Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Look Before You Leap...Or Something Like That

Writing posts about dating has never been difficult for me. Sometimes it makes me cringe to look back at certain things I've said in posts, but I can say that my dating posts have been accurate descriptions of where I'm at in my life. It's kinda cool to be able to look back over the past two years of singleness  documented here on my corner of the internet and see how things have progressed. I do love an honest update. So now how to describe where my dating life is currently...

Earlier this week would have been my two year wedding anniversary if Skye and I would have gone through with getting married back in 2012. Honestly, I didn't even feel the date coming on this year. I was reminded by Timehop (dang you, Timehop!). I didn't even cry. It just felt very strange. Very much like remembering something from a movie I watched years ago, instead of feeling like an experience I actually lived through. I'm in a good place with that baggage right now. Parts of that story will always be hard for me, but that's okay because I truly wouldn't want to forget. The most recent ex-boyfriend baggage is in a decent place too. It felt like we were in a stage of limbo for the past couple of months - trying to be "friends" and remain on good terms since we go to church together, yet not really being sure how to make that happen. We got to a place last week where we decided we can't be friends, and honestly I'm okay with that. AND the best news...drumroll please...I actually have a new boyfriend!! Not just someone I have a crush on, but a full blown boyfriend. I am SMITTEN and things are really good right now. It makes me so excited to feel this way again, but I'm also trying to keep myself grounded. Which if I'm being honest, is really hard to do! Especially with a boyfriend as hot as mine! :)

Dating does funny things to a 30 year old woman. It can drive  you batty, make you feel empowered, drive you to drink, or (like in my current situation) act like you've never been hurt a day in your life and just LEAP. It's much easier to allow yourself to become scarred by the battles you've faced. Been there, done that. Represented loud and proud, all day, erryday with my former black heart. That's not a fun state to live in! And it's not sustainable for someone who genuinely wants to settle down. Letting people in and being vulnerable is hard, but truly necessary work. Being that I am the ripe old age of 30, I am well acquainted with my strengths and weaknesses. I know the reasons that I would consider myself to be a great catch. But that doesn't mean that I will be everyone's cup of tea. Taking a leap in dating means that you have heighten awareness of these truths, but do not allow them to hold you back. It's a fine line that can really trip most of us up. With all that being said, I've had to come to terms with the fact that it is possible to take a leap and end up falling flat on my face. I think that fear is what holds us back most. Nobody wants to get their feelings hurt.

The evolution of my dating life is an interesting thing to study. Looking back, I see times when I should have stood my ground more and trusted my instincts. I see times when I probably shouldn't have been so overly guarded. I see mistakes, let downs, learning experiences, I see awesome stories - there's a lot to see in the dating life of a 28-30 year old!! The thing that is different for me right now is that I'm ready to take a leap. So... I'm taking a leap! Are there uncertainties? Absolutely yes. Do I have insecurities? Duh, They can feel crippling at times. It's okay to feel those things - and even better to push through them. I don't know what will happen here, but I know that I am trying to pray my way through it. I mean it when I say I want to settle down. I mean it when I say I'm ready. But I know ultimately it's not up to my timing. God knows the desires of my heart (I'm pretty persistent in telling him often), and He's the only one who knows how my story will unfold.

Remember my 2015 word? BELIEVE. I am choosing right now to believe this season of my life will serve a purpose. And I know it will. I believe that what God has planned for me is unable to be thwarted (how you like that word!!) - even by my own selfish, sometimes stupid, decisions.

My best dating advice today is to take that leap, friend. Jump in head first into the deep end. Believe that it can end up being the best thing that ever happened to you - but also know that it might not amount to anything. As scary as trying anything new (doesn't have to be a relationship) can feel, you have to try to know how it plays out. It's like playing the lottery - you gotta play to win. If you would have asked me a year ago, my advice would have probably been polar opposite. If you ask me next week, everything could have changed and it could very well be different too. But for today, I am urging you to leap.

Once again, my life has come down to being summed in a Sex & The City quote...


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Beautiful Things

I sure needed to hear this right now. Reminder from Lysa TerKeurst this week:
"If there’s something Jesus needs to address with you, so be it. But remember, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Jesus doesn’t use the statements, “You always do this..” and “You never do that..” Jesus doesn’t use our situations against us. He simply brings truth to life and asks us to align with it."
Words are my love language - good morning texts, apologies and random compliments change the world, friends.
People on my Instagram keep asking me what kind of mascara I use: 3-in-1 by elf. My eyelashes are naturally long anyhow, but who would have thought a $3 mascara could be so good!! I'm a big fan of all of their products that I have tried. Can't beat that price either.
Last night I had my first meeting about going back to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip again this year! Excited doesn't even begin to describe it. I could end up spending the week of my birthday serving the Lord and honestly, there's nothing more I would want for my 31st. Pray for me so that I don't just make this commitment because it's something I want to do selfishly, but because I feel called to do it. (If you're new around here, you can read all about my trip last summer here.)
I'm dating again. Sometimes I feel like it's hard and sometimes I'm light hearted about it. Nothing too serious to report back right now, but I'm sure you can expect a new dating post soon. These stories must be told. My friend Jen had a weird one recently too!
Do you Influenster? If you don't, then you are missing out! Influenster allows you to test products for FREE, based on information you fill out about yourself. All you have to do is show them some love on social media and offer reviews. The most recent product I tested for them was these Neutrogena Naturals MakeUp Remover Wipes. LOVE them! They smell fantastic and leave my face feeling clean and refreshed and not dry. Great for post workout. Plus, Neutrogena is launching a #wipeforwater campaign to promote efforts to save water. A lazy girl makeup remover is the perfect way to get started!

