Not-So-Open Notes

Dear L.P.,
Please stop sliding into my DM’s unexpectedly.
A small sliver of my heart wants you to stay there.

Dear Rosebud,
Let yourself bloom, baby. I can’t wait.
The world’s not ready but that doesn’t
matter. You are.

Dear Team TB,
Get out of your own way. Don’t be afraid
anymore. Just shine.

Dear JH,
I get you. Not everybody does.
Not everybody will. And that’s
okay. Forgive and grow. Be brilliant.

Dear Fellow Fangirl,
I love you more than all the things. I
love watching you conquer the world.
Don’t stop, okay?

Dear JHH,
It’s okay to feel. You’ll never do it. You’ll
never be that person. And that’s okay.
Keep being unashamedly you. But someday
I hope you understand that if you do feel its okay.
I love you.

Dear Former G.I. Joe,
I just want you to have joy. Real joy. There
is a difference between fun and true joy.
True happiness. And someday I want you
to remember that the truth isn’t easy,
but it’s worth it.

Dear Track 10,
Just shaking my head for many reasons. And
smiling.

Dear Pocket Square,
Hope is never lost.

Dear Superhero,
Everyone falls. I know you can get back
up. The little girl in me still fearlessly
believes that you can do anything.

Dear Dreamer,
There’s a reason you’re here and that you
are who you are. Please don’t doubt the
beauty and goodness in you. You know how to
fix anything. It wasn’t a mistake.

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Don’t See Me! I’m Sneaking!

In the days when my family was very young, my parents lived in a double-wide trailer on the family farm. I have vague memories of this house, which we now refer to lovingly as The Blue House. It was situated at the bottom of a hill which held two massive rock piles we aptly named The Big Rock Chuck and The Little Rock Chuck. Back then I thought they were completely massive. (Age and perspective, as well as later visits, have assured me that The Big Rock Chuck is, in fact, quite massive. The Little Rock Chuck, not so much.)

mountainsMy mother had a rule that we were never supposed to play on The Big Rock Chuck, which was a rule we obeyed most of the time. When I was that age I imagined that these huge rock piles had once been a medieval castle. The home of a great king who ruled the land with power and influence. I even imagined once, when I found a formation of rocks that looked rather like a chair, that I had found the ancient location of the throne room.

And this was the playground of my youth. In front of the house was a stunning view of the mountains and a wheat field that was brilliantly gold in July and August. It was absolutely stunning. A very rare place to have a very rare childhood, I now realize. But as beautiful as it could get in the summer, it was equally beautiful in the winter. The entire land is covered in a thick blanket of snow until you can’t really remember where one field ends and another starts, and every here and there telephone poles jut out of the blank canvas. It’s lovely.

But there were dangers.

In the summer, the biggest danger was always rattle snakes. Oh, we got super good and hearing them and running away really fast to get help. If they were far from the house we would leave them be, but if they were close to the house my dad would come home from work long enough to kill the snake and dispose of the head. (It’s still very venomous and dangerous even after being separated from the body.) It was something he’d been trained to do his whole life, as shown by the little green jar of rattles he now keeps on a shelf behind his desk.

But in the winter, the danger was the ice and snow. On the farm, the winter can get exceedingly brutal. Very high winds, unheard of low temperatures. You name it. Winter as epitomized in every “I’m-lost-on-a-mountain” movie ever made. Winter is kind of scary at the farm.

It is in this context that one of our very favorite family stories occurred. The characters of this narrative are my mother, angel that she is, and my older brother Jud. He was about two years old at the time, which means that I was not a being who yet lived upon the earth. However, this is one of my favorite stories that we bring up as a family.

One snowy day, my brother Jud wanted to go outside and play. However, my mother wouldn’t allow it for one reason or another. Probably because we lived in the North Pole, or close to it, anyway. I think the weather was particularly harsh that day, and so for obvious reasons my mother didn’t see fit to let her two-year-old go outside and play.

