Living Your Best Life: Favorite Books for Personal Growth

We have already established that I love books. Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean mostly, I love to read mindless fiction so that I can escape reality.  I call it candy. I love real candy and book candy.

These books are not candy.

These books are fresh fruit. With incredible benefits for your soul. They are designed to heal. To uproot lies and replace them with Truth.

My friend Sandy loved Proverbs 25:11. I can still hear her voice sparkling with delight as she read it from her Amplified Bible.

Like apples of gold in settings of silver
Is a word spoken at the right time.

Here are five books that were a well-spoken word in the right season.

They came into my life when I needed them most.

The Divine Romance | Gene Edwards | The Girl Who Lives In My Head

 1. The Divine Romance

This book changed the way I saw God. And my understanding of how God sees me. It is an allegory of creation. All the way to the Cross. And beyond. If you have ever struggled with the whole “Bride of Christ” concept. Read this. Yesterday.

Here what the back of the book says, “A breathtakingly beautiful saga spanning from eternity to eternity, presented from the view of angels. Experience creation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection from this unique viewpoint, and gain a better understanding of the majestic love of God. Gene Edwards’s classic tale is the greatest love story ever told.”

 

Shattered Dreams | Larry Crabb | The Girl Who Lives In My Head

 

2. Shattered Dreams

Larry Crabb say that in everyone’s life, some dream will shatter. Something you thought you could count on won’t come through.  No one leaves this world unscathed. And whether you believe God allowed it or ordained it, He could have prevented it. And you have to make peace with that God*.  That is what the last eight years of my life have been about. Making peace with a God whose plans are different than mine.

Cure For the Common Life | Max Lucado | The Girl Who Lives in my Head

 

3. Cure For the Common Life

I read this book when I hated everything about my life. Especially my job. It gave me hope. And the courage to make a change. What really helped were the exercises at the back of the book that help you rediscover what you really love. And what you were made to do. It’s what led me to teaching. And back to Young Life.

Daring Greatly | Brene Brown | The Girl Who Lives In My Head

 

4. Daring Greatly

Brene Brown. Is. Rocking. My. World. It is why I talk about her here. And here. She is a researcher who decided to study shame. And made a startling observation. People who live wholeheartedly embrace vulnerability. The rest of us do three things to avoid it.

Numb it out.

Perfect it out.

Or in my case, forbode it out.

I rehearse tragedy so I don’t feel pain. Meaning, I have spent most of my life running worse case scenario’s so when things don’t pan out, I’m not devastated.

But her discovery, you can’t feel true joy without feeling vulnerable.

She explains it so much better. Trust me. So worth the read.

And if perfectionism is your game, check out her book I Thought It Was Just Me.

Jesus Calling | Sarah Young| The Girl Who Lives In My Head

 

5. Jesus Calling

Jesus Calling is my jam. I read it every day along with My Utmost For His Highest. It’s a daily reading written as if God is speaking to you. Not everyone is a fan. Fair enough. But I am. God uses it all the time to speak to me, encourage me and reaffirm His incredible love for me. If you decide to give it a whirl, I love the large print edition because it was the scriptures written out on the bottom. And there’s room to journal. Unofficially.

 

Your Turn:

What is a book that changed your life?

 Or brought a well-spoken word in season?

I’m always looking for something new to read.

 

Love, Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in My Head

P.S. This is not an #ad or paid endorsement. I just can’t help blabbering about the things I love!!!

P.P.S. This book is wrecking me right now. I’ve just started and already cried twice.

Looking for Lovely | Annie Downs | The Girl Who Lives in my Head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Not Eat Your Feelings | Hope for addiction | Learning to journal your feelings

How to not eat your feelings.

 

It’s Friday afternoon, I’m sitting at my desk and my insides are churning. Boiling. Overflowing. A student openly defied a rule and flagrantly walked away when he was held accountable. The phrase “hotter than a two dollar pistol” would be an apt description of my emotional state.

I can seriously feel myself unraveling!!! The ping pong ball is gathering steam. And if I don’t deal with it now, my poor 7th period is going to bear the consequences.

