As some of you may know, on October 2, 2019, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy we named Ezekiel. During my pregnancy, I honestly did not know what to expect once he was born. He is my first child, so I have no prior experience in raising a child. I was so focused on all the new experiences I was having while being pregnant, that I barely thought about what it was going to be like after I wasn't pregnant anymore and actually had my baby. I just could not picture what having a baby would look like in my life. Now that Ezekiel is three months old, I have learned some things that I wished I knew before I gave birth. Some things I was pleasantly surprised by, and others I was challenged by. Here's a list of just a few of the things that surprised me about having a newborn.
1.) Newborns eat A LOT.
Because newborn's stomachs are so tiny, they have to eat so many times throughout the day. Eight to twelve times a day, in fact! And since they are just starting to learn how to eat outside of the womb, they take their time eating. I felt like all I was doing in the first month or two was feeding him!
2.) Babies nap patterns are... not patterns.
Everyone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps when you are pregnant. I remember thinking, "Babies are supposed to sleep 14-17 hours a day, I don't need to sleep that long." But boy, was I wrong. The first few months are a mix of feeding the baby, changing their diaper, trying to put them to sleep, and trying to manage any sleep before they wake up again. And there is no schedule yet! They may sleep for two hours, they may sleep for 10 minutes. Every chance of sleep I had, I would try to will myself to sleep as fast as possible in fear of the baby waking up any minute.
3.) Babies may confuse night and day.
Within the first month, Ezekiel slept pretty well for a newborn. He would sleep for three or four hours straight at night, and while I was still exhausted, I got a decent amount of sleep. Then enter his second month. Somehow, he got his days and nights mixed up, and our schedules were all off. I was up until 5 am with him almost every night, trying to get him to fall asleep, only for him to then sleep through much of the day. It was hard to get out of the cycle, but we finally made it. He now sleeps 10 hours through the night! Hallelujah!
4.) The days just fly by.
In between taking care of the baby, cleaning the house, making meals, and getting schoolwork done, the day is over before you know it! One minute you are just waking up, and the next, you are eating dinner! Half the time, I don't even know what day it is.
5.) How much a smile can brighten your day.
Ezekiel started smiling right around six weeks old. This was right in the middle of his sleepless night period. And boy, did his smiles come at a perfect time. A baby's little gummy smile can brighten your whole day up in just a moment! When I was exhausted and felt like I couldn't do anything more, his small smile would keep me going.
6.) How much you can love your child.
You always hear about how much mothers love their children. But I had no idea what kind of deep love you would feel until I experienced it myself. It is crazy how you can love this little baby, who has no ability to love us back, so much. I think it gives us just a small glimpse of how God feels towards us. He loves the whole world, even those who don't love him back. Oh, what a love that is.
These are just a few of the things that I have learned through motherhood so far! You hear about most of them, but it is a whole other thing to experience them yourself. I am only three months in, and I know I will continue to learn more and more about motherhood every day. I am so excited to watch Ezekiel grow up and see all that God has in store for him. Did you have any surprises when you became a mother? Leave a comment down below! I would love to read others, so I don't feel like I was the only naive one!
There once was a boy whose biggest dream was to be on TV one day. In sixth grade, he had an assignment. The assignment was simply to write on a piece of paper your name and what you wanted to be. This boy wrote "I want to be on TV." He was the last student in class to stand up and read out his answer to the class. After reading his answer, the boy was called up to the front of the class by his teacher. Feeling proud, he walked up to the front, thinking his answer was the best and he was going to get rewarded.
But boy, was he wrong.
Instead, the teacher called him up to the front to humiliate him. "Why did you write this? Who do you know that's ever been on TV?" This little boy already had a stuttering problem, and due to the humiliation, he couldn't get a word out. "You can't even talk, how do you expect to be on TV?" She replied to his stutters. He was devestated.
Fast forward to his late twenties. He had been living in his car for three years, trying to start a comedy career. He would bathe in fancy hotels' public bathrooms with fancy linens towels, wet them in the sink with soap, go the stalls, and wash his body. One day, a convention was in town. With the flood of people coming in and out of the bathroom, he got stuck in the stall for a while. He sat down on the toilet and started crying. He couldn't take it anymore. He called home to an answering machine that his parents had set up for him. This answering machine was specifically for people trying to reach him. On the answering machine was a special message. It was from Chuck Sutton from Showtime at the Apollo in New York. He said, "We saw a tape of you and want you to come perform Sunday night. We're going to put you on TV." He heard this message on Thursday. He had a total of twenty-five dollars and was down in Florida. What seemed to be possibly the greatest break of his life was so close and yet so far.
He went back to his car and cried again. He said, "God, how could you do this to me? This is my biggest dream, and yet I can't even make it?" He decided to listen to the recording one more time, just to make sure it was that Sunday. Sure enough, it was that Sunday, only three days away. But just as he was about to hang up, he heard a beep, meaning he had another message. The message was a request for him to do a gig in Florida, close to where he was, and was going to pay $150 for Friday night. He called back immediately and agreed to do the show. After doing the show, the crowd loved him so much that the club owner asked him to do another show the next night for another $150. He called Chuck Sutton, and the next day, he was on a plane to New York. On the plane, he wrote a very specific joke.
That night, on TV, he told that joke. And that was the joke that made him famous. He has been on TV ever since that night.
His name is Steve Harvey.