This, however, did not stop Jud.

One thing it is necessary to know about Jud is this: he gained the nickname Mowgli. mowgliSome of you may immediately recognize this name for the character in The Jungle Book. Jud became Mowgli early on in life, and to this day he still responds to it occasionally. Why was he named Mowgli, you may ask? Because he never, ever, ever kept his clothes on. He ran around in a diaper or his underwear until he was fairly old, but I’ll keep those details private for the sake of his modesty.

So, on this very snowy day when my mother informed Jud he wouldn’t be able to go outside and play in the snow, she discovered him only moments later at the back door trying to open it. Wearing a diaper, boots, scarf, and hat. At seeing this sight, my mother asked, “Honey, what are you doing?” Jud turned around, facing her with wild eyes as he responded:

“Mom! Don’t see me! I’m sneaking!”

When I was three years old my family built a house in town. We now lovingly refer to this residence as The Town House, even though it was not, in fact, a townhouse. Merely a house that was located in town. For many years we moved back and forth between The Blue House and The Town House. Blue House during summer and potato harvest, Town House during the school year.

When I was probably about eight years old we began living permanently in town, as we’d given the use of The Blue House to my aunt and uncle. That was hard for us, but a few years later we moved back to the farm permanently to a different house and have been very happy with that choice.

Now, in this time of life when we lived permanently at The Town House, I was what you might call a daddy’s girl. I spent as much time as possible with my dad. We were the very best of friends. Which also consequently means that I probably got away with more things than I should have.

One night I remember very clearly. My older siblings, rebellious teens that they were at the time, had all been banished to their rooms. For reasons I do not know and can only attribute to my status as the favorite daughter, I was not forced to go to bed. I was sitting by my dad’s chair watching a movie with him and my mom. When very suddenly, a major rule was broken.

audreyOne of the bedroom doors opened. And one of my siblings emerged.

Completely unheard of under the present circumstances of: go to your room and go to bed. Do not come out until morning.

It was my sister Jessie. Ever the bold one.

She emerged from her room wearing a huge, poofy blue parka with fur around the hood and a large pair of sunglasses (very Audrey Hepburn). In this disguise, she walked through the living room and into the kitchen, got a glass of water, and then went back to her room.

We. Laughed. So. Hard.

My dad literally could not be mad at her. Her disguise was everything she needed to gain access to the kitchen and a drink of cold water. Mission accomplished.

What I absolutely love about both of these stories is how blatantly obvious, and quite hilarious, the “rebellion” is. Jud was very clearly not going to last out in the snow in his diaper, boots, and hat, and Jessie was obviously recognizable despite the parka and sunglasses.

But they tried anyway. One successful, the other not. Both equally funny.

I’ve been thinking about these stories today, and what they mean in several different contexts. And interestingly enough, I have found a parallel between these stories and something else. Something that makes so much sense to me.

God knows us perfectly. Completely and perfectly.

It is like the story of Jonah and the whale in the Bible. Jonah legitimately thought he could hide from God. And while Jessie didn’t legitimately think she was fooling anyone in her disguise, but she knew she had humor on her side. In Jud’s case, he was just fiercely hoping he wouldn’t get caught.

I know that I have done similar things a million times.

Sometimes it can be so hard to understand that God knows and loves us perfectly. Sometimes we try to hide away from Him, disguise our lives, or sneak away. Sometimes we have experiences where we just want to move in our own direction, in our own way, and throw behind our shoulder, “Don’t see me! I’m sneaking!”

But even though we are intelligent beings with our own minds, our own plans for cherishedourselves are never as amazing or perfect as God’s plan for us. Surprisingly, though, it takes a fair amount of humility and courage to admit that we shouldn’t be sneaking into the snow storm.

I love that these stories brought me to this spiritual parallel because both of them are some of the funniest stories in the family repertoire. And when compared to our relationship with God, it helps me remember that He loves me completely and perfectly. And yes, He can see through my disguises and see me sneaking, but He always loves me.

