When your heart finally overpowers your fears

The heart is the thing that keeps us alive—as long as it’s pumping, we’re good.

But it’s also the thing that can lead us and think for us.

It’s definitely not always easy to be vulnerable with people. In fact, it can straight up make you feel weak. When you offer the truthful thoughts in your heart to someone, you risk quite a few things: rejection, judgment, apathy, and insincerity, among others. But you also risk that person actually caring—genuinely caring.

What if we shared what’s in our hearts? What if we were completely honest and didn’t worry so much about what would happen if we shared true feelings? Would that really be such a bad thing?

She’s had my heart since Day 1

When my oldest niece was a precious little newborn, I was going through a pretty tough time. I haven’t always been the best about sharing my feelings, but it was really easy with her. I would hold her in my arms and tell her everything going on in my life and my heart, and I knew there was zero judgment or possibility that she would hurt me. If she started wailing, I knew it would be because she was crying with me and for me. Sure, she was just a tiny baby and couldn’t use actual words to respond to me, but it didn’t matter—I trusted her with my whole heart. She’s 3 now, and we still have those deep heart conversations. She just gets me.

I realize that it’s likely not wise to share every feeling with every single person you meet, but I still don’t believe that it’s wrong to be honest when people ask you how you are, even if don’t know them. And I know that we are to guard our hearts, but I think there’s a difference between protecting it from evil and completely shielding it from letting anyone in or sharing its hopes and passions and truths.

I think most of my pics are with them nowadays, and I’m good with that.

So why do we spend so much of our lives living in fear of what will happen if we share the things that are in our hearts? Yeah, we might experience heartache, we might have our hearts shattered to a thousand tiny little pieces, we might get hurt, we might cry, we might experience emotions that we weren’t expecting, and people might make fun of us. But people might love us back. People might return the feelings. People might show how much they care. People might share their hearts, too.

Whether a bad or good outcome happens, isn’t it better to take a chance than to spend your life constantly wondering what if and if only?

I spent far too many years hiding my feelings and not taking risks that I probably should have taken. I can think of more than one instance when I had the opportunity in a perfect moment to share my heart with someone, and, instead, I shied away and kept my words hidden in the depths of my heart. I look forward to the day when I can stand before the man who captures my heart and tell him that I love him with a real love that’s forever and always. That’s something I’ll want him to know, and I’m not going to let myself chicken out to tell him. That fearful girl isn’t here anymore.

One of my favorite episodes of The Office is “Casino Night” because it’s the first time that Jim declares his love for Pam. No, it doesn’t work out for him in that moment, and he walks away with a shattered heart. Had he not told her in that beautiful scene in the parking lot, though, she likely never would have called off her wedding with Roy and later shared all of her feelings with Jim after she ran across the coal fire pit at the beach.

Yes, I realize that not everyone ends up like Jim and Pam, but at least they can give some of us hope.

Just livin’ with my heart over here

I’ve learned that you have to stop caring what other people think if you want to be completely comfortable and confident being you. You’re not someone else’s opinion of you, so why even give another person the power to dictate your thoughts and actions?

Don’t be afraid to share what’s in your heart. You have the feelings you have for a reason, and you don’t have to keep them hidden away forever. It’s OK to be honest, and it’s OK to be brave. And it’s certainly OK to lead with the desires God places in your heart.

Because, like Selena Gomez wisely says, the heart wants what it wants.

I bid thee farewell, dating apps

The dating world today is the worst.

And that’s the most positive way that I can say it.

High school and college are so much different than adulthood. One of the main reasons is the forced interactions with people. Sure, you’re sometimes required to mix and mingle when you’re an adult, but it’s different.

When you’re still in school, you’re in classes and organizations and activities with other people, and it’s natural to make friends and sometimes even form romantic relationships with those individuals. Quite a few of my friends met their lobsters in high school and college, and that’s really good for them, especially since they don’t know the pains of the dating scene as it is today.

Because it is the worst.

This is half of the pic from the game.

I recently met a guy on a dating app who seemed pretty legit. We went out more than a few times and had great conversations. I had never gone out with a dating app guy more than once, so I figured that was a good sign, as well. This fella also texted me pretty regularly throughout the week and appeared to be interested in me. He asked me to go to a baseball game with him, and I did, and it seemed like we both had a good time. He even took a selfie of us at the game, so one might assume that things were going well.

Oh, assumptions.

I’ve been ghosted before, and it’s sadly a pretty common thing on these apps. I’m not completely sure why I believe that people are going to be honest with their feelings and say things like “hey, I’m just not interested in you, but I wish you the best.” Sure, ghosting is a heck of a lot easier, but easier isn’t always the way to go—especially when you’re dealing with people.

That guy and I clearly weren’t meant to be, and that’s fine. He’s not my lobster. Speaking of that, I bought a shirt at Target the other day that says “you’re my lobster,” and maybe one day I’ll actually be able to wear it in front of my forever love. But even if I’m single forever, it’s still a great shirt.

