How to trust God's provision

For me, trusting God’s provision can be torturous. On one hand, I think I’m great at it! I trust that He has a plan for me and that everything will be okay, but on the other hand, the thing that is so hard about being a Christ follower is that there is absolutely no promise of an “easy” life. The closer I get to the Lord, the heavier my heart gets for injustice, racism, the faith journeys of teenagers, and more. I HAVE to do something about it. I can’t sit back and let it happen and it’s not easy to take action on some of these things.

When something goes wrong, feels heavy or is just a very confusing season in life, how do we trust God’s provision?

Brush up on Daniel 6 for some context, but here is the part that stops me in my tracks:

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealedit with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

I think in order for me to trust God’s provision, I just have to remind myself that He is in the business of providing for His children in incredible, unbelievable ways. I just have to look at history. Not just Biblical history, but a time where He provided when I was hopeless. When I look back at my biggest heartache, I see his fingerprints all over it and all over my grief. Do you remember a time where you felt hopeless and He carried you through? Lean into that memory and dig the hope out. Renew that strength and press on. He can handle your doubt. He can handle your heartache and you will be lifted from the den because you trust in Him.

Excuses, Excuses

Ok ya’ll, let’s have a chat.

I have read about Moses and the burning bush about a million times. (Exodus 3 if you want to brush up)

I mean, I know the story. However, I started a new Bible study with my cousin called Seamless. Heard of it? Angie Smith is my new bff even though she doesn’t know it. Anyway, I always wondered why on earth Moses kept arguing with God like, “I’m not qualified,” or “I have a stutter.” I’d like to think that if I was witnessing a miracle right then and there that I would do whatever the inanimate object claiming to be God said to do. Here’s the thing. Context is important and I personally need to do a better job at looking into the bigger picture of these Bible stories.

If you go back a chapter (Ex. 2:11) you have this situation:

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 

Ok so this happens and Moses ends up making a new life for himself in Midian. He got married, had a baby, yada yada. His life went on and THEN the burning bush thing happened.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone has brought up something from your past and you thought, “I really don’t even want to go there. I have left that in the past and moved on.” I imagine this is how Moses felt talking to God (aka: burning bush). God proceeds to lay out the plan, show Moses some miracles to convince him that this is real and then once Moses has exhausted his excuses, God let’s him know that he’s going to be okay because everyone that wanted to kill him is dead. Buuuuuut the current Pharoah is still going to say no… eventually it’ll work though and you’ll rescue my people.

OKAYYYYYYYY I read this and thought, “Yeah okay Moses, I get you now. I wouldn’t want to go back to a place of my past just to be rejected.” I mean he had to not only trust that God would look out for him, but he had to get the courage to obey God for WHO KNOWS how long!?! He certainly didn’t know at the time how much crap he’d have to deal with from these people ultimately end up not even getting into the Promised Land. WOOF!

But here’s my bottom line with Moses and the reason I love him so much.

HE DID IT ANYWAY.

He didn’t want to. He gave God excuses. He wanted to just continue with his life, wife and kids and do his thing but when God calls you to something, you go….Or do you? I have to be honest. I have felt called to something and am still trying to resist dragging my feet and grumbling along the way. I imagine God saying, “Go clean your room,” and standing there with arms crossed yet a soft heart. He is stern, but not merciless. He had such a grand plan in the end that will deliver so many people from the slavery of the lies they believe or the oppression they feel and it’s up to me to be God’s hands and feet here. It’s up to you too.

I guess I’m trying to say I’m so thankful that I can relate to Moses and it empowers me to feel like I really can pursue my calling because for every excuse I have, God has a miracle waiting.

Domestic Violence Awareness

One month ago I called 911 after witnessing domestic violence. I just can't stop thinking about the girl involved and if she is okay, so here is just another PSA on domestic violence. You. Do. Not. Deserve. That. I know you feel trapped. I know you often don't even realize that it is abuse but if any relationship ever makes you feel unsafe or scared, it's not right. If your friend has alienated you because of her new relationship and you feel like the person they are dating purposefully did that, you could be right and you have got to be there for them more than ever.

I wish I would've known what to look for in college. I wish I would've been able to identify toxic behavior. Please know that I don't care what you think of me and the mistakes I've made as long as you are safe and don't make the same ones. If he is controlling, that's a red flag. If he throws things or screams at you, that's a red flag. If he stands in front of the door and won't let you leave or prys your phone from your hands, that is a red flag.

Tell a safe person that you are uncomfortable. Help them help you leave. If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, you can call 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) for further guidance.

When God feels far away

I know, I’ve been there. I get it. God doesn’t always “feel” close or like He’s doing anything at all in your life except ruining good hair days with humidity and not opening the door to your dream job. Ugh, it feels like a punch in the gut or just a slow slide down Hopeless Mountain. I had a conversation recently with a friend from high school who had given up all hope that the Lord truly loved her and it all ended up boiling down to the shame she felt when she left her faith behind. Shame is a sticky, dirty word. By definition, it’s a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Woof. I’ve felt shame before, I know the sticky residue it leaves. I think that’s what is so unbelievable about God’s love. It just doesn’t make sense. HOW CAN YOU LOVE ME EVEN THOUGH I’VE LEFT YOU!?! We can’t comprehend this because it’s not in our capacity as humans. We just can’t love as unconditional as Christ.

