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I Matter

I’ve talked about it before, but for those of you who don’t know, I ended up in an emotionally manipulative and abusive relationship that went on for a year and a half. During that time, I was invalidated as a person. My feelings, emotions, mental well being was called into question by a guy. Things were put on me that should never have been my burden to carry. When I first started this blog, I talked about it for the first time ever. Now a year out of that situation, I’ve learned several things.

The most important thing is that who I am and what I feel matters. I still struggle with it because even before everything, it wasn’t my first instinct to put myself first. I hated, and still hate, inconveniencing people. I would rather go out of my way so that they are not put out. It was this very thing that put me in the position in which I was emotionally manipulated by him. He knew that was something I did, and he used it for his advantage. After him, I felt so incredibly destroyed inside, but I didn’t tell anyone. I was the good Christian girl who had everything I could ever want. I had no reason to feel the way I did, so I told myself to suck it up and deal. But that broken feeling never really went away. I thought it did, but other circumstances made me realize that it hadn’t.

Recently, I found myself in an eerily similar situation to the one which led to that terrible relationship. While I knew that this guy would never hurt me, he started to say the same things as my ex. He put burdens on me that should not be mine to bear, but I wanted to be there for him. So I shouldered those burdens because I wanted to help.

The day I knew it was too much and that I needed to start taking care of myself and my feelings instead of just his was when I started to dread phone calls or texts. The focus had so become him and his feelings, that I had simply become the quiet party. The problem with that is a relationship cannot work that way. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to made, but I knew that for once I needed to come first. I needed to be heard and I needed to be protected and most importantly, my feelings needed to be accepted despite what he had going on.

The second thing I’ve realized is that it doesn’t matter how long it has been, how much I’ve prayed, or how much I’ve talked about it, there are going to be things that will always remind me of what happened. Somethings I’ll be able to get over, but other things I won’t. And that is okay. The things that I won’t be able to get over are things that are going to protect me later. I know now that I will never be able to get past a guy telling me that my feelings don’t matter. That’s something I should never get over.

One day when it is God’s timing, I am going to meet a better man who will never tell me that my feelings don’t matter. He will be able to see what I’ve gone through and I will be able to learn to trust again.

I will get over what happened. I won’t think about it every time I drive a certain street back home. I will learn to let someone in again and trust them without questioning their motives, but I will never again let someone tell me that my feelings don’t matter. I matter just as much as they do, and anyone who thinks otherwise is welcomed to see themselves out.

To all the girls out there, your feelings matter and so does his. Remember that you are worth more than the value he puts on you. You are priceless. I know that it is hard, and society tells us otherwise. But you matter!

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Dressember

Today is Day 6 of a month long event called Dressember. Several of my friends and I are all participating in it for the month of December. The idea is to wear a dress every single day in December to help raise awareness and fundraise for slavery and sex trafficking. Partnered with groups like International Justice Mission (IJM) and A21, it is an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

I believe that every person on this earth was made in the image of God and that we serve a God of justice. We are His hands and His feet when it comes to getting that justice. As Christians, we can’t just sit back and hope that justice will come. We must be active in pursuing that justice and being a voice for those who are oppressed or marginalized.

As a college student, I struggle with how I can help pursue justice and be a voice. I don’t have unlimited amounts of money, nor do I have the chance to move overseas. I am not studying Intercultural studies or criminal justice. Dressember provided a chance for me to use my voice to help those who are unable.

I’ve personally set a goal of raising $250 this month. This money will go to organizations like IMJ and A21 to help end slavery and sex trafficking. I would love to have you all partner with me. Click here if you want to help by donating.

Donating is not the only option, you can become an advocate as well. It’s not too late to join. If neither of those options work, you can simply pray for this month. God is going to do great things out of this, and I know that I am praying that the money being raised across the USA will be used in the best way to further His kingdom.

Slavery is still a problem. Women, children, and the poor are being exploited by people in power over them. We have a chance to be their voice and work together to bring an end to this exploitation.