Imagine if Steve let his sixth-grade teacher crush his dreams. He could have thought, "You're right. How is this little stuttering boy from this small town ever going to make it on TV?" Imagine if after a few months of living in his car, Steve said, "Forget this comedy stuff. It's never going to happen at this rate." But Steve never gave up. He knew his calling in life was to be a comedian and have an impact on TV. He knew his passions so well that he did not let anyone stop him. He was the only one who saw his dream the way he did, and he didn't let anyone who couldn't see his dream stop him.
We can all learn a lesson from Steve. Life throws everything at us to try to discourage us from pursuing our dreams. But the ones who keep pursuing, the ones who don't let discouragement take them down, those are the ones we hear about. Those are the ones who successfully achieve their dreams. Discouragement is inevitable. Plans will fail, people will be negative. It's how we chose to react to the discouragement that defines our character. Will we allow people's negative reactions to stop us from pursuing our God-given dreams and goals?
God didn't forget about Steve in those three years of homelessness, even though that's exactly the way Steve felt. God has not forgotten you in the times when you felt lost, discouraged, and hopeless. Rather, He is preparing you for the very thing you were made to do. Don't let discouragement drag you down. Take it as a growing experience that will launch you into your future success. Trust God and don't give up.
If you want to hear more on Steve and his story, watch these videos. I highly recommend them, as they are very inspirational.
Steve's sixth grade assignment
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You've gotten inspired by other's vision boards and are ready to make your own. But with so many options for how to make them, it is hard to know where to start. In this post, I lay out a step-by-step process for how I made my vision board. I am in love with my board and have already seen things come to pass that I placed on the board not too long ago. I decided to go with a digital vision board, as I find there are many more options online in regards to pictures and words, but this process can still be applied to physical boards! Or, you can make the digital vision board, print it out, and frame it if you want to place it somewhere around your house or office.
Step 1: Choose a Timeframe
Vision boards are very personalized and can be made to your desires. The first step is to decide how long you want to give yourself to achieve these dreams. Are you going with goals that you want to accomplish within the next month? Next year? Next five years? Over your lifetime? I suggest planning somewhere in between one and five years, as it will give you enough time to follow your big goals while still having a deadline. Too small of a deadline tends to limit the options for a big board that tends to be more permanent, while no deadline gives no motivation to get moving on your dreams. But it's up to you! I went with a one-year board for 2019.
Step 2: Make Categories and Goals
Planning out goals can be more challenging than it seems. You have a bunch of ideas, but when you sit down to list your goals, suddenly your mind goes empty. A good way to begin is to start with categories. In what major areas of your life do you want to accomplish your goals? Mine consists of health/fitness, relationships, faith, business, and personal. Once you have your categories down, list a few goals under each one. Make sure to make these goals specific! Broad goals are harder to get motivated for, whereas specific goals give you an exact idea of what you want to accomplish. Instead of listing "lose," list "lose 15 pounds." The more specific, the better!
Step 3: Find Pictures
Once you have your goals listed, it's time to find pictures that match. My favorite website to do so is Pinterest, as I find it has prettier and lighter pictures. However, Google Images is always a good option as well. Wherever you decide to find your pictures, find specific pictures that match with your goals. Pictures that when you look at them, you know exactly what the goal is. Along with pictures, find words that match your themes and bring inspiration and encouragement. When you find pictures you like, save the images to your computer and store them all in a folder for easy organization. This will help make a much easier process later on. Labeling each picture individually on your computer is optional. I did this as it helped my brain organize topics, but it is not necessary. I suggest finding light and airy pictures, as it will make the board easier and more appealing to look at. Or, choose a color theme and stick with pictures within the theme. This will make it more challenging to find the pictures you want, but if you are dedicated, you can make it work well.
Step 4: Set Up the Collage Background
Once you have all your pictures, you are ready to start making your collage. There are multiple places online to make free collages, but my personal favorite is BeFunky. For the rest of this post, that is the website I will be explaining. Once on the website, click "Get Started" and chose the "Create a Collage" option.
It will give you a layout, but in order to make our vision board,
we will be using our own layout. Go to the Layout tab on
the sidebar and chose "Create your Own."
If you are happy with the size, then you are ready to go. If you
want the collage to be a different size or specific shape, go to
the Customize tab and type in the exact measurements.
For example, I use my vision board as my computer background, so I set the width and height to my computer screen measurements. You can do the same for your phone screen or a picture frame you have if you are choosing to print it out.
Step 5: Download your Pictures
Next, go back to the Image Manager tab and hit the green button labeled "Computer." Open up your folder and download all the images you saved previously. They will all pop up right underneath the button. If you wish, you may also find more pictures using the Stock Image button below the green button. It may be hard to find specific pictures, but they are great quality pictures, so it's worth a look.
Step 6: Design your Board!
From here, it's all up to you! Simply drag the images onto the board and arrange to your desire. My personal preference is to leave a little white space in between each picture for a light, clean look. Separate your different major topics (Relationships, faith, etc.) into different sections of the board and add text to define which sections are which. For example, make the top right corner your Health and Fitness section. Arrange all your health and fitness pictures into the right corner and type out the word "Health" to place in that section. Have fun with this step! In the end, it should look something like this.
My personal vision board for 2019
Step 7: Save and Place
The last step is the most vital. Make sure to save your vision board! The website allows you to save to your board to your computer as well as Google Drive, if you wish. After saving it, pick your desired location. Set it as your phone or computer background or print it out for a physical copy. Wherever you place it, make sure you place it somewhere you will see it often. A vision board is pointless if you don't ever look at it!