I personally would find it pretty hard to love someone if I asked them to do something and they did the exact opposite right in front of my face. It would strike up anger in me something awful!

Have you ever wrestled with God about your shame? Have you ever cursed Him or cried out to Him as you sat on Hopeless Mountain with make up running down your cheeks, leaving tear streaks. You aren’t the only one. I often identify with the story of Jacob because I think, “Yeah he sounds like an unhealthy enneagram 2 with all of that manipulating he’s doing.” His story is in Genesis and when I read about the fact that he was born holding his twin brother’s heel and grew up manipulating his Father, I cringe. How many times have I not trusted God and felt like I needed to manipulate a situation so I would win in the end? A lot. A lot is the answer to that question. But I’m not ashamed of that because now, I walk in faith, with a limp.

With a limp? Yeah, if you continue to read Jacob’s story you see him encounter God in the midst of his running away from his family. I have it below but if you prefer cliff notes, here ya go. He has been through the ringer for these two wives he has and over 14 years later he is fleeing, yet again. I wonder if he’s tired. Anyway, he was alone and encountered God where they wrestled. I mean, not just a quick pin and tap out. This lasted all night and eventually the “man” said, “let me go, bro.” Ok, I added the bro. Jacob, in the midst of his running, asked for a blessing. HA! WHAT! THIS DUDE RAN AWAY FROM HIS OWN FAMILY THEN HIS WIVES’ FAMILY AND THEN HE HAS THE NERVE TO ASK FOR A BLESSING!?! That’s crazy, but isn’t it was we do when we run from God? We get into a situation we feel stuck in (or pinned, if you will) and we ask God for a way out. “God, I know I got myself into this mess but please, get me out painless.” Jacob receives a new name and a blessing but not without a constant reminder of that night. He walks away with a shameless limp and miraculous encounter with God. There is no shame allowed after an encounter with the Father.

There hasn’t been a single time I’ve returned to God after fleeing and not felt a little limp in my step and yet, a chin held high. You can’t wrestle with God and not feel His nearness. When you wrestle with someone, your foreheads exchange sweat drops and your arms intertwine. It’s uncomfortable but it’ll never leave you without impact. In case you have been fleeing from God lately, I just want you to know that you can walk into an encounter with God with shame, but when you walk out, it’s not allowed in your limp.

Genesis 32:22-31 New International Version (NIV)

Jacob Wrestles With God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,  and he was limping because of his hip.

Bye Bye, Boo Boo

One of my friends recently told me about an experience she had with a Boo Boo Dude and I asked her to write about it so we could share it with you. It’s all too familiar to myself and I’m willing to bet you’ve found yourself in a similar situation. You’re in for a great read, sis!



Bye Bye, Boo Boo

“It was the best date I’ve ever been on” I said with my morning coffee in hand babbling away to my best friend on the phone about the night before.

7 hours, 3 restaurants, endless conversation, (it didn’t help that his eyes were the most beautiful color green I’d ever seen), and it felt like I had met someone who made me feel excited about dating. Our spark was something I had yet to experience my three years living in NYC.

I couldn’t wait until the next time we went out.

As I refreshed and opened my phone probably 150 times the next day, eager to hear from the man who HAD to be in the beginning stages of falling in love with me, I found myself waiting not just one day, no just two days, but an entire week before we’d ever be in contact again.

Day 2

“He’s probably been so busy with work this week…”

Day 4

“Maybe he didn’t want to seem too eager you know?…”

Day 6

“Honestly, he’s not really a texter so this is totally normal…”



Isn’t it interesting how quickly a woman can make excuses for a man’s mistake?



I’m learning that our ability to build scenarios in our minds has way less to do with the guy and way more to do with ourselves.

We don’t want to think the post-date-giddy-high was one-sided. We don’t want to think that there’s anyway he couldn’t be interested in getting to know me more. We don’t want to think that one amazing date would be just that...one amazing date. There MUST be more, right?

Fast-forward a WEEK…radio silence.



He hasn’t texted, he hasn’t called.


So I listen to some Beyonce and remind myself girls, do in fact, run the world, and I pull the trigger and send a text to see if he wanted to grab coffee on Sunday.


And you know what he responded?

He didn’t.

He didn’t respond.

Ever.

“Am I being ghosted?” I asked 12 of my friends, my mom, the maintenance guy in my office, my coworkers, the barista at La Colombe, and frankly anyone who would listen to my millennial sap story .

I couldn’t believe it.

But here’s the most frustrating thing about a ghost....they know they are ghosting you.

(quite literally a boo-boo dude)

Remember when doe-eyed lil’ ol me sat around giving this guy the benefit of the doubt?

When a man shows you who they are, believe them

Let me write that again because it’s way too good not to repeat.

WHEN A MAN SHOWS YOU WHO THEY ARE, BELIEVE THEM.


He was showing me he was uninterested and unavailable so it was time to accept and begin to laugh at all that had transpired a mere week and a half ago. He wasn’t a bad guy, he just wasn’t for me.


A few weeks later with the help of some red wine, my daily boxing class, and a lot of jokes to make light of my love life and the fact I’m quickly becoming the queen of the one date curse, boo-boo dude was in the past.

So I thought….

Screen Shot 2019-02-28 at 7.20.42 AM.png


When all is good and right in your world, they come knocking on your door.

In 2019…it’s a slide into your DM.

