I heard from one of my beta readers yesterday (yes, she’s even read the completed Perfect Glass . . . sorry) and her words reminded me of the days in 2010 when Henry was coming alive in my head and my heart. When I was building his character from the inside out and wondering about his purpose.
When Glass Girl was released and you began to find it through a process that still amazes me, you had reactions to Henry that were all over the board. You loved him because he was strong. And articulate. And not afraid of hard work.
You loved the way he spoke to Meg and the way he moved. You loved how he opened a door and offered a hand, both literally because he was gentleman, and metaphorically because he was generous with his faith.
I heard from hundreds of you who said he was your gold standard and you were happy waiting until he came along. And this made my heart soar—because I wanted you to see in Henry his solid goodness and his steadfast loyalty. And I wanted you to want that in your life. And to be content to wait on it.
And yet . . . and yet . . . I also wanted you to see that the most important thing about Henry was not “Henry.” The most important thing was that he said to Meg—as much as I love you, HE loves you more. He craves you more.
He wanted Meg to see that as counterintuitive as belief and trust and faith are (when life hurts), they still make more sense than anything else.
And MOST importantly, he wanted Meg to feel loved by God. He saw that she’d never considered it. He recognized a girl who felt like she’d been given a raw deal because she didn’t deserve anything better. Before he offered his heart to Meg, he offered HIS (God’s) heart to her.
The message Henry wanted to give Meg is this:
It wouldn’t be real love if there wasn’t the possibility for another response to him, right? If we couldn’t choose not to love him, then our love would be empty and unsatisfying. That’s why there’s evil in this world, because there’s free choice in this world. He allows the one to prove the other.” (Glass Girl, p. 104)
Here’s what got me all teary about hearing from my beta reader (who’s young, like you, and awesome, like you, and just trying to figure things out in her own way)—she has read Glass Girl four times and each time she’s taken something different from it. She read it again last month and came to the conclusion that she’d been wrong in waiting on a Henry to complete her. She’s already complete.
She’s already walking side by side with the one who stole her heart years ago. The one who couldn’t possibly love her anymore…all her pieces that shatter and come back together in the wrong ways and then shatter again. He loves those pieces. He’s patient while she makes patches. He’s looking at her with tender eyes. Henry will come later, when she’s ready. Jesus is here now.
Oh . . . I can’t say it any better than she did. So, here are excerpts from her email (used with permission)—
There was a time in my life when I would have given anything for my Henry to walk through the door. My goal was to be Meg, a girl with tangible tenderness, a girl who was endlessly loved, a girl with depth and wisdom earned by seeing life’s harsh realities. This was who I wanted to be. How could I be Meg without Henry?
So I waited. Sooner than I expected my Henry (or at least who I thought was my Henry) landed in my lap. Everything matched up. I thought I had gotten it right. A while into our relationship I noticed one big difference. He didn’t show me he loved God. He showed me that he liked me and even that he loved me but he never had that outward passion for his Maker. But he loved me.
Until I made one mistake. And then he showed me he could not forgive me. He never looked at me the same way again and that almost killed me. I found myself in a place I had not been in a long time. I fished for compliments, cratered into depression, and I became hard. Hard to him, hard to my friends, and hard to God. I had lost what was left of the tenderness I did not even know I had. I was broken.
At one time I lived with my emotions right beneath the surface. One tragic day when I felt they betrayed me, I buried them. I buried them out of fear that no one would accept me if they knew how fragile I really was. Burying my unknown tenderness and then destroying what was left of it a year later left me empty.
After my relationship ended I was left with an empty shell of me. I was not the me I had wanted to be. I was not Meg. I was not someone a man like Henry would want.
I lived my life until a perfect storm in the form of Glass Girl and Perfect Glass came into my life. I read Glass Girl for the fourth time and it broke my heart. It stirred that long buried, unknown tenderness within me. I cried from that place of clarity and cleansing. The tears brought me back to the tender, emotional me from years ago.
