Dealing with a break-up is, in a way, similar to dealing with a death. In both situations, you are dealing with a loss. You’ve lost someone important in your life. And not only did you lose the person, you probably lost dreams of the future too. So after a break-up, you need time to grieve — just like you would if you were dealing with a death.

There are 7 stages of grief.

1. Shock and Denial

2. Pain and Guilt

3. Anger and Bargaining

4. Depression, Reflection and Lonliness

5. The Upward Turn

6. Reconstruction and Working Through

7. Acceptance and Hope

Most people don’t work through these stages one-by-one. Instead, it is a winding road. You may go from stage 1 to 4 and then back to 2. You may hit stage 3 multiple times before ever moving on to stage 6. An important thing to remember is that grieving takes time. Everyone grieves at a different pace.

A lot of times you can begin to think you should be over it by now. There will be people in your life who don’t understand what you are going through. They might say things that make you feel stupid for hurting. This happened to me the other day. Someone said something that made me feel dramatic and dumb for hurting so much.

Don’t let them take away from this process. Don’t let them make your loss seem unimportant or insignificant. If it mattered to you, then you deserve to grieve the loss of it. And if it mattered to you, then it mattered to God. So take your time. Grieving doesn’t have a timeline. It can take you a few weeks or a few years to ever get to the acceptance stage. But no matter how long it takes, it is okay to feel sorrow. And no matter how long it takes, you will eventually heal.

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So it’s been awhile since the initial heartbreak. I want to share something I’ve learned through this season in my life. There were days when all I wanted to do was cry. There were days when I wasn’t sure how to get out of bed and go about my day. There were times when it was very difficult to put a smile on my face and pretend everything was okay.

I felt constantly haunted by memories. I found myself asking God for temporary memory loss. Seriously, I kept picturing God flashing that little Men in Black do-dad in my eyes. But it’s hard to forget things that are so worth remembering.

What I realized is that the only way to make those memories fade was by creating new ones. I had to stop crying. I had to get out of bed. I had to put a smile on my face. Healing can only happen when you keep living. I had to keep living, keep moving. That’s the only way to step out of the darkness and into the light. It’s the only way the tears will stop falling. You have to move forward, even when all you want to do is go back.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be sad. You need time to grieve. But eventually, it’s time to move forward. Don’t let yourself get stuck in the grief.

Every day is a day to start over. Every day is a chance to take a step forward. So what are you waiting for? Move. Brighter days are ahead. Keep smiling. Keep dancing. Keep living.

As a child, did you ever fall off your bicycle and scrape your knee? I bet most of us have. We’ve all had some sort of scrape from a fall.

I’ve been thinking lately about how getting your heart broken is kind of like scrapping your knee — except obviously way more painful. When you first get hurt the skin is scrapped off, making you bleed. The shock of the fall and the pain you feel at that moment is intense, usually causing you to cry and run to someone close that you trust.

Eventually the bleeding stops after you’ve put a band-aid on it. That band-aid is like the distractions you give yourself to try to ease the pain. The TV you watch, the conversations you have, the work you pour yourself into. It doesn’t really do much, but knowing it’s there somehow makes you feel a little better.

And then the wound begins to heal. The crying eventually fades, and it doesn’t hurt so bad. But underneath the healing skin is a bruise. On the outside, you can go about your normal day. You can hang out with friends again. You can laugh again. But deep down, you still feel the pain. You still feel black and blue and maybe a little purple. And the wound is tender. If you touch it, you feel the pain again. It’s like when you are going about your day, finally feeling okay again … and then someone says something, not meaning to, that brings it all back. And maybe you have to go hide in a bathroom stall to cry a little.

It takes longer for the bruise to heal. Eventually it does though.

Then you are left with a scar. A mark that will be there for the rest of your life. Your heart will never be the same. It’s now been hurt. It’s known pain, and pain is a hard thing to forget. That means for the rest of your life, you will remember this time. But just like a scar — you see it and remember the pain that put it there, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. The only thing left is the memory of it.

There’s an epidemic. There’s something that’s ruining our lives. It leaves us disappointed and upset. These things can ruin relationships, make us insecure and even push us into depression! And we all have them.

You may not have ever thought about this, but expectations can cause a lot of harm to our everyday lives. Expectations. Bet you never thought of it as a dangerous word. But expectations can really mess things up.