I haven't seen the 50 Shades of Grey movie... but I am all about the soundtrack! Especially these two jams.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Beautiful Things

First off, thank you all from the bottom of my little heart for all your sweet comments on my last post about my mama. Yes, this time has been difficult but it's also been such a blessing to see the incredible community of people the Lord has placed in my path for this specific time and healing. Truly, I am in awe of the kindness that I have been offered. I'm telling you God is good ALL THE TIME!
I wore pants yesterday that I hadn't worn in almost 2 years. Talk about a non scale victory! I have been working my booty off and the progress is so encouraging!
Finally bought the Andy Cohen Diaries to read. I actually have a "to read" stack that's HUGE right now. I need to turn off the TV and get to page turning.
But Scandal though...  Also, I'm back watching Mad Men because I have to see what happens. And RHONY is back sooooo maybe eventually I'll get around to reading all my books.
Loved this read from Renee Fisher. This is a must read for anyone who missed the IF:Gathering this year and feels lost or stuck in the season of life you are in.

I'm going to make this pretty thing with my work girls next Friday night and I am stoked!

Happy Pre-Friday!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

When Life Happens

I have been swirling words around in my brain for many days now, trying to figure out the right ones to say when I sat down to write this post. But I finally realized that the words don't have to be "right", they just have to be true. The truth is, life happens and sometimes it can really kick us in the pants.
My family is smack dab in the middle of a swift kick in the pants that we are still desperately trying to catch our breath from. One week ago today, my mama passed away. I've talked about her in varying degrees on the blog before - and probably said some pretty raw things about our relationship. Long story short, she was fighting an almost 3 year long battle with lung cancer and within the past year was diagnosed with leukemia also. Within a two week time frame, her health quickly declined and she found herself in the ICU facing double pneumonia. This is essentially a waiting game for stage 4 small cell lung cancer patients in her condition. So we waited. For a week and a half we watched her struggle and fight, and I do mean FIGHT, for every single breath that she was able to take. It's an excruciating  kind of pain to watch someone who gave you life literally fighting for their own. In the end, she lost her battle with cancer but she is finally at peace.
This has always been one of my favorite pictures of my mama.
This is from her baby shower, when she was a baby herself at 21 pregnant with me.
My mama was 51 years old. That doesn't seem near old enough for me to be 30 years old and only have one parent left. One of the worst parts for me has been watching my 3 younger brothers (25, 17 & 16 year olds) struggle with their emotions and for the younger ones to feel like it's just not fair. Really, it's not fair. I've felt the pain of life - a broken heart, the loss of a family member, the punch in the gut feeling when the rug is pulled out from under your feet. As someone who has overcome struggles before, I know that we are not promised a fair life. We are only promised that we do not have to face the struggles alone. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
God's peace has been nothing short of miraculous for me during this difficult time. It's difficult to understand how I could even begin to feel the tiniest glimmer of hope while I was watching my mother die. It's unexplainable really. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 I prayed day and night that God would give me peace and comfort my family. I asked others to pray for the same. And that's exactly what God did. He gave us the ability to comprehend the fact that she is no longer suffering. I like to think she is doing cartwheels in Heaven and enjoying every single breath!
That doesn't mean it doesn't feel sad or hard sometimes, but at the end of the day we have hope. Hope is EVERYTHING! As tumultuous of a relationship as my mom and I had at times, she was still the only mom I'll ever have. She was the one chosen to bring me into this world, and her impact on my life has a huge impact on my story. Tough days will come, when I am overcome with tears, emotions and grief. But hope will always linger. Hope is a gift and I am so thankful for it in these moments when it doesn't always come easy. “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
People have remarked to me lately about "how strong I am". I appreciate a good compliment just as much as the next girl, but I've got to be honest and say I'm really not strong. Right after I went through my broken engagement a few years ago, I remember all I wanted was to be seen as strong. The past three years have taught me A LOT about what being strong actually means. Being strong for me these days means not taking pride in my own strength, but admitting where I am weak and letting God fill in His strong. I don't know how I ever navigated this crazy life without Him leading me! The days can still feel hard, but I find when I lean on Him it becomes easier. The light at the end of the tunnel becomes visible. I know it's all part of a greater plan. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
I have learned in a very real way through this experience that even when circumstances are bad, God is still SO good. I have been scared of what the future holds for me now, and how I will be able to cope. But I rest assured that God has prepared my faith for those days. He has placed an amazing network of people around me who care for me and who I can be real with it when I need to be. He has held true on His promise to be right in the thick of things with me. I am beyond grateful for the 30 years I had with my mama! She taught me some really hard knock life lessons. I know that she is with my brothers and I until we take our last breaths here on this Earth. I trust that God still has big things planned for me here. He can use this broken old heart in ways that I would never be able to imagine possible. And the best part is, one day I will be right there with her in Heaven doing cartwheels and singing the praises of our faithful God.
*For those of you who are friends with me in real life, or on social media, thank you for the kind words and prayers for my family! We read so many of them together out loud and they helped us power through some pretty tough moments. They were much needed and very appreciated!