Thursday, August 3, 2017

Let Light Guide The Way

One week ago today, my Gramps passed away.

I spent my days convincing myself that he was invincible. Now he's gone. It was foolish, believing that he was untouchable. But my world needed him, needed to believe that he would always be there. When he got sick, I told myself that he would live longer than anyone ever had in his condition. I was wrong. He was gone in the blink of an eye.

I'm not good at emotions. I don't want to be viewed as weak. I rarely cry in front of people...but goodbyes get me. I've said too many goodbyes for too many years. They crush me.

I want so badly to just give up on the world. To cling to despair. I don't want to be happy again. I want to hate everyone. I want to take my pain out on anything standing in my way. But I can't be that person.

Instead of misery, I choose to cling to this: in pain, there can be joy. Where there is heartbreak, there is opportunity. I can find comfort in the small moments of happiness sprinkled throughout each day. The sparkle in my nephew's startlingly bright eyes, the melody of my Gram's chuckle, the ocean of saliva in a dog's kiss.

That's not to say that we shouldn't mourn. The only way to heal is to face the pain head on. I'll admit, I haven't gone out of my way to be nice this last week. And honestly? That's ok. I'm slowly learning that it's not my responsibility to make everyone happy. And if someone can't get over my moments of weakness, then they weren't worth having in my life, anyway.

But I can choose to focus more on the good than on the bad. I can let myself laugh and smile. I don't have to live in anguish. My grandpa lived life to the fullest, he laughed daily, he enjoyed each step of his journey, he would want me to do the same.

I will miss his smile for the rest of my existence. The sun dimmed a little the day he passed, and nothing will ever be quite the same. But I can still live, laugh, and love. My grief doesn't need to define me. I want my joy to.

Someday, I want to bring as much light to someone's world as Gramps brought into the lives of so many people.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Love People

This one will be short, I really need to focus on my want-to-be novel tonight. 

Today, I've been thinking about "loving your neighbor (Mark 12:31),” "killing people with kindness." These are things we've grown up being told to do. But what do these philosophies look like in action? How do you really show kindness to someone who gets under your skin? Baby steps, of course! Start by making a short list, three or four things, that you admire about that person. Pray for them daily. If you're praying for blessings, it's really hard to think poorly of that person. 

Then, when you're feeling really adventurous, invite them to do something they're passionate about, not necessarily even something you find yourself really wanting to do (ex. Proverbs 25:21)…but the act of selflessness on your part will certainly help to soften your heart toward them. 

That’s all I have for this week. Be nice to the people that have it in for you. It will make your life so much simpler.



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Level Playing Field

From commercials to social media, I’m being bombarded with the idea that women aren’t equal to men in our country, that we’ve grown up being treated poorly, that we’re victims. But. I’m a woman, and this confuses me. Because I’ve never felt like society had it in for me. I’ve never been told I was a second rate citizen by employers or the government. I’ve not been treated as garbage, like I’m being told I have.

I have the right to vote, the right to own a home, the right to walk down the street without covering my face. I’m allowed to work, to go to school, to own a gun. I literally have exactly the same rights as my husband, a “privileged white male.” 

I don’t feel downtrodden or discouraged. I feel empowered, I have the freedom to do anything with my life, as long as I put in the work to earn it. And before anyone stereotypes, I was not raised in privilege. I have always had a loving family, but things haven’t always been easy for us. We’ve gone without…more times than I can remember. I’ve worked for everything I have, my vehicle, my education, my home.

To be fair, there are a lot of men out there that make a higher income than myself. Men that don’t have the same education I do. But that’s because they’re doing physical labor, something I would not be able to do as well as them. It’s just a fact of life that men are physically stronger than women. There’s no arguing that. Physical jobs are difficult, and I firmly believe that the employees who put in so much effort at these jobs deserve to be compensated accordingly. Even so, there are still women that work at these places of physical labor, and I would say they probably have to work harder than the men to keep up. If a woman is able to keep up with a man at a labor intensive job, then she should certainly be compensated the same! But, for the most part, women aren’t able to do as much heavy lifting, and should probably not be paid as much as their male counterparts.

On the flip side, let’s talk about a job within an office that requires college and experience. I know that if I were to go up for a job against a Caucasian man with exactly the same qualifications and education as me, the job would be given to me, NOT the man. To me, that does seem like discrimination… but it seems like discrimination against the man. Employers and the government are SO afraid of offending us, they make sure to hold us in a higher regard than men.

I think it’s important that all people in our country feel valued and equal, but I believe that in some situations, we’ve tipped the scales too far and have turned the discrimination against the white men that formerly “oppressed” us.

There’s equality, and then there’s hypocrisy. Reverse discrimination is hypocrisy at it’s finest.

There’s a lot of unrest in the world, maybe we should focus on helping women in countries with a culture of extreme sexism before we throw a fit about not having as nice a chair as some guy we work with.



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Laziness Is Not The Path To Awesomeness

Years ago, my wonderful friend said this exact phrase: "Laziness is not the path to awesomeness." It stuck with me. I thought it was clever, funny, and absolutely accurate. Sitting around doing nothing won't get you anywhere in life.

We never want to grow up, we all want our mommies to still make us soup when we're sick, to have a nanny that cleans our room for us, and to have a someone else go to work for us every day. The problem is: the world doesn't work that way. Avoiding responsibility will do nothing more than upset those around you. In real life, not showing up for work gets you fired; ignoring an illness makes you more sick; avoiding cleaning gives you an odor.

At some point in our lives, we all need to grow up. We're the adults now. We ARE the employees, parents, spouses. We have an obligation to the people God has placed in our lives. We have a responsibility to Him (Colossians 3:23). We have a purpose, it's time to fulfill that purpose.

Be a friend to yourself. Hard work is the only way to achieve that promotion, goal, or resolution. We're only hurting ourselves when we're apathetic (Proverbs 13:4).

Puppies look cute when they are lazy, people do not.



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Generation of Entitlement

It's been quite the week, hasn't it? So much change in our country. I've seen a lot of things on social media that have really gotten under my skin. I know I'm not the only one. But what really bothers me is the way some people to respond to controversy. Anger, aggression, abuse. None of these are a healthy response. What concerns me the most, is that the majority
of these harmful reactions are coming from people my age or younger.

We are a generation so used to getting our way, we don't know how to cope when we don't. We complain and moan, hyperventilate and throw things. We generally throw a big old hissy fit. Somehow, this is how our generation was taught to act. It's not ok. Why? Because, just think about it. What are we teaching future generations? That if things don't go our way, just go ahead and throw a tantrum, that'll fix everything? Unacceptable.

It's time to grow up, put our big kid pants on, and realize that sometimes the world doesn't follow our demands. We need to set an example.

I've been in my fair share of disagreements. I know what it's like to be convinced of my own infallibility. And sure sometimes, the other person probably isn't right. But guess what? My opinion isn't always free of error either. There's probably some happy medium somewhere that nobody has found, because humanity as a whole is flawed. And we will always be that way. We can argue our side until our tongues fall out, but our stubbornness will never change the fact that we're wrong a high percentage of the time.

If we don't stop in our tracks and make a change somewhere, we are going to self destruct. The first step is to find a constructive outlet for our frustration. Riots are NOT the answer, people! Shaming others is NOT an option! We need to grow up and get over ourselves. If you want to see a change in the world, make that change. Write up a revision to a law and submit it to your state government, start a charity to help the less fortunate, research jobs for the homeless, run for office, create positivity, inspire someone.

Standing around and complaining is worthless. Get out there and do something useful!



Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Go ahead. Make plans. But don't be surprised when you're forced to change them. This world is so full of uncertainty, it's nearly impossible to know where we're going to be from one moment to the next. We all have a plan for our career, our wedding, our family status, everything. But the older I get, the more I realize how futile many of those plans are. Inevitably, numerous things will go wrong at your wedding, your career won't always follow the path you've dreamed, your children might grow up differently than you'd hoped. It happens every day, every hour, every minute. Plans are interrupted.

This is life.