Maybe I had been more like Meg than I thought. I remembered when faith and joy had ruled my life. I wondered why I had ever let that go. It took me cratering into a depression to realize that my fragility makes me who I am. I am the best at being me when I strike that balance between being breakable and being unstoppable.
Perfect Glass showed me that I will never reach perfect. Motives are always crisscrossed between what we want and what God wants. My motives have been crisscrossed all along. I see that now. But, as in Perfect Glass, God guided me through my failures. He showed me the difference between me with Him and me without Him. He showed me that my personality had been shaped by that mysterious tenderness within me.
I have dealt with guilt and loss. I have been shaped by the curve balls like has thrown me. It took a tragedy, a relationship, a depression, and two incredible books for God to prove to me who I really am. I am Meg. I am tender. I am shaped by a life that was not always easy. And all I had to do was wait for my Henry.
But God found a way to prove even that logic wrong. Shortly after finishing Perfect Glass I read a blog post written about why I should not be waiting. Why I should not be working to prove to God that I am content enough with Him to be awarded my Henry as some kind of prize. I have already been awarded my Henry. He is my sweet Savior, the one who has been by my side all along. I don’t need to be waiting on my Henry to make me Meg. I already have the source of my joy and the partner for the rest of my life.
I am fragile. I am tender. I have dealt with life’s trials and learned from them. I see this world for the achingly beautiful place that it is. I am endlessly loved. I am complex. I am transparent. I am strong. I am glass.
I have been given a second chance and a Savior by my side.
I am Meg. And I am done waiting for my Henry.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. Song of Songs 2:7
I have a full heart today.
(Feature Image by Cary Anne Photography, 2012) Last week, I whispered a final goodnight to Meg and Henry when I released Perfect Glass to my agent. And, if you’re wondering, they’re good. So good. They said to tell you hello.
I know, I know, that book has been a promise and a dangling carrot for months, years, it seems. For you and for me. I wrote it, worked with an editor. Rewrote it. Got an agent and rewrote it again. But, as the famous saying goes, a book is not written, it is rewritten. And it is through the fire that it is forged and perfected. I will say more about this in a moment, but let me say now that Perfect Glass is quite a story.
I feel I owe you an explanation about its delay, and I’ll try to do that as far as I’m allowed. And, in fact, I should apologize for not being able to give you a release date for it yet.
It means that I was too timid to take the huge leap of trying to find an agent and sell my book to a large house. It means I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this world. It means my writerly ego is tiny. I wanted to dip a toe into the angry waters of publishing first. Westbow was a perfect fit for me because it allowed me to move at my own pace and have complete authorial say in what my words expressed and my tone evoked and my cover spoke.
It means I could say ‘baptism’ and you would know exactly where I was coming from. It means I could write about a typical, red-blooded rancher’s son who knew what he was about and spoke openly about his faith while also admitting Meg was a big temptation for him. It means I could put Meg in situations that reflected a reality while allowing her to simply observe and learn. She could be me. She could be you. We could figure it out together. And, we did.
Here’s the beautiful part—you. You are the beautiful part. You got it. You understood Meg’s tenderness. You fell in love with the way Henry looked at her. You cried with me and wrote me and told your friends and the book sold and sold. And you forgave me what I did wrong and supported me where I did right. I will love you until the day I leave this earth for these things you did for me.
One of the best things you did for me was you bought the book in numbers great enough to make me interesting to an agent. A super agent—Amanda Luedeke with the MacGregor Literary Agency. Amanda is one of those young, up-and-coming types who loves YA like you do. And she believes in my ability to turn phrases and create moments. I like her. I think you would, too. And Amanda is going to bat for me right now, working hard to get Glass Girl into a publishing house where it will attract more readers and speak to more teens who are just trying to live meaningful lives full of heart.
This, as I’m learning, takes time. A lot of time. Maybe more than a year. Who knows? But, if Amanda is successful at getting a house to buy Glass Girl, she would follow it up with Perfect Glass. If not, I promise, I will make Perfect Glass available in the same way Glass Girl is currently available. Fingers crossed, please, that things don’t take long.
