A Broken Shell

The trek to the beach was long; the sun peaked high on a cloudless day. The AC was set on high—it felt good. It felt like a typical summer day in Wisconsin—only it was April in Florida—a thousand miles from home. 

We parked and set out towards the beach. The smell of salt lingered in the air as waves filled the silence gaps between the voices of fellow tourists. 
“Charlotte*, take a pic of me next to the palm tree.”
“Uh okay sure.” My friend snapped a photo of me with my Polaroid. 

We trekked our way towards the ocean. The sand squished and sprawled beneath my feet, making it harder to walk. Sand sprinkled its way into my flip flops irritating me even more so I took them off, daring my way across barefoot. The sand was hot, as if the sun was trapped in the tiny little grains. Finally we found an open spot not to far from where the dry sand kissed the wet.

I dropped my backpack on top of the beach blanket and ran towards the water, my feet sloshing on the wet sand into the edge of the water. A big wave crashed against my legs as if trying to push me over. Seahells were pushed forward before being pulled back with the current. My hand swooped down and grabbed a tiny, broken, cream-colored shell. Though it wasn’t a perfect shell, I decided I wanted to keep it. Eventually with a lot of searching and avoiding huge waves, I did find many nice and even some “perfect” shells. 
It’s funny how when many folks go to the beach some are  looking for shells to keep as souvenirs or whatever given reason. Some folks are okay with a few shells whether they be perfect of slightly chipped. Some folks won’t settle for anything less than giant, perfectly shaped shells. 

I spent a good chunk of time picking at different shells looking for small ones and big ones, and even keeping a few broken ones because of their coloring. I’d let the ones I didn’t want slip between my fingers and plop back into the ocean.

It’s funny how in life we pick and choose our relationships much like these shells. We search and search for those “perfect” and big shells, yet there are imperfectly perfect shells slipping between our fingers simply because they’re slightly broken. We don’t want the broken ones because they’re not as pretty to look at. And they’re typically more fragile. 

After my ex and I parted ways, I felt stuck like the tiny shell at the bottom of the ocean. Just being pushed and pulled by the currents of life on occasion but mostly just submerged there under water. I liked being at the bottom where it was dark and cold—yet I could still see steaks of light that gave me pieces of hope here and there and on occasion I got swept up to the surface—if only temporarily. Though I preferred to be half buried under the cold sand, because I was broken. And useless. No one wanted me. 

Jesus doesn’t look at us like that though. He doesn’t care if you’re the giant shell or the tiniest broken speck of a shell. He can use all shells for a specific purpose.
He scooped me up and carefully held onto me—because He knew I was fragile. And he searched for other broken pieces to put me together again to create what He saw as a whole person. Granted I’m still originally that broken, tiny shell but made whole because of Him. 

He can do the same for you. He can bring you to the surface and put that tiny shell of yours back together with other pieces. Granted you will never be the same as you once were. But you’ll still be made whole again. And even more beautiful and unique than you were before. 

*indicates name change

One Step

A few days ago I went hiking with one of my good friends Luke* at a local state park. It was quite breathtaking. Literally. With my face all red, my legs aching with every “one more step,” my heart pounding so fast it felt like it was about to jump out of my chest, we both made it to the top. And it was probably one of the most spectacular views.

It wasn’t my first time hiking at this state park, but it was the first time I made it all the way to the top and around. I’ve gone with a few of my other friends before and at one point I even took my dog (he enjoyed it quite a bit). The start itself was pretty decent. By this point I knew the beginning part quite well. Those nook and crannies. Those particularly slippery rocks. The part where the steps were significantly high. But as I took it one step closer towards the top, I repeatedly joked with Luke, “Just leave me here to die. You carry on without me.” And he always replied, “No. I won’t leave you here to die.” A little less than halfway, our first real breather stop, he took my backpack and carried it the rest of the way. He is in far better shape than I am, and he knew the path ahead much better than I did. That breather spot had a fantastic view, and I could only imagine the view up ahead.

“That breather spot had a fantastic view…”

As we continued on, and I yearned to just stop and turn around to head back down because I was tired, I kept yearning to make it to the top to see that spectacular view. At one point, I lost my footing and fell on my knee. It has a tiny scratch there. Throughout the trek I kept telling myself, “One more step,” until at last, half hour later, we made it to the top. The view…well let’s just say it was ‘on point’ as teenagers say nowadays.

“…marveling at the tiny parking lot below me, and the lake that looked just as grand as it does at the bottom…”

As I stand there marveling at the tiny parking lot below me, and the lake that looked just as grand as it does at the bottom, thunder rumbled across the sky and water began to sprinkle down. At this point it was a horizontal walk for a bit. There were flowers and trees everywhere on top. I knew there were trees everywhere, but for whatever reason I had it in my head that it was going to be really rocky and hardly any vegetation up there. It’s amazing how I picture something in my head and I’m proven wrong but in a beautiful way.

