’m referring to anything or anyone in our lives that is more important than God. And you may think that God isn’t really that big of a deal now in your everyday life so who cares if we don’t make Him our first priority as long as He’s somewhere in the top ten? But I promise you, we weren’t created to have anyone or anything else in that top spot. Our lives will eventually feel lost and our hearts broken if we keep trying to put other people and things in God’s place, which is what this post is about.

If you would have told me a year ago what the last 12 months of my life would have looked like, I wouldn’t have believed it. The people who came in and out, the highs and lows walking with the Lord, the experiences, how I  put band-aids on wounds that weren’t healed, and even the place I am at with the people I am with now, I would’ve been shocked. Life changed up fast at different times and while some things were amazing experiences, there have been a few important lessons I learned.

One “ah-ha” moment I’ve had was about how insecure I really was even though I thought I was confident in my identity. I would tell so many other people not to be insecure and than there I would find myself doubting any good thing I ever did half the time and comparing myself to everyone else smarter, prettier, and cooler then me. Then during my senior year, I went against my own “no dating” rule and dated a guy (lesson #1 – when you and God make a deal you aren’t going to do something, DON’T do it!).  I was caught off guard and things just happened so fast, I didn’t give myself much time to pray and see if this was part of His plan, plus it felt nice to have a Christian guy show that much interest in me so I assumed that had to be God, right? While I won’t go into details, we broke up over the summer before heading off to college and that break-up was eye-opening. I realized without even noticing that I became very dependent on him for my self-worth. Sure, I have fun memories, but I lost myself in that relationship. I was warned about the way it was changing me but to me it wasn’t evident. I made excuses that sounded good at the time, but now I see things very differently. I learned it’s so important to listen to the people closest to us when they see things in us we don’t. When we are so close up in certain situations, it can be very hard to see the big picture. Just like horses that race, they have blinders on to just look straight ahead and in some situations we tend to put the same kind of blinders on to just focus on what we put right in front of us instead of seeing the reality all around us. Once I learned to take off the blinders, I decided I didn’t want to limit what God has planned for me and I don’t have to chase what He’s got for me either; I’m just going to try my best now to rest in His promises without forcing anything.

So I really started to ask myself the hard questions in the last few months and maybe some of you can relate, too; why did I allow my identity to be so wrapped up to the point of changing who I was to make other people happy? Why was I trying so hard to prove my worth? And why do I allow other people to have so much control over my emotions (well technically my mom asked me that one)? So the big question I am trying to answer now is, how do we all avoid doing this same thing in the future?

I’ve found out the simple answer to that is to put ALL our faith, hope and joy in The Lord. I’ve actually known that for a long time but it was not easy for me to actually do. I would stop with the old behaviors and bad habits and I changed when I had a motive, but not because I had respect for myself or because I was admitting that what I was doing was bad. I tried to do it in my own strength with the wrong motives, never fully relying on God and not completely dealing with old wounds (the clothes I stuffed under the bed).  When my last break-up occurred and he wasn’t around anymore to be my comfort and “go to”, I finally thought to myself “What am I doing? Who am I living to please? A guy or the Man who died on the cross so that I could live in total freedom to live for Him?”

I was shocked as I unpacked some more “ah ha” moments realizing that my motives to live a Christian lifestyle were pretty messed up off and on throughout my life. How many times do we find ourselves striving for positive outcomes, but having the most negative or toxic motives? It’s like when some people work their butts off and get money for making Honor Roll. While that’s an awesome outcome, would they work that hard if there was no reward? Some people might, but many would only put the work in for the money at the end, not because working hard is the right thing to do.

So this was me off and on through the years, working hard on my relationship with The Lord but sometimes for the wrong reasons. I was making  something else my priority instead of God so even though there were times that things looked great on the surface, as you can imagine that unhealthy behavior showed, especially within my last relationship.  Looking back I can see now my motive from the start was to win his heart with my Godly girl self, but by doing that I made him an idol and put him before my relationship with The Lord. And listen, I loved prayer, worshiping and reading God’s Word much of this time, it didn’t feel like a burden or fake to me, I thought I was being sincere. It’s just that as this relationship was ending, God shined a light on my distraction and wrong motives in some of this stuff I was doing.  Over the summer, I realized a few things I hadn’t considered before, my heart was healed in that process and since then I started to genuinely deepen my relationship with The Lord because I wanted to, not because I was trying to impress anyone. I became more purposeful in who I chose to spend time with and I began to really see things differently.  And it makes sense why God wants us to put Him first, no human is created to fill that role. When trials came, I leaned into Him for everything and was so glad I did because of situations I’ve had to work through in this last season. And how awesome is it that we are loved by The Creator of the universe and we don’t have to live to please anyone but Him! It has really helped me to see myself differently and value myself more.

So here I am in this place now of not being pursued or pursing anyone. To be totally honest, there are times I struggle with that, I’m not the most patient person and that’s one thing God is teaching me big time. And there is also something so freeing in knowing I have no one to try to impress, I don’t have to keep checking my phone and my heart isn’t in danger of being broken because of a relationship I’m not ready for. Plus I want to be able to clearly hear from The Lord about my future plans next year without trying to figure out how a boyfriend works into all that. It’s not like I don’t want to have healthy connections and solid friendships, but I’m trusting God’s plans and timing in my life like I never have before.  And that leads me to part two of this blog…coming soon! 🙂

Since starting my program, I’m really pressing into The Lord and have found so much peace and comfort in His Fatherly and abundant love, even when I’ve had to deal with rejection. I choose to trust Him with everything. God knew what I needed as I started this program and He knows what’s best for you, too. Even when things don’t go the way we thought they would, He has a better plan for us. I have such overwhelming appreciation and love for the One who first loved me.

