Working from love and not for love

I know it has been WAY too long since I last posted and I am sorry for that! I realized I can say till I am blue in the face things like “I just have been so busy” or “I have so many other things to do”, but I am reminded that we make things that are important to us a priority. With this realization I am really going to put in a conscious effort going forward to blog and hopefully connect with people who can relate to what I write about. And for real, if you have topic suggestions, please email me or reach out, I would love to get your feedback.

I also want to take this time to sincerely apologize. As I look back at past blogs, I have realized without me even noticing at the time that I can come across like I know everything, and my answers are always correct. Mostly, I am sorry if I have hurt anyone through anything I shared on my blog (or any conversation) that I came at too aggressively. Some of those posts were written from a very broken place while I was processing. I never meant to put my wanting to write about the hard lessons I learned before honoring the actual relationships I was writing about. I’m sorry if I tried sounding like an expert at anything because it was never my goal. I still have so much to learn! If anything I want my blog to be a conversation starter, not the final word.

Okay, so now on to the actual post! I have really been praying and thinking about something to write about as I’m coming back from this blogging break, and I wanted to come up with something really stellar and something I wanted everyone to be able to read and love. And this is the simple message I think I’m supposed to share right now – I just feel like The Lord really wants you to know how much He loves you and how you do not have to do a single thing but just receive this unconditional love from Him.

The title “working from love and not for love” means we don’t have to earn God’s love. God sent His only Son to die for you and me so we could take on His spotless life because He took our sin on the cross and overcame it. He didn’t have to do it but He chose to do it. We should live out of the motivation of knowing He loves us so much He gave it all for us. So please know that The Lord is constantly chasing after us and wants us to be able to receive this unconditional love, not try to hide from it or run away to other things. Working from love and not for love also means that we don’t have to do “good deeds” in order to get God’s love, and that there is NOTHING “so bad” that God cannot forgive and love us through it if we confess it to Him. It’s not just about a bunch of rules. Life following Jesus is so full and free!!

If we start to live life knowing we are fully known and fully loved, just think of the changes we would see! We would be able to love those around us better knowing we are so loved despite our own past mistakes. There would be no keeping score or holding grudges. We’d be able to love well even in disagreements, in those times when we get hurt (which is going to happen, because nobody is perfect), and just in every day to day life. If we work from the love God has for us there will be no need to perform for others, “save face” or beg for attention because we’ll stop making choices based on fear of rejection, and instead we’ll make choices from a place of knowing our true worth. And God is so good because even when we mess up, He decided to choose us and love us through those choices of not choosing Him. He won’t ever give up on us!!

So I challenge you that even if you don’t pray, when you can get alone just close your eyes and ask The Lord to reveal how much He loves you. We don’t need to pray fancy prayers. God just wants to have a conversation with us because He loves us so freaking much!! And don’t just take my word for it, you can check out John 3:16 and Deuteronomy 31:8 as a starting point! xoxo

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that three letter “s” word that ends with “x”

If you’re still trying to figure out the title this blog post is about sex & sexuality! I have been trying to write about this for awhile but was not sure what specifically to talk about because it’s such a controversial topic. Most people talking about it in our generation are talking about it from a different angle than what I want to share.

I believe pornography and sexual behavior outside of marriage are not part of God’s perfect plans for us and they are constant battles we face in the generation we live in. Sex is a topic that seems to come up in just about every conversation when talking about guys, girls, relationships, etc. We live in a sex obsessed generation, and instead of taking charge and changing the conversation, too many of us allow these conversations to happen, and even if we don’t agree with it, we go along with it. Maybe we just don’t want to be called out for disagreeing with what is considered “normal” and “harmless” by so many of our peers. Maybe it’s because we don’t actually see what’s wrong with it. Or maybe we just have good intentions to take a stand but we just go with the flow because it’s easier. But a lot of hearts are getting hurt going along with it and there’s a lot of guilt and shame and regret we deal with, so what do we do about it?