The hike down wasn’t as literally breathtaking as the climb up, just figuratively. The rocks, which had been carved and moved by glaciers in years past, were so beautiful with their shades of red and brown and even a touch of black here and there. The formations were extraordinary. At one point, I saw these really smoothly indentations  that looked like the outline of a giant’s butt. I would have taken more pictures, had it not been sprinkling and my battery wasn’t low. Every step down, I’d whisper inside my head, “just one more step…you can do this.” My friend was a trooper in going at a slower pace than he probably would have liked, but he kept making sure I wasn’t going to fall and giving me pointers about where to step based on rock-slipperiness (is that a word?).

“There were flowers and trees everywhere on top…”

After we finally made it down, we continued on. He showed me these indentations in the ground, and when we walked down them, the lower temperature difference immediately wrapped around my ankles. “This would be a grand place to sit and read in the summer time.” He just nodded his head. And at one point, because the rain made the ground rather soft and muddy, I ended up falling down. I shrugged it off like it was nothing, but I was so embarrassed. I don’t even know why.

It’s amazing how this hike resembles so much in my life. In the past few weeks I’ve been on such an emotional roller coaster. An unexplainable emotional roller coaster. My manager at work, though he never asked outright what was wrong but always hinted that he understood, described me as melancholy. The word rolled off his tongue like a ball down a hill. I was baffled that I was noticeably ‘not myself,’ because usually I hide any feeling other than happy deep inside me. In the past few weeks I tripped over a stumbling block. More than once I cried in front of my manager, apologizing, him handing me a tissue and talking me through it, making his typical sarcastic jokes to make me laugh.

In the end, despite how hard it was, and how sore I am now, it was wonderfully worth it, and I couldn’t help but be relieved to overcome something so trivial. In the end, it was just “one more step…one more step” until at last I made it to the top and eventually down again. Just like how the Jordin Sparks song goes, “Just take one step at a time, there’s no need to rush, it’s like learning to fly, or falling in love…it’s gonna happen, when it’s supposed to happen, and we find the reasons why, one step at a time.”

If you press on, on step at a time of course, you’ll eventually be able to climb over your mountain. But don’t give up because you’re tired, weary, and red-faced.


Numbers Don’t Define You

“Hey, head to the training room.” I hear my manager say to me and a few others. “This will be interesting,” I think. So I head over to the room. For the next half hour or so we go over some numbers and look at the top three employees. Then we were handed a piece of paper with our stats on them, and…well let’s just say I’m not as high as I wish I could be, and I felt super frustrated. Not with my manager, or my job. But with myself. My chest got heavy. I couldn’t breathe normally, only in short breaths. I had to fight back tears. “Don’t let these numbers discourage you,” I heard my manager say, but it sounded muffled as I slowly began to feel the sinking motion of me being pulled underneath the current of discouragement. I felt frustrated with myself because I knew I could be better and that although I thought I was improving fairly drastically, the numbers showed me I barely was.

I’ve been really hard on myself the past few months on my stats. I’ve really pushed myself to lower the amount of “wrap up” time (this is how much time I spend after I take a phone call doing notes and such). I’ve also really worked on making the length of my call as short as possible, and tried to learn the secrets of the top employees on making more reservations. We all have our good days and bad days. I mostly have good days, but the past week I’ve really been having a difficult time. I’ve recently found out a few of my friends from work (okay the only ones I really hang out with outside of work) are moving on to better places. I’m a little off because of it, not because I’m not happy for them, I am, but because of selfish reasons. I don’t know what I’m going to do now at work or even after work for that matter. I feel like I just want to find my own little cubicle in the corner away from everyone so I can avoid them, but I can’t do that, that’s just silly. In due time, I”m sure I’ll learn how to branch out and make new friends at work.

About a month or so ago, I started “dieting.” And by dieting, I mean I started watching my carb intake. I wanted to cut carbs completely out, but realized maybe I shouldn’t eat as much, ya know just kind of watch what I’m eating. All fine and dandy, and I have a good friend who is actually doing the same thing. When we’ve gone out to eat, if one of us wants to not eat something without carbs (or low carbs) then the other will follow. Which is nice and motivational. We’ve also planned times of walking around after work playing our games. Granted, he’s more motivated than I am to actually work out on top of it (once it gets warmer I’ll start walking more outside…I don’t like gyms). I don’t know how much or if I’ve lost weight, because I’m not doing it for weight, I’m doing it for inches.

Can I just say now, after alllllll that rambling, that numbers do not define who you are. Let me repeat it, because I need constant reassurance and I’m sure many of you do too, NUMBERS DO NOT DEFINE YOU OR YOUR WORTH! Those numbers I was given at work don’t make me a bad employee, they just show that I need to work really hard to improve myself. Which yes, it will be super hard, yes I’ll probably cry…a lot! But everyone has to hit rock bottom before they can swim towards the top. Now I’m not saying I’ll ever be top dog, I know the top three people and they are really good at their job and one of them has been with the company for years. But my goal is to improve, and that’s pretty good.

