To The Doubting College Student

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Dear Doubting College Student,

I cannot speak for you. Only you know where you are right now. Maybe the things you want to go well in your life just aren’t. Maybe the things you don’t want in your life keep coming. Maybe you feel so completely and utterly confused, lost, alone.

I’ve been where you are.

There are good days. There are great days. And there are days where absolutely everything feels out of place. My freshman year was full of those out-of-place days.

I questioned my decision to go to college. I questioned the school I chose. I questioned my major. I questioned my roommate. I questioned my classes, my ability, my promises, my role in it all. There wasn’t an aspect of the college journey that I didn’t question.

I cried. A lot. I got angry. I ran, ran from everything I knew. But worst of all, deepest of all, I ran from God. Hadn’t He told me to go to this school? Hadn’t He given me these talents? Hadn’t He sent me this roommate? Where was the blessing of obedience? Where was the peace, the success, the grades? I did all the right things and I didn’t feel successful. I didn’t see it. I was frustrated. So I ran.

I can’t tell you exactly when it was that I started to see God working. But I can tell you that it happened in baby steps. I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be emotionally, spiritually, mentally. I talked to close friends, ranted to my parents, went to counseling. I sought out mentors, advisers. I asked questions. I questioned everything. Again and again, I was faced with one word: SURRENDER.

I was searching for success in myself. I tried to create stability in myself. I wanted to go to college, to do well in my classes, to prove myself worthy–worthy of admiration, worthy of praise. I told myself it was for Him and yet I worked for myself. Once I realized that, I had a decision to make: was I going to continue to do my own thing or was I going to start to let go?

Letting go is scary. Trusting is scary. Giving up yourself is scary. And it’s hard. Am I willing to trust that God is truly in control, that He is perfect, that His plans for me are higher, better? Will I allow Him to fulfill my dreams, the dreams He placed in my heart?

It was a long, grinding process. But slowly and surely, I learned to let go. Little by little I opened my hands and my heart and gave my dreams to God. In return, He gave me peace. Peace and hope.

That’s how it can be for you.

Deep down you know what you need to do. You are standing in your story. You know the dreams that God has given you. You know the costs of surrendering. But only you can make the decision to do that.

The change won’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself the room to struggle with questions. Allow yourself to think and wonder. But ultimately, allow yourself to come to Him. Give Him a fighting chance to prove Himself. Because He will.

signi

Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Me

Dear little sixteen-year-old me,

You’re so full of dreams, so full of hope.

Take a deep breath. Slow down. Find your favorite spot in your room, light that candle you’ve been saving for special occasions, and put on your comfort socks.

You’re sixteen! I know that seems so old right now, but you really do have your whole life in front of you. Sure, you’ve had ups and downs, heartbreaks and celebrations. Sure, you’ve got plans for the world and hidden ambition to match. But there is so much still to learn. There is so much time.

I know you’re impatient to chase your dreams, to finally make a difference and have a purpose in the world. But here’s something you need to know: you’re still young, your dreams will change, there will be more ups and downs, more heartbreaks, more celebrations. More than that, you have a purpose right now. If you continue to trust God in everything, He will show you new dreams, better dreams, and such beautiful blessings. And even then, He has you right where you need to be.

You are now in a transitional period, trying to decide where you want to go to school and who you want to be. If you let Him guide you, you’ll find some amazing adventures with some pretty amazing people. But you’ve got to trust Him, let go, and take that first step and then another, and another until you find yourself walking in His footsteps. Don’t be in such a hurry to rush past all of the brokenness of the world. You can never outrun pain. Give it to God. Trade it for joy.

When you find yourself becoming impatient, ask God to help you BE.
When you find yourself disappointed in yourself, ask God to help you LEARN.
When you find yourself becoming confused or lost, ask God to help you SEE.
And when you find yourself losing hope, ask God to help you HOPE.

Everything will be made perfect in His timing. You are still learning. It will be okay.
Keep that hope. Keep those dreams. Keep following Him.

signi

101 in 1001: A Year Update

Start date: Friday, May 11, 2018
First Update: 6 Months
End date: Friday, February 05, 2021

Hello everyone! It’s been a little over a year since I started my 101 in 1001 challenge so it’s time for another update. The 101 in 1001 challenge is a list of 101 things I want to do in 1001 days (2.75 years). I’ve timed it so this challenge will end by my 21st birthday but I’ve got so much still to do! You can see the full list of goals and check my progress here.