And there you have it! Your own personal vision board. Vision boards do not have any power in and of themselves, but when you see your dreams and goals laid out before your eyes, you have more motivation to chase after them yourselves. I hope this post was helpful to you! Subscribe to my email list here to get updates on my newest posts and the announcement for my online shop's grand opening! Have a topic you'd like me to cover? Comment it down below!
You just got engaged, congratulations! But let's face it, wedding planning can easily become overwhelming. There's a reason bridezilla is a thing, right? When I got married last year, I didn't even know where to start. I did not have the budget to hire a wedding planner, so I was left on my own to figure out what I needed to do. After months of going through different websites to help me plan, I gathered a list of the most useful websites to help plan your wedding.
Zola is the first place you should start in planning your wedding online. Zola offers everything you need to get started, from creating your wedding website, to a checklist of all the planning that needs to get done, to creating an online registry. While I did not use all the resources available on the site, I absolutely love how organized it got me. You can customize the checklist as much or as little as you'd like, and after putting in your wedding date, it will give you a timeframe and order of how to plan. Zola is a great place to start.
Vistaprint is a great place to get your wedding invitations. They also offer save the dates, reception cards, thank you notes, wedding programs, dinner menus, and more, all of which you can match with the same theme. It is an easy process that allows anyone to design a beautiful wedding invitation. With cheap prices and great deals, Vistaprint is a great under-the-radar website for weddings that I highly suggest.
3.) The Knot
The Knot is another website similar to Zola. It allows for many planning tools, and while I did not personally use it for planning, I know multiple friends who have loved it. What I did use the Knot for was the free articles and inspiration they offer. One of the articles that helped me the most was a general wedding day timeline. They cover every topic you could possibly think of. Whether you need inspiration for wedding colors, tips for how to budget, or help on how to build a guest list, The Knot has you covered.
Not sure if I even have to mention this one, but in case you've missed the memo, Pinterest is THE place to go for wedding inpsiration. Pinterest is a search engine like Google, but it combines the images, shopping, and news all into one! Find decoration ideas, wedding dress inspiration, and more with just a few words search. Specify the season, the colors, whatever you want, and Pinterest will do the rest for you. The options are endless!
Etsy is a great website to find unique items for your wedding. With a myriad of individual sellers, Etsy offers many personalized items that can be perfect for your wedding! Most items are homemade, so you can be guaranteed to get special items catered to your specific requests. But just because they come from individual sellers does not mean they are cheaply made! You can discover beautiful finds. My personal favorite wedding items found on this website are the cake toppers!
6.) The Venue Report
Not sure where to book your wedding venue? The Venue Report has got you covered! Simply type in the location of where you would like to get married, and easily find venues, hotels, restaurants, and more in that area. You can instantly see pictures, capacity, and pricing all in one place. With different filters such as price range, guest count, and venue type, The Venue Report makes finding a venue easier than ever before.
7.) Google Docs
Google Docs is the number one website that will help you get organized. With the ability to share your documents with others, you can share the guest list with your finacé, the dress options with your bridesmaids, and every other detail planning you can think of with your wedding planner (if you chose to have one). It may be a simple website, but it comes in handy when you are planning so many different things at once!
And there you have it! Those were the seven most useful websites I found during my time of wedding planning. After testing out multiple websites and apps and filtering through them, I found that these were the most helpful in all my wedding needs. While some are simple, I found the simplest websites to be the most efficient. Do not get disheartened or overwhelmed by all the planning. Take it step-by-step and you can do it! If I planned a wedding on my own (which mind you, I had never been to a wedding before my own) in only five months, then you definitely can! Happy wedding planning, and again, congratulations!
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We all want to be successful in life. Success is defined as "the accomplishment of an aim or purpose." The late Maya Angelou defined success as this: "Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." Sounds like an ideal life, right? While success may look different for everybody, there are common themes found in those who the world calls "successful." After reading many articles and watching many informative videos, I began to see a theme in many of the small habits. Here are 10 themes found in the lives of successful people that we can all implement into our own lives.
1.) Successful People are Goal-Oriented.
Successful people do not just wander around and somehow gain success along the way. They have goals that they want to accomplish. They know what their priorities are and how to do their most important things first. They set specific goals that they want to accomplish and make a plan for how to carry out that goal step-by-step.
"All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do." -Norman Vincent Peale, minister and author of The Power of Positive Thinking
2.) Successful People Write Things Down.
Not only do successful people have goals, but they write these goals down. They write down daily to-do lists in order to organize their thoughts and prioritize best. Writing things down helps to clear your mind and record everything that has your attention. It helps you not to forget the tasks you need to accomplish. Overall, not only does writing make your goals and tasks more clear, but it motivates you to do them! Those who write down their goals are 42% more likely to accomplish them, according to a study done by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California.
"By recording your goals and dreams on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be." -Mark Victor Hansen, speaker, trainer, and author of Chicken Soup for the Soul
3.) Successful People have Self-Discipline.
Successful people practice self-discipline and take full responsibility for themselves. They take care of their important tasks first and leave their not-so-important tasks for later. They realize that they have full responsibility not in how life treats them, but how they respond to life circumstances. They practice saying no to things that do not matter in order to accomplish their goals and yes to things that help further their goals. Ultimately, they know how to manage their time well.
