You Are Not Alone

Devotionals

I lay here awake, debating on even writing this. What you are about to read has been heavy on my heart for so long, and I finally feel ready. (This may be a sensitive subject to some, and I completely understand if you feel the need at any time to exit this post. This is part of my story and I pray that it can give hope to others).

With the state of the world right now and everyone in quarantine, I have had a lot of time to think. While this gives many people the chance to spend quality time with their families, for some this is a nightmare being played out day by day in their own homes. The thought occurred to me the other day… those people who are suffering mental/physical abuse from their partners have no where to go and I felt my heart breaking.

Years ago when I would hear about people in abusive/toxic relationships I asked the same question that many others do “Why don’t they just leave?” I never understood until it became my reality.

From the outside (for the most part), my relationship looked great. That’s what I wanted everyone to think, and part of me wanted to believe that it was as well. For a while, I was blind to the mental abuse that was taking place. Occasionally friends, family, and even teachers would see how I was being treated and try to warn me. I brushed it off as if it was nothing. Eventually it got worse, and I started to realize the effects that it had on my mental health. I was constantly being blamed for everything, accused for cheating (when he was the one doing so), called crazy, told that I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough, and that no one else could ever want me.

I decided one day that I did not want to tolerate it anymore and said something to defend myself. By doing this, I caused the mental abuse to become physical abuse as well. My spirits were crushed and I was terrified. From this day on, any time that I said something that seemed off putting, I had to suffer the consequences.

I became drained and I lost myself. I wore more makeup and clothing to hide the bruises best I could. Those I couldn’t hide, I lied when asked about them. I did not know how to think for myself, I became isolated, I lost friends and worst of all I began to slowly lose the will to live. I thought about dying often, because I knew that would be my only way out. I wanted with everything in me to leave, but I felt trapped and it gave me the most sickening feeling.

My parents started to notice a big change in me, helped me get into therapy, and helped me through the process of talking to my family doctor. I was diagnosed with depression and was put on medication. Through all this, my parents begged me to get out of the relationship, but still I stayed. Though the abuse continued, my fear did not. I began to slowly realize who I was and what I was worth. I became closer to God and I prayed and prayed for Him to help me and to guide me.

After almost 4 years, I finally built up the courage and I got out. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth more than I could ever put into words. Since that day, God has worked so many blessings into my life. He put a man into my life whose hands and words show me nothing but love. I have found my way back to myself in many ways, but in other ways I have grown into a new woman…. a strong woman who knows what she’s worth and a happy woman who knows she is loved.

The fact that so many people all around the world are in abusive relationships absolutely breaks my heart. I hurt for them. I pray that I can use what I have been through to help others who may be in that situation or know someone who is. I pray for all of you. I pray that you find the love you deserve. Just remember, God made you beautiful and He made you strong, and with Him you can conquer anything.

If you made it to the end, I thank you for reading my story and I hope that it shines a light at the end of what may seem a never ending tunnel.

Love and prayers,

Taylor

God Is In Control

Devotionals

It has been a while since I wrote a devotional post, and I think now more than ever it is definitely needed. In the span of a few short weeks the world has seemed to turn upside down. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and it is scary. Not only is the situation at hand frightening, but fear of the unknown is as well. I know it keeps many of you up at night, as it does myself. Something that has helped me the past few days is focusing on the fact that God is in control.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the Earth.” Psalm 46:10

We may never know the reasoning for everything that is going on, but God has a purpose for it. During this crisis it is so easy to get caught up in the news and everything else going on that we forget to turn our hearts to the one that can help us the most. It may seem like everything is out of control, but God is working in great and mysterious ways. He wants to hear from you and he wants to take care of your worries.

My mom recently wrote a blog post that I would love for you all to read. In part of the post she talks about the importance of prayer. I cannot stress to you enough how important this really is, especially in a time like this. We need to come together as a nation and lift this world up in prayer. Take a little time out of each day to pray for your loved ones, your community, your governors, president and other countries as well. We may not be able to control the situation at hand, but prayer is one of the biggest things we can do to help.

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Another important thing to remember is to focus on the things you can control, instead of what you can’t. Like I mentioned, we can’t control a lot right now but we can control how often we pray and the precautions we take to keep ourselves safe during this time. I encourage you to stay home as much as you can and take this time to bond with your families, get some work done, or even pick up a new hobby!

I know it all seems like chaos, but in the midst of it all God is our light. He is in control, and we can find peace in this. When you are overcome with worry, pray to Him. This is a scary time in our nation, but we will get through this and I have all the faith in the world that God will deliver us out of these times into better days. I am praying for each and everyone of you!