Goals I’ve crossed off:

38. Take my sisters on “sister-dates” (March 2019)

Being away from home was pretty hard. But setting up sister-dates made for an extra something to look forward to. Spending that one-on-one time with my sisters gives us a chance to catch up and just enjoy each others’ company.

39. Volunteer with my family a Saturday morning (March 2019)

My church back home has a homeless ministry that serves breakfast downtown every Saturday morning. My roommate and her family have been going for a while and my family has gone as well. But with school and being away, I needed to plan for a chance to finally go and see what the ministry was all about. Spending the morning with like-minded people while catching a glimpse into the world of others was interesting and challenging. I am glad for the chance to go and broaden my worldview and I am looking forward to the next time I can serve again.

43. Go to a drive-in/outdoor movie (April 2019)

Every year my school hosts a Spring Festival which includes flower crowns and tie-dye shirts and an outdoor movie! This year we watched Mary Poppins Returns and it was so much fun. (I mean it’s Mary Poppins!!) It was my third time watching the movie but it was still so fun to be there with friends and enjoy the outside festivities.

52. Explore downtown Charlotte (July 2019)

This one was fun to do too because it included my cousins (who are pretty awesome people) and my family. We were going to go on a walking tour but instead explored the streets on our own as well as the major stops like King’s Kitchen, NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, and the Mint Museum. I highly recommend checking out downtown Charlotte if you are in town!

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59. Find a church by the university (Spring 2019)

Finding a church by my school was harder than I thought it would be. With so many churches in the small town, you’d think we’d have no problem! But when it comes to finding a church, my friends and I knew that we wanted to find somewhere that taught the Truth, not just a good-feeling message, and somewhere we could get involved. We visited big churches, small churches, contemporary, traditional and everything in between before finally deciding on a small Baptist Church. It took time but it was totally worth it.

74. Visit my high school teachers after I graduate (March 2018)

High school was such a good time for me. Junior and Senior years specifically shaped a lot of my views and challenged me in and out of the classroom in ways I couldn’t imagine. The teachers those two years played an important role in that. Going back to visit the school and personally thank those teachers for challenging me and preparing me for this college journey was an important thing. It was great to reflect and thank those who work year-round preparing students for the future. And I think they appreciated it too.

80. Celebrate Easter really big (April 2019)

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays and potentially one of the most underrated ones. Christmas gets most of the celebration in both the religious and non-religious worlds but Easter is most important! Without Christ rising victoriously from the dead having had defeated our sins, we would still be searching for a way to prove ourselves worthy of God’s acceptance. So Easter definitely deserves more praise. This year my family went all out with a Bible-themed scavenger hunt, pastries made by my sister, and a big meal with the extended family. Hopefully, this tradition will continue.

88. Make a new vision board (January 2019)

The vision board concept it a cool one for me because I find that each time I make one I learn more about myself. It’s true that images speak louder than words and often hold concepts and ideas that can reveal themselves over time. As I made this vision board, I allowed myself to just pick images that I was drawn to. Those images ended up being more “outdoorsy” than I would have initially chosen but as time moved on, I found those things reflected interests and opportunities I didn’t know I had. It’s fun to see visually how those interests change over time and how they come out in my everyday life.

I’ve completed 25 of my 101 goals! How have you been coming along in your 101 in 1001 journey? What things have you learned about yourself through it? Follow my progress and see the complete list here.

signi

a short life lesson

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Life. It’s full of good days and it’s full of bad days. Some days we feel like we are keeping everything under control, while others, not so much. No matter how life is making you feel right now – calm or stressed – the life you are living now is preparing you for the future.

For my life right now, I am feeling pretty full. I have finished my first semester of college, I get to spend time with my family, and I am looking forward to hanging out with my friends come second semester. There is nothing pulling for my attention, no assignments to do. But it wasn’t always this calm.

I remember those days when I questioned everything: my life purpose, my family, my friends, even God. But there’s the thing, every minute I spent stressed, depressed, questioning life, was another minute closer to where I am now.

