Settling is an ugly word. I don’t know of many people, if any, who would suggest doing it. And if they did, I would say that they are not happy with themselves in one way or another. But the pressure to settle can be very real. Personally, I don’t think anybody should settle, despite the fear of being single in which so many experience. Because I believe that everyone deserves their heart’s desire. And because, after some years of exploring this big world on my own and discovering who I am and who I want to be, I have crossed paths with the love of my life.

I met Austin my senior year of high school. We went to different schools, but saw each other at church quite often. Once we graduated and went off to college, we didn’t keep in touch besides the occasional ‘like’ on Facebook. Two summers ago, we were both hired to work at the MN State Fair for the same company- Pronto Pups. We started talking again at that time, but it dwindled out around the same time the fair ended. I was about to go to school in North Dakota and he was in Wisconsin. Fast forward to the summer after that and we both found ourselves back at the fair again. This time was a little different. Lets just say that “we found love in a hopeless place”. You can thank Rihanna for those song lyrics.

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It’s been seven months that Austin and I have officially been together and if I could tell you one of the many things that Austin has helped me to see it would be this: you don’t have to settle.

You don’t have to settle for the person who only loves you with half of his or her heart.

You don’t have to settle for the person who only treats you right around others, but behind closed doors is a completely different person.

You don’t have to settle for the person who doesn’t know what they have until it’s gone.

You don’t have to settle for the person who doesn’t accept you fully- flaws and all.

You don’t have to settle for the one who doesn’t do those little things that might not be important to them or others, but are important to you and make you feel loved.

You don’t have to settle.

No matter how cute he or she is. No matter how long you have been together. No matter how hard it is for you to wait. No matter how lonely you might feel at times. You don’t have to settle.

The past seven months of doing life with this man have been the best months of my life. They have been filled with laughter, road trips, surprises, overcooked scrambled eggs, good coffee, adventures, and Skype-dates. They have been filled with dreaming about the future, growing together in Christ, seeing each other at our best, worst, and everything in-between, and getting to know each other more and more each passing day. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side.

When I think of Austin, the love that he shows me, and the relationship that we have, this verse comes to mind:

“Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I can tell you that no relationship is perfect. But there is a difference between settling and holding strong until that person comes.

I can tell you that true love exists and that there are still good people out there with hearts of pure gold.

I can tell you that romance is not dead. That chivalry still exists and there’s nothing wrong with that despite what society is saying.

I can tell you that if he or she truly loves you, they won’t belittle you in any way, shape or form but instead, he or she will build you up, encourage you, support you, lead you, and be there for you in every and all situations.

I can tell you that God gave me my heart’s desires when I least saw it coming. Sometimes the road was smooth, other times it was bumpy. But I kept moving, kept believing, and one day mine and Austin’s paths crossed once again.

I know in my heart that no one could love me quite like he does because no one has the exact heart that he has. I am glad that the path I took led me to him. I am glad that in those times when I could have settled, things did not turn out as I planned. Austin loves me in a way that I didn’t think I would ever experience with another person. With a love that I didn’t believe existed in this day-in-age. Austin James Merritt proved me wrong and took away my doubts. And that’s something that a person will never discover by settling.

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Everyone has something they struggle with day in and day out. It’s that thing that you know you shouldn’t be doing, but for some reason you do it anyway. Whether it has to do with alcohol, drugs, a short temper, gossip, food, sex, or whatever it is- it’s a constant battle of whether or not you are going to allow that action to continue. Sometimes these are things that we keep hidden, allowing them to fill our souls with an abundance of guilt and shame. Maybe one or two or twenty people know about it, and you’re able to talk about it openly with them, but those feelings still dwell in your heart.

If you are currently battling with something that you know is wrong, I encourage you to keep pressing on. I know there are times when it seems hopeless, but don’t lose hope. I know that there are times when all you want to do in that moment is give in, but choose to hold back. Yes, it is true that we, as humans, are weak. There is proof of that all over the place. The good news is that, if we allow it, the strength of God can and will help us to overcome anything we are facing.

