• Outlier • 

Do you ever feel as though you are living someone else’s life? Like your life is not your own anymore? You are not alone. Chaos is always imminent in life. That’s a given. But sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and re-evaluate your steps. Don’t be afraid to write, re-write, edit, and expand your draft(s). It’s what life’s all about. 

If you’ve experienced a lot of disappointments, it’s easy to feel dumbfounded. You should, however, be encouraged by the fact that no one knows what they are doing. Unless they’re the type who has it figured out completely. Which is entirely a matter of opinion. 

I read an article the other day that spoke to my soul. And it also highly convicted me. In a good way. It was more of an eye-opener than anything. I realized one thing upon reading it: I feel like an outlier at times. Aka: I have all these wants and needs, but I sometimes fear taking them. In the interim, because of that cautiousness, I’ve gotten caught up in looking at others and wanting what they have. Which isn’t healthy. It’s all relative, because some people would look at my life and want what I have. It’s easy to put on the rose-colored glasses in front of others. As an introverted extrovert, I get energy from people, plain and simple. But I can’t always get my own heart on the same page with what I am seeking. 

If you catch yourself looking at your negatives rather than your positives, then perhaps it’s time for a mind overhaul. Sure, ruminating on the former is an enticing option, but what do you gain from an antagonistic viewpoint? You might be left with a cynical heart. And it happens to the best of us, but it’s temporal in nature, thankfully. 

I think of John Mayer’s, “Edge of Desire,” when I reflect on all of my crazy 20’s experiences. Now that I’m officially closer to 30 (* sigh *), it all makes much more sense to me. It’s about love and all the turbulence that comes with it. Especially the first part:

“Young & full of running
Tell me where’s that taking me? 
Just a great figure eight of a tiny infinity”

I’ve done my fair share of running in my 20’s. How are you supposed to know where you are meant to be and when? I fear commitment, being stuck, and disappointing people. I inherently love people, but I don’t always take the correct actions to reflect that level of love. It’s my human margin of error. I guess we all have one. And sometimes I purposely block myself because I want to protect my feelings and wellbeing. Apparently they call those “healthy boundaries,” but they sure feel funny. This adulting thing is harder than I thought. 

Perhaps love’s topsy turvy waves should be recognized as one of the greatest gifts in the world. It makes us feel alive while it’s happening. But when it’s over, man, we feel the loss. And I’ve been angry at God for it, too. At some point in my walk, it was bound to happen, but I surely didn’t see it coming. I miss people. I miss experiences. I miss everything that made me feel alive at one point in time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve earned many things. But some disappointments have blindsided me. 

There can be no darkness without light, or so they say. The quote immediately makes me think of friends who have endured life’s pain. I’ve been righteously angry for them. But once the anger subsides, I have to remember how much they are growing, whether they realize it or not. In a book I’m reading, it talks about margin, and how we leave little room for reflection, quality time, or rest. But what about margin of error? We are only human, right? What if in that tiny percentile, we make choices that are out of character? What happens after that? We grow. We change. We prosper. It’s all good in theory, but the emotions in between get messy. Such is life, I always say, but I can feel some deadness in my voice when I say it. 

When we start to fiddle in God’s plan, calamity strikes. I’m referring to doubt. Doubt doesn’t come from God. It’s natural to question things, but when doubt overlaps joy, change inevitably takes place. Change isn’t all bad. Some of it is good. To say all change is bad would be an oversight. And a lack of emotional intelligence. For me, I’ve had a propensity to never stay in one place for too long. Maybe it’s my constant need to see new things or try new things. Or maybe I’m just a restless 20-something who is trying to find her way. Trying to process those emotions in the midst of change is a challenge in and of itself. I’ve learned that so much of life is timing. And at times, I’ve had to learn it the hard way. But I’d so much rather care deeply than be detached. Even if it means I get invested in people more than I should. 

If you’re feeling discouraged today, let yourself feel those emotions. Sit with them, reflect on them, and recognize them for what they are: finicky, fleeting emotions. Once you call them by name, you can work to identify the source and tangibly change your reaction to those thoughts and feelings. If you’re feeling more darkness than light, it could be that you’re only seeing the struggle. Be intentional about seeing the light. You never know when the tides will change in your favor! 

Advertisements

The Beauty in Saying No & Taking Command of Your Life 

True freedom exists in saying no. It’s freeing. It’s like you’re coming out of a jail cell. It’s your life. Love it to the fullest. But don’t be afraid to fight for what’s yours: Freedom. 

