In Marriage – Don’t Build a Fence Over the Small Things.

Love

Being married is one of the best things I have ever committed to. It’s also one of the hardest things I have ever committed to, and I truly mean that.

I dated my handsome hubby for 9 years before we tied the knot. We had so many necessary conversations to prepare us for marriage like: setting boundaries, financial discussions, raising-a-family, etc.

We were ready (and all those talks paid off, phew)! But, there was one thing no married couple could truly explain to us until we experienced it ourselves.

Loving someone so much, but also being so irritated at them all at the same time.

I love my husband, and I will love him until I take my last breath.

I will fight for my husband, and do my best to honor him in all the ways that I can.

I am fiercely committed to our relationship!

But.

But.

But.

I was not prepared for the internal fences I would easily put up after 6 to 7 months of marriage.

You see…he has a really bad habit of leaving his hats around the house. (And I have a super bad habit about leaving my cups around the house – ever since I was a kid – so I am no saint).

Exhibit A.

Some days, when I get home after a long day of work and I see a hat lying randomly in the living room, I come undone (it’s okay to call me insane).

Sometimes I have to take a breather because I will let that one little thing eat at me. Then, when I see my husband, I let that irritation build into a pile of frustration because I point out other things: the dishes in the sink, the clothes on the bedroom floor, or the blankets that aren’t folded.

I would get so worked up. In my head i’m like “I can’t believe that he can’t just pick up his hats – I mean…they are hats….just put them away!

But.

But.

But.

After some much needed self-reflection, I realized that I really am being ridiculous. Why am I forgetting all the beautiful and wonderful things about my husband that make him who he is over some hats – HATS!!!

Why am I getting so worked up, and amounting everything I know about my husband, over his inability to put away a hat.

My husband is so much more than someone “who can’t put away a hat.”

He is literally my prince in shining armor who loves me unconditionally!

  1. One time, I had a super bad tummy ache and he got me medicine and a heating pad, and let me rest in the bed until my tummy was better.
  2. Or, the time he brought home flowers that made our house smell and look amazing.
  3. Or, the time he came home and randomly danced with me in the kitchen (that’s my favorite).

There are a million little things that make me fall in love with him more and more each day.

But, if I don’t keep myself in check, then I will eventually only remember those small things that irritate me (that shouldn’t irritate me), and forget all the other small things that make him who he is – the reason I married him.

I also have to remember that I could be a total irritation too. I am not perfect! For instance:

  1. I leave cups all over the house.
  2. I open a can of drink, take a sip, and put it back in the fridge.
  3. I hate cleaning the bath tub (now…he is a saint for taking care of this).
  4. One time, I left a compost bucket outside for 2 months, because I forgot about it, and it smelled like straight butt when it finally got warm. But, Bruce took care of it for me (again, he is the saint in this house!!).

So, you see, we both have things to work on!

I just have to remember that he is more than the little things that irritate me. He is my husband that I have vowed to love and to cherish. I can’t cherish him if I build a wall of irritation over some hats.

I have to talk to him, love him, and continually remember why I choose him before I ever lose focus because of the little things that frustrate me. I also have to remember that I am no where near perfect, and I have things to work on too.

Our marriage is more important to me than a bunch of hats around the house.

Because one day, if something were to ever happen, I would miss picking up each hat every day and taking it upstairs to his side of this closet. ❤

Love is about having continual conversations, and developing deeper bonds with one another by looking past the small things that really don’t matter.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Your Value Minus Your Screen

Live

You know what’s easy?

Sitting at home feeling motivated and encouraged by a few short videos, Instagram stories, and books.

And, for those few short seconds of reading or watching I feel uplifted, and I find a sense of motivation and self-worth.

But, that’s also the problem.

I could sit at home all day, much like every one does now-a-days, and just “scroll.” I could fill my head with whatever I wanted to feel “full,” to feel “loved,” to feel “distracted from the pain,” or to simply “feel something.”

We should be better than that.

We should know ourselves better than that.

When was the last time you stopped filling your head with the thoughts of others, sat down in a peaceful and distraction free space, to reflect on yourself? To ask yourself questions:

  1. Where am I right now?
  2. How do I feel right now?
  3. What’s important to me right now?
  4. Who do I love right now?
  5. Who am I right now?

We should believe in ourselves enough to take the time to self-discover, and believe in our own value.

We are valuable. You are valuable. I am valuable.

I can’t sit around all day long scrolling through endless pages of tik-toks, YouTube videos, newspapers articles, and google searches. Doing so only distracts me from taking the time for myself.

I deserve to know who I am and be confident in who I am.

You deserve to self-reflect on who you are without a million other people coming across your screen deciding for you. Sure, it’s okay to take in content and reflect on the words of others.

What is not okay is to be wholly distracted by them that you no longer know who you are. You simply become a product of the culture you consume.

The beauty of being a writer is this – I consistently take the time to pan out my own thoughts, to self-discover, and to get my feelings and emotions out on paper. I wish the same for many of you who may be struggling to find your own inner peace, and to truly understand that it is you who knows your own value.

Believe in who you are now, and who you will become. But, doing so will require you to sacrifice the time you spend on a screen, and to reflect on your own thoughts.

Put the phone down and ask yourself this: who am I right now in this moment?

Don’t think of the last video you watched, or anything you have consumed via a screen. Have your own thoughts.

Who. Are. You. Right. Now?

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Being Okay With Changing Friendships.

Lead, Love

Friendships evolve.

And that’s okay.

