On The Impermanence Of This Life

Today I am struck by the sounds—my neighbor coughing, the quiet melody of a song played in the courtyard, an airplane overhead, the rustling of leaves through the trees. In moments like this, where I am powerless to the universe, I can’t help but take note of all the small things I so often overlook.

It’s unfortunate, really, that we don’t notice the way the earth breathes and moves until we’re faced with the realization that one day, even we won’t do those things.

Oh how temporary this all is.

Today, in a hospital across the world, a family friend is fighting for each breath. She is surrounded by incredible coworkers, family and friends. She has been covered with prayer from many different countries. She has been given so much hope and love. And still, she fights.

And in moments like this, I try to wrap my head around God’s purpose, His plan. I know that death and pain are not His will. And yet, I struggle with the ‘why?’ I struggle with the ‘why now?’ I struggle with the ‘why so soon, so sudden?’ I struggle with the purpose—why would he take a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend? Why would he leave a son to graduate without his mom’s loving embrace? Why would he allow a father with a heart condition to have to try to survive on his own?

God doesn’t leave us. I know that. I know He doesn’t abandon us. I know that His will is not to watch us be broken and alone. I know He stands beside us while we fight the evil of this world, and then follows us through, whatever outcome.

But why is pain so real, so present?

I don’t know. I don’t know. And maybe that’s all there is to understand about these sort of situations—that there is no answer. All we can do is trust that God is here, that He cares, that He’s listening, that He loves. 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

The Single Greatest Gift You Can Give Yourself Is Forgiveness

We are so hard on ourselves. We are continually comparing, constantly looking outward at where everyone else is and what they’re doing, rather than smiling at the inherent wonder and beauty that is within us.

We are so quick to point out our own faults before recognizing these same characteristics in someone else. We are unwilling to accept that we are capable of change or new beginnings, even though we have no qualms about granting this patience and love to someone else.

When it comes to our mistakes, we hang onto them, holding them above our own heads. We are all too comfortable sitting with our guilt and shame, as opposed to letting go and learning to become stronger from this moment forward. We are unwilling to forgive ourselves, even though we can fully acknowledge how powerful this redemption is when we give it to someone else.

We are so tough on our little hearts.
And why?

This soul within us, this skin we embody—this is ours—for as long as we’re here. We will make mistakes. We will hurt the people we love. We will fall short, break, do the breaking. We will be powerless to the storms that rage around and within us. We will jump into arms that don’t care to catch us, and press our lips to mouths all too willing to kiss, and take, and leave. We will do and say things, get angry, lose our way.

But none of this defines us; none of these moments determine who we are. Continue reading

Let Your Vibrancy Be Unmatched: Reflections On Hearing Tash Sultana Live

I love music that moves me. I love standing amidst a crowd and feeling my legs dance unconsciously, my head tip back, my hips sway effortlessly. I love closing my eyes and losing myself in a song, no longer thinking of what’s to come, what has happened, or what I have to do, but living in the moment. Letting everything else slip away.

This has been a passion of mine—chasing sounds that stir my soul, attending shows that make both my mind and heart feel, listening to music of all genres that reflects something beautiful in the relationship between each of our personal experiences and that of our natural, human connection.

All of this is what I felt at Tash Sultana’s show. Continue reading

Pray WITH God, Not Just To Him

Last week I was sitting in church when my pastor said something I’ve still been rolling around in my mind. “Pray WITH God, not TO Him.” What!? This really made me take a step back and think. How often do we reach to our Father when something isn’t going right, when we need help, when we have a request? How often do we approach the conversation like a child begging his/her parent for a gift, or worse, how often do we speak with expectations, wanting something simply for our own selfish benefit?

I’m so guilty of this. Even in my most well-meaning prayers, I feel like I’m talking to God, requesting something from Him (even if it is on His terms, or by His will) when I really should be speaking with.

This should be more of a conversation than a one-sided list of requests or thoughts. And when I pray am I taking a step back? Quieting myself? Really listening? Or am I just blabbing on about what I think, what I want, what I need?

The act of praying is honestly confusing. We feel silly talking to someone we can’t physically see. We don’t quite know how to pray—Are we supposed to be alone? In moments before sleep? In silence? Surrounded with people? And what are we supposed to ask for? Is there a right and wrong? And if there is, how do we know?

All these questions have gone through my mind plenty of times, but what I’ve realized about prayer is that it’s not as much the specifics, but our intentions. Are we praying with hearts that are open and willing to accept the truth, or are we searching for answers to things we specifically want? Are we worried so much about following the ‘rules’ that we aren’t coming to God with vulnerability and humility? Are we praying with hopes to be closer to Him, or for everything to make sense the way we want it to? Are we trusting that the answers we receive are for our benefit, even if they aren’t what we desire?