"Success doesn't just happen. You have to be intentional about it, and that takes discipline." -John C. Maxwell, pastor and author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
4.) Successful People Read.
Successful people chose to read books that will educate them and help them grow. There are books on almost any topic you'd like to learn about, and successful people do not put these books to waste. Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, Mark Zuckerberg, and more all claim to have reading goals. Even upon not obtaining a college degree, many obtain success purely from reading books. In response to the question of how to gain success, Warren Buffet pointed to his stack of books.
"Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it." -Warren Buffett, business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
5.) Successful People have Healthy Morning Routines.
Set morning routines are a common theme found in successful people. They wake up at the same time every day, often early before the rest of the world rises. They eat a healthy breakfast to start the day. They exercise to start their day off with motivation. They make sure they got an adequate amount of sleep the night before to keep them strong throughout the day. They often journal and have quiet time to themselves and with their families before starting their work day. This reminds them of the importance of doing what they are doing in life. They have time to plan for the day and are ready to start the day effectively by the time they need to start working. Having a healthy morning routine helps to keep them in a set routine day-to-day and allows their creativity to begin to flow from the moment they wake up.
"When I follow my routine, I feel on top of the world. Regardless of what the day has in store for me, I feel accomplished and in control." - Todd Davis, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at FranklinCovey
6.) Successful People Take Risks.
Successful people are not too scared to take risks. They realize that great opportunities are available at the sake of taking risks. Their risk-taking makes them stand out and shows confidence. They run after opportunities and pursue hard things. They realize that playing it safe is not always the way to go. But they do not take risks uninformed. They do their research before going all in on a risky deal or choice.
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go."
-T.S. Eliot, twentieth century poet, playwright, and social critic
7.) Successful People Keep Going after Failures and Setbacks.
Because successful people often take risks, they are bound to deal with failures and setbacks. What sets successful people apart, however, is that they keep on going! They do not allow the discouragement to overtake them, but rather come back knowing they have learned a lesson that will help them in the future. They take the failure as the catapult to new and different opportunities.
"I am always doing what I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." -Pablo Picasso, artist, poet, and playwright
8.) Successful People Practice Gratitude.
Successful people realize that gratitude is a choice, and they practice this choice daily. They realize that they can choose to be thankful for the blessings in their lives. They chose to focus on the good instead of the bad. They are constantly finding the positive in situations instead of complaining about the negatives. When they find a negative, they look for ways to improve it instead of drowning in their sorrows. They keep gratitude journals so they are constantly faced with choosing gratefulness.
"Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life." -Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, producer, actress, and philanthropist
9.) Successful People Surround Themselves with Like-Minded People.
Those who are successful realize the importance of surrounding themselves with others who will lift them up and be excited about their dreams as well. They do not allow negative people to have a large space in their life. They know people personally who will be with them through their progress, and they follow others who are goal-oriented and chase after their dreams. They realize the influence those around them have on themselves, and they chose their friends and role models carefully.
"You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that challenge you to rise higher, people that make you better. Don't waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important." -Joel Osteen, pastor, televangelist, and author
10.) Successful People are Generous.
Generosity is a common trait among successful people. They chose to share their success with others and find ways to help out those in need. They do not wait until they are rich to give, but rather practice generosity from the beginning of their career until the end. They know that they have the power to help others and chose to act on that power instead of abusing it.
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." -Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the UK, statesman, army officer, and writer
And just as a bonus, here's one more.
11.) Successful People Do What They Love.
Ultimately, successful people pursue what they love and are passionate about. This love and passion rubs off on all their work and becomes obvious to others. When pursuing what they love, they are more optimistic, productive, and enthusiastic to learn and grow. They have a joy for their life and dedicate themselves to what they truly love to do. They realize this is the key step for all other success to follow.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do." -Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., business magnate, and investor
These eleven tips are concepts that we can all implement into our lives if we truly want success. Success is a very vague term, but my hope is that by reading this article, you have discovered what success means for you. Success is not about how much money you make or how high up in the world you can get, but finding personal satisfaction with the life God has given you while actively pursuing the dreams He has placed inside of you. So go on, be successful!
Nausea. Every night for a week. I hoped I was not getting sick, as the new semester was just beginning and I could not afford to take a sick day yet. Luckily, it only hit me at night, so I was able to push through the week. By the next week, the nausea was gone, and I went on with my life like usual without much thought.
The next week, I got caught up in the world of pregnancy announcements on YouTube. "Telling my husband I'm pregnant," "My family's reaction to my pregnancy," and "My reaction to finding out I'm pregnant" videos filled my week. I have no idea why, or how I even got caught up in them. But I got so into every one and couldn't help but dream about that women in the video being me one day. Would I cry when I find out? I didn't think so, I thought I would just be so excited and happy.
The week after that, I am late for my cycle. Not too weird, right? It's normal to be a few days early or late. The thought of being pregnant crossed my mind as I remembered the nausea, but I thought, no way. As the week progressed and I still had not started my cycle, my thoughts of being pregnant became more frequent. Can it actually be possible?
One night that week, I decide to look up early pregnancy symptoms, just for the heck of it. A few common symptoms listed were missed cycles, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. I acknowledged that I had dealt with all those things recently, but I also realized that those things could just be the cause of a normal sickness. But one article caught me eye. It listed weird early symptoms that are not often talked about. Curiously, I clicked on it to see what kind of weird symptoms would be listed.