In Romans 7, Paul brilliantly shares his struggle in the flesh.

I love in verse 15 when he says, “For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns].

In verse 18 Paul continues by saying, “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but not power to carry it out.]

A lot of the time, our intentions are good and we don’t want to be doing whatever that “thing” might be. We know that it is wrong and we want to stop, yet we continue to do it, and we are left in bewilderment and frustration. Many of us, myself included, can relate to Paul.

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In Romans 8, Paul goes on to talk about the freedom found in Christ.

In verses 37-39 Paul states, “Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loves us (37). For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers (38). Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (39).” 

Yes, at times we will fail. But the best thing to do is continue to try. Continue putting your best foot forward. God hears our heart’s cry and He knows we desire to do good. What Paul said is true: we are more than conquerors through Christ. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is inside of you. Rest in that. Even if you don’t believe it right away, tell yourself that you can change. Tell yourself that every single day and don’t stop. Eventually you will believe it and eventually you will come out on the other side. It doesn’t mean that the temptation won’t still be there. What it means is that, even with the temptation, you will be able to make the right decision. When you consistently and intentionally focus on your relationship with the Lord, that temptation won’t seem as appealing (or worth it) to you anymore. You’ll desire more and more to make better choices. And that desire will become a way of life. Continue to press into God, invest in your relationship with Him, and never give up. Just like Paul, you can come out on the other side.

How awesome is it that something written so long ago is still relevant to us today? What a cool God we serve!

There is only one thing God promised to bless, and that is his plan. He has given us his plan in his Word, and if we want the blessing of God, then we don’t need to come up with something else. Instead, we need to align with the plan he has already promised to bless.

I know I’m not the only one who has thought something will go a certain way, only to find that I was completely wrong about it. I’ve had my mind set on a specific school, my eyes focused on a certain career path, & my heart falling for a specific guy. And none of it has gone the way that I planned. This is life. 

When things don’t go the way we think they should, it’s easy to become frustrated, upset, and confused. One minute we think we have something figured out, next thing we know we are watching it fall apart right in front of us. At least that’s how it looks from our perspective.

I think that our idea of how life should work is twisted. And I think that this is what has caused so many to turn away from, or never take an interest in, the only thing  that we all need- a relationship with God.

I’ve heard a number of people talk about how they don’t understand why things won’t just work out for them or why they have to go through another horrible situation. When things go differently than they had thought they would, they are left with what I can only describe as a heavy hopelessness. They feel let down & disappointed. & it hurts. I know I’ve felt this way at times. It’s completely normal for this to happen when life throws us curve-balls. But just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be. Just because society says one thing, doesn’t mean you have to agree.

Personally, I’m starting to think we have it all wrong. You see, we have this idea in our heads that things are supposed to go a certain way- Our way. If something is good or the timing seems right, then we want it to work out. We start to imagine our lives at this school, in this city, or with this person. Sometimes it works out, and that’s awesome. But a lot of times it just doesn’t. It doesn’t mean that it was a bad school, a horrible city, or a crappy person. I think it means that what you had or where you were was exactly what you needed for the time being, but it no longer has a place in your life. That’s not to say that you’ll never revisit it/them again but for now, it’s not in the plan- God’s plan.

I think that it’s easy to assume that God will give us what we want. And he will. The thing is that what we want, might not be what we actually want. In fact, it might only be what we think we want. The problem? How are we supposed to know the difference between what we think we want and what we actually want? That’s where trusting/following God is crucial. We don’t know what lies ahead. We have absolutely no idea. We don’t know where our careers will take us. We don’t know who we’ll run into and reconnect with. Heck, we don’t even know if our cars will start when we’re trying to get to work tomorrow morning. God, and only God, knows these things. He knows that whatever hasn’t worked out in our lives hasn’t worked out for a reason. He doesn’t ruin our plans or make us go through horrible situations just because he can. He does these things for our own good because that’s how deep his love for us is. And honestly, what’s life without a good plot twist?

