The lonely days…

I’ve never felt more lonely than my first night in Portland, December 1, 2016.

A year ago, I went to Portland for vacation. My friend was supposed to join me but due to a family emergency, she could no longer come on the trip. I was not mentally prepared to be in Portland alone. After exploring the city for a few hours, I sat in my hotel room, crying, determined to find a flight home, ASAP. I was so lonely, I hated it. I had a rental car and my hotel was about 20 minutes outside of the city with not much to do nearby. I sent an SOS to my people…”I gotta come home ASAP” but they convinced me to stay. Why did I feel so alone in this city?

img_2359Those emotions stuck with me, in fact, sometimes, I’m reminded of the chill winds and overcast skies of Portland in the moments I feel lonely. I feel every ounce of uncertainty and unfamiliarity that I felt in that hotel room.

Here’s the thing…

I’ve learned to enjoy being alone but its outside of my personality type. As I’ve gotten older I’ve acquired some introverted tendencies but I’ve always been an extrovert.

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I was lonely in Portland but I pushed past the fear and anxiety that wanted to cripple my soul, got on the meetup app, and found out a small group was gathering for a bible study at Starbucks. I figured this could go well or really bad but I wanted to meet new people so I went anyways. I was greeted by a joyful woman named Kiesha. She introduced me to everyone and they were all so welcoming.

Later that night, I went to a restaurant that a few friends recommended. I needed one seat and the bar seemed like the only place I would snag a seat…I watched as couple after couple overlooked me waiting and took a seat before me. Over time, I locked eyes with a gentleman waiting for a seat as well, we both saw a couple getting up and knew it was our chance to sit down. We began chatting and he told me he immigrated to the States from the middle east and loved Portland because people were so kind and welcoming to him. He asked if I was traveling alone, I told him yes. He proceeded to encourage me to travel more and seek out new adventures.

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It’s in the moments of loneliness that I feel the ache of singleness the most. I ended a relationship earlier this year and it was the right thing to do but very difficult. I knew the end of that relationship meant the feelings of loneliness would come sweeping back in. Growing up in church, they told us to kiss dating goodbye and “wait” because your husband will appear just when you “least expect it”.  A perspective I kissed dating goodbye author Joshua Harris is re-evaluating. The reality is, there is no formula for meeting the person you decide to spend forever with. Every story is unique. While marriage isn’t the ultimate goal of fulfillment for my life, I am keenly aware of my desire to love and be loved by a significant other. We are all wired for connection (thanks, Brene Brown for studying this). I know I am not the only one who feels this way, I’ve talked to girlfriends who are now dreaming about the future for themselves with no one else in mind. This isn’t what most of us had planned but its where we’re at. Welcoming peace and stillness to our hearts is where we learn to walk in the “dark” without fear. Its where we bow out of the rat race and learn to fly.

It’s been a whole year since Portland and I am well-acquainted with the feelings of loneliness;  familiar with the change in seasons with friendships; and well aware of my own sadness when I wish I had a boo. BUT this year, I deepened my friendship with adventure, 7 countries, and 10 US cities later I am more confident, empowered, and determined.

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I’m no longer anxious on lonely days.

I am aware.

From that awareness, I choose to wake up and ignore the self-imposed deadlines I’m “behind” on. Because who’s keeping track of the time anyway?

 

 

Change=Work

Have you all seen this vine(https://vine.co/v/OvV1WMBqKVj)? My future brother-in-law sent us siblings this video via text and I cried laughing. He talked about how he was nearing the finish line for finals and barley making it. As much as that video made me laugh its my reality too. I have been juggling quite a lot. I’ve been feeling like my dreams are too lofty. My goals are too high. How will I ever accomplish these things? Its that place where you want to pursue your dreams but you have hit a wall or “writers block” of sorts.

