There Is A Promise Of Hope In Every Challenge

Look back, for a moment, on the times that shaped you the most. Was it the days you were stagnant and still? The mornings you woke and followed the same patterns, same routines? The nights you fell asleep with no real ambitions, just ready to move into a new day? To do the same thing, be the same person you were yesterday?

Or was it the times that your foundation was completely rocked? The days riddled with chaos and questions? The mornings you weren’t quite sure where to go next, what path to follow, or even who you were? The nights you lost your sense of purpose and identity, and so began wildly searching for a new place, a new home, a new road?

Was it the painful moments, the struggles, the challenges that truly brought you to the place you are now? Continue reading

I Hope You Forgive Yourself For Every Doubting Your Strength

This is a letter to the man who didn’t believe he was ever good enough, to the woman who listened to the negative voices in her head and let her fear win. This is for the guy who let heartbreak determine his path, for the girl who looked at her failures and allowed them to define who she’d become.

This is for the person who’s been lost, the one who couldn’t find a direction, and was so dizzy he or she simply stood still. This a reminder for each and every one of us—in the moments we’ve forgotten how absolutely powerful we were, and how, despite the circumstances of this life, we still have the ability to stand, to continue, to grow. Continue reading

I Am Allowed To Take Up Space (And 10 Other Affirmations To Tell Yourself)

I am allowed to take up space.

I am allowed to exist here, on this earth, in all my mess and glory. I am allowed to be bold, to be hesitant, to move, to stay put, to ask questions, to challenge the perspectives set before me.

I am allowed to exist as I am.

I am allowed to be and become, to create and recreate myself as I see fit. I am allowed to be whomever I choose or change into. I am allowed to lean on others, to rely solely on myself. I am allowed to be proud of the skin I’m in. And I owe no one an apology for how my heart beats.

I am more than my past.

I am not defined by where I’ve been, unless I choose to use the moments behind me to propel me forward positively. I am more than the times I’ve fallen down, or the times I’ve lost touch of who I am or where I want to be. I am not held back by sin, by failures, by moments of weakness because I am and forever will be more than that. I am ever-growing, and stand boldly in this. Continue reading

I Hope You Move Towards The Mess In Your Life

Move. Towards. The. Mess.

This has been the mantra at my church lately, and the theme behind one of my good friend’s girls’ coffee dates: “Messy Buns, Messy Lives, Messy Mornings.” It’s a phrase that’s resonated with me over the last few months because I’ve realized how damn true it is that chaos leads to change, and craziness is a good thing, not a negative.

In life we’re often cautioned to be careful, to leave when things get hard, to distance ourselves when life is challenging, or disconnect from anything crazy, dysfunctional, or difficult. And truthfully, there’s value in that…sometimes.

Yes, we must be smart, be level-headed, and know when a situation, circumstance, or person is toxic. But we must also recognize the difference between something that’s hard and something that’s unhealthy.

And we need to understand that difficult doesn’t necessarily mean bad.

Honestly, sometimes the most challenging parts of life are the moments we need to run towards, not away from. We must embrace the wild, disorderly parts of our lives and jump into what we don’t understand in order to create meaning, purpose, and hope. Continue reading

What It Means To Be A Strong Woman

1. She is imperfect and empowered.

A strong woman is not perfect, and doesn’t try to be. She knows that she has failures and faults, but doesn’t make these her definition. She embraces the parts of herself that need to be worked on, but does not stay stagnant. She is continually growing, yet believes in who she is and is becoming.

2. She is soft, but not fragile.

She is not harsh, does not keep people at arm’s length. Sometimes she is strong and fierce; sometimes she is delicate and soft. But she is not weak or fragile. She can hold her own and stand on her two feet, but she lets people into her heart willingly. She loves, cares, and gives without losing herself.

