Posted in Reflection

In hindsight: 3 Pre-dating Tips

Hindsight is 20-20, they say. If I could rewind 8 years, back to the “me” before I ventured into the world of dating, here’s 3 things I would tell myself.

 

Number 1. Stop looking for someone.

 

Seriously. Stop. You’re so wrapped up in finding someone that you’re missing what is right in front of you. The gift of singleness. Now, I know. It’s natural to WANT someone. To WANT to be dating. To WANT love. To WANT acceptance. I remember so many times when I would call my Mom up when I was at college – and i’d say, “Mom! Everyone literally has somebody. When will it be my turn? Is there something wrong with me?” I dated in high school – starting at 16 – for about a year – don’t recommend doing that. And, then I didn’t date until my 20s. I was not the “hot” commodity, you could say. I didn’t have 17 guys talking to me or vying for my attention. My Dad – who is one of the wisest men I know – wanted one thing. For me to go to college single. I didn’t understand that – especially while I was 17 and in a relationship I thought I liked. My Dad knew the “whole” picture. And, I’m so grateful I trusted his judgement, even when I didn’t understand. You see – – If I had gone to college dating, I wouldn’t have had nearly the friendships and memories that I have today.  Dating takes up a lot of your time – that’s not always bad – there’s a season of life for it – but that’s just the truth.

 

I’m being dead serious – –  By looking and focusing CONSTANTLY on that guy to date, that relationship you want, that affirmation you think you need — YOU MISS SO MUCH. You miss life. You miss growth. You miss friendships. You miss happiness. You miss contentment. And, more times than not – you settle for less. You get your heart broke, probably more than once. You get the label as the girl who “is only at college to find a husband” or the girl who you should stay away from because she “is crazy about guys and doesn’t care about much else” – – Honestly. It isn’t attractive to guys.

 

And, let’s just say this – the moment I gave up on the thought of Travis even liking me or seriously putting more emotion into the whole idea – He started seriously noticing me. Now, it’s not like I cut myself off from him and didn’t talk to him when I saw him in class or around campus. But, I knew this. I couldn’t make it work one-sided. And, just like that – when God knew I wasn’t expecting anything – He started letting all the pieces fall into place.

 

Song of Solomon says – in Chapter 2, verse 7 – “I adjure you, Daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and the does on the field, do not awaken, or stir up love until it is ready.”

 

What I’m trying to tell you is this: No mate can fulfill eternal satisfaction. No one. Not even the perfect man. Not even marriage. So, stop. Stop trying to find him. Let it happen. Don’t worry. God tells us that if we delight ourselves in Him, he WILL give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4) But, that doesn’t mean to figure it out now. Or figure it out by yourself. Focus on the things you DO have control over. And, that leads me to my second point. . . Not only do you need to stop looking for someone. But, you need to start discovering who YOU are in Christ.

 

Number 2. Start discovering who you are in Christ.

 

What do I mean? I mean this. Stop worrying about dating and start worrying about the woman you are becoming. I don’t know all of you, but I do know this. You each are beautiful, and you were created in the image of God.

 

In fact, Psalm 139 says it this way: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works. And my soul knows it very well. . . Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”

 

God has amazing plans for you. And – furthermore – He’s already planned out what your life is going to be like. Rest in that. And, in the meantime, let’s be honest, even though we are created in His image, we ain’t perfect – or anywhere close to it. Myself included. We all have things we NEED to work on. Ok?

 

The good guys don’t want the bad girls. The guys don’t want the insecure girls. The guys don’t want the obnoxious girls. That’s just real life. It might not seem like that right now. It seems like the forward and pushy girls – or the girls who post semi-sketchy pictures on their snapchat or Instagram, they are the ones with all that male attention. Get this. You don’t WANT that attention. How about your relationship with Jesus? Is it really first in your life – – – above friendships, above school work, above goals, above guys? A guy isn’t going to solve those deep problems that you need to get taken care of. If you are insecure, dating is not going to solve that. Once you get through the honeymoon stage of dating, your boyfriend is going to probably share that you have an annoying habit or two. He is probably going to let you know that he doesn’t always like your style. And, sometimes your personality is a little annoying to him, too. That’s normal. I tell people all the time, there’s no one I love more than Travis, but there sure ain’t anyone that drives me crazy more than he does either. Are you going to be able handle that constructive criticism when you start dating? You better begin finding out who you are in God – before you try to find someone to date. From personal experience – – – Travis Stroup would not have dated Freshman year Courtney Fourman. From the time I went to college, to the day I graduated – – – I was a much different person. God had to knock some rough edges off my personality, God had to get me to the point of complete and full surrender to WHATEVER and whoever He had for me, God had to show me that dating couldn’t solve all of my problems, God had to teach me discretion, God had to teach me how to handle disappointments, God had to teach me how to handle constructive criticism that brought tears and pain and frustration into my life. I thank God for growth. And, right now that’s what YOU need to focus on. Growing. Keeping your heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it!” Above all else – Jesus. Get into your Bible. Start discovering. Growing. Why look for someone to “complete” you now, when you aren’t even completely sure WHO you are. I’m thankful for every moment of singleness, and I just wish I would’ve appreciated it as much then – as looking back I do now.

