10 Ways to find YOU before saying “I DO”

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The cycle of life seems to go like this… your born, go to school, hate boys,  love boys, hate your parents, hate yourself, get a job, love only yourself, meet a boy, “YOLO”, go to college, have your first real heartbreak, hate boys, get another job, need acceptance by worldly things, meet another boy, incur debt, think he’s “the one,” get engaged, graduate college, get married,  start a career, get divorced, think YOLO again and realize it’s not the same as your teens and start all over again.  Maybe there’s a kid with you and maybe you’ve moved a time or two but this seems to be the life cycle and to most, this is “normal” this is “life”.  This is, life happens.

Happiness is measured by things and satisfaction judged by attention.  Checking things off the life to do list seems to be the only thing on the agenda and you end up running around like a chicken with your head cut off, wearing so many hats and not knowing which one is really you.  You question true love and life becomes consumed with updating your status on Facebook and pictures of how “awesome” your life is on Instagram.  Or you attempt to create this facade…

Ok, maybe this is extreme and come on, this “could never happen to you,” right?  Well wrong.  No one is immune.  If it doesn’t happen to you, there’s a good chance it will happen to someone close to you.  And what is “it?”  It could be divorce, unhappiness, or living through Facebook updates and checking those what-comes-next-things off the to do list.

McKinley Irvin posted “32 Shocking Divorce Statistics.”  I don’t think these are shocking at all, but I think this article sums up everything… here’s just a few:

  • 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce.
  • 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce.
  • 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.

And guess what?! The ages are not surprising either…. 80% of women getting divorced are under the age of 30!

I definitely don’t have life figured out but I have learned a thing or two the past few years I thought were worth sharing.  Maybe you will find this useful or perhaps you will find my ways irrational and childish, but for me, before I say “I do” (again), I’m on this path to FIND ME first!

10 Things to do before you say “I DO”

#1 – Read the gospel.  Get plugged in at your church.  There is no love greater than the love of the Father.  God’s love is unconditional.  John 3:16 went viral with Tim Tebow but the words have always been there.  Until you know God’s love, there is no way you can show love and be loved the way God intended.  Live your life for the glory of God.  Not yourself.  Yearn for God-like love and when you find it, it will be epic.  ❤

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#2 – Graduate college.  Start your career.  The college years are really just an extension of high school nowadays.  Having schedules made for you, deadlines set, spring and summer breaks, all status quo from high school.  Difference – less parental oversight, a license to drink and more opportunities to get in trouble.  When I was getting my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, no matter how “grown up” I thought I was, I wasn’t.  Finding my career though, has taught me a few lessons about working with people, self development, professional standards and real deadlines for long term projects.  I’m just in the very beginning stages of my career, but I am finding myself along the way!

Also, make sure you have all your other certs in place too.  Maybe it’s a license like the CPA or Bar or Boards.  Or some other letters you want to get after your name.  Achieve your personal goals first, then you can focus on other things.   In the short term, this will suck.  But for me, having my CPA is something I have been dreaming about for a long time.  Once I have it, no one can take it away and I will be done with my “schooling/educational” goals then.  Right now, that’s my focus.  What’s yours?

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#3 – Buy real furniture.  Decorate.  Establish a permanent address.  Finding yourself really doesn’t start until you have a firm foundation.  Plants can’t grow and thrive without strong roots.  Plant yourself and get established somewhere on your own.  The on your own part is critical.  Stop depending on someone else.  Unfortunately, the path for most young people seems to be this – be dependent on your parents – be dependent on a boyfriend/girlfriend, have a dependent (kid/significant other), get married and now you have dependents for life.  No where in there is independence!  We think we are independent because we went to college or pay rent, but until you plant your roots and be completely self sufficient, you can’t be independent.

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#4 – Babysit. Babysit. Babysit.  Kids are wonderful and amazing blessings from God.  I know some of the coolest kids but they have also taught me so much too.  Kids look “fun and easy” and “complete happiness.”  They do bring joy but they also take change your life. Young people can’t wait to have kids and rush into marriage kids everything to experience the happiness.  Well let me tell you, happiness can be found within you!  You don’t need any extra stuff to have happiness.  As long as you got #1 down (read above if you missed it) you have happiness living inside you!  While you’re find yourself, I encourage you to babysit.  Try spending the night watching over a baby. Experience the full responsibility a LITTLE more.  When the baby wakes in the middle of the night, you wake.  When the baby cries, you sometimes cry.  This is real life.  Find YOUR happiness within, then share your happiness with others.  Not the other way around.  This sweet, smiling girl is the most beautiful little girl (to me) but the best thing I can share with her is MY happiness, who I am, so she can become a strong independent young lady one day and not rely on others to make her happy.  <— but not to fast though!

