A Brave Year

Many friends of mine, especially the ladies from the #fireworkpeople community, have inspired me to choose a word for 2015.

My word is brave.

I know I write a lot about bravery, and it is a recurring theme in my life, but bravery isn’t a one-time thing for me. I cannot stop being brave. I cannot allow myself to let fear back into my life. I have to keep choosing to be brave. And that’s what I’m going to be this year. Brave. I’m going to pursue bravery and I’m going to be intentionally brave.

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•I’m going to be brave with my relationship with God. I’m going to pursue God more and trust Him and his plan for my life.

•I’m going to be brave with my poetry. I’m going to try and get it published.

•I’m going to be brave with people. I’m going to pursue community and friendship. I will be more open to others and their stories. And I will be more open about my story, too. I’m going to love wholeheartedly.

•I’m going to be brave with my dreams. I am going to see them come true this year.

I am going to be brave with my life, because it’s what I was made for. I wasn’t given a spirit of fear. I was made to be brave. I’m going to be brave because my life is so much more than fear. I wasn’t made to live in black and white. I was made to live fully alive, in full color. I was created to dream. I was created by the creator of dreams. And I wasn’t created to simply dream. I was made to see the desires of my heart come true. I wasn’t made to hold back. And I won’t. I will be brave.

What’s your word for 2015?

I’m Learning: What My First Semester of College Taught Me

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September first marked the day I began the journey called college. I became an early childhood education major. An adult. Sort of. And it just hit me that I survived my first semester of college. I feel so wise already. And being the kind woman that I am, I’ve decided to share all of my wisdom with you.

Just kidding. I’m not wise. But I’m kind. And I’ve learned a few things I want to share with you:

I am not perfect.
I walked into college believing that it would be a smooth transition. That I’d get things figured out quickly. That I’d make friends soon. And for the most part, it wasn’t too bad. But when two weeks had passed and I still didn’t have an acquaintance I felt comfortable enough to spend time with, I felt awful. I began thinking bad things about myself. I thought I’d never have a good friend. I thought I’d always be alone. I felt unlovable. I hated myself when my college experience wasn’t going the way I wanted. And I’d forgotten that I’m not perfect. That I need to give myself a break. That if I hold myself to a standard of perfection, I’ll undoubtedly fail. There is never too much grace. Grace yourself.

But naps are.
Oh, why did I ever stop taking naps? Naps are beautiful. Naps are lifesavers. Naps are gifts from heaven. Naps make sorrows go away. I hope there are naps in heaven. I want to write a poem about naps.

Making time for intimacy with God is important.
This is serious. Taking classes and homework and making new friends and stressing over tests are going to take up a lot of your time. And before you know it, you forget to do your devotions or to pray, and where did Jesus go? It’s important to carve out time for Christ. To make time every day to speak to him. To spill your guts. To tell him everything. To read God’s word. It’s important to take extra special care of this relationship.

Making time for myself is important, too.
Life is so beautiful when your nails are done. And when your make-up is on point. And when you buy a dulce de leche + chocolate milkshake. And when you buy yourself flowers. And wear your prettiest blouse. Doing these things can seem trivial or superficial, but doing them matters oh-so-much. Choosing to love yourself is important. It’s going to change how you feel about your circumstances and about you. You deserve love. Especially from yourself.

I need to learn how to drive.
Taking a taxi every day is expensive. Very.

Being bold is beautiful.
I had gone to the same school for most of my life. I was always around the same people. I was bullied. I was tricked into believing that I’d be better off quiet. Living in fear of listening to my own voice. I spent most of my middle and high school years living under a skin that wasn’t mine, hiding and never showing my true self. My classmates didn’t know I wrote poetry, that I had a blog, that I could sing. And when I entered college, I realized I was given a blank slate. And I decorated that slate with lots of doodles and words that screamed my true colors. I shared my poetry. I shared my beliefs. I shared my voice. I was brave, and my bravery was accepted. I felt confident to share my true self. And y’all, that’s huge. And beautiful. Be bold.

I have to keep choosing people.
I am an introvert. And I’m a shy one, too. And when I meet people, I want to run and hide. But I have to keep pursuing people. Because we aren’t meant to be alone. We’re not islands. We need hugs and kisses on our cheeks. We need to make each other laugh and give each other a shoulder to lean on. We can’t keep our feelings bottled up. We need to share our hearts. And we can’t do that on our own.

Math is not my thing.
It never was and it will never be my thing. I’ve come to terms with it.

Sharing our story matters.
In one psychology class, my teacher made my classmates and I share childhood events that had caused traumas or left impressions in us. All of my classmates shared things about themselves that made me see them in a different light and appreciate who they were. Share your story. Because it’s a part of you. Because it matters. Because it can change others.