And speaking of being single forever, I’m finished with the dating apps. I gave them the old college try (more than once), and each time has reminded me that they’re just not for me. I’m happy that they work for some people, but I’m not one of them. I’m going back to believing that I’m going to meet my guy while I’m walking or running through a park, and he’s playing frisbee or football with some friends and accidentally hits me with the frisbee or football, and I fall, and he runs over to check on me, and then sparks fly.

No, I don’t watch too many romcoms.

CalPal and I lost at bingo, but we’re OK.

I played bingo the other night, and I definitely didn’t win. I actually didn’t even come close. During each game, I had nine squares that I was trying to keep up with, which required a great deal of focus—after all, there was money on the line, and I’m also a highly competitive person. At one point, though, I took a moment to look around the room at all of the people emphatically dotting numbers called on their boards and listening intently as Theresa called the next letter-number combo. There didn’t appear to be many meaningful conversations going on in that crowded room. In that moment, it hit me that sometimes we truly do focus so much on the things we want or think we need that we don’t pay enough attention to the wonderful things that are already there.

I don’t need dating apps. I don’t need a boyfriend or a husband or a lobster. And I don’t need some ideal love story that Meg Ryan’s former characters would applaud. Sure, those things would be nice, but being able to shout out “bingo” and walk away with some cash would have been nice, too. And maybe they’ll still happen for me someday. Regardless, I’m going to make sure that I appreciate what I’ve been given instead of focusing on what I don’t have.

Even if it means falling behind in bingo.

Because journeys trump dashed expectations

Sometimes our hopes that turn into expectations don’t quite live up to the hype we give them.

And that’s actually not always a bad thing.

It’s been such a joy to see their love story unfold.

I spent the holiday weekend in Northern California for a wedding and was able to explore San Francisco for a bit before I went up to Wine Country. While I lived in Orange County for more than a year and a half, I never made it up to the Bay Area during that time. I had always heard about how fascinating it is, so I was excited to experience it.

My sweet friend Tara had given me a few ideas of things to do, one of which was to visit Coit Tower, where you’re able to see the entire city in a 360-view from up top. I made the trek up there and was enjoying seeing all of the different people on the streets as my made my way to my destination. One thing I kept thinking was that people who live there must have really great quads—those hills are no joke.

When I finally made it to Coit Tower, I wasn’t exactly expecting there to be a line or a fee. Clearly I was living in some type of fantasy land—the line wrapped around three different corners, and I learned it was going to cost me $9 to step into the elevator. I decided to go ahead and pay and wait because I was really curious to see how amazing the views were. I kept thinking about this quote from the Hannah Montana movie: “Life’s a climb, but the view is great.”

I had been standing in line for a while and was probably still about 15 or 20 minutes away from being able to go on the elevator when an employee began walking down the line asking for a single rider. FINALLY, ANOTHER PERK OF BEING SINGLE! I quickly let him know I was riding solo, so he took me to the front of the line to squeeze on the elevator with a group of three people and a few other couples. The man controlling the elevator began telling us a little about Coit Tower and expectations for when we got to the top. If I ever need a hype man, he’ll be one of my top candidates. He made everything sound amazing.

When the elevator opened, I began climbing the last set of stairs to get to the top. My heart filled with anticipation that I can’t really explain—I think that there had been so much build up that I was expecting something more magnificent than I could even imagine. I took the last step to the top, and I tried not to let the disappointment take over.

This is it?

It was only $9 and time you’ll never get back, Nat. It’s fine. You’re fine. Everything’s fine.

Nice $9 views

Sure, the views were beautiful, but the whole experience wasn’t as glorious as I thought it would be. I walked around the tiny loop, snapped some pics, stared out into the water we were overlooking, and then moseyed back down the stairs to the elevator.

As I began the trek back to my car, I gave myself a pep talk to try to make sure that I didn’t spend my whole walk disappointed with what had just happened. I know that I have high expectations for many things in life, and it’s certainly a letdown when one of them doesn’t pan out as I originally hoped, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth the work to get there.

I thought about how much I had enjoyed the walk there—the sights, the people, the brief conversations I had with strangers, the artwork along the walls and sidewalks, the hills (it’s a love-hate thing), the weather, the ability to walk in the beautiful sunshine without sweating like a haus, the stories behind each unique door I passed. All of it.

No, not everything is going to be as we expect it to be, but that doesn’t mean that the journeys we take to get to those desires we have are wasted. I didn’t waste time in that line—I invested in conversations with other people and gave my mind and body some time to escape from all of the pressures and worries I’ve been dealing with lately (I have a lot on my plate right now). I didn’t waste money to ride an elevator and see a city from above—I invested in other people’s careers and in a city that provides a number of amenities for a countless amount of people every single day (I actually have no idea where the money goes, but that’s what I’m choosing to believe).