If we want change we have to be the change. We can’t just hashtag a movement then do nothing to fix our own behavior. Let’s choose to be a generation that grows up to be respectful men and women, and who stop allowing our hormones to dictate what we say, who we date, what we watch, and how we behave. I am so serious about this and can say that I didn’t always feel this way. I’m not proud to admit it but there was a time in my life that I used to mock people who were practicing abstinence or even just trying to stay pure in general. I believed the lies I heard every day that sexual movies, songs and behavior were not a big deal. Part of me knew it was wrong but I also knew how to fit in, how to get attention and more likes on the pics I posted and when I did not realize my identity was found in the One who created me, that kind of attention was what fueled me.  Once I realized how much I was actually harming myself and others around me by choosing temporary counterfeit fulfillment instead of thinking long term, EVERYTHING changed for me. I hope you will hear me out.

What I don’t want to do is come across as judging or a know-it-all about any of this stuff, in fact I hope you hear my heart is that I settled for this stuff at points in my life and it left me soooo empty. I am sharing this because I truly believe that living a pure lifestyle is possible AND it’s God’s best for us, and hear me on this: you are NEVER too far gone and there is nothing He cannot wipe clean and redeem in your life. In order to do so you have to confess your sins, accept His forgiveness and ask Jesus to come into your heart and dwell, or else it will be a toxic cycle of going in between guilt and shame. We can’t do this in our own strength and empty promises. It’s not easy, once the door of “sexuality” is opened, it is hard (but not impossible) to close the door. We really do not realize how much we allow ourselves to be exposed to sexual stuff that just feeds the hunger for it, even just casually scrolling through social media. So hopefully what I share can help a little, and just know the conversation does NOT have to end here, feel free to reach out anytime, if not to me, to someone in your life who will pray for you and give you solid advice.

First off, I’m praying and believing 2019 will be the year pornography FINALLY stops being something that controls our generation.  Despite this being an unpopular opinion, watching pornography is not “victimless”, it’s actually harmful, it creates unrealistic scenarios in your head that one day could be damaging to your relationship with your significant other.  Watching porn sucks you in, you want more and it can cause you to struggle in your closest relationships, feeling more like the opposite sex are just sexual objects without even realizing your perception is changing. It’s also addictive so it reduces your ability to do/think about anything outside of sex. I also stand by the belief that if you are in a committed relationship, looking at porn is cheating. It may seem harmless, but it can consume you until it’s all you think about. There is an organization called Fight The New Drug and they have conducted so many studies on how pornography not only ruins relationships and hurts other people, but it can actually damage your brain. And if none of those reasons will stop you, most porn making industries participate in sex trafficking. Think about that a minute. These girls shown in pornography are someone’s sisters, daughters, friends, nieces and classmates and many ended up there from being forced into sex trafficking.  And so many of them are so young!

“To begin with, nearly half of sex trafficking victims report that pornography was made of them while they were in bondage.”

That line comes from the website of Fight The New Drug in talking about how sex trafficking and pornography feed off of each other. I know this is some heavy stuff but it is real and it is happening all around us. One of my professors once said, “I challenge you with this, if you ever feel tempted to watch pornography, just say this to yourself ‘I am participating in human trafficking’ and then go ahead and do whatever you please.” I challenge you to do the same.

So what about consensual relationships? I do not have a list of detailed do’s and don’ts for you, but I suggest you open up the Bible and see what God says about sex and relationships. And I heard something interesting once so maybe consider this, let’s say you are in a relationship with someone, you obviously like this person, think they are cute, and you see a future with them. Hopefully when you start dating you talk about boundaries and you are both on board. So after awhile of things going well, you two start to talk about getting married, how you can’t wait to try on  wedding dresses, your future kids, the perks of being married, etc… At some point a thought something like this probably crosses your mind, “If I am marrying this person, why can’t we do more than kiss and hold hands? I mean he or she loves me and is going to be my husband or wife anyways, right?” This is where things can begin to shift. Next thing you know you put yourself into situations where things get more physical and then it gets easier to move to the next level and do things way past what you first agreed was your stopping point. Annnnnnd then you guys break up and hearts end up hurt. So not only are you losing your boyfriend/girlfriend, but you are losing your best friend along with a part of yourself that was never supposed to belong to that person.  As you look back, you try to figure out where you went wrong, of course it was the lingering hugs or the dark nights talking in the car, and the list goes on, but before you ever gave him or her something physical that did not belong to them, you gave something emotional, and that was  talking about marriage and a future together.