I was shocked.

The only thing weirder than encountering a ghost, is when they come back to haunt you through Instagram.


So this scenario could have gone two ways

  1. The no response leave him hanging like he left me, read receipts and all.

OR

2. Call this dude out.

Subtly has never been my strong suit, so I chose the latter.

Not only did I call him out, but I gave him a name:

“Oh, hello Casper.”

Did I expect a response? No

Did I care if he responded or didn’t? No.

My little jab was a moment of recognition.

I know your game and I’m not playing it.

Sometimes to ignore is to condone, and dating is hard enough as it is. We owe it to ourselves to be upfront and honest. I chose to be exactly what he wasn’t to me...with a side of sass (of course).

At the end of the day, I’m glad it played out the way it did because it helped me to realize I don’t need to put too much pressure on a good thing. The date was great. The conversation was great. I truly think he is a great guy, just the wrong time and with the wrong girl because I don’t deserve to be shoved aside. None of us do.

As Lauryn Hill says, “Babygirl, respect is just the minimum.”

So ladies next time you find yourself harping over or chasing after a boo-boo dude, feel confident enough to hit him with a “bye, bye” and move on.

Casper ain’t worth it.




The BooBoo Blog

First let’s revisit the ‘gram that started this conversation:

Sis, let’s talk. We gonna talk about some BooBoo Dudes. These are the ones that don’t deserve your time or attention, yet you worry if they’ll text back. These are the ones who haven’t treated you well but it’s nice to be noticed. The ones who conveniently forgot their wallet or maybe have used blatant manipulation to try and keep you on the back burner while they are doing who know what with who knows who. A BooBoo Dude treats you like a side chick when you deserve so much more. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Why. Are. We. Letting. This. Continue?
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Are you scared of being alone? Do you not feel worthy of respect? Is shame keeping you from seeking real love? Is your loneliness lowering your standards? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I get it, I’ve been there. I know that feeling, but imagine I’m sitting across from you holding your hand because I’m seeing you and I’m interested in your heart. I want to know why you’re hurting and to share some ways I found healing. I want to care for your pain point and help you up every time you stumble. He should too. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Of course he’s not one of your girlfriends, but he should be invested, intrigued and excited to talk to you. He should be pumped to provide a meal or a fun date. & when he’s not, BYE! ⠀

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Whatever is holding you back from stepping into the treatment you deserve, let’s work on getting it out of here. Let’s unveil each lie, each hurt, each scar and replace them with God’s Truth about who you are in Him so we can be DONE with BooBoo Dudes!! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I met Justin 6 days after I decided that I would dictate how guys treated me and not to waste my time otherwise. That’s turned out quite nicely I must say.

________________________________________________

Okay, now that you’re all caught up, let’s dive deeper into this conversation.

After posting that, I had a little DM that said, “How do you know if he is a BooBoo Dude?” This is a great question so I asked yall as well as some of my close friends. We had an overwhelming number of replies and I wanted to share them with you.

Without further ado, “You know he’s a BooBoo Dude when….”

  • He says he’s into you, but won’t follow through or text back

  • He is making you do all of the work like initiating conversation, dates, etc.

  • He isn’t making you a priority

  • He isn’t interested in your day/how you’re doing.

  • He makes you feel like an afterthought.

  • He’ll make plans but bail at the last minute & doesn’t try to reschedule

  • He has some sketchy/questionable actions

  • He is controlling toward you, but isn’t afraid to blow you off

  • He wants to hang with you but not your friends/isolates you from your friends

  • He doesn’t keep his word

  • He’s controlling & manipulative

  • He’s selfish - not just towards you, but everyone

  • He leaves you on read

  • When you’re constantly questioning his intentions/feelings for you

  • My personal favorite reply from my SIL, “If you have to ask, he probably is…”

These are all SO true and the thing is, you know how to spot them. It’s clear by the flood of replies I received that you know exactly what some actions and characteristics of a BooBoo Dude is. The question is, “What are you going to do about it?” Will you stay or will you take a leap of faith in obedience to God’s plan for your life and remember your worth? I know it reads black and white but feels so grey in the moment. The hard part is making the choice. The freedom is in your obedience when you take a step in faith because you know God has better for you. We feel like it’s so hard to make such a choice, but that is literally the one choice that catapults us into a life of choices just as difficult when it comes to a serious relationship. Love is a series of the hardest choices in life and it all begins with how you love yourself.


Here’s what one of my best friends (‘Sup Jenny) had to say about a BooBoo Dude:

Things I wish I would’ve known : 

-It’s not that hard to spot one!! 
-A booboo dude may or may not have a job. 
-He gives less than 100% effort at basically everything he does. 
- He has no realistic ambition in life - he’s not a guy that’s gonna hustle
-he will always let you pay
- you always come to him, he doesn’t make effort to come to you
- and if your family loves you, they’ll see the truth. My sister told me once “He likes you. I see it. But I can also see that he doesn’t love you. He’s never gonna put you first. But he likes you enough to stay with you. He will never break up with you.” - She was right. 
- you’ll find yourself pursuing him bc a booboo dude won’t pursue you. 
- the biggest one, a booboo dude doesn’t have character - that’s why they’re booboo. So you can see the lies, tactics, manipulation from a mile away. 