This is where people were taking couple pics together, so I figured I needed one, too. Of me.

Even though I’ve been as single as a dollar bill for basically my entire life, I have high expectations for what I’m looking for in my lobster. And I truly believe that it won’t end up being like my Coit Tower experience. At the same time, I want to make sure that I’m appreciating this journey along the way. I don’t want to waste my singleness by wishing that I weren’t single. I mean, I got to cut in line in front of a bunch of people because they’re all in relationships or traveling with other people, and I’m not. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

We all walk different paths and are able to go through different experiences in life. They don’t happen by accident, and we are where we are on purpose and with purpose—I fully believe that. So why not try to enjoy the moments we’re given without constantly focusing on what’s ahead? It’s great to have hopes and expectations and to imagine what those fulfilled hopes will be like, but it’s even better to be fully present and to let yourself enjoy every breath that you’re given.

Yes and amen.

Sure, “life’s a climb, but the view is great,” but it’s that climb and all that you endure through it that help you become the person you were always meant to be.

Just ask Hannah Montana.

When people truly care for each other

When you genuinely care about someone, there’s an unspoken trust and assurance that you would do whatever is in your power to love and protect that person.

Especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

My two nieces are two of my best friends. I would do absolutely anything for those little gems, and I can’t even accurately describe the amount of joy that fills my heart each time I get to spend precious moments with them. I’ve talked before about how much Olivia changed my life when she was born three years ago, and both of them continue to impact me in more ways than I can explain.

They’re the actual cutest.

I was recently at their house watching a fairy movie with them, and Olivia was sitting in my lap because she had hurt her foot. Sweet little Evie has taken up pinching as a new hobby and began pinching and slapping my legs. She’s too cute for me to get upset about it, and it didn’t actually hurt, but I also don’t want her pinching and hitting other people because her aunt let her do it, so I reminded her that it’s not nice to do so.

And then something happened that made me actually want to cry.

Olivia began defending me and putting her hands and arms and legs and everything she could between Evie’s tiny hands and my legs. (Precious Evie thought it was a game and began giggling and trying to get around Olivia.) When Evie slapped my knees, Olivia would kiss them to try to make them better. I put my hand to my heart to see if it was still functioning properly because I thought maybe it had actually melted. Once again, even though I’m the adult, that adorable little human took care of me.

There’s something about genuine love that changes people.
That heals people.
That gives hope to people.
That removes doubt.
That removes fear.
That wipes away tears.
That reminds the heart why it beats.

We aren’t anyone else’s opinion of us.

There are far too many ways that people in this world can feel neglected and unloved. While we may have people in our lives who will help shield us from pinching and slapping, there are times when we’ll feel much more exposed to people’s words and actions that hurt our hearts more than anything else. What’s important to remember in those moments, though, is that we aren’t other people’s opinions of us.

Which is something you might need to remind yourself of often if you use a dating app.

A month or so ago, I went out with a guy who said he wanted to go out again and then texted me the same thing later, and then I never heard from him again. But I’m not his opinion of me. I once had a guy find out that I don’t drink, and he said “hard pass” on me. But I’m not his opinion of me. I’ve been ghosted more than once. But I’m not their opinions of me. My friend was downright stood up and never heard from the guy who was supposed to me her. But she’s not his opinion of her.

Just like you aren’t anyone else’s opinion of you.

This pic is super old, but it always reminds me how loved and cared for I truly am.

It feels nice when people show you that they care about you, which is another reason why I think it’s so essential that we show people that we care about them—so that they know without a doubt that they are valued, that they are loved, and that they matter. When I was talking to my students last week about respecting one another, I reminded them that it takes a lot less energy to be kind to someone than it does to be mean. I don’t even know if that’s scientifically accurate, but it makes sense to me, so that’s what I told them. Sure, sometimes showing you care takes effort, but like my mom told me, the more you do it, the more natural it becomes to you.

As I sat there the other day with Olivia on my lap, I realized that the way she defended me is the way Jesus defends me every day. He swoops in and heals my wounds and genuinely cares about and loves me. Does that mean that pain won’t ever happen and that broken hearts will mend as quickly as I want them to? As much as I wish that were the case, no. But it does mean that I can live with the certainty that He’s always fighting for me, and my identity is found in Him—not in other people or in what they think of me.

And that’s all the assurance that I’ll ever need.

Because having patient endurance certainly isn’t always easy

It’s not always easy to be patient and endure every trial that life throws your way.

Especially in times of travel and in issues involving matters of the heart.

Cue “I’ll Be Ready.”

I recently went to Florida with my parents and my sister for a fun little end-of-summer vacay. It was a nice getaway filled with “wave diving,” Baywatch running, beach walks, soaking up the sun, dinners at 4 p.m. to beat the crowds, lazy movie nights on the couch, and cannonballs galore. It was exactly what my soul needed—rest and relaxation near the ocean with my people.

