“If God is so good, then why have I been so hurt? Why do good people go through horrific things? Can I really trust Him, or will I be left disappointed?”

As a kid, life was pretty much just rainbows and butterflies as far as I knew. But as I’ve gotten older, lived more life, experienced heartbreak for myself, and seen tragedy strike some really wonderful people, it’s made me confront some difficult questions.

This life is imperfect, so we’re going to face pain and disappointment at some point.
If we’re not careful, we can let disappointment skew our idea of who God is.
Here are some of my thoughts and encouragement in case you’re looking for some perspective! 🙂

I haven’t had a ton of time to write lately, but I had time to do a quick unedited video in my car, so here ya go!

Love,
Angela

I know this seems like such a common-sense thing, but it’s actually not! As I’ve lived more life and jumped into new communities, I’ve experienced firsthand and heard from so many others how hard it can be to make new, real, DEEP, LONG-LASTING friends.

We all want those friends we can experience life with, laugh with, who will love us despite our quirks, who we trust enough to be there at our absolute lowest and will celebrate with us in our highs.

And I totally understand what it’s like to not always have that. Throughout my life, I’ve definitely had those weird, lonely, transitional seasons where I wasn’t sure who my “people” were.

Maybe you just moved to a new city, or you’re at a new school, job, church, or maybe you just let busy-ness get in the way of having a social life. Maybe deep down you’re afraid of getting hurt or disappointed, so you keep people at a distance. Whatever it may be, you’re NOT ALONE and we’ve ALL been (or will be) there at some point. But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way forever!

I want to encourage you with 6 practical steps I’ve learned about making those real, authentic, long-lasting kind of friends:

1. You’re gonna have to get out of your comfort zone – Shut down your Netflix, get off the couch, and go to some social events. Think of the kind of people you want in your life, and then put yourself in environments where those people are likely to be. You want selfless friends in your life? Sign up for some community service projects. Love playing sports? Join a rec team! Personally, church has always been a primary source of community for me, and about two years ago I started attending a new one. I didn’t really know anyone and it felt weird and awkward at first, but I knew I didn’t want to stay feeling lonely like that. So I committed to going to every event I could (even when it was scary because I had to go by myself and didn’t know anyone). But I kept pushing through and kept putting myself out there.

2. Making friends takes initiative – I was shy when I was little, and my dad used to always tell me, “Angela, you can’t wait for other people to come up to you. If you want friends, go out and make them.” It’s simple, but so true! Is it nice when you’re at a party and someone comes up to you and makes you feel welcome? Yes. But is that actually the norm? Unfortunately, no. If you want new friends, go out and make them! Step out of your comfort zone, go up to people, introduce yourself, show yourself friendly. If you find someone you want to get to know a little better, exchange numbers and make plans to go out to coffee or something!

3. Vulnerability bonds us with others – I learned in one of my psychology classes, “People will admire your strengths, but CONNECT with your weaknesses.” Be REAL. Life’s too short for surface-level conversations. Sure, it’s nice getting to know the other person’s opinion of the weather today or what they did this weekend. But find out what’s REALLY on their mind. Ask about their life story. What are they passionate about? What are their dreams? What are their struggles? It’s those real convos from the HEART that build the foundation for deep connection.

4. God’s got you. – Simple and true! A few years ago when I knew I needed some more close friends, I simply asked God to connect me with who He knew I needed in my life and who needed me in theirs. I made a lot of wonderful friends in that time, and felt like I was going on a zillion coffee dates every week. As time went on, I just naturally found myself and a few girls hanging out more and more. One night I was out at dinner with two of them and they just straight-up asked me, “Do you want to be best friends?” We laugh now about their straight-forwardedness (is that a word?), but it truly was God answering my prayers super literally. He came through and blessed me with some of the best friends. Which brings me to my next point…

5. COMMIT to connection – Commit. Commit. Commit. Taking someone from acquaintance to friend to close-like-family takes INTENTIONALITY, LOYALTY, and TIME. Life can get busy, but when you’ve made a good friend worth keeping, make plans to hang out often! This is especially important when building a new friendship. Commit to opening your heart up. Commit to trusting (even if it’s scary). Commit to being there for them. Be there to encourage. Share what’s REALLY going on in your heart. Be the kind of friend you want to have.

