When your life resembles a carefree dance

There’s a song that tells us that “life’s a dance you learn as you go,” and I’ve always known that it’s full of truth.

Yet I’m just now letting it all sink in—you know, more than 20 years later.

Cue “I’ll Be There for You”

Two of my precious forever friends and I went to a park Saturday morning to catch up and also to take a picture on the Friends couch. When we arrived, we saw a handful of people dancing on the stage used for local performances and, as we later discovered, apparently Saturday morning yoga, as well.

I was immediately intrigued.

I started walking faster, excited for the possibility of dancing with some new friends (they weren’t aware of these upcoming friendships just yet), but I was slightly disappointed when I found out that it was an exclusive group. I spoke with a man who wasn’t dancing but looked like he was part of the in-crowd, and he told me that it was a professional dance group that travels around the country to teach dance to kids. The dancers were there this particular morning to shoot a promo video, and it wasn’t exactly open to the public (e.g., a feisty redhead who loves people and loves to dance).

I asked him if we could all dance together when they were finished recording, but he didn’t seem as enthusiastic about that idea as I had hoped. When the group had a small break a couple of minutes later, though, I asked all of the dancers if we could dance together just for a bit, and before I knew it, we were going at it free style.

And that’s the only way I know how to dance—with no rules or structure or expectations of any kind.

That moment of dancing with complete strangers who all have their own unique stories while my sweet friends watched and cheered me on was exactly what I needed that morning. I’ve had more on my plate lately than I likely should, and I’ve felt bogged down. I’ve also been dealing with some things in my heart that have been rather heavy on my emotions, as well. You know, life stuff. It’s tough sometimes. But being able to let go of everything for a few carefree moments felt like that moment when you’re swimming and have been holding your breath too long underwater and finally make it to the surface and breathe in fresh air that’s full of more life than you can explain.

I don’t do organized dancing well. I’m not a fan of knowing what move I’m going to do next or trying to think too hard about what steps I’m supposed to take. It’s too stressful, and it’s not me. I’d rather just go with my own flow and surprise myself. (However, not everyone supports that, and I once was kicked off of a dance floor at a very strict line dancing place in California because I wasn’t doing the line dance going on at the time.)

So why can’t more areas of my life be like my dancing—absolutely no idea what’s coming next but with no worries about not knowing?

We’re trying not to be too shocked by the dinosaurs around every corner in Jurassic World.

Life is always going to throw unexpected things at us, and it’s OK not to know what’s on the next page of your story. I used to read the last page of a book first so that I knew how it ended. I hated surprises. But in the past few years, my life has been filled with more transitions than I ever thought possible, and I’ve come to (almost) love the element of surprise that each new day holds. Sure, sometimes it’s truly frightening, but it’s mostly intriguing and beautiful.

Are there some mysteries in my life right now for which I wish I could go and read the last pages to make sure that everything turns out OK? Absolutely. But I’m not supposed to know that yet.

I’m not Marty McFly, and I don’t roam around with a genius named Doc who has a DeLorean that can take me to the past or the future, so there’s really no way for me to know what’s going to happen next. And I’m finally OK with that. I don’t read the last page of a book first anymore, because it’s going to end the same way whether I know what’s going to happen or not. It’s more important to focus on the story that leads up to that ending—after all, it’s all of the stuff in between that helps make the story what it is.

Our stories are uniquely ours, and we don’t always need to know what’s going to happen next year or next month or next week or tomorrow or even within the next couple of minutes. It’s OK to live in the unknown and dance without any structure whatsoever, even if it means you get kicked off of a dance floor every now and then.

Because your story will often end up better than you ever could have planned it, anyway.

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.

When you know that you’re fully known

It’s nice to be able to go new places and meet new people.

But it’s also really refreshing to go places where you know people who make you feel known, too.

When I initially moved back to Dallas, I figured things would be pretty simple—I’d immediately feel right at home, and everything would be great. I wasn’t expecting all of the challenges I would face and how tough it would be to feel known again.

No, I don’t for one second regret moving back. It’s where I’m meant to be, and I’m confident in that. I’m forever grateful for the time I was able to live in Orange County, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But I will admit that, other than the ocean and the people I met there, I truly miss the feeling of being fully known.