The day we left to head home to Texas, we had a 9:44 a.m. flight, and my dad likes to be early everywhere, so we left the place we stayed around 6 a.m. We returned the rental car and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, so we breezed through security and went to sit at our gate.

Little did we know just how long we would be sitting there.

Mine and my sister’s phones both buzzed at the same time, and we looked down to see notifications that our flight was delayed. It was a minor annoyance, but I’ve flown enough to know that it happens sometimes. Looks like we had an extra hour to kill. But then the delays just kept coming. Before we knew it, our flight was going to take off much later than planned—as in FOUR HOURS later. Yes, I do realize that some people have flights delayed much longer or even canceled, but when you’re sitting at an airport hoping with everything in you to get home as soon as possible because you’re so exhausted and ready to be in the comforts of your own place, four hours seem like an actual eternity.

My mom helps make bad situations better.

I felt pretty bad for the airport and airline employees. Disgruntled people tend to take out their frustrations about a situation on those who honestly have no control over that situation—and there were quite a few unhappy individuals who were supposed to be on our flight that day. I think many of them hastily changed flights, because ours ended up being rather empty.

When the plane finally took off a little after 2 p.m., my only option to make it through the flight with complete sanity was to watch a cheesy romcom, so I naturally went with Rebel Wilson’s smash hit Isn’t It Romantic? I’m honestly not sure that I actually liked the movie, but it killed enough time for us to get back to Dallas.

When we all piled into my brother-in-law’s car when he picked us up from the airport, it felt like the moment when you were a little kid and waited all December long for Christmas to roll around, and you struggled to fall asleep on Christmas Eve but then FINALLY woke up to Christmas Day—and the world felt incredibly normal and not as if you’d just waited for what felt like forever to be in that moment.

Both of these precious young women waited patiently for their lobsters, and we get to celebrate KB’s wedding soon.

If we’re being completely honest here, no one really loves waiting (at least I haven’t met anyone who does, but if you do, I’d like to chat). Most of us have our own agendas and plans, and we like things to pan out the way we hope that they will. But that’s not reality. We can’t always control the situations around us, and sometimes we simply have to employ what’s known as patient endurance.

When I first heard that term, it didn’t make a ton of sense to me. If I’m having to endure something, I doubt I’m focusing much on being patient. But the more I reflected on what it really means, the more I wanted it to be something I’m able to practice and hone and model well for others.

A few years ago, I fell pretty hard for a guy who ended up leaving me brokenhearted. Throughout that entire time, I wrote down the Bible verse below on a sticky note and read it to myself at least once every day.

Patient endurance is what you need now so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.

And I reminded myself to believe every single word of it.

Just waiting for my lobster like:

I still have to remind myself of this often. It’s easy to get so caught up in everything around me and in the plans I think are best for myself that I forget that He has a much better plan than I do. After all, I had to learn patient endurance for four years of frustrations and seeking for meaning in a career path that wasn’t truly where I was meant to stay—and it led me back to where my heart has been all along.

And I’m currently still patiently enduring (well, I’m certainly trying to master that “patient” part of it) this whole singleness thing and also sometimes wondering if it’s a perpetual endurance I’ll need. Whether I get my Christmas morning/car ride back from the airport (a.k.a. THIS) or not, the patient endurance is still a necessary part of my story so that I keep trying to pursue the Lord’s will in my life. If living by faith means never having a love like Nathan’s and Haley’s (if you weren’t a One Tree Hill fan, that might mean zilch to you), then that’s OK. He’s still good, and I’m still His.

And that’s worth every single struggle and pain patient endurance has ever brought with it.

Because your battery life is important, too

I don’t always pay enough attention to the battery life of my phone.

And it turns out that I also don’t always pay enough attention to my own battery life.

I recently ventured out to Atlanta for a work trip and had quite an interesting experience. Living in Dallas and then Orange County and then back in Dallas, I don’t typically use public transportation much—or ever, really. I had to use the bus system once when I was in Portland, and I ended up getting a ride back to my hotel from a stranger because I struggled to get on the right bus in the first place and then missed the stop at which I was supposed to change buses on the way to the convention I was attending, so the ride with the stranger seemed like a better option. I also let another stranger from the convention take me to the airport the next day.

I lived and wasn’t kidnapped, so it’s fine.

This isn’t from Atlanta, but it’s from the day before, so it’s relevant. Plus, I love these gals with my whole heart.

If you’re not from Atlanta or haven’t ever been there, you might not have heard of the MARTA, but it’s a train (I think they might have buses, too) that starts at the airport and has a bunch of stops to different places with multiple lines. To someone more familiar with public transportation, I’m sure this sounds like no big deal, but I’ve taken the DART train in Dallas maybe once in my entire life, and the bus I took when I was at Texas A&M went from a stop near my apartment to campus, so it was fairly simple.