-Taylor J

Staying Productive

Lifestyle

With everything going on in the world right now, it is easy to fall into the hole of panic. As my college classes have been transitioned to online, I have stressed about how the rest of the semester will go. It will definitely be different, but I know that our teachers are doing everything they can to make this transition easy for us and them as well. To those of you who are parents, I know this is a hard and stressful time for you. I am praying for you, as you work extra hard to do everything you can to help your little ones during this time. This is a chaotic time for our country, but it is important that we focus on the things we can control, instead of worrying about the things that we can not.

Since I have a lot more time to be at home, I decided I was going to make the most out of it. I want to be as productive as possible during this time. Staying productive is a great way for us to take our minds off of everything else going on around us. With this being said, we should still be cautious and take measures to keep ourselves healthy, but worrying ourselves to death over matters we can’t control is not going to do us any good.

I want to share some tips on how you can stay productive and make the most out of this time! I have tried all of these so far, and this day has already been one of the most productive days I have had in a long time.

Tip # 1: Wake Up Early

Now, I know this can be extremely hard for us night owls (trust me I feel your pain), but it is so beneficial. Even though I did not have a set time to start my classes this morning, I woke up at 8:30 and got my day started. I showered, had my breakfast and coffee and got right to work. Staring the day early allows you to get things done earlier in the day, so you have more time in the evening for other things you like to do.

Tip # 2: Get Some Housework Done

Since I will be home the majority of the day now, I figured it would be the perfect time to get caught up on laundry, cleaning, and organizing. For me, I hate doing it all at one time so I found a schedule that works perfect for me.  (They have tons on Pinterest) It allows me to get a little done day by day, which is perfect since I still have school work to do in the morning. This is also a huge way for me to destress and declutter. The cleaning/laundry schedule I use is below:

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Check out my Pinterest board for more cleaning/organization inspo!

 

Tip # 3: Do Something For You

Wether it be once a day or once a week, I encourage you to take a little time out of your day to do something that you enjoy and that allows you to destress. It can be anything from reading to journaling to praying or exercising. Whatever it may be, make time for it and use that time to take a break from everything else that is going on.

I know that this is a scary time, but is important that we still stay productive and do the best we can with the situation at hand. Find a productive routine that works best for you and stick to it! I am praying for our country, as well as all of you. Please remember to stay safe and wash your hands! 

 

-Taylor J

Adventures in Snowshoe

travel

This past weekend my boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to Snowshoe, West Virginia. We were both craving a little adventure, so we headed 5 hours to the snowy mountains and had the best time. If you are looking for a great place to go skiing/snowboarding or just a quiet place to get away I would definitely recommend going. I want to share with you some of our favorite places and things to do while we were there!

The first evening we were there, we headed up to Snowshoe Village to hang out and find a place for dinner. Not only was the village itself beautiful, but the walk to the village was absolutely stunning. We had to park a little ways away since we weren’t staying at any of the resorts, but the walk through the snowy paths and forests looked like something straight out of a movie. The village definitely had me feeling like I was part of a Hallmark movie. Our first stop was Starbucks to get some hot tea, because we were both freezing. After looking through the dinner options we chose a place called “Old Spruce Cafe & Tavern“. 10/10 recommend checking this place out! The food, drinks, and staff were wonderful!

 

The next day we went snowboarding. Let me tell ya, if you’ve never been, I would highly recommend lessons before!  We decided to teach ourselves and let’s just say we wound up a little more bruised and sore then we probably would’ve been had we had lessons! We also decided to snowboard at Silver Creek, which is a part of snowshoe, but had wider slopes and is less crowded since it was our first time. Despite the minor injuries we still had a blast. After a long day on the slopes we ate at “The Pizza Slice” and it definitely hit the spot. It was our favorite food place!

As far as places to stay, we chose to stay in an Airbnb, because it was cheaper than staying at the resort. However, the village had many beautiful places to stay and we definitely plan on checking them out next time we are there! If you do chose Airbnb when you go, I recommend staying at Overlook Village. The little cabins were beautiful and so clean! The host was also extremely nice and helpful. Our place was only a couple minutes drive up to Snowshoe. You can book online or on the Airbnb app.

 

Overall, we had the absolute best time and would recommend it to anyone. These were just a couple of our favorite spots! We had no cell service the whole time we were there, so it was really nice to be able to just focus on each other and disconnect from everything else. I am so thankful for my sweet boyfriend, who is always down for an adventure. This was our first one of 2020 and I can’t wait for many more to come!

