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

Sweet Creature

To The Person I Was On February 19, 2017,

Today is going to be one of the best days of your entire life. Today you’re going to learn a lot of things that don’t seem real. They are. You’re going to learn that dreams do come true. You’re going to learn that love is real. You’re going to learn that you’re worth it. You’re going to learn that you can look in somebody’s eyes and know you have found the home you have always dreamed of finding. You’re going to learn that Heavenly Father doesn’t lie. That He is constant and true. And He will not give you answers that will lead you to nowhere.

In the next seven weeks, you will experience happiness you never even knew existed. You will know the feeling of having found that one person who wants you for time and all eternity. My advice is very simple:

Don’t you dare look back. It’s going to be scary. And there will be so many unknowns. If you have a concern or a thought, please don’t hold it back. Share it. Try and work things out if they get hard. But jump. Okay? Don’t be scared. Beautiful, incredible, even sacred moments are about to occur in your life. And I want you to be truly present for all of them.

Heavenly Father has given you so many answers. And He will continue to do so. And I’m here to tell you now that a lot of them aren’t going to make any sense. But please follow them anyway. Please don’t give up.

Today you are going to learn that God has a plan. And that His plan will always come to pass. Today you are going to learn that what is meant to be will always always always find a way. And there will be plenty of times in the next two years, even today as I’m writing this, that you are going to think about this concept and spit at it. But I promise you that God is more powerful than anything you know. He is more powerful than any dark moment. More powerful than any earthly weakness or temptation. And His work is not frustrated. That’s not the way it works.

Today is going to be one of the best days of your life. I beg of you to please cherish every single second. And all the seconds to come. Jump. And don’t look back.

I love you.

I'm Just Saying

Brave & Strong

One of my best friends in the entire world, Adele, just had a baby a little over a month ago. The most beautiful baby girl that you’ve ever seen in your life. Her name is Scarlette. This last weekend, my friend Haley and I got the chance to go to L.A and visit Adele, her husband Tanner, and to meet little Scarlette.

I am so in love with this baby.

She is absolutely perfect in every way. She’s so tiny. At 7 weeks, she still fits perfectly in one of your arms. Her little legs still curl up. She has loads of dark hair that sticks up a little bit in the back. Her eyes have a blue tinge right now, but they’ll probably be very dark. She’s gorgeous now, and she’ll be gorgeous when she’s older.

I got to spend a lot of time with Scarlette. Just holding her. Just being with her. Talking. She really loves me. I could quiet her down instantly any time she got fussy. She really is the most beautiful baby. I told her how much I love her. How I’ll always be there for her. How brave and strong she is. It was wonderful.

And being with my friends was wonderful.

What’s funny is that I have two different groups of friends, and in both groups, there are three of us. But both are very different. There is a different dynamic in both and we talk about things so much differently depending on which group I’m with at the time. With this group, Haley and Adele, I get to talk about spiritual things a lot more.

I get to delve deep into the really deep stuff in life. I get to confess things to them I have a hard time telling anybody else. Because they understand all the different layers that go into it. With me, and with a lot of us, there is always more to what we say than the actual words. And Haley and Adele always know everything I’m trying to say without me having to explain it much. I love that about them. It was so refreshing to be with them and to just have fun.

What was interesting about the weekend was that it wasn’t free of trouble. I went away for five days to a beautiful place that was nice and warm. I basked in the sunlight endlessly, held a beautiful baby, laughed with my friends, went to fancy dinners, got dolled up, and did all the things we never get to do unless we’re together. But even though we did all of these wonderful things, I didn’t leave all of my troubles behind me in the ice and snow.

I think it’s because I was with my close friends, and I could let go of some of the things that I’ve been avoiding. So there were moments that were hard when I felt sad or upset about things. But it never lasted long because I was with them. I consider them my sisters. And we always know how to be there for each other.

Our last full day there, we went to the mall. We bought a few new things for Scarlette and a dress for Haley. Early on in this shopping trip Adele went to the restroom to change and feed Scarlette and Haley went browsing, and I got a text from my sister. And the conversation that followed was not an easy one.

