I'm Just Saying

In The Region Of The Summer Stars

I need to write tonight. I need to let go of what’s been swarming around in my head today. But not in the way you’re thinking. Not in the way that I usually do.

I need to write about the stars.

I love the stars. I love the night sky. I have written about this on my blog at least 854 times, and I am in no way ashamed to write about it again. There is something about looking up at the stars that makes me feel so incredibly close to God. It makes me feel so near Him, so loved by Him. I look at that massive sky filled with all of that beauty, and I know that He isn’t that far away.

Some of the most special moments that have ever occurred between me and God have happened while I was looking at the stars. It’s almost like a special secret language that we have. Just Him and me.

It always happens with a shooting star.

Without fail, I always, always, always see a shooting star at the exact moment I need it. And every time I always hear a small voice in my heart saying very simple words such as, “I know.” Or, “I love you.” Or, “Don’t give up.” Sometimes the shooting stars I see are just a reminder of the answers He’s given me before. A little bolstering as I continue on the right path.

Since it is winter, and the sky has been hiding, stars have been pretty far away for a while. I can’t even begin to explain how hard winter is on me, everyone. I’m serious. If I go too long without seeing the sun and the clear sky, bad things happen in my brain. But something very beautiful happened to me last night. Heavenly Father sent me a gift.

I had a dream that I was watching a meteor shower.

In my dream, I was standing on the balcony of a home and looking up at the sky, and it was filled with dozens and dozens of shooting stars. They streaked across the sky quickly or slowly, bright and vivid. Absolutely beautiful. It was so special to me. It was Heavenly Father’s way of sending me a message in our secret language even when I couldn’t see the actual sky. It was everything I needed this week. It was everything I needed to just remind me that He is there.

Today was an interesting day. I got to have a really great worship experience, and spend some quality time in a place that is very sacred and special to me. A place where evil can never reach me, and I am so close to heaven. And as I sat there surrounded by the Spirit and just praying in my heart, I felt a warmth and connection to the Lord that I have been aching to feel for several weeks now. It was spectacular. And I picked up the scriptures and flipped open to some verses that reminded me that Heavenly Father has already given me so many beautiful answers about my life and that I shouldn’t doubt them. And scriptures that told me not to fear.

And that got me thinking about my dream again. And the stars.

I never feel small or insignificant looking at the stars. I feel amazing and powerful. Like I could do anything. And completely astonished by their beauty.

Then later today I was speaking with my mom, and she told me that she’d gotten me a gift. It is my absolute favorite picture of Jesus Christ. I had told her in passing some weeks ago that it was my favorite picture of Him for personal reasons, and I had no idea starsshe’d get it for me. So my little sister brought it to me tonight.

It is a picture of the Savior standing in a boat and looking up at a night sky full of stars.

So I had these three incredible moments today. Moments that reminded me of this special connection I have with my Father in Heaven. Moments that spoke to me personally because of my feelings. Perhaps all of these experiences to do with the stars wouldn’t have meant as much to somebody else, but they meant the entire world to me. I can’t even describe how much. And to somebody else Heavenly Father would give experiences that would mean that much.

I just find it incredible. And I am so grateful for it. I am grateful for a Father in Heaven who really and truly knows me. For a Father in Heaven who never gives up on me. Who understands me in every way. Who is there for every high and every low. Who has given me beautiful moments and solid faith. A Father in Heaven who has never hesitated to give me astonishingly vivid answers about my life, and always been there to help me if the path got hard. Because the right path will always be hard. A Father in Heaven who arranged a day like today: one that helped me remember all of these things.

That is how much He really knows us.

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I'm Just Saying

Darling, Just Hold On

I have drafted this post probably ten times. Each time gets more confusing and way more wordy than it needs to. The idea I’m trying to convey is not a complex one. But for some reason, it has been hard for me to accurately explain myself.

There is a trend in humanity that I am not fond of. I have thought about it quite a lot, and collageI can’t decide if it is a product of our times or if it is a product of being human.

It is the idea of cutting people out of your life.

To be completely truthful, I almost can’t go a single day without seeing something posted somewhere on social media about how people are toxic and you need to cut them out of your life. About how people wrong you and make your life horrible so you need to cut them out of your life. Good grief, I could probably write a novel on all of the things that people say about other people and how they aren’t good for any of us.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I have a fairly long list of people who used to be in my life who are no longer actively in my life. I understand that this is a thing that happens as a product of living. We grow apart from people, we don’t live nearby them, life takes us in different directions. Whatever the case may be, there are a million things that happen. But this isn’t what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about that moment when you look at your relationship with somebody and have to actively decide whether or not you are going to keep them in your life.

