Because it’s OK if your plan fails

I consider myself a pretty intelligent gal, but there are certainly times when I don’t necessarily use my intellect to its full capacity.

Cue my everyday life the past few weeks.

I recently bought one of those wallflower things from Bath & Body Works—you plug it into the wall, and then you add this little bottle of scented goodness to the contraption, and it makes places smell fantastic. I probably described that slightly poorly, but it’s 2019, so here are links to the wallflower and to my most recent scent of choice.

When I was in Florida this summer, I tried to plan the perfect cannonball just like I tried to plan a perfectly scented apartment. Neither worked out.

I was rather excited for my plan of making my apartment smell like a pumpkin cupcake on the reg, so I plugged it in as soon as I got home and went about my hectic life. When I got home from work the next day, I couldn’t help but notice that it wasn’t as pungent as I’d hoped, and I looked and noticed that the bottle was completely empty.

Huh? That’s odd. Was there a strange odor in my place that sucked up all of the good-smelling stuff?

Obviously that’s a silly assumption, and my apartment doesn’t smell bad, so it didn’t make sense. Plus, I don’t even know if that’s how science works. It’s not my thing. But I just left it as it was and told myself that I’d buy another refill bottle the following weekend when I actually had a few minutes to go back to Bath & Body Works.

When I returned home from hanging out with my nieces the following Sunday with my beloved fragrance in tow, I repeated the same steps from the previous week of plugging it in. I got to work on a few things on my computer while watching football and then got up to get something from my kitchen. As I did, I glanced at the wallflower and saw that the bottle was empty again.

What in tarnation?!

And then it hit me: The bottle was upside down. The directions had specifically warned against that. Insert the palm-to-face emoji girl. That was me in that moment.

I was slightly frustrated at the fact that I had wasted two perfectly good bottles that would have filled my entire apartment with a scent that would tease you into thinking you were actually about to eat pumpkin cupcakes simply because I hadn’t followed instructions properly.

Isn’t this something I try to instill in my students on a daily basis?

I think one of the reasons I made the mistake—not once but twice—was because I wasn’t truly paying attention. I was too busy focusing on all of the other things I needed to do and also thought that I knew exactly what I was doing in setting up the wallflower. It’s honestly not an extravagant scientific process. You seriously just plug the thing into the wall and screw the small bottle full of heavenly aroma in there.

I also wasn’t paying much attention this past Sunday when I was at my parents’ house. I still get a lot of mail sent to their house (it’s all junk, so thankfully the mailers haven’t found out where I really live), and my dad won’t throw it away for me because he says it’s against the law. I gave you permission, man. But that doesn’t fly with him, so I had a huge stack of stuff to trash. I went through it, ripping all of it up and putting it in a trash bag that my mom had brought over by where I was sitting. (Yes, there was enough of it to warrant its own trash bag.) The Cowboys game was on, though, so I was paying much more attention to the television than what I was actually doing.

I love how entertained my mom is by this.

After I was finished going through the pile of what ended up being all trash, my dad took it out with the rest of the garbage and set it outside near their alley for pickup. When it was time for me to go over to my brother’s house for my weekly hangout time with my besties (my angel nieces), I couldn’t find my phone. I remembered that I had brought it in their house with me, so I knew that it wasn’t in my car. It wasn’t in my purse. It wasn’t in the chair where I had been sitting watching the game. My mom jokingly asked if I had accidentally thrown it away with all of the mail.

Crap.

She didn’t think I was serious when I said I probably did, so she called my phone. We heard nothing. I searched around again, and she called it again. Still nothing. We laughed together as we walked to their driveway about to go dig through trash, and I made a comment about how I’ve had to dive into a dumpster once, so this wasn’t new to me. She’s also had to go into a dumpster before to retrieve something, so she said it must run in the family.

That’s something to be proud of, people.

When we got out there and started lifting up the multiple trash bags, she called my phone again. Sure enough, I heard Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” blaring through the stench of plastic and garbage that had been sitting in the Texas heat—much less soothing than a pumpkin cupcake. My dad had put the trash bag with all of the mail in it inside of another trash bag with food and whatnot, and that bag was beneath a bag of everything that was in their cat’s litter box.