The second part of this post will come soon, but I just hope you’ll think about this stuff and look at your own life, and if there’s anything or anyone you have been putting before God as an idol. Have you been getting gut checks from God that your priorities are not super healthy? What’s your foundation and peace based on? I can promise you one thing for sure, if your foundation is not God, whatever it is instead of Him will not bring you joy and peace forever.

Praying for everyone who reads this, that you can have a few “ah ha” moments of your own and realize that God loves you a lot! xoxo

 

 

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how to forgive even if no apology was given

When I asked for blog post ideas someone suggested “how to forgive.” I thought that sounded like a good topic because we can all say we have been done wrong by someone, but on the flip side of this, I think we can admit we have also found ourselves doing people wrong.

That thought doesn’t feel great. “ME doing someone else wrong???”

But as much as we don’t like to admit it, most times when there is conflict, both sides play a part in it. It may be hard to see it that way if you’re the person who got hurt, but it’s also a humbling realization that can actually bring comfort and help with future conflict. Instead of pointing fingers, we could actually take responsibility for our actions to understand the other person or situation better. We tend to go into a defensive or victim mindset, whether we have been done wrong or are doing wrong. It’s human instinct when we get hurt to think we’re right and the other person involved is wrong. So how do we retrain our brains to look at the part we played in it, instead of just pointing fingers? And how do we get over situations where we feel like we are the only one trying to move towards a positive outcome?

Whether it’s a broken heart, friendships that die off, fights with parents or siblings, conflict with a teacher or boss, the list of hurts we can experience in life is long. It could be something as simple as a friend you trusted sharing your secrets or as big as a parent having an affair. Hurt is hurt, it comes in all shapes and sizes, and there is always something to be mourned in situations of loss. But for our own well-being, we have to know when enough is enough and how to move on from the situation or even the person.

This is a tricky subject to maneuver because every loss, break up and disappointment has to be grieved. The hurt caused by rejection is very real. The human body was not designed to undergo rejection, so that’s why when we do feel this horrible pain of heartbreak it hurts SO BAD. God didn’t create us with the intention of us feeling rejection. When we’ve been hurt or rejected, we need to take some time to process and every situation is so different. I do think it’s up to us how long it takes to get over the hurt. Yes, I understand people grieve differently and with unique circumstances, but when it comes down to it, we have to keep in mind: yes this hurts, this hurts me a lot in this point in time, but I WILL NOT feel like this forever.

So, how do we forgive someone when there is no apology given? Let me expand on this, how do we move on from a situation or person when the issue has been ignored or no wrong is acknowledged? I have been on both sides of this spectrum from being the person who didn’t receive a genuine apology, to being the heartless person to move on without giving one, or taking a really lonnnnngggg time to give one. So I want to look at both sides since I think most of us can relate to being there. And before I start, if anyone reading this feels as if I have done them wrong or hurt them and it seemed like I didn’t care, I just want to apologize right here. I’ve learned that honest communication is so important and at this point if I need to be told that I did something hurtful and glossed over it, please reach out to me!

So I’m going to be honest here and talk about when I was the person not giving the apology or at least the right apology when it was due. Don’t be this person! Even though I ended up genuinely sorry a year or so too late, it was a rough process of dealing with the consequences of that. I decided to put my selfish feelings and my immature actions before another person and it hurt them. Of course I knew I messed up and I said sorry what feels like millions of times, but it wasn’t until awhile after that when I truly realized how much in the wrong I was and how even though back then my selfish choice “helped” me do the things I wanted to do, that freedom I ended up with caused behavior that actually screwed me over. I look back at that time feeling like I was a different person and I piss myself off if I think about it. I feel like my sorry meant nothing, because I was too busy justifying my actions. I said my shallow “sorry” and took myself out of the situation, only to regret what I had done and wishing I had a chance to do it all over again. Now this is not me saying every time you don’t get a sincere apology this is what the other person is going through, because it’s not. People can be very heartless and not ever have that “come to Jesus moment” where they realize how awful they acted and what it cost them. That’s something they may or may not ever realize but it’s a burden that they will have to carry because you will be secure in who you are and at peace with the whole circumstance.

So onto the hard part, being the one who doesn’t get an apology or at least a sincere apology that’s meaningful, not forced or said out of obligation. Sometimes that’s worse than not even getting an apology at all because then you constantly think and dwell on this person’s capability to actually mean what they said and if their actions back it up. Because when we say we’re sorry, that means we don’t or at least try not to do the same hurtful thing again.

So how to we deal with one-sided closure? The first thing I’ve done is pray, then write down everything I could think of that I had done wrong in the whole circumstance. So for example, if you were in a relationship and maybe you and this girl struggled to stay pure, you write down the fact that you did not honor her or treat her as your sister in Christ, and that could be part of the downfall. Maybe your friend shared private stuff you told her to other people but you also knew that she was gossipy so trusting her probably wasn’t a great idea in the first place. There are so many other examples I could use, but write down the part you played and maybe if you really aren’t at fault, at least write down the things you would have done differently. Then if you’re comfortable with someone trustworthy, find a friend or parent, or mentor you can talk it through with, and just get somewhere quiet and pray about it, God is truly the best listener there is. As you work on this list, please don’t start to become regretful or feel bad about yourself. Nobody is perfect so use this as a tool to learn from the mistakes made on YOUR END, not the other person’s. Look through your list and try to pick out a cycle or similar concept through where you’ve gone wrong. Maybe it’s lying or maybe you always tried to take control or maybe you weren’t vulnerable and didn’t let anyone in when it was appropriate. Start to pinpoint the places in your life at the moment where you can practice fixing these traits and tell someone close to you who can hold you accountable to work on these specific issues that led to conflict. As you start to do this you will find yourself starting to really work on being more aware of your strengths and weaknesses and even sometimes you will start to see much more clearly about the whole situation.

