Changes (The good kind!)

I haven’t always been totally satisfied with myself or where my life was headed. It was all uncertainty and fear and frustration. I was always criticizing myself, always wondering if things would change for me. Not that my life has been bad! No, not even close! God has blessed me in so many ways. But I suppose I have spent a lot of time wondering if I would find my purpose in life or if I would improve as a person. Because let’s face it, when you spent your early adult years (and even some time before that) with anxiety being rude and keeping you down, it can put, well, a huge damper on things. *cringe* Not fun.

But I am working on some important changes. Small changes, but still important. First of all, I found out a while back that the infamous “freshman fifteen” is a very real thing and truthfully I think I gained a little more than just the freshman fifteen. Not healthy for one’s physical being or their self-image. Over the past few years, I have attempted dieting several times, only to get discouraged and give up. Well, I’m going to fix that this time! I could feel that it was beginning to affect me in negative ways and honestly, who wants to live like that! So today I am going to get back on the right track and actually lose some weight, eat healthier, and get that confidence back!

But while losing weight and improving my health is important to me, it’s not the MOST important. No, I’m talking about faith. As a Christian, it’s so important to read God’s Word and really spend time with Him, but I’ll admit, I haven’t been very good at dedicating time to reading the Bible. Until recently.  I have started reading some Bible verses and writing them down, then picking one of those verses and reading the chapter that it’s from.

And that’s where I get to the next change. The Bible I’ve been reading has an index in the back with specific words (such as grief, anxiety, peace, etc.) and verses that talk about those certain things. Well, yesterday I read about discouragement. I sometimes feel discouraged when things don’t seem to be moving how I want them to. I haven’t found my dream job yet and sometimes it’s easy to start thinking, “it’ll never happen” or “I may fail.” I sometimes get anxious that I won’t really get anywhere in life. This time, however, instead of letting myself become caught up in such negativity, I chose to turn to God.

Galatians 6:9

“Overcoming discouragement brings great blessings.”

That made me really think! Instead of drowning in discouragement, I am choosing to overcome that and trust God to do his will in my life. He knows what my purpose is and I am praying for him to show me what that is.

I’m working to become better in all ways and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.

Also, I finally crocheted a hat and I am now crocheting a bag. I’m also knitting a blanket, but blankets take a long time and sometimes I need a second project to work on.  So I’m making positive changes in my life, and that also includes learning something new!

— Brooke

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I’ll Be In The Garden

 

“And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own.”

In The Garden was played at my grandpa’s funeral last year. He would have loved that because he absolutely loved that song. Well, a couple weeks ago, I was at the Hallmark store and I saw this wooden decor sign that said “If you need me, I’ll be in the garden.” It honestly sounded like something he would say. He always loved gardening and I can imagine that Heaven has A LOT of beautiful gardens. So of course I got the sign and it now sits above the refrigerator. A lovely addition to the home.

Well, today I decided to use this wooden lap desk that we’ve had for years. It has storage and I found something interesting and special. It was one of my grandpa’s journals and he had written a couple of entries inside. One of them was about a trip he, my grandma, and myself had taken and I got to remember the whole trip because he’d made sure to write down the details, including what time we got to our hotel and what we did during the trip.  It was written in his handwriting and it was so special to me because I felt like I was getting to hear his voice again.

Now, like I said, there were only a couple of entries, so other than that, it was mostly blank pages. That’s where I bring the wooden sign back in. That message, I’ll be in the garden inspired me to write a poem from my grandpa’s point of view, and I would like to share it with you.

I’ll Be In The Garden

The thing about it is,

we are just pilgrims 

passing through,

waiting for our time,

for this life is temporary, 

this I know.

 

Breathless, suffering

in a hospital room.

I think it will get better,

or so I thought.

Then there are angels

in the room, they’re calling me

home.

 

I walk through that valley,

joining the ones who came

before me.

I am not afraid.

My lungs open up,

I am free.

I can live again.

 

So please, shed no tears,

this is not the end.

I am more alive

than I have ever been.