3. She is not fearless, but battles what she’s afraid of.

A strong woman is not fearless. She is human, and has things that frighten her, but at the end of the day she proudly faces these difficult moments with open arms. She may not be aggressive in her approach; in fact, she may be tender and patient. But she moves forward into the unknown in order to grow because she knows she is resilient enough to fight whatever comes her way. Continue reading

Dance With Your Demons Until They No Longer Haunt You

What are you afraid of? Two months ago, I asked myself this question point blank, staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I was facing a big life change, one that I wasn’t sure I was ready for, and this question was both a soul-search and a declaration—if I wanted something bad enough, I would have to face my fear.

Over the last two months I’ve been thinking about fear a lot: where it comes from, what it means, how we overcome it and whether facing it is a good thing. When I was younger, my parents always encouraged to challenge the things that scared me, but their instruction was sometimes at odds with my Christian faith. In faith, it seemed like the things that were ‘scary’ were bad, and so I should pull away from them. And so, as a kid wanting to do the ‘right thing,’ I did.

But over the last two months, I’ve realized that true faith is not born of standing on the sidelines to fear, and more importantly, not all fear is negative.

Sometimes the things that scare us the most are the challenges we must overcome to find our purpose, to grow, to discover our place in this mess. Sometimes our fears, our demons are exactly what we need to encounter so that we can both determine, and walk in our truth.

When I hear the phrase, “dance with your demons,” I think of a little girl spinning around in circles with the devil, being tempted and pulled to places that aren’t right for her. I think of my younger self, and how I was always cautioned to be safe. I think of how the Bible warns us against falling victim to vices. And then I think about the moments I truly grew as a child of God, and how each of those moments I boldly stepped out in faith.

I believe we must change the way we see our fears, our demons. I think we must acknowledge the bad, but also the good that can come when we walk outside of our comfort zone and face the things that challenge us instead of shrinking back. I think we must realize how powerful we are, especially with God on our side, and that if we trust Him, there really isn’t anything standing in our way.

And I think that we must understand that when we dance with our demons, they no longer have power over us.

I can’t live my life being afraid—this is what I’ve learned over the past year and a half. I was previously caught up in a negative situation, being inappropriately contacted and pursued by someone whose attention I did not want. This situation lay heavy on my heart for many months, and I struggled deeply with it. But it wasn’t until I surrendered to God, until I reached out to people around me, and until I decided to face my fear instead of living in the shadows, constantly looking over my shoulder—that I was truly freed.

In that moment of decision—saying “yes” to facing my fear—the phrase, “dance with your demons” carried weight for me. When I stood my ground, raised my voice, and quit living hesitantly and fearfully, I found my wings again. I found my passion again. And I found the resolve to move forward and let God take control of my life and direction.

“Dancing with our demons” does not mean that we flirt with the devil, or let ourselves get caught up in what is not right for us; it does not mean that we allow temptation to be the guiding force within us. What it does mean is that we allow ourselves to be strong enough to face what’s holding us back, empowered enough to believe that we can and will overcome. And then we do.

We can’t live our lives in fear—of possibility, of people, of death, of loss, of brokenness—of whatever it is that haunts us. In order to grow, we must be willing to accept that we cannot control every outcome, but we can shift the direction of our lives in incredible ways, if we let go of fear.

So whatever it is that’s dragging you down, that’s overwhelming you, that’s holding you hostage—set yourself free from the bondage and step into the light.

You won’t lose yourself, or lose your way. You won’t be farther from God’s light or truth. You won’t fall victim to the negative (especially if you lean on your Father in the process), and you won’t be lost. You and your inner, inherent strength will be found.

Remember this: you must challenge, stumble, question, and fall in order to grow.

4 Healing Reminders For Anyone Who Feels ‘Stuck’ Right Now

Lately I’ve been overwhelmed by the possibility to the point that it’s made me feel rooted in my tracks, unsure of where to go or what to do next. Have you ever been in that place? In that place right now? Not entirely sure if you’re doing the right thing, if you’re headed in a good direction?

This is the ebb and flow of life, I remind myself. Ups and downs are natural. And yet, you know just as well as I do that knowing this doesn’t make our tough moments any easier.

The truth is, life gives us many challenges; it’s all about how we face and overcome these moments that defines us.

