I Still Have A Lot To Learn

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

–Maya Angelou

Open Letter to My 14 Year-Old Self

Dear 14 Year-Old Self,

Even when it feels like the world is shouting that you’re not good enough… You are. You always have been. You always will be.

You are beautiful. People around you will be obsessed with their appearance, but you shouldn’t let them get to you. Don’t compromise your self-worth to fit in. I promise, you won’t feel better by starving yourself. It may make you feel “in control” for a short amount of time… But then everything else will spin out of control.  Eat well, exercise, and love yourself.

Always remember that the prettiest girls are not necessarily the thinnest ones, with the whitest teeth, and a closet full of vintage dresses. The prettiest girls are the ones who have only kind things to say about others, and themselves. Try to be of those girls. Some people will disagree with this description of beauty, but those aren’t the people you need to surround yourself with anyway.

People are more dangerous than your naïve heart can imagine. I don’t want you to live in fear, but you need to know how to protect yourself. If a boy ever physically or emotionally hurts you, that should be the last time he ever sees you. I don’t care how many times he says he loves you or promises not to hurt you again. He doesn’t and he will. If you stay, you’ll start a pattern of playing the victim. You were not meant to be the victim, darling. You need to be the heroine of your life.

Insist on your own happiness. Fight the temptation to give into depression. Disregard the pressure to compete with your peers. Ignore the voices in your mind that wonder if you’re loved. Don’t give in. Be stronger than everything that hinders your spirit. Be creative, seize opportunities, and pursue everything that inspires you. Paint. Read. Write. Swim. Express your soul. 

Don’t worry if you’re not the girl all the boys like when you’re young. You’ll have plenty of time and opportunities for that later. Just enjoy the time you have now– time to be free, innocent and void of responsibilities.  Someday, there will be a line of men who claim to adore you. You won’t accept all their offers, because you’re not desperate for love. Instead, you’ll ask these men to prove themselves through words and acts of genuine kindness and respect.

The older you get, the more you will realize that your life needs to be about giving more than you take. When you start feeling overwhelmed or insecure, pray about it. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and ask God to fill your mind with His love and compassion. Ask Him for a mind that thinks of others more than yourself. If you do this enough times, your fears and insecurities will be replaced with joy and peace.

You will not make it through life without scars, but it’s never too late to re-do parts of your past. You always have choices. You can choose to give and accept forgiveness. You can choose to make peace with your past. You can choose to silence cruel words with compassion. You can choose to stand up for what’s right. Even if you stand alone.

Walk in beauty and grace, today and always.

Jaclyn

Who You Are

You are not:

Your emotions.

Your face.

Your reputation.

Your hair.

Your money.

Your mind.

Your job.

Your body.

Your possessions.

Your past.

You are:

Love.

Creativity.

A spiritual being attached to a body.

Filled with beauty and light.

Unlimited potential.

Scintillating.

Sunshine for the world.

Connected to everyone.

Always guided towards the light.

Here to help others.

Born to Run

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle…
When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

– Abe Gubegna

5 Truths About You

1. God Loves You For You

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. –Psalm 139:2-3

[JJ Heller, What Love Really Means]


2. You Have Hope In Christ

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. –Romans 15:13

[Owl City, In Christ Alone]


3. Your Trials Will Make You Stronger

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. –2 Corinthians 12:9

[Mandisa, Stronger]


4. You Are Forgiven For Your Past Mistakes

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. –2 Corinthians 5:17

[Tenth Avenue North, You Are More]


5. You Are Beautiful (& It Has Nothing To Do With How You Look)

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. –Psalm 139:14

[Jonny Diaz, More Beautiful You]

Are We Trying to Fit In or Stand Out?

Our pastor said something at church yesterday that really resonated with me.

“Don’t be so comfortable in the world you fit into without even trying.”

I think many of us are living too comfortably. God doesn’t save us from our sin so that we can sit guilt-free in church on Sundays and lead stagnant lives. He saves us so we can minister to and share love with others. If the goal of our lives as Christians is to become more Christ-like, then the mission of our lives should be the same as Jesus’ mission. His mission is to save people (1 Timothy 1:15).

I wonder if non-believers would stop doubting organized religion if we lived the way we’re called to live. Christians are good at telling people we’ll pray for them. We’re good at interacting with our church friends. But what are we doing to actually reach out? Are we seeking the lost or just hoping they’ll show up on our doorstep begging for help someday?  All around us, people are drowning as they look for answers. We have the answer.

In his book, Forgotten God,  Francis Chan addresses this issue. “It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.” We often let the world tell us how to live, but what does the world really know about living? So many lives are filled with deception, distraction, selfishness, and chaos. Do we really want to fit into what the world dictates as “normal”? Shouldn’t we be passionately sharing the love, grace, peace and forgiveness of Christ with a world who so desperately needs it?

Maybe we’re scared. Maybe we doubt our individual abilities. Maybe we don’t feel personally “called” to this mission. Maybe we’re too busy chasing things that ultimately don’t matter to notice what’s going on around us. Maybe we forget that our lives are not supposed to be about us. Maybe we fail to realize that just because we’re on the same side as everyone else, that doesn’t mean we’re on the right side. Maybe we trust God enough to let Him save us, but not enough to let Him use us for the work He prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10).

I’m as far from perfect as anyone reading this, but I know where I’m standing now and the direction my life needs to go. That direction is towards Jesus. He deserves to be the center of my life and He’s calling me to live for more than just my own happiness. I also know that there is no greater joy than the joy that comes from loving others.

The most amazing and overwhelming truth in my life is that God doesn’t have to save me, but He chooses to. He doesn’t have to love me, but He chooses to. He doesn’t have to forgive me, but He chooses to. He doesn’t need me, but He reaches for me. We have choices too. We can choose to walk with God, or not. We can choose to love those around us, or not. We can choose to follow the world, or we can choose to follow Him.

We can choose to fit in, or we can choose to stand out.

Darling, I Thank God for You

You left. And I’m okay with that.

If I ran into you today, I could still say “I love you” with complete sincerity. But, it would no longer come as a plea of desperation from a girl who begged you for forever. It would come from the heart of someone who realizes she’s a better woman because of you.

I woke up this morning and realized that I don’t care the way I used to. This is not to be confused with my care for you because I still wish you all the love in the world. I just don’t care to know the details anymore. I don’t care if we never speak again, or if you’ve met someone new, or what you think of me.  When I released you to go be who you needed to be, I also released myself to do the same.

I’m sorry for anything I said that hurt you. I’m sorry for the people who got involved that shouldn’t have. I’m sorry I didn’t end up being your “one” like you hoped in the beginning.

But, darling, I will never be sorry for knowing you. I thank God for you. I thank Him that you loved me. I thank Him that you stopped loving me. When you left, it brought me down to my knees and I learned to stay there– not in despair, but in worship. My heart cracked open and God came in. He changed me.

I’m turning into the woman I never knew how to be with you. A woman whose happiness is not based on love from another. I’m happy because of the blessings I have in Christ and no boyfriend or ex-boyfriend can shake that peace. When you stopped loving me, I found out what I’m worth.

I think I’ll always miss you, but not in the way I expected. I miss you the way I miss 4th grade– I can smile warmly at the memory without any wish to return to that time. As I move forward, I’ll keep you in the back of my mind and the front of my heart.

Consider this chapter closed.