Now, more on why I love Perfect Glass. This book continues the love affair between Henry and Meg, but it, like life, throws some curve balls. Like long distance. Like other people who are mightily attractive. Like heartbreak in Nicaragua and in Chapin. Like a curmudgeonly old woman who has deep things to teach Meg. Like a former gang member who has the power to break Henry. And throughout the story, Henry keeps saying to Meg—“Yes. Still yes. Always yes.”
I can’t wait for you to read it.
And now, this week, I awakened another book. I love it already. It’s a story about place as identity. It’s about hating where you came from for some surprising reasons. It’s about believing the lie that you’re better than some place and allowing that belief to make you miss out on a whole ton of beauty. It’s about the regret implicit in missing out. It’s about coming home and being okay with that. That’s all I can say because my Muse is giving me the gimlet eye from the chair across the way.
In the meantime, I’m also hanging around Nicole O’Dell’s Choose Now Ministry a lot. You’ll find me there and on the radio every month talking about the morality of celebrities (Laura Kurk | On Hollywood). I’m finding it interesting work. And challenging.
I also work with a teen writers’ critique group through a great organization called NextGen Writers. There’ll be a virtual conference this August and I’m a virtual presenter. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what that means. Please, check it out and register. I’ll look forward to virtually seeing you there.
And one of my best things is I get to go to the Oregon coast this summer and hang out on a cliff over the Pacific for a while. I’m dreaming of it already. I’ll post a lot of pictures of the four of us windblown and salty.
My wish for you is a perfect, relaxing, no-strings kind of summer. Let yourself be bored and recognize the value in it. Let your mind wander. Smile and laugh a lot. And wear cut-off jeans and cheap sunglasses. And smell like cocoa butter. And by all means, listen to good music loudly. And read. Oh, my gosh. Read. You know. Summer stuff.
This post is twice as long as my usual, but I encourage you to stay with it. I think once you get to know my guest, you’ll be encouraged!
I’m blessed with friends who are courageously following their dreams—bold in their pursuit of creative lives that are an expression of their souls. They inspire me to keep plugging away at my own dreams.
I’m so excited about introducing you to my guest today that I’m tempted to use all caps here. But that would be screaming and I try to avoid it.
Marna Taylor and I go way back—and when I say way back, I mean to birth (she’s fifty-five days younger than me). We grew up in a small town in Oklahoma called Durant (which Marna and I both miss in complicated ways even though we were desperate to leave by sixteen) and our families worshipped together in a church of about two hundred members. Maybe you’ve heard of Durant—it’s home to the world’s largest peanut.
I have snapshots, real ones and mental images, of a group of kids that spent more time together than apart—my brother (Stan) and me, Marna and her two sisters (Leah and Jocelyn) and their cousins (Laura and Jason). Their parents were almost as familiar to me as mine.
There’s something you should know up-front about Marna—she is possibly the most compassionate person you could ever meet. I remember, in our many, many deep talks throughout childhood and adolescence, how Marna’s emotions would run away with her causing her to cry over the hurts of others. And I cry when I’m in the presence of someone else who cries, so you can imagine how maudlin our late night convos became. But in so many ways, we were both tightening our empathetic heart-strings and becoming the women God intended for us to be.
As you’ll learn, Marna grew up in a musically-gifted family, so she learned to express herself and heal through singing. And, thank God she did because her voice as been a gift to many throughout her life. She’s now a member of an up-and-coming Nashville trio called Sweetwater Rose.
Here’s my recent conversation with Marna—
You’ve had a longstanding love for all kinds of music, and a mature taste in music even when you were a little girl. What do you think most influenced your musical tastes and dreams?
I think what influenced me most growing up was having parents that loved to listen to music and made it a big part of our lives.
We listened to a variety of artists and genres ranging from blues to opera to country which opened our minds to many different styles of music. My mother started out as a music teacher and came from a musical family, so even family reunions were filled with beautiful harmonies mixed with lots of love and laughter. It always made music a safe place for me!