Maybe you’ll see that despite the pain you are feeling, there is an apology owed on your part as well. Where there are a few cases that the hurt you experienced had NOTHING to do with your actions, most cases you played a part in your own heartbreak or disappointment, either from not listening to trusted advice or not noticing red flags or not reaching out for help earlier on, or trying to force something…regret is a tough pill to swallow, but I am telling you becoming better from the situation instead of bitter will help accelerate the healing process of this pain.

I’m sharing this because I’ve been on both sides and doing these things has worked for me so my heart doesn’t get hard. There still may be times where we struggle looking for reasons to justify our hurt and feeling overwhelmed by the conflict. This is because the devil, who hates God, is out to kill, steal and destroy and when he sees a weakness in our lives, he will take that and use it against us every chance he gets. So just like athletes getting hurt, they might be out for a little bit of the season, while they not only work the hurt muscle back into a healthy state, but sometimes they will make it stronger than it was before to help any further  injury to it. It’s like when we are heartbroken, we can choose to work on the things we allowed that could have led to the hurt so the next time we go into a relationship or friendship or responsibility, we are much more aware of our strengths and our weakness. And just like when an athlete is injured, once that muscle gets injured the first time sometimes it can still cause pain throughout the recovery process, not as much as the first time when it became injured but maybe a little pain just enough to knock us down a minute or wear us out. Like in the process of not receiving that sincere apology, the devil will pop a thought in our heads or a memory will be triggered or we see something that will cause us to feel that familiar pain. Here’s the good news. It’s what we decide to do with those thoughts and actions that dictate our next move. Just like an athlete we can ignore the soreness and choose to continue strengthening this “muscle” so there will come a day when it’s completely healed, so will those wounds in our hearts be completely healed. Bottom line: you are the only one able to control what thoughts you dwell on and which ones don’t belong in your mind.

So if there’s one thing you take away please hear this, we all cause hurt and get hurt at some point, but we can choose what to do with it. Forgiveness is powerful. We can control how we react and learn from conflicts so we do better next time. You are the only person who decides when you move on or not. Like the saying goes, get BETTER not BITTER. Okay so just know you’re awesome! If you need someone to pray for you or just listen, as always slide into my dmsssssss and let me know wassupppp. FYI – in the program I’m in now, I can only view my Insta DMs on Sundays but I’m on Twitter/Facebook throughout the week so feel free to message me there for a quicker response! xoxo

fun summa ideas

Let me just start this by telling you guys that summer is my season. I’m serious. I get tan, my hair gets lighter, my clothes get cuter, and my favorite part, there’s no school! With that being said, I think it’s a very stereotypical thing to want to party and do crazy stuff all summer to “make it memorable” but like do you really want to do that stuff though? It can still be memorable without all the partying so I’m going to share ten (I think are pretty awesome) summer (sober) ideas!

1. Go hiking. Yes, I know it’s so cliché, but if you know me, you know this is one of my favorite things to do as soon as the temps go above 50! You get to take amazing photos in nature, make great memories and you even get a good workout, too! Some of my favorite places to hike are…

* Boyd Big Tree Reserve in Fishing Creek

* Mount Gretna (be sure to stop at the Jigger Shop afterwards for ice cream!)

* Ricketts Glen (the waterfalls are awesome here!)

* HACC Wildwood Nature Trail (this is a great walking and bike trail, not so much of a hike!)

* Peter’s Mountain (hiked this a few time over the years when I was at Camp Hebron)

*Kings Gap in Boiling Springs

2. Drive-in movies. You literally can’t go wrong with this. Just grab your friends, favorite snacks, chairs/blankets and take a friend’s mini-van to bring a bunch of people. This concept also works for fireworks and music festivals.

3. Beach trips for the day. This also includes Mount Gretna. I love the beach and I’m guessing at some point in my life I will live within 10 minutes of one! Until then, I like getting up early driving to Ocean City with friends and staying for the day. After we change from a day at the beach and grab boardwalk pizza, we leave to get home by midnight. It’s pretty cheap and super fun to just get away for a day! Just be sure to wear sunscreen because speaking from experience, it’s an excruciating car ride home when you fry your skin!

4. Volunteering. I know this may sound kinda of out of place in a post about “fun” summer ideas but this is a highlight of my summer. The love and joy you feel in your heart the moments after volunteering and helping others are PRICELESS. And you would be surprised how much fun you have and the great people you’ll meet. I like to go down and hand out food and water bottles in the city or help at outreach events just talking and praying for people who are going through tough times. I suggest checking with your church or family members about places you can help by collecting and handing out food or even just make little snack bags to give to people on the streets. Maybe you have an older neighbor you could mow the grass for or a new mom who could use a meal brought over. Those are the little things that make a huge impact on people’s lives.

5. Make your own tournament (or game nights on rainy days). I’m not talking about beer pong either! If you have corn hole, invite some friends and family over and do a tournament. Or a basketball hoop, soccer net, volleyball, Frisbee golf or anything just make it a competition. Play until there’s a winner and then if you can and it’s not 95 degrees outside, finish the night with a fire.

6. Take your mom, dad, sister or brother to dinner, lunch, a movie, ice cream or mini golf, etc. For me personally, my whole life my parents have always appreciated the little things and that includes just taking some time off to hang with them or just shooting them a text to grab a quick lunch. Maybe because I’m graduating I appreciate them now more than ever. So basically just take the time to show your love to your family. Don’t always be thinking you are going to miss out on “cool” stuff this summer because you choose to hang out with the fam.

7. Go on a missions trip somewhere away from home. Now I know not everyone has access to this one, just with cost and depending on your church you attend but guys, if you want to go on one… GO ON ONE! They are ridiculously rewarding and throughout the time you are there it changes your perspective completely. I can honestly say that on the two I went on, even though I was there to help others, I left changed and so grateful. If you can’t go on a missions trip (or even if you can), go on a youth retreat if your church has them. They are so much fun and there’s nothing quite like getting away from all the distractions to spend time focusing on things much more important than the material things in life. I admit there were times my parents nearly had to force me to go, but afterwards I was so glad I went.