When I moved to California, I knew zero humans. As soon as I met people, I would ask them to go to coffee with me—and I don’t even like coffee. I was desperate for community, and I was willing to do whatever I could to get to know as many people as possible so that my new home would actually feel like a welcoming place.

Like most people in this world, I didn’t want to feel like a complete outsider.

It wasn’t long before I had found a church home and got as plugged in as I could. I served in the high school ministry. I served on the welcoming team. I served in the women’s ministry and eventually led a bible study. I joined a life group and then led it for a season. I knew people at my church and within my community, and they knew me.

And being known is a beautiful feeling.

It’s not easy to feel like you’re starting all over. Yet again. I guess I assumed that, because I’m from Dallas and have spent most of my life here, it wouldn’t be a huge adjustment moving back after being gone for only a little more than a year and a half. I also guess there’s a reason why that saying about assuming things exists.

I’m attending a different church than the one before I moved, and I’ve started to get connected there. But, like with anything else in this life, it takes time. I’m on a serve team that allows me to meet new people every Sunday, which has been tremendously helpful, but it’s also been weird not already knowing everyone and being a go-to person for others when they need help with something. It’s certainly a transition going to a place where no one knows your background or what your heart’s desires are.

I don’t mean to sound whiny—I’m truly grateful for where I am and the opportunities that I’ve been given. But I’m also giving myself permission to acknowledge that any big life changes bring a number of different challenges with them. They create seasons of struggle at times, and it’s OK to admit that you’re going through some rough stuff when you’re in the midst of it. And I’m in the midst of it.

I think we all have the intrinsic desire to be known by people—for them to know our likes and dislikes, our quirks, our faults, our strengths, what makes us laugh, and a bunch of other little and big things that make us the unique individuals we are. It’s one reason why the show Cheers was so successful and why the theme song is one so many of us sing with happy hearts.

Because we really do want to be where everybody knows our names.

I’m single. If you know me (or if you don’t, probably), this is not news to you. I was talking with a friend recently about relationships and how, although I will accept if I’m meant to be single forever, it would be nice to be in love and find my lobster. I love how people in relationships truly and deeply know each other. I’m not big on games at wedding showers, but I do get a kick out of the videos people make in which the groom is on camera answering some questions the way he thinks the bride will answer, and then she answers them in real time, and the video plays to see if he was right. (I did a somewhat poor job of explaining that, so hopefully you know what I’m trying to describe.) The videos are usually super cute and funny, but it’s also rather endearing to think that two people can know so many things about one another that other people often don’t.

It’s two people who are known by one another and love each other in spite of all of their combined imperfections—and it’s beautiful.

I love nicknames. They’re personal and often have backstories to them. Even if they don’t, they’re usually only used between people who know one another well enough not to use formal names. (I tend to give people nicknames almost right off the bat, so just assume we’re immediate BFFs if I call you something else very soon after we meet.) I like my name, but when people call me Nat or NatMer or Nattles or Nattie or Nat Nat, I get really happy, and I think it’s because, in those moments, I feel known and loved.

Sweet Fritzy. I don’t think I’ve ever called her by her first name.

It’s truly a beautiful thing when someone—whether it’s a significant other, a family member, a friend, or another meaningful person in your life—knows you completely and still loves you relentlessly. Because that’s the way God loves us. I know that I’m always fully known and fully loved by Him, and it’s a knowledge and a love that surpass any that I could find on this earth.

And that’s what I have to keep reminding myself and what I hope you will remind yourself, as well. There will certainly be times in life when we feel like we’re on the outside looking in and like we aren’t seen. But we are. You are seen. I am seen. And we’re so dearly loved that it’s pretty ridiculous.

I’m thankful that God gives us humans for us to love and to show us His love, even though ours is a more imperfect version. I hope that, regardless of what type of season you’re in right now, you know that you’re valued and loved as you are and that you matter dearly.

And I hope that you’re able to go often where everybody knows your name.

Because worrying shouldn’t replace joy

Worrying and stress try to take the place of joy and fun, and that’s just not right.

Especially when bikes hanging off of cars are involved.