Dizziness? Check. Metal taste in the mouth? Check. Nosebleeds? Check (which mind you, I never get nosebleeds). Stuffy nose? Check.
Okay, now it hit me. This could actually be real. What are the odds of me checking every one of these symptoms, down to the weird metal taste in my mouth? So that night, I went out and picked up a pregnancy test, still with a huge doubt in my mind that I was actually pregnant. Instantly upon arriving home, I took the test. Nate and I eagerly waited for the next few minutes to pass as directed by the instructions. I couldn't help thinking about how exciting it would be to actually have a baby, even though it was not in our plans.
The timer went off. Nate and I instantly looked at each other and paused for a minute. Out of Nate's eagerness and me not knowing how to move, Nate looked at the test first. And after ten seconds of him making sure he was reading the test right and me standing by in utter suspense, he said two words.
My first reaction was that he was joking. You see, Nate likes to make jokes and mess around with me, and I thought this was just another joke before he said, "Just kidding!" But after a few seconds of him not admitting his joke, I quickly went over to him and grabbed the pregnancy test. And well, I suppose you know by now that Nate was not, in fact, joking. We were actually pregnant.
As soon as I looked at the positive test, I broke down into tears. So much for not crying, huh? It was as if every emotion just hit me at once, and I couldn't even stand. I was overjoyed that we were expecting, and along with just the shock of it all, my tears continued to flow for quite a while. Even though we did not plan for this, we could not stop the happiness that overtook us in that moment.
I am currently 23 weeks pregnant and am loving every minute of it. Yes, I dealt with morning sickness and all the other symptoms that come with pregnancy, but I am loving this season as I prepare to become a mother. It would be easy to be fearful in this time. Fearful that I will not be a good mother. Fearful that I am not ready to raise a child. But clearly, God knows I am ready. And when God orchestrates something, I can rest in peace. Peace knowing that God's timing is best and He will walk with me through this next stage of life.
Never in my life did I expect to find out I was pregnant at 19 years old. I always assumed my life timeline would go something like this: graduate college with a degree in Elementary Education, begin my teaching career, meet the love of my life and get married, and then have children. Now, if any of you have been following my life journey over the past few years, you would know that is not exactly how my life turned out. I am currently 20 years old, a junior in college pursuing a business degree, married to the love of my life, and expecting my first child. While it is not the life I envisioned growing up, I could not be happier with where I am in life right now. God's plan was quite different than mine. He knows what is best for us far more than we do for ourselves. I have found that this is a key lesson to living life with peace.
This past weekend I made a major life choice: I decided to change my major from Elementary Education to Business. Now, I did not go into the weekend thinking that I was going to change my major. I did not even go into the weekend thinking about college at all. It's summer break, and after finishing off a tough semester, college was the last thing I wanted to be actively thinking about. But somehow, the topic of my major came up when talking to my husband, and all at once, I began questioning everything. Over the course of just one day, it became so evident to me that I had to change my major. I felt like my blinders had been taken off and I could see the path I was to follow now. I realized that a lifetime of passion had been leading up to this degree. Let me explain.
Ever since I was a little girl, I had a business mindset. I still have a sketch I made when I was about seven years old of a little boutique I wanted to open one day. I had the whole store designed, products listed, and prices for the products. For the years following, every time summer break would come around, I would pretend to open up little companies and clubs and sell items to my brother. I had full binders worth of information on the company, coupons, goods sold, and services provided. I remember printing out fake business cards and feeling so professional. You see, running a business had been a dream of mine all the way back to seven-year-old me.
As I became a teenager, I started working in children's ministries and realized my love for children. I enjoyed being able to lead and have an impact on the kids. And as I grew up, I let go of my childhood games of opening a business and began focusing on my journey with children. However, the business passion never left the back of my mind. I would watch Youtubers and follow women on Instagram who had started their own little side companies and would dream about one day having my own business. Every time I met someone who had started their own company, I was instantly intrigued and wanted to hear about how they started.
When I was an older teenager, I watched a Hallmark movie called The Bridge. And while the main premise of the movie was a love story between the two main characters, as all Hallmark movies are, that was not what kept the movie in my mind in the days to follow. Instead of dreaming about meeting my true love, I was dreaming about opening a little bookstore and café like they had in the movie. This bookstore had such a cozy setting, and the owners knew all their customers and took the time to talk to everyone who came in. It really made an impact on me. That became my ultimate dream in life, to open up a place like that. I began looking up how to start your own business, but I quickly became overwhelmed by all of the information and actions that needed to be done, and I let that crash on my dream.
When it came time to pick my major for college, I sat at my computer for a minute and thought. At the time, it seemed like Elementary Education was a given. I had been working with children for years at that point and knew I enjoyed doing it. I got joy out of being a positive influence for the younger ones around me. So I went with Elementary Education with the thought of, "I don't know what else I would pick." Business was in the back of my mind, as always, but I brushed it aside quickly, not thinking it was actually realistic. I went with the safe option.
Starting off college with all my general education courses, I was still excited to start my Education classes. But when I read questions and heard videos of people talking about dreaming big in life, I always knew my ultimate dream was to run a business one day. I planned to teach for a little bit and then pursue my dream. As I finally began to take a few education classes, I enjoyed them. I took away a lot about life and how children think.
