What are your demons?

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Whatever it is that tempts us, whatever it is we struggle with, it’s there for a reason. What pulls at you the most? What is it that puts you in conflict- that has you questioning God?

It’s easy to say you’re good, if you never have the opportunity to be bad- to choose what’s right over what you want, over how you feel. No, good is choosing what is right no matter the perceived cost. The problem is most of us make our decisions based on our vested interest and selfishness is easy to hide. So how can we judge?

While our demons may not be the same, we all experience them in some form or fashion. How we deal with them, how we choose to handle them is what sets us apart. I went through the bulk of my temptations in junior high and high school. It was a war. A war many people, unfortunately, choose not to fight. They surrender. They give in. And most of the time, people on the outside never know the difference- never know the choice you made. Yet, we remember distinctly if we’re willing to face it.

There are times we pray for the temptation to go away rather than for the strength to overcome. And when the temptations linger, we question God, we question ourselves. But I think there’s a reason God doesn’t allow those temptations to go away so easily. If they go away, nothing changes within. The temptation may be gone but we are still left weak. In bondage. But what if instead we chose to take action. Fight. Sometimes God wants to show us we aren’t as weak as we think we are. Not when we have Him. That we are capable of choosing what is right even when it is the hardest. Isn’t that when our true character shows?

This is what I love about my no guys in 2018 challenge. I remember hearing a sermon years ago about a girl who gave up dating for 6 months. I was shocked. I literally said, “ I would never do that. That’s stupid. What happens if you meet your husband during that period?!” I don’t think I was spiritually mature enough at that point to understand the pureness of a heart like that.

For so many years I thought a guy could fill holes in me that God couldn’t. I wanted God AND a husband. I thought I knew myself. I thought I knew what would make me happy. God has slowly but surely been teaching me a new type of peace. I want God and that’s all. Not because I don’t want a husband, rather I want what God has for me more.

I feel what I always knew.

God wanted me to choose Him. Not when it was easy, not when it was comfortable. But when it was hard. Even when my feelings pulled me in a different direction, He wanted to know if I thought He was worth it. If I truly trusted Him as much as I had claimed.

I think I needed to know too.

How easy it is to trust Him when things are going well. How hard it is when things are not. We face these tests everyday. Tests that reveal to us who we really are.

So who are you?

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Bachelor updates- Reaping What You Sow (Week Two)

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21 Guys going into this week and some of the real stuff is starting to show. The stuff behind the glitz and the glam. The stuff that may happen when cameras are gone. Emotions that cause pain and hurt. Uncertainty.

It was interesting to listen to the guys at the beginning and hear Blake comment, “one of you guys are going to get married.” Kinda shows where his head is at, at this point. The whole thoughts become words and words become actions sort of thing. Ironically enough, he was the only one chosen for a one-on-one date and the first one to get that privilege. Becca seems to really like Blake. He just makes sense given his recent heartbreak from someone he thought was ‘the one,’ as well. From my experience, it’s really difficult for guys to get over their exes, typically one specific ex. While he says he is ready to commit and fall again, and though he may want to, I still don’t think he is ready. However, I do believe the right person can change that.

8 guys went on the first date- Clay, Nick, Chris, David, Jean Blanc, Jordan, Connor, and Lincoln. Jean Blanc ended up getting the rose. I have no idea why. Lincoln won the challenge. Connor came in second. Neither of them should have gotten the rose either. Lincoln is just too much and sneaky in my opinion. He knew why Connor got upset. But acted like he didn’t know why to Becca. I’m still on the fence on how I feel about Connor’s reaction of anger because of Lincoln’s antagonizing ways. You want a man who gets angry at the right things and is still able to remain in control. However, I do like the way he redeemed himself later by having a picture of himself for Becca to throw and get rid of- symbolizing the fact that that person isn’t him. Who writes this stuff?!

10 guys go on the last date Garrett, Rickey, John, Ryan, Alex, Christon (pretty sure I thought his name was different in my last post), Trent, Leo, Wills, and Colton. They go play dodgeball and I just want to say I was super impressed by Leo. Anyone else? He is clearly too good for this show and I’m loving it. I also surprisingly liked Garrett this time. I really enjoyed how much Wills loves his family which is probably why he got the rose.

And then Colton’s big announcement- I thought it was about him being a virgin, yet it was about a weekend getaway with one of Becca’s friends. Hmm.. They had a spark but it wasn’t the right time to grow the flame- whatever that means. Umm maybe because he wanted to go on TV!! He said he wouldn’t have come on the show if those feelings were stronger so was he just basically using her. Hopefully we will find out tonight.