When I first moved to California, I bought a beach cruiser at Walmart. I know that it’s not good to get attached to material things, but I love that bike. It’s the perfect seafoam green color, and it just makes me incredibly happy when I ride it.

For my move back to Dallas, I packed most of my bigger items (and by “most” I mean all two big things I actually own—my bed and my love seat) and a few other possessions in one of those cube things that you load yourself before the movers pick it up to transport it to your destination for you. The day that it was picked up, something hit me while I was at work: Shast! I forgot to pack my bike in there.

I almost cried.

This bike and I have a lot of memories together.

I was trying not to stress, but moving across the country (again) brings with it some anxieties that you try really hard to avoid but sometimes fail. The fact that I forgot to pack something that definitely wasn’t going to fit in my car—I have too many clothes, and I admit it—started giving me heart palpitations. How was I supposed to get my bike to Dallas from Orange County?! I immediately consulted the Google.

I researched the costs and logistics of shipping a bike, but most of them involved taking the bike apart in some capacity. Again, this is a $99 beach cruise from Walmart—it didn’t work that way. If you take off that front wheel, you lose that bike forever. I ended up buying a bike rack for my car and told myself that the spare tire on the back of it wouldn’t be an issue.

Sometimes it’s best to ignore reality for as long as possible, right?

My friend JP helped me attach the bike rack to my car and the bike to the rack, but there was definite concern from both of us with the soundness of it all. The spare tire simply complicated things and made it look and feel not as secure as I would have preferred. But I needed and wanted to get home, and I wanted to take that bike with me, so I was going to give it a go and hope and pray that it wouldn’t suddenly become unattached and fly off and hurt someone else on the road while I was driving.

My sweet sister made that long journey home with me just like she had made it out there with me—she helped send me out on that adventure and was now helping to bring me home. She’s the actual best. And she, too, had some slight concerns about my beach cruiser and the likelihood that it would make it the full 20–21 hours back to Dallas.

When I picked her up from the airport in Orange County late on Wednesday, we immediately drove down to San Diego to stay in a hotel for the night so that we didn’t have to share an air mattress and because a hotel down there was slightly more affordable than one in the O.C. and was along the way on the route I had decided we’d take back. We didn’t get too far before I became overly paranoid and had to stop at a gas station to check the security of the bike. Steph got out of the car to help inspect it with me and to try to tighten all of the straps. We decided that it seemed as tied down as it could get, and we’d trust that it would survive.

Perhaps you can see why I was a little concerned.

It was comical with that thing on the back. The parking situation at the hotel in San Diego was laughable, and I don’t know how larger vehicles are able to stay there with the tiny aisle between the two rows of cars and the packed-together spots that look like they can only fit MINI Coopers and smaller. Steph had to get out to guide me so that I wouldn’t hit another car, especially with the bike protruding out pretty majorly on the right side, and what should have been an easy turn became at least an 18-point maneuver. It was almost like the pivot scene from Friends but in a car.

The good news is that the bike made it the entire trip back to Dallas, and no one was injured or died. The bad news is that I wasn’t as relaxed as I should have been for a good portion of the trip, and I checked the security of that thing during every single stop we made. Sure, I reached a certain point when I stopped thinking about it and simply trusted that everything would be OK, but it took me a while to get there. I was worrying about something that I had no control over at that point, and my worries tended to magnify when I noticed any slack in the straps or tilting/shifting of the bike rack. In all honesty, the thing was super secure and wasn’t going anywhere, but it was tough not to check it in my rearview mirror probably more times than I’ve ever looked that way in the more than nine years that I’ve been driving this car.

Yet I didn’t worry about something that likely should have been a bigger concern—you know, like running out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

Road trip warriors at it again.

There was a stretch of desert that we went through that didn’t have a gas station for a pretty long time. I had checked before when I mapped out the trip to make sure that we wouldn’t encounter such situations, but it happened nonetheless. We were as far past empty as you can get, and my gas was burning much more quickly because of all that was in and on the car (apparently losing fuel at a faster rate that way is a thing—freaking science). At one point, I didn’t know if the gas pedal was actually working or if it was just my mind playing tricks on me that it was more difficult to push down and wasn’t really giving much oomph. Steph was getting pretty concerned, and I would have felt awful if she had given up her time and energy to travel across the country yet again with me only for us to run out of gas in a desert area full of mystery—not necessarily the good kind—and the words “no service” in the top left corners of our phones.