When I first heard this concept I thought the person who shared it was crazy and so wrong, but after thinking about how our bodies are 3 parts, it started to make sense. Our bodies are divided into 3 main categories, physical, emotional and spiritual. When one is up really high, the other two try to equal out. It is like constantly doing arm days at the gym but never showing the legs or abs some love. Your body will constantly never be in a state of equilibrium and your brain works sort of the same way. When you are making all these emotional commitments like talking about marriage, your physical and spiritual parts want to catch up. If we do this, we can actually create unhealthy “soul ties” (a link to someone through intimacy) with not only physical ones, but emotional and spiritual as well. Our words and thoughts have power, they influence our actions so we need to choose them carefully. And we really should just focus more on the present not the far off future and what if’s in our relationships.

Here’s one other thought, God created sexual desire, He really did, but He created it in order to bond two people together in marriage. So when in a dating relationship it is important to remember that you are NOT guaranteed to marry this person, no matter how many times they tell you they want to.  I know it can be so hard to think of you possibly breaking up with the person you’re dating, because who wants to think those “negative thoughts” when you’re in love?  But we know it happens and it is so important to remember and respect your future husband or wife in your current relationship. On a practical note, I journal to my future husband not only for him to read one day and know I prayed for him, but it also keeps me on track to fight for him, to stay pure, to think long term and be patient in the waiting. So you might say “but Court what if this person I’m dating now does end up being “THE ONE” (side note: there is no “the one”,  there is only “THE ONE” and that is Jesus Christ 🙂 ) well then that’s awesome, think of how much richer your intimacy will be when you get married if you decide to wait on being physical! And you can start sticking to new boundaries tonight even if stuff has already happened. God doesn’t use our pasts against us and in fact He reminds us He has a bright future planned for us!

I know this was a long post and it goes against the cultural norms but I think it needs to be talked about honestly. Even though I am single and not having to set up dating boundaries or have a conversation regarding these things,  I’ve learned a few lessons and I’m praying the next man I give my heart to will honor and protect my desire to stay pure and I would not expect him to settle for less than that from me either.  And let me say this, if you have healthy boundaries and rules that your significant other does not agree with or respect, stand your ground PLEASE. You deserve to be valued and do not ever settle for less. If you don’t feel safe or respected in a relationship, please tell someone you can trust. When it comes to being physical no means no, even if you love that person, and even if it has happened before. Men this means you, too.

My heart breaks for our generation. We have become so desensitized. Trust me, I’ve been there and I thank God I’ve had people in my life who spoke truth to me and loved me enough to say the hard things I did not want to hear at first. I hope and pray that you understand these are not rules from God to ruin our fun, it really is what’s best for us because we are so loved by Him. And it’s not just about having sex, it’s talking about it, sending pics, watching movies that may not be labeled porn but they are very sexual, even Twitter accounts that are just trash.  I’ve learned that what we surround ourselves with becomes a part of us. And if any of this blog post hit close to home or you are thinking of something you may have done that you wished you hadn’t, please remember you get a fresh start every day! Don’t ever feel like you have done too much for God to forgive you, or that there is ANY sin He will hold against you. I promise you that God loves you so much and He doesn’t call you by your sin but calls you by your name. I am serious when I say please reach out for prayer or just someone to listen. Much love for y’all!!!  Xoxo

 

 

 

being okay

First off,  I’m sorry I have been kinda bad at posting this summer, but I am gonna be honest with you, this season I’ve been walking through the last few months has been  HARD.  There have been sleepless nights and long days filled with disappointment, lots of tears and tough lessons learned the hard way. Through this whole time I have realized some things that I’m ready to share, but the main reason I am writing this is to let you know- it’s okay to not always be okay so I want to be vulnerable with you and share my thoughts and I’m coming from a place of still not quite being okay yet myself, but I know I will be! If it’s a little bit of a ramble I’ll apologize now!