“In Everything Give Thanks”

Thanksgiving has since come and gone. Stores are playing Christmas music. Christmas trees are being cut down, and home are being decorated. My apartment here at school is even decorated for Christmas. But we are still in the month of November so bear with me as I finally write my thanksgiving post a few days late.

Normally, my family has a tradition of going around the table and saying one thing you are thankful for. Answers normally range from silly to serious. This year in preparation for that question I started thinking about if there was one thing that was tied to everything else I was thankful for. After several days of thinking about it, I realized that there was one thing, but I didn’t think about it seriously because it was cliche.

I’m thankful that God looked down at what would become the earth and decided to make it. From that first verse in the book of Genesis to today, everything that has happened that I am thankful for can be traced back to that decision. God decided to make us for his pleasure. He didn’t need us, but yet he loved and wanted us. It is because of this perfect love that He sent His son to die a horrible death on the cross. He looked down on the world and picked me and you and every one of his followers.

Because He decided to create the world with us in it, I was born into my family. Because of this, I have the friends I do and the experiences that shape me. Everything in my life can be traced back to this amazing decision that occurred at the beginning of the world, in that quiet moment before God first spoke.

That moment which changed the fate of the world, that moment is what I am thankful for. And that’s not the only moment that I am thankful for. I am thankful for that moment when God looked down on this broken world and saw His people that He loved despite everything, and He decided to send His only son to die for us. I am thankful for the moment when God reached out and pursued me. That moment when He touched my heart and called me His beloved daughter.

But nothing will compare to that quiet moment when God’s voice shaped Earth in order to bring forth humans made in His image.

 

The Struggle for Contentment

I was recently talking with one of my dear friends about life and just catching up with her. Both of us a preparing to graduate college and move on to *fingers crossed* grad school and then jobs. (Honestly, neither of us have it completely figured out yet.) And both of us are in a period of singleness. My last post had really made an impact on her. As we were talking, she mentioned that so many people are “content” yet she feels that there is often a struggle to be content in the stage of life we are in, particularly as young women at a Christian university.

As we said goodbye and went our separate ways, I realized that she was right. So often people declare that they are “content in their singleness” and seem to brush over the struggle to find that contentment or even the short period of discontent with our relationship status. Is there something wrong with admitting to a struggle for contentment?

I don’t believe that there is.

Struggle is back of being human and most importantly being a Christian. We are not perfect by any means, and we often don’t see the whole picture. It is so easy to look around my small bubble at my school and ask why and become discontent. I don’t want to be discontent because when I am, I miss opportunities and teaching moments that are placed in front of me.

Contentment isn’t just about relationship status or lack of. Contentment has to do with everything. My friend and I happened to be talking about contentment in singleness, but contentment can be about a job, about a school, about family. But the good news is that is okay to struggle. Struggling to find this contentment about life is part of the journey.

The struggle lets us see God and see how He works in our heart. It teaches us to pray for the right things, to root ourselves in the Word, and to reach out for guidance and community from other Christians. One of my favorite bands, Tenth Avenue North, reminds us in their song “The Struggle” that as children of God we are free to struggle. God doesn’t want blind obedience or blind contentment.

I’ve found that in order to find true contentment, I have to discover a complete peace and trust in God. This doesn’t come blindly, and it takes time.

My friends, if you are in the struggle don’t worry. You are not alone. Contentment will come, but in the meantime root yourself in God and his Word. It is in Him, not your circumstances that you will find contentment.

Single Pringle: Taking My Time

“Ring by spring”. Those words are meant to be a good thing, but it can often become a burden or a curse. There is an expectation for a relationship to followed a college graduation. Both an engagement and a graduation mark a huge transition into adulthood. But that doesn’t mean that they must occur together. For some people that is exactly what needs to happen because that is the perfect plan for them. For other people one comes before the other. Either way is fine and should be celebrated.