Of course, many of you are probably thinking that I am referring to romantic relationships, but this can apply to any relationship. I have at least three people on my mind that this post applies to, and all of them are very different people and have very different places in my life. So apply it freely. Take my experiences for what they may be worth in your life and realize that what has proven to work and be true for me may not be what you need. I understand that, too.

But sometimes we just have to hold on. darling

Because haven’t we all been there? Haven’t we all been the toxic one at least once? Haven’t we all been the one that our friends or partners or family probably would’ve been happier without, even for a little while? We all make mistakes because we are all human.

There are times when walking away is completely and totally the overwhelming answer. There are experiences when it is the best thing for you to do, the only thing that will make your life better, happier, and more fulfilling to live. I’ve had experiences like that, too.

I guess what I’m saying is that you need to know the difference. You need to be completely sure. Know when you need to walk away, and know when a person is absolutely supposed to be in your life regardless of the hard times that may develop feel like homebetween you.

There are going to be times when people do things that hurt us. There are going to be times when it feels like it might not be worth it. But for the right people, the people who bring a foundation into your life or the people that help throw back the curtains of clouds to let the sun shine or the people who feel like home, it is always worth it.

So, darling, just hold on.

I'm Just Saying · Just Writing

Space of Sky

If I lay very still, close my eyes, and breathe out everything that is crowding my head, one of two things always happens to me.

I always see myself somewhere. Every time. Sometimes I am in a green field. It is probably my favorite place to visit. It’s very beautiful there. And sometimes I see myself in a stretch of sky. Arms and legs outstretched, eyes closed. Floating.

Perhaps it is a form of meditation that causes me to go to these two places, perhaps my imagination. It could be any number of things, really. Maybe you have similar experiences, places that you go when you leave the world for a moment. And, like it is for me, maybe these places show you a bit more about yourself. And maybe they help you move forward when you come back to the world. And maybe they offer you the answers you can never seem to find elsewhere.

Whatever it is or whatever it may mean to you, to me these things that come to me are very special. They help me so much, and perhaps more than I even know.

Space of Sky

I am in a space of breathy blue and cloudy white
floating with arms and legs outstretched
filling the space my soul has already claimed
perhaps this space is the sky
but there is no box of ground and space
only me and the sky

Perhaps I fall very slowly downward
or maybe I rise
my hair ripples around me, my eyes are closed
peace and tranquility live here
it is as if every pore of my body and soul
is open to the space around me

It is the space of my higher self, I think
and such a lovely place
when it holds me in the embrace of stillness
I have no fears, and I have no doubts
every thought and feeling points to the same thing
if there are voices they whisper good things

Here in this place of soft light and sound
I am free from daily things
there exists no bubble inside of my chest
which holds all the things I do not say
no bridge of emotions instead of a diaphragm
helping me breathe forward

In this space of peaceful movement
there is no fierce longing for things unknown
there is no reckless passion
I do not ache for soil I haven’t touched
or yearn for words I haven’t found
I only am

When I come here, to my very own sky
I am empty, and also full
everything in my soul that I try to contain
spills over the edges and fills my sky
so that I am there inside myself
but also in everything around me

In this moment of my soul spilling outwards
and surrounding me
I realize that it is good
and fears are put to rest
it is as if all the bits and pieces can breathe
and my deepest self is clean

I see what I am
what I can become
I view time not in a line
but in a massive expanse of perspective
I feel the promise of eternity in my fingertips
I know where the truth lies

And for the briefest of moments
for the smallest of seconds
I am free
I am brave
I understand what I cannot
I am a soul ignited

I'm Just Saying

Regrets, I’ve Had A Few

Let’s talk about regret. And about doing things that we regret. Because I’ve been really, really good at that this last week.

This might sound arrogant or presumptuous, but if I’m being honest I really don’t often do things that I regret. I try hard to keep a level head on my shoulders and to think before I do things.

But this last week has been a rough one in my life for a lot of reasons. My mind has been pulled in a lot of directions with a lot of things, and as a result my mind has been even less mine than it normally is.

What is hard about doing things you regret is that you can’t undo them. You have no way of knowing just what your actions have done or how they have changed your life.

What’s funny about this post is that from a grand perspective these things I’ve done really aren’t bad. They really aren’t even regret worthy. I honestly should’ve saved this post for something regret worthy.

I was talking to God about this tonight, and it was a really great experience because I’ve felt rather far away from Him throughout this whole thing.

He assured me, as He always does, that He has a plan and everything is going to be okay. That our tiny mistakes aren’t going to ruin the grand scheme.

It’s such a relief to know that even when we slip up, God is still on our side. He is still there for us, and His promises are still sure.