Live your best life,

and if you need me,

I’ll be in the garden.

 

He knew that he would not be around forever, but he was not afraid of death. He always used to say “we’re just pilgrims passing through.”  What that means is that this is not our final place. This life? This life here on Earth? It’s temporary. This life isn’t easy either. We face all kinds of challenges, but it’s not going to last forever. In Heaven, there is no pain or suffering. It’s beautiful and wonderful and perfect.

A few months before my grandpa’s death, he was in his hospital room and he talked about hearing someone singing in his head. At the time, I thought that it was strange, because why would he be hearing random singing? After his death, I understood. I believe that those were angels singing and they were preparing him to walk through that valley and meet the Lord and all the people who went before him. Of course I was sad, but I found comfort in knowing that he was no longer suffering. I imagined him walking and running and singing and doing everything he couldn’t do here on Earth. That’s really a beautiful thing, even though it doesn’t seem that way for the ones left behind.

When I saw that wooden sign in the Hallmark store, it immediately made me think of him. I just imagined him walking around one of Heaven’s many gardens and admiring the beauty of it all. It also reminded me that even though I can’t see him, he’s not that far away. He’s more alive than ever, he only traded his earthly body for a better one. He’s doing okay and I know he would want the same for his family, for us to live our best lives and to find comfort in knowing that he’s in a better place.

— Brooke

The Three L’s

When you see the title, you may think “huh?” Well, let me tell you what the “three L’s” are! Live, Love, Life. Those are what I call the three L’s. It isn’t always easy to live by, but I try my best to do just that. I choose to LIVE, rather than let anxiety and stress keep me in a state of constant negativity. I choose to LOVE, regardless of the negativity I see in the world. I choose LIFE, because even though it’s easy to get overwhelmed and let the bad overcome the good to the point of just wanting to stay in four walls, there’s a beautiful world out there full of experiences and opportunities that will be missed if I don’t LIVE. Live and love life.

Why did I choose to write about this particular thing? Well, with everything that happens in the world and in our daily lives, it’s easy to let it get to us. I watch the news a lot and I browse social media, and there’s a lot of sad, heartbreaking, and downright frustrating things happening. I could allow that to affect me in a negative way or I could choose to live by the three L’s that I mentioned.

I’ve seen people be downright hateful (especially on social media because hey, it’s easy to be a jerk behind a computer screen. I’m looking at you, Twitterverse.), but it doesn’t matter what someone else is doing. What matters is what YOU do. When someone else is being negative, you just have to push that aside and live your best life.  Don’t worry about other people, just take care of YOU.

Smile, be happy, give love, and have compassion. The world needs more positivity.

— Brooke

Who Holds The Future

I haven’t updated this blog in a while because of a lovely thing (I mean that sarcastically) known as writer’s block. Ugh. Not fun at all. But I, of course, did not force myself because I certainly don’t want to write something terrible *gasp*.

Now, what have I been up to? Well, I have been knitting, of course! What have I been knitting? A blanket! A nice, comfy blanket that I absolutely cannot wait to use. I won’t show a picture because it’s not done yet, but *hint hint* it’s a nice cream color with teal stripes and white fringe. Very cute.

I will also be turning TWENTY FIVE next month. It seems like just yesterday I was graduating from high school. I’m not gonna lie here, I keep thinking about the fact that I am only five more years away from turning THIRTY. Thirty years old! Time sure does go by quickly, doesn’t it?

Let me tell you a little secret…oh, who am I kidding, this isn’t a secret. I’ve always had this habit of stressing about my future and what it will hold for me.  I was like always like, “Will (X) ever happen?” Things have changed, though. I live in the moment. I don’t stress about the future like I used to, because God holds the future, and with Him, it all works out.

Here’s an example. Well, two examples. Example #1) I used to worry that I would never get my driver’s license. It seemed like my peers had gotten their licenses a long time ago and here I was, nineteen years old and still not having mine. But you’re darn right I got it eventually! I was twenty-four when I did so, but better late than never.