6. Don’t run when things get messy – The closer you get to someone, the more of them you’re going to see. That includes their best and their worst. You’re going to see their flaws. You’re probably going to get hurt. But if they’ve deemed themselves a good friend, do NOT let things drift just because some things about them bother you. If anything, it’s kind of an honor to see the imperfect sides of people because that means you’re close enough to see their whole selves.

The key is to TALK. COMMUNICATE. Get in the habit of being honest! This was a hard one for me, because I’m the type of person that would rather brush things off for the sake of keeping peace. But I’m learning how important it is to tell your friend when they do something that rubs you the wrong way. And let them be honest with you too. Honesty builds trust, and being able to talk through things with each other even strengthens the relationship. So again, COMMIT to connection.

So if you’re in a spot where you’re not sure who your “people” are right now, don’t stress. This season WON’T last forever. Promise!

Honestly, you’ve got this! Don’t overthink all of this. Don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself to make best friends right away. It’s going to happen SO naturally when you put yourself in situations to meet good people. Remember to be the kind of friend you want to have.

You’re amazing! You have so much to offer. And you’re never ever alone!
God’s got you, and feel free to reach out to me if you ever need an extra little push of encouragement!

Love,
Angela

 


P.S. – These fun pics were taken by the amazing Justina Burns @ http://instagram.com/justinalanaephotos ! I needed some group shots and these gem-of-friends agreed to help! Some are pictured and some aren’t, but I want to give a thank you to ALL of my best friends (pictured or not!) for loving me so well. Thanks for all the fun adventures over the years, wisdom, and for being my heart’s home in many ways. Y’all make life more rich.

“What do I want to do with my life?
Do I want to go to school?
Where do I want to go to school?
Where am I going to live?
Which jobs should I apply for? Why do I have a terrible fear of interviews?
Who am I going to marry?
I don’t want to be an old mom.
Alright, God…I need to be married, have a house, a thriving career, and thinking about having kids by the time I’m 30, so uhhh, could You hurry?
I also want to travel the world.
And can I squeeze some Hallmark movie marathon days in there too somewhere?”

 

Am I the only one that has these worries floating around in my head everyday as I navigate life in my twenties, or are you with me? Our twenties can feel like some of the most pivotal, make-it-or-break-it years of our lives. As we look around at the societal norm, there are so many milestones we’re pressured to make happen within the short span of these 10 years.

I am allllll about having goals, big dreams, and working hard to make those things a reality. But when I try too hard to make my life go “perfectly” according to my plan, I grip tightly onto control of it all and become weighed down by stress, pressure, and anxiety. Can you relate?

As I was driving the other day, I gave God a list of all the things I wanted to fall into place right now; all of the things that I thought would make me feel “caught up” to society’s “norm.”

“I know you think you should be done with college right now, but what if I still have you in school for a purpose? I know you want to find the right man for you right now, but what if I have a more perfect time for you to fall in love?” I felt Him speak.

“Why are you valuing society’s voice above Mine?
Society is following a whole other authority.
Take that worry off yourself, because that’s not how I designed you to live.

Society’s plan is not my plan for you.
Rest in Me.”

Friend, I’m writing this because I know how stressful trying to get our lives together can be. But our twenties can be some of the most beautiful, adventurous, and exciting years of our lives! God didn’t give us life so we could spend every day of it worrying, and working so hard to fit into a status quo.

We’ve been put on this earth to dream big dreams, to discover the unique reason why God made us, and to trust Him enough to take us there.

He’s with you.
He hasn’t forgotten about you.
He’s never late, He’s never early. He’s always on time.

Let’s readjust our thinking a little bit.
Contrary to what we’ve been taught, a degree, a job, a marital status, a paycheck, a car, the size of our house…those things are nice, but they’re not the TRUE measures of success.

At the end of my life, I want to ask myself:
How well did I trust God?
How well did I hear and follow His voice?
How well did I fulfill the purpose for which He created ME?

THIS is the true measure of success.

This has been my prayer:

“God, trust is where I keep getting stuck.
My lack of trust in You is what produces my worry.
You are a GOOD GOD. You are my PERFECT Father.
Help me to let go of my need to control everything. Help me to let go of society’s timeline. Help me to let go of my friends’ timelines. Help me not to compare my life to people’s on Instagram. Help me to embrace and CELEBRATE the beautiful, perfectly-timed, unique story You’ve written for my life.”

So friend, you’re doing a GREAT job.
Your life may look TOTALLY different than everyone else’s, but as long as you’re doing what God is calling YOU to do in THIS season, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Let’s let go, trust God, and live worry-free!
Cheers to us!

Love,
Angela

There was a day a couple months ago that I felt like my eyes were a little crossed when talking with people. I think it was all in my head, but it still woke me up a little, haha. All throughout my days, I was spending a ton of time looking down at my little phone screen scrolling, browsing, double-tapping, commenting, editing, and posting. I realized how much of my life I was wasting on my phone. So after some back-and-forth with myself, I decided to give up social media for 40 days. 40 days might not seem like a long time, but I’m amazed by the ways my mind transformed during this break! Here are 7 interesting things I learned:

1. Decluttering – The first day, I had a little down time at work. Without even thinking, my thumb naturally unlocked my phone and went to where my Instagram app usually is. “Oh wait, there’s nothing to check. What do I do with my mind right now??” I realized my brain had become so addicted to constantly being stimulated. I started daydreaming, praying & talking to God, and realized I now had more free space in my mind for the things that really matter to me.

2. FOMO went away – I noticed especially around weekends or holidays, I usually feel a little pressure to make plans because the last thing I want to do is sit at home by myself and scroll through the rest of the world hanging out & having fun without me. But not constantly seeing what everyone else was doing, honestly made me not really care anymore. Like on SuperBowl Sunday, for example, I didn’t go to a party. I ended up staying home, took a Sunday snooze, woke up to watch the halftime show, ate some wings, and got some schoolwork done. And I was totally content.

3. It illuminated my closest relationships – I wasn’t seeing updates of what that kid I had high school English with did this weekend. I couldn’t browse through snapshots of my friend’s cousin’s blogger friend’s life. I did, though, regularly text, call, and hang out with my best friends and family. I LOVE social media because it connects us with lots of people. But it was also nice to invest more authentic focus on those closest to me.

4. Isolation – There were days that I did feel kind of isolated. Not posting, liking, commenting, and updating the world on what you’re doing can make you feel like you’re in hiding or something. Like, did I really exist??

5. I lived for myself & my own Camera Roll – Day trips, hangouts, dinner dates, girls’ nights, fun events, latté art, breathtaking sunsets, sunny walks downtown…I didn’t feel the need to edit a ton of pictures or take rehearsed boomerangs to show everyone what I was doing. I just captured good memories because I wanted to. It freed up so much time!

6. It gave me a new love for my city – Someone who lived in LA once told me that it’s one of the most populated cities, but also one of the loneliest to live in. Isn’t that crazy? I think about those countries where people live in hut villages, and the people around them are literally their everything. I was walking downtown one Saturday with some friends, and without having my phone to look down at to avoid eye contact, I actually wanted to engage with the other Sacramentans around me. I smiled at strangers and wished people a good afternoon. Just those little gestures instantly gave me a new love for the people in my city and a new desire to make this one of the friendliest communities there are. There are some real gems right in front of us. You never know what could come of just a simple hello.

7. Social media is great in moderation – I’m not saying all this to be anti-social media. There are so many amazing things we can do these days thanks to our ability to connect online. These 40 days (actually 47, because on the last day I wanted to go another week!) were an AMAZING time of resetting and remembering what’s truly important in life.

These apps will come and go, and who we are online isn’t who we are in our entirety. Have you ever done something just to post pics of you doing it? I have, and I don’t want to do that anymore. Instead of living to capture & share, I may capture & share snippets of my life as I live it.

Let’s REALLY LIVE and FULLY take in the beauty, the people, and the moments that will be engrained in our hearts far longer than some of these apps will ever be a thing.

Maybe give “unplugging” a try too!

Love,
Angela

Hi beautiful!

We’ve all had those days where we just feel “ugh.” Where we think, I wish I was taller, shorter, had her face, looked like that celeb, or whatever…am I right?

I had a  psychology professor once say that while men are naturally wired to “do,” women are naturally wired to “be”–to be nurturing, to want to be desirable, to be beautiful. 

While I totally believe that inner beauty is what matters the MOST, I know it’s natural for us women to want to be pretty on the outside too. So let’s talk about it!

I’ve always been a pretty observant person, so I learned in my early teens to see the irrationality behind self-doubt. Last week, though, I found myself in a bit of a funk. I had to remind myself of some truths to snap myself out of it. It re-opened my eyes to how easy it is to fall into physical insecurity, so I want to share with you what’s always helped me. In case you ever find voices of self-doubt whispering into your heart, I hope these truths shout even louder.

Here are my thoughts and some stories on overcoming insecurity:

  • First off, you’re insanely beautiful.
  • Insecurity is a choice. Growing up, I realized that insecurities actually have little to do with your looks and everything to do with your choice. We might think “if only I looked like that…I’d be more confident.” But if we don’t learn to control our thoughts, we’ll rip ourselves apart no matter what we look like. So it all starts with choosing not to dwell on negative thoughts. Make a commitment to focus on what you love about yourself!
  • Get rid of weird complexes. – I learned not to be insecure by observing others’ insecurities. I remember in middle school I had this complex that if my bangs didn’t fall a certain way (oh the days of side bangs, haha), I thought it offset the whole shape of my face and made me look like an asymmetrical freak lol. Dramatic, yes. I even remember calling my mom one day asking her to pick me up from school, because running in PE had made my hair crazy and I didn’t want to face society looking like that LOL. Anyway, these thoughts seemed totally legit in my mind. But throughout my life, I’ve had some seriously gorgeous friends. Like, stunning! And I completely had my mind blown when we’d be getting ready together and I’d hear comments like, “ugh my jaw is too square.” Or, “I hate that my right eye is slightly bigger than the other.” Or “I’m so skinny, I hate it. I need to workout more.

    WHATTTT?!?!

    Some of the features that I SO admired about these beautiful girls were the very things they saw as “ugly” or “awkward” or imperfect. Or little things that literally NO ONE would notice created a cloud of low-self esteem that hovered over them. That’s when I learned how irrational insecurities are. I learned that you could be drop dead gorgeous to the rest of the world, but mentally think you actually look hideous. So that’s when I decided to stop obsessing over weird things about my looks. Because why waste energy hating on things that no one else will ever even notice? 

  • Story time: Do you remember doing art projects in elementary school? I remember one time in class we got to each paint a ceramic plate however we wanted. I decided to paint a big heart in the middle of the plate, and colorful rings around it. When I finished my plate, I thought it looked just okayyy. One side of the heart was slightly bigger than the other. And the colors of some stripes overlapped a little in some spots. But to my surprise, I got so many compliments on it. “Awww I wish mine looked like yours!” a girl said to me. Because I had been looking at it for so long, I saw it differently than everyone else did. I saw all the imperfections, while everyone else saw a beautiful design. I think that’s how we can get with ourselves. We’ve been spending a lifetime looking at ourselves in the mirror. We’re used to seeing ourselves, we know all of our imperfections, we saw ourselves during our awkward phase, we know what areas of our body we’d like to lose weight in, etc. But realistically, the rest of the world sees something entirely different. The rest of us see your beauty.
  • Comparison kills confidence. When you see an attractive guy, do you think, “oh wait, he’s actually not attractive because he doesn’t look like this other attractive guy I saw the other day.” ? Uh no, that’s irrational. So just because other women are pretty, doesn’t mean you aren’t pretty also! You are! Look at Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson…two totally different looks, but both GORGEOUS. We’re each our own kind of beautiful, so own it! And help other girls’ see theirs! 
  • “You don’t need it to work with every guy, just one guy.” some wise words I once heard. Ladies, we shouldn’t have to walk into a room and gain the attention of several guys in order to feel confident. We shouldn’t feel the need to always be “talking to someone” to feel beautiful. Using another person’s interest and emotional investment to boost your confidence most likely stems from pride. It’s ugly, and it needs to go. At the end of the day, I believe God has a special someone for each of us, and someday (if you haven’t already) you’re going to marry THAT guy. Not every guy. That ONE, SPECIAL guy. So if you feel the need to have multiple guys interested in you, or if you’re feeling bummed because no one’s reaching out to you right now…don’t. External events don’t dictate your beauty. You’re gorgeous. The right guy may just still be on his way 🙂
  • Be less critical of others. I noticed that when I pay more attention to the “imperfections” of others, I’m more critical of myself too. But when I’m quick to notice the beautiful features of other people, I see myself that way too.
  • Your feelings don’t dictate your beauty. Our feelings change all the time. One day we can feel fab and the next day feel like we have a weird nose or something. The way you feel doesn’t change your looks. You’re pretty, trust me.

YOU ARE STUNNING. Take it from me–You. Are. So. Beautiful.

I’m sending you the biggest hug right now, and I’m excited to see you walk with the confidence you deserve.
If you ever need a little reminder of how beautiful you truly are, I’m here for you!

Love,

Angela