That number on the scale or the inch around my waist doesn’t define whether I’m a good or bad person. People always associate larger numbers as unhealthy, and smaller numbers as healthy. I know many, many men and women who are deemed “perfect body size” and they are actually quite unhealthy. Like not only underweight unhealthy, but also in what and how they eat. I also know several folks who are “apple shaped” and are actually extremely healthy, in fact I know one woman who is larger and actually does yoga and is very flexible. It’s tiring to hear that one’s health status is defined by the size of their shirt or pants or skirt. It’s tiring to hear and see everywhere in the media that a woman should be the “perfect” size with their size zero and 32C cup.

NUMBERS DON’T DEFINE WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON. So don’t be discouraged by that number on the scale. Be encouraged by who you want to be      no matter what size. Don’t be like me and get easily discouraged when you’re given stats on how “well you are performing your job,” but be encouraged that you for one have a job, and two that you’re growing at your own pace. Goodnesss, sometimes I feel so hypocritical because it’s easier for me to encourage others and tear myself down in the process. In the end, none of us are perfect. So why not be imperfectly perfect?

Define Relationship

One of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to experience was right before the beginning of two summers ago, when my ex and I parted ways. Despite the fact that we were on a break for awhile before then, as I watched him drive away, a deep pain twisted my stomach like someone punched me. It was in that moment I knew that we would never be more than acquaintances ever again. Sure we talk when we see each other at church events, but neither of us go out of our way to have a conversation with one another.

It was hard. And to be brutally honest, I don’t even know why. In the end, there was nothing but constant fighting and emotional drainage. I was jealous of his time he barely gave to our relationship. I was jealous of all the girls he would secretly talk to when I would be sitting there wondering why he wasn’t responding to my messages, and I was hurt that he would talk about me behind my back to these girls not only telling them lies, but bashing on some of my personal medical issues. Not that I was perfect either. In the end I probably could have tried harder; I felt justified in giving nothing because I felt like I was getting nothing.

That summer, though it was painful and lonely, it was probably one of the most rejuvenating summers yet. For the first time in a long time I discovered who I was as a person. I learned what kind of qualities I look for in people—whether it be a friend or partner. And my true friends revealed themselves.

Since my breakup I’ve embraced the whole single status. It’s fun. I can go out with friends and not have to worry. I can go days without having to text or call a specific person and not have to worry. But it’s also lonely. I see many of my friends getting engaged. I watched two of my friends get married a couple months ago, and I have two more friends getting married in about a month. I’ve also been browsing Facebook and see so many posts about expecting. There are days where I ask myself “what am I doing wrong?” I wonder if there is someone out there this exact moment wondering the same exact thing. I question if God’s plan in my life includes me finding someone special.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog about living life with the “single” status, and how even in the end if that’s what I’m meant to do then so be it. Granted, I would love to find a special someone, but I think that even if I didn’t, I could be happy. Because my purpose in life isn’t to get married and have children (goodness, I’m at point in my life where I don’t even know if I want children), my purpose in life is about serving Him and bringing others to Him.

Relationship is defined as, “an emotional or other connection between people.” I had this relationship with this person, while my relationship with God was diminishing. Into a line. A thin, thin line. I started skimping (yes that’s a real word) on my prayer life. I avoided subjects about faith or God, because I was afraid that someone would know and say, “Hey, you aren’t even that religious.” Oh sure. It was easy to continue to dress and look all “churchy” but it was hard to utter the simple phrase, “Thank you, Jesus.” One of the easiest goodbyes I was experiencing was saying, “Bye” to Jesus. The One I shouldn’t have been waving off.

When I finally bid goodbye to the person in my life that was hindering my relationship with God, that’s when He started mending my heart. The healing process was beginning. And honestly, I’m still healing. My heart still has stitches on it from where the words of my ex slashed into me. Even though I do feel the depths of loneliness more often than not, I know that it’s not in my best interest to have someone in my life at the moment. Because I’m still learning and growing with Him.

In the end of my relationship, it wasn’t love that I felt, it was numbness and convenience of having someone. I wasn’t giving because I wasn’t getting. Loving someone is about giving your best and not expecting anything in return. And if two people love each other, they’ll give consistently as much as they will receive consistently.

In the end, I was just settling because I felt like I wouldn’t have anyone. And that’s something that no one should ever do. Settling because one is afraid of living the rest of their lives partner-less is probably one of the least satisfactory things in life. One of the best things I’ve ever been told is, “There are worse things than being single, and that is being in a relationship, and wishing you weren’t.” So maybe for now, I’ll keep my relationship status as, “Single, but still hopeful, but not too hopeful, more like a casual hopeful. But also okay if I’m forever single.” Don’t ever settle for less than what you’re worth. Because you are worth MORE than gold.

Lemons aren’t always sour

Tonight, of all nights, was the first time, in a long time, where I felt good about things, despite the sour lemons that were being squeezed in my paper cuts. You probably scoff and think, “You? Why? Your life is perfect…You have so much going good for you.” And I will roll my eyes so much at those little thoughts it’s a surprise I still have eyes in my eye sockets.

Let’s talk. Real talk. I’m not perfect. I’m far from it. So far, in fact, that I’d have to walk 500 miles or more to get there. I’m human. I can’t talk as fast as my mind works. I forget to put on deodorant more often than I should. I practice “no-shave-November” for 6 months out of the year. I can’t speak in front of crowds. I forget to pay my phone bill on time     basically every month. I laugh at inappropriate times.