He knows.

Perhaps that can be ominous, but for me, it is the biggest comfort in the world. I don’t have to hide anything from God. Because He knows me. I can be completely honest and transparent with Him because He understands. He gets it.

So while the world may be confusing at times, or even a place of turmoil, I never have to be afraid.

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.

Say It In Writing

biggerWhen I blog, what I’m really doing is writing down all of the things I wish I could say out loud. I think it’s probably like this for most of us. Especially the writers. Writing is the way that we say the things of our soul. The things that we are thinking, feeling, and knowing, but can’t actually say.

I’m not sure what it is about our world, but none of us ever say what we really think. It’s much too raw. It’s much too real. And when we look back on it we have a tendency to be embarrassed. We have a tendency to wonder what we were thinking when we were so unabashedly ourselves. Or at least that’s what happens to me.

Honesty has been hard for me lately. Not because I’ve been lying like crazy, but because the truth has been very painful. I have let fear get in the way of my life for the past several weeks. And when I made one tiny move to try and let go of this fear, it proved to be a little anticlimactic. Even stupid. Go figure.

I wish I could explain to you all of the times I’ve prayed and gotten amazing answers. One of my friends told me today that God has been spoiling me recently, and I couldn’t agree more. It really is true. He has been. I’ve never been this close to Him in my entire life. Which is actually really good because I’m carrying a lot of crap around inside of my heart right now. And it isn’t very fun.

But what I really wanted to do tonight is say a few things to the most important people inchapter my life. I want to say what’s in my heart, and let them know what I’m actually thinking. And when I come back and read this blog post I don’t want to be ashamed. I want to be proud of myself for being this brave. I want to be okay with being vulnerable again. I want to be okay with saying what’s in my heart. Even if it hurts. So here it goes:

A: How could I ever explain to you how amazing you are? Seriously I’ve known you for such a long time and you never ever cease to blow my mind. I just want to be a fraction of your type of cool. You have so much strength in your heart and it honestly leaves me in so much awe. I hope that when you look in the mirror you see the woman that I see. We both know that I have a gift for seeing people as they really are, so don’t try and fight with me on this. I’m right. You absolutely shine. Thank you so much.

M: Thank you for teaching me how to be a dreamer. I wish you would stop dreaming and live your dreams now. Don’t be afraid anymore. It’s time to live. Just do it. Please.

perfect goodD: Thank you for teaching me to be a doer. I love you very much. Please don’t forget that sometimes your heart’s more important than your mind. In fact, I honestly think that that’s where all of our truth is. I wish you could see that.

H: Please never stop laughing. But also please remember that it’s okay to be sad. You don’t have to be perfect, and in fact you never will be. We’re all here to help each other. That’s the point. Thank you for holding me while I ugly cried, and smoothing my hair. And buying me Jimmy Fallon ice cream. And loving me through every disaster. You help me believe in the redeeming power of love, and that as long as we trust each other we can do anything.

S: You’re probably so tired of all that I have to say. And I wouldn’t blame you. So here’s all that I have to say this time: if God tells me to be patient with you one more time I’m going to lose my freaking mind. I’ll either have to actually do it or just be in open rebellion, harderwhich I don’t see ending well. Actually I tried that angle for a while, the angle of “oh my gosh I am so done because this bloody hurts” and suffice it to say… it didn’t end well. I laughed, but I’m pretty sure He was serious. I’ll tell you that story some day.

K: You’ve gotta trust yourself more than you do, girl. I wish you could see how incredibly bright your eyes are. There is so much there it kills me. Don’t let fear run your life anymore.