8. Make a day to pamper yourself. Maybe this is more for the girls, I’m not sure how guys “pamper” themselves lol. Personally, I am going to have to work two jobs and a lot of hours this summer just to make bank for college, but with those few days off, I think sometimes it’s okay to just stay home and chill. You really don’t always have to be doing something adventurous to have a good time. And spending time alone isn’t a terrible thing; in fact that’s when we can get creative. Just head over to the store, grab some of your favorite ice cream, a good scrub and face mask, a little nail polish and just chill.

9. Journal. I know this isn’t like a onetime thing just for the summer but I will advise you to keep a journal and set an alarm everyday to jot something down. You will thank yourself one day when you have the opportunity to look through it later in life and see the amazing summer you had. Plus it’s also an opportunity to write down your goals, dreams and prayers and then check back in a few years to see where you ended up.

10. Last, but not least, devote this summer to loving yourself. Truly loving yourself completely and forgive yourself for past mistakes. Once again, I know this isn’t a onetime activity but it’s so important to value yourself and really grow into the person God has created you to be, which I promise you is awesome. Don’t try to compete, compromise or compare yourself because you really are unique. So I challenge you to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually this summer and do things your future self will thank you for.

So I hope you guys read this and get excited because summer is SO CLOSE Y’ALL !!!  First though,  we do still have a school year to finish so don’t give up just yet (that’s as much for me as for you!).  Enjoy these last couple weeks of school and trust that God has an amazing plan and loves every single one of us! xoxo

 

time for a change

Change can be scary but it is something I think everyone can say they have experienced in their lifetimes…some of us it may feel like it’s been more than a million times! I mean change is inevitable but it’s not easy.

Some people may see change as a bad thing but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes change can be just the thing we need.

I have learned in my past experiences that change can be very good…like changing your eating habits, changing how you spend your downtime, changing the group of people you hang out with or even just changing your hair. 😉

Now although I can sit here and say I am glad I’ve changed in all those areas and those were some of the best changes I could have made… some of that change was NOT easy.

Change is hard. It can be uncomfortable and very lonely.

There was a point in time that because my heart and my motives changed, certain friends and I could not really relate anymore.  We wanted different things and it was HARD.

Some may say a friend break-up is worse than an actual boyfriend/girlfriend break-up and that can be true sometimes. Having  close friends become casual acquaintances because you guys just aren’t the same people anymore really hurts. Sometimes it’s just growing up and growing apart. But if the friendship or relationship oversteps boundaries over and over, it’s time for a change.  In this case, I always say you have to do what’s best for YOU and for your future. If friends are not encouraging you to become a better person, chances are they are not someone for you to spend a lot of time with.

And let me add this, if your friends constantly make you feel unimportant, unworthy, self-conscious or guilty than those are not friends! Sure, it’s okay to joke around with each other but if the friendship is pretty much you being the butt of every joke or you are the one making the only effort, it’s time to reevaluate. Your friends should make an effort to invest in you and listen to you (and vice versa!!). You should be each other’s biggest fans, but also be honest with each other. If that’s not happening, talk to them. Communicate. Like change, it’s not always easy to be vulnerable but in the end you know you tried even if it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped it would.

As this year has gone on, I’ve realized friendship really is quality over quantity. Although my circle is small, I love my friends so much and want the world for them and I know they feel the same for me. They also are the ones to hold me accountable and say “Nah Court , I don’t think that’s a good idea.” It can be annoying to hear that, but at the end of the day I know that’s what I need to grow and that they truly care about me.

Change can be such an incredible turning point in your life so don’t be closed off to trying new things or getting to know new people. They could be nothing like what you expect and could turn into your best friend once you get to know each other. Keep your eyes open for new opportunities everyday and always keep your future in mind. Don’t settle for ordinary comfortable stuff, take a risk and change the things you may be complaining about!

Also if your friends treat you like crap and you just want someone to talk to, I would love to listen and it would stay between us!  Okay that’s all I’ve got tonight. Merry Christmas everyone and be sure to remember the real reason for the season. xoxo

unrealistic expectations

I think having unrealistic expectations is something all girls and even boys seem to struggle with.

I love you; I just want you, nobody else; I’ll change; I’m sorry;  I’m just so busy, etc…

Those are some of the most common lies told in this day and age. Words said so easily and impulsively most of the time. We have all said things like these and had them said to us for different reasons but they weren’t true. They never should have been said.

It’s sad. Those lies in an attempt to manipulate or spare someone from the truth really build up expectations.

So how do we solve the problem of unrealistic expectations? I can tell you one thing, I have learned the hard way and my best advice is to look at actions not just words when you expect certain things to happen.

I haven’t always done this great, but I try to be one to say how I feel, even when I have to be vulnerable (which I don’t like at all, I mean who does?) and I’ll try to back up my actions. It’s cost me saying how I really feel but I can honestly say when I tell someone something, I mean it…good or bad. I don’t know many other people who do that and I challenge you to not say stuff you don’t mean even if it’s hard to say. It really just sets up unrealistic expectations and makes people feel stupid when they realize the truth.

I’m trying to choose my words better. I used to casually say “I love you!” or “I love that!” so much until I started to realize I was throwing around such an important word. By doing this it gave me an unrealistic expectation of what love is. I have learned love is not a feeling when everything is going well. It is a choice to sacrifice. So if someone says they love you and they will do this for you or that for you, pay attention to see if their actions are backing that up.

Another thing to watch out for is someone’s track record. I’m definitely not one to judge someone on their past because I know I have really tried to change and learn from my past mistakes, but if there is someone who demonstrates the same disappointing behavior over and over and over again while not admitting it’s wrong, then be cautious. Maybe it’s a flirty guy who has been known to become close friends with girls and lead them on or maybe it’s a girl who has gossiped to you about everyone you know, so be cautious when entering a friendship or relationship with them. Don’t jump right in and share your heart or have unrealistic expectations of how loyal they are. Take your time. Give them a chance to earn your trust and vice versa.