The kid in the video wanted to stop. He did for a second but he kept going anyways. He did not stop! I think the same needs to ring true for our generation on many levels. We must press on towards our dreams and goals but with all this talk about equality, justice, and change, we must be ready to do the hard work. Change does not come easy. We will be uncomfortable, we will get tired, we will want to give up, but if we want to make a difference for our children, we have to suck it up and not just write about it on Facebook. We have to get to work. Getting to work looks different for each person. Maybe you need to finish college? Maybe you need to write a letter to your state representative? Maybe you need to find out who your state representative is?Maybe you join an advocacy group? Maybe you need to go to law school or become a doctor? Maybe you need to invest in your children or husband? Maybe you need to start a business/non-profit? Maybe you need to write a book? Maybe you need to get your Masters degree? I digress.

hong kong protest

The hard truth is, it takes work to see change happen. If you believe you are called to step up and be apart of bringing any type of change/influence to your home or community, it will require work and sacrifice. Bottom line. It will mean saying no to hanging out with friends, No to that vacation in the middle of finals that you haven’t studied for, No to going to the movies, just plain old NO. When you are endeavoring to do something great or out of the ordinary, you can’t let FOMO [Fear of Missing Out] get in the way of your progress. FOMO will prevent you from making progress. It will hinder you.

Doubt and fear is your enemy. They never want you to win. In fact, against them you stand no chance when you give into their lies. To “them” figuratively, you will never be great. You will never have a good job. You will never reach your financial goals. You will NEVER. You will NEVER because you aren’t good enough, brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, or capable enough. You don’t have what it takes. You have no connections. You have no money. You don’t have the tools necessary to succeed. You will FAIL and they know that will be true the minute you decide to wallow in their lies.

Doubt and Fear, how I hate you. I hate you because I give into your lies sometimes. I question my abilities and I stop working hard because you tell me I CAN’T and I WON’T and sometimes let myself slip; I start to believe you. 

To my friends writing/speaking/listening on the front lines about racial tension and trying to be apart of the solution: I applaud you, please keep fighting. To my friends starting non-profits/business/etsy shops/etc. keep going, keep designing, keep networking. To the mommies and daddies getting little sleep and making a sacrifice so this next generation can be graced with a child who has character and integrity, thank you. We are all working hard together. Now is not the time to get relaxed. Now is not the time to stop dreaming. Now is not the time to say “maybe one day”. Its time to hit the gas, not press the break.

Don’t let logic get in the way of doing something you have never done before. In the words of Nike: Just Do It.

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Our Friendship-Their Parenting

As a kid my brother and I were close but when we were little we always told on each other. My parents grew tired of it. They told us to stop telling on each other and to work it out.

“Work it out” those three words led the bond of a lifetime. We were not going to talk or incriminate each other anymore. In fact, we became confidants. We did everything together. We created our own world where we were spies we called it “kids” (Don’t ask me why…I was like 6 when we created that name). Since I followed after everything my brother did, when he was done with something that meant I had to be done too. 



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Examples:

  • He was “too old” to watch Barney and that meant I was too.
  • He didn’t want to play “kids” anymore after years of imaginary adventures as kid spies (Let me tell you, the moment he broke this news to be I was devastated. I tried playing kids by myself and making it sound fun in hopes that he would join me again but he was done. Kids was no fun playing alone so after a short time, I was done too).
  • If he didn’t like something, then I didn’t either.

Move in the teenage stage, coupled with hormonal changes and this is when Dr. Phil, I mean my counselor mom, had to step in. She had to help us understand each other. Miscommunication happened more frequently and I was trying to figure out what I liked and how to formulate my own opinions (so I thought). This is also the phase where I was discovering my style and quite often embarrassed him with my clothing choices.

IMG_3667If it wasn’t for my parents, especially my mom, then my brother and I would not be best friends. Sadly, for them, they created a force to be reckoned with. We are each other’s advocates and greatest defense attorney. If I need something, he will take care of it and vice versa. We have only had maybe 1 major argument and that’s it. The rest have been disagreements- my mom taught us how to be civil and we followed through on that most of the time. The fact is, when you have a brother like mine, it’s hard to be mad. First of all, it takes a lot for me to be angry- I have to be deeply hurt. Second of all, when you are trying to keep an angry face and be agitated and your brother does something outrageously goofy to make you laugh, you just can’t stay mad anymore.