Call me a prude, uptight, or a snob because I refuse to settle. I know what I want in a relationship, and I will not settle for anything less. For me that means that I am taking my time when it comes to a relationship. It is not my first priority right now, and that is completely okay. My priority right now is me. It is figuring out who I am and reaching those things that have been placed on my heart. While a future family is also there, that is not my number one goal. I am not living my life for that.

I realized recently that I want to have a love that is beautiful and an imitation of the love God has for us. I’ve always wanted that, but I realized that I’ve been going about it the wrong way. I’ve been focusing on the partner, not on my own heart. I had the opportunity to watch a high school friend of mine marry the love of her life. That weekend, I saw not only her and her new husband’s deep love for each other, but also the love my brother has for his girlfriend. Both of these examples painted that picture, the love that movies are written about. That selfless and unconditional love. But with both couples, I realized that the love isn’t always shown in the traditional way. For my brother and his girlfriend, it is the way that he almost obsessively checks up on her. It is the way that he watched her even when she is across the room from him. For both couples, it was the way that they expressed their love without using the words “I love you”. Both people in those relationships were secure in how the other felt about them. There was no doubt, only trust.

But the biggest thing for both of these was the utter and complete devotion to God by all four. This became obvious when I watched as my brother and his girlfriend pray over the newlyweds. Because of their love for God, they can be secure in the love from their partner. That is what I want.

To get there, I need to take my time. There is no need to rush, because I have a complete hope and trust in the Lord. Yet that relationship can grow deeper.  As that relationship grows deeper, I become the woman who can be a wife. So I may be physically single, but spiritually I am being pursued by the greatest love. It is time for me to turn and pursue it. When my eyes are focused on God and my heart is hidden within his, the time will come when I am told to look up. That man who comes will have to search out God in order to find my heart. Only then will the time be right.

Until then, I will take my time and enjoy this stage of life. I will let my life become a tool for the Lord to bring him glory in all I do.

Moving On and Growing Up

I’ve always been a homebody. I would much rather watch Netflix and bake cookies, then have a night out on the town. I’m much more of a binge watcher than a marathon shopper. I consider a good day out as a day that I can fit in a long run or go hiking. That being said, the house where I grew up has always been home to me. Well, until recently.

My first three year of college when I said I was going home, I meant I was going back to that house where I had my own room with my posters and things on the wall. The room where I could leave things out or have my bed unmade and close a door because no one would see it. The room that hosted many sleep overs and many surprises. It was the room that held the bed that I’ve cried in and laughed in. It had all sorts of memories that made it home. With the perfect view of my best friend’s house down the street and the brilliant view of my favorite ocean, I knew when I walked through that door I was home.

But more than that, home was where my parents were. It was the loud music being played on a lazy Saturday to get us all up so that we could eat breakfast. It was the smell of our Christmas tree when I came home for break. It was the sound of chaos when all of us where home. But most of all it was the place that I knew I was always safe and accepted. It was my escape from all the craziness of college and not always getting along with roommates.

And I always knew that one day things would change. That one day I would walk through that blue door and feel like I was a guest visiting my parent’s home. I knew that at some point, the place I was living would be home and where my life was instead of the house I grew up in. Slowly, I was preparing myself for that day.

This summer I realized that the day I was officially grown up was coming sooner than I had expected. Before I left for my last year of college, I began to take those memories that made that house home down. Down came the pictures, the frames, the posters of movies that I used to be obsessed with. Away went the stuffed animals from my childhood and the various trinkets that decorated the tops of shelves and cubes. Gone was the bed that I had since I was a toddler and the tea sets that were kept in that monstrous wooden cabinet that used to be mounted to my wall. In the end, all that was left was my books in their cubes, classified by author and genre, the containers of yarn skeins that held projects yet to be discovered, and the bow and quiver mounted on the wall. Some of the books shifted to the wall, floating magically and displaying my favorite collections. But despite it still being my room, it was no longer my childhood room.

Now, I don’t say this to make my parents feel bad, and mom and dad, if that is what happened, I am sincerely apologetic. What I am trying to say is that part of growing up is moving on and one day moving out.