I remember saying a little prayer right then and there, and I felt a calmness that everything was going to be alright. Even if we had to walk to get gas (which I was confident we wouldn’t have to do), we would be fine. And guess what? We made it. We filled up with more gas than my tank can actually take, so that was special. I tried to be better about monitoring the gas the rest of the trip, but Steph ended up being the one to make sure to check with me every so often to see how we were doing in that department. I love that gal.

So why was I so worried about that bike?

I thought about it later and realized that I do this quite often in different areas of my life—I let myself get anxious about things that won’t get any better or any worse by my worrying. Some situations leave me trusting God completely, while others seem like they’d be better if I had a brown paper bag to breathe in and out of repeatedly. But what I need to remember is that, regardless of what happens, and even when things don’t go the way I want and hope them to, He’s still there, and He’s still good.

And nothing will ever change that.

We’re all going to find ourselves in moments when we have to choose between stressing out about things we can’t control or living fully in the present and enjoying every second of life that we can. It certainly isn’t always easy—there are plenty of scary and daunting situations people face every single day—but it’s absolutely possible.

Having fears and doubts doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. But releasing those fears and doubts and letting yourself trust that there’s nothing that’s too big for God to handle makes you brave. Last May, I got “Be brave.” tattooed on my right inner forearm as a reminder that I want to live a life full of taking chances and chasing dreams and pursuing passions and speaking what’s on my heart and letting myself love in big ways and not ever letting fear keep me from doing anything I know I’m called to do—and doing it all with the complete faith that there’s a God who loves me more than I can ever comprehend.

Home.

My sister and I made it safely back to Dallas with no issues. We drove the long stretch to Midland the first day and stayed with me sweet cousin Rachel and her family for the night, and then we woke up and drove the remaining four or five hours home. Every single moving stress I had before and during that entire process is in the past. I’m back and settled in now, and everything feels right. And, as usual, the anxiety I felt was for naught.

The truth is that we don’t actually know what’s going to happen tomorrow or even in the next few seconds. Life is beautifully unpredictable, and that’s how it should be—because that’s how faith comes in to play. I hope that you never let fear cause you to miss out on the joy of the present, and I hope that you know that, no matter what happens in life, you’re valued and loved just as you are.

And I hope that you’re brave enough to believe that you’re worth that kind of love.

When you don’t need an invite list

Even though an Evite email reminder or an invitation update sometimes seems like just another email to add an additional number inside the little red dot on your inbox icon, it’s actually so much more than that.

It’s a reminder that you’re loved.

When I was in the sixth grade (THE WORST), I was invited to a party that was mainly with those I considered to be the “cool” kids in my grade, and quite honestly, I was kind of surprised that I made the list. Being the shallow middle schooler that I was, I felt pretty great that I received an invite. (I seriously don’t like to think often about the person I was in those awful years, but I can’t change the past, so let’s just accept that I was immature and insecure and didn’t understand a thing about what it truly meant to love people.)

It’s nice to be invited places, isn’t it? I’ve gotten to the point in my life at which I have become comfortable inviting myself to join in on other people’s fun, which I’ve had to do a lot more of since moving to California almost a year and a half ago. I jokingly say that I quickly invade myself into people’s lives, but it’s kind of true, so maybe I’m not really joking. I mean, the first week I was here, I invited myself to church with a coworker and her husband. (But she’s one of my best friends now, so I’m glad I did.) And there have been so many other instances—both back in Dallas and out here—when I’ve asked if I could tag along to places or go over to people’s houses or join in on various events. I may or may not be my people’s own special version of Dennis the Menace (minus the troublemaker part) or that neighbor kid in Home Alone who mistakenly gets counted as Kevin in the van.