You truly have to fight for what you want sometimes. Especially if it’s alone time to reflect. It doesn’t mean you don’t love people. It just means you need your space. If you’re anything like me, you’re somewhat of an introvert-extrovert. You don’t fall in line with any part of the spectrum. You don’t mind being alone after life’s chaos has you like, “WUT.”

I crave alone time after I’ve been around people for super long periods of time. It’s not to say I don’t love people. Trust me, I do. I believe people are inherently good and that everyone has a big, beating heart. Some people express their hearts more willingly than others depending on how much hurt they’ve encountered. 

We all experience heartache and pain. It’s how we handle the pain. We have the choice to turn the hurt into positivity. Don’t get it confused: positivity doesn’t mean you don’t have a backbone or you aren’t aware of your surroundings. Positivity means choosing higher things to focus your energy. This could mean praising God in all things, handling negativity with grace, or even extending an arm to others even when it inconveniences you. Perhaps especially when it inconveniences you. 

Let me get this off my chest: I’ve messed up repeatedly. I’ve treated others who loved me with negativity. Bitterness has overtaken me at times. The “Hard to Love” song should be my anthem. I’ve tried to control things which aren’t meant to be controlled. And in the end, I’ve only hurt myself. 

But here’s the neat part. I’m still here. I’m still living a life I don’t deserve. I have things others could only dream of having. I have stability and security, and I have a living God who loves me. I’ve been angry at him for failed relationships and mishaps, but I’m still focusing on the future. And it looks promising. 

So don’t get caught up in the negativity. Be real with yourself and others. Because if you aren’t, you are only delaying the goodness God has planned for you. Run the race you were meant to run. I used to think life was strictly a marathon. And while that is partly true, sometimes it’s a bit of a sprint. Or maybe it’s a hill you never anticipated or saw coming. You don’t know what to do with the hill, but you know there will be breaks along the way. “Don’t put the cart before the horse,” as grandma says. 

Joshua 1:9 (NIV) // “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

Extend an Olive Branch to Yourself 

Do you feel as though life has you spinning in 50,000 directions? It’s the way we are expected to live. But it doesn’t mean we don’t need breaks. Whatever you are made to be – embrace it. For me, creative outlets soothe my soul. They have no boundaries or preconceived ideation. Art forms simply are. And by being what they are created to be – on their own – they are beautiful. If creativity is your digz, create something wonderful. Who cares if someone has something to say about it. Others are always going to have something to say – it’s up to you to live your life. Live the life that you want to live; be happy!

I saw a bible verse today which talked about naysayers and scoffers {listed below}. Everyone has something they are growing through in life. Yes, I said growing through intentionally. Because no matter the circumstance, we are blessed beyond measure. Some go though chronic pain and use laughter as their way of coping. Others experience mental illness and use helping others as an outlet. No matter the situation; always be kind. Words matter. I’ve been guilty of using heavy sarcasm at times (all in good fun, of course), but there is also a time to be reflective and use words of encouragement to lift someone higher. Think about the words you are using and ask yourself if they are helpful. 

Be positive, as hard as it is to do sometimes. Once you get a taste of the good, going back to the darkness is much harder. And if you happen to veer off track, then you know God will steer you in the right direction continuously. 

This doesn’t mean avoiding the hard conversations with yourself. Be honest with yourself and others; let the sound of your heart do the talking. It’s not always easy to extend an olive branch to yourself. But when you do, you experience peace within your heart & soul. 

Remember that every facet of life is nearly a season: it’s not forever. If you never had times of ambiguity, you certainly wouldn’t appreciate the slow and steady. You wouldn’t have the joy in your heart required to embrace life. Change is difficult, but we experience victory when we adjust and expand ourselves accordingly. 

Do you feel misunderstood or confused? Do you feel as though the things you are going through now are things no one else is going through? If you get a little overwhelmed, this verse has been extremely helpful for me: 
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Fear is a nasty feeling. I’ve felt; you’ve felt it; we’ve all felt it. But if we give ourselves grace, we can bear it. God will also bear it for us. But sometimes we have to come to the end of ourselves to experience change and fully accept life’s conundrums. Other times, we have to lean on others to become more well-rounded. Whatever the things you are going through today, remember how loved you are. Extend an olive branch to yourself first, and see how others can gravitate toward the light within you. 

