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

If You Leave The Light On

It has been about a week since I’ve blogged, and I have a lot on my mind tonight. Surprise, surprise. If I’m being honest, that actually happens to me a lot. I get on my blog pretty much every day, just to check and see how everything is and to peak at the blogs I follow. And sometimes I look at my blog and think, “All is well. I am pleased.” And then I continue on with my day. And after doing this for a few days, I’ll suddenly come on my blog and it’s as if my brain explodes with all these thoughts, feelings, and ideas that I absolutely have to get out and it’s as if the creator in me screams, “How have you been waiting around with all of this in your brain for eternity?! Write something, you fool!”

So here I am, writing something.

Like I said, I have a lot on my mind tonight. And if I’m being honest not a lot of it is positive. I have been having a great 2019. That is no lie. Wonderful, amazing things have happened to me so far this year and it’s only February. And there are so many more incredible things to come. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my off days. It does mean, however, that when I do have my off days I get frustrated. I just say to myself, “Um, self. What the devil? You’re actually doing super great so … get it together.”

Today is not, in fact, an off day. But I have had a few in the last week or so. And they haven’t been bad days. Just off days. Days when negativity comes seeping into my head and I can’t figure out why it just won’t leave me alone. Days when the people closest to me have felt like they were falling apart and I had to help hold them together. Those kinds of days.

I think it was last November, I was having a really, really, really bad day. I felt so alone and lost. I couldn’t figure out what to do with everything that was happening in my life. I was trying to hold everything together. So late one night I got in my car – wearing the classiest outfit I’ve ever put together mind you: Christmas pj’s, a sweater, socks, and flats. Class, class, class. – and I just started driving. I went to a very peaceful spot and called one of my good friends. She helped a lot. And then I started driving again. And I drove and drove and drove. All around my town and to my old town and around my old high school. And the entire time I listened to “Home” by One Direction on repeat. And somehow that helped.

Truthfully, every single time I am having a hard moment, no matter where on the scale of hard moments that it falls, I always come back to the same conclusion: trust God. He has a plan. Everything is going to be okay.

Several weeks later I went and spoke to one of my very trusted spiritual advisors and told him some of the things that were going on in my life. I had some pretty heavy issues I needed to discuss with him, and I was scared. But it was an incredible meeting. And I wish I could say that he said all of these wonderful, groundbreaking things and introduced all this truth I’d never thought of before, but he didn’t. In fact, he let me tell him some very hard things from my past, and a few things in my present, he let me shed a few tears, and then he said, “Did you know that Heavenly Father is in charge?”

And for whatever reason, it hit me right in the heart. And I couldn’t stop smiling.

I just started beaming from ear to ear. I couldn’t have stopped smiling if I’d tried. It is something that I have always known. It is something that I take for granted, actually. But for whatever reason, the truth of that sunk deep into my soul at that moment and it was exactly what I needed. He continued on telling me about how everybody’s life story is different and rarely does life ever go the way that we think it will. But God is God. His truth is unchanging. He cannot lie. He will not tell you something that isn’t true. He will not lead you down a wrong path.

A few days ago, my little sister Josie, who is one of my best friends on this earth (pretty sure I’ve blogged about that a million times), sent me a Youtube link. She does this often: sends me videos and pictures and all the things. And since I have this habit of not actually viewing them they are usually accompanied by a passive-aggressive, “Please watch this.” Well, the link she sent me the other day was accompanied by:

“Please listen to this song. I freaking love it. It might make you cry.”

I couldn’t decide if I was happy that she knew me this well or frustrated that she knew me and my life this well, but I did indeed listen to the song and it was beautiful. It did not, in fact, make me cry, but I responded, “I am not crying. But I feel like she spied on me.” You know those songs?

Anyway, it was very sweet. And I promise that there was definitely a point in telling you all of these very random and seemingly unrelated stories. But at this precise moment, I can’t remember what it was. But they do relate, and they are all very important to me. And they show that we aren’t alone, ever. And they show that life takes twists and turns but that what’s meant to be will always find a way.

Because God is always in charge.

I'm Just Saying

Religion, Macklemore, & Wine

Today I did something completely insane.

I scrolled all the way to the end of my blog. All the way to the very first post. Published on November 12, 2013, and titled “Fear No More” this post was about how it’s okay to love Shakespeare. To embrace the wonderful things he gave us and not shy away from his work, even in this day and age.

shakespeare loveWhy did I do this, you may ask?