The moment I said I was going to write a post about how to not eat your feelings, I have had opportunity after opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. My journal is filled with “I feel___ because____” statements and prayers to the Lord about what to do with those feelings.

The truth is, it is not easy to settle your heart when your emotions are running wild.

I’m all like journaling out your feelings is easy. It makes everything better.

And it is.

And it does.

But when you are amped beyond measure. Charged. About to blow a gasket. That is when it is the hardest. And most necessary. Otherwise, those feeling come out sideways. And there will be shrapnel.

So when I get all straightened out, I’ll come back and finish this post…

Much better now.

My journey towards healing started with Celebrate Recovery. I didn’t have any deep dark struggle that I needed to work out. I just needed a safe place to land in order to heal. I was numb. And completely out of touch with my heart and my emotions. My biggest takeaway from my time in the anonymous world was the importance of processing out your feelings. We are only as sick as our secrets and I have found that clarity comes when I take the time to process out my emotions (and secrets) before the Lord.

In my inner world, thoughts and feelings can be very dangerous when left unchecked.

  • Usually someone will say something or an event will occur that triggers a negative reaction in my mind. (My student)
  • I picture a ping pong ball of emotion being released.
  • The longer that negative emotion is allowed to build, the faster the ping pong ball zips and dings around in my mind until finally it is whirling dervish that will escape.
  • Usually coming out sideways and often in a less than ideal manner.
  • And I end up kicking the cat. (Period 7)Kick the Cat | How to Not Eat Your Feelings | The Girl Who Lives In My Head

 

What has helped me tremendously in my journey towards healing and keeps things from coming out sideways is journaling out my feelings. I have found a process that works wonders for me and I’m sharing it with the hope it might help you.

How to Journal Your Feelings

Step One

Identify all the emotions you are feeling in this moment. Every single one. Good and Bad. I use this amazing Feelings Chart that takes feelings like happy, sad, tired etc and expounds upon all the nuances that go with each emotion.

 

This is especially helpful if you are at a point in life where you are so numb that tapping into your actual feelings seems impossible. Don’t worry. I was once there too. I lived three years of my life so numb that I would spend my time counting in order to avoid feeling anything because my reality was so painful that my mind kept itself busy to avoid any semblance of emotion. It takes work but there is such freedom in knowing what you feel.

 

Step Two

Connect a situation to each of those feelings.

I feel ___________ because

I feel ___________ because

I feel ___________ because

I feel ___________ because

 

What took me by surprise as I was learning this process is that you can be feeling pleasant and unpleasant feelings at the same time. I think that is why so many of us feel guilty. We have a negative reaction to something and think, “This shouldn’t be bothering me so much. Things are really good.” And they are good. In some areas. But you might have some really yucky things going on in another area. And you need to be honest about both the good and the bad in order to heal. To be whole.

The key is to identify what feeling goes with what situation.

 

Step Three

Take each of the situations and see if there is any lie that you might be believing. If so, write out the truth. Or, work through the worst case scenario.

_______________ is not true. It may feel true but the reality is…..

 

If ___________ happens, then…. (run out the worst case scenario to the very end)

 

Step Four

Take each of those feelings, situations and lies and journal it out to the Lord. If you know the truth, ask Him to help you believe it. If you don’t know the truth ask the Lord to reveal it you. Be super honest and humble when you cry out. Ask him for help and be prepared to be amazed. Often I will look back in three months and be blown away by the transformation that has taken place in that area.

He is such a great Father.

And he loves us so much. He gives his children such sweet gifts. It’s not always what you hope for but it always what you need most.

I pray that you find this helpful. I know this is very different from my usual posts but this method really has been the key to my healing. And hopefully yours.

Love, Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives In My Head

 

Here is a copy of the Feelings Chart for you to print and use as a guide.

 

Single for the Holidays

True Confession: Last year I walked away from my Thanksgiving festivities with a very full tummy and a very heavy heart.