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-Taylor J

 

Welcoming 2020

Lifestyle

I honestly can’t believe that in a few short days we will be welcoming not only a new year, but a whole new decade.  2019 was one for the books. I’m not gonna lie it really had me in the first half and I began to think I’d never make it through, but things quickly turned around and it turned into my favorite year yet.

This year has taught me so much about life, people, and myself. I learned that life isn’t always going to go your way and that’s okay. One of the hardest things I had to learn how to do is to let go and let God. I have to accept the fact that His plans for my life are way greater than any plans I could make for myself. Getting to experience His blessings and some of His plans for my life this year has been nothing short of amazing.

The lessons that I have learned this year have made me so strong, and while they were painful, I am so thankful. I learned that people aren’t always who you think they are in the beginning. People can put on a mask, but once their real colors start to show that is when you have to be careful and sadly I failed to do so. I cared too much and gave too much time and energy when I shouldn’t have. I got my heart shattered and was left so broken. While at first I thought it was the worst thing that could’ve happened I quickly learned that it was the best. I did not need anyone in my life that was going to leave me feeling any less than loved and worthy everyday.

I felt what I needed to feel, I picked myself up and I was determined to be the strongest and happiest version of myself that I could be. I learned to love myself more and more each day. I knew I was a little broken, but I accepted that and let it make me stronger. For the first time I was living life for myself and not for someone else. I went out, I had fun, and I did things that made me smile from ear to ear. I finally felt free and happiness was written all over my face. Little did I know that God had something big planned for me this year…

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In August I met the love of my life. Out of all the blessings I received this year he is truly my biggest one. I thank God every single day for sending him to me at the perfect time in my life. He made everything I have ever been through feel worth it. All the pain, tears, and heartache were all worth it and I would go through it all a million times if I knew he would always be the end result. Not only did I gain one of the sweetest humans in my life, but I gained a second family as well. His family never fails to make me feel welcome and they love me like their own.

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I am so excited to welcome 2020 with open arms. I get to take on a whole new decade with someone who loves me for everything that I am and who is my absolute best friend. I get to learn more about myself, experience new things with my family, and will be closer to graduating college. There is so many exciting things in the decade to come and I can’t wait to see what God has planned. Let’s make this the best decade yet.

Goodbye 2019… thank you for the memories, lessons learned, and blessings you have given me.

-Taylor J

5 Books That Have Changed My Life

Lifestyle

Guest writer Aaliyah from https://aaliyahinspired.com/

It’s nearing the end of 2019 and I feel that, personally this year, I’ve experienced the most growth than ever before. I would have to give all of the self-growth credit to the books that have changed my life within these last 12 months. Although I’ve read over 20 books this year, I narrowed down my list to the top five books that have influenced me the most this year and I hope that you will have the chance to close out the year with one of them!

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

This was the first book I had read at the start of 2019 and it was the catalyst that I needed to gear up for all the new goals I had planned for. Charles Duhigg digs deep into the psychological barriers that we have when trying to change or create new habits and offers practical strategies to combat the “habit loop” we’re all victim to.

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/081298160X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1574871386&sr=8-1

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Will Smith once said in an interview that this book changed his life so I knew I had to read it. This is a beautiful story about a young boy Santiago who’s in search for his Personal Legend (in other words, purpose) in life. He encounters a wise old Alchemist who gives him guidance to discover the secrets of this world and wisdom on how to uncover his purpose. If Will Smith recommends it, then you know it’s worth the read!

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/Alchemist-Paulo-Coelho/dp/0062315005/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=The+Alchemist&qid=1574871484&sr=8-1

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

Living with less is a concept that is gaining more and more attention in this generation and I am all for it. Instead of being in a vicious loop of consumption and overaccumulation, Joshua Becker puts his foot down and says our happiness doesn’t lie in the things that we fill our lives with instead it comes from the experiences we have and create. I loved this book so much that I read it TWICE this year.

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/More-Less-Finding-Under-Everything-ebook/dp/B015BCX0X0/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=The+more+of+less+by+Joshua+becker&qid=1574871633&sr=8-1

The 5 A.M. Club by Robin Sharma

I remember all the previous attempts I made trying to wake up at 5 a.m. every morning, but for some reason the habit never stuck. I never knew the secret ingredient to how all the successful billionaires and professional athletes of the world achieved this feat until I picked up The 5 a.m. club. Intertwined in a fictional story of two characters trying change the course of their lives, Robin Sharma introduces formulas, guides, and solutions that can be implemented in your life to ingrain this habit. I’ve been apart of the 5 A.M. Club for five months now and we’re recruiting new members!