So if you’re going through a season where things don’t make sense, where you feel unsure or even clueless, where you’re frustrated and longing to feel at peace—read these words from my heart to yours. Continue reading

I Won’t Bite My Tongue

I have grown up learning to respect my elders, to follow rules, to do the right thing. These are morals and principles that have guided me through my life, that have built me into a woman of honor and grace, that have created the foundations of relationships I value to this day. I have learned when to speak up and when to listen, when to push boundaries and when to accept certain traditions for what they are. I have learned how to grow, while not stepping on anyone else in the process.

But I have also learned that regardless of my sex, my age, my experience, and the opinions of others, I am worthy and empowered and entitled to my own voice.

There are pieces of who I am that have been built by people older than me; there are parts of this life that I accept as truth because of the influence of others, or what has been established well before my time. And just as important, there are values I hold close that are strictly my own.

And as I’ve built myself into a creative person, into a writer, into a professional, and into an adult, I have learned that being a ‘good’ person does not always mean biting my tongue.

I have learned that when I see something I don’t stand for, I am doing a disservice to myself and others by staying silent. I have learned that when I don’t agree, I can, and should question and speak my mind. I have learned that the only way I grow (the way anyone grows, really) is by pushing back against certain expectations, rules, boundaries, and perspectives to create personal truths. Continue reading

When You Feel Like You Just Can’t

Lately I’ve just been so busy—building my brand, seeking out freelance opportunities, nannying, writing, writing, writing. I get myself into this place where getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge because I’m just so damn exhausted. I’m constantly running on four hours of sleep, trying to push myself without a caffeine boost (which is not usually successful, in case you were wondering), feeling behind and never fully prepared. Feeling like I’m trying to do so much, but really not accomplishing anything at all.

There are mornings when I want, so desperately, to write but my mind is clouded with the twenty other things I need to do and prioritize. I feel like I can’t get the words out, can’t articulate what I want, can’t make sense of the mess in my head. It’s such a hard place to be.

And as this has been happening to me, I’ve been reminded of people who have reached out to me over the last year, asking for advice in what to do when they just can’t—can’t write, can’t find their purpose, can’t get over him/her, can’t let go, can’t can’t can’t.

At the time, I was so humbled by them reaching out to me, and yet so confused. I was convinced that they weren’t trying, that they were giving up. There’s no such thing as “can’t”—this I had always believed. But lately I’ve been faced with that same question: What if I really can’t? Can’t write? Can’t get my brand going? Can’t accomplish all the things on my to-do list? What if I’m stuck?

I’ve been digging deep lately, really praying on this subject (and trying to get more sleep to ground myself, which is harder than you’d think, people!). But this is honestly a fear that runs through all of us. It’s not necessarily about what we can or can’t do, but about the larger doubt: What if we’re just not good enough?

There’s such a desire to be ‘enough’—pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough, successful enough, enough for a person, for a job, etc. There are these unspoken rules that we have to act, be, and think a certain way in order to be successful, and even bigger rules in our own minds of the kind of man/woman we want to become.

But enough with the expectations. Sometimes we just have to live, to breathe, to exist in the day-to-day.

Continue reading

Let Nothing Rule Over You But Your Own Heart And Mind

This is for the dreamers, the believers, the ones who never quit. For the ones who stand their ground when the world pushes them down. For the ones who believe the voice in their head, even when others speak louder, even when it is a mere whisper, and even if, and when, it may lead them astray.

This is for the lovers, the fighters, the healers. The ones who put this broken earth back together, who glue their shattered pieces and stand again. The ones who love, and break, and love some more. Who decide for themselves what is right, and too much, and too soon.

This is for the hippies, the peacemakers, the ones filled with hope. For the people who grab fistfuls of dirt within their own hands, who let their bare feet walk on dry ground, who listen to the sounds of the trees dancing in the wind and find harmony amongst all those interchangeable melodies.

This is for the ones who see the good in people and things, despite promises that have fallen through, despite despair and loss and change.

This is for the ones who are guided by their own hearts and heads. Who do not let the world speak for them, but turn their heads to the sky and let the rain touch their tongues. Who are not afraid to speak up, speak out. Who are not lonely in being alone. Continue reading