This is my life, friends.

Just a typical Sunday of digging through trash trying to find my phone

We finally got to the bag that had my phone in it, and I dug it out. I know people are going to ask me this, so the answer is yes, I did wash my hands. It’s like when people asked me if I showered after jumping into the dumpster. I know I don’t wash my hair very often, but I’m not a complete savage. And, once again, just like with the wallflower situation, when it came to getting rid of all of that mail, I was in such a rush and thought I knew exactly what I was doing and what the best plan was when I should have been paying more attention and remaining in the moment.

Oh. Hey, life.

There are many times when I think my plan is the best plan, and I end up being wrong. Those situations make it necessary for me to reference one of my favorite Key and Peele lines: “Whereas I was not incorrect, they did not mean what I thought they meant.” I was just talking with a friend the other day about how it’s always funny to look back at what we thought would be best for us at certain times in our lives, only later to realize that it truly was much better to leave every plan in God’s hands and let Him take care of the way everything works out.

I’m 34 years old and more single than Steve Urkel. That definitely wasn’t part of my plan years ago. I mean, I should have been in love and loved back for years at this point. But I also wouldn’t be the person I am today if that had happened. For some reason or another, I’ve been meant to be single for this long. Sure, I hope to have my lobster come into my life soon, but I also have to trust that, if that’s even meant to happen, it will happen when it’s supposed to and not simply when I think it should.

After all, I don’t want other areas of my life to end up like an upside down pumpkin cupcake wallflower that doesn’t serve the purpose that it should of making the world a much more pleasant place or a phone ringing the iconic “Love Story” from the bottom of a nasty trash bag.

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 you don’t let your singleness define you

As I continue to get older and grow more and more single (is that possible??), I’m beginning to learn more about what it means to love and be loved, regardless of my relationship status.

Because my singleness does not define me.

I’m in my final week in the O.C., which is exciting and sad and weird all in one. I’m beyond happy to move back to Dallas and be reunited with my family and people who have stuck with me through years of joy and pain and all of life’s celebrations and trials. At the same time, though, it’s bittersweet to be closing this chapter of my life that has honestly transformed my heart in more ways than I could have imagined.

Got a gorgeous hike in with sweet Arinda

My friend Arinda makes a vision board every year, and I became interested in making one of my own after hearing her talk about it and her reason behind making one at the start of each new year. On the final weekend in December, I went over to her house, and we sat together cutting out magazine pictures and words that pertain to my life and the goals and hopes and dreams I have for myself. She always picks a word to be her key focus, and there was only one that popped into my head and wouldn’t go away.

Freedom.

We cut out the individual letters for that word, and it has its special place on my board. I covered the rest of it with the images and words we had found, and it’s my new visual representation of who I am and what I’m anticipating for 2019. (As a side note, the only board I could find was this canvas-material thing with bows and some little girl on it that I found at Target in the kids section. I did my best to cover it up, but you can definitely see bits of it through my collage of stuff. Life, you know?)

We are enough.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how fitting the word freedom is for my life right now. I genuinely believe that God called me out to California on purpose and with specific intention, and I believe that one reason was to be set free—free from anxiety, free from the pain of a broken heart, free from fear, and fear from the notion that I’m not enough.

I’m going back to Dallas stronger than I was when I left. I don’t say that to be boastful or to boost your opinion of me, because it honestly has nothing to do with me or with anything I did on my own. I say it because it was all part of God’s plan for me.

I’m as single as they come, and that’s always been something that’s been a little difficult for me. It’s tough to see nearly everyone around me falling in love and starting families while I’m still sending in RSVPs for one and never being able to drive in the HOV lane legally and twirling on the dance floor on my own during the slow songs. For far too long, I let my singleness define what I thought of myself, and I let it be something that diminished my opinion of who I was. I let it convince me that I simply wasn’t enough—not pretty enough, not funny enough, not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not whatever enough.

But “not enough” is a lie.

These girls are going to change the world.