God uses all of those tough times to shape us into the people He designed us to be. While life isn’t a finish line that we can cross – there will always be more to learn – we can have hope in remembering that God uses everything for our good. Do not be discouraged and do not lose hope. Rather, trust in God who is in control. Trust that those tough times will help you to grow stronger as a person and in your faith.

That is my challenge for you this week. If your life is calm, thank God for using those though times to shape you. If your life is rough, remember that strength comes from perseverance and that you are not alone.

signi

My New Year Goals – 2019

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New years are great because they gives everyone a chance to start fresh even if things in your life keep right on going. There’s a new mindset and a fresh look on the projects we’ve been working on. And I think that’s great.

1. Take up photography again.

I’ve always loved photography. It’s such an easy way to capture life’s big (or small) moments. While I’ve taken a break from photography, I’ve been saving quite a few ideas on Pinterest and admiring some of my favorite photographers’ works. I hope all of that inspiration-searching pays off in my own work.

2. Make it to a least one (but hopefully more) sporting event.

I’ve never been a fan of playing sports, but I can appreciate those who are. College is great because there are always sporting events happening on campus and most of the time, the tickets are either free or cheap. So this should be a good time to get out there and cheer on my classmates.

3. Go camping with some friends.

Camping is one of those things that I’ve never done but I’ve always wanted to do. Last semester, I gathered up a group of friends to go camping but due to weather and other things, we didn’t get out. Hopefully this year I can be more intentional about making that camping trip happen.

So those are some of my goals for this year! If you’ve been following on my Instagram, you’ll also know that I’ve been striving for sustainability and less waste in my life. I wrote a blog post with more goals specifically for zero waste over here. What are some of your goals for this new year?

signi

101 in 1001: Beginning

Hey, everyone! So today I’m going to start a new project for myself called the 101 in 1001. It’s basically a list of 101 things that I want to do in 1001 days (2.75 years). I wanted it to end on my 21st birthday as a little “birthday present” for myself, so I’m going to start today!

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Start date: Friday May 11, 2018
End date: Friday February 05, 2021

A healthy lifestyle

  1. Eat gluten free for 2 weeks
  2. Work out twice a week for three months in a row
  3. Eat meatless for 3 months
  4. Take dance lessons
  5. Become plastic free
  6. Go to bed by 10 every night for 2 weeks
  7. Get up at 5 every morning for 2 weeks
  8. Go through my clothes and donate what I don’t wear
  9. Learn 5 new recipes
  10. Go through all of my photos and purge the duplicates
  11. Spend at least 15 minutes outside every day for a month
  12. Bike somewhere (anywhere)
  13. Go skating again
  14. Delete unwanted emails
  15. Make an emergency kit for the car
  16. Run in a race
  17. Complete a 30 Day Squat Challenge
  18. Go a day without my phone
  19. Go a week without my phone
  20. Go a month without social media
  21. Complete 10 random acts of kindness
  22. Try to go “car-less” for a week
  23. Volunteer at an event
  24. Be able to do a split
  25. Work out in the morning for 2 weeks

For family and friends

  1. Quilt a blanket for my aunt
  2. Take a trip with my mom
  3. Send 50 handwritten letters
  4. Send a “just for fun” package to my friends
  5. Throw someone a surprise party
  6. Sing around a fire pit with some friends
  7. Go to 5 sports games
  8. Finish the 2017 scrapbook
  9. Have an early morning Bible study outside
  10. Visit a high school friend at college
  11. Give someone a handmade gift
  12. Send birthday cards
  13. Take my sisters on “sister-dates”
  14. Volunteer with my family a Saturday morning
  15. Start a future hope chest
  16. Reconnect with an old friend
  17. Start a birthday tradition

Exploring the world

  1. Go to a drive-in/outdoor movie
  2. Go camping
  3. Take a roadtrip
  4. Visit a city I’ve never been to before
  5. Go to a flea market
  6. See a shooting star
  7. Watch the sun set, stay up all night, and then see the sun rise
  8. Play an instrument on the beach
  9. Have a picnic
  10. Explore downtown Charlotte
  11. Study abroad
  12. Speak French with a native
  13. Go horseback riding
  14. Go on a spontaneous trip
  15. Learn sign language (enough to have a small conversation)
  16. Become fluent in French
  17. Find a church by the university
  18. Go sailing
  19. Go to a lavender farm
  20. Learn to identify 5 constellations