I got some news about my family that was really hard to hear. That hurt me a lot. And shocked me. I was far away from home, hearing this family news much later than everybody else, and I felt so, so alone. If I’m being honest, I went into a kind of shock. I couldn’t really think straight for probably an hour or so, and then for the rest of the trip I just kind of put it out of my mind. With great effort.

But that moment was so hard. That space of time when I wandered around the mall with my friends just in shock. So in shock, in fact, that a not-so-old habit kicked in, and I pulled out my phone to call somebody. I went to my frequently contacted list, where their name still lives, and was about to press their name before I remembered that I couldn’t call them.

That was so hard.

The shock had stuck me in that moment, and right before my thumb hit their name I remembered that there are consequences to actions. And that even if that moment turned out great, even if their voice put everything back in place the way it always has, there is a reason I don’t hear it every day anymore. And that isn’t my fault. Lots of other things are my fault, but not that. Like how I dream about that voice. How I pray for it. How, in the middle of the night, when I’m all by myself and alone with my deepest self, I dream of hearing it again. Always accompanied by this understanding that everything looks different in the light of day. That’s why I save those thoughts for midnights.

Anyway, so I didn’t call them.

I told my friends, accepted their hugs and love, and helped Haley find a dress. And that was enough. It helped. Being with them healed me just enough until I could talk to my mom on the way home from L.A.

Adele hugged me tightly, with this new mom energy she possesses, and rubbed my back. Haley hugged me, too, and made me laugh. I hope that all of you have friends like them. Friends that can fix things just like that. All three of us had a moment during the weekend when we were our most vulnerable with one another, and the other two got to be there to be the strength. Or the happiness. Or whatever was needed. And it was beautiful.

I'm Just Saying

Moments

My older sister Jessie just had a baby a little over a month ago. His name is Abraham Eli, and he is the most beautiful baby in the world. Jessie invited me over to her house today to spend some time with her and her boys. Even if I’m doing really well, a day with Jessie and her three boys is always exactly what I need.

I got the amazing opportunity to hold Abraham for a few hours today. Jessie fed him, burped him, and let me hold him for as long as I wanted. I also got to help bath him. He was all fresh and clean, smelling like powder and lotion, wearing pine green pajamas. He smiled at me a few times, looking up at me with his big blue eyes. I wonder if they’ll stay blue. He fell asleep for a little bit with his tiny hand clenched around his blanket. I probably could’ve stayed there like that forever.

While I was with Jessie today, having this amazing experience, she told me a story that was so special. I would even say sacred. She told me about how, right after she had Abe, she was sitting there holding him. Just staring at him. Living completely in that moment of holding her brand new baby. This life she had just brought into the world. And then she looked up and saw her husband watching them. Just taking in the scene of his wife and new baby. He smiled softly and said, “You are so beautiful.”

I wish there were words for me to explain how I feel about this moment. About being able to hear this story. But I can’t. It is completely beautiful. Incredible. Like I said, I would even go so far as to use the word sacred. This moment my sister and her husband shared after their baby came into the world. There was so much love in that room. So much beautiful, pure love in every form. That is where true, eternal joy lives.

It’s the kind of moment that everybody deserves. The kind of moment we were put here to have. The kind of moment that it’s all about.

I'm Just Saying

Something Happy

When my younger sister was about three or four (give or take a year or so), she had two favorite books. I remember that I used to love to read them to her. When she was little her red hair was crazy curly and always stuck out everywhere. She constantly wore stretch pants and white t-shirts. She was the most beautiful child in the history of the world.

coverOne of her favorite books was called “Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep” by Joyce Dunbar. It is about a little bunny named Willa who can’t go to sleep and so her big brother Willoughby tells Willa a lot of very good and wonderful things. Then they can finally go to sleep. It is such a beautiful and cute story.

And for some reason, it’s been on my mind a lot the last few days.