Don’t get me wrong. It was a lovely evening. Full of great conversation, laughter and gluten free fare. It’s just, somewhere between the front door and my car, the realization that I was a one person family hit me hard. There is a very good chance that I started my car, turned on Pandora Michael Buble Holiday mix and cried glistening tears as I made the trek home to my single bed. Which was in fact a giant California King. But that is beside the point. I have a flair for the dramatic and a tendency to turn up the burn when I want to wallow. And last Thanksgiving night, I wallowed. Sad little single girl.

Christmas left me the same hum of discontentment. After deeper reflection, prayer and a moment of clarity, I sat down (or possibly while driving) created a list of my very own Holiday Traditions that I would put into practice next year.

Well, the time has come. May I present to you:

Operation Create Thine Own Traditions 2016.

  1. October 1st: Decorate for Fall. Check. This may be more of a Maui thing but I miss the seasons and need to “create” them by decorating my house. I buy a yummy fall candle and set out tasteful white plastic pumpkins. I pull out my fall kitchen towels and a cute little stuffed owl door stopper with Welcome Fall emblazoned on his chest. It’s simple. It’s enough for me to feel like the season has changed
  2. November 20 (this Friday) I will decorate for Christmas. This is new. I travel for the holidays and last year I waited til after Thanksgiving to decorate. And then…didn’t. Why? In my sad little state, my inner Eeyore was like “Only three weeks til you leave. Why Bother?” So this Friday marks 4 weeks til I leave to go home, giving me a solid month of Christmas anticipatory joy in my own home. This is also when I will allow my self to overindulge in Christmas music. Which I LOVE!!
  3. Thanksgiving Day. After my single gal pity party last year, I decided I needed my own Turkey Day tradition. Up to this point I had only participated in other people’s traditions which fun but didn’t fulfill me. So this year, I’m going to watch memorable Thanksgiving episodes of my favorite shows while I prepare my dishes to take to the party. I’m not sure how I arrived at this except when I watch certain shows I am transported back in time to when I watched them the first time. Friends=college. Greys=fall in Colorado. West Wing=time with MJ. It’s a new tradition. We’ll see how it goes.
  4. Christmas Eve-The day hasn’t felt special to me in a long while. Maybe because I’m out of my element, at the mercy of others and therefore can’t create that rhythm I thrive on. So this year, I’m going to create a countdown to Christmas extravaganza for the only people in my extended family I can still have influence over-the nieces and nephew. A few years ago I did a New Years countdown that is still legendary in their minds. This year, I’m moving it to Christmas Eve Day with church that night being the big finale. I’m picturing minute-to-win-it meets Happy Birthday Jesus cake meets Pinterest. Outcome: TBD.
  5. Christmas Day: Last year, I saved all my Christmas cards to open on Christmas morning and it was really special. I felt like I was sharing my morning with the people I love. Far and away.  It also led to some sweet text conversations as I waited for the family to get their groove on so we could get to the good stuff. Hearing my 4 year old niece exclaim “Oh my nerves!” as she wrestled with the tape on her gifts was my highlight.
  6. New Years: Last year I volunteered at Passion, a gathering in Hotlanta for 18-26 year olds and loved every minute of it. This year, I’m going back for more. I get to part of the intercessor team who will cover the 72 hour event in constant prayer. I am a HUGE Louis (and Shelley) Giglio fan so getting to be a part of something like this is fills my love cup to overflowing. College kids falling deeper in love with Jesus and finding their purpose. Yes please.

SO . All that to say I’m really looking forward see what unfolds this holiday season. Navigating this time of year is tricky for EVERYONE who has breath in their lungs. Here is the course I’m charting. What’s yours?Whether your house is a party of one or fifteen, I’d love to know your tips, traditions and trade secrets.

How do you make the holidays meaningful in your home?

I hesitate to ask because nothing looks sadder on a blog than a question with no responses but I’m feeling brave. Brave single gal.

Love, Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in my Head

PS Check out my Awkward Christmas Cards for a laugh. And to learn more about me.

Plot Twist

Yesterday morning my dad had a heart attack. He hadn’t been feeling right so he stopped by the walk-in clinic before work. Turns out the stints he had put in 13 years ago were clogged to brim so the doctor performed emergency surgery. Today, he is stable and happy as a clam sitting in his hospital room, visiting with the nurses and playing sudoku on his iPad. I flew in from Maui to keep him company and spend time with my mom.

circa 2010

 

The scary part is that on Tuesday he will be having a triple bypass surgery. They will crack his chest and fix his heart. After all the medical drama’s I’ve seen, I really don’t like the idea of my dad being the person on the table. But I know God is good and his timing is perfect.

circa 2010

My dad is such an amazing man. He loves God with every fiber of his being.  And loves people just as much. Just  minutes ago, a new nurse came on shift and introduced herself. They started chatting and somehow she mentioned her knee was hurting, He told her a story about how years ago God had healed his knee and he would love to pray for hers. She interrupted him and said while she would love for him to pray for her, would he please pray her husband instead. “He’s had a really hard year and is about to have back surgery.” My dad then took her hand and prayed the sweetest, most heartfelt prayer over both she and her husband. After the amen, she looked at my dad with big tears in her eyes and said, “We all need prayers like that”. And that’s my dad. I’m sure he’ll pray for the entire staff by the time all is said and done.

circa 1980

The doctors say he’s gonna be just fine. He has an 8 week vacation ahead of him after surgery. With no driving. Or lifting. And lot’s of resting. Which is not his favorite activity. But as we say in our house. Farthing’s are flexible. I’m sure he’ll adjust.

 

circa 2014

It’s just short of a miracle the way that everything worked out for me to come home. I love being with my family and there is no way I want to be half way across the ocean while one of them is hurting. And thankfully, I could be there this time. I’m taking the first shift and then heading out to Rome. My sister will be doing the heavy lifting (literally and figuratively) the rest of this summer. Keep her in your prayers.

So that’s whats going on in my little world. If it comes to mind, say a little prayer that everything goes well. I’m not ready to say goodbye to him quite yet.

 

Love, Love, Love

The Girl Who Lives in My Head

 

New England

Dreams Do Come True. 

Not too long ago I got this in the mail.

special delivery

 With this inside.

presents!!!

And this.

James Bible Study

Love this Lady!!

 To say it made my year, would be an understatement.

Here’s the story of how it all unfolded.

When I first met Alyssa’s future husband Jeff, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. Granted, at the time of our meeting, the poor guy was on display, surrounded by people trying to figure out if he was good enough for Alyssa. Turns out he was. So around the time she said goodbye to Maui and moved back home, they fell in love. And I was super stoked because I had been rooting for him.

 

 

Then this happened.

 

Anyway. The next time I saw this guy it was at their wedding and he was already famous and I was super intimidated.

 

He had just become BFF with Beth Moore. And for those of you who don’t know me, Beth Moore is kind of my jam. I can drop a relevant Beth quote in almost any conversation. Because her bible studies have had a profound impact on my life. And God uses people to shape me.

 

Beth Moore Pic

Here’s me at First Baptist in Houston for a Siesta Scripture Memory Weekend. And the closest I’ve ever gotten to Wanda Beth. (I’m in the middle left) I was way to nervous to try to meet her. Plus we all know I would just freeze anyway.

Now, if you remember, I get nervous around celebrities and Jeff had just hit celebrity status. So, my way of handling my nerves was to tell him, “I’m not quite sure we can ever truly be friends because deep down I will always wonder if I’m just using you to get to Beth Moore.” (Insert cute shrug)

 Well, Jefferson is a class act and a perfect match for Alyssa.

 And now that they live in Maui,  I’m getting to know Jeff on a whole ‘nother level.(Insert fajitas comment here) And it is such a blessing. The character that Jeff demonstrates reminds me of David. He’s got such a teachable heart, humble spirit and just a tenderness about him in the way that he loves Lys. And don’t get me started on how much he loves Kins.

Right before they moved back Alyssa sent me a text that Jeff had surprise for me that was going to rock my world. My immediate response was “Did he pack Beth Moore in his suitcase???”

Well Beth Moore didn’t quite make it to Maui, yet. (Fingers crossed) But her assistant did send me a package in the mail.

And when I texted Alyssa thank you. She informed me it was all Jeff. Having Alyssa back on Maui is a dream come true. Having her with her amazing husband and sweet family is icing on the cake.

So I texted him back.

text

Love , Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in My Head.

PS This is actually my favorite video of his. I like how courageous and raw it is. Probably because of this

 

The Gift of Going Second

I used to work at a charming little bookshop called “by the Book”.  It was right after I quit full-time ministry and before I became a teacher. I loved it. I have always been a reader. As a child I spent my money on two things. Candy and books. Books were and still are some of my best friends.

As much as I loved working at the bookstore, there was one season I loathed. Returns. Every quarter, a bookstore is allowed to pull all the books that have not sold within a certain time frame and send them back. Small bookstores need this in order to keep their shelves fresh and doors open. It really is a nice perk.

If you are the employee, however, this requires lots of boxing and schlepping and details. Three things that I don’t especially enjoy. It was like a really long tedious scavenger hunt. Searching for books that had been miscategorized or improperly shelved. My boss would hand me a 40 page list with the doomed titles circled in red and the hunt was on.

Later when I managed my own shop, I was amazed that certain employees thrived on returns. The challenge. The sense of accomplishment as they surveyed the stacks and stack of books that had been found. The list conquered.

I was not this employee. It was an exhausting chore. Sadly, I would gather all the books that would never go home with a loving fan. No one would dog ear their pages, scribble in the margins  or hand them off to a friend because, “You just have to read this.” No. These books were the unchosen. Unloved. Soon to be forgotten.

And inevitably, I would get distracted by one of the titles or the cover. It would pique my interest and I would sit down cross-legged and begin to read. 20 minutes would pass and I would think to myself, Maybe if we put this in Women, it would sell or If people could just see the cover then  someone would buy it. So I would rescue the ill-fated book, take it to the Women’s Section and give it reprieve for a few more months. Needless to say, follows directions is not one of my strengths.

It was on one of these days that I found a beautiful book that gave voice to an idea that had been brewing in my heart since my return to Maui. I can still remember the feeling of discovery as I sat on the carpet, my forehead pressed into my fists with the book open on my lap. It was called “Permission to Speak Freely”, by Anne Jackson. What blew me away was what the author called the “gift of going second”. She explains that when we are brave and share our story with someone-not just the pretty parts that can be pinned on Pinterest for the world to emulate. But when we confess the hard stuff, the dark stuff, the nitty-gritty honest struggles of the day-to-day, we give people the opportunity to open up as well. Or as the author calls it, the gift of going second.

Something in my soul started tingling. I call it the Holy Spirit hot flashes. When God puts his finger on my heart and whispers “Pay attention.” Sitting there in that bookstore years ago, I had no idea that He would be calling me to a lifetime of going first.

Sharing what the Lord is doing/has done in my life is easy for me (now). I am so amazed by his love, blown away by his grace and overwhelmed by his affection that it’s hard to keep my mouth shut. He rescued me so dramatically and thoroughly from a life of despair that it is impossible not to tell my story. It just flows freely from my lips, making it’s way into everyday conversations.

It has not always been this way. I had an incident in junior high that taught me to never be myself. To keep the real me untouchable so that no one could ever wound my soul like that again. So I learned how to blend. Vowing that I would never let someone know all of me. When I was dating and engaged, I began to let my walls down. But soon after we were married, I faced the greatest rejection I could imagine. When the person who says I do, changes their mind. But it would be years before I left. So I did what I had always done. Put on a brave face and blended into the background. Dying a slow death. Longing to be known.

It was when I moved back to Maui six years ago that I knew something in my life had to change. What I was doing was not working. In recovery they say, “We are only as sick as our secrets,” so I decided I would choose one person to reveal all of me to. My thinking was, I got myself in a mess by trying to do it on my own. I do not want to ever do that again. So this time around, whatever was going on in my life, one person would know it all.

Enter the Blond Bombshell. Gorgeous. Inside and out. I had known her before I got married. She actually threw my bridal shower. Coming out of a broken marriage, my biggest fear (besides ever being rejected like that again) was becoming bitter, hollow and angry. To me, the Blond Bombshell was everything I wanted to become. Kind. Warm. Inviting. Loving. Fun. Gracious. Charming. Generous. Thoughtful. Compassionate. Besides all that, she is a wonderful wife and incredible mom to two grown kids. But the main reason I chose her to help me navigate my way out of the darkness was because her life has not been easy. She was born with spinal bifida and has had to learn to walk four times in her life. Three times while raising children. And there is not a seed of bitterness, anger or pity in her. She has made peace with all of it before the Cross. That is why I choose her to be my secret keeper.

And I’ve told her some doozies. And she has walked me through some heart wrenching seasons. But she was also there when my heart, which had been frozen in fear, started beating again. And she was there when my dreams began to blossom. And she has been there, cheering me on, when I began to fly.

I write all of this because in my dream scenario, this blog would help others find freedom. That by going first on some hard issues, others might have the gift of going second. A lot of what I write might feel raw but the reality is I have been working on these issues for a while now. With the Blond Bombshell and the other amazing women God has brought into my life. My hope is that by being honest, vulnerable and transparent, we can get some conversations going and in the words of Goodwill Hunting, let the healing begin.

Love, Love, Love

The Girl Who Lives in My Head

 

Here is the actual excerpt from Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson.

“Sometime later I was at a concert with a youth group I was working with. I noticed a girl sitting by herself and really felt God pressing on me to talk to her about porn. What an awkward conversation to start! But I did and after I was done sharing she broke down in tears. It turns out she had been trapped in porn since she was 10 years old. She never felt like she could tell anyone, and she thought she was the only one, so when I told her about my story, she realized she wasn’t alone. She was able to start confessing and start healing. Fast forward to today. This girl got counseling and eventually got licensed in counseling herself. Now she has a ministry to help women who are trapped in sexual addictions. I gave her the gift of going second and now she’s giving that same gift to thousands of girls.”

If My Life Had Gone as Planned.

When I moved back, it felt like everybody and their brother got married.

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And it was awesome. We had lots of fun.

Cardboard Sledding

And then, they all started popping out the babies. And that was pretty sweet.

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But then apparently, babies change things.

My social life as I knew it changed.

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So I stretched my wings and met some new people.

4th

And that’s when I met these crazy girls.

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And they changed my life for the better.

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We went on long drives in Blanche.

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And got our craft on.

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And laughed.

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A lot.

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And became dear friends. Who walked through all kinds of seasons together.

It was wonderful.

And then…

They hung around another year.

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And our friendship went even deeper.

We talked about God. Our hopes and dreams for the future.

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We went on crazy adventures. Talked about life, love and boys.

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And then Alyssa moved away.

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And fell in love with this guy.

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So of course, we went to the wedding.

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And had a ball. Catching up, laughing and dancing the night away.

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And now she and her sweetheart just moved back to Maui!! And brought a little extra something to the party.

(Sorry Kins, I know it’s not the most flattering shot)

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Risa stayed on Maui a little longer.  And our friendship went even deeper. We had a blast. Late night laundry chats. Laying in my bed eating ice cream. Talking about everything under the sun.

(I also got to know this amazing lady)

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And then in a fairytale, Risa met a boy at Young Life camp. And they fell in love. He popped the question. The stars magically aligned and Alyssa and I got the privilege to help her pick out her dress.

(Ring the Bell, Baby)

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So of course, we went to the wedding.

here comes the bride

Here’s the handsome man who swept her off her feet.

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And now, they have a little bun in the oven.

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And I can’t wait to meet him!!!

This is just a snapshot of a few of the amazing women that God has brought into my life. And I adore them all.

Sometimes when we are in a season of life that we wish was different, we can overlook what is right in front of us. I’m so thankful that my life has not gone according to plan. I would have missed out on so many amazing relationships and adventures. I would not trade anything for the the friendships God has given me. If I were married with kiddo’s I would not have been able to invest in these women with the faithfulness, depth and drop everything mentality that being single allowed me to do. I try very hard to not take it for granted. Because it won’t always be this way.

So, the question of the day.

Is there anyone or anything in your life that you are overlooking because you want things to be different? Are there people you could be investing in or things you could be doing because of the way God has designed this season of life? What is keeping you from going for it?