Wednesday, September 11, 2013

You're stronger than you think....

I'm back. Truly. I want to apologize for the lack of effort in this blog. It seems like life gets a hold of you sometimes and you don't know which way is up and which way is down. Thank you for your patience, but truly I am back. 

In recent days life has been filled with mundane tasks, list checking, oversight to small tasks and just the daily haul of living life in this mainstream, vanity stricken world. Until recently, recently I realized that life can throw you a curve ball. When all seems to be going well and you seem to have all your ducks in a row and the 't's crossed and the dots on your "i" something comes in and throws you completely off your game. 

In the moment you feel like you can't move. It feels like you got the wind knocked out of you and that forever you will be in this place of breathlessness. You will forever live in this place of uncertainty. Let me be the first to tell you that this is normal and okay. You don't have to move. You don't have to get up and pretend that everything is okay. Because the truth of the matter is that in that moment, it's not okay. It's okay to let yourself cry. It's okay to buy a tube of ice cream and eat it right out of the there with a spoon. It's okay to wake your roommate up in the middle of the night to cry because you simply can't do it by yourself. The thing that will help the most, however,  is allowing yourself to come to terms with the reality of the situation. I am a firm believer in letting yourself go through the process of healing. Sometimes this includes letting yourself cry, other times it's letting yourself laugh and more often times then, not it's letting yourself move forward. 

There comes a point where you will realize your strength. You will realize that you can actually move forward. At first, it will all feel like you are pretending. You will feel like you are faking putting one foot in front of the other. It will feel like you are tired just by smiling and saying that you are okay. But one day, someone will ask you how you are. You will look them square in the eye, reply your normal reply of "okay" and you will surprise yourself. Because for the first time, in a long time, you too will believe it! 

Strength is found inside you. Strength is not forced and there is no timeline on when you will gain it. But when you do, you will surprise yourself. This is not to say that you will not never again feel like you've had the wind knocked out of you but you would have learned a better way to catch your breath. God is there with us in our breathlessness. He wants to draw you close to him and hold you while you cry. He wants to hold you while your face turns purple because for just a moment you've forgotten how to breath. So lean into that. Lean into the knowledge that even in your loneliness God is there, holding you, waiting for you to realize the strength that He has placed in you all along. 

So maybe you have just had the wind knocked out of you, or you are in a place of not being able to move. Or maybe for the first time you believe that you are okay. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, it's the right thing to do and the right place to be. So let yourself feel. Let yourself do exactly what your doing. Because in this moment right now, the Creator of the universe is falling deeper and deeper in love with you. And that's pretty amazing. 

Take it from me, because hindsight really is twenty twenty.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

If everyone likes pink, why not like blue?!

Being a girl is hard. Being a teenage girl is even harder. Trying to navigate how you feel about yourself while listening to what the rest of the world tells you about how to dress, how to look, what to feel and even who to fall in love with. It’s hard to decipher what it is that YOU like when you aren’t even completely sure on who YOU are.
Let me challenge you with something. Ask yourself this serious question; what would happen if you went against the grain? What would happen if you were the trendsetter? Would the world stop spinning? Would you parents disown you and would you friends literally act as though you didn’t exist? I mean really, what would happen if you stepped outside of what is normal?
If everyone likes the color pink why not like the color blue? If everyone likes One Direction why not stick to N*SYNC (honestly I’ll be surprised if people know who they actually are). Be the trendsetter. I want to let you in on a little secret that I didn’t learn until about 4 years ago, and you are lucky because I am letting you in on it now. No one really knows what their doing in life. Every single person is just simply trying to make it. Trying to make a mark on the world so they aren’t forgotten or trying to follow their dreams to the point where they are on top. Everyone is simply trying to do life and not mess it up. But why live life walking on eggshells? Why live life trying not to shake things up? I live with the motto that life is too short to be normal! Follow your dreams and live life with no regrets. Try out that pink highlight in your hair, go volunteer at the homeless shelter or go and watch a movie by yourself!
BE YOU because no one else will!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Do Over...Part 4

Find your passion. There are a lot of things in this world that want to grab your attention. It’s good to try out new things; it’s also good to continue doing things that have already been done before. Passion is something that makes your heart stop beating. Passion is something that doesn't feel like work it just feels like you are fulfilling something that nothing else could fill. One of those things might be something that you don’t even realize is your passion because it is something that is completely and totally different from who you thought yourself to be. Maybe you are an athlete whose passion is actually in music. Or maybe you are the star of all the school plays but really you get a lot of joy out of going out to the tennis courts and hitting a ball back and forth.
Life is too short not to do the things that make you the most happy! Don’t waste time doing things that you find no joy in at all. God created us to shine brightly and use the gifts that he has given us. But how will we know what those gifts are unless we go out there and try! Our passions are sometimes hidden behind those things that are obligations in our lives. Now I’m not saying neglect these obligations to have a fun-filled life. Of course there are things that you have to do even when you don’t want to do them and other things that you have to do that might actually be fun. I am saying to take time and explore yourself. You might find something that is your true passion in life. Wouldn't it be a shame if you went through life without finding out what truly and honestly makes you happy? Go out there and try…before you get to the point where you are wishing for a do-over J  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Do over...from guest, Bronte Hughes