I’m sure right now, at least one of my friends who goes to church with me is reading this and probably thinking I’m backsliding or that I’m letting Jesus slip out of my life. Which maybe I am, but to me I’m still holding onto him tighter than ever. I’ve been praying just as much, and sometimes more, because I know that when these thoughts get to me that that’s not His plan for me.

Anyways, so let’s bring this to today. The day where 37 lemons have been sliced and squished onto my wounds (maybe not quite 37…but definitely more than one). The day where I woke up with the thought “Oh snap. I gotta get going to go help my friend Taylor*” as I quickly fumbled off my friends couch to get changed and head out the door. My ‘faithful’ car (he’s not been faithful lately) and I were to head to jump start her car. Which we did successfully (praise God). We managed to get her car to work where we took my car to the town over to run a few errands before Taylor worked at noon. I managed to accomplish getting important matters done (like paying my phone bill and setting up a savings account      go me for adulting!).

Then after I got to the gas station, walked in without my wallet, which to my sigh of relief I just left in my car and not at the bank, I walked back to my car to start it and my heart sunk when it decided it didn’t want to start. It’s not the first time my car has done this, in fact it’s been happening quite often in the past 2 months where it will randomly just not start for me and I have to mess around with my battery cables a few times to get it to start. No such luck. Called my dad who thankfully only lives 2 minutes down the road (again praise God). We managed to roll it away from the gas pump where he pulled the cable off and discovered the soul reason my car has been having issues. I had called a co-worker to come and get me on her way in, which again praise God that she was willing to. I messaged one of my supervisors and was just kind of ranting about how I’m stuck but thankfully a co-worker was going to pick me up and noted how I just want to cry. He told me big girls don’t cry, which I threw in a short joke because I have vertical issues. He probably laughed because his wife is short.

No this isn’t where it ends. I’ve been working pretty much every day at work. Long, hard days. Overtime. And short selling myself on a 30 min break and just taking a 15 (enough time to eat and potty basically) because I know that it’s been so hectic and I feel bad. I’m tired. I don’t sleep much, because sleeping isn’t for adults apparently (haha, a funny joke that’s sadly probably true). I got to work 14 minutes late. I received my documented point sheet because I went home early sick a couple weeks ago. It was nonstop talking action from 1:14 until I punched out at 9:50. People are cranky because they’re mad we’re booked up this weekend or that our rates are “ridiculously too high” (which is understandable). And to top off the most sour lemon of all, my car, though my dad said he worked on it and got it to start every time he tried it, would not start for me after work (yes, I’m having it towed to a shop tomorrow morning T-minuus 7 hours).

But here’s where the lemons become a little sweeter. Despite the fact that I had a long day where I’m on the verge of tears throughout the day because I just want to go home and cry and binge watch some Forensic Files, despite the fact that I got screamed at multiple times by guests, despite that my life is so chaotic right now (I’m a hot mess, minus the hot part), my God is still good to me. You’re probably sitting there going “I can’t believe I just read about your boring, rotten day, and you’re gonna tell me that God is good despite the fact He allowed all that to happen to you?” Yes. Because, honestly had I not had my car break down I wouldn’t have called my dad, who I haven’t really seen or talked to in awhile. I wouldn’t have had such a long, good, much needed discussion with my good friend who went out to Denny’s with me, and drove me all the way home. I wouldn’t have had such a wonderful night, where I realized, for the umpteenth time that this is why I can’t or won’t give up on life, even though it sometimes takes a big stinky poo on me.
At Denny’s I ordered a burger but didn’t realize it would come with tomatoes on it (I do not like tomatoes eww!) and I also got seasoned fries despite that I ordered regular. I still enjoyed my fries and burger (after I picked them nasty tomatoes off). My friend Mary* made a comment about how even though I didn’t get what I ordered I still enjoyed my food and didn’t throw a fit about it, which made me smile. I realized she was right.

Life is like that. One certainly doesn’t order lemons, but on occasion they will get thrown out there. And sometimes sliced. And sometimes squeezed. And squeezed some more.Lemons are like that though. And right now, I know my life is chaotic but it will always get better. So what if I’m single, I can wait around for a bit yet for a good guy to come around (bless me if I do manage to find a guy). So what if I’m not the skinniest person, it just means I’ll work harder to lose weight. So what if I’m only 23-soon-to-be-24 and working at a job that I didn’t need a college degree for (honestly this job is a big blessing). If life ever went according to our plan it would be even more hectic. Goodness if I had my way I would haven been married awhile ago, probably to the wrong guy, and I’d have a child by now, which I’m not ready for. I’d have a job working in my degree field. I wouldn’t have met any of the friends that I have. If I had my way I probably wouldn’t be happy because a spoiled child never has enough and is never satisfied. If one always got their way they wouldn’t have to work hard to get something, which would make anything basically valueless because something “better” will always come. The mentality of “I didn’t have to earn this so who cares if it breaks.”