I found freedom from that nonsense during this last more than year and a half. My singleness allowed me to come out here on my own. My singleness allowed me to ask people to be my friends and spend time with me without worrying about messing with someone else’s schedule. My singleness allowed me feel more alone than I ever had and realize that the only One I need is with me all of the time everywhere I go. My singleness allowed me to invite myself places without thinking twice. My singleness allowed me to lead other single and unmarried women and encourage them and pray with them for their future husbands. My singleness allowed me to drop what I was doing and be there for a group of high school girls when they needed me most.

And my singleness allowed me to experience the freedom from the fear and pain that my singleness has brought me for far too many years.

Lifers.

Sometimes we need to take journeys we weren’t expecting to grow and learn lessons that we never knew we needed to learn. We may even be fortunate enough to make some lasting friendships along the way, and I’m so grateful for the lifelong relationships I formed in California. I know in my heart that the distance of miles and miles in between the different states won’t tarnish these friendships. I know that some friendships are only meant to last for certain seasons of our lives, but I didn’t make many of those out here—I’m more of a lifer.

I think one reason that I was able to form such friendships is because I’m letting myself be completely real and open and honest with people more than I ever have. I’m more comfortable being me, even around guys I have feelings for or think are attractive. Heck, I even sent a message on Instagram to my friend’s dentist because he’s a hottie, and she said he was single and that we might be a good match for each other. He never replied, but I’m cool with that.

There’s freedom in finally being OK with the rejections that used to hurt me.

I love Kerry and Nick (and precious Eva!!) with my whole heart.

When you break a bone, it often returns to a stronger state than it was as a result of the calcium that built up during the healing process. I left Dallas with a broken heart that I thought would never be whole again, but I’m returning home with a heart so mended and capable of much more that it ever has been because of the love that built up around it and in it during this healing process.

Life is often unpredictable and will lead you to places you weren’t planning to go. And those are often journeys that you need to go on by yourself in order to discover that you’re never alone as you think you are. Your relationship status doesn’t define you, and don’t ever be afraid to do anything simply because there isn’t someone else with you to make the journey. It might be the adventure you need to help you become who you were always meant to be.

And you’re certainly worth taking the chance to find out.

When you worry about situations that don’t even exist

Things aren’t necessarily always as bad as you think they will be.

But that doesn’t stop us from letting our imaginations get the best of us.

I think it’s easy sometimes to create worst-case scenarios in our minds that don’t actually exist, and we end up dealing with unnecessary anxiety. There’s an episode of Modern Family that depicts this pretty perfectly when Claire freaks out about Haley’s whereabouts and what possibly could have happened within the last 24 hours. She spirals down a crazed worry path, but it turns out that Haley was upstairs in her room the entire time, and all of Claire’s panicking was for naught.

I’ve definitely been guilty of that more than once in my life, and I let those anxious thoughts get the best of me recently.

If you’re worried about being on a trip without your purse, get yourself a pink fanny pack from the nearest Walmart. It’s less than $8 and is a total game changer.

Last week was rough for a number of reasons, mainly because of the whole kidney stone thing. I’ve been feeling like a train wreck since then because something still isn’t right (don’t worry—I’m going to the urologist this week), and I didn’t do a great job of making sure that I got enough rest. I made the perhaps unwise decision to play in my flag football game on Saturday morning, and when I was getting closer to the beach, I noticed a strange sound coming from my car’s front right tire. I started worrying that my car was falling completely apart and that I was going to have to get an entirely new car ASAP if I wanted to be able to drive anywhere. But I really don’t want a car payment right now, so this wasn’t going to be good at all.

I parked on one of the streets near the beach and got out of my car to inspect the damage. All I saw was some circular silver thing stuck in my tire, and I wasn’t able to pull it out, no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t have time to deal with it at the moment because I needed to get to my game, but during my walk over to the beach field, I started thinking about how I was going to return to a flat tire, and I didn’t know how to change a flat. I didn’t want to have to call anyone to help me, so I then started worrying about trying to figure it out on my own and putting it on the wrong way.