Example #2) I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this, but I used to have awful anxiety about college. I just could not stop stressing about my grades! I was convinced at times that I wouldn’t make it through college, that I would never graduate. I actually took a semester off because of anxiety and depression! But I went back the next semester and what did I do in 2017? I GRADUATED!!!! It took me six years, which may be longer than some, but so what?!  As with the driver’s license, it’s better late than never.

The point is, I don’t worry about the future like I used to. Of course I am curious about it, but curiosity can be a good thing! I just realize that just because something hasn’t happened for me right at this moment, it doesn’t mean that it’ll NEVER happen.

Everything happens in God’s perfect timing, y’all. Just trust Him.

— Brooke

Goodbye, Negativity

Okay, so I’m going to admit that sometimes I have a habit of letting negativity get to me. That’s why I have to be careful on social media, because dang, people argue a lot. Religion, politics, etc. People argue, they mock each other, they are just downright petty. Seriously, a few weeks ago #triggeraconservativein4words and #triggeraliberalin4words, and I thought, “Goodness, how childish can you be?” Things like that do aggravate me and it can be stressful just watching the negativity on social media and on TV. But I’ve learned to just tune out negativity. If I see something on Twitter that bothers me (arguing, name-calling, blah blah blah.), I just click out of Twitter and do something that doesn’t stress me out.

Social media can be fun, don’t get me wrong. It allows you to keep in touch with family and friends, and you can meet some cool people. I also love checking on my favorite celebs. *cough* One Direction *cough* (Shhhhhhh!!!!).  But there’s negativity too and it can have a negative effect on our mental and emotional health if we aren’t careful.  I know Twitter drama has caused me anxiety (I’ve never been involved in any, Thank God, but I’ve seen it and it both disappoints me and gets on my nerves).

So I want to share how I deal with social media negativity.  If you see drama on social media, click out of it! Log out, then relax and do something else, whether walking, going to the store, or something else. If you see something online that you don’t like, just log out.It’s that simple! I used to spend too much time reading the negativity, but then I realized that it’s quite unhealthy and decided to just log out if I find myself becoming irritated.

So that’s all I’m gonna say about that! Spread love, spread kindness, and take care of yourselves.

— Brooke

Heartbroken

Over these past two days, since that horrific shooting in Parkland, I have been trying to find the right words to say. Every mention of the victims’ names, every picture of them I see on TV, my heart breaks a little more. Because while I know that there is evil in the world, it is still hard for me to understand how anyone can be so cruel, so hardened, so heartless, as to take the life of another human being. No parent should ever have to send their child to school, not knowing if their baby will  be coming home. No one should have to fear for their life in a place that is suppose to be safe.

This awful shooting surpassed Columbine, becoming one of the worst mass shootings in our country’s history. A senseless act of violence inflicted on innocent lives. School isn’t suppose to be a war zone. Children are sent there to learn and prepare for a bright future. These kids should be preparing to go to college and do so many amazing things. These kids could have been future doctors, teachers, counselors, lawyers, and more. But on February 14, their lives were cut short. Why are people so cruel?

Today I heard this sick person’s defense lawyer call him “a broken human being”. No. No. No, he was not just a “broken human being.” A lot of people are broken, a lot of people are in pain, but that doesn’t cause them to go out and take the lives of innocent people. What this person did is indefensible, and the defense attorney had the nerve to say he’s “sad” and “remorseful” and “just a broken human being”. You know who’s broken right now? The families and friends of these victims. THEY are broken. They are broken beyond belief.

And now I would like to share a poem that I wrote yesterday, dedicated to the precious lives that were lost.

Angel

as i write

trying to find

the right thing to say

pain to paper

thoughts become words

no sun shining

through the broken window

tears as a waterfall

spilling over 

into a deep puddle

on the slowly cracking ground

ready to give out

underneath us all

sobs escape

tears falling

onto a grave

the beautiful spirit

of an angel beside me

hand on my shoulder

trying to tell me,

“I’m right here.”