Help Others, Help Yourself

Hands

It’s not about me. Plain and simple. I had to tell myself this truth today as I was struggling with restless thoughts. This sounds so elementary, but I really can’t even begin to fathom how important it is to reach out to others. Especially when I’m in strife myself.

You can just tell when people are downtrodden. As people with emotions, thoughts, and feelings, we can pick up on nonverbal cues pretty easily.

Some people are combating chronic illness.

Others are in seemingly hopeless marriages that are stressful and maddening.

Perhaps some are financially burdened and in need of some immediate relief.

Whatever the battle, we’ve all been there in some way, shape or form.

The funny thing about going through this life is that when we are struggling, we tend to bottle it up and place it in isolation and loneliness. We don’t want others to see our battle wounds or scars. And this is the complete opposite of what we need to do.

When you’re emotionally drained, the best thing to do is to reach out to a friend: someone you trust. We need to guard our hearts: of this I am sure. Get to the core of what’s bothering you and don’t be afraid to let the emotion run its course.

I actually do not like doing this one bit. I will be the first to admit that I try to hide and burrow when I’m not 100%. It’s human nature.

But do I feel any better when I avoid my emotions? Not really. I tend to bring that emotion to other parts of my life: Food, alcohol, working out, shopping, etc. Every carnal thing you can think of that does not bring forever happiness, only temporary bliss. Been there, done that.

I’m not saying you can’t be human. You should human all over the place. Human that shiz up, please! What I’m saying is this: reach out to people who need it. When you help others, you in turn help yourself. 


 

Let’s Talk About It 

Ah. The L word. Not lust. Love. We don’t always openly talk about it or put it on display, but we do try to exemplify love in our lives. Love is such an intangible, unexplainable phenomenon – and we all want it. We all need it to survive. Truly. It reminds me of a favorite quote by William Wordsworth which sums up our role vs. God’s on the daily: 

The same can be applied to admiration. We are never completely self-sufficient. I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve been lower than low until someone loved me out of the funk. I’ve literally experienced every type of love, from friendship to Christian sisterhood to romantic relationships. And at times, I’ve suffered immensely for it – so have the people I’ve loved. But I’d rather be in the moment than stuck in the past or dreading the future. Everything has its place when it comes to life paths and the people who cross them. I always think of “Those I’ve Loved Along the Way” by Eric Church. *All the feels.*

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LUsFloTTetI

When you’re a young woman, however, they don’t warn you about the possibility of heartache. Instead, they give you a dream life that God’s supposed to fulfill. And for some, it takes longer to come to fruition, and that’s OK. Learn to embrace where you’re at. 

I know you know what I’m talking about, unless of course you’ve gotten this whole devotion thing right from the start. Kudos to you if you have – you ‘da real MVP. Just remember, no one can take away a willing spirit, as hard as they might try. Love is SO much more than just one thing. It’s not just a significant other – no, it’s a way of life. And it usually takes work & practice. God is love. He is with us, so no one can be against us. {Romans 8:31}.

Confession: I’ve had learning curves and lessons in overcoming immaturity the past two years. They have been years filled with excitement, regret, craziness, life change, sorrow, happiness, awesomeness, freedom, and everything in between. I’d be lying if I said it was all peaches. But I’ve learned how to truly be on my own, and for that, I’m nothing but thankful. 

Without learning to be on my own, I might have never opened up my bible to Romans and learned about perseverance. I may have never been on my knees in tears, wishing I would have done things differently (difficult but necessary). Maybe I might not have guarded myself so much in love, but it’s also built my trust in God and whatever comes my way. I’ve also uncovered some sensitive spots in my heart that haven’t went away with time. This includes relationships I currently hold. And those are areas in which I know I have room to grow. God doesn’t claim it’ll be perfect, but He does give hope for a future. {Jeremiah 29:11}. 

Don’t limit yourself when it comes to loving on others. Devotion comes in all shapes and forms. It looks different depending on the individual: the fun is finding out what brings that person joy. Whether it’s a parent, sibling, friend, or coworker, each of us has things which make us feel alive inside. If we truly love others, we will uncover these interests and grow. It sometimes feels overwhelming to dig into those things, especially if you aren’t feeling like a bucket of adoration every day. We all have those days. But opening up is also extremely rewarding, especially when it’s done with pure intent.