Becca Connor’s anger outburst and Colton’s past dating decisions, a lot of uncertainty is creeping into these “relationships.” While a lot of this show is probably fake, emotions are very real- whether we want to acknowledge them or not. This is why it is so important to be intentional with your choices. Neither guy could justify their actions because there is no right way to to say it. Bad decisions.

Jordan’s faces crack me up and keep me laughing. A mini Jordy?  LOL. I’m still liking David. He’s either going to be really cool or super weird. There is no in between.

Ironically enough, the two that had no date this week- Jason and Mike stayed, along with Blake, Jean Blanc, and Wills had the roses from the dates. Chris, John, Clay, Connor, Leo, David, Garrett. Nick, Ryan (so cute), Christon, Jordan, Lincoln, Colton were the others that received roses.

Three from the second groupd date left: Trent, Alex (weird crying), Rickey. That crying was just awkward. But sad at the same time. This is why you have to guard your hearts. This may be why people say I’m too guarded also haha.

I’m honestly wondering how some of these guys are staying but maybe they are better than the ones she let go. This is probably why I couldn’t be The Bachelorette. I would probably say bye to everyone but like 5 after the first night!

18 tonight, let’s see what happens.

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Thoughts on the 28 Bachelorette contestants including the seven she sent home and my personal favorite

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I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I will probably write another blog post on the pros and cons of this type of dating scenario, although some would argue there are only cons. But if I were the Bachelorette, here is my assessment of the 28 guys who made it to the show. You may want to grab some popcorn…

Let’s start with the seven she sent home:

  1. Jake– I would have sent him home too. The fact that he doesn’t remember meeting Becca other times shows a lot. A girl wants to feel special, pursued. If you don’t even really remember meeting me, not to mention the fact that you didn’t even show a little interest before, why all the sudden would you think now would be a good time to act on those non-feelings? Oh, to win, duh.
  2. Joe– I feel like a lot of people liked Joe but I didn’t and I’m glad she sent him home. He seems like a fun guy but does not mesh well with Becca at all romantically. I could see him being with someone like Tia though.
  3. Kamil– Okay, I would have sent him home once he spoke his first words. Telling Becca to “come here.” Umm what? Relationships are 50/50 so come to me. If you are already starting off by telling me what to do, bye. Besides, I feel like relationships are 100/100- it’s not healthy to keep track like that, in my opinion.
  4. Chase– Chase is a prime example of reaping what you sow unfortunately. Part of me wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I just wasn’t a fan of the way he handled the situation. In that situation, you are trying to get to know someone’s character in a very short amount of time. That whole situation just didn’t help his case and I probably would have let him go too.
  5. Christian– I honestly don’t remember too much about this Christian. So I’m okay with him being let go.
  6. Darius– I don’t remember anything about this guy. Guess I won’t get to know anymore about him either.
  7. Grant– I was surprised she let Grant go over some of the other ones she let stay. I didn’t see him lasting long but definitely would have let him stay over some of the others.

Here are the 21 she decided to keep:

  1. Garrett– Okay, I see why Becca likes him and why she gave him the first impression rose. I like his adventuress side but that’s about it so far. He seems to live in the moment a little too much for me now but he may be a perfect match for Becca. I could see him fitting in well with her and her family.
  2. Colton– I can’t see him being with Becca because he belongs with me! Just kidding, but seriously, Colton is my favorite by far. You all know him mentioning he is still a virgin sealed the deal for me. Though I’m not a fan of his quote of not necessarily waiting for marriage but waiting for the right person. I may or may not have sent him a DM on IG encouraging him to stay strong and wait for marriage.
  3. Alex– He’s cute. Unfortunately, that is all I remember from him. I want to say he was a little awkward too but who isn’t sometimes?!
  4. Blake– While listening to Blake tell his story, I was like bye. But Becca said she felt like she connected with him. To me, it seems like he isn’t over his ex yet and it’s not wise to jump into another relationship so quickly, in my opinion. I probably would have let him go.
  5. Chris– I appreciate Chris telling Becca about Chase. But it was still kind of weird. Just hoping he did it for the right reasons. Don’t see him with Becca in the long run.
  6. Christian– Okay, Mr. Harlem Globetrotter. He was one of my favorites. Just a fun guy and lots of energy. Can’t wait to see more from him.
  7. Clay– There are several things I like about Clay. I love that he’s a professional football player, which shows hard work and determination. I love that he seems super close with his family. The only thing I don’t like is that he seems a little quiet and not silly enough for my liking.
  8. Connor– I was a little on the fence with him but I’m leaning toward liking him I think. I want to see more. And he’s super cute.
  9. David– Pretty sure David was the one in the chicken suit. And if so, I think he might be my second favorite. Kudos to anyone who’s willing to be silly and make the most of this short life we’ve been given. I’d take a guy in a chicken suit over a guy that’s too-cool-for-school any day. He’s also pretty good looking which makes it even better. It’s so funny how the guys were offended by getting sent home over a guy in a chicken suit. If you really want to know how that’s makes perfect sense, I’d be happy to tell you:)
  10. Jason– I really don’t remember anything about this guy. Nothing.
  11. Jean Blanc– No. A cologne collector. What?! Bye.
  12. John– Didn’t this guy say he made the venmo app? Umm I’m sure this guy is super smart, which is attractive, but I have a feeling he’s a little too arrogant for my liking.
  13. Jordan– Definitely one of my favorites! Not to ever date but just to make fun of! He cracks me up. I did write him on IG too and he responded. I basically told him it’s going to be hard to find someone to love him as much as he loves himself;)
  14. Leo– That hair! Leo definitely does his own thing, which is so cool. But I have no idea what he is doing on the show. Someone must have applied for him. This is not his thing at all which I must say is very attractive.
  15. Lincoln– Lincoln is just a cool guy. Loved hearing part of his story and culture. I also love his name. He’ll be interesting to learn more about.
  16. Mike– I don’t know what to think about Mike yet. That long hair. Sometimes it looks great, other times not. I’m leaning more toward not liking him but we’ll see.
  17. Nick– I feel like Nick and Jordan would be best friends. Although, I am loving all of the Florida guys on this season. Represent! Jordan’s into himself because of his looks; Nick is into himself because of his looks and having a law degree.
  18. Rickey– Don’t remember too much about him but he is cute and seems like a sweet guy.
  19. Ryan– Okay, Ryan is definitely quirky which I like but it may be just a little too much. On the fence with him at this point. It’s hard to find the right balance of confidence and humbleness I think sometimes.
  20. Trent– Trent looks like a very nice, low key guy. I want to see more of him.
  21. Willis– I didn’t see enough of Willis. We’ll see what new thoughts I’ll have once I see him more.

Let me know your opinions in the comments below. Tell me not to watch the show. Tell me it’s all fake. Tell me who you like the best!

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photo credit: gusdiaz Red is the first color of spring. via photopin (license)

30 plus 3 and finally free

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Married by 20. And then 20 kids. That was the plan. I was sure of it. My crushes on guys started at the ripe old age of 5. A new crush each year. Brandon in first grade, Brett in second, Shawn in third, a teacher in fourth, Jason, Shane, Doug… and the list goes on and on. In sixth grade I had made a list of all the guys and girls in our grade and coupled them off as I felt appropriate. Maybe that’s’ when my love for relationship topics, matchmaking, and unsolicited advice started.

Moving into my teen years, the Internet started to provide so many tools for my interactions with guys to flourish. I didn’t have to wait to see one in person, I didn’t have to wait for a call. Email, message boards, AIM, and the beginning of social media made a guy available to me at any time to satisfy my emotional needs. To make me feel worthy. To get my temporary fix.

20 came and went. I almost settled down in hopes of sticking to the plan. Thankfully, I realized ‘I had more time.’ I continued to enjoy the single life of my 20’s. I wasn’t too concerned…

Approaching my 30’s was different. I was older now. A real adult. Most of my friends now married with kids. Every song reminding me of my desire to be loved, every chick flick making me wonder when it would be ‘my time.’

“Maybe I need to settle. Maybe I need to learn to commit even if I’m not ready. Isn’t there such a thing as “good enough?” Am I being too picky? Maybe I can grow to love him. No one will be perfect. Just find a Christian, I can work through the rest.”

Thoughts flooding my mind. Talking myself into certain guys. Hope of finding true love dwindling. Rationalizing in my mind how many kids I could have and still be happy. Still have the big family I had craved for so long. Mapping out a new plan. Logically. Systematically. Planning. Seeking control as much as possible. Asking myself, “How can I still make this work? How can I still get what I want?”

But I think part of the problem was not really knowing what I wanted. Do any of us really know what’s best for us? Do we know what will cause us to grow? To make a difference? To feel at peace? To be fulfilled? When we are all alone. When we peel back all the layers of distractions that keep us from being real with ourselves, what is it we really crave? If we could eliminate societal expectations, what would we truly want? If we stopped limiting ourselves to what we could see, what would be our deepest desires?