Hello everyone, this is one of my best friends...she's one of the ones I was talking about in the earlier posts about friends. Her name is Bronte Hughes. She graduated from Eastern University in 2011 with a degree in Social Work. She spent some time traveling to India and Africa after graduation. This beautiful Aussie was my roommate in college and I can tell you she is a blast to be around! She is currently working as a Social Worker in the Philadelphia area.
She wanted to share a little something with you all about her times growing up and hopefully you can gain some insight from her! Let's go check it out!

When Alleigh asked me to share with you something I have learned in my own life, it wasn’t one of those moments where some epiphany instantly jumped into my mind. I took the time to really think about not just specific situations or events, but to look at the underlying issues that may have caused certain circumstances in my life as a young(er) person.

And here it is: definition. The definition of yourself. How, and by what, do you define yourself?

I understand that in middle school and high school (and college.. and the workplace….) the pressure to “fit in” is huge. Trust me, I’ve been there, plus some.. Moving to a new country at age 14 doesn’t exactly make it an easy path when it comes to “figuring out who you are”.

But let me tell you this: only YOU and your GOD can define you. People around you are going to try to do that for you – they are going to try to tell you what music you should like, what clothes look the best, and how you should act when you’re trying to be funny. They’re going to try point out the weird and “wrong” things about you. The thing is though – in my eyes (and I think in God’s) – the most beautiful thing you can be is ORIGINAL. If you don’t like the same music, that’s ok. If you dress in your own creative way - good for you! If you think your jokes are funny – keep telling them. I won’t promise you you’ll be the most “popular” girl in school, but if you continue to dwell on the person who God made you to be – an individual – you will have strength and freedom above all the popularity you could think of.

But let’s delve deeper, because outer things such as clothes and music don’t necessarily define us. I encourage you to take the time to sit and figure yourself out. Make a list of your characteristics – good and bad. Think about what you’re good at, what makes you nervous, what brings you the most joy. I can look back at photos of myself in high school and see in my face when I was the most joyful, and it wasn’t at a school dance with my new outfit, it wasn’t hanging out with “the cool kids”. It was when I was doing the things I am best at, and when I was living out God’s call on my life. This will be a life-long process – I’m still trying to figure myself out in my mid-20s, but I wish I had started sooner. I wish I hadn’t defined myself by who I was dating, or what other people were saying about me. Invest in people who know the REAL you, and I PROMISE to you that love and acceptance will be a blessing above and beyond popularity.

So what do I hope to pass on to you?

That the only definition you need to memorise is this:

You are a child of God made to worship Him and His holiness, and you were made to be LOVED.

Never do I feel more like myself than when I break down in His presence and realise my own humanity, failures, and flaws, and my strengths. He takes us, and uses us in our own individual and unique ways. Even the bad stuff. Those mistakes I made when I was too busy letting other people define me? They have been used and been redeemed. True definition and true identity is found in knowing that we are broken, but that is when God touches us and covers us with His love. Let go of expectations and opinions and simply live as the person God created you to be.  That is the place where we experience the most real and genuine love possible.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Do Over Part 3

If there is one thing I wish I could do over it would be the appreciation for the people in my life. Luckily it's not too late for that do over.
Alleigh, you have recently lost one of the most important people in your life, Nano. For some reason this is really putting a lot of things into perspective for you. You are thinking about life differently, you are living differently, and you are appreciating your family more.
Your family is the only thing in life you can't choose. You can choose your friends, you can choose the outfit you wear and you can even choose who you will add to your family. But what is there right now, you can't choose. You have to love them. You have to put an effort into getting to know their flaws as well as their strengths. You have to be willing to share laughs as well as tears. Because I promise you that when times get rough, and they will get rough, there will be no one that gets more than your family.
In this time of mourning, because of the loss of Nano, you wouldn't have been able to make it through without the love and support and most of all friendship of your family. The great things about them is that no matter what, you will always pick up directly where you left off. You don't have to be someone else or act like someone else around them because they will love you just the way you are. So cherish them. Love them the way they are too. Don't have any regrets, especially with your family. Say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done...and love them hard.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Do Over Part 2