My parents, even though they were professional by trade, were artists at heart. They never made me feel bad for chasing my dreams, in fact quite the opposite… like anything was possible. They gave me the greatest gift they could give me, to believe in myself and to listen to my heart. I am very grateful for this.
Who were your favorite bands growing up?
Growing up I really responded to female artists like Billie Holiday, Bobbie Gentry, Lena Horne, and Linda Ronstadt. I also loved bands like the Eagles, Steve Miller Band and Creedance Clearwater Revival because it was music the whole family could agree on for road trips.
I remember memorizing lyrics to the Eagles’ songs playing through your pink tape player in your little room. And listening to the three Taylor girls at the piano singing bizarre songs you’d made up.
Tell me your memories of singing with Leah and Jocelyn.
I loved singing with my sisters while my mom played piano at home, then also performing with them as well. I’m sure that’s why the sound of three female voices makes sense to me now. It’s like coming home.
Okay, tell me why you pursued your dream with tenacity through ups and downs? What kept you hanging on in such a roller coaster industry?
I guess for me what keeps me hanging in there with music is that it just never really goes away. You can take breaks from it, but if it’s in you, it’s in you. I think to deny that is to deny a gift that God gave to me. I always think of the Bible story of the man who buried his talent and it didn’t grow, therefore saddening God. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the impression it made on me at a young age.
You’re married to Brad Pemberton, a long-time successful artist in the music industry, who happens to just be really cool. Tell me how you met.
Yeah, Brad is a professional drummer. We met just after I moved to Nashville with my dreams and he’s always been my strongest support system here. Being with someone in the business has also given me a great freedom to explore this kind of life with someone who really understands why it is so important for me. Having someone you trust who can be a solid sounding board is a real gift. I know he always has my back, but also that he won’t just tell me what I want to hear if it’s not in my best interest.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from someone in the industry?
Ah. . .to not give up. See, the ones at the finish line are just the ones that didn’t quit.
The worst advice you’ve heard?
I can’t think of a good example of the worst, but anytime you chase after a dream there will be those that don’t understand it or want to shoot it down in some ways… the trick is learning to listen to your own voice and knowing when not to listen to the “haters.” Easier said than done sometimes.
What about advice from outside the industry . . . just life advice?
My favorite would be “don’t quit five minutes before the miracle.”
I think all of us on the outside want to know what it takes to be a musician in Nashville these days.
It changes every day! Groups in Nashville these days all have to get a bit creative when it comes to getting their music out there. The music industry has changed quite a bit in even the last ten years and because of that there isn’t a road map. The best thing about Nashville, though, is the musical community is so loving and supportive of one another. It really helps to learn from the struggles and successes of the bands out there working to make it happen.
You’ve been touring quite a bit lately. What’s your favorite part of that?
The best part about touring is seeing new places, performing and connecting with new fans through music, making great memories with bandmates, feeling inspired by the response of a supporting crowd. The hardest part is missing home.
How’d you meet Ali Sperry and Kim Collins, the other women in the band?
We actually auditioned for this group! Our producer, Mac Gayden, and his wife, Diane put this group together after Diane had a dream that they should start a girls group. Mac is a legendary songwriter and guitar player in his own right, but they have done something not many people do anymore these days—taken the time to develop an act. We’ve been together for over two years and have gone through some changes until we finally feel like all the components are in place. It has been such a blessing to work with such amazing talent and to learn from all the experience that Mac brings to the table.
How would you describe the band’s sound?
Diane’s dream was to put together a “female Buffalo Springfield group” . . . something that brought back a vintage sound from the bands we all love from the 60s and 70s, like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Eagles, Poco, Flying Burrito Brothers, and others, but from the female perspective. That, of course, was all I needed to hear! It was as if the perfect opportunity came looking for me and I still have to pinch myself sometimes.
nothing to hide behind. Is it difficult to put yourself out there as a performer? Does it take an extrovert to be successful?