DONT let a booboo dude convince you that if you love him better or treat him better or do more for him or forgive him one more time then he will suddenly see you and see your value and how amazing you are. This dude is not gonna change so give it up sis. 

To quote Christina Yang, “He is not the sun. You are.”

^ Jenny Johnson


Made For More

Recently Justin and I saw Rachel & Dave Hollis’ movie Made For More.

Look, I’m going to be honest with you. If you need to light a fire under your butt, it’s a great watch.

For me, it sent my brain into overdrive on what I want to do next and how I want to do it and the content I want to bring to you and it was like if Pinterest was verbally cheering for you and giving you ideas at the same time about outfits and recipes and business ideas and book launches and i could go on forever. It was awesome, but overwhelming.

The one thing that struck me the hardest was when Rachel wanted to do a grande finale at the end of her RISE conference but the logistics were hard. Dave instinctually said, “There’s no way.” She probably actually replied in a nicer tone but the phrase was something like, “You don’t get to tell me my dreams are too big.” Dang. I need to say that more often. She found a way and it was epic. It took hours of practice and coordination and talent to pull it off but she did it. No one gets to tell you your dreams are too big if you are willing to put in the time and effort. No one. I think I need to read this message more often and louder. No one gets to tell you your dreams are too big. Push harder, go farther, dream bigger.

cue This Is Me song from The Greatest Showman

2019, Let's GEAUX!

They say the older you get, the faster it goes. 2018 flew by and here we are, met with another January of new beginnings and fresh starts. This is your chance to get your mind right for the next year, setting your goals and determining to reach new limits. I want to encourage you to do a few things that changed my life when it came to goal setting.

  1. Read Jon Acuff’s book, “Finish” - it’s the only way I actually am finishing my book and it’s amazing.

  2. Take some pressure off of yourself. Give yourself two deadlines. If one doesn’t work out, you have a backup one!

  3. Tell a friend and hold one another accountable. I know, this never worked before, but schedule monthly check ins with said friend and that’s the only time you’ll talk about your goals so you don’t start avoiding each other in your every day lives. Have time for your regular scheduled friendship so you aren’t running away from one another in the mall, hiding behind mannequins so you don’t have to tell them you’ve failed again. Am I speaking from experience here? You’ll never know.

Here’s the real reason I brought you here today.

I want to give you my first chapter of my next book for FREE! It’s not 100% edited so you’ll have to give me grace, but if you put your email in the blog and brainspills place on the homepage, I’ll send it over!

Here, just click here.

Cheers to a new year! We’re going to conquer 2019 together!

P.S. - Geaux is how we spell “go” in Louisiana terms. If you’re from Louisiana, you know.

Why do we get mad at God?

I was walking through the airport after the most anointed conference I've ever been to when I started to worry. "When is the crash? When is the spiritual high over?" I remember in high school or college being so on fire and almost immediately upon departure, I'd feel spiritually attacked and I was struck with this fear as I was walking. I know this time is different because I felt the Lord move SO big and SO permanently, but I just know that satan isn't going to take this sitting down. Then I thought, "Why do we get mad at God when we are in painful situations? Why are we often more mad at God than at satan who is the one heaping this hurt on us?" I know God allows it to happen and we feel so stretched and burdened, but God's actions are always love filled and satan's are hate filled. While satan is trying to force us into a hopeless crippled effect, God is using our pain and healing for a faith filled ripple effect! I want to find comfort in the kingdom purpose of my pain, like Paul and Silas did in prison.

Acts 16:16-40 (NIV)

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

Out of your frustration can come a miracle. Out of your pain can come salvation. Out of the pain that satan heaps, comes healing and peace. I want to unpack this story further, but I’ll have to chew on it a little longer. For now, I leave you with this thought :).

How to self care while caring for others

As an enneagram 2, I relate all too much with this writing prompt. 

Let's talk about self care. I think all too often, we don't even know what it looks like. For me, I hate taking care of myself because I immediately feel selfish. My time should be used more wisely in my mind. I should be writing, working, serving my husband, reaching out to my friends and honestly, I don't even do any of those things enough. I spend so much time thinking about balancing self care with working hard, I neglect a lot of things that could be beneficial to my daily life. However, on the rare occasion I stop checking things off of my to do list and park the car from running endless errands and just enjoy time for myself, it's amazing what happens to my attitude. I feel full and happy, which makes me want to share that with others. It makes my serving them more intentional and thoughtful. 

I started making a list of things that I love to do for ME ranging from 1 hr to 5 seconds that helps me continue self care in the midst of serving others. Here is what some of mine look like:

1 hr - Go to the gym or on a lunch date with a friend

45 min - Organize my space with a glass of wine in hand

30 min - Watch friends or play on Pinterest & feel inspired

20 min - Write with no intention of putting it in the world so it doesn't seem forced.

10 min - straight up JAM. Dance, sing, pretend my mop is a microphone to my favorite songs.

5 min - Talk to Jesus and listen to worship music

1 min or less - Make a list of the things I'm grateful for and/or text a friend

I encourage you to make your list and whatever time you find, do the thing that fits in that time slot.  You don't have to be smothered in a face mask watching the Bachelor if that's not your thing, but no shame if it is! 

Self Care on, sis! 

The early 20's & their scaries!

Y'all, my early 20's were so scary.