Another thing to consider is when most people say “If you don’t have any expectations you never get disappointed.”

To be honest, that’s kinda dumb. First off, can anyone not have expectations for others? I mean don’t we somewhat expect common courtesy and some form of communication? If anything, having no expectations will get you even more hurt than having some realistic ones. High expectations are not bad things, you should have high ones, but you just need to be careful with who you have them with and the extent of them. Think about it before you dive right in.

So let’s say you have some realistic expectations and you are minding your own business. Suddenly you find yourself daydreaming of that cute boy and how adorable you guys would be drinking your lattes and going apple picking. That’s fun to think about but there comes a time when you have to draw the line with that stuff. When your dreaming takes over your reality and creates expectations is when it becomes an issue. We can drive ourselves crazy dreaming about something that we just can’t have.

And I  know this may be a hard topic to explain but here’s another example that maybe some girls can relate too…

You get the snap. It’s late. He’s complimenting you. Then he drops the bomb….

“No, me and my girlfriend aren’t doing well and we’re gonna break up soon” or “I’m not really that serious with her” or the good ole, “You are the one I really love, it’s just that I don’t want to break her heart.”

Friends, if you hear either one of those things or anything like it TURN THE OTHER WAY AND RUN. If he says things to you that you know aren’t right while he has a girlfriend, he doesn’t care about her or you. He is thinking about himself and that’s it. And yes, girls do this stuff to guys, too and it’s not okay.

But hear me on this, if he really wants you, that guy will pursue and value you. This may sound funny but my mom and I have talked about men were naturally made to be hunters. That’s why we hear that once the challenge is over, a bunch of them move on to their next hunt! But if a guy wants something bad enough, he will be determined to do what it takes to get it. And in this case, if he’s dating someone else and messing with your emotions, he doesn’t care about you. He would pursue you and only you if that’s what he wants. Trust me, that’s a tough reality when you allow yourself to have expectations to be with him one day. So please if he gives you promises and empty words that are not backed up with actions, give it up. He doesn’t need more “time” trust me. It’s gonna hurt for a bit but I promise it will save you a lot of hurt in the long run. And next time you will know better and pay attention to the warning signs.

Even though I am honestly okay now, I learned this unrealistic expectation lesson the hard way wanting to believe things I knew deep down just were not true. I had high expectations that I shouldn’t have but I wanted it so badly at the time I justified everything that didn’t match up. I really wish I would have listened to my own advice then, but I’m hoping by sharing this some people won’t have to go through some of the stuff I have. I hope it helps. That’s all I got for tonight. Love y’all! xoxo

 

who’s controlling your emotions?

You have most likely heard advice that it’s not a good idea to let people control our emotions.

“But I can’t help how I feel. He/she just makes me so mad/upset/frustrated.”

But here’s the thing. We CAN control how we feel by not allowing someone to be the main reason we are happy or sad. Sure, situations happen that can make us feel a certain way, but if we allow what other people say about us or how they treat us influence us too much, it just isn’t very healthy for us and those relationships will suffer. Whether friends or dating, we have to be careful not to rely too much on other people to make us feel valuable.

Here’s how I look at it…

If you let it ruin your day because someone didn’t snap you or text you back right away or maybe they waved at you differently or seemed distracted talking to you, you gotta check yourself. I’ll be the first to tell you that I struggle with this and have gotten so upset if I did not get the response I expected from someone I was close to…or thought I was close to. But is it really such a big deal or was I holding people to unrealistic standards or expecting them to make me feel good about myself when that’s not anyone’s job to do that? Or maybe I misunderstood and we just weren’t as close as I thought we were? Whatever the reason I have to be careful not to allow it to influence me so much that it completely changes my mood and tempts me to do or say stuff I’ll regret.

I have put myself through this more times than I should have. I have allowed things like getting no text back or someone ditching plans completely ruin my mood for the day. And I’m not excusing that it’s okay for you to let people consistently be rude, lie or ignore you, but I realized that I’m not going to let rejection paralyze me anymore. I’ve felt so upset or angry over what someone said or didn’t say to me to the point of it having a negative effect on my schoolwork, sports and other relationships. It’s a slippery slope that many people fall into without realizing it. Once you let the hurt someone causes to overwhelm you, it will affect other things that will keep affecting other things and so on. It’s easy to blame the actual situations for making you feel so bad but really, it comes down to this: why do you give so much power over your happiness to another person?

So I am here to offer some help, but I can’t say I have mastered this myself. I’m still trying not to overthink everything and put unrealistic expectations on situations or myself but I have done a few things that help….

1. Take a break.  Give yourself some space. Put your phone down for a few days (like seriously put it down, don’t pick it up. When I have done this in the past sometimes I have given to my mom and she doesn’t give it to me until the day we agreed on lol!). If you don’t get rid of your phone totally, at least take a break from SnapChat or Twitter or whatever triggers you when you see something that puts you in your bag or makes you want to punch a wall.

Will it feel so weird? Yes.

Will it be so hard? Heck ya, but I can promise you after a few days it’s so refreshing and you realize that you feel a lot more peaceful not relying on Snaps and seeing who liked your tweets to feel good about yourself.

2. Get to know and enjoy being by yourself. I know this may sound weird, but do things alone that you never have time to do. Usually when you do things by yourself, there’s not the usual noise that distracts you from processing your thoughts. I like to paint. You can just splatter all your emotions on a canvas, even though it might not turn out how you want it, it’s unique and beautiful, which is a reminder of who God created us to be. Or take a bath. There is nothing taking a bubble bath can’t solve! Play music. Write in a journal. Go for a run. Start a blog…haha.

