Fearless Friday! Why I'll Never be a Proverbs 31 Woman

Fearlessness isn’t the absence of fear. It’s being full of fear, full of doubt, and full of insecurities, but going for it anyways.

Nine weeks ago, I introduced Fearless Friday and invited you all to take part in observing as I began doing things that scared me or that I have just never found the time to do.  One of the television shows that I’ve always been fascinated with is The Real Housewives.  Their lifestyle seems so glamorous and their social lives are as full as Joan River’s face. One of the things on my list was to host a dinner party that resembled something like this: Real-Housewives-BH-Dinner-Party-From-Hell

A group of gorgeous girls sitting around a table filled with flowers, china, champagne glasses and a candlelit dinner. I always imagined that would be a typical Saturday evening by this point in my life but here is the problem: I own nothing and when I look at my bank account, this is normally my reaction:

Cryinggifs_07So, I enlisted the help of two good friends. Thanksgiving was coming up and what better time to tackle this Fearless Friday goal.  We all pitched in equally and began the preparations…the day before.

Wednesday, when most sane people have already finished their Thanksgiving food shopping, I was laying on the couch googling things like, how to cook a turkey, thanksgiving side dishes, good thanksgiving desserts, easy thanksgiving desserts, thanksgiving desserts for dummies, what is Lady Gaga doing for thanksgiving, how to marry rich so I will never have to cook a thanksgiving dinner again.

Wednesday night, my half-mexican roommate and I began our Thanksgiving preparations.  The whole time, Proverbs 31 was running through my head. I mean, this Thanksgiving preparation was a lot of work in itself and I can’t imagine doing something like this on a daily basis. Who is this Proverbs 31 woman anyway?  Does she not realize that she is making us all look bad and has done more harm to the male idea of a perfect woman than Victoria Secret herself? I was growing rather bitter towards her as I was baking my pre-made pie crust.  Who does she think she is? Am I not woman enough because I happened to find a good deal on frozen Pillsbury crust at Winco? Let’s just break this verse down for a second:

How hard it is to find a capable wife! She is worth far more than jewels!

Is it really that hard? I feel like there are a lot of capable women out there. Whoever you are, King Lemuel, you are looking in all the wrong places! Did you ever consider going to ministry school? Christian Mingle? You are a king, afterall!

She keeps herself busy making wool and linen cloth.

This may be true if you are looking for a wife who spent her life in the home schooling system. I tried that and you can read about that failure here.

 She brings home food from out-of-the-way places, as merchant ships do.

This is true.  I did bring home food from Winco which is about fifteen minutes out of my way.

She gets up before daylight to prepare food for her family and to tell her servant women what to do.

Question: If she has a servant woman, why doesn’t she just make her get up early and prepare the food? I mean, put that servant woman to work! Not to mention that waking up before daylight on a daily basis is not good for your beauty regimen and will likely cause bags to form under your eyes. The goal in getting a husband is keeping him, right?

She looks at land and buys it, and with money she has earned she plants a vineyard.

Look at land and buy it? I can hardly buy groceries. And why would I want to plant a vineyard when I can just go to Trader Joe’s and get a bottle of wine for $4.99? That seems like the more financially responsible route anyways. I’d rather spend my hard-earned money on more important things like anti-aging treatments and a servant woman, which is apparently essential to every Proverbs 31 woman.

She makes bedspreads and wears clothes of fine purple linen.

Has no one told her about Bed, Bath and Beyond?! Why is she making bedspreads?!

She makes clothes and belts, and sells them to merchants.

WHO IS THIS WOMAN?

 Her children show their appreciation, and her husband praises her.

I don’t have children or a husband, so I just make my roommate compliment me all the time.For the love of Pete, just praise me Audrey or I’ll never be a Proverbs 31 woman and I won’t invite you to my wedding where you’ll be forced to wear a Bridesmaid’s dress that I hand-made with the help of my servant-woman!”

The oven timer went off and I quickly snapped out of my make-believe debate that I was having with King Lemuel’s mother.  I continued in my Thanksgiving preparation and made mostly-homemade apple crisp pie and stuffing.

Thursday arrived and I was so excited to spend the day with some good friends.  We decided to have Thanksgiving dinner at our friend Andre’s house so we made our travels there.  We spent a good 30 minutes trying to figure out the correct way to cook a turkey and I won’t even go into how I basically violated this poor turkey before realizing that it came without it’s insides already. We continued with cooking throughout the day while taking breaks watching New Girl. Here are a few pictures from our day:

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Audrey and Andre making Jalapeño poppers. I would have helped, but I had an injury (I cut myself with a knife).

Everything is better with bacon.

Everything is better with bacon.

The Mexican version of a Proverbs 31 woman.

The Mexican version of a Proverbs 31 woman.

My apple crisp pie. Take that you mysterious Proverbs 31 woman!

My apple crisp pie. Take that you mysterious Proverbs 31 woman!

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Our finished work. It’s a little redneck and a far cry from any dinner the Real Housewives would have, but hey, at least there was a candle.

We did it! We successfully prepared and served a Thanksgiving dinner and nothing caught on fire and no one got food poisoning! We ended with day with some Black Friday shopping, but since I was exhausted from trying to be my best version of a Proverbs 31 woman, we called it a night around 9:30.

Another week and come and gone and now here is what I have left:

1. Go to dinner by myself.

2. Ask a boy to coffee. 

3. Cook a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook.

4. Go on an overnight trip by myself. 

5. Go a week without a phone.

6. Sing at an open mic night.

7. Go to a spin class by myself.

8. Go to two hot yoga classes in a day.

9. Make and follow a schedule for a week.

10. Finish a song.

11. Take a trip to the hot springs.

12. Pick a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin pie.

13. Host a dinner party.

14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it. 

15. Volunteer somewhere (like a women’s shelter or food bank) for a day. 

16. Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week.

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

If you liked this post, you might like: Fearless Friday! Table for One or Fearless Friday! When You Ask a Guy to Coffee.

Obligatory "15 Things I'm Thankful For" Post

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and since I’m a wanna-be blogger, what better way to celebrate than to write a blog about all the things I am grateful for? So, I present to you the top 15 things I am thankful for (in no particular order)…

1. Hot Coffee.  Sometimes the only motivation I have to go to bed is knowing that when I wake up, I get to have coffee.

2. My Sisters.  We are all so different that I often times wonder how we came from the same two people, but I love them with every thing I have and am so proud of them.

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3. Jay-Z and Beyonce. They give me hope that true love still exists.

4. Group Texts.  I already know what you’re thinking GROUP TEXTS ARE SO ANNOYING and I generally agree.  There is nothing worse than being included in a group text with 30 other people you don’t know who are RSVP’ing and talking about some annoying event that you aren’t even going to.  However, my best friends and I have been in a 5 month long group text and I hope to never leave it! However, it can get a little out of control at times…

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5. My Parents and Grandparents. I’m almost convinced that they may be the most selfless people I have ever met. They would sacrifice just about anything to help us pursue our dreams.

6. Peanut Butter. I have a mild panic attack when I run out of peanut butter.

7. FaceTime. I’ve moved a lot in my life and I’ve hardly had to deal with feeling “homesick.” That all changed when my sisters started having babies. Moving away from my niece and nephew caused more tears than when Justin and Britney called it quits. Thankfully, FaceTime allows me to feel like I’m not completely missing out on seeing them grow up.

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If you don’t think this is cute, you might be dead inside.

8. Country Music. There’s just something about that twang and banjo that makes my heart happy and brings back feelings of nostalgia. Listening to country music makes me feel like everything is going to be okay. Plus, no one can deny that the 8th wonder of the world has manifested itself into the human form we call Luke Bryan.

9. Instagram. Because there’s nothing I love more than passing time by liking pictures of babies, food, and abs. Side note: Moms, I know you feel the pressure to abstain from posting too many pictures of your babies, but let me just say that there’s no such thing as too many pictures of your babies!  I mean, try to limit to five posts a day, but either way a picture of your baby will get a guaranteed “like” from me.

10. Quiet Mornings. I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve somehow become a morning person.  My favorite part of the day is waking up early, drinking coffee, and spending time with God.  There’s a gentle peace in the mornings that I’ve grown to appreciate. Does that make me sound like a grown-up?

11. Mean Girls. If you make a Mean Girls reference, you will earn a very special place in my heart.

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12. Sweat Pants. You just know how to make a girl feel loved and comfortable.

13. Bill Johnson. Now, before you assume that I’m only saying this because I’m a Bethel student, you should know that you’re probably right.  Before coming to Bethel, I had heard of Pastor Bill, but never got to see the side of his heart that I’ve been privileged to see since being here. He has become one of my personal heroes and I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for his devotion and pursuit of God.  He is such a pure example of how actually living out your destiny God called you to will lead to others walking into theirs.

14. The “HIDE” feature on Facebook. It’s beautiful and it has given me the ability to avoid that awkward “Why did you delete me from FB?” conversation with that one girl who posts 50 times a day about how great, terrible, wonderful, annoying and perfect her boyfriend is. Props to you, Mark Zuckerberg.

15. You. This last year has been the most amazing year of my life as of yet and it’s all because of the people that I’m surrounded by. I wouldn’t be here in Redding without those of you who believed in me and sowed into me with prayers, school tuition donations, and gifts. My heart is so full just thinking about it and I will be forever grateful.

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Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for reading!

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

Fearless Friday! You're like, really pretty.

Fearlessness isn’t the absence of fear. It’s being full of fear, full of doubt, and full of insecurities, but going for it anyways.

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I can’t believe that it’s been two months since I posted my first Fearless Friday blog! It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting at my computer thinking “Yeah, ha, I’ll never ask a guy to coffee, do a Pinterest project, or go a week without a phone” (Ok, I still don’t think I can go a week without a phone) but I did it and I can honestly say that it’s been an amazing experience. Each week, I generally will fail miserably but that is what makes it memorable.

This next one is a bit different from what I’ve done in the past. It was inspired by someone’s own translation on Proverbs 27:5. They said to me, “Withheld love is more damaging than an open insult.”

Think about it.

How many of us walk around and live our lives day to day feeling unappreciated, insecure, hidden, and unseen. How many of us feel unloved?

Last Thursday night, Audrey and I ran into a friend at Starbucks. He ended up sitting with us and we all sat in silence for an hour or so as they did homework and I worked on my last blog.  Towards the end of the night, we I started talking and babbling on about really embarrassing things like my inability to form sentences around a cute boy and my new-found religion some know as Friend-zoning. Before you judge me and think “oh, that poor guy got stuck in the middle of girl talk” let me just say that he was laughing a lot for a guy who got tricked into girl talk and even said that he was enjoying seeing that side of me and he likes talking about that kind of stuff. After the jokes and embarrassing stories were over, he said, “You’re a really fun person but people don’t always see that side of you at first because you can come across as intense. But that’s not you at all.”

That was really no surprise to me. I already know that the biggest misconception of me is that I’m serious because when I first get around new people, I get quiet. I’m an observer and without realizing it, I accidentally make people think that I’m mad, bored, or uninterested. After our conversation, I knew what I was going to do next for my Fearless Friday challenge.

Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week.

I already know what most of you are thinking. You are probably a very good person and you’re so encouraging all the time that you basically spoon feed people compliments. Well, I’m not. At least not to strangers. The thing is, I actually do have encouraging things to say, but for some reason I am terrified to actually say them. I imagine it playing out like this:

Intense, boring, and serious girl walks into school (Actually, for the sake of not wanting to have to type out “Intense, boring, and serious” over and over, let’s just call her “Boring Girl”). Okay, so Boring Girl walks into school. She is immediately overwhelmed with the sight of 600 students packed into one small church lobby.  If the feeling of claustrophobia doesn’t get to her, the smell of sweat slightly masked by the aroma of burnt coffee will. Boring girl tries to make her way through the crowd, dodging the blissfully unaware students who think it’s a good idea to run and tackle other people as a way of saying, “Hey, haven’t seen you since yesterday.” She finally makes her way through the lobby and into the sanctuary to find a seat. She looks at the time. 15 minutes until class starts. Great. Now she has to figure out a way to entertain herself for fifteen minutes all while looking like she is OK with sitting alone and talking to no one. Her inner voice speaks and says, “Boring girl, what would Beyonce do?” Sasha Fierce ain’t afraid of nobody! Sasha Fierce owns the room. So, boring girl stands up and decides to approach someone she has admired from afar, let’s call her “Cool Girl.” As she walks closer, Cool Girl and her friends look over and see her approaching. They begin whispering among themselves, “Who is that?…I think she’s friends with that half-mexican girl…Rumor has it she’s obsessed with Miley Cyrus…Why is she coming over here? She’s not even on the worship team.”

The whispers die down and Boring Girl stands awkwardly in front of them. “Hi. My name is Boring Girl and I think you’re a really great singer. [Insert awkward pause] You’re really pretty.”

Cool Girl looks her over and says:

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Boring Girl responds:

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Everyone stands there awkwardly and the girls around them start giggling. Since Boring Girl can’t think of anything else to say, she uses the unofficial ministry school awkward conversation life-saver and says, “We should do coffee sometime.” They agree that would be nice and say, “I’ll contact you” which translates to “Yeah, not going to happen.”

Boring Girl walks back to her seat while Cool Girl looks at her friends and says:

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What a nightmare! As you may have guessed, my actual experience went fairly different (aside from the 600 students crammed in a lobby part). I felt like this exercise went right along with the journey God has been taking on when it comes to being fully myself all the time and valuing my voice.  Throughout this last week, I would go up to a person that was highlighted to me and just give them an encouraging word. I know that some people felt encouraged and one girl even cried, but it’s interesting how encouraged I felt myself! Our words really do make a difference and we have no idea what just one simple compliment or encouraging statement can do to change an entire person’s day.

That’s one more thing to cross off my list. Here’s what I have left:

1. Go to dinner by myself.

2. Ask a boy to coffee. 

3. Cook a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook.

4. Go on an overnight trip by myself. 

5. Go a week without a phone.

6. Sing at an open mic night.

7. Go to a spin class by myself.

8. Go to two hot yoga classes in a day.

9. Make and follow a schedule for a week.

10. Finish a song.

11. Take a trip to the hot springs.

12. Pick a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin pie.

13. Host a dinner party.

14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it. 

15. Volunteer somewhere (like a women’s shelter or food bank) for a day. 

16. Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week.

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

If you liked this post, you might like: Fearless Friday! Table for One or Fearless Friday! When You Ask a Guy to Coffee.

Be Where You Are

I admit, these last two months haven’t been the easiest for me. It’s not that I was having to overcome this great obstacle placed in front of me or having to push through some sort of emotional difficulty.  Actually, I was fine in both aspects. My roommate told me the other night that I’m actually a pretty stable and consistent person and I don’t have the stereotypical mood swings associated with most females. (Her comment made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and I quietly thanked my lucky stars that she didn’t know me when I was 20.)

Everything on the outside seemed picture perfect. I had an amazing summer. I was given a car to come back to school with. I was experiencing amazing financial breakthrough that could only be related to a miracle. The running joke in our house was “Rihanna gets what Rihanna asks for.” It was true and God was really confirming to me over and over that I was in the right place. Yet, night after night, I’d find myself with a strange ache in my heart. God, I don’t want to be here.

Can you blame me? I did just spend the entire summer with my sister who became my best friend and my amazing, beautiful, and perfect (can you tell I’m just a little in love?) niece who stole my heart from the moment I met her. I mean, look at this picture.

1382374_10151911297189323_1687103611_nI got to spend time with my brother in law and get to know his heart. He showed me that not all guys are douche bags that are going to take you out and then make you pay when their card gets declined. There is hope, ladies. There is hope. Basically, this the family I lived with over the summer:

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I spent time with my best friend of twenty years, Kainos. Yes, twenty years. We’ve lived life together and really all we’ve known is each other. We worked right next to each other all summer which was fun, sometimes annoying because we know how to get on one another’s nerves at times, but overall fun. I also got to go to Huntington Beach and spend time with my other half, Ashley, who can be blamed for about 50% of all the trouble I got into in my early twenties. I spent nights with Carly, who was a crucial friend when I began making a lot of changes in my life. The first time I met her was at a Blink 182 concert, but for some strange reason I don’t remember that. A few months later, I had started going back to church and she was at a Bible study. She was like, “Hey! I met you at the Blink concert!” and I had to awkwardly figure out a way to explain why I don’t remember meeting her. “Uhhh, yeah. You know, it was really hot that day and I was probably dehydrated.” Not a lie, actually. I was dehydrated but not from the sun. We still joke about that now. I also got to see my Nana and Poppa, whom I love dearly. They are like an old married couple except they aren’t married anymore (long story). My Poppa is madly in love with my Nana again and he leaves her notes around the house saying “Marry me.”

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It was an amazing summer. I was surrounded by people who knew me and loved me and I knew and loved them. Being home reminded me of all the things and people who made me who I am. It reminded me of all the things I would have to give up to come back to school here. It reminded me of all the things that I don’t have here. Community.

So, here I was. Back in Redding, California. My heart was in Arizona and I was determined to make sure God knew that I wasn’t thrilled about this. I resisted embracing where I was because it was a far cry from where I wanted to be. If I couldn’t be in AZ, I wanted to be in LA and I wanted to be there now. I felt unseen here. Nobody really knew me. The only times people approached me was to ask if I was that girl that wrote that letter to Miley.  I had it out with God. Arguing, crying, and doing my best rendition of Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love when she finally decides that she’s done with this mundane life so she divorces her husband, quits her job and runs away to Italy to eat pasta and get fat and really find herself! God wasn’t having it. I went and spoke with my pastor about dropping out of school and she wasn’t having it. I tried convincing my sister that God really wanted me to drop out and she responded with a text saying “Don’t pull a Miley and get all rebellious.”

One night, I went to the 24 hour prayer house. I poured my heart out to God. If I was really supposed to be here, I didn’t want to spend the whole year feeling like this. I had closed my heart off to people and felt the loneliest that I had ever felt in years. As I was praying, or maybe I was just daydreaming, I heard God say, “You can stay closed off to people and I will guarantee that you won’t get hurt this year. But I will also guarantee that you won’t find love.”

How do you argue with that? I didn’t.

The next few days I held onto that and I knew that I had a decision to make. I only felt unseen because I made myself unknown. I didn’t give people a chance to really see me. I only hated being here because in my heart of hearts I knew that I wasn’t called to be in Redding for just one more year, but that I’ll be a few more years. It will be a longer journey than I had anticipated. But you know what? Sometimes God takes us on journeys and there is this false idea that we have to love every step of it. I don’t believe that Noah loved having to build an ark even though it would eventually lead to saving his family. I doubt that Abraham loved having to travel to a foreign land even though it would be where his greatest promises would be birthed. You can’t tell me that Jesus was over the top with excitement as he walked broken, bruised, and with a cross on his back. Yet he did it because he knew in the end he would get what his heart wanted from the beginning of time. Us.

Once I came to terms with this journey I’m on, I’ve begun to really love it. I committed to being fully myself all the time and put my heart out there. Of course, it’s not easy and I’ll occasionally find myself trying to slip into old habits of keeping quiet. But once I did that, community started forming itself around me. People wanted to be around me. I started making friends, mom!

Moral of the story is this. Be where you are. Trust the process. Open your heart. Value your voice. It’s okay to not love the journey as long as you don’t give up. However, I am finally loving the journey.

Some of my friends that I made. How cute.

Some of my friends that I made.

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

My other half,

My other half,

Fearless Friday! Home Schooled Jungle Freak

Fearlessness isn’t the absence of fear. It’s being full of fear, full of doubt, and full of insecurities, but going for it anyways.

Seven weeks ago, I introduced Fearless Friday and invited you all to take part in observing as I began doing things that scared me or that I have just never found the time to do. Once again, this next one doesn’t fall into the “scared” category but more of the…no wait, this was definitely scary.

Unless you’ve lived under a rock, you’ve heard of Pinterest. Pinterest is a fairly new phenomenon that has taken over the lives of desperate housewives and even more marriage-desperate females everywhere.  Don’t get me wrong. I like Pinterest, but I have yet to understand how people can spend hours at a time surfing this reality crushing site. I login every few days (yes, males, it is possible to find a girl who hasn’t given her soul to Pinterest) and I am overwhelmed with a plethora of pins that range from promises of weight loss if I do these “6 simple exercises before every shower” to promises of being forever alone with each bite of homemade pumpkin cream cheese loaf with raspberry drizzle and cinnamon whipped cream topping and a side of love handles. I scroll down and my eyes glaze over and I’m bombarded with pins some 17 year old girl pinned of her “dream wedding” to her pin board passive aggressively labeled “maybe someday someone will love me.” I inwardly vomit and outwardly roll my eyes. Scroll down a little further and every once a while, some mom that is obsessed with homeschooling and growing her own basil repins pins of “DIY Projects.” I see DIY and my mind translates it to “BLH.”  Bored and Lonely Housewife. Seriously. The only other people I know that love DIY projects more than housewives are “home schooled jungle freaks.” Which are basically just home schoolers but thanks to the genius that is Mean Girls, I can’t say “home schooled” without adding “jungle freaks.” Thanks, Tina Fey.

Turns out, my half Mexican roommate is also half home schooled. I mean, it makes sense. She lives out the best of both worlds. On one hand she has a great sense of fashion but on the other hand, she just recently spent, like, two weeks knitting scarves for her family members.  Night after night, we sat on the couch watching New Girl and The Mindy Project. I was probably googling something like “how to make your face look 10 lbs slimmer” or “did someone really see Selena in hell” and Audrey sat next to me knitting…and knitting…and knitting… It was so weird. I’ve never seen a pretty girl knit so much.

As I was preparing for Fearless Friday, I looked over my list and one in particular kept coming back to me : 14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it.

I endlessly searched Pinterest for DIY ideas but all it did was remind me that I don’t have a house or kitchen that needs remodeling and I don’t need an earring holder made out of bobby pins and branches. And then, I saw it:

4b384f96df9cebcaf2745653ce16525eThen it hit me. I just watched my dear friend, Audrey, spend two weeks committing social suicide by knitting herself into oblivion. She could surely help me! So, it all started Monday night. Surely five days would be plenty of time to do ONE DIY project. SURELY! I enlisted Audrey as my personal knitting coach and she spent the next 30 minutes teaching me the ways. Want to know how much of my scarf got finished in 30 minutes?

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ONE LITTLE MEASLY LINE. At this point, I wanted to give up. But you, my Fearless Friday readers, would be disappointed. So, I carried on. I took my yarn and knitting needles and called a good friend. We talked forever about current events like the disappointing new Britney single and whether or not Jen Aniston is pregnant for the 10 thousandth time. I couldn’t believe how little progress I was making.  I then began imagining my future. This DIY project was about to take over my life. I imagined my little sister announcing that she was engaged and I would have to go to her wedding with my knitting needles in my hair and yarn wrapped around my neck as I gave my Maid of Honor speech while disgracing my family after one too many glasses of champagne.  My best friend would have to assist me to the bathroom and hold back my hair AND my yarn as I cried into the toilet.  I would wake up the next day wrapped in yarn screaming,” WHY IS THERE SHRIMP COCKTAIL ON MY SCARF?!” My other sister would then announce her second pregnancy and I would want to scream and shout for joy but at this point I would only have tears and blistered fingers.

I snapped out of my nightmare and realized that 90 minutes had passed. Want to know how far along I got in 90 minutes? DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW? Here. Here before you is 90 minutes of blood, sweat, and tears.

20131114-202300.jpgI sincerely hope that you all feel sorry for me right now.

I carried on, because I’m a fighter. Just call me Christina Aguilera. The next morning I woke up at 6am and immediately began knitting again. After four hours, yes FOUR hours, I was beginning to see progress. There was a light at the end of this terrible yarn tunnel.

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I had to stop because I had to go to classes.  The whole day at school, all I thought about was getting home to work on my scarf. I was becoming a monster. Did I want to get home to it because I enjoyed it? No. I wanted to get home so that I could end this terrible nightmare I found myself in. Night after night, I found myself on the couch watching Keeping up with the Kardashian reruns in tears. No, I was not crying because of Bruce Jenner’s haircut or Kris Jenner’s sociopathic tendencies. I was weeping because I felt that I had gotten myself into a mess that I had little chance of coming out alive.

And then it happened. I looked up from my self-made pity party and I saw the light. I called out for Audrey and she came running to me. She saw that I was just about finished and she wrapped her arms around me and we cried into each others arms. “I always knew you would make it” she whispered as Sarah Mclachlan’s “In the Arms of an Angel” played in the background. We knitted the last few stitches together and I immediately began snapchatting my work of art to everyone I have ever met that has snapchat. Here it is for you to enjoy:

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At the end of the day, I really like my scarf. Will I ever make one again? Probably not. Although, it has inspired me to begin praying that I marry rich so that I will never have to face the possibility of having to make my own clothes. It also gave me a new appreciation for home schooled jungle freaks.

That’s one more thing to cross off my list. Here’s what I have left:

1. Go to dinner by myself.

2. Ask a boy to coffee. 

3. Cook a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook.

4. Go on an overnight trip by myself. 

5. Go a week without a phone.

6. Sing at an open mic night.

7. Go to a spin class by myself.

8. Go to two hot yoga classes in a day.

9. Make and follow a schedule for a week.

10. Finish a song.

11. Take a trip to the hot springs.

12. Pick a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin pie.

13. Host a dinner party.

14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it. 

15. Volunteer somewhere (like a women’s shelter or food bank) for a day. 

16. Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week.

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

If you liked this post, you might like: Fearless Friday! Table for One or Fearless Friday! When You Ask a Guy to Coffee.

Goodbye Bulimia. Hello Life. My one year victory I never thought I'd see.

She laid on the bathroom floor, stomach sore and heart broken over what she had just done. “Am I really still doing this? Is this nightmare ever going to end?”  She lived in her own nightmare…her own prison created with her own self made walls.

Every day was Groundhog Day. Waking up covered in darkness because she knew how it would end. She knew she wouldn’t succeed.

She was broken. What once gave her security and leverage in society was now her master.

It started out innocently enough. Rewind about 10 years and all she wanted was to lose weight. It’s what all girls want. Every female she had ever met, young and old, wanted to do the same. A part of being a woman was being on a diet. Constantly changing yourself. So, she put herself on a diet and began working out. She lost some weight and soon became the center of attention as everyone asked her weight loss secrets and complimented her hard work. But as the old cliché goes, it was never good enough. People wanted to talk to her now. Weight loss made people attracted to her. Weight loss was all she lived for.

 At 18, 120 pounds and 5’6 tall, she sat across from a man in LA who claimed he could make all her dreams of being a recording artist come true at the snap of a finger. After some small talk, he paused and looked her over. “You’d never compete next to Britney.”

 Britney was the biggest star at the time. He wasn’t talking about her vocal ability or stage presence. She had been training and exercising those strengths since a young girl. He was talking about her body.

 “Where you come from, guys might think you’re cute if you were in a dark club, wearing something sexy, and he had a few drinks in him. But here, you wouldn’t last.”

 He was right because she wasn’t fully anorexic yet. Only half-anorexic because her meals still consisted of canned green beans and fat free cottage cheese. She hadn’t yet graduated to eating only every other day, yet. Plus, she hadn’t fully committed to cutting the creamer out of her coffee.

 He agreed to arrange for her to record with a producer in Atlanta, if she showed him she was serious by losing 10-15 pounds. Crap. There goes her beloved creamer. Welcome to Hollywood.

Her obsession set even deeper within her because she’d be damned if she let her weight get in the way of the only thing she ever wanted from life. After unsuccessfully losing only 5 pounds, she flew to Atlanta anyways where she spent the next month songwriting and recording with a Grammy award-winning producer. A dream come true. She should have felt fulfilled, happy, proud of herself. Instead, after her recording sessions every night, she found herself driving around different parts of Georgia, alone, listening to Mariah Carey and exploring a very different yet still familiar path, bulimia.

From Georgia, she traveled to New York waiting for Mr. LA to show up, but he never did. Not because the recordings didn’t come out great, but because she didn’t look like Kate Moss, and therefore she wasn’t marketable.

Her whole life she had been waiting for her moment to get noticed, to be discovered. She daydreamed about telling her story on Leno and Oprah. But those daydreams became just that. She lost it all because she was “fat.”

From there, her world began falling apart. Since bulimia had become such a safe place, she ran to it every chance she got. There was never a moment where food wasn’t holding every thought captive within her. Her parents finally checked her into a rehabilitation center for those with eating disorders, where she stayed a total of four and a half months. Yet, she couldn’t recover. She didn’t want to recover. What for? Her dreams were gone.

After (barely) completing rehab, the eating disorder was only stronger. Bulimia consumed her with a force that she no longer understood. Her only other outlet was to party; and party she did.

 She was the life of the party. People liked her when she partied. No longer was she the failed rock star, the deadbeat sister, or the girl with no direction in life. She was fun. She was wanted. She was accepted, which was all she ever wanted in the first place.

Life continued to move forward before her eyes. She’d look through the glass wall of everything that seemed just beyond her reach because of her own self-made prison. While her friends graduated college, got married, had children, and landed their dream jobs, she spent her days and nights cleaning her own vomit and sobbing into her pillow begging God to take her because she just couldn’t do it anymore. Countless days passed where she couldn’t get out of bed and instead took a sleeping pill every time she woke up because sleep was the only way she was guaranteed freedom from bulimia. If you sleep, you can’t eat. The more desperate she was for freedom, the deeper she buried herself in partying, which eventually landed her in a ten day stay in jail because she had been arrested for a DUI.

Something had to give. There had to be more. As she laid in jail on a sad version of a bed that she was fairly convinced was made of springs and a piece cardboard (a far cry from the Ritz hotel she imagined herself staying in by this point in her life) she thought, “God, I’m too far gone.” She paused, waiting… hoping he would answer her. Silence. After finally giving up, she rolled over to try to go to sleep and he finally whispered back, “You’re exactly within my reach.”

I know this girl’s story all too well, because that girl was me.

Fast forward to November 9, 2012. I was now 26, living in a small town called Redding, California and attending ministry school. I had given up the party lifestyle and had made a lot of positive changes in my personal life, but there was one demon I had yet to conquer: bulimia. I think that being in a ministry school actually brought a deeper level of shame upon me because in my head, people in ministry have their lives together and I couldn’t get through a day without bingeing and purging. In fact, it was at its worst. On a good day, and I mean a really good day, I only did it only 1-2 times. On most days, it was anywhere from 3-15.  So I laid on the bathroom floor, broken because after every thing I’d been through, I was still here. I’ll always be here. “This will kill me” rang through my head over and over. Finally, a voice echoed back, “But what if it doesn’t?

So after a long, drawn out pity party on the bathroom floor, I picked myself up. Partly because the floor was getting cold and mostly because my new roommates were coming home soon and I didn’t want to be labeled as that weird roommate who likes to lay on the bathroom floor crying. But, little did I know that I was about to embark on the greatest adventure and year of my entire life. At that moment, I had no idea that would be the last time I’d ever have to start over again.

I was in a war. And when you go to war, you can’t be passive. I made a decision that day that I was going to give everything I had to recover. To be healthy. To be a person again.  I didn’t know how that would look exactly. I just knew that I was tired of living a life only half alive.

I stood bare in front of the mirror apologizing to my body. Repenting for the way I hated it despite its efforts to keep me alive. I repented for cursing it, for ignoring its signals to stop and not allowing it to heal. I repented to the little girl who used to occupy the same body. The one who used to play dress up and twirl in front of her dad, hoping he’d recognize the beauty that she somehow knew she had. The one who, over time, began wondering if she was ever beautiful at all. The one who had all her dreams and ambitions crushed. The one who just wanted to be told that she was beautiful, not because of what she wore or how she looked, but because of who she was. I promised that little girl that I would do everything I could to make all her dreams come back to life. I told that little girl that she was beautiful. I apologized to the teenage girl, who spent her adolescence in this body, for the way society made her feel. For abandoning her when the world around her fell apart instead of loving her. I apologized to the young adult girl who had her innocence stolen from her. I apologized for blaming her because she had been drinking. For not protecting her when she needed it the most. For making her stay silent. For not loving her when she felt the most unwanted.

And now, here I am. It’s been exactly one year since that day when I thought I had lost all hope. I haven’t once- not once- since that day used bulimia or anorexia in any way, shape, or form. I’m not saying it was easy. It was a constant, every day battle that I had to face that would often times drain me to my core.  It’s been one year of battles, victories, tears, joy, renewed dreams and passions, and love. There were times I felt like I could conquer the world and there were times when I would go to my pastor, Marlene, in tears saying “Please pray for me. I don’t think I can do this.”

I did it. I’m free. Often times I feel like I’m living in a dream because I never expected to make it this far. People always told me that I could be free, but when you live surrounded in such a deep darkness, their words are meaningless. I found an old journal entry that I wrote just over a year ago that speaks volumes to how far God has taken me.

June 1, 2012

It’s been 10 years. 10 years ago I was an insecure 16 year old who was lost in this new world of bulimia.

I wish I could go back and tell that little, precious 16 year old girl that she was okay…that she didn’t need laxatives or to throw up to get rid of the food. That she didn’t need a diet, a gym buddy, or just motivation. I wish I could go back and tell her that there is no shame in enjoying food. I wish I could tell her where she would find herself in 10 years if she didn’t say no.

You see, I never thought I would end up here. I thought that once I lost weight then I would be able to not obsess over food. But no matter my weight, size, or appearance…it’s always there. It’s always lingering, taunting me like “You can look away but I’ll always be here.”

Sometimes I make it through the entire day eating healthy and I feel like I’ve conquered the world! Then I crave something sweet. Okay, just one cookie is ok. I deserve it. It won’t hurt. This is recovery. Then one cookie leads to two. Two leads to three. Three leads to all the cookies. Then ice cream. Then left over pasta. Then peanut butter and jelly. Then granola bars. Then panic. That’s when I walk in the bathroom, lock the door behind me, turn on the faucet, and then stare in the toilet. Sometimes I look at my reflection and pray that I’ll see Jesus’ face. Jesus, please…just show me your face and I’ll be free forever. I stare hard trying to make my eyes see something that doesn’t ever appear. Stalling. I don’t want to throw up. But I have to. So it starts. My eyes water, my stomach constricts and I begin my routine. I try to measure with my eyes how much I throw up and try to match the things coming up with what I ate. I throw up until it’s all gone or until I can’t throw up anymore. At this point, I cry out to God and repent. But most times, I repeat the process within a few minutes. I can’t control myself. Something else controls me. When I look in the mirror, I look tired. Even in pictures I feel like I don’t look like myself. When I smile in pictures, I look to see that it’s only a slight grin. I’m afraid that I have lost my looks.

I’m 26. I want to get married someday. I want to have children. I want to record my music and reach out to people. I want to go to lunch with my friends and meet for coffee without thinking of anything other than the people I am with. I want to be able to look my parents in the eyes and have a normal conversation with them. I want to be able to be around them without feeling ashamed and angry. I want freedom. I want to walk in the promises and the destiny that Jesus has laid out for me.

Satan laughs every time I fall into his destiny and his dreams for me. But I plan to turn the tables. I plan on being free.

You see, what the enemy took 26 years to try to destroy me with, God broke in a moment. In a matter of just one year, I went from feeling like death was my only hope, my only way out, my only true freedom, to living in the most fulfilling and amazing year of my entire life. I used to pray and cry out to God, begging for him to heal me. I promised that if he healed me that I would give my life to seeing other people set free. I promised that I would never expect anything of him again, but he continues to give and continues to exceed my wildest dreams and hopes. I pray that if you’re reading this (thank you) and you feel like you’re facing a mountain that you can’t possibly cross over that you take this away: There is hope. There is freedom. There is life beyond what you can possibly comprehend. You are cherished and worth more than you know. You are loved.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,

and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;

 Because you are precious and honored in my sight,

and because I love you.

Isaiah 43:2-4

Photo by Audrey Johnston audreyrenae.wordpress.com

Photo by Audrey Johnston
audreyrenae.wordpress.com

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If you liked this post, you might also like Am I Pretty? or God Listens to Coldplay.

Fearless Friday! Be The Change

Fearlessness isn’t the absence of fear. It’s being full of fear, full of doubt, and full of insecurities, but going for it anyways.

photo(1)Six weeks ago, I introduced Fearless Friday and invited you all to take part in observing as I began doing things that scared me or that I have just never found the time to do. It’s been an interesting six weeks full of variety. Last week, I asked a guy to coffee and a few weeks earlier I unsuccessfully baked a pumpkin pie. As you can tell by my list, the things I set out to do aren’t all scary, but also just about becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be. Which is exactly what this week is all about.

We all know the story of the Good Samaritan who went out of his way to help someone in need and we all want to be that person.  Except, sometimes it’s just really inconvenient. We get caught up in our daily lives and routines and each day passes but nothing really gets done about the world around us.

This is just another reason why I love Bethel Church. I’ll never forget my first day here in Redding. It had been a whirlwind experience trying to get here in the first place. My car broke down right before coming, my housing fell through, and I knew zero people here.  I arrived with a little faith and a whole lot of worry. My first day, I went to the Bethel Sunday morning service to meet someone who wanted to help me find a place to live.  If you’ve ever been to Bethel on a Sunday morning, you know the chaos that ensues. There are people e v e r y w h e r e. We wandered in and out through the crowd of people and she brought me into a room to meet someone. When I first walked in, I had no idea what was going on but I quickly realized that it was a homeless breakfast. I thought, “Wow, this is so sweet of them to do. I wonder if it’s, like an annual thing.” My new friend quickly pointed out that Bethel actually holds a breakfast for the homeless people of Redding EVERY Sunday morning. I know that there are other churches that do that same, but this was personally my first time seeing a church care for their community consistently. There are no strings attached. They don’t make them sit through a Bible reading or manipulate them into saying “the sinners prayer.” They just invite them to come and have a hot meal.

That was over a year ago. In the last 12 months, I’ve been so distracted (in a good way) and busy with school and homework. When I was putting this Fearless Friday list together, the homeless breakfast didn’t even occur to me. For years, I have always loved the idea of serving in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. I mean, celebrities do it all the time and then they get put on the cover of a magazine and praised for their good deeds. Celebrities are busy people and if they can do it, so can I.

I began researching different charities that may need volunteers when a peer suggested that I volunteer for the homeless breakfast. I mean, that does make sense considering I am an active church attendee there. I emailed the lady who runs it and she immediately responded and said “Yes! How about you start tomorrow?” Whoa Whoa Whoa. Give me a little time. I mean, how’s a girl supposed to have time to alert the paparazzi to follow and take pictures of me glammed up in my Vera Wang outfit, sporting a hair cap and serving mashed potatoes to those less fortune than me? Ugh, every thing is so rushed these days! Thanks a lot Obama! (Again, if you’re republican it’s always best to just blame Obama). Finally, after trying to think of the best excuses I had to stall (none) I just decided to go for it and come to terms with the fact that the closest I have ever been to a Vera Wang anything is when watching The Fashion Police and the only paparazzi I have in my life is my Poppa, who has a new found love of taking pictures of everyone’s every move. Calm down, Poppa. I’m like, literally just sitting on your couch watching Full House reruns and eating a block of cheese for the third day in a row. This doesn’t need to be documented.

So, Sunday morning I arrived in my skirt purchased from Ross Dress for Less and a hand-me-down shirt from my sister. At first, I was strangely nervous for some unknown reason. My job was going to be to just sit with the people and talk with them. I had no idea what to expect or if people would even want to talk to me. The time came and the people began arriving. One lady shared with the group how she had been sober for 6 months since coming to Bethel and another shared how his health was dramatically improving. The most interesting part began when a man sat next to me.  He seemed really nice and overly interested in talking. I sat and listened to stories of how he once owned a Vulture and the National Enquirer contacted him for an interview. He also once killed a bear with his bare hands and trained a baby mountain lion. His stories were so far fetched and obviously untrue that I began to feel like I was with one of my ex-boyfriends again. Then, lo and behold, he pulls out a notebook of all his accomplishments to show me. It was filled with letters, poems, and newspaper articles. It turns out, he actually did have a letter from the National Enquirer addressed to him along with a picture of him holding a vulture and a baby mountain lion! There was no shown documentation of his bear murder, but I decided to just give him that one. He talked endlessly and actually completely forgot to eat his breakfast despite my efforts to remind him that it will get cold if he doesn’t eat it (oh my Lord, I am my mother).

I sat for over half an hour with him listening. It was then that I realized, he is homeless. He probably doesn’t have anyone to talk to or listen to him. He just wants to feel heard and seen. Isn’t that what we all want? I mean, the average American between the ages of 16-42 uses at least two forms of social media daily. We are constantly telling the world what we are doing, thinking, wishing for, working towards, etc. We want to be seen. We want to be significant. If donating a total of 3 hours of my time a week helps just one person feel significant, it’s worth it. I don’t know if I’ll ever see my new friend again, but I pray that he finds his way and finds his significance.

My friend, Lindsay, and I getting ready to volunteer by taking pictures of ourselves.

My friend, Lindsay, and I getting ready to volunteer by taking pictures of ourselves.

That’s one more thing to cross off my ever-shrinking list. Here’s what I have left:

1. Go to dinner by myself.

2. Ask a boy to coffee. 

3. Cook a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook.

4. Go on an overnight trip by myself. 

5. Go a week without a phone.

6. Sing at an open mic night.

7. Go to a spin class by myself.

8. Go to two hot yoga classes in a day.

9. Make and follow a schedule for a week.

10. Finish a song.

11. Take a trip to the hot springs.

12. Pick a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin pie.

13. Host a dinner party.

14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it. 

15. Volunteer somewhere (like a women’s shelter or food bank) for a day. 

16. Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week.

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

If you liked this post, you might like: Fearless Friday! Table for One or Fearless Friday! A Mexican, A Hippie, and A White Girl All Meet at a Hot Spring.

Fearless Friday! When You Ask A Guy to Coffee

Fearlessness isn’t the absence of fear. It’s being full of fear, full of doubt, and full of insecurities, but going for it anyways.

photoFive weeks ago, I introduced Fearless Friday and invited you all to take part in observing as I began doing things that scared me or that I have just never found the time to do. Unlike the last two weeks,  this one didn’t fall into the lazy category but more of the, “I might vomit everywhere if I do this” category.

When I posted the first Fearless Friday blog, I received multiple texts and messages about one particular one on my list: asking a guy to coffee. My best friends thought I was crazy and basically said that they’d believe it when they see it. Why is asking a guy to coffee so scary? Back home, I have multiple guy friends and I don’t even think twice when asking them if they want to hang out. But times have changed. Why? Because I’m in ministry school. In ministry school, if you compliment a guy he thinks you want to marry him.

I’ve grown to really resent the way relationships are handled in this type of environment. At first I didn’t know about this unspoken rule and found myself being the object of investigation by other females after being spotted talking to a guy. Oh my gosh, you like him! Do you think you’d be compatible? What is the Lord saying about this? Calm down guys. Literally all I did was ask him when our homework is due. Would we be compatible? Probably not. I mean, he hasn’t even started his own homework that’s due tomorrow and I can’t handle that lack of commitment. What is the Lord saying? That he should probably do his homework and that I need new friends.

Ugh, this is exhausting. I mean, we’re all supposed to form “community” but I feel like my community is more like a nunnery. So, when planning my Fearless Friday journey, I decided that I was tired of this 11th commandment of “Thou shall not speaketh to a male unless first spoken to.” I threw my hands up in the ayre-ayre and said to myself, “What would Beyonce do?!”

So the weeks passed and I avoided this particular one. I had some guys in mind to ask, but they were all either severely younger than me or they had a girlfriend. In other words, they were SAFE. My annoying roommate kept telling me that I had to be fearless, since it’s called Fearless Friday. Ugh, Audrey. Can’t you just leave me alone and go make salsa?

I finally decided that I just had to do it. I decided to ask a guy who I went to school with last year. I never spoke to him much, but I always really respected what he had to say, plus I had some legitimate questions to ask him. But I was still incredibly nervous asking him! So, I had a moment of bravery and sent him a facebook message asking if he wanted to go for coffee. I know, asking over a facebook message is kinda the easy way out, but it was that or drive to his house and I’m not completely insane.  Immediately after I sent him the message I thought, “Wait, what did I just do? I hardly know him! What if he thinks I’m crazy?!” Basically, I imagined him seeing my message and this being his reaction:

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Or this:

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Or even this:

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe those were his reactions but I wasn’t there so who really knows.  I felt like I was back in the third grade when you write a note to someone you want to be friends with, fold it up, and when they open it they are given the two options: ” Do you want to play with me at recess? Circle yes or no.” That is actually how my best friend, Kainos, and I became friends. I gave her a note asking if she wanted to play on the slide with me. She circled yes and now 20 years later we are the best of friends. Except now instead of asking her if she wants to hang out, I force her and she obliges because that’s what best friends do.

Anyways, he responded and said sure (not the rude and demeaning reaction I made up in my head!) and we set up a time, date, place, etc.  We met and I pulled a Taylor Swift and said, “I will have to blog about this” but unlike Taylor, I’m not making millions off of some innocent guy. Basically what I learned is that this really ridiculous fear I had ended up not being anything at all!  I asked him about his business he is running and he offered me some advice on some things I am working on. We talked about some other things as well and he ended up encouraging me in things more than he will know.   At the end of the day, I made a new friend and fear would have prevented me from doing that. Isn’t it funny how fear works? We spend so much time and energy thinking about the worst case scenario only to find that it’s all a made up illusion.  I fear that people won’t like me or won’t want to talk to me and so by not reaching out to people, I stay protected. That self protection will guarantee that we will never be hurt, but it will also guarantee that we will never be loved.

What things are you avoiding in order to stay protected? My challenge to you is to take a risk. Very few things are as scary as they may seem.

So, that’s one more thing I can cross off my list. Here’s what I have left:

1. Go to dinner by myself.

2. Ask a guy to coffee. 

3. Cook a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook.

4. Go on an overnight trip by myself. 

5. Go a week without a phone.

6. Sing at an open mic night.

7. Go to a spin class by myself.

8. Go to two hot yoga classes in a day.

9. Make and follow a schedule for a week.

10. Finish a song.

11. Take a trip to the hot springs.

12. Pick a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin pie.

13. Host a dinner party.

14. Pick a DIY craft from Pinterest and actually do it. 

15. Volunteer somewhere (like a women’s shelter or food bank) for a day. 

16. Give someone a compliment or tell them something encouraging about themselves once a day for a week.

Wish me luck!

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share it on Facebook, twitter, google+, or whatever else you’d like!

If you liked this post, you might like: Fearless Friday! A Hippie, A Mexican, and A Hot Spring or Fearless Friday!