So what do I mean by “not okay”?  When I say this I’m talking about when you don’t feel like doing stuff or you cry a little more than usual or questioning how you got to where you are and why you missed the warning signs. It’s even okay to not want to talk to certain people, especially people who are careless and can trigger you into feeling even worse. Listen, there is a difference between isolation and distance. Isolation involves you completely cutting yourself off from the world, not talking to anyone and feeling like a victim. Isolation usually leads to being in such a funk and feeling hopeless. Whereas with distance, you take some time off from certain activities or going out with certain friends and focus on spending time with just a few people you know you can trust while keeping others at a distance.  Not everyone is safe so choose who you spend your time with even more carefully during these tough times. This is a concept I have always been aware of and I’ve been trying to work on because isolation is unhealthy, but distance can be the thing your soul needs in order to heal.

Another big aspect of moving from not okay to okay is being able to talk over and process how you feel. And when I say talk about it I don’t mean bashing anyone, gossiping, cussing up a storm or being that person that is so obsessed with her own pain, it’s all she talks about. Instead, talk about it with someone you can trust, journal how you feel, even write a letter but never send it. Get the words out somehow, it’s such a release. I think sometimes we have a tendency to not talk about our feelings when we are hurt, because it is seen as weak, or that others will judge us, or that we are being annoying, and I am telling you guys, I have the best listener in the world, and that’s my mama. Some of you can relate like that with your own parents and maybe for others it’s a mentor, sibling, best friend, aunt/uncle, you name it, those are your “go to” people. Make sure they are trustworthy, and also make sure they are people who will encourage you to heal and help you move on from this season. And if the pain you are feeling is because someone hurt you, remember nobody is perfect so be careful of just having bashing sessions because honestly, it doesn’t help. Forgiving, choosing joy and praying are what will help you move on faster. Leave the past in the past and learn from it.

During this season, I will also encourage you to communicate with others but if it is one-sided on your part, you have to know when to stop. Know the difference between people who just tolerate you and those who genuinely care. You can’t force someone to be in your life if they don’t want to be, it’s their choice. The second we realize how accepted we are by our Father in Heaven and that we have no control over anyone but ourselves, is the moment we walk in freedom.  And as long as we can look in the mirror at the end of the year with no regrets (and be honest about it), then we can rest knowing that we tried our best.

One other big issue with these not okay seasons is trying not to focus on the negative but to also know what is reality and accept the truth. I think as humans, and me for sure, I tend to only see the good in people and situations until I’ve finally been hurt multiple times. The red flags would be flying but I ignored them. Friends and family can warn me, but for some reason I only saw potential instead of reality. I spent time very lost and misled in middle and high school which caused me to make some bad choices. I’m not alone, if you even look at people who have been in abusive relationships, they could be abused so many times but they hang on to a false hope or old happy memories and stay in that relationship or lifestyle they know they should be running from. I think I have gotten better with being more purposeful with who I spend my time with (and that has become a very small circle which is OK).  I want to be with people who have my back, want to help me grow as a person and become a better follower of Christ and vice versa!

On a practical note, I found it very helpful to make a list of issues in the situation making me feel not okay. At first when hearing this idea I was slightly taken back and had even questioned the idea just because I had thought, “Wait, if God wants me focusing on the positive and doesn’t want me judging or bashing on another person, how does this help anything?” But as I started to sit down at my computer and write a list, I started to quickly realize, I was not bashing in any shape or form, instead I was bringing to light some of the things that I made excuses for and had been hidden “in the darkness” for sooo long. As I typed this list out it brought such a freedom and just full on release from these things or times that had hurt me. I am now VERY thankful that God allowed these circumstances and even though it hurt, I realized it’s part of His perfect plan for me!

Being not okay hurts. It does. We’ve all been here. It doesn’t feel good to not feel good. Hurt, rejection and disappointment are real things. But God deosn’t make us feel this way, circumstances and other people do (and sometimes it’s self-inflicted too). He never intended for rejection, that is why when we are heartbroken it hurts so much.  God does allow these things to happen for a reason and He promises that He will work all things together for our good.  Just don’t overthink and try to make sense of things or else you will constantly be stuck.

I also wanted to write this to help you guys. Don’t feel stuck, and on the opposite side of that, please help others become unstuck! Check in and be that trustworthy friend to someone in their time of need, not just when it’s convenient or fun. Life can really hurt sometimes and I want you to know you’re not alone. And if anything comes from the seasons of confusion and disappointment, let me encourage you that God has such a beautiful plan for your life, you have no clue how much He loves and adores you. The best is yet to come! AHHHH GOD IS GOOD Y’ALL. Okay please dm me or email me, I’ll gladly talk and pray for you! xoxo

fear(less)

Fear is something I have struggled with off and on my whole life.

