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A Letter To My Teenage Self (Part Two)

photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc Dear Teenage-Elyse,

It’s me again! I hope this isn’t turning into a creepy, Ghost-From-Christmas-Future type thing.. Of course, we're PK's, therefore we don't believe in ghosts, right?

Anyway, below is some final advice I want to give you... So here goes:

6. It’s ok that you love leopard print. Rock it.

The crazy little quirks that make you feel like an outcast right now? They are exactly why I have learned to love you. Please, stop trying to hide them. Stop trying to do what everyone else is doing.

Here’s a secret:  None of your friends know what they’re doing either; they’re just as insecure as you. So, they’re going to copy someone, it may as well be you!

Learn who you are now before the world tells you who you should be. Should is overrated, I mean the world itself is just weird, go on, look at it. Weird right?

So, stop hiding your freckles with foundation, enjoy your Fanta instead of sparkling water with lemon, and work the leopard print everything. You are so much more fun when you are you.

7. Cheating is overrated

In the ninth grade you’re going to get caught for cheating on your English assignment. Apparently you’re not as stealth as you think because you forgot to read through your stolen assignment before you handed it in. You're story about “wishing I wasn’t the only son in my family" kind of gave it away. Your brother won't be too thrilled either, he worked pretty hard on that.

Here's a tip: do your own work.

The feeling when you receive a good grade on your own work is amazing and (heaven forbid) you might actually learn something! Plus, if you do cheat, Mrs McGovern will find out, and the feeling of getting caught will make you want to crawl in a hole and die. 

8. Stop kissing boys.

(You totally skipped down to reading this one first didn't you...)

Despite what you think, the excuse that you’re trying out for The Bachelorette is not valid. Neither is the excuse, "but he looked like Zac Efron!"

I know you think doing this kind of thing will make you feel attractive and wanted, but it won't. All it does is leave you feeling lonely and guilty. Trust me, I know better now.

Deep down your heart desires love and value. I get it, you want to be swept off your feet and looked after. You'll have that, just be patient. Trying to rush your fairytale will only leave you running out at midnight, with no shoes, feeling like a pumpkin... With no Prince.

9. Your friends are waiting for an invitation. Just ask.

You know how much you want to go to Josh’s party on the weekend, but you’ll pretend you don’t care until someone invites you? Your friends are they same. They want to come to youth, but they don’t want to invite themselves.

Your friends see an invite, any invite, is a verification of your friendship. That includes church. Let’s face it, right now their only plan is to sit at home and watch re-runs of Saved By The Bell.

They won’t definitely come if you invite them, but they definitely won’t come if you don’t invite them.

When you leave school, your biggest regret won’t be missing a party, forgetting that it was mufti day (although that sucks) or getting a detention. It will be that you kept your mouth shut. Please, speak up. Their eternity is more important than your reputation.

10. It's ok to fail.

In fact, it’s kind of liberating. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to get it right, every time, all the time. That kind of burden will make you feel like you've just run a marathon, without burning the calories. Exhausted yet unsatisfied. Trust me, you’ll learn more from your failures than your successes.

 

I’ll write to you again one day. For now, have fun. Appreciate high school, your really fast metabolism, and the fact that mum still makes your bed.

Oh, and don’t try to “grow up” too fast, I know right now it seems as exciting as the idea of being BFF with Miley Cyrus. But, as cute as she might look now, having the “best of both worlds,” one day you’ll be glad you didn’t make her your best friend.

Love, Elyse x

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A Letter To My Teenage Self (Part One)

photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc
photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc

Dear Teenage-Elyse,

How do you start a letter to yourself? How are you? What's new? Seen any good movies lately? Uh oh, I hadn't thought this far ahead, and apparently I suck at talking to myself... Which may not be a bad thing.

I've only thought about the idea of writing this letter, but I've thought about it a lot. I've wondered what I might tell you, what advice I might share with you now that I'm older and wiser (maybe only a little wiser, but that's something, right?).

So here's where I'm at in life – I’ve finished school, had an adult job, and decided adult jobs aren’t that much fun. I’ve made friends all over the world that will last me until forever o'clock, and I've had my heart broken. And now that I’m here, 24-years-and-5-months-old, I think there are some things you should know. There are some things I wish I’d known earlier, some lessons I wish I learned sooner, and I want to share them with you.

And maybe, just maybe, someone will look over your shoulder while you read. Maybe there is a teenager who will read this and learn from my mistakes. Or even an adult. After all, you’re never too old to learn something new.

So here are ten things I want you to know, five today and five later this week. You see, I write blogs now and, to be blunt, I need to spread this kind of thing out.

So here are the first five:

1. It all makes sense in hindsight.

There are going to be opportunities you miss out on, relationships that end, things that don’t go your way (I know, shocking right?). It will hurt and there will be ‘ugly cry’ tears. Sometimes it will leave you really confused, and you may even question God. That’s ok. He can handle it.