Praying with God means we’re opening to Him as if He were a family member, a friend. We don’t come with rules; we talk with open hearts and minds willing to be led. We talk expecting a response, but not a response on our terms. We have a conversation, not a one-sided monologue. We speak, but listen equally.

This change in perspective is transformative. Not only because it shifts our selfish desires out of our prayers, but because it reveals the truth—that our Father wants a relationship with us. Continue reading

Care Deeply—But Don’t Prioritize People Who Couldn’t Care Less

Let’s get one thing straight right now. There is an absolute difference between caring and people pleasing, between having a big heart and being a pushover.

You can care, but don’t lose yourself in the process.
You can love, but don’t forget what you need.
You can be there, but not for people who won’t be in return.
You can be selfless, but don’t be foolish.

I understand where you’re coming from. Believe me, my entire life has been built around my emotions. Every single day I’m pouring them out on the page. Every single day is an exercise in unraveling the pieces of myself so that I can articulate them in a way that (hopefully) relates to someone else.

I feel everything deeply, from the physical pain of stubbing my toe, to heartbreak, to the gut-wrenching sadness of a baby bird fallen from her next. Anything I encounter affects me. And for the longest time I hated that about myself. I longed to pull away and guard my heart, but I ended up only hurting myself in the process.

Now I welcome my emotions with open arms. I love knowing that I have a heart that beats wildly for the things and people I care about. I love knowing that the people in my life are encouraged by my affection, and that I’m someone they can depend on. I love being a person who can share her emotions with the world and connect with others in difficult places.

My big heart has blessed me.

But the one thing I’ve learned in this journey of self-love is that people won’t always be on the same page. If you’re a big-hearted person, you might be mistaken for weak. You may be treated as if you’re ‘too much,’ or worse, you might be taken advantage of.

But you can’t those negatives take over the goodness that’s within your soul. Continue reading

We’re All Looking For Someone Who Gets It

There are thousands of articles on the internet telling us how to find ‘the one,’ what to look for in a ‘forever person,’ and ways to figure out if the people we are falling into are temporary or permanent. It seems like nowadays everyone’s a relationship guru, or at least has some advice to share (and hey, I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of this, too!)

It’s not wrong to share our hearts with one another, because honestly, opening up about the painful circumstances we’ve gone through can really change lives. But when there are so many voices, it’s hard to hear our own. When we’re pushed and pulled every which way, told to feel and behave and think a certain thing, and instructed to find a person who meets all the criteria on our list, the entire process of relationships and dating and love seems complicated.

In reality though, it’s fairly simple—we’re all just looking for someone who gets it. Continue reading

I Don’t Want To Lose What Was, But I’m Not Willing To Stay Stagnant

Tonight I’m in my own head. I think this is natural in moments of transition—we start to question because we’re walking in uncharted territory, because we’re afraid, because everything is unfamiliar so the little voice in the back of our minds becomes louder.

We scroll through social media, look back at old photographs and memories, try to figure out where we are now in comparison. We remember people and places we should have tucked away long ago. We sit and wonder what could have been.

And this hurts. Oh, it hurts. It hurts to picture the trajectory of our lives suddenly changed, to imagine ourselves in someone else’s arms, to realize that each and every moment we move forward, we’re slipping farther and farther away from what was.

This is what happens as we grow; we leave little pieces behind.
Continue reading

What I’m Reading This Week (4/20)

From #Beychella to the Facebook scandal, to story endings and commentaries on social media, here is a collection of articles, pieces, poems, and excerpts that have challenged me, made me think, or inspired me in some way this week.

I do “What I’m Reading This Week” posts each Friday. 😊
Here’s where you can find additional weeks.
If anything interests, excites, frustrates, confuses you, etc. feel free to leave a comment below! Continue reading

Be So Filled With Love That It Flows Freely From You

There is nothing wrong with being someone who loves deeply. I can’t say this enough. In modern dating we’re cautioned to be careful, to be guarded, to not show too much of our hearts, and while I agree with the idea that we can’t throw all ourselves at someone before we (or they) are ready, I think we’ve conditioned ourselves to be so hesitant that it ruins the potential of what could be.

Instead of going with how we feel in the moment, we hold back and send mixed signals. Instead of telling someone what we’re thinking, we reshape our wording to appear removed and disinterested. Instead of letting our natural reactions and emotions happen as they will, we keep people at arm’s length under the guise of ‘strength.’

But all we’re really doing is weakening our spirits and learning how to stay alone.

I don’t think this is right. I don’t think we should spend our days being careful, being cautious because there’s far more we miss out on when we don’t give people a chance. I think there’s something to be said for foolishness; of course we shouldn’t walk blindly into connections, or date someone who doesn’t respect or honor us. But when it comes to taking a chance on someone, when it comes to stepping into a relationship that feels right, when it comes to being vulnerable, and open, and getting back into the scene after heartbreak—we must. We must. Continue reading