Alright Alleigh. You do have best friends. You have best friends that you will still have to this very day; they are keepers. And sure, you think that the ones that you have right now are going to be keepers...but I want to tell you to watch your back. Make sure that you keep what is important at the forefront of your mind. Which will be hard, but you're smart enough to remember that. Remember that it's always better to have a few good friends rather than a bunch of bad friends. Yes, middle school is rough and high school might even be tougher but it'll all seem like the distant past when it's all over. But your friends are what are going to get you through all of the drama. And yes, that's all it is, drama. Give whatever it is 2 whole weeks and I promise you that it will all blow over.
Little things aren't worth fighting over. Just smile and move on. It'll be hard and it'll hurt but I'm telling you that the drama it will cause will not be worth it...again, just give it two weeks. Things move so fast from the ages of twelve to eighteen so take it all in. Around the age of fourteen and fifteen you will feel really alone, that's because you'll move...and yes it's pretty terrible. You'll switch friend groups and you will feel like you have no place at this new, big high school...but just wait and you'll figure it out. Remember that you are smart before you are pretty and you are kind before you are outgoing. You'll find friends that appreciate that about you. It'll be uncomfortable to get to know them, yes, but you guys will find your groove and then you'll be inseparable. Those are the real friend that I'm talking about. Keep in contact with them. They are what will get you through all that drama but the tricky part is that you will have to be there for them as well. You will quickly learn what it means to love someone unconditionally; you will learn what it means to love someone outside of your family. You'll do anything for them and they'll do anything for you and that's the power of friendship.
So don't be afraid to jump on out there and pray for friends. It sounds silly but it's fruitful. God knows how many hairs on are your head, which is a weird fact to know; so don't you think he also cares about your friends and who you will laugh with, cry with, and share the love of the Lord with? I'm telling you this because, hindsight really is twenty twenty.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Do Over Part 1

I work with little kids. I get to play games and act silly and they really keep me in a place of contentment with my life because they see the world in such a simplistic way. One of my favorite things to do with the kids that I work with, mostly the elementary children, is play games. Whether that's a video game, UNO, or just something that I make up off the fly.
I'm going to share a secret with you that I do not share with most people. Don't judge me because of what it is that I am going to say but rather love me because I am a true and real person. Are you ready? When I play with kids...I don't let them win. I know the rule is when you play with kids you let them win. I know that when I was little people let me win in games all the time...believe me, I completely understand. But the one thing that I do let kids have is a 'do-over'. Now for those of you who do not know, a 'do-over' is exactly what it sounds like, and for little kids it is their lifeline to get things right again. Most kids like to do things over because they have figured out a new way to play the game and they believe with all their heart if they have a chance to do it over again, they will succeed. 
Isn't this a lot like our lives? We are often replaying events in our heads after they happen and we say to ourselves if we had a chance to do it over again we would definitely succeed. That is why, for the next four weeks, I will be writing to myself as if I had a do-over. There are events in my life that I know, with all of my heart I could go back and change each instance for the better. I view things differently now because hindsight is twenty twenty. 

hey alleigh, you're dad does know what he's talking about. 

Alleigh, take it from is totally and completely not worth it. You should listen to your dad. The boy isn't that cute and it's not going to turn out the way that you picture it in your mind anyway. You live in Lincoln Nebraska and when it snows around here it really comes down. It's the biggest snow storm of the year and you just got your license in the summer. You're not used to driving on black ice....DON'T DO IT. But of course, you're going to do it anyway. As a 16 year old girl, going out to dinner with the star of the rival basketball team is way more important than listening to your father. Right?! Wrong! You'll pick him, he won't even look at you and the conversation will be terrible. You'll eat at a little diner and when it comes time to pay you won't pick up the check but he will tell you that you have to pay. You'll try to fight it and resist all temptations to pick up that check, but you're too nice. You'll pick it up and you'll pay. Meanwhile the snow has been coming down for awhile now and you are out way longer than it would have taken you to pick up your backpack from school, like you told your parents you were doing. Side note: Don't worry you'll get over that lying thing. It'll take you a few years but you'll stop. The roads are pretty slippery and you have the chance to listen to that tiny voice in your head that says slow down, but you won't because for some reason a piece of you still wants to impress the boy that's riding in that passengers seat. And because of that, you will crash your parents car. You will slide underneath the bed of that pick-up truck and you will completely ruin the hood of your moms brand new Honda Civic. All because you didn't want to listen to your dad. Do you understand why I'm saying this to you now? You don't even talk to that boy anymore and that communication stopped the day after this whole event. Guess what Alleigh? Your parents are smarter than you think they are. They have been through things that you are going through, their advice may seem invasive but they love you. 

So if you take one thing from this whole experience, it's that your parents really do know what their talking about. They have crashed cars themselves, they have dated the wrong people before they found each other, and God put them in your life to love for some time. That's a big responsibility so the last thing they need is someone getting in the way of that job. I promise you, the sooner you realize this truth the easier your life will be. 

"Honor your father and mother -- which is the first commandment with a promise." Ephesians 6:2