I don’t know my way around the Atlanta airport, so it took me a sufficient amount of time and many questions to people I didn’t know to find out where exactly the MARTA stop was. My plan was to take the train all the way to the end of the line and then take an Uber the remaining six miles or whatever it was to my hotel. It seemed like a smart idea at some point in time.

And then real life happened.

When I got off of the plane, my phone was at 44 percent battery. That seemed sufficient enough. I purposely didn’t use my phone much on the 40-minute (or something like that) train ride, but somehow it was at 6 percent when I got to the final station. I immediately opened the Uber app to arrange for my ride, and it said the driver was only a few minutes away. But apparently getting to the pickup location at the station was more complex than the driver expected, and he got lost. He called me to let me know that he was trying to get to me but that it might be better to get a different Uber.

Not an option—I was at 1 percent battery at that point.

I prefer traveling with my sister. The MARTA adventure would have been more fun with her.

I knew that I didn’t have time to call for another Uber, so I asked him please not to cancel the trip and still to come pick me up. I left the app open to follow him and make sure that he was still on his way (and also so that I could know when he arrived), but I was pretty nervous that the phone would die at any second.

I felt really helpless. I was in a big city I know nothing about, and I couldn’t even consult the Google for anything because my phone would for sure die if I opened anything else.

In what I still deem as a miracle, my phone survived until the Uber arrived. As soon as I got in the car, though, it died. I threw up all of the praise hands to Jesus to thank Him for me not having to resort to asking a stranger at the station take me to my hotel, because I was pretty sure that there were some people in the area who likely weren’t as trustworthy as I would hope that they would be.

I realized something about myself—I was more concerned about the battery life in my phone than I’ve ever been about the battery life in my own life. When my phone got down to 1 percent, I wanted to give the phone as much rest as possible so that it didn’t expend all of its energy. But when I get down to 1 percent, I don’t always allow myself the rest that I should.

It’s easy to get going so fast and take on so much that we forget to take care of ourselves. It’s common to love others as much as we can but then not love ourselves enough. I know that I’m often guilty of this. But the percentage left in my phone isn’t as important as the percentage left in me.

These are my people.

Thankfully, I did get to take a vacation with my parents and sister and spend some time at the beach in Florida. We used to come here a lot when I was a little kid, and I came again about five years ago. It’s nice to be back. It’s a different beach and lifestyle than I got accustomed to in California, but it’s still peaceful and relaxing.

I’m excited for when I get back home, too. There are so many changes that have been going on in my life in the last couple of years—and especially in the last couple of months—but it will be nice to be back in the classroom and get back to a sense of normalcy.

I love people—and I mean that. I think it’s truly important to be there for people and to make sure that they feel valued and loved. But I’m also learning (yet again) that it’s absolutely essential to make sure that you feel valued and loved by yourself, as well.

I guess all of the reminders about getting enough sleep at night are actually pretty legit. After all, you don’t want to be struggling and feeling like you’re constantly operating at 1 percent.

And you want to make sure that you’re fully charged when you get to where you need to be.

When you run into a dating app guy at work

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to run into someone I’ve interacted with on a dating app out and about in society.

And then it happened—at work.

I haven’t had what one would call “success” on the dating apps I’ve used. I’ve tried a few, but I only have an account for the Bumble now. I’m trying to have a positive attitude about it, but I’m still not a fan.

A couple of months ago, I chatted with a guy for quite a bit on the app, but the conversation eventually ended up fizzling out. Fast forward to last week, and I saw an unfamiliar name of an individual who was going to be in our weekly team meeting at work. I looked him up on LinkedIn to see if I’d seen him around the office before, but I instantly recognized him as someone I’d seen somewhere else: Bumble.

Well, this just got interesting.

Hi, I’m Natalie. I often end up in interesting situations.

He walked into the meeting after I did, and I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to say something to him then and create an awkward and embarrassing moment for him in front of everyone. It became quickly apparent that he recognized me, as well, so he didn’t make eye contact with me the entire time. He ducked out of the meeting a few minutes early, and I figured he probably had another meeting to get to right after that one.

Or perhaps he simply didn’t want to interact with me.

I saw him in passing right as I left the meeting, and seeing as how he was now empty-handed, he definitely didn’t look like he was rushing off to another one. It was obvious what I needed to do.

Me (stopping him and forcing him to talk to me): Hey, I know you.
Bumble guy (with a knowing-but-pretending-to-be-confused look on his face): Yeah, you look familiar. What’s your name?
Me: Natalie
BG (awkwardly looking at me and then looking away multiple times)
Me: Dude, we met on Bumble. We talked for a while, but it went nowhere.
BG (awkward laugh and sheepish expression, obviously wanting to turn and run): Yeeeaaaahhhhh.
Me: Don’t worry—I’m leaving soon. Next week is my last week. I’m going back to teaching.
BG (with an audible sigh of relief): Oh, whew. I guess we’re just two passing ships.
Me: Welp, good to see ya.