I think sometimes I forget, though, that not everyone is as intrusive as I am, and maybe I need to be better about making sure that I invite others when I set out to do things on my own. I recently hurt one of my favorite people in the world because I didn’t reach out and invite this person to experience parts of my life with me. When I’m not inviting myself places, I do pretty much everything on my own, and so I think I’ve maybe gotten too used to that for my own good that I forget that there are people who love me who want to do life with me. I need to remember that don’t have to be independent all of the time—it’s OK to invite people to walk alongside me in my journey every once in a while.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that feeling uninvited is a lot like feeling rejected. It makes you feel unwanted and like you weren’t even a thought in someone’s head. (Side note: If you haven’t read Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst, please put down whatever you’re reading right now, or pick up a book for the first time in ages, and READ THIS BOOK. SO good.) Being invited, on the other hand, creates the exact opposite feelings in your heart—you feel valued and loved and like you matter enough for someone to think about you specifically and then reach out to you to make sure that you’re there to experience the same things that person is about the experience.

Earlier this year, Beth, the first person I ever met at my church in the OC, mentioned having me over for dinner with her family when she heard that I didn’t have any plans on Easter. The following weekend on Easter Sunday, I didn’t see her at church and didn’t have her number, so I figured I’d just go home or go for a walk at the beach. But what did sweet Beth do? She got my phone number from someone else and texted me to remind me about the invite. I remember in that moment feeling like I wasn’t just another face at church on Sundays—I’m loved and known. It’s a wonderful feeling to be known and to know that there are genuine people in your life who want to know you and want to spend time with you. Maybe we all need some Beths in our lives.

Since moving to California, God has shown me and taught me so much about His sufficiency and who I am in Him. He’s reminded me in big ways just how loved I am and that I’m made complete and made worthy in Him. He’s reminded me that the invitation for His love and His grace is always there—there are zero exceptions. He’ll chase me down if He has to, but I never have to chase Him.

Because He’s always there with open arms and love to mend every hurt and every shattered piece of a broken heart. Always.

Don’t be afraid to invite yourself places. It doesn’t make you pathetic or desperate or fearful of being left out. It makes you brave to pursue people and love them well and also to make sure that you’re not doing life by yourself all of the time.

And don’t forget to invite others to come on adventures with you, too—even if an adventure is as simple as getting froyo or grabbing dinner or going for a walk.

Because we all need to be reminded of how loved we are every once in a while.

When you realize that you’re not inadequate

I think we can all agree that being an adult is sometimes (or a lot of the time) tough.

Especially when you have to acknowledge self-improvements that you need to make.

I used to race a lot—like a lot. I think there was one year when I ran at least one road race a month, and three or four of those races were half marathons. I developed a love for running long ago, and there was something about racing that caused me anxiety in a good way but also helped grow my confidence in a number of ways, as well.

Then 2017 happened.

This will always be one of my all-time favorite racing memories—and all of my people were there for it (even sweet Olivia was there in Katie’s tummy).

At the end of 2016, I started to have weird (and pretty much constant) internal pain and frequently had blood in my urine (sorry if that’s TMI for you). I had been training for the half marathon that I ran every December in Dallas, and I was excited for it because I felt more confident than ever going into it. But around Thanksgiving that year, that pain I’d been having escalated. I ran the eight-mile Turkey Trot and didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, and a large reason for that was because I was in so much pain.

When I woke up the morning of the half marathon, I could barely walk and knew the race was out of the question. I later went to multiple doctors, and months went on before it was finally determined that I needed to have kidney surgery. I had a total of three kidney surgeries in 2017, which meant that racing was, to quote John Crist, a “for sure no.” There were quite a few periods of time that year when I was thankful if I was even able to run—it’s certainly not easy or pleasant when you have a stent in you.

It’s been a tough journey since then, and it’s not like those surgeries ended all of my issues with kidney stones. Though I’ve been able to train much more than I did last year, I haven’t been racing at all, and I’m honestly nervous about getting back out there.

Amanda has become one of my best friends, and I love that she always speaks truth and asks me how my heart is.

My dear friend Amanda and I were talking about this the other day and why I feel such a need to do well when I race. Aside from just being a competitive person, why is it so important for me to feel accomplished when I cross the finish line? We talked about it for a bit, and it definitely runs deeper than simply wanting to win or achieve my goals. (By the way, Amanda is freaking amazing, and if you ever need a life coach or counselor/sage, she’s your girl.)