You know…everyone has a certain tolerance for change. Some people have a high tolerance for change while others have a low tolerance for change.

Regardless of that tolerance one thing is true – everyone is not 100% okay with all of the changes that happen in their life.

And most people are not comfortable with changing friendships.

I am one of those people.

I consider myself more inclined to develop interpersonal relationships via one-on-one interactions. I can be just about anyone’s friend, and be a part of the “crowd hype” at gatherings, but I cling to those friendships that are intentional because it requires sacrifice, commitment, and trust.

I will admit that it is hard for me to adjust to people who change, and to people who especially change their mind about the relationship we have.

But, over the last year, and being married to the most handsome and amazing man I have ever met, I have noticed that my current relationships have changed. They’ve changed quite a lot.

I’ve noticed that some friends have started pulling themselves away. I’ve noticed that some friends personalities have changed. I’ve noticed that I’ve developed new friendships and have grown deeper relationships with those who choose to stay.

People grow. People change. People don’t remain the same.

I’ve come to terms with it. As we all gain life experience, and overcome new challenges we are faced with, we will all eventually bring new perspectives, values, opinions, and beliefs to the table.

Because of that, not everyone in our current circle will be okay with the changes. Those who grow with you will stay while others who no longer wish to take part will fade away.

It’s a part of the process of growing up, and you never stop growing up.

I want you to know, just like I have come to know, that it is okay for your friendships to change. This means accepting your current friends for who they have grown into, or saying good bye to those who want to leave (even if they leave silently – you’ll notice – I promise).

The people who work just as hard as you in keeping your friendship alive are those you fight for. Don’t be worn down or weary by those who choose to walk away. It’s okay. They may not be meant for you in this season.

And, if you have friends who have changed because of things they have experienced then sit down and listen. Try to understand where they are coming from, and gain a new perspective on life. That’s how we all grow.

And, if you have developed some new friendships in this season then take the time to grow some roots. It’s okay to invest in new people (albeit a little scary), but they could be who you need right now.

Although change can be uncomfortable it can mostly be beneficial into growing us in to the women we are meant to become.

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We are all doing life together. It’s truly a forest.

It’s full of twists and turns, dry seasons and wet seasons, good growth and bad growth, and most of all, people who help root us despite the ever changing climate.

There will be shallow planted people, and deep-rooted people you will encounter in life.

Take it in stride, grow from every encounter, and allow things to fall into place.

.

.

The last thing you want to do is to stay stuck in the “I wish things never changed.” Doing so will rob you the opportunity to truly connect with the people around you, and who are with you, right now.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

When you aren’t where you thought you would be.

Lead, Lies

Complete honesty? I have really struggled with the concept of where I currently am. And this includes everything: my career, my body, my health, my finances, and even my blog.

I have these goals that I LOVE to set, and in my head, I’m like “I am so going to accomplish this.” I have this mentality that whatever I put my mind too will always work out. If I try hard enough and work long enough I will always be successful.

Yeah…I kind of laughed too when I wrote that.

But, the problem isn’t that I’m not competent enough or not working hard enough or working long enough. The problem is that I’m chasing after something that I was never meant to chase after. It’s not my “now calling.”

woman in white elbow-sleeved shirt standing near white train in subway

Just recently I started to figure this out. You’d think I would have sorted this already after following Jesus for like 9 years! (almost double digits!! I could cryyyyy).

Back to the point.

I have been chasing after things that were meant for me in a previous season, and not meant to follow me into my new season.

Let me explain. When I start something I am fully committed. I rarely ever let it go unless I am forced to. Which means my responsibilities pile on top of each other.

I don’t like to let anyone down.

But, let’s be serious. If I really take a deep look at the “why I don’t let go” then my honest answer would be to meet the expectations of those whose opinions matter to me.

Go ahead…shake your head and sigh. I did too when I got to the core of it all. I get it.

And you want to know what made me breathe a sigh of relief? To understand that it’s okay that I am not where I thought I would be?

An open and honest conversation with my fiance.

flat lay photography of man and woman holding hands together

Here is the story. I labeled myself as the breadwinner of our family. I was going to be the main provider, with health insurance, good benefits, and be an amazing wife who could love and care for our children (which I don’t have yet).

So, a long time ago (like 2 years into dating – we are now going on year 9) I thought “okay, I need to get this life-thing right, make no mistakes, and get this adult thing down now so I am better prepared for when I become a grown woman who supports her family. Like I said, I make commitments, and that includes my relationships. (TBH – Bruce is the best decision I have EVER made).

So, I set goals. I said to myself:

  1. My credit score is going to be excellent before I am 23.
  2. I am going to have a dedicated budget that manages all my finances before I graduate undergrad so I can manage our budget.
  3. I am going to get my master’s so I can make more money so I can support our family.
  4. I am going to be debt free before I get married so I don’t burden our cash flow.
  5. I am going to pray every single day because that’s what a good wife would do.
  6. I am going to get super fit so I can be healthy so I can be an example for my kids of how we should care for our bodies (kids that I still don’t have).
  7. I am going to start my/our retirement fund so we can retire early without feeling like we can’t.

And the list can literally go on for hours.

In some places of that list, I am preparing so far into the future that I am rushing the present. I can’t even enjoy my smallest wins today because I’m stuck in the thought pattern of “I’m not where I thought I would be. “

I’m being too harsh to MYSELF. Like, for real?! I suck at congratulating myself because nothing is ever enough. I always try to find faults so I can say “I could have done better.”