 

Number 3. Don’t forget about your future self.

 

Every. Single. Decision. That you are making right now is going to impact who you are in 5 years. Who you are as a girlfriend, who you are as a wife, who you are as a mom. There’s so much more to life than right now. Life is so much bigger than just you. You have to live with the person you are becoming. And, so will your spouse. And your kids. Do you have bad habits? Do you have hidden sins? Are you caught up in pornography? Are you watching shows that you’d be embarrassed to watch if Jesus was sitting right next to you? Are you a true friend – or are you a gossiper or back-stabber? Do you judge people? Do you spread rumors? Are you a different person on social media than you are in real-life? Are you obedient to your parents? Have you surrendered everything to God? Have you even done the first step of accepting Jesus as your Savior? If you are dating, are you committed to staying pure? Are you in a relationship that you aren’t proud of? Have you made some sexual mistakes? Do you need to start over?

 

God. Is. The. Answer. To all of that. He’s waiting with open arms. He has forgiveness for you. He has grace. He has a lesson or two to teach you. He has patience. He has a plan.

 

Don’t lose heart, sweet friend. Make Jesus your main focus. Everything else – including your love life – will fall into place.

Photo by Zack Minor on Unsplash

Posted in Growth

How do I feel more confident? How can you?

Confidence. Noun. A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

In a world where people are floundering, unsure of themselves and their purpose, and also critical of others, it’s time that we find confidence within ourselves to face the good days and the bad.

I’m not the most confident cookie in the jar, but I’m sure loving life and don’t have time for self-loathing.

Now, I’m not going to act like having a good sense of self-confidence is always easy – to get or maintain. I remember the days of constant insecurity, doubt, and defeat. In fact, I still have one of those days every once in a while. But, confidence can become a lifestyle, no doubt.

So, here goes…

5 ways that help me feel more confident!

    Have good hair. I get it. Not every day do I have time for a picture perfect up-do. And, let’s be honest, my hair hardly every gets curled or straightened. But, I have found that when my hair is put-together, my day goes better. Silly, probably. But, it works for me. And, it leaves a good impression with strangers, employers, and acquaintances. Frizzy fros and dandruff dos get you nowhere fast.
    Walk with purpose. Even if I have no idea where I’m going. Even in the grocery store. Never slump the shoulders and drag the feet.
    Get good at small talk. I try to stay well-versed in the current weather patterns, workplace happenings, sports world, and funny memes. Pretty much anything that doesn’t really matter. Even throw in a little Fox News topic every once in awhile. Find common ground with the person next to you at lunch. I’ve found most people like to talk about things that aren’t too personal.
    Dress up, not down. Always. Not overboard, but never underneath. Don’t do too much, but never do not enough. When I scan a room of people, I feel most comfortable when my style falls halfway between the least and best dressed.
    Realize you aren’t the best and move on. It’s not easy to take a backseat to someone prettier, someone more capable, someone higher up the chain than you. But, it’s life. The sooner you deal with it, the happier you’ll be!

Let me know if you try one of my tips… or comment one of yours! I’d love to hear from you!

From one confidence seeker to another, Happy (almost) Friday! ☺️

Posted in Reflection

8 things I learned in 2018.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty downright excited about 2019.

A new year. A fresh start. 🎉👏🏽

I’ll celebrate my first birthday married. Hub and I will celebrate a year of wedded bliss. I just know there will be lots of adventures coming up! And, of course, some challenges, too.

I have some a couple neat resolutions and goals that I will be putting into effect on January 1st – be looking for a post on that in a day or two! But, before I get so focused on 2019, I’m trying to do some reflecting and reminiscing on 2018.