I’m not sure why it started, but even from a young age I was afraid of a bunch of things.

We weren’t allowed to watch horror movies growing up but I could barely even watch the “normal” Super Hero movies until about eighth grade (lol no joke, I’d have my eyes covered through half of it). I struggled sleeping alone and I was scared of roller coasters. My fear of people rejecting me and me not being good enough were the worst fears; I mean the list goes on and on.

I think many of us can admit that fear has frozen us in our tracks from doing things that we know we should have done. I almost didn’t go to Saint Lucia last year because I was afraid, and I think I have said multiple times, that missions trip saved my life and made me so unbelievably thankful for everything. I sometimes wonder what my life would look like now if I didn’t go on that trip. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is today. But that doesn’t mean that old familiar fear doesn’t sometimes come knocking.

So how do we learn not to let fear run our lives? And how can we tell the difference between fear, genuine concern and when to use common sense or take a risk?

As I’ve been writing this, I am starting to think of things associated with fear and how it can be recognized in our everyday lives. Where does fear start? Many times I find anxiety is a form of fear and it starts in our own heads. If you have anxiety being around large groups of people, isn’t that usually fear that you are not going to say or do the right thing or that they won’t accept you? Those anxious thoughts in our heads…where do they come from and why do we listen?

Anxiety is just fear wearing a mask. And we let it paralyze us without even realizing it.

Recently I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks as I was driving home. I saw a shooting star so I started to make a wish, like most of us would, then I thought… why am I making a wish? Like do I really think this will come true? And then I thought, what is stopping me from pursing that wish myself and making it a reality? And the answer to that question was obvious to me in that moment.

Fear of failure.

But WHY do we think this way? What is there to lose? As I drove I realized something….if I am following after my Creator and doing what He has called me to do, am I ever really failing or am I just “failing” at what the world’s standards are?

I think sometimes I tend to forget that God doesn’t have the same values that we do here on Earth. At the end of our lives, He doesn’t say, “Nope, I see you only made $20,000 a year and didn’t drive a Jeep so I’m sorry you can’t stay here in Heaven.” If He judged our worth the way society judges our worth, I think a lot of us would be in trouble. But instead He looks at our intentions and our hearts. He loves us despite our mistakes and

He never leaves us. So just remember this thought next time you want to go out of your comfort zone to do something good or if God puts dreams in your heart, He sees your motives and if you’re following after Him, trusting He is a big and faithful God that allows what’s best for you, He will provide.

So here’s one last thought. How can we tell the difference between fear and legitimate concerns? I think most of the time it comes down to research, common sense and prayer.

Like obviously if you don’t think it’s a good idea to jump of a high cliff, that isn’t being fearful, that’s being smart. But get your facts straight before you rule out anything. If you jump off that high cliff with a bungee cord or onto something soft below, why not jump? We have a habit as humans to sometimes use our own experiences to make decisions without looking at the big picture.

Being “afraid” seems like it’s just part of our human nature but God does not want us to live like this. If you truly accept Jesus into your heart and allow His peace to overwhelm you then will find your “worst fears” and being afraid will vanish. Even if your situation feels scary know that God is bigger and His promises can get you through those times. If you’re not sure what all that means, please reach out to me so I can explain a little more!

It’s super important not to give in to fear, but instead realize we have God on our side, who made this whole planet and already won the battle over fear, sickness and sin through His son Jesus! He loves you and has His millions of angels surrounding you with safety every second!

So I challenge you to face a fear…. go in the ocean, apply for that job, talk to that person, try out for that team, sign up for that missions trip, go after your dreams and don’t numb yourself with things like drinking and drugs to make yourself feel better in the moment. Instead of letting fear control you, start seeing life for the adventure that it is, because God has put some awesome gifts and beautiful things inside you that you shouldn’t be afraid to share with the world!