So, I had a panic attack. My instinct? I have to call Bruce. I told Bruce (my fiance, if you didn’t catch it) how I was feeling. I told him, “I felt like I was a failure. I really wanted to quit school because I was tired, I wanted to quit my job and do something else because I wasn’t completely happy, I wasn’t giving enough to my eTeam and my eGroup because I’m so wrapped up with work and school, and would rather do church instead of work and school, etc. etc.” And, he asked me why I was feeling that way. I was honest.

Because I need to support us. I can’t drop these things or do something else because I have to support our family.

I had set the expectation, without actually talking to Bruce about it, that I was going to provide us with this comfortable lifestyle that successful adults have because it’s my responsibility to provide.

And all he had to tell me was this, paraphrased here, “yeah, you make a lot more than me, but I don’t care what you make. You don’t have to make that much. Even if you were working at a coffee shop with me I would be happy because I’m spending my life with you; not that you’re making enough for us both. We do this together.”

I know it sounds simple, but his words struck a chord in me. I think God purposely put him in my life at a young age because God knows me very very very well. That I would do this. At this point in my life.

The thing is, there is no goal in life that I should be striving to achieve. For the record, goals are GOOD. I am not saying “ditch the goals.” I’m saying, there is no goal in life that I should be striving for in order to gain the approval of even the most important people in my life. Plus, marriage is an “us” thing – not an “I thing.”

woman making face while holding her brown hair

So…my calling?

Not to set expectations on myself for the approval of someone else, even if they didn’t know I was seeking their approval. Sometimes, we don’t know until we are honest about it and have open conversations.

What season am I in?

Well, in my previous season, I was meant to do really well in school. That was my focus that God asked me to do. It was a blessing from him that I needed to manage. In this season? It’s no longer my focus. I’m in school, yes, but I can’t expect myself to perform at the same level this season as my last season when I have other focuses in my “now calling” like my eGroup and my eTeam at church. Does that mean I flunk school? Nope.

It just means that I do my best, and don’t kill myself striving for a goal (like an A) that I can’t keep up with. I need to focus on my “now calling” (or better yet, responsibilities that God has asked me to manage).

For me:

  1. Getting married. We have a wedding to plan and pay for. That is my current focus.
  2. Caring for my eGroup. We are now multiplying into two teams. It’s time to focus on that growth.
  3. Caring for my eTeam. We are a team full of teenagers. They are like my kids, and they deserve my attention.
  4. Finish the Masters. Not BE THE BEST, just finish the race.

And in all of that, I needed to let go of responsibilities that I shouldn’t carry into this season or put on my plate that’s meant for a later season like “trying to get debt free” or “planning for retirement.” Those things will come, or come again, but for now, I need to balance and focus what I’m supposed to manage today.

woman holding mirror

I can only carry a certain amount of weight. If I try to do it all I WILL fail and then really put on the “I am NOT where I’m supposed to be” pout.

The fact is, I AM where I am supposed to be because I am still chasing after Jesus.

In the cheesiest way possible – it’s God’s perfect timing. Not mine.

As women, we really need to learn when to give ourselves a break, celebrate where we are today, and love ourselves for where God put us and where he is taking us. Understand that where I am at today is okay, and the dream I have for the future will come to pass as long as I have my trust and motivation in the right place.

Celebrate TODAY so I don’t miss the present chasing the future.

Sure, I want a new job. I will look when the wedding is over. I don’t need that added pressure. I have been rushing the wedding process that I prayed for because I’m looking for the promise AFTER the wedding. But, what about the promise of GETTING MARRIED. I’m missing it. I need to love where I am or I’m going to MISS the blessing IN FRONT OF ME.

Sure, I want to quit school. That ends this April. I can’t rush to the celebration because I’m tired of waiting or working. The reward of our labor comes in due time.

Remember this in Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Love,

Jennie Laureen

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You need to be independent in your romantic relationships.

Love

I’m writing this article from my perspective of being in a long-term relationship, and I didn’t learn this until probably year 4 or 5 of being with Bruce, and we are about to hit year 8 (geez-la-weez). And for the record, year 4 or 5 is when we became adults – 18/19 (I think I was 20) years of age – so this will definitely look different for someone who is starting to date someone in their 20’s!

It is vital that you maintain some level of independence while in a loving and caring relationship with someone. Codependency isn’t healthy. Codependency is, in relative terms, an “addiction to the relationship.” It means that one cannot function, physically or psychologically, without their partner.

It may sound crazy, but it’s similar to being addicted to a substance. Both have psychological effects that make someone dependent on the “item” or “you” to where life cannot continue unless that “item” or “you” is a present and constant force in their life.

And codependency can get a little fuzzy when you first start dating. At the beginning of the relationship that’s all you want. You want to spend every second with this person, text and call them around the clock, and just be with them! And that is OKAY. Because that is the honeymoon stage.

The honeymoon stage is where couples are “ooey-gooey,” “lovey-dovey,” and are, simply put, love struck. You cannot see any wrong in them – they are perfect and with no flaw. You two can conquer the world, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after! This stage doesn’t last long – typically between 3 months to a little less than 1 year.

Once the honeymoon stage is over then you need to observe how you interact in the relationship and how your partner interacts in the relationship. And, there are some signs of codependency that is easy to catch as long as you are looking for them.

1. Your “purpose” in life seems to revolve around your partner which involves making extreme sacrifices to satisfy their needs.