A soul taken

from this earth

far too soon

everyone asking why

you were not only an angel

in death

but you were an angel on earth

a light in the world

and now that you’re gone

the light is dimmed

soon to disappear entirely

I talk to you

every single night

as I cry

praying 

begging and pleading

desperate for this all

to be an awful dream

that the worst day of my life

never happened at all

but my eyes open

I look to my left and my right

but there is no light in the dark

only the spirit of an angel

resting in peace

I wrote this from the point of view of someone who has lost a loved one. I am sending my thoughts and prayers and my love to Parkland, Florida. And to the victims, rest in peace, precious angels.

— Brooke

The Art of Perseverance

I’ve been doing A LOT of knitting lately. Like, a lot. I started with looms about…two years ago, I think? Then I started working with needles. The thing is, a lot of my past projects have not been very good. And here’s where it gets frustrating. Sometimes I have spent DAYS on these projects, envisioning the perfect purse or scarf or hat or whatever. Then I finally get it off the needle, finish it up, and what happened? Knots, loose stitches, holes, etc. I always came across some kind of problem. I-R-R-I-T-A-T-I-N-G. Absolutely irritating and frustrating and honestly? Discouraging. Because I wanted to make something I could proudly use in public, something I made myself.

It would have been easy to give up, but no matter how tempting that was, I kept going. I kept knitting various projects and if they weren’t what I expected, I kept trying until FINALLY, I created the perfect….wait for it….PHONE COVER!

Yep, I finished my phone cover today and I love it!

The ends are good (I found a method that doesn’t require knots), no loose stitches, no holes, and my phone actually FITS! It’s sparkly and cute and I seriously love this phone cover.

Now, I’m not actually writing this so I can ramble about my knitting obsession (Although I do love knitting). No, I have a message here. Perseverance! Persisting, not giving up, continuing despite obstacles or failure. Sometimes I would try to knit something, only to not quite get the result I hoped for. Sometimes I felt discouraged. But I persisted! I kept trying and trying and trying until I got the results I wanted.

That’s the message I want to give you, dear reader. If you are reaching for something and you find yourself not getting those results you wanted, keep persisting until you reach your goals! And if that voice in the back of your mind says, “Quit while you’re ahead,” then knock the jerk aside and listen to YOURSELF. Tell yourself, “I can do this, I WILL do this” and keep going until you get to where you want to be. It’s not an easy thing to do, but in the end, it’ll all be worth it.

— Brooke

My Poetry Collection

Remember how I’ve been talking about that poetry collection I’ve been writing? And I was talking about self-publishing? Well, I went ahead and posted the collection on Wattpad, rather than waiting! Since it’s dedicated my mom and grandpa, I decided to make it their Christmas present.  So this is going to just be an entry telling you about the project.

The title of my poetry collection is….

Who Strengthens Me.

I named it after my favorite bible verse, which is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, which is Philippians 4:13.  The poems are mostly based on my personal experiences, although “Carve Our Names” is just a random love poem I came up with. (It’s all about a couple driving down Texas dirt roads, going to a lake, carving their names in an old oak tree. I really wanted to have a Texas poem in there, since I live in Texas!)

Anyway, here is the link, so you can read the collection:

https://www.wattpad.com/516264350-who-strengthens-me-a-poetry-collection-dedication

I hope you enjoy it and I hope you have a wonderful year!

— Brooke

Don’t Put The Cart Before The Horse

I thought of another New Year’s Resolution, y’all. I want to stop “putting the cart before the horse.” You know those moments when you start to concern yourself about your future before you’ve even started trying? Yes, I am one of those people. For example, this is an example of me “putting the cart before the horse.”

My brain: “Will you EVER get your dream job?”

My rational side: “You haven’t even started LOOKING yet.” (That will change in 2018, though.)

See what I mean? I start worrying about things before anything has even happened. Tonight I thought about it and I realized that putting the cart before the horse just causes more unnecessary stress. Then I decided that I’m going to make that my official New Year’s Resolution. I am going to enjoy the moment and NOT worry about things that haven’t happened yet. I’m going to focus on doing the things I love (like writing, for example) and I am not going to allow myself to obsess over the future.