Lately, I’ve been noticing something. Whenever I feel upset or disappointed with someone, it’s usually not because they did something wrong. It’s because they didn’t meet my expectations. MY expectations. Because I had a certain expectation going into it, when that wasn’t met I became upset with the person.

For instance, if we expect someone to text us back. If we expect someone to give us a certain gift for our birthday. If we expect someone to make time to hang out with us. If we expect someone to keep in contact while we’re/they’re away. The list goes on and on… When they don’t do these things, they’re not the ones upsetting us. We are. We’re the ones with the expectations.

Recently, I’ve been wishing there is some way to get rid of my expectations. If my expectations are really low or they don’t exist, then I could never be disappointed. Right? At least that’s how I’ve been seeing it lately.

So anyone have any tips on how to release my expectations?

Lately, I feel like I have been overcome by fear more often than not. At this point in my life where I’m entering reality and adulthood, there are so many things that seem scary. So I thought I would write this blog to remind myself of all the courageous things I’ve done in my life. There have been many things in my life that seemed scary, where I could have let the fear keep me from doing them.  But instead I had courage. And most of these things made me feel more alive than ever before.

1. When I was 15, I left on a plane all by myself and headed to Dallas, Texas. I didn’t know anyone there, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and set out to do mission work. I trained in Dallas and then left for New Orleans, La. I spent two weeks there doing street ministry and meeting new people.

The St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans- this trip changed me a lot.

2. In high school, I auditioned for the school play. This might not seem like a big deal, but I was always pretty shy and quiet in school. But I tried it, and I loved it. I became very active in theater. It really broke me out of my shell and gave me more confidence.

3. Being fairly scared of heights, I can’t believe I actually took a high ropes course. I was trained as a high ropes course facilitator. The course’s foot wire was 25 feet off the ground. There were many different paths to take through the course and I had to learn all of them. The hardest for me was a log you had to walk across. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you look down and the ground is about 30 feet below you and there is nothing for you to hold onto, your heart starts to race a bit! There was also a path called the islands that I eventually got up the courage to RUN across. I was very proud of myself.

This is what the log looked like.

This is what the islands looked like. The ones I ran across!

4. Also during camp, we had to learn how to facilitate the climbing tower, which means we had to be able to climb it ourselves. I was horrible at it at first. I couldn’t get half way up. I was scared and tired. But I overcame the fear and exhaustion and eventually made it to the top!

5. Through my camp adventures, I learned I love to zip-line. I remember the very first time I ever did it when I was in high school. It took me about 10 minutes to actually slide off the platform and go. Now I love zip-lining! I have zip-lined at camp, in West Virginia over a gorge and in a Costa Rican jungle. In Costa Rica, I even went upside down.

From my zip-lining adventure in Costa Rica

6. I’ve always been fairly scared of going underwater. So white water rafting was never on my bucket list. But during my last year as a camp counselor, I was asked to be the adventure camp coordinator and lead a group of jr. high students to West Virginia for white water rafting. I stepped up to the plate, having no idea what I was doing. I was extremely nervous about white water rafting once we got there. But I had to pretend to be brave for the kids. It ended up being awesome, and I loved it! What a rush! We did some Class 4 rapids and no one even fell out of the raft.

7. One of the scariest things in life is a little four-letter word: love. I think loving someone with all your heart is a huge risk. You are making yourself vulnerable when you open up and give them your heart. You are giving them the chance to reject you, to break your heart, to hurt you and cause you pain. Yes, I am courageous because I have given someone my heart. I’m in love. As scary as it can be, it’s also one of the best adventures in life.

8. So I used to not ride roller coasters. Yeah, I was scared, but more because I would get sick. Who wants to feel queasy and have a headache on a fun day in an amusement park? Not this girl. But as I got older, I kept trying, hoping my queasy stomach would man-up and let me have some fun. A couple years ago, I finally rode The Voyage at Holiday World. I found out I wasn’t getting sick on the smaller coasters, so I tried it. I was so scared! But I really liked it, and I think I rode it about 6 times that day!

Wow. I can't believe I rode this.