But as I realized the other day, that is all I enjoyed about them. I liked learning about children and how to care for them, and I liked learning about how to show love to others and spread Jesus through our actions. But I did not like learning about how to deal with children in a classroom. I began to finally get a picture of what my life would look like, going into a classroom every day and being prepared to teach and care for a full room of students - every. single. day. The thought became less and less appealing to me. And while I had been slowly realizing that throughout the semester, I was scared to admit it. I was scared to admit that my whole life plan as of the last few years could completely change. I was comfortable staying in my zone, doing something I know I would at least be decent at.
On Saturday, I woke up only thinking about my plans for the day. And for whatever reason for that particular morning, I believe God put a revelation on my heart. Everything hit me at once. I had been getting less and less excited to teach. I had a passion for business since a young age. I have enjoyed my economic classes that taught about businesses. My dreams all consist of running my own business. So why in the world was I majoring in Elementary Education?!?!
While I began to get these thoughts, I shared a bit with Nate, my husband, and he asked such a simple question. "What gets you more excited - going into a classroom every day and teaching kids, or going into a business every day and running it?" Instantly, I started to say business without even thinking about it for more than a second, but I caught myself and stopped. It scared me to admit what I knew was true. But as I prayed and thought about it all day, I just knew. I knew this was the path I needed to go on. And the next day, I sat down at my computer and submitted a major change form.
Now, I know it is not realistic to instantly open up a business as soon as I graduate college. And I am okay with that. I am excited to enter the business world and learn about how a business really runs. I am excited to grow in my field and move up the ladder. And I believe God will open the doors for me when it is time to fulfill the passions He has placed inside me. I have not completely forgotten about children either! I still love children and plan on working with them throughout my life, whether that is through my church, community, or elsewhere. I just know now that I have another path to follow.
If you would have asked me two years ago where I think I would be at this point, no way in a million years would I have said married, pregnant, and pursuing a business degree. But that's the fun part about life. You can't predict anything! As much as we try to plan out our lives, God has the ultimate plan for us, and if we allow Him to, He will direct our paths. It takes a lot of faith, but following His voice will guide us in life. I was stubborn for a while and did not want to change my plans, not knowing what my future would look like. But ever since I submitted that major change form, I have felt nothing but peace and excitement for my future. I encourage you to open your hearts to God and allow Him to guide your steps in life.
I am so excited for this new journey I am headed on! I have a loving husband and family, a baby on the way, and a new passion and joy for my future career. Life is good right now, but I give all credit to God, who knows our needs best and gives them to us in His perfect timing. So here's to the future!
Shortly after fall break, my dorm room began hosting a Bible study. It started with just a few of us, but soon, more started coming. And of course, my friend had invited those two guys whose dorm room I had practically invaded. After the Bible studies, everyone would usually hang out in my room, and our Bible study group quickly became my core friend group. At first, I did not notice Nate too much. He was hilarious, that was still true, and always had me laughing. But other than that, he was just one of the friends in the group.
However, something started changing. As I got to know him more while hanging out with the group, I began noticing him more. I remember the first time I noticed him as more than a friend. We were all hanging out after Bible study, as usual, and we decided to go to this little island nearby that had a good spot for star-gazing. As my friend and I were walking along this path with a small river beside it, Nate came up behind me and pretended to push me in the river. Of course, he had my arm and I did not actually fall in, but my heart still was beating fast. Mostly due to the fact that I thought I was actually going to fall in. At least that's what I told myself. The real reason for my heart beating so fast was because of the guy who "pushed" me and was standing so close to me. We kept walking and there was a very muddy area that looked like you would sink right in if you stepped in it. So of course, being the smart person that I am, accepted a challenge by Nate to see who can take the most steps in it and make it the deepest. Now, only the feeling of liking someone would cause me to do this in my expensive, white sneakers that I was wearing (mind you, they are still dirty to this day because of this moment, never to be recovered). I honeslty have no remembrance of who won the challenge, but I remember one thing: this was the night were it all began for me. When I went to sleep that night, I thought about our time together and how much fun I had. But I brushed it off as just having a good time with a friend and very much ignored the feelings that I had felt.
This went on for a little while. I began checking how I looked before Bible study, knowing that Nate would be there. I would get excited when he finally arrived at my dorm or when he sat next to me. I would want to ride in his car when we went on group outings. And yet I would not face the fact that I was beginning to like him. My friends would ask me about him, and I said I did not like him like that. I used to read teen romances where the girl would not acknowledge the fact that she liked someone until the end, and it was like a big revelation to her when she admitted her feelings to herself. And I always used to roll my eyes and think, "How unrealistic, you obviously know when you like someone." But now I understand, and it's real!
I began to hear rumors from my friends that he liked me, but I thought they were false rumors. I was quite oblivious, when he literally did things like tossing me a friend's inhaler and saying "You take my breath away." I just assumed he was joking, or rather I couldn't accept the fact that he would actually like me. But one day, I knew it was true because I heard it from Nate himself. That's what it took for me to believe it. I remember sitting in class, having a perfectly normal day, when I received a text from Nate. This was strange because we normally did not talk one on one, and we never texted. The text said something along the lines about how we had both been hearing rumors and it would be nice for us to meet and get things straight. I read this text and started freaking out. I had to go to the bathroom and was in there for like, 15 minutes, trying to type back a good response. We agreed to meet at the school's student center later that day, and I cannot even describe how nervous I was. I honestly had no idea how this was going to go.