3. Talk to someone you trust who is older and wiser. We tend to forget our parents usually have been through a lot of what we are going through. Tell your mom or dad what you are struggling with and be open to their advice on how to get over it. They will want to help and be there for you. Chances are they have already noticed by your behavior if you have allowed someone else to control your happiness so it won’t come as a surprise to them!

4. You need to know your weaknesses and what triggers you to get so upset. If you feel misunderstood, write it down. If someone hurt you, write it down. If you feel ditched, write it down. If you feel like you always give and the other person just takes, write it down. I’ve written down the specific things that hurt me, cried a little or a lot (which actually feels good when you are done) and prayed about it. Then I crumple up the paper and throw it away. Most people don’t realize but doing a physical act like that is actually very powerful and can lift a lot of weight off of you.

5. If you feel like someone is controlling your emotions even if they don’t realize it, tell that person how you feel about him or her. Be honest. Sometimes hiding the way you feel makes the feelings stronger instead of just dealing with them. I have started to try to be more vulnerable and instead of saying “nothing is wrong” or ignoring something that bothers me, I try to communicate with the other person. You can’t force them to communicate back but at least you know you tried so you can move on. And if someone truly wants you as a friend or wants to be with you in a relationship, they will want you to grow and not want to play games with your emotions. Maybe you’ve just come across as clingy or needy to someone and once you realize that you can fix it in the future by communicating honestly.

6. This one is tough. It’s important to realize that if the relationship isn’t helping you grow or it’s very one-sided, you may have to adjust your boundaries. It is just like weeds in a garden, you wouldn’t just let the weeds continue to grow and grow until they take over your whole garden and eventually ruin the pretty flowers. No, you would weed your garden in order to let the seeds grow into the beautiful flowers they were planted to be. The same goes with relationships. Sometimes we have to remove people for a season so we or they can grow. Maybe it’s temporary and sometimes it’s permanent. It depends on how much you or they are willing to grow, change and work towards making things better. If you have an unhealthy relationship with someone that overwhelms your thought life, it can carry over into everything else in your life. Just as I mentioned in the beginning, when I relied on other people to make me happy all the time my self-esteem, schoolwork and even how I played field hockey suffered A LOT because I was so distracted with how bad I was feeling and I just didn’t know how to make it stop. Nobody can make you happy 24/7 so then you blame them because they can’t meet your expectations. I hate that I have done that and I pray I never do it again.

You can’t completely stop caring about how other people treat you, that’s not what I am saying. It’s totally okay to feel angry and hurt and also happy and content with people in your life because that’s reality. What I am saying is to check all of your relationships and  if you notice any type of pattern with that person having a big impact on your overall day-to-day feelings (good or bad) then maybe it’s time to take a step back. If we do this we can deal with arguments, break ups and rejections in a reasonable way without causing more damage or saying and doing things we regret. And hey, we can do this together because I am really still learning this myself!

That’s all I got. Love y’all! xoxo

 

how to win her heart

Girls really aren’t as mysterious as you guys make us out to be. My friends and I wonder why it seems like it’s like pulling teeth sometimes to get guys to understand what we really want. I know most girls drop a lot of hints to guys when they like them. Guys, no offense, but I know you are kind of oblivious sometimes so I’m going to try to help you. 🙂

So this blog post goes out to all you guys crushing on on a girl and you aren’t really sure what to do about it. It’s also going out to the guys who think a girl’s heart is a toy to be played with for your own selfish enjoyment. Maybe if you see a different perspective, you will change the way you treat us. I’m no relationship expert, these are just my own personal thoughts so it isn’t a foolproof plan for every girl (and might I add some girls just do not want a serious relationship no matter how amazing you are, so be patient) but when you’re trying to win over a girl’s heart here’s a few things you boys should know…

1.
Let her know how you feel about her. Don’t make her guess which leads to overthinking. And yes, then we kinda freak out when that happens. Girls can’t read minds and sometimes boys give mixed signals without even realizing they are doing it (yeah yeah I know girls do this, too, and we are working on it). We are still young and trying to have relationships along with everything else we are doing can be tricky. Be honest. Let her know if you like her and what you are looking for, such as a friendship that could grow into a relationship or if you would like to take her out on a date, etc. Don’t be afraid to take things slow.
2.

If you tell her something, your actions better back it up, boo. If you tell her you like her and want to spend more time to get to know her, please DO IT. Girls hate it when guys are good talkers over the phone, but as soon as you hang out in person they act like you have cooties. Not cool. Guys, if you feel a little awkward just relax and be yourself.

Also make sure you aren’t treating her like an option. We really don’t want to feel like we have to compete with other girls for your attention if you say you are interested in us. Girls are smart and we know what’s really up. We can usually tell when guys are lying. So if you say you want to be friends, be our friend, if you say you want to see other people, then just let us know and if you would like to consider dating just us exclusively, tell us that, too. That way nobody is wasting anybody else’s time or having hurt feelings trying to figure out where they stand. Let your actions back up your words.