But just know, there will come a day where most of it makes sense. And the things that don’t make sense? I’ll write you another letter when I’m 50. Surely everything makes sense when you’re 50.

2. Let him go.

There’s going to be a boy that sweeps you off your feet. There will be kisses in the rain and dancing without music. He will write you letters and songs and for a little while you will feel like the luckiest girl in the world. But it will end. There will be broken hearts and you will wonder if anyone else will make you feel like he did. It’s really going to hurt and I’m really sorry I didn’t walk away sooner.

But please, don’t go over every text message, every photo, every conversation and every memory like a broken record. Don’t shut yourself off from the world because you feel like your best days were with him. You need to let him go.

Let Jesus in. Let Him put the pieces back together again. He’s got someone better for you, I promise. So, turn off PS. I Love You, call the girls, put on your heels and go out. It’s time to move on.

3. Bullies aren’t just a ‘high school thing.’

Remember how you thought once you left high school you wouldn’t have to deal with jerks anymore? Well don’t shoot the messenger (especially since the messenger is you), but some people never grow out of it.

There are some girls that never grow out of trying to be ‘Queen Bee’, bullying everyone else so they feel better about their own lame lives. There will still be guys who use girls, breaking hearts as easily as they broke curfew in tenth grade. Some people will bully you for the decisions you make. You’ll find out later on (at your school reunion when they’ve had three hours too many drinks) that it’s only because they secretly wished they could’ve made the decisions you did.

My advice for the Peter Pans of the world, the ones who refuse to grow up, the ones that think Tinkerbell and her ‘special dust’ can get them out of trouble, is this: Don’t try to change them. Let them go to Never Never Land and discover that it doesn’t actually exist.

Those people have more issues than a Dr Phil marathon, and ‘aint nobody got time for that’ (that’ll make sense in a few years)!

4. Get back in the race!

Even though dad calls you his little angel, you aren’t (don’t worry, we can still pretend you are). You are going to mess up, and you’re going to do it a lot. Just when you think you have it all together, just when you feel safe to call yourself a Christian, you will do something so stupid.

In that moment of ‘oops-I-did-it-again,’ don’t listen to the voice that tells you to run away from God. Tell that voice to “go to hell” and run to Jesus. He will be waiting for you, with open arms. He’s already forgiven you. He dealt with the sin issue ages ago. The quicker you accept His grace, the quicker you’ll be back on your feet.

Jump up, dust yourself off, and get back in the race.

5. Crimping your hair isn’t as cool as you think it is. Trust me.

I think that’s enough for now, see you in a few days. Oh, and the purple tracksuit you wear every day isn’t as cute as you think it is. Sorry love.

Love, 24-Year-Old-Elyse xx

 

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Can I Just Skip Dating... Please?

photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc
photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc

As a little girl I dreamed of my fairytale wedding. All girls do, right? Secretly, I think all guys do too, even if it was Star Wars themed and the wedding rings were replaced with matching light sabers. Classy guys, real classy.

In my dream I would walk down the long, red aisle. In my dream I was wearing my big, white princess dress with a train as long as an actual train. In my dream the wedding took place in an old, but beautifully restored, church by the sea. In my dream I had my bridesmaids by my side as I married my best friend.

In my dream, it was perfect.

There was just one thing in my dream that wasn’t in your wedding dream, and I’d be prepared to bet money on it. In my dream I was walking down the aisle singing a duet with the groom. Live. Madonna microphones and all.

Way too many Disney movies Elyse, wayyy too many!

You’ll be happy to know I’ve grown out of the duet idea (only recently). But I haven’t grown out of the dream of marrying the man that will make my heart skip a beat. In my dream-land marriage seemed so easy. But now? Now I’m starting to realise it's a little more complicated.

Maybe it's not as simple as just deciding to “get married.”

Have I just been expecting that one day I’ll decide it’s time to get married and nek-minit the man of my dreams will show-up, with his sleeve tattoo, guitar, and bad boy attitude (whilst still being a spiritual supergiant)?I thought I would be one of those people who just knew.

I dreamed it would be a romantic-comedy moment (of course I'm played by Kate Hudson) where we would lock eyes in a room full of people, he would walk over to me and introduce himself. (I'm about to get all Taylor Swift on you, you've been warned).

The playful conversation starts, I counter all his quick remarks, like passing notes in secrecy. 

And just like that, he would hand me the final rose, and we would be engaged. Because that's totally how it happens, right? Wrong. I know, I'm devastated.

There’s that thing we've been talking about calledprocess. That awkward, disappointing, make-me-want-to-vomit, process. Blehhck (yes it's a word).

I’m starting to wonder whether I’ll ever get past my fear of the process long enough to actually marry someone, long enough to actually date someone, or even hold the fear off long enough to go to a theme park with someone (because dinner is overrated, duh).