I started thinking about this more later that day, and it became pretty clear: In the past, I let winning races or running fast times make me feel like I was enough. There are more than a few areas of my life in which I don’t always feel like I’m adequate—I had a really rough time in college and trying to figure out where I belonged; I’ve had multiple careers and don’t always feel like I’m excelling in them; I’m 33 and am just now in the process of getting a passport (meaning, I’ve never even left the country); I’ve never been in a relationship, which certainly makes me feel like a failure in more ways than one; and so many other things. But when I crossed those finish lines and had accomplished what I set out to accomplish, I was good enough. When I didn’t, I wasn’t.

My friends, those were lies.

It’s great to have goals and passions and to pursue those goals and passions, but it’s also good to realize that you aren’t going to hit the bullseye every single time you aim for it. One day last week, I cut a tag out the side of the inside of my dress because it was really bothering my leg. But when I cut it, it was even pokier and worse. So I cut it where it was threaded in, and the next thing I knew, there was a hole in the side of my dress. I don’t have an emergency sewing kit (and, even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to use it), so I stapled my dress. I also spilled a large amount of water—not once but twice—all down the front of that same dress on that very same day. And those were the good things that happened that day. Obviously, I was killin’ it in life. But I survived the day, and I wasn’t less of a person because of it, just like I won’t be less of a person if I run a race and am slower than I want to be.

You just have to take one look at my hair to see how much of a mess I am. But that’s just part of my story.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter how many races I’ve won. It doesn’t matter how successful I’ve been in my career. It doesn’t matter how many dresses I’ve ripped holes in trying to cut out tags. It doesn’t matter how many staples I’ve used trying to patch them back up. It doesn’t matter how many dates I’ve had (or, in my case, haven’t had). It doesn’t matter how many guys have looked my way. None of those things holds value in my worth. I can’t let deferred hopes or unattained goals make me feel like I’m not good enough.

Because I am enough—just as I am. I was made in the image of Christ, and I don’t have to be someone else or put a bunch of W’s in the win column. I don’t have to pursue this type of perfection that I’m never going to obtain. I’m going to lose. I’m going to rip clothes. I’m going to have my heart broken. It’s just part of life.

But it doesn’t change my worth.

At the Brett Eldredge concert at the OC Fair, there was a sign that said “TEXAS-SIZED,” so I obviously had to take a picture in front of it.

I might be in love with Brett Eldredge. I’ve always loved his music, but I recently saw him in concert, and I fell hard for him. He has a song called “Somethin’ I’m Good At,” and he mentions a ton of things that aren’t really parts of his skillset, but he is able to love well and put a smile on the face of the girl in the song who has captured his heart. I’d like to be like that—if I fail at all other things in this world, I would like to be able to love people well. I won’t always be capable of doing everything I want in life, but I can always show love to others. We all can. People need love, and they need to know that they are enough.

And so do you.

Because #singlegirlprobz are real

I sometimes forget that adulting involves a lot of responsibility and that I don’t have another person with me enough to look out for me when I mess up.

But then I’m reminded in big (and sometimes dangerous) ways.

One day last week, I somehow slept through all three of my alarms—4:09, 4:13 and 4:19 a.m. just never happened for me. When I opened my eyes at 5:17 a.m., I’m pretty sure I said my version of a cuss word and jumped out of bed. I hadn’t washed my hair in about a week, and I really needed to that morning. I already knew that I didn’t have time to run, but I briefly thought about trying to squeeze in a run without touching my hair after.

For some reason that I may never know, I let hygiene win the battle that day.

I was in a bit of a hustle to get out the door on time and was scurrying all over the place. I had my hands full—I decided I was going to get a pass to a gym for the day to do my tempo workout on the treadmill and some strength circuit training after, so I had my shoes and change of clothes in my hands—and I bolted out of my apartment.