I have been thinking a lot about those moments right before we go to sleep, and how crucial they are. You see, my powers of introversion are very strong (which is just a dramatic way of saying that I’m CRAZY introverted) so I like to stay up late at night so that I can be alone. I know that the rest of the world is asleep and that I am more alone then than I’ll ever be. It’s when I do some of my best thinking and creating.

However, I will be the first to admit that the thoughts that you think late at night or right before you go to sleep have the potential to be weapons. In my experience, a lot of the time you shouldn’t listen to any of the things that you tell yourself past a certain time of night. Your brain can start going in a million different directions and put in you bad places. That’s just the way it is.

On the flip side, though, sometimes those are the purest hours for thinking. You aren’t distracted by everybody on the planet. Your mind isn’t drowned out by the world. It’s just you in the middle of the night. willa

It can be so powerful.

In my experience, the thoughts that you think in the middle of the night, right before you go to sleep, are either your worst nightmare or the wisest thoughts you’ll ever think. The truest, purest, most heartfelt thoughts. There really isn’t any in between.

So pay attention. Pay attention to where your heart takes you in those beautiful, vulnerable moments. It very often will guide you to the places you need to be if you let it. You’ll see.

The best part about this children’s book that I used to read to Josie is that the thing that gives Willa the most comfort, the thing that makes her excited to go to sleep just so that she can wake up in the morning, is the knowledge that Willoughby will be there in the morning. Just like always. That’s the happiest thought for her. And I love that.

I'm Just Saying

when the sun came up

it all seems so simple
As human beings, we are completely obsessed with endings. We are constantly asking about what is going to end up happening when we will reach a sometime we’ve been waiting for, or what tomorrow or next year brings. I know that I do this. I am always wondering about what’s around the corner. And as we spend our days obsessing over the future and wondering about the ending, we forget one very, very important thing.

It isn’t about the end.

Life is made up of seconds, moments, hours, days. Life is made up of each angle that creates it all. And ultimately, life is about the process. People are always saying things like, “When you are on your deathbed do you want to look back and think…” or “Twenty years from now do you want to be able to say…” These phrases capture just. Just a little. It is not about the end.

It is about the process.

And sometimes the process of life is messy and dark. And it hurts. And other times it is clean and bright. And beautiful. There are times when you understand the things that happen and times when you don’t. But that’s only normal because you are, after all, a human. And no matter where life takes you there will be never, ever be a moment when you understand absolutely everything.

One day, we will all die.

And depending on your beliefs, it will be an end in some way. If you believe that there is no life after death, then it is the ultimate end. If you believe that there is life after death, then it is the end of your life on this earth. Either way, it is an end. Death is inescapable, but it isn’t the purpose or the point. Isn’t the point to become something? It isn’t about the fact that you got from Point A to Point B. It is about how you got there. That is life.

the monsters turned out to be just trees
We spend a great deal of our life in fear. And that’s because life is scary, and there is so, so much about it that is totally unsure. No matter how sure we are about anything, there is going to be insecurity. In fact, the times in my life when I have been the most confident about what I was doing have been the times when I was the most frightened.

I think we all have one thing we the most terrified of.

I am deathly afraid of spiders. And most insects, really. I don’t do well with scary movies at all. I’m also very, very afraid of pretty much everything to do with the ocean. And space. There’s too much just … something out there and the expanse scares me. You probably couldn’t pay me enough money to go into space or on a boat by myself in the middle of the ocean. Really, I’m absolutely terrified of it. And we all have these things. And we have things that we are most seriously afraid of. Like ending up alone. Or never knowing love. Or going without. Or any number of countless things that are completely real and so, so scary. But what if you were to face this thing, this great big thing that scares you the very, very most? The thing that you are sure would end you as you know yourself. What if it was there? Happening right in front of you?

And what if it didn’t hurt at all?