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/AM-Club-Morning-Elevate-Life/dp/1443460710/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1574871800&sr=8-1

Best Self by Mike Bayer

I love the idea of everyone reaching their fullest potential and being the best version of themselves and I believe that this book does a great job of bringing that out of the reader. I worked every exercise in this book and the results are astonishing. Mike Bayer is a life coach who’s seen it all when it comes to people’s limiting beliefs, addictions, and struggles. He, himself, struggled with drug addiction years prior to writing this book. This is a great book to fine tune the beautiful person you’re already into the best version of yourself.

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Self-You-Only-Better/dp/0062911732/ref=sr_1_1?crid=25BR4KAUY47M6&keywords=best+self+mike+bayer&qid=1574871872&sprefix=best+self+mike+%2Caps%2C187&sr=8-1

Those are the top five books that have taken my year from 0 to 100 real quick and I hope that at least one book on this list makes it into your hands and changes your life forever.

5 Ways To Give Back During The Holidays

Lifestyle

With the holiday season quickly approaching, I wanted to talk about some ways you can give back during this time! The holidays can get so busy between buying gifts, cooking, family, and planning that we often forget how hard this season is for so many people, not only all over the world, but in our hometowns as well. There are many different ways to give back but these are a few simple ones:

1.) Donate to a food bank.

Many churches, schools, and stores will have food banks around this time of year. This is where you purchase certain food items that will be donated to a family in need. If there are not any places doing a food bank in your area you can even start one of your own!

2.) Participate in/host a toy drive.

Toy Drives during Christmas are great to be a part of. You can purchase toys or even donate toys to the drive. The kids are truly so thankful for any contribution and it helps make their Christmas special.

3.) Donate items to a local homeless shelter and/or animal shelter.

This is the time of year where temperatures drop and many people and animals are in need of clothes/blankets to keep them warm. You can donate things like jackets, scarves, gloves, and socks to the homeless shelter and things such as blankets to the animal shelter.

4.) Volunteer (churches, shelters, nursing homes, etc.)

Since this time of the year is extremely busy it is great to offer your help wherever it may be needed!

5.) Spend quality time with loved ones.

This one is simple, but it’s so important. You can give back to your loved ones by simply giving them your time and attention.

I encourage you to at least give back in one or more of these ways over the holiday season. Giving back will not only make someone else’s day, but its a feeling you will never forget as well.

-Taylor Johns

Trust His Timing

Devotionals

Something that I have slowly begun to learn is that God’s timing is always perfect. Now, this is definitely not an easy concept to grasp, especially when we are going through rough times in life. Many events that have occurred in my life I have sat and wondered why they had to happen in the first place. Certain events broke me, crushed my spirits, and left me without hope. A few months ago I was in one of the worst head spaces I have ever been in. I truly felt defeated. With the help of my family, I got back on my feet and decided to put my full trust in God and His timing.

“Don’t mistake God’s patience for His absence. His timing is perfect and His presence is constant. He is always with you.” -Deuteronomy 3:16 

In the following months I learned to love myself for who God made me to be and felt a sense of worth that I never had before. For the first time in a long time I felt like myself again (but an even better version). I felt like God was preparing me for something great, and sure enough He was. A little over a month ago God brought my boyfriend Clay into my life. So many things had fallen apart in both of our lives but all of it led to us being able to come together. We both not only had gotten stronger from past circumstances, but we had also learned to love ourselves and therefore we were able to give the best version of ourselves to another person.

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While I didn’t understand His timing at first, as soon as I met Clay I knew everything I had gone through before was worth it. There is not a day that goes by that he does not remind me how worthy I am. He accepted me for all that I am, broken pieces included and I am so thankful for him. I am beyond glad I chose to be patient with God’s timing and how He was working in my life because if I hadn’t I may have never received one of my biggest blessings.

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I ask that in the coming weeks, whatever life throws at you be patient. Trust in Gods timing, because even if it may not seem like it, His timing will always be better than ours. The blessings that He has in store are well worth the wait. Sometimes we have to go through bad things in life to appreciate the good even more.

-Taylor Johns

 

5 Tips For Picking Yourself Back Up When You’ve Been Knocked Down

Devotionals

Life. Will. Kick. Your. Butt.