And then I turned and walked away.

That guy and I obviously weren’t meant to be, and it’s for the best. It reminded me that there are a number of things that haven’t worked out in my life (especially my dating life), and I know that there’s always been purpose behind those closed doors and diverted paths.

Being back in Dallas means getting to make mems with these gems.

Even leaving teaching to realize that it’s where my heart truly belongs was an unexpected turn in my life that has led me back to a place I’m beyond excited to be. Then I unexpectedly moved to California and went through a great deal of difficult emotions while I was out there, but it was one of the most incredible life-changing experiences that I wouldn’t trade, and it led me right back to where I’m supposed to be. And now I’m unexpectedly on dating apps at the age of 34 because all of the relationships that never happened that I wish did left me with an achy-breaky heart.

I’m still not sure how I’ll meet my lobster, but maybe that’s actually a good thing—after all, so many of the unexpected occurrences that have happened in my life have turned out to be better than I could have ever imagined. (However, if you know a single fella between the ages of 34–39 who is funny and kind and loves Jesus and sports and will dance with me and resembles Ryan Reynolds, please give him my number.) So I’m trusting that my future love story will be even better than any romcom I pretend I’m in every now and then.

And it will not involve two passing ships.

Because I’d rather not hesitate

Sports have taught me many important lessons in life, including one I needed to be reminded of recently: Don’t hesitate.

And it came courtesy of a pickle.

I went to the Rangers game on Sunday afternoon, and one of our players (I won’t throw him under the bus completely) frustrated me quite a bit early on in the game. He was on second base, and when his teammate crushed one deep into the outfield, he rounded third and started to head home. But then he changed his mind and decided to go back to third. At that point, though, it was too late, and he was in an actual pickle. (If you don’t know what a pickle is, The Sandlot is here to help. This is a cool one, too.

Thanks to sweet Cristy for the great tickets.

When our guy realized that he might not make it back to third without getting tagged, he went toward home again, then back to third. The third baseman had the ball, and the catcher had run too far when he made the throw, so home plate was wide open. The runner would have made it home if he had simply run full speed at that point, but he made a huge mistake.

He hesitated.

The third baseman was then easily able to catch him and tag him out as I let out a loud “NOOOOOO! Why didn’t you go?!?! You had it!” And then, as you’re supposed to do at ballgames, I turned to my friend Piper to make sure that she had seen what had just happened so that we could both agree that his hesitation ruined everything.

How much are we all like that baseball player? Rather than running as hard and as fast as we can at the things that we truly desire, we hesitate. We start to think and overthink, which can often be to our detriment. I mean, I get that we have brains for a reason, and we need to use them much of the time, but sometimes we just don’t—especially if those brains of ours are going to be crowded with fears and doubts and anxieties and lies and insecurities and assumptions and discouragement and all of the other negative factors that talk us out of doing the things we want and need to do.

Eating froyo and wondering where Starbucks guy is

After all, I hesitated with Starbucks cutie, and look where that got me. I went back one day recently, and he wasn’t there. IF YOU ARE OUT THERE READING THIS, CUTE GUY FROM STARBUCKS, LET’S GO EAT SOME FROYO TOGETHER. I’ve also hesitated way too many other times and am not proud of those moments, either. Michael Scott once quoted the great Wayne Gretzky in saying that “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” which is true, but those shots you don’t take could also cost you more than simply missing out. For our Rangers friend, he was tagged out and didn’t get another chance to score a run. (I won’t blame the entire game on him, because we lost 12-4, but still. Come on, bud.)

And, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not hesitate and, instead, run like Phoebe with my whole heart.

You might have heard me mention before that I’m not a huge fan of dating apps, but I am on them because it seems like there aren’t many people meeting each other many other ways these days. And some guys at my pool last weekend were living proof. A few of them were sitting on the layout chairs beside the pool, and I could tell that one of them was swiping left and right, and he wasn’t looking up from his phone at all. Then I looked at the pool full of half-naked girls without guys with them and then back to the fellas. It made no sense. There was an actual pool of girls in real life, and they weren’t even trying to talk to them.

I had overheard enough of their conversations to know that none of them seemed to be in a serious relationship (the term “one and done” was used at one point when one of them mentioned a girl he had gone out with recently), and maybe it was simply that they weren’t attracted to the girls in the pool, but it was a little odd to me that they weren’t talking to any of them. I know that I don’t live in the movies or TV shows, but there would definitely be some guys hitting on these girls in Hollywood productions. I have eyes that work—there were plenty of gorgeous girls there that day.

I never hesitate to get bright pink nail polish.