Girls talk. A lot.
A classroom filled with 35+ female education majors and only one guy can be very, very loud.

I am not alone.
I am surrounded by people with dreams and stories similar to mine. People who come from the same place I come from, people who are walking the same walk I’m walking. People who are worth just as much as I am. People struggling with the same things I struggle with. People who are waiting for me to open up to them. I am not alone. And more importantly, there is Someone always by my side, always walking with me and guiding me and reminding me that I am more than my bad days and bad grades. Telling me that I am precious and valued and loved. I am not alone. I will never be alone.

I’m learning.
I am learning to be brave. I am learning to be unafraid. I am learning to share my soul. I am learning that it’s okay to be broken. I am learning that my brokenness still makes me worthy of love and acceptance. I am learning that my brokenness is no obstacle for God to use me for his glory. That light can shine through my cracks. I am learning that beauty will come out from my brokenness. That one day I won’t be broken. That God’s grace is sufficient for me. That it’s fine to boast my weaknesses, because that’s where his power is made perfect.

I am learning what my passions are. I’m learning what makes me come alive, what makes my heart beat. I’m learning that this journey has lots to teach me. I’m learning that this journey is going to change me. I’m learning that my story is powerful. I’m learning that I’ll always be learning. I’m learning that in this journey I’ll never be alone…I’m learning.

A Rainbow of Choices

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Last year, I’d been trying to get God to speak to me. To tell me what He wanted me to do. I wanted Him to answer me clearly. I wanted Him to make his will really obvious to me. I prayed to Him so hard about college, about staying home or studying abroad. I wanted Him to tell me what I was supposed to do with my life. I wanted Him to tell me how He wanted me to serve Him. I wanted his answer to be crystal clear. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.

And He was silent.

He was silent, and I was frustrated. How was I supposed to move forward?

I talked to my friend Jennie about this. (She’s smart. And talented with words. I love her. A lot.) And she told me this:

“Freedom can be scary but it’s also beautiful. And if we always knew the answers and what steps to take, we’d have no need for faith and trust. So remember this: Seek Him first. Don’t get frustrated when He isn’t making it black and white because He’s given you beautiful colors in your rainbow of choices. Seek Him, acknowledge Him. Talk to wise counsel. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you. Remember too, this is your choice, this is your life.”

And then, all of a sudden, lightbulb moment. The reason God was silent is because He has given me freedom. He wants me to glorify Him freely. I am free to worship him in the way my heart desires. I am free to live out my art.

Writing poetry. Making gabydoodles. Singing. Encouraging people. Blogging. Going to college here in Santo Domingo. Going to college in the United States. What I do doesn’t matter. I am free to live out my art.

Listen, friend. Stop waiting for God to make things clear for you. It might not happen. It might not happen because He’s already made things clear. He’s given you freedom. God doesn’t really care about what you choose to do as long as it gives Him glory. As long as it points back to Him, you’re free to be you. He won’t leave you alone. He won’t forsake you. But He will give you freedom. He will make you brave. He’s going to let you go places you’ve never been before. He’s going to let you do things you haven’t done yet. He’s going to give you the desires of your heart. But He won’t tell you. He’ll let you find out for yourself.

And that is awesome. And scary. But mostly awesome.

But it’s freedom. And it’s yours. And it is the opportunity to try new things, to take chances, to fall in love with things you didn’t know before. It’s freedom. It means you can go and take a leap of faith and do what your heart’s been aching to do. It’s freedom. It means that you don’t have to settle for a life in black and white. It’s freedom. And it means you have been given a white canvas and an endless palette of colors to paint your life with.

It’s freedom. It’s a rainbow of choices. And it’s yours.

Brave {a poem}

do you know how many
people walk their way
through life never wanting
to be more than what they
are, never giving their selves
the chance to open their
hearts and be bold and
risk it all? do you know
how many people don’t
write the stories they want
to share, the poems they want
to write, the songs they want
to sing, the art they want
to make? do you know how
many people deny their selves
the opportunity to be brave, the
chance to be bold, to live in
bright colors instead of black
and white? do you know how
many people live in a cage,
afraid to love, afraid to live,
afraid to hope, afraid to feel,
afraid to be? do you know
how many people don’t let
their souls be vulnerable and
beautiful and wonderful? i
hope you’re not one of them.

brave, my poem

Friend, don’t waste your life thinking that you’re not good enough to chase your dreams, to do what you were made to do, and to be who you were meant to be. You are a wonderful creation, beautiful and bold and bright. Made to do great things. Made to reflect Glory. Made with wonder. Don’t give up on who you are. Open the doors of your heart and step out. Leave the darkness behind and step into the light. Go be wonderful. Go be amazing. Go be brave and bold. Go.