I think for me performance was something that helped bring me out of my shell at a young age and gave me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. I do know that I always felt most authentic on stage for some reason. As a very young girl, I was shy and my parents got me involved in children’s theater. I did this every summer from when I was five years old until I turned thirteen, and I credit that experience with bringing me out of my shyness. It’s the one place I always felt purposeful. I didn’t ever feel like I had to be the best singer because I believe that my personal gift was being able to deliver a song in a way that would reach someone in the audience.
There’s nothing better than live music. I always feel like there’s a tangible cord between the audience and the musician and that is almost overwhelming to me . . . but completely addictive. Tell me what that moment feels like when you’re the singer.
When you know that the audience is with you, there is a warmth that you feel as if they want to give back to you what you are giving to them. There is nothing else like it that I’ve ever felt before. I know we’ve all had those moments watching a performance where we feel like we have been transported to another place. Well, the performer feels it also and it’s really magical. That’s why live performance is so important! It’s the one thing that cannot be generated by a computer somewhere. It has to be experienced.
Would you be happy singing to an empty room?
It’s interesting because sometimes music is something that is very personal and sometimes it is something that has to be shared. Both of these things feed the soul, but in different ways.
As you know, I feel like, in the end, the creative life is really about faith and love. Faith that God has given me something that He wants me to step out with in all trust . . . and love for others that makes me want to, in some way, be a balm to them.
I see and feel that in you, too, and always have. Describe the connection of faith to this life you’re living out on the stage.
Faith has always been the part of my life that has kept me grounded. That’s why, even now, it’s so important for me to maintain balance in my life so that I can feel that connection to the guiding voice inside me. I know this is different for everyone, and my background of growing up going to church as well as my Native American heritage has given me a perspective that it is okay to have different paths to the same goal. It’s always been comforting to me to know that there is something inside me that is also bigger than me. . . .
Music does make me feel a connection to God in a way that few other things do. It has also been a way that I have been able to give back. It’s like when I sing for a funeral . . . I’m so sad that I feel like no sound will even come out of my mouth, but it’s important that I be there in that role. It’s a way of comforting a family during a loss and also the last thing I get to do for someone I love. This takes a strength that I know I could never possess on my own.
We have this shared experience of growing up in small town Oklahoma. (For my readers, think Footloose, the original.) I know what that’s about, but not many of my readers do. What’s meaningful to you about how we grew up?
Durant, Oklahoma was a wonderful place to grow up, with close family near by and lots of love! I was given safety there—to be who I was. It was also a place I couldn’t wait to leave when I became a teenager! You and I had that conversation a lot, didn’t we?
Now, as an adult, I have a very strong appreciation for my home state and the people I come from! Okies are a special brand of folks (good stock, as we would say there) and I’m proud to be from Oklahoma!
The music issue of Oklahoma Today this year reminded me just how important Oklahoma has been on the music we all know and love! It’s a state that suffered many hardships, and in many ways music is a common thread that got people through those trying times.
I’ve mentioned before that the main character in Glass Girl, Meg, shares your December 25th birthday. I did that because I love you, but also because I always felt your angst on that day. A Christmas birthday can Mess. You. Up. Hah!
It’s funny because all my life I have opened birthday presents while everyone around me opened Christmas presents. Now, as an adult, it feels really wrong and awkward to open a birthday present if no one else is opening gifts. What does that say about me?
We’ve both lived a lot of life since those carefree days in Oklahoma and sometimes it’s from the hard things we’ve endured that art arises. You’re open about a heartache you experienced in your twenties that taught you a great deal about what truly matters in this life. How did overcoming the reality of a difficult relationship strengthen your character and your resolve to pursue your dream of music?
I think, for me, music has always brought me back to myself. Anytime I’ve felt lost or alone, music gave me comfort. Look, we’ve all gone through things that asked us to be stronger than we thought we could be. When my first marriage was ending, I had never felt like such a failure in my life. At times I wasn’t sure what the point was or if I could go on. The love of my family and our shared love of music and laughter brought healing. It always has.
Can you speak to what I’ve always known about you and admired – your deep and long sense of compassion for everyone? Is making music your way of giving yourself to others?