Although dating apps can be very beneficial and have sparked some lifelong relationships, they can also allow people to get so comfortable meeting people via apps that they hesitate in in-person situations. And I’m sure that many people feel like they’re in quite the pickles: Do they approach people they see and are interested in, or do they solely rely on meeting people online, because that’s where everyone seems to meet these days? To those of you who met in high school or college or through friends or on a plane or at Starbucks or in the produce section or at work or at a park or somewhere else that probably belongs in a romcom, bless you. I don’t mean to be whiny, but it’s rough out there.

I hope that you don’t hesitate and, instead, go full stride toward home plate when you get caught in a pickle of your own. Life shouldn’t always involve time for “logic” and thinking—sometimes we simply need to leave all fears and doubts behind and follow our hearts.

After all, we were always meant to be brave.

When you’re waiting on fireworks

While I’m not a huge fan of waiting until 9:30 p.m. for fireworks shows to begin, I endure it once a year.

Because they’re worth the wait.

The Fourth of July is one of my absolute favorite holidays. For starters, it’s in July, which might be my favorite month. I love summer and the beach, and I feel like July is a month that epitomizes both of those things.

Who doesn’t love an impromptu parade photoshoot?

And I really love fireworks. Maybe it’s the hopeful romantic in me, but there’s something about ready fireworks shooting up into the air and going off at just the right time to light up the sky in uniquely beautiful ways that makes my heart soar. I always picture the scene in The Sandlot when the boys are playing a night pickup game together on the beloved holiday, and they all pause—completely captivated—to look up at the remarkable fireworks show going on in the sky above as Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful” plays in the background.

I also always think back to a night almost 20 years ago (how am I so old already??) when I was on a family vacation in Florida. We had gone on a trip with some of our extended family members in early July. On the night of the 4th, as we were waiting on the beach for the fireworks show to begin, I wandered off from the rest of the group for a little bit and walked along the shore, wrapped in my own thoughts.

I was just a young teenager at the time, but I was already feeling the pains of rejection that I had no idea would stick with me for far too many years. A lot of my friends had boyfriends or a handful of guys who were interested in them, and I could rarely even muster up the courage to speak to the guys I had crushes on back then. Walking on the beach alone that night felt lonely—and not simply because I was literally all by myself.

I hope this precious gem always knows how loved and valued she is.

I came to know Jesus the summer before I went into high school, so I was still learning what it meant to live a life of faith. (Heck, it’s been 21 years, and I think I’m still learning what that means every single day.) That night on the beach, I’ll never forget the prayer I prayed: God, please don’t ever let me give my heart away too soon. I want to wait for the right guy You have for me, wherever he may be. Even if that means my first kiss isn’t until it’s with my future husband—maybe that’d be for the best, anyway—I want to wait. I pray for his heart right now, and I pray that You would keep working in mine. And I pray that one day I’ll be able to watch fireworks with him on the beach. Amen.

Bless my heart. I had no idea what kind of waiting was in store for me.

I remember that prayer so well because I’ve thought back to it so many times since the words left my heart and my mouth. The fireworks started as soon as the “amen” popped out of my lips, and I knew with every ounce of my innocent heart that God had His own fireworks show prepared for my life.

I’d be lying if I said that this whole waiting process has been breezy and enjoyable. In fact, many days, it’s the opposite. But I think back to that moment when I was a teenager on the beach, and I’m confident that I was meant to say that prayer because God knew that there would be a great amount of waiting involved for me. I even get a little sad that my first kiss wasn’t with the last man I’ll ever kiss (well, unless I never kiss anyone again), because that’s what my young heart truly wanted.

I don’t know how much more waiting I’ll have to endure until I fall in love with the man who will love me back forever. If we go solely off of my success on dating apps and in-person interactions lately, it’s an indefinite amount of time. But I know that God often makes things happen in the blink of an eye. I don’t think it necessarily has to be “when you least expect it,” because I think there’s value in having expectations, but I do think it often happens how you least expect it—at least that’s what I’m hoping, anyway.

I’ll forever love California, but this right here is why I moved back to Texas.

This Fourth of July, I ran with my sister, then went to a city parade with my family, then over to my brother’s for some burgers and swimming with the fam, and then to watch fireworks with some dear friends. As I looked up at the beautiful sky that evening, surrounded by two couples, I couldn’t help but have a heart full of gratitude. No, I still didn’t have my man to watch fireworks on the beach with me like I prayed for so many years ago, but I have more love in my life than I ever imagined possible. And I really do have an answered prayer—I prayed that I would wait for the right guy for me, and I have.

I recently finished reading Everybody, Always by Bob Goff and was once again reminded of how big and powerful love is with or without romance ever involved. (If you haven’t read this book, get it ASAP. While you’re at it, get Love Does, as well. They’re both life-changing reads, and I’m not exaggerating.) In this time of waiting, I’ve been given a countless amount of opportunities to love others, and I want to make sure that I’m not passing these up because I’m too busy focusing on what I don’t have. If we constantly focus on what we think we’re missing in life, we’re actually going to miss out on a lot more because we won’t see what’s actually in front of us.