I’ve heard a lot more about agape love recently. Here’s the synopsis:

So the question is: How can we obtain and/or strive for agape love? In what ways can we love others to exemplify this all-encompassing love? It doesn’t need to be perfect, because it’s already given freely by someone much higher than us. But agape love is the challenge we need to face amidst our day-to-day. And let’s be honest, we all enjoy feeling accomplished and connected in some sort of way. Isolation wears on the soul. For example, “Community is my Immunity,” was the title of one of my first blog posts, back in 2013. And it still holds just as true today in my life and in yours. It’s funny how God always brings things full circle.  “Man is not meant to be alone.” {Genesis 2:28}

Circa 2017, I’m reading the “Five Love Languages” book by Gary Chapman. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. In the case of the latter, I’ve included the link and the five core languages below. The languages are a way to gauge your highest values of love and how you communicate. They say love is a universal language, but of course much like the English language itself, it’s multi-faceted. 

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

I’m not very far into the book yet, but according to the quiz, my languages are physical touch and words of affirmation. I’m all about those hugs and communication. Sign me up, please! What is your language? Take the quiz to find out more. It’s helpful to know, as it teaches you about what you desire from friends, family, and significant others, as well as what they expect from you, too. 

Ladies (and gentlemen), know your worth. If you’ve given up parts of yourself, or it was never the right timing, or you feel you’ve ‘failed’, don’t give in until you’re at peace. It’s never too late to rebuild. Beauty can be found in the pain. So brush off the naysayers if they are unable to see your growth. You know who you are and you know what your identity is in Christ. And it transforms every.single.day. 

All I Really Needed Was an Orange

I know what you’re thinking – what’s with the title? I admit, I’d be asking what the french toast. This post has a deeper point, I promise. If you’ve been dealing with a cold and want to laugh about my dramatic-ness and how even the smallest things have a purpose, read onward, my friends.

The past few weeks, I have been sick as could be. I had a head cold mixed with sinus pressure mixed with no energy. And add in the gloom of winter? Sheer listlessness. At times I asked myself, “Self, do I have mono?” “Will I survive the next day?” “Will all this caffeine truly make me tweak out?” * Heart races but head feels the lethargy of a thousand hippos trying to wade through water *. “Will Web MD tell me I’m going to die again?” Pardon the dramatics, but I see one blemish on my skin and suddenly I’ve got latent chicken pox that’s been festering for multiple years. Hypochondriac? I’d like to think of it as carefulness. Thanks, Web MD. You ‘da realest.

web-md-meme

That was my life. And what was only a few weeks in hindsight felt like a year in my world. And I didn’t say much. Which is completely unlike me, if you know me at all. But I feared my words would exude complaining and tiredness rather than my usual perkiness, and I didn’t want to put those shenanigans on anyone. My lack of zest felt wrong and uncharacteristic of me. I knew it was the cold talking, but I admit I was a little down. But I pushed through physically and mentally. I still worked out, slept a ton, and had a little Vitamin C thanks to the help of a friend :).

I’ll admit – sometimes I’m not the best at seeing the tiny things in the moment when I’m suffering. I get lost in my own head. And I don’t always pour into others as much as I know I can. I become withdrawn. This especially comes out when I’m not feeling at my best. I’ve also experienced this phenomenon a lot recently where I have a hard time letting people in for fear neither of us will stay. It’s a deeper issue but it’s a real concern when it comes to the matters of the heart and you’re somewhat unsettled at this point in your life. In my own little bubble, I can be safe. But out there, many things come about which can feel threatening. However, what feels like a mountain is merely a pile of sand sometimes. And you have to laugh at how the sand fiends as mountainous misery. It’s a challenge to take the sand and build a castle, like you did when you were a child. Now you have bills, responsibilities, and revolving to-do lists. Maybe the castle is river water and dirty mud if you’re from a small town like me, but nature reveals its truth regardless of what consistency you’re working with.

Regardless of where I’m at, I’d rather give fully and be myself than be someone who builds resentment or bitterness. I would rather be creative, silly and fun than be a Debbie Downer. Whatever it means for my life, I’m willing to embrace it. I pray to God every moment that He will bring things full circle, and I know He will in His own way. I can’t see it yet. Oh how I wish I could see it at times. But perhaps I couldn’t handle that responsibility. He keeps me grounded, and for that, I am thankful. So even in those insufferable moments, I can remember who has me.

fruits-of-the-spirit-love

And so alas, like any good sickness, your body can be a little angry at you when things come back into balance. Sick week was a period of sheer caffeine and zero appetite, and I could feel it. So I made a list of things I needed and  got groceries for the winter storm. After snacking on soup and granola bars, I finally found solace in a single orange. It was so simple yet so satisfying. It made my heart happy that I could feel healthier and simultaneously give my body something it needed.