So you might read this and think woop-dee-do. But this isn’t about you. It’s about me, and these things took courage for me. But I did every single one of them and each of them shaped who I am. So Tiffany, stop being so scared of everything! Look how courageous and adventurous you are! Remember how you felt after you accomplished these things? Remember how alive you felt? I know things change seems scary. I know the future looks uncertain. But God has been with you through many changes. He has a future for you. He tells you to stop fearing. He’s got your back girl!

Still don’t believe me? Still scared? Still believing the lies the devil is feeding you? Then read below:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me. Psalm 23:4

The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day. Psalm 91:5

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

I’ve been learning a lot lately. And sometimes learning is hard to do.

You see, I’ve realized that I’ve been relying on my circumstances and the people around me to make me happy. My happiness was based on who I was with or where I was at in life. My identity was found in my job, location, relationship, friendships, etc. And if those things weren’t as I expected or pictured, if they weren’t all they should be, then something was wrong with my identity, and I couldn’t be happy.

At church one week, the sermon came from Colossians, Chapter 3. The pastor talked about our identities. I realized through the sermon that my identity was being formed through all the wrong things. My situations don’t make me who I am. My identity is found in Christ alone.

You can also think of it as your foundation. I guess my foundation, I’m ashamed to say, was my circumstances. If those circumstances got rocked, even just a little, my foundation wasn’t stable causing my life to feel as if it were crumbling all around me. My foundation should be Jesus Christ. With Him as my foundation, no matter what my circumstances, my life can’t come crumbling down around me — not with such a firm, strong and reliable foundation.

Another revelation I’ve found recently is that even if your foundation is Jesus Christ, you have to have the right contractor. You see, I’ve been trying to build my life all by myself. I was trying to be the contractor. But at church that Sunday, the pastor said our identity should be in Christ AND the authority should be with God. See what I’m saying? Only God can be the contractor. We can’t build a life on our own — not the good, fulfilling kind anyway.

So as hard as it is for me to give up my contracting duties, I have to hand the job over to God — only He can build me a life that is greater than I could ever dream up. But before I can even do that, I have to build my foundation. A solid, firm foundation in Christ Jesus.

Once my identity is in Christ and the authority is in God, my circumstances can’t make my life crumble. Instead, I will have a beautiful, strong and joyful life.

As scared as I am to let go of my contracting duties, I believe it is time to set the blueprints down. I am handing them over to the greatest and most reliable contractor.

Now I’m a control freak, maybe you are too. So this handing over the blueprints stuff might sound crazy. What’s my job, right? Well, don’t worry. There is a job for you and me as our lives are built. If God has the blueprints, you get the hammer!

This is how I’ve been thinking of it lately. I need to stop planning my life so much because well, I can’t plan it and expect everything to actually happen according to that plan. So instead I’m handing that job over to God. Since I don’t have to worry about the blueprints, I get to work on the actual construction. I get to build the walls and the roof and even decorate the inside! By this I mean, if I don’t like the circumstances I’m in I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to change them! I’m going to pick up the hammer and do something with the wall that I don’t like. Of course there are some things we can’t change, that’s when we trust the contractor.

So it’s time for me to finally start building my life. I’m handing the blueprints to God. I’m building the foundation on Jesus Christ, my Savior. And I’m picking up the hammer — to tear down the things I don’t like and build things I do.

When my mom and her siblings were much younger, they and the neighborhood children started a little Halloween competition. It all began when my grandmother built a dummy using old overalls and sat it on the porch. Some of my mom’s friends stole the dummy and hid it at their house.

“It was fun getting on the bus to see who had stole it and where it was now,” my mom said. “Then you would plan to go get it. Mark Coley and Marvin Strauch would hide it in their yards, or one time they had it in the big tree just as you started down in the bottoms.”

“One time my dad dressed up in overalls and put a sack over his head and had gloves on,” mom said. “He was ‘propped’ up in the swing on the front porch. My brother and I were ducked down in the front room with the lights off waiting. Finally, we heard the three-wheeler coming and sure enough it came flying up in the yard. Greg Jordan jumped off and tried to grab the big dummy off the swing. Except it jumped up and grabbed him! Talk about funny! I loved it. It scared Greg, and he took off on his three-wheeler. We all laughed about that for days!”

Eventually, those involved grew up, leaving for college or getting married.