The next time something doesn’t go the way you thought it should  instead of thinking that it wasn’t supposed to happen like this, remember that maybe you were wrong. Maybe, because we really only know what we think we want, we will eventually be glad that things changed. Even if it’s painful, uncomfortable, or hard at the time. We don’t know what lies ahead. Something even more fitting than whatever it was we had before is waiting for us somewhere down the road. All it takes to receive it is a little trust and a whole lot of patience.

The best is yet to come,

Emily

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist”

-Oscar Wilde

Being human, we all have those things that irritate us.We have things that set us off and make us go berzerk (yes, that’s a word. At least Eminem thinks so.) Some of us may be more patient than others, but I don’t think there’s anyone who can honestly say that nothing bothers them.

Disclaimer: If you actually can say that with 100% honesty, then please give me a call because you, my friend, are a freak of nature in the best of ways and I need to learn from you.

Most of us, myself included, could come up with a rather lengthy list of all the things that get under our skin. It’s really quite easy. What might be a little more of a challenge is narrowing this list down to only one thing. The one thing that is the most frustrating to you. The king of all frustrations, if you will.

For me, it didn’t take long to know exactly what that “one thing” was. It is something that I care about. It’s something that I want to change. It’s something that I try to get people to stop believing/saying. When I hear someone say it, I want to go off on them and help them to see how wrong that way of thinking is. I want to change this way of thinking because it’s completely absurd and unhelpful. It’s destructive and it’s cutting so many people short.

It’s when people say, “I wish I…”

Newsflash: YOU CAN. (Crazy, right? I hope you’re sitting down for this.)

Maybe I’m wrong (I’m not actually wrong), but I believe that every single person wants to live a fulfilling life. I believe that each one of us has this desire to be the best versions of ourselves. We all might have different interests and experiences that make us who we are, but each of us has things we hope to accomplish, or “wish” we “could” accomplish.

Now, I don’t think that anybody can do just anything. And I don’t say that to sound like some horrible dream-snatcher coming to crush all of your life ambitions. I’m saying that because it’s realistic and being realistic is crucial in order to succeed.

Example: I’m a terrible singer. If I were to decide that I wanted to drop everything and put all of my time, energy, and focus into making it big by winning American Idol, I would fail miserably (and probably be permanently red in the face from embarrassment). I might daydream about this happening, but that’s extremely unrealistic if I’m honest with myself.

But here’s what’s not unrealistic…

It’s not unrealistic to find something you’re good at/something you enjoy/some goal you want to reach and put the hard work in to excel in that area and reach those goals.

Let me repeat that in case you missed it.. put the hard work in to excel in that area and reach those goals. In other words, get up off of your butt and start doing whatever it is that you need to do in order to get to where you want to be. Stop wallowing in self pity and start accepting the hard fact of life which is that each of us creates our own reality.

I want everyone to grasp the fact that it’s okay to want things for ourselves. It’s also okay to become our best selves. And it’s okay to want to be better. Whatever that means for you.

It’s the most frustrating thing to me when someone feels incapable. To be real with you guys, it crushes me to hear that. When someone expresses a desire for something that he or she is perfectly capable of achieving, but thinks they can’t fulfill that. Or when a person lives vicariously through those who have already accomplished, or are in the process of accomplishing, those things that they “wish” they themselves could accomplish. Holy cow, I want to put an end to this way of thinking and living. It’s such a waste and it’s flat out toxic and wrong.

When you say, “I wish I…”, you’re basically saying that you don’t really want whatever it is that you apparently “wish” you had. You’re sending a message to yourself, and to others, that you aren’t willing to put the work in. Saying, “I wish I…” will not get you anywhere worth going.

If you’re reading this and you don’t agree with the message I’m trying to get across, then by all means, don’t let me stop you from cutting yourself short. But just know this: I think you’re worth more than that. I think each and every one of us owes it to ourselves to set goals and work hard to achieve them. And I will never not think this way. I think that if more people were to embrace this idea, then the world would be filled with much happier people. Because who doesn’t love the feeling of accomplishment?

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“For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence. Upon You have I leaned and relied on from birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb and You have been my benefactor from that day. My praise is continually of You.”