3.
Treat her like she is a priority. No girl wants to constantly take a backseat to your boys and everything else you have going on. Yes we totally get you need bro time but constantly ignoring us or backing out of plans with us to hang “FTB” gets annoying and it hurts if it continues happening on a regular basis. If a girl snaps or texts you, try to respond in a decent amount of time, don’t just ignore her. We literally will sit there wondering what we did wrong when it’s probably nothing.
Do not lie to her so you don’t hurt her feelings or make her mad. And don’t be one of those people who text her back whenever you feel like it and if she doesn’t like it, that’s her problem. If you’re busy and can’t text back just tell her, she will probably  understand and appreciate that much more than if you just don’t answer her or leave her Snap on read. And if you don’t want to have a relationship with her tell her that, too so she doesn’t feel stupid. Talk about it and don’t just ignore her. Just like I said above, communication is so important.
4.
If you really like this girl, take the time to get to know everything about her. This includes her family, her favorite things, everything. Girls don’t want a guy that constantly talks about himself, but we also don’t want someone who is closed off. While you get to know her, let her get to know you, too. What’s your favorite ice cream or what movie makes you laugh uncontrollably or what is that one home-cooked meal that you love or stories from your childhood. Ask her lots of questions and then listen! Eventually get to the point where you ask her the hard questions and have the conversations that will help you grow together. But don’t ever use information against her, that’s a BIG no. If she tells you things in confidence thinking you won’t share them no matter how things end up between you, don’t use them against her in the future. Be a guy she can trust.
5.
Whether friends or more with a girl, please don’t take her for granted. And say you do end up dating, even when you do, treat her like you don’t have her. Surprise her. Make her laugh. Pray for her on her good and her bad days. Text her something sweet just because. No girl cares if you have been best friends or dating for six days or six years, you should make an effort to have fun with her. Now there’s still going to be arguments and misunderstandings and there are gonna be times you don’t even wanna look at each other, but don’t walk away and give up on her. If you truly want her in your life, you won’t give up when it’s hard or uncomfortable.
6.

Don’t be blind to an amazing girl and realize it too late. Some guys don’t understand that the girl who would love them and put up with all their craziness is right in front of them. Don’t play games with her because if you don’t go for it, eventually someone else will. It’s sad when you realize what you could have had together but then it’s too late.

Don’t be that guy.

If you get to know her, you like her and she is down for you 110%, don’t screw her over thinking you can do better. That’s dumb. At our age, loyal guys and girls are hard to find so when you connect with someone and you are working on a relationship, don’t walk away over something petty or selfish. Talk out the misunderstandings and be honest about how you are feeling.

7.
Hang out with her and talk to her any chance you get. Girls love when you have even just an hour on a busy day to have something to eat, grab a quick nap or even just drive around listening to music. It shows us that no matter how busy you are, you still want to see us. And we get there are days when you just don’t have time or our schedules don’t match up, but stopping by or calling to say hi or watching us at a game shows us we are a priority. For me personally in past relationships, including friendships, I looooove spending time with the people I’m close to. Now I’m not clingy and don’t expect to be with them 24/7, but I find it very sweet when I know someone’s schedule and know how busy they are, yet they still fit in some time to spend with me.
8.
Don’t use girls for sexual things. I REPEAT DON’T USE HER. This is the worst thing you can do to a girl’s self esteem. Please I’m actually begging you to understand how awful it feels to know that a guy is just interested in you for your body and drops you as soon as he realizes that’s not an option you are offering. I think in past blogs I’ve hit on this topic and I’ve shared how degrading and hurtful it is when you think a guy actually likes you as a person only to find out he’s only interested in one thing. Please guys, if you hear anything, know that being treated like that hurts a lot. Even if your relationship moves past friendship, don’t pressure a girl into something she doesn’t want to do. Respect her. Automatically expecting her to do sexual things is not cool and shouldn’t be a thing ever.
9.
If you do date and things eventually get serious, love her unconditionally and pray for her even if she’s being a little brat. I’m 99.999% sure she isn’t trying to be rude to you or make you feel bad, she just is most likely insecure and is feeling uncomfortable so she gets angry with you. When she apologizes accept it and don’t keep bringing it up. You aren’t perfect and neither is she so don’t keep score of everything and try to “get even” with her when she messes up.
10.

Don’t act like an “f boy”. You may get temporary attention from girls being like that but in the long run all you do is cause a lot of hurt so just stop doing that. Don’t ignore a girl all day and then snap her something sexual at 11pm. I promise you she will feel disrespected and not very valued as much as you think it may come off as a compliment. For me personally, if you wouldn’t say something in front of your mom, then please don’t be saying it to me. Sure, I like to get complimented on being pretty, smart, cute and a kind person. But to be honest, that’s not really the kind of “compliments” girls usually receive nowadays. Listen, just respect her and let her know you like a lot of other things about her like her smile, her personality and the things that make her special.

I know a lot of this stuff applies to guys AND girls, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject for any of you guys who may be wondering why girls act the way we do sometimes. And I’m not speaking on behalf of every girl, but I do hope I cleared up a few things about what we typically like and don’t like from the guys in our lives.

Peace out friends and boys, I can’t wait to hear all the stories of how you had the courage to try a few of these things with your crush this week! 😉

regrets

regrets…

Lots and lots of them.

In past blogs I’ve mentioned that my whole life I have struggled with letting go of the past and recently I’m feeling wrecked over decisions I really regret making. It’s been hard to move past them. I have good days and then I have days I just feel broken and I can’t snap out of it.

Just being honest.

Yes, I understand we are only human and we all make mistakes. Yes, I understand things happen to us and we cause things to happen we didn’t mean to, but there are times when thinking of the past leaves me with nothing but emptiness in my heart.

So I’m struggling right now but I do have hope. I’m realizing that time doesn’t heal our hearts. God heals our hearts.

This is a tough topic to talk about when I’m personally struggling with it, but I know I’m not the only one who does so I thought it may help to tell you some of the things I have been doing to help myself get over constantly thinking about the things I did wrong and the consequences from those choices.

First you have to tell someone what you did and that you are struggling, whether it’s your mom, best friend, sister, a youth pastor, counselor or another trustworthy person in your life. And please make sure you tell someone if you are so overwhelmed with pain that you want to hurt yourself. We need other people in our lives to encourage us, hold us accountable and see things from a different perspective. Yes, that’s scary and being vulnerable. Trust me, it’s worth the weight that comes off of you when you tell someone you trust.

Next I think is helpful is to journal and write down everything you’re feeling… EVERYTHING whether it’s bad or good write it all down. Then give yourself 15-30 minutes to think about this choice you made, how you were feeling when you made it, were the consequences worth it, let yourself cry, pray and then that’s it, stand your ground that you know the situation can’t be changed no matter how much you think about it cause it’s in the past. I’ve made the mistake at times of tweeting stuff that I thought would make me feel better but it really didn’t and I just felt worse. It’s much better to journal just for you to see because nobody who just casually follows your Twitter will ever totally understand what you are going through.