For years, I have had a fear of failed expectations. Rather than “just going with it,” I think about every perceived wrong that could happen. It’s almost like I can already feel the physical and emotional pain of failing to meet my expectations, and that, my friends, is far from helpful. When we constantly worry about the future and meeting expectations, it can hinder us from doing our best. Nerves tend to prevent us from doing our best in areas where we would normally do perfectly fine.

Trust me, I learned that from going to school. When I was nervous about a test, I wouldn’t do as well as I would have. When I just studied and did my best, and RELAXED,  my grades tended to be a lot better.  Why exactly was I so nervous about my tests? Yep, because I was worried about the results. BEFORE I had even started studying or taking the test. I mean, seriously. I was worrying about the test grade before the test had even happened.

This can apply to other areas of our lives too and in 2018, I plan on working on it. Just take it one day at a time and enjoy the moment.  Don’t obsess and worry about the end result, but instead focus on the task at hand. Just live, enjoy what I’m doing at the moment, and everything will be juuuuust fine.

It may take some effort, it certainly won’t be easy, but I’m going to try my best.

 

And it is now 2018 here in Texas. Here’s to a brand new year!

— Brooke

Mission: 2018

There are two days left in 2018. Can you believe it?! It seems like only yesterday that 2017 was just beginning! Wow. Now, I am going to split this entry into two parts: 2017 Rewind and Fast Forward: 2018.  So I’ll be talking about some of my favorite moments from 2017 including personal achievements and music + film, then my plans for my 2018.

2017 Rewind

College Graduation

  • Bachelor’s In Creative Writing!

Getting my driver’s license 

  • I used to be too anxious for driving and now I have a license. Woo hoo!

Discovering reversible sequin pillows

  • I now have two reversible sequin pillows, two reversible sequin iPad cases, and two reversible sequin bracelets. Totally random addition to this list, I know, but I saw the pillows, then the reversible sequins started appearing everywhere and I just really love anything reversible sequins.

Seeing “Dunkirk.” 

  • I loved it! Very good movie.

Niall Horan’s debut album

  • He’s cute, he plays guitar, and he has really good tunes. Of course I got the album! 

Reputation

  • I have gotten every single one of Taylor’s albums and this one was no different. 

Solo 1D music

  • Yep, I love One Direction, and Niall isn’t the only one to release solo music this year! All the boys have been releasing new music and I have really been enjoying it. 

Starting my own blog

  • I had been thinking about starting a blog and I finally created this one. I am so glad that I did!

Holding a Macaw + a ball python at the zoo

  • Our town’s zoo was closed for a bit after Hurricane Harvey and I was so excited to attend the grand reopening! While there, I got to hold a macaw and a ball python. Such fascinating creatures!

Spending Christmas with family 

  • We opened presents, had a delicious Christmas dinner, and spent time together! It’s so nice getting to be with loved ones.

Fast Forward: 2018

Now that I’ve listed some of my favorite 2017 moments, what do I hope to achieve in 2018?

Get a job

  • I want to get a job that I really love. I just want it to be the right one! 

Be more positive

  • Sometimes it’s not always easy to look at the bright side, but it’s certainly worth a try! In 2018, I want to try harder to see the positive side of things, and share that positivity with others!

Finish my poetry book

  • I am in the process of revising the poems for my book and I am so excited to have a completed project! I’m still researching self-publishing, so that’s a possibility!

Write a fiction novel

  • Fiction is so fun to write and I want to write a full-length fiction novel! At least the first draft.

Improve my drawing 

  • I love drawing and I’d love to get better at it! I want to draw something beautiful this year. I need to improve the shading and making my drawings more three-dimensional and realistic.

2017 has been difficult in some ways, but amazing in so many other ways. I want 2018 to be even better. I hope for happiness, positivity, success, and so much more. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 holds.

Happy New Year, everyone!

— Brooke