I am thankful I have the funds to get groceries and have a full cupboard. I think of all the blessed souls in third world countries who have next to nothing, and yet they praise Jesus. How beautiful is that? So I guess when I suffer, I know why. It’s always temporary and fleeting. Jesus didn’t go without suffering, and as His child, I won’t, either. How crazy am I to think it’s about me in those moments? It’s not about me. It’s about the gifts God has given me and how I use them to pour into others.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to pour into yourself as well.  If you can pour into yourself and others simultaneously, then you are doing something right. Maybe you should tell me what your secret is. The point is, you can’t give from an empty cup. And perhaps my cup felt a little empty the past few weeks. My body was telling me it was time to lay my burden down and relax. Silence reveals so much beauty and truth. I used to fear silence. Maybe there’s a part of me that still does. But a silent spirit can be a restful one.

So maybe you need some more Vitamin C in your life. Maybe you’re searching and searching, and the thing you need most is not as far away as you think. * This applies to all things. * Listen to your body, mind, and spirit. Perhaps it’s crying out to you and you’re not taking the time to listen. Don’t miss opportunities because your mind wasn’t open enough to the possibilities. Use a blend of your heart and mind and remember why God made you the way He did. You can have total peace in knowing you are not made by accident. Live intentionally and purposefully and you’d be surprised at how full your cup will be. And no, I’m not just talking about wine. Or oranges. But they sure are good, and every good gift comes from God. If we are rooted in love, we can tackle any season, even winter and its never-ending snowflakes. I wish real-life winter was like “Frozen” – we need more Olafs to show us the children we really are inside.

Find the encouraging word below – this is one of my favorites. And just think, this all started with a conversation about oranges. Never give up on the things that make you feel alive inside. Whether it’s health, communication, God, science, math, writing, music, or all of the above, I promise you it has a purpose.

New Living Translation 1 John 4:18
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

no-fear-in-love-1-john-4-18

On Making Plans & Filling Your Cup

God dictates your life. He’s growing you in ways you can’t even see yet. It’s His secret. He knows what you need to do and say before you even know. But the Devil loves to come in and bring the F word into it – Fear.

We’re afraid we won’t reach the right people at the right time. We don’t want to offend others for fear of hurt or rejection. We gather up our perceived failures and internalize the pain. Our perception is ours entirely; it’s based upon our experiences, interactions, personality and enrivonment. We choose how we learn and adapt. 🌼

Specific mindsets resonate with some more than others. Addiction clouds the mind and traps the soul – our hearts shatter like glass. We’re artists lost in our own creation. Our mind is screaming, but the very real feeling is masked by a facade of normalcy. What a shame it is to be masked by normal. I never want to hide under the umbrella of habitual.


We know what we’re trying to say, but we just can’t verbalize it. We fall on our rear and don’t know how to get back up without the help of a dear friend. We eat salads and fruits 70% of the time, then we raid the cabinet maniacally in search of candy and chocolate (or maybe that’s just me 🖖🏻). We internalize, we externalize. We ize.

Time frightens us. People intimidate us. We’re afraid life will escape our reach. We are searching for a home that’s already within us. We hear the echo in our mind. We’re antsy for a different time and place – anywhere but here.

We see this quote often. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Let me give you some insight into what I’ve been experiencing recently.

You can go down a certain path, and it truly doesn’t feel like the life you were meant to live. All of a sudden, you are living outside yourself. Watching yourself live your life. Except you’re going through the motions. And that’s the greatest sadness of all.

Your mind is a powerful entity. How will you fill your cup? We can fill it with all the media in the world, but is it getting us any closer to our true selves? Gravitate toward the things that awaken your heart.

Maybe you need to hear this right now, maybe you don’t. Regardless, you should never forget the things that make your heart sing. Sometimes they get buried deep down. When life gets crazy, where is your anchor? If it’s in other people, you will feel empty. Allow your cup to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Have faith God will bring it full circle for you.

Psalm 37:4 (NIV) “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”