For example, you are about to go on vacation with your family. Your flight leaves the next day. Your partner calls you, crying, because he/she is going to miss you too much for you to go and begs you to stay. Without question, maybe some hesitation, you stay. You don’t go on that trip with your family, but you really should have!

 2. Your emotional involvement in the relationship is quiet because you constantly worry about their opinion. Therefore, when unsatisfied, a conversation is never had because you want to avoid an argument. 

For example, you really want to discuss where you are in the relationship. Maybe you do notice that you need some space, but are too worried that your partner may look at you differently. That he/she may break it off because you aren’t “happy” in the relationship. Because of that you stay quiet and choose not to have that conversation because the relationship matters more than your own emotional well-being. You pretend to be happy.

3. Saying no to your partner doesn’t feel like an option even when it drains you mentally, physically, and financially.

This is a tough one because I have trouble saying no any way due to my personality type because I enjoy helping people. But, we aren’t called to be people-pleasers. God calls us according to his will and his way. Therefore, saying no to something that doesn’t align with his word is VITAL.

Regardless, as an example, when your partner asks you to do something you have trouble saying no because you want to keep the peace and the relationship “stable.” But, let me tell you something, if your relationship is codependent than you are in a very unstable relationship. It’s like losing yourself.

4. Boundaries no longer exist. 

For example, you have a strong faith but somehow this relationship becomes more important than that faith you have. You will try things, do things, and say things with your partner (because they suggest and/or say so) that goes against everything you believe. That line in the sand has been crossed.

5. You, or they, need constant reassurance that your relationship is okay. That you or your partner feel loved, and that others approve of your relationship. 

For example, you have to constantly ask your partner “do you love me?” Or, you have to ask your friends how your relationship looks or if your partner is a good guy/gal to be with. And when they say he/she isn’t good you simply ignore the warning and, again, ask your partner “do you love me?” You aren’t confident in each other’s relationship and you seek approval.

6. Relationships outside of your romantic relationship, including friends and family, become nonexistent. Your partner takes up all of your time. And, when you do finally make time for your friends and family, your partner makes your feel guilty for it. 

This one doesn’t need explaining, but is the most obvious indicator of codependency. Your life revolves solely around your partner and no one else. You become isolated.

Being in a codependent relationship isn’t satisfying – it’s life wrecking. As a person, you have so much potential that you deserve to discover. God doesn’t call us to depend on a partner, but to depend on him. This isn’t a two-way street with just you and your partner. God has to be involved in your relationship. We rely on his strength and his will for our life – not our partners.

Our partners can never give us the right direction for our life. They love you and care for you, but will never know you as intimately as God knows you. Your partner can pray for you and be a sturdy foundation, but cannot control who you are meant to be/become.

If your partner tries to control you and allows you little freedom and no independence then it is most likely time to step away from the relationship.

I am not saying that if and when you show some signs of codependency (every once in a while) that it’s time to end it.

We all have our moments or time-periods where we become a little more dependent on our partner, but that shouldn’t turn into a pattern.

Being independent in a relationship means loving your partner for who they are and encouraging them to seek God and develop a greater faith in him. Don’t control your partner to be who you think they should be – that’s completely against what God asks of us. And don’t allow someone to control you – you deserve better.

Bruce and I love each other. With that comes an understanding that we each have lives. We each have friends that we love and care about. We each have goals that we want to achieve. We support each other in them, but we don’t make decisions based on what the other says nor do we try to control the outcome of each other’s life.

Let’s say it’s a Friday night and I just saw Bruce Thursday night (we went out to dinner or something). I don’t have plans and would love to spend time with him again, but he has a game night planned with a few of his buddies. I will never ask him to cancel those plans to spend time with me. I JUST saw him. He has friends and he deserves to have friends outside of our relationship, because that is what makes a healthy relationship in the first place.

We are two independent people who have decided that we want to spend the rest of our lives together. That doesn’t mean sacrificing everything that we are, want to become, or are meant to be to satisfy the other. We are in mutual agreement with the direction that God has for our lives. We support each other, love each other, push each other to be better than before (towards God), but will never manipulate, control, or force what we think is “right” on each other.

And to get to that spot requires time, trust and patience.

You don’t earn that kind of relationship over night.

You have to face trials, work through the tough times and be willing to discuss difficult questions and face the facts in all of it – BEFORE MARRIAGE. I would hate to enter into marriage with someone that I honestly don’t know at all.

And to be honest,  I wanted to be a married women after year 3, but I am so glad we didn’t because I wasn’t fully confident in us to become a married couple until the end of year 6. We grew up, became adults, and learned to lead independent lives outside of our relationship.

Side note: at year 6 I turned 22 years old. The timeline will look different for you! Please don’t go and wait 6 years to get married because that’s the “right time.” You could get married after year 2 or year 10. You will know when you are in a confident place – I promise.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

 

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24 reasons to love 24!

Live

Okay, so right now I am 23 years old. In less than 2 days I will be 24 years old. I don’t know about you, but I feel like turning 24 is a major life changing moment. I am jittery with excitement at the fact that I am going to be 24 years old!

Because, 24 isn’t 23. At 23, I still feel like I am a kid with no experience – even though that is the farthest from the truth! I mean….I graduated college 3 years ago! But, that perception is still there. 23 still feels so young.

But 24…….I’m a freaking adult!! I feel “grown-up” and I have this “I made it; I survived” attitude. I’m in my mid-twenties!!!

So, as I prepare for the big celebration, because I can be a bit dramatic with celebrations, I have compiled 24 major reasons to love turning and being 24 years of age!