Don’t be afraid to contact me and tell me what fears you faced this week, and/or if I can pray for you, because remember fear is a liar and has nothing on you! Love y’all! Xoxo

why do bad things happen to good people

I’ve seen some of the sweetest people I know suffering from an illness, close friends who are loyal get used and played countless times and people who have worked so hard to go after their dreams lose almost everything.  I’ve struggled to wrap my brain around how the nicest people could end up having such bad things happen to them.  I wondered how could God let all these things happen?

Even as I sit here writing this I can think of times where I personally bawled my eyes out lying on my bathroom floor asking God why we have to suffer. From being so sick I could hardly stand or from having my heart shattered into a million pieces or having a close friend stab me in the back, all I could think of is “God what did I do to deserve this?”

When I look back on those times I’ve struggled the most, I’ve come to the conclusion that He was there with me through all those hard times and He will always be there for us in the future. And here is where I know I may lose some of you but hear me out. I think the easiest way to wrap our limited brains around this HUGE concept of God always being with us is through example.

Now I don’t want this to sound like I am saying we deserve the hard times we’ve been through, so please do not make that your take away.  Some of the suffering we go through in life has nothing to do with any choices we make, it’s just part of being human. But sometimes the pain we go through is unintentionally self-inflicted. Now with that being said, we all make mistakes and I am a very VERY firm believer that good can still come from our bad choices even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it in the moment.

So for my first example, let’s look at Adam and Eve and the first sin to ever happen. There are so many important details to be taken from this situation, and verses that stick out to me, but I think the best verse that is pertaining to this subject is Genesis 3:21…

“And the LORD God made clothes out of animal skins for Adam and his wife, and he clothed them.”

Now you’re probably like, “Courtney, what the heck? This is a scripture on how God clothed them? How is this relevant?”

But I think this verse means a lot more than just God providing clothing for Adam and Eve. Think about the timing. God said this to them AFTER they just committed THE sin that would affect all of mankind forever and ever, but God still continued to take care of them. In fact, He also got them prepared for their next step and the consequences they would now have to face for the rest of time.

Again I am not saying that the bad things that happen to you are earned, on occasion we may be the victims of someone else’s bad choices or just circumstances that happen in life, but other times, we actually set ourselves up for our own failure. But here’s the amazing part, God is with us through it all!! And if we happen to cause pain and ask God to forgive us, He will and He will help us move on from our mistakes. He doesn’t give up on us! Let me give you another an example…

So let’s say you guys and girls have been talking to someone for awhile, someone you start to really like, he or she really likes you back so you decide to take it to the next level. You post the cute couple pics on social media, declare your love for each other then proceed to give that person something only your future spouse should receive. You now have a soul tie with this person, which is something only your spouse should have (soul ties are formed any time and every time there is intimacy in a relationship).
Then let’s say a few months later, you realize he or she has been talking to someone else and decides that you two together just aren’t what they want anymore. You’re devastated and don’t know what to do. You may wonder why this bad thing happened to you. You thought that this person was “the one.”  Terri Savel wrote this about soul ties: You may have ended a physically intimate relationship months ago, but you still feel a pull toward that person. Why? Because of soul ties. Soul ties prevent us from moving on to new relationships, even the ones God may be leading us into. You can read more about how to break these soul ties here.

I know a lot of friends who have gone through this exact situation. Watching their hearts being shattered through this, and still suffering from memories sometimes popping up that hurts them and triggers more bad choices. Although this is a very common scenario in today’s society, it doesn’t make it okay. Having any kind of sex before marriage is outside of God’s will and commandments and if you break those, He can’t bless that relationship. Some people could be like “screw God, I don’t need His blessings” but then years later wonder why they are confused, alone, divorced or struggle trying to love their husband or wife. Again, we are never too far away from God’s forgiveness and blessings so if this is a place you find yourself in, just be honest. Everything we go through, whether self-inflicted or not, can have some kind of good come from it.

Please hear me out on this. This is a tough topic and I am NOT trying to condemn or hurt anyone’s feelings but this is real life and sometimes we don’t understand why things happen and how we may have been able to avoid them. I am standing right next to you in some of these areas of self-inflicted pain.