By the time I got back to my car, the tire was still intact, and I drove to the nearest America’s Tire (I have a lifetime warranty with Discount Tire, and America’s Tire is the same thing as Discount out here), but it had closed at noon that day. I called two more America’s Tire stores, but it turns out they all closed at noon for some company event ON THE ONE DAY THAT I NEEDED THEM TO HAVE THEIR NORMAL HOURS.

As I drove to the nearest auto place that Google Maps had found for me, I started panicking about how much it was going to cost to fix it or get a brand new tire all because freaking America’s Tire had to have a company event. (I honestly hope that all of the employees had a great time—I used to love it when my company in Dallas would close early to have some fun as a company family.)

I sat inside and watched college football on my phone (don’t ask me why the store had a throwback NBA game on its TV, instead) and had a convo with God to try to get rid of my worrying. It wasn’t too long later that the guy who had been working on my tire came in with the keys and gave them to the guy behind the counter, who turned to me and said that I was all set. It was a bolt that had been in my tire, and homeboy had removed it and then patched up the hole. I braced myself as I asked him how much it was, and he said four words that made my heart soar: “Don’t worry about it.”

He didn’t realize it, but he was speaking to me about so much more than the tire.

All of that worrying and stressing ended up being a waste of energy that I really didn’t have in the first place. I feel like I should know by now that going down the worry path is a horrible idea and usually leads me in the wrong direction. What’s the point in stressing so much about situations that don’t even exist and may never be actualities?

I’m really thankful for people like Amanda who remind me what it means to be a good friend and go through tough times together. (P.S. IT’S HER WEDDING WEEK!!!!)

I have a lot of unknowns ahead in my life right now, and at least one has been causing me more anxiety than it should. Here’s the truth, though: I can handle anything that comes my way, because I know that I’m never alone, and God has never once turned away from me—and He won’t start now. No, that doesn’t mean that everything will always work out in my favor, but it does mean that I can endure the trials and trust Him through them all.

Life is going to throw challenges at us, and there will be times when it leaves us feeling anxious about what may or may not happen. There are questions constantly filling our minds: How much is this going to cost? What if I can’t afford this? What if I’m single forever? What if the dreams in my heart don’t come true? What am I going to do if this happens? What am I going to do if this doesn’t happen?

You can “what if?” until you’re blue in the face, and you can sweat over your mind’s inquiries until you wear yourself out completely. But, rather than spending all of your energy worrying about things that aren’t realities and may never be, why not use it to enjoy where you are, trust that what needs to happen will happen, and love the people in your life in this very moment?

Because one bolt in your tire can’t destroy the entire car.

When your heart needs a reminder

I think it’s important to be open and genuine, and sometimes that involves sharing your heart and being vulnerable when you might not want to.

Right now is one of those times for me.

I’m not going to lie—sometimes it’s really tough being single when you’re an adult. Even if it’s not necessarily true, it seems like every other human being around you is in a relationship and has his or her person to do life with and make memories together. And plenty of people you don’t even ask have their opinions regarding what you should or shouldn’t do to make sure that you don’t spend the rest of your life singing the catchy Farmers Only jingle.

It can be such a special status at times.

This hat is the greatest purchase I’ve made in a long time.

I’ve shared before that, while I’ve never actually had a boyfriend or even been in a relationship (or on what I consider to be a real date), I’ve had my heart broken. And I feel like I’m currently going through a never-ending heartache that I can’t seem to escape, no matter what I do. Unfortunately, there’s no timetable for mending a broken heart—we’re all so different, and we all handle our pain in different ways.

For me, I’ve always tried to deal with emotional pain the same way I deal with physical pain: I ignore it. I do this for as long as possible, and then I usually reach a point when I have to face the fact that the pain is actually there, and there’s no way to pretend it’s not there anymore—I simply have to acknowledge it.

It’s been almost two years since my heart was ripped out of my chest, thrown to the ground, smashed into thousands of tiny little pieces, and then stomped all over by the guy who walked away from it. I thought that I would be over it by now, and I honestly thought more recently that I was. But one day last week reminded me that I was once again just masking pain that was still prevalent. It still hurts, and I still miss him, which makes me feel foolish and pathetic.