1. You are officially granted the “adult status.” 

Being an adult is actually a lot of fun to me. Sure, I had tons of fun as a teenager, college-kid, and young adult. However, those stages were my growing pains. In all of it I was discovering who I was and I hiccuped a lot in the things I thought I would be. Being an adult comes with it’s responsibilities, and I am PROUD that I have established a work-life balance and can pay my bills without bugging my parents for help!

I am proud that I can make it on my own.  I am my own person who handles all aspects of my life. (Of course with the Lord’s guidance – duh 😉  ). 

Image result for I'm an adult gif

2. You don’t give 2 cents about someone else’s opinion any more. 

As you grow up, you worry SO much, too much, about what everyone else thinks. As a church goer – it’s a lot worse. You pray “Dear God, don’t let me screw up and be “cast out.” But now it’s so different. I am who GOD MADE ME TO BE. I listen to his direction – not someone else’s. There is not one person who knows you better than you and God combined.

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3. You own up to your mistakes.

You no longer want to try to blame someone else for something you obviously did. You have the courage to own up to the things you screw up on, but realize it’s worth it in the end.

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4. Relationships matter so much more. 

As you get older you realize that certain friendships and relationships are worth keeping. Even though you “bicker” and argue your perspective – the real friends of yours honor your point of view rather than tear you down for it. And that my friends is the reason you should keep them. You don’t leave them over petty arguments because you’ve built a foundation with these people – your so called Lifers.

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5. Family becomes your rock. 

In high school, and in college, all you wanted to do was leave your parents and siblings behind. Get out of the house and rule your own world. It’s like turning 18 and thinking “I know everything better than my mom and dad.” Then, you think about it and realize “geez, I guess they were right.”

Your family knows you better than anyone else. And you realize, as grey hairs start to poke out of their scalp, their advice is worth listening too and they deserve your respect and attention.

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6. Parents become your friends – not your enemies. 

It’s finally time to say goodbye to who’s right and who’s wrong. You both come to terms with what each other chooses to believe and love each other for it. Because you’d rather not sacrifice your relationship with them because you “oh so heartedly believe you are correct” like you used to think. The relationship is more important.

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7. You realize who you are and where you are going. 

Some waters you no longer want to test. You have grown out of the “rebellious stage,” have a job and have actual goals you want to pursue. You now pull your pants up and say “I’m going to do them.”

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8. And if you don’t, it’s okay.

Even if you have NO idea what you want to do and where to go – that’s okay! Some of us don’t even figure it out until we are 30 – but that’s the beauty of being an adult, right? We can constantly change who we are going to grow up to be and own up to whatever path we take.

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9. Staying home is like vacation. 

For me this is true. I am so tired after a long day of work and graduate school that the best thing that can happen to me is the opportunity to sleep at home and watch New Girl all day. It’s a treasure I will never ever ever ever take for granted again.

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10.  There are ton of celebrations going on. 

Literally, I have been to a dozen weddings and mid-20 celebrations. It’s like – I have moneyyy to spend because I’m an adult and so the celebrations rock!! No more cheap pizza, but i’ll take a bit of that sushi off your plate 😉

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11. You realize you don’t have to say yes to everything. 

At this point in your life you have figured out that your time is limited too. You have nothing to prove to any one and you don’t want to sacrifice your sleep. You learn to say yes to important things and no to others that don’t matter to you.

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12. Your health starts to really matter. 

You don’t complain about the kind of food you eat. In fact, you start to really enjoy the fact that you are taking care of yourself. You don’t care about soda or chips any more or binging on anything bad for you. In fact, you start to care about your health and whether or not you are doing yourself a service by eating that donut.

13. You realize that things you did as a kid were not as crazy as what kids are doing today. 

Honestly, I really thought that some of the things I did as a kid like sniffing the Mr. Sketch scented markers because..well..they smelled awesome. At least I am not trying to eat a Tide Pod. Like…what? You realize you turned out okay and hopefully those younger than you will too!

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14. You are old enough to appreciate technology and use it excellently, but you aren’t completely absorbed by it. You know how to put the phone down. 

Technology has come a long way. I remember my very first fat flip phone in 7th grade. It was the best thing ever. I even remember by first iPhone 4 in high school. The world changed for me. But, at 24 – I have priorities and that doesn’t involve my face on a screen 24/7.

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15. Judging people are a thing of the past. 

You just get over feeling the need to criticize someone for who they are, the life they choose, and the lifestyle they lead. It’s just not up to you to change them even if you realize that they could be better. You realize you really aren’t in control – God is. Your job is to just love and everybody and guide as best as you can.

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16. Forgiveness is a big deal. 

You want to be forgiven just as much as the next person does. You realize you have seriously hurt people and you don’t want them to hold a grudge against you. You want to be forgiven, and also want to show forgiveness to others because you get it.

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17. Forgiveness isn’t an excuse to get walked all over. 

You also realize that forgiveness is for yourself too. You let go of the pain that someone caused, but you also create some distance. Trust is gained in drips and lost in buckets. You realize that it’s okay to forgive, but that doesn’t mean to let your heart get ripped a part over and over again. You realize you have to protect yourself too!

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18. You are valuable no matter what anyone else thinks. 

You realize you are an asset to the world. Like I said at #1 – you don’t give 2 cents about any one else’s opinion. You realize your worth and the ones you care about will see it too.

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19. Good things take time. 