Because I have been thinking about this blog incessantly lately. If I posted for the very first time in November of 2013, that means that we hit our five year anniversary this year.

What?

And I’ll be the very first to say it: this blog has been through SO many ups and downs. One of the great things about reaching my very first post, which took a lot longer than I’ll here record, is that I got to see how I’ve evolved in my writing in the last four and a half years. I got to see the things that I used to blog about. The things that used to excite me.

I used to be a very exuberant writer.

The number of exclamation marks. The language. Oh, glory. What a ride we’ve been through to develop the writing style that I know pose on this blog of mine. If you think it’s a little crazy now, scroll back a few years. I dare you.

My blog has been struggling recently.

I won’t deny that. In fact, I’ll be even more honest and admit that my blog has been dead for about a year now. I have blogging friends that I haven’t heard from in a million years. Do you suppose they’re still alive? hello neon

The reasons behind the death of the vitality of my blog are probably many and various, and to be honest I’m not sure if this post is the correct way to go about fixing it. I’ve admitted before how dead this blog has been for a while, and none of that seemed to do much.

Not that I’m complaining.

I love blogging and I always have. My blog has often been a great place for me to go to in order to create and express myself. It’s been invaluable to me for so many reasons.

When I first started blogging, one thing that I loved to do was write posts about specific things about myself. I’d tell people fun facts about me, or overall just try to be funny, in order to attract more followers and feel a little bit more validated.

So I thought I’d do that again today. Just for old time’s sake.

  1. I love God. I love Him so much. It’s not enough to say that my religion is important to me. It’s everything to me. It influences most of my decisions, if not all. My relationship with God is central to my life. I’d be completely lost without it. I love it that I know He is always there. That He loves me unconditionally and knows me perfectly. There is no greater comfort than that. I know that He has a plan for my life. And when I am following Him and doing the things I know I need to be doing to very best of my abilities, there is such a safety and comfort to life. God is so good. He is so, so good.
  2. I am a huge Macklemore fan. I am. Most people would never, ever guess that about geminime in a million years. But Macklemore is one of my most favorite people who has ever lived on this planet. I not only love his music, but I think he’s a great person. If you don’t follow him on Instagram, you should. It’s a treat. I love Macklemore.
  3. I love wine. I have never had wine. In fact, I’ve never drunk at all. No joke. Not a lie. 100% honesty. For religious reasons, I have never drank and I never will. It’s a belief that I hold very close to me, no matter how ridiculous it might sound to the outside world. But all of that being said, you will have a very hard time finding anybody in this world who loves wine more than me. I’m absolutely fascinated by it. If it were in any way possible, I’d be a key figure in the wine industry. I’m fairly certain it’s impossible to do that and also keep my religious standards, so that will have to remain a dream. But I think wine is totally amazing and incredible. I study it whenever I can. I have books about wine that I’ve read a million times. I study every wine menu I ever come in contact with. I love wine. I think it’s beautiful.
Just Writing

Stardust and Ink

Stardust and Ink

We are trapped behind bars
of paper and ink. Defined by
the black and white. Destined
to form the shapes they call
letters and words. We hide
behind pages and let our
weapons dry in ink. We
count syllables and words.

And in doing so we attempt
to make the everyday count.
We write about things that
aren’t true in order to whisper
about the things we hold inside
us in boxes of pain and scars.
Boxes make the best stories.
So we count those, too. But we
don’t talk about any of this, or
anything really. We just
construct chapters, themes, or
stanzas to surround it with
binding. That’s how we tell the
truth. We present things in a gold-
rimmed goblet empty of the blue
that we turned into ice and when
it shatters we count the pieces.

I lined up bottles of ink
and watched them slowly
drain. Holding in my hand
things mightier than warfare.
The things that foster or
pulverize the peace. Across
the room shelves filled with
pages covered in my new
patterns. I turned my boxes
into pages because they were
taking up space in the corners
where the sunlight doesn’t
reach. Now they are bound
with thread, imagery, and
symbolism rather than lock,
key, and prison door. I’ll let
you read the stories they turned
into. And once the words leave
the page and enter your own
corners they’ll belong to you, too.

Phrases stick out and people pass
by, all with different contents.
And so we pull them apart only to
string them back together to form
the realities that you escape inside
of. Rather like the equations that
we chose this work to hide from.