We just have to start again and have faith and hope.

I'm Just Saying

‘Til the A.M

Summer 2017 was the summer of stars, drives, and songs.

night skyI honestly don’t know how many times my friends and I had what we term “rooftop sessions”. We’d get in my car and just drive, drive anywhere. And eventually, we would pull over somewhere, open the sunroof, and sit on top of my car. From up there, the world looked a little different, and the stars were a little brighter.  We were often surrounded by fields of some kind, in the quiet of a beautiful summer night.

And we would listen to music.

Usually One Direction, or Harry Styles’ new album. (We’d have listened to Niall’s, too, if it had been out. Can you even believe how wonderful it’s doing?! I’m so incredibly proud. But that’s a conversation for another time.)

And we’d have all kinds of conversations, about all sorts of things. Sometimes they were deep conversations and sometimes they weren’t. But those moments, surrounded by my friends, the beautiful summer night, and music in the background are memories I will treasure forever.

I’d also always look for a shooting star.

I had an absolutely amazing experience one night during a rooftop session that had to doshooting star with a shooting star. As we sat there, listening to our music, I was praying. I was expressing to God how I was feeling. I was asking Him about answers He’d given me, and telling Him that I had faith. I was telling Him that more than anything I wanted what He wanted for me. I wanted to remain faithful so that He could keep His promises. And as I finished saying this prayer, an incredible shooting star with two tails shot across the sky.

Call it what you will, but I don’t believe in coincidences.

And ever since then, I look for a shooting star whenever I get a moment to look at the night sky. And every time I see one it is just one more reminder from God about all the wonderful things He’s done for me and all the answers He’s given me.

It’s part of what made those rooftop sessions so beautiful.

One of our favorite songs to listen to during a rooftop session is the song “A.M” from 1D’s last album together. It’s an absolutely beautiful song, and if you haven’t heard it I implore you to set aside whatever atrocity has lived inside of you to make this your reality and go listen to it.

track 17But remember that music is incredibly important to me, and so when I ask you to listen to a song I need to really listen to it. Drink in the lyrics, let the music itself wash over you. Experience this song in every way that you can. All too often people take listening to somebody’s favorite song too lightly. If you learn anything from me, learn how to really listen to somebody’s favorite song and all that it says about the way they’re feeling.

Anyway, I’m not sure what it is about this song, but it strikes a chord deep in my heart. I’d post the lyrics for you right here and now if I thought it would penetrate your heart the way it penetrates mine.

One of my good friends just finished reading the novel I recently finished. Late one night as she read, she sent me a video. She was reading about the couple in the novel and said to me, “If they had a song it would be ‘A.M’. It’s perfect for them. They’re perfect.” I honestly couldn’t have ever been given a better compliment about my writing.

Essentially, this song is about people having a conversation late into the night. The lyricsa.m imply that it is about two people who love each other, who have been through a lot. It is about them talking late into the night, and into the morning. It is about how they always come back to each other. It’s about that enduring quality of love. One line says, “You know I’m always gonna look for your face.”

It is a sweet song, so sweet and full. Really that’s the best way I can describe it. Just full. The song talks about how these conversations sometimes don’t mean anything, and how sometimes they have no clue where they’re headed or anything. But underneath it all there is a sense of surety in the person they are with.

Won’t you stay ’til the A.M.?
All my favorite conversations
Always made in the A.M…

 

 

I'm Just Saying

Palace Views

14375342_1898733117020628_440956483_oA year ago today, I set foot in London, England for the first time. And realized I was home.

I went to England for three weeks on a study abroad tour with the English department at my university. We spent the first several days in London, and continued from there. Each Sunday that we were there we attended church. On the last Sunday I remember sitting in the meeting and weeping. I remember silently praying, talking to God about a lot of different things.

I remember praying, “How can I do it? How can I leave here? I’ve never felt such a sense of belonging in my life. How can I leave, Father? How?”

Then I prayed, “And you’re probably so tired of hearing about my problems. You’re probably so done hearing about the same concern over and over again. Even though I’m here in England I’ve still been praying about it and I’m sorry.”

More tears just came pouring out of my eyes. I thought the woman next to me was going to have to pull out her umbrella. “Please,” I finished, “I can’t leave. I don’t know how to leave this behind.”

The thing was, even as I was caught up in this sorrow, I felt a peace I’d never experiencedPhone Pictures 707 before. To be honest, this peace settled over my heart the instant I arrived in England and never left the whole time I was there. But in this moment, I felt so much genuine sadness. I was so grateful to be there. So, so incredibly grateful. I had known that I would feel that way. In fact, much of my life my parents had been reluctant about letting me travel to England because, as my mother once said, “You’ll go there and realize it’s your home. And then you’ll never come back.”