I still left for school feeling like that house was home, but then I moved into my apartment at school. Sure it is small, but it is cozy. Yeah the walls are thin, but that’s part of college. The bedroom is small, maybe five feet of space between my roommate’s bed and mine. The kitchen doesn’t fit both of us in it and if the fridge door is open, you can’t get past. But with each box, each tack, each picture, and each piece of myself, it became my home. Those memories that I had packed away from that house I grew up in, exploded into my apartment. Pictures decorate my wall of my best friends and my family. My race medals and bibs hang proudly on the wall. It looks lived in and not just lived but loved.

Dishes are in the sink, towels hang haphazardly from hooks in the bathroom. Sometimes beds are made, but other times everything seems to explode everywhere. New memories are made. Laughter during movie nights are cemented into roommate bonding. Dinners cooked with friends reminds us that we are doing this on our own. Frustration from homework reminds us that its okay if we aren’t quite ready to be completely on our own yet. I hope our parents walk into the apartment and feel like this is our home now.

But the true realization of my tiny apartment with my hilarious and awesome roommate being my home was this last week. I went home for a wedding of a high school friend, and for the first time, I walked through that blue front door and felt like I was arriving at my parent’s home. It was still the house I grew up in, but there wasn’t that same feeling. I  was only a visitor and I was perfectly okay with that. For the first time, I put my travel sized shampoo and conditioner in the shower and I was truly visiting.

And I realized that home is not where necessarily where you grew up or where the person you love is, but it is the place where you make memories that you cherish. It is the place you know, and it is the place that allows you to recharge and rest. For me, it is currently a tiny apartment at my college, but I know that when I graduate in May, my home will change. But no matter what, the memories created in each place will be what defines it as home.

Fall #OOTD

It’s fall, y’all. Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Pumpkin anything is back in season. For most places, weather is starting to cool down and sweaters and long sleeves are being pulled out of closets. Fall is my favorite time of the year. The weather isn’t too cold, and I get to wear sweaters, long sleeves, and cardigans. All of which are super comfortable. So how exactly do you nail that #OOTD?

In order to help you guys with some ideas that are both cute and modest, I got some friends together for a fun afternoon photoshoot.

Tip #1: Layers!

Layers are some of my favorite things, and they come in different forms. Cardigans are my personal favorites, but vests and scarves are also great layers.

Lindsay paired a light floral tank top (which added a splash of color) with a basic gray cardigan. Cassidy matched her plaid blanket scarf with a black shirt. And I layered my long sleeve gray v-neck with an olive green vest.

Tip #2: Basics

I believe there are certain clothes that are a must have in any girl’s wardrobe. For fall and winter, those are darker clothes that are black/gray based.

A solid gray or black cardigan (Will literally match anything and also a great way to dress up an outfit)

Black jeans (again matches pretty much anything and also can be dressy)

Black or gray long sleeve (this provides a good base for you to build your layers on)

Tip #3: When going dressy be comfortable.

We all happened to pick a dressy outfit that was sleeveless, but sleeveless is great because you can pair it with a cardigan for when it is breezy outside. (We didn’t add cardigans because the day we were taking picture, it was almost 100 degrees (F) outside).

Tip #4: Be Yourself

This goes for any time you are getting dressed, but particularly when you are dressing up. You want to be comfortable, and the best way to feel comfortable is to dress like yourself.

Tip #5: Colors

From what I’ve seen in the stores, gray, olive, Burgundy, and black are the in colors for this fall. So the majority of clothes you find are going to look like that. If those are colors you like, go with what you think you look good in.

Tip #6: If you see yourself as beautiful the rest of the world will also

The world is going to tell you what beauty looks like, but to my lovely sisters out there, beauty is something on the inside that radiates and overflows outwards. What people see on the outside is the result of that beauty. And as my roommate pointed out, when she feels good, she looks good. Our perception of ourselves at times is the most warped. Next time you look in the mirror, remind yourself that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God sees you, and He see the beauty of a daughter made in His image. As Proverbs 31 says clothe yourself with strength and dignity.