-Psalm 71:5-6 (Amplified Version)

I can’t say with confidence that Psalm 71:5-6 is my favorite verse in the Bible, but I can say that it’s a great one.  It has definitely helped me persevere through this season of life I like to call my twenties (creative, I know). It’s also helped me to embrace it, accept it, enjoy it, and trust that God has my best interest.

Think about that.

God is the Creator of the earth. He is the King of kings. He is all-knowing. All-powerful. He is mighty. He is just.. And HE has my best interest. God has everybody’s best interest.

Knowing that is one thing. But once you reach a point in your relationship with God where you honestly believe that with everything in you.. That’s when things get real. And, for lack of a better phrase, it’s pretty fan-frickin-tastic.

You know you truly believe the truth of Psalm 71:5-6 when life throws you a curveball, but instead of reacting in a my-life-is-over-and-I-just-can’t type of way (shoutout to society for those hardcore white girl phrases), you are overcome with a peace and understanding that can very clearly only come from the Holy Spirit.

Even if you find yourself in the midst of a situation in which doesn’t make complete sense to you. If you make the conscious decision to place every ounce of trust you have in God and you’re intentional about that, then your life will be a whole lot more bearable. It won’t be any easier or simpler, but it will be more fulfilling and purposeful.

You’ll find yourself feeling joyful in moments when you may have otherwise felt hurt or upset. And, let me tell you, that’s an incredible thing.

I’m happy happy happy (you’re welcome for that beautiful Duck Dynasty reference) to be doing life on God’s terms instead of my own. God is a billionquaddrillionhundredthousandmillion (don’t look that up..) times wiser than I am, or you are, or anyone is. And if I have the option to depend on myself or to depend on God, you better believe I’m gonna choose the latter. And you better believe that I’ll never be disappointed because of that decision.

I know that doing life God’s way instead of my own means that I won’t always see eye-to-eye with Him initially. I know that it means I will sometimes be confused due to my human perspective. I will have moments of frustration no matter what simply because just like everyone else, I’m “always right”.

But I also understand that if things don’t go the way that I had thought they should it’s because what I had thought wasn’t what was supposed to happen anyway. It means that I was wrong (*gasp*). It’s true though. And it’s really that simple.

Know better than to trust yourself, or anyone else for that matter, more than you trust God. That’s the key.

God is and always will be the center of my life. He is the core of my being. He is my rock and I love Him. With that love comes commitment. And with that commitment comes dependence. And with that dependence comes trust. And with that trust comes sacrifice.

Having the willingness to humble myself and to consider that, hey, maybe God knows something that I don’t is the definition of freedom, mis amigos. And I wouldn’t want to experience life any other way.

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately..shocker, I know. But more specifically, I’ve been thinking about how short life is and how crucial it is to be intentional every single day and in every single area of life. To be intentional about my relationships. To be intentional about my school work. To be intentional about what I allow in my soul, mind, and body. The list is never ending.

To be intentional is to knowingly change your direction. It’s to do things on purpose.

8246acb174f9cb5748e4992cd7a4a271 I think our lives would look a lot different if we were more intentional. If we all took some time to allow ourselves to grasp how short life is. Because it’s true, life is short, and denying that, or trying to ignore it, will only lead us down a path full of regret. And who wants that? A huge part of being intentional that I hadn’t given as much thought to in the past is letting go and accepting things for what they are. I don’t think it’s possible to be intentional until you’ve done these two things. That means accepting all types of situations that happen throughout life-the good and the bad. And once you’ve done that, the next step is to let it go. It sounds so simple reading those words on a screen, but often times it’s a very difficult, painful, and humbling experience. Whether that’s a relationship (with a friend, family member, or significant other), a situation (a death, not getting that job, or not being accepted to that school), or whatever it may be. At some point you have to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening. You just have to. ebdbe3be00a04b9666c872e9007f2a32 I know what that means for me. I know that means accepting myself, accepting my family situation, and accepting that I can’t change people no matter how good my intentions are. It means letting go of expecting perfection and allowing myself to make mistakes, letting go of wondering what it’d be like “if”, and letting go of/accepting the fact that people won’t change until they really want to. b21812709882bdc2d8e440cf0a7eb3fb I’ve been working on all three of these things since I’ve moved away from home and it’s been such a freeing thing for me. The feeling of overcoming challenges on my own is one of my favorite things in the world to experience and it has brought so much joy and gratitude into my life, I can’t even tell you. I’m so grateful to have people in my life who know me well enough to know that I need to figure things out on my own as they stand by my side to show their support. It’s like one of my favorite quotes that reads:

I don’t want someone to save me, I want someone to stand by my side as I save myself.”

This semester has been so eye opening and incredible. It has made me realize how strongly I desire to live intentionally. To live on purpose. For me, that means not allowing any situation (from my past, present, or future) to hold me back or control me. It means taking advantage of the great opportunities I have, in and out of school. It means listening to God and allowing Him to use me however He pleases. It means letting go of control and obeying that still small voice that will tell me where I’m supposed to go and what I’m supposed to do. It means realizing that I may not always feel capable, but God is fully capable and I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). It means letting go of fear because to fear is to set limitations on God, and that’s absolutely ridiculous considering His power and might (2 Chronicles 20:6). 81898f84aef596c0cce253b1c52fcce4 Like I said, life is short and it is the desire of my heart to live it well. I want to let go of my comfort and embrace discomfort. I want to go wherever God wants me to go and do whatever God wants me to do. I want to live this way for the rest of my life and being intentional will help me accomplish these goals of mine. I’ve realized that this world is not my home and it’s simply not about me. I’ve decided that I’m willing to accept and embrace whatever it is that God has for me and I’m pretty excited to see how it all pans out. 8877a30b47359a64d52da267d359315a

It takes a lot for me to admit to people that I’ve fallen apart. But that’s exactly what happened during this last chapter in my life. And I figured I’d share with you guys what I’ve discovered and learned from it all.

The past seven months (mid June-beginning of Dec) have been some of the hardest months of my life. I haven’t been completely myself; I started to lose myself to be honest. I was broken down and I’m finally being built back up again. Rock bottom has become a solid foundation on which I’m rebuilding my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself through it all; I know exactly who I am and exactly the life I want.

I’ve never been able to accept who I am. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t feel like I had to hide parts of myself from other people. I was almost always afraid of rejection, afraid of being misunderstood, afraid of embarrassment. And it’s only because I’ve been rejected, I’ve been misunderstood, and I’ve been embarrassed after opening up to important people in my life. I’ve come to learn that not everyone is going to understand me or connect with me, and that’s perfectly ok.

It’s not ok for them to make you feel bad about who you are as a person. If that happens, you have to choose not to let that change you. You have to be stronger than that because I believe 100% that the world needs each and every one of us in a different way. We are all unique, we all have a purpose, and we are all important. I’ve learned to own who I am, fully. And it’s turning into the most freeing thing.

I’ve also come to learn that, in the same way you come across people who don’t understand you as a person, you’ll also come across people who will understand you completely. They’ll connect with you on all sorts of levels. And those are the people you want to keep around.

If there are people in your life who bring you down or make you feel like you aren’t good enough. Or like you’re insignificant. Or people you just know won’t be able to accept you fully.. Then get rid of them. I don’t care if they’re your friend or significant other. It’s not worth keeping them around and it’s such a waste of the person who you are. I know because I’ve been there.

It wasn’t until I took a deeper look at my past relationships that I had been in when I realized exactly how blessed I had been by them not working out. I thought about who I was during those relationships. Even though it wasn’t necessarily a “bad” thing, I wasn’t completely myself. I never completely opened up to either of those guys. I kept the most important parts of who I am to myself simply because something in me knew that they would not understand. No matter how well I explained it or how much I talked about it, they wouldn’t be able to accept it. I’m not sure how to explain how I knew this. It’s one of those things where you “just know”. Discovering this was a huge moment. It helped me to realize exactly who I want in my life. And that’s kind of a cool thing.