Wow, this one’s hard for some reason! Here’s a memory that I’ve thought about a lot recently that may shed some light. I was a counselor at a student council camp right after my senior year of high school. I was singing a song for our talent show called “On My Own” (from Les Miserables) and one of the girls in my group had just come a day late because she lost a friend in a motorcycle accident. The words to that song saddened me so much for that girl that I cried in the bathroom as soon as I finished. Honestly, as an adult thinking back on it, she probably wasn’t really even listening closely to those lyrics, but for me . . . it was as if I was singing it right to her, and it took everything out of me.
I’ve always said that I feel things very deeply. Maybe that’s typical of all artist types, I don’t know, but it has always been the case for me. A blessing, a curse . . . I’m not really sure at times, but it’s what I know to be true for my life and it’s really important for me to live authentically. I think music allows me to do that. I can use my heart to help others in that way.
I have loyal readers who are actively pursuing their own dreams with music, writing and art. Can you give them a pithy gem of advice?
I think the best advice I could give is to always stay true to yourself. Really, it comes down to this—you are the best judge of what is right for you, so trust that!
Thanks for talking to us today, Marna. I wish you, Ali and Kim great success as you step out with Sweetwater Rose! I’m really glad you’re able to do what you love and live a meaningful, creative life!
Here’s all the info you’ll need to connect with Marna and Sweetwater Rose:
And I’m not talking about his amazing talent as quarterback for the Aggies. He’s fun to watch and can make a big play on any given down. He’s smart and has the respect of his team. But that’s not luck, and it’s not the discussion for the day.
No…I’m talking about the smart, gorgeous girl wearing his engagement ring. I think Ryan would be the first to agree that God had a hand in bringing Lauren Ufer into his world. And, apparently, she rocked it.
I had the opportunity to speak to Lauren recently about the things closest to her heart. Given this couple’s talents, I’m sure Lauren’s life with Ryan will have its fair share of public attention and I wanted her to have an opportunity to tell us who she is and what moves her before life gets more complicated.
Thanks for talking with us, Lauren. Most of my readers are high school and college young adults, and I remember sitting where they sit and wondering what kind of girl gets to date the quarterback. I think, though, that after they get to know you, they’ll wonder what kind of guy gets to date Lauren Ufer.
Give us some background, please:
Well, I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. We moved a lot—I lived in six towns before I graduated from high school. Houston, Corpus Christi, High Point (North Carolina), Fayetteville (Arkansas), and College Station (Texas).
I was in the middle of my junior year when we moved to College Station. So I graduated from A&M Consolidated High School the next year still feeling really new to town.
Tell me about your siblings:
I have two brothers. One is almost 21 and one is almost 16. I adore them. In fact, my brothers will stand by my side at our wedding instead of bridesmaids. Ryan’s brothers will stand by his side.
That’s really cool to let your brothers be a part of the ceremony like that—much better than the usual usher role.
I know you’ve already graduated from Texas A&M. What was your major?
I majored in Communications with a minor in Psychology. I chose this major because I love people and I’m drawn to finding ways to connect and help.
But now, you’ve switched gears a little. You’re working for a Cardiologist and your career goal is no longer in communications, right?
That’s right. I figured out my junior year at A&M that I want to pursue a career in medicine. I think it fits well with my love for connecting with people. My goal now is to become a nurse, for two reasons: I want to be a caretaker, and I’m fascinated with the science involved in medicine and healing. Our bodies are miraculous and there’s so much to learn and new cures and innovations happening so rapidly now in the field. I’m excited to know exactly what I want to do now.
I can tell from talking to you that nursing is a perfect fit.
I want to know about Lauren in high school. Who were your people? What groups did you hang with? Who fascinated you?
Yeah, so, Lauren in high school…. I was a cheerleader and I played on the tennis team. I stayed involved with a lot of different types of “groups.” I usually ran around with cheerleading friends because we had classes together and spent so much time with each other. But I wasn’t shy in my classes—I tried to get to know everyone. I tend to want to know the stories behind the people I meet and what makes them who they are. I’m naturally curious about people. I was the same way in college classes. I got to know all kinds of people by being open with them and starting conversations easily.