I actually had a really good tempo run that afternoon and was in a much better mood than I had been (one reason why I usually prefer to run first thing in the morning). I stopped by Sprouts to get some premade meals that I could zap in the microwave and headed home. When I lived in Dallas, I learned how to use my stove, and it was easy to toss some chicken and veggies in a pan and have a nice little meal. Out here, though, people—including whoever made my apartment complex—seem to prefer gas stoves. Don’t ask me my opinions on gas stoves and ovens. We would be here for days.

I’ve mastered using the self-timer as a single gal, but I still can’t figure out gas appliances.

When I walked into my apartment, the entire place reeked of gas. That’s neither good nor normal. I hadn’t used the stove or oven recently, so I was a little confused. I looked over at the stove knobs and saw that one was slightly turned. Uh oh. I guess somehow in all of my madness of the morning I had bumped into the knob and turned it slightly—which means that gas was filling up my apartment for a little more than 11 hours.

ADD THIS TO THE GROWING LIST OF REASONS WHY I HATE GAS-POWERED APPLIANCES.

I immediately opened my window and patio door, searched Google for what protocol was, and called the gas company to see if I was about to die. The following conversation ensued (I’m skipping the intro in which he told me to call him mister something rather than a first name and me summing up what I found when I got home and asking him more than once if I would die if I stayed there).

Mr. Gas Company Guy: Open your windows and doors, and don’t turn on any appliances, including lights.
Me: OK, I did that. Wait, no appliances? But I already turned on the lights. Oh no! What will happen?!
MGCG: You turned on your lights? Was there an explosion?
Me: I’m still talking to you, aren’t I?
MGCG: That’s good. OK, don’t turn on anything else.
Me: What about the microwave? I need to heat up my dinner.
MGCG: No, don’t do that. That’s an appliance. Can’t you leave and go grab dinner somewhere else?
Me (replacing the meaning of “can’t” with “don’t want to”): No, I can’t.
MGCG: Well, I would wait at least an hour, and make sure to leave your doors open for a few hours so that the gas can dissipate.
Me: Oh dear. A few hours? It’s cold outside, and that will make my apartment cold. I’m guessing I can’t turn on my heater, huh?
MGCG (clearly beyond the point of minorly annoyed with me): No, you cannot turn on your heater. Don’t turn on any more appliances.
Me: But I need to shower.
MGCG (probably wanting to reach through the phone and punch me in the face): The shower isn’t an appliance and doesn’t use electricity. It’s water.
Me: I have to turn on another light in my bathroom to take a shower, though.
MGCG: Well, nothing exploded when you made the decision to turn on the first light, so you should be fine.
Me: I always turn on the light first thing. If there’s a murderer inside, I want to see him.
MGCG: Is there anything else you need help with?
Me: My life.
MGCG: Anything pertaining to the gas appliances in your home?

Homeboy had obviously reached his limit with me.

Her reply of “#onit” is only one reason why she’s such a great friend.

I thanked him for his help, and we said our goodbyes. Don’t tell him this, but I didn’t wait the full hour to use the microwave. It’s OK—nothing exploded, and I didn’t die from exposure to the tainted air (I think it left my apartment pretty quickly).

Life can get messy at times, and it can be tough trying to navigate it without others to help you. I mean, what would I have done without the wise words of the guy on the phone (and the people at Google)? Being single isn’t always challenging simply because it seems that everyone else around you has someone to hold—it can also be downright scary when you have to face situations without anyone else there with you. And I know that I’m never actually really alone, because God is always here, but there’s a reason He put other people on the planet.

As a side note, please see the screenshot to the left of the text I sent some of my people last week. This is my life.

I can’t even fix my hair without it being a mess. How am I supposed to keep an apartment safe?

I hope you surround yourself with people who remind you of the theme song from The Wonder Years and that you love them well. The good thing about being single—aside from being able to make new friends at the gas company because you have no clue what to do in that particular situation—is that you’re still perfectly capable of loving others and being loved by others. No relationship status changes that.

None of us really has it all together (although, if you do, can we chat so that I can have some of your insight?), and I certainly still have a lot to learn—and not just about science. For instance, I obviously need to take an extra few seconds each morning to make sure that I don’t hit the stove knob. We’re all busy, but I’m continually learning that I sometimes need to slow way the heck down.

Especially when it comes to making sure other people know that they’re loved.