That my friends, is one of the most true statements you will ever hear. Life is beautiful and one of the greatest gifts God has given us, but sometimes it feels like nothing is going right. A little over a month ago I felt like life had truly knocked me on my face. My whole world did a flip flop and I didn’t know how I was going to get back up again. In the past few weeks I have learned ways to help pick myself back up so I wanted to share them incase any of you all are in the same boat:

  1. Let It Out– Whatever you do, do not keep your emotions bottled up. This is one of the worst things I ever did. I am here to tell you that it is 100% okay to feel. Sometimes you need to sit and cry it out, and that’s okay! Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for having emotions, it is normal I promise.
  2. Pray– Not only is God with you through the good times, but He is right by your side through the bad as well. Let him know what is on your mind and He will ease it.
  3. Focus On Things You Are Passionate About- This has helped me so much in the past couple months. Focusing my time and energy on things that I love put me in the best head space.
  4. Exercise- Not only will this focus your mind on something besides the situation you’re going through, but it actually releases “feel good” endorphins in your brain. It doesn’t have to be anything serious, in fact I recommend trying out yoga if you never have. It is so relaxing and really helps you get in tune with both your mind and your body.
  5. Get Out Of The House– I know this one may seem hard. Trust me there are plenty days where I wanted to stay in my pjs all day and binge Netflix (this is okay every now and then of course), but getting dressed up, putting makeup on, and going out helped me so much. Look good for yourself, take a few selfies, and be the most confident you that you can be.

Those are the 5 things that have been helping me the most lately, and I hope they can help those of you who made need it as well. Even though life may kick our butts sometimes, like I said it’s still beautiful. Life is meant to be enjoyed and God wants us to do just that. He knows we will endure hardships, but He is right there to help us through every single one. When life knocks us down it is hard to see the good in things, but we have to have faith that things will get better because I promise, they will. As the verse below says, we have to walk by faith and not by sight. Things may not always be looking up in life, but God is working in ways that can’t be seen and we have to trust that.

“I will walk by faith even when I cannot see.”-2 Corinthians 5:7 

So, if life has got you down lately try these tips and see if they help. Remember that you are a son/daughter of the king of all kings and you deserve everything that this beautiful life has to offer. The struggles we endure are part of what make this life so beautiful, because many times beautiful things bloom out of disaster. Keep your head up and know that you always have a hand to hold.

-Taylor Johns

Accepting Change

Devotionals

I want to start off by saying I am so sorry that it has been such a long time since I last posted, but I’m happy to be back. The past month of my life has been one full of changes and I’m not going to lie, at first I was terrified. I have always been someone who is scared of change. Once I get comfortable and in a routine I don’t want anything to mess it up. I had to quickly realize that change has to happen in order for you to grow to be exactly who God intended for you to be.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. Whose confidence is in Him.” -Jeremiah 17:7

You see, when things don’t work out in our lives it’s not because God is trying to punish us. He instead is in the process of opening new doors in our lives and because of that He has to close others that aren’t helping us grow. I didn’t want to accept the change in my life and for a few days I was angry at God. I thought I had it all together and had my life figured out, but He showed me that His plans are greater. Over the past few weeks I have learned to accept the changes that have taken place in my life, and I could not be happier. Once I started to see it as a blessing rather than a heart ache my whole perspective changed.

(My sweet nana & I, something that has been so helpful through this process of change is spending time with family, in a season of change surround yourself with people who will help you through it.)

I am learning so much about myself in this process. I have learned that for years I broke my own heart by accepting love that was not what I deserved. I became a version of myself that I never wanted to be, but now I am truly glowing. God has shown me my worth and what I deserve and I believe that I would not have realized either one of those things without change. I would have been stuck in the same downward spiral for the rest of my life.

I know change isn’t easy to accept, but if you don’t like the way life is going right now it is something that has to happen! Pray that God will show you the path for your life and allow Him to help change the negative parts of your life that are hindering you from your true purpose. I was worried that the person I became after this change was not going to be someone I liked, but turns out it’s someone I love. Not only have I realized the love I should have for myself, but others around me have noticed the positive effect change has had on me as well. It is so refreshing to hear people say that I look truly happy and full of life, because that is something I haven’t heard in the longest time.

Change may not always be what we want at first, but God will always show you that it is for the better and all a part of His plan. So accept it, trust it, and let Him guide you. Say this prayer with me, “Lord, I thank you for how you are working in my life and the changes you are bringing. While I may not understand now, I know I will eventually and that these changes will shape me into the person you know I can be. Thank you for being the light that guides me down these new and unfamiliar paths, I will follow you and trust you. Amen.”

-Taylor Johns