At 21 or so, I was suddenly put in a position with a small platform and I sort of had to create a foundation of who I would be to thousands of strangers when I was still trying to figure out if I was going to stick with my Sports Journalism major or switch to Mass Communications.  Life changes and the paralysis of fear is so real. Often, I felt frozen in decision making and wondering if the path I was taking was the right one. Will I get a cool job when I graduate college? Am I going to marry the guy I'm dating? Is God ever going to answer my prayer? Is sin really so bad?

I want to tell you I soared on the wings of eagles as I made life transitions, moving states, making and breaking friendships, dating, etc. but the truth is I often sat in the tension of the unknown and I struggled a lot. Honestly, in many areas I still feel this way, so maybe I should wait a few years to write this, but I guess you and I are just going to ride this wave together. The tension of the unknown is daunting. It feels like practicality has one of your arms and your dreams has the other and they are pulling in total opposite directions. 

So, if you may be wrestling with God in the tension of your unknown, I want us to look at Genesis 32:24. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

There is a lot to unpack here, so I'll try to do this efficiently and clearly. First, no clue where this man came from, like many situations or changes in life, you're like, "HELLO WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!  HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?! WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?! NO ONE WARNED ME!" Second, Jacob wrestled and did not give up. It says "for it is daybreak" indicating that this had gone on for quite some time, I assume through the night, which sounds very tiring. It says that the man could not overpower him and I immediately thought of free will here. Jacob chose to wrestle, as we do when we resist God. God gave us our free will and while He can certainly do whatever He wants at the blink of an eye, He allows us to choose our journey which is what paralyzes us in fear. "What if I make the wrong choice? Let me go, for it is daybreak. I don't want this tension, I want to be free and have a clear path set out." Though, as we keep reading, Jacob demands a blessing before he leaves. So, you're telling me that he just used all of his strength to fight against God, then, when he surrenders WITH AN INJURY, He's like, " I'm not going anywhere until you bless me." What a crazy story. When I feel like God and I are wrestling, I usually run away like a dog with it's tail tucked between it's legs, but I aim to be like Jacob who uses all of his strength to get into the hard places with God, getting so close that our sweat meets as our foreheads touch and I am scarred, forever changed and ask the Lord for a blessing because if Jacob can do it, why can't I? You can't wrestle with someone from a foot across the room right? You have to be near to that person, you have to be so close that you are touching. Usually, when I have a tough conversation with the Lord, I come out of it changed, impacted, marked. I may not walk with a limp, but my walk certainly changes physically and spiritually. 

I don't know how old Jacob was in this story, but he seems resilient and stubborn, much like I was in my early 20's. There is a lot of history and context surrounding this story that would lead to so many other lessons and parallels, but I just wanted to take this short segment because it feels so much like my early 20's, always wrestling with God, tired of the tension, tired of the unknown, but knowing that God is right there in your struggle and in your heart is the biggest blessing of them all. 

So, if you're in the tension of the unknown, you need to know that God is so close to you, you can wrestle with Him if you feel lost. Get close, tune into His voice and know that you can't make a wrong choice if you're in His midst and keeping Him close. The early 20's can be scary, but you'll get through them leaning on the Lord. 

I hope when you wrestle with God, you leave with a new walk.   

I feel fat.

This morning, I was getting ready for work and nothing was going well. I couldn't find a single thing to wear, my hair wasn't cooperating and I'll be honest, I just felt so fat. I don't want complements or "Nooo you're nooooots" in reply to this. I know we've all been there so I really would just rather a "cheers, me too" because my point is that I let it bother me and ruin my morning. It made me so angry that I've been working out SO much and things in my closet still didn't fit right. I didn't even want to talk to God because I was so moody. I had a lot of plans to get things done before my 10am shift, but circumstances forced those to change and I ended up wearing my "fat dress" just to get out of the door comfortable and clothed. I got to work a little early and went to get my Acai bowl. As I settled in, I turned on my audio book by Alex Seeley, "Tailor Made." 

Think you could guess what the section I happened to be listening to was about? It was about Alex's husband who had a suit two sizes too big and they went to get a new one. She mentioned how much better he felt when he was fitted for a suit that actually matched his measurements. She then goes on to talk about how we are to put on the fruits of the spirit like we put on clothes. How much more confident and joyful we will feel when we are clothed in our tailor made, God given talents and purpose. We are to focus more on inward beauty, which we hear all the time in various places, but God chose this morning to speak to me through this audio book, even when I didn't want to speak to Him. She talks about putting on love, joy, peace, etc. and I imagined myself slipping into those attributes verses actual clothes. I imagined looking at God with puppy eyes, "I'm sorry I'm mad at you. I'm going to focus on showing other's the love of God today and not worry about my appearance as much. You call me beautiful, you call me radiant. I pray for an opportunity to encourage someone today as I needed it this morning." 

I actually am in one of those "I kinda just feel like crying today," moods. My to-do list is overwhelming and I may have over caffeinated so my anxiety is paying a visit. Something heavy in my spirit is just getting me today and this is when I clothe myself with what He calls me and put on my war paint. I have to go into battle, fighting the lies the devil is trying to plant in my mind. I have to *drumroll* UNVEIL myself. You think it's a coincidence that the Lord had me title my non-profit something that I have to actively practice? Keeps me honest I guess.

If you're in a season of tear stained cheeks and low self confidence, cheers, me too. How about we join forces and go into battle together? Also, wanna grab a green juice? They always make me feel a little better…

 

Psalm 46:5(NIV)

5 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.