J: I love you so much. You teach me so much as our lives continue to unfold. But I wish you would stop treating me like an innocent child. I wish you could see that I have scars, too. The other day you told me that you kind of gloried in my pain, and that hurt more than I can ever say. I’ve experienced a lot of hurt, and a lot of things that have changed logicme. I’m not who I was in those days. And there were things about that person I was that you’ll never know or understand. She spent so much of her time being angry about love, but in her heart that’s all she really wanted. She wanted to believe in it. She wanted it to be real. It was all she really, really wanted. She prayed for it every day. That’s who she really was underneath everything you saw. I hope that someday you can trust me with every vulnerable part of you. That someday you’ll stop thinking that you have to change what you think because you’re with me. But dude, you’re a freaking rock star. Thank you for that.

homeJ: Just don’t be scared. Live your life as brilliantly as we all know you’re going to. And don’t you dare think for one minute that you have to prove us wrong or prove us right or prove anything. Do what makes you happy. Just let your awesomeness shine. And don’t you dare give up.

C: Where would I be without you???? I just have absolutely no clue. You are the greatest human. The greatest. The purest of cinnamon rolls. Thank you for being an amazing friend and an incredible woman. Seriously, you are the big sister in our friendship. It doesn’t even matter that I’m older than you. You have so much in you and it is dazzling.

certain thingQ: You make me believe in the goodness of humanity. You are the human that I’ve always wanted to be, but will probably never be great enough to be. But I’m so grateful for you in my life. You are #goals. Thank you.

Love,

Jordan

Promise Me

One of the things I love most about summertime is how late the sun sets. The horizon was still glowing with pink and orange at ten o’clock tonight. I was driving around, listening to music.

make senseToday was really quite something. Yep. Yep it was. If I’m being completely honest, it was really hard. Today was a very, very hard day.

I’ve been ruminating on the subject of promises today. I can’t get it out of my head. I also realize that most of the time these types of posts really don’t go anywhere, but nevertheless I write them.

Promises have long intrigued me. They are incredibly important to me. And I’ve had a long standing policy about promises that’s really quite straightforward: If you make a promise, you keep it. It’s as simple as that.

Or so I thought.

But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it isn’t as simple as that. I think it can be as simple as that, but it gets all blurred. Life tends to do that unfortunately. I think promises get blurred when you start to really question them.

Do you have to say “I promise” in order for it to be considered a promise?

I’ve never thought so. I still don’t. I think we make promises all the time. More often than will not failwe really know. We make a promise when we tell somebody to have a good day. A promise that we care about how their day goes. We make a promise when we answer a question a child asks. A promise that we will help them find the answer, even if we don’t know it. We make a promise when we pray and ask God for answers. A promise that we’ll act on the answer we get. We make a promise when we joke around with our friends. A promise that we care about their happiness, and how often they laugh.

But to be honest, I think that the words, “I love you” are the most powerful promise we ever make.

I could go on for days about all the promises we make when we use those words. But I won’t. You all know what they are.

I’ve been thinking in particular today about the promises that we make with God, and the things He promises us.

heavenly promisesThe wonderful thing about God’s promises is that they are sure. God doesn’t lie. He can’t. When He makes us a promise, He has to keep it. I think that’s pretty incredible. All we have to do is trust Him. And have faith. It’s a lot easier said than I done, I know. Trust me. But He’s told me it will all be worth it when the sun shines again.

That’s a promise.

Perspectives On What You Know

I’m just going to say it. I’ll admit it. I will.

I am a slave to my emotions.

It’s true. My emotions have a mind of their own. I am one of those people who, quite frankly, feels everything. And even more than that, I feel everything very, very deeply. Joy. Sorrow. Hate. Love. You name it, when I feel it, I FEEL it. It can be pretty overwhelming sometimes. Some days it is annoying, to be perfectly honest.

brave thingsBecause of this, I have a tendency to run away from my emotions. I know just how intense they can be, and as a result sometimes I try to run before they reach intensity level infinity.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to run from your emotions. Trust me.

So I generally have about two options: I can just embrace them and let them rule the world, or I can ignore them. The second option isn’t very effective. It usually lasts a little while, and ends in the first option anyway.