My heart was beating intensely as I walked to the student center. I came in and found where he was sitting, and walked over to him. His friend who he had been eating with left as I got there, and then it was awkwardly just the two of us. I sat down across from him and let him lead the conversation. He put himself out there and admitted that he was interested in getting to know me better, which was a very brave thing to do. And you know what I told him? That I didn't like him! I know, I know, I was very stupid. That would have been the perfect opportunity to face my feelings and put everything out there. But no, I was stubborn and scared to face the fact that I actually liked someone who liked me back. The real possibility of dating someone scared me, and so I hid from my feelings. But I told him that he was a nice guy and that I would give him a chance and get to know him a little more. I did not sound very hopeful though, and I told myself that I was just giving him a chance because he was a nice guy. I was so oblivious, or rather ignorant, of my feelings and continued to push them aside for quite a while.
As the months before winter break passed, Nate and I began hanging out quite often. We would get together somewhere on campus and get to know each other. We always got into quite long, deep conversations about our faith, dreams for our futures, and everything else. I even missed a mandatory hall meeting once because we were so caught up in conversation (don't worry, I didn't get in trouble). Things never felt awkward after that day we met at the student center, and our times and conversations together always flowed naturally. And he really began pursuing me. He would always open doors for me, get me medicine when I was sick, compliment me in the sweetest ways, and treat me to desserts that I wanted (let's be real, this is what really pulled me in). I had never had a guy so openly pursue me and treat me so well, and it made me feel so special. He gave me confidence in myself that I had never had before. And then winter break came. I knew by this point that I felt differently about him in a way I had never felt about anyone before.
It was the last day before I was going home for winter break, and Nate and I had an "update on feelings" talk. He confessed that his feelings were getting stronger, and you know what I said?
That I DIDN'T LIKE HIM. Go ahead, smack your head at how stupid I was. While I knew I felt differently about him, I did not exactly know how to face and explain my feelings. I did not feel how I had felt in the past with other crushes, and I thought maybe that meant I didn't like him as more than a friend. But really, I had just never experienced those deep feelings for anyone before, and was at a loss for how to deal with them. I said I was still willing to talk, but I felt awful for saying no again and did not think he would stick around.
But for some reason that I will never understand, Nate still decided to hang in there and give me my time. He never pushed me to date him or made me feel bad for my confusing feelings. Instead, he was the most patient man as he waited for me to figure out my feelings. And that month that we were apart, I came to some deep realizations. We took a short break from talking so that I could seriously think about my feelings, something I had been avoiding from the start. And as I sat down and really thought about things, I finally began to admit my feelings to myself. That time spent away from him made me realize how much I cared for him, and as I sought God's help and guidance, He really began revealing things to me. He gave me peace about the whole situation, and after talking a bit more over break, I finally knew how I felt about Nate. I began to slowly admit my feelings to Nate, and when we came back together after break, I was finally ready to say yes.
Looking back, even though I can now acknowledge how silly I was in hiding from my feelings, I know it all worked out in God's timing. Those months of us just talking and getting to know each other really set us up for a serious, intentional dating period in which we already knew each other pretty well. By the time we decided to start dating, we already knew each other's goals, dreams, and beliefs. And as we set up our relationship with Christ at the center, we quickly realized our future together. It's amazing how quickly I realized I loved him considering how long it took me to admit even liking him!
Looking back on our story, it really reminds me of the importance of turning to God and following His guidance. I was lost and confused on my own, but as I took time to really seek the Lord and His plan for me, I quickly became at peace and knew what to do. I encourage you to seek the Lord in times of confusion, and He will make your path straight.
I love you, Nate, and I cannot wait to see what else the Lord does in our lives as we are beginning to live our lives together as one.
Oh, one more thing. There was one more thing that made me sure Nate was the one for me, because it showed he could put up with my awkwardness. It was something I never realized until a while after we started dating. Remember the guy from that networking orientation, the one I talked about the weather with?
Yeah, that was Nate.
If money was not an issue, what would your biggest dreams consist of?
I've heard this question a million times before. I let my mind wander into crazy ideas, and I get excited about my passions. But then as times goes on, I remember the reality of life and quickly forget all my big hopes and dreams. I push them aside to focus on "real life." My dreams seem so unattainable sometimes that I keep them as simply that - dreams.
Can anybody relate, or is that just me?
I can't be the only one who has these big dreams inside me that don't seem plausible. But what if. What if these dreams were actually not impossible. The big ideas in my head often scare me away from the fact that normal people just like me have attained many of their own dreams similar to mine. That is clear proof that it is possible! What if all it took was a lot of work and motivation to start working on your dream? Just think of all the people who have followed their dreams and achieved them. If they gave up, the world would be a different place. Do you have the power to change the entire world through your dream? Probably not, but if achieving your dream changes the life of just one person, then you are already changing the world of that one person. Maybe you can inspire others to pursue their dreams, and it could be a cycle of dream-chasers.
I believe God has placed individual dreams inside each and every one of us, and while God helps us along the way, it is up to us to pursue them. It's not going to be easy, I can almost guarantee that. But the work will be so worth it to fulfill what God has placed in us. Now obviously not all dreams are from God, and we must evaluate our dreams before we go all out trying to achieve them. But please, do not let fear be the only thing holding you back from your dreams.
Here are some questions I ask myself before pursuing a dream:
1.) What is my end goal? What do I want to achieve?