You realize that there is no such thing as a quick fix. If something is going to be good and long lasting (especially in relationships) it takes time and effort. You have to build it from the ground up. In high school (and college) people are looking for relationships and will sometimes sacrifice meaningful conversation and relational building with chatty talk just to be with someone. Well…I’m not wasting my time anymore and will only pour into those relationships that matter.

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20. New things are worth experiencing. 

Now that I have the money to travel I can’t wait to see what the world offers. I don’t say no to life experiences because of fear. I only say no to things that don’t matter (like going to a late-night party because sleep matters to me lol. I say yes to things that develop me as a person and opens my eyes to what the world is really like – the good and the bad. I don’t want to be ignorant – I want to be open.

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21. Settling isn’t an option. 

You realize that you won’t settle for less than your worth. I won’t stay friends with someone who doesn’t care. I won’t stay at a job that I hate. I won’t settle for something less when I know, and feel, that something even better is around the corner.

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22. You don’t have to be in control all the time. 

You don’t have to have your hands all in the pot all the time. Not everything will always go as planned and I realize that I don’t need to freak out about it all the time. If it goes a different direction then I learn from it rather than freak about it.

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23. You realize the importance of self-development. 

School didn’t stop when I graduated college. There is more to learn that college never taught me. You realize, out of everything, the importance of continually developing who you are and generating new skill sets that enhance yourself as a person and employee. It also keeps your brain active!

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24. My relationship with Christ matters more to me than any one human being. 

I’m a Jesus Freak. You know that! And at this point in my life I just don’t care for other people to deter me from my real love and passion which is following Christ. At this point, I don’t want to let him go and I don’t want any one stopping me from reaching him. And if they do -they probably aren’t worth keeping.

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I honestly cannot wait to turn 24!

Love,

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

 

Finding real adult friends seems almost impossible.

Love

Relationships are tough to build. They require persistence, connection, exposure and vulnerability. They require us to be more than a face and a person to hang out with – especially if our hope is to connect with someone so that we can bear our true selves. We want to be able to relate to one another on a deeper level.

But, the ability to build relationships gets harder the older we get. 

I’ve been talking to some of my closest friends, who are between the ages of 20 and 27, and their greatest struggle is finding relationships of their own that result in the same deep connections they had with the friends they grew up with.

As we all know, we grow up and move away to new cities with new jobs, or to new opportunities. We still have those close relationships we built when we were younger, we don’t forget those, but we still need friends to lean on in this new place we plant ourselves.

The difference for making friends now is that we aren’t put in a situation where it’s easy to make friends. All throughout our school life, and college, we were surrounded by people that we saw almost every single day. We had no choice but to make the effort to get to know them and expose ourselves to them. We had the TIME to build and nurture those relationships.

Today, as an adult, I work all day. Everyone is doing their job and trying to get their part done. Relationships are cast aside and you are considered a singular part of a complicated machine. You keep moving and the machine keeps functioning.

We are planted in places where relationships aren’t considered important, but that doesn’t mean we can’t build them.

Not only that, but we forget that adults have gone through some nasty relationships.

Adult’s carry a weight of mistrust for people because of their past mishappenings. They don’t let people in as easily as they did in their youth. 

If we want to be considered a friend then it’s our job to work on the relationship we desire to have. We make the effort.

We can’t hold expectations for the people we want to be friends with to make the effort themselves first. 

We can’t just “show-up” in their lives and expect for them to automatically trust and love us. They have baggage and we must offer a shoulder to help them carry it. We won’t gain their trust unless we show what we are willing to give up or expose first.

I don’t ever believe that friendships should come easy. If friendships come in easily then they leave just as easily.

For relationships to truly matter then we must do our part. Text and call them first, ask to hang out first, tell your story first. AND, continue to do so until it’s consistent. Don’t do it one time – do it multiple times. It takes TIME and PERSISTENCE in order to show them that you care and are trying.

Adults don’t want to waste their time on a one-off relationship. Who wants to expose their deepest struggles and desires just for someone to leave tomorrow? Adults, like myself, are looking for stability in their relationships.

You must take the chance to be open and exposed if you want to find a relationship that is fulfilling. As humans, we need friendship and connection to survive.

Sadly, we live in a world where quick satisfaction of “likes” and “comments” are encouraged to satiate our hunger for more, but in the end, we will end up starved.

Get off your phone and into a booth and build that relationship from the ground up.

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

 

 

I don’t need you to like me for me to be happy!

Lead

You see – I’ve been labeled the “happy person.” I am the person that most people go to if they need a boost of energy, or a shoulder to cry on, or an ear for someone to talk to. Loving people just comes naturally to me. It brings an abundance of joy to my life to know that someone feels loved. Not everyone gets that opportunity to pour so deeply into someone, and I love the fact that I get that opportunity on a daily basis.

However, no matter how much love I exhibit there will always be people who hate me even if they don’t want to admit it. I’ve been around long enough to know who hates me and who loves me.

And the thing is – it doesn’t bother me. At least not like it used to. In fact, it brings a huge smile to my face!

You see…I refuse to allow someone to break my spirit because I am a woman on a mission and I plan to accomplish it daily. Let me say it again – DAILY.

Did you know that Jesus said in John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belong to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Honestly, to know that people are against me helps me to know that I am going in the right direction. I won’t allow them to falter or hesitate my actions because what God has entrusted to me is worth so much more.

I cannot allow my thoughts and time to be spent worrying about what my haters say.

To allow them to break my spirit means for me to give in to the temptation to question what God has promised me.