My ride or die—forever and always

I don’t know when I’ll find my lobster, but I’m OK with that. There’s a lot of good that can happen in the waiting and a lot of beautiful heart transformation that can take place during that time. The girl who prayed that trusting prayer years ago on a memorable July night in Florida has gone through quite a bit to get to where she is now and has learned the tremendous value that can come from independence and singleness. I wasn’t meant to walk the same paths as my friends and follow the same timelines of their lives—that’s part of the beauty in the uniqueness of all of our journeys.

If you’re like me and in the waiting zone for something in life, know that you’re right where you need to be. I have to hope and believe that all of the waiting isn’t for naught. I’m trusting that you’ll make it through all of the pain and the tough times to get to that beautiful finish line of endurance to your heart’s desire.

And it will be a freaking fantastic fireworks show that you’ll know forever and always was worth the wait.

Maybe Starbucks is the best dating app

One day last week, I had some time to kill before my hair appointment, so I went to a Starbucks nearby so that I could use the Wi-Fi and work on a few things I needed to complete. I don’t actually like coffee, so I usually just buy an Ethos bottled water so that I feel like I’m giving at least a little financial contribution while I’m using the free internet there. Plus, it helps children have access to clean water, so I’m a fan.

I opted for one of the cozier chairs and noticed a good-looking man sitting in one of the four of them. The other three were open, so I sat at one somewhat across from him after double-checking with him that it wasn’t occupied. He had his headphones in and appeared to be on a call. I tried listening in every once in a while to figure out what type of businessman he is—people fascinate me, so I’m always curious to learn more about them.

Thanks to a small bladder and kidney stones that won’t quit, it wasn’t long before I needed to use the restroom. I didn’t want to pack up all of my stuff and risk losing my chair (there weren’t that many people there, so it honestly wasn’t a great possibility), so when it sounded like Cute Guy wasn’t on the phone anymore, I got his attention.

Me: Hey, do you mind watching my stuff for a few minutes while I run to the restroom?
CG: How do you know I’m not going to steal it?
Me: We both know you’re not.
CG (noticing my Avengers Band-Aid on my knee): How’d you get your owie?
Me (immediately falling for someone who uses the word “owie”): I cut myself shaving.
CG: That’s not a very good story.
Me: You didn’t let me finish. I reopened a wound that I got while hiking the Incan Mountains in Peru. I noticed a llama off in the distance and became distracted, so I went after it, and I wasn’t paying attention, so I tripped on a rock and gashed open my knee. When I was shaving, I forgot about it and ripped the scab off. Hence the Band-Aid.
CG (with a swoon-worthy smirk on his face): Yeah, that’s definitely a better story.

Just wondering if I should go back to Starbucks soon

I walked to the restroom with a sense of pride at being able to create a fib so quickly. I’m not sure if it’s actually a quality I want to have, but I felt like it benefitted me in this particular instance. Also, I do realize that they’re actually called the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountains, so maybe I’m not that great of a liar after all.

When I came back, I thanked him but also let him know that I told him I knew he wasn’t a criminal. He blamed it on the fact that there were security cameras in place. Touché, guy.

Not too long after that, I looked at my watch and decided it was time to leave for my appointment. As I stood up again, CG took out his ear phones and said “You can’t leave me.” I explained that I had an appointment, and he said something else I don’t really remember because I was staring into his eyes trying not to fall for some guy I may never see again but also secretly hoping that he’d ask for my number.

Dear Hollywood, why isn’t reality always like a romcom? Sincerely, a hopeful romantic.

We tied for first but then got third because we didn’t know the Rotten Tomatoes score for 10 Things I Hate About You (eye roll).

In hindsight, perhaps I should have asked for his. I need to stop assuming that every good-looking man in this world has a girlfriend. As one of my friends pointed out, it would have been a good moment to have a business card on hand. How stalkerish would it be to show up at the same Starbucks on the same day around the same time? And how much do I actually care? I mean, I know I’m not a psycho.

Maybe he didn’t see when I tried to suavely move my sunglasses from on top of my head to my face and got them stuck in my hair. But maybe it’s better if he did. It’s good for people to know others’ quirks.

And I happen to have a lot of those.

In other news, it’s Wednesday, so I’m going to share the things for which I’m thankful this week:

  • 10 Things I Hate About You trivia night on Monday—such a blast with some of my gals.
  • The changes that just keep happening in my life, even though some of them are more challenging than others.
  • Running with my brother and sister lately. I cherish those times.
  • My new community group, which is full of women who pour out the love of Jesus like flour in cake batter (I think that’s an accurate comparison) and make every single human feel valued and adored.

What are you Wednesday pieces of gratitude this week?