What if you realized that you are bigger than this fear? What if the only feeling was this feeling in your chest that was like the sensation of falling mixed with a very hot fire that very suddenly cooled and left you sitting on the top of a green hill? Silent. Peaceful. And clean. Finally clean.

so we could dance
I was talking with my mother recently about a lot of things. Mostly some family issues. We were talking about the concept of “letting go”. Overall, I think this concept has merit. I mean, it exists for a reason. But as we discussed it and thought it over, I had a bit of an epiphany. I’m going to do my best to explain it so that I don’t discount the very real thing that “letting go” is.

I realized that life isn’t about letting go.

First of all, if we just walk around letting things go all the time then we’ll end up empty. The point is to gather things inside of us and let them become a part of who we are. “Letting go” is, I think, more about the bad things. Let hate go. Let fear go. Let doubt go. Let insecurity go.

But please hold on.

Hold on to laughter. Hold on to sunlight. Hold on to memories. And, most of all, hold on to love. I cannot stress this last one enough. Love is never, ever something that you should let go. It is never, ever something that you should forget. It is never, ever something that you should get over. Love is the most beautiful, perfect force that we have on this earth. Don’t ever let it go.

baby, i did, too
If I stand back and look at life, I mean really, really look at it, the only thing I see is me standing before God and Him asking the question, “Do you trust me?” It may seem incredibly simple, but it’s true. Because if God is real, and He does have a very specific plan for each of our lives – which I know to be the case – then really the ultimate lesson in life is one of trust. Trust in the process.

i was looking at you
There is another thing that I think we have to learn, and again I’m going to do my best to explain it lest I lead the world down false paths. But honestly, it’s pretty simple.

I am not in charge of my life.

There are a lot of things that I can control. A lot of choices that are completely up to me. A lot of things that I am accountable for because it is, after all, my life. But I am not in charge of it. There comes a moment in the life of every single human being when they realize that they cannot control the things that happen during their own process. There is so much that simply happens to us. There is so much we are not in charge of.

you were looking at me
But along with all of this is another truth. We may not be in charge. We may not ultimately be able to control any of the things that shape our process. However.

What’s meant to be will always find a way.

God reminded me of this fact recently. He reminded me that there are things I can’t control, but that that’s okay. There are things that happen, but ultimately He is in charge. He reminded me that what’s meant to be will always find a way. No matter what that means. No matter what Point B that gets you to. It’s about the process and trust. And love. Always, always love.

I'm Just Saying

The Post I Have To Write

Well, here we are. At the end of 2017. And those of you who are avid blog readers have already read a thousand posts like this one. You know, the “This-Has-Been-My-Year-And-Everything-I’ve-Learned-And-This-Is-How-Awesome-Life-Is-Going-To-Be-Because-I’ve-Been-Through-Hell-But-Look-How-Much-Stronger-I-Am-And-Please-Be-Inspired-By-My-Story-Here’s-Every-Good-Thing-You’ve-Ever-Needed-To-Read-Sunshine-Rainbows-Smiles” post.

eyesI’ve been thinking a lot about my blog recently and in particular this post. As a blogger, I kind of feel obligated to post something about the changing year. But honestly, as I’ve rewritten this post about 53 times in my head, it was vastly different every time. Some were long rants about specific things, others were lists of rants about specific things.

You see when I blog I just have to hope that if I pour my soul out there somebody will read it and it might actually do something. They might say, “Hey, what I read on that blog. That was good.” And maybe some small part of their life will change or they’ll think differently or do differently. Maybe that’s too much to hope for, but it’s what I hope for when I blog.

I’ll be the first to admit that my blog hasn’t been it’s finest lately. After four years of blogging on this same blog, believe me, I understand it’s not going to be chart-topping all the time. And I’m okay with that. When I began this blog I did it to enhance my writing skills, and if any of you have been around that long (which some of you have) you’ll agree with me when I say that my writing has indeed gotten much better. I’ve considered a lot of things when it comes to my blog: waving goodbye to blogging in general, creating an entirely different blog and starting over, taking a hiatus from this blog for a while. None of which I’m going to end up doing. This is just my blog and one aspect of my writing personality is that I’m a blogger. And that’s the way it is.