That is our life. My brother and I have had our “rubber meets the road” moments and our “Come to Jesus” talks but thanks to our parents, we get each other. We understand and know each other every well.

My parents valued the health of our relationship so much, that they facilitated a bond so strong that sometimes (most of the time) I would rather go to my brother about an issue first. Instead of them being mad and jealous that I wanted to go to him first, they encouraged it. My mom taught me as a little girl to listen to whatever my brother said, and if he was wrong, she would deal with him. So then I became a faithful follower and dedicated little sister. My first and only fight was when I was 8 years old, finishing off a little boy who got in a fight with my brother. Instead of running to get help like I should have, I jumped in and said “no one messes with my brother!” We definitely got a lecture but not spanking, which meant we weren’t in that much trouble.

I followed my brother to college. I would love to say that I didn’t follow him and I made this grand decision on my own but truth be told, he was there, and I wanted to be with him. I always dreamed of us being in college together. That was a fun year and a half. We had been separated for about 3 years and I missed my brother terribly. We embarked on the adventure of our adult friendship and it was so much fun. We did so much together.

IMG_3701I know people think we are weird and that I love my brother too much or maybe that I am obsessed (I am not). I love our friendship. It the kind where no matter what disagreements we may have, we are blood. We are family. Having a family member as your best friend is such a a gift. One day it will just be me and him when our parents aren’t on this earth anymore.

In case you didn’t know it, my brother is one cool guy. He has such a pastors heart (He will be a pastor one day), he serves others, and loves
people well. He is the superstar in this family people. He is the most level-headed, most always cool, calm, and collected. Don’t be fooled by his humorous nature and ability to hold a conversation with anyone- he is more introverted than me. In fact I have zero introverted personality traits. I am the outgoing, loud, boisterous, emotional, dramatic, passionate, free-spirited dreamer. I am the typical youngest child- the baby. My parents somehow managed to correct me without crushing me, believe in me without building me up too much, and they have tried to keep me as level headed as possible.

Mom and Dad, hat’s off to you for fostering and nourishing the greatest friendship I’ve ever known.

Thank you MJ for teaching me to persevere and never settle. You are a Godly man, you love your girlfriend well and inspire me to wait for an honorable man with character like you, and thank you for making me laugh constantly. My life is better with you in it.

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Myron Brooks Jr. aka MJ

You are one cool guy.

(Sorry ladies, he’s been spoken for by Falon KM)

XOXO

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What Defines me?

 I’ve read plenty of books dating and read too many blogs on dating, dressing modest, and purity rings. There are so many perspectives and for a young Christian woman and these opinions can be overwhelming. The one thing I have rested on is that loving Jesus gives me fulfillment.

When I get anxious about being single I have realized one thing:

My feelings are fleeting and cannot be trusted. 

Some days I feel like I can change the world
Some days I wonder why I am single
Somedays I compare my life with others
Some days I feel disconnected from some of my peers
Somedays I am full of passion and drive

What I am learning is, my feelings will change and somedays betray me and somedays tear me away from my destiny. If I buy into the lie that my dreams or goals can’t happen unless I am married then I what am I really living for? Who am I living for-my imaginary husband?

I ask myself often, “Can I really trust Jesus and his plan? Can I just do that?” Someday’s it is challenging especially when you are sitting at yet another wedding or bridal shower but I have quickly realized that I love my life and I am so blessed. I am right where I need to be and although, it is not where I thought I would be; I am thankful for where I am right now. I am so enriched by the people that make everyday better.

Let’s just face it, I am having so much fun.

 

You my friend are so dear and have made life so fun.
You my friend are so dear and have made life so fun.
Bachelorette Party for Amy!
Bachelorette Party for Amy!

 

Culture says I should be defined by my relationship status and I beg to differ.

Some of the most precious souls on earth. I love every second with them.
Some of the most precious souls on earth. I love every second with them.
Coffee times.
Coffee times.

I think that instead of debating whether or not getting married before you’re 23 or staying single till 25 is better, we just celebrate each other. Instead of comparing our journey’s lets learn from each other. Some people get married early, some people get married late, some people have kids, some people don’t, some people stay single because they WANT to. Everyone’s path is different. There is no right or wrong.