But the tradition didn’t end there…

When I was probably around 12-years-old, my grandma decided to start the tradition back up. She invited all the grandchildren over and we built a dummy, filling its insides with leaves from the yard. We drew a face on him and named him. She set him outside on the porch. A few hours later, the dummy wars began!

All week, leading up to Halloween night, the Spelbrings (my aunt and uncle and cousin), my grandparents, the Reeds (my aunt and uncle) and my family steal the dummy from each other’s houses. We all live on the same road within a quarter of a mile of each other, making it easy walking distance for sneaking. The Reeds actually live close to Indianapolis, but they always drive down to join in the fun.

On Halloween night, at midnight, whichever family holds the dummy in its possession wins.

We’ve done this every year since that first time about 10 years ago. Even while I was away at college, I tried every year to come home for Halloween weekend to help my family steal the dummy.

Some of our adventures have included crawling through fields, jumping into ditches, hiding in each other’s cars, climbing trees, stealing car keys, being locked in a garage, being duct taped to a telephone pole, jumping hay bails, screaming, running and hiding the dummy in the craziest places.

The dummy has been nailed to the top of a telephone pole, sat in a canoe in the middle of a pond, stuffed inside a mailbox, thrown in a tree and sat on the roof of a barn. It gets to be a pretty crazy week.

The three things that make this tradition great are: 1. No one gets upset; we don’t really care who wins at the end of the night, 2. As soon as the competition is over, everyone begins sharing stories from the night and week, which means laughter — lots of laughter! 3. The memories can last a lifetime. I can’t tell you who’s won every year. I can’t even remember who won last year, but I can tell you stories upon countless stories of fun moments that only took place thanks to this silly family tradition.

What Halloween traditions do you have?

Happy October! In honor of the month for scaring, I’ve created a list of my top fears. I decided to leave out the emotional fears — things like failure or loved ones dying — instead, I’m just focusing on physical fears.

5. Heights

I’ve overcome this fear a little bit. As a camp counselor, I was trained on a high ropes course and that really helped me gain courage. However, I would still say this is a fear of mine. It’s not like I want to lean over the edge of a 20-story building or anything!

4. Mice

I never really thought of this as a fear, but the other day I saw a mouse and immediately jumped to a chair. Can a mouse really hurt me? No. But they are small and fast, so I’m scared of them. It’s very dumb. If they were slow like turtles, no one would be scared of them anymore.

3. Surgery/Shots

Anything medical makes me queasy, and I have a tendency to pass out sometimes. But more than the way it makes my stomach feel, it makes me nervous and scared. I had to have surgery three times on my mouth while I was in high school, and even though I was partially sedated I cried through it every time. Shots are even worse. I’m one person who will not be getting the flu shot — ever.

2. Drowning

As a kid, I never really learned how to swim. I can swim now, but I would never join a swim team or anything. I don’t like going underwater. To think of someone dunking me or throwing me in a pool, makes me back away or run into the house to be literal. I don’t think I’ve ever jumped off a diving board. The thought of being trapped underwater is awful. I hope I don’t die that way.

1. Spiders

Just looking at that word gives me shivers. I am so scared of spiders that if I’m alone with one that is particularly big and fast, I will have a panic attack. Seriously, it has happened. It’s silly, I know, but it’s just one of those things I can’t help. They are too fast and creepy. I don’t even like to see a picture of one or talk about them. So, I’ll stop there.

What are your fears?

If you are an avid reader, you know my word for this year is secure. As the new year arrived, I welcomed security into my life. I said goodbye to my insecurities, or so I thought.

See, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. It’s not like I could take all my insecurities, all the things I don’t feel good enough to do, and shove them in a box, tape it up, mark it “INSECURITIES- DO NOT OPEN” with a big, black marker, and hide it away in storage. No, unfortunately my insecurities are in a wide open box inside my mind. And often certain ones fall out of that box and seem to grow legs. Then they run around my mind, haunting it like white-sheeted ghosts at Halloween.

Now I know I am not the only one with little wicked ghosts running around in my head. I think I would be safe to say, anyone reading this has insecurities they have to deal with. None of us feel good enough all the time. Often, that ghost doesn’t just tell us we’re not good enough, he also tells us we’re the only ones not good enough. Well, I’m here to say that ghost is a LIAR!