A little bit of me

  1. Read the entire Bible again
  2. Memorize 25 Bible verses
  3. Read every Jane Austen novel
  4. Finish watching all of the Doctor Who seasons
  5. Watch 20 documentaries
  6. Complete a 30 day photo challenge
  7. Have a photoshoot
  8. Vote in every election
  9. Sew a quilt for myself
  10. Put $5 into savings for every goal accomplished
  11. Fill a sketchbook with doodles
  12. Visit my high school teachers after I graduate
  13. Paint on a canvas
  14. Memorize a chocolate chip cookie recipe
  15. Learn a poem by heart
  16. Attend the midnight premiere of a movie
  17. Read a book in a day
  18. Celebrate Easter really big
  19. Read 5 classic novels
  20. Update my makeup
  21. Have a spa day
  22. Spend an entire day watching Disney movies
  23. Build a blanket fort a read under it all day
  24. Sell something on Etsy
  25. Buy something from Etsy
  26. Make a new vision board
  27. Make a reading corner

Scribbles and words

  1. Write 5 more poems
  2. Journal every day for a month
  3. Compose and write down 2 new songs
  4. Write 3 “How-to” blog posts
  5. Write 10 more devotional blog posts
  6. Write a letter for myself to open when 1001 days are over
  7. Guest post for another blogger
  8. Map a book I love
  9. Reach 500 followers on my blog
  10. Write a wishlist of places I want to visit before I die
  11. Go to a book signing
  12. Write a new list when the 1001 days are over

I am so excited about my goals for this list! I will be sure to share an update every couple of months but you can check my progress on the “101 in 1001” page located at the top of my website.

Have you ever done a 101 in 1001 challenge? If so, how did it go? If not, would you want to do one? I can’ wait to hear from you! Have a great day. :)

signi

March Memories

Hello, everyone! As I’m writing this, the rain is pouring outside and my sister is playing violin. My mom is working on starting a fire and I have a big cup of tea waiting for me. Talk about perfect writing time! This past month have been filled with tons of adventures and excitement.

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In the beginning of the month, my mom and my sister and I drove to surprise my sister at her first away game for soccer. It was great except we ended up going to the wrong school! By the time we made it to the right school, there were 3 minutes left in the game. Bummer! But, we were able to see my sister play for a little bit and it made her really happy that we were there, so I’d say it was well worth it! :)

On the 5th, we hosted a missionary family for dinner. The family was really sweet and had lots of fun stories about life on the mission field and their many puppies. On the 12th, there was snow but it all melted within a couple of hours. Still, it was really pretty!

The next week, I had a friend over for a sleepover. We went to the park near my house and saw a beautiful tree! (Pictured below.) While we were at the park, a little girl, about 5, ran up to us and asked us to play with her. She was so adorable and I loved running around with her on the park playground! The next day, we met with another friend and went to walk on the campus of a nearby college, getting a feel for the college-life. It was a great experience and I learned a bit of what it’s like just to be on campus.

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Next came the Florida trip! My whole family spent our Spring break in sunny FL by the beach and it was beautiful! We were also able to go on all kinds of adventures including going to the Everglades. (I even made a video of it! Click here to watch it.) We got to see dolphins, birds, and aligators. A couple of days later, we went to Disney! I loved all of the rides but I especially loved the firework show at the end of the day. :) (Read the Florida Trip Travel Journal here!)

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After getting back into the rhythm of school life, I focused on memorized more Bible verses. This time, I memorized Isaiah 26:3-4 which says:

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
 Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”
-Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV)

Last week, my sisters and I took a spontaneous trip to my friend’s house! We spent a lot of time playing with her dog, :) but we also spent time outside making floral creations and talking about life. It was a wonderful way to spend my Sunday and it was pretty relaxing too! :)

Some Pictures from March:

That’s all! How was your March? Did you have any fun adventures? Let me know! I would love to hear from you! :)

signi