It’s such a cliche “when life gives you lemons make lemonade” but I like the thought of “when life gives you lemons and squirts all over your open wounds just add some sugar onto it and throw it in some sweet tea.” Because lemons don’t always have to be sour, they can be sweet too, and sometimes ya just gotta sit back, make the best of it, and enjoy.

The Orange Flowers

The white moon glows bright tonight; its pale face glaring down through a cloudless sky. My feet make a shush sound as I tiptoe my way across the dew layered lawn, and I spread my quilted blanket out. The air is drenched in chilly fingers, but I refuse to let myself feel anything but numb, and clench my teeth tight as I stare up at the black space above. The stars wink back at me.

The first time we planted flowers I was five years old. I had begged you for weeks to buy me the orange flowers because orange was my favorite color. Every time we went to the store I pointed at the orange flowers that were purposely placed near the store-entrance to entice kids like me who loved flowers, and you’d shake your head and say, “No, Little Chicken. Not today.” And I’d pout my lips and cross my arms for the next five minutes and stomp my feet as we continued on, until we would go down a random aisle and I’d see some other orange thing that peaked me interest. The final day I asked, we went through our usual routine, but then at the end we went back to the front of the store and you told me to pick my favorite one. So I picked the biggest ones I could find. They costed $4.72. 

We went home, and you took me to where you kept the gardening tools and shovels. “Little Chicken, there’s more to flowers than what you see,” and you handed me a garden claw and trowel, and you grabbed a shovel. We carried these tools to an area in front of the house that was secluded off with a brick line, and was overrun with grass and weeds. You began digging in the mess, and that’s when you taught me two important lessons: the first was about God, the second was that nothing get’s done without hard work.

“We have to first get rid of these weeds because if we don’t, then we can’t plant these beautiful flowers. We can’t just pull out enough where the flowers will go, because then the weeds would choke out the flowers and the flowers will die.” You continued to dig up massive globs of dirt held together by the roots of the weeds. 

“You have to shake the dirt out. To do this you need to grab a hold of the base of the weeds and start shaking slowly, as more dirt falls out then you can start shaking harder to get more out.” You say this as you show me how to do it. 

“Why can’t you just shake really hard at first?” I question. You smirk, as if you’d knew I’d ask that. “Well Little Chicken, because if you shake too hard at first, then the weeds break off and you’re just left with a massive ball of dirt and roots and then it’s really hard to get the roots out. Now you try.” And I grab one of the globs you dug up and shake it like you showed me. 

“We shake the dirt out because that’s the good stuff we want to use for our flowers. We get rid of the weeds because that’s obviously the bad stuff. Sometimes God does this to us. We all have weeds in our lives, nobody is weed-free. And those weeds take root in our lives. When we’re ready to allow flowers to take root in our lives instead of weeds we allow God to start digging at us, and to start pulling those globs of weeds out of our lives. At first, He is gently shaking them out a little at a time and then He will shake us more vigorously, until at last the weeds come out and all that remains is the foundation that we need for a beautiful flower to blossom out of.”

We continued on, you digging and stopping every once in awhile to help me shake the dirt out of the weeds. After three hours, we finally finished weeding and planting and watering the flowers. It’s one of the few memories I’ve cherished as I grew up, because although you could have done something in an hour, you chose to spend three hours on it to teach me a valuable lesson, one of the many you taught me throughout the years. 

I can’t help but think of those flowers now as I look up at what He created, and wonder what lesson I was supposed to learn after you took your own life. Too many questions and not enough answers ring inside my head, but the stars don’t provide any answers.

“You got my attention, if that’s what You want,” I say between chattering teeth. A breeze brushes my face that has a sweet aroma of flowers. Tears of shame and anger glide down the side of my face, I’m full of frustration because I know you’ll never come back.

“You never taught me how to be strong from a death, and that’s not fair,” I say in hushed voice.

The orange flowers grew back the following year, but years later they eventually died because I stopped tending them as I grew older. You never yelled at me, nor told me it was my fault, but I knew that deep down inside it pained you to see the mass of weeds overtake the arrangement that we worked so hard on. Eventually, you went through and planted Daisies and orange Tulips; they still grow there. 

It suddenly hits me, the day you took your life was your final lesson for me: life is too short to waste. Life is too short to live in the shadows. And even though you never fully allowed God to remove some of the weeds in your life, it’s important for me to live life to the fullest. Sometimes God speaks to us in mysterious ways, and even though I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again, I know what I have to do while I’m here on Earth     plant flowers.

The Day my Body Changed

I was eleven the first time it happened. I awoke on a typical chilly January morning, to do my morning chores and get ready for school. I fumbled around out of bed and flipped the switch on, not noticing the brand new stain on my sheets. It wasn’t until I went into the bathroom that I discovered that although I went to bed as a girl, I awoke as a brand new woman.

Embarrassed, I awoke my mom who helped me accommodate to the best of her ability. No amount of training and review in the health class could prepare me for this large step into adulthood. And boy, was I scared.