She was right. Because a part of me is still there, and it’s never coming back.

But as I spoke this prayer, and felt this peace, I also heard something. Very distinctly.

“I’ll never get tired of hearing you speak to me about anything. I don’t care if you say the same prayer all day every day if that’s the prayer of your heart. And I know you’re sad. I know it’s hard. And I’m right here with you. Don’t worry. This isn’t the end.”

Phone Pictures 927My time in England was the happiest time of my life up to that point. It was so much more for me than just seeing things I’d always wanted to see. It was so much more than a great thing I got to experience.

It was the very first time in my life where I saw dreams coming true. It was the very first time in my life where I wasn’t just waiting for my turn. (What can I say, I grew up in a big family. Waiting my turn has always been and will always be the story of my life.) It was the very first time when something completely spectacular, something beautiful, something so, so incredibly good that fed my soul, happened to me.

It was the first time that I realized good things could actually happen to me. And not just to everyone else. I think that the combination of me being number 8 of 10 children and also a writer has doomed me to a life of observation. I have always just been a watcher. I’ve watched things happen to other people my whole life, with me just standing on the fringes.

My deepest held desire has always been that one day it would be my turn.

You see, when your time finally comes, it is so much more than just seeing the sights. It is about dreams you’ve had your whole life coming true. It is about prayers you’ve whispered through tears finally being answered. It is about finally inhabiting a place in the universe you’ve only seen others step into. It is about joy so pure and full that you think your heart will burst. Joy you’ve waited your turn for your entire life.

This last year has been a year of it finally being my turn for a lot of things.

And it all started with England. England welcoming my soul home. England teaching mePhone Pictures 843 that it is about so much more than just the surface of what’s happening to you. England teaching me that it is actually about dreams coming true, prayers being answered, long awaited joy bursting your heart. England letting me go in a very painful moment, but whispering that it wouldn’t be for long.

I remember standing in Hampton Court Palace, only a few days into the trip, looking around me in complete awe. My heart was so full, my head buzzing. I couldn’t get enough of the view.

I'm Just Saying

Faith, Trust, And…

Many of you are aware that I am a very religious person. I also know that many of you are as well, and it has been a real pleasure to share my belief in God with many of you.

Today being Sunday, I’ve got lots of spiritual things on my mind. Well, if I’m being completely honest, I’ve usually got spiritual things on my mind. But today in particular I’ve been thinking.

To put it mildly, my life has been very interesting lately. And I have learned a lot of things. So many things. And every time I have prayed, God has been right there. Comforting me. Supporting me. And giving me countless answers.

Seriously.

The answers I have received from God in the past weeks have been endless, and too intense for me to ever deny. And they have come in a variety of ways. One of the things I love most about God is how well He knows each and every one of us. As we get closer to Him, we are able to communicate with Him in a way that is unique for each one of us.

Because I love music, He has often answered my prayers through song. Because I’m really observant and love looking at people and the world around me, He often answers my prayers through small things. Even something as simple as a license plate or a shooting star. Or a feeling. Or a small voice whispering to me.

But unfortunately I’ve got this problem. I have a really hard time trusting, and more often than not this gets projected on to God. He’ll give me answers, and suddenly I put on my suit of armor and say, “Okay! Cool! Answer received! I’m ready to make it happen! What next?”

Imagine my shock then, when He simply says, “Nothing. I’ll make it happen. Just trust me.”

Like…what?

You mean, you don’t need my help?

What can I do to help this thing along?

“Nothing.” He says. “I’ll take care of it. Just trust me. Be patient.”

And there I am, kneeling beside my bed in prayer all like…okay. Cool. Answer received. I’ll just…go on my merry way.

But here I am, learning things. This is honestly such a new experience for me. And I get anxious and frustrated and discouraged too easily. I start wishing I had more faith. But then I’m reminded that I did get this far, and that’s something. And to be honest, I think that all of us have more faith than we think we do. Really.

God is giving me answers that make my heart want to burst and soar all at the same time. But then He asks me to trust Him. He’s going to make it happen. For some reason that is so much easier said than done. I’m not used to reaching out and relying on others that much, and yet time and time again recently God has been asking me to learn how to do that. And now it’s time to rely on Him. To trust these incredible answers I’ve received and wait patiently.

It’s all about trust right now.

But then again, maybe that is the lesson. Maybe it is always about trust, and realizing that God has a plan, and trusting that He has everything under control. He loves us infinitely. And He is able to answer our prayers and do ALL things because, after all, He is God.