If I’m being honest, the last few days have been pretty rough in the emotions department. I’ve been fighting the universe pretty hard the last few days. Actually, since I’m being honest I’ll just go ahead and say it, I’ve been fighting Satan pretty hard the last few days. Whether or not you believe that’s a thing, I’m sure you’ve experienced days when doing the things you know you need to do is harder than normal. Like there is a force out there who knows you too well and it’s doing everything it can to throw you off course.

I have talked to quite a few people about this emotions aspect of my personality. Most of them tell me that it is a good thing that I feel things this deeply. They tell me that it makes it so that I can experience life more fully and richly. I see the merit in this line of thinking, but honestly on days like these it’s more than I know how to handle.

There is another flaw in this personality trait of mine. And it is that because I live life in patience and trusultra-feeling-everything mode, it is really hard for me to understand people who don’t. But I’m working on that.

As I’ve been praying and meditating the last few days, trying to get my emotions figured out and trying to get back on track, one phrase has been sticking out to me time and time again:

Go with what you know.

My biggest problem is that I let surface emotions and temporary situations rule me when, deep down, I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what I really feel underneath all the junk, and I know what God wants me to do. But I let all the “stuff” get in the way and then I end up confused and crazy discouraged.

But I think that this happens often in life. There is going to be junk that gets in the way of what we really want and what we’re really supposed to be doing. There is always going to be a million things going on that you don’t understand and that don’t make sense. But underneath it all you really do know how you feel. You really do know the answers.

truth feelsI tend to get weighed down with everything I’m feeling in the moment, and as a result I can get distracted from the answers I’ve received and how I know I feel in general. So my biggest battle is to try and get perspective. To step back and go with the things I know underneath. To see the bigger picture and understand my true feelings, not get lost in the emotions of the moment.

Sometimes you just have to stubbornly throw aside all of the junk and cling to what you do know. Even if it doesn’t feel like you know it in the moment. Just hold on to what you know you know, and continue forward. Just go for it.

Connections & Coincidences

Two years ago I was hired at my job, along with a group of others. I remember being nervous, and hoping that I would get along with everybody.

In this group of people I was hired with, there were two girls named Haley and Adele. To be totally honest, we didn’t all get along at first. But now, two years later, these girls are my best friends. Even more than this, they have become my sisters.

I don’t even know how to explain how incredible these two ladies are. They have been there for me through thick and thin. They have picked up the pieces of my broken heart on several occasions throughout the years, and I’ve been lucky enough to do the same for them. They teach me so much every day. I honestly can’t believe how blessed I am to have them in my life.

Recently, all three of us have really been through a lot. We’ve all had different struggles, and have had to be there for one another.

Yesterday, we all came together and went to a support group meeting on campus that deals with some of the things we’ve all been exposed to lately. Overall, the experience was both scary and gratifying. It wasn’t the correct fit for all three of us, but we were grateful to all go together and have the experience. As experiences like that tend to do, it brought up a lot of emotions.

After the meeting, we sat in my car and talked for two more hours. There was a lot of laughter, as there usually is, but there were also a lot of tears. We got a lot of things out in the open that we hadn’t realized we were keeping from each other. There was a lot of wiping each other’s tears, holding hands, and smoothing out hair.

We were open and honest. We told about our insecurities and our fears. We talked about the things we are currently struggling with, and our hopes and desires.

Quite honestly, it was beautiful.

It was beautiful to have a moment like that with these incredible women. It was beautiful to realize that we are all human, trying our best to be there for one another in our struggles. It was a blessing to share a moment like that with them.

Their friendship means the world to me, and has saved me in countless situations. There is no way I could ever accurately explain it. But there is a bond between us that can’t be broken, and that is an incredible thing to have in this life. It is a wonderful blessing.

There are people in this life that we have connections with. They come into our lives almost by accident, but then they end up being so, so important. These relationships that end up being so important and enriching our lives could seem like coincidences.

But I don’t believe in coincidences.