I felt alone in my class. Well not only because of my womanhood, but because at 5’0″ I towered over the other kids in class. I looked like I should have been in 6th or 7th grade. I was a fast developer as a child, which inadvertently caused me to not have many friends in school. I was good friends with the neighbor boy and his sister (who was a year younger than me). We all played Pokemon on the bus, but as soon as we hit school, he would be with “the dudes” and I’d wander the playground alone at recess. I didn’t mind being alone.

Onward to high school…
At this point I knew I was different. Different than an “average” girl. I started experiencing irregularity in my monthly visits…to the point where I’d experience this “curse” only a few times a year.
Great, right?
Dead wrong.
And I avoided the touchy subject with any given ounce of energy.
Senior year: I experience some abnormalities with hair growth. Which my lovely doctor pointed out, my face went blood red. She prescribed me with something (Spinon-something). It didn’t help really, so eventually I just stopped taking it.

College bound…the conditions worsened. I didn’t want to talk about them with anyone, not even my significant other at the time. I was embarrassed. I still AM embarrassed.

About a year ago I went to the doctor, again, but this time to get some actual blood work and testing done. It all came back great except my good cholesterol was a tad bit low and my testosterone levels were a tad bit high (than “normal”). Lovely. I got tested for PCOS, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, but to my dismay I was negative. I say dismay because now I don’t know what’s “wrong” with me. So I did a 3-month trial on Metformin (it’s a drug specifically designed for diabetics). The Metformin was great my first month, because after months of being “dry” the sweet, disgusting womanhood came back. And for 5 days I suffered immensely with a smile on my face. Because I thought that perhaps the drug would help me. It didn’t.

“Lord, what is wrong with me?” I cried out one night in my car. I had just gotten back from work. Tears began trickling down my face. By this point the Metformin was doing nothing for me except causing me to have the constant lightheaded-ness if I moved too fast, among other side effects.

Here I am, a year later, still wondering what’s “wrong” with me. I’m afraid for my future, because I am uncomfortable in the body I live in. I am afraid, because if, and I emphasize “if,” I find a guy, I have to have that awkward talk about children and my body hair. I have to explain to him that I may not be able to have children, and that I’m going to take an extra 5 minutes in the morning to get ready for the day because I have to make sure I look “woman enough” for everyone.

I know I’m not the only one in the world. I’m not the only woman in the world with the same issues. But sometimes, 90% of the time, I feel so completely, helplessly alone. That I’m not good enough     for anyone. That I’m not worthy to be a child of God.

But here I am still pushing forward. And I think if I haven’t given up yet, that you shouldn’t either. I believe in you.

From People Watching to Smiling

Now, don’t take it the wrong way, but one of my favorite hobbies that has developed over the years has been people watching. I find people fascinating, intriguing. Every single person is different in their own way. Eyes, hair, shapes, height, skin color and the list goes on.

Off topic:  I’ve been an official employed college graduate for almost 2 months now, and with my job I get to talk to guests on the phone, not necessarily interact with them one-on-one. So, it’s been a little hard for me personally to interact with them because I am an inter actor via motion, not voice. By this I mean that I base what I do off of body cues not tone of voice, because to me tone of voice can be very misleading. I hear another one of my coworkers on the phone and sometimes I think she sounds annoyed when that’s just how she talks in general (and maybe she is annoyed). I always think I sound too fake happy when I’m talking to a guest because if I just talked in my ‘normal’ voice I probably would sound sarcastic or bored, when I am fairly monotone in how I talk. 

Tonight at work:  I got a little worked up tonight as I was trying to figure out some math for a guest, and I started crying (yes, again for the upteenth time…) and no, praise God, it wasn’t while I was on the phone, it was as one of my supervisors, Kirk*, was trying to help me with math (my Calculus teacher in high school always said calculus is the easy part, the algebra is the hard part). After I breathed in to calm myself, I finished speaking with the guest and afterwards Kirk said, “Hey, let’s go get a cup of coffee and take a mental break from all of this.” I hesitated thinking I was going to be in trouble, but the manager jokingly said, “If you take a call you will be in trouble.” So off I went with Kirk down to the coffee shop, and to talk and appreciate about who we are as a company whole.

I marvel as I walk down the hall admiring the paintings that have been so uniquely designed. Kirk and I pass many guests, and greet them, and he mentions a few times “This is what we are about. Do you hear those children laughing? Do you see how happy that child is (he references to the one in front of us hopping as her dad is walking).” I smiled. It’s not about the money, it’s about how are we showing the quality of a 5-star resort. It’s about allowing families to come, be happy, and make some memories. It’s not about how “Gee, I’ve had 10 guests complain about ‘how expensive’ we are” it’s about the excitement of “I’ve stayed there before, and I wanna come back because you make my child so excited.”
I had nearly forgotten how ‘bad’ that last call with a guest was.

As we neared the lobby, people trafficed their way around other people. Kirk and I just stood there, watching the people. Some were wet from the waterpark. Some headed to the waterpark. Some were Pokemon Go players. Some were coworkers. And some looked a little worn from a long day. It’s interesting to see how people carry themselves when they walk. Some walk with their heads up while others watch their toes. I told Kirk how I like to actually make up fake stories for people, like what they did, or what they are going to do, and sometimes even where they came from. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of this hobby.