How to balance career, friends & family!

This one may be a short one, but I think it's still a very important question.

My simple answer? Get a little selfish. You don't have to be everywhere and do everything for everyone all the time. If you can't make a birthday party because you need to meet a deadline at work or you just need some "me" time, do what you need to do so you aren't a ball of stress when you stretch yourself too thin. People will understand, especially if they are your friends and family. Then, when you do have space to breath, make sure you're reaching out to people to let them know you value them and appreciate them. That will help a ton if you may feel guilty for not saying, "yes" to everything. I've heard The Best Yes by  Lysa TerKeurst is a great book and it seems like it'd be relatable here. I'm working through a few right now but it's on my list of audiobooks. 

In short, don't be afraid to say no, be intentional about the time you do spend with friends & family and take care of yourself! 

Reconnecting with Jesus & your faith

This one might be my favorite writing prompt I received when I did the Instagram questions because it's such a real, honest, relatable question. 

I want to start by saying I think reconnecting with Jesus starts with reconnecting with a heart of gratitude. When I feel farthest from Jesus, I feel like I don't stop and look around in wonder. I sit in my air conditioned home with running water and plenty of food and I don't think about the millions or billions of people that don't have the same luxury. Man, I don't deserve such kindness, Lord. I did nothing to deserve being born into the world with a loving family, a safe environment and a good education. That alone is evidence of God's mercy and love for me. 

Reconnecting with gratitude reveals God's presence all around you. Then, I acknowledge that. I look at everything around me and know that it's only there because God loves me. Because all good things come from Him. (James 1:17)

Before I go any further, I also want to say that sometimes I do this daily or weekly if I feel disconnected from God. I don't think you have to be removed from communication from God for years to feel like you need to reconnect. If you do feel like the prodigal son, remember the open arms that the father welcomed his son with and know that God is doing the exact same thing. (Luke 15:11-32)  

So, this applies to you if you have felt disconnected from God/your faith for years, days or hours. 

After I audibly or in my mind thank Jesus for everything around me and the people in my life, I wonder why I feel disconnected. What made me separate from Him? Shame? Guilt? Did I feel like I didn't need Him because things were going well? I repent. "Father, I'm sorry. I have been a terrible communicator and I don't feel like I can boldly approach the throne room because I feel like Adam and Eve, naked in the garden covered in shame and leaves. I don't even know what to say if I'm honest. Please forgive me." 

From there I either google "Bible verses about ______" Insert what you want to read about or I just open my Bible to a Psalms or the book of John (those are easiest for me to read and understand when I'm just dipping my toes back into the Word) and I just read for a minute. I read slowly, I try to imagine what the scene looked like and I place myself there. From there I'll just talk to God like He's right beside me. "Hey what does this mean? How funny did David look dancing in his underwear that one time? What were you thinking or feeling when this happened?" Sometimes I get a reply (which just sounds like thoughts but ones I didn't consciously think on my own) and sometimes I write down the passage and my questions until I can either talk to someone about it or do more research, also known as google. 

This practice feels like steps and boxes to check off and it may look different for you. I don't think I have to feel a huge shift in spirit to feel reconnected with Jesus. The more I talk to Him, consistently stay in His Word & stay grateful, the more my spirit will tune into His voice. There are tons of resources out there for communicating with God, but starting with gratitude always reminds me how small and out of control I am. 

I really hope this helps and please DM me with any questions on the above!! 

 

Dating in your 20's (without apps)

Let's dive in. First let me say, people have been dating pre-apps forever, so, you can too if you want! 

Once upon a time I had an AWESOME first date with a guy. We were outdoors, it was a beautiful day and we had great conversation. The next date? AWFUL. His dog peed on my favorite white dress and I'll leave it at that. We met on an app and to this day I'm proud of myself for going on the first date because I put myself out there. I tried something new and it went well, for the first date at least ha. Needless to say it didn't work long term, but I think the main thing that I want to drive home when it comes to dating is to continually try new things that may be out of your comfort zone, not to attract a guy necessarily, but to open yourself up to learning new things and having fun with them! I would go to the movies by myself, eat out alone, do things solo to build up confidence in doing so. It helped in other areas of life! 

Here are a few other random dating tips I learned over the years:

1. Around 22, I learned to always go on the first date (as long as you feel safe!), because it took a lot of guts for the guy to ask you out and even if it doesn't work out, being a great conversationalist is a huge life skill that can't always be taught. Best case you leave with an unexpected crush. Worst case you leave with clarity, a lesson learned and maybe a friend. This is in a face to face kind of situation or a friendship, not necessarily the case when we are speaking about apps. 

2. Instead of your phone screen, go places you enjoy and will probably frequent long term because chances are, you'll meet someone with a similar interest there, which is a great place to start. Volunteer somewhere, join an adventure group or meet up. I did that when I first moved to Nashville and still keep in touch with some of the people! 

3. Make your intentions clear. If you don't like them, be honest about it. I was bad about this because I enjoyed the company of a date, but that can give mixed signals to the guy and end up with both of you hurt in the long run. Know when to walk away and call, "NEXT!" even if you just enjoy their company. That is what we call self discipline, which we don't practice enough these days. 