Therefore, I will brush it off my shoulder, remember the truths that I’ve been promised, and keep strutting in the direction that I see.

I can honestly laugh at this next mention. Because….people who appreciate me say the SAME THING as the people who hate me. Such as:

  1. You smile so much!
  2. You’re so happy!
  3. You have so much energy!

Their tone of voice changes. Isn’t it funny how they work both ways? My point is…which voice am I going to listen to you? Certainly not the people who think my traits are disgustingly annoying ( yes – I have heard that too [haha] ).

Successful and happy people do not adhere to the words of their enemies to only back down. They use it as their fuel. It drives them and reminds them that they wish not to live in a world where people like themselves don’t exist.

You will have people who hate you.

The best thing you can do………………………………………………………………………………….  Love them.

Photo by Alejandro Alvarez on Unsplash

You can sin as a christian – you just can’t enjoy it.

Live

I do not like it when people tell me that when you finally accept Jesus Christ as your savior – sin must be absent. Obviously, we don’t want to to sin, but we are human. The biggest difference as proof of your salvation, true salvation, is the conviction.

There are 2 types of people that exist when it comes to believers. These are the acknowledgers, and the followers. Any one can simply believe in Jesus Christ – know that he exists and he performed the miracles mentioned in the gospels. But, Satan knows the exact the same thing. Satan knows the bible more than any of us could ever know, because he has existed since the beginning.

But, he does not live or walk with Jesus Christ.

Satan loves sin. It’s his drug, and he wants to pull us in with him because he knows it is enticing. Why do you think he fell from heaven – his love for power!

He wants us to believe that we can WALK with Jesus and LIVE in sin. No, that is not how it works. The bible is absolutely clear with this point. If you are truly saved then the sins we perform will break our hearts – we will be convicted. Sure, sin is great for the fleeting moment you perform it, but  if you are saved it is short-lived. You will regret what you did much longer than the moment you allowed it to happen.

I know plenty of people who believe they are saved, and who sin, but they don’t believe anything is wrong. That what they do is okay! This tells me that you do not have a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ.

Look…I am no saint by ANY means! I’ve even told myself that I am so screwed up that I have broken into tears because I hate breaking my savior’s heart. But, I know i’m saved because of my conviction and that I am still madly in love with Christ. I will begin to fear where I stand if I never felt regret for the wrongs I do.

Satan BELIEVES, but he doesn’t have a RELATIONSHIP. That is what separates us from him and allows us to spend eternity with the coolest dude to ever exist.

We also need constant contact with the savior because it’s EASY to slip into our sinful nature. It’s like candy!! So sweet, and so good while you are eating it, but your teeth despise you when you go for to the dentist for your cleaning, and your tummy is upset with you for putting so much sugar in your system!

If you can tell me that you barely open your bible, and pray seldom, but say, “well, I still believe” then how do you think your relationship with Christ is? It’s nonexistent. I am not saying you are going to hell, but you might if you don’t stay plugged in and slip into sin (and not care that you sinned)!

Sinlessness is impossible for our human condition, but Jesus Christ says to go and sin no more.  We can find that verse in John 8:11 where Jesus tells a woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more.” Here, he is not saying to be of “sinless perfection.” Instead, he extended mercy and demanded holiness. He calls us to NOT go back to our sinful nature. We are brand new, sparkling white!

Jesus never abolished the law. It still exists. Remember those 10 commandments? He fulfilled it. Jesus calls us to LOVE, and the rest is easy to follow. When our focus is not centered around doing things right, but loving Jesus and ALL people around you, then everything else falls into place.

It was NEVER meant to be hard. But, we complicate it. All it takes is dedication, and a constant devotion to know who he is daily.

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by ORNELLA BINNI on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

Bad relationships aren’t worth investing in.

Love

There are many of us who think we are incredibly strong-willed in our relationship with God. That there is nothing that can separate us from the love we have for our Savior. Our promises are promises, and these promises are easy to make when we are at our highest spiritual peak.

I bet many of you went to a camp when you were younger and experienced God for the first time, and every time, that you went. And each time you would say the same thing – I’m different and changed and will never go back to the old person I once was, I will drop the sin that is holding me back.

That’s the easiest part – experiencing the freedom, and letting go of everything and giving it to God. Here God – take it.

But everyone always forgets part 2…..the work.

Work requires that you give your best effort to truly letting everything go, and it comes at a cost too many people are not willing to pay….because it hurts.

The most difficult part of your journey is letting go of the people who influenced you into your prior position. This could mean: spending less time with them, or no time with them at all. Regardless, these people influence you no matter how strong your faith is.

Boundaries must be created for you to have a sustainable relationship with Jesus.

I don’t mean: if you don’t cut out these relationships you will inevitably lose your relationship with Christ. No. It doesn’t work that way. Jesus’ love for you is an undeniable love that reaches for you in your darkest depths. Jesus Christ chases you down and down again no matter how many times you turn away because his love is unexplainable.

When I say “cutting out relationships,” I am simply telling you to make a choice. I was once this person who led a “rollercoaster relationship” with Christ because I didn’t want to give up the relationships that I loved, especially when I believed full-heartedly that I could change them.

A rollercoaster has twists and turns, ups and downs, and several spirals. There are peaks and valleys, and highs and lows. It was sickening to see myself go through these phases where Christ and I were walking side by side, then I would stop dead in my tracks. I would be at my peak and plummet to a deep valley.

People influence you whether you want to believe it or not.