Today, I can confidently say that I will not keep anyone close to me who I can’t be open with. I won’t keep anyone close to me who can’t understand the most important parts of who I am. When it comes to the dating world especially- I don’t care how happy they make me feel or how much fun we have together. If this person doesn’t connect with me on every level, then forget it. I’m going to be with someone who connects with my soul in the deepest of ways and the simplest of ways, at the same time-I can’t accept anything less. Even though I don’t have this person right now, I’m going to wait for as long as it takes because I know that it will be amazing once we discover each other.

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Something else I’ve learned is that God really is always there. He is in everything. Every situation and every moment. No matter how messy something may seem. He. Is. There. No matter how far you feel from Him or how unworthy you may be of His love. That’s absolutely crazy in the best of ways. God’s love for us will never change and that is something pretty beyond words. 

Hitting rock bottom had brought me to a place where I was unable to accept any form of love from anyone in my life-especially God. My relationship with God felt dry and shallow. I didn’t know what to say to Him when I’d try to pray. I reached a point where I stopped talking to God because of how unworthy I felt to do so. I was unable to sing praise and worship songs for the same reason. I still believed in God and I still had a sliver of faith, but it just wasn’t alive like it usually was.

What got me through during this time was writing. I’d write out my prayer requests and I’d talk to God through my pen and paper. I knew He was still there, and I knew He still cared about me in the deepest part of my heart. During this time I never lost my faith completely. Sometimes it felt that way, but I knew not to fall into that lie. Fighting against how I felt and what I knew to be true was what saved me. Being stronger than my feelings doesn’t always come easy. Actually, It never comes easy.. At least for me anyway, but I know it’s something I’m capable of doing. It’s something everyone is capable of doing.

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Another thing I’ve discovered is that I am a very independent person. And as I get older and live more on my own, that’s something that will become even stronger in my life. I don’t like feeling like I can’t do things on my own. I don’t like depending on people for all of my wants and needs. I don’t want someone to save me, I want someone to stand by my side as I save myself. I like to figure things out on my own, and yes, I know that’s not always a good thing. I know that this usually means learning the hard way, but that’s what works for me. That’s how I learn.

I don’t like to feel tied down and I don’t like when people “baby” me. Sometimes I need a good slap in the face (maybe not literally ha). By that I mean someone who won’t put up with all my crap. Someone who can be straight up like, “Yo, Emily, get off your sorry butt and do what you need to do!” Not someone who’s constantly like, “Aww poor thing, come here and let me comfort you.” Sometimes I really do need comforting, but most the time I just need some tough lovin’ from someone who cares enough to give it to me. I may seem all sweet and gentle, but trust me, there’s an extremely sassy and stubborn person behind that side of me who needs another tough person to balance her out.

All in all, I’m so glad this part of my life is coming to an end. I know that’s not technically the “right” thing to say, but I’m not about to lie about it. I definitely learned more than I ever have before during this time, and I can be thankful about that. But I’m so ready for this next chapter to begin. And, for the record, it’s just a coincidence that it happens to be the start of a new year as all these changes are happening in my life. So I just want to throw it out there that this isn’t one of those “new year, new me” things because I’m not about that life haha.

I’m getting ready to move to a new place, experience new people, learn in a new school, and discover even more in life and I can’t tell you how excited I am about all of it! Sometimes removing yourself from everything familiar is exactly what a person needs. Change is hard and uncomfortable, but it’s also good and very necessary throughout life. It’s in the change where you find your passion. What’s the point of living in our comfort zones when we can push ourselves and experience and discover so many different things?  And if you’re sitting there, wondering if you should make a change in your life- Wondering if you should take that job, move to that city, start that exercise program, talk to that person.. Whatever it may be. Just do it (shoutout to Nike for being awesome). Seriously though. If I can do it, so can you. Trust me.

Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things in which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.

The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure, The joy of life comes form our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.

-Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

45bc746409160857b738d8971690b0981. Go somewhere I’ve never been before. And do it as cheap as possible. Because less is more and it would be a fun adventure. f1d78d8bfa17c60cf8eee4e4156fd780 2. Do something I’ve never done before. Whatever that looks like. Because there’s something exciting about trying something new. c0af4ea304e6acbc76f063fc14491320 3. Invest more in my relationships. Don’t allow fear to hold me back and in the wise words of my man John Mayer just, “say what you need to say.” Because you never know. And really, what’s there to lose? de04f4272fbeb34bb862c6ba3c7b6057 4. Work up to running a mile in 6 minutes. Because that’d be sick! 356c6536455a03b9b8049a68accdfd0e 5. Conquer a fear and learn to embrace failure. Failing only means one thing- you tried. Yeah, you might feel stupid, or embarrassed, or your heart might break, but hey.. at least you tried. That counts for something. 6139f119dbdcb74b7179f77f1c030f04 6. Go to sleep earlier. In high school I went to bed around 8:30 just about every night. Pathetic? Maybe. Did I feel energized and amazing? Almost always. Legend says that when you can’t fall asleep, someone is thinking about you. You guys, I know I’m amazing and all, but please.. stop thinking about me all the time. It’s exhausting for the both of us (haha). Plus, getting enough z’s is good for your health. 88f5e1d1e3a26ff076906a8066ed7719 7. Stop feeling guilty. It’s ok to grow out of things and it’s ok if not everyone agrees with me. I’m allowed to move on and maybe even miss it at the same time. And it’s ok to change. People change once they fully accept themselves and become who they are/want to be. Changing is a fact of life. Accept it. Embrace it. Own it. And learn to love it. 1d9bab63a77c128d527d504738ba7f03 8. Stop feeling obligated. I don’t owe anyone anything, so there’s no reason for me to constantly feel as though I do. I need to stop basing my decisions off of what I “should” do according to what the people around me would prefer. Instead, I need to voice my own opinions and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ despite anyone else. People pleasing leads to a sad and miserable life of things I never even wanted in the first place. I’ve already started working on this one and I’m getting much better at it, but the “feeling obligated” part is still there at times. 47efab71f5cfbcd6c4b2714e5345f77c So there you have it, people. Here’s to the coming of a new year and resolutions that are actually attainable.

I don’t want a list of qualities I have to check off to find my “dream guy”. All I want is to be with someone who doesn’t make me feel like I have to hide any parts of myself. Someone who accepts me as a whole and understands that it’s not all pretty, but it’s real and it’s what makes me all that I am. I want someone who thinks my passion and vulnerability is what makes me beautiful. I want someone who is afraid of losing me, but understands that he never will because I love him too much to walk away. I want someone who encourages me, someone who motivates me, and someone who pushes me to do/be my best and then some. I want someone who understands that perfection is to be forever strived for and never attained. I want someone who is humble enough to apologize when he makes mistakes and understanding enough to forgive when I mess up. I want to be with someone who wants to be there for me on the hard days just as much as he wants to be with me on the good days. I want someone who will grow alongside of me spiritually and someone who will love me with a deep, vulnerable, intense, honest, gentle, tough, patient type of love. I want someone who will truly, truly love me until the day I die; through all of it. That’s exactly what I want and that’s exactly what I want to give.

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1. The fact that my partner in crime will be home soon and the fact that we’ll be at the same school next semester!!!

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2. The fact that I have a bully as a bff. Jk I love her to the moon.

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3. My “so ugly she’s cute” dog, Oreo/best bud❤ So much love for this little thing.

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4. The fact that I have so many hilarious memories and life changing moments with this incredible person.

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5. The fact that I was blessed with such a lovely roomie while I attended Bethel University who turned out to be a lifelong friend.

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6. The fact that I was able to lead under these influential, God-fearing people at youth group all through high school.

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7. The fact that this really happened.

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8. The fact that this picture exists. Hahah get it girl, get it.

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9. The fact that I’ve grown so close with this awesome person. Love that she’s in my life.

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10.  The fact that we’ve been apart of each other’s lives since the day we were born. And that’s not an exaggeration.

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11. The fact that her and I have always had a special connection. She’s the strongest and most amazing person I know.

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