4. Embrace the awkward. First dates and second dates, even third dates can be SO AWKWARD!! You don't know what to do with your hands, the tab and the texts, but embrace it! Don't over apologize, don't beat yourself up, and have fun! Also, ask the other person about themselves because everyone loves talking about themselves and you can find some commonalities that you might like!

I think the most important thing I was missing the mark on, was who I was in the process. When I would meet guys I would try to mold myself into their type. Oh, you like girls who work out? I used to Crossfit.  How about outdoorsy? I hike with my dog at Edwin Warner almost every day! Musical? Let's sing! Even though I vowed to never Crossfit again, I passed out on a hike one day when I saw a snake and I have INSANE stage fright, I would highlight the *true* things about my life I felt were relevant, just to add a little oomph to my already impressive list of interests. 

It wasn't until I stripped it all away and healed from all past wounds and drew close to the Lord, did I step into my full, confident self and ended up meeting Justin on a blind date! I remember how lame it was to hear, "Focus on your relationship with the Lord" when I was really wanting to hear anything but that. However, THAT was when I became my most true and authentic self, creating a healthy space to meet someone new. 

It's funny when I hear one of my single friends hesitate to talk to me about dating because, "I wouldn't understand" & I'm like.. yo... I've only been married for TWO YEARS. Literally my life before that was everything you're experiencing and I still vividly remember it all! Lean on your married friends, just don't try and "match" their story or use their story to find identity or hope because everyone is crazy different! 

Lastly, I'll say this. If you want to try an app, that's okay as long as you control the app and the app doesn't control you. YOU set your standards and boundaries and stick to them! Be honest and don't forget to try new things!! 

Why am I scared to post this?

When I was nearing the end of my college career, I had no idea that some things that happened in a season would plant little seeds of fear that I feel burdened by years later. Fear is so annoying, but I’m going to be honest about it because I was reading Carl Lentz’s book and one thing he wrote struck me. “The moment we talk about what scares us, it begins to lose its power on our lives.” So, here I go. 

I’m scared of people saying mean, untrue things about me online. This isn’t my only fear, but every time I speak or write, it’s one of those nagging thoughts. Why? Because it’s happened before. I had/have, if they still exist, Twitter and Instagram accounts specifically made to say mean things about me and when you’re a 21 year old trying to figure out who you are as a person and what your life looks like, those things can stick. 

When I start to write my next book those voices (lies) resound, “You are two-faced. You are fake.” Literally never in my life was I called these things until an angsty 14 year old who I’d never met decided to put me on blast. When I start to type a blog or plan for a speech I am overcome with imposture syndrome and I put a name tag on my shirt that says, “Hello, my name is Unqualified.”

One post that I will never forget (although I keep trying) said something like I changed my name from Ainsley Lollar to Ainsley Britain because I was ashamed of my past and that I did pageants so I was trying to become a new person. I remember reading that and thinking, “I don’t even have a past to be ashamed of?!? I don’t care who knows I did a few pageants?! I had a blast doing them, won a free trip to Vegas and got to wear pretty dresses!” For some reason, that post and the rest of it’s multi-paragraph content of hatred really cut me. This was written probably around 2013 and I’m still talking about it in 2018 so that’s how much it effected me. Let me first say, I changed my name because I wanted to and there are many things I’ve done in life just because I wanted to and I’m proud of that. I’m proud that I sometimes throw caution to the wind and just say “yes” to things, not knowing their outcome. Maybe had I known people would read into me changing my name, I wouldn’t have done it! 

Ya know, I always hear about God qualifying the chosen, not choosing the qualified and every time I read that, I feel courageous enough to take one step forward. Instead of, “What if they hate me because I’m not perfect?” it becomes, “Thank goodness they already know I’m not perfect so I can skip that part and go straight to the salvation of Jesus.” 

Every time I step into something new or unfamiliar, I try to say, “Yes” as often as possible, despite fear. While I admit I still struggle with so many fears and I have certainly let fear win more than once, this is my personal way of fighting back. Throwing caution to the wind with changing my name, getting a tattoo and a nose piercing that made my mom cry (I took it out) is serving me in my rebellion against fear.  Fear says I can’t? Okay, watch this. 

Even if I fail, God still reigns and He still uses people and gets glory. 

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”

Saying yes is one swift kick in the devil’s pants because it’s HIM who is trying to creep in and plant those little seeds. It’s God who uproots them and replants you in a safe garden, watering and caring for you making sure you get enough sunlight to grow and flourish. 

Say “Yes” to new adventures or just to a coffee date with a stranger. 

One time I was on my way to a coffee with a girl that went to Belmont, but I hadn’t known until we were both in NYC. I didn’t feel like fostering a new friendship and wasn’t excited to go, but I said yes and quickly realized that I was sitting across the table from an actual angel who has the biggest heart I’ve ever seen and she is now one of my favorite people on this planet. Her name is Graceann (@gbelgiorno) and she is one of my favorite “Yes” moments.

In conclusion, say yes more, kick the devil in the pants and don’t be a jerk just because you can hide behind your computer screen. 

P.S. - hitting “post” and not proof reading in case I get scared and try to talk myself out of it here I go BOOM bye

Dear 19 year old Ainsley...