Each year helps shape us into the person we are and are becoming!

2018 was a year to remember. 2018 held a lot for me. A lot of beginnings. A lot of endings. A lot of lessons. That’s why I decided to make a list. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to happen. Create the moment! I’ve experienced so much pure happiness this year. I can’t even explain. Perfect moments. Life isn’t perfect, but moments can be. It comes from letting go of expectations and realizing the life right in front of you is what you make of it.
  2. Change stinks. It’s hard. But, honestly, it’s not all bad. There’s so much good. Change forms us into new and better, stronger people.
  3. Everyone around me is fighting a battle that I don’t (always) know about. Everyone. Students, coworkers, family members, friends. Don’t judge. Be kind. Take time out of my busy schedule for others.
  4. We are each stronger than we realize. But you don’t know this about yourself until those hard conversations, difficult lessons, and stressful situations come. Until you have no choice but to face another day. Until you have to grow up. You can’t choose what comes your way; you can choose your response.
  5. I must hold people up to the standard of grace, not the standard of perfection. People let you down; they disappoint. That’s life. If you extend grace, you will grow. If you expect perfection, you will become bitter.
  6. Focus matters. Now more than ever. We live in a crazy world. God first. My family second. Family means my marriage, my future children. When our focus turns to other people and their opinions and problems, we lose track of ourselves, our progress, and our goals.
  7. Stop blowing stuff out of proportion. Little frustrations become big ones if I don’t let them go. Small stuff doesn’t need to come between me and the people I love. Life is too short for that.
  8. Life shouldn’t be about stuff. I’m super blessed. I have way more than I need and so much more than I deserve. Stuff doesn’t last. People and memories do.

 

Leave me a comment & let me know a lesson or two that 2018 taught you! We are all in this thing called life together! 💙

 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Posted in Growth

Chocolate Speaks.

As I devoured a couple pieces of Dove chocolate last night (Confession: Before Dinner), I took a second to read the famous sayings on the inside of the wrappers. One, in particular, hit me in the face.

Don’t talk about it,

just be about it.

Does this not describe our generation?

We love to talk about problems. Our problems, your problems, our friend’s problems, our family’s problems, our boss’ problems, and so on.

We love to give our opinion. However harsh, rude, or unwelcome it may be sometimes.

We love to talk about getting together with our friends and acquaintances. We like to make it seem as if we have made an effort not to be anti-social, at least.

We love to talk about starting that new hobby. Playing a new instrument, developing our hidden skill of knitting, redecorating the guest bedroom,  or cleaning out the junk in the closet.

We love to say we are going to change. We are going to eat healthier or be happier. We are going to be there for our friends. We are going to work on not reacting so quickly.

We say we are going to call our Grandparents more. . . or take that vacation.

We say a LOT of things, people. Do we ever really accomplish anything before it’s too late, though?

Quite frankly, it’s hard to hear over all the babbling.

Instead of talking — debating ideas, complaining about our problems, chattering about a new thing to try, gossiping about everybody’s business, and posting every detail of your life on social media — Let’s start doing.

Live. Your. Life. Don’t just talk about it.

Set goals. Meet goals. Analyze. Change. Forget. Focus. End things. Begin others. Stop wallowing. Start working.

P.S. You don’t have to tell everyone all about it, either.

P.P.S. Eat that Dove chocolate; it might have something to say to you.

Photo creds: Yours truly.

Posted in Spiritual

Chrestotes.

I am a Follower of Jesus.

Jesus calls me to live in Him and His truth. Jesus calls me to show the world that He is the message of Hope. Jesus calls me to a life of fruitfulness. As a Follower of my Jesus, my life should showcase the Fruits of the Spirit to those around me.

Here are a couple scriptures to think about. . .

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:5b

Without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:8

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

What are the fruits that I should be bearing/showing if I want to be a Follower of Jesus?

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness (Integrity), Faithfulness, Meekness (Humility), and Self-Control.

I live in the real world. So do you. When I think about this Checklist titled “Fruits of the Spirit,” I cringe just a little bit. That’s a lot. Some days, especially, it feels overwhelming. I get so busy, so frustrated, so impatient, so snippy, so tired.

As Followers of Jesus we WANT to follow His Word, so – you might be thinking  – “How can I make this Fruit-Bearing seem more manageable?”      I am so glad you asked! 😉

Let’s take them one at a time, shall we?

Chrestotes

Chrestotes is the Greek word for kindness.

So, what exactly is kindness?