We believe we are so strong, and we say “i’m not like that – I can influence them.” Do you have any idea how many times I have heard that? When I hear it, and have given all the advice I can give, I sit back and watch. And every time, I see the people I love the most stumble. Our own strength and capacity cannot influence the lost at an intimate capacity.

We are human and sin is in our nature.

Our goal is to love unconditionally, guide when needed, and introduce the lost to the one who can ultimately influence at an intimate capacity. We can only entangle ourselves but so deeply. Imagine jumping into a pit of twine. At first, it’s pretty easy to move around and breath because you are at the surface. But, once you wiggle and move around further you start to sink, and the web starts to wrap around your arms and legs. It’s rather difficult to escape something that is wrapped around you.

If you have ever been to a trampoline park then you understand quite well. If you jump feet first into the foam pit,  it’s much more difficult to climb out. The farther you jump the worse it is, and the more tired you become in trying to climb out and onto the platform.

I have a very small pool of friendships now that I consider just as giving to me as I am to them. They walk close to God, and are “equally yolked.” I can turn to them for advice that is biblically sound rather than culturally driven.

If you are tired of the roller coaster ride like I was then you may want to reconsider who you have decided to keep in your life for the long term.  If it damages your ability to keep your relationship with Jesus Christ – is it really worth it when you think about eternity?

 

Love,

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

 

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

 

You don’t need a best friend

Love

Have you ever noticed that a great deal of media portrays a well-known concept called “the best friend?” It seems that in our culture, we have an ideology dedicated to a “soulmate” friendship. I can name at least 8 films/shows that will swoon us to believe that this one friendship will provide us with happiness and meet all of our ultimate needs.

Jess & Milly (Miss you already) – Great movie…you will cry.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (Sherlock Holmes)

Tom & Jerry (Tom & Jerry)

Lucy Ricardo & Ethel Mertz (I Love Lucy)

Fred Flintsone & Barney Rubble (The Flintstones)

Bert & Ernie (Sesame Street)

Meredith Grey & Christina Yang (Grey’s Anatomy)

Dean Winchester & Jared Padalecki (Supernatural)

From kids shows to adult shows these movies portray this “best friend concept.” If you have a best friend…that’s fantastic! It is good to have this kind of stability, but on the flip side, we also need others in our life to give us the words of advice for our particular season.

It is hard for me to believe that we can have all of our needs met by 1 person. And that 1 person can fulfill all of my needs.

Life is full of events that bring about life-altering change. Life will alter our perception of the world, and we will grow into a new person through each season of life.

AND…you will come across a different person in these different seasons that God will place in your life to meet your current needs.

I can’t allow myself to find, or have only, 1 best friend that can possibly meet all of my needs for every season of life.

For instance: I work full-time, I am done with college, at the beginning of a career, and I am in a serious relationship. This part of my life calls for a friend who is in the same stage as I am. It also calls for various mentors who has either been in this stage, or is at this stage, and can provide advice. If I rely on one person for the rest of my life then they may give me “bad advice” because they can’t relate or haven’t been there.

Another instance: One amazing friend of mine who I have known for over 10 years is about to get married. I love her to death, but I do not expect her to come to me for marriage advice – I haven’t been there! I can’t tell her anything beneficial if I have never been in those shoes.

Another instance: A few of my friends are having babies. Again – I have never been pregnant, nor do I have a child. I cannot give the proper advice to the parents of these kids. I don’t have life experience to give them. That season, for me, has not yet come.

If we rely on one person for all of our needs we will eventually come to a point of resentment, disappointment, and lack of relational fulfillment.

God built us for relationship – and relationships change. Some friends will be close to you for years on end, and others will be there for you for just 1-2 seasons. And guess what? That’s okay!

We also can’t keep every single friend we come across for the rest of our life. You will eventually wear yourself tirelessly in an attempt to keep up with all of these friends. Some friends will want to stay…even though you know God has called you to let them go.

Yes – it’s hard and difficult to let those who want to stay go, but if you know God has called you out of that friendship (especially if it is unhealthy for you), then we must find a way for ourselves to move forward.

We need to come to an understanding of where we are in life, who we need in our life to meet our relational needs, and also ask God where He wants us to go in life so that He places the right people in our path to get us in that next season.

On my TimeHop, for April 4th, I posted over 7 years ago a status that says: “God determines who walks into your life….it’s up to you to decide who you will let “walk” away, and who you let “stay…” (crazy that, that is my TimeHop for TODAY! That just tells me I am meant to share this).

And I share this because God will provide us the people we need, but we also need to have discernment as to who we need to let walk away and who we need to let stay…

Because, we as humans, let our fear of change hinder us. We will allow the wrong people to stay in our life, and also let the right people leave it.

I once had a best friend when I was kid. She was incredibly awesome at the time. Later, she moved away, and we attempted to keep up with each other. Well, that didn’t work out. I eventually moved on and made new friends. We now live completely separate lives and we are in completely different seasons. I would have never expected her to be the one person for the rest of my life. I had to let go in order to find new people who would meet my current needs.

It’s important to learn when it is time to let go, or when it is time to keep. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a moot point where you no longer grow. As Preston Stack puts it, “when a hermit grows it must shift it’s shell or it will die.” I know you won’t die (that’s extreme), but you will need to shift in order to grow because your old relationships will not match your new season if they aren’t growing at the same rate, or on the same path as you are.

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I would love to hear your thoughts! Comment below, or send me a message!

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by Joshua Sazon on Unsplash