Did you find it easy or difficult to really live your faith in high school? How did you handle the hard times?
Great question. I was involved in Young Life and church groups but I have to say, I don’t feel like high school was a place where I truly “walked the walk.” I was a good kid, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think I ever stepped very far outside my comfort zone. Looking back at all of that, I think it’s difficult in high school to really step out because you’re still trying to figure out who you are and what kind of person you want to be. You’re going through so many changes in high school that you just have to hang on. I know, for me, moving so late in high school was really difficult. It shook me up a lot because I wasn’t comfortable. I had to pray every day for strength and really lean on the Lord. I just want girls to see that hanging onto faith and values is completely worth it. And they should pray all the time.
Did you find that living your faith became easier when you started college?
I would say my first year at A&M I wasn’t connected enough.
That’s pretty typical, Lauren. It’s hard to suddenly strike out on your own and make the connections. It can be pretty nerve-wracking.
It was…I did continue going to church and I kept up my quiet times with the Lord through this transition time and that made a huge difference. Once I felt settled in college, I got involved in a Bible study and during my junior and senior years, I led one. Also, friends are so important. Friends who have the same values as you. I can’t overstate that. I met a girl in a class who is now one of my dearest friends and it was a total God thing. We immediately clicked and we put together a wonderful group of girlfriends who supported each other. We even did Beth Moore Bible studies together. BETH MOORE ROCKS! I feel like this group and these studies were what made the difference for me. Just having other girls your age to relate to and pray with and for makes you accountable and comfortable with faith. I also went to Breakaway, which is just incredible. I attended Breakaway and church classes all through college.
It sounds like you kept your guard up, surrounded yourself with faithful friends, and made good decisions. All things I’m praying my kids will do when they leave home. Can you name a couple of pitfalls, though, that make maintaining a relationship with God difficult for a lot of college students?
Oh, yeah…dating relationships and drinking. Two big ones. To the girls reading this, I want to say that if you keep God at the center of your relationships with boyfriends and you put Him first in all things you will handle the big issues beautifully. But, let me tell you, it is a mindset that you have to adopt and stick with. I also believe that if you associate with good people, you’ll have more strength. In college it is so easy to fall into the wrong crowd. There’s always something fun going on where kids get into trouble. My advice is to get involved in Christian organizations so that you’re part of something good with kids who believe like you.
Thanks for that, Lauren. I think you’re right about the way temptation really ramps up in those college years. You’re away from parents and it’s so easy to experiment with things that can make you stumble. I know your parents are proud of your maturity.
Okay, here’s a big one that I get a lot of questions about from readers. What do you think about dating someone seriously in high school? Is that too young? Or is it a great way to learn about relationships?
I had a serious boyfriend in high school but looking back, I think we were too young. I was still figuring out who I was in college so there’s no way I knew what I wanted in high school! I did learn a lot from that relationship, but I think making memories with girlfriends and groups is more fun and much less complicated.
You talk a lot about “figuring yourself out.” What exactly do you mean by this?
I mean girls need to be smart and figure out for themselves what to prioritize and what to set as goals. What personality should you look for in a guy one day? What are your insecurities that might make you look for the wrong thing? What are your strengths? What type of relationship do you want in your life? Before you start experimenting with dating different guys, develop a road map for yourself. You won’t regret it.
Lauren, if you could go back in time and give your high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would tell myself to take a stronger stand for the Lord and to not be scared! I wish I had been more confident and not so worried about being cool or looking pretty. High school is such a time of vulnerability for girls and guys. I wish I had been stronger in my walk with the Lord so I would have had more confidence.
Could you go back and tell my high school self that, too? I think you’re exactly right. I wish I hadn’t lived in fear about so many things that just don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But that’s part of growing up and maturing.
Thanks, Lauren! We’ll talk more tomorrow! Read the second half of Lauren’s interview now.
Tomorrow, we’ll shift gears and get to the love story we all want to know about. Lauren will return to tell us about falling in love with Ryan Tannehill and what the future holds for this amazing couple.Read More