Finally if this decision or regret caused hurt to others, you need to say sorry (preferably in person) even if they don’t except it, you at least owe them that. Make the decision to try to fix things if you can and if not, learn from it and don’t repeat it. I know I’ve hurt my family in the past but thank God we are moving on and I’m regaining their trust again. I’m sad to say I’ve done some pretty stupid things and have hurt some wonderful people in my life. The worst part is because it took me awhile to realize this, I’ve lost a couple really special ones. Those are the consequences I’m trying to live with and what motivates me from never taking anyone or anything for granted.

Although I have tried everything in the book to go back and time travel, I can’t. I don’t want this to be a heavy post but if there’s one thing I understand now is that God gives us opportunities and people in our lives and when we don’t treat them the way they deserve to be treated we can lose them. No stupid temporary lifestyle or convenience is worth that.

As much as it hurts me to deal with regrets, those decisions have brought me to where I am today so I can only do the best I know how to do going forward. I’ve chosen to try to learn from the past and think less about the regrets by controlling where I let my mind go. The worst thing you can do is allow yourself to be sad and lonely over the past which then makes you more likely to make more bad decisions. That’s just a bad cycle that will go on and on if you don’t realize it. That’s why I do better writing stuff down because I’m less likely to do it again when I see maybe WHY I did what I did.

Just remember that everyday we get a fresh brand new start to make better choices, learn from the past and live the lives we want to live. I’m reminding myself of that all day, every day!

 

That B Word…

Okay we all knew this blog post was coming soon, so I might as well get it out now… I am a teenage girl so my and my friends’ lives have always seemed to revolve around boys. Although I have grown up in an all girl family, I still found myself almost constantly around the male species. My mom tells me I was one of only two girls many times in the church nursery and at my preschool. The boys in elementary school were always less drama than the girls so I preferred to hang out with them.

As I grew up, I watched my mom and dad’s relationship very closely; my dad was my hero when it came to men. I looked up to him for everything, and at some points I would wish I was a boy, just so I could grow up to be him. The reason I am telling you this is because my dad did everything right…he threw the baseball with me, he took me fishing, he prayed for me, he cuddled with me when I was having a bad day and he respected me when I needed space, yet as I grew into my teen years, I found myself still craving that male attention. I think most girls can relate to this.

At times I look back and wonder where things went wrong…was it the time I told my first crush I liked him? Or was it the time that “player” of a boy texted me and said I was “hot”? Was it the time I had my first kiss? The time I drank and let my guard down…again I’m being real here. I’m not proud of some of the choices I made but I sure did learn from them. These are all questions that haunt me of why I made guys paying attention to me such a big deal. Why did it take me so long to realize when enough was enough?

What hurts me the most is the fact after all these idiotic choices I made, my dad thought it was his fault that I was trying so hard to get this type of attention. He wondered what he did wrong to make me crave it. But he didn’t do anything wrong…it was me and what I thought I was expected to do. Although I made those choices and I take full responsibility, today’s society has taken the word “morals” and has done a complete 360. I allowed negative influences and unhealthy stuff that seemed “normal” to dictate some of my choices. If you are on the internet you can agree with me that females are being viewed constantly for sexual enjoyment and many seem to actually enjoy doing it. Sadly, in today’s society being told “your a** is fat” is considered more of a compliment than “you look pretty today.” It’s totally normal for girls to be expected to dress and behave inappropriately to be accepted. Even by other girls!

I have this one friend who is the most gorgeous person I have ever met in my life, she is outgoing, she is crazy smart, she can sing, dance, her artwork is phenomenal and she is the total package. The only thing is she has been very picky with who she gives her time to and recently she has enlightened me on the fact she gets very lonely and that no one is interested. Now this is coming from a beautiful girl inside and out who gets attention, just not the kind she thinks she needs to be getting.

What? She’s amazing in every way possible but she’s not getting told her bootie looks good in her snap story so she thinks no guy is interested in her? And why aren’t they?

How sad is it that boys thinking you are sexy is so highly desired in today’s society that we forget all the valuable things we have to offer. Today’s norm has taught us girls that male attention along with being talked and thought about sexually is the ultimate goal. We will have power if guys find us attractive.

How messed up is this?

This is something I wish I knew about sooner and wish I had understood the trap I was falling for. I realized that however I put myself out there to the world is what I will attract. I have absolutely no desire for shallow relationships with anyone based on appearances.  And I admit I still slip up every once in awhile being overly concerned about how I look, but now that I have became aware of this behavior, it gets a bit easier to fix each time.

I have lived so much of my life trying to make sure I looked good for guys to notice me or to make my boyfriend feel proud to be with me (even though my last one was a good guy who never expected that…I just assumed he did) but one day awhile back I decided to really focus on myself and what I wanted and what made ME happy.

And I am not being over dramatic when I say this…but it has literally changed my life. I now have girls’ night outs with no guys and have the time of my life and I used to not be able to do that. I can put my phone down and live in the moment. I don’t have to try to look perfect for every picture I’m in. I’m enjoying this freedom and not trying to impress anyone. I’m not going to be giving my heart away based just on comments about what I look like…I want someone interested in the real me.  I’m in no hurry to date because the bar has been set high and there’s no need to rush anything.

So I guess the reason I am writing this right now is for girls to know that you need to start loving yourself and you never have to act or dress a certain way to get attention from guys. And just know there are respectful guys out there! If he’s a good guy, sure you want him to think you are beautiful, but more importantly he will take the time to get to know your heart. And just know that you are not alone in this struggle of wanting that kind of attention, but you deserve better than just being told you’re hot.