There's really no reason to freak out every time something unexpected happens. This is something I've had to teach myself over, and over, and over again. I'm a slow learner, I guess. But it's so hard to give up control. I want life to be a certain way, in a specific time frame. I don't want any surprises. Life would be so much smoother if it would just follow the path we set out for it, but our lives weren't meant to be easy. We're meant to live, learn, grow, stretch.

Our comfort zone is a lovely place to be, but we'll never experience anything if we don't step outside it. Things are going to happen in our lives. Good things, bad things, mediocre things. We can't be so set in our ways that we're blind to the opportunities opening up in front of us.

Uncertainty can be freeing. I don't know where I'll be a year from now, but that's okay. I'll still be me, no matter where I go.

Life is an adventure. See where it takes you.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

But...Are You Really?

So many people fall into the habit of saying "I'm sorry" with no meaning behind it. We have apologized so many times, for so many things, that we simply say the words as a part of our daily routine. We've been desensitized to remorse.

The best way to identify an insincere apology is to analyze the resulting actions. True regret inspires change. An apology without behavior correction renders the apology obsolete. A phony apology reveals selfishness and immaturity in a person.

Do us all a favor, if you're not really sorry, don't apologize. It's truly a waste of everyone's time. Anyone who has received an insincere apology knows, the whole process is a hassle. It's emotionally taxing, a roller coaster for the heart. We feel relieved, knowing the person regrets their actions, and give them a chance to redeem themselves. When the behavior doesn't change, we find ourselves feeling defeated and betrayed. Depending on the level of hurt, we often have a hard time allowing ourselves to trust anyone again. It's a destructive cycle. One I'd rather avoid.

I know I've been guilty of this very transgression. From now on, I want to make a conscious effort of really feeling remorse when I say the words "I'm sorry." I don't want to toy with anyone's emotions, tearing them apart and leaving brokenness in my wake.

People are fragile. We are so easily wounded. Even if I don't completely understand how my actions injured someone else, it's my duty as a compassionate human to do what I can to make things right.

I want to say what I mean, AND mean what I say.



Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Image: ThomasGoods
It's been too long since I've blogged. I've been working on a lengthy project, and it has taken up a lot of my brain capacity. Lately, I've been feeling the urge to jump back into sharing my thoughts here. That being said:

Social media has become such a thing of importance in our culture. It's silly how much we base our everyday lives on it. We figure out how to look using Pinterest, get our "news" from Facebook, create a falsified image of ourselves on Instagram and Twitter, and report every moment of our lives via Snapchat. We compete with everyone on the internet, trying to prove with photos and clever quips that our life is better than theirs. These things have become the focal point of our lives. Because of that, when we're rejected via social media, or "unfriended", it hurts. It actually, legitimately hurts.

It's stupid, really. It's not like all of these people are our close friends. But the real problem comes when someone that is supposed to be there for you unfriends you. We feel rejection, bitterness, angst. We spend hours trying to analyze WHY. Why don't they like me anymore? Did I say something to upset them? Did someone else tell them something bad about me? Do they hate me? What happened? We torture ourselves trying to figure out something that really shouldn't matter, anyway. When did our worth become dependent on how many fake friends we've acquired online? Why do we base so much of our self-worth on friendships in the first place?

There was a time that I looked at my life and with selfish pride said, "Wow, I have a lot of friends, I must be pretty awesome." And that, my friend, was me begging to be taught a lesson. And don't you worry, life did indeed teach me a thing or two. Through being unfollowed and unfriended for one reason or another, I've started to doesn't matter. My life isn't governed by how many people like me. What's important is the lasting relationships that I do have. What I need to do is pour into the people who genuinely care, to show them how much they mean, how valued they are. And I really, REALLY need to stop Facebook stalking the people that have left me behind. It's a bit out of hand. It's time to let go.

We need to remind ourselves constantly that we are precious, and that our value is not based on social media. Take a moment of your day and take pride in an accomplishment. No matter how small you may think it is. The tiniest pebble still has a ripple effect. The more we learn to appreciate ourselves, the less likely we are to get lost trying to keep up with the Joneses (or Kardashians, whichever is more relevant to your life).


Jackelyn Stange