But I also know that I’m neither foolish nor pathetic—I’m simply a girl who cares about a boy who doesn’t care about her. It’s not exactly the classic romance tale, but it’s my current reality.

One evening last week, I went to a panel discussion at a church that’s somewhat connected with mine, and the topic was about dating in today’s society. It was kind of difficult to take advice from the married couples up there (especially the ones who had been married for 20 years and more), and I wish they would have had more than one single person to share some insight, but I ended up having a rather enlightening moment on my own in the midst of it all.

As I was listening to some of the couples share their stories of how they met, I began to feel alone and a little sad. I haven’t cried in a while, and I have a feeling the waterworks are coming soon. (Part of that not acknowledging my emotional pain thing that I do means that I ignore moments when I want to cry, so I end up bottling up a crap-ton of emotions, and they typically come pouring out all at once when I least expect them to.) I did the only thing that ever makes sense to me when everything around me makes zero sense: I started praying.

God knows my heart, and I began unloading it in a prayer of brokenness, asking Him what I was supposed to do. I hate the online stuff—it’s not part of my story, and I know it. But I’m hurting, and I’m still sad about [homeboy’s name]. God, if I’m supposed to be single forever, can you please take away this desire in my heart? And, regardless, can you please take away my feelings for him? Am I ever going to meet my person? What do I do, Lord?

And then I heard this quiet, calming voice that has spoken truth to me so many times: Don’t you trust me? I’ve never let you down.

Talk about a sucker punch to the gut. This big and powerful God who has the entire world in His hands—the One who called me out to California and has provided for me in more ways than I could ever have imagined—truly cares about me and has a plan that is more perfect than anything that I could ever create. He’s never failed me, and He won’t start now. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to walk into the elevator at work tomorrow and meet the man of my dreams, but it does mean that, whether or not I do ended up falling in love with the one guy who picks me out of every other girl in the world, He’s got big plans for me.

God also gave me a Saturday morning run with my sweet cousin Rachel, who was in town last week. I’ve always looked up to her, and she’s always listened to my heart and provided encouragement. I hope you’re able to meet her one day. She’s freaking amazing.

And I do trust Him.

We sang two songs in church Sunday that both had lines about God never failing us and never letting us down. I think it was His way of reminding me (along with countless others who needed to hear it) that He is who He says He is, and He’s taking care of the things that cause me worry and anxiety—He’s funny like that.

I don’t know what you’re going through in life. Maybe you’re like me and wish that you could find love in a world that seems to be more challenging for the single folks every day. I hope that you don’t lose hope. I hope that you keep pressing on through the storms of heartache that try to knock you down. I hope that you know that you are worthy and enough with or without someone else standing by your side.

And I hope that you know that you are loved by the One who will love you more than anyone else in the entire world ever could.

Because sometimes you really do need to check your heart

I didn’t know that a comedian’s words that were meant to be a joke could have such a strong impact in my life.

Especially when they relate to me being so single.

Every week, my dear friend Amanda and I go on a walk on the boardwalk and talk about all things life. Last week, we made a whole afternoon/evening of it by also putting together her wedding invitations. On our way to the beach, we made a pitstop at Joanne’s to get some more ribbon, and there were huge bubble wands on sale for 75 cents right by the checkout area—and I’m a sucker for things like that.

I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a random photographer so much. Also, you can sort of see the bubbles in the air.

As we were walking and chatting and letting the bubbles soar through the Pacific air, we got on the topic of my heart and how it feels when I’m surrounded by couples. Honestly, at this point, I’ve gotten used to it—but I’ve never really checked my heart.

I love John Crist. He’s absolutely hilarious (you should follow him on the Insta if you don’t already). He has a bit he does in which he makes fun of something by saying “check your heart.” For instance, he might say something like “when the self-checkout at the grocery store skips an item, but you just bag it and keep going—check your heart” or “ever skipped church to watch a football game—check your heart.” (It’s funnier when he does it. I promise.)