Alas I was able to get a good cup of coffee, go back to my work spot, and enjoy my last hour of work with a smile on my face because I know that I’ll always have a good day as long as I make it that way. No grumpy guest is going to bring me down. I say this entire long story about my day at work to come to this conclusion: don’t give up who you are and strive to be because one person gets you down or hinders your pathway to success. Take a deep breath and try to get past the obstacle or shove it out of your way and know that you are the champion. Just like frosted flakes is the breakfast of champions, a smile is the world champion because it is the one thing that can make a difference: the way one perceives how I am, the way that it can make someone’s day, the way it can change the tone of voice.

So smile.

*indicates name change

Waiting for the Sweet Tea

Tonight I was really thirsty. Thirsty enough that I had a headache, thirsty enough my mouth was dry. And sweet tea sounded really good. So I put my kettle on the stove to heat the water, and I pulled out my black tea. “Oh how thirsty I am…maybe I should just get a glass of water.” But my thought was, if I get a glass of water, then I won’t be thirsty for my sweet tea that I’m making. So I waited. Longest 20 minutes of my life. I waited for that water to heat up. I waited for my tea to brew. Then I had to prepare my tea with sugar, add some ice to a glass. Pour. Sip. Two glasses later, I was satisfied with my drink. And had I just grabbed a glass of water, that sweet tea probably would not have tasted as good, because I already had a different taste in my mouth, and my thirst would have already been partially quenched.

Now I went on about that story to bring it back to the other night…

I had went out with a few of my girlfriends for a late night dinner date after work. Maxine* and I have been best friends since we both were wee toddlers, and I befriended Bailey* in high school. Bailey had just broken up with her boyfriend, so she needed to be out. I was full of several emotions upon hearing about this breakup, one of which was saddness because I knew she was dating this lad for a few years, but I was also full of excitement because I know she has a bright future ahead of her.

The night my ex and I had a talk before we decided to go our separate ways, I was torn. I hate hurting people. But I knew deep in my heart that our relationship wasn’t right, that something about it just wasn’t settling my stomach. And it seemed that we both were so unhappy. When I opened my mouth, all I could muster out was “I think we need a break,” and the look in his eyes was gut wrenching. We stayed friends for several months (and we still talk to each other once in a blue moon), but the hardest time came when my car broke down, and I had to rely heavily on him to take me to work, and ultimately a ride back home for the summer once the school semester was over. Watching him leave after we unloaded my car, felt like a jabbing metal wire twisting inside of my stomach. There was a brief hug, but that really pulled the trigger inside my brain that we were truly over. And I missed him. It took me all summer to work on getting out of the habit of wanting to text him. One long summer. But eventually God healed my broken heart, and I realized that I need Him more than a man.

Now, I can’t say that my relationship was a mistake, because had we not dated, I wouldn’t have gone to school at UWGB, where I met many dear friends that I have now. And I wouldn’t have befriended several great families from the church up there. But, as I was waiting for that sweet tea, it got me to thinking about relationships, and how so many young women and men are so thirsty that they grab the first glass of water they can get to without really realizing that it wasn’t water that they wanted, but maybe it was a glass of sweet tea that they wanted in the long run. Why do so many young people settle for something that won’t satisfy them? It could be perhaps that they are impatient to wait for the water to boil and the tea to brew, or possibly, young ones feel that drinking that glass of water first won’t affect how they handle the sweet tea after.

Unfortunately, it does make a difference. A young person waiting for the water to boil and the tea to brew, means that they will be way more satisfied once it turns out to be delicious, ice cold sweetness in the mouth. They aren’t hesitant in wanting more, until that tea is completely finished. Think about it this way. When anyone has leftovers of anything, they typically put it in the fridge. Sometimes, though things get moved and shoved allllllll the way to the back of the fridge, on the bottom shelf. Then it begins to stink. If one doesn’t fully wait for the sweet tea, and just fills up on water until the sweet tea is done brewing, then that person will  just bottle up what’s leftover and put it in the fridge, and possibly that sweet tea will get shoved in the back on the bottom. Sometimes, if one isn’t careful and patient enough to wait for their sweet tea, they don’t always treat it like it’s the most satisfying drink around. And really, is sweet tea completely satisfying, when the taste of water was there first?

Bailey* although she is probably not the happiest in the present time (or maybe she is, I don’t know how her relationship was), I know that if she continues to wait, that her drink will come around. Maybe he’ll be sweet tea, maybe he’ll be a hot coffee Boston style, but ultimately I know that she’ll find hers. I know that I look forward to seeing who/what God is brewing for me. And for every young person out there, stop grabbing the first drink you see, wait for the sweet tea, because it’ll be worth that quenching wait.