If you check any dictionary, it will state something like this for kindness: “The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

I found a great definition for kindness from Tim Keller @ J.D. Greer Ministries (https://jdgreear.com/blog/kellers-definitions-of-the-fruit-in-galatians-5/).

(Warning: It’s pretty radical, but it got me to thinking. . .)

What Kindness Is

Practical kindness with vulnerability out of deep inner security

What Kindness Isn’t

Envy. Unable to rejoice in other’s joy.

What Kindness Morphs Into

Manipulative good deeds. Self-congratulation and self-righteousness.

If our world needs anything these days, it would be kindness.

I must admit for myself that I get so wrapped up in my own world & schedule that I forget to be kind. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t go around being “mean” or “rude.” I definitely don’t put much effort into being “kind,” however.

I don’t for a moment think that mediocre kindness is what Christ has called us – His Followers – to.

It’s time I start being more aware of the world around me. It’s time I start realizing that I might be the only picture of Jesus some people see. It’s time I start owning up to being a Follower of Jesus.

I should be bearing the Fruit of Kindness at a much quicker rate than I am currently.

I must not mask kindness by doing things just for praise. That’s not true kindness.

I must not be kind just to make myself feel better. That is selfish.

Instead . . .

I must be secure in who I am & what I have in order to treat others with genuine kindness in my thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

I must guard my heart from selfishness and discontentment. Instead of envying others, I should work to rejoice in their blessings and triumphs!

I must look for ways to practice kindness. Every day.

Now, listen — In part of my desire to blog about authentic living, I promise that I practice what I write about. The past two weeks my Bible Study ladies & I practiced thankfulness, this week we are practicing kindness. Each day we are endeavoring to go out of our way – and purposefully look for – an opportunity to bless someone with an act of kindness. We then keep each other accountable by sharing in our group chat!

Most of my acts of kindness this week have been small. Doesn’t matter. Purposefully looking for a way to be kind to others has helped me be more aware of the needs around me and the opportunities I usually pass up.

People sometimes need a smile, a note, a hug, a helping hand, a visit, a gift. . . a friend!

Sometimes this looks like putting my husband’s laundry away. Sometimes this looks like helping a coworker out with a task that needs accomplished. Sometimes this looks like gathering all the carts in the parking lot for the cashier at the Dollar Tree who looks incredibly busy and flustered.

Find a way to be kind. Get out of your comfort zone.

I challenge you to join me in this endeavor! One purposeful act of kindness a day – for at least a week.

I truly think that working on showing kindness each day will help us toward the end goal.

What is that end goal, again?

Following Jesus and His teachings. Living a Spirit-filled life. Bearing fruit.

Kindness is a lifestyle, friends.

May we work on kindness, practice kindness, and become kindness.

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

Posted in Growth

“I’m just joking…”

Are you really, though?

Five Things to Remember When You’re Joking

  1. Jokes aren’t always funny. Others get hurt from careless jokes and thoughtless teases more than you know. In the past, I would easily laugh off jokes from my peers so they did not think I was offended. I’m over that. Check your jokes. Do they build up or tear down? It might be funny, but if it’s hurtful — It should NOT be said. Period.
  2. Jokes have a thread of truth. Always. Normally, jokes are founded in reality. You can’t just make some of this stuff up. Jokes are normally centered around rumors, areas of insecurities, or faults about someone’s physical appearance, work ethic, social graces, etc. Don’t prey off people. Don’t say things to get others to laugh if it means demeaning someone else. This includes Snapchat. Admission of guilt: I got rid of Snapchat a couple years ago. This was one of the reasons. I was a great snapper back in my day. However, 90% of the time, the snaps I sent were not edifying or kind to others. I would send snaps of people I thought were “less” than me – behind their backs – to my “groupies.” God let me know this wasn’t ok.
  3. Don’t joke to make a point. If you need to confront someone, just do it. Don’t make comments and jokes in front of that person and everyone else. Stop being passive aggressive. Grow up. Deal with the issue. Give someone the decency to talk with them and figure out the problem.
  4. If they don’t think it’s funny, it’s probably not. Seems like common sense, I know. Be aware, friends. If you say something, even if you didn’t mean harm, and it doesn’t go over well — Do not do it again. Apologize if needed. Understand the people you joke with have feelings, too.
  5. Some people can’t take jokes. I know. I can’t really fathom this, either. I love joking and teasing. My family thrives on it. My husband and I love to joke with each other — we pretty much do constantly. However, some people have a different background, a different emotional make-up, a different outlook on life. Jokes are not their “thing.” That’s ok. They aren’t weird; they are just a human being. Respect them enough to know the boundaries, alright?