God wasn’t done working in my heart yet. Still molding me into the person He knew I wanted to become. Knowing I crave something so much more than a husband and kids. Knowing I crave to have the purest of hearts, a love overflowing for people, a dependency only on Him. Chasing a spark that lights my fire when I’ve made a difference in someone’s life, the twinkle in my eye I get when I know I’ve spread a little hope to someone in need.

I’ve been a work in progress. Years of lessons. So many stories. Seeing purpose through the pain of multiple heartbreaks.

I’ve recently hit the point where I’ve changed. You may not notice it on the outside, maybe you do, but my heart is different. My passions long for something more, something deeper. While a husband and kids may end up being part of my story, they aren’t my story.

I can’t tell you what love feels like yet. True love. Soul mate type love. But I still believe it’s out there. And I can tell you what it looks like, based on knowing what love isn’t. I’ve experienced enough to know. Hitting this point at this age would have normally brought me into a state of desperation. No one would have seen that. But it would have been eating me up alive.

A husband…
Kids…
How will it even be possible? Options getting slimmer. Eggs getting older.

But I’ve changed.

I no longer need that text to feel validated.
I no longer need your time to show me I’m worthy.
I no longer need you to know that I am unconditionally loved.

You see 30 plus 3 and finally free has a deeper meaning for me. 33 was the age Jesus died on the cross so we could be free. Free from lies. Free from peer pressure. Free from society. Free from ourselves. Free from sin…

I wish I knew how to describe how I’m feeling but it’s beyond my comprehension. It’s not the peace I used to tell people I had, while looking over at the guy across the room wondering if he was ‘the one.’ The peace that was still anxious. The peace of knowing in my head God’s plan is perfect, but feeling in my heart a longing for human love.

No, this peace is different. This peace has thrown out all my plans. I’ve stopped thinking logically and I’ve given up control. I don’t want to be in charge anymore. I’ve just let go. It’s a peace full of trust and hope.

Hopeful of what is come. Hopeful to see the plans God has for me. Because this life hasn’t been a life of marrying young, with a house full of kids. This life has been so much more to me. Such an adventure. Full of things I didn’t even know I was capable of. Things I didn’t even know were possible.

I really don’t know what the future holds anymore but I am confident of one thing-

The best is yet to come…

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No Guys in 2018: Valentine’s Day was the Best Yet- Week Seven

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My mind has shifted, my thoughts have changed. It’s interesting to look back and reflect on where I was in life and how I viewed it in the past. If you recall, last year I posted a history of my Valentines, with a focus on last year’s being “the best yet.” It was one of my most highly read posts, which you can read here. Was that true? I think so. It goes along with my belief in that each year should be better than the last, each day better than yesterday.

This year I spent Valentine’s Day at work. Making over 500 candy grams for fellow employees. Purchasing candy for my mom and brothers. Receiving a chocolate rose from ‘a brother from another mother’ who thought I might need it. And a few texts.

Simple. Fun. Plain. Nothing spectacular. And yet, there was something that made the day utterly enjoyable for me. And I couldn’t figure it out until I spent some time reflecting.

Every year I seemed to have this desire to be with someone on this day.
Every year I seemed to have hoped for or longed for something- flowers, chocolate, anything that would make me feel loved.
Every year I seemed to look at the “happy” couples of social media and wonder “why not me?”

Every year I seemed to have focused so solely and selfishly on myself without even realizing it.

And it was this desire to get rather than give that fueled my demise. Without realizing it, I didn’t really look at myself this year. My thoughts have changed. I have changed. I was looking to see whose life I could impact, who I could love.

I wanted to give instead of receive.

And I don’t think I could confidently say I’ve felt that in the past years. Sure, I gave and I gave a lot. But it was mostly because I was seeking something in return. Some validation. Some love. Some sense of romance.

Maybe this is what happens when we remove things in our lives that mean too much to us. Things that seem to control our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Where do our thoughts linger as these things disappear, as these little idols become distant memories?

I think I’m becoming more aware of God and His love for me, and with it comes this fresh sense of freedom. I’m realizing how easily God could bring the right guy in my life at time, at any moment. These chance encounters with guys I’ve had just this past week make me realize how easy and how often we cross paths with so many different people. And how I don’t feel the need to worry. I don’t feel the need to control my destiny. I just have this newfound peace that God could bring whoever He wanted into my life at any time He sees fit. Any time He thinks I’m ready. Any time He thinks it would be best for me.