Confession: I’m so scared of making the wrong decision that I’m scared to make any decision.

It's true. I worry that I’ll marry someone, and realise it was the wrong one. Is there a right one? I just don’t want to settle. I know God has promised me a husband to do life with, someone who will lead me and look after me and someone who will be so in love with Jesus that it will cause me to grow closer to Jesus myself.  And I know he will be hilarious and driven and flirty. And a babe. A total babe.

So if I feel like God has promised me this, where is he? Is God still working on him or is he right in front of me? Have I missed him because I’m expecting the “ready-made-package” when God is offering him to me in “just-go-on-a-flipping-date” form?

But as I think about it, deeper than just the surface thoughts, I realise, it’s fear. This whole issue is just another expression of the spirit of fear. And I’ve battled with it my whole life.

I had nightmares when I was a little girl, and when I prayed that God would replace my fear with peace, He did. In high school I was petrified of what my friends thought of me so I acted different around them. One day I prayed for God to give me courage to be who He wanted me to be, and He did. And now, I’m afraid of choosing the wrong person.

Different stages of life. Different manifestations. Same fear.

But here's the thing, God has proved Himself faithful in getting rid of my fear before. I know He will prove Himself faithful again.

So before I give up on dating and demand an arranged marriage from my parents, I think I just need to chill. I definitely need to chill.

Maybe today you have resonated with my honesty. You might be single and questioning where your husband/wife (just choose one) is. You might have a million and one questions on this subject. Can I suggest, like me, you relax and enjoy the season you’re in?

I’ve come to realise that being open to love is very different to being obsessed with finding it. It’ll come when God wants it too. In His timing.

Maybe today you’re nursing a broken heart and wondering whether you’ll ever be able to piece it together again. I’ve been there and I get it. It hurts. It sucks. For a while life doesn’t feel fun anymore. The fear of getting hurt again clouds the excitement of the possibility of love.  Take the time you need, stay close to Jesus and ask Him to heal the areas that feel shattered. Let Him do His thing. It might not be long before you meet someone that gives you butterflies again.

Maybe today you’re reading this and are petrified to give someone a shot because you’re scared of making the wrong decision. I have a question for your fear. What’s the worst that could happen?

Yeah Elyse. What’s the worst that could happen?

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Life Is Short... Drink Red Wine.

jim and i My uncle went to be with Jesus yesterday. Seven months ago he was diagnosed with end stage brain cancer, but now he is partying it up in Heaven, probably in white, but still wearing his sneakers. I imagine him sitting with CS Lewis, the two of them drinking red wine and philosophizing life, politics and Narnia.

These past seven months I have seen him fight.  I have seen him worship. I have seen him speak in tongues when he could no longer speak words (it bypassed his brain, don’t tell me that the Holy Spirit isn’t real). I have seen him gain a sense of humour unlike any he ever had before. I have seen him up-close and personal.

I have seen and I have learned.

Today I want to share with you some things I’ve re-learned in the last 24 hours. Because sometimes it takes a little reality check to remember the important things in life.

1. Make more friends. To my knowledge, no one on their deathbed ever said, “I wish I had more twitter followers.”

2. Drink red wine (if you are legal, you little rebel). My uncle was the healthiest man I have ever known. His diet was stricter than Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. His one allowance was a glass or two of red wine in the evening. A man after my own heart. When he got sick and moved in with us, this became our tradition. We would sit on the balcony and someone would take the shift, fill up a glass and join him. Some of my best memories of him are with a glass in hand on the balcony. Cheers Uncle Jim.

3. Joy is a choice. Choose it. Happiness is a feeling but joy is a choice. Sometimes we just gotta tell our soul that today, we are choosing joy. It’s amazing how the feeling follows, no matter the circumstance.

4. Prioritise family. It’s a weird moment when you look around and realize that your siblings are your best friends. That your parents are your side kicks in life. I’m lucky to have the best family on the entire planet, and it’s easy to be grateful for them but whatever kind of family you find yourself in, find something to be grateful for. Tell them you love them. They won’t be around forever. Bring out embarrassing photos. Make memories.

5. Offense is a waste of time. Life is too short. Offense only ever kills our joy and poisons our heart. People can be jerks, there is bad in the world, but let’s not get caught up in it. Focus on the good, there’s lots of that too.

6. Love Jesus. I am jealous of my uncle’s relationship with Jesus. Is that allowed? Whatever. I’m not bitter. I’m inspired. He worshipped him at every opportunity. I love that. I want that. I plan to pursue that for the rest of my life.

Life is short, make the most of it. Do something crazy. Go for a midnight swim. Watch the sun rise. Go on a date. Climb a tree. Call in sick and do whatever you feel like. Go all “Yes Man” on your life. Why not?

Live.

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