As I sit here and write this, I have many thoughts and memories that are popping up in my head like tabs on a computer. I'm thinking back to the younger me, the one who was naive and had a different perspective on life than I do right now. I've always been the responsible one, the one to look at life with the "the glass is half full VS half empty" theory. I was always the friend who answered the phone when the person on the other end felt like their life was over. I was always the friend who spent more time worrying about other people's problems than my own. My life wasn't like everyone else's but that was by choice, my choice. I didn't go to parties, drink crazy amounts of alcohol, or do drugs. I didn't miss curfew (more than a few times, sorry mom) or drive home intoxicated or under the influence. I didn't do things I would regret the morning after, and I don't have as many interesting stories to tell my children one day as others may but although it sounds as if I was the perfect kid like you see in the movies or on Full House, I can reassure you I wasn't. I made my fair share of mistakes, ones I never thought I would live through, and I am still making them, but here I am 20 years old and I am still alive and breathing. That whole "old enough to know better but too young to care" slogan is one of the stages I went through, it wasn't for more than a few summer months one year but I went through it too, even if it was a little later in life. I grew up in the Church, knowing Jesus and loving him, going to Sunday school and singing the famous songs they teach you, going on youth group mission trips and getting to know the man who put it all on the cross for me, but then I became somebody I didn't even recognize. I became my own worst enemy, a stranger I never want to meet again. I don't know how it happened or when it happened but I've learned to look at it like this.. If I never would of made those bad choices, If I never would of found love in the wrong place, If I never would of shed my old life for my new one I wouldn't be the person I am today, I wouldn't be writing this either. When I was 18 I got engaged, one of the most memorable times of your life, at least it was suppose to be. At the tender age of 18 you barely know what you want to wear or what car you want to drive, much less who you want to spend the rest of your life with. Some people really do know but as much as I thought I was one of those girls who knew, I wasn't. I've had my heart broken more than once in life, by people and other things. I've lost myself but I was found. I've been broken down but I got back up, I've also broken hearts myself. I've had moments in life that I thought I wouldn't make it past 18, because I was so unhappy at one point. I gave all of me to a person I thought was my prince charming but found out he wasn't. I went through a stage of depression, I'm almost ashamed to even bring it up but that's alright, I don't mind. I thought my life didn't have purpose or meaning. I thought I wasn't lovable or wanted because after all I have a sister who doesn't even want anything to do with my life, and since she's many years older than I am I have lost time that can never be replaced, & my niece will never know me. That's the burden I was carrying and the mindset I had. I lost my grandpa, my friend to a heart attack one day, out of nowhere. The guy I watched TV with and ate dinner with after school every day wasn't here anymore, poof just like that. I've watched my dad live with chronic back pain, knowing there isn't anything I can do, 3 surgeries later and we are still struggling with his pain. I've lost friends because I didn't follow the crowds. I dealt with somebody very close to me going to jail at a very young age because he didn't make the best choices. I've been made fun of, called names, and been humiliated in front of people and on social media. I've had my heart completely shattered by somebody who I thought was meant to be in my life until death do us part. (The good part comes now, I promise) I'm only 20 now but I can tell you I've been through many things in life that have changed me and you never come out the same, which is good in my opinion. I don't talk about my problems because compared to Christ's, they are tiny, but the reason I brought them up is because I am no longer ashamed of my past anymore. I'm not ashamed of who I am because I know WHOSE I am! We all have baggage, some people choose to unpack and live there but not me. God has so many great things in store for me, and inspiring people is something I was meant to do. I didn't go into detail about my past or things I have gone through but actually talking about them was a huge step. I want people to know that you are loved by somebody who died to know you. You are wonderful, you are sacred, and you are God's greatest gift. Your struggle is not your identity. Your problems aren't your destination. Just like a pit stop on the way to the mountains, you have to get your mind straight and begin again, your journey is the exciting part. Enjoy the ride, the people you meet, and your view you have on the way to your destiny. Be the dog that sticks it's head out the window daring to jump out (don't really do this, I'm just being silly) Laugh when it's hard and smile when you would rather cry. Praise Jesus for another minute, hour, and day. Thank him simply for what he is doing in your life and what he is protecting you from. Reconnecting with my Savior is the most important and exciting thing about my story. It's the hardest, most adventurous relationship you will ever have with anyone. I am happy with my life, even when it's raining outside, (that's what umbrellas are for) I am happy to have a new chance each day to embrace in God's love and encouragement he has for us. Life is absolutely breath taking at times (like hiking up a hill or bike riding) but it is extremely beautiful once you get to where you're suppose to be. If today is the worst day of your life then that means you have nothing but good ones to come, right? God is Love.