Because He knows the deepest longings of my heart.
He knows what my soul craves.
He knows what I long to accomplish and achieve.
He knows because He’s placed those desires within me.

These are things I always knew but didn’t always feel. Things I believed, but didn’t necessarily always cling to.

I think I like who I’m becoming.

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No Guys in 2018: The Beauty in the Break-up- Week Six

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This past week I was a part of a pretty cool award ceremony in my community that recognizes 4 leaders who are under the age of 40. After over 75 nominees, I was selected as one of the 12 finalists. Being a finalist was an incredible experience, especially going through it with my best friend as a finalist, as well. I didn’t end up winning one of the four spots. It’s tempting to feel inadequate, not enough, or disappointed. Because you saw something that was a possibility but others received it instead. It’s in those moments that I realize perspective is one of the biggest keys to happiness. Instead of looking at what we have, we oftentimes look at what we lack instead. It would be easy to forget the beauty and honor of being a finalist if I was only looking at the four winners. And unfortunately I think we do this in the dating world, as well.

Do we value our past relationships?
Do we value the love we gave or received?
Do we value the beauty in the break-up?

When we look at our lives, our lives as singles, do we see the hidden blessings God has given us? I fear sometimes we see the married, happy couples instead. The ones dating. The ones just getting engaged. And the married ones announcing another baby is on the way. And we look at these lives and wonder, “why not me?”

But I pray you look at life so differently. I pray you look back at the relationships you’ve had and appreciate the love you’ve experienced. And if you’ve never experienced being in love, maybe you’re meant to experience that beautiful feeling with only your future spouse. Maybe God is guarding your heart. Protecting it.

If you’re going through a break-up. A hard break-up. Someone you thought you’d marry. I pray you’ll see sooner than later how God has something so incredibly better planned for your life. Because while you might not see it now, I know you will. Instead of God keeping something from you maybe He is preparing you for something so much better. Do you trust Him? Like seriously, do you? Because if you do, you’ll know this hurt is but a fleeting moment. That this pain is not without purpose. God is molding you into the beautiful creature He created you to be.

We are so tempted to look at our lives and question the heartbreak, the loneliness, the timing instead of seeing the freedom, the possibilities, and the steps God has laid before us. Just waiting for us to take. For us to trust in His goodness, His love.

Take those steps. And most importantly, look at those steps and see the beauty of the life laid before you.

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No Guys in 2018: Finding Strength Through the Struggles- Week Five

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Lots of struggles lately. Not so much with guys- or lack thereof I should say. But just challenging situations. I fear it’s easy for us to despise these moments. Question what we are doing and where we are heading. I mean does anyone really enjoy times of testing? I didn’t think so but now I’m not so sure.

I’m finding in these moments of what I’d consider less-than-desirable situations, that I’m capable of a lot more than I realized. I’m a lot stronger than I realized. More bold. And even a little bit more feisty;) It’s times when we are squeezed, when we are faced with the decision to press forward or to give up, that our true character is revealed. And it’s making me proud of who I am.

Deciding to give up guys for a year was a struggle at first honestly. It’s something I didn’t think I’d consider, especially at my age. But so far, it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. Kind of freeing. Realizing marriage is a beautiful thing but it’s not the only way to exhibit love. That having a boyfriend is fun but it doesn’t bring happiness. And that God truly is the only thing that satisfies me. Something I always knew but now something I always feel.

I started reading a book called Idols of the Heart with a group of girls online and with my brother in person. Highly recommend it already. It shows the dangers of putting anything before God and how it sets us up for continued disappointment as we search for things and people to fill that void in our heart that God designed for only Him to go.

I’m realizing the amount of time I spent wondering if certain guys were “the one” and now I’m just longing to have that time back. I can’t get it back but I can learn from my past. We all can. Maybe it’s just me but it’s not worth the time. I’m at the point where it needs to be easy because I am strong on my own. Life has enough challenges as it is; I don’t want to add another by having a stressful relationship. Games. Lies. Fakeness. Expectations. Selfishness. Worry. I fear people have accepted this as the norm. We’ve settled under the guise of “we’re all sinners” and “no one’s perfect.” But I don’t use those labels. I sin at times, but I am not a sinner. I may not be perfect but I strive to be everyday.

Break-ups are hard.
Being rejected hurts.
Challenges make you doubt yourself.
Words cut deep.
Disapproval makes you want to give up.
Criticism questions your value.
Disrespect attacks your worth.

But I pray you rise up. I pray you find your voice. I pray you won’t settle. Life is so precious and if you only knew what you were capable of, you would find that strength in your current struggle.

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