But another thing that comes to mind when discussing bad stuff happening to us is when people have close friends and family die. So here’s my answer to why does this stuff happen…I don’t really know. I think some of it has to do with the fact that we live in a fallen imperfect world. There is no good way to explain why there isn’t a cure for cancer, why kids are abused or why people die in car accidents but I do know that the devil is real and his only goals are to kill, steal from and destroy God’s children, US! He won’t stop till he’s done with that mission. But I believe my Bible that says Jesus died for our sins and that God has placed things like the cures to fatal illnesses and the ability to help people in need inside each one of us, we just have to dig deep and find it in ourselves.

Overall, I think the best way to summarize this topic is, (I know this sounds cliché but y’all it’s so true), is that God allows us to have free will and He can still make good things come from tragic situations. We don’t understand how and maybe we never will, but I’m learning to try to trust God with everything, even the stuff that breaks my heart.

If you are struggling with something that has happened to you, honestly ask yourself, did I set myself up for this or is there something here for me to learn? Or ask God to show you what good could come of the situation if it’s out of your control. It’s super important to use the Bible as a reference to make sure whatever you are hearing from Him matches up with His words. God isn’t afraid of our questions. Y’all if you ask Him He will tell you. He is so good like that!

I hope no one took offense to this post, but it’s been tugging at my heart to write about for awhile. You see, I tried doing life without God being a priority and I caused and felt a lot of pain and confusion. I’m not saying everything is perfect living my life making God a priority but it sure does make me feel a lot more peace and I can make better decisions this way. Thanks for reading and please know I am praying for y’all. xoxo

being honest

Why is it so hard to tell the truth sometimes?

This is something we all have struggled with in our lives and I think will continue to struggle with. We use the word “honesty” a lot but do we truly know the meaning of it? We use it a lot of different ways and it seems to mean different things. We yell down the hall at a sibling saying we hate them  for stealing our clothes, but do we honestly hate them?  Or we tell our moms half of the truth for our plans that night thinking we are technically being honest.  Or we over exaggerate about almost every story we tell? Or we only share a few basic facts about something we screwed up on so when the truth is eventually revealed we can defensively say “oh but you didn’t specifically ask me THAT question!”

Honesty is defined as: free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere

SINCERE.

If that part of the definition doesn’t make us feel a little guilty about the times when we twisted the truth for our own benefit, then I don’t know what will! We sometimes think being honest just means being blunt, rude, and not having a filter like being “brutally” honest. But according to this definition, honesty means telling someone something in a sincere way, without twisting it, being manipulating or making it out to be something that is not 100% true.

Let me tell you this, I wish I had been honest more because, man, things in my life would have turned out so different. I wasn’t honest with myself or people I could trust and it cost me. Even today, so many of my issues are self-inflicted and if I just could tell someone I NEED HELP when I am struggling, things could go a lot smoother. I wouldn’t have suffered and caused so much pain if I could have been honest all along and my life would look different.  I can say that for the most part, I am happy where I am at right now, but I do have some regrets and things I would have done different if I had the chance to go back. I’ve just decided not to let regrets hold me back from enjoying my life now and pursuing my dreams.

I’ve realized that honesty is a lot more than just telling the truth all the time. It’s also about owning up to mistakes and choices that should have probably gone a different way and realizing what got us to that point. When we make mistakes we, as humans, feel like we have to cover it up and hide it. It’s our human nature. But there is so much freedom in telling someone the whole truth, even if there are negative consequences. It’s just such a relief not to hide.

Even though I already said that I do still have some regrets,  overall I am at peace with my past and the things that have happened to me. Being totally honest about stuff I really messed up on isn’t always easy, but I have comfort in knowing God has healed me from those painful things. And the way that led me to that healing was by being HONEST with myself and trusted people like my mama or a mentor or my sisters, or even my dad. And yes, those details are somewhat embarrassing and even awkward to tell someone, but the freedom you feel after telling someone you trust is like no other.

You know how when you cut yourself and go to your mom and ask for a Band-aid, instead of just giving you a Band-aid she says “let me clean it out first” and you know you wanna sprint the other way cause you know how much it’s gonna BURN when she cleans it out.

Welp, that is pretty much an example of being honest in those messy situations. You are going to want to sprint in the opposite direction, it’s gonna burn and hurt in the moment, but the consequences of being honest and vulnerable with someone you can trust are so rewarding and healing.