We go to lands misunderstood
and covered in shadow: a race
of explorers with no guide but
the organ we are more inclined
to follow. We discover things in
these dark corners, things we
attempt to explain with a form
of permanence. But ink only tells
the truth it is shaped into. And
understanding what we find is
half the battle of immortalizing it.
There is no table of elements for
the soul, no way to categorize the
mysteries it never told.

The only equation that we really
understand is the one that created
our kind: write and bleed. Bleed
if you do not write, and bleed if
you do. Bleed in every color that
your jar of pens contains – stain
the pages (line or unlined
according to your preference) with
the ink that runs in your veins.
And when the words stop coming
you count their swoops and swirls.

There are shelves lined with words,
bound with gold or silver or faded
like the edges of a hymnal. Each
the delicate account of one traveler
or another. I’ve often wondered
why we let others read them.
Perhaps to help them – to spare
them from their own discoveries.
But instead of learning they escape.
And when they put it back on the
shelf it’s nothing but another check
on a summer reading list.

I visited a library once and
saw tall plastic shelves, a
spinning column of paperbacks.
You know the kind I mean.
Sitting near the door they were
nothing but an impulse buy.
Soiled virgins, millionaires.
Centuries of art reduced to
cheap ink and thin paper meant
to heat your skin rather than
inflame your soul. How many
read and returned in one day?
And what is the story of the
tree upon which this is printed?
Tell me that one instead.
Let the ink dry on the thick
pages of that rare truth. How
many rays of sun did it soak in?
How many raindrops? How
many leaves did it love and
let go?

I learned long ago that when
we write we choose a life that
requires facing the wounds.
Whether they be our own or
the still open sores of humanity.
As long as you can remember
the feeling of the cold floor
on your cheek from where you
lay broken, you can write.
Some of us turn that cold tile
into books with pink covers
and some of us turn it into
roads with no destination.
But the shelves behind the
spinning plastic columns hold
them all. Maps leading the way
to the truth of everything.

We are drawn back to the
writing desk on sunset days
when the turntable crackles
in a song fit for David to play.
Or sunrise days when tea
whispers over porcelain. On
days when the memories of
the cold floor rise from
whispered conversations. On
gray days when humanity is
weeping from the sky. When
headlines use their ink to
inform, and fields of flowers
can’t find the sun. We sit and
open those jars of ink, and
watch as it bleeds across the
page. Writing is like the love
that you always go back to.
The love that creates the tempest
of chaos as well as the only
real peace. Writing is like
that love. Paradoxical and
necessary.

A fortune cookie once dared to
tell me that happily ever after
does exist. And I chose to believe
it because through the snuffing
candles and endless mazes I can
see a brighter light that sometimes
grows faint but never fully leaves.
Stars shoot across the sky when
I look at an endless night, and they
seem to whisper the same thing.
My heart settles into this truth
and decides to hold on.

I’ve always hoped to know the
truth behind the majesty of a
starry night. But the more I try
the deeper it gets, the further
into the stars I fall. So far that
I get lost there and don’t wish
to return home. And then the
bright star with two tails picks
me up and takes me back to the
soft warmth of a summer night,
and it tells me something good.
And I believe it every time.

Just Writing

patience

patience

I believe that God knows best,
and I believe that He doesn’t lie.
I believe that no matter what forces
rage, it is always better to trust Him
than others. I believe that He may
tell us things, or maybe give us answers
that are hard, or that don’t make sense.
Even if what He tells us is something
that we want, it isn’t always easy. In
fact, doing what God asks of us is
usually the harder road. But above all,
it is always better to trust in Him and
what He says. If He says go, go. And
don’t look back. If He says wait, wait.
And He’ll always have a reason for it.
It will be more than worth it. Following
His plan, learning what He wants you to
learn, listening to Him: though perhaps
harder at times is always better than
whatever you have planned for yourself.

But is there a moment when you
ignore all of that? Is there ever a
moment when you look God in the
eye and tell Him you’re going to turn
your back on the thousands of answers?
Is there a moment when you conclude
you’ve had enough, that you know
better, and that it’s your turn to decide?
Is there a moment when you decide
for yourself that you’ve learned your
lessons? Is there a moment when you
shun all of it and walk away? No matter
how much the very thought hurts? When
you take all of the memories, the ones
that you drown in every single day, and
burn them away? And step onto a path
you create for yourself? One where you
are in charge and you don’t have to wait
upon the Lord? Do you ever just give up?

I think they call that turning away from God.

And I think that moment, at the giving up
point, is when you hold on the hardest.

And I think they call it faith.