Life gets tough but one thing I have learned is living in community is life giving. My relationships with my family, my married friends, my single friends, and mentors enriches my life.

Every stage of life is valuable and so priceless.

She is my biggest cheerleader and friend. She believes I can do anything and I believe her.
She is my biggest cheerleader and friend. She believes I can do anything and tells me everyday. I am a dreamer because of her faith in me.
Everyone needs people to laugh with and lay on the grass at Discovery green.
Everyone needs people to laugh with and lay on the grass at Discovery green.
The greatest story of redemption and Christ's love is shown through the way Arnie and Jenna Cazares love each other. Getting to be apart of their wedding was such an honor.
The greatest story of redemption and Christ’s love is shown through the way Arnie and Jenna Cazares love each other. Getting to be apart of their wedding was such an honor.
These two. They keep me laughing.
These two. They keep me laughing.
Buddies. Not sure why people confused us for sisters but you all really made college amusing!
Buddies. Not sure why people confused us for sisters but you all really made college memorable.
My favorite engaged couple.
My favorite engaged couple.
My High School lifegroup- these ladies are so fun and keep me on my toes!
My High School lifegroup- these ladies are so fun and keep me on my toes!

 

I love that I can keep it real with you, laugh often, and  you are always a listening ear. <3
I love that I can keep it real with you, laugh often, and you are always a listening ear. ❤
Below is the definition of single.
 
sin·gle
adjective
1.only one; not one of several.
 
Here are the synonyms:
alone, companionless, lone, lonely, lonesome, solitary,unaccompanied.
None of that sounds interesting, exciting, or fun.
I think it’s time we changed our view of
happiness.
Let’s be honest,
life will not be perfect when you get married.
You can’t base your happiness on a person.
Learning how to be truly happy with yourself
and who you are is a gift.
Many people are still trying to figure that out.
Sitting on the lawn care-free. Those were the days. College was good to me.
Sitting on the lawn care-free. Those were the days. College was good to me.

 

I love making new friends. This picture is from a few years ago, I just met these people and starting taking pictures with them!
I love making new friends. This picture is from a few years ago, I just met these people and starting taking pictures with them!
Paid for my first all inclusive vacation to Cancun a year ago and as you can tell, I was "soaking up the sun." Can't wait for my next vacay.
Paid for my first all inclusive vacation to Cancun a year ago and as you can tell, I was “soaking up the sun.” Can’t wait for my next vacay.
This guy. I love my Dad.
This guy. I love my Dad.

Enjoy life.

Laugh often.

Dream Big.

Live out those dreams.

And Like My brother says, “Just love Jesus.”

Somehow we think that loving Jesus won’t be enough because

we want a relationship with someone “in the flesh.”

No matter how hard we try

NO ONE 

can fill the God shaped hole we were all born with.

Only God can.

Until we understand that

nothing and no one will satisfy those desires.

 

My ACE. Best brother ever.
My ACE. Best brother ever.
I've gotten to travel the world just a little and I am not done yet. #Rwanda
I’ve gotten to travel the world just a little and I am not done yet. #Rwanda
Doesn't Logan look lovely? Such a precious wedding. Childhood friends ;)
Doesn’t Logan look lovely? Such a precious wedding. Childhood friends 😉
My first time hiking in the wilderness, senior year of college.
My first time hiking in the wilderness, senior year of college.

 

This is when LizBeth got hitched;)
This is when LizBeth got hitched;)
These two keep me laughing with our group text messages and random conversations. I love living life with you two.
These two keep me laughing with our group text messages and random conversations. I love living life with you two.

 

Of course these pictures represent a fraction of the people that enrich my life but they make life fun. These people strengthen me, encourage me, and laugh with me. Guess what, some of them are married, single, dating, or engaged, sharing life with them brings me joy.

So when your feelings try to take over and put you down, remember that every day we GET to enjoy this life we have been given and that is worth living for.

 

XOXO

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P.S.

I am working on launching Hannah’s Hope that non-profit I told you all about. Stay tuned for more details. #KeepDreaming #AwakenTheDreamer