I posted this because this has been an area in my life that I have had to grow and improve. I am working on being aware of others and their feelings. I love to joke, but it’s not worth the cost of losing friends or my reputation. Have fun – be funny… but don’t let the goal of being funny make you forget social cues and emotional boundaries.

Check your jokes. Think before you tease.

{Excuse the llama, but it looks like he has just cracked a good joke. 😉 }

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

Posted in Growth

Seven ways to make your listening skills better.

Listening is a skill many of us need to brush up on. Myself included. Just this week, I was confronted with the criticism that sometimes I don’t put as much effort into listening to those around me as I should.

Ouch. That hurt.

However, the more I look into that criticism, I realize that it was definitely of the constructive type. Remember that blog post from last week? Well, it’s time for me to practice what I preach. I’ve evaluated. And, I see listening skills that need some work. Are my listening skills better than they were 3 years ago? You bet. That doesn’t mean they are perfect, though.

Building authentic relationships won’t happen if we don’t take the time to listen to those we care about.

I decided a blog post to keep myself accountable was in order. And, I’m taking a venture that I’m not the only one who needs to work on listening skills. . .

  1. Pick up on the hint & shut up.

    Social cues, people. Especially to those extroverted people like myself. We like to hear ourselves speak. We enjoy being in charge of a conversation. However, we should stop talking long enough to notice that other humans use the English language, too. Ok? We should be aware enough of what’s going on to know when our spouse, friend, coworker, or acquaintance needs to share something with us. It might be something small – a quick idea or a passing thought. Yet, it might be something deep and profound, and the speaker has chosen you (or me) to be the one they speak to. Own up to their expectation of you. You are the one they need to listen to them. Right there. Right then. Stop talking. Let other people carry the conversation sometimes. Let other people give their opinions. Give other people enough time to share their thoughts, too. Be aware. Shut your mouth.

  2. Make eye contact.

    When someone is talking to you, make eye contact. Not in an awkward way, of course. Just simply shift your attention to the person speaking. This affirms the speaker, showing that what they have to say is important to you. This seems like something small, but I know how annoyed I get when I’m trying to share an opinion and the person I’m talking to drifts off into outer-space or sinks into the abyss of the computer screen sitting in front of them. Don’t do that to people. Be better than that.

  3. Put aside all distractions.

    Earnest Hemingway put it like this: “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” Give the person talking to you the respect they deserve. We live in such a demanding and distracting time. There’s always someone to text, a call to make, a social media account to keep up with, or something to accomplish. Life isn’t about things, though. It’s about people. Pay attention when those people have something to say to you. Shut your phone off, clear your head, and focus.

  4. Get rid of pre-conceived notions or ideas.

    Whenever someone starts sharing, our mind usually starts racing. In fact, sometimes my mind is racing about the situation BEFORE the person starts sharing about it. Ooops! Let’s face it. . .  We are all opinionated people. We draw conclusions from one side of the story before we hear the other. We see the wrong in others’ lives before we see our own. We have 10 good solutions to someone else’s problem. Back up. Stop. Erase your notions, ideas, opinions, and solutions out of your head. Give the person talking the decency to solicit an unbiased opinion from you. Listen closely for their feelings, side of the story, opinions, etc.

  5. Gauge the emotional pulse.

    The emotional state of the speaker will determine your response. If they seem troubled, a blunt answer might not be best. If they seem broken, a hug might be in order. If they seem insecure, some sincere compliments might be the appropriate reply. Tune in. Pick up on the signals. Be kind. Saying the right thing at the wrong time could very possibly be the wrong thing to do.

  6. Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for.

    Yikes. That’s hard. I like to fix problems. Give my opinions. Offer solutions. Sometimes, though, that’s just not what’s needed. If they ask, fire away. If they don’t, wait patiently. You and I both know how irritating it is to get advice you did NOT want.

  7. Silence is acceptable.

    Pretty self-explanatory, I think. You can care for your family and friends by simply letting them know that you are there for them.  Cheer them on – pray for them – send them a card or a gift. Don’t overdo the talking – talking’s overrated.

I hope these seven ways challenge you like they are currently challenging me. I want to love those around me and deepen my friendships by brushing up on my listening skills – talking less and caring more. 

 

Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash