Why I Love Valentine’s Day Even Though I’m Single ;) #MyConfessions

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love LOVE. <3 There is no shortage of hearts, the color red, or love in marquee lights in my home. I’ve always had a thing for the L-word. Hence the romance writing but the most beautiful thing about love is that it is more than hearts and flowers or lovey-dovey hugs and kisses. (Not that those things aren’t awesome cause they are.) Love is opening the door for someone. Love is mowing the lawn. Love is doing or saying something to help someone else. Love is being an encourager and sometimes it is being the person who listens and gives a shoulder to cry on. Love is an endless list of actions.

V-Day isn’t about the flowers, the chocolates, the jewelry, or all of those ways the world has commercialized love. You can’t buy love. You can buy lust but true love is a rare thing that cannot be purchased. It is found, fostered, and grown. It is something we spend so much of our time seeking that we often miss the fact it’s on our doorstep.

I’m learning that we need love from different sources—from our parents, our family, our friends (younger, older, and our own age), our significant others, and ourselves. I wasn’t able to fully love myself until I discovered the love that resides inside me through my faith, which has carried me through some seriously awful days and some amazing days, too. I’m incredibly thankful my heart was opened to that love.

Love has taught me that to live a fulfilled, bold life of purpose that I need the love and support of YOU. We are all connected. We need fellowship. We need encouragement. And no matter how independent we think we are, we do our best work when we work together. We need each other.

So like Thanksgiving is that holiday that reminds us to be thankful for at least one day (even if we should be filled with gratitude every day) Valentine’s Day is a holiday to remind us to love. And while all those gifts you buy at the store are wonderful and sweet, remember it’s of no monetary sacrifice to give the greatest gift of all—your love. The world needs more love and I’ll preach that until my dying day or until we live in a kind, peaceful, loving world, whichever comes first.

I know this day can be a difficult day for some. Believe me, I haven’t forgotten those first gut wrenching V-Days after losing Chris. They sucked. And if I hadn’t found a way to love myself or pour my heart into those around me and shift my perspective on this day, then I’d still be in that rough spot.

If this day is a tough one for you here’s a few things that helped me through:

Love never dies. It only changes forms.

Hearts take time to mend. Hearts take time to heal. Be patient with yourself and others.

You are loved. Repeat this until you believe it. Sometimes our heads can be stubborn.

And of course, never give up on your always and forever. Love covers a multitude of sins and hurts. Love heals the soul. I know this because I’m living proof.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for all the love you pour into my life! I wouldn’t be me without YOU!

#LoveHugsAndSunshine #NeverGiveUpOnYourAlwaysAndForever #YouGetWhatYouGive #GiveLove #FindYourShine

My Confessions on Strength #Faith #DontBeSillyBeStrong #ShareTheResponsiblity #MyConfessions

It’s been too long since I’ve sat down to write, but any absence from the keyboard seems too long. Things have been a whirlwind of busy and beauty both of which I’m incredibly thankful for. Many of you have had the chance to read How I Learned to Shine Again and your responses have been overwhelming. My heart continues to grow in order to hold all the gifts you’ve given me. <3 One sentiment continues to overwhelm me, which is the reason I’m tapping away at the keyboard this morning.

Strength. You repeatedly compliment my strength. It both baffles me and warms my heart. It’s prompted to me to consider the meaning of strength.

I used to think that strength meant you had it all figured out, nothing worried you, and you could handle every thing that came your way all by yourself. Haha! That’s a good one! That’s a bit more arrogance than strength. With the passage of time and life experiences I started to believe that strength is knowing you can do everything on your own but not being afraid to let others help you accomplish your goals. Still a little bit of underlying arrogance there.

So what in the world do I think strength is? Strength is knowing we can’t do life by ourselves. It’s knowing that yes we can survive on our own but if we want to thrive we need others. Strength comes from knowing we don’t have it all together—we never will but that isn’t going to stop us from learning and trying to get better with every passing day. But most of all strength is having the humility to ask for help AND to accept it.

You see, strength is all about humility. It is knowing we don’t have all the answers and we need help. For me that help comes from God and when I turn towards Him, He provides the strength. The strength you see in me comes from Him. Yes, I took the step to accept it but it’s not my own power. In the same token, I’ve learned that I need Him and I need YOU. We need each other. We weren’t intended to do this alone, there may be times of solitude but when the opportunity for partnerships, relationships, friendships, or whatever you want to call the give and take reliance with another human being, we must allow it in.

I’ve watched God move people in and out of my life and what I’ve come to realize is I need them. I often say, “I wouldn’t be me without you.” That is so incredibly true. My strength is not my own. It comes from above and is amplified through the relationships I have with you.

It’s difficult to submit to a relationship, to allow another person fully into your life. It’s a process and one that does need to come with some safeguards and lots of prayer. Sometimes we have those divine connections in our lives and there is a level of ease and in those extra special circumstances it’s so effortless we can’t help but question if it’s real. But when that happens don’t run, instead embrace it. Those bonds are the true blessings of this world.

This little illustration comes to mind when thinking about strength.

Have you ever had to carry all the groceries in by yourself? You’re fumbling through the door with bags piled on both arms because we have that “if you can’t do it in one trip you’re a failure” mentality or we’re just lazy and don’t want to make multiple trips to the car. Regardless, you’ve got all of these bags making you three times wider than the door frame and somehow you’re attempting to reach for the door knob, while cushioning the eggs and bread. Then you shimmy sideways through the doorway dodging the pets and/or children attempting to jump on you or trip you as you make your trek from the door to the kitchen. You get the visual?

Your roommate looks at you and asks, “Can I help you with that?”

“No, I’ve got this.” You reply as you attempt to fumble to the counter. Because if you would’ve allowed the roomie’s help you would be admitting “one trip defeat” besides during the hand off they might smash the bread or something.

You reach the kitchen and attempt to untangle yourself from the mess of plastic bags that have now left lovely red stripes up and down your arms. You start unpacking your spoils only to realize you’ve smashed the bread and broke a few eggs. Ugh.

Think about how this looks—silly right and a bit stupid. You just damaged your groceries because you were too stubborn to let someone help you.

What am I trying to say? It’s silly, senseless, and a bit reckless to try to do everything on our own. Let me clarify real quick, I’m not saying you should expect everyone to do everything for you—that’s laziness. I’m saying you have to let people in, let God in, and you’ll find things become a lot less stressful and often times you’ll become more successful. We can accomplish so much more by working together. We start to work smarter and instead of using all of our energy on one task we’re able to spread it into many tasks.

Strength isn’t doing it on your own. Strength is knowing we need help, seeking it, and providing it in return. Strength is humility and relinquishing control. Strength comes from realizing we can do nothing in our own power alone. Strength comes from sharing our hearts and working together—through all of our differences, our insecurities, our desires, and our victories. Strength is shared responsibility.

It humbles me that so many of you see me as strong, because it’s taken a lot of time, experiences, and prayer to get to a place where I can admit I need help and more importantly to begin to grasp what real strength is. I hope we all continue growing into deeper levels of our strength.

Never forget, I wouldn’t be me without you. You make me stronger. I thank God for His strength and yours always.

#LoveHugsAndSunshine #Strength #Faith #DontBeSillyBeStrong #ShareTheVictories #ShareTheStruggles #ShareResponsibility