Because 1) you aren’t the only one not good enough, and 2) a certain someone has made you good enough. Now wait, you say, those two things are contradictory. Yes, I know but let me explain.

First, none of us is good enough. Nobody is best at everything. I can hear you now, well so-and-so is. Every time I see her she looks beautiful, her children are so well behaved, she makes the best food, she always wins every game we play, she has the perfect marriage, perfect body, perfect home and family….. the list goes on and on. But I promise you her life is not perfect. Maybe you need to get to know her a little better, because I can guarantee her life is no where near perfect and just like you she has ghosts in her head telling her she needs to try and be perfect.

We all run around trying to be perfect- for what? Because we feel we need to earn love? Earn our husband/boyfriend’s love? Earn respect of our friends and relatives? Earn the love of God? We are trying to prove to that little ghost that we can be enough in every aspect for everyone else. That brings me to point #2.

No, we aren’t good enough or worthy. But nothing we can do will make us good enough. You’re thinking, okay, why am I reading this then? There’s no hope, what’s the point? Aha! But there is hope! Someone else has made us worthy. Someone else has made us good enough! We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10) God already made us holy and good enough by giving us Jesus. When Christ died on the cross, he was making us righteous and worthy- every single one of us. That means we don’t have to sacrifice anymore. We don’t have to constantly strive to be enough. We don’t have to try and be perfect. For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:14) Through one ultimate sacrifice of the body of a man named Jesus, we have been made perfect. And not just for awhile, that verse said FOREVER. We never have to worry about not being good enough. It just said we have been made perfect forever. Wow.

You say, but I make so many mistakes. God knows we make mistakes, He created us didn’t He? That’s the whole reason He gave us Jesus, because He knew without Him we would never be worthy. God couldn’t stand the thought of spending eternity without all the ones He loves so much. Because of the one sacrifice of Jesus, our mistakes are forgiven. Jesus said, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17) Once we realize our mistakes and ask God to forgive us, bam! Just like that God forgives us and remembers those mistakes no more. We are the ones who take those mistakes and turn ourselves into failures, claiming we must somehow earn God’s love. But God doesn’t even remember those mistakes anymore. He doesn’t want us to keep sacrificing and trying to earn His forgiveness and love. And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. (Hebrews 10:18)

So every time one of those ghosts climbs out that box in your mind to haunt you, remind him of the sacrifice already paid for you. Tell him he’s right- you weren’t good enough, but now you are. Tell him that you don’t need to earn God’s love because He gives it freely. Tell him thanks to Jesus, you are righteous, holy, good enough, worthy and perfect- forever. Then shove him back in that box and close it.

This past weekend the temperature outside was hot, and my house was even hotter. I had all the fans on while I wore shorts and a T-shirt.

Just a day later, the temperature outside was chilly, and my house was cold. I had turned the fans off and the heater on. I changed into my sweatpants and long-sleeved shirt, and I put long, fuzzy socks on my feet. I decided to bake cookies just so I could stand by the warm oven.

The temperatures have changed because the season is changing. Summer seems to have ended, and that means my favorite season has arrived. The official day isn’t until Sept. 23, but fall is slowly phasing in. The wind seems to be bringing changes. We can see the transitions taking place before our eyes.

I noticed yesterday the sun seemed to be setting earlier than normal. Goodbye summer, I thought. It was a little sad.

Summer is a great season, full of fun. But it was also exciting to say goodbye to summer because it meant saying hello to autumn.

I love the cool weather because it means getting to wear all my favorite clothes: Jeans, boots, sweatshirts, scarves and jackets.

It means I get to fill my belly with deliciousness: Soup, chicken and noodles, warm apple cider, pumpkin pie, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate, roasted marshmallows, pumpkin pie and best of all everything that comes with Thanksgiving Day.

The season of fall means my favorite sport is all around: Football, particularly the Colts.

It means fun activities: Hayrides, carving pumpkins, corn mazes, four-wheeling and bonfires.

Fall also means beauty: The way the leaves change from bright green to red, yellow and orange, eventually falling all around, waiting to be raked into piles for jumping.

As much as I enjoyed summer, I am looking forward to the winds of change bringing in the next season.

So… hello fall, it’s nice to see you again.

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