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#5 – Experience life without the “all about me” attitude.  Once you start to find you, you need to start to share you.  Maybe this means makes a few sacrifices to make someone else’s life a little better.  Maybe you trade in your late night Saturdays to serve in your Church early Sunday mornings.  Maybe it’s choosing to donate your time at a shelter or your money to go on a missions trip.  Or coach a youth sports league.  Or what I did, adopt a dog from a kill shelter.  A few things I’ve learned from having my dog:  1) saving a life is more rewarding to you than the dog. 2) the wagging tail happy-to-see-you-dog when you get home is better than any adult greeting 3) teaching your dog something new feels like you’ve just accomplished a huge goal yourself 4) if you thought you couldn’t love a dog that much, you will be proven wrong.  My dog, Emmie, is truly the light of my life.  She’s a huge responsibility and sometimes I wish she could walk herself when it’s really cold outside but she has taught me patience, forgiveness (she pees everywhere!) and love.

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#6 – Get involved in a professional organization.  Whatever your career is, network with wiser, more experienced people.  This is the best thing you can do for your career.  Up until now, you’ve gone through school with peers.  Everyone was on the same playing field, learning the same and having very similar experiences.  There is so much you can learn from a mentor and sponsor, the possibilities are endless.  Take a leadership position.  Don’t worry about your age or inexperience.  Your youthful spirit, ability to adapt to change and creative endeavors make you a gem.  Use your lack of experience and knowledge to lean on others.  Humble yourself.  Make a name for yourself and become an independent professional!  Read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book!

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#7 Start your mornings a little earlier.  Grab coffee and read something.  Maybe it’s the news, the Bible, a professional book, or even a blog 🙂 find something to read and share that with someone during the day!  <— this might mean you have to go to bed earlier too… welcome to the real world!

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#8 Blog about it.  Blogging is such a great way to create your own community and focus on YOU, your passions.  Most importantly, sharing your passions.  I started my blog a little over a year ago as a way to occupy my time with fun recipes while I was going through some rocky roads.  I love consolidating all my favorites in one place and now use it as a reference to share recipes with friends.  I also love reading other blogs too.  Learning about the adoption process of my friend and watching families grow  makes me smile.  If you’re reading this and you’re between 20-30, life is just getting started.  So many things are changing and will changing and blogging is a great way to document these.  Older than that?  You know more than I do and I would love to learn from you!

The first picture below is a page from Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Melton.  It’s a wonderful book that’s a compilation of Glennon’s blog posts and other writings.  I laughed and cried my way through this book.

The second book, Blog Inc by Joy Deangdeelert Cho, is a book I got for Christmas and am just starting to read it.  It’s a great resource and inspirational book.

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#9 Find your hobbies.  This one seems silly.  I know.  But think about it this way.  When I was 8, I loved Barbie and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.  When I was 16, my life was all Dashboard Confessional and Yellowcard concerts, Abercrombie & Fitch shirts that were size XL and boys with bleached hair.  At 20, I wanted to know where the party was Friday night and how to look older than I really was.  When I was 23, I wanted to be done with school, married and happy with a white picket fence.   At 25, I want to challenge my body with runs and rides.  I want to explore the world, go camping and live a simpler life.  I want to learn another language, pass the CPA exam and go on a missions trip.  I want to spend more quality time with my family slow down a little bit.  I want to watch my puppy grow and enjoy life with my friends.

The only thing constant about my life has been me changing.  I’ve changed my interests, wants and desires.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has changed either.  I’m sure you have too.  There’s nothing wrong with this at all.  In fact, this is learning who you are and FINDING YOU.  So I challenge you to find you, find your interests.  What’s your dream?  How can you achieve it?

I’ve always wanted to do a wine and canvas type thing, so I did!  I’m not great, and in fact I’ve decided to stick to my better talents from now on, but without challenging myself, I would never know!

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#10 Buy a dress.   Not a wedding dress.  Your day will come, my dear friend.  In due time. In God’s time. But buy a dress that makes you feel beautiful.  You’ve accomplished so much and should be so proud.  Dress up and go on a real date.  With a real man.  Who invites you to a really nice dinner.  Is a complete gentleman.  Opens doors and complements you.  The whole 9 yards.  You are beautiful and deserve to be treated the way you feel.  When you feel beautiful, confident and independent, you will attract the type of man God has called you to be with.  Only when you find who you are will the time come for you to take the next step.  This might be when you’re 30, 35 or 40.  Aren’t you glad you aren’t rushing, but found you and found happiness within!?

Or maybe you’re already married and the you is lost (or never found?!).  It’s not to late to find you in there.  It will be harder, but you can do it.  Do it for yourself, for the people who love you and for your future generations, mentees and friends.  Love is definitely worth fighting for but before you can fight, you have to train.  Train yourself by finding who you are, what you want and learning just how amazing God created you to be. Then share that love with others.

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Thank you for sharing your time with me and I hope you embark on this journey with me with these 10 ways to find YOU before saying “I DO” – for the first time, or like me, for the next last time! 🙂

XO

Cassie

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…..Love

loveThis weekend I had the opportunity to go to the CHILD Cancer Fund’s Golf Tournament Kick Off Party in Sawgrass.  The event was a kick off and fundraiser for the tournament with a silent and live auction.  Some of the items in the silent auction were paintings done by child cancer patients.  One that stood out to me was this painting for Love by a child we will call Patience.  I initially liked it for the cause, the artist, the colors and the design.