While his stuff is just for fun, I’ve actually been thinking a lot lately about checking my heart from time to time. I mean, it’s a rather important part of me, after all. So when Amanda and I were talking about my heart in terms of being single in the midst of couples, I was thankful to have people in my life who care about me enough to ask those types of questions.

The truth is that I like being able to spend time with couples and families, even when I’m the only one there who is flying solo. It makes me feel included and loved in spite of my status. I think it would hurt more if I knew that people had purposely not included me because I would be the only person not part of a couple.

One of my former coworkers and his family were in town over the weekend, and he invited me to a get-together with his family and friends. It was another one of those situations in which I was somewhat of an outsider, but I didn’t feel like an outsider at all—I felt like I was part of the family.

And I love that family feeling.

I might be biased, but I think it’s a good idea not to forget about the single people in your life. Everyone is different, so maybe someone you invite won’t show up to something where it will be mostly couples and families, but at least the invite is there to show that he or she is always welcome. It’s important for those single people to know that they are enough as they are.

Perhaps one day I will take a picture on a ferry with the guy who’s my guy. Until then, this is what you get.

I was recently having a conversation with someone I had just met, and he asked me why I’m single. That’s always a tough question that I’m never quite sure how to answer. I still don’t know, other than that it’s not part of the Lord’s plan for me right now. Yes, I would love to love and be loved by the person who is meant to be my lobster forever, but that’s not where I am in life right now—and that’s OK.

Because being single can actually be a very powerful thing.

I’ve been given so many opportunities lately to love others and to invest in people God has placed in my life. Yes, I could certainly still do this if I weren’t single, but it definitely feels special to me right now because it reminds me that the Lord is always looking out for me. Even when I’m as single as can be, He’s going to make sure that I never feel alone, and He’s going to find ways to show me that He makes me capable of so much more than I could ever imagine and that He’s given me certain passions and dreams for specific reasons.

If you’re single, I hope you that you let yourself feel comfortable being surrounded by couples and families, and I hope that you let them invite you in and love you as you are. Check your heart, and be honest with yourself and those who care about you.

And know that, whether you’re single or dating or engaged or married or whatever, you are enough.

“That’s because you’re still single”

Sometimes I have to try really hard to love other people, especially people I don’t know very well.

Because people can be very difficult to love at times.

One day last week, I was at the grocery store on a day after work when it seemed like everyone in that area had decided to go to the store at the same time. I use self-checkout whenever I can, and even that had a line backed up. Whenever I have to wait in line, I like to talk to the people in line with me because, well, why not?

I was talking with a nice woman in front of me about her purse (I LOVED the color of it), and I made a comment about how I rarely take my purse with me inside the grocery store anymore because I always end up using the handheld baskets and prefer less weight on my shoulders. I said something about how I couldn’t even remember the last time I used an actual cart. It was more of me thinking out loud than anything, and I certainly wasn’t expecting the response that ensued.

“That’s because you’re still single.”

Wait, what? I had quite a few responses running through my head as she continued to talk about how shocking it can be to realize how much food a family goes through each week. The nicest thing I could think to say was “or I just really like strength training,” which totally contradicts what I said about my purse, but whatever. This woman seemed really nice, and I’m sure she didn’t mean her comment to be hurtful, but I couldn’t help but feel a slight sting when she said it. After all, I hadn’t even told her that I’m single. Maybe it’s just that obvious, but still.

I really wanted to Photoshop my wrinkles out of this pic, but I didn’t. You’re welcome.

The truth is that I am still single, but there could be worse things in life. I mean, I don’t know that I would have moved out to California if I weren’t still sending in RSVPs for one to everything—and I know I’m exactly where I need to be right now. We all have our own paths we need to take, and it’s a really good thing that they’re not all the same.

Before I moved, I went through a really rough heartache for far longer than I thought it was going to last. In all honesty, I can’t say the hurt is completely gone, but I guess time does actually help sometimes. I didn’t move to run from the pain, because that type of stuff will go with you wherever you are. I moved because God called me out here—and I’m so thankful that He did. Not only have I met some truly incredible people, but I’ve also been reminded of His sufficiency, largely because I am still single.