So. The changing year.

Oh, what do I say about 2017? If you’d have asked me that a few days ago, or even yesterday, I’d have had a whole lot to say about 2017. None of it good, all of it very angry and bitter. But as often happens in my life, I had a pretty intense conversation with God last night. And as only He can do, He pulled it all back together and set me back on the path He wanted for me.

One thing I will say about 2017 is that it began with me taking charge of my life. I was certain it was going to be my year. I wasn’t going to waste time on things that weren’t working out, I wasn’t going to wait around for anything to happen anymore. I made loads of plans for my future, and I decided it was my time to shine.

God had other plans, of course, as He often does. All of my carefully laid plans god is goddisintegrated pretty quickly when God followed through on some incredible promises. It was, in fact, my time to shine, but in a very different way than I’d planned for myself. It’s interesting how that is often the case with God.

There was one moment, in particular, this last year that I will never forget as long as I live. In fact, there were many, but I’ll just stick to this one because it was quite powerful. I was in a very beautiful moment, the kind where you’re about to burst because everything is so perfect that you wonder how God could be THAT awesome. And I remember a very soft voice in my head saying to me, “This is so right. But it isn’t going to happen the way that you think it is.”

To be honest, I ignored that voice in the moment, and to be more honest I kind of forgot about it as time passed and darkness fell.

But as I think back on this now, I realize that this statement doesn’t necessarily only apply to that one thing in my life. I think it applies to everything God puts in our life. It can be a little frustrating when God gives us a clear answer but then the way forward is hard and rocky. It is hard when we know something is right but we have to take a different route to get there. I’ve had that experience a few times, one, in particular, was with my schooling. And there are other examples, too. It’s hard, but often times when we’re given an answer from God, we are given the answer and then told to trust Him. Almost as if He’s saying, “This is what I need you to do, so go for it. But the way forward may be different than what you’re thinking so I just need you to trust me.”

That’s a powerful life lesson right there. I’m not sure why trusting God can be so hard, but I think it’s something many of us struggle with.

soul recognitionAnother thing I’ve learned is that life is different for everybody. In the continued spirit of honesty, I’ll just go ahead and say that this all began on Pinterest. My Pinterest feed is usually a great place, I mean with One Direction all over it I’m at least 15 again and it’s incredible, but Pinterest has been doing this thing recently that’s got me all worked up. It all started when I pinned one quote about love to my board which inspires my latest novel. I had to pin it because it accurately portrays the relationship between my main characters on a level that killed me. It simply had to be pinned.

Well, Pinterest being the let-me-show-you-all-the-things-based-on-this-one-tiny-thing-you-looked-at site that it is, there were about 7,324 pins about love blasted all over my newsfeed for the next 100 years. I read quite a few of them before I felt my blood begin to absolutely boil. In fact, if I had read one more “real love is this” or “real love is supposed to be this way” quote I would’ve committed unspeakable acts against humanity.

And it made me realize something.

Life, love, or whatever you wish to apply this to, is different for everybody. And my version of “real” love is going to be different than your version of real love. True love is different across countries and cultures and what you view as a soulmate completely depends on you. (Now that I’m writing all this out maybe I should just write an open letter to Pinterest or something and call it good.) Anyway, the bottom line is that it’s all different for everybody. That’s why having a personal relationship with God is so important: so that you can do what is best for you personally. Regardless of what any person or site says is the right way to feel, think, or act. star

You know those moments when you’re looking at the ocean or the sky at night? When you look up at the blue-black and see all of those billions of crystal stars and it just takes your breath away? Those moments when, for just a split second, you are faced with the vastness of the world. Whoever or whatever comes into your mind in that moment is where your heart belongs.

I’m not sure what the new year holds. To be honest, I’m not even sure about the next week, but that’s okay. It’s a new year with new beginnings, but I’m still me. And God is still God. There are some things that never change.