2.) What will my strategy be? How can I realistically begin to achieve this?
3.) Am I willing to stick with this dream when hardships come? Am I fully committed to this dream and passionate enough about it to stick with it through the good and the bad?
And my most important question,
4.)Who or what is this dream really about? Do I want to achieve this goal to bring glory to myself or to the One who put this desire in me?
If I have solid and positive answers to these questions, then I say it's a good dream to reach for.
Not sure what your dreams are? Here are some future dreams of mine that I would love to achieve one day.
- Publish a book - or multiple books!
- Open up a café/mini bookstore
- Open and run a private school (with my husband)
- Adopt multiple children (also with my husband)
- Travel the world (Oh! Also with my husband)
- Build a house with secret passages (yes, I know. Try not to be jealous. Yes! With my husband.)
I do not know how I will achieve these, but I know that with God by my side, anything is possible.
So I encourage you to dream big. Write down your dreams and think about those questions above. Just by writing down your dreams, your chances of achieving them become much higher. Search up on google the power of writing down your dreams; you'll be amazed by the results.
Please, do not let the idea of impossibility stop you from chasing after your passions.
Before college started, my love life was... nonexistent. Like, literally never existed. I had never dated anyone before or even gotten anywhere close to it. I loved watching and reading love stories and dreaming about one day meeting the man God has for me. I pictured our love story so many different ways, but honestly it just seemed like a fantasy in my head that would never come true. It seemed so preposterous that anyone could like, let alone love, me romantically. I couldn’t fathom the idea of me and someone else falling in love. It sounded like a fairy tale.
But God knew what was coming.
Entering college was an interesting experience. Being at a Christian college, everyone is a little crazy at first. So many godly men and women all together, it’s any single Christian’s dream! So many of my friends were looking out for all the cute guys. But coming from the success I had in relationships in the past, I wasn’t really too crazy about meeting anyone. The thought of any guy liking me still seemed impossible. I figured I would eventually meet the guy that God has for me, maybe towards the end of college or the beginning of my career. But for now, dating still seemed like a dream, and so while my friends were obsessing over boys, I just listened to them and helped them out. I barely even talked to any guys that first week of orientation. Just stuck to what I was comfortable with, me and the girls.
I even remember the first conversation I had with a guy that week. It wasn’t even on my own, it was literally a forced conversation. I was in one of my orientation seminars about networking, and we had to find someone near us to have a converstion with. The first one I talked to was my friend next to me. We chatted carelessly and didn’t take it seriously. But then we had to do it again. And this time, I didn’t have another friend near me. I frantically looked around to see everyone pairing up, and started getting stressed when I realized I would have no one to pair up with. Until everyone around me but one person was left. And just my luck, it was a boy. After sharing names and majors, we quickly ran out of things to say. I tried not to be too awkward, but let’s be real here, there was a reason no one dated me for 18 years. I literally ended up talking about the weather. Yes, seriously, the WEATHER. How awkward could I be? After totally humiliating myself in that conversation, I quickly turned back to the front and moved on from that embarrassing moment. I decided to block out that conversation in my head.
That was exactly why I avoided boys.
The first few weeks was a blur of new classes and people. I started to form a friend group, and we grew close really quickly. I even wanted to come back from fall break early, just to hang out with them. The weekend that I came back, right before classes started back up again, my friends and I decided to carve pumpkins. This was a big deal for me considering I had never carved a pumpkin before, so this was a pretty exciting night for me. I am kind of an artsy person, so my pumpkin turned out... not horrible. I guess it was somewhat cute, having a cat face on it, but definitely not a masterpiece or anything. Well, by the end of the carving, I began to need to use the bathroom. But since my friend and I were about to go back to my room, I figured I would just use it there.
On the way back, however, some of my friends got sidetracked in a conversation with someone in the hallway. I had noticed another friend in someone's dorm while we were walking down the hallway, so I slipped out of the hallway to say hi to my friend in the dorm. Pretty bold for me considering I just walked into some random guy's dorm, even though the door was propped open. There were two guys in the room along with my one friend. The one guy I somewhat knew from mutual friends, but the other I didn't recognize. They were both super friendly and allowed me to chill in their room as I waited for my friends in the hallway.
By this time I really had to use the bathroom, but I felt super awkward asking these guys to use their bathroom, so I tried to hold it in. Well, that plan proved more difficult than I thought. The guy in the dorm that I didn't recognize was hilarious. Like, pee-your-pants hilarious when you don't even need to use the bathroom. So imagine how I was doing! As the hallway conversation got longer and longer, and this guy got funnier and funnier, I finally couldn't hold it any longer and pushed myself to ask to use their bathroom. Phew, what a relief, now I could laugh with joy instead of pain.
On top of the constant jokes, this new guy also seemed to think my pumpkin was amazing. Like, a masterpiece he wanted to buy or something. He constantly complimented me on it, and while I found it kind of strange, I just assumed he was trying to encourage me or be nice since it was my first carved pumpkin. After almost two hours of getting an ab workout from laughter, it was finally time for us girls to leave the guys dorm building for "curfew." As I left with my friend from the room, she insisted that the funny guy, whose name I learned was Nate, was flirting with me. But me being the naive person I am about these things insisted that he was just being nice and blew it off as anything more.
I think God was laughing, considering He knew that the "funny guy" would be my future husband.
To be continued...