Dear Ainsley - 

I’m going to be honest with you… 

Your coffee skills need some serious work, girlfriend. I know you can’t seem to get the water/grinds ratio right and I’m sorry to tell you that in about 5 years,  you’ll be sitting in your NYC apartment still unsure if you did it right. Thankfully there’s drive thru coffee available in Nashville, so you’re going to make it. You just moved to this new apartment where you live alone in a new city and all you know is that you felt God call you here (you were right) and you have no clue why (you’ll get your answer in due time). 

I remember the heart ache of loneliness you’re experiencing right now. A new city and new beginning is so exciting! Yet, it feels like a brick is laid on your chest every Saturday night seeing LSU game photos and the fact that you suddenly don’t have off of school for Mardi Gras break!?! Yeah, the rest of the country doesn’t get off for a holiday of parades and spoiler alert, nowhere else has drive thru daiquiri spots either. Louisiana just spoils it’s people. 

Your best/only friend in Nashville won’t be your friend forever and it’s going to hurt really bad. Just typing that feels like a punch in the gut because I remember the pain. I remember that it felt worse than someone dying because that person has chosen to walk away and allow the strongest friendship either of you have ever had to crumble. There’s no saving this one and many strangers are going to have opinions about it. Thankfully, you’ll draw near to the Lord and experience a supernatural healing. Those words “supernatural healing” feel like a warm blanket placed on a shivering body, but I don’t even think you’d believe them if I could go back and tell you. I’ll just tell you to talk to Jesus every chance you get. In church, during worship, in your car as if He’s in the passenger seat. Take Him on your hikes and late night trips to McDonald’s for a Oreo McFlurry, add hot fudge. You’re a few years from this heartbreak, but there will be disappointments and changes along the way. You’ll have to adjust and stick to your instincts and Jesus. Read the Bible more. Write more. Love others more. 

Oh, and you’ll make more friends, better friends, don’t worry. You’re going to meet some incredible people who are actual gold and you’ll feel Jesus more than you’ve ever felt in your life. You’re going to feel His nearness because quiet mornings with Him and your fireplace will remind you of how worthy and loved you are. 

One Tree Hill is not your life so stop trying to act like Brooke Davis and just be you. You don’t have to pretend to be someone else to be interesting. When someone tries to change you, walk away…and they will try. The Lord has some incredible plans for your life. 

I’m here to tell you that life gets harder and more confusing, yet more exciting and God continues to prove His faithfulness. There will be so many times the Lord extends His hand to you. Take it and hold on for dear life, every time. He is doing a magnificent work in your life and this is only the beginning. You had to make a change to get out of your comfort zone and lean into Jesus so heavily. Keep your arms and heart open for His blessings. 

He is faithful. 

I think the main thing I want you to know is that everything is going to be okay. I won’t say it won’t be hard, but it’ll all be okay and you will love again. The Lord will breathe LIFE into you like you’ve never known and He will never stop loving you. Cling to His promises. Write them down and read them over and over, until they come to mind in every day life. You’re so worthy and loved and valued. Remember this and remind others of the same Truth. 

Hearts & Rockets,

AB

p.s. - your future husband is SO HOT! & all of God’s people said, “Amen.”

I cried during cycling class.

Honesty Hour. You know when people randomly have other people walk up to them and give them a word from God? Like, “Hey I think God wanted me to come tell you blah blah blah.” It’s so crazy and magical and I’ve always wanted someone to do that to me. I imagine hearing whatever they say and crying because it’s so relevant and profound for my life. Yet, it's never happened. 

The other day I was in cycling class when there was this one part where the instructor has us cover our numbers so you can't focus on that, rather you focus on your breathing, why you came to class, etc. & I usually take that time to chat with God. I closed my eyes and imagined myself in His throne room when I heard from Him, "why are you hoping for my Truth to come from someone else when you have a direct line of communication to me? All you have to do is close your eyes and you're here in my throne room. I want to be the one communicating to you." 

Cue tears. cue feeling like a jerk from hoping to hear from others & not God. Cue realizing I'm crying in cycling class.......

This was the most relevant and profound word for me and my heart because it was the Lord talking directly to me, his daughter and saying, "I want you and your heart. I want to communicate and relate and to be here for you. I want you to depend on me for guidance and confirmation." 

What is he trying to tell you that you may be seeking elsewhere? 

*Gut check*

 

The One That Got Away

I was recently chatting with a friend about dating. See, I know how amazing this person is and I watched them get anxious and unsettled while waiting for a text from someone they had met recently and gave their number to. Days went by as we kept going back and forth wondering why they haven't texted yet and the longer we both waited, the more anxious and confused my friend grew. This is the same conversation I've had many times with single friends and hello, I was doing the same thing just a few years ago! I remember freaking out to my friend Whitney about Justin and whether or not I was reading into his reply or if he was really into me, when he would text, etc. 

Then this rang through my mind and I don't think I heard it enough when I was single: Don't be afraid to be the one that got away. 

I recall two specific times when a guy would say, "You're the one that got away," and I would think, "Yeah, but you're the one who let me get away. You made that decision." I would be so annoyed, but now I'm so thankful to be the one that got away to those losers because the Lord paired me with someone who is better than I ever imagined and never once let me get away. 

Have you ever had a friend go back to the same ex over and over expecting different results? Like the definition of insanity, it drives me crazy when someone doesn't realize how incredible they are and they fall back into old relationships that are doomed from each "restart."

When you are your most full, confident, passionate self, you understand your worth and that it's okay to be The One That Got Away...don't be afraid to be that if someone doesn't value you enough.

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