Another huge part of honesty is trusting. In order to tell someone the truth we subconsciously don’t even realize this, but we have to trust them that they will receive it. So when I screw up and go to sit down with my mom to talk about the problem, I have to trust that number one, she won’t tell anyone unless she asks me first and number two, that she will receive what I am saying and help me make a change or get through a situation (or out of one too!!). I pray that I not only have people I trust with the truth in my life, but that I can also be trustworthy for someone else.

And just an observation here but does anyone else  despise how common outright lying, distrust and “tweaking” the truth (there really is no such thing as a little white lie !) are so common in today’s relationships? Even when someone asks what’s wrong and the response is “I’m just tired” or “I’m just busy” but it really is just that person avoiding a conversation, that’s not being honest (and how many times have we all done that??)! I am telling you right now if someone’s behavior is doing nothing but hurting you to get what they want by lying and using you over and over again, PLEASE GET OUT of that relationship.  And know the difference between someone who loves you and lies in an attempt to protect you (although that’s still that’s not remotely ok and needs to be dealt with) and someone who lies because they don’t want to get “caught”. Listen, if you’re a dude (or a girl) reading this and you lie to your gf/ bf or family or friends on a regular basis, please consider writing down everything you know you lied about, talk to the person you have been lying to and tell them what you have been doing and that you are going to be more honest from here on out. It’s going to be really hard and it’s a risk but imagine if everyone did this and wiped the slates clean? I’m telling y’all there is freedom in admitting where you screwed up, asking forgiveness and then letting go of the past.  I would never suggest doing these things if I didn’t do it myself.

I hope if you read this and get anything from this post that you understand this: telling someone you are struggling and being honest (and sincere!) in relationships, friendships and family will literally change your life. If anything knowing we are going to be more honest makes us think through our choices better since we will be accountable for telling the truth. When I am tempted to lie, I literally ask myself how would (fill in the name) feel if they found out I lied to them about this? It will also make life so much easier because if your honest all the time, you don’t have to remember who you told this or who you told that, because you will be consistent in everything you say. And I know some people aren’t gonna receive the truth very well, but give them time to process especially if it’s a tough situation and the truth hurts. I know I have had to give some time and space (and prayer!) to the people I have lied to and it’s totally understandable. And please don’t expect anything less then to receive honesty back, don’t settle for relationships and friendships that you can’t trust. Telling the truth really  should be a normal expectation.

Love y’all and I am already working on another blog to get out over the weekend. Feel free to comment anytime with topics you’d like to hear about. xoxo and enjoy some time off for Easter break. <33

the little things

I think we can all admit we’ve struggled sometimes with seeing the good things right in front of us. Like how amazing your mother really is or how much your sister really does show her love for you or how God has placed every star in the sky for our pure pleasure. 

It’s truly amazing to think of all the simple things in life that constantly go unnoticed or unsaid. It is also very sad. If we would pay close attention to be thankful for what we have instead of complaining about what we don’t, we would have a lot more peace. 

So with this post I am challenging you to notice the little things…

I challenge you to look your mom in the eyes and tell her you love her before you frantically storm out of the house because you’re running late.

Or tell your brother you’re proud of him for his accomplishments and that you’re glad he’s your brother. 

Or pray and thank God for another day of life and His unconditional love.

One of the biggest challenges I have had to overcome was a car accident that nearly killed me in July 2015. Other than learning the obvious lesson that a seat belt can in fact save your life, I learned something very valuable as a result of what happened that day. 

In life you will look back at the little things and realize they were the big things. 

I can assure you, people won’t remember that you didn’t have a homecoming date or that party you were or were not invited to or the time you accidentally wore black and navy, but instead they will remember how you took time and picked up their books when they dropped them all on the ground, or encouraged them when they seemed upset or how you helped with Special Olympics and put a smile on every face you interacted with. 

People don’t remember what you do, they remember how you made them feel. 

And with small gestures like holding the door open for someone, being a good listener or even just saying please and thank you, we can brighten someone’s day in a small way. 

So just remember to appreciate the little things as you go throughout your days. What can you do to make at least one person’s day a little better this week? That’s all for now…xoxo.