Sure, you can certainly know He’s sufficient when you’re married or dating, but it was my singleness that helped me to see it even more clearly. I moved out here all by myself and knew no one, and it was really lonely at first. Over and over, I asked God why He called me out here, and one day as I was driving in my car and crying out to Him, everything became so clear when I felt His voice whisper because I am sufficient.

That’s all I needed to hear.

I know that I want to fall in love. I know that I want someone to love me back. I know that I want to have a permanent dance partner. I know that I want someone to appreciate my quirks and probably tease me about them in a loving way. I know that I want someone to kiss me in the parking lot in the pouring rain, and I know he’ll be worth me getting my hair wet. I know that I want someone to be my cheerleader just as much as I am his. I know that I want to find my person who will be my person forever.

But, even though I hope for it all to happen someday, I know that it’s simply not in the cards for me right now.

Whether you’re single or not, I hope that you know how much you matter just as you are. Not every person you meet in the grocery store is going to make you feel that way, but please call me if you need the reminder. I’ve been there. I’m glad I didn’t say anything snarky back to the woman in the store, though I was pretty close to doing so. I’m trying to be better about loving others well, even when I really don’t want to.

And the good news is that I can still live a life full of love even though I’m still single.

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.

When getting off the lift is a struggle

Sometimes the most challenging moments are small steps toward our bigger aspirations.

Like the small but ridiculously difficult step of exiting the lift chair on the ski slopes.

Last week at my church group, I was talking to my friends Jen and Jay about flag football and how the new season starts soon, and Jay asked me what I was doing Saturday.

Me (thinking he was equally as excited about football): “Nothing. Want to practice??”
Jay (clearly not concerned with football): “You want to come snowboarding with us?”
Me (thinking about how I’m not a huge fan of snow and how I should probably work on some freelance work I needed to do over the weekend and then thinking that I shouldn’t think so much): “Absolutely, I do.”

Like Jan once told Pam in The Office, “there are always a million reasons not to do something.” But, like Jan also said without actually saying it, sometimes you have to ignore all of those reasons.

As soon as I hopped in the car Saturday morning for the two-hour drive with my new friends, I knew that I’d made a good decision. I was actually excited to snowboard, even though it had been 12 years or so, and Jen and Jay are two of the kindest and most fun people you’ll meet (and I do hope that you meet them), so I was looking forward to a fun adventure with them. Even though I was totally third wheeling it, they didn’t make me feel like I’m a third wheel at all. They’re very welcoming, and Jen even let me borrow a bunch of snowboarding gear because, well, I didn’t need much of that in Texas. Ever.

I had such a blast snowboarding—and I didn’t even feel that rusty. One part that always stresses me out, though, is getting off the lifts. Only one of your feet is strapped in when you do, and I just feel so out of control. I don’t fall much when I’m boarding down the mountain, but I usually count on falling when getting off the lifts.

And I typically don’t disappoint—I think there was only one time I didn’t fall Saturday when dismounting that freaking lift.

But, whether I like it or not, getting off the lifts is part of the snowboarding process. You have to get to the top of the mountain somehow, and the lift is the most sensible option. And you can’t sit on the lift forever if you actually want to board.

Remember that time when none of us fell when we got off the lift? That was a good moment.

I think that’s sometimes how many of the big steps we take start—with things that should be so simple but often seem scary. But you have to take that small first step before you can get to that next bigger adventure. Sure, you might fall, but getting back up is actually a lot easier than some people think. Here’s what happens: You fall. It hurts your pride (and maybe your a$* or other body parts). Then, you get back up, and you keep going. Some falls are worse than others. Get back up, anyway.

I’m single. We all know that. It can be tough sometimes, but I never want the fact that I don’t have a guy who loves me forever by my side to keep me from doing any of the things I want to do or from enjoying any part of anything I do. I think it’s important never to be afraid to be the individual you are. If you’re single, I hope that you have people in your life who make you forget the feeling of being alone. If you’re not, I hope that you welcome the single people with open arms. And I hope that we all take the chances that we might be afraid to take—including the seemingly small ones.

Even if you end up face planting while getting off the lift.