My appreciation for the painting changed Saturday morning as I watched the sunrise at Jax Beach.  Sidenote — If you have been following my blog, you know I love sunrises and sunsets.  It’s probably the most peaceful thing. ever.  I got a coffee from Starbucks, grabbed my beach chair and a towel and just watched the sunrise over the beach.  I love this relaxing time to reflect, pray and just listen to the ocean.  Time seems to fly by faster and faster these days.  When was the last time you stopped and watched a sunrise or sunset?  When was the last time you stopped and watched something beautiful, something fascinating? 

So this was my something beautiful moment, my sunrise!

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Absolutely breathtaking!

While I was watching the sunrise I thought about the painting.  Why does it have 5 dots before the word love?  I’ve seen “love…” so many times.  “Love…” makes me think you have love and then what.  And was there nothing before Love? We live in a society that’s always looking for the next step.  The single people want to be married, the married people want kids, the family wants more kids or a bigger house or more _____, fill in the blank.  It seems like love’s just not enough.  What we have in the present just isn’t enough.  Everything comes after love, hence Love…  I think this is the wrong way of thinking and I hope you can see this too.

John 3:16, the famous Tim Tebow scripture, says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  When I think of God’s love for us, I think of the cross and what happened before the cross.  Jesus was rejected by many but was a provider, a healer, a miracle worker, a teacher and our savior.  Jesus poured his love on his people and then pour his love out to us by sacrificing himself on the cross.  What happened before the cross, the dots before the word Love, was the perfect representation of God’s love, which paved the path for God’s everlasting love on us through the holy spirit.  I don’t think of God as “love and now what” I think of God’s perfect love for us, his agape love, and what happened before the cross when Jesus was persecuted and loved us/the people despite their sin and hate.

1 Corinthians 13:13 says “and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  At the end there’s love.  Not in the beginning and then there’s more.  But that you have all of everything you’ve ever needed and love is the greatest of what remains.  So for me “…..Love” says despite all the stuff that happens before love that we don’t think about, love is in the end.  You will love again and be loved and it will be agape love.  Thinking no matter what trials and tribulations you might face, God’s Love overcomes and overpowers everything.

Our love should be the same.  We are called to be Christ-like.  To be Christ-like is to put God first and to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” Mark 12:30. To put others first and to love no matter what the past, present or future might hold.  God calls us to “love your neighbor as yourself” – Mark 12:31 

So when I think about Christ-like love, I think …..Love.  …..Love meaning that whatever happened before and because of what happens, what remains is love.  If we are to have this kind of mentality, I think our world would be a more caring, nurturing place.   God is all about second and third and fourth and so on chances because he’s a …..Love kind of God.

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So are you living life as a Love….. kind of person – thinking now that I have love, X, Y and Z will come next?  Or are you a …..Love kind of person- where you love despite the before and if you’re going through the “…..” phase now, you know that Love will remain?  Through persevering and focusing on God even during the “…..” The love that remains will be great.

So I challenge you to take a simple painting, a picture, a moment and think about its deeper meaning.  Pray on it.  Reflect on it.  Thank you Patience for this beautiful painting and reflection on love!

12 Dozen Cupcakes

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Thanks to you, my friends, I raised $765 for the Katie Caples Foundation!!!  This exceeded my initial goal of $500.  Also, thanks to you, the kitchen was very busy baking yummy cupcakes!  Everyone who donated $25 or more to me, got sweet homemade cupcake treats!  This was by far the biggest baking undertaking I have ever done… 12 dozen cupcakes! (do the math- that’s 144 cupcakes!)

I wanted to share a few of my all time favorite cupcakes… Carrot, German Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Chocolate and white with strawberry buttercream!  (another favorite – Red Velvet, didn’t make it in this round).

So my baking began!  I prepared the batters and frosting a few days in advance.  I almost ran out of Tupperware!!

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Last Thursday the baking began!  The plan was to bake Thursday and then decorate and deliver Friday!

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These were all homemade cupcakes (no boxes were used in this baking adventure!).  I baked them in mini cupcakes tins.  I LOVE LOVE mini cupcakes because you can eat 3-4 of them to equal the same about in 1 regular cupcakes!  Portion control approved?  I think so!

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I discovered a new amazing tool too!  The Wilton Dessert Decorator Plus is the BEST thing since sliced bread!  It makes frosting easy and fun.  I have the standard decorating tips and the plastic bags but I never got them to work that great or easy.  With 12 dozen cupcakes to decorate, I decided this was well worth the investment.  I think it far exceeded expectations, but I’ll let you be the judge of the decorating…

Chocolate with Peanut Butter Frosting….

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German Chocolate with Coconut Pecan Frosting…

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White Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting….

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting…

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And so you have it… a yummy collection of my favorite cupcakes!  I personally like the carrot ones the best but everyone who tried them had a different favorite!

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Thanks again to everyone who donated to my ride for the Katie Ride on April 20, 2013!  Your donation helped bring organ donor awareness and education to high schoolers!  You challenged me not only in biking, but also in baking!  ❤

Bon Appetite!