*indicates name change

Hungry for Food, [Un]satisfied with Dessert

Scenario: Bar, club, some place with semi-loud music

Girl sits alone at a table, drinking some sort of soda, reading on her phone or perhaps an actual book (reading is still a thing…). Boy sits at a table a few seconds worth of a distance from girl, eyes her, waits a few minutes looking suspiciously for her boyfriend to appear. When it’s apparent she doesn’t have one, or at least not one present with her, he casually walks up with a sly grin on his face, and pride thumb-tacked to his chest.
Boy: Hiya, chicky. You are beautiful.
Girl: *Not enthusiastically takes a few seconds to actually acknowledge his presence; looks up* Hi. Can I help you?
Boy: *baffled and thrown back because usually his smile makes girls at least smile* Uhhh
Girl: *raises eyebrows* Can I help you?
Boy: Um yes. I’d like to just say you’re very beautiful. Would you like to dance?
Girl: No thanks. *goes back to her phone*
Boy: *very baffled at this point* I don’t get it. Why not?
Girl: *continues reading* I’m not interested
Boy: Oh, you have a boyfriend, don’t you?
Girl: *looks up, a slight irritation on her face* No. I don’t. I’m just not interested.
Boy: Are you into ladies?
Girl: No. *goes back to phone*
Boy: Are you like just a prude?
Girl: *looks up, irritation written all over her face* Does it matter?
Boy: Well…no…but
Girl: But what? I’m not interested. Why do I have to justify my reasoning?
Boy: Well…um…but….
Girl: Because your ego is hurt? Seriously? I don’t have to tell you why I’m not interested. It doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t have to be afraid of telling a guy ‘no’ and be worried about telling him why. Now please, don’t harass me anymore. *goes back to phone*
Boy: Wow…you are a stuck up prude. *turns around and walks away*

This scenario, although not completely exact, is the basic gist of what a conversation may look like between a girl and a guy who either wants to date her or maybe just “see where it goes.” Now, I had to reenact this scene various times, both in my head and talking aloud, (it’s not talking to myself if my dog is next to me, right?!) . I’ve also found myself faced with similar scenarios various times, so that also helped in trying to type this fake conversation up. And no matter how often I tell a guy no the first time, he usually takes that as a “please keep badgering me about it” sort of thing. I’m actually kind of sick of it.

For one, why should a girl HAVE to justify her reasoning of saying no? She shouldn’t have to feel like she has to lie and say that she does have a boyfriend, when in reality she might not. She shouldn’t have to take a designated friend with her to be her “lesbian lover” in order to cover her from awkward moment with telling a guy no. Why can’t a “no” be the signal of “this conversation is over, now please go away?”

Okay, so maybe some girls do enjoy the constant attention, I get it. Fine. Second, just because one girl reacts one way to this scenario, doesn’t mean that ALL girls will act this way. Okay, how many of y’all will actually dance with the guy, raise your hand! Put your hand down, ya silly kipper! No, for cereal, stick it in your pocket, and if you have fake pockets, then tuck it in your back pockets…and if you’re wearing leggings, then just…I don’t know, keep it down at your side.

And yes, side note, I do put a lot of quotations around everything…

A girl shouldn’t be pressured into something because she’s “obligated” too. She’s obviously not obligated to anything, especially if the conversation is going like that. See, there’s a thing called a standard. Girls, allow the boy to show you he’s worth your time. If his starting line is “Wow, you’re beautiful” it’s just too boring and too typical. What about, “Hello. I couldn’t help but notice you. Would you mind if I sat here?” Conversation proceed. Woo hoo!

But in all seriousness, a girl shouldn’t have to be forced to justify her no. She should feel special like she’s worth the extra time to get to know. Let’s face it, who wants a guy that just wants one thing. So don’t waste a girl’s time, Boys.

Now let’s talk about being single.

Girls, it’s okay to wait it out for the right guy. I was just reading an inspirational post by  Jordan Lee that says it all:

“….We were so hungry that we decided to get dessert first. Just to keep our blood sugar up. As we finished our ice cream, we were still hungry. It helped, but didn’t quite do the trick. Thankfully, our table was ready and we sat down to eat a completely satisfying meal. I fell asleep as he drove me home, so obviously it was good.
So what’s my point? I think sometimes we turn people into ice cream cones. Like our hearts are so hungry as we wait and wait, as place after place we seek satisfaction from fails, that we settle. And that’s just it. Sometimes, we chase after a man, or run into an ice cream shop, for that quick little fix. Funny though, how we still feel hungry, or lonely, still. It’s not quiet enough…So if you’re feeling lonely, look at what you’re filling yourself up with. Is it an ice cream cone, or in other words, a romance? OR is it the real meal? I’ll bet if you wait and seek a little longer, your table will be ready. And He will satisfy your hunger…”

I really couldn’t have said it better. And I just want to add that this can apply to men as well. I have several guy friends who are so fixated on finding the right one that they’re not focusing on making themselves the perfect man for the future woman. Seriously. There is no, I repeat NO shame in waiting around and passing by all those yuckies to simply fill oneself with a temporary fix.

Upon being asked out all too many times, I’ve learned that I don’t have to lie to a guy to get out of going on a date with him. I don’t have to pretend to be something that I’m not, just so he’ll quit pestering me. Stop allowing the “why” to surpass that “no.” Don’t let that simple, unoriginal man allow you to be swept up. Don’t settle for a lesser value than you’re worth. Because in the long run, you’ll still be hungry.